Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Covert Ops Review

Bill at DWD Studios was kind enough to give me a full preview of their forthcoming game, Covert Ops using the D100lite (which powers BareBones Fantasy) system.

First of all, for approximately $9.99 your going to get the Core Rulebook, GM Operation Manual,

Print and Play Condition Cards and Initiative Cards, Enemy Organization Worksheet, Mission Generation Worksheet, Operative Dossier character sheet (also in printer friendly format), Outfitting Reference Sheet, and The Usual Suspects (Pre-Gens at multiple Ranks).

All of the pdf's have Tables of Contents, Indexes and are searchable.

Thats quite a bit of value for your hard earned sheckles.

Here's a rundown of the 110 page Core Rulebook:

If you familiar with BareBones Fantasy you already know how to play Covert Ops.

The system is a roll under percentile system.  Where in opposed situation if the aggressor succeeds and the then the defender succeeds, then nothing bad happens to the defender.  That's the gist, right there.

Your operative begins by choosing an Origin, a background ranging from Artist to Investigator to Wealthy.  It can be randomly rolled or chosen, but choosing your Origin requires the expenditure of a Bone (think Fate point, you get 3 per session).

Next up are the 4 Ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Logic and Willpower.  Abilities can be rolled randomly, or you can assign a pre-rolled set of scores to each ability or in the GM Operation Manuel there is an optional system that allows you prioritize Abilities and randomly roll them.  The range of Ability scores is from 35 to 80 and you generally only roll an Ability as a resistance to something.  For the most part 1/2 of an Ability score serves as the default for most Skills.

Next your operative either randomly rolls or choose 2 out of 10 Skills.  They are Academic, Detective, Leader, Martial Artist, Medic, Pilot, Scout, Soldier, Technician, and Thief.  Choose 1 skill that becomes your primary Skill and add 20% to it's value; choose another to become your secondary Skill and add 10% to it's value; and finally choose one Skill (it can be primary, secondary or neither) to set at Level 1.  With experience you can raise Abilities and Skill Level.

The Skills are more like broad range area of training, not the narrowly focused type in many d20 games.   Soldier for instance is your base percentage to hit in ranged combat (Dex/2 + 10% per Level), but Leader gives you access to special abilities that help your team.  Leader, Medic, and Technician can only be used if you've chosen then as a Skill and Pilot only covers ground vehicles if it has not been chosen as a Skill.  The rest default to Attribute/2 +10% per Level).

Recorded Stats include Body Points (based on Str), Initiative (improved by high Dex and Log), Movement (improved by high Dex and Str), Rank (your relative power compared to other PC's and opponents), Damage Reduction (from armor) and basic Ranged (based on Dex) and Melee (based on Str) Weapons training.

You also choose 2 Descriptors, one beneficial like Kind and one detrimental like Cowardly.  These can award you Bones if you bring them up during play.

Moral Code is next, you will choose an option, like say, Selfless and a dedication like Totally.  The system is designed to help players follow their own drives without forcing them to behave a certain way.

Outfitting your gear is next and is easily presented and pretty quick to understand

Martial Arts (and optionally gun combat in the GM Operations Manual) allow access to Martial Maneuvers that give some extra color to combat.  Each Level in Martial Arts gives you access to a number of Maneuvers based on wether the Skill is primary or not.  You can pick your Maneuver or roll for it.

There is also a whole section on designing your team's Base of Operation that is excellent and in my opinion, quite a bit of fun.

The Game Guidelines section covers the game system, criticals (succeed with doubles and it's a critical success or fail with them and it's a critical failure).  How to use Bones, which gives the players and GM a chance to alter the scene or add damage or reroll an action.

Finally, this section covers the areas of injury, healing, time, initiative, movement, free form range bands, combat, vehicular combat and chase scenes.

Combat is straight forward with Skills providing some variables due to special abilities.  But essentially when I attack I roll 1/2 of an Ability + 10% per rank and if I hit, then my opponent will make a Dex Resistance roll and if successful, I miss.  However, each action taken after the first has a cumulative 20% penalty.  Also, when Resisting gun attacks, the defender is at a Disadvantage which means they only use Dex/2.  Rules for burst fire, spraying a crowd and full auto are well defined, yet a simple short burst option can be used to speed play.

The GM Guidelines section is all about how to use the system and run a game.  It's concise and very helpful.  It also features threats and NPC's and even Master Villains.

The final section details SECTOR, an organization to recruit Operatives for your game.  It's pretty well written and is an excellent launchpad.

As one of many added bonuses, the GM Operation Manual is chock full of explanations why decisions were made, great optional rules to add to your game and straight forward ways to expand and utilize the system.  It adds excellent value to an already well crafted product.

I think Covert Ops is a great entry into a genre that has plenty of room for expansion.  It favorably compared to memories I have of TSR's Top Secret/S.I. game, but treads its own ground.  I truly enjoy that the D100lite system is internally consistent and easy to learn, use and modify.  And if you want to add any supernatural elements to the game, BareBones Fantasy's Skills and monsters are completely compatible.

According to Bill at DWD Studios, they hope to have the PDF and POD book for sale before the end of December.  The Initiative Cards and Condition Cards will also be available for POD, as well.

If you already play BareBones Fantasy, your aware of the quality that DWD Studios puts into their products.  If your unfamiliar, but want to get into the spy/action genre, Covert Ops is the right place to start.

I really can't recommend Covert Ops enough, and it's definitely worth the wait.
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