I was having a look over the retro-clone Classified which repackages the old James Bond: 007 RPG very faithfully. It’s no secret I’ve been working on and off on a similar project for a few years — slowed and distracted by professional concerns and child care duties. As writing carried on two years ago, I realized that a redesign of a few of the rules were needed. That expanded into tearing the system apart and putting it back together. Here are a few of the points that I’ve been working from:

1) Less freakin’ math! Let’s face it — James Bond: 007 (hereafter JB:007) is a pretty simple setup for character creation…except for the math. No, it’s not GURPS or Champions, where you need to buy time on a supercomputer to build a character in less than a weekend, but the numbers are big enough for people to bone up if they’re working quickly and by hand. This has been rectified. Additionally, I’ve stripped off some of the extraneous stuff you had to buy.

2) Why the hell do Fields of Experience exist? Because no one wanted to buy those as skills in the initial design of JB:007. Fields of Experience have been given actual mechanical effects, and the same goes for Weaknesses. They help define your character, now.

3) Simplify and make consistent the rules. The different mechanics for gambling, seduction, torture, and other aspects of the game were cool in 1983. They’re a headache for GMs used to more streamlined games now. If you want to really capture the excitement of being at the green baize, have the players play baccarat, or whatever, against the GM or each other. Connected to that —

4) Lose the d6. Initiative is based on speed. If two characters have the same speed, roll a d10. Highest wins. There’s another initiative system in the works that might capture the action movie flavor better that I’m working on.

5) Speaking of — modern action movies have had a much different pacing since the 1980s, even Bond movies. Gone are the days of deliberative one shot from a .32 Walther kills a guy at 50 yards…Bond characters may not spray and pray the likes of Martin Riggs of John McClane, but they’ve a lot less ammo discipline in these days of high-capacity magazines. Combat rules are being tweaked to reflect this, and add in things like martial arts styles.

6) Hero points: Only on a 01? Nope. Hero point now look more like plot points/story points/style points of other game systems. You get them for playing to your weaknesses, for good roleplaying, for rolling QR1s, or making good suggestions for how failure might be interpreted.

7) A game’s corebook does not need to be 500 pages and full color to be good. I’m aiming to keep the book cheap, easy to read, and fast to get into playing. There will be a lot of background material on the modern espionage world, policing, etc., and the obligatory short adventure scenario. The goal is a book running about 200 pages.

The goal: Keep all the good stuff about JB:007, lose the bad, and bring these mechanics into the 21st Century.

 

It’s been a hellishly busy couple of weeks. The daughter’s on a massive growth spurt (an inch in a fortnight) and is teething, I finished my certification work to teach history and political science at the University of Phoenix’s Albuquerque campus, and knocked out a chapter for my dissertation. I had to take this past week’s gaming and the weekend off just to maintain my sanity.

I’ve had an offer to work on another game book for a certain game publisher, but I’m looking at getting into my next project — one that, if I can get the funding in order, will lead to a new game product under the Black Campbell label titled (tentatively) Double Aught. Right now, I’m in the process of trying to work out artists and I may already have a layout guy lined up. I will be doing the research, (re)design, and writing for the game. The goal is to have it on the shelves next year, with the pdf coming sometime earlier than that.

I don’t want to do the dickish “we’ll pay you later” or “it’ll get your name out there” thing most of the game companies like to do, so I’m not to the point of putting together contract work yet. I’m hoping I can get a sense of the interest in the product from the blog — so if you are a regular reader, a fan of the James Bond fan material here and think you might be looking for something familiar, but new and fresh…well, I’d appreciate comments. Once the initial rules are wirtten, I’ll be looking for a limited number of playtesters, who will get access to the game’s raw files once ready, and would get a free pdf once it’s put together.

I’m not promising time to market, right now; there’s a lot of other issues to hammer out and I’ve got the dissertation work, teaching, and child care to budget my time around…but I think a working copy of the rulesset by end of summer should be doable.

If you’re interested in the