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It was created for a mission that would never happen, for a country that had little to do with it, and it was almost disbanded before it saw action. Its members were originally trained as paratroopers but they never conducted a combat drop. In its first operation it took more casualties from accidents than from enemy action. From these inauspicious beginnings, one of the world’s most unusual and most feared commando units was born.
This is the story of the Americans and Canadians who made up the First Special Service Force (FSSF), or -- as they eventually became known to their opponents -- the Black Devils Brigade, as seen through the lens of Godlike.
A real-world outfit, the FSSF was created as an elite airborne, mountain and amphibious commando unit for raiding behind enemy lines in Norway. Instead its men were employed as front-line light infantry, a role at which they excelled but which nearly bled them dry.
During the war they suffered a staggering 600% casualty rate. Their first battle alone resulted in 30% casualties. Four hundred seventy-seven Forcemen out of an original combat echelon of 1,800 were killed. Yet these numbers dwarf the damage they inflicted on the enemy. For every Forceman killed, they killed 25 of the enemy. For every Forceman captured, they captured 2,035 prisoners.
Modern U.S. Special Forces trace their lineage and techniques back to the First Special Service Force. Canada's Joint Task Force 2 has such close connections to the FSSF that in 2004 the Canadian government tried to censor the FSSF's history, even the places where the unit fought, as "classified secrets" pertaining to the JTF2’s methods and training. Each year since 1978, the U.S. and Canadian Special Forces commemorate "Menton Week" in memory of the disbanding of the FSSF.
All that was in our own history, without Talents.
In the world of Godlike, the FSSF was one of the few Allied units to retain its own dedicated cadre of Talents, men who shared the other Forcemen’s unique history and training but brought their Talent powers to the Force’s battles. That puts them square in the sights of rivals at the Talent Operations Command, which wants every Allied Talent it can get, especially Talents who are already trained commandos. The Forcemen face threats from within and without.
But the Germans are the enemy that will come to dread the First Special Service Force and its lethal attacks in the night. In the killing fields of Anzio, the Germans will give the Force its indelible nickname: the Black Devils Brigade.
Black Devils Brigade includes:
A history of the FSSF to help establish your characters’ backgrounds, training, and their role in the war.
Character creation guidelines that reflect the unique training of the FSSF and the qualities that distinguish them from other commandos and from the Talent Operation Groups.
Eight pregenerated characters with complete stats and backgrounds to begin play instantly or to serve as fast replacements.
New rules for esprit de corps, a special kind of character motivation stemming from the Forcemen’s particularly deep camaraderie and shared history, that directly impacts how characters gain and lose Will points in play.
New skills to flesh out noncombat challenges—Bureaurcacy, Carousing, Family and Foraging—that can improve or worsen characters’ lot in life during the war.
Rules for sneak attacks and silent death.
More detailed rules for artillery bombardment and its effects on men on the ground.
More detailed rules for minefields.
“One Roll Patrols,” a tool that you can use to detail an instant mission with one roll of the dice.
FUBAR! A rules option to feature the bizarre, unpredictable mishaps of battle.
Frequent scenes that spotlight player character interactions, challenges and rivalries with civilians and allies, friendly and not-so-friendly.
And the First Special Service Force’s war in Italy, in four big chapters:
Chapter 1: “Daring to Die”
Operation RAINCOAT, Monte la Difensa and Camino Hill, November 23 to December 8, 1943). The Germans dug in at the top of an mountain with their backs to an unclimbable slope. It’s up to the Forcemen to climb it, take it, and hold it until the Army arrives. It won’t be that simple.
Chapter 2: “An Unparalleled Weapon”
Monte Sammucro and Hill 720, December 9, 1943 to January 17, 1944. German veteran troops counterattack in force, convinced that the men who attacked Camino Hill are regular light infantry that got lucky. They don’t realize that the FSSF are commandos intensely trained for mountain combat. It’s going to be a brutal fight for both sides.
Chapter 3: “The Worst Is Yet to Come”
Anzio and Operation SHINGLE, January 19 to May 9, 1944. The First Special Service Force is badly depleted after staggering causalties in three months of hard fighting. And as replacements trickle in, the brass moves them from the hills down to Anzio. On paper, moving the battered force, specially trained for mountain warfare, to the plains looks like a terrible idea. But the First Special Service Force is trained to be adaptable and it’s trained for stealth. In the bloody nights of Anzio, the Black Devils Brigade will earn its name and its legend.
Chapter 4: “We Move Only Forward”
Operation BUFFALO and the Drive for Rome, May 22 to June 23, 1944. As the Allies push the Germans back and back, rumors of a Talent-powered German “super weapon” rattle the Forcemen’s fellow soldiers. Meanwhile, heavy fighting and lack of ready replacements take their toll. American and Canadian leaders want the Forcemen for their own commands. The Talent Operations Command wants the Talents of the Force for its own missions. The pressures on the First Special Service Force mount from all quarters. But the soldiers of the FSSF have no time for those troubles. Rome is waiting, and the First Special Service Force may be the first of its liberators.
Written by Allan Goodall and illustrated by Todd Shearer, Black Devils Brigade is a complete, full-length campaign and resource book for the World War II superhero roleplaying game Godlike.
Every copy of the print edition comes with a free copy of the PDF edition.
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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 11 November, 2010.