Thursday, February 14, 2019

Operation Whitebox: Just Before A Bridge Too Far

I’d been excited to play Operation Whitebox for a long time, and I finally got to run it. For this first game, we used only the core rules.  Next time, I’d like to use the Tactical Combat Rules and the Stalingrad setting.

I invited two friends who are interested or at least neutral on the idea of playing an rpg set in WWII, and out of the blue my wife decided to join us. This is very, very rare and I was excited to have her in the game. We played over Roll20, using Hangouts for voice and video.

Character creation was fun and easy; both of my friends picked the Grunt character class while my wife picked Wheelman.  In order to go for a more cinematic approach, I told them to roll 4 dice and pick the best 3, assigning the scores in whatever order they wanted. We used the Advanced Attribute Bonus table to maximize any bonuses they might get, and I declared we were playing on Heroic Level, which uses d10s for Hit Dice.  I had everyone start with 1 die at max (10+CON bonuses) and the Grunts rolled an additional d10 randomly.

It was fun going through the briefing; I found good maps that showed the goal of Operation Market Garden, which was going to kick off the morning after this mission. The players could see the big picture, the area around the target building in Osterbeek just south of Arnhem, and photos of both the Hartstein Hotel and Field Marshal Walter Model, the target.

They were to parachute in, link up with Dutch resistance who would escort them to the enemy HQ (the hotel), and then terminate the field marshal.

They would then evacuate to a stone church on the shore of the Rhine River and wait for pickup by Dutch Resistance, in a boat.  If they could not, they knew where to go, north or south, to link up with incoming Allied forces.  Going north to Arnhem would be a bad idea, but only one of the players knew that, and his character didn’t...

I had them roll for a Very Unlikely Problem during the paradrop, and sure enough one of the Grunts rolled a 1.  I declared he’d lost a piece of equipment, and he randomly determined it was his knife.

They met a married couple from Dutch Resistance who escorted them to Model’s HQ (the hotel). I’d initially planned to have them run into a patrol on the way there, but randomized it instead, and they were able to stay hidden while it rolled past.

The Dutch melted back into the woods after dropping off our commandos.  The characters observed the hotel (an old mansion), the guards surrounding it, and the armored cars, half-tracks, and long black staff car parked in front. 

They decided to disable the vehicles and wire the staff car with explosives, and the Wheelman got busy.  There was a close shave when a guard dropped a cigarette butt on the ground next to the car she was working on and was told to pick it up by an officer, but he was too agitated to notice her, and she continued working.

Once done she made her way back to the Grunts.  At this point I put up a detailed grid map of the mansion and tokens they could control to show me their position.  One Grunt ran up to jimmy the lock on the door, while the Wheelman, an Athlete and high in both Strength and Dexterity, climbed up the side of the hotel to the roof. She quickly cut the telephone lines.

The other Grunt ran in once the side door was opened, and they found themselves in a store room.  They barricaded the door to the sitting room with almost supernatural quiet and ease (critical success roll) and covered everything in cooking oil and hard liquor.  A server came back for more wine and found the door blocked, at which point the Grunts set fire to the room and moved down a short hallway.

They busted in on a small barracks.  Three soldiers were in there, lounging and talking, and were very surprised.  The Grunts, armed with suppressed light pistols, took their free round to fire, and both missed. They then used their Combat Machine traits to fire again, and both missed. They started the next round with initiative and fired twice each, lightly wounding one of the Germans.  The Germans returned fire, hitting one of the Grunts.

Meanwhile on the roof, the Wheelman could see and smell smoke, and when a couple officers and soldiers fled from the sitting room, she dropped a grenade on them, killing them all.  She did the same to a couple soldiers who ran to the side door.

The Battle of the Barracks went on for several more rounds, with the same Grunt taking more damage, before they were able to finish off the German soldiers.  Hearing rapid footsteps coming down the stairs, they figured the field marshal was trying to escape, and moved to head him off.

The wounded Grunt moved to very close range and fired at the NCO guard who appeared, killing him.  The field marshal was next, who made a tough roll to run past the Grunt and over the body of his guard, getting outside the front door of the hotel.  The last NCO came down the stairs and attacked the Grunt with a dagger, wounding him yet again.

The Wheelman heard the shots and took position on the roof at the front of the hotel.  Upon seeing the target come flying out the door, she dropped her third grenade of the evening, blowing the field marshal to bits.  Mission accomplished.

Inside, the two Grunts were battling the remaining NCO, a big guy.  It was hand-to-hand, with daggers and rifle butts.  They finally took him down, and noticed he was wearing an unusual camouflage uniform, with insignia of the 2nd Panzer Division.  They were not supposed to be there, so they had discovered important intel.

Between the 3 of them they took out the remaining guards in front and jumped in the only vehicle the Wheelman hadn’t disabled, an armored car.  She sped off, while one of the Grunts fired the autocannon, cutting down an NCO that came around the corner of the hotel.

I ended it there, as the time difference with my friends in London made it pretty late for a Sunday night, but it was a lot of fun and a lot of action in a short amount of time!


  1. How much damage did you take, in total? Under the Traditional style, I think you would have been feeling some heat, or at least had to stop for some first aid!

  2. Came across this post on a random search. That's an awesome mission write up! Have you shared it anywhere else? It seems familiar.

  3. Thank you! Yes on MeWe as you saw :) Feel free to share it around; I maybe should have included more of the mechanics in the write-up. Next time!