28 October 2000
Maks’ people and the Baron’s delegation were ready to depart Warsaw by train.
But first, there were some remaining logistics for us to sort out. Most of this is from Going Home.
Locomotive. Korzub (Torpedo). It is a model Pt-47 2-8-2 steam locomotive.
“Its main use was to carry heavy fast trains, especially on long distance routes.”
Wood. Baron will contribute 8 tons. Can purchase 8 tons ($500/ton) from Sielce. Must be cut into small chunks for conveyor. Locomotive consumes 4 tons of wood, or 2 tons of coal per period.
Water. 1 hour/day needed to refill the reservoir (can be part of the 16 hrs/week maintenance)
Training. Maks has two engineers, Straczynski and Martens. It takes one engineer and a helper to man the engine. With 40 hours training, others can learn to to run the engine.
Movement. Straczynski wants to keep the train restricted to 80km/period for safety, though the train is capable of 180km/period. Combat. 60/0 (only on rail).
Armor. [As M113 APC].
Szczur (“Rat”). This is a heavy, four-wheeled motorized car, modified to run on track. Maks is using it to scout ahead, typically 1 kilometer, well within the braking distance of this small, lightly-loaded train. Movement. 120km/period. Combat. 40/0 (only on rail).
One important task is to inspect the numerous small bridges over Bzura River tributaries in this region. Straczynski warned Maks that these would be the most likely point of failure on the tracks.
I was aided in this by the Ranting Savant’s map (copied below). You can find the full version here. Each small “x” on the map is one of those little bridges. There are no large bridges on Maks’ route to Łódź.
Straczynski would be fully aware of the bridges in the region, and warned Maks of the hazard. My brother chose the northern track into Łódź, since there were less obstacles there.
The train chugged westward. Their first encounter happened scarcely outside of the Warsaw suburbs.
We didn’t think that anybody else was using the tracks, but MacGiver reported back to us one day that the track ahead was blocked by a couple of horse-drawn wagons running on the rails. I was amazed how much weight they had on them, but Martens told me that it doesn’t take much energy to keep a railroad car going once it got moving. Something about efficient load vs weight ratios, or some such thing. I don’t pretend to understand it. All I know was that two skinny little horses were pulling a small mountain of stuff on a cart that looked like it was just a few boards slapped on top of a couple of old railroad wheels. Fortunately for the both of us, there was a siding not too far away, and we could pass each other without one or the other of us having to leave the rails.
Going Home, page 36
Before the session, I’d made some notes modifying the standard Twilight 2000 random encounter charts. I’d noted that any Animal result would be one of these overloaded animal-drawn rail wagons.
For Warsaw to Łódź, I’m having RR encounters use Clear & Disputed columns.
Other random encounter modifications I made:
Item: Village or Farm = Track washout or collapse of grade. Needs shoring (1d3 hours)
Item: Roadblock or Field Hospital = Missing or wrecked stretch of track. Minor rebuild (3d6 hours)
Group: Marauders are rare in Warsaw to Lodz region, and are usually deserters of one of the factions nearby. Patrol, Military Convoy, and Large Unit will be Soviet or Warsaw long-range patrols, sweeps, or predation (Baron). Refugees will be victims of the Black Baron’s predation on their villages. Stragglers will be POWs escaped from the Soviets.
Waiting for the merchant carts to get out of the way delayed their journey an hour.
Sochaczew was abandoned, and after that would be all the little railroad bridges.
I’d created a table for these small bridges as follows:
[My guide for repair times: The Art of Replacing a Railroad Bridge]
Minor bridges: roll D20
1-15 Bridge is fine
16-18 Needs shoring (1d3 hours)
19 Minor rebuild (3d6 hours)
20 Remove and replace a superstructure (12-24 hours). This will also deplete the party’s cut timber supply.
And of course, every bridge along the path, I rolled… never higher than 8. (sigh).
They encountered nobody as the tracks ran south of Lowicz, but a distance outside of the city, the crew of the scout rail car – the Rat – saw 5 people walking down the track. They spotted each other at 300 meters distance. [Both sides botched their Observation rolls repeatedly, before and during the encounter.] The figures went prone on each side of the tracks. Maks’ people observed briefly, and he ordered the car and train to continue through. The figures were gone by then, disappeared in the brush, and there was no sign of them. [The Stragglers went unidentified, and had no interest in making contact.]
Maks planned to park the train before Zgierz, and continue ahead in the Rat to make low-key contact with the Soviets.
The random encounter chart dictated otherwise. Just west of Glowno [red “X”], I rolled Military Convoy.
The train was stopped for the day, the engine cold while the ashes were cleaned out, and other maintenance performed. [It takes the train an hour to build up a head of steam for travel, so no quick get-aways.]
On the highway that paralleled the railroad tracks, a convoy of obviously Soviet troops – packed in three 2½-ton trucks and a UAZ command car – approached from the southwest.
On seeing the train stopped on the tracks 600m away from the highway, they stopped and fanned-out near their convoy, taking cover. But they did not immediately approach the train.
The Soviet lieutenant was puzzled. Their garrisons in Piotrków and Łódź were the only entities using trains around here that he knew of. Yet here was one parked on the track with people on board, watching them in return. He wasn’t aware of any Soviet rail stock operating in this area, but he wasn’t told everything either. He called to them on a bullhorn to identify themselves.
Maks had the UAZ unloaded, and they approached the Soviet convoy with a white flag. Major Wilk, the Baron’s emissary, was also present. Maks took the precaution of having Grant Derek William – the group’s sniper – hang onto the back bumper of the UAZ, and drop off when a good vantage with cover presented itself.
As Wilk explained their diplomatic mission from the Baron Czarny of Warsaw to open trade with the Soviets, it was clear the Russian lieutenant was out of his depth, and he kept insisting on radioing every word to HQ back in Łódź. [I pulled Diamond Jack as his main motivation card: “Cowardly”].
HQ radioed back for them to remain in place until further instructions were given. The train was to be inspected of course. Wilk and Maks agreed, and a Soviet detachment went car by car, inspecting and taking notes.
There was a bit of consternation when they found the car with more than 30 American soldiers on board. Maks – identifying himself as Maks – explained their plan to go home by rail. The lieutenant made less of a fuss about the situation than Maks expected, but he was still wary. The Russian seemed more interested in their vehicles. He ordered them to be unmanned, any weaponry to be pointed in the opposite direction.
With no instructions forthcoming from Łódź, the Soviets began setting up a camp and a perimeter for the night.