When I first picked up the Top Secret Espionage Role Playing Game back in 1980 it was one of my two first actual purchase of a role playing game. It was either this or Gamma World, both by TSR, that I found on the shelf at a game store in Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
Living in a small town in Northern Ontario meant there was no hobby shop in town and you had to go to the city in order to pick up dice, books and what not. So when I picked up Top Secret RPG I was in secret agent heaven. I remember running my first session as clear as day, since it was the mini-adventure sample that was in the core rule book. An island base of operation for a notorious villain which was probably inspired by James Bond and Derek Flint movies. The players went into the adventure with a AD&D perspective, kicking in doors, killing the bad guys and tacking their stuff. But in espionage, kicking in doors and shooting up the room meant more bad guys coming and more bullets flying.
But, that was all good. We had a blast and I think from that point on the players decided to follow the examples of Steed and Peel, Jim Phelps and his crew, and maybe, just maybe a little bit of James Bond. I’ve always like the TV shows Avengers and got caught up with it when I was a kid, my first introduction into the show was an episode where Steed and Peel uncover a plot that an organization was sending criminals back in time. This was my first introduction to the series and was a pretty unique concept. I stuck around for more episodes to mine for use with Top Secret (and I did).
I think the Avengers helped me run better espionage scenarios as well, since the assignments were strange and yet compelling to watch and see what our duo could come up with to solve what was happening and the real reason behind the event.
Even though we never did get an Avengers Role Playing Game some of my most memorable Top Secret adventures were heavily inspired by their episodes.