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JerryB
Topic Author
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri 27 Nov 2020, 02:28

[ALPHA] The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 03:53

Hi all

It's great to see the alpha versions of the various books, but I must say that the section on the UK is still as problematic as it was in earlier editions in terms of accuracy. I know it's just an outline in a basic way, but it completely misses how the emergency/war infrastructure works and how it would shape any post-war environment. This in turn misses out on some opportunities to make the UK an interesting backdrop for games or campaigns in 4E.

The main issue is in two parts: (a) that absolutely no Members of Parliament (MPs) have survived the war, and (b) no local authority leaders have survived. In reality, both parties have a fairly high chance of survival, because they would've been sent to bunkers all over the country when it became apparent that the UK was going to be subject to a concerted nuclear attack. These bunkers are part of a nationwide system designed to manage the war situation as much as possible as it happens, and also to manage the post-war situation. Ministers, MPs or councillors leading these bunkers have full legal powers and are the UK government in every legal sense, but disseminated around the country. This in turn means that they have control over all police and military units in their area of responsibility, and in times of war/post-war have the power to declare martial law - they essentially have the power of life and death over any survivors. It's very unlikely that all of these bunkers would've been targetted by Russian missiles - there just too many of them. Some may have been lost because they were close to attack sites. Enough will have survived to start, in theory, rebuilding the country in the post-war situation. It's quite possible that they are in contact with each other via their own telecommunications network, at least on a local level and possibly with any surviving parts of central government command in their own bunkers. The whole idea behind this is that the country should still be able to function after a war, and then rebuilt. The Army and Home Guard mentioned in the 4E Player's Manual would be controlled by them. If you've ever seen the docu-drama 'Threads', this will give you some idea of how a bunker operates. Similarly, there is a documentary here https://youtu.be/milbW4RDIco?t=1613 that also shows one going through a war simulation. It also features a discussion with the bunker commander about what he would do should martial law come into force - scary stuff.

Because of this, Charles emerging from a bunker near Reading and declaring himself King Charles III is, as far as the UK is concerned in any legal form, completely meaningless. I could emerge from a shelter and declare myself King Jerry I. Someone could emerge from a crater and declare herself Queen Tracy the 56th. None of these claims have any legal basis, and they would not supersede the authority of any remaining government within the aforementioned bunker system. The royal family are assigned bunkers more as a kind of ceremonial courtesy rather than as some kind of legal or decision-making necessity in terms of running a post-war UK, as they have no actual powers in that respect. Aside from that, none of them have any training in such matters. If Charles or his armed followers decided to exercise any 'powers' outside the bunker, the local surviving MP or councillor would be completely within their rights to arrest them. Or put them up against any wall still standing and shoot them. That said, what might make for interesting play WRT this kind of theme is that Charles or whoever else surviving around him declares him king, and tries to set up a power base around Reading. This effectively makes Charles a warlord. The surviving parts of local/national government, who are actually legally the ones in charge, might have other ideas but they might need people with military training to assist their local forces. Or the players might throw their lot in with Charles and his group.

WRT the country in general, if the various bunkers can in fact managed to start organising in the post-war situation - and they are the most able to do so - it's possible that they would need people with special skills and/or equipment to help them. They would be trying to establish some semblance of order above ground in their demarcated areas of control. They also might need people to travel from one node in the system to another in order to establish physical links in terms of the infrastructure, move supplies or personnel. It's possible that they might also have access to aircraft. How dangerous the country actually is after a war is a bit of a moot point. It's more likely to be dangerous in terms of fallout and disease, but armed groups might only be a problem if there are enough deserters around and/or gangs who've somehow managed to access any surviving military facilities. Maybe some of these bunkers have gone rogue - always possible if the chain of command breaks down - and need 'fixing'. Or maybe one has suddenly gone off-line, which needs investigating.

I'd be very interested to know why the Soviets decided to invade the UK, especially after nuking it. I guess it would depend on what the numbers are in terms of their forces and any forces active to counter them. I see there's mention of a battle in Trafalgar Square, but - given the Square's proximity to several nuclear targets within central London - I don't know if the Square would be there any more ;) Anyway, apologies if this is probably surplus to requirements but I thought it might be useful in some way. Scotland and Northern Ireland are situations all in themselves so possibly up for further discussion.

Either way, I'm very glad that 4E is on it's way. I ran 1E from 1984 onwards and ran a game a few years ago and still really enjoy the setting and the rpg :)
 
aspqrz
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon 07 Sep 2020, 12:17
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 08:20

I generally agree. The whole background is far too nihilistic to be realistic ... 1e wasn't too bad, 2e/d10 and 2.2e/d20 were increasingly ridiculous once the USSR ... fell apart (but not because the USSR fell apart, mind, but because the events were simply ... unbelievable to the point of silliness to anyone with a basic understanding of European history) ... if the nations involved can keep the sorts of military forces that are posited in the field and in some degree of supply then they cannot have fallen apart in the way that the background posits. If they had, then their militaries would be a thing of the past as well ... there'd have been no 'Operation Reset' for a start.

Sure, their economies will have been badly damaged, see this bit from the "Office of Technology Assessment: Effects of a Nuclear War [1979]"

What is clear is that from the day the survivors emerged from their fallout shelters, a kind of race for survival would begin.

One side of the race would be the restoration of production -- the production of food, of energy, of clothing, of the means to repair damaged machinery, of goods that might be used for trade ... and even of military weapons and supplies.

The other side of the race would be the consumption of goods that had survived the attack, and the wearing out of the surviving machines.

If production rises to the rate of consumption before stocks are exhausted, then viability has been achieved and economic recovery has begun.

If not, then each postwar year would see a lower level of economic activity than the year before, and the future of civilisation itself in the nations attacked would be in doubt.

This report cannot predict whether the race for economic viability would be won. The answer would lie in the effectiveness of postwar social and economic organisation as much as in the amount of actual physical damage.

There is a controversy in the literature on the subject as to whether a post attack economy would be based on centralised planning (in which case how would the necessary data and planning time be obtained?), or to individual initiative and decentralised decision making (in which case who would feed the refugees, and what would serve as money and credit?


Well worth tracking down online and reading through!

Still, despite all its doom and gloom (and there's a lot) it doesn't really take into account all those countries which wouldn't be attacked ... while their economies were pathetic by pre-war standards, they usually had SOME industry ... and they'd be the economic powerhouses of the post-war world as a result, at least those which had something like a functioning government in the first place.

Phil McGregor
========
Author: Space Opera (FGU); Rigger Black Book #1 (FASA); Orbis Mundi 2, The Marketplace, Ithura & Porthaven, Fantasy Europe (PGD); Road to Armageddon & Supplements, Displaced, Audace ad Gloriam, Farm, Forge & Steam (PGD).
 
JerryB
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Posts: 24
Joined: Fri 27 Nov 2020, 02:28

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 10:39

To a certain extent the chain of supply would be in a very sorry state, and the means to create new supplies would be a bit limited. Stockpiles are also not factored in too much either, for any side involved. That said, as such things are both nuclear and conventional targets, how much would survive is a moot point. I don't really have a problem with the background generally in 1E, as it does reflect the general thinking of the time. Lots of things would not survive in terms of the infrastructure, or wouldn't last long after a protracted war simply because much of the economic system across the world, even in the Soviet Union, is not geared to operate in a sustained manner. Even in recent history, there have been a few occasions where this is demonstrated by reactions to widespread emergencies (the current one included). It would be even worse if the general system it's built upon stopped working, even for a time.

My general point really was that, as far as a picture of the UK is concerned, is generally inaccurate. I had the same issue with GDW's The Survivors Guide to the UK. In general tone it suggests that it wasn't written by someone actually from the UK. The UK would still be in a bad way post-WWIII as described by the rpg, but in different ways and could IMHO be a more interesting setting if rewritten.

Lastly, I forgot to mention that WRT the issue of 'King Charles III' and the assumption that the monarchy would assume control of the country, if this were to be the case why is the same not suggested for other countries with monarchies? Do they also take the reins of power in Sweden, for example? In Holland? In Denmark?
 
aspqrz
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon 07 Sep 2020, 12:17
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 11:58

I did some heavy research for my own Kickstarter of a modern military RPG and series of supplements and got some reasonably first hand (anecdotal) evidence for US stockpiles of ammo c. the 2000's and ... there's never nearly as much as most (all?) civilians assume ...

It's like the line from H Beam Piper's "Uller Uprising" where the commanding general of the Earth forces comments about how lower level commanders think that ammo and other supplies simply fall from heaven like manna!

As for the UK, I did some research for another campaign book positing some sort of displacement in time/dimensions/alternate history background and found information about UK food and other stockpiles for the 2000's which pointed out that the Cold War era stockpiles (which were large, but not nearly as large as they were supposed to have been ... and even if they had been as large as they were supposed to have been they wouldn't have been enough even for the likely much reduced post Bomb survivors). As for ammo of all sorts, I suspect, but couldn't find confirmation, that the held better stockpiles than most of NATO, but probably less than the FRG and US.

Then there was the general knowledge that the Dutch Army, to a great degree, held minimal stockpiles of Ammo (Small Arms and Artillery) and relied on begging NATO allies to top them up in case of actual war. I understand that the other, smaller, NATO allies (Denmark, Belgium, Norway at least, and probably Italy, Greece, and Turkey) while holding higher levels of warstocks were still not up to the levels they really should have been for a shooting war ... and, again, relied on the US to eventually bail them out.

Phil McGregor
 
Evildrsmith
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat 09 Nov 2019, 18:34

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 13:13

Yup.

Only had time for a quick glance but (being British) I did take a look at what they did to the UK, and my immediate thoughts were:

Why do the Soviets invade? (Other than to provide gaming opportunities, obviously). If the UK's effectively wrecked, that's a long way for the Soviets to go and a lot of resource for what? (And a battle of Trafalgar Square...with 'Home Guard?'...Oh dear... Cringe...).
Sticking Soviet troops in the UK is fine for gaming purposes, but needs a proper Soviet objective, which then defines where in the UK they are. It could be 1 port city is left intact, to forward base soviet submarines, or an attempt to seize part of the North Sea oil infrastructure / an intact refinery or something, but there needs to be a reason for such a significant effort.

Also, the IRA leading a purge .. apart from the fact that it should be PIRA, it was generally estimated to have only a few hundred active members, and was a terror gang, not an army that can stand and fight openly. If it tries to operate openly, it's facing the loyalist terror gangs plus the RUC and whatever element of the UDR remains in Ulster, and isn't going to get very far. Ireland probably needs escalating sectarian tensions/violence deliberately triggered by PIRA and the other gangs, and then Irish Army 'intervention', at the command of the Irish Taoiseach, or possibly in defiance of the Irish political leadership but by a rogue Irish military commander, to get a suitably 'T2k' environment.

And while the nationalist movements in Wales and Scotland don't seem too outlandish, I'm not convinced Cornish regional identity is that strongly developed that there would be any widespread support for an independence movement. Being (in UK terms) a long way from anywhere, I suspect Cornwall would just look to it's own resources as much as possible, so it's actions would be independent of any central authority until some degree of communications could be re-established, but any attempt at independence would be nothing more than local warlord type thuggery.
Last edited by Evildrsmith on Sat 28 Nov 2020, 16:59, edited 1 time in total.
 
JerryB
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Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 13:16

Even if you do indeed have stockpiles, they're not something that's easy to move around and even then there are limited amounts of places where you could have them in the UK. All of these would have been targetted in some way by the Soviet Union. It's possible that in the immediate pre-war period that some materiel was moved around and distributed in the UK where necessary, but I doubt that it would've been substantive as it risked interfering with the general supply system necessary for the war effort in Europe.

I still hope that the section covering the UK in the 4E alpha can be fixed in some way, to reflect something more realistic and useful to UK players or people wanting to play in a UK setting. If FL have plans to do a new sourcebook for the UK, the current setting as described in the alpha remains problematic because it's not accurate. The 1E version was, tbh, an American version of the UK - or, at least, a version based on American tropes about the UK. None of these are based on how things actually are or would be before, during or after WWIII. A King does not have ministers and does not have a government. They can't create ministerial posts nor can they form a government. They could possibly try to claim as much - or possibly various people around Charles might try - which might lead to an interesting situation in game terms. But Scotland and Wales would be asking (a la Monty Python) 'King of the who...?'. The remains of the actual UK political system would also be raising it's eyebrows, or even possibly an armed force in some form or another. There might possibly some loyalist support in Northern Ireland, but I think by 2000 Eire would've absorbed NI back into Ireland proper. It has it's own armed forces and I doubt anyone could stop it doing that by 2000, given the state of things.
 
JerryB
Topic Author
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri 27 Nov 2020, 02:28

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 13:30

Yup.

Only had time for a quick glance but (being British) I did take a look at what they did to the UK, and my immediate thoughts were:

Why do the Soviets invade? (Other than to provide gaming opportunities, obviously). If the UK's effectively wrecked, that's a long way for the Soviets to go and a lot of resource for what? (And a battle of Trafalgar Square...with 'Home Guard?'...Oh dear... Cringe...).
Sticking Soviet troops in the UK is fine for gaming purposes, but needs a proper Soviet objective, which then defines where in the UK they are. It could be 1 port city is left intact, to forward base soviet submarines, or an attempt to seize part of the North Sea oil infrastructure / an intact refinery or something, but there needs to be a reason for such a significant effort.

Yes, it doesn't really make sense at all. Ditto the 'Battle of Britain' type situation. The UK's combat aircraft, being a limited force in itself, would either have been used up in Europe or destroyed by bombing early on in the war, especially because those bases largely lack hard shelters and other protections. Also, as UK bases double as US bases, there would be even more of a case for the SU to destroy them as early as possible to cut the link between the US and Europe via the UK. Maybe perhaps possibly some helicopters have survived - maybe also a few Harriers or something sent back from the front that needs a repair/rebuild. I guess at a push there is a small Soviet presence simply because they tried to get a foothold somewhere, as you suggest - but I doubt it's for anything long term. Possibly they get stuck somewhere and decide to dig in until such time that they can get out. Even then, it's doubtful that they could actually have any impact on anything but a very local level.

Also, the IRA leading a purge .. apart from the fact that it should be PIRA, it was generally estimated to have only a few hundred active members, and was a terror gang, not an army that can stand and fight openly. If it tries to operate openly, it's facing the loyalist terror gangs plus the RUC and whatever element of the UDR remains in Ulster, and isn't going to get very far. Ireland probably needs escalating sectarian tensions/violence deliberately triggered by PIRA and the other gangs, and then Irish Army 'intervention', at the command of the Irish Taoiseach, or possibly in defiance of the Irish political leadership but by a rogue Irish military commander, to get a suitably 'T2k' environment.

And while the nationalist movements in Wales and Scotland don't seem too outlandish, I'm not convinced Cornish regional identity is that strongly developed that there would be any widespread support for an independence movement. Being (in UK terms) a long way from anywhere, I suspect Cornwall would just look to it's own resources as much as possible, so it's actions would be independent of any central authority until some degree of communications could be re-established, but any attempt at independence would be nothing more than local warlord type thuggery.

Yes, the part on NI doesn't reflect reality. As I mentioned in my previous post, Eire could step in and reunite the country and certainly has the means to do so. I very much doubt that any British Army presence left in NI could do anything about it, assuming the UK had not been forced to simply abandon it's presence in light of the worsening war situation WRT events in Europe.
 
aspqrz
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon 07 Sep 2020, 12:17
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 16:11

Indeed, what do the Soviets invade IN.

They had bugger all in the way of 'Phibs and the like. IIRC they could manage to lift the equivalent of a Naval Infantry Brigade (see Clancy's Red Storm Rising as to what was probably a fantasy against a much closer target that was barely within Soviet capabilities, but probably not in reality) or less from assets available in the Northern Fleet and since the Red Navy was vastly outnumbered and out-teched by the Western Alliance Navies there was exactly zero chance of them getting those 'Phibs round Norway to the British Isles ... and, even if they managed it, well, their chances of supplying them would have been essentially zero.

(And what 'Phibs there were would most likely have been lost in the attempted turning of the NATO flanks in Norway, which is where they were actually supposed to have been deployed).

Read up on the Sandhurst wargaming of Sealion. The Nazis of 1940 would have had a better chance of landing a substantial force than the Soviets and about the same chance of supplying them -- essentially zero.

As for Paratroops ... is there anyone out there who seriously believes Soviet cargo planes could have made more than half a trip from the USSR before being shot out of the sky?

Phil McGregor
========
Author: Space Opera (FGU); Rigger Black Book #1 (FASA); Orbis Mundi 2, The Marketplace, Ithura & Porthaven, Fantasy Europe (PGD); Road to Armageddon & Supplements, Displaced, Audace ad Gloriam, Farm, Forge & Steam (PGD).
 
Evildrsmith
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat 09 Nov 2019, 18:34

Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 16:26

Good points.
I was trying to ignore the 'The Royal Navy get's swatted aside' in the background, lest I was being to nationalistic / sensitive, but the Soviet Fleet has to get all the way around Scandinavia, and passed Iceland and most of Norway, with pretty much all the RN out to stop them, plus the Norwegian Navy, plus various bits of the European NATO navies assigned to that area, plus large chunks of the USN. Including in that are quite a few very good submarines that would be doing their best to sink anything and everything they could before the Soviets even got clear of Kola.
Once in the North Sea, they are subjected to air attacks form west (UK) east (Norway, Denmark, the US carrier that was in the Baltic or whatever land bases its aircraft are now operating from) and south (France/Netherlands/Belgium/Germany).
Meanwhile, while it was the Soviet Fleet that sailed into the North sea and invaded, the surviving Soviet troops in the UK are "Guards Air Assault Division".

Someone really hasn't thought this through at all.
 
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Vader
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Re: The UK in 4E is still a bit... problematic

Fri 27 Nov 2020, 17:15

Someone really hasn't thought this through at all.

The Swedish invasion scenario seems to suffer from that same ailment, I’m afraid.
[i]Before[/i] clicking that response button — [i]are you sure you actually [b]read[/b] it?[/i]

...[i]and[/i] checked if something more was posted after it? ;)
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