Thursday, July 08, 2010

Another look at Weird War II

Aside from the corebook, Weird Wars: Blood on the Rhine, the Weird War II line includes sourcebooks for North Africa (Afrika Korpse), the Pacific theatre (Land of the Rising Dead), the air war (Dead from Above) and a bestiary (Horrors of Weird War Two). I really like Weird Wars: Afrika Korpse with its promise of ancient horrors buried in the sands of Egypt, but to really capture the Weird War II mood, I think the best supplement is Weird Wars: Hell Freezes Over - The Russian Front. It was in the east that the Nazis committed their greatest atrocities. The death camps, the einsatzgruppen, the seige of Leningrad, the battle of Stalingrad and the relentless brutality of the Russian winter, even the mundane horrors of the Eastern Front were almost too terrible to imagine. Throw in Nazi sorcery and weird science, as well as fiends from Russian folklore awakened by the anguished screams of millions of victims, and you have quite a potent mix.

Weird Wars: Hell Freezes Over - The Russian Front was one of the last supoplements published for Weird War II. It introduced three new base classes, the Cavalryman, the Commissar and the Siberian Shaman. The last of these is the first base class with supernatural abilities. Of course, the Grunt, Officer, Scout and Resistance Fighter base classes also have equivalents on the Eastern Front. There is one new prestige class, the Guardsman. The Red Army has no equivalent to the Commando (although Russian partisans may take that PC), so the Guardsman fills the role. However, the Guardsman is more of an elite fighter than an infiltrator. The Soviet version of the ISO, called SOPA, has its own versions of the OSI Adept, OSI Operative and OSI Chaplain (although the SOPA Chaplain is very rare due to the hostility of the Communist Party to the Russian Orthodox Church).

As with the corebook, this book contains a history of the war (obviously in this case, concentrating on the Eastern Front) and a good accounting of arms and equipment not previously detailed in other books. There are many new feats, including weird feats, a concept first introduced in Afrika Korpse. These are feats which provide some supernatural ability, but come with a disadvantage. For example, Below Zero Resistance gives a character unnatural tolerance for cold temperatures. On the other hand, such a character finds more temperate conditions uncomfortable, even dangerous.

There is a sizable selection of new monsters as well as a section on vampires. In Weird War II, the Nazis have an obsession with vampires. Senior Nazis, including Hitler, seek the gift (or curse) of immortality offered by vampirism, so as to ensure the 1000-year reign of the Third Reich. Much of the efforts of the SS blood mages in Eastern Europe are directed toward acquiring this power.


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