Thursday, May 18, 2017

Their Finest Hour- Dragons in the Blitz

Today, we’re wrapping up our examination of Victoriana during World War II with an example of the monstrous magical forces attacking Great Britain. What better way to end the series than combining the most iconic villains of the century with the most iconic monster?

After 1939, new terrors fly over Europe, bringing flaming death to the Allied forces. Tightening the Luftwaffe’s grip on the skies are the lindworms, massive 30-50 foot reptiles with strong leathery wings holding their limbless slithering bodies aloft . Thick scales deflect small arms fire and teeth big enough to take bites out of fighter planes fill their mouths.

Although more might exist, Allied intelligence identified three distinct lindworms and designated each with codenames: “Manny”, “Moe”, and “Black Jack”. “Black Jack” remains in Berlin as symbol of the Reich and as a defender of the Capital, “Manny” and his rider remind Frenchmen in Paris of Germany's might, and “Moe” is a part of Luftflotte 2, the Luftwaffe air fleet tasked with bombing southern England.

Each lindworm wears a small armored platform in front of its wings for its rider and some sort of radio communication device wrapped around its head. Allied intelligence does not know whether they controlled by their rider’s commands through the radio, how smart the lindworms are, or if they willingly follow orders.

Moe’s rider is Hanna Reitsch a former test pilot for the Luftwaffe. Her death-defying daring and incredible flying skill made the 27 year old aviatrix a perfect match for the lindworm’s power and aggression. The Luftwaffe deployed Moe and Hanna to the Battle of Britain as a weapon against the moral of the British people. Moe’s fiery breath and sharp teeth bring nightly devastation to the RAF fighters and civilians below.

Speculation surrounds the awakening of the lindworms. A Belgian refuge claims the restorations at Wewelsburg castle uncovered the creatures, intercepted radio messages suggest the Thule Society brought them back to life from a glacier in Norway, and a captured German spy seems convinced the Lost Ring of Solomon controls the lindworms.

Hanna Reitsch (Test pilot and lindworm rider)
Physical: 8            Initiative: 8
Mental: 6               Health: 14
Social: 7                 Quintessence: 18
AV: Flight Suite (2)
Damage: Pistol (10), Punch (3)
Possible Special Traits:
Fearless Aviatrix+4, Fanatically Devoted to Hitler+3,

Hanna is a small enthusiastic blond woman with blues eyes and pleasant features. Sometimes her singing can be heard above the cacophony of engines, explosions, and gunfire.

Moe (Serpentine death from the sky)
Physical: 20          Initiative: 12
Mental: 9               Health:   42
AV: 8
Bite (14, Armor Pierce 4), Fire Breath (11, Intensity 8), Smashing or Squeezing Serpentine Coils (17)
 Flight- (see page 292 of Victoriana 3rd Edition)
Regeneration- (see page 293 of Victoriana 3rd Edition)
Greedy- If an immediate chance arises to eat gold or a fresh corpse; either the lindworm or its rider must pass a Mental test with 6 black dice or the lindworm spend a round gorging.
Huge 5- (Health and Physical modifiers are already reflected by stats, for other effects see page 293 of Victoriana 3rd Edition)

That wraps up this eleven week series. I hope you’ve enjoyed this examination of Victoriana in a more modern setting. I know I’ve had a lot of fun writing it. This won’t be the last post about Their Finest Hour, but next Friday we return to the welcome waters of the 1850s with a very simple silly post about names.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Their Finest Hour- Character Sheet

This is the second to last post for “Their Finest Hour”, a World War II setting for Victoriana, and today, I’m posting something very special to me. I love making character sheets. I love making exactly what I need for a game, and really trying to maximize their utility. A good character sheet can really help new players get a feel for the game, streamline bookkeeping for veteran players, and help GM’s keep track of party progress.

So here is the character sheet for “Their Finest Hour”, and a printer friendly version.

These sheets can also be found on this Blog's Resources page. There are a couple of mechanical changes from Victoriana 3rd edition apparent on the sheet. The Celestial Engine didn’t really fit the themes of isolated heroism, so I left that off. Vril is the same as Quintessence, however because of the decay of magic’s potency, each Vril Die has 4 pips instead of 6.  Later on, you’ll be seeing a couple character sheets for Victorian 3rd edition as well.

Thanks so much for reading this eleven part examination the Battle of Britain as a setting for Victorian. I hope you’ve enjoyed my rambling and can see the potential for this game to grow into different eras.  I doubt the end of this series next week will be end of Their Finest Hour on this Blog. There’s just too much room to build adventures to ignore, but I’ll be back to Victorian settings for the near future.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Their Finest Hour: Adventures Abroad

The past eight posts, detailing Their Finest Hour, focus on campaigns during the Battle of Britain in the British Isles, but it’s called World War II for a reason. While you could play any side anywhere in the world and have a great game, I want to hold onto this setting’s focus of the British War effort, while looking at a few campaigns set abroad. 

The Desert War
From the summer of 1940 to the winter of 1941, the expanding Italian Empire and the British Empire’s remnants clashed in the deserts of North Africa. Armies of men, trucks and tanks, waged war through the graveyards of ancient civilizations. Great strategic leaders on both sides (such as O’Conner and later Rommel) used armored divisions in aggressive raids, pushing their tanks to the limit in the Sahara. The heat of the day, the freezing cold at night, the sudden sandstorms, and the logistical conundrum of keeping an army supplied gave each side two foes to conquer: the enemy and the desert.

In the hostile environment of the desert, just living requires a fight. Bedouins know how to thrive, but the PC’s probably don’t. The fun here is exemplifying the desert’s dangers in exciting ways, such as giant scorpions, Manticores, Sphinxes and living sandstorms caused by djinns. If the players are a part of the British army (a tank crew for instance) they might stand a chance.

The deserts of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia hide some of the world’s most ancient secrets. PC’s must race against Axis archeologists and evil cults to reach Antediluvian ruins exposed by artillery blasts or pharaoh’s tombs filled with forgotten necrotic lore.

In the summer of 1940, the British government created the Special Operations Executive, a secret organization tasked with gathering intelligence, sabotage, and helping resistance groups against the Axis forces in the Nazi controlled European mainland.  In the beginning, SOE divided into three branches: SO1 (Propaganda), SO2 (Operations), and SO3 (Research). SO1 became its own organization in August 1941, the Political Warfare Executive, and SO2 and SO3 merged into a single “Operations” branch divided up by operational theater (such as France, the Netherlands etc.). The operations undertaken by the men and women of SOE plagued the Axis occupiers until Europe was freed.

The fun of playing spies in WWII is hard to pass up. PC’s could be agents of the same operations division assigned to missions of sabotage, assassination, spying, theft, and aiding the resistance.  SOE agents take the fight to the Nazi’s relying on secrecy, guts, intelligence, and skill to survive.  In the magical war of Their Finest Hour, their missions could involve destroying the occult libraries, finding the source of the Nazi magical power, or liberating artifacts stolen by occupying forces.

The British Technical and Scientific Mission
In August 1940, war tied up all of Britain’s manufacturing abilities. With no way to mass produce new technological breakthroughs with military applications, Sir Henry Tizard led a small team of six scientists on a secret mission to Washington DC in neutral America.  Tizard’s team brought a small metal box containing the plans, manuals, and blueprints of Britain’s cutting edge technology, such as radar, gyroscopic gunsights, plastic explosive, gadgets for detecting submarines, and many others. In exchange for these plans, America’s industrial infrastructure agreed to build these devices for the British War Effort.

While most of Tizard mission took place in conference rooms, factory tours, and military testing sites, a campaign with PC’s playing Tizard’s team or protecting Tizard’s team could be a lot of Dieselpunk fun. The plans in the metal box might include, lethal radar beams, cavorite, robot blueprints, new sigil scribing techniques, or whatever mad science fits. The PC’s might fight Nazi spies determined to stop the exchange, members of the fascist-backed, isolationist America First Movement, and FBI agents watching for subversion and foreign tricks.

Next week, I hope to add the character sheet for Their Finest Hour to the Resource page, and the week following we’ll wrap up the series looking at the monstrous forces of the Nazi army.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Their Finest Hour- Adventures in the Battle of Britain

Seven weeks and no Adventure Ideas! I guess it just shows how much there is to say about the Battle of Britain. I’ve been saving up odd bits of lore, legend, and history for a post of adventure hooks for Their Finest Hour. When the entire world goes to war and you spread a layer of fantasy on top there’s no end of adventure ideas.

In anticipation of bombers targeting metropolitan centers, the government evacuated thousands of city children to the countryside during Operation Pied Piper. Evacuated children stayed with relatives, generous families, and in special camps built and run by The National Camps Corporation. Much like a summer camp, the facilities had bunk houses, recreation halls, and  outdoor activities.

Five recently evacuated children from London disappeared from a camp in Surrey and haven’t returned. Some campers mentioned small “moon white” creature’s visiting at night. The strange superstitions of the children in local villages supposedly keep them safe from the beings.

Similarly, valuable treasures, such as the nations gold reserves, priceless works of art, and business records spent the war stored at secret locations in rural areas.

After France’s surrender, the Worshipful Company of Hermeticists quietly moved many of its most dangerous grimoirs to the home of a trustworthy Guildmember. While his manor’s security is impressive, this is the most vulnerable this rare collection has ever been to thieves or worse.

Fearful of Nazi forces using the dangerous gasses used in World War I, the British Government distributed countless gasmasks to the civilian population. The gasmasks for children had bright colors and gained the nickname “Mickey Mouse”.

A gang populated by halflings, dwarves, and beastmen of short stature wear Mickey Mouse masks to hide their identities during their crimes. Their use of the sewer system, and the masks caused the press to name them “The Mickey Mouse Club”.

Black Out
One of the biggest annoyances to the British Pubic during the Blitz was the mandatory Black Out. All windows and doors had to be carefully prepared so no light escaped at night, and all streetlights were dimmed or extinguished. All headlights pointed downwards to prevent extra illumination that might catch the eye of an enemy bomber.

For evil doers, Black Out conditions present intruding opportunities.  One house seems even darker than others. No light escapes from under curtains, through cracks, or glows dimly through a layer of paint. Who knows what evil, driven back by brightened city streets, returns to old forgotten habits in the Black Out?

Chain Home
In the 30’s, the Air Ministry prepared for enemy bombing runs by building a line of radar stations along the eastern and southern coasts called “Chain Home”. Armed with powerful radar towers, CH stations watched for enemy sorties from the European continent. Once warned of incoming bombers, the RAF sent fighters to intercept the attack before the bombs could fall.  As the longest range guardian of the British Isles, enemy aircraft soon targeted CH sites. The ladies of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force manned most radar stations during the war.

One station suffers from continuous false alarms. The receiver nightly indicates several large shapes flying over the English Channel apparently invisible to the naked eye. I’m sure it’s nothing.

Several Guild members complain of spell’s miscasting near CH stations. Do the continuous directed radio signals interfere with magic? Or is something using the signals to steal magical power?

While I could endlessly post adventure ideas about the Battle of Britain, we’re only doing one more next week, I promise. After that we’re looking at some more fantastic weapons of the Nazi war machine. That’s fantastic as in fantasy, not fantastic as in really great. Everybody got that?  After that, this Blog returns to Victoriana in the Victorian era.