Sunday, June 26, 2016

Characters in James Bond 007

One can play James Bond in the James Bond 007 role-playing game, but Bond would overshadow everyone else, of course, in games with multiple player characters.  Provision is therefore made to create original characters using a point allocation method.  There are three 'ranks' of characters:  Rookie (with 3,000 Generation Points), Agent (with 6,000 Generation Points), and “00” (with 9,000 Generation Points).  When players need to spend a thousand or more points to create a character, perhaps a game designer should consider reducing costs by an order of magnitude.

There are five characteristics:  Strength, Dexterity, Willpower, Perception, and Intelligence.  Player characters start with a value of 5 in each characteristic since it “is the minimum an agent of M.I.6 should have if he is to have a decent chance of surviving in the field.”  Generation Point costs are listed up to a characteristic value of 15 (although Jaws has a Strength of 18).

Several items of information are derived directly from characteristics.  Speed (“how fast your character's reflexes are”) is figured by looking up the sum of Perception and Dexterity on the Speed Chart.  Speed ranges from zero to three.  From Strength is derived Hand-to-Hand Combat Damage Class (A, B, or C) and Carrying Value (in pounds).  Running/Swimming Value (“how many consecutive minutes [a character] can spend running or swimming at full speed before becoming exhausted”) and Stamina (“how many consecutive hours your character may stay awake without feeling exhausted”) are both derived from Willpower.  One might think that physical conditioning would influence endurance, but such is not the case in the world of James Bond (at least in the interpretation of Victory Games).

A player must spend Generation Points for his or her character's Physical Aspects:  Height, Weight, and Appearance.  For males, Height can be anywhere between 5'2" and 6'6" and Weight can range from 120 lbs to 260 lbs.  For females, the ranges are 4'10" to 6'2" and 95 to 205 pounds.  In terms of cost, 'average' values are most expensive and 'extreme' values are least expensive.  For example, it would cost 400 Generation Points for a male character to be 5'10" and 181 pounds.  It would cost only 60 points for a male character to be 6'6" and 250 pounds.  Weight must be selected in relation to Height (i.e., “you must select a weight for your character that is within two lines of those same point values”).  There is a spectrum of six Appearance values:  Plain, Normal, Good Looking, Attractive, Striking, and Sensational.  (James Bond is 'Striking'.)  'Normal' is the most expensive at 200 points and 'Sensational' is the least at 30 points.

The rule book describes twenty-four skills (but player characters are not permitted to acquire the Torture skill).  “A skill is based on one or two characteristics,” the rules state, “the value of which is then added to the Skill Level to determine the Primary Chance for that skill.”  For example, the formula for the Riding skill is the average of Perception and Willpower.  Each skill costs 100 points; this gives a Skill Level of one.  (Player Characters automatically have Charisma and Driving.)  Each additional Skill Level has a cost of twenty points.  The number of Skill Levels a character may have for a given skill cannot exceed two more than the higher Characteristic used in the skill's formula.  In no case can a character have more than fifteen Skill Levels in any given skill.  Since “Bond has never had serious trouble communicating” during his adventures, languages are not deemed important by the rules.  Optionally, however, each language can be treated as a separate skill. 

Other than skills, characters can have Abilities, “which are equivalent to skills and are played like them, except they cannot be raised in level and always have the same Primary Chance (20).”  Any member of an intelligence-gathering organization – including every player character – automatically has the following Abilities:  Connoisseur, First Aid, and Photography.  (Incidentally, these are the only Abilities described.)  Naturally, 'Connoisseur' represents an important part of the James Bond oeuvre, but should it be considered standard training for secret agents?  Even so, should James Bond's Connoisseur affinity be no different than that of anybody else?  I think not.

As an optional rule, characters can have experience in a career prior to becoming a spy.  The starting age for such a character is 27 plus the number of years spent in a profession (to a maximum of six years).  The character gains twenty Generation Points per year spent in a profession; these points may only be spent on skills associated with the profession.  For instance, the Scientist profession offers Electronics, Science, and Riding.  Also, a character gains a 'Field of Experience' for every year he or she spends in a profession.  Unlike skills and abilities, for Fields of Experience, “a character either knows the information required or how to perform the task, or he does not.”  Fields of Experience available to the Thief profession, for instance, include:  Fine Arts, Jewelry, Law, Mechanical Engineering, and Rare Collectables.  There are also 'General' Fields of Experience, some of which include:  Wargaming, Economics/ Business, Tennis, and Snow Skiing.

Another optional rule grants Generation Points to characters with one or more weaknesses.  “In addition to the depth of personality which weaknesses add to individual characters,” the rules state, “they will also help you create situations to exploit a specific weakness.”  Bond, for instance, has the 'Attraction to Members of the Opposite Sex' weakness.  About which, according to the rules:
If the person afflicted were not a secret agent, he would simply be considered healthy; however, agents are supposed to be immune to emotional attachments.  100 Generation Points.  Causes distraction.
Some other weaknesses include:  Fear of Snakes (75 points), Dependence on Drugs (125 points), Sadism (only NPCs may have this weakness) (100 points), and Greed (100 points).

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  1. Sean Robert MeaneyJune 27, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    What happens to james bond in a post brexit era? Does MI6 become an invisible organization of 'cells' unacountable to anyone? Does it go off as part of the nuclear armed rogue state governed from cardiff? Does it evolve into a United Nations Security Council Secret Police?

    1. Ian Fleming was going to write a novel about the Welsh in control of nuclear weapons, but then he realized it was too preposterous.