My initial approach to this was Alias + Cthulhu + Mouse Guard, though a I think a few tweaks could handle a slightly wider variety of espionage or investigation genres. I just wanted to throw out there what I’ve got so far and see if anyone has more ideas or comments.
The PCs will be a team of spies working for some sort of covert intelligence agency. They’ve discovered that their boss, Gwendolyn Sloan, is actually not who they thought and they suspect her of being in league with some, possibly alien, enemy. They report their suspicions and are asked to remain as double agents. Each is assigned a handler and they are given companion or counter missions to each mission that Gwendolyn assigns them.
Nature (Human) is trusting, helping, acquiescing, and disbelieving.
A spy with a Nature 0 has become so hardened that they no longer trust anyone but themselves and see monsters everywhere. Some typical traits would be Paranoid, Narcissistic, and Murderous.
A spy with Nature 7 has lost their edge, taking no notice of the dangers, and has no desire to engage in conflict. Typcial traits would be Meek, Dim, and Unimaginative.
Conditions are Healthy, Paranoid, Tired, Angry, Injured, and Scared
The PCs are assigned a Target to investigate by Gwendolyn. This is a long-term enemy mastermind or organization. The investigation of the Target replaces the seasonal structure. The Target will be rated from 4 to 7, representing his/her/it’s influence and power. The PCs and the Target will each generate a disposition. Before each mission, each will choose an objective (attack, defend, feint, maneuver). If the Target disposition is reduced to 0, the PCs have captured or otherwise neutralized the Target. If the PC disposition is reduced to 0 first, the Target will have achieved it’s goal chosen by the GM when creating the Target. Minor and Major compromises are possible (and likely). The Debriefing Session will be played after either the PCs or Target disposition reaches 0 - this covers everything the Winter Session does.
The four Hazards are The Target (minions, counter-intelligence), Technology (equipment failures, experimental gadgets), Monsters (aliens, great old ones, whatever supernatural elements you want to include), and Spies (enemies, special agents of the Target, friends with conflicting goals).
• Premise – The characters must maintain their cover while thwarting plots that threaten the world and trying to unravel the motives behind the villains.
• Missions – Spy missions, often with dual objectives from their real bosses and their villain boss.
• Overarching Conflict – Infiltration of the world by alien monsters from another realm
• Territories – The real world
• Denizens – People and various types of alien monsters
• Conflicts – Arguing/Seducing, Brainwashing, Chasing, Fighting, Fighting Monsters, Hacking, Infiltration, Interrogation, Manhunt, Negotiating, Raiding, Speaking Publicly
• Skills – Acrobat, Administrator, Analyst, Athlete, Burglar, Conspicuous, Craftsman, Cryptographer, Deceiver, Demolishonist, Driver, Gunslinger, Hacker, Haggler, Healer, Inconspicuous, Instructor, Laborer, Martial Artist, Tinkerer, Navigator, Observer, Occultist, Orator, Persuader, Profiler, Scientist, Survivalist, Tactician, -Wises
• Weapons – Guns, Disguises, Gadgets, Bulletproof Vests, Warrants, etc.
• Abilities – Haven’t gotten to this yet.
• Traits – Alert, Ambitious, Bitter, Bold, Chameleon, Composed, Criminal, Extrovert, Fiery, Flashy, Generous, Gregarious, Honest, Jaded, Leader, Nerdy, Paranoid, Prepared, Spoiled, Stone-Cold, Suspicious, Thrifty
– I’m just highlighting the major departures/updates from the core rules
Ranks: Recruit, Agent, Special Agent, Team Leader, Deputy Director
* Do you assume that people are generally good and honest until proven otherwise? If so, increase your Nature by 1. You may not take the Suspicious or Alert traits.
* When confronted, do you stand your ground and fight or do you run and hide? If you run and hide, increase your Nature by 1. Decrease your starting Tactician skill, if you take it, by 1.
* Do you believe in horrific monsters stalking humanity from the shadows? If you do not, increase your Nature by 1. Decrease your starting Occultist skill, if you take it, by 1.
Childhood skills: Acrobat, Athlete, Craftsman, Demolishonist, Gunslinger, Haggler, Inconspicuous, Laborer, Martial Artist, Navigator, Observer, or Scientist.
Parents’ skills: Acrobat, Administrator, Analyst, Athlete, Craftsman, Cryptographer, Demolishonist, Gunslinger, Haggler, Inconspicuous, Instructor, Laborer, Martial Artist, Navigator, Observer, Occultist, Profiler, or Scientist.
Favorite teacher skills: Acrobat, Administrator, Analyst, Athlete, Craftsman, Cryptographer, Demolishonist, Gunslinger, Haggler, Inconspicuous, Instructor, Laborer, Martial Artist, Navigator, Observer, Occultist, Profiler, or Scientist.
Mentor (in Intelligence Community) skills: Burglar, Conspicuous, Driver, Hacker, Healer, Tinkerer, Occultist, Survivalist, or Tactician.
Experience skills: Burglar, Conspicuous, Driver, Hacker, Healer, Tinkerer, Occultist, Survivalist, or Tactician.
Recruits add Laborer
Agents add Haggler
Special Agents add Profiler
Team Leaders add Persuader and Scientist
Deputy Directors add Administrator, Orator, Gunslinger, Martial Artists, and Demolishionist
Specialty skills: Burglar, Conspicuous, Driver, Hacker, Healer, Tinkerer, Occultist, Survivalist, or Tactician.
* Do you have a side business for yourself? If so increase Resources by 1. You must have an appropriate skill and you may not take the Leader trait to start since you’re too busy.
* Are your parents wealthy? If so, increase your Resources by 1. Your parents must have Administrator, Craftsman, Haggler, or Scientist skill listed and may not be spies themsleves.
* Do you like to buy gifts for yourself and your friends? If so, decrease your Resources by 1.
* Are you thrifty? If so, increase your Resources by 1. You may not take the Generous trait to start.
* Have you ever been in debt? Or are you generally bad with money? If so, decrease Resources by 1.
* Do you always pack carefully for a mission, ensuring you have everything you need? If so, increase your Resources by 1. You may not take the Bold or Fiery traits to start.
* Are you Gregarious? Do you have lots of friends? Do you make friends easily? If so, increase Circles by 1. You may not take Bitter or Jaded traits.
* Do you have strong ties to the intelligence community? Perhaps a family tradition or allies who are spies? If so, increase Circles by 1. Either your parents must be spies or your mentor must be family.
* Has your character accomplished some great task as a spy? Does he already have a reputation? If so, increase your Circles by 1.
* Does your character have powerful enemies? If so, reduce Circles by 1.
* Has your character been convicted of a crime? If so, reduce Circles by 1.
* Is your character a loner, tough and cool? If so, reduce Circles by 1. You may not take the Extrovert trait.
Call Sign (replaces cloak color)
Handler: This is the spy that you communicate through to receive orders and make reports to your true superiors while performing undercover. Briefly describe what kind of relationship you have with your Handler - good, bad, or indifferent.