Spycraft is a pair of games based on D20, the first edition of which was printed in 2002, the second in 2005, both by AEG. Due to financial difficulties, AEG axed the line shortly after the release of second edition, but three of the writers got together to form Crafty Games and negotiated the license from AEG to keep the game in print. They've since gone on to reprint Spycraft 2.0 (with some improved organization, but with B&W printing of an all-color design ), and released Fantasy Craft, their take on D&D style fantasy and also a D20 derivative; the licensed Mistborn RPG; and Little Wizards, an expanded English edition of a French game (Fun fact: the designer of that game is also a boardgame designer with several well-regarded gamed, including 7 Wonders and Ghost Story. ).
Spycraft 2.0 doesn't start with the usual “What is roleplaying?” bit lots of games have, instead talking about it's own history, some of the design behind it and differences between it and its predecessor.
The game let's us know we have a license to improvise! Spycraft wants to be the "ultimate modern genre toolkit" game; it defaults to the superspy action genre but can be modified for everything from “gritty, hard-edged techno thriller” to “campy, gonzo martial arts epics”. This means it has intricate mechanics to cover lots of situations so s need never be without the cold comfort of math.
We get descriptions of how Spycraft 2.0 differs from both the D20 OGL and the original Spycraft.
Differences from D20:
No Multiclassing XP Penalties (Who even used those anyway?)
No Attacks of Opportunity
No Challenge Rating (A brand new system for creating encounters and challenges is included)
Vitality and Wounds (Spycraft uses “action movie near-miss” Vitality points and “real meat damage” Wound points in lieu of D&D hit points)
New Skill System (Modified skills for the modern genre)
Action Dice (The “heroes edge,” usable sort of like fate points/hero points/story points/etc in lots of other games)
Error Ranges (The failure equivalent of critical threat ranges)
And here’s another important difference, hinted at in that last entry: In most of the d20 system, a roll can have two results: success or failure. Combat adds “super success” critical hits, and it’s a common house rule to add in “fumble” effects on a roll of 1 with an attack, while a few places here and there give bad results on a 1 as well.
Spycraft adds four extra possible results on rolls pretty much everywhere throughout the system. If you roll a number within your Threat Range, you get a “Threat,” a sort of exceptional success. You can then spend an Action Die to turn it into a super awesome Critical Success. On the flip side, rolling within your Error Range is a really bad failure called an “Error,” and an enemy (the Game Control if a player rolled it, a player if the GC did) can spend an Action Die to turn it into a Critical Failure. These can all occur on skill checks, combat rolls and more. There’s all kinds of effects that can fiddle with these ranges and the amount of Action Dice needed.
Also, the Game Control is the Spycraft version of the Dungeon Master, if you hadn't guessed.
This is the only picture in this section
Differences from 1.0:
I have no familiarity with first edition, these taken straight from the list in the book.
Campaign Qualities (Mechanics for customization to fit a campaign)
Origins (Replaces “Departments,” which served as an equivalent of races in D&D)
New Gear System (A radical departure from the traditional method of handling equipment)
Improved Gadgets (Player customized items)
Dramatic Conflicts (Subsystems for things like hacking, seduction, manhunts and interrogation)
Expert Class Prerequisites (The Prestige Class equivalent, now easier to enter than ever)
Interests (Replaced a skill with a more robust system for peripheral character hobbies)
Subplots (Character specific story lines)
Combat (Modified for greater realism )
Stress Damage (Mechanics for psychological stress and trauma)
Subdual Damage (Non-lethal injury)
NPC Design (Modular system for everything from mooks to supervillains)
Typed out a great post about some of the stuff I actually like about Spycraft, on my phone no less, and fucking lost it.
After character creation is the Skills chapter.
Like in standard D20, skill checks are made as a roll of a d20 plus modifier, skills are bought in ranks and add ability modifiers to their rolls.
Spycraft defines three types of skill check. Active checks are ones that the player rolls and has full knowledge of. Secret checks are rolled by the GC and have their results hidden until they become obvious but characters can still take 10/20 on them, boost them with action dice, get synergy bonuses etc. Passive checks are even more restricted, disallowing all of these.
Spycraft has a list of 30 skills: Acrobatics, Analysis, Athletics, Blend, Bluff, Bureaucracy, Computers, Cultures, Drive, Electronics, Falsify, Impress, Intimidate, Investigation, Manipulate, Mechanics, Medicine, Networking, Notice, Profession, Resolve, Science, Search, Security, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Sneak, Streetwise, Survival, Tactics.
You know how some games have kind of vague descriptions for skills, where all the ‘rules’ for some can be summed up as “use this skill to do some stuff!”? Spycraft is not that kind of game. Those 30 skills have between them 86 different skill checks with specific mechanics for using them. The skill descriptions go for nearly 70 pages . There’s also a table spanning three pages that describes which skills give synergy bonus to which skill checks.
Some of these skills are way to broad for proper , like Security and Drive, so they have Focuses, which is a narrower subset of the skill the character is actually competent at. Luckily, they aren't tracked separately so you're as good at Science(Math) as with Science(Genetics). You can also have Fortes, which are focuses you're especially good at and gain a small bonus with.
There are some special rules with skills in general as well:
Skill checks have result caps determined by their rank in the skill used. This means that to be good at a skill means getting ranks to actually be good at the skill, no crazy stacking bonuses here. Rolling a Threat removes the cap, and spending an action die increases the cap by the amount rolled on it.
If a skill check result is 75+, it is a “Triumph”, a display of mastery equivalent to an Olympic record or historic speech. This grants 10% bonus XP to the character and their teammates, and improves the disposition of all the NPCs that witnessed it because it is just that incredible.
There are no “knowledge” skills in Spycraft. Instead, characters have a Knowledge check modifier equal to their Intelligence + total level they use for the same purpose.
Almost every character showing any cleavage looks like they're wearing a very hardcore pushup bra
Long term skill uses are called Complex Tasks and require 2 to 10 separate checks to complete.
The game provides a long list of "skill tags", generic common effects that modify a check. They are:
Armor Check Penalty (ACP) - Suffer a penalty based on the armor you wear.
Bribe (BRB) - You can replace this check with a special Bribe check for the same result.
Complex Task (CMT) - This check is a complex task, requiring a series of rolls.
Concentration (CNC) - The check requires absolute attention, preventing taking 10/20, rendering you flat-footed, fails if you take damage and requires 8+ hours of work per day if it takes more than 8 hours to perform.
Cross-Check (XCK) - This check is a secret check normally, but can be made active by taking x3 as long.
Crowd (CWD) - Can target 10+ regular NPCs as a crowd, with roll bonus, error range modifier and bribe cost based on the size of the crowd..
Disposition (DSP) - Modified by the disposition of the target towards you.
Flat-Footed (FLT) - You're flat-footed if you fail or get an Error when using this skill.
Gear (GER) - You need certain gear to use this check, and suffer penalties without it.
Gear Only (GRO) - As above, except that without the gear the check is flat out impossible.
Grasp (GSP) - You need to handle an object to use this skill. Seriously, they wrote rules for this.
Hands-On (HDO) - Gotta use both hands.
Hearing (HER) - This check requires listening. We'll go more over that later.
Language (LNG) - This check is more difficult if you and the target don't share a common language.
Project Investment (PJI) - Requires an amount of time and money based on the difficulty.
Remote (RMT) - This check can affect targets indirectly, ie. through media, intermediares, etc. but has a penalty to do so.
Vision (VIS) - As hearing, except using the gooey round see-ears in the front of the head.
I was going to list them all out but fuck it; screens instead:
I intended to complain about how ridiculous having so many skills is but I looked up the Pathfinder SRD and realized that it actually has more skills, counting the knowledge skills (and also that just shy of 1/3 of the Pathfinder skill list is knowledge skills). The Spycraft rules are definitely much more comprehensive.
Actually, I can still complain about it (there are too many skills).
Some standout skill uses:
Athletics check to move faster.
While 3.5 divided stealth into "be unseen" and "be quiet", Spycraft has "passive" Blend and "active" Sneak. I don't know why they're different.
To look for stuff there's "large scale" Investigation and "small scale" search.
Lots of checks involving the manipulation of the opinion of some characters towards others.
Medicine can be used to give a character therapy, removing stress damage.
Science can be used for everything from writing computer software to creating diseases, with the right focus.
Page 171 is the start of the Feats chapter
Feats are divided into bunches of groups.
The Basic Combat feats also contain lots of special tactical feats that a character gives to their team.
Melee Combat feats give general melee combat abilities as well as special skills with everything from knives and clubs to polearms and axes. These ones give special combat “tricks” (Moves you can do in a fight) and “stances” (fighting style bonuses). For example, Knife Basics give you a Stance called “Circling Stance” that makes you knife attacks harder to avoid if you have room to maneuver around your enemy and the “Between the Ribs” Trick where you inflict Sneak Attack damage with a special attack.
Ranged Combat feats serve the same purpose for ranged combat and gives capabilities with automatic fire, close quarters gunfights, long range marksmanship.
Unarmed Combat feats provide modifiers for all sorts of fighting without weapons. The game provides suggestions for how you can combine feats to emulate various martial arts styles.
Chance feats manipulate luck, both yours and your enemy’s.
Chase feats, despite the name, are about all kinds of vehicle operation.
Covert feats are all about hiding and secrecy. Amusingly, there’s like three feats that are all about knocking out people with surprise attacks.
Gear feats have to do with making best use of your equipment and your lifestyle.
Basic Skill feats give general improvements to some of a character's skills. Each provides a +2 bonus to checks with two particular skills and expands their threat range to 19-20, as well as allowing access to the Advanced Skill Feats.
The Advanced Skill feats provide a lot of various benefits while using skills.
Style feats are all about influence. Lots of them give you a network of acquaintances in certain social circles and others modify attempts to influence others.
Terrain feats involve the environment, from a characters familiarity with it to talent with manhunts (both executing and avoiding).
Tradecraft feats are those abilities that every master spy needs, from interrogation techniques and cover identities to use of surveillance equipment and analysis.
Spycraft feats are a lot more powerful, flavorful and character defining than they are/were throughout pretty much all of 3.X. Some are still kind of shitty though, like Weapon Focus is in and still dumb and bad.
Glock 26, Glock 27, Glock 28, Glock 29, Glock 30, Glock 33, H&K P7, Kimber Ultra Carry, Makarov PB, Makarov PM, SiG-Sauer P239, Walther PP/PPK, Beretta 950 Jetfire, Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket, COP, Inc. COP, General Motors Liberator FP-45, Kel-Tec P3AT, RSA OTs-21, Sharps Model 1A, Beretta 92, Beretta 93R, Colt M1911A1, Distinject Model 35, FN Browning High-Power, FN Five-seveN, Glock 17/17L, Glock 18, Glock 20, Glock 21, Glock 22/24, Glock 31, H&K Mk. 23, H&K USP, Luger P08, Magnum Research Desert Eagle, Ruger Mark III, SiG-Sauer P210, SiG-Sauer P220, SiG-Sauer P226, SiG-Sauer P229, Walther P99/Smith & Wesson SW99. Colt Detective Special. NAA Mini-Revolver. Smith & Wesson J-Frame Bodyguard. Smith & Wesson J-Frame Chef’s Special, Smith & Wesson J-Frame LadySmith, Ruger Super Redhawk, Smith & Wesson Model 500, Smith & Wesson Model 629, Colt Police Positive, Colt Python, Colt Single Action Army, Manurhin MR-73, Taurus Model 608, Webley Mk. 6, C.G. Haenel StG.44, Colt Commando, Colt M16, Colt M16A1, Colt M16A2/M16A4, Colt M16A3, Colt M4/M4A1, Colt M4 SOPMOD, Enfield L85A1/L85A2, FN FAL/FN FAL “Para”, GIAT FAMAS F1/G2, H&K G36, H&K G36C, H&K G36K, H&K G3A3/G3A4, H&K G3SG/1, H&K HK33A2/HK33A3, H&K HK33SG1, H&K HK53A2/HK53A3, NORINCO QBZ-95/QBZ-97, RSA AK-47/AKS, RSA AK-74/AKS-74, RSA AK-101, RSA AK-74U/AKS-74U-UBN, Springfield Armory M14, Steyr AUG, AI AW, AI AW Covert, AI AW-50, AI AWM, AMP DSR-1, Dan-Inject IM, FN Ultima-Ratio Hecate II, FN Ultima-Ratio Mini-Hecate, FN Ultima-Ratio UR Commando II, Lee-Enfield SMLE DeLisle Carbine, Lee-Enfield SMLE Number 1 Mark 3, Lee-Enfield SMLE Number 2, Lee-Enfield SMLE Number 4 Mark I, Lee-Enfield SMLE Number 5, Mauser Model 1898, Mosin-Nagant M1891, Remington 700, Simonov PTRD, Springfield Armory M1903, Weatherby Mark V, Barrett M82A1, H&K MSG-90, H&K PSG-1, KAC SR25, NORINCO KBU-88, RSA Dragunov SVD, RSA SVU, Ruger 10/22, Ruger Mini-14/Mini-30, Simonov SKS, Springfield Armory M1 Garand, Springfield Armory M21, Browning Superposed, Charles Daly Field II Hunter, Savage Arms Model 24, Winchester Model 21, Browning BPS Stalker, KAC Masterkey, Remington 870/870P, Truvelo Neostead, Winchester Model 1897, Benelli Super 90 M1 Practical, Benelli Super 90 M1 Tactical, Benelli M4 Super 90, Browning Auto-5, Daewoo USAS-12, Franchi SPAS-12, Franchi SPAS-15, Reutech Striker, Saiga 12K, CZ Skorpion,H&K MP5K,H&K MP7A1,IMI Micro-Uzi, MAC M10, MAC M11, Steyr TMP, FN P90, German State Arsenal MP-40, H&K MP5A4/MP5A5, H&K MP5SD5/MP5SD6, H&K MP5/10 and MP5/40, H&K UMP, IMI Uzi, IMI Mini-Uzi, RSA Bizon-2, Sten Mk. II/Mk. II(S), Thompson M1928, Browning M1918 BAR,Enfield L86A1 LSW, FN Minimi/Minimi Para, NORINCO QJY-88, RSA RPK/RPK-74, Steyr AUG Hbar, FN MAG, German State Arsenal MG-42, RSA PK, Saco M60, Browning M2hB, General Electric M134, RSA DShK, RSA KPV
Let's just crank this out.
Two big differences from the regular D20 we know and “love” are the fluid initiative, where your initiative score in a round can change based on the actions you take, and armor providing damage reduction instead of making you harder to hit. Other than that, anyone solidly familiar with D20 combat can likely suss out the rest with minimal fuss. There’s a billion different actions you can take and lots of conditions and special rules for different damage types. (The damage from vacuum exposure and lasers have their own damage modifiers, for example)
There are a few noteworthy particulars:
First, there's a table for the starting distance between participants in combat based on terrain.
Critical hits don't do extra damage. Instead there are three possible effects, based on who is getting hit. If a Special Character (including PCs) with any vitality points left is hit, the attacker can spend an action die to inflict damage to Wounds instead, and if the damage exceed the targets Constitution, two dice may be spent to cause a critical injury. With no Vitality, the damage automatically goes to Wounds and a critical injury requires only one die.
Against Standard Characters (Mook NPCs), vehicles and items, one to four dice can be spent and each causes them to be affected as though they had failed that many damage saves along with having to roll normally to resist the damage.
Spending no dice on a Threat means it stays only a Threat.
There's a table for what happens on critical misses based on the number of dice spent to activate it and the type of attack.
Characters with Vitality and Wounds don't suffer any effect from damage until any of the following occur:
- Being reduced to 0 Vitality or losing any Wounds makes you fatigued.
- Unconscious at 0 Wounds, dying a -1 or lower, dead at -10 and body destroyed at -25.
- With 25+ damage in a single hit, make a Fort save or take a critical injury, if the damage is 50+ you also start dying on a failed save.
Standard NPCs just have a damage save to resist damage, instead of having to track Wounds and Vitality. This doesn't cut down on bookkeeping however, because each save is made against the total amount of damage they've taken in combat, so
There's special rules for lots of different damage types:
Acid for corrosive substances.
Bang is for things like the disorienting effects of sudden loud noises like flashbangs.
Cold damage for temperatures below freezing.
Collision damage from things running into other things.
Contagion damage from poison, disease, radiation and chemicals.
Electrical damage shocks the fuck out of you.
Explosive damage from bombs and what not. Spreads out and lessens with distance.
Falling damage from... guess.
Fire damage for burnin'.
Flash damage for blinding and disorienting lights.
Heat damage is the opposite of cold, for temperatures over 90 Fahrenheit.
Laser damage, for lasers, which cannot be dodged. :science101:
Sneak Attack damage is this seriously a special damage type, what the hell.
Stress damage for when the rat race just starts getting to you.
Subdual damage is non-lethal.
Vacuum damage IN SPACE.
Table for hearing and vision modifiers. For example, in "Dim" light, a character's "Visual Increment" is reduced by 30ft. (In Spycraft, perception checks are affected by range the same way attack rolls are.)
Lots of different actions, including different ones for punching and kicking.
Dramatic Conflicts !
These rules are for non-combat conflicts that are important enough to warrant some more attention than just a complex skill challenge.
Each dramatic conflict has a Predator and Prey, the sides seeking to achieve something and avoid it, respectively. How close they are is represented by Lead. The predator wins at 0 Lead and the prey at 10.
The dramatic conflicts are Chases (predator is trying to catch the prey), Brainwashing (the predator seeks to alter the mind of the prey), Hack (the predator tries to compromise a computer system guarded by the prey), Infiltration (the predator wants to worm their way into the working of the prey organization), Interrogation (the predators try to extract information from the prey), Manhunt (the predator is looking to track down the prey) and Seduction (the predator seeks to subvert and co-opt the prey).
Each conflict has its own skills and Strategies that each side can use. Each round, each side in the conflict picks a Strategy and makes a roll with a skill determined by the strategy and with results set by the same. The winner gets to select Advantages that can give Lead to various side advantages.
There are mechanics for organizations, including the faction that Faction-affiliated characters work for.
Organizations have five ratings: Goals, History, Tools, Image and Sites.
Goals are what the organization seeks to achieve . The organization can provide members involved in activities related to their Goals extra action dice. These range from skill checks to triggering events in the game.
History is important events that shaped the organization. Members gain bonuses to action dice rolls for certain skill checks based on the history of their organization.
Image is how well known the organization goals, methods, leaders, members and sites are. This can either protect members via good public reputation or help them remain secret.
Sites are important locations and facilities for the organization,providing bonuses to request checks and reducing the time for them.
Tools increase the access to high quality equipment an organization's members have. Normally, members are limited to a maximum caliber of II. Each point of Tools let's the organization increase this maximum caliber in two gear categories.
Fanservice ninja twins
Finally is Chapter 7 for the Game Control.
Some of the stuff in here is hilarious. There's a lot of rules in here that, for another game, would just be advice and suggestions.
Starting off, we soon learn what the GC can spend their action dice on:
- Boosting an NPC roll or defence.
- Boosting the DC of a roll.
- Activating an NPC threat or enemy error.
- Heal an NPC.
- Promote a standard NPC to a special character.
- Save a Special NPC from death or capture.
- Add a campaign quality.
- Prompt a dramatic scene.
spend action dice to prompt “events,” impromptu
obstacles and crises that make the player characters’ lives more
interesting. Events are incredible GC tools, allowing him to nudge the
players when they grow idle, shake up a flagging scene, or respond
to in-game events with logical consequences.
"Friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.