In the old days of role-playing there were charts. Charts begat more charts and you had to reference additional charts to see what the first charts meant. For some it was grand time. For others, they had yet to be born.
When CADave and I got back into the Top Secret books, the charts were one of the first things that popped out at us. The reason we wanted to explore running the system again is because of a sense of ridiculousness that we experienced when playing the game around 2001. Everything was super expensive for low technology (Radio receiver – $200), but with the right weapon you could pull off some amazing shots. Having been players in those games and not the GM, we had no idea what really went into it. Also – we think the GM may have fudged half the rules.
The system is based on 100 point character values. You roll percentile dice and add set numbers based on the range of roll to determine your primary stats, like Physical Strength, Willpower, Charm. For secondary stats you take two of the primaries, add them up and divide by 2. Deception is (Courage+Charm)/2. Finally, for the tertiary stats you take a primary trait and secondary trait and add them together.
All knowledge skills are in a range from 51-13. This is based on rolling percentiles and adding certain numbers based on the range of your roll.
Depending on the situation you are in, there are a ton of modifiers. For both weapon rolls and skill rolls you want to roll under your skill.
We figured out quickly that this is a super deadly system. When we were trying out the combat while relearning the rules, my demo character took his first shot and killed Gammon’s character. They were using basic pistols at short range. The other thing we learned that it really depends on the gun you are using as to how well you will hit. Pistols are worthless beyond Point Blank (0-3ft.), but you can nail almost anything with a 3 round burst of a semiautomatic weapon from Medium (51ft – 600ft). Once we brought out the .50cal it was game on for anyone that touched that sucker.
With hand to hand things were way different. We only used Judo and untrained because the other forms were pretty complicated for a con game. When a player is in hand to hand combat, there are choices to be made on the aforementioned charts. If they are in possession of the combat (upper hand) then they can choose one offensive move. The defender then chooses two defensive moves. The “Administrator” (GM) then determines what happens based on the better outcome for the defender. The process requires the referencing of the two separate charts.
Since the older nature of the game was a draw to us, we wanted to highlight the historical aspect of the game. We wanted to make it someplace fun that people can identify with even if the they don’t know history and also wanted there to be an international flair to the game. With that in mind we thought the easiest way to get all the characters in one place and working together would be have it centered around the UN. We decided that the opening of Disney World would be the perfect time. We did a lot of research and made all the characters from the representative countries of the UN security council in 1972. We also included their countries position in the world and a background of the leaders from their country that would be in attendance. A lot of this was included after the playtest and made a big difference.
The game included poison churros, cotton candy sniper, balloon vendor terrorists and the takeover of the Jungle Cruise. The one disappointment is that we never got to run the chase scene on the skyway since both the playtest and the con game players killed the sniper before he could make his break.
Our favorite part of the game was the giveaways. We had Mickey Mouse ears made for all the players with their character names stitched on. It was great to look at all the tables in the room and see one with mouse ears. Everyone wore the ears the entire game. We handed each player an authentic brochure of Disney World from the early 70’s so they could follow along with the combat maps from a higher level. Finally, we were able to provide a piece of art signed by Erol Otus, one of the original Top Secret/TSR artists. The guy that won was ridiculously excited about it and that made us super happy.
Overall it went very well and the players seemed to have a good time. The research aspect and setting up the fluff of the game was a lot of fun. It has given us the motivation to run another favorite game from our past. Rifts – coming soon to a con near you.