Agents of S.W.I.N.G.

“Agents of S.W.I.N.G.” – an RPG by Postmortem Studios (2011)

Agent, the world faces many threats, threats more dan­ger­ous and more imma­nent than nuclear anni­hi­la­tion. You have been select­ed to join the secret guardians of the world.

A #Hyp­no­Me­di­a­Col­lec­tion entry.

An RPG based on British tele­vi­sion pro­grams from the Swing­in’ 60’s and Rock­in’ 70’s, from crime dra­mas to sci­ence fan­ta­sy. And, as with many RPGs, it includes rules for some form of hypnosis.

I am includ­ing it because I am a big fan of sev­er­al pro­grams of that peri­od. Many of these pro­grams includ­ed var­i­ous forms of mind con­trol and hyp­no­sis. Not that the book men­tions the pro­grams, but it does include an exten­sive sec­tion of (very) thin­ly-dis­guised char­ac­ters based on the stars of these pro­grams. Char­ac­ters like suave lady-killer spy John Chain, Agent Zero; British secret agent John Swan; gen­tle­man spy James Ryde; gen­tle­man thief Jack Cheva­lier, The Angel; unnat­ur­al agents Cobalt and Iron; the time trav­el­ing Pro­fes­sor; Num­ber 8; and Agent Crim­son, who trans­late to James Bond; “Secret Agen­t” John Drake; John Steed of * “The Avenger­s”; Simon Tem­plar, “The Sain­t”; Sap­phire and Steel from the epony­mous series; * Doc­tor Who; the anony­mous * Pris­on­er; and * Cap­tain Scar­let. Oth­er series include * “The Cham­pi­ons”, “The Per­suaders”, “The Pro­fes­sion­als”, * “Depart­ment S” and “Jason King”, “Joe 90”, and * “The New Avengers”. I rec­og­nize sev­er­al oth­er char­ac­ters, but I can’t remem­ber the exact programs.

Giv­en the nature of the series, * “UFO” might have been includ­ed in the RPG, except it explic­it­ly states that it is set in the year 1980.

(*’d series above con­tain episodes involv­ing some form of hyp­no­sis or mind control.)

The rules are based on the FATE sys­tem: skills are rat­ed from Yawn at +0, down to Bum­mer at ‑3 and up to Out of Sight at +8. 2 dice are rolled: one pre­s­e­lect­ed die is sub­tract­ed from the oth­er, and the skill rat­ing added. Pos­i­tive val­ues are suc­cess­es, neg­a­tive, failures.

The game book goes into detail on the orga­ni­za­tion of S.W.I.N.G.: Supreme World Intel­li­gence Net­work Group, an agency with a broad scope, from fight­ing crime to fight­ing alien invaders, all secret­ly. Oppo­nents include The Huáng Zhăo Soci­ety, an Ori­en­tal secret soci­ety run by a for­mer Chi­nese Man­darin; 218, a Trot­sky­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment; The Coun­cil Of Non-Demo­c­ra­t­ic Evil Mag­nates, a British nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion; and NAUTILUS, a world-span­ning crim­i­nal empire.

All in all, a fun and curi­ous pub­li­ca­tion. The rules are sim­ple enough to run as a one-shot, con­ven­tion pick­up game. One thought is “Too Many Bond­s” fea­tur­ing the first three or four movie James Bonds, or maybe a riff of the first (non-canon) “Casino Royale” movie.

Since the game book includes Mes­merism as an abil­i­ty, but doesn’t include a sam­ple char­ac­ter that includes it, (but one that should) I wrote up one (based on a lit­er­ary char­ac­ter that could exist in this time peri­od, or maybe does, in the Mar­vel comics universe).

Xiāngshuǐ Mírén 迷人的香水 (Enchanting Perfume) / Mademoiselle Miren

  • Char­ac­ter Con­cept: Mys­ti­cal and Mys­te­ri­ous Eurasian Femme Fatale
  • Sec­tion: Eight (Uncan­ny Affairs)
  • Past: “There are secrets best left secret: women are one of them.”
  • Cov­er: Guru to the Wealthy and Famous

Aspects

  • Always Keep Them Guessing
  • Ani­mal Magnetism
  • Appears When­ev­er Needed
  • Entranc­ing Emer­ald Eyes
  • Mys­ti­cal Con­nec­tions Across the Globe

Aspects are short descrip­tors of the char­ac­ters which can be used to mod­i­fy sit­u­a­tions or dice rolls.

Skills

Groovy (+5)

  • Mys­ter­ies

Solid (+3)

  • Con­tacts
  • Empa­thy
  • Rap­port
  • Resources
  • Social Stand­ing

Skills are the basic abil­i­ties of the char­ac­ter. Unlist­ed skills have Yawn level.

Stunts

  • Black Wid­ow
  • Cold Read
  • Mes­merist
  • Mys­tic Sight

Stunts are game mechan­ics that give bonus­es to sit­u­a­tions or access to spe­cial abil­i­ties. In this case, “Black Wid­ow” grants a bonus to seduc­tion. “Cold Read” grants instant read­ing of social sta­tus and motives. “Mystic Sight” is a super­hu­man stunt that grants a bonus to read­ing auras and detect­ing mys­ti­cal enti­ties. “Mesmerist” is self-explanatory.

Description

Scion of an Ori­en­tal world-con­quer­ing Mandarin?

Field agent for a reclu­sive sect of Tibetan mystics?

Immor­tal ascend­ed master?

Bod­hisatt­va?

Just an expe­ri­enced fraud?

She doesn’t deny them, but she doesn’t actu­al­ly con­firm any of then, either. In fact, she takes a sort of cool delight in con­found­ing peo­ple regard­ing her past. She acts as a coun­selor to the rich and famous of West­ern soci­ety, dis­pens­ing “secret” East­ern wis­dom. She helps SWING deal with dan­ger­ous char­la­tans or the even more dan­ger­ous true mas­ters, and is acute­ly of SWING oper­a­tions in her vicin­i­ty, and will often assist them, usu­al­ly covert­ly. She speaks pre­cise Man­darin and Japan­ese and light­ly-accent­ed Eng­lish and French.

She is based on the char­ac­ter Fah Lo Suee, the daugh­ter of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer. She appeared in a cou­ple of the orig­i­nal Sax Rohmer sto­ries, then was brought back into the 60’s in the “Shang-Chi: Mas­ter of Kung Fu” com­ic from Mar­vel. Because of right issues, the char­ac­ter appeared in the 1960’s movies with Christo­pher Lee but was named Lin Tang (played by Tsai Chin.)


An ear­li­er ver­sion of this text was post­ed to my Twit­ter feed.

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