Miscellaneous Equipment

by Chris Crawshaw and Dave McAlister

Cell Phone Filtration Program

This a piece of computer software that is used to filter and restrict all cell phone communications signal traffic in a given area by taken control of the cells covering that region. Anyone attempting to initiate a call from within the restricted cell receives their usual network’s busy tone. Should someone outside of the restricted cell, or someone calling from a landline, call a cell phone that is within the restricted cell, they will hear an engaged tone. This restriction can be bypassed by adding a predetermined prefix to affected calls.

The software must be physically loaded into each cell’s control centre and properly configured prior to it’s effective use. To utilise this software correctly, an agent must make an INT check (this check can be modified by +10 if the agent has the Computer Aptitude advantage). Success means that the software has been successfully installed. Failure indicates that the software has not been correctly installed, thereby leaving a “window” through which calls may pass. The size of this window is determined by the amount by which the check is failed.

For example, Luther Stickle has an INT of 78 and also has the Computer Aptitude advantage. This gives him a 88% chance of correctly setting up the Filtration Program. Unfortunately, the player rolls a 94, this allows a 6% chance of a call getting through the program.

Forearm Mounted Grapnel

This is a small collapsible titanium alloy grapnel attached to an extremely thin 30′ nylon polymer line housed within a 1″ diameter, 8″ long tube. The tube is mounted on a forearm assembly also housing a small compressed gas cylinder and a small but powerful electric motor.

To use this wonderful contraption, the wearer snaps his wrist sharply into the receiving position and the grapnel tube slides forward into the palm of the hand. The outside of the tube has 3 buttons, the first fires the grapnel using a short burst of compressed gas. As the grapnel leaves the tube assembly and is clear of the users hand, three tines snap into place. The second button activates the winch motor. The motor is usually calibrated to the users bodyweight to a maximum of 200lbs. Towards the upper limits of the motor strength, ascent will be extremely slow. The strain on the motor can be relieved by the user assisting in the effort (i.e. running up a wall). The third button releases the grapnel into the users hand. This can then be attached to a suitable anchor point and the user can lower himself using the motors gearing to slow his descent. A second press, or first press if the grapnel has been fired, retracts the tines and reels in the line.

Due to its size (2″ long by 1/2″ diameter) the gas cylinder is only good for 2 uses although it is easily replaceable. The power cell, which is about the size of an average mobile phone battery pack, has a half-hour duration and a 5 minute recharge time or can simply be replaced with a fully charged spare.

GPS Vehicle Alarm System

This system can be fitted to any vehicle. On activation, the system takes a reading from the GPS network. If the vehicle is moved from this position an alert is sent to the nearest Orion facility. The tracking facility then has a number of options, track the vehicle to its destination, alert agents in the field allowing them to track via Orioncomm or immobilise the vehicle.

The system arms and disarms by detecting the presence of an Orioncomm. The system transmits a low power interrogation signal that can only be detected within 5′ of the vehicle. An Orioncomm detecting this signal will automatically transmit a return, disarming the system. If the agent doesn’t have the keys for the vehicle, it can be started by tuning the radio frequency to the agents number.

The tracking system can also be activated remotely via an Orion field office. This allows agents in unfamiliar territory to request a vehicle via Orioncomm and be directed straight to it.

Orioncomm SW3

With immediate effect, the Orioncomm SW3 replaces the Orioncomm SW2 as the standard watch piece. Although available in a number of differing styles the technology within each is the same. The different functions of the Orioncomm SW3 can be selected via a touch sensitive view screen. This screen is an extremely hi-resolution display, usually set to display a watch-face. In this mode it is indistinguishable from a standard watch. The face can display highly detailed information such as GPS navigation information (thanks to it’s link to the GPS system) and files downloaded from the Orion Global Network (Orion’s version of the World Wide Web). The watch-face is not the only modified part of the Orioncomm SW3. The wristband of the watch houses four removable tracer units (each approximately the size of a 5p piece). Due to their size the range of these locators is limited, although this range can be extended using more sensitive equipment. The transmitters have two modes. The first mode is continuous transmission. This is easier to locate but the continuous transmission runs a higher risk of detection. The second mode is a pulse transmission. In this mode the locator transmits information in short random bursts which are harder to locate for both parties.

The voice communications are handled by a dedicated, highly encrypted digital satellite channel. This channel can ‘piggyback’ on the GPS signal and therefore Orion secure communications are available wherever there is GPS coverage. The unit vibrates to give the agent a discreet notification of an incoming message. A small earpiece can be used in conjunction with the Orioncomm. The earpiece is virtually undetectable to anything but the closest scrutiny. The earpiece also picks up the users speech via vibrations in the mandible.

Finally, each Orioncomm SW3 is encoded to be used by one specific agent. It’s circuitry will be destroyed by any attempted unauthorised use or tampering.

Plastiskin Disguise System

Plastiskin is an ultra-thin polymer designed to look feel and behave just like human skin. It can be moulded into prosthetics or full head masks by a computer controlled injection moulding system. In the espionage world there are many who use this technology in order to complete their missions. Full head masks are most commonly used in this way.

Although the base technology is the same, there are two ways in which to create full head masks. If the subject to be copied is willing to co-operate, they can be scanned thoroughly by the computer to produce a perfect likeness. However, if the subject is unwilling or unaware, the required data can be extrapolated from other sources eg photographs, film etc. This method produces varying results depending on the amount of information available.

These masks however are not totally infallible. A mask copied from a willing subject will pass close scrutiny 80% of the time. A mask copied from an unwilling subject will pass close scrutiny 30%–70% of the time (the final figure is dependant on the amount of information available when the mask is created).

In addition to this, each level of the Disguise skill adds another 5% to this figure-symbolising the fact that the agent has perfected the walk, mannerisms etc of the subject.


Silencers can only be fitted to a pistol and submachine gun that does no more than 1d8 maximum damage. By increasing the amount of gas that is released when the trigger is pressed, a silencer reduces the amount of noise a firearm makes. In game terms, a silenced weapon can only be heard within a 50 feet radius. Within this radius, the shoot sounds like a muffled “pop”. The downside to this is that silenced weapons do less damage. Therefore a modifier of -2 is applied to all damage rolls with these weapons.

ULF Heartbeat Scanner

The original concept behind this scanner was the detection of survivors of avalanches and earthquakes who had been buried alive. The premise being that survivors could be found by scanning for the ULF electrical field generated by a beating heart.

Still in it’s development stage, the civilian unit was large, cumbersome and totally unsuited to field work. The G4 Branch obtained a prototype and worked on a way to scale it down into a practical size. This was completed earlier this year, but at a cost to the operational range and accuracy. In the last month or so this problem has been overcome by utilising a program designed to network a number of the scanners together with a laptop, thus allowing triangulation of data. This was then combined with maps and blueprints to provide an accurate picture of the area that was scanned.

Recent field trials have found that the units can also be used as proximity alarms, either individually (although this can be impractical due to the detection arc) or placed around a perimeter.

The units are 6″ x 3″ x 1″ in size and weight around 3 lbs. The top half of the unit contains a small 2″ x 2″ screen, which provides the information, while the bottom half contains the control buttons. The operational range of the unit is 50 metres, with a 45 degree arc of detection directly in front. To effectively operation this unit an agent requires the skill Electronics. Should an agent not have this skill, the units can be used on a successful 1/2 INT check.

Voice Modulation Circuit

The voice modulation circuit is a wafer-thin flexible circuit which is taped over the user’s larynx and hidden beneath a patch of Plastiskin. The circuit is pre-programmed with a digitised example of the subject’s voice pattern and adjusts the user’s voice pattern to match.

As with the Plastiskin disguise system, the voice modulation circuit is not totally infallible. A voice-print obtained from a willing subject will pass close scrutiny 80% of the time. A voice-print obtained from an unwilling subject will pass close scrutiny 30%–70% of the time (the final figure is dependant on the quality of the samples obtained).

In addition to this, each level of the Acting skill adds another 5% to this figure-symbolising the fact that the agent has perfected the tone, lilt etc of the subject.

Orion Regional Office – San Francisco

Written by Pete Betts, John Black, Chris Crawshaw and Dave McAlister


Following a spate of incidents in the San Francisco area that appeared to be Web backed, Orion sent a team in to try and assess the level at which Web was operating. The subsequent report suggested that Web influence in San Francisco was high and recommended that a Regional Office be set up in the city. That was in November 1997. In January 1998, a second team was sent to San Francisco with the aim of setting up a regional office and a system of safe houses. This team, obviously comprising more than its fair share of practical jokers, decided against the usual practice of setting up a new office for the GeoTech Corporation and instead opened a shop! Their level of humour was further revealed when they called it “Spies ‘R’ Us”; and decided that it would stock all manner of spying equipment. When Dr Matheson (the Capricorn Bureau Section Director) was first made aware of this, he promptly broke his pipe! He immediately ordered that the shop be closed and an office of the GeoTech Corporation be opened in San Francisco for use as the Regional Office. However, in the short space of time that the shop had been open it started to make a profit. This point was quickly put to Dr Matheson along with a case to keep the shop open. The argument was accepted and the shop was given a reprieve. Additionally, three apartments (in varying locations in and around San Francisco) and a dilapidated aircraft hanger (at San Francisco International Airport) were also purchased, although Dr Matheson ordered that the deeds to these properties be in the name of the GeoTech Corporation. During the programme to modernise the aircraft hanger an area beneath the hanger was excavated and converted into an armoury.

Once the Regional Office set-up had been established the decision was taken as to who should staff it. Due to the nature of the cover identity – a shop – it was decided that Mike Jenkins, an accountant from the New York office, should become Regional Director. Additionally, it was decided that those members of the second team should stay on to head up the individual teams. Hence, Zak McClusky, Dexter Blain Remmick and John Walker were assigned to the newly created San Francisco Regional Office.

Recent events though, have had a major impact on operations at the San Francisco Regional Office. First, while undertaking a routine undercover mission, Dexter Blain Remmick murdered a member of a White Supremacist Group whilst pretending to be the victim’s lawyer during an interview at a local police station. Unfortunately for Dexter, his attack was caught on CCTV and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Dexter found out about the warrant before Orion and quickly disappeared. A couple of hours later he was Disavowed! What followed was beyond comprehension. Zak, obviously feeling the loss of a good friend, flipped out and went round to Mike Jenkins’ apartment in Oakland. As soon as the door was opened, Zak pulled out a shotgun and promptly shot Jenkins in both kneecaps. Obviously, Zak has also been Disavowed! Mike Jenkins is recovering in hospital, although he will never walk again.

Regional Office Staff

Where skills and attribute are not available, treat NPCs as generic cop, with abilities as appropriate.

Regional Director: Mike Jenkins
Rapid Reaction Team: Clarissa Petal (Head), Simon Johnson (Deputy), Karen Phillips, Jason Clock, Steve Webber, and Ian Salisbury
Operations Team: Dave Bowman (Head), Jim Cunningham (Acting Deputy), Sven Olson, Stewart Money, Natasha Valenko, and Claire McQuillan
Transportation Team: John Walker (Head), Charlie Cross (Deputy), Natalie Richardson, CJ Shaw, Callum Fraser, and Dean Wright

Spies ‘R’ Us Shop

This shop is based on the ground floor of the Embarcadero Centre, in the Financial District of San Francisco. The shop itself is only open during normal shopping hours, although the Operations Room at the back is manned 24 hours a day.
Shop Area: This part of the shop is similar to any other shop. Shelves line the walls and there is a counter in the corner with a cash register on it. Obvious security is provided by two close circuit television (CCTV) cameras that are installed here. Additionally, in each corner of the room are modulated projection electric eyes. These are switched on when the shop shuts. The door leading from the shop area to the stockroom is protected by two different security systems. A valid Orion identity card has to be swiped through the credit card reader beside the cash register and a retinal scan is taken by looking through the (fake) keyhole. In addition to this, both a variable magnetic field tape eraser and a x-ray film fogger have been installed in the doorframe.
Stockroom: The stockroom is basically, just that. However, in addition to the normal array of items that the shop sells, Orion agents can obtain other items that may be useful to them during their missions. There is one CCTV camera in this room.
Regional Director’s Office: This office is very sparse. It contains only a desk, chair and a bookcase. The bookcase is full of all manner of accounting and budgetary books, while the desk invariably has the shops ledgers open on it. It is here that the Regional Director spends most of his time. There is one CCTV camera in this room, although if the Regional Director is working in here it always faces the door leading into the corridor.
Operations Room: This room is manned 24 hours a day by 2 members of the Operations Team. On the east wall is a bank of 15 monitors which are connected to the various CCTV installed in all the Orion buildings situated in the San Francisco area. There are an additional 5 monitors which are connected to the Embarcadero Centre’s security and CCTV network. This room also contains a microlab/FXR transistor detector. This detector is constantly on to ensure that there are bugs within the reinforced wall area of the offices. Finally, it is the Operations Room that ensures that the telephone lines in all Orion buildings in the San Francisco area are secure. This is achieved by fitting telephone scramblers, tap detectors and tap analysers to each telephone in each Orion building.
Crew Room: This room is where any agents on duty, but not actually required to do anything, can rest and relax. A pool table and some chairs are the only furniture. Two doors lead off into washing facilities, one each for males and females. There is one CCTV camera in the crew room.
Corridor: This corridor has a CCTV camera at each end pointing at each other. Additionally, the exit door in the north has the same security protection as the door leading from the shop area to the stockroom.
Loading Area: The sliding gates to this area are always locked (unless someone is entering or leaving). An Orion vehicle is permanently parked here as will the Regional Director’s if he is in the office.


Although the apartments are in different locations (one is in Western Addition, another in Pacific Heights and the last in Oakland) each has the same level of security. That is, there is a CCTV camera monitoring the front door to each apartment and each is equipped with a microlab/FXR transistor detector.

Aircraft Hanger

Now that the hanger has been modernised, it is state of the art. Every tool required to repair and service aircraft is readily available, as is the space to store the aircraft that the San Francisco office has access to (a Gates Learjet 35-A, a Cessna T-210R and a Bell Long Ranger II). There are two CCTV cameras covering the hanger.

As previously mentioned, an armoury was created beneath the hanger. Access is gained by swiping an Orion identity card through the credit card reader of the pay phone situated inside the hanger. A retinal scan is taken by looking into a screw head on the base of the phone handset. This will open a well-hidden trapdoor. Although the armoury is mainly stocked with pistols, ammunition and tear gas grenades, there is a small supply of other weapons. There is a CCTV camera in operation in the armoury.

Spy’s Advice

In addition to praise and criticism for the TOP SECRET/S.I. game, your letters have included questions and corrections. This seems like as good a place as any to answer your questions.

How many Luck Points do PCs start with?

The Players Guide says that PCs have a minimum of 2 Luck Points, but never tells you how to generate Luck Points in the first place. The Administrator secretly generates beginning Luck Points for each character by rolling 1d6 + 1, for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 7.

How quickly do characters recover from damage?

As stated in the rules, characters recover 1 point of wound damage immediately if they’re treated by a character with the First Aid skill. They recover an additional point after 24 hours, and 1 point per week thereafter. Bruise damage is recovered at a rate of 1 point per hour per body area damaged. An additional point can be restored through the application of First Aid, but this is a one-time bonus (you don’t get an additional point each hour).

Recovery from CON damage is described in the Administrators Guide. The rate at which it is recovered depends on what caused the damage in the first place. Use the situations described in that book when confronted with something new.

Incidentally, the example of CON damage on page 71 of the Players Guide is wrong. There, Sebastian makes a check against his full CON rather than his current CON to see if he regains consciousness. All such checks are made at 1/2 CON or 1/4 CON. Follow the rule, not the example. When dealing with poison damage, first determine whether or not the character is killed immediately. If not, CON is recovered at a rate of 1d10 points per day. Antidotes can double or triple that rate, but this is determined by the Admin, taking into account the type of poison involved, the antidote, the character’s CON, and so on.

What’s the minimum damage a character can do in hand-to-hand combat?

The minimum damage in such cases is 1 point.

Can an AK74 assault rifle really use 5.56mm ammo?

No; this was an error. The AK74 uses 5.45mm rounds, not 5.56, as stated on page 5 of the Equipment Inventory.

Can an armored personnel carrier carry only two passengers?

No, that’s a typographical error on page 15 of the Equipment Inventory Use 12 passengers for a generic APC, or use the actual carrying capacity for a real APC with which you are familiar.

What’s with the columns on the Aircraft Table on page 15 of the Equipment Inventory?

The line of type reading “Spd Spd* Ceilg** etc.” was shifted one space to the right (see the aircraft tables on pages 67-76 of TSAC1 The G4 File: Guns, Gadgets, and Getaway Gear). Thus, the first column is Max Spd (maximum speed), the second is Stl Spd* (stall speed), the third is Ceilg** (ceiling), etc. (The asterisks are referenced in the table itself.)

How do you fire a burst at multiple targets? Is it one to-hit and damage roll for each target, or one roll for all targets? And do all the targets you do hit take full damage?

To fire a burst at multiple targets, make a separate to-hit and damage roll for each target. However, on a short burst fired at multiple targets, the attacker doesn’t receive to-hit or damage bonuses. On a long burst at multiple targets, the attacker receives only a + 5 to-hit bonus and a +1 damage bonus against each target.

Where are the aircraft and boat rules? The skills are there to use these vehicle types, and there are listings for them in the Equipment Inventory, but there are no rules about how they go, stop, and maneuver.

Boats work just like cars — their performance is measured using the same statistical categories, and they use the same maneuvers. Treat boats as if they were waterbound cars. Airplanes use special statistics and maneuvers:

Acceleration: In level flight, propeller-driven aircraft can accelerate at 1% of maximum speed per turn. This can be increased to 10% of maximum speed by diving at least 100′. Prop-driven aircraft can’t accelerate and climb at the same time — they must lose 10% of maximum speed if they climb more than 100′ in a turn. Jet aircraft can accelerate up to 10% of maximum speed in level flight or climb. This can be doubled to 20% in a dive.

Deceleration: In a single turn, aircraft in level flight can decelerate by as much as 1% of maximum speed. They can lose up to 10% of maximum speed by climbing 100′ or more in a single turn.

Maneuvering: Helicopters turn and use special maneuvers like automobiles. All other aircraft turn very gradually in a two-second TOP SECRET/S.I. game turn — up to 15% to the right or left if the pilot makes a successful Piloting skill check. If the check is unsuccessful, the aircraft turns only 5%.

If you’ve got a better idea of how to make airplanes and helicopters work, write it up and send it to us! If you find any other mistakes or have any questions, you know where to find us. Keep writing and, whatever you do, don’t blow your cover!

The Game Wizards

Written by Douglas Niles

The chance to design the TOP SECRET/S.I. game was a marvelous opportunity, but a mixed blessing. Revise a game that has been around almost as long as the hobby itself, with a significant – if not large – following of devoted gamers, and the potential for trouble becomes real.

Well, I can breathe again. Thanks to all of you who wrote to tell us (Warren Spector, the game’s editor and developer, and myself) how much you like the new game. The letters have been running 5 to 1 in favor of the redesign.

An occasional voice of dissent calls for a return to the traditional values of the original TOP SECRET game. These criticisms can be grouped into two basic categories: those who miss the painstaking attention to detail in the original game, and those who object to our tampering with a “classic.”

Indeed, TOP SECRET is about as much of a classic as our industry has to offer. If it’s any consolation, we didn’t undertake the revision lightly. We considered a partial revision of the rules, a redesign of select systems, and a “from the ground up” approach – releasing an essentially new game that would (we hoped) appeal to the fans of the original game. You, the players, were willing to give the redesign a chance. As a result, the game is a success, and the majority of gamers (if the mail is any indication) are happy.

The hard-core level of realism inherent in the original TOP SECRET game is something we have not forgotten. However, there is almost a direct correlation between the level of detail presented in a game system and the amount of time needed to resolve a given gaming situation. A game system that is built around only a few game mechanics (such as the TOP SECRET/S.I. game’s Attribute Check) can absorb more detail without a great effect upon playability. Therefore, some of the new accessories will include great amounts of detail. Merle Rasmussen’s The G4 File: Guns, Gadgets, and Getaway Gear is one of these, providing information about a wealth of espionage and adventuring equipment – far more things than could possibly have been covered in the boxed game itself.

Other accessories, such as the High Stakes Gamble accessory pack, will introduce more advanced rules for certain game functions. High Stakes Gamble greatly expands the vehicle rules for the new game, giving specific damage locations for vehicles, new maneuvers, and procedures for a number of special situations. Boats, aircraft, and motorcycles are differentiated more completely than was possible in the TOP SECRET/S.I. game box.

Our attention now turns to supporting the TOP SECRET/S.I. game, and I think you’ll find that we are doing this diligently. One of the problems with the old game was the infrequent publication schedule of support product. We are determined to prevent this problem from affecting TOP SECRET/S.I. games.

But we’re not just producing support material! We are talking about alternate campaign possibilities such as 1930s pulp or near-future super-agent adventures. In addition, you will be able to draw upon a wealth of background material for our “official” campaign, pitting the Orion Foundation against the nefarious activities of the Web. We will publish source books detailing the conflicts between these two agencies, as well as settings for Orion Foundation offices and modules.

Neither are we neglecting the real-world aspect of the game. One of our first supplements, the Covert Operations Source Book by John Prados (a noted game designer and writer), details the histories of the KGB and CIA, then provides the reader with dozens of authentic case histories involving the rivalry between these two agencies. This book is a must for the player who wants his campaign to reflect the realities of international espionage.

A number of people have sent in the boxed-game membership cards, and the real “Orion Foundation” is growing faster than we anticipated. By the time you read this, those of you who have signed up should have received your first official newsletter. As you’ll see, our plans take us into 1990 and beyond. You can rest assured that the TOP SECRET/S.I. game will receive support for years to come!

There Are No Generic Black Belts

Written by Mark E. Smith

The TOP SECRET/S.I. game offers a world of choices to the novice agent. Does he need a handgun? There are pages of pistols to choose from. Does she want a new set of wheels? Everything from an Aston Martin to a Yugo can be had, although options like air conditioning, tinted glass, and machine guns are extra. Fighting styles? Well, you have boxing, wrestling, and Oriental martial arts.

But what if your agent is a French ballerina with a background in savate, or an Indonesian trained in pentjak-silat? “Oriental martial arts” doesn’t cover these possibilities. Even if your agent is trained in a fighting style from the Far East, doesn’t he deserve to know which style he’s using?

Imagine how these lines would sound in your campaign:

Lance: “Go ahead and get the car, Maggie. I’ll take care of these guys”.

Maggie: “But Lance, there are three of them and only one of you”.

Lance: “Don’t worry about me. I’m a second-degree black belt in an Oriental martial art. Now go”.

Clearly, this is not the stuff of which great dialog is made. Another problem is raised by the method used by an established character who wishes to gain these fighting skills.

Suppose Maggie decides that she’s tired of waiting for Lance to rescue her. So she spends three Fame & Fortune points and, come time for the next adventure, she’s ready to tangle with the best of them.

What did she do, check out a couple of karate books from the library over the weekend? Not only does this method clash with reality, but it also cheats both player and Administrator out of the fun of role-playing the climb from bumbling beginner to trained fighter with the possibility of specializing in one style. To avoid these problems, consider the following suggestions:

1. Allow established players to choose a style of fighting and gain zero level one F&F point at a time.

2. Let each player explore the possible martial-arts styles and choose one that fits his character’s background.

Let us assume that Maggie wishes to study goju-ryu. She invests one F&F point and now may use this style of fighting at ¼ MOV (after all, she is only a beginner). She now must play at least one adventure before raising her skill level. At this level, she is probably more of a danger to herself than to anyone else, but a kindly Administrator may present her with a chance to try her new skill–on a locked door that must be opened quickly, for instance, or on a generic purse snatcher. It would be easier to just pull a gun and start blasting away, but not nearly as much fun.

Adventure over, Maggie may now invest another point, raising her skill to ½ MOV. Surviving the next assignment, she may invest her third point for goju-ryu at her full MOV value, as described in the Player’s Guide. For the sake of categorizing her level of skill, let us assume that zero level is equal to a red or brown belt (the level just below black). This means that she is familiar with the basic forms and movements of her chosen style. Her fighting is good, but she is a long way from being an expert.

At level one, the character is considered a first-degree black belt, able to fight well and perform all basic techniques and some advanced ones. But contrary to popular opinion, he is not considered an expert in his art. Rather, he is regarded as an advanced student.

At second and third levels, the agent is trained in all basic techniques and many advanced ones. He may be able to teach his art at this point, but the title “expert” still does not apply.

A fourth-level agent is almost certainly able to teach his martial-arts style and may, in fact, instruct other player characters. In this context, he may be able to give advice to lower-level characters, helping them to fight at ½ skill level even in the heat of battle (see “Getting Advice on Skills” in the Player’s Guide, page 35.)

Only at fifth level can the term “expert” be applied to the agent. Further promotion is not possible, however, unless the agent leaves his organization and devotes his full time to training and teaching his art.

A second advantage of dividing up fighting styles is that agents may study several styles, giving them different skill levels and offering the option of specialization.

Case in point: Bill Klinger has a first degree black belt in judo, but his real love is the Korean art of hapkido, in which he holds a third-degree black belt. While he is able to hold, throw, and choke using judo, he would rather fight with the kicks and strikes of his favored art; he may even decide to specialize in this style, which would give him +10 to all hapkido techniques and special abilities at the cost of -20 when he uses his other styles. This is a decision that he must weigh carefully.

Another decision the player must make is whether or not to create a martial-artist character. The point cost is high and the present return is low. The Player’s Guide states that each additional skill level gives the PC +5 to the appropriate attribute score, which gives the PC a motive to gain levels. For example, a player who wishes his character to have a third-level pistol skill invests 12 points. Now his character can fire any pistol at +15 and his skill level.

But let’s look at the cost of a martial-artist character. Between basic melee, four levels of Oriental martial arts, and three special techniques (two to six points apiece), the cost comes to 30 points, far over the cost of the pistol skill. Clearly, the player who chooses to create a martial-artist character deserves more for his points. For this reason, I recommend that the martial-arts PC be allowed to:

1. Gain +5 per skill level, as per the Player’s Guide.

2. Gain a damage bonus of one point per skill level (believe me, being kicked by a brown belt is not the same as being kicked by a fifth-degree black belt).

3. Be able to use spinning and flying kicks for additional damage should their chosen styles utilize such techniques.

4. Gain the advantages of ki, as detailed below.

Spinning kicks are used by several styles of martial arts, notably tae kwan do and hapkido. These kicks are delivered with either a half or full spin of the body. Spinning kicks can be performed from any position and are very powerful the force of the kick is combined with the force of the spin. In game terms , this amounts to an additional 1-4 points of damage. Unfortunately, spinning kicks are also slow, and the agent must take his eyes off his opponent, if only for an instant.

The disadvantages have these effects:

Using a spin kick has a -10 modifier to the attack roll (with the exception of those arts that specialize in these kicks). Upon throwing such a kick, no other movements, either offensive or defensive, may be used, and the initiative for the following turn is lost.

Flying kicks are the most impressive tools in the martial artist’s arsenal. The sight of a karateka sailing through the air toward his opponent usually causes the opponent to either freeze or run backward to escape the attack (neither response is effective).

Unfortunately, should the agent miss his intended target, he has little control of just where he lands. The Administrator should calculate the movement value and see how far past the target the agent flies. Stairways, walls, and office furniture all make interesting collision possibilities. On the positive side, flying kicks are very powerful (add 1-6 points to damage) and look great. To use the flying kick, one must have the special technique Leap. A flying spinning kick can gain damage bonuses for spinning (1-4) and for flying (1-6), but the player would also have to add both penalties as well (-20 for the leap and -20 for the spinning kick).

Ki (or chi) means breath or “spirit” and is used in most martial arts as well as in everyday life. Reach down and pick up a heavy box. The first thing you do is grunt as you lift it–you have just used ki. But ki, as used by the martial artist, does much more than that. With ki, more power is obtained for attacks, damage from an opponent’s attack is reduced, unusual actions are attempted and achieved, and opponents are startled into immobility.

The last is covered under the Surprise Action special technique in the Player’s Guide, page 79.

Other uses of ki can be put into game terms. A karate practitioner (karateka) usually yells (kiaps) when he attacks. This concentrates his force, both mentally and physically, on the object being struck.

Also, a karateka who is about to be hit can kiap. This tightens his muscles and reduces the damage from the attack (need proof? Poke your finger into your stomach. Now grunt and try it. Feel the difference?) Some martial-arts styles perform breathing exercises that allow this effect to last for minutes rather than seconds.

In TOP SECRET/S.I. games, the game effects of a kiap are as follows:

1. Any character with martial-arts ability may kiap during any attack This adds one point of damage to a successful attack.

2. Any character with martial-arts ability may kiap as part of his defense movement.

The intention to yell must be announced before the opponent’s attack roll is made. If the attack is successful, two points of bruise damage are removed from the total damage taken. If the attack fails, the character merely makes a lot of noise. This brings us to another point about the kiap:

It is loud. Treat it as a gunshot in terms of attracting unwanted attention.

3. A character with martial-arts training may focus his ki in an attempt to achieve an unusual physical action, such as kicking out the window of a sinking car or breaking a pair of handcuffs. Using ki in this manner gains a 1-5 bonus per skill level, added to whatever roll is being attempting (the bonus is decided by the Administrator). For example, kicking out the window of a sinking car would be at +5 bonus per level, while breaking handcuffs would probably be at a + 1 per level–an excellent time to invest a luck point.

4. Any character with martial-arts training may attempt to drive off an attacker by using a kiap in conjunction with an attack. Should the attack fail, the opponent must make a WIL check or flee (see the Administrator’s Guide, page 27, “Thug Tactics”). Should the attack succeed in either killing or stunning one opponent, any remaining opponents must make ¼ WIL checks. Note: This may be used only on the first attack of an encounter, and it is effective against only those using Thug Tactics. Against more motivated foes, this technique singles out the PC agent as someone to be dealt with quickly and at a distance.

Now, let’s look at several fighting styles, Oriental and otherwise, and at the accompanying special techniques and advantages they offer.


Originally known as kali, arnis is the martial art of the Philippines. Techniques are performed empty-handed or using a stick or blade. An akan (male black-belt holder; a female of this rank is known as a dayang) can use a stick, cane, knife, and kicking and striking techniques in any combination. Agents choosing arnis as a fighting style get both knife fighting and ax/club/blackjack skills at no cost. Also, because the art stresses alertness to the point of learning not to blink for extended periods of time, PCs gain a +5 bonus to their checks to avoid surprise. Finally, it is a maxim in arnis that “the hands of an opponent are like the fangs of a snake: break them and he cannot harm you!’ Thus, attacks to areas 6 and 7 are at +10.

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Drop, Instant Defence, Multiple Attack, Multiple Defence, Stun, Surprise Action, Vital Areas.


The national (though unofficial) gymnastic art of Brazil, capoeira was developed in the 16th century by slaves who converted a ceremonial dance into a form of combat. Unusual techniques include standing on the hands while fighting with the feet (this stems from the slaves’ need to defend themselves while in chains). Capoeira makes great use of the Surprise Action technique. Between the spinning kicks and the bizarre attacks, an opponent may not even know that he is in danger until it’s too late. For game purposes, the Surprise Action technique starts at -10 rather than -20.

Special Techniques
Instant Defence, Instant Stand, Knock Down, Multiple Defence, Multiple Attacks, Stun, Surprise Action.


This art was developed in the 1930s in Japan, when “hard” and “soft” styles were combined to create a new fighting style. Goju-ryu uses low stances and a circular line of force in combination with all standard strikes and kicks. Goju-ryu uses both flying and spinning kicks, although hand attacks are preferred. Training includes concentration and breathing exercises that give the user the same damage reduction advantage as ki, but the effects last as long as the character maintains his concentration.

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Blindfighting, Drop, Instant Defence, Knock Down, Stun, Surprise Action, Vital Areas.


This is a Korean art that combines the throwing and holding tactics of jujitsu with the kicking and striking techniques of karate. Students are trained to avoid an initial attack and counter where most effective. Advanced students train with cane fighting as well. Hapkido uses holding and throwing techniques as effectively as does jujitsu, and spinning and flying kicks are also used. PCs choosing hapkido gain the staff/spear skill for use with the cane only.

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Blind-fighting, Hold, Instant Defence, Multiple Attack, Multiple Defence, Stun, Surprise Action, Throw, Vital Areas.


This combat form originated in Okinawa. Fancy techniques, high kicks, and wasted motion have all been eliminated to produce a fast, hard-hitting, no-nonsense fighting style. Agents using ishinryu gain a +10 bonus on all kicks thrown at body areas 3, 8, and 9; this reflects the practical low-kick approach of this style.

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Drop, Hold, Instant Defence, Knock Down, Multiple Attacks, Multiple Defence, Surprise Action, Vital Areas.


The traditional martial art a of Japan, jujitsu employs kicking, striking, kneeing throwing, choking, joint locking, holding, and tying, as well as the use of certain weapons. The name means “art of suppleness and gentleness”. Jujitsu kicks are generally low (any kicks above the waist are at -20 to hit), but jujitsu’s greatest effect is in using holding and throwing techniques to do wounding damage to an opponent.

Special Techniques
Blindfighting, Drop, Hold, Instant Stand, Stun, Throw, Multiple Attacks, Vital Areas.


This is the Okinawan art of using the staff (bo), short sword (sai), sickle (kama), handle (tonfa), and flail (nunchaka). Kobu-jutsu should be taken only as a second form of fighting, as its movements are based on empty-handed movements that it is assumed the student has already learned. Ratings for the weapons of kobu-jutsu are listed in the Top Secret/S.I. accessory The G4 File, with the exception of the kama (which does 1d6 points of bruise damage).


Developed from the ancient Greek fighting style of pankration, mu-tau uses low kicks, boxing techniques, holds, and jointbreaks. Mu-tau philosophy advocates free expression, allowing the students to select the aspects of the style most suited to them. As a result, any of the special techniques may apply, depending on the student’s choices. Mu-tau practitioners gain +10 on all kicks to areas 8 and 9, and gain the ability to use the hold special technique as does jujitsu.

Special Techniques

Pentjak Silat

Pentjak silat is a group name for the fighting arts of Indonesia (over 150 styles exist). Head, hands, feet, fingers, and hips are used in this style, much as in karate, but many blade weapons are also employed. Pentjak silat practitioners gain both knife and staff skills. In addition, they also gain the use of the rante, a chain weapon with a sharp, gearlike end.

Special Techniques
Blindfighting, Instant Defence, Multiple Attack, Multiple Defence, Stun, Vital Areas.


Created over 200 years ago by French sailors who had visited the Orient, savate has constantly upgraded itself so that it is now a popular and effective sport and self-defence system. Savate uses both high and low kicks, boxing-style hand strikes, and the cane as a weapon. Savate uses the Multiple Attack special technique by half (-10 for the first attack, -15 for the second, etc.) These abilities are rounded out with the addition of spinning kicks and staff skills (using the cane only).

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Blindfighting, Knock Down, Multiple Attack, Multiple Defence, Vital Areas.


This Korean-based art, once almost unknown, is now the most popular fighting style in the world. Although the spectacular flying and spinning kicks are the art’s claim to fame, it also uses numerous hand-attack techniques. It should be noted that after the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the chances are excellent that this art will become an Olympic sport. Tae kwan do makes great use of kicking techniques, which are introduced early in training. For this reason, all kicking attacks are at +10 and there is no penalty for spinning kicks.

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Instant Defence, Knock Down, Leap, Multiple Attacks, Multiple Defence, Stun, Surprise Action, Vital Areas.

Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)

This is the national fighting art of Thailand. Students work out daily, and all matches are full contact, so this art should appeal to those agents with the Toughness advantage (and the tougher the better). For every level a character gains in this art, he also gains a level of Toughness. However, should the PC break training for more than two weeks, he loses these points at a rate of one per week. Points lost may be regained at the same rate when training resumes. In Thai boxing, both the hands and feet are used, and every place is considered above the belt! (Fortunately, practitioners no longer glue ground glass to their hand wraps.)

Special Techniques
Attack/Defend, Instant Defence, Instant Stand, Knock Down, Multiple Attacks, Multiple Defence, Stun, Vital Areas.

If one of your players is interested in a style not mentioned in this article, let him research the art and work out an agreement with you. Then maybe Maggie can go off and rescue Lance for a change.

Up Close and Personal

Written by Bruce Onder

Crouched in the thick shrubbery that ringed the secluded mansion, Nikki Haiku checked her Orioncomm. It was midnight – time to execute her part of the plan.

Dressed in a black body suit, Nikki divorced herself from the cover the foliage provided and sprinted as silently as possible toward the large oak tree that towered high above the second story window. She covered the distance in record time and plastered herself against the tree. If all was well with the rest of the group, Carlo should be disabling the cars and Randall should be dealing with the alarm systems. Now, a quick climb into the branches and a swing over to the bedroom window –

Nikki froze as a beam of light bobbed toward her from the side of the building. The guard should have eaten the drugged pizza by now! Still the light advanced, swinging back and forth across the lawn. In seconds, she’d be discovered, and that had to be prevented at all costs.

Nikki steeled herself for combat as the guard turned the corner She knew he’d be armed, and she’d only get one chance to take him out quietly as the flashlight beam danced around the corner and focused on her, she made her move…

“Surprise action,” Jodi stated as the Admin explained Nikki’s situation. She rolled the dice, easily making her skill check at -20. “What can my ninja do now?”

The TOP SECRET/S.I. game rules have been streamlined to allow for creative combat situations such as the one described above. The special techniques for the various hand-to-hand styles, though, are hard to follow without some study of the rules they involve (Players Guide, pages 77-79).

Herein is a detailed description of each combat technique, including standard results for success, failure, and Lucky and Bad Breaks. The Admin is encouraged to replace such results in unusual combat situations. For example, a ninja character doing a Leap into combat atop a sky-scraper might fling herself over the edge of the roof if she rolls a Bad Break of 99, or may knock her opponent over the edge if she was merely trying to capture him!

Attack/Defend: An agent skilled in this technique can both attack and defend in a single turn at full skill level if the primary skill check at -20 succeeds. An unskilled combatant makes an attack/defend sequence at half skill level (Players Guide, page 63).

Success: The agent maneuvers and mentally prepares for both an attack and a defense. One attack and one defense roll are allowed at full skill checks.

Lucky Break: The agent is exceptionally prepared to use this technique, and as a result automatically succeeds in this technique in the next round. This Break does not apply if the agent switches techniques.

Failure: The agent is not prepared or positioned, and makes the attack and defense at half skill level. The technique may be attempted in the next turn as usual.

Bad Break: The agent is overextended, and only the first half of the sequence (attack or defense, whichever comes first) can be made at half level. The second half of the sequence fails.


The agent skilled in blindfighting uses other active senses (smell and hearing) to locate all opponents in a 10′ radius. This check can be made as often as needed until it succeeds. Option: An agent with the Acute Smell or Hearing advantages (Players Guide, page 14) can add these bonuses to this technique check at the Admin’s discretion.

Success: The agent fights at half skill level (not the usual quarter skill level for other agents) for the duration of combat.
Lucky Break: The agent accurately predicts his opponent’s initial action and makes his first attack at full skill level.
Failure: The agent fights at quarter skill level, as a normal fighter would. The technique can be attempted again next turn.
Bad Break: The agent has lost his opponent; no attack can be made this turn.


The agent is skilled at landing blows at certain points on an opponent’s hand, wrist, and forearm that cause the hand to open by reflex. No damage is caused, however.

Success: Any object held by the opponent falls to the nearest surface. The Admin must decide the probability that the object breaks or (if a firearm) goes off. On a quarter skill check or less, both of the opponent’s hands open and all items are dropped.
Lucky Break: The agent actually snatches the item or kicks it into his own hands if so desired.
Failure: The attempt misses, and the opponent is made aware of the agent’s intentions. No other action can be made.
Bad Break: The agent is overextended or stumbles, and he makes his next initiative check at -5.


The agent can inflict holds that cause damage. The body location rolled is the area held, although such rolls can be bumped according to skill level.

Success: The agent inflicts 1 wound or 1d4 bruise points to the held body location. The agent makes full skill checks on successive turns to inflict further damage.
Lucky Break: The opponent must make a CON check or pass out for 1d8 minutes. The hold is so well applied that any attempt to break it is at quarter (and not half) skill level.
Failure: The victim eludes the hold attempt.
Bad Break: Poor execution allows the opponent to reverse the attempted hold. The body location is determined randomly on the agent.

Instant Defense

The agent can react quickly enough in surprise situations to make a last-second defense. No attack may be made, however.

Success: The agent, through finely tuned reflexes, manages to recover enough presence to block the attack.
Lucky Break: The agent reacts so quickly as to gain an attack immediately after the block. Only unconsciousness or the death of the agent will prevent this bonus.
Failure: The agent did not react quickly enough; the defense was ineffective.
Bad Break: The agent froze in surprise and makes his next initiative check at -5.

Instant Stand

The agent can recover his stance from a prone position and still make a normal move.

Success: The agent stands and can execute a normal move at no penalty.
Lucky Break: The agent moves so swiftly and unexpectedly that the opponent must make an INT check or be surprised.
Failure: The agent stands but he completely fails to act.
Bad Break: The agent slips, returning to his original prone position, and may not act that turn.

Knock Down

The agent is skilled at striking vital equilibrium and balance centers of an opponent’s body.

Success: The opponent is knocked to the ground directly in front of the agent. Normal damage applies.
Lucky Break: The opponent is dazed temporarily and loses his next action, in addition to the result under “Success.”
Failure: The attack misses.
Bad Break: The agent is overextended or stumbles, making his next initiative roll at -5. The attack misses completely.


The agent is skilled at jumping and leaping to the extent that a leaping attack can be choreographed with high precision. An unskilled character can leap or jump 5% of his movement score (MOV) vertically and 10% horizontally.

Success: The agent can leap up to 10% of his movement score vertically and 20% horizontally. The agent can still make an attack or move.
Lucky Break: In combat, the leap actually becomes the brunt of the attack. On a successful attack roll, the opponent is knocked back 1d8 feet in addition to the normal damage delivered by the attack.
Failure: The agent manages only an average leap (as per an unskilled character). In addition, the leap cannot be combined with another action.
Bad Break: The agent makes an average jump, but slips upon landing and suffers a leg wound for 1d4 -1 bruise points.

Multiple Attacks

The agent is skilled in superfast fighting styles that result in multiple attacks. An agent with a level 1 fighting style still attacks only one opponent, so this technique is not usable until the agent has at least a level 2 in some attack style.

Success(es): The attack in question hits.
Lucky Break: The next attack in this multiple attack sequence is made at the same level as this attack (i.e., the -10 cumulative penalty is not assessed for the next attack). However, any attacks after that suffer the normal penalty.
Failure(s): The agent misses the target on this attack. He can continue with additional attacks this turn (if any) with the standard penalty applied (-10 per attack, cumulative).
Bad Break: The agent is overextended and loses all other attacks this turn.

Multiple Defense

The agent is skilled in warding off several attacks from multiple directions. A character with a level one fighting style still defends against only one opponent, so this technique is not usable until the agent has at least a level 2 in some attack style.

Success(es): The defense succeeds.
Lucky Break: If defending against an armed opponent, the weapon is released from the opponent’s grasp; otherwise, the next defense in this sequence does not incur its usual -10 penalty.
Failure: The attack was not blocked. The agent may continue with his additional defenses (if any) at the usual penalty (-10 per defense, cumulative).
Bad Break: The agent is overextended, and all later defenses are lost.


The agent is skilled at striking precise nerves which result in reflex disruption (stunning). An exceptional strike (-40) results in a knock-out blow.

Success: The opponent is stunned or knocked out. A stun (-20) results in inaction when the opponent would normally move next. A knockout (-40) means the opponent is unconscious for 1d8 minutes.
Lucky Break: The opponent is laid out for 2d10 minutes.
Failure: The attack misses.
Bad Break: Because of poor execution, the agent stumbles or is overextended. His next initiative check is at -5.

Surprise Action

The agent is skilled at “the art without form.” Seemingly random actions can have a stupefying effect on nearby opponents.

Success: The agent is allowed to make a surprise attack (Players Guide, page 77) at full skill level, and he may deliver the blow to any area desired. All opponents within a range of 10′ are surprised and inactive for the rest of the round.
Lucky Break: All opponents who witness the move, regardless of distance, are surprised for the rest of the round.
Failure: The attack surprises no one, but a normal attack is allowed at full skill level.
Bad Break: The so-called surprise action was so poorly executed that all opponents within 10′ will expect similar “surprises” during the rest of the combat; if the agent attempts another surprise action during the combat in question, all opponents receive an INT check to predict such a move.


The agent is skilled in the art of using opponents’ weight against them. The opponent must be held Players Guide, page 77) before the throw attempt.

Success: The held opponent is thrown 1d8 feet in any direction the agent wishes. Landing on a hard surface incurs 1d6 points of damage to a random area.
Lucky Break: The opponent must make a CON check or be knocked out for 1d8 minutes (full bruise damage to the head).
Failure: The agent fails to lift or divert the opponent, but he keeps the hold. No damage from the continued hold accrues this turn, however.
Bad Break: The throw attempt loosens the hold, and the opponent slips out.

Vital Areas

The agent is skilled in hitting the most painful and damaging spots in any area of an opponent’s body.

Success: The agent damages the desired body location for 2 wound or bruise points.
Lucky Break: The pain caused to the opponent renders him disoriented; his next initiative check is made at -5.
Failure: The agent misses.
Bad Break: The agent is overextended and makes his next initiative check at -5.

As the flashlight beam danced around the side of the house and focused on her, Nikki made her move. Calculating the distance to the guard as within range, she launched herself into an unorthodox ninja move – a forward somersault. Allowing the momentum of her acrobatics to carry her back up into a standing combat stance, she landed a hammer strike to the guard’s unprotected head. He dropped like a rock, out cold.

Nikki reached down and switched off the flashlight. With a quick grin, she turned back to the tree…

Optional Disadvantages and Skills


Disavowed (3 points) by Dave McAlister
Disavowed – the word scares even the strongest of agents, for it means that the agent has been deemed to have broken one too many rules or laws and has been removed from their organisation. Although the organisation will not actually hunt the agent concerned, it will have no qualms about removing the former agent if he or she gets in their way.

It is possible for an agent to rejoin his or her former organisation (and therefore lose this disadvantage), but in order to regain their previous status the agent will have to prove his or her worth on a number of occasions.

Limited Training (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 points) by James Hicks (aka Grimm)
Agents who choose this disadvantage have not completely learned one or more of their starting skills. These skills are self-taught, or perhaps the training was ended before the agent’s training was complete.

For each point of this disadvantage taken, the agent suffers from incomplete training in one skill.

The Admin must determine the exact effects of this disadvantage. For example, a character with Limited Training for Pistol skill would know how to use pistols, but not how to clean and/or repair them. Limited Training for Driving/Automobile might mean that the character may be able to drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission, but not a manual.

This disadvantage may only be applied to 0 level skills, and these skills may not be improved until the effects of Limited Training are removed by spending one Fame & Fortune point. Optionally, the effects may be removed by 20 hours of training, under the guidance of someone with that particular skill.


Field Signals by Huntsman

Allows the ability to communicate using military field hand signals with another character who can observe them. Most signals are done with the off-firing hand (other hand on the weapon) and below shoulder height and can be used to pass rudimentary information/intentions. The same conditions as for Sign Language occur for skill checks.

Orion Recruit Training

Written by Unknown

All new Orion recruits are taught three basic skills, First Aid, Basic Melee and Basic Firearms. An agent who does not have any of the above skills learns them at 0 level. An agent who has First Aid can the raise the skill level by 1.

Furthermore, agents are also taught a ranged weapon skill, a close combat skill and a speciality skill (all at 0 level). These skills are chosen from the lists below.

Ranged Weapon Skills
Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Submachine Gun, Knife

Close Combat Skills
Boxing, Tae Kwon Do (see Oriental Martial Arts), Knife, Club/Ax/Blackjack, Fencing.

Speciality Skills
Concealment, Cryptography, Demolitions, Disguise, Electronics, Finger-Printing, Interrogation, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Shadowing, Stealth, Surveillance, Survival, Tracking.