…is to go back to 1985 and take my copy of Top Secret away from me, because I apparently had no business owning it.
I mentioned I’ve been fishing through my old game notes again and that I’d found a few old gems stashed away. Unfortunately, not all of them are fine sapphires; some are cracked glass facsimiles. As I shuffled through the old folders, I came across a water-stained manila envelope. Inside were a handful of blank Top Secret character sheets (or agent dossiers, as Merle M. Rasmussen would have me call them) and sheaf of old computer papers.
The aging computer papers comprised a mission that I wrote, but never played, for Top Secret sometime in the mid 80s. I can only establish the time frame based on the fact that it was written on the family’s Apple IIe and was obviously influenced by "Miami Vice". You can probably hear the warning bells ringing already.
Looking it over, I find myself experiencing some very mixed emotions. I’m pleased to still have an adventure I wrote almost a quarter of a century ago. Reading it again conjured up memories of me typing away on that old beige Apple computer. On the other hand, it’s probably the worst adventure I ever wrote.
The mission has a few problems. One, it’s a complete rip-off of the introductory module, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, which came with the boxed set. I can somewhat justify this as I remember why it’s a blatant plagiarism. I’d lost the actual module at some point, leaving me only with the cover. I was trying to reproduce the adventure based on the few memories I had of it. But I was going to outdo Rasmussen. Boy, did I ever, but not in the way I intended.
Problem number two was that, at the age of twelve, I had little understanding of some important real world issues, namely the price of goods and services. A $10 hotel room? Even in 1985 that was unrealistic. The plot (what little there is) also involved the international drug trade, a subject which I only had knowledge of from watching episodes of "Miami Vice". I knew drugs came in kilos, but other than that it’s not a subject I was well-versed in.
Lastly, it appears that I hadn’t quite grasped the concept of an espionage role-playing game. This adventure looks more like a modern day dungeon crawl. It’s got bad guys with loot to be pillaged and it looks like I intended the agents to just wander around killing NPCs until they found what they were looking for. What they were supposed to be looking for, I have no idea. I think the mission involved a missing team of agents that the characters were sent to find, but I’ll be damned if that’s it for certain.
I did find one part of it that made me smile, however:
This room is occupied by X1 (L.L. 13). It contains a matress, a chair and a empty desk. The man has $50 and a .357 Magnum. He will ask the characters if they want a smoke. If the enter the room he will shoot them.
That’s some bad-assery right there! Its got a John Cassavetes-meets-Han Solo thing going on.
I’ve scanned the module for preservation’s sake. It’ll be my version of someone whispering, “Respica te, hominem te memento,” in my ear if I ever get too big a head. If you’re one for car crashes, you can see this turkey for yourself here.
In the spirit of self-depreciation, anyone else have a turkey of an adventure to share? Something you look back upon and wince at? I ask the blognards to share their follies, so as to remind ourselves how far we’ve come and to never try and hide the fact that we, like these damn kids on our lawns today, once had a lot to learn about this hobby of ours.