Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Robbing the Reich of Rommel

Published by Arc Dream Publishing, Fox Hunt: A Godlike adventure is a short scenario for one of the best roleplaying games to come out of the 2001 and 2002 boom in World War II roleplaying games. This is Godlike: Superhero Roleplaying in a World on Fire, 1936-1946, a game in which the player characters are Talents, members of the Allied forces who have been ‘blessed’ with an amazing ability such as lowering the temperature around him, open any lock by pointing a finger, or simply picking up a Tiger tank throwing it at the enemy! The player characters are soldiers first before being trained to use their Talent effectively in battle, but as more and more of them appear, fewer and fewer lack the experience of using their Talent in battle, especially against the Übermenschen, the Nazi Talents who are part of the SS and who many of them revel in their powers and the Aryan ideals of the ‘Super Race’. There is also the matter of each Talent’s Will, for it is his Will that fuels a Talent’s powers and his ability to cancel out another Talent’s powers that can be lost in a contest of Wills with an enemy Talent. This is the situation that TOG-151 (Talent Operation Group-151) finds itself in the very early morning of June 6th, 1944 as it parachutes into enemy-occupied France.

Fox Hunt: A Godlike adventure originally appeared in issue #5 of Gygax Magazine, the late lamented magazine published by TSR, Inc.. It is the fourth in the publisher’s Pantheon line of digest-sized set of adventures reminiscent of the early days of role-playing, which also included the fantasy setting, Gnatdamp; They All Died at the International Space Station, for use with Metamorphosis Alpha; and Operation Rendezvous Oasis, for use with Top Secret. Like the other entries in the line, Fox Hunt comes as a digest-sized book containing the adventure itself and a seperate fold-out A3 sheet which serves as a ‘Godlike Boot Camp’. The sheet folds out to give the base rules for running Godlike and the six members of TOG-151, ready to play. What this means is that Fox Hunt can be run without reference to the core Godlike rulebook.

The title of Fox Hunt suggests the mission assigned to TOG-151. Its members are to drop into France on the morning of D-Day and take advantage of the poor reaction to the invasion upon the part of the occupying forces in France. With the forces under his command in disarray, Rommel is racing back to Normandy after having celebrated his wife’s birthday in Germany—and the Allies know which route he is taking. TOG-151 is assigned the mission of ambushing his convoy, kidnapping him, and returning him to England. This is a challenging mission, not least because the TOG will need to avoid the local soldiery—initially the French Milice or militia, rather than the German garrison—if it is to make contact the French Resistance. Their help is required if the TOG is to execute its mission.

The problem with a lot of military adventures, especially commando missions like this one, is that they can be very linear and straightforward, and so it is with Fox Hunt. Yet some solid hooks and wrinkles have been thrown in along the way to make things interesting. These begin with a scene setting introduction when the members of the TOG have the opportunity to establish themselves as members of the squad, and continue with the interaction with the members of the French Resistance cell, including rivalry and romance. The ambush and its consequences are also interesting in that the man in the car might not be Rommel himself—perhaps a situation similar to that of General Bernard Montgomery and M. E. Clifton James—and the Übermenschen assigned as his bodyguards might have divided loyalties. If the player characters succeed, then the rewards are incredible and the members of TOG-151 have a tale to dine out on for the rest of their lives! That said, the scenario does not shy away from the consequences of the TOG’s mission on the local population.

The members of TOG-151 include ‘Broadway Jay’, the commanding officer, a small town lawyer capable of stepping out of harm’s way; ‘Suds’, a dentist who can create a forcefield shaped like a soap bubble; ‘FUBAR’, a New York taxi driver who can telekinetically throw objects; ‘Plaster’, a salesman with the gift of the gab who can regenerate his wounds; ‘Mark Two 2’, a hyper machinist who can also shoot flames from his hands; and ‘Boston’, an ex-sailor who fly at near the speed of sound. These are all decent characters and they exhibit a good mix of Talent abilities, not always something that has occurred in previous releases for Godlike. One of the characters is not quite correct and a corrected version has been provided here. All of the Talents were created using the Godlike: Talent Power Generator, including those of the Übermenschen, so one issue is that there is repeition in talent abilities between the Allied Talents and the Übermenschen.

Another issue is that the ‘Godlike Boot Camp’ is cramped, despite it folding out to the size of an A3 sheet of paper. This is particularly so in the case of the pre-generated Talents, whose details are just a little too small to read easily. Otherwise, the Fox Hunt book is an easy read with decent illustrations and nice maps. The Übermenschen are better presented, but they do need an edit to be easier to read.

Fox Hunt: A Godlike adventure works as a one-shot and will work as a convention scenario. It works well with the pre-generated Talents provided, but there is nothing to stop a group of players playing it with their existing characters or ones they create for this scenario. The scenario presents a highly memorable situation and some good opportunities for roleplaying, combining to make Fox Hunt: A Godlike adventure a challenging and enjoyable one-shot or addition to a Godlike campaign.