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Old 01-21-2010, 11:57 PM
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Default Pirates of the Vistala

kcdusk 12-09-2005, 04:03 AM I'm about to start the Pirates of the Vistala module.

Any tips, traps or comments for beginers on this one?


Twilight2000V3 12-09-2005, 05:25 AM Expend alot of ammo....


DeaconR 12-09-2005, 08:15 AM Just a qualifier here: are you running it or playing in it?


kcdusk 12-09-2005, 12:52 PM running it.


ChalkLine 12-09-2005, 06:09 PM A lot of this is my opinion, and based on how I run my games, it may not suit some.

"Pirates" is easily the best T2K house game I've played in/ran, but you have a lot of work on front of you as the story is good but the campaign is kinda sketchy probably due to space constraints and the need to put in large, lousy pictures.

Be warned, a determined bunch of gamers can knock it over in a few days by going past a lot of your fun, this is not good although it does show they know not to bite off more than they can chew. You must avoid this at all costs, it's the journey not the destination, although the crew should be particularly hung up on the destination.

First off, get a real map of the Wisla, that map is kinda underwhelming. Once you get a better map, you'll find that the Wisla has many canals, tributaries, mini-lakes and levee systems not shown on the main map, all ideal for interesting game settings. I really can't stress this enough. If you're having lots of problems, I can scan some of my MoD tactical pilotage stuff for you. To give you an idea what you're after, I consider the 1:500,000 to be about minimum of what I'm after, here's one at my site detailing Kalisz (http://www.reocities.com/Area51/Unde...031/kalisz.jpg) and the unit dispositions at the end of the 5th Div's drive. Note the rivers around Konin, now compare them with the map in the game. A big difference.

Also, you're going to need detailed maps of everywhere your PCs must go. Now here's something VERY important, the game doesn't portray the area as overly damaged - just kinda deserted and run down, this is absolutely not so! The PCs are going to steam across the scene of the most intense fighting in the Twilight war, an area where the combat was so savage it demolished the economies of most of the major combatants, it should be almost surreal. There should be areas that are endless burnt out vehicles, trenches, shattered bunkers, bombed out villages that are weird sculptures of violence, thickets of razor wire, all amid a moonscape of crates filled with toxic water and thick mud. The people here are not rebuilding their lives, they're traumatised survivors in a hell. Keep this in mind when mapping, and every description should be heavy with the war's influence. Normal seeming people are either coping well for the time being, or have a thin veneer over the horror. Nearly everyone these people know is dead, and died horribly.

This should be evident when you make your maps, players appreciate the GMs mapping efforts as it gives them something to be sure of in what otherwise is just a mental image you have. Places like Tarnobrzg and such you don't need real maps of if you don't have access to them, just think of real places you know and add Polish elements, the batter them with the twilight war.

Don't use the encounter tables for anything other than elements of your story, don't feel the PCs have to have 'one encounter per period', if they've come to rely on that you can have some fun at their expense. Think of it as a story you're filling out and have encounters ready, and every encounter should have it's map, and the encounter should blend with the story seamlessly.

The Krolowa needs about ten people for it's security element, you can put more on, but the PCs should be in charge of the security element due to their superior personalities. Have NPCs different, these are the people they'll be dealing with the most so you should put effort into them. You know you do a good job when munchkin players risk life and limb for an NPC rather than use them for cannon fodder. These NPCs may have higher ranks, have the war weary, haunted by bad decisions or shell shocked but still combatant. The war would be hard on officers too, especially those that care for their men overmuch.

The Tow on the barge is attached to one side of the bow, use the decked area at the rear of the tow and imagine it flush with the side of the bow. This means both the tow and the barge do not steam straight ahead, this is correct, draw a line (figuratively) between the front of the tow and the stern of the Krolowa, this is how the two steam downriver. (A tug captain told me this, thanks Dave)


ChalkLine 12-09-2005, 06:29 PM The Krolowa doesn't really start of overly armed, but the PCs going to need to uparm her a bit when they get to the end of the river! First off, you may want to have the Krolowa encounter river vessels that give them trouble quite early on, to let them know they have to get some firepower on board rather than use the Krolowa as a floating base that they sally from (although this is her 'story-strength')

I had the PCs get a hold of a ZSU-23-4 turret, but I know think that was a mistake, but the concept was sound. I'd now probably give them a ZPU-4 (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/row/zpu-4.htm) or Maxton quad .50 mount (http://www.o5m6.de/m17.html) for mounting fore or aft. The PCs will no doubt score a Vasilek somewhere, and this will actually be their offensive killer as it can hammer targets quite far away via radio link. This is why you need the big crew, to man these support weapons and secure the barge while the PCs are off gallivanting around onshore.

If the barge is about to be boarded, give the NPCs a lot of low-priority targets with the crew served weapons and let the PCs fight off boarders as it's more dramatic. Get out 'The Sand Pebbles' on DVD too, you'll need it at one point and you can shamelessly rip it off for material and theme (GDW did!)

Let the PCs know that the NPCs are 'pack-minders', there to secure assets while the PCs adventure, don't let them use them as disposable infantry (I rolled mine up as PCs sans equipment, just basic load).

Armouring up the Krolowa was a fun exercise for me and the PCs, we had days of hammering nails, forays onshore to find supplies, hunting to build up supplies and so forth, I recommend you don't skil any of these situations.

A medic PC can have fun on this ship, the setup means they can be combatant but still have wounded to tend as projects. If your guys are being uber careful with their security element, have a steam mishap below hospitalise a crewman.

Don't let any NPC take offensive action without consulting the PCs, even by radio. A worried captain up in the pilot house asking if he can fire off the homar piec yet and the player saying "Steady . . steady . . . now!" adds flavour.

I've kinda run out of thoughts, but I'll finish up with the fact this is a good scenario for non-infantry, especially navy types and civillian fishermen.

Have a good game!


DeaconR 12-10-2005, 08:57 AM There are few things I could add to Chalkline's excellent advice, but I will.

He's quite right, this is potentially one of the most fun modules there is. He's also right about the details.

I wanted to add about the people:

1. The deserters: nearly all the marauders in the area are supposed to have deserted from the various armies in the area. This leads up to the group of them centered around Warsaw and Baron Czarny. The deserters don't all want to hang around, some of them want to move on. I tended to portray three types: those who were trying to set up as petty warlords, those who were just robbing and pillaging their way home in order to keep fed and out of sheer brutality, and those who were mostly scared, far from home, but still basically brutal in their response to their situation.

2. Locals: these are those who have managed somehow to survive. Their situation is almost universally bleak. Either they are somehow being oppressed by local forces of one kind or another or they are barely scraping a living. I emphasized hunger, raggedness, fear, wariness.

3. Local warlords: These should be wary of anyone who is armed but willing to do business if properly approached. Life for those under their rule should be tough but at least not with the fear of daily anarchy to deal with.

4. The boat town: think of all those movies and stories you have read about the cluster of huddled folk who need the help of a few heroes. They should be a step above the desperate hopeless villagers and the clusters of petty warlords, they should be a group of people who are worth fighting to help. Whatever will make your players feel sympathetic to them without feeling that their situation is hopeless, bring that out. At the same time emphasize that without their help they cannot defeat the pirate fleet, if that ending is what you are going for.

5. The pirate fleet: These are the real bad guys. They are utter scum, one way or another, who are exploiting and destroying what ordinary decent folk are trying to build up in order to survive the horrors that have happened in this area.

I would also emphasize something else Chalkline said: plan your encounters and have a general idea of how this game is supposed to go, bearing in mind that your players will sometimes suprise you and try to avoid some things. Make sure there is a 'hook' for your side adventures that is difficult to resist. Make the encounters 'seem' random if you want to by rolling dice before announcing an event you have already planned.

Finally, I would suggest really getting to know the boat well and the sense of how it is run. Make it come to life for the players, make them enjoy being on it. Sometimes the little problems you give an area or a vehicle which the players need to solve will make them feel more involved with it, make them enjoy it more. I find that rather than giving my players a perfect situation but instead getting them to scavenge or obtain (by whatever means) things even as mundane as paint will bring out that enjoyment.


abaumgartg 12-10-2005, 09:59 AM There are some great ideas on this thread.

I was lucky enough to travel from Krakow to Warsaw this spring. I have been dieing to run this series of adventures since. I can't do the setting justice, but landscape, housing, and farms will make this adventure amazing. Near Krakow almost every bend in the river would make for a great ambush site, as steep gullies run down to the river (at least from what I saw in the car). I would read up a little on the layout of the land

Rain events, or lack there of, could also be a major factor. With system that maintains the river as a major trade route break down, a serious rain would make the river run fast with lots of potentially damaging debris, while lack of rain would lower the water level making the navigable channel much smaller. Perhaps the party would get stuck someplace and have to pray for rain in order to continue.


kcdusk 12-11-2005, 02:45 AM I'm still doing the reading to do with this module, i picked it out because i thought that being "tied" to the river it would make keepin a story going without too much other "rabbit holes" for the PCs to pursue would help me keep them on track.

That ... and i want to run Ruins of Warsaw.


Last edited by kato13; 02-06-2010 at 06:11 AM.
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