Five NATO soldiers assault a stronghold of former Polish police officers and criminals. Their goal is to secure the weapons and supplies these marauders looted from a masacred US unit. The five soldiers have been left to their own devices after the last – and failed – allied push against the Soviets in the fields of Poland in World War III.
Welcome to episode 5 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 second part of my first long battle. Due to the length of the encounter, I have broken the assault on the marauder base into three parts. This post is part two, which concerns the majority of the fighting.
The group escaped Kalisz, but is basically out of gas for their pickup truck. While exploring the town of Syców they encounter a massacred US group and find private Lee as the single survivor. In the town, they agree with a local leader to join forces and take out the marauders, who attacked the Americans. The scout their base – an abandoned factory – and assault it. PFC Perez is their “sniper”. He uses an old hunting rifle with a scope and Corporal Kelly blasts a section of a building with sleeping marauders with an anti-tank missile.
If you are a new arrival, you can find an overview of the characters and the entire previous episode here:
Rules Disclaimer: I made a mistake, when calculating modifiers. The two dice should always try to balance. I reduced one first instead. I guess I’ve got old habits I need to shed from playing Earthdawn for years! The outcome and balance of the battle might have changed because of that.
Suppression and critical hits: I used the proposed rules where most NPCs automatically fail suppression rolls and always are incapacitated or dead if they get a critical hit.
Playing through this encounter gave me a few insights, that I think are worth sharing for referees and players, who haven’t started playing yet, but want to know what they are getting into.
- Keep a list of modifiers handy – also for the players. There are many situational modifiers, and ranged combat is basically always modified by something. The only exception is two characters shooting at each other while standing still, at short range, in open terrain on a sunny day.
- Kevlar will save a character’s life. I rolled a lot of body hits and head shots, and it helped the characters, but it also meant that defeating marauders with kevlar vests was surprisingly difficult.
- Grenades are awesome. The ability to suppress multiple opponents, even if they take no damage, is a winner.
- Suppression is a central part of the mechanics, but in a game with actual players, they might not enjoy having their character suppressed for multiple rounds while they can only watch the action.
- I was halfway through the encounter, before I noticed that NPCs run out of ammunition on a 1 on the ammo dice. Afterwards, I wished I had counters for “need to reload” for the many bad-guys.
- Mobility is a great skill, to haul a character’s ass into cover over a big battle map or to throw grenades.
- Overwatch is more limited in use than I thought, because a character or NPC only covers on hex. It could also get meta-gamey, if eg the referee communicates to the players which hex is covered, because some players might elect to move around. Conversely, if the referee doesn’t say it, some players might doubt if the NPC was actually covering that exact hex.
The action continues…
“Go! Go! Go!” Captain King shouts as he leads the way out of the ruined building they were hiding in. The three soldiers run out into the dim early morning light. Dust is rising from the compound, where Kelly’s missile hit the office building. About 50 meters away, Janusz’s fighters are storming the windows of the office building with a ladder. Everything is going as planned…
King’s borrowed pump shotgun is bouncing on his back. He holds one of their few grenades prepared with duct tape as an improvised breaching charge. Lee is close behind him, as ordered. His Glock points towards the compound gate. The chin strap of the Polish helmet he borrowed gnaws into his flesh, but it could save his life. Zielinski concentrates on running. Her legs are not as young and strong as Lee’s and she is painfully aware of her own marksman skills and the qualities of her submachinegun.
Seconds later, they reach the gate…
Players Round 2:
Kelly has the initiative. He grabs his M16, which was placed ready for action and gets up to a kneeling position behind cover and fires at the second rooftop guard, who is in his roof top fortified position of old bricks, corrugated iron sheets, old tyres and a couple of sand bags.
The guard has gone prone, but from his elevated position Kelly can still hit him. The marauder’s head, arms and torso are behind a 2 point cover.
The modifiers pile up quickly:
- Target prone -1
- Elevated position +1
- Dim light -1
- Quick shot -1
Kelly is no marksman, so he fires a couple of bursts. If nothing else, he hopes to suppress the guard until Perez can take him out.
Kelly gives it all he’s got (pushing) and hits the hapless marauder with three successes. The rifle takes one point of reliability damage though. He hits him in the body through the cover, and with the armor the damage isn’t enough to take him out of the fight. But the marauder is suppressed.
Perez spends his slow action aiming through the telescopic sight at the guard on the roof, which means he can’t fire until round three.
Over by the gate, King attaches a hand grenade to the door in the gate with some duct tape, pulls the pin and runs over to the rest of the team. Zielinski is in overwatch directed up towards the roof of the office building.
The first of Janusz’s fighters climb up the ladder and smash a window (even more) so they can begin to climb inside.
The grenade blows the metal door in the old gate, the lock is gone and it is now dangling on rusty hinges.
Marauders Round 2
Most of the marauders are still coming out of their drunken stupor or are injured and dazed from the rocket attack. However, the guard in the prepared position behind the factory will get up after dropping prone, and begin to move around the factory to see what is what.
Just like I would play it in a game with a group, the action inside the office building between Janusz’s fighters and the marauders, I will not run in detail. I will simply narrate the outcome of their assault, based on Kelly’s successful attack and the King of Diamonds I drew for the group’s “luck”.
Players Round 3
“I got him in my sight,” Perez says confidently, so Kelly storms off to join the rest of the team down the five floors of the ruined building. I rule that with a mobility check, he can get to the ground floor in two rounds. He succeeds.
Perez pulls the trigger, and misses…
The rest of the team vaults through the blasted door in order to get to the door across the yard in the factory building. Each action they can move two hexes and roll mobility to move farther. One hex per success. Lee wasn’t lying, and he gets all the way up to the factory wall. He is the least skilled among the team, but the one with the greatest natural abilities.
Marauders round 3
The guard on the roof is no longer suppressed, and he elects to shoot back at the guy sniping him. He gets up and fires a quick burst without aiming. He fires 11 rounds at Perez, and gets a 6 on an ammo dice, which means bullets hammer the bricks and debris around Perez, and he must roll CUF. He succeeds with a 7!
The guard from the back moves alongside the factory towards the fight, and one marauder is awake enough to poke his captured M16 out of a factory window and fire at King. He gets a -2 penalty because of the dim morning light and because King is moving. None of the bullets hit, but King must also roll for suppression. Success! He is as cool as they come, and he keeps moving.
Players Round 4
Kelly makes it safely to the ground floor.
Perez takes multiple simple aimed shots at the marauder, who is now half-exposed. Head shot! Perez has two successes and rolls a 6 on the to-hit table, which is a headshot. The marauder collapses. Perez has one round left in the rifle.
King’s boots are hammering on the asphalt and he makes it to the factory door and he peeks through the window, but sees nobody (fails his Recon roll).
Zielinski and Lee are quick enough that they can move to the door with their fast actions and use their slow actions to cover the two corners of the factory using the overwatch actions.
A muffled explosion and gunfire sounds from inside the office building, where Janusz’s fighters are clearing the rooms.
Marauders Round 4
The marauder in the factory window no longer has line of sight to King and his team, but he spots Perez killing his buddy, and fires at him. The range and the light hinders him, however, and the bursts have no effect.
Inside, the marauder leader, Mleczko, is directing the defense and shouts for someone to get up on the factory roof and man the M60, while he sends a team to secure the ground floor of the factory.
The marauder running up the side of the factory pokes around with his AK-74 and Zielinski fires her PM-84 sub-machine gun at him, because she was on overwatch. She fires a long burst, and suppresses – without hitting – the marauder.
Players Round 5
Kelly tries to run for the factory gate and cover. He almost gets there.
Perez takes careful aim at the marauder in the factory window.
King burst through the door right into the waiting arms of the marauder guard camped in the bathroom area. He is taking cover inside the doorway. The marauder rolls 2×5 and 2×3. Not even a six on one of the two ammo dice! It is probably one of the hung over criminals, who’s never really fired an assault rifle at someone charging at close range.
King has his night vision goggles turned on, and returns fire with the pump-gun he borrowed. He blasts a couple of shots at the marauder, but nothing hits.
Outside, Zielinski and Lee switch initiatives (which characters can do, as long as they can communicate), and Lee lobs a grenade towards the corner where the marauder from the back of the factory is taking cover. The grenade lands perfectly (3 successes) and causes damage, but only two points, which are stopped by the marauder’s American kevlar vest. He is automatically suppressed, however, and prone, which could become important.
Zielinski rushes in after King and fires her PM-84 at the marauder in the bathroom. She moves right up to the door, so he has no effective cover, but she does count as firing into close combat. She is a poor shot and simply sticks the gun into the doorway and hoses him. He is hit, but her SMG jams (two 1s on three ammo dice). He is also hit in the torso, and wearing kevlar, which means that the underpowered PM-84 is unable to penetrate. He is also suppressed, though.
Marauders Round 5
Two additional marauders join the one in the factory windows, and they spot Kelly hauling ass towards the gate and open fire on him. Kelly is grazed on the arm and takes two points of damage, but with a 7 he makes his CUF roll.
The third one, who has a better idea of where Perez is located, fires at Perez. But miss completely again.
Two marauders also make it to the rooftop, but are not able to engage yet.
Inside the factory, one goes into overwatch, while four marauders move down into position on the ground floor.
Mleczko is commanding from a doorway, protected by the last of his goons.
Players Round 6
Kelly moves into cover by the blown door in the gate, and he actually has line of sight to the marauder Lee threw a grenade at, so he fires a quick burst at him. It is however at -4 (dim light, prone target, quick shot and medium range) and he misses.
Perez has been aiming and fires a single shot at the fucker, who is hosing him from the window. But he misses again.
Inside the factory, which is full of rusty machinery, old pallets, a fork lift, barrels and junk, King is afraid they’ll be rushed, so he moves up to one of the machines. Using his night vision, he sees a marauder in cover and he empties the shotgun at him. He mostly hits the big machinery the marauder is using as cover, but a single pellet manages to find its way past the kevlar vest, suppressing him.
Zielinski’s gun is jammed and she calls for aid.
Lee bets that Kelly can keep the marauder around the corner from attacking him in the back, and he rushes into the factory to help the Lieutenant. The lieutenant is desperately trying to unjam her submachine gun, while the marauder is scrambling for his gun. Lee steps into the doorway and fires six shots with his pistol at the marauder hitting him in the neck and taking him out of the battle.
“Drop that! Take his gun,” Lee shouts to Zielinski and hands her the marauder’s M-16. She drops the pea-shooter and runs to the machinery which King is taking cover behind, covering the opposite side.
Marauders Round 6
Most people, particularly untrained civilians, will avoid running into an area where someone are shooting and have a clear field of fire. This also goes for the non-military fighters on both sides of this conflict.
The guy Lee threw a grenade at and Kelly shot at is no longer suppressed, but he remains prone and unloads a salvo towards Kelly (-2 total from medium range and dim light) instead of going after Lee. The bullets hammer against the metal gate and wall, but none are near Kelly.
Two marauders move into the position on the roof and man the M60.
In the factory windows, two of the marauders blast away at Perez while the third shoot down at Kelly’s hiding spot.
The doorway, where Kelly is in cover is hit, as is the brick walls where Perez is shooting from, but no bullets penetrate. However, the sheer volume of fire directed at the two troopers, and perhaps the fact that they don’t know what is going on inside the factory, means that they are unable to continue returning fire (both roll a 1 on their CUF).
Inside the factory, only the marauder upstairs in the office area has line of sight to King, Zielinski and Lee, due to the higher ground. Zielinski and King have cover, so he fires at Lee at medium range with dim light, but from higher ground.
Lee is hit for three damage in the head. His borrowed helmet takes the worst and he is suppressed.
Two of the marauders move cautiously forward. One of the marauders get LOS on King and fires a quick burst in the dim light, but is far off the mark.
Players Round 7
Both Kelly and Perez are pinned down. This is a problem.
However, while the rest of them sweep and secure the building, one of Janusz’s fighters has taken up position in on of the windows in the office building. He uses one of the captured guns to lay down fire on the marauders taking cover inside the factory building, hoping to suppress at least two of them.
He is very successful, and actually hits one of the marauders, who takes damage and both are suppressed (they are in the same hex).
Being a Referee: Janusz’s fighter in a window is me helping out the “players”. I mainly do it, because I drew the King of Diamonds, so they have luck on their side. It also seem plausible. But being civilians, I was also conscious of the fact, that they are unlikely to move across the yard into the factory, while under fire. They will stay in cover and shoot.
Inside the factory, King is very aware that they are in trouble, so he throws a grenade at the guy he hit with his shotgun, and is right on the money. The marauder takes another point of damage, but is saved by his vest. Both are suppressed, however.
Zielinski inches forward around the machinery and has LOS on one of the marauders who was just grenaded, so she fires a burst at him. No hit.
Lee has gone prone, but is otherwise a sitting duck.
Marauders round 7
Outside, the two marauders on the roof man the M-60 and fire in Perez’s general direction (in this case, the second marauder simply gives the first one +1 on the roll, as per the rules). They don’t hit anything, but Perez is still pinned down, and now at two points of stress.
The guard who isn’t suppressed in the factory window returns fire. One of the seven rounds penetrate the wall and wounds the fighter slightly, pinning him. He is however empty, and must reload.
The final guy in the courtyard shoots at Kelly again, but with zero results.
Inside the factory, the upstairs gunner keeps firing at Lee, but her aim is high this time, and he huddles beneath the bullets.
One of the few marauders with military training (I decide) isn’t pinned, and he lobs a grenade back at King. It is pretty dark however, and there are several obstacles. He is down to a D6 and rolls a 1! The grenade deviates north east two hexes (I roll a 2 and a 6). It is almost too good to be true, as the grenade is thrown at too high an arc, hits a beam and rolls to the feet of a hapless marauder. Two marauders are hit, and one of them has now been hit three times for one point of damage (shotgun blast and two grenades). He is close to bailing.
The last marauder peeks around the corner and unloads at Zielinski. He empties his clip, but doesn’t hit her. She can still see Lee, and is not suppressed.
Players Round 8
Perez is still keeping low with the M-60 hurling lead at him.
Kelly is very aware that shit is going down inside the factory. He wants to help his friends and press the attack, so he storms across open ground to get cover behind the tree where he fires a burst at the guy on the corner. He isn’t the smartest guy on the team, but he has big balls (they all seem to have, including Zielinski, by the way). Kelly doesn’t hit the marauder, but he hits a lot of other stuff, and pins him (he has 12 rounds remaining in the magazine).
King feels that the battle is close to turning in their favour. He runs across the open into cover at an opposite wall, which means the nearest marauder is caught in the open and quick fires his sidearm, as his shotgun is empty. The marauder is hit in the legs, and is now also at three points of damage.
Lee charges into his captain’s old position and fires his Glock at the same target. He hits, but the cover soaks the damage.
Zielinski returns fire at the guy at the corner. She is the poorest marksman of the team, but at least she is only getting -1 from the dim light. As the guy on the corner also has clear LOS to King, she wants to get him suppressed. With an 8 on her single dice, she hits him and manages to suppress him, but does no damage as the factory wall is stronger than a regular indoor wall, and absorbs the full damage.
Marauders round 8
One of the two marauders in the factory window reloads. The second fires at Kelly, while the third keeps firing at the guy in the office, with no effect.
Kelly however, is hit for four points of damage. Lucky for him, it is another body hit, and with a big tree trunk and kevlar between him and the bullets, it is reduced to zero damage. He does fail his CUF roll, though, leaving him in a precarious position.
Furthermore, the M-60 crew isn’t sure if anyone is still alive on the other rooftop, so they shift their fire towards Kelly as well. They aren’t really trained in the GPMG and hit nothing.
The factory marauders are under intense pressure. The marauder at the office area fires at Lee, but misses. Two are suppressed, and as a referee I rule that the dude who has been dinged three times in the last 15 seconds retreats further away into cover.
Upstairs however, Mleczko senses that the battle inside the factory floor is turning against him, so he moves out of his secure position into partial cover behind the railing and empties his trophy M-16 in a long unaimed frustrated burst towards Lee.
This is another recreation of the situation. It provides a good overview of the status outside.
The conclusion of the battle will be in the next episode. If you’ve followed this far, thank you for reading! I’m happy to answer any questions regarding my experience so far with the game.