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Night's Black Agents

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The Cold War is over. Bush's War is winding down. You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly. Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn't come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe's clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you as The Cold War is over. Bush's War is winding down. You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly. Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn't come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe's clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you asked even fewer questions. Who gave you that job in Prague? Who paid for your silence in that Swiss account? You told yourself it didn't matter. It turned out to matter a lot. Because it turned out you were working for vampires. Vampires exist. What can they do? Who do they own? Where is safe? You don't know those answers yet. So you'd better start asking questions. You have to trace the bloodsuckers' operations, penetrate their networks, follow their trail, and target their weak points. Because if you don't hunt them, they will hunt you. And they will kill you. Or worse. Night's Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases. Updating classic Gothic terrors for the postmodern age, Night's Black Agents presents thoroughly modular monstrosity: GMs can build their own vampires, mashup their own minions, kitbash their own conspiracies to suit their personal sense of style and story. Rack silver bullets in your Glock, twist a UV bulb into your Maglite, keep watching the mirrors E and pray you've got your vampire stories straight.


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The Cold War is over. Bush's War is winding down. You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly. Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn't come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe's clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you as The Cold War is over. Bush's War is winding down. You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly. Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn't come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe's clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you asked even fewer questions. Who gave you that job in Prague? Who paid for your silence in that Swiss account? You told yourself it didn't matter. It turned out to matter a lot. Because it turned out you were working for vampires. Vampires exist. What can they do? Who do they own? Where is safe? You don't know those answers yet. So you'd better start asking questions. You have to trace the bloodsuckers' operations, penetrate their networks, follow their trail, and target their weak points. Because if you don't hunt them, they will hunt you. And they will kill you. Or worse. Night's Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases. Updating classic Gothic terrors for the postmodern age, Night's Black Agents presents thoroughly modular monstrosity: GMs can build their own vampires, mashup their own minions, kitbash their own conspiracies to suit their personal sense of style and story. Rack silver bullets in your Glock, twist a UV bulb into your Maglite, keep watching the mirrors E and pray you've got your vampire stories straight.

30 review for Night's Black Agents

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Night's Black Agents is Bourne meets True Blood. You a group of renegade soldiers, ex-spies, freelance analysts, and general spooks who have stumble upon a terrible specter haunting 21st century Europe: Vampires! Using your skills and networks, you have to send these bloodsuckers back to the grave for good. There's a lot to like about this game. The GMing advice and conspyramid (conspiracy+pyramid) foe structure, with escalating levels of henchmen and shell organizations, is tuned for spies vs bl Night's Black Agents is Bourne meets True Blood. You a group of renegade soldiers, ex-spies, freelance analysts, and general spooks who have stumble upon a terrible specter haunting 21st century Europe: Vampires! Using your skills and networks, you have to send these bloodsuckers back to the grave for good. There's a lot to like about this game. The GMing advice and conspyramid (conspiracy+pyramid) foe structure, with escalating levels of henchmen and shell organizations, is tuned for spies vs bloodsuckers, but brilliant and portable. The chapter on vampires summarizes tons of folklore, you decide what is true in your game. And the rules support multiple play styles, from high octane Stakes to the shadowy betrayal of Mirror to the psychological annihilation of Burn and the powerlessness of Dust. This is my first time reading through the GUMSHOE system, and I am both impressed and a little confused. Roleplaying game systems are about managing the flow of information and the consequences of uncertainty. In GUMSHOE, clues are almost automatically revealed. No rolling perception to spot the shell casing, intimidate to coerce an uncommunicative witness, knowledge to retrieve an obscure fact. Characters have a pool of points, and they spend these for clues. A similar point spend mechanic is at play in the action sequences, with a d6+k vs N system. As long as players spend at least one point, they're guaranteed success on easy tests, and higher spends mean that exceptional characters can definitely make a critical check, at the cost of having nothing in reserve for the future. I haven't played it yet, but it seems workable. I'm not a fan of attritional mechanics, and GUMSHOE is nothing but attrition, but it works. 8 years on from publication, it feels less sophisticated than the fiction-first fail forward-approach of games running on a pbtA or BitD-style fail forward engine. In a world of espionage, which is based around double-edged truths, secrets, revelations, and a fatal web of blowback, the GUMSHOE approach of 'yeah, it works' doesn't seem to model the source fiction. And finally, the layout is painfully old-school, triple columns and arbitrary section breaks that make using this book as a reference confusing. I'm still not sure how many points an agent starts with in a pool, which I guess is the same as the rating, but for such a key point of the system, I shouldn't have to guess. The combat sections are similarly confusing. I'm sure that Ken Hite could run an amazing campaign of Night's Black Agents, but his decades of Suppressed Transmissions columns are the source for paranormal weirdness. Even after this book, I'm less sure I could do the same.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Part of the Gumshoe Bundle of Holding, which included * Night's Black Agents * The Zalozhniy Quartet, a series of 4 adventures with some strong throughlines (i.e., a little campaign) (Also available as of today at the Bundle of Holding's new store: https://bundleofholding.com/store/NBA) The basic premise of this game is: you were once in the intelligence community, but then you discovered that vampires were real, and now you are on the run as you attempt to stop them before they catch you. I have no Part of the Gumshoe Bundle of Holding, which included * Night's Black Agents * The Zalozhniy Quartet, a series of 4 adventures with some strong throughlines (i.e., a little campaign) (Also available as of today at the Bundle of Holding's new store: https://bundleofholding.com/store/NBA) The basic premise of this game is: you were once in the intelligence community, but then you discovered that vampires were real, and now you are on the run as you attempt to stop them before they catch you. I have no inherent interest in spy fiction/games or in vampire fiction/games -- I like them, but I don't seek them out, nor do I think of them as topics that closely align with my own thematic interests. And yet, this might be the most perfect game or at least corebook. It's both very focused -- you are spies/ex-spies and you are fighting against a conspiracy pyramid -- and very adaptable (with rules for both different themes/types of spy stories, from the socially ablative spies of Le Carre to the more cinematic adventures of Jason Bourne, and with a wide open idea of what vampires are in this world). The corebook is organized into discrete sections hitting the gameplay at three different angles: spy, vampire, thriller. Ken Hite also writes an exceptional acknowledgements and reference page, noting all of the fiction that he's pulling from and also all of the games that he's borrowing liberally from, so you know that he's borrowing and refining and combining some of the best ideas for emulating this. The Zalozhniy Quartet follows from the corebook, keeping both the wideness of scope (since this is an investigation game where the PCs might have clues that they follow from any adventure to any other, each chapter notes how the PCs might get in and get out of the adventures; and there's notes about how to fit different vampire types into this game) and the narrowness of focus: you are spies, you get into chases, you have to curry favor with local bigwigs, you set up secret meetings, etc. As Hite notes in the corebook, the structure of the thriller is: the reward for danger is information, and information always leads to more danger, and if you rest, danger will find you. I usually like to ask if this is a game that I would play, and here, this might be the game that I am most excited to try some day.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Austin

    A fascinating premise (spy thriller meets vampire killer), deep research, and a solid gaming system... that didn't really speak to me. I see how it's designed to be simple and fast, but it seems almost too much so yet at times gets almost finicky with the number of subsystem-specific rules. Since it's a game, it really needs a play through to really get it. Either part would be pretty complete on its own: with this you could run a spy thriller on its own, but the addition of vampires and a host o A fascinating premise (spy thriller meets vampire killer), deep research, and a solid gaming system... that didn't really speak to me. I see how it's designed to be simple and fast, but it seems almost too much so yet at times gets almost finicky with the number of subsystem-specific rules. Since it's a game, it really needs a play through to really get it. Either part would be pretty complete on its own: with this you could run a spy thriller on its own, but the addition of vampires and a host of other related monsters twists the genre on its head. The author gives everything needed to uncover conspiracies in exotic locales with ever increasing levels of revelation and danger. The player characters are badass, but still human, specifically called out to be specialists with interesting niches let everyone be cool in their own way. Would be fun to run or play; if I ever get the chance I'll revisit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

    Es sin lugar a dudas lo mejor en juegos de rol que he leído en los últimos años. El sistema GUMSHOE se convirtió instantáneamente en mi sistema favorito. El setting que mezcla, thriller, vampiros y espionaje esta estupendamente amalgamado. La combinación de juego de investiga y de acción esta muy bien representada en las mecánicas. La libertad para diseñar tus propos vampiros y seres de la noche le dan mucha flexibilidad. Las reglas de persecución son muy cinemáticas y las modalidades de juego r Es sin lugar a dudas lo mejor en juegos de rol que he leído en los últimos años. El sistema GUMSHOE se convirtió instantáneamente en mi sistema favorito. El setting que mezcla, thriller, vampiros y espionaje esta estupendamente amalgamado. La combinación de juego de investiga y de acción esta muy bien representada en las mecánicas. La libertad para diseñar tus propos vampiros y seres de la noche le dan mucha flexibilidad. Las reglas de persecución son muy cinemáticas y las modalidades de juego recomendadas se adaptan a cualquier estilo o grupo de jugadores / director. Un detalle que me gustó mucho fueron los recudros de "DVD Commentary", con recomendaciones de los playtesters en ciertas reglas o secciones del juego. Es un gran juego con un gran sistema, en un gran setting. 100% recomendado.

  5. 5 out of 5

    William

    This book is often dense and is by no means an easy read, but it looks like an immensely fun system. The GM (Director) advice is solid and easily mappable onto other games. The story structures even more so. And, of course, vampires are a lot of fun.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Abbott

    Just finished reading this excellent RPG book (which is why I'm taking like two months on the other book I've posted as "Currently Reading"). Really enjoyed the book, very well laid out and written. I'm a big fan of the lore and genre, and look forward to running some games of it. I very much love procedural/mystery stories, and the GUMSHOE system does a great job of bringing those stories to life. This is my favorite version of GUMSHOE so far; because the characters are quite bad ass, and there Just finished reading this excellent RPG book (which is why I'm taking like two months on the other book I've posted as "Currently Reading"). Really enjoyed the book, very well laid out and written. I'm a big fan of the lore and genre, and look forward to running some games of it. I very much love procedural/mystery stories, and the GUMSHOE system does a great job of bringing those stories to life. This is my favorite version of GUMSHOE so far; because the characters are quite bad ass, and there are a bunch of cool details and sub systems. One of the coolest things in the book IMO is the set of various tools and tricks for both building the vampires and building the conspiracy that is the campaign. Very helpful stuff, and I really enjoy systemic tools that help me help my creativity. I hope my enthusiasm and enjoyment continues once I actually get a game going.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian Rogers

    This is a thing of beauty, it is. It's clear in its insane conception and wonderful in its execution. I'd give it 5 stars if I didn't so instinctively disagree with the General Skill Pool mechanics. I'll likely be stealing many of the concepts from here for other games (especially building out Conspyramids for street level super-heroes), and still hope to e able to play in this at a con and run it some day, either with rules revisions to fix my big problem or revising my rating if playing at the This is a thing of beauty, it is. It's clear in its insane conception and wonderful in its execution. I'd give it 5 stars if I didn't so instinctively disagree with the General Skill Pool mechanics. I'll likely be stealing many of the concepts from here for other games (especially building out Conspyramids for street level super-heroes), and still hope to e able to play in this at a con and run it some day, either with rules revisions to fix my big problem or revising my rating if playing at the con proves I'm wrong.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    What would happen at the end of Ronin if it turned out that the team had been working for a vampire conspiracy all along? The best idea in RPG history as far as I am concerned... GUMSHOE is new to me, a very simplistic system designed to enhance storytelling the system really takes second place to the world-building hacks that Kenneth Hite lays out for the GM.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    Good fun - black ops vs fangs, with solid advice on running any investigative/action game. System mechanics are a little non-immersive for my taste, but that is just personal taste -- you could run the heck out of this in GURPS or Spycraft v.1

  10. 5 out of 5

    Blaine

    You can adapt the GUMSHOE system into any other gaming system, and this was my first wonderful exposure to it. The setting itself is also beautifully horrifying, and begs to be surprised to characters playing something else like Ninjas and Spies or Cyberpunk 2020.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul Baldowski

    I might need to have another read before I really commit to a star rating on this one!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    http://brehaut.net/blog/2012/nights_b... http://brehaut.net/blog/2012/nights_b...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thomas van Iersel

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve Cotterill

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ken Reed

  16. 5 out of 5

    Naahid

  17. 5 out of 5

    Johannes Löfgren

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frank Jarome

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leon Durivage

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kendoyle

  21. 4 out of 5

    Massimo Spiga

  22. 5 out of 5

    Keith Mercer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacques de Villiers

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ldupre

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Abel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryleigh Tipps

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Valletta

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mikhail

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