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Book 5: Agent
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Book 5: Agent
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Book 5: Agent
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 08:24:15

So, just what is an 'agent' anyway? Put succinctly, he goes and solves problems on behalf of an employer. That employer might be a government, it might be law enforcement, it might be a company... and this book expands on the fairly basic notes about the Agent career in the core rulebook by coming up with a full twenty-one different paths based on seven Agent careers. There should be something for everyone here... and a lot of them spawn ideas for adventures, whether it's because the party includes an Agent or because they have met (or even be targeted by) one!

The career paths are classified rather oddly, looking at a mix of what the individual Agent does and for whom he does it. A spy might be the far future equivalent of James Bond, giving his all for his homeworld or the Imperium itself, or he might ferret out commercial secrets on behalf of a corporation, yet there's one whole section of 'Spies' who are in government service and a separate entry under Corporate for those engaged in espionage (here classed as sabotage or 'corporate victimisation' not looking for secrets at all). People in law enforcement generally work for government at some level, but investigators may be anything from a police detective to a private eye, or someone doing background checks on potential employees. The important thing is gaining the necessary skills to undertake that kind of work. Each path is gone through with the usual detail necessary to not just assign skills but to build the outline of a backstory, with all its ramifications, ready for you to flesh out. The Analyst career is quite bizarre: the paths are Political Officer, Technical Expert or Handler (i.e. a protection officer or bodyguard) - none of these are what springs to mind when you say 'Analyst' although they are all well-constructed careers in their own right. And of course there's Bounty Hunters. (One of my characters had a campaign-long feud with one of them... and there never was even a price on his head!) Best to pick your way carefully through these options and don't be afraid to relabel them to suit your needs.

The next section, Agencies, presents a selection of organisations for which an Agent character might work. Perhaps it's the Imperial Ministry of Justice, a local police force or a megacorporation. Each provides distinct benefits and opportunities... or you can freelance, living contract to contract, or even be part of the mysterious Eschaton Movement, supported by a range of religious groups.

Most Agents will sometimes find themselves doing things that are, quite frankly, against the law; and those in law enforcement need to know what the law is, so both (and of course their Referees) should read the next section, The Law in Traveller. In fact, most Traveller characters will at some point have a brush with the law! Anyway, the law varies from world to world, as designated by each planet's Law Level. These are gone into in more detail than in the core rulebook, giving an idea of what is available and what you are allowed to do at each one. Weapons, technology, information and the free movement (or otherwise) of people are all looked at in some detail. The next part looks at the legal investigative process, putting game mechanics into the various stages and enquiries - equally useful if the party is investigating something or someone is investigating them! Following this, quite naturally, is a discussion about what happens when the matter is brought to trial. This assumes a conventional adversarial system of prosecution and defence before a judge (and perhaps a jury) and lets you play out a court case or abstract it to a few die rolls... and then we come to punishment. This section ends with a few informants and a collection of case files which groups who'd like to play out an investigation and/or trial can use as a starting point.

The next section looks at Espionage in all its glory. If you want to play the Great Game, here's how. Pit agent against agent, acquire information by fair means or foul, go hacking... and find out about Imperial Agents as well as local governmental and corporate ones. There's an interesting bit about what happens to agents when there's a regime change too; and a piece on creating missions for your agents, including a random generation system.

With the 'officially sanctioned' stuff out of the way, the following section looks at the Dark Side of Corporations. This contains a wealth of information for anyone wanting to delve into this murky area. Corporate wars may be played out in the boardroom and stock exchange or more literally with corporate=sponsored military action. There are some basic details here, but if you really want commercial military personnel, go read Book 1: Mercenary instead! There is also discussion of sabotage and government subversion/takeover by corporations as well. Again there is a system for generating likely infiltration and sabotage missions for corporate agents.

A detailed analysis of Bounties follows. This can make for some fine adventures, whether your party engage in bounty hunting or are the targets of bounty hunters, so it's well worth reading. Again there's plenty of rules and game mechanical information to help you model the process... and there's a sub-section on assassination as well as a system for generating bounty hunter missions.

Finally there is a section on Agent Technology. Plenty of goodies for your agents to get their hands on here and a rather neat system for generating one-off prototype devices that may or may not do what that awfully nice fellow from Q Branch said they would when he gave them to you! There are even some new ship types, as well as small items such as a neural flash device (think neuraliser from Men in Black), holographic disguises and much more.

Irrespective of whether any of your players wants an Agent character, this is a worthy addition to any Referee's bookshelf if only for the legal processes section... but there are ideas a-plenty ready to spawn new adventures and even whole campaigns as well.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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