Between sessions

Last night, my brother set up the Krolowa – and in particular the barge – for the trip downriver.

I’d pulled the tug and barge diagrams from Pirates of the Vistula, as well as the river template. We’ll be using this model to cut/paste into encounters.

The Krolowa will be pushing the barge, not pulling. That this was common practice was new information to me.

Movement numbers

The Krolowa, cruising unloaded, without a tow:

12 kph = 48 clicks per period = 16 meters per 5 second combat turn.

The Krolowa, pushing a tow:

9 kph = 36 clicks per period = 12 meters per 5 second combat turn.

Vistula river current:

3 kph = 12 clicks per period = 4 meters per 5 second combat turn.


The hulls of Krolowa and its barge are sturdy, and would require large caliber guns or anti-tank rounds to penetrate.

The Krolowa already has DShKs mounted port and starboard. The group will be parking their M274 Mule over the rear cargo hatch, allowing its mounted M40A1 recoilless rifle to engage targets.


The barge has a defensive emplacement in the rear, the MAV placed in the center, firewood for the Krolowa piled ahead, and the BAV near the front. With the wood planking gone in those sections, the vehicles are down in the hull a bit, with only the upper portions visible. They, too, have weapons to employ. The BAV and MAV are both amphibious, and could be used for recon or escape.


Cpt Adam RatajAdam Rataj. Erstwhile owner/bartender of the Na Zdrowie in Krakow. Good-natured, and determined to find his family in the ruins of Warsaw, and bring them to safety.

Karl UllerKarl Uller. First Mate. A serious man, not given to humor. Crew doesn’t much like him. Was welcoming to the Americans, with a forced friendliness.

Jozef GryechJozef Gryech. Grzyech’s specialty is the Krolowa’s engines. He is a superb mechanic, and oversaw the conversion of the Krolowa’s diesels to steam in the first place. Not terribly social.

Tadeuz RoszkowskiTadeuz Roszkowski. The oldest man of Adam’s crew, one who has spent most of his life on the Wisla and Oder Rivers as a bargeman and cargo handler. good at handling the
Krolowa’s small winch and boom hoist, which are used for loading and unloading cargo. He is a big, muscular and cheerful man, who only knows a few words of English. Alcohol problems.

Walter MatusiakWalter Matusiak. Deck hand. For a time, early in the war, he was engaged to Adam’s daughter. Dark and sullen man.




EDIT July 2019

Jim Lawrie at the Juhlin forum has written an article about maritime steam engines for Twilight 2000.


EDIT April 2020

Jim Lawrie has further thoughts on the Wisla Krolowa:

Wisla Kralowa – Using Bunker Fuel

As many of you may know the use of coal/wood for the Vistula Queen has never sat well with me. I grew up among merchant seamen and when I chatted about that vessel’s conversion system the general consensus of the engineers and shipwrights I talked to was “it would be easier to build a new vessel”.

However, many soviet-era ships used what we call here in Australia “bunker fuel”. Bunker fuel is a heavy very low grade oil from the very bottom of the fuel distillation process. It’s of no use to vehicles smaller than a locomotive, you can’t run a tank or truck on it. It needs to be heated up to 65–120 °C (149–248 °F) to be used and at cold temperatures it congeals into a kludgey, tarry goo. It was used in may places, primarily heavy industry and power generation. It’s also extremely polluting which is why it’s been largely phased out in many places but it still soldiers on in Russia for instance. It’s notoriously horrid stuff to deal with and gets everywhere when being handled, which of course adds to the notorious “Post Apocalyptic Suck”.

Now, rather than just brewing up fuel or cutting down trees having a heavy fuel oil used for the Vistula Queen actually adds to the game rather than takes away from it. Limiting options isn’t such a bad thing as long as the GM let’s the players have multiple choices. So rather than just blithely sailing down the Wisla the players now have to seek out sources of fuel for the tug giving the GM ready-made hooks for scenarios. Looting deserted towns is fun and crawling through abandoned factories or power plants (coal power plants use bunker fuel to get the combustion going) lets the players meet different situations than the usual ‘settlement-with-a-problem’ or armed mooks.

First off the players are going to need intel. Either the NPCs can have prior knowledge of the area or the PCs can interact with NPCs while scouting. Having one or two Boghammars/gunboats snooping along the river lets the PCs do this. Then they find out if the fuel is either on the river or inland. If on the river the PCs can simply clear the location, secure the resource and then bring the tug up to pump the fuel aboard after heating it.
If it’s inland this then requires a dedicated tanker, and I’d be inclined to have them search out a tanker-trailer before leaving. A work truck towing this trailer would be a useful utility vehicle for the game and the truck could come in handy if the players also need to do any other repair, rebuilding or construction jobs in the game (and they should!)
Remember this stuff needs heating before it can be pumped out and recovered and the area it is found in may need repair or rebuilding before it can be heated up. This not only allows more encounters while this noisy process is undertaken but also allows the PCs to interact a bit with the environment such as scrounging.

This fuel gives the GM a little bit more narrative control. The PCs can have a hard limit put on their mobility, the GM can add a little tension as fuel stocks run low and it also forces the PCs to get out and look around more. A whole micro-campaign can be built just finding a good amount of fuel that opens up movement.

Here’s some ideas to finish up with:
– Some NPC group has recognised the fuel’s worth and has already recovered it when the PCs arrive to secure it. They can trade, negotiate or secure the fuel via violence/stealth.
– The facility storing the fuel has suffered an airstrike and is dangerous because of contamination, hazardous ruins, unexploded ordnance or a combination of these things. The PCs must deal with the dangers using their skills.
– A fuel source is now being used by a community of civilians and their militia and they are planning to use the fuel to kickstart a bit of light industry and at the very least for heating during the upcoming bitter winter. Who’s need is greater?
– The PCs find some fuel but it is contaminated and requires a specialist chemist, an engineer and specialist distilling gear to clean.
– An NPC group is also running a ship and needs the same fuel, they might be in a race with the players to secure stocks. When the PCs negotiate somewhere this group might attack or try and outbid the PCs, if the PCs are too strong they might tip off nearby OPFOR units to the PC’s presence. This group can be fleshed out and be great recurring rivals. Maybe some times they come to the player’s aid if the player’s are outmatched in exchange for sharing?