Session 3 – Eindhoven Sector, 101st Airborne Division
Quick re-cap from last session – the characters we’re all banged up; but, they managed to defeat the bridge defenders, culminating in the capture of their battalion objective, Best Bridge, intact. Amherst is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Franklin is awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device, and Franklin and Amherst are both awarded the Purple Heart. The crew digs in at the bridge and prepares for the expected German counterattack.
John and I are shaping up the next revision of the basic moves. We cut the move count by 20% or so and are still working on refining the ones that are left. I started testing them this week. The most successful of these so far is Fight the Enemy, which replaces Attack the Enemy, Make a Close Assault, and Suppress the Enemy. I include the text of Fight the Enemy below as a preview of things to come.
FIGHT THE ENEMY
When you fight the enemy, spend 1-gear and roll +battle. On a 10+, choose two. On a 7-9, choose one:
- You hit them hard. Deal your harm, as established.
- They hit the dirt. GM chooses: they’re suppressed, pinned, or both.
- You gain the upper hand. GM chooses: their position is compromised, they fall back, they break and run, they surrender.
Day 1 – 17 September 1944 – 1644 hrs.
Franklin and Amherst are sent off to medical by Captain Lovatt, the battalion XO. They reach medical and get triaged. Franklin, with serious wounds, queues up for treatment while Amherst with his largely superficial wounds gets out-prioritized and is left to his own devices. He chooses to help out by bringing water to the wounded soldiers. I tell them that the field hospital is situated in Son Forest and it consists of a couple of tents with dozens of wounded soldiers propped up against trees outside on the forest floor.
Amherst has some accumulated stress and wants to blow off some steam, so he finds a lucid lieutenant with a minor head wound and a ragged, bloody hole in his boot. They chat for a bit and Amherst learns that the Lt. and his platoon encountered a Flak battery about a quarter mile to the northwest while on patrol and sustained heavy casualties. Amherst shares a nip off his hip flask with the Lt. and hits on his blow off some steam roll, recovering some stress.
Franklin gets patched up; he has only serious wounds left (wounds marked in the right half). I tell him he can stay here at the field hospital and heal 1-wound per day (which would take care of those right boxes) or you can tell them you’re good enough and head out. He chooses to head out and Amherst suggests they go find those guns. They ask the Lt. for his map and to indicate where the guns were last seen. The Lt. shrugs, “Take it. Fat lot of good it’ll do me. I’m not going anywhere; I can see daylight through my boot.”
Franklin and Amherst hoof it over to HQ to find the Major. He’s busy, so Amherst barges in, interrupts the Major’s heated discussion with his intelligence officer to announce that he and Franklin recommend they go after those reported Flak guns. The Major gives his intelligence officer an angry look when Amherst blurts out that the presence of the guns had been reported; but, was ignored by HQ. They get the green light to go searching for them.
Meanwhile, Smith gets his shiny new heavy machinegun set up across the road from the blockhouse, pointing west toward the expected enemy avenue of advance. He and his gun crew, which includes his loader, Pfc. Jacobs, Pfc. Turner, and the BAR gunner, Pvt. Adams, dig a shallow slit trench. Smith still has way too many stress boxes checked for comfort, even after I give everyone the standard recover 1-stress or 1-wounds at the start of the session. So, I offered Smith the choice of blow of some steam, dig in, or get some shut-eye. He chose to blow off steam. I would have dug in, and Smith later wished he did too. He hit on a 7-9 and recovered 1-stress.
Smith’s game of cards with his MG team wrapped up around 1700 hrs, when a massive explosion several miles to the east rocked them to attention. Son Bridge is blown. That means Best Bridge, the alternate route, is now the primary route. Smith asks, “XXX Corps has bridging equipment, right?” Yep, but it takes 14-18 hours to assemble a Bailey Bridge, so that’s what holding this bridge intact is worth to the British up in Arnhem. For lightly equipped paratroopers, that’s a big deal.
Parry and Riposte
Shortly after the explosion, Smith and his crew make out movement in the trees and hedgerow about 200 yds west of their position. Smith wants to nip this in the bud, so he chambers a round and starts shooting. I tell him that they are well-concealed in the foliage, so at best he can do incidental fire. Smith wants to suppress them, so he’s not too concerned. He spends 2-gear, one for fight the enemy and one for the heavy weapon (ordnance tag), then hits with a 7-9. He suppresses them. Then he assesses the situation. He wants to pinpoint them, so he stops shooting and studies the enemy muzzle flashes. He locates them and kicks ma deuce into action. On a 10+, he pins them and he gains the upper hand. Shot up and pinned, a half-dozen Germans surrender. Smith stops firing at them; some of the Germans scramble back through the woods toward Best.
Franklin and Amherst show up just after the shooting dies down and check in with Papa Bear. They all now believe a German attack is likely to occur around sunset or after dark. They are concerned that the bridge defense is woefully inadequate, so they abandon their original plan to search for the Flak guns to the north and they hatch a new plan: Smith provides overwatch with the HMG, Papa Bear heads over to HQ with the prisoners and gets the weapons company assigned to bridge defense, and Franklin and Amherst scout to the west of the bridge.
Amherst leads the way, tracking through the brush on the north side of the levee. He gets a 7-9 on his infiltration move: alert level raised. They sneak to within 200 yds of the church and they can hear the Germans assembling troops and weapons along the southwest corner of Best. Amherst asks if, retroactively, they could have worked out a flare signal to indicate danger immanent – no problem – costs 1-gear for the flare!
Franklin and Amherst decide that they’ve seen enough to report back, so they low crawl north through the tall grass to the treed defile that runs east, between the levee and the road. That’s how the Germans that Smith encountered earlier must have infiltrated. Amherst takes the lead on the engagement move and blows it: detected and hunted.
A German scout team ambushes them with submachine guns and hand grenades – 4-harm direct. Franklin takes 5-wounds. That puts him at 7-wounds total. He’s a goner. I tell Franklin that checking the gray circle means the war’s over for you. It probably means death; but, it doesn’t have to. I tell Franklin that he gets to narrate. Since Amherst took mostly stress from the grenade attack, Franklin says that he jumps on the grenade to save Amherst’s life. Franklin is killed in action.
Amherst gets the wind knocked out of him by the grenade blast, so I have him roll lost in the fog of war. He hits with a 13 – OK, so you shrug it off like a champ! Amherst gets his bearings and comes face to face with two SMG-wielding German scouts, guns pointed at him. He asks what his options are. I tell him, surrender or trade harm. He makes a third option, going are you crazy all over their shit; he shoots a flare at them! They dive out of the way and, as Amherst runs off into the trees, he dumps a full mag into the German rifleman who was covering the other two.
Amherst wants to bug out, so he makes the infiltrate (well, exfiltrate) move and gets a 7-9. It’s not a clean break; but, they aren’t close on his trail either. Amherst sneaks away toward friendly lines slowly and carefully. He assesses the situation and asks if he can see or hear the enemy. I tell him he can hear them blundering through the brush – amateurs. I also tell him that they will overtake him if he continues at his current pace. Amherst doesn’t want to speed up and risk detection, so he lays in wait. 10+ on the Ambush engagement move! The Germans walk past him in close file and Amherst returns the favor, chucking a grenade at their feet. It’s 4-harm. They die. Amherst kicks one of them as he walks past.
Smith spots movement in the trees. He isn’t aware that Amherst and Franklin are out there, so he expects Germans. Amherst’s player has an oh-shit moment and jumps right into the bargaining stage of grief. I tell Smith he better assess the situation. I have him trained well: he says he doesn’t know if it’s friend or foe and that’s the crux of the problem – an unanswerable question at this moment. I tell him he can always wait until he has visual confirmation; but, if this is a German attack, that might mean taking fire. Perhaps a better question would be, “What is the perceived severity of the threat?” Smith goes with that and I tell him, “Very low.” Smith holds fire while Amherst runs out of the trees Platoon-style (except nobody’s following him). He crosses the field and makes it across friendly lines. Still in a near-panic state, he asks where he can find Papa Bear – he’s got to warn HQ that the Germans are ready to launch a serious counterattack. Papa Bear is at HQ trying to get reinforcements, so Amherst runs there, taking Pfc. Turner with him – just in case the Germans get him – to get the message through.
The Eye of the Storm
Again, Smith has some down time. Amherst and Franklin spent a good-while scouting around, so I pose the same question to Smith as before: blow off steam, dig in, or shut-eye? Still dissatisfied with the number of checked stress boxes on his sheet, Smith again chooses to blow off steam. He misses the roll, so I ask him what he did and why it didn’t work. Smith tried to get some sleep; but, he was just too amped up to relax. With blow off steam, on a missed roll, nothing bad happens; but, nothing terribly good happens either.
Amherst runs into the battalion CP, still covered in a chunky veneer of Franklin. Out of breath and spewing out words a thousand miles an hour, he gets the gist of the situation across. Maj. Chilton doesn’t waste any more time trying to decipher the message. He gets those weapons on the move to the bridge. Amherst runs out back and loses his lunch, then walks back to the blockhouse. I tell him to recover 1-stress for getting that off (and out of) his chest. Papa Bear cuts him some slack and let’s Amherst collect himself in the blockhouse, under the cover of a stout roof and stone walls.
Franklin’s player now takes over Sgt. Barnes, the squad leader who reports to Papa Bear. Character death is a very real prospect in the Regiment. We are all pretty surprised that Amherst hasn’t died several times already; but, that’s how the dice roll. I recount the story of them charging the Flak gun – they made over half a dozen (at least mostly) successful moves in a row – had they failed almost any one of them, it would have resulted in them being killed. Franklin’s luck ran out. That’s how it goes. Barnes asks if he gets all of Franklin’s XP – sorry pal, gotta start over. In the Regiment, you can play as many characters as you want, whenever you want to – no XP required – so when one of your characters bites it, it’s back to square one. They can start a new character from scratch or take over an NPC. If they want to take over an NPC, they need to check with the GM first. I tell Barnes that I try to make as many memorable NPCs as I can, in part, so they have someone to take over who’s already established in the fiction, if they need to. Take this with a grain of salt. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about what to do when a player character dies, so you can follow my lead or work out some other arrangement with your gaming group. Character death can be a difficult moment for a gaming group, so it’s best if you handle it in a way that works for you.
All Hell Breaks Loose
The weapons company reinforces the bridge with a machinegun platoon and a mortar platoon. They get sited; but, have no time to dig in before the German artillery barrage begins. A trio of 7.5 cm infantry guns, operating from Best, walks a trail of fire along the raised roadbed just north of the canal. The barrage lasts for only a minute or two, as the German’s artillery ammunition supply is terribly short. The intended effect is to screen the advancing infantry, sow confusion, and to cause casualties – in that order.
The new arrivals, the machine gunners and the mortar crews, are out in the open and are hit hard. Smith is hit in his trench along with his crew. The gun deals 6-harm, their indirect fire gives Smith +concealment, and the slit trench gives Smith 1-cover. The net result is 5-harm indirect. Now Smith wishes he spent more time digging! He goes stress-critical from the harm. I tell him it’s a damn near miss and he’s lost in the fog of war. Smith blows the roll. He suggests that maybe he’s temporarily blinded – sounds good to me! Smith fumbles around in the dirt while artillery shots fall all around him.
Fire rolls over the blockhouse where Amherst, Barnes, Turner, and Papa Bear are hunkered down. Same harm, same concealment; but, they’re in a stout, stone building – that’s 3-cover. They take 3-harm incidental. Amherst goes stress-critical. He’s had a rough day. Papa Bear is curled up into his helmet, so Sgt. Barnes (Franklin’s new character) steps up and tells them all to ball up. He succeeds in rallying them and crushes his role, Amherst clears his critical condition and they all recover 1-stress. Barnes walks outside as the barrage rolls over and ceases, like a total badass. I sling incidental fire his way and he doesn’t blink.
Barnes finds Smith fumbling around and rallies him. Smith crawls back into his foxhole, next to a shell shocked Jacobs and the sludgy, bottom half of Adams. He scrapes the dirt out of his eyes and gets his gun ready. Smith catches brief glimpses of Germans rushing their position and begins firing.
Barnes trots across the bridge toward the south side, where one of the weapons company’s machineguns is stationed. He wants to reposition them on the north side of the bridge, where the enemy artillery has made a real mess of things. They are content to sit in their foxhole, which happens to be the same captured machinegun position that Franklin, Amherst, and Smith first encountered earlier that day. Barnes talks them into it and they follow him across the bridge.
Meanwhile, Smith sends Turner back to the blockhouse for more ammo. Turner starts dragging a crate of ammo back and Amherst lends a hand. Everyone who’s moving about out there is now taking incidental fire; Amherst is no exception. He takes 2-harm and goes wounds-critical. Shot through the leg. He initiates the new move “cry for help,” and Turner makes the move, rolling his bond with Amherst. 10+! Turner staunches the bleeding and wraps Amherst’s leg as best he can – clearing Amherst’s critical condition. Amherst helps Turner get the ammo to Smith, who gets his gun back in action, and then Amherst limps off toward the mortar team to try to organize a return fire.
Amherst finds the mortar teams reorganizing from three mortars to two. They have several casualties and are short handed. Amherst tells them where to shoot and scrambles back up to the embankment to observe and direct fires.
Smith makes himself the biggest target on the battlefield by suppressing the advancing Germans with his .50 caliber machinegun. To his surprise, a 2 cm Flak gun the Germans have moved up under the cover of the barrage, opens up on his position at a range of 200 yards, suppressing Smith and his crew. Another 4-harm, luckily, incidental – the smoke and dirt haven’t yet cleared the air. He lucks out on the harm roll and takes a wound – it’s the stress that’s been eating him away – so it’s actually a welcome relief.
Amherst makes his doped scope roll for the mortar team and gets a 10+. He dopes their scope (counteracting the -1-ongoing they have for firing close) and he spots the splash, so they take +1 forward to follow-up shots. Amherst rolls for the mortar team using the unit profile. The first shot is a 7-9, so he suppresses them. The second shot is a 10+: they inflict harm and turn the tide of battle. The 2 cm Flak gun is destroyed, much to Smith’s relief, and the infantry retreat en masse along a 100 yard front. Unfortunately, the mortar teams, like their German artillery counterparts, are short on ammo and have run out. Smith walks fire along the hedge along their right flank and turns the next 100 yards of their line into a rout with a successful fight the enemy move.
Some Germans remain to the north and are still in a good position to counterattack. That’s where we cut for the session.
Combat Infantryman Badge
It appears that I got this one wrong last time. The CIB should be awarded for being personally present in armed combat with the enemy. Since all of the characters were veterans prior to this jump, they all no doubt already have this award. If not, they have it now.
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters
Corporal Amherst is awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters for injuries sustained in combat with an armed enemy of the United States near Best, Netherlands on 17 September 1944.
Master Sergeant Franklin is awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters (posthumously) for fatal injuries sustained in combat with an armed enemy of the United States near Best, Netherlands on 17 September 1944.
Note: Oak leaf clusters are used for a number of medals and other awards to signify multiple decorations.
Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters and Valor Device
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters and Combat “V” (posthumously) to Master Sergeant Franklin, United States Army, 101st Airborne Division for valorous and meritorious actions while engaged in direct combat operations in support of Operation Market Garden. On 17 September 1944, near Best, Netherlands, M/Sgt. Franklin, after receiving medical treatment for wounds already received in battle, volunteered for a reconnaissance into enemy held territory. While returning to friendly positions carrying intelligence vital to the security of the sector’s defense, M/Sgt. Franklin and his spotter were ambushed by an enemy patrol. The enemy engaged M/Sgt. Franklin and his spotter with a grenade and M/Sgt. Franklin dove onto the grenade, shielding its lethal effects from his spotter. M/Sgt. Franklin was killed instantly. M/Sgt. Franklin’s courage and personal sacrifice allowed his spotter to return with the collected intelligence to friendly lines, which was used to organize an effective defense of the area against a determined enemy assault.
Resources – Sunrise and Sunset
There was some question as to when sunset would be and when darkness would fall. The enemy is to the west and that’s where the sun sets and those would be likely times for an enemy attack. Yes, we track time. Yes, we track the sun and the weather, because it matters to us. For God’s sake, don’t be as huge a nerd as we are (but if you want to, see below).
So, as I am “Paul 1,” the other Paul in our gaming group is “Paul 2.” When the question of when sunset would occur came up, I pulled “1900 hrs or so” out of thin air and most of us were happy to go with it. But not Paul 2, no, that man has real integrity (but mostly it’s because he’s an astrophysicist); he went to the Navy’s website and dialed the clock back to 17 September 1944! This is what he posted on our virtual game table:
The following information is provided for Best (longitude E5.4, latitude N51.5):
Sunday, 17 September 1944 Universal Time + 1h
Begin civil twilight 05:42
Sun transit 12:33
End civil twilight 19:22
Moonset 18:55 on preceding day
Moon transit 12:38
Moonrise 06:54 on following day
New Moon on 17 September 1944 at 13:37 (Universal Time + 1h).
If you want this kind of anal-retentive detail in your own game, thank Paul 2 and check out the US Naval Observatory website, here: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/ The UI is straight out of the 90’s, so you’ll have to figure it out.
This is astonishing. Astonishing!
I love these APs so, so much. I always hoped this game would be a tribute to the real life soldiers who served, and those decorations write-ups are just so… real… they hit me hard.