Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A look at Weird War II

There has been some recent interest from members of our gaming group for a World War II campaign following an apparently awesome game at PaizoCon with a similar theme. For this reason, I have decided to take a look at my Weird War II game materials. I will start with the first book, Weird Wars: Blood on the Rhine.

Weird Wars: Blood on the Rhine is a d20 OGL publication by Pinnacle Entertainment Group set in World War II. It can be played as a straight WWII rpg, but personally, I don't think the d20 system is well-equipped to capture the gritty realism such subject matter should possess. However, the Weird Wars series is not intended to be historical anyway. All manner of fantastical, occult and weird science elements have been included from Nazi blood mages and Waffen-SS wehrwolves to haunted tanks and the shadowy Allied espionage unit known simply as the OSI. The book starts out pretty mundane. The first five chapters include a brief history of WWII, a description of important organizations (i.e. the Gestapo, the SS, the Resistance) and individuals (i.e. Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Rommel), character generation, equipment and combat. All characters are assumed to be Allied military personnel or members of the Resistance and none start with supernatural knowledge or ability. The base classes are Grunt, Officer, Medic/Nurse, Resistance Fighter and Scout. There are several new feats and skills, although only the Prayer skill has any supernatural application. The equipment lists are quite extensive, including American, British and German arms and vehicles. Combat is somewhat more deadly than in D&D 3.5. Most rifles do 2d8 pts. of damage, mines and grenades do even more, armour classes are quite low (AC 14 or 15 being typical at low to mid-levels) and healing is far less effective.

The weird stuff starts to make an appearance in Ch. 6 with the introduction of prestige classes. The Commando and Sniper prestige classes are still mundane, but the OSI Chaplain, the OSI Adept and the OSI Operative have supernatural abilities. The OSI Chaplain can invoke miracles by using the Prayer skill, the OSI Adept can cast spells using any runes he knows and the OSI Operative eventually gains the ability to employ magic items. After that is a chapter describing magic in the Weird War II setting. It is less powerful than in D&D 3.5, but still potent. Divine magic requires a successful Prayer skill check and any successful casting causes some non-lethal damage to the caster in the form of fatigue. Arcane spells are cast using runes. Adepts learn new runes as they gain levels and may cast any spells that are based on those runes. Again, spellcasting is very fatiguing and adepts suffer non-lethal damage every time they cast. The next chapter deals with haunted vehicles, followed by a GM's section that includes background information on the OSI and the SS blood mages, as well as a bestiary. Finally, there is a short starting adventure entitled "Dogs of War". Given that the cover art for Weird Wars: Blood on the Rhine features a werewolf in a Waffen-SS uniform, it's not hard to imagine what the title of the starting adventure refers to.

Next time, I will take a look at Weird Wars: Hell Freezes Over - The Russian Front. After all, the horrors of the western front pale in comparison to those in the east.


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