033 Espionage Roleplaying Games

Be it fantasy, modern or far future scifi, you can make espionage a big part of your roleplaying game But what about running a game that is catered to the genre? We talk about it in this episode and we’ll throw in some random encounters as well.

Episode 33 Show Outline


Sponsored by DarkTheatre.net


Bonus BS! What is it? How are we going to use it?

Sean interviews Hans Cummings, author, gamer and awards submission coordinator of the ENnies!

Apologies to Mike Rigsby, ep 28 I said “he’s not even a gamer” which did not come out right.

Random Encounter – emails, voice mails, social media from listener

Dave Winn writes…
Hey Sean and Brett,

First off, sorry I missed you at GaryCon, Sean. I saw you, but either you were in a game or I was and I didn’t want to interrupt. Second, although I’m a week late I just wanted to say that when I ran a military-based campaign, the characters were all part of a Fascist-Nazi style government, but they didn’t know just how bad their government was. I progressively made their government worse and worse just to see how awful I could make the government before they rebelled and joined the other (Soviet Russian) government instead and fought against their own government. The reason I bring this up, is I used the bards in that campaign as the sergeants in the army who not only dispensed information, but more importantly sowed propaganda. They sang songs of glory and spun the atrocities in a way that made them seem not as bad, or at the very least, patriotic. The bards were the heart and soul of this evil campaign :). Just wanted to add that to your discussion.

Game on,
Dave Winn
PS: The RPG I never get to the table is the Star Wars one. I never play it because I’m afraid I won’t know that much of the lore/cannon as my players.

Roger Brasslet on G+, Episode 32 Feedback, writes…

I’ve thought about this question before, and I always come back to the same answer: I haven’t moved on to different games because I don’t feel like I’ve finished everything I want to accomplish in the ones I’m playing. For me it has nothing to do with fear or player buy-in. Obviously, it takes time to learn new games, and time seems to be something we lack as adults. However, I really do have enough downtime to prep a new game instead of an old one. I just need to finish whatever I want to accomplish in the old games first.

Austin L from G+ writes…
Did someone say Eclipse Phase?

Attention deficit and dragons would be kinda difficult to get a campaign running for.

Money is sort of the biggest problem I find, but I’m mostly running for people even younger than I am. I pretty much have to put out a PDF for my players or else they’ll not really end up knowing the rules too well, since I’ve only ever seen it happen once where one of my players bought their own copy of whatever game we’re playing.

Frankly, I haven’t run the same genre or even system twice in a row in maybe more than five years. I’m more worried about becoming stagnant and predictable than I am about stumbling the first time I run something. I’m lucky I have players who’re willing to give stuff a try, like if I just say, “hey, I’m getting a little burnt out on this campaign we’ve had going for half a year, how about we try this homebrew system I’ve got percolating for urban fantasy for a few weeks before we carry on?” The answer has pretty much always been a yes. In fact, at the moment I’m alternating between running 5e one week and Song of Ice and Fire RP next week back and forth.

Phil Vecchione via G+ re: Ep 32 what rpg do you want to run but have not?
Burning Empires. The game looks complex, that I am not sure I have the time to dedicate to learning the rules, nor the group stamina to last the large number of sessions it would take to master the system and really great everything out of it.

@walla151 from Twitter writes…
I agree with @gamingandbs – Elon Musk would make an awesome supervillain in an alternate reality RPG


Greyedout Productions. Buy a dicebag and use promo code GAMINGANDBS to receive 10% off your order.

Topic of Discussion


  1. Types of espionage games
    1. high action – mission impossible movies
    2. low action – cold war no guns
  2. Settings
    1. Modern day
    2. Alternate history
    3. Era specific
    4. Fantasy
    5. Sci-fi
    6. Wild west
  3. Sources of inspiration
    1. books
      1. Flemming
      2. LeCarre
      3. Ludlum
      4. Clancey
      5. Forsyth
    2. movies
      1. Bond
      2. Mission Impossible
      3. Spy Who Came In From the Cold
      4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy
      5. Bourne
      6. Kingsman
      7. Ronin
    3. TV
      1. The Saint
      2. Man from UNCLE
      3. Mission Impossible
      4. I Spy
      5. Alias
      6. MI-5
      7. The Avengers
      8. Burn Notice
      9. Wild Wild West
  4. Games
    1. Top Secret
    2. Spycraft
    3. James Bond RPG
    4. Night’s Black Agents
    5. Covert Ops
    6. Classified
    7. Agents of Oblivion
    8. Spione
    9. Delta Green

Die Roll – 2-4 miscellaneous points of gaming or geekery we want to share with you.


  1. The Laundry (based on the best-selling novels by Charles Stross) – http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/the-laundry/
  2. This Just in from GenCon – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1745448595/this-just-in-from-gen-con?ref=nav_search


  1. Modus Operandi – Espionage RPG site http://www.modus-operandi.co.uk/ Dave McAlister
  2. Origin Awards, nominations http://www.originsawards.net/2015-nominees/ ,
  3. Audible book: Espionage and Covert Operations, A Global History http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DTNWOHW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=as2


About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.