The Seeds Of a War Gone Cold
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue.
Setting: Planet, TL7, regressed from about TL10 after a heck of a war 40 years ago. Most of the atmospheric damage is gone, a lot of the casualties have yet to be replaced (the population dropped to about 25% of its original).
The Republic of Freeland ‘won’ the war. Their tech only dropped to about TL7, while New Petrograd and The Kingdom of Dar Shaad were both knocked back to late TL5, with some of TL6 still possible in small amounts.
Ticket Type: Cadre
Duration: 3 months
Commitment: A group of half a dozen instructors and about half a dozen support staff that will train, over the 3 months, a battalion (3 companies) of infantry with some light off road vehicles in operations in rough terrain and in small unit combat.
Payment: Standard rates with a success bonus depending on how impressed the local Chief of Staff is when he gets to see the performance of the improved battalion. This may also lead to further (and larger) cadre contracts from the Republic Army.
Each company gets a 3 week training schedule:
- Week 1: Fieldcraft, company weapons and tactics, coordination and communication, and individual platoon operations.
- Week 2: A week out in the bush to practice this with instructors from the cadre (2 trainers per platoon).
- Week 3: A week out in the bush with the instructors being simply observers.
Once all 3 companies have done their 3 weeks, a last 3 week rota begins for the entire Battalion:
- Week 1: Battalion communications, weapons and tactics, communications and logistics.
- Week 2: A full Battalion exercise with the instructors to learn to put the prior week's training into practice and problem solve.
- Week 3: A full Battalion exercise with other Republic units providing ‘hostile forces’. A chance for the Battalion to showcase their newly-developed skills.
As it turns out, the first Company’s rota goes quite normally. (You can give them some encounters with some smugglers, for instance.)
Near the later part of the second Company’s rota week 2, while the instructors are out with the platoon (3 sections of about 12 men per plus 2 instructors and a support staffer), there is an emergency call from a local community about 10 miles from the training area. The local sheriff is hysterical, reporting the local sheriff’s station under attack with fully-automatic weapons from unknown assailants (and this is happening at night). The line then goes dead and nobody can reach them on radio anymore.
The sections are scattered—do they spend an extra hour or two organizing, or do they go ‘whoever can get their fastest’? Somebody needs to see what’s going on… it might be smugglers coming back at the government for the last rota’s encounter!
As the big war 40 years ago looked like it was going to start being massively destructive, the New Petrograd faction decided to hedge their bets by picking a reinforced platoon of their experienced soldiers to undergo a cold sleep treatment and those were stored in a remote base in hilly country near the border with the Republic. The idea was that if things got bad, doing this with a bunch of units would eventually give a de-centralized group of cells that could rise up later and come back to join the fray and surprise NP’s enemies.
As it turned out, the balloon went up too soon and NP only had one unit in ‘cold storage’. All the people who knew about it died in a massive artillery barrage in the late stage of the war.
Now, 40 years later, these NP ‘true believers’ have risen from their cold sleep (not knowing how much time has passed) and have begun raining terror on the locals of the small town near where the cadre has been training the 2nd Company.
The 2nd Company consists of:
- 6×Cadre Instructors (Veteran) with TL11 arms and armour (combat environment suits, ACRs with grenades)
- 3×Cadre Support NCMs (Veteran) with TL11 arms and armour (combat environment suits, ACRs with grenades, and one has a disposable one-shot anti-armour launcher)
- 3×Sections, each:
- 2×4 man fire teams (TL7 ARs, Flak Jackets and Helmets, Grenades) (One Green, one Regular)
- 1×2 man SAW teams (TL7 LMG, Flak Jackets, Helmets, and more ammo) (Regular)
- 1×2 man Recoilless Rifle team (TL7 80mm shoulder fired RR, ARs, Flak Jackets, Helmets, Ammo) (Regular)
Note: the cadre above are the Mercs (PCs) so you can actually use what they bring, but on cadre, they are not likely to have rigid armour or support weapons—they aren’t expecting to fight anyone and will have to carry map boxes, training aids, and binocs/magnagoggles/etc. They may have some decent short range comms and one of the NCMs will have a longer range (orbital) maser system. Let them have some latitude for gear selection to fit their skills for a ‘low threat’ environment.
- Comms is by 1 platoon HQ team (Lieutenant (Veteran), Sgt (Veteran), and Radio Operator (Regular) with 25 km backpack radio)
- Mobility is 3 military trucks (2˝ ton) with soft backs, 3 general utility 4×4 squad carriers with roof mounted HMGs on two of them (one has a gun shield, the other does not, and the third is for the HQ element so has no ring-mounted weapon)
- Support: None nearer than a 2-day drive or several hours of flight in helicopters if the weather is sufficient.
Enemy Force: New Petrograd Cell Alpha
- Platoon Command (Captain (Elite), Sgt (Veteran), Communications Specialist (Regular), 2×Riflemen (Regular), 2 man sniper/spotter team (Veteran))
- 4×10-man sections
- 2×3 man rifle teams (TL9 ARs, 1 has GL underbarrel, improved Flak Jackets)
- 1×2 man support team (TL9 SAW, improved Flak jackets)
- 1×2 man missile team (TL9 AT launcher with AT missiles, improved flak jackets, TL9 SMGs)
- Mobility is 4×10 man grav sleds (light construction, 120 kph max speed, no high flying, open top, pintle mount for the SAW), 1 command variant of the grav sled with no weapon but more sensors and communications (oddly, nobody answering any queries as NP probably has no working radios in this area), and 1 fire support sled (3-man crew (Regular) equipped with a 25mm autocannon (HE/KEAP) and a TL9 SAW coaxially and one at the commander’s hatch, plus smoke dischargers—the armour isn’t super heavy, but it probably needs the Cadre or some lucky hits with rifle grenades to take it out).
The strategy for the NP platoon is to hit the little town, destroy all armed resistance, capture civilians and key locations, and then engage and destroy any response force. They speak a version of ancient Russian and they understand and speak only a little of the language of the Republic, but enough to interrogate locals. They will be ruthless, cunning, and absolutely devoted. They will not believe 40 years has gone by (it was supposed to be 5 to 10) and that the NP is no longer a functioning state. They will refuse to believe the war is over and will become angry (homicidal, if pushed) if people keep telling them that.
Their goal is to destroy any response force, capture their gear, and keep moving to the next location. By doing this, they can tie down the (assumed) military forces which would be guarding this section of the border between the Republic and New Petrograd (which would allow NP to strike deep into the Republic if they still had a mobile force or a government to give it orders).
Either a series of battles, possibly ending in a battle between the remnants of the NPs against a fully reunited (and partially trained) Battalion or perhaps the NPs split up and each company only gets 3-4 Mercs to help direct the fights as they split up. Or maybe somehow, some way, these old relics can recognize the war is over (maybe getting an ex-military officer from the NP state to come to the area and convince them could work).
It can be played as a multi-encounter setup over a week or more of real time or it could be played as a single running battle to save the townsfolk.
The superior weaponry of the NPs will mean that the cadre will have to lead their troops carefully and try to stage conflict on their terms (ambushes, surprise attacks) and a straight out fight might lead to many casualties to the training platoon (or Battalion when it all gets to the area).
Eventually, post-resolution, someone will find the secret base and the prototype cold sleep chambers that were used to store these frozen warriors… apparently the unit would have been closer to two full platoons of NPs except for the high casualties from early low berth technology.