RULES UPDATES + FAQ
If you have rules questions or comments, join other Top Secret NWO players in the Facebook group, or email us directly.
This page will be updated occasionally with answers to the most commonly asked questions.
An errata page has been compiled for owners of the box set and hardcover, and can be downloaded here: https://goo.gl/4bzVUG
The PDF version has been updated to incorporate the changes.
- Car Chase Rules
- Character Creation
- Gameplay Rules
- NPC Archetypes
- Specialized Skills
- What's in the box
ICON operates covertly, meaning that their operations are deniable and cannot be traced back to their true source. Agents are forbidden to reveal their status as ICON operatives without direct orders from a superior such as a station chief, and a station chief will not give such an order lightly, if at all.
Agents operate under cover identities, and are subject to any laws their cover would suggest. While many agents do carry weapons in areas they may be prohibited by law, for example, they do so at the risk of being detained by authorities if the situation arises.
As a game administrator, this is important to keep in mind, and may lead to unexpected turns to your mission, such as the need to avoid contact with local police, or even escape them, should events come to that. Of course, it is possible to operate under some official cover such as a law enforcement officer, diplomat, or military personnel, so long as no one probes your cover too deeply…
Mission points can be spent to improve skills or raise attributes. Once spent, they are lost—but a player may choose to save up mission points when they don’t have enough to make the desired improvement at that time.
On page 8, in Character Creation, the text says to choose a pre-generated character from the archetypes list (Appendix A). But Appendix A isn’t the archetypes list!
This reference was left in from an earlier revision and not removed for the final book. The NPC Archetypes (p. 102) are a chapter, and no longer an appendix.
Furthermore, the archetypes should be primarily used for NPCs. If you are using them as player characters, The Administrator recommends lowering their abilities to preserve challenges for the players.
What happens if the rules call for me to step up a d12, or step down a d4?
If you are called upon to step up a d12, you may add an additional die as appropriate. Stepping up one die type (⇧1) would add a d4 to your pool. ⇧2 would add a d6, and so on.
If you are told to step down a d4, simply remove the die from the die pool altogether.
The one exception to this is during character creation, when choosing your weak area for tradecraft. If your character already has a d4 in a tradecraft area, it may not be chosen as their weak area.
During their training, ICON agents learn all of the basics of tradecraft, including all the skills and proficiencies listed in the rulebook.
“Each field of tradecraft provides the agent a base ability to use any skill related to that field.” –Core Rulebook, p. 24
However, agents choose certain areas in which to specialize, which provides them with bonuses when using those skills.
The player mats included with the box set are a player aid, and while not necessary to play Top Secret NWO, they can speed play by making it easier to grab the dice you need during the game.
The player mats can be used with a dry erase pen and wiped clean. During the game, write the die types used for each attribute, tradecraft score, or asset, and keep the dice on your player mat in the appropriate space so you can quickly grab the ones you need.
The vehicle cards can be used with a dry erase marker and will wipe clean. You can write the stats for your vehicle on the card for quick reference.
There is a speed track across the top and bottom of each vehicle card. Use the orange sliders that came in the box—or a paper clip or similar item if you don’t have sliders—to keep track of your speed. The larger font represents inches per round, which is the number that matters for game purposes. The smaller font represents miles per hour, and is provided as a reference, to help players visualize the real-world speed of the vehicle.
If I raise an attribute does it also raise the Tradecraft associated with that and thus the specialized skills as well?
Yes, tradecraft dice are based on attribute dice, and can raise when an attribute is increased.
Specialized skills are expressed as steps, meaning a ⬆1 rating for a skill raises that tradecraft die type by one step when using that skill.
No. Each fighting style uses one skill slot. Page 76 states “each fighting style uses one proficiency slot.” For clarity’s sake, this is changed to “skill slot” in the PDF.
When choosing “hand to hand combat” as a skill, the agent must choose one fighting style. Additional fighting styles must be learned using mission points.
Fighting styles are an exception to the tradecraft rules in that agents do not know any fighting styles until they specifically train in them. Agents who have not studied hand-to-hand combat can still fight unarmed, but receive no bonuses.
Pages 24 and 100 contain errors. “Improving specialized skills” was written before proficiencies were finalized, and did not get updated before publication.
Page 24 should read:
As each proficiency is improved, the character sheet should be marked with the appropriate step level for that proficiency. The maximum any proficiency can achieve is ⬆5.
The mission point cost of improving a proficiency within a skill is equal to the existing step level x2. For example, raising the lockpicking proficiency within black-bag ops from ⬆2 to ⬆3 would cost 4 mission points.
Page 100 should read:
Adding a new specialized skill: 4 mission points
Raising a proficiency one step: (Current step x2) mission points. For example: raising from ⬆3 to ⬆4 costs 6 mission points (3 x 2).
Surveillance is mistakenly listed in the rulebook as both a SIGINT (p. 68) and a HUMINT (p. 37) skill.
Physical surveillance (tailing another person or vehicle, eavesdropping in public without special equipment, etc.) is a HUMINT skill.
SIGINT is only for electronic surveillance, that is, signals intelligence.
One of these tables should be for Sticky Foam. This will be corrected soon.
Pepper spray should read “Each released capsule or canister reduces reflex by ⬇2 for (d4 x 15) minutes if the spray contacts the eyes, nose, or mouth. The affected agent may roll pulse + combat to avoid additional blindness and uncontrollable coughing. A gas mask will protect the agent entirely. Other methods, such as a handkerchief or dust mask, may provide an asset die to avoid blindness and coughing, but will not protect against a loss of reflex. Range is 10 feet.”
Psychochemical should read “Each released capsule or canister causes confusion and reduces suave, intellect, and reflex by ⬇2 for 1d10 minutes.”
On page 77, under “Ranged Combat,” the printed rulebook contains an error. The error has been corrected in the PDF, and is as follows:
Die rolls for the defender:
If the defender is aware of the attack, they roll reflex + COMBAT + defensive modifiers
If the defender is unaware, they roll defensive modifiers only.
On page 85, in “Underwater Combat,” the rules refer to a swimming specialized skill. This skill is not included in the list of specialized skills and proficiencies. This was an oversight, and will be corrected in an upcoming rule addendum.
When choosing your weak area for tradecraft, if your character already has a d4 in a tradecraft area, it may not be chosen as their weak area.
The description for Vulture Drones describes a “Life Level” of 1-10. This should read “health.”
An action point is really just a measure of time, specifically, a quarter of a second. Feel free as the Administrator of your game to make a ruling for anything not covered.
Here are a few actions players have asked about. The times listed here are suggestions, and subject to the Administrator’s judgment.
- Falling prone – 8 AP
- Standing up – 8 AP
- Drawing a weapon – 4 AP
- Dropping a weapon and surrendering – 12 AP
- Change from running to shooting position – 8 AP
- Reloading – this assumes it is a trained ICON agent or trained NPC reloading. To change a magazine, 12 AP. To reload a revolver using a speedloader, 2 rounds. To reload a revolver one cartridge at a time, 6 AP per cartridge.
- Changing weapons – one round, assuming the other weapon is ready at hand.
- Getting into a vehicle – one round
- Starting a vehicle – one round
The box set for Top Secret: New World Order includes four orange sliders and one blue slider. These are for the vehicle cards and the Administrator’s Screen, respectively.
The orange sliders are tighter, in order to fit snugly on the vehicle cards. Use them to track the vehicle’s speed.
The blue slider is sized to fit the Administrator’s screen, and is used on the tension track.
⬆5 is the maximum number of steps a skill proficiency can raise a die type.
Each agent token can be used as a marker to represent a player character or an NPC. You can flip the token over to show that the person has been incapacitated or even killed. Due to a printing error, some agent tokens show a different agent’s outline when flipped over. This has no effect on gameplay, but embarrassed Jayson to no end when he saw the final product. On the bright side, years from now this will be proof that you have the collectible first printing of the game!
Why not just update and repackage Top Secret/S.I.? Is it a copyright thing? I loved the Top Secret/S.I. system, and I was always sad that it was never repackaged as a generic RPG system.
How the heck does HtH combat work? When you take the HtH specialized skill, do you automatically get one Fighting style? Does the HtH skill have levels that step up your combat die? When you improve your style’s asset die from a d4, how many experience points does that take? Is your asset die only added in when you are at the appropriate distance? If you are not at the appropriate distance, wouldn’t you just not use the style to avoid the step down to your combat die?
Can we get a copy of the grapple chart referred to on page 78? “Trained fighters in H2H combat roll reflex + combat against each other to hit. Attacks must be declared as a strike or grapple. Successful strikes do temporary damage (see below), successful grapples move to the grappling table (see below)”
Is there an in mechanic for reputation? Characters accumulate it, but what do they do with it?
On page 43, the use of other characters as assets is discussed, and “ask for advice, information, or assistance from a contact. In that case, the contact is treated as an asset, and their asset die is used.” In the example that follows: “but his asset die as an expert is a d12, replacing the decision die.”
Where does the d12 come from?
The combat in the new Top Secret game, New World Order seems very hard to manage with the way initiative works, where you have so many Action Points you can spend and each action costs so many points…meaning that oftentimes depending on how many points your action costs, 2 people will be doing things simultaneously and you will be jumping back and forth between players’ follow up actions and such. This is VERY confusing to me and cumbersome to keep track of.
Now that that the game has been out for several months, how do you all feel about the Action Point economy and how it affects combat initiative in the game?
Are there any good alternative systems out there yet?
Where is Appendix P: Phobia List?
Phobias are written, but didn’t make it into the final book because we wanted to keep it simple at first with the impairments. The reference to Appendix P was left in error. They will be expanded upon in a future blog post, and may make it into an expansion book later.
Hey! With regard to character improvement: what is the cost of adding additional languages or improving current ones? If a player takes an impairment, could they choose a language or languages instead of an additional specialized skill?
How about this for a suggestion: a new Specialized Skill called Linguist. If you take this as a specialized skill you receive four languages for which you can randomly roll for proficiency. (A bit like the Hand-to-Hand Combat skill.) Additional points spent on Linguist can be used to improve proficiency in a selected language.
The current rules don’t include a mechanism for adding more languages, but I like your suggestion to treat them as a specialized skill. If you use that in your own game, please let us know how it works out for you. There is a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/TopSecretNWO/ where this would be a great discussion.
If we use this approach in an upcoming rules update, I’ll make sure you’re credited with the idea.
For Chases…on pg 89 the book states that Hazards appear at the end of a round but on the Admin screen and in the Chase rules for the steps you do each round it states that you check for Hazards on step 3 out of 5 each round, just before Declaring Actions for the round on step 4.
Which is correct?
Can we get a downloadable PDF and/or Word version of this Rules Updates + FAQ, please?
One thing you can do is expand all the answers on this page and then print the page. It will get all the questions and answers in the format you see here on this page. Mine ended up being 12 pages long (6 pages double sided.)
Will there be conversion rules for the earlier version of Top Secret. I need to run those old 80s modules!
I am very pleased to see an FAQ system and well-written responses. I am especially pleased to hear about an upcoming rule addendum. These questions also show players are reading the rules and questioning authority. Two admirable traits. Well done!
P.S. According to FedEx Tracking, my copies of the boxed games should arrive May 2, 2018.
What are the rules regarding weapon damage to vehicles? If there aren’t any official rules, is this something that you’re considering for the near future?
This would make a good update for the near future. Typically a bullet fired at a vehicle will only disable it if it blows out the tires or pierces the engine, although a gas tank leak could have consequences as well. Then there’s the issue of firing through the sheet metal or windows to hit occupants. We’ll put this on the list for additions to the rules.
Hey! A quick question related to Specialized Skills. If a character has a d12 in a specific tradecraft area and then chooses a specialized skill in that area does that give them a capability greater than d12 in that skill? For example: a d12 in Nerve gives me a d12 in HUMINT. If I select Asset Handling as a specialized skill, does that give me something more than d12 in that skill? (like Asset Handling d12+d4)
Thats the same question Im having. Unless i read the section wrong, D12 is the highest it goes, but then you also list that you can step the die 5x. What does that actually mean?
When dice stepping above d12, causing you to roll an extra die, how does that effect bursts and blowback requirements? Are both dice vulnerable/available?
Some standard Npc templates would be really useful of all sorts of people in the environments – not just powerful “character” npcs.
Eg driver, scientist, bartender, security guard (several types from bouncer to ex military intelligence), passers by, pilot, infantry private, policeman etc
Also suggestion for update/expansion/2nd edition etc.
Dirrerent hazard tables for day and night.
Please post the errata as a printable sheet which can be referred to in a game.
Good thinking. The errata sheet is now available here: https://goo.gl/4bzVUG
It’s linked at the top of the page as well.
Shotguns – might seem a silly question and I noticed sfatey slugs are in teh muisc damage list but I feel there’s been an oversight,but you never know when somebody will actually fire Slugs and buck at people or vise versa even 00 It’s a small askance but I’d just like a rough guide to shotties , please.
This is a great point. I can’t promise how quickly we can get a shotgun guide together, but I’ll put it on the priority list.
There are some good stats for Shotguns and a bunch of other weapons (although unofficial) in Arctic Blast, a TS:NWO adventure published by New Comet Games.