GRUNT The roleplaying game of jungle warfare
2: BOOT CAMP
3: THE MISSION
5: SOUTH VIETNAM
MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS
Private First Class Conrad Dietrick, Staff Sergeant Jesse Mendez, Staff Sergeant Edward Quichocho, Chris Veysey, Deric Bernier, Al Livingstone, Erik McGrath.
GRUNT ©2011 Zozer Games. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this work by any means without the permission of the publisher is forbidden. Zozer Games can be reached via email: [email protected]
, or by post: 151 Sewerby Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire, England, YO16 7DX.
3 Terror. Sheer blind terror sublimated and spat back out of the barrel of an M16. The fear and isolation. The desperation to get out alive - just to get out and get home. A green hell populated by a people who despise you and want to kill you. Or maim you. Or send you mad. This is the Vietnam War. This is GRUNT. It is my attempt to use the medium of roleplaying to bring the despair and horror of Vietnam to you in a far more immediate way than any book could. I've really studied the war, written a book about it, and I've often tried to imagine what it must have been like to be there. I'll try to pass on a lot of what I've discovered. Straight up front I'd like to recommend two slim books that cut away all the olive drab trappings of war and lay bare the terrible experiences of soldiers in the Nam. They show you the reality, and make you wish you could look away. Dispatches, by Michael Herr and Nam by Mark Baker. Don't rent out Vietnam movies - read these!
GRUNT attempts to be historically realistic, claustrophobic and packed with a great deal of nervous tension. There are no Rambos or John Waynes here, no daring commando raids and white-toothed grins. You're approaching the heart of darkness, a world of fear and anxiety, booby traps and ambushes, where your body rots in the rain and you're dead beat all day, every day. "You're in the Republic of Vietnam," said an infantry officer at Bien Hoa to his new recruits. "This is the programme for the day: You're going to get killed in Vietnam." There it is. Paul Elliott [email protected]
1:IN-COUNTRY "You wish it were all over. You begin the countdown. You take the inky, mildew smell of Vietnam into your lungs". If I Die In A Combat Zone, Tim O'Brien American troops really began arriving in Vietnam as advisors and clandestine commandos in substantial numbers during 1961. By 1965 more direct action was required to prevent North Vietnam invading South Vietnam and regular US Army and Marine units moved in to try and push back the North Vietnamese Army and the South Vietnam guerrillas called the Viet Cong who were supporting them. It proved to be a bitter and bloody struggle, one that the US would bow out of in 1972 when the last US units headed back for the States. Vietnam was left to its own fate. GRUNT focuses on the great military build-up from 1965 onwards and the player characters are members of a newly created 'airmobile' unit, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
VIETNAM OVERVIEW The nation of South Vietnam is a puppet US state, a supposed bastion of democracy standing against cruel communist infiltrators (the Viet Cong, or VC) and the armies of communist North Vietnam (the NVA). The country is essentially a rugged mountain chain running from north to south in a narrow strip with the South China Sea on its eastern side and the jungleclad mountains of Laos and Cambodia on its western side. The northern border of South Vietnam butts up (naturally) against North Vietnam and is separated by the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ), actually a highly militarised region with the Marines poised to counter any and all NVA invasions. The Marines have fought numerous battles and skirmishes up in this northern border region (officially known as I, or 'eye' Corps). Unfortunately the NVA do not play by the rules and instead of crossing the DMZ and squaring up to the massive Marine presence, they sneak into Laos and Cambodia in the west and enter South Vietnam across the western border. They bring weapons and supplies for the Viet Cong as well as technical and political personnel and of course entire military units. One of the main routes into the country has been through the Central Highlands, a foreboding highland plateau in which the 1st Air Cavalry are located. Here too are a number of Green Beret fighting camps from which the special forces soldiers train local tribesmen to defend against the NVA raiders. The network of jungle trails that side-steps the DMZ and passes through Laos and Cambodia is known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, named after the North Vietnamese leader currently in power and spearheading the struggle. As the mountains peter out south of the Central Highlands one enters the flatter fertile region at the southern tip of the country dominated by the Mekong Delta. This is one of the great rice growing areas of the world, full of villages and small towns and a soggy land of swamps, channels and rivers. The Mekong River flows out of Cambodia. The South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, is situated just north of the Delta. Other important cities of the country include Kontum, Ban Me Thuot, and Pleiku (in the Central Highlands), My Tho (in the Delta), Quang Tri (up near the DMZ) and a number of settlements situated on fertile plains on the coast where the mountains don't reach the sea. Of these latter cities Hue, Da Nang, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang and Cam Ranh are the most important.
US FORCES IN VIETNAM The central headquarters for all US military activity in Vietnam is the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) based in Saigon and working closely with the American ambassador at the US embassy in Saigon. From 1964 up until replacement by General Creighton Adams in 1968, the commander of MACV was General William Westmoreland. Part of MACV's duty is to help train the army of South Vietnam and provide US equipment and weaponry to this army (known as the ARVN, pronounce this „arvin‟). MACV has divided Vietnam into 4 military zones: I Corps, II Corps, III Corps and IV Corps. I ('eye') Corps - Headquarted in Da Nang, I Corps is responsible for the northern-most part of the country. It is at the sharp end. The Marines are stationed here (the Third and First Marine Divisions) and later in 1967 the US Army's Americal division also moved in here. The biggest battles of I Corps were the Siege of Khe Sanh (1968), the liberation of Hue (1968) and the A Shau Valley (Hamburger Hill) in 1968/69. II Corps - Headquarted at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, II Corps is responsible for the defence of the central portion of South Vietnam. By the end of 1965 the following Army divisions had units in-country in II Corps: the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), the 25th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. The 4th Infantry Division joined the fray in late 1966. The biggest battle of II Corps included the Ia Drang Valley (1965) fought by the 1st Cav in the days before its re-deployment to III Corps in 1969. III Corps - Headquarted at Bien Hoa, several miles NE of Saigon, III Corps covers the approaches to and the defence of Saigon, the capital and prize of the NVA. A major VC base area called the Iron Triangle sits within III Corps, NW of Saigon. Plenty of US Air Force squadrons are stationed in the III Corps area at Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhut. Major US ground forces include the 173rd Infantry Brigade and the 1st Infantry Division (by the end of 1965), and the 25th Infantry Division, the 11th Armoured Cavalry Regiment, the 9th Infantry Division and 199th Light Infantry Brigade (by the end of 1966). Numerous large scale operations were conducted in III Corps to try and root out the VC in the Iron Triangle, as well as two other base areas named War Zone C and War Zone D. The heaviest fighting occurred during the Tet Offensive in early 1968 which tore Saigon and the surrounding towns apart. IV Corps - Headquarted at Can Tho, the IV Corps was responsible for the defence of the Mekong Delta. The terrain is difficult for major military operations. Mobile riverine operations are conducted on the waterways from Dong Tam, near My Tho, and US Navy riverine craft (always heavily armed) assist in transporting grunts of the 9th Infantry Division into battle. There are also a number of Special Forces Green Berets camps in IV Corps to block infiltration from Cambodia. The greatest enemy strongholds of IV Corps are found in the U Minh Forest and the Seven Mountains area as well as the Plain of Reeds and the infamous Rung Sat Special Zone (known as the 'Forest of Assassins') that flanks the main waterway into Saigon.
HOW THE ARMY WORKS A grunt is at the bottom of a huge organisational table, from fire-team to squad to platoon, to company to battalion and so on. For most grunts the real identity of their parent unit lays with the division. Much like the British regiments, the US divisions have very distinct identities and their own distinctive shoulder patches. A division is essentially a complete army ready to go to war. All are given some orientation, there are airborne divisions and cavalry divisions as well as the more numerous infantry divisions. But each has an HQ, its own artillery, transport assets, choppers, engineers, medical units and so on (many will be assets from other branches especially assigned to the division). The squad of grunts in this game will be members of Echo Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment (known as the „Headhunters‟) - a part of the renowned 1st Cavalry Division.
7 General Custer is one of the 7th Cavalry's most illustrious soldiers and the unit fought in the Indian Wars on horseback. In 1965 the division began to go to war in helicopters - the very first military unit to totally embrace air mobility. The division has since proved a fantastic success. It transports its troops by chopper, supports them with aerial artillery (gunships), uses chopper-borne recon, and flies in howitzers via chopper. Contrary to popular belief not everything moved by chopper in the Nam, but in the 1st Cav it nearly always did! By those who favoured the 1st Cav, it was known fondly as the 'First Team'. By the end of the war the division's mobility and firepower had proved so successful that it had fought in every military region. As a fire-fighting bunch of kick-ass trouble-shooters the 1st Cav could not be bettered, much to the chagrin of the Marines who had to be 'rescued' from Khe Sanh by the 1st Cav (or so the 1st Cav portrayed it). Check out the 1st Cav in Coppola's tremendous movie Apocalypse Now and in Mel Gibson‟s more realistic portrayal, We Were Soldiers. The 1st Cavalry Division (1966 - 1967) is commanded by Major-General John Norton, and is composed of three brigades (as well as additional supporting units). Brigades are led by colonels and are composed of three battalions. Battalions are commanded by lieutenantcolonels and consist of an HQ (with its own troop unit) and (usually in Vietnam) five frontline cavalry „troops‟. Each troop is commanded by a captain and consists of three aero-rifle platoons and a HQ with two officers and 10 men. Now we're getting down to the level of foxhole units. Aero-Rifle Platoons The focus of roleplay within GRUNT is a single platoon of Echo Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment within the 1st Cavalry Division. Like most airmobile units, the troops were choppered into action and supported in the field by helicopter gunships and observation helicopters. Used almost as troubleshooters, the airmobile division was frequently transferred to the hottest of combat zones. Their aero-rifle platoons could be dropped behind enemy formations, or into remote areas to conduct search and destroy operations. They proved to be a rapid reaction force with a high degree of aggression and tenacity perfect material for roleplaying! An aero-rifle platoon is the 1st Cav's basic fighting unit and at full strength (rare in the Nam) will have 44 men and one officer commanding (usually a lieutenant). The 1st Cavalry's aerorifle platoons typically have four rifle squads (each with 8-10 men) and a platoon HQ (a separate squad with the lieutenant and platoon sergeant and 3 other enlisted men). The squads are led by staff sergeants and each is transported into the field by a UH-1 Huey helicopter. The complete platoon, then, moving as one, travels in five UH-1 Hueys, typically with a pair of heavily armed UH-1B gunship choppers flying as escort. Ranks The rank system of the US army enlisted men hangs on a framework of pay grades running from E-1 to E-2 onwards. Most squad members will be PFCs, privates first class (grade E-3). Those men who have responsibility for a particular weapon or technical aspect will be specialists (E-4, known as Spec 4s‟), they do not have any command responsibilities. The team leader (assistant squad leader) will be a sergeant (E-5) and the squad leader will often be a staff sergeant (E-6). When there are casualties or incidents of sergeants leaving to train as officers or to work in newly formed units, the gaps might be filled by other squad members. The senior Spec 4 might command the team, the E-5 sergeant might step up as the team leader. In the field the unit has to adapt to manpower shortages however it can. Replacement squad-leaders are not always „on tap‟. The three squads that make up the player character‟s platoon are commanded by Captain Borman (O-3), who is accompanied into the field by an RTO, a couple of riflemen and his platoon sergeant, Sergeant Gardiner (E-7).
Long time gamer and US Army Private First Class (E-3) Conrad Deitrick has summed up the way in which rank actually works in the field for a small unit. “I‟m an E-3, a PFC. My team leader is a Specialist E-4. My squad leader is an E-5, a sergeant. I consider both to be my buddies. They‟ve got more experience than me; I trust their judgement often more than I trust mine, but they‟re friends and we‟re in everything together. I‟ve got „buddies‟ who are Staff Sergeants, E-6. Its not basic training; we‟re not talking about Drill Sergeants. Squad leader sergeants don‟t yell all the time in the regular army. They‟re too busy looking out for the guys in their squad. You work together and live together, you are friends and battle buddies.”
BASE CAMPS Unlike other wars, the Vietnam War saw the use of in-country base camps. Instead of deploying from outside the combat zone, grunts in the US Army and Marines were stationed within the combat zone. This meant that bases were under constant attack from Viet Cong irregulars and were therefore heavily defended. Base camps ranged from huge seaports (such as Cam Ranh) to airbases (such as Da Nang) to up-country base camps providing billets for troops along with chopper landing pads, hospital facilities, officers and enlisted mens' messes, weapons and ammo stores, supply centres, workshops, command posts, and miles and miles of perimeter fence, and barbed wire supported by gun towers and bunkers. Usually the perimeter beyond the wire was cleared of jungle by Agent Orange defoliant. These base camps provide rest and relief from tough field conditions, but must be constantly garrisoned and ready to repel a VC or NVA attack. Sniper attacks and quick-fire mortar barrages are a constant threat, especially during the hours of dark. Sometimes a Landing Zone (LZ) used during an attack is fortified and resupplied so that it becomes a permanent feature, ie. a small base camp or a Fire Support Base (FSB). An FSB is a complete artillery fortification used to provide fire support for patrols in the vicinity. Often these FSBs are constructed on hilltops deep in the wilderness and require an infantry garrison for protection. The NVA and VC try hard to overrun these FSBs, often forcing the artillerymen to lower the cannon tubes and fire beehive munitions directly at the on-coming enemy. FSBs usually have minimal facilities and a chopper landing pad. The larger base camps are usually built near a local South Vietnamese village and often hire locals to work within the fortress carrying out menial tasks (cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc). Some of these may be VC informers, spies or saboteurs. The local village often gives the base camp its name (eg, Lang Vei) and also provides the bored and frustrated grunts with a place to spend any R&R with the Vietnamese setting up brothels, bars, bath houses and markets especially for them. The grunts might build up a relationship with the villagers, but are always on their guard. The VC have infiltrated every population centre and love to strike at GIs who are vulnerable. For the locals, the grunts are a source of revenue., and they will offer all kinds of money-making services, from haircuts to prostitution, jeep (or tank!) washing to boot-shine, laundry to tailoring, good drinks, local food and bathing. At night when the mortar shells come whistling in and VC sappers try to pick their way through the concertina wire grunts wonder who could do this night after night. Sometimes when bodies are pulled out of the wire it happens to be the barber who cut your hair, or the villager who sold you cigarettes last week. You can never tell. You must always be on your guard. Trust no-one.
HOME OF THE 1ST CAV Camp Radcliff & the Golf Course The 1st Cav established its headquarters camp in South Vietnam at the village of An Khe, in II Corps. An Khe sits on the banks of the Song Be river, close to the southern foot of the jungleclad Hon Kon Mountain. The base was named Camp Radcliff to honour the first casualty of the division, Major Radcliff, shot down over the Man Yang pass, further west. Camp Radcliff is a huge military base housing thousands of soldiers, pilots and support personnel as well as supplies and ammo. It exists to maintain the helicopter landing field, known by the grunts as the Golf Course. This is where hundreds of UH-1 Huey‟s sit, alongside half a dozen other types of chopper, waiting for mission orders that will send them all across the Central Highlands or out to Qui Nhon on the coast. In 1967 the Golf Course was the largest concentration of helicopter traffic in the world. The player characters will have barracks at Camp Radcliff, most likely they will share a green GP (general purpose tent) set out as a dorm. There will be basic shared latrines, a mess tent and a HQ tent. There is limited entertainment at the camp, but after long operations the grunts should be eligible for a pass out to An Khe town. Hon Kon Mountain Looking down on Camp Radcliff is the tree-clad Hon Kon Mountain, a flat topped hill that is used by the 1st Cav as a radio relay and radar station. The traffic controllers have their base up there, and the engineers have audaciously cleared jungle from just below the peak and painted on the bare rock a huge three-storey replica of the 1st Cav shield and horse badge. Any incoming flights to Camp Radcliff can't help but see this over-the-top testimony to the 1st Cav. An Khe and Sin City An Khe is a small town that has grown up to satisfy the needs of the men at Camp Radcliff. There are bars, little restaurants, 'massage parlours' and all manner of stores selling everything from custom-tailored jungle fatigues to transistor radios and tourist trinkets. Rock n‟ roll, soul and country music spew out from the bars onto the streets. Streetwise food vendors and hawkers continually hassle off-duty GIs. At night the main street of An Khe turns into the infamous 'Sin City' where local bar girls entertain grunts with passes from the camp. Player characters will spend R&R in Sin City, and in the streets and bars of An Khe. Most of the bars are given stateside names (the 'Arizona', the 'Lone Star' etc.) and the feel of An Khe is close to an oriental Wild West, with tin shack stores and raised board walks to keep the customers out of the monsoon mud. An Khe Airstrip The French constructed a concrete runway at An Khe more than a decade ago. The 1st Cav use it to land their fixed-wing transport planes (C-7 Caribous), and the USAF use it to land Hercules and Provider transport planes packed with much needed supplies and ammunition for the division. The only concrete runways west of An Khe are found at Kontum and Pleiku.
II Corps South Vietnam
BOOT CAMP "You little scumbag. I got your name. I got your ass. You will not laugh. You will not cry. You will learn by the numbers. I will teach you." Gunnery Sergeant Gerheim from The Short Timers, by Gustav Hasford In GRUNT the player characters are infantry soldiers newly arrived in-country. They have 'enjoyed' two months of basic training at boot camp, had their heads shaved, been taught how to drill, how to salute an officer, how to use a rifle and bayonet to kill an enemy. Most are ignorant of the country they're now in and of the war that will shortly turn their world upside down. All are young. The average age of these new recruits is 19. Some have volunteered, many more (especially later in the war) have been forcibly recruited (drafted) for a one year tour of duty. Those studying at college or married are exempt from the draft. Dragged from the life of a 60's teenager to undergo harsh and brutal basic training, many of the recruits are totally unprepared for the horrors of war and the awfulness of what they will see and be forced to do. There are some who see service as a patriotic duty, who want to serve their country as their fathers did in World War Two. This time it's Communism that must be stopped. Fight it in Vietnam so that you don't have to fight it in Pasedena. Or so the rhetoric goes. The majority of draftees are unwilling. A few criminals are even forced into the army by a lenient court offering an alternative to jail! And they come from across the United States. From New York and LA, the Mid-West, the Deep South, the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, the ghettos, the reservations, the suburbs, from Small-town America and the Big City. Each player character („grunt‟) will have had to report to a US Army Infantry Training Centre for basic training where the drill instructors (DIs) would have made their lives a living hell. After eight weeks the recruits graduated from basic and prepared to go on to Advanced Infantry Training in a specialist area, maybe artillery or auto mechanics. The player characters in GRUNT, like most draftees, drew the short straw, however, and went on to one of the dreaded infantry training centres such as Tigerland at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Their Military Occupational Speciality (MOS) is IIB, combat infantryman. They were heading for the Nam and leaving 'the World' behind them for 12 months - and maybe forever.
IDENTITY Who is your grunt? Scratch that. Who was he? What was his name before he entered the Nam? Where did he come from? And how did he end up in this green hell fighting for his life? Everyone has their own war name, a personal nickname that gets scrawled in black marker on flak jackets and helmets. Anyone with any kind of personality has a war name. They can be full of pathos, be witty, funny or angry. Here are a few (actual and fictional) war names as examples: Mad Mark, Cowboy, Joker, Day Tripper, Avenger, Mickey's Monkey, Cream, Oklahoma Kid, Mr Clean, Texas Hippie, Cannon Ball, Rafter Man, Crazy Earl, Animal Mother, T.H.E. Rock, Stumbling Stewey, Iron Man, Chili Vendor, Daytona Dave, Mr Payback, Lone Ranger ... you‟ve gotten the idea by now, right?
14 To go with the war name you should come up with some identifying feature for your grunt. No hundred word descriptions ... just a single feature will do. Try big blue eyes, skinny, tattoo on the arm, southern drawl, walks with a swagger, well-built, good-looking, pug ugly ... just one thing to give your grunt a little personality. Select from or roll on the tables in this section. Age The Vietnam War is now notorious for the youth of its draftees, many feeling the war was fought by „kids‟. Have a good look at the faces of grunts in contemporary photos. To create a random age for a squad-member, roll 1d6 + 17. Ethnic Origins Most of the infantrymen were poor white and black youths who weren‟t able to defer the draft call up by entering college for several years. This table provides a basic random list of possible ethnic origins. Religion is a matter of taste, but keep in mind that catholics and protestants and jews were available for the draft. Famously, a number of muslims refused to go to Vietnam (including the boxer Muhammed Ali). 2d6 2 3 4 5,6 7,8 9 10 11-12
Ethnic Origins Native American Asian Hispanic Black White-Working Class Mediterranean East European White-Middle Class
Hometown Where is home? It might be some bland Nowhereville, but its location might provide the grunt with some local flavour, regional flavour that his player can inject into the character. Name some place your grunt calls home, or roll for a region on the table below. You might have to re-roll if the ethnic origins seem to clash with the hometown result (such as a Native American from the Deep South, or a good Polish family from Hawaii). 2d6 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Region Alaska Rocky Mountains Pacific North-West Florida & South-East Central Plains Great Lakes North-East Coast West Coast New England Texas & South-West Hawaii
ATTRIBUTES We define grunts by five main attributes which are: Body, Combat, Awareness, Technical. and Spirit. Their meanings follow. Body – Physical strength, muscle and health Combat - Aggression, marksmanship and combat aptitude in general Awareness - Intuition, observation and awareness - essential for jungle survival Technical - Intelligence, ingenuity, education and thinking clearly under stress Spirit – Willpower, tenacity and determination Roll 1d3 for each of these. Use a d6, with 1,2 becoming 1; 3, 4 becoming 2 and 5,6 becoming 3. This gives a range of between 1 and 3, with 1 indicating a poor performance during training and 3 indicating an outstanding performance. A character with three attributes at „1‟ should be tossed out of the army, the player can roll again. Using these attributes is simple, roll 2d6 and add the relevant attribute. If it‟s straightforward, then on a 10+ the grunt succeeds in his task. If the task is difficult, then success comes only on a roll of 12+. Example. Crow is an RTO and rolls 1, 3, 1, 2, 2 giving him attributes of: Body 1, Combat 3, Awareness 1, Spirit 2 and Technical 2. If he wants to use a pistol to shoot at an enemy commando caught in the glare of a base searchlight, he must roll 2d6 and gain a result of 7 or more.
Secondary Attributes There are also five secondary attributes; Panic, Max Load, Max Wounds, Stress and Hardening. Panic [10 - Spirit) Panic is a special attribute that begins at 10 - Spirit. Each time the squad comes under enemy fire all grunts must roll Panic or higher on 2d6. Those who succeed can act as they wish, those who fail hug the ground, freeze in place or hold their weapon outstretched to spray bullets wildly, „pretending‟ to fire at the enemy. At certain points the GM may ask for another roll, which may enable the panicked grunt to dash back to cover or pull a wounded comrade to safety. Most often the grunt will stay rooted to the spot until the gunfire stops. Once the grunts survive a mission in which they were fired upon, Panic drops by 2. The next time they survive a mission, it drops again by 2. At 0, Panic becomes irrelevant – the grunt is not panicked by incoming and begins to act automatically, robotically, instinctively. He may still be scared, but does not freeze up and bury his head in the ground. New guys almost always freeze up. Don‟t give them important jobs. Note here that Panic may suddenly return to 10-Spirit due to witnessing the horrors of war. See Traumatic Stress, later.
Max Load [8 + Body] We assume that every grunt can hump his pack, rations, water canteens and ammo through the boonies all day long. But what else can he carry? It is this „what else‟ that Max Load measures. Assuming most items take up 1 space and that larger items (like radios, M16s, etc) take up 2 spaces, a grunt's Max Load is Body + 8. This measures how much additional weaponry and equipment a soldier can strap on, stuff into his pockets and carry. It is common for some grunts to carry other guy‟s kit for them, particularly if they are hauling around a radio and batteries, or the M60. Sharing out the squad‟s extra weapons and equipment equitably will form part of the game, pre-mission. A full list of equipment and weaponry is provided later in the book. Max Wounds [equal to Body+1] A grunt who suffers one serious wound is in trouble, semi-conscious and dying. He may also suffer a number of minor wounds which have less severe effects. When the soldier suffers a number of minor wounds equal to Max Wounds, then is subjected to an automatic serious wound. The attribute Max Wounds is equal to Body+1. Stress [starts at 0] Panic can be eliminated with self-discipline and with exposure to combat. But the enormous tensions that the contradictions of the Vietnam War create twist unseen in the grunts mind. He has to deal with these stresses himself. When he wants to run from some horrific scene, or turn away from an act he witnesses, military discipline and the chain of command prevent it. When a grunt witnesses a grisly scene or an abhorrent act, he makes a Horror Test on 2d6. He can add his Spirit to the roll. If he fails to make the roll the grunt gains a point of stress, equating to internalised panic. A later section of the rules, Traumatic Stress, explains how stress is used in the game.
JOINING THE SQUAD Choose a Role Now consider now your grunt's role in the squad. At Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) he will be given some special military training and a particular role within the infantry squad that he'll be joining. You'll need to talk to other players and your GM to find out what they're up to. In the table below, the seven roles are listed, along with the number of each type of role within a US infantry squad, the ranks associated with that role and the responsibility of that character role during a game. Each also has a skill . Later, when the player makes skill choices, he must select the skill listed with his role. OK. Your choice of role within the squad is going to depend on both your GM and on how many players there are. Each player has one character to represent him, no more. This focuses his interest and level of empathy with a single individual. Should he later be wounded then the player can instead use one of the Non-Player Character (NPC) squad members as a replacement. Each player selects one of the roles; one of the players must choose squad leader, and another should select the team leader. All of the other squad members will be controlled by the GM, and it won‟t be much fun if the players are bossed around by two Non-Player Characters!
17 Table of Character Roles Role No.in Rank Squad Squad-Leader 1 Staff Sergeant
Spokesman and casting vote, leads the squad and communicates with higher ups Can lead a 4-man team if the squad splits up Checks for ambushes and booby-traps Carries the M79 one-shot grenade launcher Carries the M60 belt-fed machinegun Combat surgery and field medicine Calling in choppers and airstrikes, once squad leader or team leader give the go-ahead
Grenade Launcher Machinegun
Squad Leader (Rank: Staff Sergeant)- The ‘Sarge’ sarge commands the squad and is responsible for the Typically, a squad leader was a welfare of its men. He reports to the platoon professional soldier with two or commander (a lieutenant). When the squad splits into three years experience. Some, two teams, the squad leader takes one team, his however, were „instant NCO‟s‟, assistant, the team leader, takes the other. In GRUNT graduates from the Nonall the characters are assumed to be fairly new inCommissioned Officers School at country and not yet inured to the horrors of war, this For Benning who had less field experience. In GRUNT it seems assumption also applies to the squad leader as well. A unfair to allow one player to run an player selecting the role of squad leader doesn't experienced soldier leading around actually have to command the other players about, he a bunch of new guys, and as a game acts as a spokesman for the other players and conceit, we assume that our squad communicates with „higher ups‟. Armed with M16 rifle. and team leaders are either instant Team Leader (Rank: Sergeant) - The team NCOs, or are simply new to to the leader will provide support for the sergeant, and field. Perhaps they have been pulled deputise for him if necessary. When the squad splits from cushy duties in Germany, into two teams, the squad leader takes one team, the Alaska, South Korea or the US, and team leader takes the other. They acts as the squad despite their rank, have as much experience of the Nam as the leader's deputy, taking over if he is wounded. Like the draftees. squad leader he is (around the gaming table) a spokesman for the other players. Armed with M16 rifle. Grenadier (Rank: Specialist) - These two grunts are trained to use the 40mm M79 grenade launcher (known as a 'Thumper' or a 'Blooper'). This resembles a fat, stubby, breakopen shotgun and fires its own specially designed 40mm grenades, usually high explosive (HE). Grenadiers are able to attack targets out of sight behind rocks or trees by firing HE rounds up into the air. As such they are almost acting as 'light artillery' and are appreciated by the grunts. Grenadiers carry pistols as a back-up weapon. Machinegunner (Rank: Specialist) - Most infantry squads have an M60 machinegun and a grunt to use it. The M60 is called „the Pig‟ or 'Hog', a heavy belt-fed gun with a savage kick to it. It is devastating to any enemy caught up within its „beaten zone‟ and used to support the squad members during assaults or retreats or during ambushes. Beefy grunts are often selected to carry the M60, and they are able to use it prone with a bipod or slung from the shoulder. The rest of the squad will all carry extra belts of ammo for this gun. In addition, the gunner will carry a pistol as a back-up.
18 Medic (Rank: Private First Class) - The medic has some training in the treatment of combat wounds and will be essential in keeping wounded grunts alive long enough for a medivac chopper to pick them up. He also looks after the well-being of the squad, distributing anti-malaria tablets and seeing to various ailments. Medics carry M16 rifles just like everyone else. Radio Operator (Rank: Specialist) - The Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) is the squad radioman, responsible for carrying the radio and its batteries. In GRUNT he is able to call for a chopper pick-up, medivac and, best of all, a „fire mission‟, an artillery bombardment from guns at a distant base, the latter once per patrol. Anyone can use the radio in an emergency, however radios have pretty poor range (cut drastically by mountains and hills) and are unreliable, even more so in the damp and rain-soaked atmosphere of the Nam. The RTO carries an M16. Scout (Rank: Private First Class) - Scouts are combat riflemen whose main tasks are observation and patrol. They have no other officially designated task and either walk 'point' (up front checking for ambushes, booby traps or hostile forces) or walk 'drag' (the last man in the single file patrol, checking for any pursuing forces, and ensuring everyone keeps up and doesn't drop back). Scouts are sometimes sent out to check trails or routes ahead of the squad. Controlling the Squad There are a lot of NPCs in the game. Even if you have five players, you could still have five NPCs tagging along in the rest of the squad. If you only have a couple of players then the problem is even worse. To prevent the GM making most of the rolls in a game, and desperately trying to work out what all the squad-members are up to, GRUNT simplifies the squad system. Two players must take on the squad leader and team leader roles, and they are made attractive by the fact they can choose any skills their players fancy. Each is in command of half of the squad (what we call a team), and there is space on the character sheet for these two characters to list the members that are in their team. This team list does not change from game to game unless they players decide it should be changed. The team members are controlled by the GM, but to make his job easier, they will generally follow the team leader, do as they are ordered, and stick together. A team will never willingly split up, it is the smallest unit in the field and the GM will make combat rolls for the team as a whole (although the team leader will of course make his own dice rolls). Unless the plot or the GM dictates otherwise, the team members are docile and obedient soldiers following the team leader around much as retainers did in one or two of the „Old School‟ roleplaying games. Where there are enough players to take up other roles, these grunts can operate freely just as the squad and team leaders do. As player characters they make their own rolls and have an equal part in decision-making, these PC squad-members don‟t have a team following them around, however!
INFANTRY SKILLS There is the grunt straight out of basic training. He is fit, he is mean, he can kick ass with an M16 - or so he thinks. Now AIT gives him additional training. Here he develops a repertoire of talents and skills that might serve him well in Vietnam. Some are official and signified by the award of a 'badge', others are more nebulous and unofficial. All have their place. The player gains 4 skill points, keeping in mind the skill linked with his role, and in which he must put at least 1 point. Skills, unlike Attributes, are rated either +1 (Qualified) or +2 (Expert), and during character creation cost 1 and 2 skill points respectively. Note, also, that every skill is associated with an attribute. In play, the skill bonus is always added to the value of the attribute it is associated with, before it is rolled.
19 The twenty-three skills available for selection by the players are: Aim [Combat]: This skill indicates sniper training. The grunt is able to delay his shot for one or two turns (1 if qualified, 2 if expert). Each turn of aim provides a +1 to hit. Aim can only be used on a target that is in sight, and the player must declare his intention to aim for the coming turn. If the target moves out of sight during that turn, then the player character has lost his bonus and his chance to shoot because he has delayed too long. Airborne [Body]: The skill of helicopter operations. The soldier has used helicopter winches, rope ladders and has rappelled from hovering choppers. The soldier is also „jump‟ qualified, i.e. he is a parachutist. He is very familiar with landing zones and helicopter resupply operations and can get on and off a helicopter under fire very quickly. Climb/Jump [Body]: The grunt is physically fit, able to climb over obstacles, up slippery slopes and able to jump irrigation ditches or other gaps with some ease. Close Combat [Combat]: This shows that the grunt has had additional training in the bayonet, unarmed combat and knife-fighting. It gives him an edge, but does not prepare him psychologically for the trauma of his first few close combat encounters. Driver [Technical]: Driver training includes proficiency on most army wheeled and tracked vehicles. Grenade Launcher [Combat]: Skill in the M79 one-shot grenade launcher which can fire directly at a target or indirectly, in an overhead arc that turns the M79 into a portable artillery piece. Heavy Weapons [Combat]: The recruit is skilled in using support weapons such as mortars and light anti-tank weapons (LAW‟s). Although there are no rules in GRUNT for recoilless rifles and howitzers, the character with Heavy Weapons skill could operate those weapons also. Jungle Survival [Technical]: Indicates training and experience in wilderness survival techniques and also the techniques of escape and evasion from the enemy. The character knows where to find water, where to camp, how to make shelters, fish, find berries, avoid illness and the worst of the weather. He knows which snakes are poisonous (and how to treat snake-bites), how to deal with leeches and what terrain will most likely harbour malaria. Does not include the ability to track people or animals (see the skill called Ranger). Machinegun [Combat]: The grunt can effectively use the powerful M60 squad support machinegun in support of his team-mates. He's also qualified on other machinegun types such as the M2 50-calibre, the old M1919 Browning and the powerful vehicle mounted minigun. Map Reading [Technical]: This skill indicates an ability to cross country using a compass and map and keep in the right direction. When the squad traverses wilderness or jungle terrain, the player should make a secret roll to stay on course. Failure indicates an unnoticed wrong bearing. The GM either chooses or rolls 1d6 in secret: 1-3 veer to the left, 4-6 veer to the right. Map Reading also includes the ability to properly call in artillery or air strikes on a target using a map and a radio. Mechanic [Technical]: Skill in repairing car, boat and truck engines as well as generators. The grunt would have little or no chance to repair a helicopter engine. Medical [Technical]: This skill indicates basic first aid as well as emergency field surgery, and the dispensing of basic drugs. The skill also allows recognition and treatment of drug addiction. Night Vision [Awareness]: An ability to see well in darkness. The grunt with night vision suffers only a -1 to his Awareness stat in darkness, instead of -2. Noise Discipline [Awareness]: The grunt is well on the way to mastering the art of silent and stealthy movement, especially useful in the jungles of Vietnam where stealth and secrecy are the key to waging successful warfare. Pistol [Combat]: Handguns, revolvers and pistols, make good back-up weapons and can often be taken where bigger guns cannot (into town, into tunnels or cramped hooches).
20 Rifle [Combat]: This grunt excels at the rifle range and is an accurate, fast and useful shot, able to shoot at fleeting or under-cover targets with a good chance of hitting. He can use the M16, M14, CAR-15 carbine, and various pump-action shotguns. Ranger [Awareness]: This indicates attendance at the Ranger course at Fort Benning. The grunt has a good eye for enemy tracks. He can estimate the forces that passed this way, whether running, patrolling or camping, and even how old the tracks were. A more difficult task (10+ for a team, 12+ for a squad) would be to cover over any tracks made by the squad, it would slow the squad down to 1km per hour. RTO [Technical]: This skill indicates expertise with military radio-telephone devices. The operator can use radios, extend their range by up to twice their normal distance, and try and avoid enemy jamming attempts. This skill also indicates basic electrical knowledge, and an ability to fix the radio when broken. Using one radio, someone with this skill can determine the direction of an enemy broadcast. Scrounge [Technical]: Whatever the squad needs a grunt with this skill always seems to be able to get hold of it, by trading this-for-that-for-this in a long train of underhand deals, bribes and kickbacks. One lucrative bartering chip is communist war gear that was captured „with a story attached‟. Search [Awareness]: The grunt is adept at searching villages („villes‟), local huts („hooches‟) and bunkers for hidden equipment, caches of supplies and sometimes VC suspects cowering in some concealed location. The talent for sniffing out contraband isn't any use when trying to locate booby traps, but it does give the grunt some inclination that a ville he's patrolling might actually have VC connections. Spot Ambush [Awareness]: The grunt is trained to detect possible ambushes. He uses various clues, the sound of metal on metal or of movement through the undergrowth, the sudden quiet of bird song, the „klack‟ of AK-47 safety catches coming off, the disturbance of vegetation or use of dead vegetation to cover an ambush site further on and so on. Spot Trap [Awareness]: The grunt can attempt to detect booby traps of all kinds, from concealed pits filled with sharpened punji stakes to spiked deadfalls, trip-wires and antipersonnel mines. Strongback [Body]: The grunt is used to hard physical labour and whatever his actual size, can carry a huge amount of equipment without tiring! Qualified, add +2 to Max Load; Expert, add +4 to Max Load. Traps & Mines [Technical]: Skill in setting-up booby traps using C-5, grenades or claymore directional mines. It involves arranging an explosive with a trigger (often a tripwire) and disguising it with vegetation. This does not let the grunt demolish buildings or bridges with explosives, and he must have Spot Trap before he can learn Traps & Mines. To detonate a claymore mine, roll this skill with Technical, +2; roll four times, attacking a different target each time in the 20m kill zone. Weapon Maintenance [Technical]: The grunt excels at stripping down weapons, at detecting the reasons for firearms misfires, and at preventative maintenance. When your M16 stops working while you are trying to defend a beleaguered LZ, you want the guy with Weapon Maintenance to be next to you; even better you want to be him! Without a weapon in the Nam, you‟re just chopped pork and beans.
RESOLVING TASKS Usually a task roll may be described as either 'open' (the grunt will know whether or not he succeeds immediately), or 'secret' (the grunt may never know whether or not he succeeded at all). An example of an open roll is a grunt climbing up a steep embankment, an example of a secret roll is a grunt checking for booby traps. If he makes a bad job of it, he may think he has cleared the area, yet he has not spotted the trap. The GM decides whether a task to be rolled for is secret or open. The many tasks that a grunt may attempt are resolved using six-sided dice.
Open Tasks: To attempt an open task, the player rolls 2d6 and adds the grunt's relevant attribute. Searching a hooch for weapons requires the use of the Awareness attribute. Always add a +1 or +2 bonus if the character has a skill that may affect the roll, in this case a +1 would be added if the grunt possesses the Search skill at a Qualified level. Success always occurs if the total is 10+. Secret Tasks: Just because you think you have defused the bomb or checked for booby traps, doesn't mean that you have actually succeeded. In jungle-clad Vietnam, this uncertainty contributes to the mounting stress of a typical infantry patrol. Infantryman Crow says he's checked the trail ahead, but did he miss the booby traps, or are there actually none to be seen? Many Awareness rolls are secret, although the GM must decide for himself based on circumstance. Some Technical rolls may also be classed as secret, such as setting a successful booby trap for the VC. To attempt a secret task, the player rolls a number of d6 equal to the relevant attribute plus relevant skill. Double this total! The GM must have a 'magic number' in mind and he can come up with this number (ranging from 1 to 6) himself, he can roll a d6 to create the number, or he can decide on a number before the session and use it throughout the game. If any of the dice during a task roll turn up the magic number, then the player character grunt has succeeded (although he doesn‟t know it yet!). If they do not, then he has failed (and the grunt is still none the wiser!). With a secret task, the player still gets the responsibility and fun of rolling for his character, yet only the GM (privy to the magic number) knows whether or not he has succeeded. If the player thinks this is frustrating, well it is, this is the Nam. Frustration leads to tension, tension leads to violence and violence is the norm… Example. Crow has an Awareness of 1 and the skill of Spot Trap 1. If he tries to spot an approaching medevac chopper, which the GM classes as an open task, then he rolls 2d6 and adds his Awareness of 1. He rolls 8 and adds 1, for a total of 9. He needed 10, so he fails. Before Crow knows it the Huey is almost on top of him, and he hasn't had chance to inform his squad. Later he is sent to investigate a wooden bridge that the squad must cross, although Crow really isn't the grunt for this job! The GM classes this task as secret. Crow's attribute and skill together are 2, to be doubled for a total of 4d6. This time the roll is not added together to get 10+, instead the dice are rolled and the GM looks for the 'magic number'. Today it is '3'. The player rolls the four dice, and fails to roll a 3! He tells the squad leader that he's checked the bridge and found no traps, but the GM, referring to his notes, knows there's a booby trap there, and Crow failed to find it!
GEARING UP The grunts are trained and ready to go. By now they have fulfilled a number of basic requirements, and nearly all will be Privates First Class (PFCs, pay grade E-3). The DoD wastes no time in packing them off to Vietnam. Flown over in chartered airliners, nearly all those bound for the 1st Cav will arrive in-country at the huge US base at Da Nang. The grunts may have had some basic indoctrination about the situation in Vietnam, about the VC and NVA and about the struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the villagers. They might not. Not much will have sunk in. The training sergeants back in the World simplify the situation so much that what they tell recruits often seems like Boy Scout rhetoric in the face of unrelenting chaos and insanity. After arriving in the Nam the grunts are allocated common jungle kit, M16s and other role-related gear and then packed off to their units in-country.
22 They may go by truck or chopper. Within 24 hours (if they are truly unlucky) they might be humping the boonies on patrol with a squad of green recruits. When referring to the amount of kit a soldier carries with him, the US Army talks about „fighting load‟ (rifle and other weapons, canteen and ammo) and „existence load‟ (everything in the fighting load plus a field pack filled with rations and the equipment the soldier needs to survive for days in the jungle). Since most infantry patrols will last between 3 and 7 days, the grunts must struggle along with an existence load. Sometimes the existence load may amount to 20kg or more! Every grunt carries his kit in a different way, the webbing (belt and suspender straps) includes eyelets and the kit has hooks, so most kit can be hung wherever the soldier finds it most useful. And almost anything can be strapped to the small or medium field pack! In GRUNT we don‟t want to account for ammo and rations, the grunt soldier can take care of those himself. His Max Load is everything he carries except water, rations and ammo. Every item of weaponry and other kit is given a space rating, you can haul whatever you like into the field as long as you don‟t exceed Max Load.
Role-Related Kit The full equipment and weaponry available to a character depends on his role within the squad. Grenadier
M79 Grenade Launcher and Colt M1911 Pistol, Knife
M60 and Colt M1911 Pistol, M60 ammo belt, Knife
M16, Bayonet, Unit One Medical Bag
RTO M16, Bayonet, PRC-25 („Prick 25‟) Backpack Radio, 4 Smoke Grenades
M16, Bayonet, Machete
Squad/Team Leader M16, Bayonet, Map in Waterproof Case, Compass
23 Basic Kit List Ammo Cases. Spaces 0. $free. Two ammo cases are carried, each holds 3 M16 magazines. C-Rations. Spaces 0. $free. C-ration cans are divided up amongst the squad. Often eaten cold, but can be warmed up on a stove or fire. Don't forget your P38 can opener! Field Pack. Spaces 0. $free. Typically over-packed, the medium field pack sits on a metal frame while the small pack hangs from the belt. Flashlight. Spaces 1. $5. An angle-headed torch useful for searching bunkers, hooches or tunnels, and for general use at night. Comes with a red filter to preserve night-vision. Helmet. Spaces 0. $free. Steel pot with camo cover and an elastic strip used to carry odd bits of kit. Jungle Boots. Spaces 0. $free. Half leather, half canvas, these jungle boots dry out quickly and do not rot easily. Jungle Fatigues. Spaces 0. $free. These olive-drab fatigues include capacious pockets for ammo magazines. Mess Kit. Space 0. $free. A folding metal mess pan with lid, knife, fork and spoon. Poncho. Spaces 0. $free. Waterproof poncho with hood essential in the monsoons, also used as a shelter, groundsheet or tarp. Pressure Dressing. Spaces 0. $free. Each man carries one for his own use. Water Canteen. Spaces 0. $free. Plastic or aluminium canteen with screw cap. One or more canteens are carried, each sits in a fabric cover. Use purifier tabs if drinking stream water. Watch out for bad bugs! Webbing. Spaces 0. $free. Webbing includes the web belt which carries canteens, intrenching tool, ammo pouches, grenades and more, and it is supported by the padded suspender straps. Additional Kit List Binoculars. Spaces 1. $60. Small and compact military binoculars. Body Armour. Spaces 4. $80. The new M69 fragmentation vest has good protection from fragmentation, and may reduce the damage sustained from high-velocity rounds. Unfortunately it is hot and uncomfortable to wear, doubly so in the sweltering tropical heat of Vietnam. Most grunts eschew body armour, some wear it because their commanders tell them too, but don‟t fasten it up – rendering it practically useless... Compass. Spaces 0. $5. Compass is invaluable when determining location using a map or other reference points. Day-Glo Signalling Panels. Spaces 1. $10. Signalling panels to mark out Landing Zones, often used by special forces.
24 Gas Mask. Space 1. $100. Used when deploying CS gas grenades to flush VC out of hooches or tunnels. Officially designated the M17 Chemical-Biological Field Mask. Grenade-Carrier Vest. Space 0. $free. Looking like a modern tactical vest, this green over-garment has twenty-four individual pockets on its front face that are large enough to carry one 40mm-grenade each. Entrenching Tool. Space 1. $45. A small metal spade made to articulate and fold flat, open up as a he or a shovel. Use it to dig trenches, foxholes, cutting saplings, clearing undergrowth. One side of the blade is serrated. The M1967 entrenching tool comes in a plastic cover that can be hooked onto webbing or strapped to a field pack. Machete. Spaces 1. $20. Coming with its own sheath, the M1942 machete can be used to clear vegetation when trail walking, or when setting up firing positions. Multi-purpose Net. Spaces 1. $20. 3m x 2.5m in size, this olive drab netting can be used as a hammock, camouflage net, a carrier for bulky loads, a litter, a fishing net, a trap for catching game, a cache for food or ammo, a sniper‟s roost and many other field expedients! Comes with two long cords. Pneumatic Mattress. Spaces 1. $40. An olive-drab airbed for the US Army soldier! Great for use in bunkers or long-stay camps. Some units used the mattress to float equipment across jungle streams! Colloquially known as your „rubber bitch‟... People Sniffer Detector. Spaces 5. $300. An experimental backpack system, connected by a tube to a sensor mounted onto the M16. The scientists say it can detect the odour of humans up to 40m away. How reliable or useful this kit is will be up to the GM … Poncho Liner. Spaces 1. $20. A quilted liner for the poncho, the liner was popular as a blanket, mattress or impromptu sleeping bag. Invaluable on chilly nights in the cool Central Highlands. Radio, PRC-25. Spaces 3. $300. The „prick 25‟ is the common Vietnam-era portable radio, issued with its own carrying harness. It is a heavy and unwieldy back-pack-sized device. The dry-cell battery has a typical life of 20-hours and a recommended range of 5km. Rocket Flare. Spaces 1. $10. A cylindrical hand-held signal flare that launches a bright white star cluster flare 200m high, and illuminating twice that in open terrain. It slowly descends by parachute (duration 2 minutes). Sandbags. Spaces 1. $free. A roll of 12 nylon sandbags, ready to be filled by an eager grunt with an entrenching tool! Silencer, Experimental. Spaces 2. $350. A large experimental silencer that fits the barrel of the M16 and Colt Commando. Less of a silencer, more of a sounder "suppressor". Effective range will be halved, so use wisely. Smoke Grenade. Spaces 1. $2. These help pilots determine wind direction, and can be used for signalling. The M18 coloured smoke grenade comes in either red, purple, green or yellow. Red is often reserved for signalling „under fire‟ to an incoming chopper. The M8 is a white smoke grenade, often used to mark areas, or to provide cover. Spike-Resistant Jungle Boots. Spaces 0. $50. These are like normal issue jungle boots but feature a spike-resistant aluminium insole to counter punji stick booby traps. They are moderately effective.
Starlight Scope. Spaces 2. $350. Bulky optical device on a small tripod that intensifies night-time light to provide the viewer on guard duty or sniper spotting duty with light to see by. The stubby tripod allows it to rest on the top of a trench or foxhole with the viewer remaining under cover. The AN/PVS-2 Starlight Scope is a delicate instrument. Trip Flare. Spaces 1. $10. The M49A1 trip flare burns for about 1 minute and illuminates a 200m radius in open terrain. It comes on a bracket for mounting on tree trunks or posts. Activated by tripwire. Unit One Medical Bag. Spaces 2. $250. This comprehensive medical bag can be used to perform combat surgery, or simply administer jungle medicines to grunts or local South Vietnamese villagers. Wire Cutters. Spaces 1. $10. Use these to cut through barbed wire. Weapons Bayonet. Spaces 1. $free. General purpose combat knife, which also attaches to the end of an M16 to create a wicked fighting weapon. K-Bar, Marine Combat Knife. Spaces 1. $5. Famous fighting knife with serrated edge. Survival Knife. Spaces 1. $10. A popular survival knife, with integral compass. Smith & Wesson Revolver. Spaces 1. $40. Handy revolver with good stopping power, popular with aircrew and some ground troops also. Colt .45 Automatic. Spaces 1. $40. Tough and reliable auto pistol. Mark 22 Hush Puppy. Spaces 1. $160. New type of silenced pistol, designed for special forces, but occasionally available to other troops as well. M16A1 Assault Rifle. Spaces 3. $free. The standard US assault rifle, a perfect killing machine, the ultimate firearm of the Vietnam War. It was revolutionary, featuring black plastic and metal, with a carrying handle, and metal magazine holding 30 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. The bullets tumble in the air, causing hydrostatic shock when they hit a person. Capable of single shot or full automatic fire. M60 Machinegun. Spaces 5. $free. The M60 is the standard US squad machinegun, a big, heavy belt-fed machinegun firing powerful 7.62mm bullets. These bullets pass through vegetation with ease and retain their killing potential throughout their range. 100 round belts are fed into the gun by an assistant gunner, and sustained fire can heat the barrel so that it needs changing, an asbestos glove is provided to assist in this. Each M60 has a bipod fitted to the end of the barrel. M79 Grenade Launcher. Spaces 3. $free. Resembling a break-open shotgun, this grenade launcher is loaded with a single streamlined 40mm grenade at a time. One pull of the trigger fires the grenade several hundred metres, either directly at a target or indirectly, firing high in the air like a mortar. Most grenades fired will be high explosive, other possible rounds include high explosive armour piercing, flechette grenades, smoke grenades and gas grenades.
26 Colt Commando. Spaces 2. $100. A shortened version of the M16, also known as the CAR15, which is used by squad leaders, special forces, and those who require something handier than an M16. Its range is far shorter than the M16, however, but it still uses the same 30 round magazines. Ithaca 37 Pump Action Shotgun. Spaces 2. $140. Although banned by the Geneva Convention the US introduced shotguns to the army, giving pointmen a powerful close combat weapon. Local Popular and Regional Vietnamese forces also used the shotgun, and so did the special forces. Pointmen seemed to like it. Firebases and military camps sometimes had stocks of pump action shotguns ready for the inevitable Viet Cong assault and close quarter combat. Light Anti-tank Weapon. Spaces 2. $30. Designed to kill tanks, this is a disposable rocket launcher, a stubby cylinder that telescopes out ready for firing. A flip-up sight is used for aiming, It has a dangerous back-blast. In Vietnam these LAWs are used to try to demolish bunkers that are proving difficult to assault. Once fired the launcher is thrown away. Claymore Mine. Spaces 1. $25. These mines are the size of a large paperback book, and slightly curved. They are erected upright in the ground and fire a shower of steel balls toward one direction only, proving valuable for ambushes and defence of bases, camps and bunkers. A command wire and trigger is included. Try to remember which way the claymore is pointed, it is deadly out to 50m and has a rear danger area of around 10m. To ensure the grunt sets it up pointing in the right direction, the words: FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY are embossed on the front of a claymore. Grenade, Frag. Spaces 1. $free. Fragmentation grenade. Very useful. Grenade, Willie Pete. Spaces 1. $10. Heavy phosphorous grenade which burns with a great heat and a shower of luminous white-hot sparks. Great for setting things on fire. Grenade, Gas. Spaces 1. $10. This is a CS „tear‟ gas grenade useful for driving VC from hooches, tunnels or bunkers. Take a gas mask with you as well, though, won‟t you? Firearm Chart Weapon
2d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 2d6 4d6/1d6 4d6 4d6 4d6 5d6 4d6
Close Cbt +1 -3 -3 -3 -3 -3 +1 +1 -3 No No No
1 2 3 4 3 5 2 2 1 3 2 5 -
To Hit Bonus x2 x3 x2 +1 +2 +2 +2 +2 x3
Handgun Carbine Rifle Sniper Rifle Assault Rifle Squad Machinegun Submachinegun Shotgun Grenade Grenade Launcher M79 LAW B-40/B-50 Heavy Machinegun (.50) Minigun Light Mortar 60mm Medium Mortar 81mm
15m 80m 200m 240m 150m 250m 60m 25m 20m 200m 100m 50m/100m 300m 200m 1.5km 3km
3d6 5d6 5d6
no No no
x6 +3 +3
Murphy’s Laws of COMBAT These long standing military adages seem to fit the upside-down, back-to-front, insane Vietnam War where rules made no sense and the war made no sense, but everyone continued on... Every player should read these, and try to remember that the Game Master has read them too! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.
The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill. Things that must be together to work usually can't be shipped together. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it. Radios will fail as soon as you desperately need fire support. No plan survives the first contact intact. If you are forward of your position the artillery will always fall short. Never share a fox hole with anyone braver than you. Anything you do can get you shot. Including doing nothing The weight of all of your equipment is proportional to the length of the time you have been carrying it. The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep. If you can't remember, the claymore is pointed at you. If your attack is going well, you have walked into an ambush. The enemy diversion you have been ignoring will be the main attack. Don't draw fire, it irritates the people around you. If the enemy is in range, so are you. The easy way is always booby-trapped. Try to look unimportant, the enemy may be low on ammo. Professionals are predictable, it's the amateurs that are dangerous. The enemy only attacks on one of two occasions: When you're ready for them, and when you're not ready for them. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake. If you ever want an officer, try to catch some sleep
3: THE MISSION "We'll move out at midnight or a little after. Make sure you bring enough Claymores. And for Christ's sake don't forget the firing devices. Also, tell every man to carry a couple of grenades. No freeloading. Let's get some kills." If I Die In A Combat Zone, Tim O'Brien Much of the squad‟s time will be spent in patrolling, humping the boonies, beating the bush, checking trails, crossing paddy fields, looking for the VC; effectively acting as bait, drawing VC gunfire so that they might then neutralize it. It's search and destroy, only later in the war the higher ups began to insist everyone use the media-friendly term 'clear and sweep'.
CREATING A MISSION What is a mission? In GRUNT it is a structured scenario based around the combat activities of an air cavalry squad. Generally, most games will involve the player characters participating in a mission, although there will also be times when the game can focus on events out of the field, or on R&R. The GM creates the missions, and must pay particular attention to the effects that the scenario will have on the players. He is trying to illicit feelings of apprehension, of tension, or uncertainty and mistrust, as well as a degree of excitement and catharsis during the inevitable firefights. GRUNT is not a wargame, and a mission has to be more than just a series of combats linked together on a patrol route. There has to be story and meaning, but more than that, there has to be a dilemma. Implicit in that is choice. The Vietnam War was a war of staggering contradictions, a war where 'hearts and minds' aid programmes co-existed with body counts; where hundreds of men could die fighting to capture a hill, and the generals order it abandoned a week later. In GRUNT you always have choices - and they are always bad. This applies to moral choices just as much as tactical ones. There are four points that a GM might want to consider when creating a mission: dilemma, objective, non-player characters and the map. 1. Dilemma To create a mission, then, the GM is advised to start with a dilemma. Some sample dilemmas include:
The new platoon commander who wants a medal and leads the squad personally to provoke much larger VC units, but he denies them air or fire support or reinforcements from the rest of the platoon, so that he gains the glory for himself. How do the grunts satisfy their commander without getting killed?
The squad is sent to guard a bridge over a small river to prevent any VC reinforcements interfering with the platoon as it searches a village. Disguised VC will attack eventually, mixed in with locals who are crossing the bridge, working the fields and watching the squad. Their nerves are stretched to breaking point by false alerts. Suspicion is rife. Killing innocent civilians seriously ruins chances of character advancement, so how long will the grunts wait before opening fire?
Orders from battalion are to radio in for permission before any squad fires on VC suspects, armed or not. Return fire is permitted. The patrol features some nasty booby traps, evidence of VC atrocities and then several sightings of VC suspects, with AK47s. They radio the lieutenant, he radios the battalion S2, he must contact the divisional G3… the VC keep getting away. No-one fires on the squad - the frustration builds. Will the squad obey their orders or seek revenge?
Essentially, the GM needs to put the grunts in physical danger, give them a goal and then put a serious non-physical obstacle in their path.
2. Objective A military mission requires a military objective. Most games will be introduced to the player characters through a mission briefing given to them by their platoon commander. This is the official raison d'etre of the game, the objectives must be met for the squad to receive its Success Points. The only way player characters can advance and grow is if the squad succeeds in its mission objectives; it is this drive to meet the objectives that gives the GM a way to increase tension through dilemmas that put obstacles in the way of mission success. The objective should be a type of mission that an infantry squad would normally be expected to perform, although occasionally something special or out of the ordinary might be asked of the grunts. Airborne infantry typically make foot patrols through friendly territory or conduct helicopter-borne assaults into enemy territory. A few suggestions are provided below.
Patrol 1 – Follow a patrol route through fields and village in an attempt to spot VC activity or provoke it. Patrol 2 – Patrol through a local friendly village that has complained of VC attacks. Patrol 3 – Follow a patrol route that crosses several trails suspected of being used by VC infiltrators. Protect – A chopper has made a forced landing, of an APC has broken down, and the squad is told to guard it until the recovery vehicle arrives. Bridge – Guard a bridge while the rest of the platoon search a suspect village. Ville 1 – Search a village for VC supplies or weapons. Ville 2 – Search a village that is sheltering a group of escaped VC prisoners. Ville 3 – Search a village for a suspected tunnel system. Ville 4 – Occupy a suspected enemy village, burn a few hooches, rough up the headman, hope the VC attack in retaliation. Health Check – Take your medic into the friendly village and provide local health care for the day. Pump – Rendezvous with a supply truck in a friendly village, install the water pumps carried by the truck for the use of the local villagers. Block – The other squads in the platoon will move into a hostile village to flush VC toward your squad waiting in ambush. Pursue – A village has been raided by VC, pursue them into the jungle with your platoon. Perimeter – Man your bunker during a period of high alert at your base. Outside the Wire – Go on night patrol outside your base looking for VC sappers infiltrating. Bunker – Another platoon has reported spotting a bunker. Go and investigate. Artillery – Howitzers are being flown out to a jungle-clad hill to support a new offensive. The platoon provides security while the artillerymen hastily set-up a firebase. Sniper – An extremely well concealed sniper is making life difficult at a base. Find him. Hill 311 – VC mortars infrequently operate from Hill 311, harassing road traffic and patrols in the valley. While another platoon draws fire on the valley floor, take the hill. Hill 580 - Join the rest of the battalion as it makes a full-scale assault on the bunker-covered Hill 580. The platoon is assigned one route up. Assault – Conduct heliborne assault on NVA jungle camp spotted from the air. Reinforce – Conduct heliborne assault in support of another platoon pinned down by NVA troops. Drop in behind the NVA to block off their escape route.
The objective needs to be something that has a success criterion, so that at the end of the mission the GM can decide whether the grunts fully achieved or partially achieved their mission. On a patrol, did the squad complete the entire patrol and check locations X, Y and Z as ordered? For an assault, did the grunts meet the enemy and drive them away/kill them? 3. Personalities The personality of player characters and non-player characters provide the human aspect that makes GRUNT a roleplaying game and not a wargame. Dice do not determine the outcome of everything, people determine the outcome. The GM plays the role of VC and NVA soldiers and commanders with aloofness and mystery; the personalities of US soldiers can be presented with more force. Mission orders and the dilemma create the game‟s structure, but the personality of the NPCs involved give it added complexion and depth. The TV series Tour of Duty successfully used the personal problems and concerns of the squad members as the basis for more than one full episode. The GM may want to do likewise, playing out the personal dilemma of a character or NPC on the build-up to, and during, the mission. Problems may include racial tension, doubts about taking life, depression over events unfolding back home, cowardice, bullying or persecution by an officer, lying, stealing, drug-taking, competitiveness, worry over a father or brother in the service, feelings of loyalty, disgrace, camaraderie or jealousy.
31 As the problem manifests, the grunts must find a way to deal with it, while retaining the squad's camaraderie and integrity. They look after their own. How it plays out during the mission is up to the GM, perhaps the patrol or assault is an interlude, before the problem comes to a head back at camp. Or, there may be some resonance or solution to the character's personal problem encountered during the mission. If he's had a letter telling him his wife has had a miscarriage, then prior to the patrol, the character might have to write a letter to his own father or mother passing on the bad news, or otherwise deal with the information. He feels bad and the player might roleplay the character getting rolling drunk and angry, or talking back to an officer. It might transpire that while on the mission the next day, the patrol discovers a baby, survivor of a VC extermination attack. One man is detailed to look after it, and it might be the grieving character who steps up, or just as equally shirks the job. Either way, it forms the core of the adventure, with the patrol and any resultant firefights adding drama to the situation. When problems like this get 'fixed' through roleplaying, the character may gain a bonus. His Stress may be reduced. See THE CAMPAIGN. Here are some key NPC personalities to consider when creating the mission: Troop Commander – What‟s the captain like? For his men? For his lieutenants? For the senior officers? Is he decorated or desperate? Is he green, or a veteran? Dispirited or determined? Platoon Commander -The lieutenant might want to impress his soldiers or remain aloof, letting his platoon sergeant do most of the work. He might be incompetent or a naturally gifted officer. He is young. What do the squad leaders think of him? What does the captain think of him? One sergeant in Vietnam threatened to bust his men „back to second lieutenant‟, giving you some idea of where the lieutenant sits in the army food chain! Village – There may be a few local villages in the area. Do they seem friendly, neutral or hostile? If close to a US base they are probably friendly. What is their true alignment, communist, neutral or friendly? If friendly, have the villages joined the Popular Forces program, where they are armed and try to defend themselves and their village from the communists? If unfriendly, is the village a secret supply base, rendezvous point, tunnel entrance, weapons cache or booby-trap making factory? The grunts may get to recognize individuals in some of the friendly villages or the local town; headmen, school-teachers, farmers, shop-keepers, kids etc. Rest of the Squad – While the GM treats the NPC team members as „entities‟ for the purposes of firefights, there will be distinct personalities in there that may affect the outcome of a mission for good or ill. Pick out two of the grunts and play up their personalities at bit, it will add colour to the game and make the guy memorable. Give one a particular habit (running a rosary through his fingers on patrol; endlessly trading C-ration tins; moaning about the mud, the rain; the bush, writing lots of letters home, etc.). The Other Sergeants – There are four squads in the platoon and the player characters‟ squad is one of those. What are the two other squad leaders like? Is there any competition, friendly or otherwise? Do they know one another? Is one of the sergeants decorated or have a reputation? Perhaps one of the squad leaders is close to breaking point which will cause problems later on for your squad.
3d6 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
NPC Personality Religious Sentimental Cynical Competitive Superstitious Inexperienced Grizzled Veteran Coward Dispirited Glory Hound Patriotic Incompetent Gifted and admired Recently Demoted Recently Decorated Drunkard
2d6 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Village Deserted, burned and overgrown Recently deserted, within the last hour or two Loyal to communists, villagers are hostile to US troops Loyal to SVN, villagers are friendly toward US troops Secretly communist, villagers appear friendly to US troops Grudgingly SVN, villagers ignore US troops Grudgingly communist, villagers appear neutral to US troops Village forced to aid communists, villagers are neutral to US troops Fortified village, pro-SVN, pro-US, with its own self-defence force Neutral; villagers are desperate not to offend SVN or communists Divided village with mixed loyalties
4. The Map Maps are generally detrimental to a game of GRUNT when those maps are used in combat. This is not a war game, and the use of a combat map gives GRUNT a war game feel. However, a map of the local area is useful for both the GM and the players, since it gives them a series of options on where the squad will go and which route they will take to get there. These maps cover the mission‟s area of operation, an area roughly 5km square. Terrain, vegetation, rivers, swamp and roads are marked on this map, as well as landing zones (LZs), rendezvous points (RP‟s), pick-up zones (PZ‟s), remain overnight (RON) locations bases and friendly units. The GM needs a second map, identical to the first that includes VC locations, tunnel entrances, booby traps, ambush sites and VC caches. Examples of both types of map are included.
US Dept of Defence FORM Series 110/1959 Updated MACV-Saigon 1966/C-in-C’s Office
INSERTION BY CHOPPER “Up ahead, from the trees around a village, I could actually see muzzle flashes. Then I heard ships in the Yellow flight calling, taking hits. Then from small brush clusters ... came more bullets. Soon the radios were jammed with hit reports. Above the din I heard „Do not fire into the villages; do not fire into the villages,‟ from the Colonel.” Chickenhawk, Robert Mason As soon as the company or platoon commander finishes the short briefing, the characters can rearrange their load if needed, and as a squad they can decide whether or not to spend any of their money on extra kit. Once they are ready, give them each a chance for one last action, then begin the mission. This action might have a bearing on a personal problem, or dilemma in camp, and might include going to visit an NPC, writing a letter home, praying with the unit's chaplain, or some other personal activity. Boarding the Chopper This is the 1st Cav, and the squad will almost always be air-lifted into a Landing Zone within its Area of Operations, typically with the rest of the platoon. The briefing will include a time of departure, either later in the day or maybe at dawn the next day. At that time the entire squad will be assembled at the flight line ready to be transported by helicopter. The platoon sergeant will usually give everyone a once over to make sure they all have the kit they need and that the safeties are on their weapons. Then he will march them to the flight line. This is a location on the Golf Course where choppers take off. A series of marker posts sits in the ground parallel to the flight line, and one squad assembles in a line at each one. At the appointed time the choppers lift off from their dispersal areas and fly low and slow along the flight line, touching down opposite a marker. The men at that marker climb aboard. When all the squads are on their assigned choppers they lift off and gain altitude, falling into formation (often a tight 'V' formation) for the flight to the Landing Zone (LZ). The Landing Zone You may think that a Landing Zone (LZ) is anywhere the pilot finds to put down the chopper, but in reality each LZ is chosen before the mission begins, both from maps and from the intelligence gathered by over flights of recon choppers. If part of a large assaulting force, the mission might demand several LZs for all the helicopters involved, or there may be an alternate LZ if there are problems with the first. An LZ is open ground, close to the objective, that is not too close to any observed enemy activity. There will probably be some cover nearby. A Pick-Up Zone (PZ) will also be designated if the platoon has not been ordered to return to the LZ for extraction at the end of the mission. Sometimes LZs end up being fortified to sustain a lengthy mission that turns into an operation. Supplies are flown in, then tents and communications equipment, extra troops to defend the LZ, sandbags to be filled, barbed wire. Some are turned into firebases, receiving a battery of heavy mortars or 105mm howitzers (the latter hauled in beneath twin-rotor Chinook heavy lift choppers). In this way some LZs become permanent forward supply bases (FSBs), or fire bases, and can retain the prefix 'LZ'. They are no longer just jungle clearings however!
36 A Hot LZ On a patrol, the platoon fly to the LZ in the company of two Huey gunships (the Red Team) and two recon choppers (the White Team). These overly the LZ trying to draw any enemy fire. If deemed safe the platoon is landed and sets off on foot. The choppers withdraw, either back to Camp Radcliff for the night, or, if an extraction is due later that day, to a prearranged laager, a secure LZ within an hour's flight of the Area of Operations. If the LZ is hot, or if the intel boys of the 1st Cav know it's hot and are mounting a full combat assault, the escorts pair up into Pink Teams (one scout and one gunship), the scout flying low to spot VC activity or draw their fire, the gunship high, ready to dive in with minigun, grenade launcher and rockets blazing. Once the enemy is softened up (or ducking), the choppers carrying the platoon (the Blue Team) are landed, and the troops disembark rapidly, firing weapons and looking for cover as they do so. A hot LZ is a terrifying place to suddenly find yourself dropped into! Gunships will stay on station, or be replaced by freshly-fuelled choppers, if the assault requires continued support. If there are casualties during the attack, they are brought to the LZ where medivac (also known as 'Dust-Off') helicopters fly in to take them away. The DustOffs aren't armed, and are marked with red crosses. For those grunts on patrol, dumped in the field with a job to do, they are on their own. The 1st Cavalry can often supply artillery support if requested, if there is a firebase within 10km. If not, and if there are any in the area, the 1st Cav can supply aerial artillery (helicopter gunships) which will fire rockets, grenades and miniguns into designated areas, continually flying figure-of-eight loops pounding the area with everything they've got for the brief time their fuel holds out. If neither are available, then an airforce jet may be available to conduct a tactical airstrike in support of the player's squad. Napalm or accurately dropped parachuteretarded bombs are extremely effective at demoralising or driving back, the VC. Sometimes, though, none of the above are available, and the grunts have to battle their way to safety without the luxury of heavy fire support. Radius of Operation How far away will the mission Area of Operations be? How long will it take to fly to the AO? Will the radios have enough range to reach Camp Radcliff? This section deals with the basic question: where can the GM set a mission? The UH-1D transport helicopter could ferry troops out to 200km, and still have fuel to return with a reserve (the Huey has roughly a two-hour endurance). This range could take the troops east to Qui Nhon on the coast, west to the Cambodian border, south to the Darlac Plateau and north to Quang Ngai. But most missions will be closer, since the job of the 1st Cavalry is to protect the Central Highlands, in particular the crucial passes leading from Pleiku along Route 19. Because of this few insertion flights will last longer than 30 mins. Artillery support can be called in if the squad or platoon is within 10km of a firebase. It can be considered unusual for a US patrol or assault to be dispatched away from a firebase. If new ground is captured, then typically a firebase will be hastily erected, and patrols sent out within the firebase‟s protective artillery „umbrella‟. Radios have poor range. There are no satellite phones. A range of 6 km was considered good for a PRC-25. This would keep a squad in contact with its platoon commander, or might allow a radio request for an artillery barrage. The Air Cav operate radio relays in some UH-1s and in a number of Caribou prop planes, these fly high above the area and relay communications from platoon commanders back to battalion HQ. These high-flying relay planes are not always available though, the GM might decide to be mean, and have the platoon fairly isolated from headquarters!
37 Inside the UH-1 The UH-1 became a symbol of the war, and the 1st Cavalry operates hundreds of them. It is essentially a transport or utility helicopter, with a military crew of four: pilot and co-pilot, crew chief and door gunner. The crew chief is a maintenance expert, and responsible for all passengers and cargo. Both he and the door gunner have an M60 mounted on the side of the door, for firing into LZs in support of troops getting on or off. There are large sliding doors either side, and in Vietnam, even in the air, these are held open with metal pins to keep everyone cool. Passengers (up to 10) sit on a bench on the front wall (behind the cockpit) and on the back wall (in front of the rotor housing. Crew chief and door gunner sit on seats tucked into the side of the rotor housing, and they are secured with a safety line. Both men are enlisted. The pilots are either lieutenants, or more likely warrant officers, men who joined the army to fly, without command responsibility. The UH-1 (nicknamed the Huey by troops – a name which stuck) is vulnerable to small arms fire, heavy machineguns, even communist B-40 rockets fired while the chopper is close to the ground. Door gunner and crew chief wear „chicken-plate‟ armour, a type of knee length armoured jackets. Pilots also wear armour vests, and if they can scrounge any more, they lay them in the bottom of the cockpit to provide extra protection. In the passenger cabin there might be armour vests to sit on, some grunts sit on their helmets – although this contravenes the regs. The Cav often refers to choppers as „ships‟. The different types have their own nicknames. The troop carrying UH-1D is long and fast and known as a „slick‟ because it lacks heavy armament. The shorter UH-1B is slower, weighed down by rocket pods, a minigun or quadmounted M60s, and sometimes a chin-mounted auto-grenade launcher. These gunships are known affectionately as „hogs‟. Dedicated air ambulances are known as „dust-offs‟. By 1967 the Air Cav was also using the Hughes Light Observation Helicopter (LOH or „loach‟) for scouting and recon missions, the loach is a fast and agile bubble-canopied chopper with a V-shaped tail, typically flown by one pilot. Extraction Being extracted is similar to being inserted. HQ will give the co-ordinates of a nearby suitable Pick-Up Zone (PZ) and the platoon will have to hike there. A smoke grenade is thrown and this gives the pilots an idea of wind speed and direction, and provides added security. The VC often pop-smoke in nearby LZs to draw in choppers and shoot them up, so the infantry pop smoke and let the incoming pilots radio back with the colour that he sees. The slicks will arrive slightly behind scouts and gunships which scout out the PZ, watching for communist activity. When clear, the troops will assemble into columns of 10 each and move into the PZ, crouching low as the choppers come in a line-formation. The squads race aboard and the choppers lift off all at once. If the PZ is hot, slicks may refuse to land until the enemy have been subdued by gunships or fast jets, but more often they will come in fast, flaring to a hover at the last minute, the door gunners frantically hosing down the treeline with gunfire as troops dash aboard. Wounded always go first, and they take up more space which might mean more than one trip, the grunts may have to defend the PZ until another chopper comes in. It is customary to pop red smoke if the PZ is hot (hot = under enemy fire).
38 Death, Wounding and After the Mission Dead VC are usually left in the field for locals to clear away, although after a big battle (say outside of a firebase, the grunts will be ordered to dig a big mass grave). Most commanders, fearing civilian casualties (such things affect his mission success as well as the player characters‟!) will allow them onto medevacs if critical. While on patrols and assaults the grunts usually have neither the time or inclination to help civilians with their dead. Searching VC bodies is crucial, documents, weapons and other equipment should be handed in, and it all goes in increasing the mission success. Money on the enemy often goes missing unless an eagle-eyed officer or platoon sergeant spots it first. After the mission there will general not be a „debriefing‟ unless there was a serious incident (friendly fire, civilian casualties, unusually high enemy activity or weaponry, etc), in which case the squad will leave their kit and weapons behind, and follow the lieutenant and platoon sergeant to the base HQ for a short debrief with S2 (the intelligence officer) or the CO (commanding officer). Otherwise their kit is dumped in their GP „General Purpose‟ tent, they pick up their mess tins and head over to the mess tent for chow. They can expect another mission tomorrow, or perhaps a rare day off.
TRAVEL ACROSS COUNTRY It is helpful to use a checklist when running a mission. The GM should refer to this checklist often, adjudicating aspects of travel, as well as the discovery of mines, traps or ambushes. In many roleplaying games, travel through the countryside can be quickly glossed over with a short description. In the Nam, where booby traps can skewer the pointman, or where an ambush could be waiting for you around the next bend in the trail, movement from point A to point B is always fraught with danger and difficulty. Checklist 1 - Order of March Squad leader informs the GM of his squad‟s order of march. What is their formation, and who is in front, who‟s off to the side? 2- Distance Travelled Based on the caution of the squad, the grunts will move 1, 3 or 4 km per hour. 3 – Check for Traps & Ambushes The pointman, who must actively search for ambushes and booby traps is nominated. He makes a secret Detect Ambush and a Detect Booby Trap roll every 1000m of travel. After one hour, he must be replaced, the job is intensive and the pointman needs a break! And the danger needs to be shared in order to stop resentment building up … 4 - Resolve Trap or Combat If there is a VC ambush, or booby trap, then the GM and players resolve the action, go to Booby Traps or Aimed Fire in the COMBAT chapter.
Order of March Rather than have to recite the complete squad list when determining who goes where in the order of march, it is best to have the teams listed on the team or squad leader‟s character sheet in their normal order of march. Then all the GM needs to know is which team goes first ... When a grunt is injured or killed he can be marked with a cross. Prisoners or advisors can be assigned to a grunt who walks with them on the march.
Distance Travelled During a day's march the squad can move at three speeds and the faster it moves the less able the pointman is to detect ambushes or booby traps. Type of Speed Movement Explore Cautious Fast
1km/hour 3km/hour 4km/hour
Effect on Detection Rolls -1 -2
Getting Lost When the squad traverses wilderness or jungle terrain, the GM might ask the squad leader‟s player to make a secret roll to stay on course, using Map Reading and Technical. Failure indicates an unnoticed wrong bearing. The GM either chooses or rolls 1d6 in secret: 1-3 veer to the left, 4-6 veer to the right. Do not overuse this however, getting lost once of twice is interesting and can create twists in the story, but getting lost every game just builds up too much frustration in the players.
CHECKING FOR BOOBY TRAPS “Last New Guy we had sat down on a bouncing betty his first day in the bush. Rotated straight to hell.” The Short Timers The Vietnam War was famous for the use by VC forces of booby traps. Along with the ambush, the booby trap is feared by American units. It is indiscriminate and casual, and it creates a constant tension while the squad patrols jungle paths. As the unit traverses the countryside, the grunt assigned as pointman must make a secret Detect Trap roll every 1000m. The referee decides if any booby traps have been set along that 1000m stretch, or refers to his map. If successful he notifies his squad-mates, and they can either detour around or try to defuse it. If he fails to detect the booby trap then he has a 50/50 chance of setting it off, as does everyone who follows him. The victim takes the assigned damage. Some exploding booby traps are able to wound men in the patrol who are adjacent to the target (this is also a flat 50/50 chance). Since maps are not used and distances only estimated, a mine will injure a number of people in the patrol nearest the victim. See individual booby trap descriptions for the numbers of victims. Certain locations may have been booby trapped, such as bunker entrances, bridges, discarded rucksacks, etc. It is best to give continuous descriptions of the environment as the squad traverses it, setting booby traps at appropriate points. If the players get suspicious and search for a booby trap then give the pointman a +2. It is better that they have some input than coldly make one roll for an hour's walk. Types of Traps When the GM is deciding which booby traps he wants to add to the map, he must think like the VC. Where will the US troops enter the village? Which routes will they use? Where are the choppers most likely to land? When the US soldiers find the bunker, where will they explore? When they walk into the ambush, where will they run for cover? And then he can consider camouflage. Toe-poppers and mines can be dug into the ground, while stakes can be used to line a shallow pit that is covered with local vegetation. One wrong step and the grunt puts his leg into a spike trap ... Get devious. Very devious. The aim is to catch the grunts at every opportunity. When the VC work out an ambush site they might put steel spiked boards into the long grass nearby,
40 knowing the grunts will dive into the grass and land on the spikes... The VC might place booby trap grenades on local bridges crossing rivers and irrigation dykes; then after a game or two, put these things in the water instead, knowing the grunts will ford the river instead because they fear the bridge. Suspected chopper landing zones can be booby trapped with long poles tied to strings, when the poles are blown or knocked over by the choppers, the strings pull on detonators and activate an explosive. Rather than read up on VC booby trap techniques the GM might want to react to his players. Be the VC, they have spies and scouts out all the time and will be watching and reacting to the players. Mine the trails. When they stop walking on trails, mine the ground either side of the trails. Now and then mine the trails as well. Booby trap weapons caches, twice. Put two mine traps next to each other in the field so that one goes off and the second is set off by the medic. Be devious. Trap Type
Punji-Trap (Simple) Punji-Trap (Advanced) Punji Counterweight
Short iron spikes mounted on wooden boards, often hidden in long grass, stream beds at crossing points and so on. .50 calibre bullets mounted on a pin, just under ground. Shoot right through the foot when trodden on. Plank-lined pit with bamboo stakes at the bottom, and camouflaged with light branches and foliage.
As above, with side spikes that hit the leg higher up and make it difficult to pull the leg out of the pit.
Small Improvised Mine Large Improvised Mine „Bouncing Betty‟
This is made up of bamboo see-saw hidden on the ground by foliage. The soldier steps on one end, which depresses into a pit, while the other end (mounted with a spike-covered board) swings up into the grunt‟s chest or groin. Here a spike-mounted weight is mounted on a flexible branch, held away from the trail by a tripwire and concealed by dense vegetation. When the wire is pulled, the tension is released and the branch whips around to impale the soldier with its spikes. A ball of clay two feet in diameter has punji stakes protruding from it, and hauled into the trees to be concealed by foliage. When a tripwire is activated, the spiked ball falls or swings onto the unlucky grunt. A helmet protects the head from spikes, but not back, arms, shoulders and chest, or the concussion from the 50kg clay ball. Directional mine hitting a number of people who are in its path, activated by tripwire. Hidden mine activated by foot pressure, or a hidden grenade activated by a tripwire. These mines are often old Chinese devices, or improvised affairs from unexploded US bombs and Coke cans or C-ration tins. As above, but a much larger, deadlier mine, typically made up of an unexploded US bomb.
Soviet OZM Bounding Mine leaps into the air before exploding, usually activated a metre or more from the mine. A grenade or other explosive rigged in the branches of the jungle and activated by tripwire.
* Ignore a „6‟ serious wound result, victim will not die. Instead , a minor wound indicates that leg or legs disabled. Roll 1d: victim cannot walk on a result of 5-6, or can walk painfully at half speed and with help, on a result of 1-4.
Small Improvised Mine
Punji-Pit Trap Advanced
The Malay Whip Trap
CHECK FOR AMBUSH The pointman should make a secret Spot Ambush skill roll every 1000m. If an enemy ambush has been prepared then a failure indicates that the team has walked right into it. All hell breaks loose, guns fire, explosions rock the ground, men scream, dirt is thrown into the air, bullets „crack‟ through the air in front of their faces. And no-one knows who‟s firing, from where or at whom. Everyone hits the dirt and prays. If the pointman succeeds in his roll, then he spots something, hears a noise and alerts his squad-mates who can drop into cover without facing a turn of enemy fire out in the open. Both sides can initiate area fire in the next turn. In game terms the ambush is a combat situation where the VC are in cover and the grunts are moving (and so visible) and targeted by aimed fire (see COMBAT). In that first turn it is likely that a squad member will be hit. Everyone needs to hit the ground and so make them invisible to the enemy. From then on the VC must use area fire (again see COMBAT), and the battle begins. Of course the squad might find itself in a position to set up an ambush of its own, laying in wait, concealed, for a VC patrol to approach. Without the prior warning that most VC get from sympathizers, local forces and spies, it is harder for the grunts to be in the right place at the right time. Spotting Troops on the Move Remember – when troops go to ground they become effectively invisible to an opposing force. Troops moving, however, whether running or crawling or anything in between, may be spotted if they are close enough to the enemy. How close? Check the ranges in the table below. l This is a crucial part of any patrol in GRUNT. The terrain determines at what range one unit spots another. The range given tells the GM at what range the moving troops are visible to the opposing side. It might be VC watching a US patrol crossing a grassland, or it might be a US squad waiting in thick jungle to ambush VC coming along a trail. Spotting Troops in Cover already explained, when a soldier drops to the ground he is invisible (exceptions include clear tarmac and flat areas such as the water-logged fields of a paddy). But moving close enough, a soldier can see the face of a soldier as he peeps through cover, this happens at 20m, the edge of the „killing zone‟ (see COMBAT for a definition of the killing zone). In dense vegetation the range to spot a soldier in cover is only 5m.
Terrain Dense Overgrown Scrub Clear/Field
Distance Spotted 20m 200m 400m 600m
Spotting the Sniper Given time and patience, it is possible to locate the exact position of a sniper, but he must be a lone gunman. The confusion, noise and chaos of a firefight make spotting VC gunmen impossible. The spotter must observe the approximate area of a sniper's position during a shot and he must roll a number of successes depending on the sniper's range. Under 100m 2 successes are needed; under 300m 3 successes are needed and over 300m 4 successes are needed. So, the further away the sniper is positioned, the more turns pass, and the more shots he will be able to get off before the spotter can confirm his position (if at all). To gain a success, roll 2d6 + Awareness +2 for binoculars.
CALLING IN FIRE SUPPORT The infantryman is used in Vietnam to find the enemy, and keep him busy until artillery or airstrikes can destroy him. That‟s the theory anyway. There are times when the platoon is out of range of an artillery firebase, or when fast jets or gunships are just not available, either because of some action elsewhere, poor weather, or the use of friendly artillery nearby (which prevents aircraft from entering the area). Plus, it might make for poor gaming if the player characters resorted to calling in „the big guns‟ every time the fighting got too hot! If the player characters want some support the squad leader or RTO (or anyone else if they‟re both incapacitated) can call it in on the PRC-25 backpack radio. Because you can never count on support, the GM must either determine availability, or roll 1d6. On a result of 3-6 fire support or air support is available. A firebase or pilot will not provide fire support any closer than 100m to the grunts for fear of hitting them, unless the squad leader is very convincing! Even then the squad leader's name will be taken down as record, should some of his own men get killed by the strike. To make GRUNT „enjoyable‟ the GM should allow only one call for support per mission. In a multi-day mission the GM may allow more than one call for fire support. He should tell the player characters how many calls they are allowed during the mission briefing. Do not waste them! The squad leader makes a secret Map Reading roll; 1d6+3 turns later the shells or bombs fall. If the roll was successful they hit the beaten zone. If unsuccessful, then see below. Fire support landing in the wrong area can be called off and redirected with a new Map Reading roll at +1. Casualties Damage inflicted to the VC caught within the 10m target zone is an Area Fire Pool of 12d6, rolled in secret (see COMBAT for details on Area Fire Pools). Every 6 is a VC casualty. If the VC are heavily entrenched, or dug-into bunkers, they will suffer only 6d6 damage. Missing The Target Airstrikes or fire-missions that miss will hit something. To determine exactly what, roll 1d (-2 if the fire mission is called in within 100m of the grunts): 1 2 3-6
Directly on-top of the player-character‟s squad (1-3 grunts take 4d6 damage). Between the PCs and the VC (1d6 grunts take 1d6 damage) Into the jungle or surrounding area.
Radio Call Signs Radio messages are brief. The caller „calls‟ his target radio operator and identifies himself. He then gives his message. “Blackjack, this is Eagle-wing, request fire-mission at the following co-ordinates, over”. Radio operators routinely repeat the message back to the caller, “Eagle-wing, this is Blackjack, confirm fire-mission at the following co-ordinates, out”. The following radio words will help players create radio messages: THIS IS OVER OUT ROGER SAY AGAIN WILCO I SAY AGAIN
This transmission is from the following station ... End transmission, please respond. End of message and transmission. No response is required. Over and out have opposite meanings and are never used together. I have received your last transmission satisfactorily. Repeat your last transmission Message received and understand. Will comply with it. Never used with Roger. I am repeating all or part of my message.
44 Where Does Fire Support Come From? The 1st Cavalry division set up fire support bases (FSBs), circular defences on hill-tops that provide protection for an artillery battery. This battery of six 105mm howitzers can provide fire support for any troops in any direction within 10km. As military operations move into new areas, new firebases are choppered into position to support troop patrols and assaults. Artillery can fire in any weather. Where there are no FSBs the 1st Cav operate loach scout choppers that act as Forward Air Controllers (FACs). These fly low and try to eyeball the enemy, then relay requests for fire support to helicopter gunships that fly in to attack the enemy. Sometimes the air force has jets that can dump rockets or bombs onto the enemy, their attacks are co-ordinated by one of the air force's little Cessna Bird-Dog observation lanes. Like the loach these fly low, trying to get a visual on the enemy before calling in the jets.
AFTER-ACTION REWARDS Experience and advancement in GRUNT is on a fairly small scale and based on group mission success. Player characters won't be seeking promotion, since moving up only one or two grades will take a PC out of the squad and out of the game for good. Ranks come with roles that stay the same from game to game. Success Points Instead, the GM totals up the success points that a squad has achieved during its last mission. Each time this running total reaches a multiple of 10 or 20, the squad (as a unit) receives a number of well-deserved rewards. Refer to the relevant box, „every 10‟ or „every 20‟, success points. The squad is a unit, functioning together. Success Points Objective achieved Objective partially achieved Each civilian killed/injured Each grunt killed in action (KIA) Find VC weapon/supply cache Capture VC Heavy Weapon Capture useful VC prisoner Body Count: 1-3 VC Body Count: 4-10 VC Body Count: Over 10 VC
+2 +1 -3 -1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +2 +3
Squad Rewards Received every 10 Success Points: 2 x Claymore Mines 1 x LAW 2 x replacement grunts if needed $150 special kit +1 free skill point for each grunt Received every 20 Success Points: 4 x replacement grunts if needed $250 special kit +1 free skill point for each grunt Each grunt can turn a single „1‟ Attribute into a „2‟ R&R. The grunts get to go on R&R to Tapei, Bangkok, Hong Kong or Manila. Reduce every grunts‟ Stress by 1.
45 Medals Surely grunts can be awarded medals? GRUNT isn‟t really about decorations and awards. We can certainly assume that anyone shipped Stateside with a serious wound will receive a Purple Heart , but don‟t bother awarding these for minor wounds. If the GM, and perhaps the players too, decide that a grunt in the squad has performed an act of incredible bravery, a self-less act of courage under fire and great danger, then that grunt may be put in for an award. The unit commander, probably the lieutenant or captain, will do this, facts are checked and witnesses interviewed; there can be no falsification. Roll 2d6 and check the table below. On a result of 2-6 no medal is awarded, too bad. On a result of 7 a Purple Heart is awarded if the grunt also suffered a minor wound during the action. On a result of 8 – 12 a specific medal is awarded. 2d6 12 11 10 9 8 7
Decoration Distinguished Service Cross Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star Bronze Star with V Army Commendation Medal Purple Heart (only if also suffering a minor wound; otherwise no award)
The members of a squad (as a whole) can only receive one medal per 20 success points earned. GMs may want to avoid awards altogether, they have no mechanical effect and may turn the players‟ focus away from stress, success points and the daily terrors of jungle patrolling.
TRAUMATIC STRESS "Each man in a squad would tell you how crazy everyone else in the squad was, everyone knew grunts who'd gone crazy in the middle of a firefight, gone crazy on patrol, gone crazy back at camp, gone crazy on R&R, gone crazy during the first month at home." Dispatches, Michael Herr When a grunt comes face to-face with the human horror of war, he is often forced to internalize that horror. He appears hardened, yet the inhumanity he is witness to or forced to participate in, create stress and turmoil within him. Hopefully, the player character can moderate the stress and function normally. Horror Tests (2d6+Spirits) Being a witness to, or participant in, a horrific scene requires a Horror Test. Roll 2d6 add Spirits and try to gain a result of 10+. If successful the event can be explained, rationalised or forgotten. If unsuccessful, then the event leaves a scar, add 1 point to the grunt‟s Stress total. Stress is bad – and is always accompanied by a „condition‟, a behaviour that is generally not considered normal, that the PC uses to relieve stress. It might be fear of the dead, cowardice or over-reliance on religion. While the grunt has any stress points on his character sheet, he must have an associated condition.
46 The first time a character loses his cool (ie. fails the 1d6 Response Horror Test) he suffers a random psychological 1 Throws up response, his brain kicks off and the character 2 Screams and shouts involuntarily does one of a number of things. The 3 Sobs GM can pick a response he feels is suitable, or he can 4 Turns away, paralyzed roll a d6 and let the player roleplay the result. He 5 Curls up and shuts off only has this response once, the first time he fails the 6 Fills his trousers Horror Test. Every other time, whether he fails or succeeds, there is no response, and none is rolled for (it is sublimated, and manifests on the character sheet as a stress points). Horrors of War
These are hard to define, never mind list. Classify them as 'Things Man Was Not Meant To See', things not shown in the 1950s war movies, things your father never told you about his time in Normandy. This list is a guide, certainly not definitive:
Mutilated corpses, of any side, army or creed. Reporter Tim Paige saw a dead GI from whom the VC had cut off the genitals and stuffed them into his own mouth: Horror Test. Horrible wounds, with insides turned out; one GI about to join a convoy through the dangerous An Khe pass celebrated the night before with a local girl in his APC. She left a satchel charge behind that blew off his arms and his legs at the knee. Body parts, sometimes in disturbing or incongrous locations. Mason, in Chickenhawk, recounts watching a grunt throw a human head into his chopper that rolled under the passenger seat: Horror Test. Horrific death, dramatic, unexpected, explicit and just … horrible. Tim O' Brien, in his memoirs, remembers his squad following tracked APCs that came under fire and then suddenely went into reverse. One man lost a foot, another broke a leg, one man was squashed flat - all by the APCs there to protect them: Horror Test. Torture. Watching your own platoon officer wire up the dynamo-powered base telephone to a suspect's gentials then power it up, makes you wonder if you're on the right side: Horror Test. Ones own good deeds destroyed and laid waste. A doctor worked for hours on an Austalian soldier, and then a wounded VC in the same field hospital, woke up, went beserk and slit the Aussie's throat with broken glass: Horror Test. Human suffering, beyond mere grief, including the abuse of innocents, wounded, and prisoners. For a bit of fun, a the driver of a jeep made a bet with the bored passengers that he could hit a local woman walking along the roadside, as she carried rice on a pole. He ran over her for fun, breaking her hip: Horror Test.
Reducing Stress Through Roleplaying Why is stress bad? At the start of every mission the GM reviews the PC‟s stress levels. If any grunt ends a game with stress points remaining, then his Panic score returns to its original value for the entirety of the next mission. This is bad, and so during the game the player tries to lower his character‟s stress points, either during, before or after the combat mission. He does this by role playing a short scene where his PC can give free rein to his 'condition'. A GM should let the players take the lead in setting up and developing these scenes. Dice might be rolled and tasks attempted, or they can be purely descriptive. When a PC has such an „episode‟ he can reduce his stress points immediately by 1d6. This might be enough to lower his Stress to zero by the end of the mission – or it might not. It‟s certainly worth trying. Those who fail to eradicate their stress in a game fail to internalise their fear and panic, which instead becomes real and physical. During the next mission, then, his Panic score is at its original value. The grunt is a nervous wreck and freezes in combat, or closes his eyes and prays – he‟s as useful as the greenest of the new FNGs!
47 For Game Masters and players wanting to use these Traumatic Stress rules, it is important that they allow time for these episodes to be played out, more often in and around camp, on R&R, outside combat and out of the field, than in it. Note that these reductions in stress are only temporary! At the start of the next game they are returned to their original levels (and if the grunt failed a Horror Test in the last game, may even have gone up!) Conditions A list of conditions is given here. The GM may want to choose one that he thinks appropriate to a particular grunt, the player may want to select one, or perhaps they want to roll one randomly on list 1 or list 2. They are suggestions, thumbnails, ideas for roleplaying opportunities. If they become detrimental to the game or a time consuming burden, then leave them and the Traumatic Stress rules out of your game of GRUNT. It should run fine without them. 2d6 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Table 1 Cannot Kill Fatalist Guilt Cowardice Charm Temper Loner Nightmares Fanatical-Body Count Phobia-Being Alone Fanatical-Anti-Communist
Table 2 Hears Voices Cowardice Compulsive Gambler Post Combat Shakes Indecisiveness Temper Addiction - Drugs Flashbacks Fanatical-Body Count Phobia-The Dead Phobia-Blood
Addiction-Drugs An episode of drug taking, dealing and/or zonking out. Cannot Kill An episode where a face to face kill or aimed shot is refused, or a confrontation with authority. Charm An episode where the grunt irrationally puts his trust in a lucky talisman instead of a practiced procedure or piece of equipment. Compulsive Gambler An episode of gambling, sometimes over trivial, stupid or dangerous things. Cowardice An episode of cowardice, not uncontrolled panic, but calculated to avoid danger. Fanatical-Body Count An episode where the body count is important, keeping a tally, taking a souvenir, taking an ear … Fanatical-Anti Communist An episode that displays extreme anti-communism, perhaps a confrontation or aggressive act. Fatalist An episode that shows how the grunt has relinquished free will to the military machine, or destiny. Flashbacks An episode of flashbacks, replaying an event from his tour of duty that resonates with his current situation, it will debilitate him, but not in a combat situation. Guilt An episode of guilt, soul-searching, extreme remorse and attempts to make amends for an action of the squad or the grunt himself. Hears Voices An episode where the grunt hears voices (of whom?), debilitating or confusing him Indecisiveness An episode where a decision needs to be made (often in the field) but indecision cripples the grunt and could put the mission, even lives at risk. Loner An episode where the grunt should work as a team or with a partner, but where he removes himself, separates himself; this episode could also take place in camp, where his presence is needed at a party, meeting, briefing, etc.
48 Nightmares An episode of nightmares, replaying an event from his tour of duty that resonates with his current situation; it might strike while in the field compromising the squad, or leave the grunt exhausted and unable to stay awake for guard duty. Phobia-Being Alone An episode of extreme fear and abhorrence concerning being left alone or the threat of being left behind, abandoned, lost or captured. The grunt may take extreme measures to ensure he is not left alone. Phobia-Blood An episode of extreme fear and abhorrence concerning blood, the grunt will take extreme measures to avoid seeing blood, touching it or being in a place where he is likely to see blood. Phobia-The Dead An episode of extreme fear and abhorrence concerning dead bodies, the grunt will take extreme measures to avoid seeing dead bodies, touching them or being in a place where he is likely to see them. Post Combat Shakes An episode of uncontrollable shakes takes the grunt following a firefight, this might occur in the field, or back at camp, and will be associated with a degree of confusion and upset and the lack of control. He is a nervous wreck, and might even take a -2 penalty on physical tasks for a while. Temper This is a common condition. The grunt will be struck by an episode of rage triggered by something that he would normally ignore or deal with peacefully. He might get into a blazing row over nothing, or get into a fight instead of an argument, or he might take his frustrations out on a Vietnamese that is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The player should be careful not to let the episode get too out of hand and get him into trouble with his superiors. In the field the grunt‟s squad-mates might be forced to rally round and cover-up for him. Be careful not to let this condition be used as an excuse to turn the grunt into a killing machine. The episode will be brief and probably more often confrontational than violent.
Stories: Eliminating Stress Permanently Rather than have stress return at full strength at the start of every mission, it is preferable to try to reduce it permanently. This is done by building up good relationships, helping people and gaining „stories‟. A story is an anecdote from the grunt‟s past that reminds him that he‟s still human, that he has a life waiting for him back in The World. When a GM awards a story to a player character, the player concerned gets to make that story up , share it with the other players and write it on his character sheet. At any point thereafter, the player can ‘spend’ that story to permanently reduce another grunt’s Stress score. This is best done late in the game when a grunt finds he just can‟t reduce his stress levels before the mission ends. A spent story must be marked with an X; it cannot be used again. Here are some sample stories. “Anders crashed his dad‟s car the same day he passed his driving test” “When Crow shot his first rifle in training the butt smacked him in the face and broke his nose” “Feelgood built a hot-rod with his dad, but they never got the engine to turn over” Stories are awarded at the end of a game after the PC has helped people, either Vietnamese civilians, comrades or even Viet Cong (perhaps wounded or vulnerable). Acts of compassion, empathy and trust can all lead to a story award. The story is typically unrelated to the incident of compassion, but at times it might actually have some resonance. Obviously in a war zone, opportunities to develop close relationships with local people, help them out, care and look out for them, might be scare. There may be the odd chance to help a fellow GI pull through a crisis and other chances might occur while on a mission, or on R&R. Gaining stories is fun and should be encouraged, but the GM shouldn‟t award stories to every grunt at the end of every mission. It will take work to develop a relationship, and there just may not be the opportunities in a mission to do so. When a grunt gets killed in action, his stories die with him, and that can be the main reason that a character‟s loss is mourned.
4: COMBAT "All hell broke loose. I dived over this log and I peeked from behind it. I hear one of those guys with me screaming at the top of his lungs. His leg is all blown to shit. The dirt is popping around him. Snipers are trying to kill him. Three other fellas are up front and they're all laying in a shallow stream, face down." NAM, ed. Mark Baker GRUNT is not a wargame, but players will find themselves inside a cruel and brutal war, on the cutting edge of a huge military machine. They are soldiers, they are warriors, and their job is to search for the enemy - and to destroy him. Combat happens during every game session, and while the characters have the skills to pull the triggers, it is the players who quickly need to learn the ropes, to catch up with the war, to learn habits and behaviours that will save their characters. Veteran soldiers know how to survive. It is the intent of the GRUNT rule-set to push players into adopting habits that the US soldiers themselves adopted, not because they were ordered to, or due to US doctrine, but purely in the interests of survival and expedience. Assumptions There are three types of combat in GRUNT; aimed fire, area fire and close combat. All use the open task roll system. Turns: Combat is a messy, chaotic business. To create some order out of the chaos, combat scenes are divided up into neat segments called turns and each turn is around 10-15 seconds long. In one turn everyone gets the chance to act, typically all actions (especially area fire and close combat) are simultaneous, although when more precision is required, characters can act in order of Combat attribute while VC act on their VC Rating. Movement: In turn-by-turn combat situations, troops can move the following distances in each combat turn. Firing Positions: The term „firing position‟ is used several times in connection with the VC and refers to an artificial line connecting the men of a VC squad as they fire from their concealed positions. Typically they will be strung out in ones and two‟s behind cover in a line, but in a position so that they can look left and right and see one another. It is helpful to imagine this VC firing position, particularly as the grunts move in to close combat when they will be trying to reach this line and take the enemy on in snap-shooting and brutal hand-to-hand fighting. Sprint/Charging Advance in Rushes Walk/Patrol Crawling
30m 20m 10m 5m
Maps: Maps are not used in GRUNT as a tactical aid, rather the GM is encouraged to use sketch-maps drawn on the spot. A hex map or grid will focus the players onto the 2D flat space, and the game really is about a sense of fear and tension, and about recreating some of the confusion and chaos of a firefight. Since much of the time the enemy is unseen, there is nothing to mark on the map but areas of vegetation or terrain. A blank tactical map template is introduced in The Mission, however, to provide the GM with a map for the mission briefing. It also allows the players to indicate where their patrol will walk. Landing and pickup zones can also be marked on. A copy should of course be annotated by the GM with traps and VC ambush sites.
ROLLING FOR THE VC “Hard soldiers, strange, diminutive phantoms with iron insides, brass balls, incredible courage, and no scruples at all. They look small, but they fight tall, and their bullets are the same size as ours.” The Short Timers Since the players cannot see the VC for much of the time, do not know their strength, their firepower or their experience, it seems silly to treat the VC as player characters with individual kit lists and skills. Instead, it helps the GM to make a single roll for a VC squad. The advantage here is that the players don‟t know whether they are facing two determined Viet Cong, or an 8-man squad of trained VC sappers! Troop Types and To-Hit Assign a single value, the VC Rating, to a squad of Viet Cong, and be done with it. This VC Rating can be used for all kinds of rolls, from stealth to recon, to morale if being charged and of course to attack rolls. Select a Viet Cong unit to determine its VC Rating; local force VC are farmers and villagers who support the communists, and act as snipers, lay booby traps in the local area etc. Main force VC are trained and supplied by North Vietnamese cadres who come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into South Vietnam. Main force VC have designations, heavy weapons such as mortars, machineguns, RPGs and grenades. They may be well trained and motivated. North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units have come south to support the VC insurgency, they may or may not be wearing their green uniforms, but will be disciplined, organised, numerous and well armed. The GM decides how many VC are in the unit, from 1 to 9. VC operate in cells of 3 men, linking up to form a squad of 3 cells. For larger groups of VC, roll separately for groups of 9 men (squads). Their extra firepower (more rolls) will be evident to the players, they will know they are facing a platoon, not a squad or a lone sniper. Type of Communist Unit Local Force VC Main Force VC NVA
Armed villagers, part-time irregulars Trained guerrillas led by veterans Tough North Vietnamese army regulars
12+ 11+ 10+
When the VC unit opens fire, the GM must roll the rating or higher, to hit just one player character grunt (choose randomly if needed). There can only be a maximum of one player character casualty per turn. Use the following modifiers based on the movement and position of the player characters. The GM‟s hit-roll is mainly based on the type of movement the US force is currently engaged in. If troops are moving in different ways (one team prone, the other charging), roll for each movement type, starting with those easiest to hit (in this case those charging). Remember that only one grunt can be shot per turn, so if one of those charging grunts is shot, the GM would not bother rolling for the men who are prone. Hey, they wanted to get up out of the mud and draw some fire … who are we to argue?
Bonuses for VC Ranged Attacks Situation Grunts stood up, patrolling or charging Grunts advancing in rushes Grunts crawling/prone Grunts also crossing the 20m Killing Zone VC using grenade that turn VC firing mortars that turn
VC To-Hit Bonus +2 +1 +2 +1 +2
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any VC unit suffering a casualty cannot conduct aimed fire in the next turn, this simulates 'covering fire'.
AIMED FIRE When a target is exposed and visible to the grunt he can shoot at it with aimed fire. That target may be a VC sapper running into a US firebase, it may be an enemy soldier stood on top of a bunker or filling up his canteen in a stream. With the target so exposed, the grunt gets a clear shot. To conduct aimed fire, a player makes an open task roll adding the Combat attribute and a relevant weapon skill. If the total is 10+ then the grunt hits his target. There are situations which may affect this roll, however. Aimed Fire Modifiers Range Over Twice Weapon Range Range Over Weapon Range Target inside Bunker Target Partially Visible Shotgun (in Weapon Range) Grenade (Thrown/Launched) Weapon Skill (Qualified) Weapon Skill (Expert)
-4 -2 -2 -1 +1 +2 +1 +2
Aimed Fire with Automatic Weapons Some weapons are able to fire bursts, increasing the chances to hit and damage a target. These weapons are allowed additional rolls, which may be all be directed at the same target, or at any other obvious targets adjacent to the primary target. Here, „adjacent‟ means within an arm‟s reach. Most auto-fire weapons, such as SMGs and the M16 or AK-47 are allowed two „to-hit‟ rolls. The more powerful M60 machinegun is allowed three „to-hit‟ rolls. These extra to-hit rolls are possible if the weapon is being fired under Twice Weapon Range.
AREA FIRE “„Shoot, shoot‟ people kept saying to me. „Where are they? „They‟re over there‟, they would say, pointing in the general direction of some trees about 150 yards away. So I would edge up over the top of a rice paddy dike and I would shoot at the tree line.” NAM, ed. Mark Baker Most gunfire in the Vietnam War and in a game of GRUNT is area fire. That is, fire directed at a patch of vegetation, at a hooch or part of a street-front, all roughly 10m across. In military parlance, this area is known as the „beaten zone‟. The enemy is in cover, firing at the players' unit without showing themselves. Any soldier laying down in vegetation, whether VC or American, is for combat purposes, invisible and only vulnerable to this type of area fire. A soldier only exposes himself to the risk of observation by moving. When soldiers hit the dirt in any type of vegetation or built-up area, they cannot be seen, and only attacked via area fire. Use common sense. If soldiers hit the deck in the middle of a Saigon street then they are still exposed to aimed fire, just as if they try to 'take cover' in a paddy field. At a minimum, there needs to be some cover and vegetation around (during the Tet Offensive there were times when soldiers found that even street kerbs could provide cover!). Only when a soldier moves will he become visible to the enemy and thus susceptible to much more accurate aimed fire. If the GM is in doubt whether an exchange should be resolved as aimed fire or area fire, use the secret area fire rules. Area fire uses the 'open' task resolution system, troops know when their fire is hitting the beaten zone. When player characters wish to use area fire, they must nominate a 10m wide patch of vegetation, street front, hut or landscape within twice the maximum range of their weapons. They cannot see individual VC, perhaps only identifying the beaten zone by the sound of gunfire or the direction of incoming bullets. US doctrine calls it „weight of fire‟, grunts call it „piling it on‟; it‟s the combined force of M16s grenade launchers and machineguns firing as much lead and shrapnel into that 10m area as possible. Surely it will kill someone? In that combat turn, the grunts of the squad are firing on and off intermittently, but co-ordinating their fire. Use area fire in this way for player characters only. For the rest of the NPC squad members, refer to the section below entitled Managing All Those Attack Rolls. The Area Fire Pool Every participating character makes his to-hit roll, with 2d6, adding his Combat attribute and a bonus for weapon skill. This is just like aimed fire. And like aimed fire, any automatic weapon gets one or more extra to-hit rolls. With every success rolled, the GM takes a d6 and hides it behind his screen to create an Area Fire Pool. After everyone has made their to-hit rolls, and their grunts are still guessing about the effect their volleys had, the GM rolls all the d6 of his Area Fire Pool in secret. His magic number is always a „6‟, and it indicates that a VC has been hit and severely wounded or killed; multiple 6‟s mean that more than one VC was hit. Still the players don‟t know the effect they‟ve had, they don‟t see their victims get shot, most likely don‟t hear any screams. The VC themselves probably continuing firing next turn, or they might pull back, or simply pause to remove the dead or reload. The grunts might want to continue to use area fire, or venture out to investigate., exposing themselves to aimed fire from the waiting VC… Typically a cautious American squad will spend several turns
53 pounding a stretch of jungle with area fire before moving forward in rushes to assault the firing position. Managing All Those Attack Rolls The players should always feel that they have a direct input on the outcome of the battle, and always roll the 2d6 to get on target. The GM will struggle to keep up, however, not just rolling for the VC unit, but for all the rest of the US squad. With ten men firing on automatic, the GM could be rolling upwards of 18 separate attack rolls each turn! At times it may be useful to roll for an NPC just as you would a player character, but most of the time the GM should instead roll secretly, all at once, for the NPC grunts, just as he does for the VC. Do this. Once the players have made their attack rolls, the GM can roll 2d6 secretly for each team firing at the same target or beaten zone (both the squad leader and team leader have their own team in tow). Just like the VC main force he's looking at 10 or more to tell him if the team scored a kill. Keep this roll secret from the players, obviously, unless its aimed fire and everyone can see the results. The team kills one VC on 10+ if conducting area fire, but just as player characters have more chance killing VC they can see, so to do teams. With aimed fire every number over 10 (12 is 2, 14 is 4, for example) indicates an extra VC hit, the GM can adjudicate that however he pleases, as a serious wound, kill etc, as he would following an Area Dice Pool. Imagine a platoon of VC storming the wire of a fire base. With a machinegun and a few M16s, the grunts should rack up several kills in short order. Squad To-Hit Modifiers Machinegun firing Aimed Fire Grenade Launcher Firing
+1 +2 +2
CLOSE COMBAT When characters are within 5m of the enemy, close combat rules are used. Fighting is fast, brutal and may well hinge on hand-to-hand fighting rather than gunfire. Close combat is confused and chaotic. It is the surest and most decisive way to eliminate an enemy. Guns, blades, fists, bayonets and rifle butts are used. A unit of soldiers (VC or American) charging into close combat always has the edge and may well win. Cross the Killing Zone To get into close combat range with the enemy, the fighting force first has to cross a 20m wide killing zone. This is the 20m in front of a VC firing position., and also includes areas off to each side. No enemy can enter the killing zone during daylight without instantly being seen and shot at with aimed fire, even those who try crawling forward toward the enemy firing position. The killing zone must be crossed in rushes, or in a single charge. It requires the grunts involved to roll equal or over their Panic attribute, if they fail the characters drop into cover on the edge of the killing zone. If they succeed then they can either advance in rushes or charge, the squad leader may order either. The VC open fire. Roll 2d6 for the VC unit each turn, hitting a player character if the result is equal to or greater than the unit‟s VC Rating (allow the VC +2 to hit anyone crossing the killing zone). Advancing in rushes is safer, but charging unnerves the opposition and forces them to make a roll on Panic (if US), or VC Rating roll at +4. If they fail they run. Of course running away makes you visible, and thus exposed to at least one turn of aimed fire from the attackers …
Fighting Hand-to-Hand Any grunts who get to the enemy firing position enter close combat. We do not track every slash, riposte or shot. The grunt may try to stab with a bayonet, duck behind a tree, then shoot another VC, hit one more in the face with the butt of his rifle and then kick him in the gut before bayoneting him in the chest. It‟s live or die. It is an abstract roll that applies a modifier based on the lethality of a weapon at such a close ranges and with threats coming from all directions. If troops are defending a firing position, then they have time to arm themselves with whatever weapon is at hand. The best weapon is a bayonet attached to a rifle, after this a knife or entrenching tool is useful, various short range guns are next in usefulness. Long guns can prove a liability, since they are too slow to get on target. VC Morale: First, the GM rolls morale for the VC; roll their rating at +4. If they succeed then everyone in the unit will attack or defend and flee when reduced beyond half casualties). If they fail the morale roll, then only half the unit will actually attack or defend, and they will flee when the first man is killed or seriously wounded. Grunt Attack Rolls: Next, the grunts who have made it to the enemy firing position make attack rolls (Body plus Close Combat skill) when they encounter VC; 10+ secures a hit. If on the attack, and armed with close quarter weapons, the grunts gain useful bonuses. If the grunt succeeds in rolling 10+ he inflicts damage on a VC, based on the weapon used. If he fails then he suffers damage based on the weaponry of the VC. In close combat a minor wound gives the victim a -1 penalty in the next turn (these penalties will accumulate).
Close Quarter Weapons Rifle and fitted bayonet (3d dmg) Pistol (2d damage) Shotgun (4d damage) Knife (2d damage) Entrenching tool (2d damage) SMG (2d damage x2)
Close Combat To-Hit Modifiers Grunts attacking Grunts defending Using a close quarter weapon Using a weapon not on the CQW list
+1 +1 -3
Ganging Up: As the close quarter fight ensues, the GM can throw VC at the advancing grunts, and the fight may be unequal. Several PC‟s may make attack rolls aimed at one VC – perhaps inflicting multiple wounds. Alternatively, several VC may attack a single grunt, in which case he must roll a Body + Close Combat roll to defend himself against a VC. However, a success here would indicate a successful parry or dodge, he could not inflict damage.
WOUNDING “...I heard a kind of low moaning sound, which turned out to be coming from one of the [guys]. I started examining him by touch since this was not a place where I wanted to use a flashlight. During this examination, I discovered that one of his arms was no longer attached to the rest of his body.” War Stories of the Green Berets, Hans Halberstadt If a grunt is wounded either from a booby trap, gunfire or some other violent encounter, then the GM rolls a number of damage dice dependant on the type of weapon. He then looks at the results. 1’s are discounted. 2-5 indicates a Minor Wound 6 indicates a Serious Wound Minor Wound You didn't take the full force of that blow. You're alive, but stunned for a number of turns equal to the number of minor wounds inflicted in one attack, during which time you can only hug the ground. Roll to check the impact point of the bullet/shrapnel/whatever that hit you; either torso (1,2), an arm (3,4 ) or a leg (5,6). This is a non-serious wound, concussion, bloody surface wound, a 'nick', stunning, disorientation etc. Count your blessings. A grunt can take several minor wounds until he reaches Max Wounds; at this point the grunt is so traumatized that his minor wounds become one serious wound instead, and he collapses and begins to die. In close combat, the GM should replace the 'one turn of stun' with a penalty of -1. These penalties keep the grunt in combat and they can accumulate in a close quarter fight, inevitably leaving the grunt open to a serious wound. Serious Wound You're hit badly. There's alot of blood. There might be an awful lot of screaming. When you realise that you're the one screaming the pain just gets worse. You might even be out of it. Silent. Let's hope so. The GM is within his rights to make the injury as brutally horrific as he wishes. The grunt is dying, incapacitated, barely conscious and fading fast. The GM rolls 2d6 for the number of turns he has left before he dies. If there are any 6‟s rolled, then instead the player can roll Body every hour to survive. He needs a medevac! Two serious wounds received results in instant death. Healing the Wounded A canny GM will tell the players that a grunt hit by gunfire or caught in a trap just „goes down‟ and not elaborate further. Is he OK? Is he dead? Is he seriously wounded, with only minutes to live? To find out the squad needs to get a man over to him, preferably a medic. This medic must roll Technical, with +1 for a medical bag, and +2 for a medical bag and the skill of medical. Success indicates that a serious wound stops deteriorating and prevents death, OR removes one minor wound permanently (medic‟s choice). Any grunt can only have one minor wound removed per day. Any soldier suffering a serious wound will be taken out of the field to Da Nang or Qui Nhon, then transferred back to the United States for treatment then discharge. He‟s out of the war and back in The World.
AMMO While the Viet Cong struggled to keep themselves supplied with ammunition, the US forces did not. Most grunts would rather ditch C-ration tins than ammo, and pack extra magazines where-ever they can. Not just ammo pouches on the belt, and tunic and trouser pockets, but also in a bandolier slung across the shoulder and in spare bags that had been used to carry claymore mines. We don‟t track ammo expenditure. However, it might happen that the GM has set up a situation in which the grunts are besieged and cannot secure extra ammo. In such cases he should allocate everyone „x‟ number of shots/bursts (for assault rifles and SMGs, assume a burst of fire contains 6 shots). A squad pinned down on a hill without an escape route, for example, may find the GM handing them their ammo levels. Typically every grunt in a situation like this might have 12 bursts available, while the machinegunner might have 18. Grunts might conserve ammo by firing single shots, in an attempt to extend their ammo six-fold.
STOPPAGES Any grunt rolling a „double-2‟ during an aimed or area fire attack with a gun is in trouble. His weapon has jammed and does not fire that turn. The problem might be with the magazine, the locking bolt, firing pin, case extractor, gas regulator, the ammo, damaged bolt, dirt in the mechanism or even an obstruction in the chamber. The only way to fix the weapon is to attempt immediate field maintenance, trying various immediate action drills, and if they don‟t work, stripping and cleaning the weapon there, huddled in cover. Roll 2d6 + Weapon Maintenance + Technical to fix the problem. A success indicates the weapon is back in business at the start of the next turn. A second attempt is possible, but will take two turns. A third attempt is possible, and will take three turns, etc. On any „double-2‟ roll, a key component is damaged and the weapon will not fire. Fix a bayonet instead ... Machineguns, assault rifles, grenade launchers, light anti-tank weapons, pistols, carbines, shotguns and other firearms are all subject to various types of stoppages. Grenades will not detonate if a „double-2‟ is rolled and cannot be fixed (although they may well detonate later). Do not return to an unexploded grenade!
FLANKING Flanking is an established small unit tactic. It involves sending troops around to the side of a target, thereby depriving them of the cover they are sheltering from, or forcing the enemy to turn and split their fire. In GRUNT this is done through the use of close combat. A number of grunts advance on the enemy and assault the VC firing positions, entering close combat at an angle, trying to catch the enemy in the flank. Use the close combat rules as written. The advantage of approaching from the left or right flank is that the rest of the grunts can continue to provide supporting fire. As you have already noted in „Rolling For the VC‟, any VC unit suffering a casualty cannot conduct aimed fire in the next turn, this simulates 'covering fire'. As long as the guys covering the men advancing, and keep getting VC hits, the men advancing should only be coming under area fire, not the more deadly aimed fire. That‟s the hope anyway! Supporting Fire When the VC take a casualty they are unable to attempt aimed fire on the grunts. This means that a high weight of fire from the US troops should give some of their men trying to dash for cover or cross the killing zone, a chance. It keeps the enemy's heads down. This type of 'fire
57 and manoeuvre' tactic is a standard infantry tactic. It should be used by the player characters and is one of the main reasons the squad can be broken into two 5-man teams. A Communist Flank Attack If the VC flank the grunts, consider the two „legs‟ of the enemy formation to be two separate formations which roll to hit as normal. In other words, if the VC flank the grunt‟s squad, they get TWO rolls to hit, not the normal one! There are no suppressive fire rules for the VC.
MORTARS Mortars are mobile artillery often used by infantry on the battlefield to provide support for their comrades. They are able to lob high explosive shells 'indirectly' over villages, trees or hills to strike at targets. Mortar shells have burst radii of 15m (for a 60mm mortar) or 25m (for an 80 or 81mm mortar) and are extremely dangerous to troops in the open. Mortars are best countered by digging in, jumping into a foxhole, a trench or ditch. Viet Cong Mortars The Viet Cong are adept at using mortars to make lightning attacks on camps and bases, firing for 1d6+1 turns from hundreds of metres away, then packing up and vanishing into the jungle before jets can be called in or troops sent out to catch them. It is rare that mortars are used in an ambush. When the VC use mortars against the grunts (not often, the mortars are carried by dedicated mortarmen, usually for assaults) the GM simply factors in the relevant +2 to the VCs to-hit roll. If the grunts are dug-in to foxholes, trenches or ditches (or just get themselves as flat to the ground as humanly possible!), then ignore this +2. Digging a foxhole will take 5 minutes (20 turns). Being dug-in does not usually stop the grunts firing out at VC positions as normal. If the grunts are attacked by a mortar while on patrol then chances are they will be in sight of the mortar crew, in open terrain. If they move more than 30-40m then the mortarmen will have a hard time adjusting their fire to track them. More likely the mortars will target more static positions such as a firebase, LZ or village currently being searched by the grunts. Note that mortar rounds are heavy, VC crews will probably use their mortars only for 1d6+1 turns before retreating. American Mortars Fire Support Bases are armed with 105mm howitzers as well as 81mm heavy mortars. These mortars help to provide covering fire support out to 3km or so. The 60mm mortar is lighter and man-portable, although it is not part of the airmobile kit, the PCs may come across it on longer treks or base operations. The 60mm mortar has a range of 1.5km, perfect for long range fire support during a firefight, where the mortarman can see what he is aiming at. Unusually these mortars are part of an infantry battalion, and used to support the work of infantry companies. Two men can operate a mortar, but only one of them requires Heavy Weapons skill. A to-hit roll is made with a +3 bonus and if successful, 3d6 is added to the Area Fire Pool for that turn. If the VC are dug into foxholes and trenches then only 1d6 is added to the Area Fire Pool.
GRENADES & CLAYMORES Most grunts carry a couple of fragmentation („frag‟) grenades with them, attached to the sides of the ammo pouches on their belt. The most common types of US frags are the baseball-like M26 and the classic pineapple-shaped Mk2. The most common NVA and VC grenades were the pineapple-shaped F1, the egg-shaped RGD5 and the stick-grenade - the
58 RKG3. Other types include burning white phosphorous (WP) grenades and tear gas grenades for driving VC from hooches, bunkers or tunnels, and smoke grenades. The WP grenade is heavy, and its burst radius is equal to double the range it can be thrown. Get down. Throwing a Grenade To throw a grenade, make a Body roll and add the to hit bonus. If throwing inside a small space (hooch, bunker, etc) then add an additional +2 to the attack roll. If successful, the grunt has hit a target. He can roll multiple times if there are other targets within the burst radius, just like auto fire. Grenades are great for „firing „round corners‟. In area fire, roll Body plus the to-hit bonus, and if successful add 2 dice to the Area Fire Pool instead of one. Explosives Chart Explosives
To Hit Bonus +2
Grenade (Gas) Claymore Mine
+4 +2, x 6
Notes Adds 2 dice to Area Fire Pool White Phosphorus; burns for 3 rds and produces smoke; adds 2 dice to Area Fire Pool Tear Gas Directional mine
Effects of CS Gas Roll 2d6 +4, if the roll is equal or greater than the VC rating, the enemy are able to withstand the tear gas. If they fail one or two make a dash for it exposing themselves to aimed fire. Those remaining use wet rags to cover their faces. If a grunt is caught in a CS gas cloud, he makes a Body roll at +2. If he succeeds his vision is impaired, but he can brave the gas. If he fails he is blinded and begins to choke, and is forced to find clear air outside as soon as possible. He is at -3 all actions and moves at half speed until he can wash the stuff out of his eyes. Firing an M18 Claymore Mine This is a directional mine the size and shape of a large and slightly curved paperback book. It is carried with its command wire and trigger in a olive green side-bag. It fires hundreds of steel balls in one direction to over 50m and is brilliant for use in ambushes or as a defensive mine to protect bunkers or base perimeters. The 50m kill zone is a 60 degree arc or fan forward of the mine. It is detonated by trigger through a command wire and the firer sits under cover typically 20m or more to the rear. To detonate a claymore mine by command, roll the Traps & Mines skill with Technical and add the +2 to hit bonus. The grunt can roll up to six times for any targets within the 50m kill zone. Targets within 25m suffer 4d6 damage, those between 25-50m suffer 2d6 damage.
FIREARMS The following section is a short primer describing the common US and Soviet firearms used in the Vietnam War, their operational uses, strengths and weaknesses. Broad categories are described here, and mention made of specific models where relevant. Assault Rifles - These rifles are capable of fully-automatic fire, giving every man the capability of a mini-machinegun. Range and reliability is good, and they usually have 30round magazines. They fire high velocity, small calibre bullets. The most common military sidearm: M16 with US troops and the AK-47 with communist troops. Carbines - These short rifles are easy to use, have reasonable ranges and a short length making them easy to carry. They fire high velocity, medium calibre bullets. Common US carbines are the Colt Commando (fully-automatic) and the older M1 Carbine; the common communist carbine is the single-shot SKS Carbine. Grenade Launcher - The M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot weapon firing a grenade out to about 150m to hit a target directly. It looks like a fat, stubby shotgun. It can also be used to fire a grenade in a high curving arc to fall on targets out of sight. Handguns - Both sides used autopistols, the Americans the Colt M1911 Pistol, the communists the Tokarev. These are used at point-blank range, especially in confined spaces (tunnels, bunkers, and buildings etc). Flight crew and some officers carry .38 calibre revolvers. LAW - Designed to blow up tanks, but also great against bunkers, the American Light Anti-tank Weapon is a one-shot disposable rocket launcher. Machineguns - Infantry squads rely on a machinegun to provide fire support, laying down a thick swath of bullets as they advance or retreat. The US M60 was a belt-fed, cantankerous and sometimes unreliable weapon. The communist RPD was a drum-fed machinegun, lightweight and reliable. Heavy machineguns are large, heavy and tripod or vehicle mounted guns firing huge rounds with great destructive power. Miniguns – Miniaturized versions of the multi-barrelled rotary cannon found in American aircraft. The minigun is usually found on helicopter gunships as a forward firing weapon, but can sometimes be found used by a door gunner, especially on bigger choppers like the CH-47 Chinook and the USAF HH-3 Jolly Green Giant. Mortars - Man portable artillery consisting of a firing tube angled up to the sky, a bipod to hold it in place and a heavy base plate. Finned mortar bombs are dropped into the firing tube, when they hit the bottom they ignite and fly from the tube out to 1000m or more. Mortars can fire over low hills or other terrain, the two man crew aiming either by sight, or by grid reference given to them by someone close to the enemy. Mortars break down into three parts for transport, and these parts are given their own encumbrance (ENC) value on the Firearms Table. Rifles - Left-overs from a bygone era of warfare, the US still hand out M1 Garand rifles to local forces, the communist occasionally still use the M1891/30 bolt-action rifle. They are slow, cumbersome guns firing high-powered bullets out to long-ranges. Rifles are often used by poor quality troops. RPG - The Vietnamese B-40 and B-50 rockets are Rocket-Propelled Grenades (also known as the RPG-2 and RPG-7). They are used against bunkers, APCs, tanks, choppers on the ground, and even US troops! Both can be reloaded and reused. Shotguns - Various American models of pump-action shotguns firing a spread of small pellets. They have very poor range, but a single shot has a high chance of hitting at close range, because of the number of pellets flying toward the target. Damage is 4d6 within 25m and 1d6 over 25m. Sniper Rifles - These are specialist long-range rifles. The US forces use the M20 rifle (an upgraded M14 assault rifle), while well-equipped communist snipers use the SVD Dragunov. They include magazines and telescopic sights. Submachineguns - US submachineguns were used by local forces or by special force units. They include the M3 SMG, the Madsen SMG, the Swedish-K SMG and the
60 venerable M1 Thompson SMG. The communists use the „burp gun‟, an old Russian design either with a wood-stock (the PPsh41) or an all-metal version, the PPsh-43. Submachineguns are short range, fully automatic guns used in close combat with great effect.
Firearm Chart Weapon
2d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 2d6 4d6/1d6 4d6 4d6 4d6 5d6 4d6
Close Cbt +1 -3 -3 -3 -3 -3 +1 +1 -3 no no no
1 2 3 4 3 5 2 2 1 3 2 5 -
To Hit Bonus x2 x3 x2 +1 +2 +2 +2 +2 x3
Handgun Carbine Rifle Sniper Rifle Assault Rifle Squad Machinegun Submachinegun Shotgun Grenade Grenade Launcher M79 LAW B-40/B-50 Heavy Machinegun (.50) Minigun Light Mortar 60mm Medium Mortar 81mm
15m 80m 200m 240m 150m 250m 60m 25m 20m 200m 100m 50m/100m 300m 200m 1.5km 3km
3d6 5d6 5d6
no no no
x6 +3 +3
5: SOUTH VIETNAM “ the Highlands of Vietnam are spooky, unbearably spooky, spooky beyond belief. They are a run of erratic mountain ranges, gnarled valleys, jungled ravines and abrupt plains where Montagnard villages cluster, thin and disappear as the terrain steepens.” Dispatches, Michael Herr So far, GRUNT has focussed on the role and concerns of the US infantryman in Vietnam, but the Game Master will need more information than that if he is to present a realistic and/or atmospheric game to the players. This chapter provides detail of various aspects of the local situation, of life in South Vietnam, its climate and terrain, and details of that elusive and tenacious enemy, the Viet Cong. None of this information is crucial for the running of GRUNT, but it should assist the GM in running his games.
LANDSCAPE The geography of Vietnam is diverse, but we are mainly concerned with conditions around the Central Highlands (in II Corps) and the lowland coastal plains to the east. The Central Highlands are part of the Annamite Mountains, a chain of peaks that form the inland spine of South Vietnam. They are typically forest-clad, rather than dominated by lush rainforest, and cut by gorges, passes and high valleys. Rivers and streams flow to the east, often tumbling down spectacular waterfalls. Where the tropical forest thins, grassy uplands and scrub dominate the landscape, there are some tremendous views and opportunities to observe enemy movement. Of course there are areas of dense jungle, marsh and swamp, but overall, the Central Highlands are a mountainous land of thick tropical forest and bamboo groves. The dry season is in the winter months.
The rivers flow eastward to the great plains of Tuy Hoa and Qui Nhon. Here there are wide agricultural plains used for growing wheat and rice by the peasants. Here the temperature soars, the cooler climes of the Central Highlands (cooler by Vietnam standards) are replaced with a ferocious brain-melting, energy-sapping heat. The dry season is earlier here, taking place in the autumn months. Most of the plains are cultivated, but wild areas remain, thick jungle and bamboo thickets, plenty of dense rainforest. When a GM wants to create an instant location, perhaps for an LZ or for a terrain type that the PCs may have crossed into, or determine an off-the-cuff encounter with locals, the tables below are provided. Use them for flavour, use them for inspiration.
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Terrain Old Camp Overgrown Cliff River or Stream Grassy Valley Bamboo Thicket Thick Underbrush Marsh Gorge Booby Trap Steep Slope Cave
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Terrain Bomb Craters Forest Bamboo Thicket Elephant Grass Low Hill Rice Paddies Marsh Waist-High Grass Booby Trap Lone Hooch Mangrove Swamp
Encounter Old Men 'Yard Refugees Village Boys Farm Women 1-3 Men Walking US Soldiers Special Forces 'Yard Hunters VC! Village Headman Deer
Encounter Old Men Suspicious ROK Sullen ARVN Village Boys Refugees Farm Women US Army Vehicle 1-3 Men Walking VC! US Soldiers 1-3 Town Men
CULTURE Vietnam is an ancient culture, and its people have dominated Indo-China for several centuries. The only minorities are Chinese immigrants in the southern cities (especially Cholon and Saigon), and a patchwork of indigenous hunter-gather tribes people living high up within the dense forests of the Central Highlands. These 'montagnards' (or 'Yards as the Special Forces affectionately call them) are despised as savages by the lowland Vietnamese. The Green Beret Special Forces have had much success in the past five years recruiting montagnards as mobile strike forces, laying in wait to ambush the VC infiltrators from acrossthe Cambodian border. Montagnards and the Special Forces get on very well with one another, many of the Green Berets having been adopted into the Yard tribes. Together they garrison small Special Forces camps dotted all across the Central Highlands. Villages South Vietnam is an agricultural nation, most folk live in small bamboo houses ('hooches') gathered together in a village with a trail or dirt road running through it. Beyond the houses will be paddy fields separated by raised dykes which hold in the water the rice plants require for growth. Irrigation ditches criss-cross the fields. Most houses have a small Buddhist shrine, and large thatched roofs, often patched and extended with modern (scavenged) materials. Poverty is everywhere. Typical daytime activities include smoking pipes (older women and men), cooking, processing the rice plants or wheat grains, planting vegetables, chatting in small groups outside a house, drawing water from the well, washing clothes from a basket at the nearby stream, repairing a house or making clothes. The eldest male of a good family will be the village headman, and he will consult with the other men before making decisions. He will always be reticent to send messengers to the district chief, since no-one here trusts the South Vietnamese government. Corruption is rife, and villagers are often pushed around by dictatorial officials, backed up by the equally corrupt Army of South Vietnam (ARVN). Vietnamese villagers do not trust anyone in authority or wears a uniform, but know enough that they do as they are told. Towns like Pleiku and An Khe boast stores, cafes, bars, barbershops, garages, warehouses and a very thin veneer of civilized life, with transistor radios, cyclo taxis, shoe-shine boys and more. Some of the smaller places are a little like the Old West, one-road towns with not much happening, and trouble in the hills an ever present danger. The bigger towns like Kontum and Pleiku are more resilient and boast higher populations. There will be ARVN, US military, police, district and province officials, busses, taxis, government buildings, a hotel; or two and something to do in the evening. But these places are still small.
63 Qui Nhon Qui Nhon is the capital and only city of Binh Dinh province, it is beyond the game's scope to discuss Saigon and the other bigger cities of South Vietnam. Qui Nhon is an important port with a large US presence and build-up, but not nearly as impressive as Da Nang or Cam Ranh Bay. Viet Cong activity is high in the area, and US, ARVN and even allied South Korean army forces are always on alert at their bases around the city. With considerable turmoil in the area thousands of refugees have flocked to Qui Nhon in search of help. Whole slums of tin and thatch have sprung up all around the city. The mayor of Qui Nhon, like many opportunistic South Vietnamese officials, even turned his official residence into a 'massage parlour' to cater to the US troops. The sprawling city is built on a peninsula sticking out into the South China Sea, with the port at the extreme east. Grunts on leave might wander up and down Tran Hung Dao Street running the length of the city, spend time on the beach, shaded by coconut groves, try the famous soup shops of Phan Boi Cau Street, or visit Long Khanh pagoda in the city centre. Of course there are the ubiquitous massage parlours, bars and cheap restaurants, but you don't want to spend your hard-earned R&R in one of those, do you? 2d6
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Buddhist Monks Protesting Regime Reporter Beggars/Refugees US Soldiers Off-Duty Farmers with Cart/Animals Pushy Salesman US Army Vehicle Bar Girls/Hostesses VC! Sullen ARVN Black Market Gangsters
64 Vietnamese Names Unlike US names, the Vietnamese use their family name first, and personal name second. If working closely with the Americans, a South Vietnamese may take a Western first name and invert the order. So that Trang Binh My, could become Jenny Trang, the bar girl. Family Name (Comes First) Banh, Cao, Chu, Dinh, Du, Do, Dao, Hoang, Lai, Lam, Le, Ngo, Nguyen, Pham, Pho, Trinh, Trang, Truong, Thieu, Tu, Vanh, Vo, Vuong Male Personal Name (Comes Second) An Ba Binh Bao Canh Chien Chinh De Duc Duong Giang Ha Hao Hien Hieu
Hoc Hung Huy Lanh Minh Phan Phuoc Quan Quang Quy Sang Si Sinh Tha Thanh Thao
Tho Thu Thuan Toan Trang Trong Trung Truc Tu Tuan Tran Trung Van Vien Vinh Vuong Xuan
Female Personal Name (Second) Ai An Anh Binh Be Bian Cam Canh Chi Dao Diu Hai Hien Huong
Khanh Kim Lan Lang Lanh Le Lien Linh Long Mai My Nam Ha Ngoc Ngu
Nhung Phuong Quy Thanh Thi Van Yen
Village Names When creating a village name for inclusion in a mission, pick two names from the list below. Most villages have a two part name, such as My Tho, Thuan Lai or Quang Ngai. Name One Ap My Ben Tra Vinh Van Ban Song Krong Mang Sa Dak Thuan Quang Chu Plei
Chan Giang Cat Ham Xa Xom Long Ham Cu Trang Phuoc Son Phu Giang Ha Bac
Name Two Bac Tho Lai Cat Hoa Bac Cat Loc Ma Thien Thanh Bat Le Phong Be Lanh
Binh Moi Chi Den Bien Ninh Long Phu Mrong Thay Ho Xa Khe Cuong Ban Ngai
65 Food Most grunts won‟t eat the local food, preferring the solid American food served on the bases, washed down with a bottle of Filipino San Miguel or Coca Cola. Those on leave might try the local food, however, and the grunts will certainly come across it in the villages. Village food is notoriously lean on meat, the people are poor, so cooked rice and a few vegetables is considered a good diet. The Vietnamese diet is oriental, with rice and noodles forming the staple diet. Just as essential to local cookery is nuoc mam, a fermented (and strong smelling!) fish sauce that is a modern version of the ancient Roman garum. It is used as a dipping sauce, and as a cooking ingredient. It takes the place of Chinese soy sauce in the Vietnamese diet. Spring/pancake rolls are a common side dish, as are classically French baguettes, a holdover from French colonialism! Beef, chicken, fish and pork are fairly common meats; goat, frog, wild pig and venison not so common. The cheapest meats probably include the everpresent rat, snake and dog. On a sliver or full moon, many Vietnamese do not eat meat, seafood or eggs. On these days local stalls specialise in vegetarian snacks.
THE COMMUNISTS “When the hideous Battle of Dak To ended at the top of Hill 875, we announced that 4,000 of them had been killed; it had been the purest slaughter, our losses were bad, but clearly it was another American victory. But when the top of the hill was reached, the number of NVA found was four. Four.” Dispatches, Michael Herr As already stated, this game is not intended to be a mechanistic wargame, an unbiased adjudication of events. Instead, the GM is able to use the communist insurgents (the Viet Cong) and their supporters and allies from the North Vietnam Army (NVA) as a mysterious, unknowable and very sinister force. The GM has little need of attributes, skill values or kit lists for the VC, neither has he a real need to track their exact positions during a firefight. As long as the VC are out of sight the GM can make them move as he will, and even he may not be sure of their exact numbers … This isn't cheating. A GM running a horror game would, in the same vein, orchestrate a few 'chills', manipulating the story around the actions of the PCs to create a certain atmosphere . In Vietnam the VC continually enjoyed a reputation as masters of stealth, cunning and trickery. They were renowned for their ability to remain concealed, to create perfectly camouflaged positions, to strike suddenly and then vanish into the jungle, often leaving nothing but sandal prints and spent cartridge cases. This elusiveness bred trepidation and sometimes terror in the average grunt squad. "Charlie owns the night". Some said he owned the day, too. The Viet Cong also had an uncanny knack for learning the Americans' intentions and being able to deftly avoid them. So, use the VC to create mood and atmosphere, to worry or scare the PCs and also to freak them out! Have a rough idea of the VC strengths for the upcoming mission, but feel free to change these as needed to suit the mood and increase the tension. A brief description of the Viet Cong and their organisation is next, followed by a list of tactics and tricks. These are included so that the GM can frighten, confound, puzzle, or challenge his players. Organisation In this book the enemy is referred to either as the Viet Cong (VC) or the NVA (North Vietnamese Army). These are two different organisations. Vietnam was divided in the 1950s into North and South Vietnam, with a communist government in the north, and a Westernbacked government in the south. The north created its own army, the Peoples Army of
66 Vietnam (PAVN), which the West dubbed the NVA. Throughout the 1960s units of the NVA marched into South Vietnam to help train local guerrillas, or to strike at military bases. The final aim of North Vietnam was an NVA invasion of South Vietnam, and reunification! The guerrilla army that the NVA helped to train and equip was called the National Liberation Front (NLF), but which the West and the South Vietnamese government referred to as Vietnamese communists, or Viet Cong (VC). North Vietnam pretends that the NLF is a local resistance movement, and not a northern led insurgency. The VC tried to appeal to the local South Vietnamese population, in particular the peasants of the countryside. Villages were co-opted and used as recruiting grounds, as arms caches, food supplies and sanctuaries – with the VC often wearing peasant clothing so that they could blend into the rural population. Just as the Taliban can be „anyone, anywhere‟ in Afghanistan, so too the VC could be absolutely anyone. Since uniforms were rarely worn, the only way to tell if someone was VC was if they were firing at you! Throwing away or hiding a weapon made it difficult to prove that a suspect was indeed the VC who had shot at you. What about the village nearby? Or the village close to booby traps? Were they complicit or ignorant? Confounding the identification of Viet Cong was the problem of coercion. If the VC could not persuade villagers to secretly join the cause, they often forced them, murdering headmen, brutally executing teachers or prominent village elders, kidnapping men of soldiering age for the ranks. A village might support the VC but hate the VC and fear them. Other villages have been so cruelly done to by the South Vietnamese government, its tax collectors and army (the ARVN) that they are eager for „liberation‟ and welcome the Viet Cong with open arms. The Viet Cong Fighter: Most VC are local boys or men, often peasants used to hard lives. If they haven't been forcibly conscripted then they may just want freedom for their village, only a few will truly be communist revolutionaries. Since they dress as peasants, the VC often wear the baggy black pyjama-style pants and shirt of the local farmers. Or they may simply wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Sandals are universal, often cut from an old rubber tyre (and making use of the tread!). There are three main types or levels of VC fighter; the main force fighter, the local force fighter and the activist.
Activists are sympathizers, local people acting as scouts or spies, planting traps or collecting debris for the bomb factories. They act as a support service for the VC, caching rice, digging tunnels etc. Local Force VC are women or older men, members of a village loyal to the VC who are armed with second grade weapons. They act as a defence force, but may also snipe at ARVN or US troops, conduct quick hit and run attacks, and man local bunkers. Often they defend villages with caches or bomb factories. Weapons may include older rifles and carbines, and anything captured from the Americans of ARVN. The best of this weaponry (the M16s, M79s, M60s etc) will be passed to the Main Force. Main Force Viet Cong have been given training in combat assault and infiltration by NVA cadres. They may even be led by NCOs or officers who have left their uniforms in the north and adopted the anonymous look of the Vietnamese peasant. The north also supplies AK-47s, RPGs, grenades and other top grade military stuff for VC attacks on US bases, although lots of scavenged, stolen or captured American weaponry is also in use! During assaults or ambushes, some main force VC wear Chinese-style webbing to carry extra rockets and the famous 'banana magazines' for the AK-47. A Viet Cong fighter will carry his weapon, along with a few magazines of ammo in a canvas chest rig. He carries little else, perhaps camouflage sheet as a cloak or poncho, a bamboo tube stuffed with rice (his ration bag), a water canteen if lucky and wooden bowl and chopsticks.
67 The NVA Fighter: While the Viet Cong vary in military quality, training and morale, soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army are universally recognized to be well-trained, wellmotivated and well-equipped. Although sometimes entering South Vietnam incognito (see above), the NVA soldier will often wear his olive green fatigue trousers and shirt. A jungle cap or a pith helmet is also very common, as are canvas boots, although rank insignia is often removed - men know their commanders by name and sight. The NVA is a conventional army, organised into companies, regiments and divisions, with mortar teams, artillery, medical units, engineers and so on. Along with grenades, firearms and other weaponry, as well as a chest-rig to carry ammo magazines, the NVA soldier will be wearing a North Vietnamese rucksack carrying rice, chopsticks, bowl, cooktin, jungle hammock, groundsheet and entrenching tool. He'll have a canteen, day-pack and a coloured neckerchief. Although part of a well-equipped army, NVA soldiers used captured or improvised equipment, wasting nothing. It was the Viet Cong who were more likely (read: very likely!) to use captured American weapons. The NVA seemed to prefer to use their own North Vietnamese weapons (which were usually Chinese-made, often copes of Russian originals). Most NVA equipment was of Chinese manufacture. Tactics & Tricks Quick, mortar strikes, with the VC gunners packing up before the first shells hit the target Base infiltration through many layers of wire, careful and patient in the darkness VC spies in the camp, working as hooch girls (cleaners) or cooks VC recon information on a base gained from prisoners who were flown in and over the base Removal of all bodies for proper burial – into secret jungle tunnels Abducting men out of an American squad while actually on patrol One shot sniper – impossible to locate Use of tunnels to attack for two or three turns, and then vanish back into Booby-trapped items sold to GIs in the street Booby-trapped bodies left in tunnels or on the battlefield, a simple grenade with pin removed can be wedged under a body VC ambush the squad within 100m to prevent fire support (whose crews will refuse to fire at such a close range) VC attack in rain or fog to prevent the threat of airstrikes Wound, rather than kill, to slow down the squad and force a medevac A sniper can wound one soldier, then pick off anyone trying to rescue him with deadly single shots. Drop coloured smoke, American style, to try to fool the incoming medevacs or slicks into landing into an ambush Disappear into the jungle as soon as the US squad looks like it is moving forward Seeding booby traps in front of an ambush and along the flanks Booby-trapping bridges, crossing points of dykes, gates etc Use peasants to report on US activities so that the VC will always know where the grunts are in the Area of Operations Ambush the squad at a set location, opening fire when the squad is exposed and out in the open Stop firing, as if the VC unit had retreated, then open fire again once US troops have stood up and started advancing again Snipers can shoot the RTO (watch for his antenna) to prevent medevac, reinforcement or fire support. Sniper might also try to shoot anyone talking to the RTO (probably the unit commander) and also the machinegunner Set booby traps in pairs, so as people huddle around an injured man, they fall prey to the second booby trap
Tunnels and Sappers The NVA and Viet Cong dig tunnels. These tunnels prevent detection by the ARVN and Americans, and allow a complete hidden military society beneath the ground. Often the entrances are found in VC-controlled villages or at crucial bunkers, others are hidden in the jungle. The Viet Cong are able to build elaborate tunnel complexes, including sleeping areas, supply rooms, kitchens, briefing rooms and hospitals. Here Viet Cong can plan, regroup and launch attacks, returning here to hide from US or ARVN reprisals. Spider holes are narrow holes leading to the surface; these are heavily camouflaged and allow a sniper to poke his head and shoulders out to defend the area around a tunnel entrance with impunity. If a grunt should be foolish enough to crawl into these narrow, dark and twisting tunnels, he will be shot, stabbed and blown up, or set upon by caged snakes or scorpions. Sappers are greatly feared by the US and ARVN. Sappers are communist commandoes, trained to infiltrate many layers of American defence and use explosives to blow up bunkers and artillery pieces. Sappers crawl through barbed wire, dodge American claymore mines and then assault a firebase or other installation with satchel charges, throwing a live charge onto a 105m howitzer, bunker or chopper. Their stealth skills are impressive, and are joined by regular NVA or VC Main Force soldiers armed with AK-47s or B-40s. The Ho Chi Minh Trail How do the NVA just walk into South Vietnam, aren‟t there defences? North Vietnam channels supplies through the deep jungles of neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. These nations are supposedly neutral, and allow the NVA to ferry thousands of tons of ammo, food, weaponry and supplies through their territory to enter South Vietnam in the Central Highlands, or even further south close to Saigon. The Trail isn‟t one big highway (not in the 1960s, anyway), but a complex network of narrow hard packed trails and dirt roads accessible in the dry season. Mostly supplies are brought in on foot by NVA soldiers coming south and doubling as cargo mules, or by dedicated porters from the north. A popular innovation is the use of bicycles, packing half a ton of cargo onto a bike and pushing it along with extended handlebars. Some of the roads can handle trucks, but these travel with blackout and under heavy jungle canopy, for fear of being destroyed by the US Air Force. The long march south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail is hard-going and difficult, not just from the physical task, but from the punishing hot and humid climate, the primitive camping conditions, sickness and injury. Thousands of porters and northern soldiers died from dysentery and other illnesses on their march south. Such was the price of freedom! To try to cut the flow of supplies coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail Special Forces sometimes run ambush or recon missions, calling down airstrikes on troops on the march, or on truck convoys or jungle supply depots.
MISSION SEEDS Here are 12 adventure seeds that the GM and players can flesh out to create fully-detailed games. Each is based around the title of a song from The Doors. The band, fronted by Jim Morrison, released singles and albums from 1969 to 1971: the height of the war. The seeds provide story ideas that are connected to a mission, often they involve an NPC member of the squad, but the game will be more enjoyable if a suitable player character can be substituted. Riders on the Storm The platoon is currently garrison for an artillery firebase near the Many Yang pass, with a very easy going and lax routine. The FSB is regularly mortared and sniped and moving around the base in daylight can be dangerous. The weather turns nasty, a rainstorm hits the pass, and a UH-1 lands to avoid the storm. It looks like it will be grounded for a couple of days at least, unfortunately its passenger, General Ivens, is stranded too. The rain lashes the pass, turning everything into a single river of red mud. He begins to make life hell, ordering the platoon and artillerymen to make the place ship-shape, putting the PC sergeant on report for his squad's lax uniforms, ordering drainage channels cut and old mortar craters filled in. When a bunker collapses in the rain he orders that rebuilt in the rain too, despite the constant sniping. The squad's rations will be with-held if they do not comply. General Ivens might follow all this up with inspections of equipment and guns. Somehow the PCs need to get General Ivens out of there! The FSB commander (a lieutenant) is open to ideas. After a while command send up a small column of M113 tracked armoured personnel carriers (each armed with a couple of M60s) to collect the general. But the column hits a mine 2km from the FSB and the PCs go out to meet them. At the column the PCs provide security, waiting for the inevitable ambush while the tankers fix the APC. They find out the column commander (a lieutenant) is the general's son. Ivens will be grateful if they get him to the FSB alive…and may even apologise for the hard time he's been giving them. Light My Fire Orders are to drop into a village, pick up the headman (a suspected VC) search the ville looking for weapons, and if they find anything, burn the village down as a reprisal. This is called a 'zippo raid'. The headman is not there, however. The village is very quiet and a grunt will find evidence that VC have been here: 3 communist bullets. Behind the village in a paddy are 2 dead water buffalo, shot dead. Do the grunts burn the village or not? None of the villagers dare talk, they know the VC are watching. The kids are a bit more approachable. In fact the headman's son is VC and has returned from the north to kidnap his father, hiding him in a nearby bunker and tunnel in order to intimidate the villagers and work out some father-son issues underground. He organises an ambush of the grunts in the village, and also if they talk to the kids and find out the location of the bunker. If they free the headman then orders from HQ are to go ahead with the zippo raid since the ville is associated with VC. That could be nasty if the grunts have gained the trust of the villagers and their kids to find out where the son is holding his father. Five to One This is a combat assault into Happy Valley where the grunts will be outnumbered 5:1. They are going in to reinforce a nearby LZ which is dominated scrub, long grass and a few stands of trees. Around the LZ are low hills. As the chopper begins to land it hits a booby trap and goes down, initiating some ferocious .50 calibre anti-aircraft fire. The grunts survive, but the NVA will be there soon! Pilot, crew chief and gunner are dead, but the co-pilot is wounded in both legs and can't walk. The grunts must defend the LZ until they can get a pick-up!
70 They must find some cover. A UH-1B gunship arrives but is driven away by a well-concealed .50 calibre machinegun. The grunts must locate and destroy it before they can leave. The bunker is heavily manned but hard to find. The NVA begin to throw human waves at the grunts in the LZ, running across open ground and making easy shots for aimed fire. But some may get through the killing zone into close combat. A grunt may discover a bunker that holds an NVA hospital and there are 4 wounded NVA there, abandoned by panicked medical staff. From there a tunnel connects to the antiaircraft bunker if the grunts dare to brave the booby-trapped tunnels. Roadhouse Blues The roadhouse is a store, gas station, a few hooches and an ARVN guard post along Route 19 which connects Pleiku with the coast. Route 19 has always been a place of VC ambush, the French lost an impressive force along Route 19. The pilot brings down the chopper and pays a local Vietnamese to jet-wash his helicopter (of course the jet wash was a US government scheme to install a water pump that got misused!). The mission is to check traffic on Route 19, setting up a roadblock and searching vehicles for evidence of the Viet Cong. One or two may be suspect. The grunts can chill out, buy food, talk to girls, then see something suspicious, an item owned by a grunt that went missing last week. He was thought abducted by the VC from An Khe. The Vietnamese with the object protests his innocence, and the ARVN come up, the suspect is a brother of the ARVN sergeant. How do the grunts handle this? The suspect claims he bought the item (maybe an engraved zippo lighter) from a US soldier on the Route 19 bus. It turns out the guy claimed to be an engineer and is renting a room above the store. The pilot doesn't want to investigate further and wants to fly back to Camp Radcliff. The grunts probably find the guy, who isn't an engineer but the missing grunt gone AWOL. Do the PCs take him back? Do they leave him? The pilot reports a sniper taking shots at the chopper from over the road, and the ARVN run away. The grunts have to get across open ground to the chopper. Then the VC assault. Strange Days A Special Forces captain takes charge of the squad to evaluate the use of the 1st Air Cav for Long Range Recon Patrols (LRRPS), of course the PCs are kept in the dark about all this. They will be assessed in a 3-day mission. On day 1 they are given rifles but no ammo, numbers pained on front and back of their helmets and marched over to jungle-clad Hon Con Mountain, which sits with the large Camp Radcliff perimeter. Here their mission is to use two PRC-25s to try and home in on a signal on the mountain; the Spec Forces captain is transmitting, the squad has to locate him. He has a megaphone and sits in cover, when he shouts out a number he spots on a grunt‟s helmet, the grunt is „dead‟ and out of the exercise. The GM can ask for lots of Noise Discipline rolls and Spot Ambush checks. On day 2 the squad is told about the mission. A black GI has a radio in the field near the Cambodian border and is transmitting propaganda, intel believes he is a radical muslim who has defected to the NVA to avoid the war. Any black grunts will be given a hard time by the Spec Forces captain on this account. The team is inserted by a single chopper flying fast and low. The squad use the radios to track the GIs signal to a camp on the other side of a river. It is dark. On day 3 the squad must find a way to cross the river, avoiding any NVA scouts or guards. The compound is a supply base with a few guards and porters in a bamboo dorm. There doesn‟t seem to be any GI and the few NVA there put up a fight. They do find three sets of boots and a dog tag as well as a radio shack with a radio from a UH-1. They also find what look like cages, but there are no prisoners there. The PZ is on the other side of the river. As the squad crosses, or while it calls for a pick-up on the camp side of the river, the NVA who were on patrol, ambush the grunts. Leading the attack is a black GI, in NVA fatigues. He
71 wears five sets of dog tags, the tags of MIA guys from the 25th Infantry Division. Men he‟d killed? Men he‟d been captured with? His friends? What‟s the GI‟s story? People Are Strange An ARVN column is moving through a nearby valley, the grunts are providing some flank security with the rest of their platoon, following a ridge. They have a female translator with them, an American anthropologist. The squad discovers a couple of VC mortar teams setting up to attack the ARVN, and the grunts should be able to use some direct fire (at least initially) to kill them. But more VC arrive behind the squad cutting it off from the rest of the platoon. B-40s start flying in. Let them sweat, and then let the cavalry arrive (no, another cavalry!), indigenous tribesmen (known as montagnards) wipe out the VC relief force and lead the grunts to their village, further on, off the ridge. It is clean and ordered, its long houses are mounted on stilts. HQ will advise the sergeant to remain and fortify the village against a possible VC push along the valley, digging in there. The anthropologist is furious, the montagnards are innocent, untouched by the war (they fought with crossbows, axes, javelins and spears). Fortifying the village will draw the VC here into a battle, dragging the montagnards into the Vietnam War. Have the villagers be both kind and compassionate, but also wary and mistrustful. Then a squad of Vietnamese ARVN arrive to help the defence – the lowland Vietnamese and highland montagnards hate one another, and the ARVN mistreat and abuse the „moi‟ (or savages). What do the grunts do? Of course the VC do attack ... Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) The major is cracking down on his squadron, and insists on an inspection before the next patrol. The platoon sergeant is crazy with stress trying to get the slovenly grunts ship-shape. A new guy who was rotated in yesterday has vanished and needs to be located: pronto! This new guy is in his 30‟s, and the GM should paint him as an enigmatic Casey Ryback character (remember Stephen Seagal‟s Navy Seal as-chef?). There will be lots of trouble if he isn‟t found. After a frantic search he is found dead drunk in a tent after drinking with another unit. The man is a liability, but the captain or lieutenant say they can‟t touch him. On patrol the guy, Corporal Hauser, is lax, obviously drunk and causes an ambush on a suspect VC trail to be blown when he starts dry heaving. After the inevitable firefight the team must hike up to a montagnard village (see People Are Strange). Here the grunts discover Hauser is fluent in the Jarai dialect of the montagnards (he may even know some of the Jarai), and informs the squad leader that the Yards have been watching an NVA battalion camping nearby. If the grunts can get in close and drop smoke on the edge of the camp fire support can come in and destroy the NVA battalion. There will be NVA guards, and Hauser will still be a liability. It turns out Hauser was a Special Forces master sergeant, a Green Beret, but after assaulting an airborne captain during one of his drinking binges, was hidden away by Special Forces in the 1st Cav to serve out his last month as a corporal, gaining an honourable discharge. Break On Through (to the other side) Cambodia. Following a firefight between the NVA and Bravo Troop, the PC grunts of Echo Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment are given the mission of pursuing the fleeing NVA. The NVA are fleeing towards Cambodia, which the US forces are not legally allowed to enter. Some say that choppers won‟t fly in to pick you up, and the further you walk into the Cambodian jungle the further you‟ve got to walk out (or be carried). So the platoon moves quickly, the lieutenant will be rotated to a staff job soon and wants a medal. The platoon follows a river that soon turns north, and Cambodia lays on the other bank. The lieutenant volunteers the platoon to act as a blocking force to catch the NVA regiment and ambush it. This is plain madness! The grunts are ordered to dig in, but somehow the NVA slip past! A flying forward air controller in a LOACH reports NVA activity across the river, how did they
72 get there? The lieutenant orders the platoon across the river, and in doing so the grunts discover a sunken wooden bridge that can be raised and lowered to let carts, bicycles and even trucks across. One of the other squad sergeants wants to stage a mutiny before the lieutenant orders them too far into Cambodia. What do the grunts do? Remember the lieutenant wants that medal, and will risk all to get it, his father gained a Distinguished Service Cross at Guadalcanal, and the lieutenant wants to emulate his father or face disgrace. They may stumble upon an NVA camp, or an NVA ambush, or even come into the gunsights of a Spooky AC-47 gunship. The AC-47 is an old Dakota cargo plane that flies in a circle over a target, firing miniguns down onto a fixed location without a break. The GM may threaten the grunts with this menace, or they may see its awesome firepower at work. Will the grunts get out of Cambodia alive? Love Me Two Times Robinson, an NPC member of the squad (or a PC if the GM can work it!) discovers that a girl he met first time in country is in An Khe. She's told him she is pregnant with his child and wants him to support her. The soldier is keen to get the girl (Kim) a job at Camp Radcliff, with a decent income. Is he too optimistic? Another NPC squad-member tells the PCs that he once had a relationship with the same girl 6 months ago. He reckons the baby might not be Robinson's. Obviously Robinson feels guilty, will the grunts tell him? What will they tell him? They might want to help get her a job, by asking around, asking some of the Vietnamese gang-masters who work at Camp Radcliff. When Robinson visits Kim in Sin City he disappears, and the grunts need to find him. They may track him to the back room of a bar where he's being held by VC. Kim has been entrapping grunts throughout II Corps. All his money is gone, but Kim may still be there for a suitably dramatic confrontation. VC 'gangsters' are on their way to kill him. Firefight! The Unknown Soldier Far to the west of An Khe is a lush jungle-filled ravine with a roaring waterfall that leads up and away from a wide agricultural valley inhabited with 'friendly' Vietnamese. The squad is ordered to find the 'Unknown Soldier' in this ravine, the body of a US soldier that has been spotted by Vietnamese friendlies from the village. The patrol is inserted near the village and the squad hikes up into the lush overgrown ravine, soon finding the body tied to poles. It is striped naked, partially flayed (skinned) and the face is smashed and pulped, the eyes are missing. It wears American jungle boots, and the soldier has threaded one of his dog tags through the lace holes. It is PFC Pointez, the grunt‟s brother. The remain overnight site (RON) for the mission is close to the village in the valley. Back there Pointez‟ brother takes his anger out on the villagers and begins to shoot people up. What do the grunts do? Next morning the squad is ordered back up into the gorge, any civilian deaths will be ignored or glossed over by HQ on the radio. As they progress there may be a booby trap and then a camouflaged bunker from which an ambush is launched onto the climbing path as it winds up the narrow gorge. The bunker has a number of short tunnels and one leads to a field hospital, patients and staff fled. It will be booby trapped, but a tunnel leads to the surface once again, and here the grunts should find 4 graves. Sticks mark the graves and hanging from each is a single dog-tag, the missing GIs (including the missing Pointez brother). Digging up the graves will reveal the men in uniform with name badges. Who was the „Unknown Soldier‟? Perhaps a Viet Cong who had to be punished. Perhaps he lost his temper and murdered all four of the MIAs as they were being treated in the VC hospital. HQ will send a chopper for the bodies (they will have to be carried down to the valley in ponchos or
73 body bags dropped from the air), and Army Graves Registration will have to be notified. What do the grunts do now? Now they know that their comrade killed Vietnamese civilians in revenge for a savage act on his brother, that never took place. Hello I Love You The squad is ordered to provide 3 days of medical help to a village that is helping the US forces. The village is a defended hamlet, its menfolk part of the Popular Forces programme, armed and trained to resist any VC aggression (that's the theory anyway). The squad medic will spend the day running a medical practice, dispensing medicines, giving basic health advice to the village folk. The rest of the squad provide security, get treated to drinks, food and may games or music by the villagers. In the afternoon a young woman thanks the medic for helping her father, the headman, who had a leg sore, and brinks a sweet drink to him. She then returns with a garland that she places around his neck. The headman then appears and gives the medic a little box, inside it are 500 piasters. He says it is the dowry. The girl has made overtures of marriage to the medic, he has accepted by drinking the drink! Welcome to the family! Now the headman wants t discuss his daughter's transport to An Khe to live near her new husband! Her teenage brothers are watching (all four of them). What do the grunts do here? The initial reaction of the medic and the grunts is very important, remember they are there on good will mission (in Nam something called 'hearts and minds'). On day two a sniper from a rival (communist) village tries to kill the headman, he may end up shooting his daughter instead. The grunts need to deal with him. The same day the headman tells the grunts that he has recently been approached by a VC cadre (an armed training & recruiting unit) to turn the village over to them, but he has been stalling. They want to come into the village and talk to the villagers to persuade them the cause of the South is a failed one and that they should turn to the communist North. What should the headman do? Touch Me The platoon is tasked to assault a small jungle camp, there are only small LZs in the area, big enough for one slick at a time, the squads start the mission separated. It is pitch dark, dense jungle and moonless. The 2 day march in to the camp is done at night, with the grunts laying up during the day. On the second day a Ranch Hand mission over flies their position. These cargo planes spray Agent Orange defoliant in an attempt to kill the jungle and expose the camps, roads and trails, as well as killing any crops the Viet Cong are growing for their own survival. Several fly-bys are made, obviously the USAF have no idea the platoon is on a mission there, and probably don't know about the camp, either. Near the camp the squad can either cross a small river and climb a steeply wooded slope to reach the camp, or follow a much gentler less dense slope that is guarded by the NVA. Defoliant rains down on the grunts again as they near the camp. They stumble onto a supply road and may encounter porters or even NVA troops in transit. A squad member is blinded before the raid on the camp by a booby trap (or defoliant irritation?). He can't be medevaced from the dense jungle, and the dust-off would alert the NVA at the supply base. The blind soldier (an NPC or PC, but a PC would work best) needs to be led around, and must be careful not to get separated from his squad …
6: RESOURCES Well, here I am, anonymous all right. With guys nobody really cares about. They come from the end of the line, most of 'em. Small towns you never heard of: Pulaski, Tennessee; Brandon, Mississippi; Pork Van, Utah; Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years' high school's about it, maybe if they're lucky a job waiting for them back at a factory, but most of 'em got nothing. They're poor, they're the unwanted, yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom. It's weird, isn't it? They're the bottom of the barrel and they know it. Maybe that's why they call themselves grunts, cause a grunt can take it, can take anything. They're the best I've ever seen, Grandma. The heart & soul. Chris Taylor, Platoon There are plenty of resources out there that the Game Master can use to add depth and game potential to his sessions of GRUNT. Likewise some of these resources can be used by players to really pick up the atmosphere of the war and the situation in country.
BOOKS Although there are many books out there that will give you illustrations and information on uniforms, helicopters, units and battles, the role player will find the war biography of greatest use since it focuses on the personal and the detail that roleplaying games do so well. Chickenhawk, Robert Mason A UH-1 pilot, Robert Mason was a warrant officer in the 1 st Cavalry and he was based at Camp Radcliff. In Chickenhawk he describes life in the Cav and as a chopper pilot and what it was like to fly sorties into the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965. Compelling reading. Dispatches, Michael Herr Herr was a war correspondent, hanging out with Sean Flynn, Dana Stone and Tim Paige. His book is a collection of reports from Nam during the war. Cynical and fast past-paced, it is full of dilemmas! The Ghosts of the Highlands, Kregg Jorgenson How the 1st Cav went about developing a Long Range Recon Patrol company; with some great detail on life in the Cav and at Camp Radcliff. If I Should Die in a Combat Zone, Tim O'Brien Acclaimed war narrative. O‟Brien was an infantryman, and relates his tour in a nerve jangling book. Wince with pain as those M113 APCs do an emergency reverse ... Nam, editor Mark Baker An anonymous collection of war recollections. A must. Anyone of these snippets can be turned into a game, an event, an interesting NPC. Also a very depressing book, but it captures the Nam well.
75 Vietnam: Conflict & Controversy, Paul Elliott Sadly now out of print, this book analyzes many of the controversies of the war, from the Tonkin Gulf incident, to the M16, the policy of the body count and free fire zones, the use of agent orange and even the restrictions placed on bomber pilots during Rolling Thunder. A great book, written by the author of GRUNT. Vietnam: US Uniforms in Colour Photographs, Kevin Lyles This is great; each double spread features a re-enactor in a particular Vietnam War uniform, with accompanying notes and points of equipment detail. At the back is a full photo layout of typical equipment load-out for carrying into the field. The uniforms go through the years too, with 1962 era at the start of the book, and 1972 era at the back. Of particular interest to GRUNT are the 1966 Crew Chief, the 1966 Paratrooper, the 1967 Paratrooper (with M60), the 1968 RTO, the 1968 Squad Leader, the 1969 Grenadier, the 1969 Door Gunner, the 1970 Trooper/1st Cav and the 1970 Helicopter Pilot. War Stories of the Green Berets, Hans Halberstadt Laugh, cry, wince and hide behind the sofa with terror; Halberstadt‟s collection of Green Beret stories is wonderful. These guys were professionals even before Vietnam, and their maturity and the way they bonded with the montagnards makes for great reading. Each soldier tells his own stories; mistaking gibbons for VC, being shot and left for dead, catching a snake to sell at the market, having to deal with a dead drunk sergeant and even stealing an MP‟s jeep. War stories interspersed with human ones, funny stories mixed with drama and sadness. Buy this book! Osprey Books Osprey books produce some wonderfully illustrated books on Vietnam, the most relevant and useful for our purposes are the following titles: Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-75 (1) Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-75 (2) US Army Infantryman in Vietnam 1965-73 (focussing on the details of life and combat in the 1st Cavalry Division) Vietnam Firebases 1965-73
MOVIES & TV Many movies have touched on the Vietnam War, but I have only included those here of direct interest to the players and Game Master of GRUNT. 84 Charlie MoPic A little known low budget movie filmed as a reality documentary, the cameraman joining the long range range patrol into enemy territory. A great little film with some good ideas to borrow for tension building. Apocalypse Now The Vietnam epic. A feast of images, this movie has to be watched, but its all allegory, so don‟t take it all at face value. Watch Colonel Kilgore lead the 1st Cavalry into the VC occupied village, and watch how the Loaches and gunships work together, covering the area while slicks put down. Lots of great detail, and a scary soundtrack! Full Metal Jacket Marines at Hue in 1968, but still a dramatic movie worth watching.
76 Hamburger Hill One Vietnam veteran and writer recently declared this movie to be the most realistic of the bunch, and I agree. The battle scenes, where airborne troops slog up the hill to take NVA bunkers, are gripping. Platoon This movie has all the elements of a GRUNT mission, patrols, ambushes, jungle firefights, tunnels, village searches, drugtaking, medevacs and even an NVA assault on a US base! A great movie, but the village scenes are harrowing (if essential to the plot). Tour of Duty This TV series came off the back of the 1988 Vietnam movie splurge and did well, with 3 series completed. The first and third series are best, the second has some good plots, but way too much romantic interest with all the women introduced. The series follows Bravo Company, an infantry unit, although in series three the squad-members join special forces. Tour of Duty has many many good ideas for a GRUNT game, and is brilliant at weaving personal problems, issues and dilemmas into the mission and into base camp life. Good luck finding a copy!
Phonetic Call Signs Used in radio speech, in unit designations and many other situations. A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey X-Ray Yankee Zulu
We Were Soldiers A very accurate and atmospheric movie that tells the story of the first big battle of the Vietnam War, the famous Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. The 1st Cavalry Division out of Camp Radcliff attempted to stop the NVA infiltrating the valley. A great resource for players and GMs of grunt, since it covers the same terrain and the same unit and tactics as those used by the grunts in Echo Company, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav Division. Stars Mel Gibson.
MUSIC What can a GM play during a game session to recreate the atmosphere of the Vietnam War in the 1960s? The author uses various types of music. For mood during set-up and premission sequences he plays the Best of the Doors; it‟s not too upbeat, like alot of Sixties music. During missions I opt for rainforest ambience soundtracks. Many are available as MP3 downloads, or as CDs from Amazon.com. Having them shuffle from an ipod keeps the sounds fresh and keeps the sound of the jungle constant. There is something haunting about the sounds as the players debate strategy or prepare for a firefight. For local Vietnamese music, probably the best bet is the movie soundtrack from Heaven and Earth, a film which looks at the war from the viewpoint of a young Vietnamese woman. Of course the movies listed above also have their own movie soundtracks, and the GM may get some use from these, though the author finds the pop music too distracting, and some of the ambient music (particularly from Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, to be generally inappropriate for the scene currently being roleplayed). If you do want a collection of tracks from the era, try the soundtrack to Good Morning Vietnam, a movie about an Armed Forces Radio DJ working in Saigon.
GLOSSARY Agent Orange APC ARVN B-40 Battalion Beaten Zone Book-Koo Bush/Boonies Busting Caps C-5 Cache Cadre Charlie Cobra CS Gas DMZ FAC FNG Free Fire Zone FSB G3 GI GP Tent Green Beret
Grunt Gunship Hanoi HE Hog Hooch HQ Huey KIA Killing Zone LAW Loach LRPS LZ MACV Mekong River MIA Montagnard Nam North Vietnam NCO Number One Number Ten
Chemical weedkiller, sprayed from planes to destroy jungle cover Armoured Personnel Carrier, tracked M113 troop carrier Army of South Vietnam; allies A communist rocket propelled grenade A battalion is a military unit of around 300-1300 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel. In GRUNT the 10m 'area' occupied by an unseen enemy 'Very', 'lots of', 'extreme'; from the French, „beaucoup‟ The jungle, the Vietnamese wilderness, as in 'humping the boonies' Auto fire, shooting Plastic explosive used for demolitions A VC supply dump A communist hardcore training, recruiting and indoctrination unit Victor Charlie, the VC Bell AH-1 helicopter gunship, dedicated attack chopper Tear gas De-Militarized Zone, separating North & South Vietnam Forward Air Controller, flying artillery and airstrike spotter F**king New Guy; no-one wants to know the new guy Area marked as an enemy zone, any movement can be attacked Forward Support Base, a fire base The division operations officer; THE man when it comes to permissions and authorizations General Infantryman, an American infantryman General Purpose Tent, a large green utility tent US Army Special Forces soldier, wearing a green beret when not in the field. Certainly not Rambo 'super-soldiers', the Green Berets are trained to create irregular armies and fight 'behind the lines', living closely with their montagnards (which see) Affectionate (also derogatory) term for US infantryman Armed helicopter dedicated to supporting troop landings Regularly bombed capital of North Vietnam High explosive A UH-1B Huey, converted into a gunship Vietnamese farm house or hut Headquarters; every unit, company, battalion or brigade has an HQ UH-1 helicopter, either 'slick' or 'hog' Killed in Action In GRUNT the killing zone is the 20m area in-front of a firing position Light Anti-tank Weapon; a disposable US rocket launcher Light Observation Helicopter(LOH), the OH-6 Cayuse 'Lurps', Long Range Recon Patrol, behind-the-lines-recon patrols Landing Zone Military Assistance Command Vietnam, the overall US command SE Asia's mighty river which flows through south Vietnam Missing in Action Indigenous tribal people of the Central Highlands; „Yards‟. Vietnam Communist controlled North Vietnam, bombed by the US Non-Commissioned Officer; sergeant and above Fantastic! "GI numba won!" Terrible! "VC numba ten!"
78 NVA PFC Platoon PRC-25 Punji Stake PZ R&R RON RP RPG RTO S2 Saigon Sapper Ship Short Slick Snake South Vietnam Spec 4/Specialist Squadron Treeline Troop UH-1 VC Wasted WIA The World WP
North Vietnamese Army; regular army of the North Vietnamese state Private First Class; all grunts in country will be PFCs or higher Three squads make up a platoon; it's the basic fighting unit Basic backpack carried radio Sharpened bamboo stick Pickup Zone Rest & Recreation Remain Over Night site; a place specified for overnight camp Rendezvous Point; a location marked for the meeting of two or more units Rocket Propelled Grenade; a reusable communist rocket launcher Radio Telephone Operator Squadron's intelligence and security officer Decadent capital of South Vietnam Communist commando who penetrates US defences Chopper; term used by aircrew US soldier who will soon reach the end of his one year term of duty UH-1 chopper dedicated to transporting troops to the landing zone UH-1 Cobra Western-backed Vietnam, last defence against communism Junior NCO without command, a technical expert Term used in the Air Cav for a conventional battalion Line of trees on a field boundary, perfect ambush site 1st Cav name for a 'company' Huey helicopter Viet Cong (also „Victor Charles‟) Killed, also zapped, greased, neutralised, waxed Wounded in Action Anywhere not in Vietnam, but usually referring to the United States „Willie Pete‟ White Phosphorous bomb/grenade
Speaking ‘Gook’ Now, the grunts had some flavour-some and sometimes unsavoury names for the enemy, and most used the same words for the locals, too. Up to now, the author has left these out, but includes them here (with a few commonly used pidgin phrases) for those who want them. Gook, dink, slope Baby san Cheui Hoi Didi Mau Fugazi Mama san Papa san
Derogatory term for any Vietnamese Vietnamese child I surrender Hurry up! Faster! Crazy Older Vietnamese woman Older Vietnamese man
1 - Order of March 2- Distance Travelled Squad moves 1, 3 or 4 kmph 3 – Check for Traps & Ambushes Pointman, makes secret Detect Ambush and Detect Booby Trap roll every 1000m of travel. After one hour, he must be replaced 4 - Resolve Trap or Combat If there is a VC ambush, or booby trap, then the GM and players resolve the action, go to Booby Traps or Aimed Fire in the COMBAT chapter. Type of Move Explore Cautious Fast
Speed 1kph 3kph 4kph
Detection Penalty -1 -2
AREA FIRE 10+ to hit a 10m Zone whereprone and therefore invisible targets are located. Add up all successes to create an Area Fire Pool. GM secretly rolls 1d6 for every success in pool, and on any ‘6’ a secret enemy casualty is inflicted. Use modifiers for Aimed Fire.
Dense Overgrown Scrub Clear/Field
Distance Troops Spotted 20m 200m 400m 600m
Damage Handgun/SMG Rifles, MGs Shotgun/Grenade LAW B40 RPG/Mortar
2d6 3d6 4d6 4d6 5d6
AIMED FIRE 10+ to hit visible targets, roll weapon skill, use modifiers below. Autofire allows x2 attacks, an M60 allows x3 attacks. Aimed Fire Modifiers Range Over Twice Weapon Range -4 Range Over Weapon Range -2 Target inside Bunker -2 Target Partially Visible -1 Shotgun (in Weapon Range) +1 Grenade (Thrown/Launched) +2 Weapon Skill (Qualified) +1 Weapon Skill (Expert) +2 GM ROLLING FOR THE SQUAD Ease the burden. For each 4man team of US soldiers, GM can roll 2d6 for a10+ to hit. If Area Fire, 10+ means a secret VC casualty. If Aimed Fire, every number over 10+ indicates an extra VC casualty! Use these modifiers: +1 M60, +2 Aimed Fire, +2 Grenade
GRENADES Body roll to throw, +2 if into enclosed space. Roll to attack anyone in 10m radius. 4d6 damage. Area Fire: adds 2d to the Area Fire Pool. GM ROLLING FOR VC Ease the burden. For each VC unit (1-9 men), GM can roll 2d6 to hit, 10+ (NVA), 11+ (Main VC), 12+ (Local VC). If Area Fire, success means ONE US casualty. If Aimed Fire, every number over 10+ indicates an extra VC casualty! Bonuses for VC Situation Grunts stood up, patrolling or charging Grunts advancing in rushes Grunts crawling/prone Grunts also crossing the 20m Killing Zone VC using grenade that turn VC firing mortars that turn
VC To-Hit Bonus +2 +1 +2 +1 +2
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any VC unit suffering a casualty cannot conduct aimed fire in the next turn, this simulates 'covering fire'.
WOUNDING Roll dmg dice 1’s = Discounted 2-5 = Minor Wound 6 = Serious Wound Minor Wound: Stunned for 1 turn. Location: 1-2 torso hit, 3-4 ar, 5-6 leg. Several minor wounds can be inflicted. Become 1 Serious Wound when nuber reach Max Wounds. Serious Wound: Dying. GM rolls 2d6 for no. of turns left alive. Any ‘6s’ on that roll indicates reprieve, PC can roll Body very hour instead to survive. Two SWs mean instant death. Healing: Any grunt can makeTechnical roll of 10+. +1 for Medical Bag; +any Medical skill. Success means Serious Wound stops deteriorating, OR removes one Minor Wound. A grunt can only have 1 MW removed per day.
CLOSE COMBAT 5m or less. To get into Close Combat, often a 20m Kill Zone must be crossed. Attacked by Aimed Fire. Roll Panic or higher to enter KZ Orders to Charge? Or Advance in Rushes? Charging forces defenders to make Panic or VC+4 test or run Fighting. The grunts roll Body+Close Cbt skill to fight, 10+ inflicts damage on a VC. Failure means the grunt is wounded. Close Quarter Weapons
Close Combat To-Hit Modifiers
Rifle and fitted bayonet (3d dmg) Pistol (2d damage) Shotgun (4d damage) Knife (2d damage) Entrenching tool (2d damage) SMG (2d damage x2)
Grunts attacking Grunts defending Using a close quarter weapon Using a weapon not on the CQW list
+1 +1 -3
Ganging Up: As the close quarter fight ensues, the GM can throw VC at the advancing grunts, and the fight may be unequal. Several PC’s may make attack rolls aimed at one VC – perhaps inflicting multiple wounds. Alternatively, several VC may attack a single grunt, in which case he must roll a Body + Close Combat roll to defend himself against a VC. However, a success here would indicate a successful parry or dodge, he could not inflict damage.
Sergeant Anders' Squad First Team Staff Sergeant Anders
BODY 2 CBT 3 Squad Leader Spot Ambush 2, Map Reading 1, Rifle1 M16, bayonet, map, compass
TECH 1 Panic 8 Stress
SPIRIT 2 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
PFC Dream Boat
BODY 2 Scout Spot Ambush 2, Spot Traps 2 M16, bayonet, machete
TECH 2 Panic 7 Stress
SPIRIT 3 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
Sp4 Stake Out
BODY 1 CBT 2 Grenadier Grenade Lchr 1, Spot Traps 2 M79 Grenade Lchr, Colt Pistol, Knife
TECH 1 Panic 7 Stress
SPIRIT 3 MaxLoad 9 Max Wds 2
BODY 2 CBT 2 AWARE 3 Machinegunner Machinegun 1, Pistol 1, Jungle Survival 1, Scounge 1 M60 Machinegun, Colt Pistol, Ammo Belt, Knife
TECH 3 Panic 9 Stress
SPIRIT 1 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
BODY 1 CBT 3 AWARE 1 RTO RTO 2, Spot Traps 1, Aim 1 M16, bayonet, PRC-25 Radio, 4 smoke grenades
TECH 2 Panic 8 Stress
SPIRIT 2 MaxLoad 9 Max Wds 2
Sergeant 'The Voice'
BODY 2 CBT 3 Team Leader Search 2, Rifle1, Wpn Maintenance 1 M16, bayonet, map, compass
TECH 1 Panic 8 Stress
SPIRIT 2 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
BODY 2 CBT 3 AWARE 1 Scout Spot Ambush 2, Jungle Survival 1, Ranger 1 M16, bayonet, machete
TECH 1 Panic 8 Stress
SPIRIT 2 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
Sp4 Mr Johnson
BODY 2 CBT 3 AWARE 1 Grenadier Grenade Lchr 1, Noise Discipline 2, Pistol 1 M79 Grenade Lchr, Colt Pistol, Knife
TECH 3 Panic 9 Stress
SPIRIT 1 MaxLoad 10 Max Wds 3
BODY 3 CBT 2 AWARE 3 Machinegunner Machinegun 2, Night Vision 2 M60 Machinegun, Colt Pistol, Ammo Belt, Knife
TECH 3 Panic 9 Stress
SPIRIT 1 MaxLoad 11 Max Wds 4
BODY 3 CBT 3 Medic Medical 1, Close Cbt 1, Drive1, Rifle 1 M16, bayonet, Medical Bag
TECH 2 Panic 7 Stress
SPIRIT 3 MaxLoad 11 Max Wds 4
Character Record Sheet
Skills (initial = 4 pts; select level +1 or level +2)
initial = 0
Character Record Sheet Rank:
Skills (initial = 4 pts; select level +1 or level +2) Main Skill:
initial = 0
(write stories on reverse)
(write stories on reverse)
initial = 0
initial = 0
INDEX Aimed Fire 51 Ambush 42 Ammo 56 Area Fire 52-53 Army, Organisation 6-10 Army, Ranks 7-8 Artillery 36, 43-44, 57 Attributes 15 Base Camps 9, 10 Booby Traps 39-41 Call Signs 76 Character creation 13-18 Character roles 16 Choppers, see Helicopters Claymore Mine 57-58 Close Combat 53-54, 56 Close Quarter Weapons 54 Combat 49-58 Conditions 47-48 Decorations 45 Dilemmas 28 Equipment 21-26 Experience, see Success points Firearms 25-26, 59-60 Fire Support, see Artillery Firing Positions 49 Flanking 56 Food 65 Fumble, see Stoppages Glossary 77-78 Grenades 57-58 Healing 55 Helicopters 35-37 Ho Chi Minh Trail 4, 68 Horror Test 45 Hueys, see Helicopters
Killing Zone 53 Kit 21-26 Landing Zone 35-36 Life in Vietnam 61-65 Maps, Using 32, 49 Max Load 16 Max Wounds 16 Medals 45 Mission creation 28 Mission ideas 69-73 Mortars 57 Movement 49 Murphy's Laws 27 Names 13-14, 64 North Vietnam Army (NVA) 4, 50, 65-68 Order of March 38 Panic 15, 53 Pick Up Zone 37 Responses 46 Role Related Kit 22 Skills 18 Spotting Troops 42 Squad Organization 16 Stoppages 56 Stories 48 Stress 16, 45-48 Success points 44 Task resolution 20 Traps, see Booby Traps Travelling 38-39 Tunnels 68 Turns 49 Viet Cong (VC) 4, 50-51, 65-68 Vietnam, North 4, 65 Vietnam, South 4, 6, 61-65 Weapons 25-26, 59-60 Wounds 55