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Old 03-31-2015, 07:39 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

For years, I've wanted to run a one-shot scenario or a short campaign between the 20th and 30th of April, set in a ruined Berlin with the PCs taking on the roles of SOE/OSS agents on the hunt for something terribly mysterious that mustn't fall into the hands of the Russians.

I'm starting preparations for a game like that now and I would like to get input from the Hive Mind on some vital aspects.

The McGuffin could be almost anything. The Spear of Longinus is traditional, the Amber Room is a lot cooler, albeit somewhat difficult to log around, and reading the right kind of literature ought to give me dozens of other good ideas.

More to the point, however, what is a plausible way to get a party of Western covert operatives into Berlin just ahead of the Russians?

What is a plausible way for them to be extracted?

What are good sources for the situation in Berlin in April 1945?

What might a team of up to a dozen agents expect to meet in the way of opposition on the way to Berlin or on the streets?

Assuming that they try to infiltrate as German soldiers, wounded or fleeing, how much remained of any coherent security? Officers who knew where any units were supposed to be?

Any other helpful suggestions are appreciated.

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Well, I've run two sessions. This is a short capsule review of what the scenario entails.

The scenario is set in an alternate history where the changepoint is that in 1943, with the tide of the war overwhelmingly against the Germans, SS-Brigadeführer Karl Maria Weisthor (Wiligut) somehow managed to get back into the good graces of the Reichsführer-SS and was reinstated to his rank and position on the Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS. Somehow, however, the previously harmless, if wildly racist and hilariously deluded, pagan occult rituals that he likes to engage in now work.

Important Secret Backstory (and call for suggestions for scenes, encounters and set-design for the upcoming session).

While history before 1943 has remained true to our world in all ways except possibly some extremely subtle ways going way back, all of which match the real-world beliefs of at least some people in the real world, the change point means that many minor things are changed in 1943 onwards and the history of the last part of 1944 and the beginning of 1945 has been changed in many ways. True, the majority of the world's population is entirely ignorant of any changes, but to a select few, they are mind-shatteringly obvious.

Here's a description of what the Allies are doing in the occult department during the war, especially once the previously ignored reports of occasional oddness start gaining credibility as 1944 goes on.

Here's a list of PCs and the rest of the Allied commandos taking part in Operation Brünnhilde. Some descriptions of the PCs, proposed roles for pre-gen characters and early concepts for pre-gen characters.

The target of the Allied commandos is the fictional Weltmittelspunktbunker, located near the Reichkanzlei, where the inner core of Himmler's SS has taken refuge, led by his 12 Black Knights and secret coven of sorcerers. Here, they must seize or destroy the Bernsteinzimmer (Amber Room) before Walpurgisnacht. The alternative, according to the occult boffins, would be at the very least an unimaginable catastrophe or even possibly the end of the world.

Obviously, the finale of the scenario is set in the Zitadelle sector of central Berlin, where all the government buildings are located. Some other locations in the first session are discussed in this post.

First session involved saving Hermann Fegelein from the RSD men Hitler sent after him.

And here are some tantalising snippets of the PCs' adventures in the second session:

First Evidence of the Odd - The Howling of Wolves in the Night
The Nature of the Foe - Totenkopf Stormtroopers and SS-Sonderkommando Jäger
First Contact - Ambush of the SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger

Stats for their foes:

Stormstroopers of SS-Sturmkampfgruppe Totenkopf (still some mechanical issues to be worked out).
Jäger of SS-Sonderlehrgang z. b. V. Jötunheim ('Jagdverband Wehrwolf').
Dgra Bla Warrior of the Third Root Race.
Sger pa caste Zimchongpa warriors (still only suggestions, awaiting forumite comments).
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-30-2015 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

Assuming they have the backing of OSS or SOE, and can pass for Germans, getting in should be possible. The best cover is as SS, since there are fewer people they have to explain themselves to, and SS being on special secret missions is plausible. Genuine German vehicles are not hard to come by at the Western front lines. So given fuel, well-forged identity papers, and a supercilious attitude, they can just drive to Berlin.

They don't want to be fleeing or wounded soldiers, or civilians, since those people were mostly heading west by this time to surrender. Heading for Berlin in a small group is implausible, unless you have some special mission. The risks along the way are ambushes from people who want their supplies and transport for their own mission, or for fleeing west to surrender, officers who want to take it and them for the same purposes, who can be got past with enough paperwork and attitude, and roving Allied fighter-bombers, whom you just have to hide from.

Once they're in Berlin, see Antony Beevor's Berlin: The Downfall 1945 for a good description of the situation. They're liable to get conscripted almost at random for units to fight in the defence, by people with direct orders from the Führer, so keeping a very low profile is advisable. The Führerprinzip was exploitable, but could bite back.

Getting back out again is harder. If they leave their vehicles unguarded, they will be stolen. Getting picked up by aircraft is conceivable, but the Berlin airfields are all subject to Soviet attack and ones further west will still have Luftwaffe ground troops with AAA even if they don't have much in the way of aircraft. Getting picked up by submarine is hard: Berlin is some way from the Baltic coast, and the Danish Straits are still heavily mined; the Western Allies have left the Baltic to the Soviets.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Once they're in Berlin, see Antony Beevor's Berlin: The Downfall 1945 for a good description of the situation. They're liable to get conscripted almost at random for units to fight in the defence, by people with direct orders from the Führer, so keeping a very low profile is advisable. The Führerprinzip was exploitable, but could bite back.

Getting back out again is harder. If they leave their vehicles unguarded, they will be stolen. Getting picked up by aircraft is conceivable, but the Berlin airfields are all subject to Soviet attack and ones further west will still have Luftwaffe ground troops with AAA even if they don't have much in the way of aircraft. Getting picked up by submarine is hard: Berlin is some way from the Baltic coast, and the Danish Straits are still heavily mined; the Western Allies have left the Baltic to the Soviets.
I agree that Beevor's book is an excellent start. He interviewed many people from all walks of life, he seems comfortable in German and Russian, and his tendency to hate Communists more than Fascists is not as visible there as in some of his other books.

Anyone who looks like they are fleeing is also in danger of being arrested and summarily executed um die andere zu ermütigen, and some would-be arresters will have a lot of guns.

A setting for an Icelander-adventure for sure!
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

The party is obviously part of the Swedish diplomatic personnel, and they are traveling to Berlin with plenty of additional space on their vehicles because they are going to pickup and evacuate some personnel and stuff from the Swedish embassy. Their vehicles are painted white and sport a large Swedish flag.

Verifying this will be difficult, as communications will have broken down everywhere, and also because actual such convoys were incredibly doing the rounds even while the last shots of the war were being fired (they were going to POW and concentration camps, but those are details). Naturally, one stubborn and/or Nazi diehard officer could still refuse free passage until he gets clearance from higher ups - which means at the very least a long delay.

They can go away in the same way, openly heading for either the Danish border or a port in Allied hands.

As to the type of opposition, at this time anything goes. You could have Volkssturm old men equipped with StG 44s, just because nobody managed to deliver them to more deserving units.

Another source is C. Ryan; better for the ambience and personal anecdotes than for general military history, but that is probably what you need.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:56 PM   #5
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Default Other options --

I'd suggest using the Swiss as cover, as there are probably more OSS/SOE agents speaking German (the primary Swiss lingo) vs. Swedish.

By late 1944 the OSS, at least, and I'd guess the SOE as well, could forge not only papers but the Gestapo/SD identity disks that give the bearer unlimited rights to search, arrest, and question. You'd do fine until you met a bloody-minded oppo (i.e., actual Gestapo agent/SS officer/SD official.)

You even infiltrate/exfil. by aircraft -- I know Monty was using a Fieseler Storch and I'd guess other guys had other German aircraft. Depending on how big the item was requiring extraction a Siebel transport or a Ju-52 might work.

(Of course, your big problem would be to avoid Allied fighters -- targets were scarce by April 1945 and a lot of fighter jocks were hungry . . . I'd suggest night.)

Another option might be to have non-German speaking members of the group act as "foreign volunteers" (i.e., slave labor, complete with striped suits) under SS/SD control (i.e., those that do sprechen sie Deutsch.) Claim to be furthering some secret German weapons project. (IIRC the German Post Office was then working on nuclear research . . . don't ask.)
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Assuming they have the backing of OSS or SOE, and can pass for Germans, getting in should be possible.
For the purposes of the adventure, the PCs will belong to a secretive section or desk of one or the other organisation, tasked with something so obviously unimportant that everyone will fall all over themselves giving them assistance.

In the interest of providing an interesting selection of pre-gen PCs, I had thought that there would be an odd collection of experts from all over the world, probably explained by the mysterious and occult objective of their quest.

Some PCs will be able to pass as Germans, others as other Axis soldiers. Most probably I will have to offer one or two fish-out-of-water PCs, who aren't experts in Berliner German and Brandenburger culture, and can't easily pass for locals. Some players don't like it when their PCs are supposed to fit easily into the adventuring locales, while they are entirely alien to them. Most of my players have probably visited Berlin, but none have spent more than a month there and some probably only a few days.

I had thought maybe a decorated young American Marine who had not left his native land* before the outbreak of war and is included in the mission largely because a high-ranking US general insists that no matter how esoteric the skills of other team members, they'll need a good man in a tough spot who happens to be a phenomenal shot.

Another idea would be a Gurkha commando. Cheerful, lethal and indomitable. Someone who was good with languages could easily speak several European languages in 1945. There was a battalion of Gurkhas on Cyprus in 1939 and they fought in North Africa and Italy, among other places. I dunno what he could pass as. I wonder if Berliners would know enough about the world to recognise a racial difference between an 'Italian' of vaguely Moorish or Cypriote ancestry and a Nepali?

*Which might be rural Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky or even Texas, depending on the breaks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Getting back out again is harder. If they leave their vehicles unguarded, they will be stolen.
I had some idea that a good mechanic might burn the outside chassis of a truck to make it look like a wreck, remove a few vital parts so it wouldn't run and leave it as a part of a bombed-out ruin. Bury the vital parts and make it possible to use the truck to escape after an hour or so of repair work.

Of course, a convoy of trucks pretending to be Swedish would be a nice backup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Getting picked up by aircraft is conceivable, but the Berlin airfields are all subject to Soviet attack and ones further west will still have Luftwaffe ground troops with AAA even if they don't have much in the way of aircraft. Getting picked up by submarine is hard: Berlin is some way from the Baltic coast, and the Danish Straits are still heavily mined; the Western Allies have left the Baltic to the Soviets.
It's always possible to postulate an airborne assault on a small airfield as part of the operation, if it's important enough. Of course, the paratroopers wouldn't know the true purpose of the raid.

I guess the Spree was impassable due to mines and other defences.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Some players don't like it when their PCs are supposed to fit easily into the adventuring locales, while they are entirely alien to them.
OK, I hadn't anticipated that problem. Indeed, I don't think I've ever met any players who feel that way.
Quote:
I dunno what he could pass as. I wonder if Berliners would know enough about the world to recognise a racial difference between an 'Italian' of vaguely Moorish or Cypriote ancestry and a Nepali?
Some German students of "racial science" might figure that out. Making sure the Ghurkha's Italian is really solid would help, and backing it up with an Accent perk and some supporting skills would help.
Quote:
I had some idea that a good mechanic might burn the outside chassis of a truck to make it look like a wreck, remove a few vital parts so it wouldn't run and leave it as a part of a bombed-out ruin. Bury the vital parts and make it possible to use the truck to escape after an hour or so of repair work.
Plausibly, but isn't it likely they'll want to leave in a hurry?
Quote:
I guess the Spree was impassable due to mines and other defences.
It will certainly have had a lot of junk in it by this time, and it isn't all that big a river at Berlin.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Other options --

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The party is obviously part of the Swedish diplomatic personnel, and they are traveling to Berlin with plenty of additional space on their vehicles because they are going to pickup and evacuate some personnel and stuff from the Swedish embassy. Their vehicles are painted white and sport a large Swedish flag.

Verifying this will be difficult, as communications will have broken down everywhere, and also because actual such convoys were incredibly doing the rounds even while the last shots of the war were being fired (they were going to POW and concentration camps, but those are details). Naturally, one stubborn and/or Nazi diehard officer could still refuse free passage until he gets clearance from higher ups - which means at the very least a long delay.

They can go away in the same way, openly heading for either the Danish border or a port in Allied hands.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym View Post
I'd suggest using the Swiss as cover, as there are probably more OSS/SOE agents speaking German (the primary Swiss lingo) vs. Swedish.
Such a convoy sounds excellent as a method of exfiltration and perhaps even support. Some PCs might even enter Berlin in one.

Actual OSS agents parachuted 30 miles outside Berlin at the end of March 1945, buried their weapons and communication devices in a field and took a train inside the city. They had papers, but no one asked to see them and they decided to stay illegal in the city, as it seemed easier in the chaos than trying to find someone to deal with their work orders. Obviously, some PCs could enter this way earlier than the rest of the team and act as forward scouts. They'd get weapons from one of the very few resistance cells or from a convoy pretending to be Swedes or Swiss.

Granted, German would be a more useful language in Berlin than Swedish, which would suggest a pretend Swiss convoy.

On the other hand, how many German soldiers know Swedish when they hear it? Anyone who could speak accented German and a vaguely Scandinavian language should be able to pass, inc. Norwegian or Danish resistance figthers recruited into the SOE.

Hell, a lot of Polish or Lithuanian seamen or port workers would speak German with a similar accent and be able to repeat a few phrases in passable Swedish too.

For that matter, Finland (where the majority speak at least some Swedish) was fighting Nazi Germany during the early months of 1945 and many of their soldiers had previously served alongside German soldiers on the Eastern front (some of them actually as part of the SS). As at least one Finn joined the US Special Forces after the war, it wouldn't be a huge stretch* to imagine a platoon or so of them serving the SOE/OSS for new papers, a nice cash settlement and a ticket far from the Soviet Union.

*Comparatively speaking, considering that we are considering allowing ourselves at least one and probably more of: the Grail, the Spear of Longinus, the Amber Room, werewolves in Wehrwolf, sorcerous black knights of the Thule Society and Ragnarok.
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
As to the type of opposition, at this time anything goes. You could have Volkssturm old men equipped with StG 44s, just because nobody managed to deliver them to more deserving units.
Very much so. And fanatical SS troopers with the Death's Head (Totenkopf) insignia, even if they by all rights should be nowhere near Berlin at the time*, ex-Fallschirmjäger fighting under Otto Skerzeny as part of elite Wehrwolf** units and the aformentioned sorcerous Black Knights of the Thule Gesellschaft.

I was wondering more about the level of organisation and security of the more mundane threaths likely to be encountered prior to the scenario leaving the realms of reality behind while making derisive noises.

I want the adventure to start out with a tense scene or two where sneaking around and bluffing through potentially suspicious opposition are both options, but shooting their way in might also work. And then have a scene where combat which is more or less inevitable, but which nevertheless serves primarily to allow the players to display the awesomeness of their hand-picked To Save the World pre-gen characters and their ultra-lethal supporting team members.

Police, security forces and small units of confused defenders are all good for the above. Volkssturm is excellent. Within walking distance of Reichskanzlei, what are likely units to be encountered and who commanded them?

I mean before one would encounter units from Kampfgruppe Mohnke, that is. I will be... making some changes to that Kampfgruppe for the purposes of this scenario. :)

*And most certainly shouldn't still be fighting despite mortal wounds and what appears to be decaying skin tightening over their skulls.
**Oh, yes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Another source is C. Ryan; better for the ambience and personal anecdotes than for general military history, but that is probably what you need.
Have Beevan, shall have to obtain Ryan.
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-31-2015 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:40 PM   #10
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Default Re: [WWII/TS/Covert Ops/Weird War II] Götterdämmerung on Walpurgisnacht

I think this motivational poster describes your campaign: http://s100.photobucket.com/user/Alm...GURPS.png.html
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