Interest check: Recon 1E

Gringnr

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Full disclosure: I am married with a baby, plus I run a weekly game for 3 nephews and a brother-in-law. I don't have a ton of time, so my interest checks are partially wishful thinking. THAT having been said, Recon 1e is a game I'd be more likely to run than almost any other on account of its simplicity. Plus the fact that it lends itself very well to short, one-shot sessions, and leaves a lot of the GMing up to random tables.

So, would anyone be interested in playing Recon, the Role Playing Game of the Viet Nam War?

There are newer editions, but Palladium put the original (which they have no plans to reprint- I emailed to ask) online years ago as a free download. AFAIK, they never rescinded that offer. So, here is a link to the Recon 1e rules:


The game is complete (at 46 pages long, which I appreciate more and more as I get older), ad despite being a slim book, packs a lot of detail in.

Fair Warning: the book can be racist and sexist. I get that it's setting appropriate, just throwing that out there for any who may wish to give it a pass for that reason.

Characters have 3 stats (Strength, Agility, Alertness) and skills provide bonuses to rolls against those stats. Percentile system, roll under. Lethality is high.

Whaddaya think?
 
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Bunch

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I have Advanced Revised Recon and I downloaded the link you sent. I'm game.
 

Gringnr

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Also full disclosure: I am not nor have I ever been in the military. I have nothing but respect for the men and women of our armed forces, but I wouldn't be able to do that end of it justice. Caveat lector.
 

Bunch

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Also full disclosure: I am not nor have I ever been in the military. I have nothing but respect for the men and women of our armed forces, but I wouldn't be able to do that end of it justice. Caveat lector.
Me either. I'm assuming where using Hollywood military vs reality here.
 

Dumarest

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Are we talking about this version of Recon?
7634
 

Dumarest

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The same. Say, do you know if the 1st edition rules with the color cover came before or after that cover?
I'm not sure. Is the color cover digest-sized?
7635
If I had to guess, I'd guess the black-and-white cover was after the color cover if only because the art and logo look more professional to me. Reminds me of Traveller.
7636
(Back cover of my copy)
I think digest-sized books are the perfect size for RPGs.
 

Gringnr

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I'm not sure. Is the color cover digest-sized?
If I had to guess, I'd guess the black-and-white cover was after the color cover if only because the art and logo look more professional to me. Reminds me of Traveller.
View attachment 7636
(Back cover of my copy)
I think digest-sized books are the perfect size for RPGs.
Agreed. I don't know which one was printed first. Both were printed in 1982. As far as I can tell, the interior contents are the same, except for one part in the back & white book that is fairly racist, where it's EXTREMELY racist in the color cover version. Other than that, I can't find any differences. I always thought the color cover was the 2nd printing, but it's probably the 1st. The racism is dialed back a little, and the design of the later supplements echoed that of the black & white cover.

One thing that impressed me about every Eedition of Recon, but especially the first, is how much stuff is packed into thiose slim little books. That little black & white book contains everything you'd need for numerous gaming sessions.
 

Gringnr

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I have a copy of the color cover version coming in the mail in a few days, I'll let you know what size it is.
 

Tulpa Girl

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A friend of mine back in the day had a copy with the color cover - pretty certain it was 'standard' sized, i.e. the same dimensions as an issue of Dragon.
 

Gringnr

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A friend of mine back in the day had a copy with the color cover - pretty certain it was 'standard' sized, i.e. the same dimensions as an issue of Dragon.
Can confirm

Can also confirm that Duma is right, digest size is perfect. Especially for a compact game like this one. But the 1st printing was cj=heaper by about half. The two books are identical, other than the cover and a bit more racism. On page 12, 2nd printing (little black book) shows an example of the enemy, dubbed "Charlie". 1st printing (full size, color cover) uses the nickname "LUKE THE G***". (cringes)
 
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Dumarest

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So what's the set-up or premise you had in mind for this?
 

Gringnr

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So what's the set-up or premise you had in mind for this?
One of the missions from the book, probably. Randomly generate the rest, probably beforehand so I have it ready at game time.

I got the rulebook, MD's Screen and the modules Haiphong H.A.L.O. and Hearts & Minds in the mail today.

Haiphong H.A.L.O. has a bunch of "missions", like in the core book (i.e., adventure seeds), with the twist that the PCs are indigenous people working behind enemy lines who must avoid detection using stealth and/or subterfuge. I could see using something from that. There are also a couple of maps, one of Haiphong Harbor, and a cool, multi-level tactical map of a boat.

Hearts & Minds is neat. It puts the PCs in the position of having to gain the trust and friendship of a village and then having to train and fortify. There are still tons of random tables, but there is a goal and a timeline, making it the most "conventional" of the original Recon modules. But it also relies heavily on interpersonal relations. There are brief personality notes for over 50 villagers, and a sizeable and varied list of random non combat events that can occur. Along with more typical Recon encounter tables. I'd love to run Hearts & Minds, but it seems like that would have to be a multi-episode or pbp deal, whereas most Recon "missions" seem like they could be played as a one-shot.
 
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Bunch

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One of the missions from the book, probably. Randomly generate the rest, probably beforehand so I have it ready at game time.

I got the rulebook, MD's Screen and the modules Haiphong H.A.L.O. and Hearts & Minds in the mail today.

Haiphong H.A.L.O. has a bunch of "missions", like in the core book (i.e., adventure seeds), with the twist that the PCs are indigenous people working behind enemy lines who must avoid detection using stealth and/or subterfuge. I could see using something from that. There are also a couple of maps, one of Haiphong Harbor, and a cool, mulri-level tactical map of a boat.

Hearts & Minds is neat. It puts the PCs in the position of having to gain the trust and friendship of a village and then having to train and fortify. There are still tons of random tables, but there is a goal and a timeline, making it the most "conventional" of the original Recon modules. But it also relies heavily on interpersonal relations. There are brief personality notes for over 50 villagers, and a sizeable and varied list of random non combat events that can occur. Along with more typical Recon encounter tables. I'd love to run Hearts & Minds, but it seems like that would have to be a multi-episode or pbp deal, whereas most Recon "missions" seem like they could be played as a one-shot.
Oddly I worked for a guy who was special forces in Vietnam. You would never have guessed it. What he described is Hearts and Minds. He talked about dropping mortors from surveillance planes because calling in airstrikes took too long. He ordered saddles through various departments and ended up with his own cavalry unit because he swore the horses didn't step on land mines. Crazy stuff.
 

Dumarest

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...his own cavalry unit because he swore the horses didn't step on land mines.
Perhaps they can smell the chemicals in the landmines. I know elephants are able to detect them and warn each other as well. Found the article I read about that:
 

Doc Sammy

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Recon 1E? Count me in.

I own a PDF of the 1E rules and Recon is one of those games I have always wanted to play but never got to.
 

Gringnr

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Play by post has been a godsend for me for getting to play games I'd otherwise never get a chance at.
I'm not averse to the idea of running Recon pbp, but there is definitely a focus on distance, position and line of sight in combat that I think would necessitate the use of some type of VTT...
 

Doc Sammy

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So, I'm assuming we are playing in the realistic setting of Recon 1E and not the bowdlerized Palladium fictional setting of the later editions (United States and Soviet Union, NOT Stateside and Big Red)

I already have the PDF of the black and white 1E corebook, but are we using anything from the supplements (like Sayaret/Track Commander) or not?
 

Gringnr

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So, I'm assuming we are playing in the realistic setting of Recon 1E and not the bowdlerized Palladium fictional setting of the later editions (United States and Soviet Union, NOT Stateside and Big Red)

I already have the PDF of the black and white 1E corebook, but are we using anything from the supplements (like Sayaret/Track Commander) or not?
Yeah, this would be Recon 1e Vietnam, NOT Palladium Vietnam. Although, the Recon 1e core book does have brief mentions of some.of the fictional countries that would reappear in the Palladium stuff. In the mercenary section.

As far as using stuff from other supplements, I'd probably keep it to the core book. Not that I have a problem with any of the other supps (Sayaret/Track Commander is aces), just not sure if a) it would be setting appropriate and not anachronistic, b) not sure who would have access to what supplements, and c) I'd be getting my feet wet with it along with everyone else, so the K.I.S.S. principle would apply.
 
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Doc Sammy

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Yeah, this would be Recon 1e Vietnam, NOT Palladium Vietnam. Although, the Recon 1e core book does have brief mentions of some.of the fictional countries that would reappear in the Palladium stuff. In the mercenary section.

As far as using stuff from other supplements, I'd probably keep it to the core book. Not that I have a problem with any of the other supposed (Sayaret/Track Commander is aces), just not sure if a) it would be setting appropriate and not anachronistic, b) not sure who would have access to what supplements, and c) I'd be getting my feet wet with it along with everyone else, so the K.I.S.S. principle would apply.
Excellent. I'm looking forward to playing this.

Maybe if I can get some experience playing RECON, I can also run some campaign ideas of my own down the line in the future.
 

Arminius

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This certainly sounds interesting. I have the Palladium version and I don’t think I knew that the game was originally a different system with direct references to the real world.

About the editions, rpggeek agrees that color cover = 1st but also says, “One way to tell if you have a second edition (as it's unmarked as such) is on the inside front cover there's a section entitled "Stay A LRRP, Stay Alive" thanking people for voting for Recon for the "Best Roleplaying Game" for the the H.G. Wells awards in 1982. Also has a sales blurb on the inside back cover about current and upcoming releases.”

I would probably only be able to play if there were some way to do it in turns/without real-time communication.
 

Gringnr

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Lemme look my copy over more thoroughly, I'll try to figure if there's a way to do this pbp. Maybe a shared Roll20 tabletop? I have a free account, I haven't used it in a minute.
 

Gringnr

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This certainly sounds interesting. I have the Palladium version and I don’t think I knew that the game was originally a different system with direct references to the real world.

About the editions, rpggeek agrees that color cover = 1st but also says, “One way to tell if you have a second edition (as it's unmarked as such) is on the inside front cover there's a section entitled "Stay A LRRP, Stay Alive" thanking people for voting for Recon for the "Best Roleplaying Game" for the the H.G. Wells awards in 1982. Also has a sales blurb on the inside back cover about current and upcoming releases.”

I would probably only be able to play if there were some way to do it in turns/without real-time communication.
My PDF of the 2nd print doesn't have that. My dead tree copy is the color cover with Dale Gribble on the front.
 

Gringnr

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This certainly sounds interesting. I have the Palladium version and I don’t think I knew that the game was originally a different system with direct references to the real world.

About the editions, rpggeek agrees that color cover = 1st but also says, “One way to tell if you have a second edition (as it's unmarked as such) is on the inside front cover there's a section entitled "Stay A LRRP, Stay Alive" thanking people for voting for Recon for the "Best Roleplaying Game" for the the H.G. Wells awards in 1982. Also has a sales blurb on the inside back cover about current and upcoming releases.”

I would probably only be able to play if there were some way to do it in turns/without real-time communication.
I've looked over the Palladium editions, and it doesn't really appear to be a different system. It looks like it's been tweaked a bit, and the options expanded. But the stat block looks.the same, at least upon first glance. I think task resolution is the same. It was made less deadly, chargen was changed a bit in favor of the player, and the possibility of dying from a single shot looks to have been removed. I'd have to give 'em a more in-depth look, but I'd say Palladium Recon is within spitting distance of OG Recon.
 

Gringnr

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Reading the rules cover to cover (only about 45 pages, but kind of dense) today in order to get ready...
 

Arminius

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In order to play, I would have to be able to check in maybe once-twice a day for updates and responses. I understand this might not work but I’m also willing to help in other ways—say by giving general orders/battle plan for the NVA/VC side. If that works.
 

Gringnr

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In order to play, I would have to be able to check in maybe once-twice a day for updates and responses. I understand this might not work but I’m also willing to help in other ways—say by giving general orders/battle plan for the NVA/VC side. If that works.

I think pbp is the only way this is going to work, so that might be alright. I'm trying to think of ways to do it. Recon encourages the use of minis, yes (which is why you keep seeing OG Recon referred to as a "miniatures game" instead of an RPG, which is what it says ON THE COVER). But as I peruse it, there are some interesting, handwavey abstractions pertaining to small details such as "movement" and "ammo". Beginning to think that I will try to flesh out one of the "missions" using the random tables to generate encounters, weather and terrain, but do it ahead of time. I just need to find a few rudimentary maps. Then, I could maybe post the maps or share them here, so that people could mark their positions and either post them in the thread or send them to me to post. Just an idea.
 

Doc Sammy

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I'm all in favor of a RECON PbP.

Are we going to play Army grunts? Marines? LRRP? Rangers? SEAL's?

Personally, I'd love to play a US Army-centered game, either as grunts or as Special Forces and Rangers, as a lot of the men in my family served in the Army, including my uncle, my Dad, and both of my great-grandfathers.

Marines could be cool too.
 

Gringnr

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There are 4 or 5 types of teams in the game, so Army works if no one has any objections. Someone can always play an "indig", which can help with interrogation, surveillance, etc. According to the book, some teams only had 2 American "advisors", and the rest were Vietnamese.
 

Gringnr

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Made a video overview of some Recon 1e stuff. It's too long, it's poorly done, and I say "um" and "ah" a lot. Not gonna let my wife see it, because she used to be a radio personality and it'd probably give her a heart attack. I was tired when I did it, and it shows. I may try to do it again, or I may just say fuck it, upload it and post a link, in case you're feeling drunk or insane or something and wanna watch it. It's 42 minutes long, oh, and I forgot to talk about the gloriously wonky rules for artillery strikes.
 

Nobby-W

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There's a big blurb about it in one of the Recon books. After reading that, I went out and dug a foxhole just for the hell of it.
 

Nobby-W

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Found it ...

Defensive Warfare
Personal accounts of experiences in Vietnam are often centered around digging. Nearly every U.S. soldier spent a huge portion of their time in 'Nam digging up the countryside. It's also true for the Vietnamese -how do you think they got those incredible tunnels?

The new guys found it all pretty pointless ... until their first mortar attack. Then, after taking a look at a few bodies, they didn't need much persuading. Mostly they were digging their own shelters and bunkers. And they had plenty of enthusiasm for the job since, every so often, a few guys would get killed during a midnight mortar attack -mostly the guys who didn't do quite enough digging. You dug in everywhere. Stationed on a remote base for a month or two? Dig bunkers and shelters. Setting up a watch station? Dig a trench. Pinned down by enemy fIre? Don't bother moving around, just start digging down. At the very least it'll keep your mind off the bullets whizzing by. For a more detailed discussion, let's listen in on William "Red" Dukowski, now a sergeant, as he explains things to some new recruits. Late the previous night they set up an ambush site along a jungle trail. The expected VC bicycle convoy never showed up, and this morning Red received word that they should wait another day or two. He's just announced to the men that they have to start digging into position.

Group: "Why Do We Gotta Dig?" is the question from all the new recruits.

Red: "Well, mostly it's a question of physics. When something explodes, whether it's a rocket, artillery shell, grenade, mortar or land mine, it throws out fragments. These fragments, otherwise known as shrapnel, will kill at least half of you guys that are planning on dying."

Slim: "But we've already got good cover. Why should we do any digging?"

Red: "Yeah, one way to avoid getting killed by shrapnel is to hide behind something that'll stop the fragments. Unfortunately, with the advances in modem munitions, there's not much that will stop a high-powered piece of shrapnel. For example, fragments can penetrate the walls of armored vehicles, concrete blocks, and even thick, earthen walls. The bushes and trees we' ve got out here are completely worthless. So hiding behind stuff isn't usually the best defense against shrapnel.

"Take the bunch of us in position on that hill. Sure, we'll all be invisible in the vegetation. However, suppose the commies decide to drop a mortar round on top of us? Those fragments can't see us, but they'll just rip right through anything in their path ... trees, bushes, and your tender, young bodies.

"The best way to avoid shrapnel is to go below ground. It works like this; since shrapnel is thrown outward from the blast, and since most explosions take place on the ground, the pieces tend to move across the ground. So, sitting in a hole, you tend to see and hear a lot of shrapnel whizzing overhead.

"Of course, a lot of the fragments arc up in the air and come down again. The advantage is that they almost never come straight down, they always come down at an angle. So the deeper you are in the hole, and the narrower the hole opening, the less chance there is that the frag will reach you."

Chuckles: "So what kind of hole should we dig?"

Red: "Well, we don't wanna' make the hole too big .. .'

Slim: "Yeah, too much dirty work!"

Red: "Naw, it's more a matter of keeping the enemy fIre out of the hole. The smaller the opening, the less likely it is that somethin's gonna come inside and getcha'.

"And you don't want to dig down too deep because you've got to fIre out of the hole. The perfect hole should be right up to your armpits so you can easily aim your weapon. That also makes it deep enough so that you can duck down inside when you hear the 'Incoming!' calL"

Slim: "So we each dig a hole?"

Red: "Well, one of you guys should team up with the machinegunner. That way he's got somebody to help feed ammo and generally back him up if he gets knocked out. So that's a two-man hole. On flat land or in the woods, they'd all be two-man holes so you could support each other. Since we're setting up an ambush on this hill we want to be spread out to cover more targets, so most of the holes will be for one man."

Later that day ...

Slim: "It's armpit deep, are we done now?"

Red: "No, now that you've got the hole itself fInished it's time to make a few improvements. "

Chuckles: "Yeah Sarge, can I get a Picasso in my hole?"

Red: "Well, these are more practical improvements. Ways of making your position more effective against the enemy."

Slim: "It's a hole Red, how are we gonna make a hole effective?"

Red: "Okay, for starters you've got to make it easy to fire your weapon. Since the hole is as deep as your armpits it's difficult to lean over and aim your weapon 'cause your arms bang into the ground. So what you want to do is dig some nice small holes for your elbows."

Chuckles: "Hey, elbow holes; I like that! So we dig two elbow holes so that we can lean over and fire in comfort?"

Red: "Not just two holes! You've got to put in elbow holes for each firing position that you're going to cover. "The next step is to make some weapon supports. Basically, these are mounds of dirt you'll use for your rifle barrels. This will give you a little bit more protection and also brace the weapon for firing. "

Slim: "Is that it?"

Red: "One more thing. I'm going to teach you how to shoot in the dark."

Chuckles: "Don't we already know how to do that?"

Red: "Not if you really want to hit something. Slim, get some sticks, about a foot and a half long. Here's how it works, Chuckles get down in your hole."

Chuckles: "Okay."

Red: "Now aim at the farthest point on the trail to your left. Okay, now Slim, you put a stick in the ground just left next of Chuckles' rifle barrel. Yeah, push it in so it's solid ...

"Chuckles, now I want you to aim at the farthest point on the trail to your right. Slim, you push in another stick on the right side of the barrel this time. "

Okay Chuckles. Close your eyes."

Chuckles: "What? Oh, okay."

Red: "Now pretend that you've got to shoot at the trail."

Chuckles: "Hey! That's neat; I can swing the gun back and forth, and I still know I'm pointing at the right area!"

Red: "You got it! Now these are called aiming stakes or firing stakes. Use as many sticks as you need. For example, you don't want to shoot that big tree right in the middle of your fIeld of fire, so block it off with aiming stakes. For elevation you use a forked stick or a mound, so your gun is at the right level.

"The beauty of this thing is that you'll be able to shoot accurately even if you can't see a damn thing out there."

Once again, the VC have failed to show up. The next morning Red is getting everybody ready to work again.

Red: "Okay kiddies! It's time to start digging again!" Chuckles: "Groan! Why? Yesterday you said that the holes were no good if they were too big."

Red: "That's true. Your holes are just right for you. Now you've got to start making room for an occasional visitor."

Slim: "Sarge, this hole is so small I gotta step outside to change my mind. How the hell am I gonna' fit anybody else in here with me?"

Red: "The particular visitors I'm talking about are grenades. What happens when Mr. Charles drops a grenade into your hole?"

Slim: "Hmmmm ... I pick it up and throw it out?"

Red: "Sure, just reach down there in the dark and grope around for a live grenade. Remind me to send a note to your mother telling her what a brave soldier you were! Anybody else got any bright ideas?"

Chuckles: "How about jumping out of the hole?" Red: "Well, assuming that you were fast enough to get out before the grenade goes off, that might work. However, since some VC put the bomb in there in the first place, it's a safe bet that he's gonna' be aiming in your general direction."

Slim: "So if we can't throw the grenade out, and we can't jump outta' the hole, what's left?"

Red: "What you wanna do is dig another hole for the grenades. The holes are called sumps and the idea is to kick the grenade down deep enough so that it can explode without killing you. In a one-man hole it should be along one side wall, and in a two-man hole you need two, one on each end."

Chuckles: "How big a hole we talking about, Sarge?"

Red: "First off, the top of the sump has gotta be as long as the side wall of your hole. That's so you can't miss when you kick it. Second, you want it pretty narrow, so the blast is contained, but wide enough so the grenade will get in easy. Then you want to dig it as deep as you can get it. Usually a sump is about as wide as the blade of your entrenching tool and about as deep as you can dig without making the hole any wider."

Slim: "Sounds like a good idea. Let's do it!"

Red: "Wait a minute. One more thing you want to take care of while you're digging. You want to put a slope into the floor of your hole. "

Slim: "What kind of slope?" Red: "A slope that'll make that grenade roll right into the sump hole. It'll also be useful for water drainage. Later that day. Red has just finished talking to his commander on the radio.

Chuckles: "So what's happening?" Red: "We'll be squatting here for a couple more days at least."

Slim: "Well, at least we got our holes finished."

Red: "Wrongo! Time to get to work again."

Slim: "What! More digging?"

Red: "Naw! Today we're going to build stuff. Namely, we're going to make some overhead cover. That'll protect us from overhead fragments."

Chuckles: "You mean we're going to put roofs on our holes?"

Red: "Exactly! For starters we're going to gather roofing material. That means that we need logs. So some of you guys are going to form a work party to cut trees and collect fallen logs. We need big logs, from 4 to 6 inches in diameter.

Slim: "And the rest of us?"

Red: "At least half of you guys are going to watch the work party, just to hold their guns and make sure they don't get ambushed. We'll start really working when everybody gets back."

Chuckles: "What are we gonna' do with the logs when we got 'em?"

Red: "Well, depending on where you are on the hill, you'll either build a roof on the side or the back of your hole. The two-man hole will have a roof right in the middle. You'll dig in a little ways, plant the logs sideways, cover 'em with a tarp, then with dirt, and finally, camouflage 'em."

Slim: "Hey Red! I got a question. How much work are we going to keep doing on these holes?"

Red: "Why Slim, you're just getting started. We can still dig storage compartments for ammo and gear, and we can brace up the whole works with more logs."

Slim: "All that?"

Red: "That's just the start. The next step is to start connecting all the holes together. That means digging trenches between the holes. Why, in the next couple of weeks, we can tum this hill into a regular World War I bunker!"

Slim: "You've got to be kidding!"

Red: "Hey, it's no joking matter. The more holes, trenches, and cover we got on this hillside, the better off we are. The deeper they are, the safer we'll be. Think about it. We can move from position to position, helping our buddies or moving to different firing points, all without getting our tender bodies shot up. In fact, there's only one time when we can stop digging."

Slim: "When'?"

Red: "You can bet that the day we got this hill finished, they'll pull us out and put us on some other friggin' hill. And then we can start digging all over again."
 

Gringnr

Chief of the Boat Feels
Joined
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So, I am currently playing in two games on this forum: Duma's Boot Hill, and Toric's Golden Heroes. When one of these is concluded, I will run Recon. Looking for around 4-6 players.
 
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