Operation Paperclip: Campaign Inspiration from History
After WWII, the allies had to deal with the defeated nation of Germany and the rise of Soviet power. US and British leaders saw the next big conflict as being fought with the USSR using weapons of mass destruction. Germany had many programs that researched lucrative war technology. Rockets, biological weapons, and chemical agents were being researched by the Nazi regime. Much of this research was done using slave labor and often tested on unwilling test subjects. At the end of the war the allies needed to do something with these scientists.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen describes how the US military sought, hired, and flew over hundreds of Nazi scientists. The driving force of this program was that these men would help the US win the Cold War, and it was better for us to employ these men and exploit their secrets than to let the Soviets have them. The men who built V-2 rockets and chemical weapons for Hitler, often using concentration camp victims for labor and as test subjects, ended up working for the US military. This book is a detailed account of a morally dubious Cold War program. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Cold War history.
I have been interested in Operation Paperclip ever since I first learned about it and after reading more about it, I had some inspiration for some rpg campaigns. Operation Paperclip could be moved to another time and place. What if the player-characters were in a position where they were ordered to located and extract a scientist, especially one who was not a good person. Maybe the scientist is responsible for the death of someone close to a player-character. Here are some ideas for building a campaign around the idea of Operation Paperclip.
Star Wars - The rebellion is over. However, what ever happened to all the scientists who designed the weapons on the Death Star? It would be better for those scientists to be in the rebels hands rather than working for Admiral Thrawn. The player-characters need to track them down and bring them into the new government.
D&D/Fantasy - All those magic items in your world were made by somebody. The player-characters need to track down the wizard who made all of those necrotic +5 swords of death and bring him back to the kingdom. Once they find the wizard, can they truly trust him or her?
Cyberpunk - In the aftermath of a megacorp war, a subsidiary company is liquidated. A programmer who created black ice for the company has gone missing. The player-characters have to track him down and bring him to their boss, or eliminate the programmer if they refuse.
These are just a few ideas. These campaigns could be investigative, pulp action, high espionage, or all of the above. Hopefully I will run one of these campaigns soon. If not, feel free to use these ideas for inspiration.