Excellent. I was just coming by the forum to bump this post. Way to set it up for me.
I don't know how much I can really say about the beta ruleset without saying too much. For some of this stuff, I feel like if I get started I'll get a huge ton of questions that A) I shouldn't be the one answering, and B) will probably turn into a distracting fire that Pat and/or Alex will need to put out. So I'm going to tease some highlights as I see them, with the hope that you guys will understand that you really need to *play* these rules to get the specifics, and asking me "how does X interact with Y" questions are probably counterproductive at this stage:
First, this is unmistakably not a d20 OGL game anymore. The Big Six stats are gone, replaced with a different set (that have NOT been previewed here on the forums), and those stats encompass a lot of the derived values that the OGL Big Six generated. SC3 cuts out the middleman and moves in the direction of making those values the stats themselves. You don't derive Endurance from your Constitution stat. You just have an Endurance stat.
Action dice are way more awesome than before. They're Awesome Dice now, which I admit is a name I wasn't sold on until I read through the rules surrounding them. Awesome Dice and their accumulation and expenditure is almost a minigame now, running in parallel to the main action of the mission. At certain breakpoints, Awesome Dice can significantly impact the "global" story in addition to an individual roll, and they refresh by scene in addition to being more intuitive to award; this is a compelling argument in favor of the name change, in my view: Whenever someone at the table says "that was awesome" the GC should adopt a pavlovian response of considering awarding an Awesome Die. Agents are quite incentivized to use their AD, and Control has several excellent guiding principles and incentives regarding how to give them to the players (some of which provide some fantastic two-edged-sword choices to the players).
Corollary to that, it *looks* like the math has been dialed down. You still roll a d20 and add a bonus to beat a target number, but skill bonuses are universally lower, as are DCs. The roll of the dice is a bigger deal here, which in turn offers an incentive to use 'dem Awesome Dice.
I have no information on Class/Level stuff. Some (but not all) of the pregens have abilities marked "core", and the abilities I'm seeing are all things that those familiar with Spycraft will recognize. As a 30-year RPG player, I feel like I can draw some inferences about the mechanics and character generation trade-offs that make the characters look the way they do, but any attempt to explain my ideas would immediately head into the weeds and I don't want to even attempt to speak for the design team. The ruleset gives the impression that the FC Priest Path system is getting expanded to encompass a lot of feat-chain-style bonuses, but I can't speak to that in any detail except to opine that dropping "feats" is probably part and parcel to the "non-OGL" direction the rules are going. This is one of those places where further questions feel unwise at this stage.
Overall, SC3 as I'm reading it is clearly and recognizably Spycraft, with the action de-burred and the mag well polished and the slide properly oiled. A playgroup that really gets into the spirit the game is trying to promote will be able to tell some epic stories with this. I just hope I can capture it properly in playtest.
And I've got a great poster-size print of the new logo I'll be displaying as bait to draw players in. A day pass to TwisterCon is 10 bucks, there's no anime, cosplay, or CCG foolishness, and the hotel restaurant makes a superb club sandwich. As I've mentioned, the playtest mission is Black Tie Formal
, so if you're a longtime player you may have seen this scenario before, but I wouldn't mind an observer for notetaking and feedback purposes. The beta test packet asks over and over to be sure and get as much feedback as possible from everyone involved, and a quiet observer taking a bunch of notes would be welcome.