In media res…
Effectively the forces to the northwest Kalisz-Sieradz road and beyond it, the destroyed bridges of the Warta River, form an impassible boundary to the north forcing the players southwards – the scenario suggests to the GM that this be pointed out to the players explicitly. Although more of a sandbox than a railroad, the scenario has definite direction.
Assuming a Hum Vee with a full tank of ethanol can travel 60km overland in one period, but suffers half movement in woods, there are two potential starting positions on the below detail map (on gridline equivalent to 10km) that combine significant distance with a reasonable change of concealment form pursuit.
The first position is just 5km inside the northwestern edge of the woods between Kepno and Zloczew, near the point where the tree line bends sharply north (marked on the map with a blue star), about 1 period (4 hours) travel southeast of Kalisz.
The second, potentially more concealed location marked with a green star is deep in the woods between Ostrow and Ostrzeszow, within striking distance of the road the convoys travel along to and from the Soviet occupied city of Opole.
Assuming the party stays in one place, the first position will be discovered readily by the scouting elements of the reformed Polish 10th Guards Tank Division within a few days. The second position, while initially appearing more secure is well within reach of the probes of the battlegroups of the Soviet 12th Guards Tank Division patrolling along the northeastern edge of the woods (Escape from Kalisz scenario booklet, page 2). Although exact locations of these forces will not be known, the fleeing US elements will be well aware that the victorious forces will begin searching for them quickly.
For simplicity, the starting time is 0800 hours, 19th July 2000 and their vehicle’s fuel tanks are assumed to now be empty, their engines are set to ethanol and requiring conversion to use methanol (unless the vehicle is a multi-fuel variant). Unless the party has thought to purchase and carry additional fuel, they must spend the next three days lying low and distilling more alcohol before moving again.
Strengths: the party has all their initial ammunition and equipment and their vehicles are assumed to be in good repair and undamaged. If the party is balanced in terms of firepower, mechanical aptitude, foraging ability and languages, they have a good chance of surviving undetected long enough to escape the immediate area. Using stealth, the group may be able to overpower small enemy units, disrupt the supply dumps and field hospitals, and/or ambush unsuspecting convoys or divisional HQs.
Weaknesses: the group is clearly identifiable as American and effectively stranded in hostile territory. Assuming they have limited supplies, their dependence on distilling their own fuel drastically and limited reserve capacity reduces their overland movement range and forces them to remain in the near vicinity of the recent battle. Unless the group maintains a sufficient size, it will be difficult to travel significant distances rapidly without becoming rapidly fatigued (see Play Manual, page 12). Once expended, the availability of specific US ammunition is likely to be poor, and the likelihood they will be able to join forces with other 5th Division survivors is low.
Opportunities: due to their small size and the initial cover of the woods, the band has a chance of slipping through the disorganised Soviet and Polish forces, avoiding the local marauders and fleeing into the countryside towards Opole and the Vistula. They are likely better armed and equipped than their potential opponents and their morale is good.
Threats: the group is vastly outnumbered and their ability to communicate and co-operate with the locals may be severely limited, either due to lack of language or due to poor relations generated from prior experiences or the behaviour of other US remnants. Unless they move on, the expanding search by advanced elements of the Soviet 126th Tank Division moving southeastwards along the edge of the woods north of Ostrzeszow or the outriders for the reformed bulk of the Polish 10th Tank Division moving southwards from the Kalisz-Sieradz road are likely to overrun them.
The First Day
If the group has extra fuel, moving further into the woods is probably the best initial option – moving for even a single period (4 hours) from either position will provide further breathing space until the forces regroup enough to organise a formal search but will trigger a mandatory encounter. Roll on the “Wood” column of the revised Encounter Chart from Twilight Encounters and subtract 1 for a party starting from the default location then roll on the “Disputed Territory” column to generate the details. It is quite possible that any Patrol, Large Unit or Stragglers Group encountered may be fellow survivors of the US 5th Division, but that does not necessarily guarantee that they will be friendly.
For a party starting from the alternative western point, a small Military Convoy encounter along the road is strongly recommended (12-24 people, motor vehicles, generated otherwise using the Twilight encounters updated rules). The lack of visibility provided by the woods means the two groups almost run into each other (Encounter Distance: 1d10 x 10 metres; RCN:ESY for both groups as moving unless the party stops to lie in wait near the road), provoking an early interaction with Soviet forces and a possible chase if clearly outnumbered. There is the potential of obtaining much needed supplies and/or an additional unarmored vehicle if the party can prevail. Any successful strike however will draw attention to the group once the destroyed convoy is discovered by the next convoy or a patrol from Ostrow looking for the overdue convoy.
See also: Kalisz SW Map Annotated (GM version)
GM Note: if the party travels either due south or southwest respectively for 2 periods through the comparatively lightly occupied wooded section of the map, this will be enough to leave the detail map area completely and effectively end the introductory adventure. This may be appealing if the players wish to simply leave the area as rapidly as possible without attempting to damage the still disrupted Soviet and Polish forces in the area.
Once the party leaves the SW map, generate encounters according to the terrain type as if they were travelling through an Devastated territory if they leave through the southwest edge near Olesnica, travelling towards the ruins of Wroclaw until they cross the Oder into Organised lands. Roll on the Terrorized territory column if they move off the southern edge into marauder held lands around Olesno.