Floor 13 lets players run the British secret service. The premise is that governments are held together by a complicated behind-the-scenes web of information manipulation, spying, and the removal of potential trouble-makers. The player is the person in charge.
This is an menu-driven game. A turn (which takes up one day) will go like this: players enter your office and read any reports that are on their desk, then respond to whatever is in the report by giving orders to the necessary departments. Players can place phone-tapping, conduct mail-interception, abduction, torture and even murder. However players must try to keep a low profile or else they will be fired. Floor 13 has static black & white graphics that are suitable and only a few, sparse sounds and musical cues at the beginning and end of a scenario.
The main character is only in control insofar as he or she does what is in the best interest of the ruling government, who pays the bills. Should the player not pursue, smear, or destroy enough of the government's enemies in the time allotted, the player will be fired, or even rubbed out.
Because this is a simulation, there aren't many opportunities for error, and due to the randomly generated conspiracies and events, the player may not get to see very much of what's going on before they have to act. Even acting in what seems to be an appropriate manner for the position may have unforeseen consequences that will damage the government's reputation and push players that much closer to being fired, or disappearing.
The player is usually given one or more reports when he or she arrives at the office every morning. These often detail news reports or intelligence briefings which have information that will be represented in subsequent files. For instance, a prominent judge frees a wealthy man accused of various crimes. The following pages are dossiers for both the judge and the accused, and the reason for their being included in the file (one may have anti-government sympathies, while another is merely connected to the issue at hand).
Depending on the person, place, or group in the dossier, players can select some of the following actions to deal with the problem:
- SURVEILLANCE - Conduct this on a suspect's home to potentially pick up mail or phone calls which may prove useful leads.
- PURSUIT - A more active form of surveillance, a team will track every activity of the targeted subject for a given day.
- SEARCH - Either discretely break in and search a place, or ransack it with a better chance of discovering items of interest.
- INFILTRATION - Send a number of agents to insinuate themselves into any suspected group for information gathering.
- INTERROGATION - Abduct a subject, interrogate them to varying degrees, and invariably terminate them at the end.
- REMOVAL - Kill off a target within a certain number of days relative to their importance.
- HEAVY ASSAULT - A precisely timed strike on a location that succeeds or fails based on that timing.
- DIS-INFORMATION - Use slush funds to conduct a smear campaign on a group or individual, which may boost government approval.
Individual progress reports come in after set time periods, and archives of results are kept even after incriminating records are expunged.
Players also meet up with the Prime Minister to receive personal feedback on their performance so far. After a set period of time, if public approval is down, the player character will be fired, while if the player has been too brutal and drawn too much attention to the offices of Floor 13, the player character will be murdered.