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OWB001: WWII: Operation WhiteBox

OWB001: WWII: Operation WhiteBox

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The Great Crusade. That's what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the effort to defeat the Axis powers in WWII.

Tabletop roleplaying games have always been about epic quests, heroic deeds, and great crusades. These games feature mercurial wizards, diabolical dragons, and cunning adventurers. Such fantastical tropes are not so different from what has come to pass in our own history. In fact, it is that commonality which gives such stories their power.

But what gives World War II its true power is that it was all real. It happened. Real men and women fought and died—including many of our own living ancestors. They laid down their lives when faced with unfathomable evil. And that is legendary. WWII: Operation WhiteBox is an homage to these heroes, both living and fallen.

With reverence to those men and women, we embark on this great and noble undertaking. . .

James M. Spahn
Barrel Rider Games

WWII: Operation WhiteBox is a roleplaying game of WWII special forces action designed for compatibility with the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox roleplaying game.

In WWII: Operation WhiteBox, the player characters (PCs) play the role of WWII special forces operatives. They may be formally trained and part of an officially designated special forces unit such as the SAS or U.S. Army Airborne, or they may simply be guerilla fighters dedicated to making life hard for the German Army. They may also be covert agents working for organizations such as the SOE or OSS. Whatever their affiliation, their job is to complete missions behind enemy lines, paving the way for the next Allied advance. 

WWII: Operation WhiteBox is a standalone game that uses the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox rules as its base. In addition to standard gameplay rules, the game contains the following: 

  • CHARGEN: This includes Attributes, Nationality, Rank, Profession, etc.
  • NEW CLASSES: Eight new classes including the Charmer, Combat Engineer, Grunt, Maquis, Sniper, Tactician, Wheelman, Uberlaufer, each with their own unique abilities. 
  • GEAR AND WEAPONS: A list of typical WWII weapons and gear. Weapons are statistically grouped by function (Large Rifle, Small Handgun, Submachinegun, etc.) with some named examples to add flavor (M1 Garand, Derringer, MP40, etc.). 
  • PLAYING THE GAME: Rules for Saving Throws, Surprise, Reaction Rolls, Movement, etc.
  • PERSONAL COMBAT: Rules for "theater of the mind" combat including new rules for automatic weapons, using cover and concealment, and explosives. 
  • VEHICLE COMBAT: Rules for "theater of the mind" vehicle combat (basically the same as personal combat) and vehicles grouped and statted out (Small Truck, Medium Tank, Small Aircraft, etc.) with named examples to add flavor (Kubelwagen, M4 Sherman, Brirish Spitfire, etc.). 
  • GAMEPLAY EXAMPLE: A gameplay write up to show some of the new concepts in action. 
  • COMMON NPCs AND ANIMALS: Stats and descriptions for civilians, soldiers, and common European animals. 
  • COVERT SPECIAL FORCES EQUIPMENT: Descriptions of some real world equipment designed and/or used by special forces during WWII. 
  • THE WWII CAMPAIGN: This chapter gives an overview of the different theaters, major events of the different time periods, and lots and lots of tips for running a WWII campaign. 
  • SPECIAL FORCES IN THE EUROPEAN THEATER: An overview of various Allied special forces units such as the SAS, LRDG, OSS, etc., resistance organizations such as the French Maquis and the Norwegian Milorg, an German special forces units such as the Brandenburgers. This chapter also runs down how to design a special forces mission as well as the different types of missions commonly undertaken. 
  • WWII TIMELINE: A chronological timeline of major WWII dates and events.
  • HISTORIC WWII SPECIAL FORCES ACTIONS: Contains a brief description of real world historical missions undertaken by units like the British Commandos, Jedburghs, etc.
  • RESISTANCE AT THE PONTEVILLE BRIDGE: A sample mission deep in Normandy. 
  • MASS COMBAT RULES: Quick and dirty rules for resolving Mass Combat as well as how to incorporate PC missions into the results. 
  • MINI-SETTINGS: Nazi Superscience, Nazi Occult, and Nazi Space elements to liven up your game!


NOTE ON THE PRINT VERSION: The color version is the Premium Color option. These colors are not as vivid as the PDF, with the green headers and boxed text being more of an olive drab than a bright green. If color is unimportant, go with the less expensive B&W version. Thanks!

Out of respect for those who served in WWII and all wars past, present, and future, Small Niche Games will donate a portion of each purchase annually to a Veteran's charity. 

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Reviews (8)
Discussions (11)
Customer avatar
Newbie F February 07, 2019 12:52 am UTC
I've been enjoying reading the PDF so far, It is well written and concise, not to mention the brevity and clarity of rules. I have a bit of a nitpick though, nothing serious or literally anything you should care about as It doesn't even affect anything at all. But "Table 20" and "Table 22" are completely identical, which is odd seeing the "Vehicle Combat" section states that it uses "Table 20" as well.
Customer avatar
Pete S March 03, 2019 2:01 am UTC
Yes, this was mainly just to keep people from having to flip back and forth.
Customer avatar
Julien M October 05, 2018 7:37 am UTC
I just bought a hardcover version. I thought it was possible to get the PDF whith the print !?
Customer avatar
Pete S October 05, 2018 10:21 am UTC
Hi Julien, the PDF version of WWII: Operation WhiteBox is now available for free here.

Thanks for your support. Be sure to check out our G+ Community for more discussions.
Customer avatar
John S September 15, 2017 6:08 pm UTC
large preview doesn't work
Customer avatar
Gerhardt V February 19, 2017 6:47 pm UTC
Is there somewhere I can get character sheets? I bought the paper back revision. Also is there separate charts like for the GM? thanks.
Customer avatar
Pete S February 23, 2017 2:59 pm UTC
Hi Gerhardt V, email me at smallnichegames -at- gmail -dot- com and I will send it to you electronically.
Customer avatar
Michael G November 22, 2016 11:59 pm UTC
Just looked earlier today; where'd the b&w go?
Customer avatar
Pete S November 23, 2016 12:23 am UTC
Hi Michael, a minor issue was reported to me with the B&W version. It's in the process of being fixed and I will update once it is ready. Still available on if you just gotta have it. Thanks!
Customer avatar
Michael G November 23, 2016 12:34 am UTC
Oh, good to know. Thanks for looking out. Actually, brings up a question: is the version here digest size?
Customer avatar
Pete S November 24, 2016 1:16 am UTC
Yes, all versions are digest sized. The point was made that a full size book would look funny sitting on the shelf next to the other S&W books so the decision was made to stick with digest.
Customer avatar
David L November 04, 2016 2:01 am UTC
I am a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Veteran that made the combat jump into Panama (1989), and also served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990/91). Just seeing that a portion of each purchase will be donated annually to a Veterans' charity made up my mind to purchase this game (after my comment). I may even actually try it out to use some of my experience on the players/characters.
Customer avatar
Pete S November 04, 2016 9:36 am UTC
Hello sir. This book was meant as a tribute to men such as yourself so I am honored you even noticed it and took the time to post. Thank you for your service.
Customer avatar
David L November 05, 2016 12:40 pm UTC
Thanks Pete! Anyway, I skimmed over the rules after purchase and got to about page 38 when it was time for me to hit the sack. I noticed a couple of items: Page 31-The M1 Garand is a semiautomatic rifle. It cannot fire 'bursts', unless you consider it able to fire all 8 rounds in the clip in one minute (one round), which it naturally can do. Of course a good shot with a regular Mauser K-98 bolt-action can also get off several rounds in one minute. If during a normal combat round, a bolt-action rifle can fire only once, then I would suggest that the M1 Garand be able to fire 2 shots during the round. Patton said that it was the M1 Garand and the Jeep that made the largest contributions to the Allied war effort. (Plus I own an M1 Garand, and an M1 Carbine.) :)
Also, the ranges you have on almost all weapons is woefully short. The average U.S. soldier is trained to engage targets up to 300 meters (roughly) 900 feet. A sniper can hit targets 2000 yards away. When firing the combat pistol course with...See more
Customer avatar
Pete S November 05, 2016 8:08 pm UTC
Hi David! Yes I gave the M1 Garand the option to simulate "burst fire". It's not traditional burst fire in the sense of MGs and SMGs. I meant for it to simulate the rapid fire of the Garand as compared to bolt actions of the era. They would still expend around 3 rounds per burst.

As far as ranges, remember the listed range is for short range. Multiple by 4 for extreme range (as per Ranged Combat rules). This puts most rifles around 200 yards which is a little better, but as you pointed out probably woefully inadequate for a truly trained operative. The system is designed as a loose framework (as opposed to a wargame simulation), however , so things like ranges can be easily increased to suit your home games without causing any problems in play.

Customer avatar
Pete S November 05, 2016 8:55 pm UTC
Now...if you rule it as a progression instead of straight multiplication, x1 would be 150' (or 50 yds), x2 would be 300' (or 100 yds), x3 would be 900' (or 300 yds), and x4 would be 3,600' (or 1,200 yds) which might be closer in line to what you were expecting.
Customer avatar
Pete S November 05, 2016 11:35 pm UTC
Also, if you don't mind me asking, please check out our WWII: Operation WhiteBox community on G+. There are many there (myself included!) who would find your real world special forces experience and expertise invaluable.
Customer avatar
William M November 02, 2016 1:38 am UTC
FYI: Page 32...under RIFLE (SMALL)..."M1 Garand Carbine" is should be "M1 Carbine"...Garand had nothing to do with the development of the M1's a totally separate firearm, just shares the M1 designation...
Customer avatar
Kelly D November 02, 2016 11:51 am UTC
Good catch!
Customer avatar
Pete S November 03, 2016 11:16 pm UTC
Hahaha you are correct sir. Count that as habit from typing M1 Garand so much, just tacking Carbine on the end. I will fix this when next I update the PDF. Thank you.

Edited: and be sure to let me know if you find anymore!
Customer avatar
William M August 19, 2017 1:18 am UTC
Sorry for the delay, but I only just got back to this AND YOU SAID TO LET YOU KNOW! :)

Page 31 * The M1 Garand is capable of Burst Fire...again, I think you meant M1 Carbine, actually called the M2 Carbine if it was burst/fully auto capable...

It's just a typo more than you know when you might update the .pdf as I was looking to order print copies of the two books...
Customer avatar
William M August 19, 2017 10:50 am UTC
Nevermind, I just read your explanation to David L above...
Customer avatar
Jerry L November 01, 2016 3:05 pm UTC
You've mentioned land and aerial TotM combat, is naval combat provided along with sample ships as well?
Asking because gamers would truly have all of the resources necessary for OD&D Modern then!
If not, maybe consider a small PWYW supplement that would include rules for such things (along with swimming, breath holding, and drowning in the event of crashes even)?
Also, are the TotM vehicle rules open game content?
Sorry for all the questions, Pete. But you know how much I love aquatic stuff ;)
Customer avatar
Pete S November 03, 2016 11:21 pm UTC
Hi Jerry, a patrol boat for littoral missions and combat is provided because the PCs might run afoul (or commandeer) one of these vessels, but the larger battleships and the like were a little beyond the scope of the core rules. Remember, the players are a special forces unit of some type. I would modify the Mass Combat rules to handle major naval engagements. In fact , I might draw up some quick and dirty battle modifiers for that.

Just about every rule in OWB, including the vehicle rules, is open content. And I'm always happy to answer questions, so ask away!
Customer avatar
Jerry L November 05, 2016 2:50 am UTC
Good deal, will purchase then.
Besides, I've dug your writing since the PIG/genreDiversion days.
Y'know, some day I'd STILL love to see a space bestiary like the one you always wanted to do but never got around to ...even if it is for a different setting than HardNova 2.
I keep imagining how different your creatures might have been from the roughly 90 I pulled off for HN2 R&E.

Cheers :)
Customer avatar
Pete S November 05, 2016 11:20 pm UTC
Thanks Jerry! I've kicked around the idea of a White Star bestiary, just haven't pulled the trigger on it. OWB is keeping me pretty busy right now.
Customer avatar
Stephen H October 30, 2016 5:26 am UTC
"I remember my first trip to Europe as a young man. I felt blessed to see it, to touch the origins of my own country that I love so dearly. I hoped one day that all young Americans would have the same opportunity. Now hundreds of thousands will, along with Britons and Canadians, and European allies fighting to return home.
"This kind of visit isn't what I had in mind. But if they do not offer the sacrifice of blood now, we will all pay dearly with added gallons later.
"So if some must die, it is in a worthy cause."
- Ike: Countdown to D-Day
Customer avatar
Stephen H October 30, 2016 5:24 am UTC
It just depends on how you read the "and." It could also be read "fought (and survived) and (fought and) died."
Customer avatar
Fred R October 27, 2016 4:06 pm UTC
I don't want to be that guy, but the men and women who "fought and died" are not our "living ancestors." They're dead. Maybe just ancestors.
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on October 26, 2016.