Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Return of Captain Omen & The Terror From the Deep

Old stuff dredged up from the depths of time by Jim Wallman

I rediscovered these notes about a deep sea diver LARP-like adventure from some time in the later 1980s.  I wonder if such a thing would be even possible these days?  😉


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The purpose of the game is to simulate some of the problems of deep sea diving, set in an adventurous context.  The players will be expected to have to deal with a number of hazards, made more difficult by virtue of their environment and their diving equipment.

The game is set in the relatively low-technology era of the 1920’s, for reasons which will become obvious.  The diver’s suits are large and clumsy, weighted down by lead weights sewn into their fabric.  They have no compressed air, and relied on a hand pump to ensure an air supply.

Captain Omen’s Divers
In this game, the diving suit is simulated by making the players wear a full face crash helmet, and by hobbling them with an 18″ piece of rope tying their legs together so that they can only shuffle about.  The visibility is limited by covering the visor with translucent plastic (a supermarket plastic bag is ideal), and/or carrying out the ‘dives’ in a darkened room.
The air-hose is represented by a length of rope, and this is connected to a pump, consisting of two broom handles, moved backward and forward by another player, at the correct speed.  As the diver goes deeper, or exerts himself more, the pump man must pump faster.
The diver cannot return to the surface without assistance, and so another man is required to pull him up (by pulling gently on the rope).
Obviously, the diving team must also establish a system of communications via tugs on the rope, since they have no intercom.

Thus the minimum diving team should be:

  • Pump-man
  • Diver’s assistant
  • Diver

In this game, the team will probably consist of:

  • Two pump men
  • One or two diver’s assistants
  • Two divers

Equipment required:
2 x Full-face motorcycle helmets        Powerful Torches    Rope
Plastic bags                Broomhandles    Gaffer tape
Black paper                Carboard or rubber axes

The Mission
The dives take place from a modified submarine, with a hole in the floor for divers to enter or exit.
The mission will take the following format:

(1)  Training dive – simply get the diver players to move down a corridor
and pick up an object and return – easy.

(2)  Plot course to the sunken wreck of the ship.  The ship, ‘THE NUGGET’,
was sunk by a mysterious explosion in 1919.  The cause was believed to be a
drifting Japanese mine from WWI.  It was known to have been carrying rare
Egyptian artifacts from Suez to the University of Southern California.

(3)  Locate wreck area, and the position of the wreck, and prepare for
dives, ie. check equipment and brief on how to enter the ship etc.

(4)  Explore the wreck (another room laid out with obstacles and in
darkness).  Here they encounter the Octopus, and hopefully kill or drive it
away.  There is also the possibility of the feared ‘Giant Clam’.  Possibly there may be an unexploded mine or something similar to defuse.

(5)  Arrival of rival submarine (unknown to players, and possibly even
another team of players run in parallel with no knowledge of the others) –
undersea conflict ensues.

Umpire’s requirements
We will need to provide the following briefing material:
a.  Maps, of the wreck site and for navigating to the site.
b.  A plan of the sunken wreck, both before it sank (for the players), and
its current state (for the umpires).
c.  A list of legitimate Egyptian artifacts, with their descriptions, and
some cardboard or otherwise models to represent them.
d.  A cardboard ship’s safe.
e.  An unexploded undersea mine (Tom Mouat to devise).
f.  The Giant Clam (Guest Starring John Treadaway).

Anything else we need?

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Posts: 15
  1. That takes me back. I remember the first game we ran with my lounge as the undersea area and the pump crew in the hall way. Then, wehen we ran it at CoW, the amazed looks on the faces of the staff ! Good times. One item missing from the equipment list is the two cushions to act as the two halves of the clam shell. 🙂

  2. Peter Merritt

    Only just seen this… MightI also add NOT giving said diver a real maglite (heavy) torch? As the duly elected representative of the squid tentacle array, I can atest that, at times of stress, what the bod choose to beat one with is not always predictable…

    Should have also mentioned the ‘whaling simulator’, concocted over lunch at CoW. Three rowing boats (8x oarspersons walking backwards) vs ‘whale’ of 20+ persons. Diving was simulated by everyone dispersing, then gathering into whale/scrum formation to charge & trample boat underfoot! One boat actually failed to move and only Jim’s scurvy crew survived, as he quickly drilled them and (equally important) reversed his left/right orders to their facing….

    • mexicansky

      Peter, sorry about that torch, but I’m sticking to the excuse of sensory deprivation achieving remarkable disorientation.

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