Yellow Submarine - the adventure

You hummed the tune, you've watched the movie and you've played with the Dinky toy. Now, you too can dive into the wild and crazy world of Yellow Submarine, the roleplaying adventure
This is a one-off game, for four imaginative players and an experienced Gm, who is capable of 'winging it'. The GM should certainly have seen the film, but it doesn't really matter whether the players have or not. It's a good idea to play Beatles and other period music in the background during the game, but the ingestion of dubious substances is strictly up to you. Remember, rolling dice when stoned can make it very difficult to add 2+2.

Summary of the Scenario

Pepperland is a bright beautiful country, full of music and love. One day, while the people are listening to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, the Blue Meanies invade. These terrible creatures shrink from music, joy and beauty, thriving only on negative vibes. The only person to escape is Old Fred, who sets off in the Yellow Submarine to find help. The submarine takes Old Fred to Liverpool, where he finds the Beatles who return to Pepperland with him to free it from the Blue Meanies. On their way, they pass through the Sea of Time, the Octopus' Garden, Nowhere, the Sea of Holes and the Sea of Green to reach Pepperland. Once there, they must deal with the Meanies and restore music to Pepperland.
Lots of random things will happen along the way. Pepperland and its environs are cartoon territory, where all kinds of things are possible if only the players and GM think of them.


If at all possible the GM should beg, borrow or buy a copy of the film. Not only will it gave him a feel for Pepperland, it's a good idea to start the game by showing the pre-credits sequence of the attack on Pepperland. This sets the scene for the scenario and gets people into the right mood.
The only other real preparation is to make a diagram of the Yellow Submarine's control panel. It doesn't really matter what this looks like, but it should be colourful, and it needs 20 buttons. Circles, levers and zig-zag-y things can be added according how much time you want to spend on it. Don't label anything; the idea is for the players to find out by experimentation.

The Characters

The system used here is a simplified version of GURPS. The only dice used are D6. Skills and stat tests are done by rolling 3d6 and adding the score. The player needs to get less than the skill level. A total of 3 or 4 is always a critical. A 17 or 18 is always a fumble. The results of criticals and fumbles should be decided by the GM as appropriate for what was being attempted. For Yellow Submarine, a fumble should make life more difficult, preferably in an amusing manner. "Not only did you fail to play the triangle successfully, George, you got the stick snagged in your moustache."


STATS: ST 10   DX 10   IQ 14   HT 10 

Do Physical Stuff 11   Dodge 8   Sing 12   Play Rhythm 7
Play Guitar 13  Drive vehicle 6   Do Technical Stuff 8
Play Other Instrument 10   Notice Things 10    Lie 14
Hide 12   Sneak 11   Fast-talk 13   Improvise Music 15
Sleight of Hand 9   Fire Weapon 9  Make Sarcstic Comment 14
Hit Things 10  Hit Things With Other Things 13
Beliefs and Goals - 
I must try to keep my life from being dull
I am smarter than anyone else
'Random' is good - embrace the chaos

Damage - 1D-2

John swings between good-natured mellowness and biting sarcasm. He gets 
bored easily. His urge for change can lead the group in new directions.


STATS: ST 11   DEX 11   IQ 13   HT 11

Do Physical Stuff 11   Dodge 8   Sing 10  Play Guitar 14
Drive Vehicle 14   Lie 9  Play Indian Intsrument 10
Play Other Instrument 11  Hide 10    Sneak 12
Do Technical Stuff 13  Botany 12   Fast-talk 10  Stare Fiercely 13
Sleight of Hand 10   Improvise Music 12   Be Mystical 14
Fire Weapon 9  Hit Things 10  Hit Things With Other Things 11

Beliefs and Goals-
Restore harmony where things are out of balance
All souls are potentially divine
Nothing is 'impossible' or 'for ever'

Damage - 1D-1

George is the mystic, the one searching for inner fulfilment. He is 
also the most techincally adept and the best driver.


STATS: ST 11   DX 12   IQ 13   HT 10

Do Physical Stuff 12  Dodge 9  Sing 14   Hide 10
Play Any Instrument 14   Drive Vehicle 11   Lie 12
Do Techincal Stuff 11   Notice Things 12  Sneak 11
Fast-talk 13   Sleight of Hand 12   Fire Weapon 11
Improvise Music 14   Be Charming 13   Seduce Females 14   Pose 13
Hit Things 10   Hit Things With Other Things 12

Beliefs and Goals - 
Restore music to Pepperland
Everyone likes me
Nothing is Beatleproof

Damage - 1D-1

Paul is the charmer and flirter, always driven on by his rivalry with
John. He will fight hard to see the Beatles survive.


STATS: St 9   DX 10   IQ 12   HT 11

Do Physical Stuff 10   Dodge 2   Sing 7   Hide 10
Play Drums 14   Play Other Instrument 9  Drive Vehicle 10   
Do Technical Stuff 12   Notice Things 2   Sneak 10
Fast-talk 10   Lie 8   Sleight of Hand 10   Make Music 8
Act 13   Make Bad Puns 13   Fire Weapon 10
Hit Things 9   Hit Things With Other Things 11

Beliefs and Goals - 
Help anyone who needs it
I'm just an ordinary bloke
Everyone is capable of good

Damage - 1D-2

Ringo is just a nice guy, still bewildered by what's 
happened to him. He's very good at giving the down-to-earth
view of life.

Running the Game

Yellow Submarine is a scenario of the imagination. There is no particular way of solving the problems to be encountered. The players can use their skills and the effects offered by the sub in whatever way they like to solve the difficulties. What is most important is good ideas, especially those in keeping with the mood of Pepperland. Any idea which involves harmony, music, good vibes or is just plain good will probably succeed. For example, when the submarine is caught in the octopus' garden, the players could search for his lost gardening tools or use the giant scissors. 'George' suggested playing something rhythmic on his guitar to make all the weeds start swaying and release their grip. This was so much the right kind of idea, I decided it would work (once he'd rolled his Play Guitar' skill). Anything involving dreadful puns, or suitably cartoonish behaviour is likewise good. 'Paul' memorably dealt with the Dreadful Flying Glove by slighting it with his Sleight of Hand skill(!).
The GM should let the players discuss and try ideas until they come up with something good. If they get bogged down in any part of the adventure, either let some weaker idea work out, or have Old Fred give them help and ideas. No stats are provided for Old Fred; he has a generic skill of 11 at whatever may be necessary to keep the scenario going. The essential point is not to bore the players when they get stuck. Arrange a get-out if necessary and move along to the next section.
Although skills are giving for hitting and firing things, 'Yellow Submarine' should not be about killing. Clever ideas for traps and bluffing are to be encouraged and will usually succeed, provided the player rolls under whatever skill(s) seems most appropriate. However, the players may need to thump meanies or otherwise overcome them; likewise, the meanies will be out to stop them. Each character can take damage equal to his health. When this runs out, he is knocked out, exhausted or stunned; he needs to sit down and rest for a few minutes to regain his health.

Part One - Liverpool

The story opens in Liverpool on a Thursday afternoon. Liverpool is black and white, a place of low hopes and repetitive lives. Just think of the world portrayed in 'Eleanor Rigby'. Ringo is walking down by the canal, bored. He gradually becomes aware of something folllowing him. This is the Yellow Submarine. Ringo may speak to Old Fred straight away, or he may look for his friends first. In any case, he goes to The Pier
As soon as he can, Old Fred pours out an incoherent babble about the attack on Pepperland, ending with a wail of "Blue Meanies !" He repeats this whenever he first encounters any of the other Beatles. Somehow or another he gets across the message about the Meanies invading and silencing all the music in Pepperland. This should get the Beatles on his side, at least when he and Ringo find them, it will.
The Pier is a bizarre, Victorian civil hall, with a glass dome. Inside, there's a long corridor with several doors leading off. The others will somewhere behind those doors. Roll 1D8 to find out what is in which room.

  1. Room of Celebrities - This contains giant wax figures of Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe, General Custer, Mick Jagger, Fred Astaire, Mae West, Sigmund Freud, James Bond and Winston Churchill. If spoken to, each will say an appropriate quote. Roll 1D10 to find which will turn into John.
  2. Woman in Hotel Bedroom - she is in the bed. A giant gorilla face appears at the window and looks in on her.It breaks the glass and reaches in to grab her
  3. Paul - playing piano to a huge audience. He doesn't want to leave them.
  4. Room with Big Railway Set - A scale model village with houses 5' high is built around the tracks. It's beautiful, but all made of cardboard and plastic.
  5. Sparsely Furnished Room - with a hole in the skirting board opposite the door. A faint noise coming from the hole begins to sound like a train. A steam train suddenly appeaers from the hole as if from a tunnel, and grows to life size as it rushes across the room towards the characters. It does 1D damage to any PCs who don't close the door on it or dodge.
  6. Room cloudy with Multi-Coloured incence - PCs must make a search roll to find George meditating in there.
  7. Room - with a large teddy-bear, a hawk-eye moth and a flowered china cat playing cards. When the door opens, they all run and hide behind gigantic vegetables
  8. Kitchen - a giant saucepan on a trivet is full of bubbling water. A huge egg rolls down a ramp from a high window. Roll 1D6. On a 1-4 it lands in the pan and the PCs must dodge splashes of boiling water. On 5-6 it misses and breaks open, revealing a baby stegosaurous with yellow and orange dazzle patterns.

Once the Beatles have all found each other, they will join Old Fred in the Yellow Submarine, which will take them back to Pepperland. Old Fred doesn't know how to drive the submarine; it brought him here itself.

The Yellow Submarine

The submarine is almost a character in itself. It's surprisingly spacious inside, with lots of random pipes, levers and dials. The only important controls are those on the control panel diagram. When the players press a button, roll 1D20 on the following table to find out what will happen in this game. Once a button has produced a certain effect, it will do that for the rest of the scenario but keep an eye on the players to make sure they are indicating the same button as before. Don't let them just tell you what they want, make sure they remember for themselves.

  1. Joke exploding cigar pops out from conning tower
  2. A big smile appears on the front of the sub
  3. A kinky boot extends from the underside of the sub
  4. A metal detector appears from the bows
  5. Sub lands and sends out the 7th cavalry
  6. Emergency eject - anyone sitting at control panel is thrown out of sub
  7. Trapdoor opens under random character (PC or NPC)
  8. The interior decor changes
  9. Bicycle bell appears from conning tower and rings
  10. A double bed folds out of wall
  11. Sub sends up spectacular firework display
  12. Boxing button - a giant boxing glove appears and punches at anything threatening sub
  13. Giant scissors appear from bow and cut at anything in reach
  14. sub sprays jet of pink paint
  15. An anglepoise lamp appears from tower
  16. Butterfly net sticks out of stern and swipes at anything in reach
  17. Port at stern empties out garbage and a useful item
  18. Hold empties contents - guaranteed to drop instruments
  19. sub fires a cannonball which bursts into a cloud of psychedelic butterflies
  20. Special

Part Two - The Journey

The Sea of Time

PC's looking through the portholes will see Father Time. As the sub goes on, the PCs and Old Fred all start getting younger and smaller. Get them to make Notice Things rolls to find out who notices first. Everything around them in the sub appears to get bigger and harder to reach as they shrink. After every 5 mins, real time, they lost 1 point off each Stat. This will continue until someone comes up with a clever idea. Simply putting the sub into reverse isn't good enough. Turning back the hands on the large clock is good. If they muff the skill roll, the sea of time effect will reverse, making them older very fast. Once the characters have messed around here long enough, they leave the Sea of Time.

The Octopus's Garden

(I know this wasn't in the original movie, but if the song had been written then, I bet it would have).
The Yellow Submarine sails into red and orange weed which gets thicker and thicker until the sub is trapped. After a bit, a huge green and red octopus comes to investigate. The weeds are an overgrown part of his garden. He tells them that the rest is very neat, with flower beds in formal patterns and edged with shells. He spilt some fertilizer here and the weeds grew so fast that he can't find his gardening tools to cut the weeds back.
The PCs can try all sorts of things here. Although they are in a submarine, they are not actually in water, so they can get out and walk about any time they like. If they find the octopus's gardening tools or cut down the weeds for him, he will be very grateful.

The Sea of Monsters

The octopus's garden borders the sea of Monsters. Here, all sorts of strange things visit and/or attack the sub. With any luck, the PCs efforts to find a useful button on the control panel will lead to them pressing the eject button, whichh should provide fun for the GM at least.

Kinky Boot Beasts
Essentially a huge, vari-coloured boot with a head on top. The kinky boots beasts chatter to one another and attack by trying to stamp on the sub. FIGHT: 9 DODGE: 7.
School of Whales
A crowd of whales which swim around and mob the sub. They cause no real damage
Boxing Beast
A monster wearing boxing gloves which will try to take on the sub. FIGHT 10.
Vacuum Beast
A blue monster with a stripy tail and a vacuum cleaner for a mouth. It wanders around, sucking up anything that attracts its attention until it notices the sub. Let the players try to escape, then have them sucked up by it.


After being sucked up by the vacuum monster, everything goes dark briefly, then the sub appears in an empty white space. It settles to the ground and refuses to start. The engine is broken (probably strained when trying to escape from the vacuum monster). The PC's will probably leave to investigate. They are in Nowhere Land. Everywhere is completely blank and white except for one spot of colour. This is Jeremy Hillary Boob Phd. - the Nowhere Man. Jeremy talks continuously, using as many long words as possible. He boasts endlessly about his skills and accomplishments. If asked, he will fix the engine, probably giving a long, pseudo-scientific explanation as he does so. Feel free to ask the PCs for chewing gum, nylon stockings or other odds and ends to fix the engine. Jeremy is lonely and happy to help out. If anyone asks him to come along with them, he accepts gratefully ( and with a lot of long words).

Sea of Holes

The submarine stops again. All around are endless rows of holes, stretching away into the distance. The sea of green is through one of the holes. Anyone who leans through a hole reappears in the sea of holes the other way up. Holes can be picked up and resized. The can also be kept in pockets and taken out for use later. Jeremy vanishes through one of the holes and is lost. Eventually, one of the PC's will look into one of the holes and see nothing but green. When this happens, the green extends out to cover everything, and they arrive in Pepperland.

Part Three - Pepperland

Pepperland is a grey, drab place. Groups of unhappy people stand around, while Blue Meanies patrol, stamping on stray flowers and other bright things. If the Blue Meanies see the Beatles, they will try to attack, but it is fairly easy to evade them. The people of Pepperland will not take any active role themselves. They remain frozen and silent until they hear music, but the music will also draw some of the ever patrolling Meanies. The PCs will learn that all musical instruments are locked up in a bandstand on top of a steep hill. The hill is surrounded by a high, thorny hedge at the bottom, and always has Meanies on it; they sleep there at night.

Blue Meanies

Standard Meanie
The standard Meanie carries a kind of machine gun which does 1D damage when it hits. They can use their eyes like spotlights in the dark
Four-Headed Bulldog
There are a couple of these beasts. They bark a lot and are ferocious, but quite easily swayed by the offer of a bone
The Dreadful Flying Glove
There is only one glove; it flies around, smashing things into the ground. It can also poke or slap. The glove cannot be bribed or convinced to change its alleigance, but it can be bluffed or exhausted. If it runs out of hits, it will flee from Pepperland
Apple Bonker
The apple bonkers are tall, thin figures carrying large green apples which they drop on opponents. The apples do 1D6, draining colour and vitality

The best way for the Beatles to drive the Blue Meanies out of Pepperland is by playing music. The only instruments around are in the guarded bandstand, and are classical instruments. While the PCs are roaming around, they find a kind of bandstand covered with a huge, smoke-filled glass. Anyone who puts their ear to it can feel the vibrations of music being played inside. The glass cannot be broken by any conventional way, but a drum break or a hole will work (or any other witty idea). Inside, are Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. These four musicians are exactly like the Beatles, but wearing bright, Victorian military-style costumes. They will happily work with the PCs to rescue their country.
Some time about now, the PCs will find Jeremy being held hostage by some Standard Meanies and a 4-Headed Bulldog and should rescue him.
When the Meanies hear music, they cringe and cover their ears. If they cannot drive off the PC's, they will flee from Pepperland. Only the Dreadful Flying Glove and the Chief Meanie are unaffected. The Chief Meanie is like the other Blue Meanies, bur much larger and does not attack. He yells a lot of orders, stamps about and pets the Dreadful Flying Glove, which does whatever he asks. The Dreadful Flying Glove will probably have to be directly defeated. By this time, with the rest of the Meanies fleeing and the people of Pepperland coming back to life, the Chief Meanie will also flee. Give extra brownie points, (or biscuits) to any player who makes an offer of peace. Love and reconciliation is what Pepperland is all about, after all.

So enjoy your adventures in Pepperland. It's strange out there !

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