Given the title, it’s not hard to guess what kind of adventure Strike Force 7: Operation Winter Kill is going to be. If there is any confusion, though, let me clarify. It is an action movie turned into a Savage Worlds adventure. That’s no criticism as the Fast! Furious! Fun! style of Savage Worlds fits an action movie plot perfectly. In fact, a useful way to determine if a Savage Worlds adventure is going to be good is to try to imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 80’s starring in it. If you can, it’s going to be good.
In keeping with the action movie vibe of Winter Kill the plot involves the U.S. in a three way struggle with the U.S.S.R. and a terrorist organization known as Skorpion. As if the cold war tension was not enough, having a group known as Skorpion gives the adventure a very action movie feel.
With all that, the adventure is not meant to be comedic or satirical. It is actually presented rather seriously. In fact, two ways to run the game are given depending on how intensely the GM wants to run the game. The first way is cinematic and fits the action movie theme while the second is much more realistic, and thus lethal and dangerous. But even with the cinematic method, the adventure is serious and is intended to be played as a Spec Ops adventure.
One of the interesting things that Winter Kill presents is the idea of Real Time Events. These in game events involve a real world timer to determine in game actions. For instance, players may have a minute in real world time to determine what their characters do in a scene. As I learned in a recent Dread game, having a real world countdown amps up the tension in a game. This, in addition to a few other suggestions for the GM to keeping the game moving, is certain to keep the players on edge and instill in them the dangerousness of the scenario.
Though the adventure is exciting and the story told in it compelling, there are a couple of flaws with Winter Strike. The first is that some of the encounters are a bit too ambiguous. While few Savage Worlds adventures provide an exact number of opponents in an encounter, they generally provide a ratio of opponents to the number of characters. Some of the encounters in Winter Kill do not even have this guideline. While a GM could come up with a challenging number of opponents on his own, this oversight only makes the GM’s job harder when the purpose of a published adventure is to make it easier.
Additionally, the art in the book is a bit unusual for an RPG supplement. Rather than drawings or even paintings, most of the pieces of art are actual photographs. This is a convenient source of images given the nature of the subject of the adventure. Military photographs are prolific and are perfectly appropriate for this adventure. There is some hand drawn art included as well, though. The cover, one piece of art toward the back of the adventure as well as all of the pictures for the character profiles are hand drawn. Perhaps the real life images are included to make the adventure feel more real and to give it more impact. I’m not sure if that’s the effect that the pictures have but I prefer hand drawn art. My criticism may simply be a matter of taste.
Overall, Strike Force 7 – Operation: Winter Kill is a good adventure for anyone looking for a Spec Ops style Savage Worlds Scenario. It’s full of excitement and action and makes me want to go take down Skorpion!