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Old 12-08-2009, 09:43 AM
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Default Children Soldiers in T2K

As there are many designers here on this fantastic forum - I wondered if anyone have considered the use of child soldiers in their design of factions/armies.


I'd guess that parts of Africa , Asia and the South of America would have "younger" conscripts in their ranks - but how about war-torn Europe or the States?
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:02 AM
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A nice appolitically correct thread I should have expected from you General.

But aslo a perfetly valid one and I think that they will be plenty. That has been the case in the past and there is even more reason to have them in T2K.

Children soldiers were enlisted in nazi volksturm and very young men were fighting in the red army (around 16 and 17). I would argue that this will be the case again but this time in every army.

IMO children above the age of 15 will be considered good for service in many parts of the world. Occasionaly, you'll find children around 13 and 14 but they could be less common. The reason doesn't last in our humanity but in the fact that these kids will be better used elsewhere: working in the fields as soon as they reach 8, in mines between 10-14 and in factories up to 15-16.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:23 AM
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A page from the Illustrated History:

Combat replacements: In 1999, desperate for replacement soldiers,
Party authorities in the Smolensk oblast sent boys as young as 14 to
the front as combat replacements.

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Old 12-08-2009, 04:54 PM
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I've used them myself, but usually only as shock value to the players.
In one instance I had the PCs being attacked at night during a thunderstorm with a crossbow armed enemy. A flash of lightning revealed a form crawling across a wire linking the PCs building to another. The PC on sentry in that area opened up with a burst from their RPK-74.

The following morning showed a mass of rags on the ground under the wire. Pulling back the rags showed a torn (from bullets) and battered (from the 3 storey fall) teenage girl of about 13-14 with a distinct buldge in the midsection - she was around 4-5 months pregnant and now rather dead. A loaded pistol lay near her broken body.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chico20854 View Post
A page from the Illustrated History:

Combat replacements: In 1999, desperate for replacement soldiers,
Party authorities in the Smolensk oblast sent boys as young as 14 to
the front as combat replacements.
God bless you, Chico! I can't wait for your Illustrated History to be published. What format will it be in?

I had some really young (and really old) Polish conscripts guarding a bridge in my PotV PbP. They didn't put up much of a fight. I'd think that in some regions, a large percentage of active combatants in 2000 would be younger than 18.
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Last edited by Raellus; 12-08-2009 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:17 PM
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Not just the Germans: the Russians in 1941-42 basically gave a rifle to anyone 15 or older, especially in areas immediately threatened by the German advance. At Stalingrad, a high-school principal was put in front of a military tribunal: he was taking a bunch of 16-and 17-year olds to enlist them in the Army, and half of them deserted en route. (he was probably shot)
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender View Post
A nice appolitically correct thread I should have expected from you General.

But aslo a perfetly valid one and I think that they will be plenty. That has been the case in the past and there is even more reason to have them in T2K.

Children soldiers were enlisted in nazi volksturm and very young men were fighting in the red army (around 16 and 17). I would argue that this will be the case again but this time in every army.

IMO children above the age of 15 will be considered good for service in many parts of the world. Occasionaly, you'll find children around 13 and 14 but they could be less common. The reason doesn't last in our humanity but in the fact that these kids will be better used elsewhere: working in the fields as soon as they reach 8, in mines between 10-14 and in factories up to 15-16.
Well I'm not known for my political correctness hehe...

- POWs in asbestos mines (I didn't need the asbestos)
- starting my own religion
- declearing myself as a GODKING.
- starting my own warlord faction
- making landshrimp for food-sales
- executing political and other enemies...publically
- using POWs as mineclearers hehe
- openly admitting using assasinations
- the list goes on and on

this is all from HQs campaign...

In real life I'm not in the same position of power sadly......
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:30 AM
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Default infantry - the original meaning.

It is a french word I believe - meaning the children of the riders that fought in the front lines.

Amny units in many armies use teenagers or young boys as a sort of apprentice or drummer boy etc to do non combat related tasks in a combat unit .

In modern armies they will do foraging,be drivers,do maintenance ,menial tasks etc and over the years grow into their role as a squaddie or NCO in the unit .

In some places they are given a gun and pushed to the front .

I f I am not incorrect Brits and Yanks use kids as young as 16 in training units etc stationed in teh home country .When they reach 17 they are allowed to take combat assignments .

Not to mention all those who lie about age .

yes- the evil marauder chief will ride up to the stout yeomanry and extort a couple of boys that he will enlist at as porters and over time they will pass into the ranks or die as slaves.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:39 AM
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An earlier thread asked 'where are all the PFCs', I would suggest that they're here. Commanders wishing to fill the TO with warm bodies aren't always that choosy.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by headquarters View Post
It is a french word I believe - meaning the children of the riders that fought in the front lines.

Amny units in many armies use teenagers or young boys as a sort of apprentice or drummer boy etc to do non combat related tasks in a combat unit .

In modern armies they will do foraging,be drivers,do maintenance ,menial tasks etc and over the years grow into their role as a squaddie or NCO in the unit .
In some places they are given a gun and pushed to the front .

I f I am not incorrect Brits and Yanks use kids as young as 16 in training units etc stationed in teh home country .When they reach 17 they are allowed to take combat assignments .

Not to mention all those who lie about age .

yes- the evil marauder chief will ride up to the stout yeomanry and extort a couple of boys that he will enlist at as porters and over time they will pass into the ranks or die as slaves.
I thinks local guides would not be to much of a stretch
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Old 01-14-2021, 03:38 PM
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Default Innocence is the First Casualty of War

The OP is from 2009. In 2012, inspired by a documentary I watched about a former Liberian warlord who called himself General Butt-Naked (you can guess why), I decided to create an encounter with child soldiers for the players in my Pirates of the Vistula Campaign, Twilight Cruise. I was thinking about it today. Much to my surprise, I didn't think to mention it here. Better late than never, right?

I thought an encounter with child soldiers would present the players with a difficult but interesting moral and ethical conundrum. Would they avoid killing children, if it could be avoided?

The premise for the presence of child soldiers was that a former Polish security services operative who'd posed as a high school teacher before the war (to gather intel on anti-gov't student groups) had, in the apocalypse, set herself up as the "Queen" of Plock (essentially a variation on a marauder warlord). She used her keen understanding of child psychology and propaganda tactics to create a small army of child soldiers. Here's a blurb in which the party first learned about the nature of said force:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twilight Cruise, Chapter 18: Plock
"The size of this army is hard to determine. The boy says thousands, but, once again, his number sense doesn't seem very well developed, so the accuracy of the figure seems objectively doubtful. The army is divided into several "companies" of a "couple hundred". Each company has a colorful title and a corresponding mode of dress that sets it apart from the others. There appears to be a fairly good-natured competition between these companies for the Queen's favor. There's the "Beasties" of whom the boy is one. There are also "Monsters", "Sportos", "Supers", and "Kung Fus". Each company is led by a cadre of older boys, the bulk of each unit consisting of boys ranging in age from fourteen to eight. The teenager with the wrecked eye currently tied to the aft railing is the sub-commander of the Beasties.

This rag-tag child army has apparently defeated all efforts of any of the surrounding powers- government and marauder (apparently including the now defunct Vistula Korsairs)- from annexing plock. "Everybody knows we're not to be f****d with." the boy proudly proclaims. The Queen's army not only defends Plock and its growing community of small farmers, it also mounts occasional raids to secure needed resources and new recruits. The Queen's army is well equipped with small arms but does not appear to have much in the way of heavy weapons. The boy doesn't seem to know much in the way of military tactics. It sounds like their martial success is more due to their shocking appearance and near suicidal bravery than anything else."
Each of the named companies was themed. The Supers all dressed like superheroes, the Beasties like animals, etc. I got this idea from seeing photos of real child soldiers from the Liberian conflict. One was dressed up as Batman. It was terrifying.

The party had a nighttime encounter with some of these child soldiers and a few of the latter were killed. At the time, the party didn't know it was fighting child soldiers. They learned of this unfortunate fact later.

Upon the party's arrival at Plock, the self-styled Queen demanded restitution for the dead children in the form of several thousand rounds of 12.7mm ammunition, which the party had aboard the river tug in abundance. I thought for sure that the party would pay up and be on its way. Instead, they decided to overthrow the Queen of Plock. This, of course, required fighting the Queen's child army. It was a bloodbath. Dozens of child soldiers were killed before the Queen was eliminated. It was the hardest encounter, emotionally speaking, that I'd ever run. I actually regretted coming up with the encounter.

If you've used or encountered child soldiers in your campaign, I'd love to hear about it.

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Old 01-14-2021, 05:19 PM
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I ran a merc style game a few years back. The team were an advanced team of paratroopers sent into A West African country to assess the area before the main body of troops came in to restore order and help build up the infrastructure. The encounter took place in daylight so the 8 man (3 PC's and 5 NPC's) squad could see who there opponents were. The squad ran into a well placed road block at very short range as the bush was quite thick. There opponents were a team of young irregulars with a couple of fearless, drug fueled 12 year olds. Long story shortish, the squad corporal tried to defuse the situation but was also the first to fire when he realized it hadn't worked. The player justified his actions by explaining that the age didn't matter when they have AK's. He wasn't wrong, 7.62 short doesn't discriminate, but as the squad moved to remove the weapons from the dead the corporal come close to the result of his actions and I made him roll a willpower check, which he failed badly. From that point on i would roll a willpower check for him in secrete when he slept, if he failed badly he would wake in a cold sweat or if he failed REALLY badly he would wake shouting or screaming.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:29 PM
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Child combatants is one of those horrifying, moral grey areas that can really mess with a person, or harden them in a way that society doesn't really care for.

I think this is one of those areas where it's worth discussing with the Players how they feel their Characters will react (although this should not be done before you spring the first encounter on them otherwise the shock value would be lost). I think it should be a case by case basis (and fortunately with the game you're only dealing with a small number of people, i.e. the Players, to sort this out).

I feel that there are some Characters who would not be particularly effected by encountering child soldiers. Some of those people have endured the hardship of war for so many years that they have become closed off from the emotional impact, simply as a survival technique (for their mental health) if nothing else.

There are other soldiers who may have encountered child soldiers before, in operations before the Twilight War, so the emotional distress isn't as impactful to them.

I'm not saying every Player should be allowed to use this as some sort of "Get out of jail Free" card, it's not to be used as an excuse to avoid the consequences. It's just that I know from talks I've had with Vietnam War veterans, some of them dealt with this sort of situation in the past and of those, some of them expressed the attitude that they would not hesitate to shoot an enemy soldier simply because the enemy was a child.

Harsh? Definitely. Brutal? Absolutely. But it's survival and not just physical survival. Some of them adopted that attitude for their mental survival as well "They will kill me or my comrades if I do not kill them first" sort of thing.
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:02 PM
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To directly answer the question you asked, my answer is no.

To answer the implied question, my answer is HELL NO, and any player who attempted to introduce them would be banished from my group. Period. End of story.

Yes, such things happen in real life. So does rape. I have ZERO tolerance for ANY player who wants to explore these issues in MY game. Period. End of story.

I'm refereeing a GAME, not a real world simulation.
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:57 AM
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I don't hold back at all as a GM. I wouldn't role play WWIII and a semi-apocalypse as some sort of happy boys' own adventure. Total war is a nightmare. A game in that sort of realistic setting should be realistic. There were parts of my last campaign that were quite distressing to run. Frankly if I hadn't found them distressing, I think there'd be something wrong with me.

I think I'd try to stop child soldiers from being a threat by non-lethal means if I could, but if someone is pointing a rifle at you, Big Boys' Rules apply. It would probably haunt me for life, but what are you supposed to do, stand there and get shot?

In-game most PCs are human wreckage anyway. Some might shoot a child solider, feel devastated and be non-functional as a combat asset for some period. Some might just have yet another piece of their soul chipped off and just carry on. I think that anyone who is able to shoot kids and not have it affect them in a negative way is probably clinically insane.
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Old 01-15-2021, 03:12 AM
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Quote:
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In-game most PCs are human wreckage anyway. Some might shoot a child solider, feel devastated and be non-functional as a combat asset for some period. Some might just have yet another piece of their soul chipped off and just carry on. I think that anyone who is able to shoot kids and not have it affect them in a negative way is probably clinically insane.
I wouldn't say that they are clinically insane, I would think that they would fit more into the sociopathy category - lack of empathy, does not understand other people's emotions, that sort of thing.
Insane implies madness, even to the point of batshit crazy, but it implies that the person doesn't really get the difference between what's real and what's not.
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Old 01-15-2021, 03:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Zappster View Post
I ran a merc style game a few years back. The team were an advanced team of paratroopers sent into A West African country to assess the area before the main body of troops came in to restore order and help build up the infrastructure. The encounter took place in daylight so the 8 man (3 PC's and 5 NPC's) squad could see who there opponents were. The squad ran into a well placed road block at very short range as the bush was quite thick. There opponents were a team of young irregulars with a couple of fearless, drug fueled 12 year olds. Long story shortish, the squad corporal tried to defuse the situation but was also the first to fire when he realized it hadn't worked. The player justified his actions by explaining that the age didn't matter when they have AK's. He wasn't wrong, 7.62 short doesn't discriminate, but as the squad moved to remove the weapons from the dead the corporal come close to the result of his actions and I made him roll a willpower check, which he failed badly. From that point on i would roll a willpower check for him in secrete when he slept, if he failed badly he would wake in a cold sweat or if he failed REALLY badly he would wake shouting or screaming.


When I first started my california campaign it was just my brother, eventually one of my friends joined the party. After a small fire fight with a mexican patrol my brothers charactor (an officer) ordered the mexican patrol survivors line up to be excuted. My buddy was shocked his special forces charactor was arguing that it wasnt right in and out of game. I let them justify there argument back and forth. The party ended up letting them go with a warning. After this I would include morality rolls for others involved as my brother plays Magor payne as out for blood and revenge for the invasion of america. He attemptedto get Arizona guards men to open fire on unarmed troops fleeing the battle field, officer made his morality check and refused as he didnt want to open fire on unarmed men. Ive now included a price on Magor paynes head by the mexicain army command in california for his use of chemical weapons. My brother also started having this officer wear all black and a face mask to hide his identity, he had the motor pool paint his m60 tank all gold so when the enemy saw his tank coming theyd know it was his men coming to kill them. My brother has some unique PCs.
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Old 01-15-2021, 03:37 AM
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I find this post interesting as just yesterday I was considering having a party encounter a lone child or teenager as the only survivor of a marauder ambush.
Just to see what they would do.

Would they make him part of the group, or drop him off at the next nearby town?

or is the child a elaborate ruse to get the players to drop there guard as he leads them into an ambush?
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Old 01-15-2021, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by wolffhound79 View Post
I find this post interesting as just yesterday I was considering having a party encounter a lone child or teenager as the only survivor of a marauder ambush.
Just to see what they would do.

Would they make him part of the group, or drop him off at the next nearby town?

or is the child a elaborate ruse to get the players to drop there guard as he leads them into an ambush?
This is a technique used in some horror games, a lone child apparently in need of assistance. But the child is really just a fašade, something to lure the protagonists into more trouble. Sometimes it's a monster in it's own right, using the appearance of a child to more easily fool the adults into letting down their guard before the monster strikes.

Like Targan, I have no problem at all putting these sorts of things into a game. I have no problems separating what's fodder for the game and what's real life so encountering child soldiers or monsters who look like children in a game is not something that upsets me or disturbs me.
You're playing in the ashes of the apocalypse, the ruins of the world, there's cannibals, there's people suffering terrible diseases or radiation sickness, there's slavery, bandits, people willing to kill just to survive another day.
Child soldiers as a game concept is no worse than any of the above.

I see their use in game as a way to create moral quandaries for the PCs, a way to show that the game world is not the simplistic black & white morality that Hollywood movies are made of. There's many shades of grey and if the PCs defeat such a situation and do so from the moral high ground, then they will have a much more positive impact on the gameworld because of it.
They can rightly be considered not just heroes, but the "good guys".
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:06 AM
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This reminds me of a situation I put my PCs in where the child in question was a really cute Russian girl (looked about 12 but was actually 15) that was 1) a complete psychopath and 2) was a KGB trained agent sent on a mission to release a genetic-engineered Ebola strain into the Vistula intended to create a "no go" hot zone separating the USSR from the rest of that part of Europe.

There were all kinds of hints dropped to clue in the team that this girl was the baddest of the bad. I even had this girl actually murder a fairly harmless NPC that had discovered the vials of virus in front of the team and they still did not get it!! They delivered their little precious, innocent orphan to the kindly priest in Cracow, and I gave them one more chance as she dropped the pouch with the vials getting out of the HMMWV. One of the PCs picked up the pouch, made the roll so he knew vials were in it, and he promptly handed the pouch right to her.

As we ended the session, I took a time out, had everyone make a roll to see if they caught the plague (everyone did) and see if anyone lived (one did).
Then told everyone that was dead that they were dead and why as the resulting Ebola plague made much of Poland uninhabitable and the Poles all but extinct as 90% of the population died!!

As tempted as I was to go ahead and end the campaign and just start over with them running new PCs, I finally decided to take mercy and do a Dallas and let everyone pretend it was just a dream, but they never took NPCs at face value again and paid attention to clues.

Last edited by mpipes; 01-15-2021 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
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This reminds me of a situation I put my PCs in....
Ebola's not even close to the nastiest thing the Soviets have either, just possibly the best known. The one that sticks in my mind is their weaponised Marburg hemorrhagic fever - NO cure, NO pain relief, NOTHING stops or even slows it down. Two weeks (at most) from exposure and all your soft tissues have liquified. You die in horrific pain, contagious from the first moment right up to a good 50+ years later.
90% death rate would be light for that one.
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:00 PM
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That is actually what I used if memory serves me correctly.

The situation was supposed to lead to the group chasing down a secret KGB lab near Minsk and blow it up or even call in a nuke strike - it was supposed to be a BIG event in the campaign. But my clueless PCs could not take the hint(s) that this girl was "special" and instead of discovering the vials of virus that should have led to vigorous interrogation they turned her over to the priest to help her find her family in Cracow. So they helped her kill well over a million and fulfilled that KGB factions greatest goal.

Sometimes you just end up hating the players! It was kinda fun explaining why she was so HAPPY to get to Cracow, because she had gotten an armed escort to the place she wanted to be and helped her become the greatest mass murderer ever.

Last edited by mpipes; 01-16-2021 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:25 PM
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In East Africa there are multiple forces using child soldiers so characters may very well encounter them there. How they are used and if the GM wishes to use them is up to the individual GM so whether or not they are encountered would be up to the GM and the nature of their game.

The PARA and the LRA and many of the splinter forces in the Congo use child soldiers as do some of the Somali Islamist groups. The LRA is the most prolific user of child soldiers, having recruited nearly 4000 of them since the coup in Uganda. They make up a big part of the manpower of several brigades, with 500 in the Joshua Brigade, a 1000 in the Joseph Brigade (out of 2800 total), and 300 in the Adam Brigade. In the PARA and the Somali Islamists they exist but there has been no large scale recruiting of them as there has been for the LRA.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:17 PM
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I started roughing out an East African mercenaries game but when I started looking into material on child soldiers and their "training" I decided that it was too awful to be a useful game, especially for players with children of their own. As child soldiers are inextricable from the setting I simply gave up on it and went back to Poland. Ivan and Ski aren't monsters.

If anyone wants the small amount of stuff I wrote apart from the child soldiers bit I didn't bother to write down I can post them.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:46 PM
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I know child soldiers will be common in T2K, but god...below about the age of 14 (and preferably older) it's a gray line for me. Maybe used as"aids" and armed with a pistol and knife below that age,

Reality wars with decency in me when it comes to child soldiers,
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Old 02-19-2021, 01:51 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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The LRA and PARA use of child soldiers in East Africa is definitely a "reality" in the game - especially as the LRA in real life do so as a matter of course. One thing that could be done as a GM might be a mission for the characters to try to free children being recruited for those forces and get them to safer areas.
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Old 02-19-2021, 06:06 PM
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Raellus Raellus is offline
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Default A Child Soldier Speaks

If I mentioned it before, please forgive me, but if anyone is interested in the perspective of a child soldier, check out A Long Way Gone- Memoirs of a Child Solder, by Ishmael Beah. It was a difficult but enlightening- and ultimately hopeful- read.

Also, Netlfix's Beasts of No Nation was a pretty good film on the topic.

West Africa, specifically Liberia and Sierra Leone, put child soldiers on the map in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yes, child soldiers had been used countless times before, in conflicts all over the world, throughout history, but their employment in the afore mentioned failed states brought the issue to the attention of the world like none other.

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