Skip to main content

Premise Beach: Gaming the first season of Mission: Impossible

I've been watching the television series Mission: Impossible from start to finish, and am now done with the first season.

For those who don't know, the first season didn't star Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, but instead the main IMF agent was Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill (who went on decades later to plan DA Adam Schiff on Law and Order).  More trivia: Hill agreed to the role as long as they respected his orthodox Judaism.  The producers did, not realizing that meant that he wouldn't work on the Sabbath.  As a result, Hill was often unavailable and the series had to rely more heavily on other cast members, especially Martin Landau, who had not wanted that active a role on the show so he could be free to do movie roles.

While the cast would settle into the same five regular characters, the initial premise of the show had one sole full-time agent who would draw from a pool of volunteers or contract agents.  Despite having a consistent cast in the credits, in actuality the first season's roster of IMF agents was fairly fluid, and could have as few as two or as many as eight (although almost all of them had Martin Landau playing Rollin Hand).

I like the idea of part-time spies, and the light-hearted, clever, relatively non-violent (especially for this day and age), and moralistically black-and-white nature of the show really appeals to me these days.  In the wake of national events I'm having a bit of introspection about hobbies that have innately violent elements, so the notion of out-thinking an opponent rather than killing them has some traction with me.  Although to be fair, a lot of the bad guys in M:I would often end up being killed by their communist or criminal overseers as a consequence of whatever hijinks had occurred.

There's two ways to go about re-creating a Season One-style Mission: Impossible game.  One is to use a rules-heavy modern era game like d20 Modern or Aether.  The other is to go with a game based on a modern-day M:I premise: Leverage.  It's pretty straightforward for that system: Briggs, and then later Phelps, is the Mastermind.  Barney is the Hacker (early version).  Cinnamon is the Grifter.  Rollin is the Thief (and a little Grifter).  Willy is the Fighter.  I should stat these guys out sometime.


  1. A game like this would appeal to me, but, not to a lot of other players. Generally, players like an easy to understand combat than outsmarting opponents. Making experience points or equivalent rely on nonviolent solutions could be the answer. I will say the M:I program was able to build suspense consistently well.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A First Look at Prowlers and Paragons

For a long time I've been in the market for a new supers RPG.  Since running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a few years ago, I've been looking at other games, including some that had been passed by the general public, e.g. DC Heroes Third Edition or Silver Age Sentinels.  This was based on the notion that supers RPG's are so niche and so under-performing as a general part of the RPG world that just because the game wasn't making a splash didn't mean it wasn't good.

Plus, I have my own tastes about what I like in a supers RPG, which I've touched on from time to time here, but to summarize I like a game that feels like a comic book, doesn't get bogged down in too much detail, but allows for PC growth and development in a tangible game-system way.  I also don't want to spend hours on character creation using a spreadsheet.  For that matter, it would be an added bonus if it could also accommodate a large number of players and didn't have glaring options…

Hexcrawling a City, an early look

One thing I've been slowly working on for the last year is another fantasy sandbox campaign.  My prior one was generally map-based, although a city featured prominently in it.  As time went by, it lost a lot of its "sandbox" quality and became more directed on my part.  In the process, I think it lost something.

So, after being away from fantasy for a solid year, it's time to get back to it.  I spent some of that last year thinking about cities.   Some fantasy RPG treat cities on a very detailed level, with maps of streets, etc.  But while that's fun "map porn" for GM's, how often would the players actually be seeing or using a map like that?  And how long would it take for them to just accrue that knowledge by exploring the city.  I've lived in my current city seven years, with a car, and I don't know how all the cities line up.  What I know are areas, neighborhoods, etc. some intimately, others not so much.  And if I was going to a new cit…

Large modular dungeon tiles

I made five 4" by 4" dungeon tiles, which is 80 square inches, almost twice my usual batch of tiles.  When added to what I've done already, this is how big a single room I can make:

14 by 14 squares, with four squares to spare.  That's a pretty big room (70 feet to a side).  If I wanted to mix it up, I could build something like this:

I'm probably going to take a little break from this project.  It has turned out well, but until I'm closer to doing a fantasy game I'm going to focus on the games I'm actually doing.
Speaking of which, it's game night tonight...