by Nicole Winchester
I’d only been home for a few weeks when I was recruited. I was halfway into my second gin, distracting myself at one of the cabarets on St-Laurent. The city was full of officers on their way somewhere or another, so yet another one trying to chat me up was no surprise.
It was the reason for Captain Stephenson’s interest that I had a hard time believing. How could I help win the war or help my friends from so far away? What could I do?
I couldn’t say no.
Some of the boys seemed to think the Camp a bit of a lark, playing spy instead of soldier. I didn’t have that luxury. I’d run from France, left people to die. I learned how to hurt the people who had made me scurry away like a rat, the people who had taken my friends and my life.
I didn’t want to become the person I am, but I was chosen. I will not feel guilty or ashamed for what I’ve done. Wars are not won by respectable methods.
—Diana Lefort, Camp X Agent
Welcome to Camp X
It’s early 1942, and the world is at war. It’s impossible to escape, even in far-away North America—rationed items are more difficult to get, and the news is filled with doom from abroad. As the battles drag on and the casualty figures mount, it has become clear to the higher-ups in every country’s military that the Allies are not succeeding on any front, even with fresh and eager American troops ready to fight post-Pearl Harbor.
Enlisting in the military of any nation means immediate integration into the war effort for men and women alike. Most new recruits assume they’ll be immediately trained and mobilized to the continent, not picked out of the crowd, chosen for a special assignment so secret they were ordered not tell anyone where they were going. They certainly don’t expect to be sent to an installation nestled between quiet farms well east of Toronto, on the banks of Lake Ontario.
From 1941 to 1945, Camp X trained more than five hundred Allied covert operatives from Britain, Canada, and the United States, amongst them five future directors of the CIA. Founded as a paramilitary and commando training installation, it is the first espionage training facility in North America and considered the foundation of modern North American spy training.
Mayhem and Murder
Camp X is filled with accents. There’s a range of Brits both training and teaching, from across London and the countryside; French-Canadians that can switch between languages with startling accuracy; Americans from East to West, some that sound closer to the Canadians than anyone else. There are women as well as men: training alongside male officers, working in the communications centre, leading teams already deployed.
They call it the school of “mayhem and murder,” and it’s a fair assessment. Reasonable, upstanding officers and citizens teach unimaginable death and destruction—burglary, interrogation, close combat, demolition, silent killing, assassination. The rumor is, when agents graduate, they can kill a man with their bare hands in fifteen seconds. Other lessons include disguise, sabotage, surveillance, and recruitment, along with Morse code and basic encryption to communicate across the ocean while in the field.
Disguised as a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation transmitter, “Hydra” is the codename for the state-of-the-art telecommunication center that links Allied agents across the Atlantic and around the world. This international intelligence hub transmits and receives thousands of messages daily—much of the secret intelligence between the continents. Hydra’s staff of Canadian women transcribe, decode, and prioritize messages from agents and installations round-the-clock, escalating and replying to emergency transmissions when necessary. The communications center housing Hydra is secure and secretive, even for a spy school, and outsiders coming too close are shot on sight.
The Greater Good
Each Camp X recruit was chosen specifically for their skills and abilities, qualities that make them each an excellent spy. They will save hundreds, thousands of lives—or so they’re told—by doing terrible things for the greater good. Reconciling the bloody work of espionage with some greater purpose is no easy task, even with the tide of Nazi occupation to break. War is a dirty business, and this is the darkest, dirtiest part.
Camp X is a Quick Start with everything you need to get right into your first session. Before you begin, you’ll want to talk about the broader setting with your group, maybe even reading aloud “Welcome to Camp X,” “Mayhem and Murder,” “Hydra,” and “The Greater Good,” so everyone is on the same page. At the start of play, explain the current issue to your players and ask them to fill in one or two additional faces associated with The Quiet War. These additional characters will provide new plot hooks and twists that will tie your players more deeply to the operations they’re about to be sent on.
Then ask your players to choose from one of the two available impending issues: Allied Politics or Missing Operatives. Have them fill in one or two additional faces for their chosen impending issue as well, rounding out the larger cast of characters with their suggestions.
A Note about History
This Quick Start is historically inspired, but does not require 100% historical accuracy. There’s nothing more you need to know! If you enjoy research, feel free, but the basics of World War II remain the same.
Current Issue: The Quiet War
The War has been going badly for the Allies, though exactly how badly is classified. Until the newly recruited agents get to Camp X, they have no idea how dire the situation has become. There are American troops on the way, but there’s a strong belief in the military that intelligence will be key to victory. This is the Quiet War, the war of codes and cyphers, of stealth and secrecy, of assignations and assassinations. Camp X operatives are well-trained, skilled, deadly assets for the Allies, but the Axis has its own agents, just as dangerous and unforgiving in their method.
William Stephenson: Code Name: Intrepid. Canadian commander of Camp X, a “real life James Bond,” according to Ian Fleming.
Mysterious Nazi Spymaster: Code Name: Red Baron. In charge of German intelligence (Abwehr), often anticipates Allied agent movements.
In addition to The Quiet War and the threat it poses to the world and our agents, there are a number of other impending issues that put Camp X and its operations at risk, including:
Everyone is supposed to work together in times of war—but in reality, political agendas aren’t so easily forgotten. Camp X is a Canadian installation, but as chief of British Security Coordination as well as commander of the camp, Stephenson is beholden to the Crown. Meanwhile, the United States is gaining greater influence in the war due to resources and at the camp due to proximity. The war-weariness and caution of the Brits must be balanced with the impatience and determination of the Americans in every operation, and agents will negotiate the same politics in their own cells. Agents’ “home” organizations will have “friendly” requests that suit their own agendas, and how operatives respond will affect their relationships with superiors.
Lieutenant Rupert Sackville: Proper MI6 officer, assigned to “keep an eye on things” at Camp X by the head of Britain’s MI6.
Colonel William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan: Head of the American Office of Strategic Services, friend to William Stephenson.
The risk of getting caught or killed is part of the job, but it’s still no less of a shock when there’s news of a missing agent—even worse when you know them. René Durant, a Quebecois operative, arrived at Camp X just before the team, and was deployed to France only weeks ago. He went dark shortly after a transmission his girlfriend, Loretta Cregg, received—which she wasn’t supposed to decode...but did anyway. René was certain he was being followed, and by someone responsible for the disappearances of a number of agents. But nothing more came from him, and assets keep disappearing across Europe. Is there a leak? Or a mole?
René Durant: Code Name: Endure. Missing Camp X agent, last communication received from outside Versailles; Retta’s boyfriend.
Loretta “Retta” Cregg: Code Name: Snakecharmer. Hydra communications officer, works on European time; René’s girlfriend.
Camp X works best with Fate Core characters, as spies in World War II tended to specialize in ways that traditional skills illustrate clearly. If you choose to use Fate Accelerated approaches, players will find they have agents with very similar approaches and capabilities, and only stunts to differentiate them.
In Camp X, players take on the roles of newly trained World War II spies, sent to wage a stealth war against the Axis, taking necessary actions for the greater good. It’s possible for players to play officers or others that operate out of the camp in Ontario, but as the action will happen in the field, those characters probably won’t have a very direct role in the story.
Players should select a high concept and a trouble. In choosing a high concept, consider the reason you were chosen to train at Camp X—what made you stand out as a potential spy? What makes you special?
Instead of the first aspect of the phase trio, players choose a code name aspect for their agent, such as Intrepid, White Mouse, Prosper, or Madeleine. Code names are very much in the spirit of the spy genre, and can reflect how the character is seen by the people around them. Code names can also be random, but it might be more fun for everyone to suggest some cool code names for one another’s agents!
Rather than completing the last two phases of character creation as usual, begin by creating a war aspect that connects your character to The Quiet War. Why did you agree to training when you were asked to come to Camp X? What makes you determined to be part of this war?
Finally, use a relationship aspect to illustrate relationships between the characters, but with a focus on the camp and how they came together there. Are they compatriots, friends, or rivals? What might get in the way of working as a team?
Camp X uses some modified skills from traditional Fate Core. These skills aren’t new, but they’ve been renamed and contextualized to ensure that they fit the setting. The other skills (Athletics, Burglary, Contacts, Deceive, Drive, Empathy, Fight, Investigate, Physique, Provoke, Rapport, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, and Will) remain unchanged. Camp X also adds two new skills for agents: Demolition and Language.
Operatives, especially those responsible for communications, learn how to handle basic electronic and mechanical repairs. They also learn the finer points of sabotage. Repair can be used to cut brakes, cut off communications, and otherwise cause problems for the enemy as long as there’s machinery or electrical equipment involved.
All agents are briefed on their missions, but some will do extra homework—or unauthorized digging—to make sure they’re well informed. Intel is what you know about Camp X’s operations and the Quiet War as it’s fought. Whether you have high clearance or friends in high places, you get to read all the good stuff.
Camp X uses the Survival skill developed by Ryan Macklin in The Fate Codex, Volume 1, Issue 2. Operatives use Survival to navigate in the field, travel undetected behind enemy lines, and find resources when they need to go into hiding.
As Notice has been removed from the skill list, Camp X makes use of the Automatic Discovery system developed by Ryan Macklin for use with Survival (The Fate Codex, Volume 1, Issue 2). Skills rated at Good (+3) or higher automatically succeed at rolls to overcome or create advantages using passive discovery while skills rated at Great (+4) or higher automatically succeed with style. Spies are trained to notice everything, after all.
Some people just like to blow things up. Where Repair is for the building or breaking of machinery and electronics, Demolition is purely for destruction. But it’s not as easy as you think to make explosions—the job requires precision, skill, and a certain disregard for personal safety.
Overcome: Destroy bridges and buildings with the appropriate equipment and time. Use multiple actions and challenges for chain reactions, or to limit collateral damage.
Create an Advantage: Create an explosion as a distraction. Cut off a city by destroying the roads out.
Attack: Demolition as an assassination method—create a suitcase bomb or other small explosive for the target.
Defend: It’s difficult to use Demolition to defend…unless you want to risk blowing yourself up at the same time.
I’m Taking Them with Me. Get a +2 to overcome or attack actions with Demolitions whenever you put yourself at significant risk to incur maximum damage. Consequences will likely come from the action, depending on the situation.
Who Needs a Key? Use Demolitions instead of Burglary when dealing with vaults, banks, jails, fortifications—anything where you need to get in, or get something out.
In the field, it’s not just what languages you speak, but how you speak them: how well, with what sort of accent, what words you use. Language allows characters to speak multiple languages fluently and learn additional languages easily. The Language skill also covers signals and cyphers, making it easier to send and receive messages—or intercept the enemy’s.
Overcome: Translating papers; sounding like a local; speaking, reading, or listening to a new language; sending or receiving coded messages.
Create an Advantage: Eavesdropping on conversations; intercepting enemy messages; writing propaganda for the locals.
Attack: You can’t attack with Language.
Defend: Language isn’t used to defend.
The Long O Means We’re in Lyon. You can pinpoint your location based on the regional differences in accent when you listen in on a few spoken phrases in a language you understand.
Heart of a People. When you speak another language, you understand a people. Use Language in place of Empathy to create an advantage when dealing with native speakers.
In addition to the usual stress tracks and consequences, Camp X uses a modified version of group consequences from the Fate System Toolkit (page 61). Since the agents in a cell almost always work as a team, they will be in danger together, face the consequences of their actions together, and could even be compromised together.
As such, the team takes consequences before the agents do. The team has the same number of consequence slots as a character: one mild, one moderate, and one major. When an agent chooses to use a consequence slot instead of taking stress, that consequence is taken by the team if the corresponding slot is empty.
Ben gets into a fight with several German guards. He manages to get away, but the Germans inflict 4 stress. The team currently only has a mild consequence, so Ben fills the moderate slot with Injured Agent. He thinks he’s cracked a rib. If he gets into another fight, the moderate slot on his own sheet is still free.
A group consequence can be cleared like a regular one, using an overcome action with whatever skill seems most appropriate. For example, if the team has taken the major consequence Compromised, actions must be made to arrange new cover identities for everyone before it can be cleared.
Example Group Consequences:
Mild: German Radio Surveillance, IDed by Local Police, Contact Lost
Moderate: Injured Agent, Safe House Inaccessible, Cleanup Mission Required
Major: Compromised, Severely Injured Agent, Known to Gestapo
OPENING SCENE: Breaking into Camp X
All of the newly trained agents have just been put into cells, and the player characters have had a few days to get to know each other and their capabilities. One evening, when coming out of the mess hall, they’re pulled aside by a junior officer and taken to a delivery truck with an enclosed cargo area—no windows. They’re handed an envelope and a pack of matches and given no other instructions than to read the letter once they’re in the back of the truck.
The letter is from Stephenson, the head of the camp, telling them they’re next up for the drop into France—there’s only one test left. Infiltrate Camp X after being left in the Ontario countryside with only what they have on their backs. Night is coming on fast and the truck doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. What did they bring with them? And how will the team stand up to the challenge?
Opening Aspects: Heavy Guard, Electric Fences, Cover of Darkness
In finding their way back to Camp X, the characters might encounter a number of obstacles. In general, selecting roughly two challenges per character gives everyone a chance to show their skills. Here are a few challenges the agents may need to make to infiltrate the camp:
Survival: The agents have been dropped off approximately 30 km/19 miles from the camp. Figuring this out, and what direction the camp lies, requires some knowledge of navigation and terrain. Difficulty: Fair (+2)
Repair: The agents might find an unattended car to hotwire and make a quick trip back to base—and when they get there, Repair can help disable the electric fences and alarm systems around the camp. Difficulty: Fair (+2) to Great (+4)
Fight: It’s obvious, but it works: knock out the guards. No one said it was against the rules, but the guards might not be too pleased with the team in the long run. Difficulty: Great (+4)
Athletics: Climbing the fences, even if deactivated, takes some skill—even just to avoid cuts from the barbed wire, or an injury from a fall. Difficulty: Fair (+2)
Deceive: If the team is discovered, a clever agent may have to provide guards with a plausible cover story that clears them all. What, that mission? We’re done with it already! Difficulty: Good (+3)
MIDDLE SCENE: Dropped Into Action
If the characters succeed, they’re able to infiltrate the camp in time to overhear the discussion of two intelligence officers sharing a cigarette outside. They’re concerned about the actions of a reckless Resistance contact in France code named “Liselle,” though one expresses sympathy: wouldn’t anyone be the same over their own missing sister?
Either way, after the new agents report in, they’re summoned to Stephenson’s office. It’s not to call them on the carpet or congratulate them, but to inform them another cell has gone missing in France. This one was in the middle of a mission to destroy a bridge that would cut off German supply lines in much of the occupied country. The intelligence shows a large shipment coming in less than a week, and no teams in Europe can be spared. The team will leave for CFB Trenton, then for Britain immediately.
Flown from England to France at night on a massive cargo plane, the team is set to jump when shots interrupt the drop! The plane has to make evasive maneuvers to avoid the fighters, and when the agents get the chance to jump, they’re off course—though they’ve made it to France mostly in one piece. Now, they must evade German patrols while getting to their target.
Opening Aspects: Behind Enemy Lines, Position Unknown, Nearby Barn
4 German soldiers on regular patrol. They aren’t expecting anyone, but they’d love to find someone.
Patriotic Goons • Itchy Trigger-Fingers
Good (+3) Fighting, Intimidating
Poor (-1) Paying Attention to Detail
Self-deprecating and unassuming, William Stephenson might say his job is “eighty percent paperwork,” but he’s the heart and soul of Camp X—and some say the money behind it as well. The Winnipeg-born millionaire industrialist and lightweight boxing champ was a World War I flying ace, sent to run both British Security Coordination and Camp X by Churchill himself. It’s rumored he’s in constant talks with the Prime Minister and President Roosevelt, but like any good spymaster, he gives nothing away.
High Concept: Quiet Canadian Spymaster
Code Name: Intrepid
War: Only Man for the Job
Relationships: Churchill’s Trust
Other: Failure Is Not an Option
Superb (+5) Intel
Great (+4) Rapport, Resources
Good (+3) Contacts, Fight, Shoot
Fair (+2) Deceive, Physique, Stealth, Survival
Average (+1) Burglary, Investigate, Language, Repair, Will
Trust Me. You naturally inspire trust. Use Rapport instead of Deceive when attempting to overcome and make someone believe your lies or cover story.
Extraction Point. You always find a way to get your people out. When a cell is trapped or captured, gain +2 to create an advantage with Intel or Contacts to find a way to free them.
Knockout. You’re good at fighting with your fists. Gain +2 to attack whenever using Fight in a fistfight or bare-knuckle brawl.
Mild (2) | Moderate (4) | Major (6)
FINAL SCENE: Eliminating the Target
When they make it to the target location, their Resistance contact, “Liselle,” a girl of no more than fourteen, is frantic and relieved all at once. The time they’ve spent off-course and evading capture has made them very nearly too late. They can still blow up the bridge before the train is scheduled to arrive, but they’ll certainly put the train—loaded with over two hundred civilians along with the targeted German munitions—in danger. Casualties were not part of the plan, let alone hundreds.
If the team hesitates, Liselle argues passionately that it’s better to cut off the supplies and risk the deaths of “a few collaborators and Nazis” now rather than thousands of her countrymen’s lives later. However, as the team discovered in the previous scene, Liselle is reckless, possibly seeking revenge for her sister’s disappearance. There may be time to stop the train, but should the team trust Liselle? Can they risk condemning that many civilians to death in their first real mission? If they can’t, are they willing to ignore orders and face the wrath of their superiors? Or can they think of another plan?
If the cell decides not to blow up the bridge, Liselle will angrily promise to report their failure to her superiors in the Resistance. The team will have to radio in a report as well, for which they will be reprimanded: orders are orders, unless they had time and opportunity to confirm otherwise. They won’t be pulled from the field, but will be tasked with repairing relations with Resistance contacts in the area—starting with Liselle. Freeing Resistance prisoners held by the Germans in the mission seed “Rescue Mission” (see below) is an excellent way to do just that.
PLOT HOOKS AND MISSION SEEDS
The players may have completed their first mission—or refused to do so—but that’s not the end of the War in Europe. And there are still impending issues at work. Here’s a few plot hooks and mission seeds to keep the spies in the field and the story going:
Where is the cell that disappeared? Where are any of the agents that have gone missing across Europe, especially René? At the camp, they have to assume the worst and wait for word, but in the field, the team can investigate the possible rescue of Allied agents. “Liselle” can show the team the last known location of the cell as a starting point—are the agents willing to go on an unofficial rescue mission that could put them in the sights of German intelligence?
Spying for Big Brother
MI–6 wants to know what Canada’s doing, and the team is Big Brother’s next target. A message comes in over wireless from London, asking for a meeting. When they get to the location, there’s a British asset with word from Lieutenant Sackville, requesting the team’s help, on behalf of the Queen herself: keep the Brits apprised of the cell’s orders from their Canadian commanders. If everything is on the up-and-up, what’s the harm? Does the team agree to the request? Does everyone agree with the decision to work with or alienate the Lieutenant?
With agents missing and drops compromised, there are obviously double agents somewhere within the Allied cause, whether at Camp X, in the military agencies, or in the Resistance. Who can be trusted? Who amongst their contacts and colleagues are really working for the other side and what could be their motivations? What do the Germans know about the team? About their missions? Have they been compromised? Are their closest friends and allies really the people they seem?
Here are a few characters created just for this Quick Start, built to work together as a cell so group consequences can be used right away! If you want to start playing now, choose between these intrepid agents:
Angelique Brochu, AKA “Liselle”
Angelique has lived in the same quiet village for most of her life, above her family’s bakery. Her older sister has always been her best friend, so when Marie came home talking of a special school she’d been chosen for, Angelique was excited for her. But Marie, along with the prettiest, smartest girls in their village, disappeared. When Angelique tried to find out what happened to Marie, she found the Resistance.
High Concept: Idealistic Rebel
Code Name: Liselle
War: They Took My Sister
Relationships: Old Enough
Great (+4) Stealth
Good (+3) Deceive, Empathy
Fair (+2) Contacts, Fight, Rapport
Average (+1) Burglary, Demolition, Repair, Will
Just a Girl. Get a +2 to overcome or creating an advantage when you’re caught in a restricted place or a sticky situation. You’re just a girl, you had no idea!
I Get Stabby. Use Stealth instead of Fight when using a concealed knife. This can only be used on the first attack.
Please Stop Crying. Use Deceive instead of Provoke to make a mental attack when you cry in front of your target.
Mild (2) | Moderate (4) | Major (6)
With a German father and a mother from Montreal, Diana’s French is excellent and her German impeccable. A fashionable art student at the Sorbonne until the invasion of France, she fled to Canada, leaving her life behind. That life haunts her now that she knows how little of it is left, many of her friends dead or disappeared. Now, she’s equally glamorous and deadly, skills honed sharp by her desire for vengeance.
High Concept: Glamorous Stone Cold Killer
Trouble: My Name Is Vengeance
Code Name: Chaplain
War: They Killed My Friends
Relationships: Can’t Stand Bullies
Great (+4) Language
Good (+3) Deceive, Stealth
Fair (+2) Empathy, Fight, Rapport
Average (+1) Burglary, Contacts, Repair, Shoot
Just Another Villager. It’s easy for you to speak with local accents and dialects. Use Language instead of Deceive when attempting to overcome or create an advantage to blend in.
15 Seconds to Kill a Man. You are a lethal weapon. Once per session, you can spend a fate point to add +4 to a Fight roll.
Absolutely Fabulous. You can still dazzle people with your glamour and sophistication. Get a +2 to create an advantage with Deceive or Rapport when you’re stylishly dressed.
Mild (2) | Moderate (4) | Major (6)
The daughter of an Indian musician and an American scholar, Indira lived in several countries before she could walk. Once the family settled in London, the shy, sensitive girl found joy and confidence in writing children’s books. But her strong belief in pacifism couldn’t overcome her sense of duty as the war continued on. Indira became a skilled radio operator, learning signals and code quickly. Though her kindness and naiveté concern her superiors, she’s the best woman for the job.
High Concept: Dreamy Radio Nerd
Trouble: Stubbornly Idealistic
Code Name: Teacher
War: Building a Bridge
Relationships: Pacifist in Wartime
Great (+4) Intel
Good (+3) Empathy, Language
Fair (+2) Repair, Stealth, Will
Average (+1) Contacts, Deceive, Investigate, Rapport
I Read It in the Briefing. You’ve read all the briefings. Every single one. Twice. Get a +2 bonus to create an advantage with Intel when it’s related to the mission at hand, or any of your past missions.
Shoulder to Cry On. You have an uncanny sense for people’s emotional state, and can lend a friendly ear…especially when they have information waiting to come out. Use Empathy instead of Rapport in any roll to do with gaining someone’s trust.
I’ll Never Talk. When you are being interrogated or tortured, you can choose to ignore any consequence gained during that scene for the duration of the scene at no cost. It can’t be compelled against you or invoked by your enemies.
Mild (2) | Moderate (4) | Major (6)
Ben grew up knowing that only two things got men out of the Saskatchewan wheat fields: war and hockey. His father went to war, but didn’t have much use for hockey. He tried to listen to his mother and not pay his father any mind, but even if he played hockey well enough to be a hometown hero, he still felt like his father was waiting for him to do something more important. When he enlisted, Ben thought his father did seem proud, for once. But now, Ben can’t talk about anything he does.
High Concept: Farm Boy with Explosives
Trouble: Something to Prove
Code Name: Monk
War: Daddy Issues
Relationships: Don’t Hurt My Friends
Great (+4) Athletics
Good (+3) Fight, Physique
Fair (+2) Demolitions, Drive, Survival
Average (+1) Burglary, Provoke, Rapport, Stealth
Lighting Two Fuses. You’re good at exposing weaknesses—by destroying things. Use Demolitions instead of Provoke when attempting to overcome and make the enemy react.
Hard Headed. You’re used to taking hits. Once per session, you can spend a fate point to ignore consequences gained during a conflict for one full scene. You still take the consequences, but they can’t be compelled or invoked by your enemies for that scene.
He Shoots, He Scores. Years of hockey have made your hand-eye coordination second to none. Use Athletics in place of Shoot when firing weapons.
Mild (2) | Moderate (4) | Major (6)