Recon (role-playing game)
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|The Roleplaying Game of the Viet Nam War|
Front cover of the first edition Recon rulebook
|Designer(s)||Joe F. Martin|
|Publisher(s)||Role Playing Games, Inc.|
|Random chance||Percentile dice (2d10)|
|Skill(s) required||Strategy, Tactics|
Recon (appearing later as RECON) is a role-playing game wherein players assume the role of U.S. military characters during the Vietnam War. It originally started as more of a wargame with role-playing elements, like Behind Enemy Lines and Twilight 2000, and gradually evolved into a full role-playing game.
The first edition was written by Joe F. Martin and published by RPG, Inc. in 1982 as a 44-page book. A 44-page digest-sized second edition packaged with a referee's screen was published in 1983 by RPG, Inc. This edition introduced the idea of easily created and disposable characters. Like Dungeons and Dragons, the Mission Director (the referee or Game Master) used a Random Encounters table to generate terrain and villages, create groups of adversaries for the players to fight, obstacles to overcome, or problems to solve. Combat was resolved using miniatures rules.
Recon is a mildly controversial modern military system of jungle combat in the Vietnam war. The rules cover character creation, skills, recon teams, missions, recruiting and debriefing, hand-to-hand combat, small arms and heavy weapons, and terrain generation.
San Succi (1982) was a map pack. It detailed a 16-block area in 1:72 scale for use with 20mm or 25mm lead figures. It also contained a guide to the buildings on the map, a Non-Player Character (NPC) generating system, and a vehicular combat system (called ROADKILL).
Sayaret / Track Commander (1982) – was a supplement set during the Arab-Israeli Wars (1967 to 1983). Players could generate Israeli soldier characters that could operate as a commando detachment or a tank crew. It allowed the Mission Director to run Israeli commando raids or tank battles.
The Haiphong H.A.L.O.: SOG Operations in North Vietnam (1983) - The first adventure campaign, involved missions behind enemy lines in North Vietnam. It expanded roleplay to include Army Special Forces, Navy SEAL, and Marine Force Recon commando characters and detailed real-world airborne, sea, and amphibious insertion techniques. Missions included reconnaissance, raiding, sabotage, assassination / ambush, prisoner snatching, and search and rescue.
Hearts & Minds (1983) – The second adventure campaign, involved a cadre training mission in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Characters are part of a Special Forces "A" Team sent to train a group of Montagnard tribesmen into a fighting force. They have to win the tribespeople over, protect them from reprisals, and secure their area of operations. It included a random-generation tunnel complex table.
Headhunters Ltd. (1984) - A variant contemporary adventure campaign where the characters play veteran mercenaries working for the eponymous Mercenary Force. It was announced in the gaming press but was probably never released before RPG Inc. went out of business.
Platoon 20 RECON - A line of 20mm (1:72 Scale) lead figures for use with RECON. They came 5 figures per set. They included the Vietnam-era American Army (Infantry, Special Forces and Recondos), ARVN troops, Nung and Montagnard mercenaries, VC Main Force and NVA troops. There were also Israeli troops and PLO terrorists for use with Sayaret / Track Commander.
The Revised RECON
Front cover of The Revised RECON,
illustrated by Kevin Siembieda
|Designer(s)||Erick Wujcik, Kevin Siembieda, Matthew Balent, Maryann Siembieda|
|Publication date||June 1986 (1st edition)|
April 1999 (Revised edition)
The Revised Recon was designed by Erick Wujcik and published by Palladium Books in 1986 as a 152-page book. Wujcik's Revised Recon (1987) revamped the tactical miniatures game Recon (1982) by Joe F. Martin; Wujcik needed to figure out how to turn miniatures warfare into an RPG, and finally settled on focusing the game on ambushes. Because of its origins, Revised Recon was the only other Palladium game aside from Valley of the Pharaohs (1983) that did not use Palladium's house system. Recon received just one further book, Advanced Recon (1987), which involved a commando campaign set in 1960s Laos.
The Revised Recon was a complete revision and expansion of this modern military system, with rules rewritten for compatibility with the standard Palladium Books game system. It includes a fully illustrated hardware section, rules for playing mercenaries, and several scenarios, plus guidelines for interfacing Recon characters with other Palladium game systems.
The second edition, Revised RECON, was released June 1986 by Palladium Books. Many of the basic rules were kept the same, but author Erick Wujcik made an attempt to "balance" them. This was achieved by reducing elements of chance or luck. For instance, rather than randomizing the number of skills a character had, one could select a number of skills based on his class. Another significant change was the concept of a "minimum" skill level for weapon proficiencies. These were originally decided by rolling percentile dice, which meant that a character could theoretically have a skill level anywhere from 1 (meaning that he was a very poor shot) to 100. However, in the revised edition, a low roll could be "bumped" up to whatever the minimum skill level was for that particular weapon (usually 20–30). Also notable in the revised edition was the substantial amount of information it provided about equipment and vehicles. Whereas RPG Inc.'s version had only limited information regarding guns, the Palladium edition had pages of gun statistics as well as detailed descriptions of aircraft, seacraft and vehicles.
The new edition focused more on the fictional RECON world, which used OPFOR-type nicknames for major nations. Countries included "Stateside", "Big Red", People's China, Southern 'Nam, People's 'Nam, Lao, Buntar, Coluzia, Delancourt (a mixture of Guyana and Belize), Sangria, San Isabel, San Marcos, Tragnar (a mixture of Cuba and Haiti), Boorland, Chandracia (a mixture of the Middle East, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula), Ephor, Greenham Isle (a mixture of the Falklands and Lebanon), Sofi, Grugashan (a mixture of Iraq and Libya), Iswandah, and Dakali.
Advanced RECON - introduced February, 1987 - was an expansion of the rules. It allowed the creation of Special Operations characters, set the game world in the historical Southeast Asia theater, and detailed a four-mission campaign set in Laos. There were also sections on American and North Vietnamese tactics and strategy, a section on period electronic equipment, a primer on the game world in 1965, a briefing on the Kingdom of Laos, and a briefing on military and government agencies.
Deluxe Revised RECON
Palladium published a "deluxe" revised edition on April 1999. This integrated and reprinted the content from both Revised RECON and Advanced RECON. It also introduced new rules, focusing more on the characters' lives after the wars.
RECON bears the distinction of being the only active game series published by Palladium Books that is not compatible with any of the other games in their Megaversal system. However, Palladium provides conversion rules in order to bring things in line with the rest of their role-playing game series.