An RPG Resource Review:
The aim of this work is to present an account of UK special forces in game terms. The introduction examines the entire concept of 'special forces' in a global sense and although comprehensive makes heavy reading. It runs through the role and history of special forces around the world, concentrating on UK forces beginning with World War 2 - and including the little-known Increment, a group of selected SAS and SBS operators who work with the UK security services in covert operations and who are the main focus of the game-related material. This ends with some notes on role-playing the Increment as opposed to the constraints of the real thing, which will help you set the levels of realism that you want in your game.
Chapter 1 looks at Military Classes, and how to ensure that your characters have all the skills they need to serve as effective members of the special forces by presenting three prestige classes which can be chosen according to the area in which you wish to specialise. First up is Close Quarters Assault training, best known for the hostage rescue type operation but it is just as useful for clearing a building of bad guys or even securing it for your own use. It's fun, fast and involves lots of shouting (at least, it did in the 'real world' when the British Army taught me how!). Next comes the Combat Diver, again a prestige class which will equip characters for maritime operations from beach landings to underwater demolitions. The last prestige class is Containment Training, which refers to a range of skills useful to a sniper maintaining overwatch for an operation.
Next, Chapter 2 is about The Special Forces Group, the controlling organisation for UK special forces activity. It also looks at the differences between a special forces team and a regular military unit, the approach and organisation on the ground being completely different - and, by the way, far better suited to role-playing games! For each element - such as the SAS - there's a wealth of information including organisation, recruitment and requirements (presented in game terms), the way in which they work and the equipment that they use. There's also a complete set of game statistics for specimen member - useful if you need a quick NPC or to give an idea of the sort of character you need to build.
Chapter 3 looks at Elite Units in the UK. By this, they mean regular military units capable of undertaking more specialist operations, as opposed to the true special forces outfits detailed in the preceding chapter. Again, they are presented in the same comprehensive manner with enough detail for any to be included in your campaign either as the core unit or as people for the characters to encounter and interact with. They might also provide good starting points to build a background for a character who is aiming for (or starting play as a member of) the special forces proper.
Then Chapter 4 is a more detailed look at special forces weapons and equipment... including transportation such as helicopters. There's even a section on ranks and medals (according to the index it is Chapter 5 but it appears as part of Chapter 4 in the text), with a system for promotion - once play begins it will be up to the GM in all likelihood, but useful for people wishing to roll up higher-level characters (essential if you want to start out as a special forces operator when the game begins) to simulate the various factors that affect your promotion chances. A similar set of rules for the award of medals works well, although if you want an element of realism it will be worth researching UK awards with a little more diligence. It is also worth pointing out that acts of courage during covert actions are marked by the award of decorations, although the award remains anonymous and unworn until the individual leaves the special forces.
Overall, this is a thorough introduction to the UK special forces and will provide a good grounding for any group wishing to play or meet them in the course of their games. A minor quibble: in the download you get an illustrated landscape version or a completely plain text portrait 'printer friendly' one - no nice layout for colour printing. But if you want the British armed forces to feature in your game this is well worth getting.
[3 of 5 Stars!]