Today’s post falls on the anniversary of the BareBones Fantasy release. For those who missed out, BBF was a solid percentile based role-playing game that captured the joys and feels of traditional dungeon crawlers and fantasy games, but with very quick-playing rules and fast-paced charts that allowed you to stock your campaign world in a jiffy. (Feel free to recap with my full review.)
After a very successful launch, BBF continued to be supported with a line of equal quality products that included a brush stroked campaign setting, a book of optional races, a few adventures and even a free e-zine with content provided from the community. Lately, though, DwD studios has been pretty hush the last few months. That’s all about to change!
I’ve been given clearance to talk to you guys about their latest project: Covert Ops. Covert Ops is tag lined as “A BareBones Role-playing Game of Espionage and Paramilitary Adventure.” Think modern action lying somewhere between Bond, Splinter Cell, The A-Team and G.I. Joe. Covert Ops takes the awesome game play that was in BareBones Fantasy, and cranks the action up a few notches with its own twist of modern conflict.
The Character Low-Down
The core rulebook will be familiar to any returning fans. It’s got a slick, reader friendly layout designed to give you the information quick and not hold up game play. The system is built off the same d00Lite mechanics, so if you already known Fantasy you’re going to be at home here. But don’t mistake this for a simple reskinning: there’s a lot more packed under the hood this time.
We have 10 Skills, once again labeled similarly to professions, this time with flavors like Medic, Academic and Soldier. We also have a whole new entry to character creation: Origins, which function as your character’s professional background prior to becoming an agent. Origins are either randomly rolled or may be purchased with Bones (more on those in a bit) to grant a small bonus to your persona.
Another kick-ass new feature is the Maneuvers characters can acquire through the Martial Artist skill. Players of BBF who complained there weren’t any cool advancements for Warrior may be interested in these new abilities. There’s plenty of straightforward options like Hold, Disarm and Acrobat…but then there’s some intense ones like Whirlwind Attack, Nerve Strike and – my favorite – “Insanely Cool Moves” that add a cinematic/action flavor to the game. (Which, by the way, GM’s are free to reel in for those who want a more serious tone.)
And what would a Covert Ops game be without gear? Weapons, vehicles, explosives, and equipment packs for varying professions are just the start here. Bean counting is kept to a minimum using an “Equipment Allowance” mechanic where all items and luxuries are rated in a simple point value for PC’s to deck out their operative. There’s even a streamlined systems for gadgets that will let the GM and players quickly improvise anything they can think of. Oh, did I mention weapon attachments and vehicle upgrades that would make Q proud?
Combat also follows the same core mechanics that we saw in Fantasy: Multiple actions can be performed using a streamlined penalty to the additional actions, you can roll DEX to dodge, etc. What varies up the battlefield now is the prominent use of Ranged weapons, and the importance of cover. Being fired upon out in the open cuts your defensive abilities in half, and with automatic weaponry there’s now the possibility of even hosing down an entire area with burst fire. Vehicle combat is addressed with rules for chases, and maneuvers such as ramming or bumping your targets. Just about any scenario your operatives will encounter in the field – including demolitions and subverting security systems – is covered in the rules here in clean and precise fashion.
Speaking of security systems, Game Masters who enjoyed Fantasy’s tools for dungeon stocking and adventure generation will be happy to see a return of these in Covert Ops. From high-tech security trap generation, adventure creation, to even the tools to develop villains and entire evil organizations for your players to fight…you should never feel worried about prepping for a spy game. There’s even another “broad stroked” setting having players working for the global agency known as SECTOR. I have to give hats off to the DwD guys, since their presentation of the background of this global operation has me not only fiending to run this setting, but it gives me tons of open ideas to run the kind of campaign that I want to run.
More than Just the Core
The Core Rulebook will have everything needed for play, but there’s a lot more coming down the pipeline. At release there will also be a “GM Operations Manual” that provides a lot more tools, options and alternate rules to help the GM build the campaign he wants. It’s all the rules they wanted to include in the Core, but had to trim for size (but were way too awesome not to keep!) And just to let y’all know: it’s roughly the same size as the core book!
There’s also “The Usual Suspects,” a booklet of various archetypes to use as detailed NPC’s in your Covert Ops game. There’s also a handful of quick adventures written up, and I’ve been told of a “standard equipment kit” that will include initiative cards, bones, condition cards, reference sheets and a GM Screen.
With all this in the works, and the drafts I’ve seen, I’m stupid excited to see this game coming out soon. As more information is declassified closer to launch, I’ll make sure to share any intel I have with you guys. In the meantime, you can bookmark the DwD Studios site or follow them on your preferred social media: