Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Operation Paperclip: Campaign Inspiration from History

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.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Warriors Adventure Game

Like most gaming parents I have introduced my child to role playing games.  I have always modified the rules and play style for my child’s age. Most of our adventures are more cooperative storytelling than traditional GM and player.  I started with Tunnels and Trolls and then moved to Pathfinder with the Ponyfinder sourcebook.  I decided to ask my daughter what type of game she would like to play.  My original thought was to use the FUDGE rules to build a system around whatever genre or characters she told me that she wanted to play.  She informed me that if she could play any game, it would be one where she could be a wild cat that went on adventures.  I replied, “I have seen a game where you can do that.”

That game is the Warriors Adventure Game.  The Warriors Adventure Game is based on the Warriors YA book series by Erin Hunter.  In the Warriors books clans of wild cats run around and have adventures.  I have never read one of the books but I was familiar with the game, which I found while browsing a listing of free rpgs.  

The Warriors Adventure Game is a diceless system that is available as a free pdf from the Warriors website.  The rules were also published in the back of The Warriors Guide.  The system is simple.  Your cat has three abilities scores; strength, intelligence, and spirit.  Your cat also has skills with each skill being associated with an ability.  For example the bite skill is associated with strength.  Cats also have knacks, which are special things they can do that are similar to feats from D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder.

Characters have three colors of chips which correspond to each of their abilities.  If a cat has three strength, two intelligence, and two spirit then they begin the game with three strength chips, two intelligence chips, and two spirit chips.  When a character takes an action, they make a check based on an ability or skill+ability.  They can use chips from their abilities to increase their check.  For example, my cat might be sneaking up on a bird.  He has +1 in the sneak skill, and sneak is related to spirit.  My cat has a spirit of 2, so 2+1 would give him a 3.  I could spend some spirit chips, with each chip spent increasing the check by 1.

Combat is done through a series of checks, and damage is afflicted by losing chips.  A players chips refresh at certain points, except for chips lost from combat damage which need to be healed.  There is a choose your own adventure style module in the back of the rules to walk players through how the game works.  The system works and an experienced game master can use it well, but I think the system is a little too sophisticated for its target audience.  I could be wrong as my daughter loves the game and begs me to play it.  She even loves just hunting with her cat and figuring out how many chips she will need to spend to catch a rabbit vs. to catch a sparrow.  I even came home the other day to find her GMing for my wife.

If you know any fans of the Warriors series this would be a good game to try out with them.  I would make sure that the GM is experienced with role-playing.  The rules are fairly short and well-done.  Check it out at:

Warriors Adventure Game