Cleric Down Below: A Guest Post by Coffeelove

Well Coffeelove has dome my work for me again, writing up an example of what he thinks a cleric would look like Down Below. This is based on his post, so head over there and have a look around.

It was a beautiful day. Traffic in and out of the building was normal, with little children begging the soldiers at the front gate for candy and money. They never needed the money that they asked for, but they could con just about anybody out of five bucks if they really wanted to. Around two in the afternoon the children and the visitors left, just like they do everyday for the mid-afternoon meals and naps. Unlike any other day though, they did not return as dusk.

This alone should have warned all of us that something was wrong, since the children normally terrorize the front gate until just before nine at night, which was the curfew we had imposed on the town. Instead of thinking something was wrong though, we were grateful that the children had been kept home. We had lost one guy for the day due to illness, so just after nightfall my shift on the M60 machine-gun nest came up. After a long, uneventful, and much too quiet a shift, my replacement showed up on time. It was nearing midnight and I was tired, so off came my body armor and helmet so that I could lay down and get some sleep on the third floor.

A thunderous crack, a flash of orange and blue light awaken me from too little sleep. The effects of such a concussion so close make everything foggy and incoherent, more so than normal from waking up. Screams, where are those coming from? Two more explosions, one after another bring me to my senses. At once everything snaps into focus, the screams are my fellow soldiers crying out for my help! I roll to the side of the door I was sleeping near to look outwards to see where they are. One of the team leaders has been it with a fragmentation from the second set of blasts. Rushing, I high-crawl to him. He’s been hit in the face with a chunk of concrete, no other wounds. Fighting with him all the way, I drag him to the interior of the third floor and rip open my Aid-Bag. Practically sitting on him with my back to the enemy, I bandage his face with a field dressing. I turn away for a second to grab some tape, and he’s gone back to the rooftop to destroy whoever did this to him.

More screams echo up to me from the lower floors, I can barely hear them over the M60 barking it’s threats of death to whatever is stupid enough to come within range. Moving as swiftly as possible, I put on my armor and take to the stairs with my bag in hand and pistol on my hip. I know that there are forty steps between the third and first floor, but my feet find only two between landings during my decent.

Another team leader, shrapnel wounds peppering his body like a ground chuck steak. Bandages loosely wrapped on the worst ones, scissors become a second set of fingers as I cut these blood-soaked wrappings loose to apply compression dressings. Through the dust clouds from the most recent explosion I see a… female?!? She’s pointing to under the stairs I just flew down, another wounded soldier, small but bloody shrapnel wounds cover his legs. Again, more dressings that need to be replaced, and again more explosions outside the building bring new screams of ‘MEDIC’ to my ears.

As I regroup my equipment for the mad dash outside, I also prepare myself for the worst I could imagine. They don’t teach you how to conjure up bravery in Combat Medic School, but stupidity is something that they harp on to no end throughout the course. My next actions would be considered stupid by most, if not all the instructors I had. But what was I supposed to do?

On the near side of the barriers close the road, there is a soldier on his back on the ground. Continually dodging left and right on my rush to him, I can see that the other soldiers near him have treated his many wounds with  their personal first-aid kits. While arguing with a casualty is the last thing any medic is willing to do, this guy just won’t listen to common sense and let me move him inside the building where it’s safer. I drop a chem-light near enough to him that whenever the evacuation team arrives, they won’t miss him; and hopefully the hail of bullets and RPG’s will keep him from retrieving the chem-light and throwing it somewhere else.

Everything drops to absolute silence. Am I dead? No, the enemy has started to run away; and the evacuation team is en route to our location with plenty of backup to wipe out whatever is left. The joy of seeing our M113 ambulance is uncontrollable. I rush to the third floor to get the first casualty and escort him to the transport. when we return to the first floor, my squad leader has the unharmed soldiers moving the wounded to the vehicle and is giving one of the wounded some morphine. We load up the last of the casualties and my squad leader leaves with them, ensuring they will survive to the Battalion Aid Station.

Those of us that are left, gather together on the first floor to reassure each other through hearty handshakes and boisterous jokes about the enemy we faced together.

Except on those few days when those that were wounded came back to fight along side us, and in a few cases gave their lives for us, we never spoke to each other about that night.

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Combat Medics: A guest post by Coffeelove

Well I’ve been talking to Coffelove about combat medics as modern day clerics and he has used his experience as one in the US Military to write me up a full PHB style description of them.

Here you go:

1.1 General Description

As a Combat Medic you are first trained to kill and move just like the Infantry does, but on a slightly lesser scale. Only after you pass those tests, are you allowed to train as a Combat Medic. A good portion of people that start out wanting to be a Combat Medic, really have no idea that they have to learn how to kill before they can learn how to heal. This forces quite a few to quit before they even start.

The CM’s survivability rating as shown by history is nearly 100% during peacetime. Unfortunately, the rating drops horrendously to nearly 50% as soon as a conflict begins. This is due to the fact that, unlike every other military position, the CM must put his life on the line in order to perform his duties. Just to be clear, no other position requires a soldier to run into a firefight let alone pick up, move and/or treat a casualty.

Recent changes in Training Doctrine have moved away from the attitude that the CM must perform like this anymore, and are instead teaching that the CM should wait until the area is secure before attempting to get to the wounded. Quite frankly, if a CM were to try this in an Infantry unit, he would soon become either a casualty himself or find himself transfered to another unit.

1.2 Skills

As a CM, you learn how to perform Triage, Fracture Stabilization, Wound Bandaging, CPR, Fluid Resuscitation, and Advanced Airway Management. The CM learns all this in a 12 week course, where if they fail even 1 test 3 times, they are kicked out of the course and to another job; most likely to Infantry where they will spend another 8 weeks learning how to keep CM’s from being able to do their job.

1.2.1 Triage

This is a large portion of the training and is likely the most important skill. During Triage training, the CM learns how to classify casualties so that they can treat the most critically injured first, and attempt to ignore the dead. Ignoring the dead is a skill learned on the battlefield, and only after the ‘God Complex’ wears off.

1.2.2 Fracture Stabilization

Good to know, but rarely used. Here the CM learns how to properly apply a splint to a broken bone in order to keep it from causing further damage to the casualty.

1.2.3 Wound Bandaging

Definitely a NEED TO KNOW. As often as cuts, gunshot wounds and falls cause damage to your fellows, this skill is the most widely applicable and used of any that the CM will learn. Bandaging covers anything from minor cuts to compound fractures and disembowelment. Reminder: without blood, the casualty will die.

1.2.4 CPR

Great to know, but again, it is a rarely used skill. Here the CM learns how to perform Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. It is the skill set that often causes the ‘God Complex’, and Suicidal Tendencies of most Veteran CM’s. The ‘God Complex’ is often the result of a CM never having a casualty die while they were working on them. And the Suicidal Tendencies come from just the reverse, not being able to save a casualty. Often, just one failure can bring about this mental disorder. The CM may be ‘off his game’ for anywhere from a day to multiple years following the loss of even 1 casualty.

1.2.5 Fluid Resuscitation

A valuable skill, as this allows you to keep your fellows alive longer though possibly unconscious. Here the CM learns how to replace lost body fluid (blood) with either Saline Solution or another viable fluid through the use of intravenous administration (sticking a needle in a vein and then pumping fluid in).

1.2.6 Advanced Airway Management

Another rarely used skill that is vital to the CM’s training regimen. In this section of the course, the CM learns everything from inserting an oral/nasal airway to decompression of a collapsed lung using tools that are available. As with Wound Bandaging, Airway Management is vital to the survival of all casualties. Reminder: without air, the casualty will die.

1.3 Weapons

The CM is proficient with the use of both Pistols and semi-automatic rifles, as these are both taught during the killing portion of their training. The standard issue weapons that a CM may carry, vary depending on the type of organization he is assigned to.

If the CM is with Infantry, he will most likely have either a 9mm pistol or 5.56mm assault rifle. Rarely, a CM with an Infantry unit will have both weapons. If the CM is with any other type of unit, he will more than likely have the assault rifle as primary if not only weapon.

Other weapons that a CM may learn throughout the course of his career include but are not limited to:

• Grenades

• 7.62mm Machine Gun

• .50 caliber rifle

• .50 caliber machine gun

• 40mm Under-barrel Grenade Launcher

• 40mm Mounted Automatic Grenade Launcher

• Shoulder fired anti-tank missile

These weapons are normally learned by all CM’s after being assigned to an Infantry unit, but can be learned at any time throughout his career. Other, more advanced and devastating weapons (such as the Javalin or TOW missiles, or Fighting Vehicles) may be learned as well, but are not easy to master, let alone get into the training classes as a CM.

1.3.0.1 Notes:

Hand-held weapons that a CM may be proficient in, are learned at his own leisure and preference. The CM is rarely expected to be in close quarters hand to hand combat, and as such is only taught the basics of grappling. Therefore, becoming proficient in any weapons that are not standardized may take the CM longer than learning anything else.

1.4 Armor

All CM’s are trained and proficient in the use and operation of standardized body armor that all military professionals wear during combat operations.

1.4.1 Examples

• Tactical Ballistic Helmet

• Tactical Ballistic Vest

• Elbow & Knee Pads

1.4.2 Notes

A Veteran CM will more than likely eschew all joint coverings except for one knee. Reasoning behind this is the elbow pads limit mobility too much and don’t provide enough armor to qualify as needed. While the same goes for the knee pads, one is usually kept on for those times when dropping to one knee is needed in order to perform his duties.

1.5 Belief

A large portion of CM’s have some small bit of belief that there is a ‘Greater Power’ and this belief allows them to go on with life and recover from those ‘bad days’ that could cause Suicidal Tendencies. It also keeps them humble and away from that ‘God Complex’. A smaller portion of CM’s are either stuck in the ‘God Complex’ or Suicidal Tendencies mode, because of not being able to see either their own failures or successes. A much, much smaller portion of CM’s, have a separate form of belief that often is only found in veterans of multiple conflicts, called Absolute Belief.

1.5.1 Absolute Belief

A Veteran CM with Absolute Belief, can at times, appear to have supernatural powers such as:

• seeming to be everywhere at once, treating multiple casualties at the same time

• run through a hell-storm of a firefight and not get hit

• lift/move an obscenely large/heavy object/person with no sign of struggle

• being next to an explosion and not even get dusty, let alone injured

• releasing a cry so terrifying, that the enemy runs away

• causing fellow soldiers in an area to be unaffected by incoming fire

1.5.2 Filling the Roles

In some cases, such as when a fellow soldier dies during a conflict, the CM may be required to fill the role of Chaplain. In these special circumstances, the other soldiers are looking to the CM as their spiritual guide, and he needs to be able to hide his true emotions about the loss in order to create a moment of peace for the recently deceased.

During these events, a CM may also appear to gain supernatural powers:

• Causing a wave of silence to encompass the entire group

• Appearing cleaner than his fellows, even after being through the same conflict

• Causing a brighter/darker area to encompass the groups’ surroundings

In other times, such as when the CM has to put down a soldier from his team for an extended period for recovery. The CM may be required to fill the role that the now disabled soldier filled. As the role that the CM is filling can change on a daily basis, he needs to be able to fully operate and maintain any and all weapons/vehicles that his unit maintains.

1.5.3 Notes:

Without Belief, a CM can not be a fully integral part of any field unit. If the CM is a declared Atheist, most if not all of the soldiers in his assigned unit will more than likely not trust him, even with simple medical tasks. If the CM is an Atheist, but successfully convinces the soldiers that he does have belief in some greater power, the CM may as well have Absolute Belief. The trust and belief in him, from his fellow soldiers, can cause the same effects as described above.

1.6 Vehicles

The CM’s vehicles are rarely consistent from unit to unit, and as such, he needs to be able to identify, operate, maintain, and convert any vehicles assigned to his unit. Below ,in the Standard listing, are the most common vehicles that a CM should be able to function with. The vehicles in other lists are dependent on the type of unit the CM is assigned to, but are not limited to only those listings. For any type of unit, you can safely add the Standard Vehicles listing to that units vehicle roster.

1.6.1 Standard Vehicles

• Ambulance

• HumVee

• 2.5 Ton Cargo Truck

• 5 Ton Cargo Truck

1.6.2 Mechanized Infantry

• Armored Personnel Carrier

• Bradley Fighting Vehicle

1.6.3 Field Artillery

• Tracked Ammunitions Transport

• Tracked Artillery (Paladin)

• Tank (Abrams)

1.6.4 Support Unit (Medical, Police, etc)

• Tracked Ambulance (4/6 Litter Capacity)

• Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (Stryker)

• Recovery Vehicle (M88)

1.6.5 Notes:

All vehicles that do not have enough room for at least a driver, the CM, and a minimum of 2 casualties, were left off of these lists for their lack of usability by the CM for casualty transport.

Who are you? Part I: Classes Down Below

Continuing on with my Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling setting: Who are you?

I am not quite happy with this post, it feels bland to me, but I have spent so much time fiddling with it I just want it up so I can move on.

The first group of players would all be human obviously, however as the players meet other groups and form alliances new race options would open up. This would be a good way to add material to the campaign without the problem of new races suddenly appearing and everyone pretending they where there all along. Lessons learned from returned scrolls or mentors met could open up new classes or feats.

So how do the different classes fit into this setting?

Barbarians: I can’t see the military using berserkers, however allies made in the dungeons would fit into this very well. So to access the class the players have to ally with a barbarian tribe.

Bard: Again, I can’t see the military sending in these right off, however music has been used to inspire soldiers since the time of the ancient Greeks, so I could see them jumping on this once introduced to it. Again, something that the players will have to ‘unlock’. Now once they are introduced I could see some cool modern takes on them with military pipers and such. Heck, how awesome would it be for a bard to be screaming out AC/DC to inspire the troops?

A  cleric hauling a wounded solider off the battlefield, his reflection  showing wings

I see a cleric

Clerics: While the obvious route would be to make them the military Chaplains that brings real world religion into it,and what to do about different religions, and does a Baptist get different domains then a Catholic, and what about Islam, Judaism and the thousand other religions?
I remembered this poster  that just screams cleric to me. So I talked to a former US military cleric & gamer and he supported the idea  He is giving them the full PHB style write-up so I’m not going into it heavily here.
Essentially when a medic truly believes he or she is doing the right thing they can tape into the odd reality of The Below and gains the powers of the cleric.

Druid: I could see Druids, Bards and Barbarians coming from the same tribe. For the modern take I see hippies or environmentalists along those lines.

Fighter are the easiest. These are soldiers plain and simple. They use weapons to hurt things. If there are guns then they may use them or melee weapons. Which actually makes sense in twisting passages from what I have heard -Especially some of the really tight corridors popular in older dungeons, though probably less so in the wider corridors of 3rd edition and the massive rooms of 4th. Now I’m not a military or gun enthusiast so if someone wants to provide me with some information on this I’d be grateful. I’ve heard from some people that guns are better in pretty much all situations if properly used, citing SWAT as an example, whereas I’ve heard from others the opposite: I think it is a half-decent explanation, especially when you consider that we’ve established that firearms are less powerful Down Below.
Now in 4e fighters have a specific role as melee characters that tie up opponents and protect them from getting to the squishies. This works very well with the idea that the soldiers are guarding scientists.

Monks: I don’t like Monks, and I have no idea why someone would pick martial arts over weapons when fighting a dragon.

Paladin: When a solider truly believes they are doing the right thing to save the world by going Down Below they gain the powers of the Paladin.

Ranger: Doesn’t this just scream Special Forces? I remember reading about those military guys who train to live off the wild, track anything, etc.
In 4e Rangers gain the ability to do ridiculous amounts of damage with a bow. This could be very easily substituted for a firearm since 4e weapons don’t pay attention to realistic amounts of damage anyway.

Rogue: This brings to mind groups like the SAS who focus on stealth and infiltration. Pretty easy to add in.

Sorcerers on the other hand don’t need these items, they just have learned how to reach out and grasp the energies.

Wizards: I see these as scientists who have learned to manipulate the energies of The Below through the use of various instruments and technology. Instead of silly material components they use various machines & instruments.

Warlords: This is your stereotypical warmovie ‘Sarge’ leading the troops by example, inspiring them to greater effort.

Warlocks: Down below is hard to survive, and some are willing to risk there souls to survive it. Sometimes you meet powerful creatures, or find old books, and the temptation of gaining more powerful abilities that will help you and your friends survive can be to great to resist. Once the rituals are learned they are passed from solider to solider. This development greatly worries command however Warlocks are currently considered too useful to lock up.

Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling in the Modern Day

I’ve always wanted to run or play in an exploration based game. You know one where the players keep maps on graph paper and the only reason they go into the next room is to see what is there, to kill what is there and take any stuff that is there. Now I suspect I’d get bored with this as I’ve played hack & slash games before & get bored of combat very quickly, but the obsessive part of me likes the idea of keeping really detailed maps & tracking loot and whatnot. This would be the same part of me that made me collect CCG cards just so I could sit around and organize them. (For those that don’t know I have Asperger’s syndrome and I suspect this kind of behaviour is a part of it. I haven’t done anything like this in a long time though, I do kind of miss it).

This recently returned to me while reading ‘Voices from Below and the Long Stairs’ on RPG.net. In it the US opens a big hole into another dimension with a nuke, and the military has been exploring it since the 60s. Now it has evolved into a full setting, some of which I like, other parts I don’t, but really the part that is sticking with me is modern day people going into a D&D dungeon.

So a giant fantasy dungeon, filled with monsters, treasure and deathtraps. I have some ideas on how I will give access to this, but let us think about this for a moment. In The Long Stairs the dungeon moves around to prevent the military from being able to occupy it, or do room to room clearing. Well that goes against the idea of the party mapping out the dungeon, so it goes. I like the old Greyhawk idea of gunpowder not working. It explains why we simply don’t flood the dungeon with soldiers nicely as well.  How many people can you get -subtly- that are trained with archaic weapons?

This allows it to be run with any fantasy RPG straight off. On the other hand the idea of soldiers using a mix of assault weapons and swords would be cool. If you are using a generic of SF system then it is pretty easy. Another idea is that gunpowder works, just not very well: The reduced explosive power of the ammunition means it only works as well as a bow, and you just use bow stats. This would work very well in 4e I think with Rangers and such. It also keeps gun nuts from annoying you with range, stopping power and whatnot.

I very much like the tales of D&D monsters fighting with player characters. I think the descriptions of that, when done true to D&D where quite interesting.

Lets have a look at the type of scene I want: A squad of JTF2 soldiers walking through a large cavern, protecting some nervous looking academics. Suddenly  Xorn rising up from the floor, biting a soldiers leg off at the knee, its arms yanking ammunition belts and other metallic objects off his body. The soldiers spread out opening fire as the scientists fall back. One of the scientists adjusts some equipment and fires a sickly green beam at the creature, causing it to screech in pain. It grabs the fallen mans rifle and sinks underground. The party medic rushes over, and speaks to the fallen man of brotherhood and unity, and slowly the blood stops flowing and his screams subside. The medic helps the man to his foot, and group hobbles back the way they came.

So: What do you think? Would you like to play a game like that? What parts do you like? What parts do you hate? How could I do it better?

I’ve just noticed I post about modern games a lot. Odd considering that right now I’m running a D&D game in my setting, a Call of Cthuhlu game and playing in an online Serenity game. None of which are modern games, though I have considered moving the CoC game to the modern era.

Anyway, until next time, Stay Geeky.

–Canageek