4 December 2000 0600H. Taj Mahal Hotel Tower, Atlantic City, NJ.
Maks dithered in the inky hallway. MilGov forces were attacking the city; this was the moment for Maks and Wojciech to make their escape.
He knew the only way down were 10 flights of stairs, but they’d be well-trafficked by The Indian’s men, who were even now like an angry beehive, disturbed by the military invasion. Maks didn’t like the odds.
They’d just taken out two gang members, including their former guard, who Maks held in an arm-lock. The other was dead, dispatched by Wojciech’s boxy SMG.
Maks hadn’t seen this gun before, but it said “INGRAM M10” on the side, and was chambered in .45 ACP. It had a huge suppressor, but it only dampened the sound. Further west on their floor, they could hear voices in the darkness.
Ingram M-10 (.45, Suppressed) ROF 10; Dam 2; Pen Nil; Bulk 2/4; Rcl SS 1; Burst 5; Rng 16
He also had a notion to hide out somewhere, and then make their escape in the aftermath of the invasion. But MilGov had attempted to seize Atlantic City in the past, and failed.
Maks threatened their prisoner with his M1911 pistol jammed in his back, promising carrot or stick, depending on his behavior. Where were they taking those heavy belts of .50 BMG?
Their former guard was still disorientated from the blow to the head, said they had a machinegun posted on this floor covering the ground far below. Maks nodded, kept the MG belt on the man, while Wojciech [“Voy-check”] hefted the belt off the dead man on the floor.
Maks decided: The stairs it’d be.
They quickly memorized the layout of the hallway and snuffed their candle. Everybody was using torches, lanterns, and candles here. The Taj Mahal hotel was one accident away from an inferno.
At the emergency stairwell door, Maks told their former guard to open it and go through first. Maks kept a hold on him.
The stairwell was pitch black. Maks briefly lit a match to get a mental image of the stairs. They could hear voices and steps echo in the enclosed space, most or all seemingly from below. Worse, a group of The Indian’s men seemed to be just one flight of steps down. They could see flickering light reflecting off the concrete walls.
So: The stairwell maps are bright white. You’ll have to imagine they’re dark. I’ve tried using dark or shaded play maps in the past, and it doesn’t work well in game (difficult to see the tokens).
I have used Roll20’s dynamic lighting in a previous session, but given the short encounter ranges in the stairwell and the omni-directional light sources (candles, lanterns), I didn’t think the result would be worth the considerable lighting setup work.
Maks muttered in the prisoner’s ear, “Get us past these guys and out of here, and you live, with some gold in your pocket.” He didn’t have him restrained anymore… it was already suspicious enough with their prisoner bleeding from a head wound. Just the threat of the pistol.
It turned out to be a pair of low-rank gangmembers, hauling ammo cans. They each were armed with small .380 auto pistols.
They called out to their associate. “Frank, can you give us a hand here?” Carrying ammo cans up stairs was fatiguing.
I rolled Observation for both newcomers. They failed to notice anything amiss. The city was under military assault, after all.
I rolled for their prisoner’s choice of action, and…
Their former guard broke away, yelling, running down the stairs between his comrades.
Wojciech opened up with the Ingram. The recoil was very manageable, so he spread his shots between the men. Maks’ .45 pistol roared in the confined space. All three gangmembers went down [knockdown], injured. Their oil lantern dropped but remained lit.
Another round of fire, and the poor men were screaming, trying to crawl away down the stairs.
Between the echo of the gunfire and the moans of the injured, shouts could be heard from the floors below. Wojciech went up and finished off his opponent with an unarmed strike to the head. Maks did the same with his captured kitchen knife, though that man and their former guard were still technically alive, but their wounds would be fatal soon. Maks and Wojciech each grabbed a .380 pistol and whatever extra mags they could find (1). They extinguished the lantern.
Maks and Wojciech took position behind the rail on the 10th floor landing, waiting for the next party. They couldn’t see the stairs below, only the flight with the bodies. Maks could see the dim reflected light of an approaching party, however.
The standoff drew out for a time, the opposition clearly wary of an ambush. They could hear whispering. Maks sorely wished he had a hand grenade right about now.
Finally, a figure appeared, a silhouette only. The shadow quietly approached the downed men. Maks tensed, fearing one of the dying men would reveal information; he gave his partner a gentle shove on the shoulder. Wojciech pumped 5 rounds into the silhouette.
The man was dead before he hit the floor. As the body fell, Maks could see in the faint light that it was an unarmed sherpa who’d been forced to be point man.
Maks ran over to the 10th floor access door (there were two), opened it, and let it bang closed a couple of moments later. He then padded up the next flight of stairs, followed shortly thereafter by Wojciech.
Fortunately for Wojciech, as he stumbled on the stairs, two of the gangmembers below blind-fired their guns around the corner, covering the sound of his misstep.
They quietly passed through the 11th floor access door, and stepped into the darkness.
The stairwell makes for such an interesting area of engagement.
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Now’s as good a time as any (with reference to “MilGov attacking the city”) for me to mention that I never liked the Mil-Civgov split in the lore. I’ll probably elaborate more if/when I get around to writing a Fuldapocalypse review of another module, but it’s always come across as too blatant a contrivance for the sake of adventure for me.
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I see why you might feel that way, but of the many contrivances in the America campaign I view MilGov/CivGov split as plausible enough.
Given the total breakdown in the Presidential succession, the unprecedented devastation, and the obviously illegitimate reformed Congress, it’s quite plausible the military would refuse to recognize the elections, continue under emergency provisions, and the civilian government reciprocates that attitude. The Catholic church has had two popes in the past during its nadir.
Now I don’t agree with the split going on for 20-30 years as written in 2300AD. That’s just silly. America will slowly recover, and the unstable status quo will resolve itself one way or another.
Running the America campaign in T2000 is like restoring an old car. How many modern parts or upgrades do you add before it doesn’t look much like the classic car anymore?