Book Report: The Führer’s Headquarters – Hitler’s command bunkers 1939–45

At LivingDice, we often trumpet our love of using history as inspiration for RPG adventuring. One of my favorite quotes, when I think of history and RPGs, comes from an American author named Joseph Heller (of Catch-22 fame). In his book ‘Good as Gold’ he said:

History was a trash bag of random coincidences torn open in a wind.  Surely, Watt with his steam engine, Faraday with his electric motor, and Edison with his incandescent light bulb did not have it as their goal to contribute to a fuel shortage some day that would place their countries at the mercy of Arab oil.

This is exactly how I like to run events as a DM. I like to have the players encounter a series of events with seemingly harmless (or sometimes seemingly good) outcomes. But those outcomes add up to something far more sinister.

However, back to the topic at hand; using history in the RPG. Many DMs put a great amount of thought into the main “bad guy”, the arch-nemesis. However, most times they do not give much thought to where their antagonist resides when he is not tormenting the players. If there is a man of such evil, why would people not gang-up and hunt him down?

History can help us here. Not many an evil foe has ever had such an advanced system of lairs as Adolf Hitler during World War II. They were called the Führerhauptquartiere. A new book by Osprey Publishing titled The Führer’s Headquarters – Hitler’s command bunkers 1939–45 by Neil Short does an excellent job of of showcasing these 14 known fortifications. It is amazing that in such a short amount of time, Hitler went from simple air raid locations to massive concrete structures able to withstand heavy firepower.

This book details the design and development of these bunkers, talks about each location specifically and includes photos and illustrations of the layouts. The operations of these facilities and how they tied into the war are also discussed. And of course, important events like Operation Valkyrie, which was recently made famous by a Hollywood/Tom Cruise movie, are also brought up.

Sure, this book is not an RPG book, and it will not give you an instant base of operations for your bad guy. However, by utilizing a book like this, you can start to get inside the head of your villain and start thinking about the bigger picture of your campaign. History books like this will help a you become a better DM.

So when you are at your FLGS with some cash burning a hole in your pocket, instead of heading to the RPG section. Maybe every once in a while you should head to the back of the store with that little turn-style rack that has some quality campaign ideas at a decent price.

The Führer’s Headquarters – Hitler’s command bunkers 1939–45 was released on October 19th. It is available in game shops and bookstores or you can order it from Osprey or Amazon (among other places).

Thank you to Osprey Publishing for providing a review copy of this book. My evil masterminds just got a little slipperier.


Bibliographic information

Title The Fuhrer’s Headquarters: Hitler’s Command Bunkers 1939-45
Fortress Series
Author Neil Short
Illustrated by Adam Hook
Edition illustrated
Publisher Osprey Pub Co, 2010
ISBN 1846035821, 9781846035821
Length 64 pages

Stuart Greenwell

My first experiences with serious gaming came from the Hero Quest board game. I then made the next step to the RoboTech RPG and a lunchtime meeting of AD&D Oriental Adventures. My interests now are pretty much the same. Boardgames and RPGS. Some of my favorites boardgames are currently Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, and Space Alert. For RPGS, it is Monte Cook's Cypher System. But I am always down for a good round of Dungeons & Dragons.