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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