Sunday, June 3, 2018

WWII: Operation Whitebox

Recently I came across this fun OSR based World War II game. Operation Whitebox (OWB)is a 186 page RPG published by Small Niche Games and written by Peter C. Spahn. It utilizes rules from WhiteBox which makes for a wonderfully simple game and adds in some crunch to get the game to work for your Normandy invasion. That's right, you can recreate the Normandy invasion with this little gem or any other part of the great war. You could even create your own version of the war. Maybe the Nazis took over Great Britain or perhaps Russia joined the Axis powers.

In OWB, the player play the role of special operations forces in WWII. They may be formally trained allied military or members of the resistance of occupied Germany. They could even be covert agents working to undermine the German war effort. Which ever way you want to play it your characters are considered special forces operatives for the purpose of this book. This gives some added benefits to the player, namely increased Armor Class. Another added benefit is that you are the best of the best which means you can accomplish things most others couldn't. When in doubt as to whether a player can attempt a task, the GM should have the player roll a d20 to see if they fail on a 1 in 20 chance. 

Speaking of Armor Class, this book provides two methods, Ascending and Descending. I prefer the Ascending Armor Class so that will be used here on out. As stated earlier special operatives recieve bonuses to armor class and after a brief conversation with Pete Spahn, it appears this is an often overlooked aspect. Page 36 tells us that the natural AC of a special forces operative starts at 12, otherwise it would be 10 for NPC's.

So far I've only read through the book and created 8 pregenerated characters to use for a game I'm running in a couple of weeks, but right now I'm loving it. I've also created a form fillable character sheet from the one included in the book for anyone interested in that as well.

The simplicity of the game comes from the fact that players only need a d20 and a d6 to play the game. All weapon damage is some form of d6. For example a grenade does 2d6+2, a thrown knife does 1d6-2, and the standard M1 Garand does 1d6+1. There are a few other variations of weapon damage but for the most part it all comes down to trappings. The M1 Garand will do the same as a Lee Enfield which will do the same as a Mauser 98.

I should talk about range modifiers as well since this confused me a bit. Apparently this is also an often misunderstood issue. I'll be honest and say that I just skimmed this section and didn't take the time to fully understand ranges when I posed a question over at the OWB Google+ community page. So I look at it as a kind of stacking multiplier. Short range = the range listed on the weapon stat. Medium range = 2 times short range, Long range = 3 times Medium range, and Extreme range = 4 times Long range. Each of the increases in range modifies the to hit roll with 0, -2, -4, and -6 respectively. 

All other rolls are d20 based. Saving throws and to hit rolls are modified d20. The attribute modifiers are very simple as well, 3-6 = -1, 7-14 = 0, and 15-18 = +1. There is an alternate to the simplified modifiers if one chooses but I think simple is better. This game is also capped out at level 5 which means no real discernible power creep.

Character creation is simple, roll 3d6 six times and go right down the line and plug them into the attributes, then pick your class. Your character class gives you specific class abilities and tells you the rest of your character's stats. Now roll on a few tables to find out your characters life before the war and their current rank in the military. 

As I said before, this game caps out at level 5 which means you can level up to increase Hit Points and improve modifiers but for the most part I would say this game is geared toward a one shot or even a mini campaign. On page 25 the author even tells us that this game "is designed for one-shot play so characters top our at 5th level, reflecting the brief nature of the actual war."

There are a few more rules that I'll only briefly mention but make the game so cool. Suppressive fire, Ambushes, Mass Combat, Vehicle Combat, Impact, Timed, and Static explosives. He also includes mini settings. These are basically weird spin-offs of the war. Nazi Superscience, Nazi Occult, and Galaxy War - Space Operations. 

I'm really stoked to play this game and can't wait. Now I just need to set it up in Fantasy Grounds and figure out how to add some sound effects. I'll also probably run this game at the next Nerds-International Virtual Con (NIV Con) on September 15-16, 2018. If you haven't checked it out yet, I suggest you go on over to the Nerds-International Google+ community and chat with some of the folks there. Its a community of gamers with thick skin. We like to razz each other so if you get offended easily then you may want to think twice about it but there are also so many content creators there that you may just enjoy it anyway. 

I'd like to take a moment to thank the guys from Finding the Narrative and Imaginary Ramblings for giving me and my blog a shout out on their podcasts. Thanks guys!