fh14: (Ellen [Damages])
fh14 ([personal profile] fh14) wrote2017-05-17 02:10 pm
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The Craft of the Spy: Reflections on Spycraft: The AJC Missions

For several years, my friend Alex ran a tabletop role-playing game, drawing the basic premise from the existing property Spycraft. The game was ultimately comprised of seven missions, four of which I participated in as the character Wilbur Hutchins.

Abandoning the base system of Spycraft in favor of using the Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS), the campaigns were by and large Alex's own creation centering around the fictitious AJC Spy Agency, and we only used pre-written material during the fourth mission - my first overall - where my character, along with Agents Austin Graham and Jamie Best, took down the bad guy and escaped a bomb going off and destroying a cruise ship... Though everyone on the cruise ship died, including two witnesses that were saved and then killed by liaison Agent Dover. In character and out of character I was annoyed at Alex for that one.

A highlight of this game was that Alex didn't shy away from putting characters in morally uncomfortable situations. Well, engaging but frustrating. I remember after the final mission, when we were discussing the game and giving each other feedback, Alex suggested for the next campaign I try to shy away from the asshole type. While a character I play in an entirely different RPG (STAB is his name) very much fits this mold, I don't think you could really classify Wilbur as that. Aside from maybe the final scene of the final act, Wilbur never really did anything in game that would seem unreasonable or arrogant. He was a kiss-ass, sure, trying to cozy up to the AJC's Chief who plainly didn't want to indulge his weird need for approval. I also found that the more extreme parts of his personality were more difficult to play consistently, so he was less good-'ol-boy and more idealistic boy scout. No, I think its just that I can be an asshole when playing these roleplaying games - always trying to find a loophole in any given situation in order to gather the most information or get out of moral dilemmas. I'm honestly surprised, toward the end, that Alex didn't start pelting me with dice every time I asked to do a perception check, a habit I think I got everyone else to indulge in a little too much as well.

Spycraft is pretty significant for me because it's the first long-term in-person roleplay I've seen through to the end. The other two projects I was apart of were put on indefinite pause due to life events, and while I wasn't around from the very beginning, I feel really fulfilled in the role my character ultimately played. I finally stuck to, for better or worse, the characterization for Wilbur that I had landed on through four long missions and had him take a hard line stance against the other characters. And he died. Shot by one-time ally Austin Graham in a much more gruesome manner than intended (fitting, as Zac always seemed to accidentally do this throughout the entirety of Spycraft), Wilbur died providing a scathing indictment of the other character's actions. Alex frantically typed away on a chat window on her computer to another friend of ours, fearing she'd flown to close to the sun by backing us into that corner, but she didn't. Hilariously, before Wilbur took his last breath, Mads (as Jamie) said, "Well, I liked you." After delivering a long monologue about why they had all brought themselves into ruin, I wasn't really sure how to respond to that, in or out of character. So with one final "Okay?" Wilbur Hutchins died, and we were all laughing. Part of the fun of playing these types of games is the absurdities like that.

As I let Wilbur rest in pieces, the wilder quirks of his personality sadly destined to be unexplored, I thought of what I did accomplish. I'm still pretty smugly satisfied over how I had him deal with a set of sensitive documents - by disguising himself in dirty, smelly clothing and reading them on the subway, before ultimately hiding them in one of the lockers down at South Ferry in Manhattan. I also feel like I came just a little bit closer to stopping my own personality from bleeding too much into the character. Part of me does want to revisit the broad strokes of STAB again, but I'm excited for the character I'm playing in the next campaign we all do, as she's very different from past characters I've played. And who knows, maybe in a few years, we'll decide to play a post-AJC Spycraft campaign, and the government will reanimate Wilbur's brain inside a robot.

Roll Chroniclers OOC Twitter | Spycraft: The AJC Missions Original Soundtrack

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