Sunday, 11 March 2018

Battle of Hue - The Dong Ba Bridge

Hue - a helicopter's view over the city
I'm working on some ideas for gaming the battle for the city of Hue in Vietnam in February 1968, 50 years ago! I'm going to be using the Force on Force rules from Osprey. This is a platoon level engagement and is loosely based on the fighting in Hue between US Marines and Viet Cong.

The strategic situation in the city in early February 1968 was that the communists had managed to capture most of it via a surprise attack (apart from a small ARVN garrison in the north-eastern district and some US troops still in the MACV compound across the Perfume River from the old city).

The Marines were assigned the job of rooting the enemy soldiers out, street by street, house by house. They were initially hampered by the ban on using artillery or air support in the city, because the government of South Vietnam did not want to damage the many historic buildings from the country's imperial past.

I'm working on an idea of a 'rolling battlefield' concept - each scenario advances the Americans further into the city. The action is focused on one platoon, and represents one day's fighting. The next day they pick up with a new scenario from where they left off. Some of the features of the first day's board will be shared with the new scenario. In addition, the platoon could receive limited reinforcements, but not necessarily.

It is important to note that the progress made by the Marines in Hue was very slow. It was extremely dangerous work.

"Not since the fight to retake Seoul, South Korea, in September 1950, had the Marines engaged in house to house combat. Seoul had been tough, but the North Korean soldiers holding the capital had had little taste for extended combat and yielded easily. The NVA and VC occupying Hue had no intention of just fading away. The Marines would pay dearly in blood for every step they took down Hue's tree-lined boulevards."
Edward F. Murray - Semper Fi Vietnam (1997)

The Dong Ba Canal Bridge

Here's the first scenario. This is fictional, but I think it would make for an interesting game. The duration of game is 10 turns. The US starts with the initiative, but tests on subsequent turns. There is normal Fog of War and a medium air defence environment. The Viet Cong should be treated as irregular troops - see pp 112-113 of Force on Force. There are no hot spots in use in this game.

In terms of support, the US player can call on a Huey UH1 gunship. The VC player gets light artillery with an artillery FO.


The Marine objective is to force a crossing of the bridge, which has been partially destroyed by VC sappers, before it is completely annihilated - see photos. They are to clear the buildings on the opposite side of the canal and establish a perimeter which will allow reinforcements to cross. Note: the terrain board that represents the enemy-held portion will be re-used in Scenario #2. The Marine player gets +10 VPs for establishing his bridgehead with at least one fire team on the opposite bank of the canal before the end of turn 10; +4 VPs for keeping casualties to less than 10%.

The Marines are Confident, with d8 initiative, normal supplies and 1d of standard body armour. They have d8 TQ and d10 morale. Use the USMC platoon organization in Ambush Valley, p.42. Apart from the HQ squad with one corpsman, give them two rifle squads plus an LMG consisting of three marines with an M60 (note the rules for M60s on p14 of Ambush Valley). They also have a two man sniper team and have been equipped with CS gas grenades.

US Marines enter from the bottom of this picture.


The Viet Cong mission is simple - stop the Marines from getting a foothold on their side of the canal by the end of turn 10, for which they receive +10VPs. They also get +1VP for every Marine killed, captured or seriously wounded in the course of the operation.

The Viet Cong are Confident, with d6 initiative and normal supplies. They have d6 TQ and d12 morale. They are classified as irregulars and benefit from out of contact movement.  They have a forward observer (NVA officer - d6/d10) who can call on off-table mortars. For the purposes of this scenario, the NVA spotter can allocate designated targets - see p13 for limitations to NVA off-board artillery. The VC in this scenario can use the NVA special rules Ambush, Lack of Initiative, Battle Plan and Determined to Win. All the communist RPGs are designated AP2.

Optionally give the VC a three man HMG or recoiless rifle team. Ideally, they should have a minimum of 30-40 soldiers operating in 6-7 man squads with at least two RPGs and two LMGs divided between them. They should have a three man HQ squad led by an NVA officer (TQ d6/ morale d10) who can also spot for artillery in the same way as the FO.

Suggested set up from the VC / NVA side of the table

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Year of Big Battles

I'm finding I have less time for gaming this year, but more for researching potential new games. In particular I am enjoying reading up on military history with a view to writing some tabletop miniatures scenarios of my own. This post looks at some of the topics I'd like to explore this year, as opposed to the 'throw down' games like Frostgrave, which require less thought and planning. For example, I know there is enthusiasm for a return to Warhammer 40,000 at Easter, but this will likely just require me to adjust my Necron army list and perhaps deploy my Monolith to plug the gaping hole I've got there in terms of heavy firepower. More on that in a later post!


HUE 1968

The first battle I'll be looking at this year is Hue. This was the battle in February 1968 for control of the old imperial capital of Vietnam/Annam which occurred as part of the Tet Offensive. It was a big urban battle which saw forces of both the Viet Cong and People's Army of Vietnam occupy and defend against the US Marine Corps, supported by their South Vietnamese/ARVN allies.

A lot of the Vietnam era battles you see played out on the tabletop tend to revert to the common perceptions of the war in the minds of Western wargamers, namely of rural engagements among the padi fields, but much of the fierce fighting took place in either relatively underpopulated areas, or in the case of Tet, was distinctly urban in character. It is also the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, so I thought it worth considering one or more scenarios inspired by or drawn from that battle.

I have mulled over the rules to use and have alighted on Force on Force, mainly because I'm familiar with it already, and because it has the ability to scale up from platoon level games to company level battles. This will allow me to add more models when I paint them.


The second of the big battles is Isandlwana, one of the two most famous battles of the Zulu War and the topic of the film Zulu Dawn. I've been wanting to put on some form a Isandlwana re-fight for some time, but as is my wont, have been pontificating over rules and how best to write a scenario for this. I think I'm looking at a scale of approximately 1 figure = 30 men; a British infantry company would have roughly 10-12 miniatures on the table. Zulu regiments (iviyo) just much bigger, with some estimated at more than five times the size of a British company. This represents a bit of a challenge at 28mm scale, as 40-50 figures in a regiment is a bit unwieldy. Hence, I'm looking at running the battle using rules like Black Powder or Field of Battle which abstract the size effect a little.

Another issue with Isandlwana is how to represent the spectacularly poor British leadership. As with other colonial disasters, the massacre at Isandlwana resulted from poor command decisions, faulty scouting and a general lack of appreciation of the true danger represented by the Zulu impi. When the Zulus were able to get their act together, they could be truly devastating and were rightly feared by many neighouring African tribes. Black Powder as a set of rules is interesting in that it allows the scenario designer to write poor leadership into the battle, and in this case the British leadership was very poor indeed. My plan is to leave this battle set up for a while, as it may require more than one go to get it right.


The third battle is Berlin 1945. This is a big one, as it represented the last big battle in Europe during WW2, with the Soviets moving into the city to finish off the last defenders of the Third Reich. I plan to use some commercial scenarios for this one rather than write my own, but I'm undecided at the moment for which WW2 set to use. The front runners here are Battleground WW2, Arc of Fire and Bolt Action. Of the three I've only played Bolt Action before. We have staged city battles on the Eastern Front before, so this is not new country for us. You can see a version using Disposable Heroes here, and Point Blank here.


The fourth battle is from the Indian Mutiny. Again, the Mutiny is one of those conflicts which has become somewhat stereotypical in the eyes of wargamers. It is typically represented as sieges, with rebels attacking British / East India Company forces in entrenched positions, often with the prospect of a British relief force just over the horizon. Some of the engagements in India during this period did indeed follow this pattern, but there were many others that seem to have largely been forgotten.

Thus we come to Badli ki Serai, which was one of the earlier and smaller battles in this war. Essentially, in the early days of the Mutiny, rebel forces had taken Delhi with a view to establishing the city as their base. Incredibly, some British engineers had blown up the arsenal in Delhi - along with themselves - in an effort to deprive the rebels of ammunition. The rebel leaders wanted to use the last of the Mughal emperors, Bahadur Shah Zafar, now living in retirement in Delhi, as a figurehead to rally support in northern India.

The East India Company response was to send an initial force down the Grand Trunk Road towards Delhi from the north. As it turned out, this would prove far too small to even effectively besiege Delhi. The British were also hampered by the tendency of their commanding officers to fall sick and die, which was an ongoing hazard for all ranks in India at this time. The rebels decided to dig in at a position across the Grand Trunk Road that was screened by a walled village and a caravanserai in an effort to stop the British from getting to Delhi.

This is an interesting battle as it has the British assaulting a fairly static defensive position held by a mixed force of sepoy rebels and irregular forces. Again, a set of rules which can model the more disorganized nature of the mutineer command structure is preferable for this campaign.



Rolica was the future Duke of Wellington's first battle fought against the French in the Peninsular War, a small but vicious sideshow in the Napoleonic Wars, also known as Napoleon's 'Spanish Ulcer'. Wellesley, as he was then known, had returned from a successful initial career serving the interests of the East India Company in a series of campaigns in South Asia and had been appointed to lead a British expeditionary force to Portugal to keep the Portuguese ports out of Napoleon's hands.

1808 was his first real opportunity to show Horse Guards what he could do against a well-organised European army (under Henri Delaborde). His initial landing caught Delaborde off-guard and created a novel situation where the French were on the defensive against a larger, well-trained British force.

I've got a couple of initial models for this battle. There is a very good scenario for Black Powder in the Albion Triumphant supplement (page 79). However, the attack on a prepared position in Charles Grant's Scenarios For All Ages is obviously inspired by Rolica. What you have here is a bigger British force taking a ridge line which is defended by a smaller French army that only needs to delay the British before falling back. It is not a 'faites ou mourez' situation for the French.

Later in that summer the French were able to respond in numbers, with an attack against the British at Vimeiro.

But Vimeiro is likely to be something for next year. The Rolica project will require some work and some decisions on how large the units should be in terms of actual miniatures. It is a small battle as far as Napleonic engagements went; it could be played in its entirety using something like Republic To Empire. I don't want something too technical for this however.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Frostgrave: Genie in the Bottle

Ragner leads his men into the city...
We returned to the icy precincts of Frostgrave this week. Reading the rules background, I can't help feeling there is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting here. I'm mulling over in my head what a map of Frostgrave would look like! But to the action. Last time my adventurers / looters, led by the soothsayer Ragner MacDervish, got a bit of a mauling from a rival band of goblins and orcs, but redeemed themselves near the end when their goblin apprentice was slain. Sadly, that was through no skill of mine, but the luck of the dice or, er, Skeggi Boozehound's axe.

Poor old Skeggi is resting up, as he was wounded in the last encounter. The party has discovered an abandoned library and have made that their base of operations. With Skeggi recovering, they have started looking around for more magical texts, but to no avail so far.

To replace Skeggi, Ragner decided to hire a second man at arms, as the party needs a bit of combat muscle. In addition, a new dog was purchased to replace the one killed in the last encounter. Let's now get to the action.

We played Genie in the Bottle this time, in addition to which for the first time we made use of Ulterior Motives, a deck of cards which, I suspect, was inspired by Malifaux. It gives the sides additional, secret objectives which can bring them further benefits. Ragner's was to get to a trap door which would open a magical vortex, but at the same time grant an opportunity to find some additional loot.

Tracker encounters some giant rats!
The centre of the field was dominated by an ancient mansion, and to the right was a large, icy ridge on which stood an abandoned inn. I split my party into two - Ragner took the right with a man at arms, a tracker and the zombie he raised before the game. His apprentice, Nordgrint, took the left with a second tracker and the pack of dogs. This seemed to work well.

The game was defined by a number of key phases in the action. In phase one, I was able to secure two treasure chests, and assigned my man at arms and a tracker to remove them. The man at arms was my best fighter, and all he needed to do for this game was climb onto the icy ridge, pick up a chest, and man handle it off the field.

My party got into the mansion first. I posted a tracker there with a bow who tried his best to stop the goblins grabbing the chest that sat in the gateway to the mansion's grounds. He managed the kill one goblin early on, but it was not enough to stop a second goblin from finally making off with the chest.

My other tracker found another chest guarded by a zombie, which he and the apprentice Nordgrint managed to dispatch. Nordgrint sent the tracker home with the chest, but he was ambushed on the way by giant rats. He shot one with his bow as they closed in on him, and killed the second with his staff, then picked up the chest again and left.

My pack of hounds proved their usefulness once again. This time I used them to get in among the goblins, and particularly to go after their witch. In this game you really need a weapon that can harass the enemy and stop him from doing things. However, I was also aided by the fact that almost immediately the goblins had found the lamp with the genie in it. The genie was keeping them occupied and their apprentice was having trouble casting anything. He was a poor stand in for his predecessor!

The squigg tackles the genie while a goblin grabs the chest.

The goblins came up with a good solution for the genie by setting their squigg on it. The squigg kept the genie occupied, allowing the rest of the goblins to get on with business. Later on he used a zombie to distract it as well. These were good tactics as the genie was invulnerable to normal weapons, and neither of us has much, if any, magic that can more than distract a creature like this.

Dogs get in among the goblins.
Back in the mansion, which was filling up with mud as the goblins bombarded it with mud spells, Ragner climbed to the roof, where he was more exposed than I expected, but there was a treasure chest up there. Unluckily for him, two orc archers were up on the icy ridge to his right. He was also in sight of the trap door which was on the same ridge, and he had a potion of teleportation in his pocket. It looked so close!

Frostgrave is a great game because it inevitably faces the player with hard tactical calls. Here Ragner was confronted with the choice of whether to risk all and use his potion of teleportation to get to the trap door before the goblins, or grab the chest on the roof of the mansion. It was as tough call. The trap door sat on the ridge, and Ragner would have no support from the rest of his party. My mind was made up for me when the soothsayer was hit by an arrow from the orcs, costing 75% of his health. He promptly downed the potion, teleporting off the roof with the chest to eventual safety.

Meantime my dogs had caught up with the goblin witch, forcing her to use her potion of invulnerability to keep her safe from their fangs. The goblin apprentice continued to struggle to distract the genie with various spells - I wasn't sure what he was trying to cast, but the curses from the other side of the table told me it was not going well.

With two chests off the table and a third on its way, it was time to begin withdrawing my troops. Both Nordgrint and the second tracker left the mansion, stumbling through the mud that was now knee high on the ground floor. The dogs covered their retreat but were gradually picked off. However, that's what they're there for. They're fast and cheap.

We emerged the victors this time, with the majority of the chests. We've also picked up a couple of grimoires which include spells Ragner can learn, and a magic crossbow +2! Counting the final cost, we had one dog killed outright but the rest of the pack will recover quickly. It's now time to ponder whether we buy a second dog or look at recruiting someone who can shoot a crossbow. Both trackers are fair shots with their bows, but a marksman would be an interesting prospect. The dwarf Skeggi is recovering and should be able to rejoin the party for our next foray into Frostgrave!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Thieves of Shem - to the Square of the Green Peacock!

Bagwa Grey Tusk
We left our heroes the survivors of a brutal fight in the Square of the Silversmiths in the craft district of Belthaar, a Shemite town on the edge of the Red Waste. Asantha and Baphtor the Red had met in a knife fight with Jahwar, a Shemitish street gang leader, whom they had almost stabbed to death, only managing to restore him to something resembling life with a healing potion. The sorcerer Bagwa Grey Tusk was lost, seeking Baphtor, while Borderlander Rigby Gathorn had been left to finish off the remnants of Jahwar's gang on his own. We pick up the story as Asantha and Bapthor return to the Dirty Dog inn with the unconscious Jahwar...

Arriving at the Dirty Dog, Baphtor was able to bluff his way past the night watchman, claiming that Jahwar was drunk (helped by the fact that the Shemite had been stabbed in the back). Upstairs in his room, Baphtor and Asantha frisked the brigand for some coins, then tied him to a chair. The duo sat up, keeping an eye on Jahwar, but eventually, exhausted by their battle, they both drifted off.

Baphtor awoke in the morning as Bagwa returned to the inn, having searched fruitlessly for the Zamoran thief. Asantha, however, was missing. There was no sign of her or the ancient dagger she had had in her possession. Bagwa and Baphtor questioned the inn keeper who said that Asantha had left around six in the morning, that he had spoken with her, but she had ignored him and simply stalked out of the inn.

Mystified, the two set about interrogating Jahwar. The rogue tried to threaten and cajole his way to freedom. Judicious application of hot wax to his face led him to admit that Taziz had stolen the dagger from the tomb of a wizard called Ikhtanabu Xul, a powerful sorcerer who had once dominated Belthaar, but had died many years ago. His tomb was rumoured to also contain treasure. Jahwar explained that Ikhtanabu had an apprentice called Arakshat, a magician who had since fled Belthaar but who had asked Jahwar to locate the knife that belonged to his master. Arakshat communicated with Jahwar via courier, and Jahwar said knew not where Arakshat now dwells, but did not think he was in Shem. He also revealed that his gang regularly meets in a drinking den with a red awning on the Grand Plaza, and that surviving gang members might rendezvous there.

Threats and bribes were not enough for Jahwar to win his freedom, however, and eventually he was brutally murdered; Baphtor pulled a hood over his head and cut his throat. The body was concealed under the bed.

Meanwhile, Rigby was searching for Asantha.  He finally learned from the owner of a fruit stall that Asantha favours, that the Argossean was spotted that very morning heading in the direction of the Square of the Green Peacock. Rigby set off for the square, which was small, nay compact, with a building with mighty iron doors at one end, and what looked like the entrance to a temple, complete with a pillared portico, on the eastern side. He investigated the temple, and discovered the entrance to a kennel with several caged guard dogs that barked at him.

Leaving the inn, Bagwa and Baphtored started looking for Asantha. Eventually, they asked the very same tangerine seller, who pointed them in the direction of the Square of the Green Peacock. The store keeper also mentioned that he had seen Asantha keeping company with a surly northerner. Bagwa knows the square, as it holds the entrance to the city's catacombs, and the Shrine of the Keepers, the cult tasked with mummifying the dead of the city and interring them in the catacombs. He also said he had heard dark rumours that some of these priests are actually ghouls in disguise.

Entering the square, they noticed a street magician performing near the south-west corner, but it was the shrine and the entrance to the catacombs that grabbed their attention. The square was busy, but the two made for the shrine for a closer look, at which point they spotted a surly northerner retreating down the steps of the shrine, pursued by the noise of dogs barking. Poor Rigby almost walked straight into Bagwa, whom he recognised instantly from the night before.

[At this point the GM went to make a cup of tea, leaving the players to catch up and decide what to do next.]

Baphtor the Red scouted the front of the shrine, and noted the locks on the doors, with three doors leading off the portico, along with the entrance to the kennels. A cunning plan was then hatched. Baphtor and Rigby loitered on the steps of the shrine, while Bagwa challenged the street magician across the square to a contest of illusions. He eventually - after a couple of aborted efforts - moulded a paving stone into a statue of a peacock, creating a considerable stir and distracting most of the people in the square (and earning himself four Renown points for his public display of magic). With the ruckus going on across the square, Baphtor made up the steps and tried to surreptitiously pick the lock to the main entrance to the shrine, which he succeeded in doing, although not before being spotted by the plain clothes cult member in the square, set there to keep an eye on the entrance.

Baphtor and Rigby entered the shrine and found themselves in a torch lit hall, facing a priest armed with a quarterstaff and wearing purple robes and a skull mask. He immediately challenged them, and their situation was made worse by the entrance of the watcher from outside, who accused them of picking the lock. Baphtor made a solid Influence roll, explaining that they were just looking for their friend, and claiming that he suspected she had been subject to some kind of foul sorcery. He asked for the high priest to be summoned, and the guard went to fetch him, leaving the other acolyte to keep an eye on the intruders.

Eventually the high priest arrived, wearing a gold skull mask no less, and listened to Baphtor's claims of magical kidnapping. He said he had not seen Asantha, and that really, this was not their responsibility, and could Baphtor and Rigby please leave the sacred precincts? Baphtor then changed tack, and explained that he had another friend who had sadly expired from alcohol poisoning only last night. Would it be possible to bring his body to the shrine for burial? The high priest said that not only was this possible, but in fact compulsory. Baphtor was provided with a purple shroud, and instructed to bring the body to the shrine immediately.

Leaving the shrine, Baphtor saw the young acolyte watching them warily as they walked back across the square. At a signal from Baphtor, Bagwa wowed the onlookers by animating his peacock statue, making it walk across the square, up the steps of the shrine, and roosting on the portico, where it melded with the stone of the shrine. The acolyte fled indoors.

The thieves left the square, returning to the inn, where they wrapped Jahwar's body in the shroud, and carried it through the streets back to the square. Returning to the shrine, they were met by a masked priest who showed them to the morgue. While Rigby and Bagwa were nauseated by the stench of the bodies here, Jahwar was laid on a slab. The priest told them it would cost 50 silver pieces to have Jahwar interred in the catacombs, or alternatively it was free to have him cremated. No contest really. Jahwar would be ash by dawn.

With dusk approaching, Baphtor suggested they repair to the Great Plaza for some cheap wine at a certain drinking den with a red awning. Here they spotted a young man whom they last saw in the skirmish in the Square of the Silversmiths, when he had shown a clean pair of heels as Rigby was busy bashing in the head of one of his comrades.

When confronted by the grinning Bagwa, the youth admitted he was part of Jahwar's gang, but did not know who the courier was that Jahwar had used to communicate with Arakshat. He did tell them that Arakshat had been just one of Ikhtanabu's apprentices, but that the rest had all been killed in the infighting that broke out after Ikhtanabu's death. Intimidated by Bagwa, the young fellow agreed to show our heroes Jahwar's hovel in the warehouse district. Ransacking it revealed Jahwar's stash of 140 silver coins and some letters written in code on parchment.

Night was falling over Belthaar. It was time to return to the Square of the Green Peacock, only this time a nefarious plan had been hatched. Approaching the square, the thieves were discomfited to discover the entrance to the catacombs was guarded by four skull-masked priests with two of the guard dogs. They explored a side alley, and using Rigby's climbing kit, got access to the roofs of the buildings on the west side of the square. From there it was a simple matter to reach the roof of the entrance to the catacombs. Baphtor located some loose tiles, and started removing them. Below, their lamplight shone into a large, pillared hall, from which led tunnels to the catacombs of Belthaar....!

This campaign is being played using Mongoose RuneQuest (1st edition, 2006). The setting is Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

A private contractors campaign for Delta Green?

Going where the Feds cannot tread
This is a slightly different angle for a Delta Green campaign in which the agents need not be part of Delta Green, or where DG could be brought in as a protagonist.

The 'agents' are all employees for a recruitment firm based in Miami that specializes in hiring what is laughably referred to these days as 'security consultants'. It is a small business, but with strong links to the US government, particularly the Army and potentially the CIA. At least one of the player characters ought to be ex-special forces.

The important thing here is that all the PCs are retired from active military service. They are all employees or directors of the same outfit. I should emphasise that this is a small operation with a limited balance sheet. Permanent employees should be no more than half a dozen, including an office assistant.

The company relies on the network of its founders, both in the US military and intelligence communities, but also with foreign governments and particularly those in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. The firm makes its money from recruiting contractors for service in global hot spots. Most of the work involved is relatively routine - guarding oil refineries in Libya, for example, or providing additional security for a Fortune 500 CEO's visit to Azerbaijan.

Occasionally the company may be considered for off-the-books work, funded by the CIA, where serving US military personnel would be a liability.

For doing all this work, of course, the PCs are well remunerated. They will likely live in large mansions in Florida, drive fast cars, and date glamour models. They will not seek publicity, however, as their patrons would frown upon this. The security world is a shadowy one at the best of times.

Of course, the agents work for themselves. They are not really even agents. Hence, they don't need to worry about getting fired (Delta Green Agent's Handbook - page 80). Because most of their work is taking place abroad, much of it at the behest of the US government, prosecution is less of a threat, as the Federal government will be averse to unwanted publicity surrounding the activities of government-funded contractors.

There are other challenges, of course. First off, the PCs are not actually employees of the US government. This means they cannot rely on the same level of resource as DG agents operating inside the US. PCs don't have the option to requisition resources (DGAH 86-87). That's simply not on the cards. They instead will have to rely more on their own resources, or calling in the occasional favour. Operating abroad means that overseas connections may also be able to provide the required equipment and resources and the company can draw on its corporate resources - for example that undeclared Bahamas account - to fund operations.

But what about the Cthulhu Mythos?

All well and good, but what about Cthulhu? This is where the company becomes the possible cats paw for Delta Green, using it as an asset to look into 'situations' abroad where DG has not got the contacts or the agents on the ground. Indeed, the contractors could be classified as DG friendlies, fed intel when required, but kept in the dark most of the time.

I ran a Cthulhu Vietnam campaign where the PCs began as just grunts in the field in 1966. By the end of that campaign, not only had they encountered plenty of odd activity in both Vietnam and Laos, but they had also made contact with a DG operative inside US special forces. They were effectively set up for further operations for DG in Vietnam. This is also a good way to get characters involved in events in the 1960s and 1970s. A Handler could take a similar tack with PCs starting a campaign in Iraq or Afghanistan in the 2000s.

Another possible campaign kick off point is my adventure Operation Prospero, which I've run several times at conventions, but which would make an ideal campaign starting point. Here the client is a pharmaceutical giant rather than the US government.

The Handler can really take this in one of two directions: the PCs can either be already aware of possible supernatural threats from previous encounters, or could stumble into something in the course of a commercial contract. One idea I had was for the Handler to write down the details of a Mythos encounter on index cards, one for each PC, and let the players choose them at random. This may also include details of an interaction with a DG cell.

Careers-wise, only certain background training will apply for this campaign. Ex-military and special forces personnel are the obvious ones, also ex-CIA officers. Beyond this, characters with a background in security and law enforcement might fit well or those with some kind of criminal experience. Good examples include a hacker, or a former drug smuggler who enjoys a wide network of contacts in Central America and the Caribbean. Another possible idea for a PC is a journalist now working on the firm's publicity and sales, but they are more likely to be a contact or resource.

As a final note, I've picked Miami as a default, but this company could just as easily be operating out of a small office in London's West End and feature former UK military and intelligence personnel.


Most published DG operations are set in the US and feature domestic investigations and are therefore not suited to this kind of campaign. Others presume that the agents are actual employees of federal government agencies. However, there are a few which might suit contractors rather than vanilla DG operators.

The now defunct DG fanzine The Black Seal issue  #3 (2004) featured a mission called The Spiraling, which saw agents going into Congo for Project Pisces; it could easily be adapted for US-based contractors. There is also an excellent adventure in Burma in The Esoterror Fact Book from Pelgrane Press which, although written for Esoterrorists, could easily be converted to DG.

Several other adventures written for other games, like Agents of Oblivion and The Laundry can also be adapted very easily for DG contractors.

This is quite a recent idea for me and will require some development. Further thoughts on contractors when they occur to me.