Game: Blood and Guts: In Her Majesty’s Service
Series: d20 Modern
Review Dated: 11th, July 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
The Blood and Guts line is respected d20 Modern series from RPGObjects. In Her Majesty’s Service is a supplement of Prestige Classes for prestigious British units – the SAS, Pathfinders and Special Projects. There’s a group of elite units with minor mechanic modifications too and then about ten pages of equipment.
Fraser Ronald, the author, isn’t British and he’s not in the military. I know this because he says so – but we’re reassured of his commitment to accuracy and accuracy with the caveat of playability. Someone might niggle about the stats for specific weapons and Fraser is content to deal with that. I am British and have family members in the military – but I couldn’t care less about the stats for specific weapons. What I care about is the feel, the flavour and the atmosphere. Do these units feel British to me? Well… kinda, not hugely so but perhaps a little. More importantly, to the British reader, I never felt as if any unit was described along the lines of; “like the American equivalent but not so good…”. We do have six pages of history at the start of the 41-paged PDF. Here we simply run down major conflicts since World War II. We don’t get into the politics – which would have been a horror for Northern Ireland – but simply look at the role famous units, squads, teams and names played. It helps reinforce what the British Secret Service does and what British army does.
The British military style, I think, suits your typical roleplaying adventure well. The British army isn’t huge, the concentration isn’t on the biggest and best range of weapons but it is on producing specialised and highly trained units.
I imagine the attraction of involving British units in any d20 Modern game might spawn from James Bond. The thing is that 007 isn’t actually in the military, he’s in the Secret Service. Fortunately “In Her Majesty’s Service”, as the name implies, covers this too. If you wish to play an agent of The Increment, as it’s known, then you can. Don’t get your hopes up for spy equipment in the last chapter though.
Here’s the run down of Prestige Classes; Brigade Patrol Troop, Fleet Protection Group, The Increment, M Squadron, Pathfinders, 22nd Regiment Special Air Service (that’s the SAS), Special Boat Service and the Special Project Team. These are all prestige classes to lust after if you’re playing a hardman. You’d also have to be playing a character from the British army as you don’t just visit the SAS for training.
There’s a similar sized list of “Elite Units”. Here we have units which can be tough to qualify for but which are not the full career path that the Prestige Class represents. The Elite Units simply give small perks here and there plus plenty of kudos. We’ve the 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, 7 Squadron Royal Air Force, 16 Air Assault Brigade, 29 Command Regiment Royal Artillery, 59 Command Squadron Royal Engineers, 148 (Meiktila) Commando Forward Observation Brigade Royal Marines, Brigade of the Gurkhas, Tactical Air Control Parties 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and the Y Troop 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. It’s nice to see the Gurkhas counting as an elite unit – because they are but have historically not been treated very well by the Ministry of Defence.
There’s a page to illustrate the British rank system and it covers the army, navy, air force and the Royal Marines.
There are plenty of new weapons and more exotic items to boot as well. Chapter 3: Military Equipment is divided into many sections. Standard weapons, man-portable weapons, indirect fire weapons, fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, surface ships, tracked vehicles, wheel vehicles and some new vehicle weapons. We’ve the famous Challenger tanks and Harriers and if, like me, you only enough to go looking for the SA-80 (an infamous assault rifle) then you’ll find it as the L85A2 Assault Rifle – as per it’s current military name.
In a sense there’s not much to review here. Although I know full well many gamers love to pour over stats, I think terms like “game balance” can only be applied to specific games. I think the mechanics are balanced, of course these classes focus on combat and martial skill but that’s exactly what they are supposed to do. Within these military and martial classes there’s a good range, we have observation specialists, espionage experts and engineers too. RPGObjects is an old veteran of PDF publishing and this product has bookmarks, suitable illustrations and a pleasant layout.
It’s quite simple. If you’re tempted to introduce British forces to a d20 Modern game then you should be tempted by Blood and Guts: In Her Majesty’s Service. If you’ve not inclination to go there with your d20 Modern campaign then aside from some more military equipment then there’s little reason to download this one. For the purposes of producing a numeric score, I always look at how well the PDF does what you want it to do and it this case it does well enough. Grade A.