9 Secret Agents For Your Game

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1063

I like this list from Cheka Man in RPT#461. It speaks to me of archetypes and story roles. And I like those because they are reusable containers you can fill again and again.

For example, The Idealist. They’d rather be somewhere else. By being someone else. Tough gig.

In one plot you can make this NPC a pirate who uses the sea lanes to gather intel.

In another plot, you can make this NPC a high-ranking faction member the PCs are supposed to take down but then could ally with for a common cause.

And in a third plot, the NPC is in love but spies on their beloved’s family. It’ll be mayhem as the PCs get caught in the middle.

Consider each agent idea below a type of NPC you can use in your games again and again for various factions, causes, and plots.

The Agent Provocateur

This agent has infiltrated the target group, but then decided to bend — and in some cases break — the law. They have incited the group to greater levels of violence.

Whilst many of the members of the group have been arrested by the police before they can do their dastardly deeds, some escaped capture.

The agent’s handlers suspect what they are doing but let them get away with it, partly to avoid blowing their cover and getting them killed, and partly because the handlers are themselves corrupt.

The Bumbling Fool

This person knows almost nothing about the country or its customs. They do things like trying to order hard liquor from pubs when the pubs only sell beer.

If they do not start behaving properly they will soon be placed under arrest, and what in peacetime only earns a few years in prison is a hanging offence in wartime.

The Child

Although not actually a child, this small person has used plastic surgery and skilled voice acting to impersonate a young child of 9-13 years old.

This allows them to go places others can’t and overhear things, as no one pays attention to a child listening in.

Even if caught, they would only be told-off for being somewhere forbidden instead of being arrested.

The Double Agent

Captured by a rival secret service and facing the gallows, this person was made an offer they could not refuse.

Either hang or become a double agent and feed false information back to their spymasters, along with the odd tidbit of real information so they don’t find out what has happened.

They regret what they have done, but they see no other option to stay alive.

The Discontented

This person started spying out of frustration at not being promoted, and because they thought their bosses were not listening to them.

The agent does it just to get back at their employer, and for the money they get as a reward – not through any sense of idealism.

The Sleeper

This agent infiltrated a rival secret service more than three decades ago, and in all that time they have never been activated. As a result, they have risen to be the deputy head of the secret service with access to the records of every agent, every informant, and every code and codeword.

When they are activated, their information will be devastating to the rival secret service.

But before activating The Sleeper, their handlers must figure out a way to get them back to their home country alive, where they will be well rewarded.

The Mata Hari

This beautiful agent used to be a professional singer before being hired to win valuable secrets from high-ranking military officers through pillow talk.

They are unhappy with their lot, not because they feel in danger of being revealed as a spy and executed, but because those who must be seduced are all rather old and unattractive instead of the dashing young officers they expected.

The James Bond

Less of a spy and more of an assassin, this person is one of the few secret service operatives with a license to kill.

They have faced down and killed several major international villains and prevented terrible acts from taking place.

None of those on their hit list are world leaders, however, as there is an unofficial convention that world leaders do not send assassins to kill each other.

The Idealist

Whilst most spies are paid well for risking their liberty, and in some cases their lives, this agent has turned down money and does what they do because they think the country they spy for is better in every way than the country they are betraying. They hopes that one day they will be able to get citizenship in the country they are spying for as a reward, and immigrate there.