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Ashes of Isar

Ashes of Isar is a role-play game I created for 2-6 players based on World War II espionage and spy craft.

Ashes of Isar, cover

The core tenet of Ashes of Isar is plausible realism.

Players create characters (“agents”) that have a set of skills which increase through experience. Throughout the game, they attempt to succeed at various objectives that help the war effort, using their skills and ability to improvise along with a bit of random luck determined by rolling six-sided dice. Successes increase their skills, and failures can lead to injury, capture, or even death. The stakes are high!

Over time, player actions influence future conditions, and missions change (and become more difficult) as the war progresses. The GM handles this ongoing play by creating new and more dangerous missions for the players to accomplish. Players can suggest new missions based on their own ingenuity and effort to help win the war. In the end, players seek to achieve Master Spy status — and to win the war, of course!

World War II spy craft and espionage was a devious, dirty, and dangerous business coupled with a lot of tedium. This game seeks to represent the more engaging and glamorous aspects of WW2 espionage while eliminating or skipping over much of its more tedious aspects. Although this game is inspired by historical events, people, and places, entertainment through plausible realism is the goal, not strict adherence to historical accuracy.

Injuries or capture are a serious risk and death looms around every corner. The objects and technology used in the game are modeled directly and realistically after period items, as are places and prominent figures.

The game is won when the primary opponent in the conflict (e.g, Nazi Germany) is defeated or when some other major goal is achieved.

The Roles

The game master (GM) creates the scenarios and settings, and then referee’s the play.

There is one Game Master and 1 to 6 players who cooperate to achieve common goals.

Gameplay represents chronological events, and success or failure today has ramifications for tomorrow. The GM collects and processes the results of player actions, decides what impact they will have on the campaign, and presents results and new possibilities to the players as the game progresses. Players are also encouraged to suggest new missions based on their knowledge and ingenuity — anything to help win the war.