Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Lower Vistula: Plock to Torun (Twilight: 2000 Further Riverine Adventures)

This is one of a possible series of posts detailing a gazetteer of a section of the "Lower Vistula", the stretch of the river *beyond* Warsaw to its mouth at the gulf near Gdansk. I've detailed the second section stretching from beyond Plock to before Torun because it's simpler than the first 100km or so from Praga in Warsaw and I found it interesting as a test of concept.

It's also the section directly north of the "Escape from Kalisz" map - reachable by a group using my "Amphibious Start" suggestion or for the remnants of the US 5th Division's 3-11 Battalion aka "the Ghosts of Kutno" (See below). Initial Soviet presence is low, making it a viable area to explore for a starting party although an inevitable showdown with the 96th Cavalry Division based in Torun is foreshadowed...

A typical stretch of the Lower Vistula

Section 2: Plock to Torun


Distance: 100 km
Channel depth: 4m or deeper
River width: up to 2 km between Plock and Włocławek, otherwise 1 km
Towns and landmarks: Gostynin, Gostynin-Włocławek Landscape Park, Włocławek Reservoir, Dobrzyn nad Wisla, Włocławek, Kowal, Lipno, Bobrowniki, Chiechocenek, Radziejow, Sluzewo, Chelmza.


Hexmap Detail of 2nd Lower Vistula Section - Plock to Torun
(derived from Jed McClure's Polish Sandbox Hexmaps)

Description: the upper part of this section of the river consists of the large 2km wide and 58km long Wloclawek Reservoir (Polish: Jezioro Wloclawskie) in the east behind the dam and serviceable lock at Wloclawec bordered on the south by the relative refuge of the Gostynin-Włocławek Landscape Park (see below). Ice build up and ice floes in the reservoir section can be a significant problem in the Winter months, although the last few years since the outbreak of war have not presented major difficulties yet.

The further stretch of river below the barrage until Torun conforms to the usual meandering and sandbank prone nature of the majority of the Vistula, but is mostly navigable by larger river ships than the upper reaches beyond Warsaw. Both the reservoir and the landscape park provide the villagers on the southern bank with relative safety from the troops moving through the area, as their large areas make it difficult for troops to harass the civilians who use their river-borne craft or the forested terrain to retreat to.

The wide reservoir between Plock and Wloclawek is relatively peaceful and picturesque, with a notable absence of regular troops or marauders other than the occasional lost river pirate boat from the remnants of the Korsarz of Warsaw (see PotV, pages 33-34). By contrast, the active forces further downstream are the patrols and convoys of the Soviet 96th Cavalry Division stretched along the road south of the river between the ruins of Wloclawec and their base in Torun (shared with the Soviet 22nd Cavalry Army HQ) and to the east along the railroad as far as Lipno. Forces south of the river will initially be on the lookout for remnants of the US 5th Infantry Division, but their interest will have fallen off as Winter approaches.

As Winter approaches, the small troop of 300 men from the Soviet 89th Cavalry Division based in Sompolno and the south stop following orders from Torun and begin to move eastwards to ultimately winter in the small town of Kowal. The nearby Soviet 43rd Cavalry Division remains with their attention to the north, based in and around their cantonment near the city of Grudziadz, controlling the two bridges over the Vistula in a face-off with the 2nd Polish Free Legion.

Encounter Tables


See later post for revised Encounter Tables...

Gostynin


This small town of about 200 inhabitants lies at the south of the landscape park on the road from Plock to Kutno and was bypassed by the recent fighting between elements of the US 5th Infantry Division and 1st Brigade and the Soviet 89th Cavalry Division. The wary villagers hunt through the woods nearby and have secreted several small caches of ammunition, supplies and food in preparation for the Winter and a retreat into the landscape park if harassed. If treated with civility they may assist American troops by showing them the paths and camping areas of the park.

Gostynin-Włocławek Landscape Park


Like other landscape parks, this area has relatively abundant wildlife including deer, wolves and particularly beavers around the multiple small lakes scattered through the area, allowing for reasonable fishing (and grenade fishing). Like the Kampinos Landscape Park to the east, the woods have overgrown and are now starting to reach up to the nearby towns and ruins. A small network of canals runs through the park, flowing into the narrow Zuzanka Canal that runs parallel to the Vistula for several kilometres, passing through Włocławek and opening into the main river at Port Letni. Encounter checks here result in animals more often (replace one of the Group results with Animal instead), making the park an excellent location for supplementary hunting for food.

Wloclawek Reservoir


The largest man-made body of water in Poland, stretching over 40km and almost 2km wide, this artificial lake hosts a small northern branch of the Czolno Lud, the waterborne civilian community of the Vistula. The majority of the two dozen boats are sail powered, although small alcohol powered motor launches form a part of many family flotillas. Moored about 10km downstream of Plock in the centre of the stream is an artificial island consisting of six tow barges with wooden houses and moorings that the river folk use as both a trade hub and neutral zone for discussions. The central barge mounts a modified 82mm Vasilek mortar that has sufficient range to enable shore bombardment as a deterrent against shorebound enemies.

Dobryzn nad Wisla


This small village of several families (less than 20 people) has retreated from the main town to makeshift dwellings and small fields within the ruins of the medieval Dobryzn Order castle on a cliff overlooking the reservoir just west of the old boating club. The families operate two small sailboats for fishing and trade their excess grain and distilled fuel with their relatives in the northern ranging boats of the Czolno Lud (see above and PotV, p 34-35) and the riverside settlement of Nowy Wloclawec on the outskirts of the ruins of Włocławek further downstream.

Kutno


See Escape from Kalisz, p94 - the scene of the fighting that annihilated the US 3-11 Battalion, the town is mostly ruined, with a handful of embittered and insular survivors returning from the woods to the south where they had fled. It marks the central point of Poland and is not only a major road junction near the was to be future Autostrada A1, but also the junction for the main railway lines (Poznan-Warsaw, Lodz-Torun, and another line leading northeast to Plock) and major passenger and freight rail stations. The agroindustrial park to the east surrounding the military garrison even has it's own rail sidings in reasonable repair.

Krosniewice


See Escape from Kalisz, p93 - a half-dozen US 5th Division survivors (of the 1st Brigade's 3-11 Battalion) are being sheltered in the town by the villagers, who are sympathetic to the Americans and share no love for the Soviet 6th Cavalry Division's 2nd Battalion that passed through mopping up the US remnants.

Alternate Start: The Ghosts of Kutno 
Following the fighting in Kutno, the Soviet 96th CD wiped out most of the US 5th Infantry Division's 3-11 Battalion, leaving a few scattered survivors in the area ie. Hexes 6913, 7013 & 7014 (Krosniewice and woods to the south respectively) and Hex 7113 (woods south of Kutno itself). Although likely starting without horses or heavy vehicles (either destroyed in the fighting or potentially captured and cached without fuel by the Soviets), this scenario provides a potential "alternate start" to the default EfK start (Hexes 6818 or 6618). Finding and then recovering the 3-11 battalion's last surviving vehicles (usual starting options or even a worn M2A2 Bradley needing significant repairs) may make an interesting kick-off, allowing the group to strike north off-road to an initial refuge in the landscape park by nightfall or else drive directly east about 130km along the secondary roads and reach Warsaw in a day - if they can scrounge enough parts and fuel from the less than friendly villagers... 

The Ruins of Włocławek


The Bridge over the Vistula at Wloclawec

This old Pomeranian city has lain abandoned and in ruins since the early days of the war, little more than a mass of rubble stretching along the southern bank of the Vistula. The truss road bridge across to the northern suburb of Suszyce, the 620m long Edward Smigly-Rydz Bridge, remains intact and provides reasonable clearance for most river-going vessels.

For encounters in the Wloclawec ruins, use the "Moving Through the Ruins" rules from Ruins of Warsaw, pages 9-10, with any Troops representing cavalrymen of the Soviet 96th, and any Marauders being deserters from the same unit. Civilians will be scroungers from the riverside settlement of Nowy Włocławek (see below).

The impressive upstream dam and barrage across the Vistula with its still serviceable lock were completed in 1970. During the initial exchanges when the city was devastated, the hydroelectric plant was targeted specifically and lies with the road broken and the river cascading through the resulting rubble. There is a troop of 15 cavalrymen from the Soviet 96th Cavalry Division guarding the southern end of the bridge, assessing it for whether it can be readily repaired by the division's engineers currently stationed in Torun.

Unlocking the Lock 
Currently the lock is set to the lower level, making passage downstream from Plock impossible without restoring it to working order. The northernmost 26.7 mW hydroelectric turbine may be salvageable with the correct parts (Rare, likely only available in Krakow or similar) and several days of repair requiring multiple skills (FOR Construction, Electronics and Mechanics checks, 2 days spent on each). The lock itself just needs minor mechanical repairs (Mechanic: DIFF, 2 periods) and to be hooked up to at least a 100 kW generator or the turbine to restore it to operational status, allowing large vessels to pass through. 
The Włocławek Dam, Barrage & Hydroelectric Plant
(original image adjusted to sepia tone)

Nowy Włocławek is the riverine settlement of survivors near the former suburb of Rybnica that has been established by the survivors of the main city and some of the local militia. Nestled in the ruins of the industrial park to the east of the main city, the survivors have reclaimed fields amidst the rubble in relative safety, surrounded by a dense belt of twisted metal and concrete that acts as a barricade. Scrounging parties from the settlement venture into the western ruins frequently, even as far as the ANWIL industrial park.

The formerly exclusive southern suburb of Michelin & Mielcin nestled in the woods is now one of the main staging areas of the rear echelon of Soviet 96th Cavalry Division (1400 men) including a small corps of engineers, stretched out in various convoys along the Torun to Wloclawek road to the west of the ruins. A small detachment of former airmen drafted as infantry when their planes were downed due to fuel shortage is refurbishing the nearby Krusyn-Wloclawek airfield and its Aeroclub facilities with a view to adding the recon capabilities of the half-dozen pre-War microlights cached in the hangars there (see Airlords of the Ozarks, pages 24-27 for details on these aircraft).

The pre-War ANWIL industrial park to the northwest has been similarly bombed and shelled into uninhabited ruins, although the rail lines leading from Torun that pass through to the south remain serviceable for the most part and are beginning to see usage by the mostly horse-drawn rail convoys of the 96th.

Kowal


Initially unoccupied in Autumn, by Winter this becomes the camp for the remnant Soviet 89th Cavalry Division that has withdrawn from the area they occupied around Konin, Kolo, Turek and their HQ at Sompolno after the defeat of the US 5th Infantry Division on 20th July. The Americans passed through this town briefly on their offensive but caused little hardship compared to Colonel Mikhaylov's 300 Soviet cavalry and their mounts demanding daily food - the villagers are resigned to waiting out the winter and hope to see the cavalry troop continue their journey eastwards in the spring.



Lipno


Straddling the railway line from Torun to Warsaw, this town of several hundred inhabitants helps provide food for the 96th Cavalry Division based in Torun. The locals have successfully converted the local Miejski Park to fertile fields and have managed to produce excess food to trade. A small detachment of a dozen cavalry troopers from the 96th with a rail-mounted BRDM-4 guard the railway station from which they ship grain to the divisional HQ a day's journey to the northwest, the rail carts pulled by an old BRDM-1 scout car also converted with rail wheels.


Bobrowniki


This small village on the northern bank with ruins of a Teutonic castle near the shore now lies abandoned. Two disused power lines cross from 100m tall pylons on either side of the river, the first set several hundred metres to the south of the village.  Although not electrified, some of the lines from the northeastern pylon have broken at the southern end and drape across the foreshore and into the river creating a potential obstacle for propellor craft.

Who Watches the Watchers? 
The Soviet 96th Cavalry Division has established an observation post near the top of the Bobrowniki tower, allowing the three observers with telescopic equipment stationed here to see almost 30km away to the horizon on a clear day with appropriate equipment - this effectively covers Hexes 6810, 6811 and 6910 ie the whole stretch of river from Wloclawec to Torun and it's suburbs and as far as the town of Lipno and the connecting railroad to the northeast and north. Specific details may be difficulty to make out but troop movements are easy enough to discern. The team have an advanced radio patched into an array at the top of the pylon that reaches to the HQ at Torun and the staging area in the wooded suburb of Michelin to the south of Wloclawec. The observation platform is unarmoured and reached by a single ladder, but does have a PK machinegun mounted on the corner furthest from the river to cover approaches to the post.

Radziejow


Now a small town of fewer than 100 civilians on the crossroads of the road from Sompolno to Torun and Wloclawec to Inowroclaw, the town's old hospital acts as the town centre and is still partly functioning through the use of a small generator, although the village is very low on necessary medical supplies due to "donations" to the passing military forces. The nearby Głuszyńskie Lake normally provides excellent fishing, although grenade fishing by the Soviet 89th Cavalry Division on their way south from Torun to the Kalisz area has depleted the local stocks much to the annoyance of the locals.


Ciechocenek


Mostly known through the ages for its curative salt springs, this town of about a hundred villagers now assists with food supply for the nearby Soviet cavalry forces in Torun, its parks converted into fields to supply the troops via horse-drawn rail convoys. In the easternmost Sosnowy Park, a field hospital for the cavalry division has been set up, flanked by the town's old hospitals with only a few MPs stationed as security.

Sluzewo


This hamlet of only 3 families about a day's return travel on foot from Torun lies just a short distance southwest of the Aleksandrów Kujawski Railway station and the rail cart convoys of the 96th Cavalry Division. Outside the town limits, stretching for about 20km towards Torun is the old artillery training ground, seeded with many unexploded shells (see page 10 of Ruins of Warsaw for suggested rules for unexploded ordnance) and old wrecked hulls once used for targeting practice.

The locals know the dangerous area very well and have several caches hidden amidst the dangerous area. One of the men can lead those willing to pay a price along the hidden path through the fields to the cellars beneath the old Torun Fortress.

Chelmza


The Soviet 43rd Cavalry Division has it's rear echelon in this small town on the shore of Lake Chełmżyńskie. With less than two hundred villagers, the town produces enough food to be self-sufficient, although the quartering of the rear echelon troops has put a strain on their stores. Rail carts drawn by horses connect the supply dumps with the force at Grudziadz to the north.


Note: details of the Soviet-occupied city of Torun will be presented in a separate section.



Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Little Engine that Could (Steam Locomotive Vehicle for Twilight: 2000)

"I think I can, I think I can..."

Similar to the previous "A Typical Adult Human" Vehicle Card, I created this summary to assist with running a steam locomotive in a T2k v2.2 campaign using the Poland Hexmaps. You'll need the additional rules from the Going Home supplement, but I think this is still a useful resource.

While researching this, I found a couple of useful resources, the first being the website of the Warsaw Railway Museum (the main site is in Polish so may need Google Translate) which is probably the corresponding real-life location of the PKP yard presented in the module. Wayne from the Twilight 2000 MeWe group over at his Polish campaign website is considering using this as the source of the steam train for his players.

The museum is sited at the old main railway station terminus in the western suburbs of Warsaw and not only does it have a number of steam locomotives, but it also has some diesel and electric trains, including a WW2 era German PzTrWg16 armoured train:

PzTrWg16 Armored Train at Warsaw Railway Museum

Armed with old Soviet T-34 tank turrets (See p40, Soviet Vehicle Guide) that could be retrofitted to more modern cannons with available ammunition, it would be interesting to hook this up to the steam locomotive, probably with the redundant diesel engine removed to save on weight, to run the gauntlet of the Warsaw-Poznan-Frankfurt line that looks to be the default route the player group would take through to the relative safety of Germany... 

Another interesting resource is the Chabowka Rolling Stock Heritage Park at Skansen about 40km south of Krakow (Hex 7627). This similarly has a whole lot of old locomotives and rolling stock and could make an alternative starting point for a group interested in a rail adventure rather than cruising down the Vistula - the smaller railroad tracks northwest through secondary lines to Opole and then onwards to Wroclaw, connecting up with south of the "Major Railways - Poland" map from Going Home.

The third train resource is the Socachew Narrow Gauge Museum - this is to the west of Warsaw (Hex 7413) and similarly has a collection of almost 200 locomotives and rolling-stock but these are all *narrow gauge* and not usable on the main rail networks without conversion, which is difficult without cranes and other engineering equipment. There's a remnant narrow gauge line that covers about 18km that heads north from Socachew through the Kampinos Forest to the village of Wilcze Tułowskie. One of the locomotives might have been salvaged for local civilian use but it's more an oddity for a player group given the limited range of track available.






Monday, January 28, 2019

I've Been Working on (Maps of) the Railroad (Initial Thoughts on Train travel in Twilight: 2000)

Aside from the river travel options in "Pirates of the Vistula", the possibility of overland rail travel by converted steam engine as presented in "Going Home" has always interested me and makes for a unique closing chapter to the default starting campaign for T2k v1.0. I have various thoughts on this option, but first I'd like to begin with looking at the initial Kalisz area and piece together some of the thoughts that strike me when I look at the disconnected maps presented in the various supplements.

Note: the maps contain some *SPOILERS* for the module...

Friday, January 18, 2019

Oh the Humanity! (A summary Vehicle Card for a Human in Twilight: 2000)


I created this "Vehicle Card" as a shorthand resource for some of the posts / articles about the "mini-games" in T2k v2.2 so I could compare vehicles and horses/mules to a "human on foot".

Although somewhat whimsical initially, it actually proved quite useful to have as a reference - it doesn't replace a character sheet to be sure but for abstracted overland travel and discussions about how the mechanics of the game fits and/or creates the atmosphere and setting it works well.





Thursday, January 10, 2019

Twilight: 2000 Poland Module Hexmaps


I've always found the original maps in the classic T2k v1.0 Polish Campaign modules a bit lacking in detail, but Google Map or Wikimapia versions can be too detailed (and somewhat anachronistic). The multicoloured maps in the fifth and final module, Going Home, are great, but it's Jed McClure's Hexmap versions that really caught my attention - by placing a 20km hex grid over the originals, the utility of the Germany and Poland maps is greatly increased.

However, dealing with the original Hexmap file is cumbersome, so I've cropped sections of Jed's hexmap to correlate with the black & white maps from the various modules and the Challenge #25 article, "The Baltic Coast: A Looter's Guide for Twilight: 2000" in order:


Escape from Kalisz Hexmap

The Black Madonna Hexmap

Free City of Krakow Hexmap

Pirates of the Vistula Hexmap

Ruins of Warsaw Hexmap

Going Home (East) Hexmap

Going Home (West) Hexmap

Note
: there's no module that really covers the section of the lower Vistula from Warsaw to its mouth to the east of Gdansk in the same level of detail as Pirates of the Vistula, although some of the towns and locations are admittedly covered in Going Home.

The Baltic Coast: a Looter's Guide for Twilight: 2000
(Challenge #25 article)


Resources

Jed's original files (and the accompanying complied index, excellent work) can be found here:



In addition, Jed's page ("An Old School Polish Sandbox") includes some play aids for the introductory Escape from Kalisz adventure and some more detailed topographical maps covering the same area as the two large maps in Going Home.





Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Twilight: 2000 v2.2 PreGen "The Major"

Think a female version of Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan".

"The Major" Lt. Col Johnette Miller, 45-year-old infantry tactician

Attributes


STR 7 CON 5 AGL 3 EDU 6 CHA 8 INT 8
Age 45; Weight: 81kg Load: 36 kg Rads: 40

Combat


Init: 5 Melee: 1 Throw: 28 m
Head: 10 Chest: 36 Abdo: 24
R Arm: 24 L Arm: 24 R Leg: 24 L Leg: 24


Skills


STR Armed Martial Arts 0
STR Autogun 0
STR Grenade Launcher 2
STR Small Arms: Rifle 5
STR Thrown Weapon 1
STR Unarmed Martial Arts 1

CON Swimming 1

AGL Ground Vehicle: Wheeled 3
AGL Tac Missile 0

CHA English 10
CHA Instruction 2
CHA Language: Russian 4
CHA Leadership 7
CHA Persuasion 7

INT Forward Observer 4
INT Observation 2
INT Navigation 4
INT Survival 2


Equipment

Allowance: $50,000 unspent
Gold Pieces: $5000 max in cache

Basic Load (US): US army fatigues, pack, shelter half, gas mask, combat webbing (ALICE); sleeping bag, flashlight, personal medical kit, thermal US army fatigues.

Armor: Kevlar helmet & Kevlar vest

Weapon: M16A2 assault rifle
  • 6 x 5.56N 30-round magazines, 180 loose 5.56N rounds

Bayonet

6 frag grenades
2 smoke grenades

Cache

Extra equipment that cannot be reasonably carried or stowed in a vehicle.

Design Notes


Concept: dedicated commander, tactician and group "face", studied philosophy before enlisting.

Role: this build focuses on INT and CHR based "soft skills", providing "Elite" level Assets for Leadership and Persuasion with some facility with speaking Russian, while having secondary capabilities as a forward observer and navigator that are part of the officer role. There's some capacity to act as an instructor, secondary point observer and hunter mixed in with reasonable combat skills, including "Experienced" level Asset using mounted grenade launchers.

Variants:
  • TOW Gunner: rather than Grenade Launcher 2, swap to Tac Missile 2. This may be useful in an early game if the group has a supply of missiles, but scarcity becomes an issue and grenade launchers and their ammunition are in more plentiful supply.

“B-Troop” Variant: technically this character would outrank Captain Molly Warren if part of a US force, so shift to French, UK or another allied nationality with minimal change except for changing the default languages and personal weapon. Lose the basic US skills (Armed Martial Arts 0 and Tac Missile 0) and consider shifting Russian to Polish if German or Austrian origin.

Design Calculations


Method: 36 points rolled; Init roll 5, Rads roll 4; 1 x age loss of AGL

Background: Ground Vehicle: Wheeled, Language: Russian x2, Survival
6 Term(s):  Undergraduate, Military Academy, Infantry (Officer) x4
Secondary Activities: Observation x2, Small Arms x2, STR+1, CON+1
War Term: 1x Infantry (Officer, x2 skills)
Promotions: 3 (Leadership x3)
Aging rolls: 1 failed Agility (4 to 3)

Contacts: 1x academic, 12 military (5 foreign)

Equipment: given the relatively huge amount of equipment allowance granted by officer status and 5 military terms, this character can essentially purchase their own "command" HumVee ($10,000 if Wear 2, $5000 if Wear 4 or even less if in worse condition) to complement the group's core starting vehicle. I'd suggest it be armed with not just a heavy MG but preferably a Mk19 grenade launcher accessed by a ring mount from the commander's seat as required.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Crossrant: Feeding the Horde (Armies and Starvation in Twilight: 2000)

So a week or so ago, Wayne of Wayne's Books posted on the "Twilight 2000" MeWe group in a post entitled "Mouths to Feed" about his party's return to Warsaw and their involvement in assisting resolve conflict in Kamiensk between the villagers created by the imminent food shortage for the several thousands of troops in Piotrkow. As I'd just worked through my Foraging post with calculations for a lone traveller and a small group typical of a starting T2k campaign, I commented that by my reckoning, a large force of soldiers cannot live off the land according to the RAW.  This post outlines my discussion of this with examples based on the previous post, so for a more detailed discussion of the assumptions and "working out" I suggest you read that one first!


Armies may be able to distil their own fuel, mechanics may allow their vehicles to have regular maintenance, but no army marches on an empty stomach.

And an army is a *lot* of mouths to feed.

Even in the Twilight World, the remains of regular units can comprise hundreds, even thousands of men, and need to settle in areas of sparse population and limited resources. This can not only be a burden on the local villagers in terms of harassment and demands of supplies for "protection" - but it can also be fatal. Feeding a horde, for that's what such irregular collections of soldiers and/or marauders resemble, is a difficult task and one which living off the land by foraging helps only minimally.

Let's look at some assumptions and work from there:

  • Each soldier requires 3kg of wild food (or 2kg of "civilised" food) per day
  • A human on foot can travel 20/20 (a 20km hex on Jed McClure's hexmaps) in a 4-hour period
  • Any given 1km square area of land can only be foraged once per month before becoming depleted

Like the previous food-related post, I'll be assuming the groups are travelling without animals as feeding and upkeep of animals will require a whole separate discussion and post - horses and mules require significant amounts of grain in addition to grazing for two periods each day but don't use the Fatigue rules so are essentially a separate "mini-game" in themselves...

Recap: Foraging for One (or a Few)


Finding food from the surrounding countryside isn't automatic - it's a Survival:DIFF task, and one that yields either twice the amount of required food per day (Woods/Scrub in Summer and Fall) or nothing. A character with a Survival Asset of 10 (ie Novice/Experienced) therefore operates at 50% efficiency and can find enough food in a single 4-hour period for themselves on average every other day to last the next 2 days. Even if the character is successful every day whether due to luck or better skill, the character can at most forage enough food for an extra week's supply or for one other character. Spending an extra period foraging doubles the amount, but on average the amount of wild food obtained is still only sufficient for 2 characters or at most 4 characters.

If the conditions are less favourable ie the Survival Asset is lower eg 5 or less, this drops off considerably and an individual character can survive off the land on half rations and suffer a Fatigue penalty until they have a full day's food.

Surviving outside of Woods/Scrub is very hard - even with the "best case" scenario of success every day for 2 two 4-hour periods over a week, a character foraging in Meadows (or Swamp) in Summer or Fall, collects only 4kg of food per day, sufficient for one character for the week or half-rations for themselves and an additional character. Outside of the favourable seasons, this drops off to barely enough food to eat at half-rations for a few days or to no food at all (Winter in Meadows or Fields).

As long as the character is moving, and even if a small group remains stationary for a week, the surrounding countryside can potentially provide sufficient foraging opportunities (see earlier post). It's when the group gets larger that it starts running into trouble and depleting the land, particularly if it is forced to not move to distil fuel for its vehicles.

Larger Groups and Depletion


So let's look at an example of how the foraging rules scale and how depletion and encounters become limiting factors. The RAW state a particular 1km square area can only be foraged once per month before becoming depleted, so for any particular group, the rate the maximum available area to forage becomes depleted depends on three factors:

  • How fast the group is moving
  • How many individuals in the group
  • How many foragers per day
  • How many foraging attempts per day

The skill level or Survival Asset of any individual forager is irrelevant to the depletion rate - the success or failure affects the amount of food obtained over a given time period, but each attempt at foraging depletes a 1km square area regardless of the result.

Example: a group of 200 Soviet deserters (the remains of a MRD) are travelling overland by road through a Scrub area in Fall on their way back to Russia, accompanied by a few 5-ton trucks with trailers carrying medium stills and their extra equipment. They are not carrying extra fuel, so they need to stop and distil alcohol intermittently for a few days to keep the vehicles running. Fuel reserves have run out so they stop to distil more fuel and attempt to forage for food to survive for the next few days. 
Assuming each has a Survival Asset of 10, and forages for two 4-hour periods in a day in addition to sleeping, guard duty, maintenance and other activities for the other four periods, they will produce on average of 6kg of wild food each, totalling 1200kg or enough to feed each soldier for the day and the next day. Even if all 200 are successful, they obtain 2400kg of wild food, sufficient for each soldier for the next 4 days. If the season is Spring the amount of food is halved and the group only obtains food enough for each soldier for that day. If the group is travelling through a Meadow (or Swamp) instead, they'll only each gather enough food for a half-ration for that day (400kg) or if *all* soldiers are successful, enough food for each of them at full-rations for that day. In Winter, they will barely be able to forage a half-rations worth of wild food each.
Each foraging attempt incidentally provokes and Encounter check, so even if the soldeirs split into small groups of 10 or so that maintain within close range and/or radio contact, this means an additional 10 encounters above the base single encounter check for the main camp that day (calculated as 2 periods x 50% chance x 10 groups of foragers).
This foraging will also deplete a 400km square area in a single day, slightly less ie 8/9th of the area of a 20km hex (450km square) on Jed McClure's Hexmaps of Poland, but near enough to a single hex for our purposes. As all these 1km square foraging spaces are not overlapping, many of the soldiers will have to walk up to 10km to and from their foraging area to access the more distance spaces - for the purposes of the example, let's assume this amounts to at most another 4-hour period for about half the soldiers, enough to make it a limiting factor to suggest three 4-hour periods is unusual but not enough to have to break down into further detail or provoke additional encounters. 
Once the area is depleted, the large group is forced to move on at least 20km each day if it wishes to keep foraging as accessing the surrounding area becomes impractical and possibly dangerous.

This means that to feed every 400 mouths, a group will deplete a roughly 20km hex's area of food for the next month (using exact calculations, 450 mouths per 20km hex) assuming Woods/Scrub and a favourable season eg Summer or Fall. Even then, this calculation assumes each forager has at least a Survival asset of 50% - while specialised foragers help slightly, the sheer amount of mouths to feed is the overriding factor and there are only at most 3-4 available foraging sessions in a day (accounting for sleep and travel to foraging sites). Smaller foraging groups don't actually change the depletion rate, they just increase the number of encounters and make each encounter potentially riskier.

Any more mouths than 400 (exact 450) or any less favourable conditions requires a proportionate increase in available foraging area and will often provide only enough food for half-rations for each soldier. This will effectively necessitate moving beyond the occupied 20km hex and add travel time (and therefore the risk of encounters) to the calculation.

More Mouths to Feed


Piotrkow Environs
Let's now look at the "Piotrkow Situation" from Wayne's campaign:

  • there are 3600 men of the Soviet 124th MRD needing food for the Winter
  • many of the soldiers are listless with hunger already (Fatigue penalties from starvation)
  • the Soviet 20th TD in Łódź apparently has no extra food supplies
  • the food tax request for 2 tons is barely enough for half rations for one day
  • including the main hex, there are six 20km hexes around Piotrkow, 5 of which are clearly Woods
  • the town of Kamienks lies ~30km south ie ~6 hours of travel on foot (1-day return trip possible)

Note: I'd estimate the civilian population of Piotrkow in October 2000 at perhaps ~800 at most - this is based on an arbitrary rule of thumb of 1/100th of the circa 2000 population, which is similar to the 2018 data as the population of Poland has not shifted significantly since the 1990s.

Even discounting the civilian population and dismissing that the built-up area is probably not useful for foraging, that the available foraging area is ~3000km square (7 x450km square). This calculation assumes the neighbouring towns aren't also foraging this area or the hinterland hasn't already been foraged out for the month.

So in Fall (October 15th to be exact per Wayne's post), assuming 6kg of food is available per square km (Wood/Scrub) and the foragers are 50% successful, the whole area produces ~9 tons of wild food, almost but not quite enough for each soldier to eat for one day before being the area is completely depleted for the month. Even with the theoretical maximum  100% foraging success rate, the maximum yield is only 18 tons of wild food, enough for a single day for each soldier at full rations and maybe a day or two at half rations.   

This is for the *best* case scenario of terrain and season combination.

Once Winter descends, there's negligible food available by foraging for a group this size.

So failing an external food supply, starvation sets in (or more likely continues)...

Example (cont.): In Wayne's post, there is a comment about the soldiers are already listless with hunger - this is highly likely, because of the Soviet 124th MRD has run out of food or running out of food as suggested, at least some of its soldiers will actually be starving. Unlike subsisting on half rations, where the penalty is only the equivalent of 1 Fatigue level (-1 on all Attributes), starving characters lose 1 from each Attribute per day without food down to a score of 1 in each Attribute (T2k v2.2, p 148) until they start eating a full ration per day. 
Restoring fatigue levels occurs at the rate of one per day of full rations eaten, so a starved character with normal average attributes (score of 4-6, total 32) reduced to Attributes of 1 will take about a week or so to fully recover even on full rations. 
This means that once the 124th runs out of food, it will take about a week or so for it's soldiers to be reduced to near incapacity and they will die in about a month unless given at least a full week's ration of food. It's only a matter of time unless they can secure a source of food to last them through the Winter months and Spring.
That's 320 tons per month of wild food over 1000 tons for the Winter...

Fishing, grenade fishing, hunting and barter are all options to obtain food but as discussed previously the first two have only a supplementary benefit and grenade fishing expends military resources. Hunting can have significant yields for small groups but the benefit of large amounts of meat per animal drops off when larger groups >100 people are considered and the additional risk of encounters is factored in. Bartering is plausible for small groups but quickly becomes difficult if not impossible for large numbers such as several hundred soldiers or more.

Carrying enough food to feed a large group of soldiers while travelling becomes a logistics issue - wild food for a month is ~100kg, more than a soldier can carry themselves....

The Fields of Dreams


So maybe fields are the answer?

In the Fall, a "foraging" character can automatically gather 50kg of wild food per 4-hour period without a die roll and separating out the accompanying 50kg chaff, which can then be used to distil methanol. Being wild food, this is sufficient to supply a single soldier at full rations for 2 weeks - vastly more efficient than foraging in Woods/Scrub if fields are available.

Fields don't appear to have a depletion rule - the text states the character can gather "as much as they can carry", so the limitation to total yield appears to be the number of harvesters and the area of fields available to harvest.

Example (cont): the hex that Kamiensk sits in has a total area of 450km square so assuming this is *all* fields for simplicity, a group of 450 harvesters can obtain ~20 tons of wild food in a 4-hour period, enough to supply the 3600 soldiers of the 124th MRD for two days at full rations. Two weeks of harvesting once per day will therefore produce enough food for the whole Soviet 124th MRD to eat for a month, or the unit can send a detachment to harvest food for 8 hours a day for a week with a similar result. Harvesting this area of fields for 8 hours a day for the month yields enough food for 4 months - enough for the whole unit to survive the Winter and the first month of Spring (March). 

Essentially a 20km hex full of fields harvested for 8 hours a day by a maximum of 450 people can produce ~40 tons of wild food in the Fall (halved in Summer), enough to feed those 450 people at full rations for a month. In Summer, enough is produced to provide half-rations for a month. Fewer people harvesting just means that the number of people that can be fed for a month is reduced, the number of days of harvesting needs to be increased or alternatively, the number of weeks of the food supply is decreased proportionately.

  • A field 1/10th the size of the 20km hex ie 45km square (about 7km by 7km) will produce enough wild food for each of 45 people for a month - this is not an unreasonable size field for a typical settlement and means that for a town of 800 people that 3 weeks of harvesting will produce enough food to last a month at full rations or two months at half-rations.
  • A 64km square field (8km by 8km) at 1/7th the area of the 20km hex (7 smaller hexes fitting into the normal sized hex, about the size of the city of Kalisz) yields enough food in 8 hours for 64 people for a month, 32 people for 2 months (or 2 days harvesting for 64 people), 16 people for 4 months (or 4 days harvesting for 64 people), or 8 people for 8 months (8 days / 1 week harvesting for 64 people). For a settlement of 800 people, 2 weeks produces enough food to last a full month.

The area of fields in a cantonment or taxed by a military unit needed to supply the group for a 4 month period after a single 8-hour day of harvesting in the Fall can be readily determined as 4x the size of the group in km square. Smaller fields or harvesting in Summer requires more days spent harvesting to achieve the same yield in proportion.

The above suggests that "harvesting" (or if you prefer raiding, pillaging or taxing) the produce from fields is really the only workable solution to avoid starvation for large groups of soldiers in the Twilight World. This sets up stories of conflict and negotiation with farmers that intensify as Winter approaches - once sufficient food is obtained, there's really little incentive to return to the village until before the crops are ready to "harvest" for the next Winter...

Let's go back to the "Piotrkow Situation":

Example (cont.): let's say the Kamiensk fields occupy a 64km square area and thus an 8 hour day of harvesting yields enough wild food for 32 people for 2 months, 6400kg in total. This is about 1/100th of the food needed for the 124th MRD to survive on half rations through the Winter and into April. As there are six weeks left until Winter, if the harvesting occurs every day for 8 hours, there is a maximum remaining yield of 270 tons of food, just enough for half-rations for the Soviet soldiers. This is barely enough for the soldiers to survive into the Spring and does not leave any food for the villagers, unless they have already stockpiled food or supplemented their stores with hunting and fishing.

So feeding an army or group of thousands of men is hard, *really* hard.

Feeding a town of a few hundred people with reasonable fields is not only possible but even likely to produce a surplus over the harvesting months, making the fields and stores of such settlements very attractive targets to small groups of wanderers in need of food.

Follow this link to the Field Harvesting Google Spreadsheet calculator I've developed to help calculate the yield of food from any given harvesting attempt (season, harvesters, days spent).

Summary


I draw the following conclusions about Food for larger groups ie. groups larger than the typical player party of a dozen or fewer characters:

  • Feeding up to 450 mouths per day while living off the land in Summer/Fall is difficult, but not impossible as long as the group keeps moving as it depletes the forage area in its immediate vicinity. This usually necessitates travel by foot rather than by vehicles, although vehicles may accompany the column if sufficient fuel stores are carried. Assumptions for this optimal scenario include Survival Asset of 10 for each forager and Woods/Scrub terrain.
  • Living off the land outside of the optimal scenario above (limited foraging resources, other terrains) is very difficult for larger groups of several hundred travellers and they must carry extra food even if foraging, particularly if they are travelling with vehicles and need to spend periods stationary to distil fuel.
  • Towns of several hundred civilians require significant areas of fields to support their food requirements - this equates to several weeks work by a proportion of the working population as each day spent harvesting a square km of field produces only enough wild food to last a single person on full rations a month in Fall and half-rations in Summer.
  • Large groups of soldiers with more than 1000 troops simply can't live off the land or barter easily for bulk quantities of food and must rely on fields to obtain their food supplies, whether by negotiation or force. Carrying sufficient food becomes a limiting factor, requiring either animals or vehicles to assist.