New Avenues For Agents

by Merle Rasmussen

Editor’s Introduction

The information you are about to read has been obtained by this magazine with absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. It is not classified or restricted, except that you need the original TOP SECRET rules to make full use of what follows. These charts and descriptions were composed by Merle Rasmussen, who also designed the game. This information, and a lot more, will be published in the TOP SECRET Companion scheduled for release later this year. In the next few issues of DRAGON Magazine, we’ll bring you previews of some of the major sections of the Companion. That is all… for now.

New Bureaus and Divisions

Two new bureaus and six new divisions, or subclasses of bureaus, have been added to the TOP SECRET game. The two new bureaus are Technical and Operations. The six new divisions are listed below, according to the bureaus to which they are attached:

Section 1–Administration Bureau (Special Operations Division)
Section 2–Investigation Bureau (Infiltration Division)
Section 3–Confiscation Bureau (Logistics Division)
Section 4–Technical Bureau (Specialty Division)
Section 5–Operations Bureau (Analysis Division)
Section 00–Assassination Bureau (Protection Division)

Section 1, Administration Bureau

LevelDesignationExperience Points*
1Junior Case Officer0
2Case Officer2,979
3Senior Case Officer6,857
4Substation Chief11,713
5Station Chief17,625
6Office Director24,750
7Division Director32,500
8Bureau Director43,000
9Assistant Administrator58,000

* The agent must have at least this many total points, and the agent must have points in all four of the other bureaus (not including the Assassination Bureau).

40,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 1, Administration Bureau (Special Operations Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points*
6Problem Solver6,188
10Special Operator20,000

* Total experience points, in any bureaus.

10,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 2, Investigation Bureau (Infiltration Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points
3Inside Man2,500

10,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 3, Confiscation Bureau (Logistics Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points

10,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 4, Technical Bureau (Specialty Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points

10,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 5, Operations Bureau (Analysis Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points*

* Total experience points, from at least three bureaus.

30,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Section 00, Assassination Bureau (Protection Division)

LevelDesignationExperience Points
6Human Shield11,111

10,000 experience points must be earned for every level above 10th.

Explanation of Bureau and Division Classifications

No specific role is all-encompassing, nor should it be. Each agent brings particular talents to a mission that often overlap another agent’s talents. In the course of a mission, it is best to let the most qualified individual perform any particular task.

Administrator: This is not officially an agent’s role unless the admin has a character in the field or positioned where action can take place. Administration is, theoretically, where agents who have worked under all bureaus come to retire. Having survived at least four missions to get into administration, the agent/player should have plenty of ideas on how to design and moderate missions. Administrators often contact an operator to assemble a team of agents for a particular mission. The admin then uses agency resources to supply and pay the chosen operator, who in turn supplies and pays the selected (or surviving) agents.

Special Agents: Special agents work directly under an administrator without an official operator. They act as troubleshooters, blunt instruments (see below), and internal investigators, among other things. They often work alone or in small, tightly knit groups. Special agents may be assigned to groups including confiscators, investigators, assassins, or technicians, but generally do not reveal their unique classification. Special agents are generalists who earn experience as if they worked under the four bureaus, but they do not gain any bonus experience points or payments. Like technicians, they are allowed the use of special devices before they reach fourth level.

Investigator: This agent is the eyes and ears of an espionage body. Primarily an information-gatherer, an investigator observes, inquires, and examines the situation or target systematically, often using surveillance equipment. An investigator needs a good memory, and high Charm, Knowledge, and Observation values. Investigators should be proficient in electronics, languages, photography, and tailing. They generally report to their personal or team operator instead of an admin.

Infiltrator: Infiltrators are a subclass of investigators. Infiltration goes beyond surveillance; an infiltrator must become part of a group or organization in order to uncover its goals, aims, and secret activities. They usually report their findings to an operator. Infiltrators may eventually be called on to subvert or destroy the group from inside. Infiltrators need fewer experience points than investigators to gain a level. Experience points earned for infiltration do not apply toward investigation, and vice versa.

Confiscator: This agent is the hands of an espionage body. A confiscator’s main concern is seizing property. Most confiscators are well-coordinated and familiar with all types of valuable goods and security systems. Security detection and deactivation are a confiscator’s strengths, with picking pockets and gambling as side-lines. Confiscators generally report to their personal or team operator instead of an admin.

Protector: Protectors are a subclass of assassins. Instead of killing and destroying, protectors try to prevent such acts. They are trained in assassination and sabotage techniques in order to better protect against them. Protectors of live targets are called bodyguards, and are trained to use their own bodies as shields to protect other agents or VIPs. Protectors of installations, vehicles, or valuable objects are called guards.

Assassin: The infamous yet regretfully necessary assassin is primarily a cold-blooded murderer of prominent persons and secret agents. Rating high in Physical Strength and Willpower, these agents perform dangerous, often suicidal, tasks in the line of duty. Assassins are experts in explosives, poisons, firearms, and unarmed combat. Assassins generally report to their personal or team operator instead of to an administrator.

Analyst: Analysts are a subclass of operators. Their job is to examine and interpret bits of information or physical evidence. Analysts rely on their memory and observation to assemble clues into useful knowledge. Analysis is primarily a desk job; analysts rarely venture into the field to collect their own data. An analyst in the field is a talking encyclopedia, and may have inside information that other agents are not aware of. Analysts should have a high Knowledge value and several Superior Areas of Knowledge, and should be able to speak several languages. Experienced analysts may become kidnapping targets of enemy agencies, because they can be pumped for information.

Operator: In the field, an operator is the boss. The operator leads the team, pays its members, enforces team regulations, and reports directly to the administrator. Most operator duties are mundane and bureaucratic, such as recruiting and training new agents. Many operators, tired of the constant danger of field work, strive to become administrators, whose lives are safer. An operator is personally responsible for the actions of agents under his control. An operator also is responsible for the proper use and care of expensive or valuable special equipment borrowed from the agency. An operator may be a resident of the area where a mission is being carried out. Specialists advance on the same experience point schedule as technicians.

Specialist: Specialists are a subclass of technicians. Specialists are highly trained in one specific field of study. They are limited to this one job, which they perform very well. In other skills, specialists will have average training at best. A specialist chooses a specialty when the character is created, and is called on to perform only that function. The specialist is extremely dedicated. Specialists will rarely be allowed to leave their low-profile desk jobs to accompany a team of agents on a mission. They are, however, experts in their fields and hence may be called on to perform a specific function. Technicians are allowed the use of special equipment before reaching fourth level. Technicians also get a +100 experience point bonus for courses completed in espionage college.

Technician: The technician is a generalist who usually is seen only in support roles, and rarely is placed in the field. Technicians often earn their first experience by attending espionage classes. Those few who are assigned to work with assassins, confiscators, and investigators can expect an equal share of the hazards and difficulties. Many technicians carry no weapons, relying on team members for protection. The technician operates equipment, bandages injuries, analyzes compounds, or studies special devices.

Logistician: Logisticians are a subclass of confiscators. They are equipment handlers; the logistician’s job is to procure, distribute, maintain, and replace agency equipment and personnel. A logistician may need to perform the opposite of a confiscator’s job: altering and returning stolen items without being detected. Travel documents, tickets, ammunition, and the necessities of life are supplied by the logistician. When agents need to flee as quickly as possible along the shortest route, a logistician is the person who knows where to go and how to get there…

Agents can work under one of four bureaus: Investigation, Confiscation, Assassination, or Technical. When a character is created, the player decides which bureau the agent will work under for the first mission. A character can work under only one bureau at a time.

All experience points earned on a given mission must be applied to that bureau only. At any time between missions, a character may change to another bureau. Experience points apply only to the bureau in which they were earned. All beginning characters and characters working under a new bureau for the first time are considered 1st level with zero experience points in that bureau. A character may return to a bureau he left previously; new experience points earned in that bureau are added to the experience points the character earned in that bureau previously.

Special classifications

All rules that apply to bureaus also apply to divisions beneath the bureaus. An agent who is working in a division is also considered to be working in the bureau to which that division is attached. For example, an agent who has worked in the Infiltration, Logistics, and Protection Divisions has worked in three bureaus. If an agent has worked in the Investigation Bureau, the Infiltration Division, and the Logistics Division, he has worked in only two bureaus.

Characters who have earned experience points in more than one bureau are valuable agents. They are given a special classification which defines their combination of talents. The agent’s level in the special classification equals the lowest level the character has reached in any of the bureaus where the agent has earned experience. For example, a character who is a 3rd level Investigator and a 2nd level Confiscator qualifies as a 2nd level Magician. “Membership requirements” are as follows:

Magician: Investigation or Infiltration, plus Confiscation or Logistics.
Hunter: Investigation or Infiltration, plus Assassination.
Sleuth: Investigation or Infiltration, plus Technical.
Saboteur: Confiscation or Logistics, plus Assassination.
Wizard: Confiscation or Logistics, plus Technical.
Mechanic: Technical plus Assassination.

As an example of how special classifications work, assume that Shadra, a new recruit, has decided to work in the Technical Bureau. She pays the school entrance fee out of her own pocket, and completes the Pyrotechnic Chemistry and Duplication course in 9 weeks. She earns 90 experience points, plus 100 bonus points for working under the Technical Bureau. She now is classed as a 3rd level technician. On her first field mission, Shadra decides to work in the Confiscation Bureau, and she miraculously gains 455 experience points. She now is a 2nd level confiscator besides being a 3rd level technician. Her special classification is a 2nd level Wizard.

Magician: Masters at sleight of hand, confidence games, and deception, magicians are welcome on any missions that are conducted in public view. Magicians are escape artists, masters of disguise, and alluring entertainers all in one. A magician generally reports to an operator.

Hunter: Not necessarily a killer at all, a hunter traces the movement of prey, learns its habits, its strengths, and its weaknesses. The hunter is often a loner who blends in with the shadows, tries to find the target, and often fascinates or forces the surprised target out into the open. Once this occurs, other agents can investigate, confiscate, or assassinate the target. A hunter generally reports to an operator, but can organize a manhunt personally if necessary.

Sleuth: As information experts, sleuths are valuable assets on highly technical missions where quick, clear thinking is a must. Brilliant, systematic, charming but never assuming, sleuths often solve the problems they pose. Sleuths are cautious yet surprising, and often fool those they come in contact with. Wiretapping and codebreaking are two of a sleuth’s strong points. Sleuths generally report to a team operator.

Saboteur: Not mad bombers or political terrorists, saboteurs are dazzling, fast-acting experts with a toolbox. Not only must saboteurs know how to stop a machine or a process, but they must know how the mechanism should work properly. To sabotage a series of machines, saboteurs must remove or destroy the same part on each, so a few of them cannot be repaired by cannibalizing parts. Saboteurs work well with mechanics (see below). They usually report to a team operator.

Wizard: At one time wizards were seldom more than safecrackers, but modern technology has expanded their role. Wizards can deactivate security systems, hot-wire vehicles, find hidden openings, and withdraw information from computer files in seconds. These agents nearly always use tools, and are welcome on delicate missions with time restrictions. Wizards work well with sleuths (see above) and generally report to a team operator.

Mechanic: Mechanics are agents whose role is to create “accidents”. Like wizards, mechanics rely on tools and are concerned with subtlety and secrecy. Often working alone with explosives, gases, poisons, and special devices, mechanics must rely on technical knowhow. While mechanics occasionally aid assassins, they perform many other jobs as well. Mechanics work well with saboteurs and hunters. They usually report to personal or team operators.

Special Agents

An exception to the special classifications system is the Special Operations Division of the Administration Bureau. Special agents can begin working in the Special Operations Division without having worked in four other bureaus first. They may only work in the Special Operations Division and may not transfer to any other bureau. Special agents gain experience and are paid as if they worked under all four of the other bureaus. They may never collect a +100 Experience Point Bonus or a +$25 Base Job Payment Bonus. Like technicians, special agents may use special devices before they reach the 4th level of experience.

Contracts and free-lance work

Agents may choose to go independent and become private “spooks”. Individuals and corporations hire such individuals for security and, occasionally, for espionage. Contracts are often verbal, to reduce the number of (possibly embarrassing or incriminating) connections between the contracting parties. Most contracts specify exactly what the agent is expected to do (who, what, where, how, and when) and how much the agent will be paid. Seldom will the true reason (why) be explained. It also is commonly understood that if the target offers better pay than the contractor, the contract may be broken and any advance payments made to agents will be returned to the contractor.

The enemy agent

Normally, an agent is loyal to the agency that employs him. An agent who is loyal to one agency while pretending to be loyal to another is an enemy agent. For example, agent X is employed by the CIA as an analyst. Agent X, however, is loyal to the KGB, and is passing information to it. Agent X is an enemy agent. Or, consider agent Z, who works for the CIA and is loyal to the CIA. Agent Z has convinced the KGB that he is loyal to the KGB, and is passing on misinformation about the CIA. Agent Z also is an enemy agent. Enemy agents can work inside or outside the agency they oppose.

The admin should be aware of the enemy agent’s plans, and can use the enemy agent against other player characters. An enemy agent who knows the layout of an enemy headquarters could give false directions to a confiscation team invading those headquarters. An enemy agent could sabotage team equipment or assassinate team members. In general, enemy agents look for actions that will weaken the enemy agency and protect their own agency without jeopardizing their cover. Discovered enemy agents usually are given the option of becoming double agents or being prosecuted. Agent provocateurs are enemy agents.

The double agent

An agent whose loyalty shifts covertly from one agency to an opposing agency is a double agent. For example, agent X, the KGB enemy agent working inside the CIA, is caught passing CIA secrets. To avoid prosecution, agent X agrees to become a double agent and pass false information to the KGB contacts. Or, CIA enemy agent Z may grow tired of taking orders from Washington and ignore the false information being issued to him, instead passing on actual CIA secrets.

Double agents caught by their first employers usually are given the option of becoming a triple agent or being prosecuted.

The triple agent

An agent whose loyalty has covertly shifted from one agency to an opposing agency, and then back again to the original agency, is a triple agent. For example, agent Z, who gained the confidence of the KGB by becoming a double agent, and has gained access to sensitive information, now secretly shifts loyalty back to the CIA, using the new confidence to pass information out of the KGB.

The triple agent is in a precarious position. If the deceived agency unmasks the agent, the agent probably will be prosecuted.

The deep penetration agent

An enemy agent who has worked for a long time developing a near-perfect cover is a deep penetration agent. The agent advances to a position of authority so he will be trusted with confidential information. Deep penetration agents can work into any government agency or private industry. Many such agents become respected members of their communities to enhance their image as anything but a spy. A deep penetration agent inside another intelligence agency is known as a “mole”.

The blunt instrument

In an age of economic cutbacks and world recessions, certain espionage activities may be curtailed or abolished by bureaucrats and politicians. Disgruntled field operators and administrators often retain certain agents as unrestrained troubleshooters, or “blunt instruments”. For example, an agent previously issued a license to kill in the line of duty may have “officially” lost that license. However, in the eyes of his immediate superiors the license has been retained.

The independent

A self-employed professional, agent who works for the highest bidder is an independent. These extremely mercenary agents usually work for money only, prefer verbal contracts, and do not like being set up or sold out. In the past, an agent who quit an agency was considered a defector. Now, “going private” and becoming a corporate spook is a more respected option for agents who resign or are dismissed by their agency. (Espionage is not as financially secure as it once was.) Private individuals and corporations find an increasing need to hire persons with espionage training and experience.

The sleeper

An agent ready for immediate use but currently inactive is a sleeper. Retired agents and recently recruited agents without a first mission are considered on reserve. Retired agents restored to active duty may resent their new status. On the other hand, recent recruits are often eager to take on any assignment.

The security risk

An agent who knows too much is a security risk. The agent cannot be allowed to resign or retire, lest agency secrets are accidentally or intentionally revealed. The agent cannot be eliminated because someday he may decide to reveal all of the information he has gathered about the opposition. The agent has the dubious honor of being too dangerous to let go and too valuable to eliminate. A security risk is followed and watched closely by members of all agencies; the opposition would like to capture someone with so much information, and the friendly agency needs to prevent a kidnapping or defection. Of course, opposing agencies must realize that their own operations could be jeopardized if such a knowledgeable agent was captured, and then returned to his home agency.

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