D-Day Tools of the Trade

By John Houlihan
Art by Jens Lindfors and Armin Ragani


When it came to planning just what would go into D-Day: The Darkest Day, we had two aims. The first was to provide an epic multi-part campaign for players (more on that next week), but we also wanted to give GMs unique tools, gear, equipment, weapons and vehicles they could use in their own D-Day-based missions.

We debuted a combined Guide/Campaign format successfully with The Serpent and The Sands last year and it proved popular, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to follow the same structure again with a roughly 2:8 ratio of Guide to Campaign content. 

Fortunately, D-Day itself provided a lot of inspiration. The largest amphibious invasion ever conceived created the need for an innovative range of weapons and equipment and boffins and engineers went to town developing some distinctive and memorable D-Day gear.

Not all of them were at the cutting edge of technology though, proving that great ideas can often be simple ones. The first widespread use of wristwatches by Allied officers allowed them to carry a reliable, portable piece of equipment with which to precisely coordinate real-time operations and attacks. 

With such a huge range of aircraft  and a wide spread of different nationalities flying them it could be confusing identifying your own side, so a clear identifier was needed. So the iconic black and white invasion bars were born and applied to all Allied aircraft to avoid any friendly fire incidents.

To give you a little taste of what’s to come, here’s a small selection of some of the signature equipment you can find in D-Day: The Darkest Day, where conventional items like the Cricket Clicker and Bangalore Torpedo mix with more exotic Secret War fare like the Pendant of St. Barbara and the fearsome if erratic Grand Panjandrum. 

Head Section M boffin Bill Heron was in charge of the D-Day arsenal and came up with some useful, intriguing, and of course downright dangerously unpredictable items which both sides can use to enhance their arsenal. 

We hope you’ll have as much fun playing with them as we did in creating them!

470 “Cricket” Clicker

Restriction: 1

For D-Day, paratroopers were issued with brass versions of these children’s noise makers. With soldiers scattered behind enemy lines, the troops needed some type of stealthy audio signal to identify each other at night. The signal was a single click with a double-click response. They count as trivial items.

Bangalore Torpedo

Invented in Bangalore, India by the British Army in 1912 these long tubes are used by combat engineers to clear minefields, barbed wire, and other hazards. A tube stuffed with explosives (usually Amatol), the torpedoes or “Bangers” were pushed into the target area then detonated. The resulting explosion would trigger any mine nearby, thus clearing  a path through the field. It has the truth Mine and Barbed Wire Clearer. A single Bangalore Torpedo is 5ft. long and counts as a Major item.

Pendant of St. Barbara

Restriction Rating: 4

St. Barbara is the patron saint of the American Field Artillery so this item is perfect for forward observers. This small metal amulet enables the wearer to know the precise location of one target/person/thing they can see. They can convey these locations verbally or in writing with precision down to the nearest foot/metre which can easily be translated into map coordinates. The wearer must succeed at a difficulty 2 Insight + Survival roll to sort through the rush of sensory input to accurately share the details of their location. It can be used once per scene and counts as a trivial item. It reduces the difficulty of targeting  incoming artillery by two.

Grand Panjandrum

Restriction Rating: 4

Initially designed to penetrate the concrete defences of the Atlantic Wall, the Panjandrum comprises a steel drum filled with explosives, suspended between a pair of steel-treaded wooden wheels. Cordite rockets affixed to each wheel when ignited sent the device careening toward the target at 60mph (100kph), enough to smash through any obstacle.

Unfortunately, the 10ft. diameter device tended to veer off course, with the rockets firing off erratically leading to it being named the “Guy Fawkes”. After a few spectacular failures the project was shelved. 

Section M picked up on the research and decided that such a device might be of use in the Secret War. After several botched attempts, a unique electronic sighting and counterbalance clockwork device known as “Fawkes Nose” allows the device to proceed – roughly - in a straight line. The device’s moniker comes about after a misheard muttered comment by one of the engineers regarding the sighting apparatus. It is too big to carry and must be pushed into position.

It requires two demolition packs as a payload and adds the Giant Killer and Piercing 4 qualities to the Demolition pack damage. It requires a difficulty 2 Engineering + Electronics test to calibrate Fawkes Nose. Failure sees the Grand Panjandrum career off target in a random direction. A complication might mean it heads straight toward a friendly unit. 

The Darkest Day is available for pre-order now.


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