Ashes of Isar Sample Play Session

To give you a sense for what Ashes of Isar might be like to play, here is a transcript of a sample play session with a GM and three players, agents Carlos, Monarch and Driver.

GM: After successfully completing your last mission blowing up a railway viaduct in central Greece, you were able to smuggle aboard a boat to Turkey with the help of local resistance fighters. From there, you flew on a series of military and civilian transport planes over the Mediterranean to neutral Spain, and then back to England.

You have spent the last three weeks at an S.O.E. training facility. During that time, you all worked on your French language skills. Please add 3 weeks to your French language training tally.

Two of those weeks were spent learning to use captured German radio sets. I want each of you to roll 1d6 twice, one for each week, to see if you succeed at increasing your Technology skills.

[Each of the three players roll their dice. None roll a 1, so their skill increase attempts succeed.]

Great! Each of you may add +2 to your Technology skill scores, one for each week of training. The third week was was spent learning how to assemble and stealthily plant a new class of limpet mines. Roll 1d6 for Explosives.

[Agents Monarch and Driver each rolled a 1 on their Explosives training check.]

Agent Carlos, you have increased your Explosives skill by +1. Agents Monarch and Driver, you failed to improve your Explosives skill during your third week of training. Better luck next time.

[The players make these notes on their character sheets, including appropriate additions to their Luck Points: Agent Carlos gets +3 Luck Points, while agents Monarch and Driver get +2 Luck Points.]

Carlos: What is our next mission?

GM: You have been asked to pack your gear for a train ride up to an S.O.E. commando school in Arisaig, Scotland where you are greeted by a civilian man who introduces himself as Cecil Clarke. He takes you into a briefing room with several tables and chairs facing a chalkboard. Mr. Clarke stands at the chalkboard to begin your briefing.

He says you will spend the next six days poring over maps of the Telemark region of south-central Norway. Your objective, he says, will be to parachute into Norway, link up with a team of agents already on the ground, surveil a power plant located in a deep gorge in the area, and form a plan to infiltrate the plant. You will place specialized limpet mines on key machinery, and then escape. The explosives are to detonate as you make your way back into the wilderness, destroying the plant’s ability to operate.

During your briefing, Mr. Clarke further explains the plant’s purpose. It is called the Norsk Hydro Power Plant, and it produces deuterium oxide, a key component in the production of atomic bombs, otherwise known as heavy water. The destruction of this plant will halt Hitler’s ability to produce heavy water, thus eliminating his nuclear bomb ambitions.

Driver: What is the security like around the plant?

GM: As you can imagine, security is expected to be very tight. This facility is extremely difficult to reach. It is located on one side of a deep gorge and is accessible by only one road that crosses a narrow bridge above a river to the plant itself.

Monarch: How will we get in?

GM: You will need to sneak close to the plant and conduct surveillance to make that determination yourself.

Carlos: What’s our timeline? How long do we have to complete the mission?

GM: As long as it takes. You will not have air support and your most likely exfiltration route will be to travel overland into neutral Sweden to escape. Your planned departure date is one week from today. Until then, you will be trained in the use of cold weather survival gear and techniques. My reports say that you have already been trained in the use of the special limpet mines we have created specifically for this mission. You will also undergo rigorous physical training during your week’s stay here at Arisaig, including some lovely cold water survival drills.

[At this point, the GM shows the players reconnaissance photos from the period and maps of the area. He indicates probable drop zones, approach routes to the plant, and possible escape routes east into Sweden.]

GM: For mission departure, you fly from an airfield near Inverness northeast where you parachute over a high plateau in the drop zone, several miles north of the Norsk Hydro plant. I want each of you to roll a Tactics skills check to find out if your parachute drop is successful.

Carlos: [rolls 2d6] I rolled an 8, adding that to my Tactics skill score of 12, my total is 20.

GM: [Compares against a DS of 18] That is a success. You land safely and are able to retrieve your parachute and equipment pod. [The GM adds +6 to Carlos’s Tactics skill experience points tally; DS 18 – base skill score 12 = 6.]

Monarch: [rolls 2d6] I rolled a 9. With my Tactics skill score of 13, my total is 22.

GM: You also have a successful jump. [The GM adds +5 to Monarch’s Tactics skill experience point tally; DS 18 – base skill score 13 = 5.] Agent Driver?

Driver: [rolls 2d6] I only rolled a 4. Adding that to my Tactics skill score of 12, my total is 16.

GM: That wasn’t enough to succeed. Do you wish to re-roll using a Luck Point?

Driver: No, not this time. [Agent Driver only has 3 Luck Points available and makes the strategic choice to hang onto them for more important uses later.]

GM: Unfortunately you sprained your ankle upon landing. Your parachute caught a gust of wind and you had to cut it loose before it nearly pulled you over a cliff. It is lost into the gorge below, with a risk of being seen by Nazi patrols. Subtract -1 from your Health and Endurance scores.

Carlos: I administer first aid to my comrade’s ankle.

GM: Agent Carlos, roll a Survival skill check.

Carlos: [rolls 2d6] I rolled a 10. My Survival skill score is 14, so a total of 24.

GM: [The DS was 20.] A great score! [GM adds +6 to his Survival skill experience tally.] You are able to bind the ankle and apply snow to reduce swelling.

Driver: I rest for two hours and wait for the swelling to go down before we move on.

GM: You able to walk without too much pain after the two hours have elapsed. Since you successfully administered first aid right away, Agent Driver has his Health and Endurance points restored.

Driver: Thanks, buddy! Now, where do we go from here?

GM: You consult your maps and already have your destination memorized, a remote hunter’s cabin high on the plateau about three miles from the plant. But you can’t navigate your way there until you find out where you are now. I want each of you to roll an Analysis skill check to see if you can find your current location. [At least one agent must match a DS of 20 for success. The three players roll their Analysis skills checks, and two of them get above 20. The GM adds +3 to Monarch and Driver’s Analysis skill experience points tally.]

The sky is clear so you are able to find your bearings and identify your current location on the map with a high degree of certainty.

Later, the party has made their way to the exterior of the hydro plant and are hiding behind a mound of snow near a gate. They are watching a pair of Nazi guards patrol inside the facility perimeter, trying to find the right moment to cut through the gate and make their way inside.

GM: After watching for 15 minutes, you notice there are only two guards. Their pattern indicates a 3-5 minute gap where a 50 yard section of the fence remains unwatched. That section of fence is approximately 20 yards away from your location.

Monarch: I dig the wire cutters out of my pack and have them ready in one hand and my pistol with a silencer in the other.

Carlos: I make sure my limpet mines are secure in my backpack, then get my pistol out as well.

GM: Agent Driver, what are you doing?

Driver: I’m going to remain here with my rifle trained on the guards. If Carlos and Monarch run into trouble, I’ll be ready to snipe them and cover their escape.

Monarch: As the moment both guards face the other way and begin their walk away from the fench, I creep up to the fench and begin cutting a large enough hole for Carlos and I to fit through.

GM: Roll a Stealth check.

Monarch: 10, added to my Stealth skill score of 14, that’s 24.

GM: It’s dark, there’s a fair bit of wind, and the snow softens your footfalls. Neither guard acts like they heard anything and you make it to the fence without them turning around. Both are now out of site. It doesn’t take you long to cut the fence.

Monarch: I motion Carlos to come forward and I hold the fence open for him to crawl through.

Carlos: Once I’m through, I hold the fence for Monarch.

GM: You’re both now on the other side of the fence, exposed and without cover.

Monarch: We check one more time to make sure the guards aren’t around, then dash forward to the nearest door of the main building.

GM: You don’t see any guards and are able to cross the open expanse between the fence and the building. The door lies in a pocket of shadow. You can hear the faintest hum of the machinery deep inside the bowels of the building.

Carlos: I check the door to see if it’s unlocked, ready to pull out my lock picks if it isn’t.

GM: The Nazis must think it impossible for anyone to attempt to get in, so the handle turns; it’s unlocked.

Carlos: I slowly open the door, listening and peaking inside as I go. Are there any lights inside?

GM: No, it’s dark and the hum of the machinery inside is definitely louder. You have to get close and speak in normal tones to be able to hear each other.

Carlos: Monarch and I take one more quick glance around outside to make sure there are no guards, then duck inside and close the door behind us.

GM: You see no guards and are now inside the main facility building.

Monarch: I put my wire cutters away and keep my pistol ready. Based on our training, the stairs leading down to the lower level where the machine is located should be to our right. Are we able to see well enough to spot it?

GM: Your eyes are already fairly well adjusted to the darkness and you can easily spot the metal stairwell leading down.

Monarch: We move forward and head downstairs, not worrying about stepping quietly because of the loud machinery.

GM: The building seems to be empty of people, and you’re able to make your way swiftly to the lower level. In the dim light, you see a row of eight large stainless steel cannisters, easily 10′ tall and 3′ thick, with pipes and tubes coming out of their base.

Carlos: Those are what we’re after! I take my pack off and start pulling out limpet mines. I go down the row and set one on the floor in front of each cannister.

Monarch: I follow along behind and begin attaching each mine at the base of each cannister, just like we trained.

GM: Agent Monarch, roll an Explosives check 8 times to see if you get them placed properly in the darkness.

Monarch: [rolls 2d6 eight times and adds that to his Explosives skill score of 16] The lowest is 20, the highest is 27.

GM: They seem to be properly in place, but you won’t know until it’s all over.

Carlos: Once Monarch has the mines attached, we gather our gear and get ready to leave in a hurry. Monarch, you start at one end and I’ll start at the other. We’ll each activate four mines working our way toward the center. As soon as that’s one, let’s run up the stairs to the exit door and crack it open, peering out to see if the guards are nearby, pistols ready. If we spot either guard facing us, we’ll fire two shots before dashing across the open area to the hole in the fence.

GM: Okay, I want each of you to roll four Explosive checks to see if you successfully arm the mines.

Monarch: My scores were 21, 23, 23, and 25.

Carlos: Mine were 20, 20, 24, and 24.

GM: You activate all eight mines to the best of your ability in the darkness, then dash upstairs to the door. What was the fuse time on the mines, again?

Monarch: 8 minutes.

GM: Okay. I’ve started a timer. You make it to the door. Who opens it?

Carlos: I do, pistol at the ready. I listen first before turning the knob.

GM: You listen, but the noise inside the building is far too loud for you to be able to hear anything outside.

Carlos: I crack open the door an inch and peer outside. What do I see?

GM: You see nothing to that direction.

Carlos: I open the door about a foot and peek around the other direction.

GM: You see one guard walking away from you, perhaps 30 feet away.

Carlos: I motion to Monarch with one finger to indicate a single guard, then use the “walking” gesture and point in the direction the guard is walking.

Monarch: I knod to indicate I’m ready.

Carlos: I slowly open the door and hold it for Monarch.

Monarch: I go through the doorway, checking to see where the guard is, and if he’s still facing away, I dash across the open area to the fence.

Carlos: I follow as soon as he goes.

GM: Both of you roll Stealth checks.

Monarch: 24.

Carlos: 25.

GM: You make it across to the hold in the fence 30 yards away and see no indication that the lone guard spotted you; he continues walkin slowly away. Agent Driver, you have been keeping your eye on things and saw nothing to indicate an alarm has been set or that agents Monarch and Carlos has been spotted. You see them reach the fence and work their way through the hole.

Carlos: We head to the mound of snow where agent Driver has been hiding, group up, and head back down the slope toward our exit route.

GM: You reach the top of the cliff where you came up from the gorge below when you hear a series of muffled “whump” sounds coming from inside the facility. There were multiple explosions but they were too close together to tell how many there were. You probably won’t know until other intelligence sources disclose how many actually went off.

Carlos: We immediately begin our descent to the gorge below and make our escape.

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