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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
(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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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 !