The Soviet attack continues, pressing hard on the German flank, threatening to sever the line in multiple places. Despite their exhaustion, our heroes are called upon to throw back the Soviet hordes once again.
- Every character adds +2 ammunition to their profile.
Next, we roll to determine the opposition for the battle:
- We’ll be facing more partisans, swarming ahead of the main Soviet battle line to interdict the German retreat and prevent them from reaching Narva.
- 3x models with sub machine guns.
- 2x models with bolt-action rifles.
The mission is:
- The leader of an infamous partisan band has taken to the battlefield, emerging from his woodland lair to lead his men to glorious victory. Communication intercepts have pinpointed his location and out characters are dispatched to bring him back alive for interrogation and eventual execution.
Our battlefield is an anonymous patch of Baltic forest. Ranks of pine trees march off into the distance, root systems cracking the frozen ground. Fallen trunks and sparse undergrowth surrounds a rude network of foxholes and fighting pits, marking the partisan’s fall-back positions.
A venerable Maxim machine gun sits in the central position, screened by dead brush and leaking sandbags. A fur-wrapped partisan attends the gun, busying himself with the can feeding water into the gun’s jacket.
Crouched in the gun-pit, pouring over a crumpled map is the mission’s target – a veritable giant clad in a patched Soviet uniform with a captured MP-40 hanging over one shoulder. The remaining partisans huddle for warmth around a smouldering campfire.
The Maxim gunner kicks out at the gun’s rusty tripod, eliciting a squeal from the poorly maintained mount. He straightens up from his concealed position, silhouetted by the campfire to his front.
A rifle cracks and the partisan is blasted across the gun pit, blood spraying from a severed artery.
Konigsmann leaps from his makeshift hide in the lee of a fallen tree, dashing across the undergrowth to the shelter of the next tree.
The remainder of the squad follow behind in a ragged vee formation, anchored by Kraus’ MG-42 on the left flank.
Strings of blazing tracer rip across the frozen forest, kicking up plumes of shredded vegetation and loose earth around the partisan’s campfire. The partisans break under the hail of bullets, their ragged formation disintegrating as they scatter into the trees.
Bretz and Saller thunder after them with flashing bayonets fixed to their careworn rifles. One partisan falls, skewered by flashing blades.
The hulking leader turns to face his attackers, hosing them with long bursts of submachine gun fire. Saller drops, stitched with gory bullet wounds, leaving Bretz to face down the mission target alone.
Veteran of a hundred actions, the doughty pioneer is felled by a illiterate partisan with a notched pickaxe handle and rusty SMG, his helmet caved-in and face split open by a rain of rage-fuelled blows.
Spurred on by their leader’s display of brutality, the remaining partisans rally and push the weary Germans back in fits and starts.
An inopportune jam disables the vital MG-42 and the band retires, their mission incomplete.
- Everyone gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
- Bretz and Saller gain +2 exhaustion for the brawls they participated in.
- Everyone gains +1 stress for seeing a friendly unit go out of action.
- Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann gain +1 stress for bailing.
- Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann lose -2 ammunition for firing their automatic or semi-automatic weapons.
- Bretz and Saller lose -1 ammunition for firing their rifles.
Bretz and Saller must both roll on the injury table after the battering they took at the hands of the partisan leader. Saller is critically injured for an hour and gains +1 exhaustion.
Bretz’s arm is broken in multiple places and is beyond saving. He is permanently injured for the remainder of the campaign, may only use one-handed weapons and suffers -2 to all future brawl rolls. Additionally, he is critically injured for 4 hours.
When our blood-spattered, bone-tired soldiers reach the retreat column, Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann must roll on the Battlefield Discipline table for failing to complete their mission.
Somehow, their combined account of the partisan leader’s ferocity and the strength of the opposition convinces the officer in charge of their reliability and continued usefulness. All 3 gain +1 stress, but suffer no further consequences.
We roll 3 negative morale dice, but thankfully this does not generate any additional effects.
Upon their return to the retreat column, the squad finds a Maultier half-track bogged down in the rasputitsa, the exhausted crew gunning the engine in a futile waste of time and gasoline. With the aid of some elbow grease and Saller’s expert knowledge, the vehicle is swiftly back on the road, with the squad bedded down in the truck-bed. All characters lose -1 Stress and -1 Exhaustion. The party also rolls 4d10 when determining distance and picks the highest result.
Saller, having relieved the unconscious Bretz of some gold watches and a bag of valuable dental fillings, manages to barter some iron rations from the Maultier’s crew. He distributes them as evenly as possible, to give the squad a fighting chance.
The half-track’s canvas cover provides little protection from the biting wind. Everyone must roll on the General Winter table.
- Specht’s hypothermia has not abated, he spends the night shifting in and out of delirium, raving for his distant family in far-off Germany. He is critically injured for 4 hours and loses his pouch full of smoke grenades, cast from the moving truck in a fit of feverish rage.
- Bretz, weakened by extreme blood loss, watches helplessly as his exposed flesh turns blackens as frostbite sets in. Having lost a boot in the previous battle, he loses the use of his foot to the insidious cold. He is critically injured for an additional 3 hours.
- The travails of looking after his wounded comrades and the biting cold have sapped Kraus’ strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- Saller exchanges places with the Maultier’s driver, nursing the heavy vehicle through the mud and snow in an unheated cab. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- Konigsmann spends the night huddled in one corner of the truck bed, with shaking hands and chattering teeth. He may only roll shock dice in the next battle and gains +1 exhaustion.
Without the use of his arm, Bretz’s heavy rifle is completely useless to him. He exchanges it for a well-oiled Mauser sidearm owned by one of the truck drivers.
Specht and Kraus elect to stay with the Maultier crew, spending the next few hours laid up in the relative safety of the half-track. Next turn, they may recover up to 1d3 stress and exhaustion.
At this point, we have been unable to reduce Saller’s stress and he suffers a mental break, rocking back and forth at his position in the truck cab, refusing to return to the battlefield. He is removed from the campaign permanently. It is likely he remained with the Maultier for the remainder of the retreat.
In the back of the Maultier, our heroes travel a further 17km in 4 hours.
The group has travelled 59km in total. 18 hours ago, they were still nestled in their fixed positions outside Leningrad.