We are in 2014 and September 25 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Peace Conference of Damascus, which will start the Cold War three-way between the Axis (led by Nazi Germany), the Allies (Britain and USA) and the Communist Bloc (the Soviet Union and China), this year Japanese researcher Masaki Hori will make important discoveries that will cheapen the use of antimatter and engineers from Colt will develop the Gyrojet Storm gun, capable of shooting smart micro-rockets...
Maybe you're thinking I've gone mad, but nothing further from reality because today I present you the review of the Walküre roleplaying game.
Walküre, created by Pedro Gil and Cristobal Sanchez (authors of Adventures in the East Mark and Pablo Jaime "Zonk-PJ" Conill Querol (creator of the game Cacería de Bichos), goes to the land of uchronies and alternate history to introduce a version of our world that has changed significantly due to events that have developed differently regarding what have happened in the real world.
Walküre introduces a number of changes in the historical timeline of the real world with a Nazi Germany that, despite not having won the war, manages to force the signing of a peace agreement by the end of 1944 that will eventually result in a three sides Cold War (the Axis, the Allies and the Communist bloc) that periodically will become warmer due to incidents, provocations and the outbreak of several local wars, reaching year 2075, which marks the boundary of the game’s chronology. This historical period is also accompanied by a technological evolution that´s becoming faster, eventually acquiring cyberpunk and transhumanist touches and which will result in the beginning of the exploration of the solar system and the establishment of permanent bases on the Moon and Mars.
Within the historic changes taking place in Walküre can be highlighted, among others, the following:
The success of Operation Felix, conducted by the Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) Walküre, allowing Nazi Germany to conquer the Gibraltar rock in August 1940 and close the Mediterranean (such operation occurs after the German terrorist attack claiming the live of dictator Francisco Franco, which leads to a new government headed by Gonzalo Queipo de Llano which is more sensitive to pressures from Berlin).
The use of the Luftwaffe as a strategic bombing force used to attack British airfields, industry and ports, as well as the loss of the protectorate of Egypt to the advancing Afrika Korps and Italian troops, both will force Churchill to negotiate an armistice in 1941 which is de facto withdrawal of Britain from the conflict.
Among the successes in the field of espionage also will be beneficial the discovery by German Abwehr that the encryption machine Enigma had been broken by the Allies (which led to its replacement by another system named Walküre after the successful capture of Gibraltar) and the dismantling of the Soviet spy network Lucy in Switzerland by the Gestapo (the network had important contacts within the German High Command that provided information about Operation Barbarossa, ie, the invasion of the Soviet Union).
We also can not forget that in this timeline Franklin D. Roosevelt lost the 1940 elections in USA and the winner became Republican candidate Charles A. Lindbergh, Nazi sympathizer and convinced isolationist, hindering relations with Britain until his death in a terrorist attack a year later; will be replaced by Vice President Thomas E. Dewey, who will follow a completely different policy, will sign the Lend-Lease to allow the shipment of large quantities of military supplies to the UK, China and the Soviet Union (the only one that faces Germany in Europe) as well as a program of rearmament, industrialization and technological research to the country to be on par with the Axis powers and mutual defence agreement with the UK if hostilities resume.
All these changes affect the history of the 20th and 21th centuries, so that anyone reading the extensive chronology of the manual and familiar with historical events will see events that will be familiar but have been adapted to the circumstances. An example would be the existence of the European Union since 1999, in Walküre controlled de facto by a Germany willing to offer to the world an image of normalcy away from past excesses (as fact since 1951 has erased all traces of the Holocaust dismantling concentration and extermination camps and eliminating all those responsible survivors that could explain what happened in them), but does not hesitate to carry out covert actions or militarily supporting all suitable sides if that can serve their interests.
As I said, Walküre is also characterized by a series of technological advances in various fields that greatly exceed existing ones and also introduces into its game world two concepts which have been much discussed in recent years: Transhumanism and Cyberpunk, although these are contingent largely to political and social conditions existing in nations of the game, so the rationale of the transhumanist movement (which proclaims improving the human species through technology) is hampered by attitudes and ideals of racial purity of the Nazi regime, which will make it impossible to legally access such improvements to those not meeting certain racial and political criteria.
Walküre uses as a ruleset the CdB Engine system, an evolution of the Cacería de Bichos ruleset of which I spoke earlier in the blog (in this post and this one) and is also based on the Fudge and Fate systems, but uses 6 sided dice instead of Fudge dice.
Since CdB Engine is the heir of Cacería de Bichos many of their existing game mechanics have been adapted (and simplified in some cases), so it will be possible to find elements such as Development Points (DP) which will be used to create the characters and the Power Level of the game (ranging from Mediocre, 75 DP, and superheroic, with 300 DP), character templates (which allow us to choose a profession and a set of features like the relevant skills and level) or Gifts (which in this case are used to represent the capabilities beyond normal that may be biological modifications, implants of technological origin or samples of advanced equipment) and Limitations (although in the case of Walküre not all that appear on Cacería de Bichos had been used, only those that can physically affect the characters).
Walküre also uses mechanisms directly inspired by games like Spirit of the Century (which I already reviewed) as Aspects (phrases that serve to define the character traits) and conceptually mixed with some Limitations of Cacería de Bichos these aspects can be used applying them (beneficially for the character) or invoking them (negatively for the character) paying the cost associated in Destiny Points and obtaining the associated benefits or penalties (Fate Points can be used in different ways to favour characters, such as allowing a re-roll of dice).
Regarding dice roll the system runs is really easy, involving a roll following the formula
2D6 + Skill + Gifts – Limitations +/- Aspects (Applied or Invoked)
to overcome a difficulty which can range from Not trained (3) to Impossible (21), modifiers to the roll also can also be applied and see the degree of success of the action of the character (the higher the resulting score overcomes the difficulty the greater the degree of success will be).
With regard to other game mechanics such as combat rules and the use of actions (AC), healing, fatigue and stress rules as well as improving the character, are adapted from the original appeared in Cacería de Bichos, a fact seen by anyone with access to the game (and that's easy considering that the rules are freely downloadable at Demonio Sonriente website).
Regarding equipment and vehicles for characters Walküre manual has an extensive list of examples that span all the time spectrum of the game, so it is easy to find weapons, aircraft and armoured vehicles from Second World War to the exoskeletons, anthropomorphic robots and spacecraft that explore the solar system in 2075.
When I was preparing this review I could not help but remember when I first read the limited series Watchmen, created by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, and I enjoyed seeing how Moore had basted line real-world time frame with the plot, a sensation that I also experienced when I immersed for the first time in Walküre and saw the wealth of background and working hours that were needed to bring it to fruition. Walküre is a game that delves into many different genres and can offer all kinds of adventures: espionage and infiltration, military campaigns, space exploration... All this and more is what gives us this great game.
In addition, another feature of Walküre which will also be of interest to all people who love the game and want to create content compatible with it (even to be exploited commercially) is that they can do it without any problem as it is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, which will also include the future use of generic CdB Engine rules; also, if you want to use the official logos of Walküre and CdB Engine authors need only send the text of the work to game creators for their review and give permission for it as explained in this post on the official blog.
This generous gesture has already led to several initiatives fans happened to list below.
Modules and Adventures:
Legado Envenenado, part of a series of 6 modules by Studio Green Dog.
Plumas de Oro and Rohes Fleisch adventures, written by Luis F. Tadevs of the blog La Cripta Bajo el Torreón.
The start of the Tengai campaign, written by Francisco Solier of Trece Tigres Studio.
Noisy Summer and Siempre quedará París adventures, written by the Akerraren Adarrak of the blog El Rincón de mis frikadas.
Tokens for use in gaming sessions of Walküre and CdB Engine (one and two), created by Antonio Antonio of the blog Rolero Rural.
WWV86B, the songs created by Javier Arce of Publicaciones Némesis.
In addition to the links above you can also visit the official game website and the section of CdB Engine in Demonio Sonriente website.
In short, what we are seeing is just the beginning of what promises to be a long and successful career thanks to the work of amateurs, coming official game supplements (not to mention that apparently it will be liberated in September) and the future publication of the game in the USA by eXtra-Dimensional Publishing.
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