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I'm currently playing an Aberrant game, and my character ended up being the group's boss by virtue of having all the money. We play normal people who developed superpowers, and we're starting off in South Africa (where the players live), so there's no pressure to join any particular existing faction (because most factions have no presence in South Africa).

Given that we're an unaffiliated group with no particular ideology, we're rather drifting a bit. We don't know which faction to support or oppose, because we have insufficient information to make such decisions. I'd therefore like to send the team on espionage-type missions, so I'm looking for a good espionage RPG, setting or supplement that I can use for inspiration.

Can anyone recommend a rich modern espionage setting that I can incorporate in our game? Bonus points for supplements that are system agnostic and has lots of spy jargon.

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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

    
Hi guys! I'm just reviewing the material suggested in the answers before casting my accept vote. –  Gustav Bertram Jun 9 at 7:24

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Night's Black Agents

The game you are looking for is Kenneth Hite's Night's Black Agents. This GUMSHOE-powered game is about PC spies fighting a conspiracy of vampires and is designed to create a wide variety of action, techno-thriller, espionage, and supernatural play experiences.

It's full of great advice on building conspiracies and running espionage games and scenes. Given that what constitutes a "vampire" is very fluid and flexible in the system, you could easily use the existing guidelines to create a threat for super-powered spies.

It's also full of background detail on world cities and advice on building a city around your PCs.

You could even use the GUMSHOE-powered game Mutant City Blues to build supers in the same system, if you were so enamored of the mechanics that you chose to convert.

But in any case, this is one of the best modern espionage games around and is worth your time to investigate for your current purposes.

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Do you have experience in this system to cite from situations relevant to the asker's? You do put this game in a positive light, but there's a lack of any statement of having played it in here. –  doppelgreener Jun 5 at 22:03
    
I have read the book and am prepping a campaign using the tools provided. Unfortunately I have not gotten to play in an NBA game yet, but given my familiarity with the genre and games to emulate it, I stand by my assertion. –  gomad Jun 6 at 9:35
    
@gomad - perhaps you can point a bit of your answer towards your prep-work; I'd view that as personal experience. In my answer on The Directive, a lot of what will be interesting to the OP IMO was towards the help in preparation, i.e. story seeds, direction in GMing, ready-set intrigue, etc. –  wraith808 Jun 6 at 13:23
    
I'm voting this answer as correct, because it is more suitable to uncovering and opposing the activities of other groups in the game. The Directive supplement, while useful, specifically assumes that you're part of an existing worldwide government organization. –  Gustav Bertram Jun 17 at 10:46

As you're already playing Aberrant, I'd recommend The Directive.

Summary

It's the reference sourcebook for Aberrant on their S.H.I.E.L.D. type agency, and gets dark and dirty in the shadows. The official word when it was created was that there was "a mutual need to monitor the international climate of the Nova Age." Sound ominous enough for you?

This answer is going to be part personal experience, and part review, but the TL;DR summary: It's a book on espionage in the Nova Age, and a lot of background and crunch to back it up. I've used it with great success in an Aberrant game, and wholly recommend it.

Review

The book exists in a strange place in the Aberrant timeline, having been released right before Phase I was introduced- it was the first book in the new time-forwarded phase, and the layout feels like an almagam of those two periods.

The first half of the book is all background and information on the Directive's relationship with the rest of the world, and has some good generic intelligence info, procedures, and terminology. There's no crunch in that area, and because of the layout it can be difficult to read. But there's a wealth of information there.

The second half gets into the systems, with new Backgrounds, Abilities, and gadgets, before getting to the new systems, i.e. creating characters in the Directive. There's a great section on torture and telepathy, privacy laws, bugs and other intelligence gathering devices, and more.

Then it gets into the why... why run a game with the directive? What are some directions you can take with it, and what are some story ideas?

Finally, you have the stat blocks on some of the important personnel. Pretty standard stuff, though there's a few gems within this part, also.

In Use

Back in 2000, I ran a game Dark Aberrant. It was a combination of Cyberpunk and Aberrant, set in a dark future, and the players were affiliated with Project Utopia. Utopia was rotten at the core, and at that core lay a lot of what I used in The Directive. The background and additions in the book directly added to the ability to run the game with a dark spin and shadowy plots and goals. The information on how intelligence worked in a world with Novas was a big help, and the ideas spun up plots that I'd not have thought of otherwise.

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Another GUMSHOE-based game that is essentially a time-traveling version of Night's Black Agents - espionage and intrigue involving past-and-future history and the nefarious manipulation thereof - is Kevin Kulp's TIMEWATCH game. Currently beta material is available with pre-orders for a full color book to be shipped at the end of this year.

TimeWatch Kickstarter Page

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This seems like it should be a comment on the NBA answer rather than an answer by itself, if anything. –  okeefe Jun 5 at 21:55
4  
This is a game recommendation question, so answers must actually cite experience using the game in question. If you've played the beta, please cite your experience in how it's worked for you in situations relevant to the asker's. –  doppelgreener Jun 5 at 22:05
    
I confess that I haven't had the opportunity to play the game with my own group. In spite of my own excitement, my group is pretty hard-core FRPG. I have read transcripts of games run online, and I do have the beta. My lack of actual playtime is not for lack of desire...still - my apologies for the faux pas. –  RobA Aug 19 at 20:04

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