Friday, 27 April 2012

I, Spy

I’ve recently re-ignited my love affair with Espionage-themed games. While not sharing a similar fate of most ‘historical’ games, Spy Rpgs none the less remain rather a niche and subject to the ‘genre mash-up’, for better (sometimes) or worse (most times).  Below is a no-doubt incomplete list of Espionage (themed) RPGs.   Most I imagine are out of print.   That said, some may be available for sale as PDFs.  In no particular order:

  • Top Secret
  • Top Secret/SI
  • James Bond 007
  • Spycraft
  • Millennium's End  
  • Mercenaries, Spies, Private Eyes
  • Wilderness of Mirrors
  • Black Seven
  • Deniable Asset: Hiding in the Mosque
  • Danger International
  • Blowback
  • Leverage
  • GURPS Special Ops
  • GURPS Black Ops
  • GURPS Espionage
  • Terror Network
  • Delta Force
  • Ninjas & Superspies
  • Agents of SWING
  • Espionage! (HERO)
  • Sex, Lies and Ultraspies
  • Black Ops (Rolemaster)
  • Spione
  • ACE Agents!
  • Over the Edge
  • Cold City
  • Agents of Oblivion
  • Delta Green
  • Conspiracy X

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

ToB Primer IV



The Christian citizen’s committee of brimstone, New Mexico territory invite applications from righteous men to rid this city of all:

Assassins, thieves, thugs, road agents, guerillas and 
bunko steerers

Among whom can be counted several.

All interested parties reporting to town by month’s end will be invited to apply,

The expense which will be borne by

                         10 substantial citizens.

                                            Brimstone, n. mex. Terr.

                                   September sixth, 1869

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

ToB Primer III

Brimstone Locations

Simons General Store
“Jim Simons is the owner and proprietor. His wife Jenny tends the store while Jim is in town.”

Railroad Warehouse
“This is the largest building in town, and the only one with no windows. It is used to store construction materials that are transported to the track-laying site several miles to the west as needed, when railroad, workers change shifts. The caretaker is John Curtis.”

Brimstone Boarding House
“There are 18 single rooms for rent in this building.  Alice Johnson, an elderly woman, runs the place, but it is owned by Gil McCurdy.”

Carson’s Blacksmith Shop
“Horseshoes and hardware are the specialties of blacksmith Andrew Carson.  He is normally a quiet man who cares only about doing good work and receiving fair payment for it.  He works with a one-hand sledgehammer.”

Tent saloon
“This is the newest building in Brimstone, and it isn’t really a building at all. The wooden walls of this structure are only about four feet high; canvas draped around a frame forms the upper part of the walls and the ceiling. Most of the time the canvas walls are rolled up to let in light, which also enables anyone to see inside the building from a distance away.

This structure was originally created as a “flop house” for off-duty railroad workers, and it still serves that purpose. But the workers have also chipped in to build and maintain a bar on the premises, so the tracklayers don’t have to fraternize with the rest of the townspeople unless they want to. The caretaker and bartender is Frank Nash, who prides himself on being quick with his fists. The tent saloon is only open for business from noon to midnight, but will have railroad workers inside at any hour of the day or night.

The Pankration Club
Brimstone boasts numerous distractions, vices and curiosities.  Perhaps the cruelest (and debatably the most well-heeled) diversion can be found at the Pankration Club.  Membership is open to all with a stake to wager or the sand for a match.  Open daily, the Club entertains with fisticuffs and hooliganism; fish-hooks and eye-gouging permitted.  While the exact location remains a loosely guarded secret, casual association with local grifters, drifters and soiled doves will readily reveal its whereabouts.  

Monday, 23 April 2012

GROGNARDIA: Historical Gaming

GROGNARDIA: Historical Gaming: Within the first couple of years of my entering the hobby, my friends and I firmly established a trinity of roleplaying games as our go-to g...

ToB Primer II

Brimstone Locations

Wilson’s Carpenter Shop
“Robert Wilson runs this shop with the help of his son Billy.  They turn out finished wood items for sale, and will also sell raw materials (lumber, nails, etc.) to anyone who’s interested. The pair live in the back of the building, which doubles as a workshop and living quarters.”

McCurdy’s Saloon
“This is the biggest and the busiest place in town. The owner and proprietor, Gil McCurdy is loud and raucous, with manners little better than those of the people his saloon serves. The bartender is Danny Tucker who is on duty about 12 hours a day.

The only unusual aspect of McCurdy’s Saloon is a heavily guarded room at the back of the second floor. This room has served as Brimstone’s unofficial “bank” since the early days of the town. Only twice in the town’s history have men tried to gun down a guard and rob the bank, and on each occasion they were filled full of bullet holes — not only by the guard, but by quite a few of the saloon’s patrons, before they had even made it to the locked door.”

Brimstone Livery Stable
“John Stevens is the owner and proprietor. There is a decent chance he will be working on the premises at any time. Otherwise, he may be in his living quarters in the building or somewhere else in town. John puts up three stable hands who each work an 8-hour shift every day.

John’s stable and corral are almost always full, but there always seems to be room for one more horse if a customer is willing to pay John’s prices. Three horses are for sale.”

Kate’s Place
“This is a somewhat run-down but very respectable drinking and gambling establishment, with emphasis on the gambling part. Kate James is the owner and proprietor.  She is homely and gruff, and she hates customers cheating at her gambling tables even more than she dislikes having a fight break out at the bar. She and her employees don’t have a lot of difficulty keeping order, and they prefer to cater to the quiet sort of customer who isn’t inclined to bother anyone else.

The house dealer at Kate’s is Seymour “Aces” Mills.  The bartender is a burly, surly character known simply as “Mister John”.  He is primarily responsible for keeping order at Kate’s Place.”

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Taming of Brimstone Primer

The Taming of Brimstone Primer
The Taming of Brimstone (ToB) session at OSRcon is based on the 1983 Dragon article of the same name.  From this  original material I've added my own re-imaginig and additions.  Included below is relevant material from the original (in "quotation marks") with my own additions (in Blue font).  All the material is considered general knowledge.

“The “business district” of Brimstone is shown on the map accompanying this text. Apart from these 11 large buildings and two fenced-in corrals, several tents and shanties dot the surrounding land- scape, particularly to the north and west (in areas not pictured on the map).  If this area is to have a part in the adventure, the referee must extend the boundaries of the map to account for them and determine the locations of the residences.”

Located about 200 yards south-east of the Tent Saloon is the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad encampment.  Dubbed ‘Spiketown’ by locals, the area is a tightly packed labyrinth of tents and shanties to support the motley crew of roadway workers, teamsters and gandy-dancers.  Located at the eastern limit is the 'Company House' (headquarters building) and  a string of six solidly build ‘cabins’ to house the more respectable A-P surveyors, line bosses and Bulls (guards). 

Shop/Doctor’s Office
“This building, located in an unofficial “no man’s land” at the west edge of town, is where Jason Scott goes about the business of keeping the people of Brimstone shaved, trimmed, and patched up. He never turns away a customer or a patient. Whether or not he actually has a doctor’s degree is of little consequence to the people he serves; all they know is that he seems to be able to keep them healthy and in one piece. And in return for that service, the bad guys of Brimstone have agreed among themselves to leave Doc Scott and his place of business alone.”

Celestial City
Directly south of the A-P warehouse lies the newly laid railway line.  Beyond this line, just at the ties edge, begins ‘Celestial City', a ramshackle work camp.  This area (the Chinese name means literally ‘Tears and Blood”) houses, feeds and entertains the population of Chinese ‘coolies’ working for A-P.   

While the good citizens of Brimstone agree on little, there is a steadfast and near-universal commitment to a singular ‘unwritten law’: No Celestials are permitted north of the tracks unless on official business and never after sundown.  Overcrowded and filthy, few non-residents have dared to pierce its mysteries.  
Brimstone, 1869

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Boot Hill

If the cover of a game contained either of the phrase "Wild" or "West", I had to have it.  This started with TSR's Boot Hill, the second RPG I ever played.  Not only did it satisfy my love of Westerns but also my obsession with miniatures.  I have yet to find a better system to explore the certainties of deadly violence free of (to my mind) burdensome rules or a novelty genre-bending mash-up.  When two men throw down, they should mean to settle all accounts and neither should be absolutely certain of survival.  In short, Boot Hill ensured gunfights meant something.  Indeed the genre is big enough for every style, taste and ruleset.  I just want Unforgiven not Cowboys & Aliens, Deadwood not Bonanza, Cormac McCarthy not Zane Grey.

In some ways, BH was cumbersome and, frankly, scant.  This too has its charm, particularly if the waves of OSR roll over it.  But the true gift of OSR regeneration may come in the supporting material.  Even if the rules contained oddities et al, the TSR modules were some of the best non-D&D material they ever published.  Mad Mesa was innovative yet limited in appeal, Lost Conquistador Mine (BH2), Ballots and Bullets (BH3), Burned Bush Wells (BH4) and Range War! (BH5) were outstanding and each for different reasons.  Based on this standard, does enough interest in the OSR community exist to re-visit a game that everyone knew but few played?  I hope so.


Osrcon 2012

Old Games From 1975-85
10-11 August 2012 
Lillian H. Smith Library, Toronto, ON

I will be attending OSRCon this year and presenting a Boot Hill Session.
The Taming of Brimstone:  There's no law in Brimstone, no law at all. Town-tamers wanted and true grit required to release the good citizens of Brimstone from the grip of villainous intent and anarchy. The town's just ahead, off on the western horizon. . . . just follow the railroad tracks... ; based on adventure of the same name in Dragon, March 1983; 28mm diorama of the town.

GROGNARDIA: Open Friday: Old School Revival

GROGNARDIA: Open Friday: Old School Revival: Leaving aside questions of money and copyrights, what old school -- by which I mean "pre-1985" -- roleplaying game would you most like to se...