13 December 2000 0000H. New York City. Empire State Building.
The team had made it most of the way to the top of the Empire State Building. They had planned to set up a sniping platform on the 86th floor open observation deck.
But they were blocked. The stairwell beyond the 74th floor was obstructed by large amounts of furniture, though a steel plate and safe resting over the hole seemed to allow passage to those acceptable to the faction that resided above. It would be like climbing through an overhead hatch, and anyone trying to force their way through from below would have gravity working against them. A few gaps and slots allowed those above to view the stairwell below.
A hammer hung from a lanyard, and clearly had been used before to strike the metal plate. A bottle of water rested nearby.
They’d checked the other stairwell, but it was hopelessly blocked, at least with his manpower, and short time schedule. How could anyone live up here? Food? Water?
Wojciech doubted those above were aware of their presence as yet. They’d been quiet, with no lights. He pondered his options:
- Attempt to parley. Problem was, he had no idea who they were, or their numbers. Couldn’t be many of them, right? The team had to be set up by dawn, and had little gear to offer in trade. Plus, those above surely wouldn’t be thrilled at their platform being used to fire on one of the city’s armed factions. Indeed, they could be in cahoots with the Gurkhas, for all he knew.
- Blast/force their way through in a surprise attack. Again, the unknowns cast doubt on this plan. What if they weren’t hostiles? It wasn’t even certain they could clear a way up.
- Fire from slightly lower level – say the 71st floor – shooting through the windows. Not as good as the observation platform, but doable. Problem was… the faction above. They’d hear the shooting, and the team could have a foe at their backs.
Wojciech wrestled with the imponderables. In the meantime, he and GDW and BA went to the 71st floor to assess the position. The floor was clear, and mostly pristine office space. It appeared the primitives seldom, if ever, came this high in the tower. And the vantage worked well, giving them good visibility on the Penn Plaza.
They examined the rooftops for the Gurkha snipers, but there was little light at this time of night: A sliver of a moon peeking in and out of the clouds. No joy.
He reached his ground team, and Doc Schultz and Wojciech shared sitreps. Schultz reported that Rhonda Lowery was in radio communication with her trapped personnel in the collapsed Madison Square Garden. Her people were no longer trapped, but out of caution did not leave the building for fear of the snipers above. They were waiting for the tower team to engage at dawn, tying down the snipers.
GDW suggested trying to radio any naval assets out in the lower bay, which were supposedly present in support of his mission. In this elevated position, they had great LOS out to sea. An automated encrypted repeating message was received and transcribed.
Wojciech glanced out the windows at the weather. It had been very steady the few days they’d been in NYC. 20F to 30F, usually breezy at 10 kts. There was no indication of an imminent storm.
They had about 36 hours before their ride left. Who knew when they’d be back, perhaps a week or more. Maks was dead. And Resper was recalling them. It didn’t take long for Wojciech to decide.
He radioed the Bigelow on the alternate frequency. When the Bigelow responded, Wojciech had them record a thorough report of the team’s findings thus far, to pass on to their DIA handler Resper… just in case the team didn’t make it out of NYC.
MilGov’s primary goal for the NYC op was to locate Kellogg, and ascertain the fate of the 78th MP Company and all the gold they’d been transporting. The team had stumbled on Kellogg right here in the Empire State Building stairwell of all places [Note: The Armies of the Night Twilight 2000 module places him there!] With a gold ingot. Before dying, he’d spoken of the “traitor Snyder”. And they’d learned that Hizzonner The Mayor up at the north end of the island was the major shit-stirrer here, and possibly tied to the gold. So the team had uncovered some good leads.
Wojciech informed Bigelow that they had some loose ends to tie up, and would attempt to extract mid-morning today. Bigelow‘s comms guy urged them to act with haste; clearly the ship’s crew desired to get out well before the storm.
He then radioed Lowery, updating her on the situation, and asked if she could come up with boat transportation. Bigelow‘s captain was reluctant to bring the destroyer up the Hudson River, which could have submerged wrecks and other hazards. And he was doubly-reluctant to berth up to uncontrolled Manhattan Island. The team would need to get out to Liberty Island themselves.
But first, they’d inflict Payback on the Gurkhas who’d murdered Maks.
13 December 2000 0100H
The team returned to the 74th floor stairwell obstruction. They made a show of force, pretending to be a larger unit. Wojciech sighed, picking up the hammer, and rapped it loudly on the sheet of steel.
Some minutes passed. A male voice called out from one of the gaps. He was using a mirror to not expose himself. “Who are you, and what do you want?”
Wojciech truthfully told the unseen man’s reflection that they were a US Army unit operating on Manhattan Island, and a vague outline of their shooting plan. The man was understandably skeptical, and not impressed with the team making him a target. But he was still talking. Wojciech told him they had support of the Navy, to which the man retorted, “prove it”.
Wojciech asked him, “Do you have binoculars?”
“Go look at Liberty Island!”
More minutes passed. The man returned. “Can you get me and my daughter out of here?”
“If you let us conduct our mission, yes, and you’ll get out today, and transport to the naval base at Cape May, New Jersey. I promise.”
Still wary, armed with a sporting rifle, the man relented and opened the ersatz hatch. He introduced himself as Ted Gummer. He had an 11 year old daughter, Emma. Wojciech and Gummer shook on the deal.
Ted Gummer. [Motivation cards: Heart Queen – Loving. ~ Heart Jack – Wise.]
I really pulled these cards! And had fun with them.
(Name source hint: His brother’s name is Burt Gummer…)
Ted and Emma occupy the penthouse suites from fl74 and up to the observation decks on fl86 and fl102.
My notes: Live like nobility from the contents of all the other penthouse suites, but are lonely and isolated. Collect water from extensive rain catchments on the observation deck. Grow various plants in the south windows using scavenged seeds and potting soil. Plus a mountain of snacks, sodas, coffee, and bottled water recovered from the vending machines in the office spaces below.
Fish in a Barrel
Dawn was at 0714. Wojciech waited until about 0800, as he calculated the sun would be at their backs, essentially blinding the opposition.
By dawn, they’d noted the positions of the snipers on the rooftops of the two smaller Penn towers. The Gurkha snipers were armed with some variety of .50 bolt action rifle. Their spotters had FALs. Plus each rooftop had a couple of rovers, perhaps commanding officers or supply runners. The Gurkhas were wearing a fatigue pattern unfamiliar to Wojciech.
Grant Derek William manned the M240 MG on tripod, and Barna Aron borrowed GDW’s scoped M21 marksman’s rifle. They focused on the sniper teams for maximum effect, despite the rovers (officers?) being a tempting target.
It was a slaughter.
Even at Extreme Range, they scored multiple hits on their surprise turn. The M240 on full auto was the winner, accounting for most of the casualties. The Gurkhas were startled like chickens on the open rooftops: No cover close by, and no luck trying to spot the PCs with the sun in their faces.
By the next turn, the sniper teams were mostly eliminated, and those surviving Gurkhas had certainly lost interest in shooting at the good guys on the ground. Rhonda recovered her people, and the ground team withdrew.
Wojciech, who’d been spotting for BA and GDW, surveyed the bodies on the rooftops. The rovers had successfully fled to the stairwells, but the Gurkhas were routed.
Maks was avenged.
The party reunited, and Rhonda Lowery’s extensive connections secured transport to Liberty Island.
The party will return, along with the Gummers, to Cape May.
JCS is ordering US armed forces to go to Winter Quarters protocol. Need to preserve energy and food, and winter weather frustrates ops anyway. Non-essential operations are cancelled until Spring 2001.
The party has been going non-stop since July 2000, and it’s getting a bit silly. They need some R&R time. Maks is dead, and a new CO will be appointed. The party will have time to train themselves, and to train others.
This Twilight 2000 America campaign will continue.
I’m going to use the break to retool the campaign, switch the ruleset from the GDW House System to SAVAGE WORLDS.
While the GDW Twilight 2000 v2.2 House System works well, we’ve explored just about every corner of it. Plus there are a few frustrating aspects: Low lethality for PCs, high-initiative characters invariably go first (and more often), among other issues. I could house-rule these away of course, but we’ve been playing this campaign for 3½ years now, and I’m ready to mix things up a bit.
I’ve seen others use Savage Worlds with Twilight 2000, with good effect. I’ve also recently been a player in a Gamma World game that uses SW rules, and have been impressed by the flexible, modular system. I love the exploding dice, and how quick actions are resolved. SW also handles large combats well, and will allow us to conduct unit ops with some red shirts added to the party.
So stay tuned!