Top Secret Companion (1985)

This is the Top Secret Companion, also by Merle Rasmussen, published in 1985. It supports the second edition of Top Secret which I do not own but the internet tells me is basically the same game but for revised hand-to-hand combat rules and the removal of flamethrowers (boooo). The Companion is a pretty massive rules expansion.

Let’s start with the bad. First, this is a 96-page book without a single illustration, which, god. Not one! Second, Rasmussen went to school for civil engineering and it kind of shows. The text of this book, relative to the bombastic sense of fun on display in the scenarios, is rather dry. There are lots of tables, devoted to stuff like the stopping power of bullets, which is the sort of RPG simulation stuff that reminds me of not paying attention in my high school algebra class (I went to summer school for it, to give you an idea of how hard I didn’t pay attention).

There is a ton of stuff here, though, and it is intended to be optional, so you can ditch the complicated charts if you want. My favorite bit is the Espionage College Course Handbook at the back of the book, that players can use to increase their skills. It is actually presented like a college class list, and that kind of cracks me up.

Also, the cover is pretty special. As usual for the period, TSR was lax with artist credit, so there isn’t much to go on to research it, but I dearly hope that it is a photo of Merle.

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