Twilight 2000: episode 7 – Aiming for Brzeg

Five NATO soldiers have been left to find their own way home after the last – and failed – allied push against the Soviets in the fields of Poland in World War III. After fighting a group of marauders, they are restocked on ammo and carry a bit of fuel and must now find a way across the mighty Oder River to get to… home? To Safety? To semi-intact NATO formations?

This is the seventh episode of my solo-game of Free League’s Twilight: 2000 4th edition post-apocalyptic roleplaying game. If you are new to the game/story, I suggest you start from the very beginning.

You can also read a description of the main characters and see their stats.

Short recap:

After being disbanded at Kalisz, the group drives west in their camouflaged pick-up truck, which runs out of fuel near Syców. They try to find fuel or parts for a still in the town, but discover the ambushed remains of US troops, where they rescue the wounded private Lee. They meet a local leader, who will aid them against the ambushers, if they share the loot with him. After a daring and successful dawn assault, they defeat the marauders with no casualties. But as the man they work with is dangerous and untrustworthy, with a lot of armed men at hand. They cut a quick deal, and hurry away with what they can carry, but a lot less than half the spoils.

From a game mechanical perspective, the group’s unit morale has increased one level to A from B, but none of the characters gain personal CUF.

Further, King buys the survival skill at D-level and Kelly pays for mobility D (see last episode).

Continuing Day 6

The group hurries to where they hid the pickup and refuel it. They agree to drive for one shift, hopefully finding somewhere they can hole up for at least 24 hours to rest and repair. Looking at their map, they decide to drive south, as they consider the ruins of Wroclaw a difficult and dangerous place to cross the massive Oder River in their truck. 

The open terrain and country roads prove no obstacle to Lee (who worked in logistics), but King is unable to find the right road to where they need to go (Miles succeeds in his driving roll, but Charlie fails the navigation check to exit the second hex)

The group ends up going NW before going south, wasting fuel, before finding a place to camp.

In the evening shift, they make a great camp, although King finds it difficult to conceal it, stressing over finding foliage and moss to hide them (pushes survival, gains 1 stress).

Perez struggles through the edge of the forest they’ve camped at (pushing survival), and he manages to track a deer. With two well placed shots he bags dinner for the next couple of days.

While hunting, Perez hears an explosion not too far away and see black smoke rising (random encounter). He lays down the deer on the forest floor and investigates. Three Soviet soldiers lie dying in the wreckage of a UAZ-469 Jeep hit by a roadside bomb.

The pleading and mangled young Russian scouts are too much for Perez, and he runs back into the woods, where he picks up the deer and hurries back to camp (fails CUF, gains 1 stress).  

There is much praise in the camp, when he returns though, and they settle in for – what turns out to be – an uneventful night. He says nothing of the blown Soviet 4×4.

Lee is on watch during the night. King trusts him, but the rest assumes he gets the job because he is the FNG. 

The UAZ might have had fuel, but a failed CUF roll prevents Perez investigating the jeep.

Day 7

The next day the group can take stock and plan:

  • They have acquired a good supply of weapons and ammo, although they would dearly like another anti-tank weapon. 
  • They have water and food, and the nice big deer should sustain them all for an additional two days – if cooked properly… 
  • They are all healthy, and even Lee should be fully recovered the day after the next (his critical wounds to the arms will have healed). 

They decide to spend the entire day in camp, resting, foraging, and doing on maintenance of their weapons, gear and the truck. The next day they plan to spend the last fuel to get close to the Brzeg bridge, and then see what they can see, and cross the river any way they can. They may not need to worry about fuel, if they can’t get the car across anyway. 

During the first shift, Lee does maintenance on the pick-up. He struggles with the unfamiliar vehicle, but gets the job done (pushes for success). 

They also do gun care (which several fail, but that isn’t a problem yet. Optimally, the best tech person should do it, but isn’t it more realistic that they do it individually?). 

The Polish landscape around Brzeg is flat farmlands and a big national forest.

King succeeds at cooking the deer. It turns out succulent and tasty, with Kelly’s help. The two men have a grand time making a good, concealed fire with a high enough temperature.  

Zielinski forages enough water to fill their canteens, and everyone feasts for lunch.

In the afternoon it turns cloudy, and Zielinski, King and Kelly go scrounging in the area. 

The trio come upon a small farm in a copse of trees. Untended fields full of weeds surround the farm and a window looks broken. King surveys the area with his binoculars, and when he sees nothing move, they approach.

Kelly takes point and creep tests the front door. It is open. He knocks. No answer. Kelly opens the door, and his nostrils are assaulted by the stench of rotting corpses. Moving in, he finds the corpse of a man, half his head blown all over a the yellow wallpaper, a shotgun lying at his feet.

Behind him King retches and Zielinski mumbles a prayer in Polish.

“Clear the rest,” says King.

Kelly nods, and they go through the rest of the house.

In the bedrooms, they find three more bodies: a woman and two kids. On a dresser there is an open box of shells.

“Jesus. He shot them all. How…” says King.

“Guess they were out of chow. Out of options. The Russians coming. Tough break,” says Kelly.

Zielinski swears long and vehemently in Polish, then says: “Can we burry them.” Her voice trembles.

“I’m sorry, my friend. We don’t have the time, even if we found the right tools. I’m really very sorry,” King says.

She wants to say something, wants to refuse, then she nods, sniffs.

“Ok, Captain. I’m going out for my last cigarette,” she says.

Kelly picks up the shells and the shotgun. It is a double barrel 12 gauge. He breaks it open, takes out the two spent shells and attaches the gun to his backpack. They also find some instant coffee in a cabinet and a radio (one electronic part).

They return to camp, just as it starts pouring down, but their camp was well made, and everyone keeps dry and warm.  

The second night there passes uneventfully. 

Day 8

The weather has turned from pouring rain into low grey clouds, when the group strikes camp. They enjoy a hot cup of Joe in the morning, which generates many sighs of contentment. Then they load up the truck and head southwest through the woods. Lee is the only one with slight damage, the remains of his wounded arm still hindering him with rifles. 

Perez is on watch, Lee drives, while King is co-pilot with the map. Zielinski and Kelly rest in the back.

This time, King reads the map correctly and puts them on a forest road leading south. Lee must make two driving rolls as he is driving off road into a forest area. (I believe I made a mistake here, as technically the hex is a road hex, but coming from the north, I still consider it a forest hex).

The young man expertly handles the pick-up (ace driving on first roll. 2 successes).

Further into the woods, he almost hits a deer but manages to dodge and avoid crashing into a tree (had to push the roll but made the second attempt). 

Later in the afternoon, driving on a logging trail, close to the main road, Perez spot 10 Soviet soldiers herding 35 local prisoners east along the road 300 meters away (random encounter), despite being in a vehicle and the Soviets being on foot.

Referees Note: The Soviet soldiers are from the under-strength 11th tank division, which has crossed the bridge, taken Grodków and are holding the bridge at Brzeg. They are facing the US 29th and 34th infantry divisions, heavily depleted, which are likely to be outfought due to their lack of vehicles. The civilians are political prisoners, as well as suspected saboteurs (the characters don’t know this yet). 

Lee quickly parks the vehicle behind a ridge out of sight and Perez and King creep up to have a look.  

King returns to the rest of the team and looks at each of them in turn.

“We’ve got a quick decision to make. Do we step in or stay low and let them pass?” he says.

“We must save. If not, those Russian dogs will kill them all, or worse,” Zielinski says in her accented English. 

Perez slides back down from the small ridge and rejoins them.

“They haven’t sniffed us. I count ten Soviets with AKs. No heavy guns. Let’s not push our luck. We can wait here and let them pass. That’s twice our number, and the kid still can’t hold a rifle,” he says.

Lee looks annoyed at him but says nothing.

“Lee?” King asks.

“I follow you, Captain. You say go; we go. If you say fight, I’ll happily fight them.”

King thinks a moment.

“I promised to lead you out of here. But we also came all the way here to do some good. Saving three dozen locals, might not change the war, but it will mean something. Kelly?”

The big Irish-man spits.

“I say fuck those commie fuckers. Dragging us all the way here for this bullshit. I’ll give them a taste of 7.62.”

“Alright, fuck it,” says Perez, and that settles it.

Unfortunately, the M-60 will live up to its reputation.

See how their ambush turns out in episode 8 in a couple of weeks…



Twilight 2000 – episode 6 (Assault on the Marauders part 3)

Five NATO soldiers are assaulting a stronghold of former Polish police officers and criminals. Their goal is to secure the weapons and supplies these marauders looted from a massacred US unit. The five soldiers have been left to find their own way home after the last – and failed – allied push against the Soviets in the fields of Poland in World War III.

This is the third post just on the attack. If you haven’t read the previous posts, I suggest that you do! Or start from the very beginning.

NOTE: With the Russian invasion of Ukraine the setting and events of Twilight: 2000 seemed very close to real life, and it took me a while to separate the real horror of that war from this fiction. I’ve also returned to full in-person gaming, which reduced my time for other games. That said, I’m now ready to continue a few sessions over the summer, and I hope to see this story conclude with the team escaping west.

Short Recap

The group escaped Kalisz, but is out of gas for their pickup truck and under armed. While exploring the town of Syców they encounter a massacred US group and find young 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. They 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. The rest of the group blasts the door into the factory area and charge the factory. Inside, Captain King, the Polish Liason Officer Zielinski and private Lee battle the marauders, while Kelly attempts to get there and help them out, taking murderous fire from the factory windows.
Their allies are clearing the office building and a single ally fighter is firing at the marauders in the factory from an office window.

The previous events have demonstrated that using an underpowered submachine gun against opponents with kevlar body armor is a questionable idea.

The Action Continues…

The concrete dust was settling around Perez like a layer of snow on a winter morning. He could hear the stakato fire of the M60 continuing, but the hammering of bullets on the wall around him had stopped. The young soldier shifted slowly in the ruins and peeked across the street and factory grounds. Kelly was in the deep end of the shit hole, cowering behind a tree while the motherfucker on the corner of the factory building had an almost clean shot. “Not on my watch,” thought Perez. He expertly worked the bolt action on the rifle and crept into a new position, where he had a good line of sight and felt like he was out of sight of the M60 team on the roof. He took a deep breath and aimed…

Players Round 9
On the roof, Perez is finally back in the action, and with the final round of his hunting rifle, he wounds the marauder lying prone at the corner of the factory. It is a body hit, unfortunately, and he only takes one point of damage. The good news is that he no longer has Kelly in his sights, because he is suppressed.

Janusz’s fighter in the office building has gathered his nerve, and empties his clip at the marauders in the windows, wounding one slightly in the legs through the walls and suppressing both. 

Kelly is taking cover by the tree, hugging his M16 close and trying to be as small as possible, while the bullets hammer the old chestnut tree and he babbles to himself: 

 “Oh, shit! Oh, fuck! Stupid! Stupid! Oh, shit! Why the fuck did I do this?” 

Inside the factory, King orders Lee to return the favor and grenade the marauder who failed with the grenade throw. He then shoots the wounded and pinned marauder right in front of him. But he misses (terrible roll with snake-eyes, and no chance of pushing).

Lee helps his boss out by landing a grenade right where he asked him to. It doesn’t hit any of them, but they are thrown to the ground and suppressed. 

Zielinski is not in a great position, but she has LOS to the marauder King missed. He is in cover and prone in the semi-darkness, but hey, what can you do? She throws ammo at the problem and succeeds in suppressing him. 

The office building is on the lower left side. Perez is in a ruined building on the lower right side.

Marauders Round 9

The marauders outside don’t notice Perez’s single shot into the courtyard (I rolled a single Recon roll for them), but the brave fighter pouring fire at the factory is hard to miss, so the M60-crew on the roof shift their inept fire. They go through the last of their belt, but hit nothing but bricks and mortar. 

The last opponent in the factory windows has better aim with his looted M-16 and manages to suppress the fighter, but it gives Kelly and Perez time to breathe. 

The leader of the marauders, Mleczko, screams curses at his men, ordering them to push the invaders out, while he reloads his assault rifle. 

The second marauder, lying prone on the platform above the factory floor with the offices, aims and fires a shot towards Lee and hits, but the machinery he is taking cover behind prevents any damage (body hit). Because he can see his captain, he succeeds in keeping his coolness under fire. 

Players round 10

As he is not under fire, Perez reloads the rifle as a fast action (succeeds his ranged combat roll) and takes aim at one of the guys taking cover behind the factory windows. 

Kelly senses that the M60 needs to be reloaded, and he moves out of cover to get to the factory entrance, and makes it all the way into the factory with two successful mobility rolls (he’s big, but knows how to move!). 

“Friendly!” Kelly shouts as he barges through the door. He sees Lee and Zielinski covering behind the machinery and can barely make out King at the other side of the factory. 

“Glad you could make it!” King shouts back, while he reloads the shotgun (he fails his firearms roll). “Keep pushing!” 

Private Lee takes aim with his Glock and fires at the prone marauder nearby and hits him in the shoulder with a critical hit (12 on his A in Agility), shattering his elbow and taking him out of the fight. 

Zielinski moves back and into cover with Lee and fires a quick burst at the guy huddling at the partitioning wall. She is a poor shot, particularly on the run and in gloomy conditions, but she is peppering the wall with bullets and it keeps the marauder from getting back up.

Inside the front office building, the Janusz’s remaining fighters are done securing the rooms and begin to deploy to figure out how the Americans are progressing in the attack on the main factory building.  

Positions at the end of the player’s round 10. Lee and Zielinski er bunched together in the same hex.

Marauders round 10

With Kelly gone before they manage to reload ‘the hog’, and no clear targets, the team with the M-60 go into overwatch mode on the window where they know Janusz’s fighter is hiding. 

One of the wounded marauders in the windows pull back into the factory, since he is pretty sure that Kelly ran into the factory, and he is out of ammo, so he moves and reloads. 

One of the others Scan for Perez, but is unable to spot him in the ruins in the morning light. 

The second one also goes into overwatch against Janusz’s fighter. 

The marauder at the corner is slightly wounded and fails a coolness under fire roll, which means he does not have the courage to follow Kelly and attack him from behind. Further, it has been eerily quiet from the office building for a while, and certainly none of his allies have emerged from inside, and he scampers back, still prone, very quickly (a success on both mobility rolls with a D8! Fear is a powerful motivator.). 

Most of the fight has now moved into the factory. 

Mleczko calls for backup, and the final marauder, who was guarding the back exit joins them in the open area and runs down the stairs. 

The communist police chief fires a long burst down at Captain King from a prone position. He rolls a 10 + a 6 on an ammo dice. Three successes in all. A 2 on the hit location is another torso hit, but the wall and kevlar vest absorbs the four points of damage. King has courage under fire (6 on his D10 CUF) and keeps it together. 

The marauder firing from above keeps firing at Lee and Zielinski, but hits nothing. 

The final one, which was downed by a grenade in the last round gets back up and in near panic empties his rifle at Lee hiding behind the factory machinery. She hits him in his exposed head, and he takes another point of damage. But Lee is very encouraged by being together with his team and keeps fighting. 

The wounded marauder, who now has company at the factory floor, decides not to push his luck and stays put, until the other guy moves ahead (fails CUF).

Players Round 11

Perez has one of the M-60 gunners in his sights and pulls the trigger. He hits him in the face and blows half his head away, spattering his companion with tissue (aimed shot, pushed for two successes). 

Janusz’s fighter pokes his head out, but a single marauder immediately returns fire with what he has left in the mag. The M-60 remains silent, while the remaining gunner sits jabbering in cover pulling bits of skull and brain out of his beard. 

The fighter’s cover is hit, and he pulls back, shaken. 

Kelly’s boots stomp across the concrete, and he easily reaches cover behind an old forklift, and fires at Mleczko. It is a difficult shot (-1 from Mleczko being prone, -1 from the gloomy conditions of the factory and -1 from it being a quick shot). That is however no problem for the veteran, who hits the enemy leader in the head for 3 damage. He is wearing one of the captured american kevlar helmets, so he avoids a crit, but takes a point of damage. The lethal commander is however bolstered by all the fighters around him, and is not easily suppressed (as a major NPC he gets a CUF roll). 

King is the analytical and methodical type, and he aims his street howitzer at the marauder taking cover from Zielinski’s bullets, as he has no cover from King. He wounds the marauder gravely in the arms (3 points of 5 health). 

Lee rushes forward behind the next piece of machinery, and fires a quick shot at the wounded marauder to his right. He slides towards the machinery on his knees and bumps his wounded arms on the machinery, tearing open the wounds (1 point of damage from pushing), but one of his shots hits the marauder in the torso and takes him down. 

Zielinski hates the old regime and blasts towards Mleczko. With two sixes on the ammo dice, but no hit. This time, however, the old police chief’s courage fails him.

I think the two on the ground floor would surrender, while the rest flee in confusion out the back.

Marauders Round 12

Someone shouts, “Mleczko is hit!” in Polish and it breaks the resistance creating a chain reaction of events. 

The remaining marauders flee through the fire escape or throw up their hands in surrender. 

Aftermath 

Referee’s note: I could have run another round or two of combat to cement the results, but as a referee I would feel that the situation has been resolved and we could move on to a more narrative description of the aftermath, which speeds up the game considerably. 

A couple of marauders surrender, while most flee out through the fire escape. Mleczko is too scared to move and in the following minute the four soldiers can easily round up him, the two other prisoners and the wounded, disarm them and place them in a corner with Zielinski guarding them.

They don’t have a radio to contact Perez, which is a shame, because King would dearly like to get away before Janusz arrives with a superior force, as he suspects that he won’t be generous despite their victory. 

Kelly, Lee and King go to the foreman’s rooms upstairs, where they find most of the remaining arms and ammo from the slaughter of the Americans. There is more than enough for their small band leaving plenty for the Polish “community leader”. King grabs a bedsheet and puts it on a rifle and signals that the combat is done and when he is sure he won’t get shot, he leans out a window and shouts “all clear”. He then tells Lee and Kelly to gear up and get ready, and make sure that Zielinski also get some ammo too.

Kelly ushers down the remaining gunner from the roof and grabs the M60 before adding him to the group of prisoners. In the office there is a single additional belt for the weapon. Lee grabs an M16-A2, a kevlar vest for Perez and ammo and he stocks up on hand grenades and picks up more ammo for Zielinski. King exchanges his borrowed shotgun for an M16-A2 with ammo and a couple of grenades. They make sure that they don’t grab more than half, as they don’t want to give Janusz an opportunity to say they didn’t hold their end of the bargain. But in any case, there is more gear than they can carry. 

Zielinski is questioning the prisoners about gasoline. The old police car that was inside the factory was hit a couple of times and is not in great condition, but it does have some gas in it, she learns. 

At this point, four of Janusz’s goons arrive inside the factory. They strut over to the prisoners and (in Polish) begin taunting them. Perez arrives a minute later and discretely get a new kevlar vest on, picks up a couple of rations and so forth.

King is nervous and when Janusz arrives at the factory a few minutes later with another handful of armed goons, he positions Kelly and Perez casually on the walkway in front of the foreman’s office, so they – like the marauders before them, can cover the factory floor. He orders Lee to stick close to him and asks Zielinski to talk to her countryman, but also asks her to ensure that the Polish leader is both intimidated and happy – presenting the captured marauder as a gift. 

Janusz is a bearded, gruff looking man with steely gray blue eyes. He carries a revolver and probably wears body armor beneath his overcoat. The man eyes the bloody factory floor and does not miss the two heavily armed soldiers above them. His men also fan out, in a not very subtle threat gesture. Then Zielinsko welcomes him with a smile and explains that they indeed hit the jack-pot and there will be a greater share for Janusz, as they can’t possibly carry that much equipment with them – and that he gets his enemy alive – to do with what he pleases. 

Rules: Zielinski has the goal of convincing Janusz to let them all go with what they can carry, including half the gasoline, but leaving a lot more than half for him and his men. As Janusz has double the number of people on his side giving Zielinksi a -1. But as attacking the factory counts as ‘helping him previously’ Zielinski gets +1. Furthermore, because the offer makes sense and the group are clearly capable soldiers, which would in a fight inevitably cause casualties among Janusz’s men, weakening him (which I count as ‘presenting your case well’) Zielinski gets another +1 for a total of AA. 

She rolls a 4 and a 12, meaning two successes. 

Janusz smiles affably and pretends that he is their best friend. He talks about their fatherland and what a great victory it is for their community, and he even allows them to take all of the gasoline in the car (because of the extra success that Zielinski rolled). It has 30 liters left. 

This defuses the action and the team walks out of there heavily loaded with gasoline, guns and ammo and return to their hidden vehicle. 

I award five XP to all of the characters. 

King spends five and purchases Survival D. 

Kelly spends five and purchases Mobility D. 

Final note on game lethality: the reason why all characters survived this without critical injury or death is kevlar, cover and luck. I rolled many body and head hits and no arm or leg hits on the characters. Had I done so, it could easily have taken a character out resulting in a “death spiral” of failure. But that didn’t happen this time.

Next time we will see how far they get on half a tank of fuel…?