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Forcing the Covert

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I’ve been thinking about, plotting, and planning a new RPG campaign. This one is going to be a modern Covert Forces style campaign. Now, in the past, there would have been no dilemma—I would have run it in d20 modern, the game for which Covert Forces was designed. My problem this time is that I have fallen out of love with d20 Modern.

Don’t get me wrong, d20 Modern was my favourite Wizards of the Coast d20 product. I liked it better than D&D 3/3.5, even for fantasy. The thing is, I am now interested in decidedly un-crunchy systems. Just a perusal of my free RPG, SES, will reveal that. But for a modern, covert military game, will rules-light work? Will the abstract combat system scratch the itch?

Part of me still thinks I need a crunchy system to run modern military. Although it was what I chose to run my Spec Ops game for Games on Demand at Gen Con 2011—which never did get played—I’m left concerned that even True20 is too light. When I started thinking up this campaign—and no, I won’t be getting into the specifics of this new campaign in this post—I was thinking about using Spycraft 2.0. I would, of course, use a hacked version . . . because that’s what I do. Covertcraft, if you will.

But why does modern military need to be crunchy? I used to be the same way with historical games. My initial thought for Kiss My Axe—my soon to be released RPG of Viking mayhem—was to go somewhat crunchy, something on the level of True20. For some reason which I have been unable to elucidate, robust rules seemed necessary for a historical game. Chris Groff—the man whose superpower is to break games—challenged me on that, saying a hack of Sword Noir would work fine.

That made me ask myself what I was trying to accomplish with KMA, and how I could meet that goal. It made me list my inspirations. That led me to the realization that what I really wanted was a game that delivered cinematic excitement, and that led me to realize I didn’t need robust rules at all. A hack of Sword Noir it is!

So now I’m wondering what I want to do with this modern campaign. Knowing that no game I would wish to run can provide any level of “realism”—whatever the heck that actually means when applied to an RPG—and knowing that I’m not really seeking “realism” anyway, I’m forced to once again reconsider my intentions.

What the heck am I trying to achieve in this campaign?

Stay tuned as I try to figure that out.

You can find Covert Forces Redux here.

You can find lots of other modern military stuff here.

You can still have a gander at d20 Modern, if you have not yet examined it.

And you can find SES for free here.

I posted the pre-gens for the Games on Demand Spec Ops game at SEP.

Both True20 and Spycraft 2.0 are excellent games, just no longer the kind of games I want to run.

Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death should be out soon. You can find more information here.

Go buy Sword Noir: A Role-Playing Game of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery here.

2 thoughts on “Forcing the Covert”

  1. What about Chuck Rice’s Modern20? Crunchy and fun all at the same time. Then there is my personal favorite… Savage Worlds. Great for noir but also great for modern military and miltary sci-fi (which is proven by the excellent Necropolis 2350).

    Just some thoughts.


  2. I like both Modern20 and Savage Worlds–in fact, the last Spec Ops game I ran was in Modern20 and I had written up characters in Savage Worlds for another. But I’m wondering if they will do what I want them to do now that I’m getting more comfortable with lighter games. That’s the real dilemma. Stay tuned, I have some thoughts on the way.

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