4-5 November 2000

All of Maks’ 300 were arrayed in a loose cordon around the Kalisz city center, grouped into a number of reaction teams. But it was the old crew once again going in quietly: Maks, Grant Derek William, Barna Áron, and Wojciech.

They were accompanied by an observer from the Soviet 21st MRD, to witness mission objectives accomplished.

Kalisz, the graveyard of the U.S. 5th Division, was in a sorry state. The Soviet 21st MRD wanted to push out the Polish 10th Tank Division. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, judging by the ruined blocks they’d passed.

It was like two giants had been playing. Some blocks were burned-out rubble. Others were largely untouched, suffering only abandonment.

4 Nov 2000 Kalisz city center full

Maks’ team is going in at night. His team has night vision. Moon is waxing gibbous; high temperature of 55 degrees, and overnight low is 48 degrees, mostly cloudy.

They were outfitted in Polish army uniforms – Engineer corps – supplied from Soviet stores. Barna Aron, the “big guy” of the team, carried a shovel. In his pack were a couple of frame charges, and the rest of the demo gear. Others were armed with a mix of silenced weapons, knives, and improvised saps. They wouldn’t pass more than a casual inspection. Maks repeated a mundane code word that would tell the rest to move to violence if a patrol became too curious.

Between them and their destination – the convent – was a disputed area leading up to two crossings of the little Prosna river, tamed long ago. They moved in short bursts, between pauses for observation.

They soon encountered impoverished locals, scavengers in the zone claimed by both the Sov 21st MRD and the Pol 10th TD. They scattered when the armed party approached.

I’m using the Urban Encounters table from the Twilight 2000 rulebook, version 2.2, page 168… with some modifications for the situation in Kalisz, and to add civilian encounters (which are strangely missing; not everybody is going to be picking scraps from the rubble).

1d12 on standard Urban Encounters table
Roll once per city block (Distance 1d10x5m)
1 = None
2&3 = Citizens (rebuilding, begging, street vendors, pulling hand-drawn cart, etc.)
Patrol = Polish 10th TD troops
Work Gang = ZOMO guarding conscripted workers
Mob/Gang = ZOMO troops
12 = ZOMO troops attacking citizens

The pink line traces the party’s path.

4-5 Nov 2000 Kalisz city center Maks incursion detail

Maks’ team made the first Prosna river crossing without incident, wading across in the muted moonlight.

Their good fortune continued up to a building they crossed through, overlooking the street adjacent to the second Prosna crossing.

As they made their way in, light-footed Wojciech scouting ahead, he heard a wood floorboard groan upstairs.

4-5 Nov 2000 Kalisz city center Maks building passage

Party enters a random building on the map. What do I do?

Fortunately, I have an old map from the T2000 rulebook already scanned in and loaded on Roll20 for an encounter game months ago. Poland has a classic row-building type structure style in their city centers that can be seen in their older settlements. I even still had the party’s figures on the map. It didn’t take long to repurpose the floor map.

As the rest of the team hung back, Wojciech continued all the way forward to the front door to the street. He passed a corpse, already beginning to putrefy. Wojciech heard the clopping of horses approaching. He ducked back and waited. They passed.

When Wojciech returned back to the party, he heard a faint voice from upstairs.

The horses had stopped just up the road, and the riders were speaking to some soldiers on foot. Maks reckoned the nearby smoke would obscure them as they crossed the road in the darkness. And from anybody watching from the window above?

They passed without incident, and the party reached the shore of the next branch of the Prosna. They studied the opposite shore. There was an army post at the nearby bridge. Judging from their spotlight that flicked on now and then, they were focused on the road. There was a pier jutting out on the opposite side, so the team would have to wade out that far to reach cover.

4-5 Nov 2000 Kalisz city center Maks incursion detail

Maks could see the convent. His only contact in Kalisz was Sister Basia, whom he’d seen months ago. It was a thin lead, but he’d heard she was still here. One wing of the building was damaged. And around it were ragged tents and makeshift structures. [Gray on the map] This puzzled Maks until he saw a nun emerge from the building, bringing water to the homeless.

This time when they crossed the river, Wojciech slipped [Rolled terribly on Agility] and went under. He stayed under, and the rest of the party dunked or hid behind cover. A spotlight lanced out from the bridge guards, lighting up the river channel. It winked out after tense moments that felt like an hour.

The party emerged on the opposite bank, soaking wet and cold. Only a street lay between them and the convent. An earlier patrol on foot passed and disappeared to the northwest. Seeing an opening, they strolled across the street in their wet Polish army engineer uniforms. Somebody coughed. [Another poor roll!] The light from the nearby roadblock flicked on again, playing over the party. There was a good 70 meters between them. Maks waved, praying they looked like a small Polish army detachment. The light turned off.

As they crossed through the homeless camp, the residents drew away, pulled tent flaps. Maks rapped on the side door of the convent.