“How many of you are willing to help me sock old Adolf in the jaw?”
― Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” an American once said to a war-weary Frenchman. This famous line closes Michael Curtiz’ award-winning Casablanca; however, Rick intends more than just friendship. Casablancabegan filming a month after Pearl Harbor, and the line conveys American solidarity with then-occupied France. Curtiz understood film’s propaganda value: the people singing “La Marseillaise” during the anthem-battle scene aren’t actors. They’re refugees, participating in the film as a way to show Americans the dark powers moving across Europe.
Casablancawas the first of a new genre. From energetic news reels to Frank Capra’s Why We Fight, Hollywood harnessed its considerable talent to tell stories of heroism, valor, and, above all, punching Nazis. Even other types of artists got in on it; just look at the covers of Jack Kirby’s Captain America comic book to see Cap, week after week, decking soldiers in swastikas.
After the war, film directors and other creatives kept telling these same stories. We needed some way to make sense of the mass death, the blood-stained battlefields, and the unimaginable horror. Worse, the Nazis never really went away. They hid underground and bided their time only to reappear in the 21st century, just as much a threat as they ever were.
If we beat ‘em once, though, we can beat ‘em again!
Punching Nazisoffers you a spot next to Curtiz, Capra, Kirby, and countless others who have told similar stories. Create your own heroic epic set against the backdrop of Nazi werewolves, Thule Society warlocks, and the worst of the Third Reich.
Punching Nazis is meant for fans of war movies, urban fantasy, and alternate history. Participants don’t need a history degree to play; the fantastical elements of this Genre give room for groups to adhere to, or depart from, historical reality as best suits them and the stories they tell. Punching Nazis offers heroic adventures, thrilling wartime missions, and stories about saving the day. It’s for players who want high-octane, high-stakes stories that provide any number of creative and entertaining ways to punch Nazis and put down the Reich, once and for all.
One important note: Punching Nazis focuses on punching Nazis. However, the Axis wasn’t just Germany and Italy: the Japanese Empire waged bitter, brutal war in the Pacific Theater. Directors can expand their stories into this realm of war. However, this Genre is meant partly as commentary on modern life. No one in the 21stcentury marches while waving the Rising Sun flag in public. Thus, the emphasis on German Nazis.
By virtue of the historical source material, Punching Nazis stories are often dark. The hero is only as good as the villain they face, and some of the world’s best heroes emerged from this conflict. Punching Nazis is about evil, but not for the sake of being shocking or edgy. Rather, evil is there to be heroically vanquished.
Players might encounter both real and fantastical examples of Nazi violence: imprisonment, genocide, and black magicians casting dark spells. As Punching Nazis is part of the war movie Umbrella Genre, players should expect a certain amount of soldierly profanity. Historically, soldiers on both sides of the conflict made heavy use of drugs, such as morphine and amphetamines; in addition, this Genre includes Super Soldiers who usually rely on a serum of some kind. How much the narrative focuses on drug use or abuse is up to each individual group to determine using the Writer’s Room technique (page xx).
This Genre does not specifically include explicit sexuality, but there’s always room for romance or battlefield intimacy. After all, Captain America was motivated by patriotism and his feelings for Peggy Carter. His story needs both elements to succeed.
One extremely important note: Punching Nazis has room for dark or deeply conflicted characters, represented primarily by the Apostate Archetype. Other Archetypes, such as War Magician or Monster Hunter, also easily lend themselves to characters with a troubled background. Mighty Narwhal Productions must state clearly and without equivocation: Nazi player characters are not permitted.
Players can create German or Italian characters, even former soldiers or government officials gone AWOL, if they wish. These characters cannot, at any time in their history, be actual Nazis nor willing collaborators. Directors normally bend or flex any rule necessary to accommodate their groups, but they cannot alter this one.
The point of Punching Nazis is that the whole group has a good time devising interesting and imaginative ways to punch Nazis. In a setting where dragons fill the skies and actual witches drop hexes from broomsticks, historical accuracy is the war’s first casualty.
Don’t interrupt the game’s flow by trying to figure out which battalion was in what part of France, or if General Patton was in the US or UK on a given day. If the story needs Patton to have tea with Churchill in London and for the Senegalese Tirailleurs to be outside Bourges on a Sunday, that’s what happens in this alternative reality.
Please take the opportunity to explore the more diverse aspects of the war. The war was more than just the US, Britain, Russia, and France versus Germany, Japan, and Italy. In the real world, countries across the world sent their children and spouses to fight the Nazis. Don’t get too hung up on gender, either. Women have always fought, and they showed up for this fight, too.
The following works were created either during or after the war and can inspire characters or even whole plot arcs:
Movies: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (dir. Robert Stevenson); Captain America: The First Avenger (dir. Joe Johnston); Casablanca (dir. Michael Curtiz); The Dirty Dozen (dir. Robert Aldrich); Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (dir. Steven Spielberg); Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino); Operation Petticoat (dir. Blake Edwards).
Histories: An Army at Dawn, by Rick Atkinson; The Conquering Tide, by Ian W. Toll; Inferno: The World at War, by Max Hastings; The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan; A Foot Soldier for Patton, by Michael C. Bilder; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer; and The Second World War, by Martin Gilbert.
Novels and Other Works: Captain America Comics, 1941-46, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (along with other depictions of the character); Catch-22, by Joseph Heller; Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson; Heroes, by Sabaton; Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien; Maus, by Art Spiegelman; The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick; Primo Victoria, by Sabaton.
Television: Hogan’s Heroes (created by Bernard Fein and Albert S. Ruddy); Marvel’s Agent Carter (created by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely); The Rat Patrol (created by Tom Gries); X Company (created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern).
The following Archetypes are available to play in Ravenswood Academy.
As examples, we've included clips from the 2021 Yearbook on the Discord server.