5 November 2000 0615H: Kalisz, Poland.
The M113 APC was burning furiously from the car bomb. Between that inferno and smoke grenades tossed nearby, the party had concealment from red Polish and ZOMO reinforcements to the west. They hustled across the bridge into the park to the east. Somewhere across the next branch of the Prosna River, Maks’ Feint Teams were harassing Pol 10th TD troops withdrawing into the city core. Maks intended to link up with his men somehow.
The mission was all screwed up. The Theater detention center turned out to be infested with plague. Their ZOMO captain prisoner was dead. And they still had to avoid communist Poles who’d been tenaciously holding Kalisz from the Soviet 21st MRD.
At first, the party was taking the risk of sprints, 30 meters at a time. But as they realized soldiers were in the woods with them, they slowed down. Several groups, signalling each other by whistles. Maks’ team was being hunted.
So what does the Twilight 2000 v2.2 rulebook say about Encounters, Stealth, Observation, and Pursuit?
Under skills [pages 137-8], Observation notes:
Spot tripwire or boobytrap: Difficult.
Not very helpful. What about Stealth?
Approach to within one meter of a sentry in daylight: Formidable.
Same thing, at night: Difficult. Approach to within 10 meters of animal: Formidable.
Conceal trail (so as to make tracking one level more difficult): Difficult.
That’s a little better, but not specifically useful.
Encounters [page 155]
When a group of characters encounters a group of NPCs, each group has a chance of spotting the other (Difficult: Observation).
Then comes what must be a typo:
Spotting a stationary and camouflaged group is Difficult: Observation.
What?! How is spotting “a stationary and camouflaged group” the same difficulty as spotting a group on the move? The roll should be Formidable or Impossible, I’d reckon, depending on the situation.
The roll is made only once per group, using the highest Observation in the group. The asset level used is reduced by one for each character in the group and by five for each vehicle in the group. It is increased by alike amount for numbers of characters and vehicles in the group encountered. However, the Observation asset used may never be more than halved or doubled by these modifications.
Since there are no vehicles involved in this scenario, I’ve got an easier method: Larger group # – smaller group # = Size adj. The smaller group gets a bonus to Observation; larger group receives a penalty.
Then it gets to Evasion:
If the group attempts to evade, the other group has one opportunity to spot each combat turn until the referee decides the group has moved far enough away from the other group to be safe. This distance will vary, but will usually involve moving beyond the original encounter range rolled.
How does Stealth play into all this? I made some house rules:
- A successful Stealth roll breaks visual contact until LOS is re-established, and Observation successfully re-rolled.
- Stealth while moving I modeled after the Movement and Fire rules. -1 for Walking; ½ for Trotting: penalties applied to Stealth Asset. Crawling incurs no penalty to Stealth rolls; indeed being prone should grant a Stealth advantage at Ref’s discretion.
Woods have an encounter range of 1d10x10m, the shortest. This park has gone wild in the past few years of inattention, with abundant undergrowth.
Not far into the woods, the party detected a group nearby and resorted to crawling through the brush. It was agonizingly slow progress, but they’d went undetected thus far. They knew as soon as they fired the first shot, dozens of troops would converge on their location. Their pursuers weren’t being quiet. They were communicating with whistles, and appeared to not have hand radios.
It was quiet enough however that Maks realized what he wasn’t hearing: The tank battle between the Soviets and red Poles on the west side of town had gone quiet. There was still small arms fire between his Feint Teams and the red Polish rearguard to the east.
I tried out two scenario rules as an experiment.
- Maks could hasten the progress of his Feint Teams with good Leadership rolls. The skill rarely gets used, and he spent precious points in it, so I thought this might be a fun way to pay it off. Maybe his orders are especially clear and concise or something. Alas, this turned out to be a non-factor.
- I’d decided that the Pol 10th Tank Division was going to call for a ceasefire, and negotiate their withdrawal from Kalisz, after the Soviet offensive cut off this unit from their main body in Pleszew. But it’d take time for the red Polish infantry in the east to get the word. I wanted the ceasefire to occur at a random time, so I had my brother roll 1d100 each turn, with the odds cumulatively increasing. So the event would happen on a roll of 1 the first turn, 1-2 the second, 1-3 the third, etc. I told him it was an event trigger, which he naturally assumed would be against him. Nice and tense.
On turn 12, he rolled a “12” right on the money, triggering the ceasefire.
The party had successfully hidden, despite two groups passing close by. Then the party heard the groups blowing 4 blasts from their whistles in succession. The troops appeared to have given up their fruitless searching for them altogether. Maks overheard them talking of withdrawal, when a group passed within meters of their position.
Maks was both pleased and mystified that their pursuers had up and left. The party reunited with the rest of Maks’ men, and returned to their train. Maks told them that the away team needed to be quarantined, as they possibly carried the plague.