Inspiration Point

December 18, 2012

Moon Nazis!

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Written by: Matt Timmins
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moon base

I finally saw “Iron Sky” the other day. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the film, but I loved the idea and thought it could be a fantastic game! The movie has all the ingredients of a great game of two-fisted SciFi pulp, an absurdist conspiracy game, or even a disturbing alt-history. I mean, really? Nazis on the moon! Luftwaffe flying saucers! Space invaders! 1940’s super-tech! What more could a GM ask for?

Warning: While this article is not a review of the film, it may contain mild spoilers. Also note that I don’t speak German; any faux-German words are just my messing about with a German dictionary, no offense is intended to the Fatherland or its volk.


The premise of the film – and a good plot for an “Iron Sky” inspired game – is fairly straightforward: in 1945, remnants of the defeated Wehrmacht in Antarctica escaped to the far side of the moon in a fleet of flying saucers. There the Nazis have rebuilt, planned, and plotted. And in 2018 they are coming back to Earth – for revenge!

The best part of a game about moon Nazis must be seeing the Nazis on the moon; therefore the first requirement for such a game must be getting the characters to the moon (unless your characters are Nazis – in which case you’re on your own; I’m not going to touch that one with a 10’ Spear of Destiny!). The PCs will probably have to be astronauts of some kind (though I suppose they could be any earthlings that the Nazis kidnapped and took to the moon for some reason . . .). These astronauts would likely be part of a U.S., Chinese, or European mission. Actually in the foreseeable future they’re most likely to be part of a private mission by a company like Space X or Planetary Resources. Astronauts, private or governmental, are very capable characters and this should be reflected in character creation with extra points, levels, or whatever fits your chosen system. It goes without saying that any race or gender can be an astronaut, but it should be remembered that particularly “non-Ayran” PCs will have a harder time interacting or impersonating neo-German National Socialists. Also note that the Mondwehrmacht will write all its “Warning: Lethal Radiation” signs and flying saucer manuals in German. This might be an argument for including a German in the PC party (who will have other issues to deal with) or it might be an opportunity for some fun player-harassment: “Ok. There are two buttons labeled “vorwärts” and “zerstören”. Which one are you pressing?”

Besides getting the PCs to the moon, it is necessary to isolate them from Earth and cut off their escape route. After all, there wouldn’t be much of a game if the PCs could go/call home and warn everybody. It might seem like a good chance for a ridiculous conversation but the PCs would probably be able to prove their wild story with photos, scientific readings, and their reputation, and then the game turns into Earth vs. the Moon : fun, cinematic, but short-lived and hardly PC-centered. So, the PCs fly to the moon in their corporate spaceship, probably to lay the groundwork for a moon base or look for resources or something similar, and the Nazis launch a missile at their craft. Before the PCs can react or are even aware that they are under attack (surely they weren’t expecting to be attacked?) their ship crashes to the lunar surface, system and NPC crewmembers dead. It is probably best if the PCs escape the wreck and hide before the stormtroopers arrive, that way the PCs can come upon the Nazi bases on their own and have fun sneaking around, fighting Nazi soldiers in low gravity, and infiltrating enemy complexes. If you play it just right you may even be able to keep the characters in the dark about the identity of their attackers for a while (though your players will probably already know).

The Nazi moon bases are your chance to showcase the awesomeness of this game. One problem with “Iron Sky” was that the film spent too little time with its coolest concept: the Mond Reich. Don’t make the same mistake; I’d suggest that at least half your game should be set on the moon, in fact, “Moon Nazis” could easily be a campaign comprised of two games, one of which could take place entirely on the moon. From what is seen on screen, we can infer that the moon base(s) consist of living quarters (from simple barracks to officer’s suites) laboratories, armories, training grounds, schools, factories, hospitals, offices, mining facilities (for Helium 3), huge hangars full of thousands of flying saucers and giant space zeppelins, and other such places for the PCs to run around. Here you want to highlight the cold, frightening efficiency of the Nazis: stark grey corridors lit by cold lights, smoothly running unidentifiable machines, Aryans in smart uniforms, faceless stormtroopers in leather vacuum-suits goose-stepping across the Luna surface. You’ll also want to include a few set pieces showcasing the brutal and mesmeric power of Nazi fascism: hundreds of a ominously waiting Mondwaffe ships or a full-blown Nuremberg-like rally with towering banners and a adoring multitude saluting their new Fuhrer.

NPCs on the moon will be mostly antagonists unless you wish to include some kidnapped earthlings (possibly even some 90 year-old Allied POWs) or even a few “sympathetic” Nazis, perhaps some survivors from Antarctica who just want to go home and are willing to betray the moon Nazis for a ticket back to Earth and amnesty. Antagonistic NPCs could include: the new Fuhrer, an officer or two, square-jawed super-soldiers, a mad scientist, indoctrinated children, a pleasant but true-believing teacher, a crazed cyborg, or even a cryogenically frozen Adolf Hitler!

After realizing the awful truth that a Fourth Reich exists, the PCs should discover that Nazis are planning to invade Earth (the timing could be coincidental or the PCs’ arrival could have pushed forward the Nazis’ schedule). From here they probably want to send a warning to Earth, steal a saucer and go home, or – more heroically – prevent or at least seriously delay the invasion. To these ends they’ll need to commandeer a commutations center or steal a saucer, neither of which will be very easy. Stalling the invasion may be accomplished by destroying the mining facilities or a significant number of spacecraft, or possibly by killing the Fuhrer. Stopping the moon Nazis completely would mostly likely mean destroying the bases completely, something I would not let the PCs do unless they were extremely clever or willing to sacrifice their own lives (in a more serious game, this also raises the thorny issue of killing all the children on the moon).

All of this could be part one of a two-part story. Assuming the PCs make it back to Earth and the Nazi are still coming, part two becomes “World of the World” + World War II. Depending on exactly how the PCs return to Earth, they may be hailed as brave heroes of decried as madmen. The direction of the game depends heavily of the PCs’ action, and it’s never wise to trust players to act as you predict, but I like the following scenario:

The PCs are members of a private mission to the moon. They meet the moon Nazis. They cripple the invasion force, steal a flying saucer, and zoom back to Earth. Unfortunately, they crash in the ocean (either because they don’t fully understand the vehicle or because it was damaged in the escape). They are rescued but not before the Nazi ship – and any evidence – sinks. If they speak out, their wild story is not believed. Even the company that launched them refuses to credit their tale. The company falsifies its records, denies the PCs, disbands, and refuses to give interviews. The PCs are labeled crackpots, their careers over, only a handful of friends and tin-foil-wearing conspiracy theorists standing by them. Years go by. Then the moon Nazis come back.

The nature of the part two will depend on the invaders’ goals, strategies, and tactics. One primary goal of the Nazis is to inhabit Earth again, so they won’t be blasting the planet to rubble from orbit. But how ambitious are their goals? Do they want to conquer the whole planet or just a piece of it? Do they wish to reclaim Europe or will someplace isolated and more defendable – like Australia – suit them better? Historically, the Third Reich were very ambitious so it likely the Fourth Reich will be the same. There is also the matter of revenge . . .

Their original strategy was a full invasion, a blitzkrieg, but perhaps after meeting the PCs, the Nazis will rethink their plan. It’s possible they’ll decide that espionage and sabotage is what’s called for. If it’s blitzkrieg, the PCs can be special operatives, leading strike forces against Nazi beachheads and capturing space zeppelins. If it’s espionage, they the PCs can engage Nazi spies in a global (and orbital) game of cat-&-mouse, with or without governmental sanction. Either way, they can meet old enemies, settle scores, and – to quote “Iron Sky” – “kick some Nazi arse!”

Of course, “Iron Sky” itself is great inspiration, but perhaps even more helpful than the actual film are the trailers, which include scenes and information that never made it into the film and provide great music and atmosphere (no pun intended). GURPS Weird War II – like all GURPS sourcebooks – is a terrific source of information and inspiration as is Weird War II: Savage Worlds. GURPS Illuminati could be helpful if a game of conspiratorial espionage is called for. The film’s soundtrack is also available and offers for evocative pieces.

Products mentioned in this article:

Iron Sky


GURPS Illuminati: The World Is Stranger Than You Think (GURPS: Generic Universal Role Playing System)

Weird War II (S2P10600, Savage Worlds)

Iron Sky – The Original Film Soundtrack

About the Author

Matt Timmins
NAME: Matthew Timmins, Editor CLASS: Writer/GM LEVEL: 4/10 ALIGNMENT: NG RACE: Human SEX: M AGE: 39 STR: 9 INT: 13 WIS: 14 DEX: 12 CON: 8 CHR: 12 HP: 22 AC: 7 (Ring of Protection +3) THAC0: 17 SPECIAL ABILITIES: Poetic License; 3rd Person Omniscience; Create Secret Door (1-2 on d6); Favoured Enemy: PCs


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One Comment

  1. Tim Emrick

    This movie just went on my must-watch list! Hopefully Netflix will add it to the streaming list soon.

    Someday I would love to run a high-weirdness game that draws from the GURPS sourcebooks for Weird War II (which I haven’t yet acquired), Illuminati, Atomic Horror, Cabal, Warehouse 23, etc. Antarctic and/or Space Nazis would definitely make an appearance.

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