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

Friday, 13 September 2019

A Sweet Mission

Operation Peardrop is a scenario for use with WWII: Operation Whitebox, Small Niche Games’ adaptation of Mythmere Games’ Swords & Wizardry for special forces missions during World War II. Designed for three to six characters of First to Third Level, it is based on Operation Acid Drop, a pair of hit and run missions in the Pas-de-Calais of occupied France by members of No. 5 Commando which ultimately failed to achieve their objectives. In Operation Peardrop a squad of commandos is sent across the English Channel and put ashore on the French coast where it is to conduct activities overnight in and around the town of Allmont-sur-Mer. The commandos’ orders are assess the enemy’s strength and presence in the town of Allmont-sur-Mer, provide Intelligence on key locations in the town, and potentially capture an enemy soldier for interrogation; identify antiaircraft artillery sites around the town on behalf of the RAF; attempt to make contact with the French Resistance in the area; and lastly, fly the flag, by which is meant, conduct useful acts of sabotage.

The set-up for Operation Peardrop quickly gets the players in making decisions for their commandos. This includes equipping them—it is advised that they travel light—and choosing their landing spot on the French coast. The closer the landing site is to the town, the more likely it is to be guarded or patrolled, but the further away from the town, the greater the number of patrols that might be encountered. There is capacity here for one or more of the Commandos operate undercover if they are wearing civilian rather than military and perhaps be able to slip past the notice of the German occupying forces and make contact with the local inhabitants.

As a scenario, Operation Peardrop is essentially a small sandbox, the Commandos being free to conduct the mission however they want. There are though several sites of interest outside of Allmont-sur-Mer that have been marked for their attention, and one ashore, the Commandos will find clues and mysteries which will pull them further into the sandbox. The primary focus is the town itself though, as the scenario’s plots run into and out of Allmont-sur-Mer.

The tone of Operation Peardrop is fairly positive, matching that of the British black and white war movies of the period. There is a determined grimness to whole affair though, perfectly in keeping with the tone and the deeds that every stalwart Englishman (and Welshman and Scotsman and Irishman) has to carry out as part of his duty to King and country.

Technically, the Game Master has everything that she needs to run Operation Peardrop. So there are stats for all of the NPCs—both civilian and military, as well as dogs and various military—mostly utility—vehicles operated by the occupying forces. The Game Master might want to add a scientist or engineer NPC for certain scenes in the scenario, but they should be easy to create. A couple of probable encounters are detailed as well, which again will drive the mission forward. One important aspect missing from the major NPCs are physical descriptions and roleplaying notes on how to portray them. To offset this, the Game Master may need to make some roleplaying notes on most of them, lest she fall back on cliches. Another thing that is missing from Operation Peardrop which would have increased its utility is a set of pre-generated Commandos. Had they been included, then Operation Peardrop as a whole, would have made for a good convention scenario, which is how it has been playtested.

Physically, Operation Peardrop is well presented. The twenty-four page, 4.5 MB full-colour PDF is well written, neatly laid out, and has some decent maps, though the Game Master may want to add a few interior floor plans herself.

Operation Peardrop is a nicely contained, low Level mini-sandbox. The various plot strands are simple enough to adapt to the roleplaying game of the Game Master’s choice, but it brings a grim if determined tone to WWII: Operation Whitebox, one that deserves to be portrayed in black and white rather than colour. John Mills optional...

1 comment: