Sunday, August 28, 2016

Guest Stars in James Bond 007

George Lazenby (as "J.B.") breaking the fourth wall in
The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.

“How to Be a Successful Gamesmaster,” Chapter 12 of James Bond 007, provides comments on 'guest stars'.  Specifically, on page 96:
Surprise guest stars from the Bond movies are quite entertaining. Having Sheriff J. W. Pepper of Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun show up unexpectedly can give players a lift. Sometimes a guest appearance by other fictional heroes – Napoleon Solo, John Steed, or Emma Peel, for example – can get a good response.
The game, however, does not provide write-ups for characters not part of the Bond license.  Gamesmasters considering using such guest stars are left to their own devices.  Yet the 'guest star' concept was not original to James Bond 007.  “The Super Spies,” an article featured in Dragon #44 (December, 1980), describes various fictional spies in terms of the Top Secret role-playing game.  The article was written by Allen Hammack, “Developer & editor of Top Secret,” along with Merle Rasmussen, “author of Top Secret.”  Incidentally, the article adopts the conceit that the referenced spies are real:  “Strangely enough, many of these actual secret agents have been publicly revealed in books, movies, and on television, but this does not seem to have hampered their effectiveness.”

Converting from the Hammack/Rasmussen data to James Bond 007 is not without difficulty.  The Top Secret Primary Personal Traits are Physical Strength, Charm, Willpower, Courage, Knowledge, and Coordination while the James Bond 007 characteristics are Strength, Dexterity, Willpower, Perception, and Intelligence.  There is no Top Secret rating that equates to 'perception'.  Also, there is no James Bond 007 characteristic that represents 'charm'; however, all James Bond 007 characters have the Charisma skill.  Comparing the Hammack/Rasmussen James Bond to the James Bond 007 James Bond, I derived the following formulae:
  • STRENGTH = (Physical Strength / 12), round up
  • DEXTERITY = (Coordination / 13)
  • WILLPOWER = ([Willpower + Courage] / 20), round down
  • PERCEPTION = ([Courage + Knowledge] / 20)
  • INTELLIGENCE = (Knowledge / 11), round up
  • % of maximum Charisma Skill Levels = (Charm / 1.6)
Hammack and Rasmussen opted not to include bureau classification (i.e., character class) and level with their descriptions; nor did they include “Areas of Knowledge.”  Other than the differences between the Top Secret and James Bond 007 game systems, representing non-Bond characters in James Bond 007 terms can be problematic.  James Bond 007 was designed to capture the James Bond oeuvre – which it does well – as opposed to being generic in scope.  Because of this, the rules may not be able to adequately accommodate characters from other franchises having differing types of missions and levels of realism.  Page 93 explains:
Bond adventures are exciting, glamorous and sophisticated.  They are not the textbook adventures of John LeCarre, or the complex psychological manipu- lations of a Mission: Impossible, or the gritty double and triple-crosses of Robert Ludlum.  The James Bond 007 Game is not designed to cover all subsets of the spy genre, and you will have to experiment with the rules to make them work in other subgenres.
Given these caveats and without further ado, your humble host presents:

No comments:

Post a Comment