Game: Raid On Ashkashem
Publisher: Sword’s Edge Publishing
Series: d20 Modern
Review Dated: 10th, December 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
I suppose you could say that Raid on Ashkashem is the d20 Modern version equivalent of a dungeon crawl. The objective here is to go in, get the baddies, get the goodies and get out.
On the other hand the Raid on Ashkashem is very different from a dungeon crawl. This is a believable scenario. Okay; it’s not a very original scenario and the big picture might require some suspension of disbelief but the nuts and bolts strive for accuracy.
Sword’s Edge Publishing have put together a military game set in the fictional country of Albenistan in the near East. Raid of Ashkashem leans heavily on the d20 modern gurus RPGObjects. You do need D20 Modern for Raid of Ashkashem, as you’d expect, but so is Blood and Guts: Modern Military and Blood and Guts: In Her Majesty’s Service from RPGObjects.
At the time of writing this review (December 2004) this would put your RPGObjects collection ahead than your Sword’s Edge Publishing collection as Raid on Ashkashem is their only product. We’re told that Raid on Ashkashmen is the first in the Spec Op series set in Albenistan.
This pre-written adventure is designed for about four players with characters between 9th and 11th level. That’s quite high. That’s also the spoiler warning so if you suspect you’re more likely to be a player in the game than the GM then stop reading now.
This isn’t a particularly original modern day action scenario as our players are Special Forces getting parachuted in to deal with a nasty drugs lord. As it turns out the drugs lord is armed to the teeth.
There are some small twists though. By default the team is British Special Forces and the default descriptions include equipment suitable for British forces. If you’d rather play American agents then we’re told what to substitute for what. Out go helicopters used by the Royal Air Force and income helicopters used by the American Air Force. This sort of attention to detail is important for many d20 modern players. The actual military is chock full of gamers and many gamers wish they were military experts and have quite an impressive amateur knowledge. Suspension of disbelief is harder when the players are so well informed so it’s more important to be right. The attraction for some players in this sort of game is to get the details right.
I called this d20 Modern version equivalent of a dungeon crawl but that doesn’t mean it’s an enclosed series of tunnels. Our Special Forces PCs are free to approach the camp in any way they see fit and they’re then free to move from building to building in anyway they see fit. The map strongly suggests a certain route but I imagine most groups will get tactical and consider it carefully.
Ah yes, the map. We’ve actual aerial photographs marked up with various objectives. This is another attempt to get that realism. I’ve seen this work and seen this fail badly. I’m not sure what the pit traps are but Sword’s Edge Publishing manage to make it work for Raid on Ashkashem.
As the characters approach the camp after their exciting HAHO jump they’ll have to deal with booby traps like mines and flares. Just two examples of non-combat skills coming into play.
As the characters move around the base and explore they’ll (might) find odds and ends which are entirely disposable unless, that is, Raid on Ashkashem is being used as the first part in the Spec Op series (once/if it’s written). The plot arch of the series sees a threat against the Government of Albenistan.
There are no mooks in this adventure. Every combat is potentially deadly. The use of guns and high powered weapons only intensifies the risk. Not every encounter in the camp is a combat one though. The characters will, all going well, discover a greater arsenal than first suspected. A blob on the reckon pictures turns out to be a TELAR surface to air missile. The mechanic assigned to it does not have the same beliefs as the drug smuggling terrorists. He’s just here to look after the TELAR and can be talked to. I’m always up for twist like this.
The adventure and into takes up only 31 pages of the 52-paged PDF (for US $5) and the remaining 20 or so pages is given over to appendices and a new prestige class. The appendices have information on Albenistan and a rather nice summary of the NPCs with certain key reactions for each one.
The prestige class – and let’s side not dig up the advanced class versus prestige class debate – is the Counter-Terrorism Assaulter and brings with it the Assault talent tree. Funny this, this would be a nice new prestige class for d20 modern but it’s fairly redundant if you’ve already got the RPGObjects Blood and Guts set.
Raid on Ashkashmen is one of those adventures which is hard to get excited about but also hard to fault. It’s professionally enough done but does show some newbie publisher tinges – the lack of bookmarks for example. Illustrations aren’t impressive but that doesn’t detract from the adventure. It’s a simple plot but doesn’t succumb to a Tora Bora style tunnel crawl. Rather nicely there’s a fairly substantial demo to peak at.