I’ve listened to the analytical bit of your podcast now — the AP section is waiting for after dinner — and found it interesting. I hope you don’t mind if I pass a couple of comments here. I would have used your own comment section if the episode were more recent; as things stand I prefer to continue the conversation that is current.
I agree entirely: the Ease-Factor/Quality Rating resolution system is the schnitz. It is absolutely the poodle’s pyjamas. Just one of its many virtues it that it brings good shot placement right into the heart of the combat/injury system. A good marksman intrinsically does more damage than a bunny, simply and cleanly getting better shot placement.
You and Judge Blythy listed Hero Points as one of the three best rules in the system entirely on the strength of the things you can do by spending them. And even there you didn’t mention the power of spending them on encounters in the wonderful NPC encounters system. I would like to add that the rules for how a character accumulates hero points are also pretty damned clever. A PC gets a hero point every time its player rolls a QR1 (excellent) result on a resolution roll called for by the GM. According to the option chosen by the GM to set the tone of the campaign this may be limited to out-of-combat rolls, or there may be one-tenth of a point per QR1 in combat. Players want hero points, and to get them they seek to do things [out of combat, if the GM chooses wisely] that involve making rolls. So what activities call for a lot of rolls out of combat? Gambling, seductions, chases, and infiltrations! Thus players are led as though by an invisible hand….
I feel for Judge Blythy’s difficulty in being allowed to specify only three favourite rules. He was forced to leave out the “Draw” and weapon concealment rules, which gave PCs a robust mechanical reason to consider carrying something other than the most powerful weapons. Have you noticed that each of the weapons Bond routinely carried in the films has been given a little bonus to make it a good choice? The Beretta .25 has a damage class one greater than it deserves, the Walther PPK has a Performance Modifier one better than is actually justified, and H&K VP-70 has a Concealment rating one better than it ought to have. I’m not actually convinced that that is a good thing; the system is better without such no-brainers.
I feel a second time for Judge Blythy’s difficulty in being allowed to specify only three favourite rules. He was forced to leave out the encounter system, which is a rare gem of game-design brilliance. Rather than being foes to fight, random encounters in the J007 encounter system are incidents such as might occur in a James Bond movie. There are two tables. The “Cold Area” table is for use when the PCs have lost the plot, and are in an area where nothing plot-related is going on: though they might require the expenditure of Hero Points by desperate players to do so, these incidents “coincidentally” draw the PCs towards hot areas. The “Hot Area” table is for use in areas where villain-related activity is going on: these incidents variously draw the PCs into contact with the Major Villain, his Beautiful Foil, his Privileged Henchman, or the operations of his Dastardly Plot. Given a Villain, a Plot, a couple of Thrilling Locations, and a Lair, the random encounter system in JB 007 will pretty much structure a James Bond Movie plot procedurally around anything the PCs do.
It seems as though when you were generating your character you had overlooked the rule on page 19, in the second paragraph under the heading “Skills” that defines the maximum skill level as 15. I hope you found it since.
I share your pain at the pinball-score character points and experience points in JB007. When Tonio Loewald based his game ForeSight on JB007 he divided everything by about twenty, and in the retro-clone game Classified Joseph Browning neatly left a zero off the end of every generation-point and experience-point value. On the other hand, leaving off a zero doesn’t change the problem that “00” characters are big complicated builds with lots of skills and abilities to assign. Agents are less work to build, and Rookies less work still, and there is a certain tradition in gaming of starting small with a character having few abilities and scaling up only as you learn the elements of the rules. On the gripping hand, you pretty much need the power and versatility of a character built on an “00” budget to complete an adventure solo.
I noted your comments about solo play with interest. In my neck of the woods the consensus was that a character built on “00” points was good for solo play, but that any two of such beasts of greed and arrogance would be too much gun for anything but very strong opposition. Characters built on "Agent " points were pretty good for a team of two, but a bit too heavy for teams of three. And characters built on “Rookie” points were good for teams of four or five and just a shade light for teams of three.
The game doesn’t offer any guidance for how to play teams of agents in a James Bond adventure. We found that it could be done with a combination of the ruthless specialisation of characters and taking turns in the spotlight. The experience points system in JB007 does strongly encourage the requisite specialisation (until you reach “00” rank, when the incentive to specialise vanishes and players start generalising their characters madly), but does not give any guidance about the design of complementary teams nor advocate generous spotlight-sharing. We learned to do it anyway.
The solution that we gravitated into was having one person play “Clunk”, a character designed to have Speed three, combat skills, high Gambling skill, and maximum possible Fame. Clunk travelled alone, with the rest of the party in overwatch. He obtained his Hero Points by gambling. He got recognised because of his Fame, which drew out the villains. And when combat started it generally started with Clunk drawing a pistol with S/R 3 (when I was playing Clunk I favoured the Ruger T-512, a .22 calibre target pistol) and making three people’s heads explode at the beginning of the first round. (Clunk doesn’t care about killing people, he’s at maximum Fame anyway. Clunk also doesn’t care about people noticing he’s armed.) The rest of the team designed for minimum Fame and tried to avoid killing anyone. One support character was designed to get his or her Hero Points in car chases. We commonly had one or two interpersonal specialists designed to get their Hero Points in seductions and other NPC interactions — if there were two they were usual of opposite sexes. And then there was room for a bacon & eggs specialist gaining his or her Hero Points by infiltration, picking locks, and disabling alarms.
Any comments? Have you played more James Bond 007 since last September?