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Christopher R Taylor

War Hero

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I kind of agree with La Rose; "war" is so broad a subject that I'm not sure what a book called War Hero would really bring to the table. I would much rather see a product line covering a particular war as an in-depth RPG setting, with material focused on its politics, geography, society, training regimens, weapons, vehicles, tactics, famous units, etc. And then follow that up with mission scenarios.

 

I just don't think there is much to be gained anymore by putting out unfocused subject books that help the DIY crowd. I feel there is far more potential, both from a creative standpoint and a commercial standpoint, in rich, detailed settings that pull double-duty as fully playable worlds and as demonstrations of the core game mechanics.

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For myself I'd love a good "war" supplement.

 

But I'd lean cinematic, not realistic. 

 

A guide to play out adventures along the line of some of the great war movies such as Sahara (1943), Battleground (1949) or Bataan (1943).  Others,  She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Northwest Passage (1940).

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I kind of agree with La Rose; "war" is so broad a subject that I'm not sure what a book called War Hero would really bring to the table.

Upon further reflection I think War Hero could cover any time period involving a modern army structure--from the present going back to the 19th century. The sweet spot would be WWII-era commando actions like the Dirty Dozen or Navarone, but it could also encompass modern special forces actions or Napoleonic small units like Sharpe's Rifles.

 

The genre book would need to address things like roleplaying around the command structure in a military unit, firearm combat with unarmored PCs that somehow isn't incredibly lethal, and more detailed mechanics for stealth and recon. However, I think zslane's point about moving away from DIY books stands. "War Hero" would be less accessible than a "Dirty Dozen" or "Black Ops" campaign book.

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Yeah there's plenty of stuff to focus on for a specific source book, such as how to build scenarios around the idea, what kind of characters and templates, rules such as "coolness under fire" and battle fatigue, how to have individual characters interact and play in a larger battle (artillery etc going off), different skillsets and specific things unique to a war setting, and so on.  Then smaller sourcebooks focusing on specific time periods (equipment, forces, and a few sample scenarios) would be useful as supplements.

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Aside from the psychological scars obtained on just about any battlefield, there is precious little in common between different eras of military conflict. In fact, so much tends to change between major wars, that commanders who rely heavily on their knowledge and experience from the previous war find themselves losing constantly in the new one (and not understanding why). Just about any chapter you write in a generic voice would be superceded by the text in a book covering a specific setting/conflict, so the generic material is actually of very little value.

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That's true at a strategic level, but it is not as significant for what PCs would be doing in a War Hero campaign.  While the formations of Napoleonic War don't apply in WWI era, and trenches don't apply in the War on Terror, that's not what you're going to be doing much of as a PC. Its not that it isn't part of the game, but its more background than scenario-based.  War Hero isn't going to be about guys doing the day-to-day operations of the war, but rather things like Saving Private Ryan and The Dirty Dozen, not military campaigns.  There can be some of that, but its not the essential core of the game's adventures.

 

So the fact that you fight wars differently in different eras is more a smaller supplement, not a core rulebook issue, I think.

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Aside from the psychological scars obtained on just about any battlefield, there is precious little in common between different eras of military conflict. In fact, so much tends to change between major wars, that commanders who rely heavily on their knowledge and experience from the previous war find themselves losing constantly in the new one (and not understanding why). Just about any chapter you write in a generic voice would be superceded by the text in a book covering a specific setting/conflict, so the generic material is actually of very little value.

 

 

That's true at a strategic level, but it is not as significant for what PCs would be doing in a War Hero campaign.  While the formations of Napoleonic War don't apply in WWI era, and trenches don't apply in the War on Terror, that's not what you're going to be doing much of as a PC. Its not that it isn't part of the game, but its more background than scenario-based.  War Hero isn't going to be about guys doing the day-to-day operations of the war, but rather things like Saving Private Ryan and The Dirty Dozen, not military campaigns.  There can be some of that, but its not the essential core of the game's adventures.

 

So the fact that you fight wars differently in different eras is more a smaller supplement, not a core rulebook issue, I think.

 

I actually think that one sourcebook would cover everything really needed.   When I think of a War Hero book, I am not really thinking about equipment and historical information.  But rather a guide on how to run or play a PC in a Cinematic War setting.   Everything from John Wayne in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" to Humphrey Bogart in "Sahara".   Those movies were not rooted in realism, but in cinematic adventure with the hero/good guys versus the bad guys regardless of real world definitions.    Equipment and real world history is easy and can just be pulled from the internet.  How to plan and run and fun war story with just enough fact sprinkled in to feel right is hard.  Roleplaying a patrol of riflemen during the Napoleonic Wars (like Sharpe's Rifles) would be more about larger than life heroes, than what was historically happening. 

 

Just how do you get a sense of the feel of the setting across to players that read very little and refuse to watch "old black and white" movies?   Kind of like why many fantasy games become "kill'em all and take their stuff" and supers games become "regular people with powers" instead of Superheroes? That is most of what they see today in movies and what passes for comics. 

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I actually think that one sourcebook would cover everything really needed.   When I think of a War Hero book, I am not really thinking about equipment and historical information.  But rather a guide on how to run or play a PC in a Cinematic War setting.   Everything from John Wayne in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" to Humphrey Bogart in "Sahara".   Those movies were not rooted in realism, but in cinematic adventure with the hero/good guys versus the bad guys regardless of real world definitions.    Equipment and real world history is easy and can just be pulled from the internet.  How to plan and run and fun war story with just enough fact sprinkled in to feel right is hard.  Roleplaying a patrol of riflemen during the Napoleonic Wars (like Sharpe's Rifles) would be more about larger than life heroes, than what was historically happening.

 

I'm still not seeing how this is different from the SpecOps elements of Dark Champions, and indeed all the discussions of "how to run romance/action-adventure/tragedy/whatever" in that book.  If you aren't looking for equipment and history (and by the way, don't believe for a moment that you will get the interesting history off the Intarweb), then you really aren't talking about anything that hasn't already been published.

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I'd be surprised if that sort of material couldn't be adequately covered in a magazine/blog article or two. A whole book of it though? Hard to imagine, at least on the scale of a commercial product. Not without vastly (and shamefully) exaggerating the depth of the material in the advertising copy...

 

Something painted with such broad strokes is only saving prospective readers a little research time. On the other hand, a war-themed setting book full of allies, enemies, equipment, and pre-designed adventure missions saves not only a lot of research time (since it will have gone into far greater depth for a particular military era and socio-political environment), but also a lot of creative effort, which is much harder/time-consuming to drum up on one's own.

 

I really think we need to get off this generic advice style of game product that has afflicted Hero System thinking for so many years, and instead concentrate on products with rich, detailed, specific settings that have something very concrete to offer.

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I actually think that one sourcebook would cover everything really needed. 

 

 

The additional supplements would cover tactics, timelines, equipment, unit names, package deals, and so on; then have a series of adventure prompts and ideas for scenarios for GMs to use.  You could cover everything a campaign needs in one book in terms of how to run a wartime game, but not the specifics of a given war setting.

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