Thursday, 15 June 2017

Operation Breeyark ( Part 1)

Operation Breeyark!
Operation Gral

The Boys are back in Town! After successfully completing the liberation of The Village of Saint Hommlet, you, and your plucky men have been tasked with, not one, but two missions of extreme importance to the Allied invasion: Operation Breeyark and Operation Gral. Grab a copy of ‘The Keep on the Borderlands’, and let’s roll!

Operation Gral/Grail
It’s D-Day plus 21, making it the 27th of June 1944, a mere six days after your lightning swift raid on the village of Saint Hommlet to eliminate Battle Group Muller, free the POWs from the clutches of the villainous SS, and take out those pesky 88’s. Outstanding!

Allied HQ has received reports of a secret weapons facility deep inside Nazi Germany, and of a mysterious SS affiliated HQ, almost mythical in stature. They are approximately 88 kilometres east of Dortmund (in the province of Westphalia) in a town called Wewelsburg. Both targets are but a stone’s throw away from one another.

Wewelsburg,  made infamous by the leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler... for it is here that this once innocuous chicken farmer, now infamous butcher, has created the spiritual heartland of his beloved SS. He has adapted an ancient keep into a Gral Kastell/Grail Castle of supernatural proportions, where it is said the devil himself arises from an ancient circle of power called the, Black Sun. The circle is in a crypt that’s rumoured to house the ashes of dead SS member since its fiendish and barbaric inception. There are  supposed to be chests filled with the Death’s Head rings of fallen members, and there are lurid tales of human sacrifice and bacchanalian orgies taking place to mark the important dates of the SS/Nazi Calendar.  The mythology is based on the Arthurian legends with Himmler seeing himself as the King and his men as Knights of the Round Table. In other words, the Castle, a simple training school for SS cadre since the late 1930’s, has been imbued by Himmler­­ ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ with spiritual hokum to separate him, and his men, from the hoi-polloi of the dull, drab, grey, Wehrmacht.

Himmler's Black Sun. 

The Allies realise that if the Fuehrer dies, then this madman will more than likely be his successor. That’s why he has to go. Also, they’re given to understand that a last meeting/feast will take place here on the evening of the 30th of June. It’s rumoured that Himmler himself will be the Master of Ceremonies along with a party of high ranking Reichsf├╝hrung-SS (Reich leadership SS).

 Your mission is simple:
Infiltrate the castle, kill Himmler, and all of his SS underlings.

 As for the rest of them? That’s up to you and your team, but there isn’t a lot of compassion going around for these jackbooted murderers, especially after everything you and your men have seen and the SS are not known for surrendering. If you have the time, interrogate them, and see what information they can give you, but this operation is more about sowing fear into the heart of the enemy, disrupting the chain-of-command, and letting them know that no matter where they are, that they’ll never be safe. If you stumble across large caches of files and other Intel, then find a secure spot in the nearby forest and bury them until they can be retrieved by High Command. You must not let them fall into Soviet hands.

Operation Breeyark

Approximately 2.5km from the Keep, as the bullet/crow flies, is a launch site for experimental V2 rockets that has so far been used against England to deadly effect. However, the Fuehrer has instructed them to be launched into the ranks of the allied invaders instead. They've  switched the rocket from the V2, to the larger V4, that is capable of carrying more than 1800kg of HI-explosive. Also, Hitler has also had them re-engineered to be able to unleash deadly plumes of Tabun and Sarin gas upon landing. This is a last ditch attempt to hurl the invaders back into the sea. A further 1km west, through the pine forest, is the weapons testing, and scientific research facility known as the Caves of C.H.A.O.S (Capable of Harming and Obliterating Silently).
There is a test launch of six rockets scheduled for the evening of the 1st of July at 8.00pm.

Your mission is
·         Destroy the Launch Site
·         Retrieve and bury all relevant scientific data until you can get it to the advancing allied forces.
·         Capture and imprison all scientists who are working on these projects
·         Protect any and all civilians or POWs who have been enslaved and forced to work here
·         Eliminate any threat of them launching further V4 rocket attacks into allied lines.
·         Eliminate ALL resistance.
·         In what order you accomplish Operation Breeyark is up to you, just as long as you get it all done and stop that gas-filled rocket from reaching Normandy!

Overall Risks for both Missions

·         You and your team will be parachuted in on the night of the 28th of June. The drop zone is in the middle of a fen (area 1 on the overall map of the area) far from prying eyes and the annoying glare of searchlights. The planes will be part of a bombing run to Berlin to throw the Germans off your scent. You’ll have to stay hidden until you attack/infiltrate the castle to execute Himmler and his henchmen.
·         The area around the Castle is heavily patrolled, but they seem to stop at the edge of the fen preferring not to get their boots muddy. They use two, machinegun mounted, half-tracks, carrying twelve men in a vehicle. They also patrol on foot, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. There are also LP’s (Listening Posts) set up in the forests that are extremely well camouflaged and hard to spot. Each one has four soldiers, armed with rifles and grenades. Password is “Haben zee Bier?” They also have signal flares to alert the Keep of any danger.
·         You are so far behind enemy lines that you are the tip of a very, very, very, long spear… cut-off is actually more like it as all your buddies are still battling in Normandy, and here you are, less than 450km from Berlin and the Fuehrer himself!
·          What you jump with is what you have. However, you and your team are highly trained in speaking German, as well as using all German weaponry. You also understand the military etiquette of the SS and could pass muster as an SS trooper, or officer, at the drop of a Death’s Head Cap. A little chicanery may be the answer to getting inside the Castle with ease…
·         The weather is predicted to be inclement on the day of the banquet, with rain, and fog, blanketing the area. This means that you’ll have no air support, but then again, neither will the Germans.
·         Code word is Breeyark. Repeat. Breeyark.

The Team
(The same merry crew from our previous adventure, The Village of Saint Hommlet, with the addition of a sniper squad and two extra radio operators.)

•One Captain (Call-sign: Bugs Bunny)
•Two Lieutenants (Call-sign: Daffy, and Duck)
•Four Sergeants (Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, and Dopey… but never to their faces)
•Four platoons of twenty five men
In addition to this are these specialists:
•Two mortar groups (a mixture of Smoke and HE rounds)
•Two Machine gun groups
      Eight Snipers ( Porky Pig is the sergeant in charge of them)
•Two Sappers (Mine detection, mine lifting, and demolition experience.)
•Three Radio men (one dubbed ‘Lucky’ by his friends. Lucky that he made it this far as they are usually the first to go)
•Three medics (Doc, Bones, and Wiley Coyote)
•One anti-tank squad (known as the Acme Falling Piano Tank Removal Company)
Once you have completed Operation Gral, you must complete Operation Breeyark.

(Now, I know that Operation: Whitebox, and The Front, don’t  really focus on mass attacking/ defending forces, but there’s nothing stopping you from rolling up a small, battle-hardened bunch of Special Forces characters and playing. This “game” is perfectly suited for that type of stealth and professionalism.)

Let’s Begin!
·         Roll a d4 to see where the players land. They are supposed to land on the position marked by number one on the map, but we always know how that goes…
·         The Keep is the Grail castle, the Cave of the Unknown is the V4 launch site, and the Caves of Chaos are the weapons facilities.

The Grail Castle/Gral Kastell

1) The Main Gate. Wooden, banded with iron. Two large sig runes branded into the wood (SS). Open during the day and closed just after dusk. The walls at the front have huge banners draped all the way from the battlements to about a meter from the ground. Both are of giant swastikas. Lots of traffic during the day. Troop transports, large trucks delivering crates and crates of goods for the upcoming feast. They travel east-west along the road at regular intervals. There is usually one driver and one guard, both Wehrmacht Citizen Guard i.e. old men, who have no desire to die for the Fuehrer.

2) Towers. Sandbagged machine gun positions on top of each one. One spotter with binoculars, one gunner. Three cases of spare ammo and one spare machinegun barrel. Troopers are armed with personal side-arms. Despite them being SS, there is a 35% that they may be napping.

3) An officious corporal, bearing a clipboard, is seated at a large wooden desk in direct view of the gate. He checks off the cargo arriving and tells the trucks where to go. In the desk drawer is a loaded Luger, a bar of chocolate, two bottles of purloined Russian Vodka and a small, smoked ham. There are several flagpoles all flying the flags of the Nazi Party and the SS Battle Standard.

4) Cavalry Stable. 2d8 thoroughbred black chargers are housed here. There are always several grooms stationed here to look after the horses. There are huge piles of hay on either side of the open stable doors. The hay has been weighted down with dark green canvas that has numerous large stones attached to it. The hay piles are large enough to hide four men in each one. The grooms are not armed but there are scythes, shears, docking scissors and pitch-forks within easy reach. There is also a lit brazier and anvil where one of the grooms is repairing horseshoes.

5) An empty classroom. Several rows of wooden desks and chairs. There is a chalkboard on the northern wall where someone has kindly drawn a complete map of the keep.

6) Barracks. Bottom floor is where they store their footlockers (18) and heavy overcoats etc. 1st floor is the kitchen and dining room. 2nd floor is where they sleep, and the 3rd floor is where the watch commander is located. There are always six guards, on foot, patrolling the outer bailey, and another six up on the walls however, with the arrival of the Himmler and his men, all available bodies are painting, polishing, mowing, weeding, and getting the place ready for inspection. The number of guards has been cut to just two below and two above. They feel that because they are so deep into the Fatherland, no one dare attack them.

7) Officers Rooms. These are small rooms containing a bed, footlocker, wooden wardrobe, a small writing desk and a cast iron bath. During the day they will be empty and all have at least two spare uniforms in each wardrobe but no weapons, except razor sharp bayonets.

7a) Company Tailor. He is portly and hard at work repairing uniforms for the big day. He has a look of worry on his sweating, bespectacled face.

7b) Company Clerk. Up to his elbows in paperwork. He can issue weekend pass papers, work orders etc. He has a side line business in forging signatures, the Officer’s in Commanding in particular.

8) The Armoury. Steel doors, locked. Inside are weapons of every ilk from every nationality under the sun. The SS pride themselves on being to shoot just about anything. There are also numerous crates of ammunition, grenades, and explosives. The keys are kept by the Armoury sergeant but the door can be picked. He can be found preparing oil baths for a crate of machineguns that have just been brought back from the Russian Front.

9) Provisions and rations are stored here. Inside is enough food for a garrison, let alone a company, with more arriving every day. All top quality nosh. Wooden door, locked, one guard outside sitting on a milking stool but he has a nasty STD that keeps him running to the latrines next door at area 10.

10) Latrines, always full with about six or seven soldiers standing around talking and smoking.

11) Gestapo office. Jail cell and torture area inside. Large enough to detain several prisoners. There are two dead bodies on makeshift torture devices, and two Gestapo men playing cards, blind drunk on Schnapps. There are whips, chains, saws, thumb-screws, even an Iron Maiden in the room. There is a large wooden cupboard filled with maps, notes, Top Secret Files, regarding spying/traitors/maps etc. Would be of enormous benefit to the allies.

12) Same as number six, but with two men inside polishing their boots and talking. Next to them, on their beds are their rifles as well as their passes allowing them unfettered access to the inner bailey.

13) Execution Square. An idyllic stone fountain, intricately carved to resemble a flowering rose bush, is surrounded by death, and horror. Piles of fly-blown, maggot covered, bodies lie rotting in the sun. The west wall is pockmarked with countless bullet holes and it is obvious that this is where the firing squads take place. In front of the south-west wall are twelve wooden gallows, each with a body, swinging gently in the breeze. There are crows perched all around, feasting on the remains, of men, women, and children. The well is dry and the shaft is 30ft down. If someone were to climb down they would be able to crawl all the way to a wooden manhole cover just outside area 23. The tunnel is wide enough for one man to crawl with ease and is completely bone-dry.

14) Cells. Empty. Wrought iron chains attached to the wall. One wooden bucket for a toilet and piles of rat-infested straw on the ground.

15) Cells. Fifteen Russian infantry men on their last legs but willing to fight to the death with you.

16) Bathhouse for the rank and file. Will be empty as everyone is hard at work, spit-polishing everything.

17) Sick Bay. Two badly wounded soldiers, four orderlies, two Doctors can be found inside. There are sufficient medicines, bandages, and every manner of battlefield medical equipment a medic could dream of. There are twenty beds in all, ten to each side, with an operating room on the eastern most portion

18) What Gygax wrote works perfectly with this scenario so here you go, “INNER GATEHOUSE: This stone structure is itself like a small fort. The southern portion is only about 15’ high, plus battlement; the rear part is some 30’ tall, plus battlement. There are arrow slits in the southern section of course, and along the walls of the 20’ wide, 10’ high passage through to the north. This passage slopes upwards towards the inner courtyard. The heavy gates are double bound with iron and spiked. There are six guards on duty at all times (two inside the gateway, two on the lower battlement, and two on the upper…“ Beneath this area, and not keyed on the original map, is the main barracks for the soldiers, it doubles as a bomb shelter with steel doors that lock from the inside. This area is reached by a sloping passage that leads to the sleeping area. There are 30 cots, with footlockers, and small metallic wardrobes beside each bed. There are four toilets at the end of the room and another door that leads to more comfortable suites for the senior ranking officers. None are more lavish then Himmler’s. Use your imagination, then double it. That’s how gaudy and ostentatious it is. His chamber is reached by a guarded tunnel (four guards) that leads out into the main courtyard of area 21. If you need a map for the officer’s suites just use the map for the guildhall inside the module.

When you try and pass through the main gates here, a guard will come down from his vantage point to see your work pass/identification before allowing you entrance into the innermost sections of the Keep. Luckily he is bored, and busy, and waves most anyone through as long as they’re in uniform. He’s also fairly lax about inspecting the registered contents of the trucks passing through. On a roll of 1 on a d6 he will inspect the load-bed.

19) Guard Tower, the same as 6, and also empty.

20) Heavily sandbagged position, nine men, with three short range mortar pipes set on top with spotter, and a machine gun position. There are smoke rounds, incendiary rounds, and HE rounds. Several crates of each are stored on the second level of the tower, as well as extra belts for the machine gun. There are six makeshift cots set up on the 1st level with the sniper fast asleep in one. His rifle is next to his bed.

21) This close-cropped, grassy area is teaming with activity. There is a Brass Band marching up and down the middle of the field, rehearsing for the big day. There are scores of soldiers cutting the grass, pulling up weeds, laying down thick white lines of lime around the perimeter of the area. Then there are 8 tanks in the courtyard. Four Panther tanks are parked against the western wall between positions 20 and 23, and four Panzer IV tanks directly opposite them against the eastern wall. They are crawling with mechanics, and soldiers, polishing every available surface. In between the tanks are 88s, also being polished, primped and preened. This locales has 50 soldiers, 6 lieutenants, and 3 sergeants.

22) Two storerooms containing crates filled with spare parts for the tanks, as well as fuel, ammunition, for the tanks and the guns, brushes to clean the gun barrels, and tubs of grease. There are also spare overalls and communication headsets for when inside the tank.

23) Same as area 6

24) A huge camouflaged marque with trestle tables, chairs, and a gold-plated throne placed dead centre for where Himmler will be seated. The table has not been set yet, but white jacketed waiters are hard at work polishing mounds of silver cutlery and buffing champagne glasses.

25) Storerooms

26) Classrooms now turned into makeshift kitchens

27) Classrooms now turned into makeshift kitchens

28) Is not on the map, but place it between the two rooms marked 25. It is a secret trapdoor in front of a colossal painting of the Fuhrer that leads down into a massive stone crypt with the Black Sun on the marble floor. It is surrounded by twelve stone coffins shaped as knights in armour clutching swords in their hands with SS shaped shields at their feet. Inside are piles of ash, dog-tags, and Death’s Head Rings. The walls are decked with banners, flags, paintings, and the floors are covered in bear skinned rugs, and blood red carpets. There is an altar of camouflaged steel and armour plates from a Panzer Tank, covered in Germanic runes (they are of the SS motto), several SS daggers in a circle, seven Iron Cross First Class Medals and two red candles. A secret door in this room leads to a room filled with files, folders, scrolls, maps and other SS memorabilia. Under the altar is another secret door that leads to a well-lit, large bore tunnel(nine ft high, by nine ft wide) that goes all the way to the launch site (the caves of the unknown on the main map). It’s patrolled by a group of four soldiers, three with rifles and one with a flamethrower.

Part two of this adventure, covering the launch site and the Caves of C.H.A.O.S, will be up next week.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Bohemian Earspoon 33

At the back of the D&D Endless Quest books was an advert for a free Red Box poster which I wanted more than anything in the world. My 13 year old life would not have been complete without it to hang alongside my already massive collection of Iron Maiden posters. Sadly, the gods conspired against me and they sent me a copy of Bohemian Ear-spoon 33 instead. Gutted does not convey how I felt, but it was better than nothing. I didn't know what it was at first. I thought it was some sort of in-house memo that TSR UK staff shared with one another. I mean, lets be honest, it was photostatted and the cover was hardly knocked out by Otis or Elmore, but the contents were rather good. The only thing I remember about it really, was an article about Druids which I found fascinating. After that, Druids became the flavour of the year, even though we didn't have rules for them. At that moment in time, all we had was the Red Box and the Expert Set, but there was enough in the article for us to create our own Druid Character Class and get on with it. My first Druid was called Jethro Tull. Forgive me, I was 13. That all changed when we got the AD&D books though, but somehow the Druid didn't seem as cool as the one we had made ourselves and Jethro quickly faded to black.
For those of you wondering what the Ear-spoon actually was, here is an excerpt from the Acaceum:

 "Bohemian Ear Spoon was the successor to the Players Association Broadsheet, and marked a shift to an irreverant, homebrew-newsletter-style similar to the Strategic Preview.  Ran for eight bi-monthly issues, May 1986 to June 1987, starting with issue #27 and running through #34.  From the first issue: "And the number 27 bit?  Logic, of a sort, enters into the calculations here.  Many moons ago, there was a Hobby Newsletter (literally a letter) which was sent out to a select few, that reached issue 7.  Next came the Players Association Newletter (PAN), which went out to the select many and managed 12 issues before the coming of IMAGINE magazine made it impractical.  And finally there was the PA Broadsheet, which also managed 7 editions before it too went the way of all flesh... In all, there were 26 previous newsletters, and so Bohemian Ear Spoon 27.  There are, or course, disadvantages to starting/continuing something from issue 27: no 21st birthday issue drinkies for a start. Ho Hum."  Supplanted, without mention or fanfare, in August 1987 by Fantasy Worlds (the last issue of BES states that there would be an issue #35, but that issue was obviously just rolled into Fantasy Worlds).  Thanks to Michael Jones for this info.  Strangely enough, there were two distinct version of Bohemian Ear Spoon #30; a "normal" version and a special Games Day edition.  Scans of both are featured below.  Thanks to Brett Easterbrook and David Willis for this info, and to David Willis for the scan."

So, there you have it. Sadly I've lost my copy somewhere down through the ages, pity, it would be nice to see it again, as it had a lot of fond memories attached to it.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Friggin' in the Riggin' :Art from The Skeleton Coast

The Captain of this lugger
He was a dirty bugger
He wasn't fit to shovel sh*t
From one place to another
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
There was f*ck all else to do
Captain's name was Morgan
By Christ, he was a gorgon
Ten times a day sweet tunes he'd play
On his f*ckin' organ
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
There was f*ck all else to do...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Here be Monsters: Vulture-kin of The Skeleton Coast.

The Chant of the Vultures

Related Poem Content Details

We are circling, glad of the battle: we   
    joy in the smell of the smoke. 
Fight on in the hell of the trenches: we   
    publish your names with a croak! 
Ye will lie in dim heaps when the sunset   
    blows cold on the reddening sand; 
Yet fight, for the dead will have wages—a 
   death-clutch of dust in the hand. 
Ye have given us banquet, O kings, and   
   still do we clamor for more: 
Vast, vast is our hunger, as vast as the   
   sea-hunger gnawing the shore. 

They are short, hunched, ungainly, and reek of carrion. The miasma of rotten flesh precedes them and you’ll smell them long before you see them. Vulture-kin are a mockery of man and bird, and are found all over the southern regions of Ki’Afra.  They have a balding human head, dead black eyes like liquid tar, a large curved beak, and a human torso with arms on top of scrawny vulture legs ending in viscous, curved talons.  Large mange riddled wings extend a full six feet from tip to scraggy shoulder.
 They dog the footsteps of the nearly-dead, waiting for their demise before scavenging the meat from their bones. They don’t run, they galumph, and will rather take flight than fight. However, they will attack if necessary. They use their carrion breath as a weapon, it’s green, nauseating and paralysing. They also regurgitate the contents of their stomachs in a linear spray of corrosive acid and rotting meat.
They line their nests with old clothes, rotting skins, trinkets, and shiny baubles gathered from their food source. A Vulture-kin nest can yield surprising results. There is a 30% chance an item will be magical. The nest litter is made up of, old clothes, hair, fur, bones, and shiny objects, like jewellery, and weapons.

HD: 3+2
AC: 7(12)
#Att.:2 Talons or Beak (or Special)
DMG: 1d6 Talons 1d8 Beak
#ENC: 1d4
   Special: 2 (Each one can be used twice a day)

Poison breath: Green cloud of paralysing vapour. Test against paralysis, if failed, knocked unconscious for 1d6+2 rounds. If passed, stricken with uncontrollable vomiting for two full rounds and may not do anything but be sick.

Acid Spray: Highly corrosive acid that burns for three rounds becoming weaker every round thereafter. In the first round it deals 1d8 points of damage, 1d6 for the second round and 1d4 for the third. If someone splashes water on the acid it will dilute all damage to 1d4 and will burn for two rounds only.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Bad Blades. They hate you.

‘Also, I think knives are a good idea. Big, f#*k-off shiny ones. Ones that look like they could skin a crocodile. Knives are good, because they don't make any noise, and the less noise they make, the more likely we are to use them. S*^t 'em right up. Makes it look like we're serious. Guns for show, knives for a pro.’
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

I’ve worked with knives for most of my life. Filleters, flayers, carvers, cleavers, and of course, the humble butter knife. I’ve also used band saws for breaking down bits and bobs. At home I use Wusthoffs. I’ve collected my fair share of nicks and cuts over the years, some deep, some not so. I always treat knife-work with respect as I’ve seen too many hungover guys/gals not paying attention, and whoops! That’s gonna hurt… Recently my wife bought a yellow handled bread knife. Nothing to it, innocuous, sharp, cuts bread, and yet I have never had so many cuts from one blade in my life!
 It bites.
 It hates me.
 It’s out to get me.
 I swear it waits for me to get home, then lurks like a shark at the bottom of the sink when I’m doing the dishes. It’s never where I left it either. I’ve dubbed it ‘Christine’, and now I refuse to use it, or even wash it, and maybe that’s pissing it off even more, who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and it will be lying on my bedside table, with the sun glinting gently off its razor sharp edge, before it attacks.
Well, all this got me thinking about swords and such, and how they are all mostly vs a creature type. So I came up with these instead, to be used against your players. These blades are chaotic in nature. They may be overpowered, so maybe the special abilities only kick-in when the enemy rolls a natural 20, or you can give the player a saving throw if the attack is a success.


Shield Breaker/Shatter Sword/Nut Cracker: Choose one. 40% chance it will shatter shield/sword/ helm. For every + the item has, drop its chances of being broken by 10%. Items of +4 or more are immune. Can attempt to do this 1d4+1 times per day.

The Real Bastard Sword: Does all of the above!

The Squire: So named because it takes your armour off, piece by piece. A successful hit increases your AC by 1 until you are unarmoured. Only then will it begin to deal damage to the player. Armour is not necessarily broken either, it cuts at straps and clasps etc.

Hand Taker: Good against tricksy thieves. A natural 20 followed by a roll of 1 on a d6 and the thief loses a hand. Picking locks just got way harder.

Oath Breaker/Sin Maker: Temporarily severs the oath and fealty between a cleric and their god. Renders the cleric unable to cast any spells/use their symbol, until dawn of the following day, and only then if the cleric has made a suitable sacrifice or paid a handsome tithe.

Scroll Killer: Sets fire to a random scroll the player may have. 20% chance the others may ignite as well.

Charge Drainer: Good against wands/staffs/rods. Each successful hit may (40%) drain a charge from the above.

Spell Slayer: Players loses one random spell they would have known for the day.

Rot Blade: Causes 1d8 damage of permanent rot damage. Can only be undone point by point (so one cure disease cure a single point) and only by a cleric of 10th level or higher.

Blast Blade: When it hits, the blade stays in the body and will explode for 1d12 points of damage 1d4 rounds later. Can be stopped by dispelling the magic.

Drunken Master: If it draws blood it renders the player drunk and they fight at -4 for the rest of the day.

The Kebab Stick: Skewers the player and cannot be removed by merely pulling it out. Will have to go about their business with a sword through their gut dealing 2hp per day. Can be removed by a high level mage or cleric.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Skeleton Coast

Art by the incredible Robert Shore
I started this project last year with all the best intentions of having it completed by December 2015, but, as we all know, life always has other plans. Exploding computers, crazy work deadlines,and the universe failing to cooperate, means it will be out this summer ( my winter). It will be available through D_oom Productions with Thaumiel Nerub in charge of lay-out and artwork. It's been a fun project and I want to share the introduction with you all, so you can get an inkling of what to expect. This ( I hope) will be the first of many goodies I aim to release into the gaming wilds. 

The Skeleton Coast

“Down, down, and down you go
Into the depths where the dead men go.
Cold, cold, as cold as snow
Into the black where the dead things grow…”
Goblin Sea Shanty
 Alarming Rumours!
“In the days of the great exodus, the merchant world was troubled by rumours of an avenging monster. A mighty sea-beast, a leviathan by all frenzied accounts, was on the loose. Vessels were being sunk as they cruised along an area known as the Skeleton Coast on the shores of Ki’Afra; and travel along this nightmare route dwindled to but a few brave souls…”
The Mariners Almanac

On the Skeleton Coast
“Carpeted with the bones of whales, seals, ships and men, the Skeleton Coast is an inhospitable nightmare, a graveyard for all the sea has to offer. Pray you never come ashore here, ‘cos if the sands don’t strip your skin, the vulturekin will.”
Josef Merrick

And the earth was filled with violence
And the oceans full of spite
But when they came together
The gods themselves were put to flight.”
The Book of High Jason

The north is a corpse. Rotting, bloated, picked over constantly by greedy merchants, and tyrannical kings. Heavy are the heads, and heavier the taxes, of those who wear the crowns. Wars rage with no end in sight. Banners rise and fall and yet there is no victory to be had from any of it. There’s no glory to be found, here, amongst the corpse eaters and maggot lovers, the despots, the tyrannical charlatans.  No treasures worth seeking, no worthy fights to be fought. The lands are barren and devoid of hope; even the gods are leaving. Best you leave it all behind. That’s why you’ve booked passage south, to new lands, new beginnings.
 You’re on your way to Whalers’ Bay, a tiny foothold very far to the south on the mighty continent of Ki’Afra. There you hope to spread your wings, head out into the wilderness, seek your fame and fortune beyond the circle and shadow of your firelight; make a name for yourselves.
It won’t be easy. Ki’Afra is after all, the land the gods made in anger. Mistakes are met with death, and not just at the hands, hooks, or claws, of ineffable horrors either, but at the merciless whims of the elements: the relentless sun, the ferocious rains, the baying winds. The land itself is your foe, your mortal enemy. You are soon to be wandering where even angels fear to tread. Walk lightly, and with respect, and adventure in a realm that was old when the seas were young.
 Shortly before dusk, three weeks out from the safety of Whaler’s Bay, the men on watch bellowed a hurried warning. Something off the starboard bow was approaching rapidly. You rushed to join the rest of the crew to see what it was, as the captain tried frantically to steer the vessel from its path. But no matter which way the boat turned, the unseen menace did too.
Then, slowly, and beyond all comprehension, a pale white leviathan of immense proportions rose silently from the depths below, and, despite its gargantuan bulk, cut gracefully through the water. Its skin was stained blood-red by the setting sun, as it pushed an enormous bow-wave before it. It bore down upon you with unerring accuracy. You stared aghast, as the beast hit the ship and sent men somersaulting high into the air. The world around you exploded and you realised with cold certainty that death had come for you all.
 The Black Bart, now cleaved in twain, slid slowly into the bosom of the ocean, and you were, to an adventurer, too in shock to utter a single word. It was all happening too quickly to comprehend. The beast, the leviathan, circled, and came back to finish the job. It sailed past you, so close, you could’ve reached out and touched its harpoon studded flanks. Its massive mouth was open, and you could have sworn you saw figures in there, moving around in the cavernous gloom of its maw; they appeared to be working in unison, hauling in the flotsam and jetsam.  
Just before you hit the cold water, to suffer its cold and numbing embrace, you gazed up in awe at the creature that had doomed you all to a watery grave. You stared directly into its gigantic, black eye, an orb that looked as cold, and dead, as the world beyond the stars. And you knew with certainty, that whatever sentient life had once inhabited this mighty frame, was now gone. All that was left was madness, chaos, and a taste for death. It seemed as if it had just one unwavering focus, one single furious purpose, and that was to destroy all that came trespassing upon its waters…

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Front: World War 2 RPG. The Village of Saint Hommlet.

I stumbled across this game last week (The Front) and it immediately got the creative juices flowing. You can pick it up at Drivethrurpg for cheap-cheap. Most of us have a copy of The Village of Hommlet lying around, or The Temple of Elemental Evil. Grab the maps for the village and let’s begin. I have re-skinned it for The Front. This will be the first part (I hope) of more to come. The second being The Keep on the Borderlands, with the Caves of Chaos as a subterranean weapons facility, but for now…
It is D-Day plus 15, the 21st of June 1944 to be precise. From their initial landing point in, and around Utah Beach, and the village of Le Madeleine, the 82nd, the 101st ABN Divisions, and the 4th INF Division are pushing to take the port of Cherbourg, as well as the town of Carentan. They aim to head up the Carentan/Periers road to road to liberate Periers, before heading east to liberate St Lo.

Between the triangle formed by, Carentan, Periers, and St Lo, lies the village of St Hommlet.
St Hommlet was a sleepy agricultural town before the war, nestled among the bocage on the banks of the river Taute. Now it is home to Battlegroup Muller and a small detachment of Waffen SS. 
The Resistance have supplied you with maps of the village. The maps might be old, but very little has changed in the last forty years or so, and it looks pretty much as it did back then. The Germans have a large number of POWs being held at the Moathouse.

 The POWs are made up of men from the 82nd, the 101st, as well as stragglers from the 29th and the 1st INF Divisions. The Resistance are unclear on how many prisoners they actually have, but they fear that their execution at the hands of the Waffen SS is imminent. (Total of 86 POWs, of which 20 are severely wounded)

There are also several artillery pieces (88’s) in the village that are zeroed-in onto the road leading to St Lo. These will need to be taken care of before the assault on St Lo can begin. It is also safe to assume, given the presence of the SS, that there will be Panzer tanks in and around the vicinity of the village, however, the Resistance can neither confirm nor deny this. 

Mission Points and Objectives:

• Rally with a small detachment of Resistance fighters outside the village. They will assist in the assault.( 30 in number, mixed weaponry, excellent fighters, led by Jean De Villiers)
• Once in the village, destroy the 88’s, destroy any tanks, and route the enemy.
• Rescue the POWs.
• Once these objectives have been met, head east (across country) towards the village of St Jean-de- Daye, on the Carentan/St Lo road, and await reinforcements before the push to take St Lo. The   Resistance will stay behind to hold the village until Allied forces can arrive.
• Good luck.

The composition of the attacking force is up to you, but for quick play, I have included one below.They are not at full strength, having been in contact every day since the invasion, they have lost about 50% of their fighting strength. What remains is:

•One Captain ( Call-sign: Bugs Bunny)
•Two Lieutenants ( Call-sign: Daffy, and Duck)
•Four Sergeants ( Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, and Dopey… but never to their faces)
•Four platoons of twenty five men

In addition to this are the following:
•Two mortar groups ( a mixture of Smoke and HE rounds)
•Two Machine gun groups
•Two Sappers (Mine detection, mine lifting, and demolition experience.) 
•One Radio man (dubbed ‘Lucky’ by his friends. Lucky that he made it this far as they are usually the first to go)
•Three medics ( Doc, Bones, and Wiley Coyote)
•One anti-tank squad ( known as the Acme Falling Piano Tank Removal Company)

Meteorological Information
•Low cloud ( no air support)
•Fog ( Low visibility)
•No moon


The perimeter of the village is patrolled both night, and day. Guards use whistles to draw attention. 10 men in a loose group, every 25 minutes. There is a 60% that you will encounter them. They also use a half-track during the day. Sig 80 machinegun mounted on the half-track.

The patrol sections are as follows:

Section 1: From number 20 ( the Church) down passed 19,16,18 to the river bank, then up the river bank all the way to 23, then the north side of 21,14 and back to the church at 20.
Section 2: In and around, 1, 2, 3,4,5,6 and 7
Section 3: Everything to the east of that, namely 9, all the way up to 27 and 28. They also don’t always use the road, and prefer to slip amongst the buildings.
Section 4: This is done by the Waffen SS, and is the area around the hillocks containing, 31 and the Moathouse. 
Section 5: This is the forested area to the right of 32. This location contains a battery of 88’s, hidden inside the forest. They patrol the perimeter of the forest.

The Village of St Hommlet

1: Farmhouse. Inside are eight soldiers. Machinegun nest. Outside at the crossroads are four anti-tank mines. Field telephone to HQ (number 7 on the map) 30% chance the phone doesn’t work.
2: Farmhouse. Six soldiers. Machinegun nest. 
3: Empty building, burned to the ground. Walls broken but offer good cover.
4: Guardhouse. 15 men armed with rifles. The barn behind has been turned into an impromptu mess hall.
5: Mechanics quarters. Six mechanics, armed with pistols. 
6: Vehicle repair facility. Inside are three staff cars, two half-tracks and 17 barrels of fuel. Vehicles are non-operational, but very close to being repaired.
7: HQ. Heavily defended and led by Captain (Hauptman), Klaus Smit.  Two sandbagged positions containing machinegun nests.
•2 Lieutenants
•40 Soldiers
•2 Runners
•2 Signallers
•4 Medics
•Two machinegun posts
•One antitank squad

8: Panzer Tank hidden inside barn. Drive-train is broken but the main gun still works and offers a 45 degree field of fire outside the barn doors.
9: Village Hall. Communications centre. Four VHF radios. One permanently tuned to Berlin, and the other three are for inter-battlegroup comms. Six signallers and four soldiers.
10: Small Recon/Sniper team. Five men in total. Three are always out on patrol.
11: Machinegun nest facing the bridge over the river. Four soldiers inside.
12: Same as above. The barn behind this building is an ammo dump guarded by six soldiers. The ammunition is both German and Allied. The Allied was part of an over-drop by the RAF during the initial invasion. All the weapons belonging to the POWs can be found here.
13: Field Kitchen and mess hall. Sixteen cooks. Four horse drawn stoves. Fresh supplies for two weeks and rations for another two.
14: Cavalry Horses. Two grooms looking after 8 horses. 
15: Main guard house for Section One. Fifteen soldiers. Ten always on patrol, five resting. One senior soldier in charge. Usually to be found playing cards and generally relaxing.
16: Empty but booby-trapped with hand grenades on trip wires. There are several anti-personnel landmines scattered in and around the front door. 
17: Houses four Gestapo agents. They were cut off by the advancing allies. They wear long leather trench coats, and shoot pistols. They also have poison capsules (cyanide) hidden in their hats. Their leader, Herr Grubber, has vital information sewn into the lining of his coat. It could be a map, codes, etc. Up to you.
18: Double storey. Looks abandoned but has four men on roof with radio to HQ and the artillery position at 32. Can call in arty if need be. Early warning system. One of them is a deadly sniper called, ‘Deadeye Dirk’.  
19: Doctors Barracks. Usually empty.
20: Field Hospital. 5 Doctors inside with 8 medical assistants. 22 seriously wounded lying in beds, another 10 scattered throughout. None of the patients will fight and the Doctors would have to be forced at gunpoint to work on any of your men. They have more than enough medical supplies. This still used as a church by the soldiers. They even have their own Chaplain who spends his days in the library reading. He speaks excellent English and will hear your confession if need be.
21:  Rations storehouse. Locked and empty. A sandbagged machinegun position outside pointing north. Radio to HQ.
22: The old mill. Used during the day to make flour. Two cooks present in daylight hours. Double storey building and excellent lookout post.
23: Torture house for the Gestapo. They have been torturing the locals looking for information concerning the local partisans. A pile of dead bodies are at the back of the house.
24: Panzer Tank, hidden by cammo nets in amongst the trees. Tank crew lying lazily in the shade, drinking and regaling one another with lustful conquests of their lives before the war.
25: Battlegroup latrines. Normally four or five soldiers here at a time.
26: Fuel Dump. Over 100 barrels of fuel stored here. Two men on guard.
27: Ammo dump and guard house. Contains four flamethrowers and two Panzerschreks.  Ten men on patrol, five inside listening to Edith Piaf on the phonograph.
28: Empty. Booby-trapped.
29: Driver’s barracks. Five half-tracks parked outside.
30: Machinegun nest. Sandbagged and camouflaged.
31: Tower. Waffen SS position. Snipers and spotters on roof. 15 troopers inside. All armed with sub-machineguns. Field telephone to the Moathouse.
32: Battery. Six, fully functional 88’s ready to fire. Gunners and bombardiers relaxing, smoking cigarettes, and drinking purloined wine… wishing they were anywhere other than here. Four guards walk a loose perimeter around the battery, as well as ten who circle the forest itself.

  • If you notice on the map, there is a spot for a Druid to be found in amongst the trees. This is now a large well that supplies the village.
  • The first rally point for the Germans is the main HQ. If that looks like it is likely to fall, then they are to head to the Moathouse. If that looks likely to fall, then they head east, through the forest and bocage and head towards St Lo.
  • The defending force are not Hitler Youth, nor infirm old men. They are seasoned veterans of the 325th INF Division that has been fighting since Poland back in ’39. There last major conflict was in Kursk on the eastern front. This, to them, babysitting the village of St Hommlet, is the closest they have come to R&R in many, many years.
  • They are tough fighters but not suicidal. They know the war is in its endgame; the SS however, are a different sort all together. They will die before surrender.

The Moathouse

  • The entire building is wired with explosives and can be detonated by the Captain in charge.
  • There are 24 SS all-in-all.
  • They are planning on killing the POWs, but would prefer to keep them as a bargaining chip if need be.
  • They are fanatical and excellent fighters.
  • Six guards patrol the outside of the Moathouse. 

1: Machinegun nest. Sandbagged and camouflaged. 
2: Two guards, relieved every four hours.
3: Two guards, relieved every four hours.
4: Artillery spotter and sniper. Have radio comms to Battery in forest.
5: Parade ground. 
6: Hall converted to barracks for the soldiers.
7: Captain’s room. Photograph of the Fuhrer next to his bed. Ladies silk underwear hidden in the bottom of his locker. Cartons and cartons of Lucky Strike cigarettes. There is also a plunger for the explosives that ring the entire building.
8: Stairway down to the basement where the POWs are.
9: Radio Station. Two signallers (not SS) drunk on stolen cognac, gorging themselves on chocolate and baguette.
10: Staff Sergeants room. If not on patrol, he is in there writing letters home or doing push-ups.
11: Machinegun nest. Sandbagged and facing east. 
12: Sniper. Uses the arrow slit as a vantage point.
13. Stairs down to the basement where the POWs are.
14. Kitchen for the SS. They have a Chef, not a cook,but a Chef.Does a lovely Sunday roast.
15: Ammo room.
16:  Spotter. Looking north.
17: Machine gun nest. Looking west.
Downstairs: The POWs are to be found here and are more than happy to take up the fight with you if need be.

There you have it, a bare-bones game for The Front. Enjoy!