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Covert Ops Role Playing Game

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We already offer the digital download free of charge when you buy the all-in-one hardcover book, and we wanted to provide the same option for those who prefer the softcover books individually. However, this site won't allow us to set things up that way. This is our work-around... If you buy all three softcover books (Core Rulebook, Game Master's Operations Manual, and The Usual Suspects), email us a picture of you holding them up to and we'll send you a complimentary coupon for the full product digital download.

There is a war going on every day. Its soldiers don’t march in lines or report to a large obvious pentagonal building. It is a shadow war where information and bullets hold equal weight, and enemies don’t always wear uniforms. This game is about clandestine Special Forces parachuting behind enemy lines to carry out a discrete mission that no government will claim ever happened. It is about special agents receiving their missions from men and women whose names and identities won’t turn up on any database. It is about mercenaries. It is about spies. It is about secrets, seduction, stealth, deception, assassination, bribery, infiltration, action, and adventure.

Welcome to Covert Ops, a role playing game of espionage and paramilitary adventure. This game takes advantage of the d00Lite system, a fast and simple set of game mechanics created by DwD Studios. Those of you familiar with BareBones Fantasy RPG will find the core mechanics familiar and the learning curve minimal.  Those unfamiliar with our fantasy offering will find a game that somehow manages to be comprehensive, lite, and fun all in a tiny 6"x9" package.  Everyone is sure to have a fun time.

This purchase includes a lot of material, all for a low price.  It's the design philosophy of DwD Studios to bring you quality games at an affordable price, after seeing how other games burden you with having to shell out hundreds of dollars and haul around a dozen or so books.  We accomplish that through application of categorical thinking and by leaving much arbitration in the hands of the Game Master, where it belongs.


This book may be small but the game is not.  Within these pages you’ll find all you need to create, play, and develop an operative:

  • 20 origins, each with several options, to help define what your character did before becoming an operative.
  • 10 skills representing archetypical modern character abilities: academic, detective, leader, martial artist, medic, pilot, scout, soldier, technician, and thief.
  • Robust system for equipping your operative for a mission, complete with weapons, defenses, gadgets, vehicles, simplified equipment packs, and more.
  • 32 martial arts maneuvers to fully define the fighting style of your operative.
  • System to create and maintain a base of operations for your team.
  • “Bones” (luck or hero points) integrated into this incarnation of the d00Lite system to add cinematic flair to your action scenes, certainly a must for proper representation of high action espionage adventure.
  • Rules for vehicles in combat and chase sequences.
  • A broad brush-stroke setting: SECTOR, a counter-intelligence and paramilitary organization devoted to fighting tyranny and other foes across the globe.
  • Systems to help the GM prepare for a session or an entire campaign: random master villain generator, enemy organization generator, henchmen generator, minions, security systems, and even entire random mission generation to get your creativity flowing.


We originally had a much bigger book in mind for the Covert Ops rulebook.  Much of it has been reduced, streamlined, or removed entirely as a direct result of play testing.  Some of it was just too cool or too difficult to part with; most of that is in the GM's Operations Manual. Covert Ops is a lite role-playing game.  Some folks define “lite” differently than we do, but in our opinion page count has at least something to do with it.  So that’s why we decided to create this separate book.  We hope it helps you become a better Game Master… or entertains you at least.  It is packed full of modular optional rules, detailed step-by-step examples, clarifications, GM advice, and even a fun lexicon of espionage terms to help you learn the lingo.

  • Guidelines to help you arbitrate Operative Creation, along with a detailed example to use as a reference when clarity is needed.
  • An optional rule for prioritized ability score determination to help build the operative.
  • An optional rule for operative training centers to say where your operative trained to become an agent and what perks he gets for it.
  • Optional tables to round out an operative to determine his gender, handedness, age, height, weight, even hair and eye color.
  • An optional rule that provides an alternative to using origins.
  • Guidelines on how to create new skills, if the ten that come in the core rulebook aren't enough for you.  Included is a full example, the merchant skill, who knows markets, product quality, and haggling like no other.
  • Optional guidelines to using cash instead of equipment allowance in your campaign.  This is allow for campaigns where operatives aren't part of some central organization.
  • An optional rule for determining and testing loyalties, as a replacement for or as an addition to the moral code rules provided in the core rule book.
  • Guidelines on adding to the martial arts system in case your campaign focuses more on the cinematic ninja/kung-fu genre.
  • A powerful optional system allowing operatives to have "strings" they can pull to pull off amazing things like gaining access to spy satellite data, manipulating internet and data grid information, enacting a quarantine in a city or a no-fly zone over a state.
  • Optional rules for using initiative cards instead of initiative dice.
  • Optional rules for hit locations in combat, where skill grants you a clear advantage by keeping hits closer to the kill zone.
  • Optional rules for using condition cards.
  • Guidelines for moderating risky social interaction situations, such as bribery, charm, deception, interrogation, intimidation, persuasion, and seduction.
  • Rules for variant ammunition types, as well as how to model real-world firearms instead of using the firearm classifications found in the core rulebook.  Included are six examples of modelling real-world pistols.
  • Several step-by-step examples: game play, enemy organization generation, master villain generation, even mission generation.  Even if you don't need the clarification, these are good reads and might spur your creativity.
  • Some helpful GM advice on storytelling techniques, focus on the story and the mission and its characters, as well as a list of common espionage tropes to sprinkle into your games to give the players familiar thematic elements they've likely seen in their favorite modern action/espionage movies.


This accessory contains thirty illustrated archetypical operatives for use as player characters for one-shot missions or for visiting players, or for use as non-player characters to round out a team or serve as backup personnel.  Game Masters can even use them as enemies, contacts, or for any other purpose his devious mind can dream up.  Twenty of them represent types of starting-rank operatives commonly found within Command, named with archetype titles.  The remaining ten are professional-ranked operatives with some experience behind them with names and background information riddled with inspiring content Game Masters might use to fill in his games.  So whatever you need it for… you know you need it!  Quick characters instantly available to bolster your player’s or their enemies’ teams.

Rank 1 Archetypes

  • The Armchair Agent - he always wanted to be a spy, but the truth is he was never put to the test.  Until now.
  • The Brash Pilot - he's been in a lot of conflict and comes complete with a stealth helicopter to tote the team around the globe.
  • The Cat Burglar - no building is too high nor job too risky.
  • The Combat Specialist - armed to the teeth and with skill to use it.
  • The Corporate Enforcer - not all espionage comes from governments; corporate espionage breeds different sorts of agents.
  • The Covert Commando - stealth and martial arts, wrapped in a military shell.
  • The Ex-Mob Enforcer - organized crime makes a powerful enemy, but is also a great recruiting pool for new operatives.
  • The Face Man - gets what he needs by acting and knowing people's behavior patterns... or sometimes with a wink and a glass of wine.
  • The Femme Fatale - dangerous curves and deadly intent.
  • The Field Commander - whether he's leading agents in an enemy base or soldiers in a battlefield, he's always in charge.
  • The Hacker - because everyone needs a hacker!
  • The Hard Boiled Detective - always suspicious and no longer lured by false hope, he does what needs to be done.
  • The Medical Investigator - sometimes the greatest secrets are answered by a scalpel than by interrogation.
  • The Militant Rebel - he didn't always work for the good guys, but you're glad he does now.
  • The Ninja - yes, they're real and they make excellent assassins.
  • The Old Sea Dog - sturdy and stoic, he has dealt with pirates and terrorists long before being recruited as an operative.
  • The Point Man - an enigmatic and highly capable lone wolf operative.  Given time and training, he can manage most missions on his own.
  • The Resourceful Scrounger - capable of acquiring whatever is needed while in the field.
  • The Sharpshooter - armed with a sniper rifle, stealth, and a whole lot of courage.
  • The Wheelman - an expert behind the wheel of a car, able to transport operatives in dangerous situations.

Rank 3 Professionals

  • Agent Robert Sloan - academic specialist, codename Seraph
  • Agent Angela Faraday - detective specialist, codename Rook
  • Agent Virgil Blake - leader specialist, codename Garrison
  • Agent Marco Powell - martial artist specialist, codename Viper
  • Agent Darryl Hardy - medic specialist, codename Stop-gap
  • Agent Isabel Barton - pilot specialist, codename Tailspin
  • Agent Damon Welch - scout specialist, codename Tracer
  • Agent Dwight Manning - soldier specialist, codename Boomer
  • Agent Brett Lopez - technician specialist, codename Five-o
  • Agent Marshall Fuller - thief specialist, codename Watcher

Additional Stuff

In addition to the three books mentioned above, you'll also receive a bunch of additional stuff in this download:

  • Operative Dossier (it's what we call a character sheet.  Cool, right?) in two forms: normal and printer-friendly.
  • Outfitting Reference Sheet (so players don't have to share your book while outfitting for a mission).
  • Enemy Organization Worksheet (to help you follow the generation process from the core rulebook).
  • Mission Generation Worksheet (to help you follow the generation process from the core rulebook).
  • Hit Location damage tracking half-sheets (in both male and femail versions) for those of you enjoying the use of the optional hit location system from the Game Master's Operations Manual.
  • Development Point Checklist to make the end-of-session DP awards quick, streamlined, and fun.

Plus two great visual references that keep the action fast-paced, preventing GMs from having to slow things down to take or reference notes:

  • A deck of Print & Play Condition Cards.  Print to Avery Business Cards (or their less-expensive competitors) and dish them out to players to remember who's weakened, who's stunned, and who's out of control.
  • A deck of Print & Play Initiative Cards.  Dice tend to get thrown around a lot during a game turn and INIT rolls sometimes get lost in the action.  Print these to Avery Business Cards and use them instead.
 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (9)
Discussions (14)
Customer avatar
Tomasz M June 09, 2023 8:23 am UTC
So, is there a second edition coming?
Customer avatar
Matthew A May 23, 2023 1:42 am UTC
I just grabbed this and White Lies. I'm so pumped up about them both.
Customer avatar
CR R March 29, 2023 4:15 am UTC
Just from the overview I've looked over, this seems insanely promising with how much content is packed in this. I'm curious how much camp one could feasibly put into this for a more 60s or 70s vibe. How easy would it be to emulate more classic campy spy-fi akin to The Avengers from the 1960s with this system?

I've always loved the more over-the-top supervillains and crazy spy gadgets of yesteryear, and most of my players enjoy a heavy amount of camp and cheese. They would likely try to find a way to get or make themselves nutty gadgets like shield umbrellas or bladed throwing hats if I did not provide them. lol
Customer avatar
George L April 05, 2022 11:40 pm UTC
Hello, how easy or not would the system be to use for either a 1 to 1 duet I( 1 player and one GM) campaign, or for a one GM, 2 player campaign?
Customer avatar
Neil S December 31, 2021 3:14 am UTC
What generators does this have?
Customer avatar
Neil S December 31, 2021 3:05 am UTC
does this have all3books in it
Customer avatar
Mark G August 22, 2021 7:48 pm UTC
I just have to say good job on this, I bought this bundle a few years back and we all enjoyed it very much. Now we are dusting it off again with a few house rules to get this running back on the table top as a miniatures game. Although you don't really need to do much to make this a miniatures game anyway, we are using a frankenstein system for "off screen" encounters and campaign.Thanks again, really fun game.
Customer avatar
Liam W January 06, 2021 7:23 pm UTC
I'm completely unfamiliar with both White Lies and with Covert Ops, and with the underlying rules systems both (I am assuming?) are based on. But I'm looking for a modern spy RPG, and both have been recommended to me.
Can someone give me a summary as to the differences between Covert Ops and White Lies? Why might I select one over the other? (Being a pretty poor person who can't fork over the money to get both and see for myself.)
Customer avatar
William L January 06, 2021 7:43 pm UTC
Hi Liam. Neither of these are specifically based on another/older game. They're unique, though I'll admit being inspired by several modern and espionage games (I have played them ALL lol). Covert Ops uses a d100 based system that is unique to DwD Studios games, versions of which appear in BareBones Fantasy, FrontierSpace, and Art of Wuxia. White Lies has a lot of similar content (I didn't TOTALY reinvent the wheel) but is an OSR product with a familiar class & level rules set. They have different settings too. Tell ya what - send me an email at wlogan [at] dwdstudios [dot] com and I'll comp you a copy of both. Whichever one you like you can buy. Honor system. :-) How's that for support?
Customer avatar
Jason F September 21, 2020 4:48 pm UTC
I already own Frontier Space. What does this game have that Frontier Space doesn't?
Customer avatar
William L January 06, 2021 7:38 pm UTC
The game system plays similarly, so if you know one then you can pick up the other very quickly. This game has a lot more long-term playability, with a lot more you can do with earned development points, including a bunch of cool skill-specific Skill Benefits similar in scope to the Martial Arts techniques unique to Covert Ops. Like CO, it includes a broad brushstroke setting and lots of GM tools, such as minor and major NPCs, alien creature and alien species generation systems, a familiar but expanded mission generation system, a building/installation generation system, a system to generate master villians, regions of space, star systems, and individual planets. Most of that isn't in CO
Customer avatar
Aaron S May 12, 2020 5:39 pm UTC
Would this be a good base for a Metal Gear Solid game??
I.e. use these mechanics, but make the scenery and tech more Metal Gear.
Customer avatar
Patrick S July 21, 2020 5:48 am UTC
Apart from Covert Ops being one of my all time favourite RPGs ... it would be a semi-good fit. You can bring in Cybernetics with the Neumann Protocol, but there are no rules for Psi-Powers (maybe you can find some in Bare Bones Fantasy or Frontier Space, i don't have these).
Apart from that, it would be a pretty good base. There are games out there which are MGS with the serial numbers filed off, like the also very good Titan Effect.
Why not using both of these with the rules set you like more?
Customer avatar
neil S November 14, 2019 2:11 am UTC
How many pages?
Customer avatar
William L November 14, 2019 2:18 am UTC
110 in the PDF
Customer avatar
Patrick S October 05, 2017 12:29 pm UTC
Still loving this awesome little game.
But there is one question which is bugging me for months now: How does it come that there are several illustrations reused which i know from the good old Haven: City of Violence RPG?
Just interested if there is a connection ...
Customer avatar
William L October 05, 2017 1:42 pm UTC
Nope, no connection. We just used the same source for some of our art. The art you see that is also available in some other games is "stock art" which is usable by small publishers like us when we can't afford custom stuff. There's a lot less stock art for the spy genre, so you're bound to spot it when we use it.
Customer avatar
ROBERT D October 12, 2014 3:57 am UTC
Just to clarify - if I order this in Hardcover B&W am I getting all three books as one hardcover book or just the Core Rulebook? I just want to be sure before spending spending $37.
Customer avatar
Pierre S February 03, 2015 9:23 pm UTC
As you may have found out, the 3 .pdfs are indeed combined into a single hardcover print book: Core Rulebook, GM's Operations Manual, and The Usual Suspects. Color cover but B&W interior illustrations.
Customer avatar
Michael G May 12, 2014 4:31 pm UTC
I have been trying to get a hold of you guys since AnCon... my emails have been bouncing.
Please send me a message so we can talk Id really like to talk more and arrange a time to get together to game. I really enjoyed your game and am excited to show you mine at Origins.

-Mike G
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November 09, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on December 10, 2013.