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The Roleplaying Game of the Viet Nam War
Recon RPG 1981.jpg
Front cover of the first edition Recon rulebook
DesignersJoe F. Martin
PublishersRole Playing Games, Inc.
Years active1982–1984
GenresMiniature wargaming
Random chancePercentile dice (2d10)
Skills requiredStrategy, Tactics
SynonymsRecon RPG[1]

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.


Original Recon

The first edition was written by Joe F. Martin and published by RPG, Inc. in 1982 as a 44-page book.[2] A 44-page digest-sized second edition packaged with a referee's screen was published in 1983 by RPG, Inc.[2] 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.[2]

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

The Revised RECON
Revised RECON RPG 1986.jpg
Front cover of The Revised RECON,
illustrated by Kevin Siembieda
DesignersErick Wujcik, Kevin Siembieda, Matthew Balent, Maryann Siembieda
PublishersPalladium Books
PublicationJune 1986 (1986-06) (1st edition)
April 1999 (1999-04) (Revised edition)
Years active1986–present

The Revised Recon was designed by Erick Wujcik and published by Palladium Books in 1986 as a 152-page book.[2] Wujcik's Revised Recon (1986) 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.[3] 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.[3] Recon received just one further book, Advanced Recon (1987), which involved a commando campaign set in 1960s Laos.[3]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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

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.


Brian R. Train reviewed Recon in Space Gamer No. 70.[4] Train commented that "Recon is the game for the mercenary fan. It is a pleasure to play and a fine addition to the large inventory of roleplaying games. Supplements have already appeared: a Mission Director's screen; San Succi, a package of 20mm floorplans for a modern adventure city; Hearts & Minds and Sayaret/Track Commander, two booklets dealing with Montagnard warfare and Arab/Israeli commando action, respectively. If you are all interested in this historical period, Recon is well worth the money."[4]

Robert Neville reviewed The Revised Recon for White Dwarf #83, and stated that "Unluckily, some people may well realise that the sections on military hardware and equipment are probably the best in any contemporary roleplaying game. Luckily, I hope people have more sense than to touch this with a bargepole. Unluckily, I'm not so sure they have."[5]



  1. ^ "Recon RPG: Deluxe Revised PAL 0600".
  2. ^ a b c d e f Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 256. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
  3. ^ a b c Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  4. ^ a b Train, Brian R. (July–August 1984). "Capsule Reviews". Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (70): 38.
  5. ^ Neville, Robert (November 1986). "Open Box". White Dwarf. No. 83. Games Workshop. p. 5.
  6. ^ "Different Worlds Magazine".
  7. ^ "Different Worlds Magazine".