The five soldiers of the group are some of the detritus of war, after a Soviet counter-offensive in the aftermath of World War III scattered the last NATO offensive. Four American soldiers and a Polish liason officer have been thrown together and they are now trying to survive this hell hole. This is their story.
Welcome to episode 4 of this solo role-playing campaign! I’m playing the post-apocalyptic RPG Twilight: 2000 in its 4th edition from Free League Publishing. This is episode will feature the first part of my first long battle. Due to the length of the encounter, I will break assault on the marauder base into three parts. This post is part one, which deals with the group’s reconnaisance and preparation, rules and referee considerations related to it as well as the first round of the assault. The second part is the majority of the action and the third the conclusion of the encounter.
I’ve also added a page with the five characters and their stats (link below) – as requested by readers.
Last episode, the team came upon a group of American soldiers, who had been caught in an ambush, slaughtered and stripped of their gear. Among the dozen bodies they managed to finde one survivor – private Lee. The Polish lieutenant Zielinski located a bar and tradepost, where they found the young private some boots, but they also met the dangerous owner, who offered to help them attack the marauders who ambushed the Americans and splitting any loot they found. The team agreed to the plan.
Read the previous content:
Intro and game considerations
Recon & the initial assault
The team spends two days with Janusz preparing for the attack, getting to know his fighters and trying to get Lee back on his feet. Perez borrows a hunting rifle with a scope plus two reloads, Lee borrows a Polish army helmet and King gets a pump action shotgun with two reloads. They will have to return them, when the job is done or include it in their share.
King and Perez sets out every day for a tall ruined building fairly distant from the marauder compound, which they use as observation post.
For scouting the compound, I give King -2 from distance, +1 from Perez helping and +2 from the binoculars (1 success). To keep out of sight, I give King +1 from fatigues and +1 from terrain (zero successes). The marauders get -2 from the long distance and roll a mishap. Defenders don’t push rolls in an opposed situation, but I give the players the benefit of not being detected, despite not being that well hidden, since I rolled a 1 for the guards. Perhaps the binoculars reflected in the sun, but the guard thought it was just a broken window or was too lazy to check it out? Had I not rolled a 1, perhaps the marauders would add a couple of guards or send a patrol to scout the building they used as observation post?
In advance, I decided what 1 and success and 2 successes on Recon would mean respectively. In a ‘real life game’ if the characters rolled an unlikely 3 successes or more, I might improvise a great weakness for them to exploit.
- King can see that the marauder base has a factory at its center with a fortified position on the roof, where the marauders have placed a captured M60 machine gun.
- The front door of the office building is never used.
- The office building is part of the outer wall, but has no windows at ground level on the outside. Therefore, outwards facing windows are at a height of at least 4.5 meters (15 feet). Another guard is posted in a fortified position on top of the office building.
- A third fortified position with a guard is covering the back-area of the factory area.
- The fortified positions are made of old tyres, bricks and iron plates (armor 2).
- The wall is only about 10 feet tall, but has a single piece of rusty barbed wire running along the top and has glass shards cast into the top of the wall.
- Sporadically, a two man patrol walks around the grounds.
King does not notice the guard on the ground floor inside the most commonly used door to the factory, nor the fact that they an RPG on the roof of the factory.
Across from the factory, there is a ruined apartment building, which is taller than the office building, but about level at the top with the factory roof. This will be the team’s staging area.
As King succeeds a Recon roll both for his Intelligence and for his Tactics speciality, he guesses that the front door to the office building is mined or booby trapped. He also ascertains that the guards are pretty lax and they seem to be enjoying the spoils of their victory. And, as they are mostly non-military, he evaluates their ranged combat ability as meagre. He counts 22 marauders and a few civilians, mostly women coming and going.
Back in the compound
Back at Janusz’s compound, Zielinski – aided by Kelly – succeeds in one Medical Aid Roll for each day, and the healing time for Lee’s critical hits are halved, which is enough to remove his “smashed nose” condition that gave him a penalty to Recon and Persuasion. His slashed arms will still take another three days before the penalties disappear.
“How are you holding up,” King asks Lee, who is lying on a cot with a couple of blankets. The young man still sounds funny when he talks, but he is recovering quickly, according to Zielinski.
“I’m good, Captain.” He sits up. “It is warm and we got hot chow. I’m not sure what the meat was, but it was the best meal I’ve had in weeks.”
“How do you feel about joining us tomorrow? You still can’t hold a rifle,” King asks. The kid seems eager, but he isn’t exactly a combat veteran.
“I’ll use the pistol. I want to be there. Get even with those bastards. Perhaps I can get a couple of grenades? I have a mean pitching arm. I played a lot of baseball as a kid and some in college.”
“Yeah. That and music. But the piano skills aren’t worth much over here.”
King smiles. “A piano playing, college educated, baseball pitching black grunt from Harlem. Now I’ve seen everything!”
Lee gives a weak smile. “Yeah. My great grandfather was Aaron Douglas and I got my name from my great grand uncle.” He looks embarrassed.
“Shit. Are you saying you are related to Miles Davis?”
Lee sighs. “Yes, sir.”
“Damn. And then you got drafted, right after college?”
“That sucks… Have you ever fired your weapon at someone?”
Lee shakes his head.
“I’ve been shot at a few times. One time our trucks were strafed by a MiG. But no, sir, never shot at anyone,” he says.
“Besides a mean throwing arm, anything else I should know about?”
“I’m pretty good at languages. French. German. Picked up a bit of Polish.”
“I need all the help I can get, so I’m going to ask you to join us. Stay close to me. No heroics, mind you! Keep your head down and keep moving.”
With that decided, King goes over the plan with his team and Janusz’s fighters in the compound’s small yard, while Zielinski translates. They are a mean looking bunch, armed with a couple of Polish AKMs, shotguns and a bolt action rifle that could have seen service in the previous world war. Janusz is listening in a few steps away. He says nothing, but simply watches with his calm grey eyes.
The team’s plan
Overall, the plan is to hit the marauders at dawn and even the odds by taking out the enemies in the office building. By inflicting serious casualties and causing confusion in the opening attack, they hope to break their morale and drive the marauders from the factory. This is also why they all attack from the same direction – they want the marauders to have a clear path for them to flee.
- Perez will snipe the guard manning the M60 first, then focus his attention on the second rooftop guard. Afterwards, he will provide covering fire from the roof.
- Kelly will fire their M136 anti-tank missile at the area, where they are told the marauders are sleeping/partying – hopefully causing several casualties. Subsequently, he will help engage the roof top guards, if they are still standing. When they are gone, he will join up with the assault team.
- Janusz’s fighters will use a ladder to assault the office building through a window and clear the office building first. The defenders are hopefully dazed and wounded, which will make that part easier. When the office is cleared, they will help with the attack on the factory.
- King will lead Zielinski and Lee through the gate, blowing the gate door with a grenade, and making their way to the factory, where they will aim to cause enough damage and suppress the second half – and more dangerous part of the gang – until the entire team can join them and flush them out.
- On a side note, Perez has lent his body armor and two frag grenades to Lee, as he needs it more in his CQB-situation.
King is anticipating some form of betrayal, either if his team wins, but has casualties, or if they lose the engagement and have to withdraw. Therefore, he plans with the team that their fallback plan is – if things go south – to flee back to the farm and the pickup truck and drive it West as far as the fuel will take them. Hopefully, away from any vengeful marauders.
The enemy leader, Mleczko, and his most trusted men are holed up in the area where the foreman and his staff used to have their offices. It will take them at least two rounds before they react to the assault. When the factory is attacked, half of them will fire from the windows and roof and a group of four will move down into the factory area, while one takes up an overwatch position from above.
Other elements, events includes:
- Guard at the ground floor door
- Guard slipping in from the back, trying to creep up on the characters
- Encounter with the opposing patrol
Getting into position
A lot of the plan is dependent on the small force getting the element of surprise. The worst at Recon is Kelly, so he is the one who will have to roll. King and his assault team is hidden at the ground floor of the ruined apartment building, safely out of sight, ready to dash forward.
Because the light is considered Dusk, the guards have -1 on their Recon rolls. Kelly gets +1 for his fatigues, +1 because he is making an ambush 6-20 hexes from the target and +1 from the terrain (debris).
Kelly is sweating like he’s never sweated before hauling ammo for the tube. He has checked and re-checked the anti-tank missile and crept ever so slowly into position, lying still, waiting in cramped conditions for extended periods to get into position (in other words, he is pushing the roll!). He succeeds, as the Marauders have 0 successes. He gets up slowly with his missile, aims and fires.
To throw in some “fog of war” and “lady luck” I also drew a card to check if they had luck on their side or against them. I jotted down a couple of ideas for both situations, such as a marauder taking a piss right when the attack is going down, a patrol walking the perimeter, a guard smoking (making him easier to hit) etc. I drew a King of Diamonds, which is “Life Saving”. I rule that this means the marauders have been partying hard the night before, and will at least take a couple of rounds more to wake up and get organized, they may get penalties on shooting and will break more easily and other small things might turn in the player’s favour.
Rules: as this is an ambush that succeeds, the characters get the first six initiative slots and the marauders act last.
Players Round 1
Kelly fires his anti-tank weapon (-1 from medium range, +2 from hitting a large target) and despite mortars being his speciality, he puts the blast right where it is supposed to go (2 successes) blasting a massive hole in the wall and laying waste to the room beyond. The explosion rolls between the buildings and the big Irishman whoops with glee before dropping prone into cover.
There are eight marauders in the office building, six of whom were sleeping it off in the large room Kelly hit (I determined the numbers with D6+6 and D3+3).
Perez has been slow aiming and takes a shot at the guard by the M60 on the factory roof. He is not wearing a helmet (the King of Diamonds plays in here), but is sitting behind cover, so Perez tries to shoot him in the head (called shot at -2). The civilian bolt action rifle has good range (range 10), but the light is dim (a total of -1 on the roll). He puts all his effort into it and hits the guard in the head, taking him out instantly (he rolled two successes after pushing it. The extra success turns into a point of damage which translates into a critical hit, and minor NPCs are out of combat after a critical hit).
King, Lee and Zielinski spend their actions running up to the gate, before they can blow it next round.
Janusz’s fighters run up with their ladder to the office building.
Marauders Round 1
The explosion rolls between the buildings and a single loud shot rings out. The remaining guard on the roof was so drunk yesterday, that he wasn’t really awake when the group attacked (again, because I drew the King of Diamonds). Therefore, he isn’t ready to return fire until the next round (if he survives that long). He does drop prone.
Read more in the next episode…
When I publish this episode, I’ve already played out the entire combat, but it is a lot of text, and you will have to read on in episode 5 to see how the rest of the assault progress…