Agents of SWING preview – Foreword

I was born in 1975, well after the heyday of the adventure serials made famous by ITC Entertainment, ABC Weekend Television and media mogul Lew Grade. Back in the 60s and 70s these set the gold standard for adventure and glamour and rode the wave of ‘Swinging London’ chic, even through the grimmer and nastier 1970s, moving from aspiration to escapism. 

Thanks to the cheapness of the BBC and ITV and their tendency to play out a lot of repeats – at least in the days before Satellite TV – I did get to see a lot of these series as I was growing up, in the 1980s, along with the series that lasted into that decade. I saw a hell of a lot of these older, stranger programmes. Recently, the same penny-pinching and nostalgia has been fuelling reruns on satellite television, bringing a lot of these old series to a new audience, even if it’s mostly appreciated as kitsch rather than the ground-breaking and adventurous television that it often was at the time. We’ve moved on, but they retain a hell of a lot of their old charm.


Many of the series and the performances in them are still iconic today and, while most of them fall into the ‘Adventure series’ and ‘Spy-Fi’ genres, they’re also part of a broader category that takes in series and films as diverse as
James Bond, Doctor Who, The Professionals and Sapphire and Steel. The Avengers in particular typifies the eccentric and eclectic nature of adventure television at the time, swinging wildly from cold war drama, to criminal investigation and supernatural or science-fictional strangeness, apparently without any regard as to whether it particularly made any good sense. The only genre today that really captures the same spread of lunacy is probably anime, if you can even call that a genre.


Catching that ‘anything goes’ spirit of the series of the 60s and 70s has been the main goal of writing
Agents of SWING, and FATE – with a few modifications – has been the system of choice simply because it’s good at allowing for a very broad range of different elements to interact. The spirit of the adventure serials is also quite similar to that of the pulps which, in turn, inspired Spirit of the Century. Rather than that incarnation of FATE I have chosen to go with the version found within Starblazer Adventures as a basiswhich, as an enormous brick of a book, contains structures, systems and ideas well suited to the Spy-Fi genre as well as coming – in inspiration at least – from a similar time period.


The final part of inspiration going into
Agents of SWING has been Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The idea of combining heroes and villains from across a period of fiction into one cohesive world is hugely appealing and allows for all manner of ‘what if?’ scenarios. How would James Bond react to Emma Peel? What would the refined John Steed make of the brutish tactics of Bodie and Doyle? Would the IM Force know what to do when confronted with a fracture in time or a gang of marauding robots?


Throw all this together back into a time of the Cold War, Swinging London, miniskirts, Vietnam protests, The Beatles, hippies, psychedelia and the sexual revolution and I think you have a potent combination that’s ripe for some wild and crazy adventures. Hopefully I’ve managed to convey that and, through this game and the material to come in support of it we can build a wonderful game world and some brilliant stories together.

 

No, really, DO tell me about your character (and your games).

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