Game Tag

Nikolai Lebedev is a fictional former assassin and head of the "Planning and Administration" section of the Soviet counterintelligence agency, SMERSH; revived by General Vladimir Orlov. The character was created for the 1983-87 tabletop role-playing game (TRPG), James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Lebedev's father was a high ranking agent of the KGB during and after World War II, and his impressive stories inspired the young man to enter the KGB. His father had a brilliant record, but Lebedev surpassed it, becoming almost a legend in the field. Lebedev joined SMERSH after his father's death. The elder Lebedev was killed while attempting to get secrets across the border from Germany to the Soviet Union. A West German agent knifed the him 100 yards short of the border. Lebedev was waiting at the border checkpoint and saw the killing take place. Though he knew that death was an occupational hazard, Lebedev still felt a great loss. From the border guardhouse, he could see his father's body but was denied permission to retrieve the corpse. His superiors felt that the body had been left as bait to trap Soviet personnel trespassing on foreign soil. Also, they could not admit to having even a remote link to the dead spy. For days, Lebedev stayed at the border, his father's body visibly decaying, attempting to obtain permission to sneak across and get the body. One morning, when he awoke the body was gone. Passing peasants apparently found the body and buried it.

Lebedev formally requested a transfer to SMERSH. At first, his superiors were leery. They felt that Lebedev may be trying to even the score for his father. Lebedev, though, was calm and cool about his training and his assignments. Lebedev is known to have personally killed at least seven "Enemies of the state" and is suspected in at least another dozen deaths. His methods were always quiet. He preferred getting close enough to use a knife since it was a more precise instrument and there was little chance of anyone hearing and calling in the authorities. Lebedev has never failed on any assignment and has had only one close call. During an assignment in Rio, Lebedev severely underestimated his target. The result was a knife fight as bloody as it was technically perfect. Lebedev finally managed to kill his opponent but his wounds required 51 stitches. The worst damage was a deep gouge that started at his right eyebrow and extended on a slant to his ear. The resulting scar left him far too identifiable to be effective on the field.

While the possibility of plastic surgery for him was being discussed, SMERSH was eliminated from the KGB. Lebedev was shocked at the disbanding and resolved to never work in the field again. He withdrew his request for plastic surgery. Lebedev transferred to the KGB training school where he kept his talents well honed by teaching trainees ways to kill with a knife. Though he was glad to teach the skills he had honed over the years, Lebedev craved to be placed back in action. Through his people, Vladimir Orlov heard of Lebedev's views and arranged a meeting. The two quickly became staunch allies. Orlov suggested Lebedev present a more moderate public stance in order to gain some favor with his superiors; by mouthing detente, Lebedev could earn the trust of the "weak ones" and learn their secrets. Lebedev had to agree with Orlov's thinking. He swallowed his "patriotism" and successfully convinced his superiors that he had "mellowed with age." When the opportunity came to head the new SMERSH, Lebedev exhibited extraordinary control as he gave what he considered milksop lies during the questioning by the Politburo. By the end of the interview, he had convinced the Soviet leaders that he was of a moderate stance politically. He was voted in almost unanimously as the leader of SMERSH. The only dissenting vote was from Orlov, who had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at how he had fooled everyone.