One benefit of housecleaning is the inevitable rediscovery of treasures from another age. Case in point: two dust-covered bins filled with old tabletop roleplaying paraphernalia. One such gem is a module for TSR’s ill-fated Top Secret espionage RPG. Operation: Rapidstrike! is a holdover from TSR’s salad days in a Geneva, Wisconsin warehouse.
Full disclosure: I have never actually played through an entire Top Secret campaign, and picked up most of the material from discount bins long after the company had merged with Wizards of the Coast. Some friends and I made a couple of half-hearted attempts that never strayed far from the launchpad. (I vaguely remember some elaborate system in the rulebook for determining whether an agent’s actions warranted suspension or termination from his or her shadowy employer. Go figure, I wasn’t too excited about an RPG in which I’d have to worry about losing my job.) Still, there’s a schlocky appeal to the entire package, from the passé Cold War scenario to the trippy artwork.
Speaking of trippy artwork, there’s some amazing stuff from the inimitable Erol Otus between these covers. Many of the illustrations are amusing renderings by the usual stable of D&D artists, with secret agents that bear disturbing resemblance to elves and gnomes. But Otus gets to cut loose with some strange and cool imagery of an agent tripping balls on the designer drug Zucor, a house specialty of the module’s main villainess.
“Oh my god” seems a perfectly understandable reaction to such a powerful hallucinogen.
We’re also provided with fairly elaborate instructions for creating a drug trip for the unfortunate victim of a Zucor dosage (and I quote):
Smell: smoke; rotten meat; honeysuckle; chlorine; almonds
Feel: chills; breezes; pressure change; vibration; heat; gelatine
Hear: footsteps; gunshots; screams for help; large engine sound; rushing river
Taste: oranges; cordite; onion; chocolate; coffee
See: Man with weapon; Man with melted face; small child; grenade floating in the air; gas
Ian Fleming meets William S. Burroughs! Almost makes we wish I’d stuck it out. But something tells me this is better perused than played.