Sunday, 21 February 2016

Baader-Meinhof (Night's Black Agents)

Unfortunately I've had to end my Dracula Dossier game early due to the sudden departure of two out of four players. As the group hadn't progressed that far, it seemed more fitting to end that campaign and begin a new one with the two remaining players, than it did to struggle on with the two remaining characters. It would have been a different thing had they encountered any Node above the lowest rank, or been involved in the underlying plot.

I thought that I'd take advantage of the recent Field Manual release - I believe it's only for Kickstarter backers in .pdf form now, but the rest of you will see it soon - to switch viewpoints and have them play Edom field agents. For their first mission the characters will be off to Poland to investigate a certain Nazi ghost train. However that's not the focus of this post.

As one of the minor obstacles the characters will have to overcome before digging into the main meat of the narrative, I intend to pit them against Alraune and a few of her friends. Alraune is interested in the ghost train because she believes some records, perhaps even physical samples, relating to her old project is aboard. As for what she's been up to since the war, I intend to get the old Baader-Meinhof gang involved.

Baader-Meinhof is an early form of what became the German terrorist organization Red Army Faction (RAF),  and I'm taking inspiration from the film Baader-Meinhof Komplex based on the novel by journalist and former Der Spiegel editor-in-chief Stefan Aust.

Having watched it, I came away saddened by the colossal waste, of energy, lives and hope. None of the principals seem inspiring, particularly miserable whiner Andreas Baader, and I found it curious that Bruno Ganz played the intelligence service chief set to capture or eliminate the group. Not that Ganz did a poor job - his performance is, as always, excellent - but I could not forget that four years prior he had captivated the world with his performance as Hitler.  Given that the RAF was driven in no small part by anti-Nazi sentiment, Ganz's performance seemed to verge on stunt casting.

The RAF was - or perhaps is, since there are rumors that it is active again - a far-left group determined to resist the authoritarian German state, controlled at that time by the Hitler generation, if not actual ex-Nazis. "The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it," says Aust. "You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up."

It had a hard-core Marxist tinge to its ideology, and its members trained with Palestinian liberation groups. Dividing itself into Commandos, each group knew very little about the other groups, allowing it freedom of operation without having to worry about its secrets being betrayed by its members, or its organization threatened when its leadership is captured. Even when the founding members Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof were captured, the RAF was able to continue operations almost without interruption.

All told, the RAF lasted until the 1990s, by which time it was in its third generation. By that point the original team had committed suicide - or been murdered, depending on which story you believe - and the second generation had bathed in blood during the German Autumn of kidnappings and murders, only to sputter out by 1980. The third generation carried the torch, but this lacked glamour after the collapse of Soviet Russia. It's hard to convince yourself that Leninism is the way forward when the USSR dissolves.

Though the third generation is supposed to have declared itself kaput in 1998, recent bank robberies seem to suggest that the spirit of revolution is not yet dead. Though it's probably reaching for the Viagra right about now, since at best its active members must be in their late fifties if not early sixties.

Alraune, being a semi-immortal with every reason to dislike the German authorities, would fit right in with Baader-Meinhof. So here's where things get fictional.

Alraune joins the group in the 1970s. It accepts her unquestioningly, at least in part because she ingratiates herself with Baader and his girlfriend Ensslin. In return, she uses the RAF to help track down anything and everything the Nazis may have collected or uncovered about her past as a  Abteilung IIIb experiment. She's confident she recovered most of that data back in 1911, but her abiding paranoia is that she missed something, or that some other group was able to replicate the experiment.

One advantage Alraune has is that she can die, and be reborn. On at least two occasions with the RAF she arranged for her current persona to be shot dead in an encounter with the German authorities, only to reappear a short while later as a grieving relative or friend. The great thing about the RAF's decision to divide into Commandos, from her perspective, is that the group finds it difficult to compare notes. This allows her to infiltrate Commando after Commando without arousing too much suspicion, and she uses her own innate abilities to make up the shortfall.

Her current group is the (fictional) Kevin Lynch Commando, named after a dead Irish hunger striker, and she's playing the daughter of a previous incarnation. The Lynch is responsible for two sniper attacks, three kidnappings and one attempted kidnapping, and two bombings. Its last known action took place in 1997, when it was involved in a botched bank robbery that led to the deaths of two of its members. The two dead included Alraune's then-current incarnation, and the robbery failed because Alraune tipped off the authorities. She could see which way the wind was blowing, and thought it was time to bow out.

Though she believes the current German authorities know little or nothing about her, that isn't entirely true. DNA profiling wasn't even on the horizon when she first took up arms in 1970, but things have changed since then, and several samples of her unique biology were retrieved from crime scenes. Also, although in the early days she was careful to ensure that the records concerning autopsies of her dead personas were removed from the record, in 1997 she got a little sloppy. Some biological samples and computerized records escaped the purge. 

Hearing about the Polish Nazi ghost train, and worried that she might have missed something when she first investigated Project Giant in 1946, she decides to go after the train. However she feels she needs muscle so she reactivates her old comrades, claiming to be the daughter of her 1997 persona. Persuading them that there really is Nazi gold in them thar hills isn't too difficult; as former terrorists they're all living hand to mouth and desperate for money. It seems almost poetic justice to them that Nazi gold should pay for their golden years.

And that's where complications ensue ...


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