Henry's Star I - Crater
The 2nd Dayside Campaign
This section of the article deals with the details of fighting on Crater's Dayside, several scenario ideas and the details for some of the vehicles used to support the Armoured Commando. These details should really only be read by the GM and revealed to the players when needed.
The platoon has just been crashed out to some prospecting hub out in the MBN about 1000 clicks from KDC. According to the PC these guys had already Cried Wolf twice and brought in the Fireforce. So as part of the stand-by company we were being sent in to show the flags and show the locals a little reassurance. Consequently me and the rest of 7 Platoon are packed into this stinking hopper for the best part of four hours.
Diary Entry - 17/03/03 - 0345 ZULU
SNAFU. The locals are not pleased to see us. At first it was all smiles and their Big Man giving water to the LT. Then he clocked there were only 24 of us boys from the Duke's Own and no Owens they started to get a sad on. LT tries the charm but these Daysiders are suspicious bastards, they know we're here because some guy in HQ doesn't believe them.
LT goes to Plan B: Hearts and Minds. Platoon starts digging in and establishing defences. Bloody hard work. Profusion of wadis nearby make siting the automatics a nightmare. Told LT that we should move the base. LT says we can't because it's sitting on a working well. Yet more digging!
Diary Entry - 17/03/03 - 2148 ZULU
Locals are very suspicious. Had a word with their Big Man, he says some of his people have been spotting Bugs in the distance for the last three weeks. Most of them have headed off and there's only his family and a couple of trusted people left keeping the fort open. Don't know if I trust him or not..
Troops finished phase one digging. LT wants us to go down to phase two, as per the book. Convinced him to allow the blokes eight hours in routine before we start again.
Diary Entry - 18/03/03 - 0916 ZULU
Big panic. One of the sentries out covering the digging has gone missing. Moorcroft. He's a screw up but not likely to wander. Patrols into the wadis haven't found anything. Starting to get a bad feeling. Troops stood to.
LT had a big scene with the locals. He hasn't handled it well, I couldn't smooth it over either.
Diary Entry - 19/03/03 - 1119 ZULU
Still no sign of Moorcroft. Hopper came in with more supplies. Looks like we're staying, LT says HQ doesn't want to give up any water source. Typical. Anyway, more mines out to our front and we're back in routine.
Diary Entry - 21/03/03 - 1250 ZULU
This is getting ridiculous. A patrol out to check the automatics managed to trigger a jump-mine this morning. Two dead and one with his guts spread over the desert. The Dusty got here in time and got Henderson away, hope he makes it.
Anyway, locals went ape, got completely spooked and start packing. Another stand-off between the Big Man and the boss. Unless we call Fireforce they're going, the boss stands his ground and they're gone.
I don't know if there are Bugs out there, but my guys are so spooked they're making stupid mistakes, two of them are dead because of it. The LT isn't helping any, he wants to call Fireforce but because he wouldn't do it for the civvies he can't. I think he's seeing his career vanishing in front of his eyes and right now he's bloody useless.
Troops on stand to. Making sure they're more scared of me than anything that might be out there.
Diary Entry - 22/03/03 - 1450 ZULU
Situation recovering. Boss calmed down. Troops functioning properly and morale back. Well at least they've started bitching again! Back in routine. The departure of the civvies has removed the main element of panic and hysteria. Thank God for that!
Diary Entry - 23/03/03 - 0023 ZULU
Diary belonging to
01926239 Sgt P R Owen, 1 CRATER. Location SITE HOTEL NINE
'Over the last three years I've fought the CTs on Aurore, Kimanjano, BC-4 and now here. I have to say this s*** hole really takes the biscuit.'
Lieutenant Williams, OC No.2 Troop 'Sun Devils', The Armoured Commando
The Dayside of Crater in the Henry's Star system is one of the most inhospitable of all the theatres to see major fighting between human and Kafer forces. The Dayside is constantly exposed to the glare of the twin suns and the only darkness is found in the shadows or during particularly heavy dust storms. This 'unending day' has major morale effects on those humans living and fighting in the Dayside. The temperature in the Dayside is an oppressive 40 to 50 degrees and this can leap almost to boiling point during solar flares. The atmospheric pressure is so low that breather masks are required for normal levels of activity to be sustained. The thinness of the atmosphere is also responsible for high levels of background radiation requires protective clothing to be worn.
The main operations areas on the Dayside are dominated by huge areas of flattish desert that stretch from the twilight zone at the foot of the Rimwall Mountains to the Rhondda Mountains at the Hot Pole in the Deep Dayside. Three main outposts mark the route that reaches out from the lightly populated uplands, the Georgetown Mine, Eisen's Tower and Krak des Chevaliers. This corridor is the focus of most of the heavy fighting.
The desert is not what most humans think of as a desert. There is little sand, it is mostly a rocky, hard baked wasteland. It is criss-crossed with ancient wadis and canals left over from before Crater received the asteroid impact that changed it irrevocably. These wadis are generally steep sided with rock filled floors, and are the home to most of the Dayside's flora and fauna. They are also excellent routes for infiltration, a fact utilised by both sides in the war. There are also numerous areas of high ground which tend to be the site of mining installations.
The general flatness of the desert and the temperature gradient across its length has given rise to near constant winds. Around the polar regions these tend to pick up the lighter dust particles and starts dust storms. The storms are frequent but short lived and they can reduced visibility at ground level to virtually zero. They also cause dust particles to get into almost every nook and cranny of shelters, vehicles and humans!
The major concern in the Dayside is water, there is no surface water and only limited underground aquifers. These can only be reached by drilling and produce heavy salted, brackish water that must be purified. However these solar or wind powered wells are the centre pieces of the limited number of human communities on the Dayside. Most of these communities are subterranean or built into squat towers.
The Dayside has always been sparsely populated, mostly by prospectors and miners. The Daysiders were always independently minded and suspicious of outsiders. The occupation of the region by the Kafers devastated most of their settlements. Worse still most of them were captured by the aliens and forced into slave labour. Those survivors have attempted to start again and are still suspicious of other Craterans and the military. However their hatred of the Kafers has increased their willingness to co-operate a little.
Conventional infantry and armoured units find the going very difficult on Crater. Infantry have to be masked and heavily clothed to protect them from the low pressure and beating sun. These measures substantially reduce their performance in fighting. Also the thermal sights used to such good effect in fighting on Beta Canum and Joi are much less effective on the Dayside, especially during fighting in the wadis and canals. Foot infantry are also tied very closely to supply depots or logistics columns primarily by water requirements. Providing an infantry company with sufficient water to survive a week on the Dayside is a vast problem on its own.
Armoured units are also constrained by the massive distances and logistics problems. The fine dust causes major maintenance problems that also have to be solved. Logistics columns sent out to sustain armoured forces themselves require great levels of support. In fact armoured forces are as tied to bases as their infantry companions, although they have a larger radius of operation. On Crater the phrase 'Economy of Force' is a vital one, judging precisely how large a unit is required to fulfil a task. The forces on Crater solved this problem by using massive ACV carriers as mobile bases (see below) for armoured forces.
It was the deployment of the three carrier Task Forces (Leviathan, Titan and Atlas) each carrying an armoured company group of the RGL's Kampfgruppe Paterson which was the turning point of the Battle of Krak des Chevaliers. This allowed the German Legionnaires to act en-masse with surprise to destroy the forces screening the safe place. Self sufficiency is vital on the Dayside. Unfortunately with the departure of the Kampfgruppe no armoured units are currently on Crater, however a specially trained Wellonese unit, 7th Battle Group is excepted in some 3 months.
The infantry also has a key role to play in defending or seizing the usually subterranean bases. This requires concentrated training in close quarters fighting, a role at which the Kafers excel. Special human units are trained to act as the spearhead for storming operations, which requires intense aggression, special equipment and near suicidal bravery. Following this 'forlorn hope' are the regular soldiers of supporting infantry units who have to consolidate and expand on the work of the Storm Troops. The elite British 6th Assault Brigade took over 1000 casualties storming Krak des Chevaliers alone. Storming operations are not for the faint hearted and the CDF would be loath to attempt another major storming any time soon. The morale of the Crater Regiment battalions are already at breaking point.
Without logistic support any modern fighting force cannot function. Given the huge distances involved in campaigning this is especially vital in the Dayside. Supply depots have been the keystone of victory, but given the prevailing conditions it has been usual to co-locate them with existing settlements and outposts. Especially given that these locations usually have access to even meagre supplies of deep drilled water. The history of the 1st Dayside Campaign was the story of the seizing of enemy bases and the setting up of human supply dumps inside them due to the small number of suitable locations in the area.
The Campaign broke down into set piece battles that all essentially took the same course. The destruction of the enemies mobile forces protecting the base. The isolation and besieging of the enemy base. The final phase was always the most bloody and involved the storming and clearing the base itself. Although the tactics were simple the execution of these plans often proved hugely troublesome.
The three key bases that were the sites of the main battles are still in use by the CDF. The Georgetown Mine, Eisen's Tower and the infamous safe place Krak des Chevaliers. Of these KDC is the main forward operations base for the 2nd Dayside Campaign. Carved by human prisoners from the basis of an abandoned mine, the inside of the complex is a rabbit warren of tunnels and rat runs. However the upper levels are still in use as a command centre, barracks and as a gigantic hanger for carriers. Some in the garrison are worried about the security of the complex, after all British troops managed to infiltrate it, the Kafers could play the same trick.
ACV Carriers were the answer to the problem of supplying and securing troops deep inside the Dayside. The huge converted ore carriers would act as both mobile logistics and fire bases, in some cases capable of carrying a company group of armoured troops or a full battalion of infantry. Manned curiously by the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve of Crater and dubbed 'Her Majesties Land Ships' (the units were formed by the Royal Navy resident officer during the Occupation) they made the difference that won the 1st Dayside Campaign. They allowed the human forces to strike deep, by-passing the Kafers static defences.
Carrier were vulnerable to enemy attack and several were destroyed, most notably Hercules and her Task Force. However most operated in concert with supporting units, normally a large carrier would be accompanied by a Task Force of smaller, heavily armed and armoured carriers, conventional Hovertanks and APC deployed from their decks and a screen of drones. Since the 1st Dayside Campaign most of these carriers have been decommissioned and returned to civilian tasks, however six remain in CDF service.
The largest carriers are the Behemoth and Leviathan. Tipping the scales at 350 tonnes these are militarised heavy cargo carrying RO-RO ACV's capable of moving 20 armoured vehicles at a time at a maximum speed of 100kph. Nuclear powered they don't need refuelling and they can maintain this embarked force in the field for some two weeks before requiring replenishment. During the 1st Dayside Campaign HMLS Titan and her Task Force operated behind the enemy lines for seven weeks in this manner. The two remaining carriers are equipped with heavy ECM and short ranged self-defence weapons in addition to a variety of drones.
The RNVRC's other four carriers are smaller vehicles massing some 175 tonnes, which were specially converted for closer action. These are the Annihilator, Vindictive, Warspite and Xenophobe. These carriers are much more heavily armed and armoured, whilst are still capable of carrying a company of infantry or four vehicles. They have a similar endurance to the larger carriers whilst their firepower includes two turret mounted 75mm MDC, Sky Streak HVM, twin automatic 120mm mortars, an MLRS system and several close-in weapons systems.
As well as these large carriers the RNVRC maintains eight specially modified D-607 ACVs, known as Chariots. These are small load carriers modified to carry 6 CW each on an open rear deck, with a 25mm cannon mini turret as its only defence. These vehicles are intended to operate from the smaller carriers, with each carrier carrying 4 Chariots, deploying an entire Troop. Chariots are not intended to close with the enemy themselves but to deliver the CW to the combat zone and enhancing their tactical mobility whilst minimising the risk to the carriers.
Tactical intelligence is hard to come by on the Dayside. The area is unremittingly desolate and including small mining outposts, wildcat prospectors and the like the civilian population is under 1500 and most of them never journey beyond the immediate area of their outposts. Only the roving prospectors provide any coverage of the vast expanses of the Dayside and they were sometimes unreliable. The general conditions also prevented the deployment of large scale mobile reconnaissance formations and special forces alike into the depths of the Dayside. Consequently much of the Dayside remains un-surveyed by human eyes, which has remained one of the major stumbling blocks to human eradication of the Kafer threat.
Occasional human intelligence comes from the very few Daysiders who manage to escape from the slave pens that the Kafers still posses. However after desperate treks through the desert to safety most have little recollection of the location of the Kafer bases. All they remember is that the aliens continue to use them to build underground bunkers and facilities. The greatest fear of the CDF is that the aliens are constructing another safe place like Krak des Chevaliers.
In order to bridge the 'intelligence gap' the Royal Space Navy has launched a sophisticated constellation of communication and surveillance satellites around Crater. The Prometheus system combines comms, visual, SIGINT and ELINT resources and is aimed squarely at the Dayside (although some alarmist Reformists have claimed it could be used against them). The system has brought some good results (mainly in locating shallow supply bunkers) but has not yielded the predicted successes. This is due to conditions in the Dayside; baking heat hazes and dust storms, and Kafer counter-measures such as keeping to the canals and imposing EMCOM. Nevertheless the Commando has full access to this system through their RSN Intelligence Officer. Prometheus is a very expensive system as the high levels of radiation and solar flares regularly knock out satellites which must be replaced.
The pre-War intelligence apparatus, the Special Branch of the British Crater Police has proved largely worthless. It continues to be obsessed with monitoring the Miner's Association and prominent Reformists. Its commanders treat the Kafer threat as secondary to safeguarding the interests of the Consortium. Policemen near the front line are more focused and have aided in the creation of the Auxiliary Patrol Units of special constables to aid in the gathering of basic intelligence around the remote communities.
Above: Subdued shoulder flash worn by all CDF personnel
The Crater Defence Force is a unified command that has operational control over all the military units on Crater, these include three field force battalions (1 British and 2 Crateran), the two Commandos, RNVRC and local defence forces.
The CDF is currently commanded by Major General O' Connor late of the Dublin Fusiliers, who masterminded the 1st Dayside Campaign, although most operations are run by his Chief of Staff Colonel John Holden. Holden is a highly competent officer and fought bravely in the Occupation, he transferred to the Crater Regiment some ten years ago and is highly placed in Loyalist society. Holden is not above using his contacts to undermine O' Connor's position. However O' Connor's links to the liberal new Governor General Sir Irvine Jameson somewhat counteracts this.
In fact the political conflict between the well entrenched Loyalists backed by the Consortium and the more liberal in-comers brought in to sort out Crater's problems take up almost as much time for the officers in CDF HQ as prosecuting the war. The reactionary Duke of Crater, the head of the Consortium and leading Loyalist has especially made up his mind to try and unseat both General O' Connor and the Governor General. He may be unaware however that the British Colonial Office is no longer willing to allow Crater to be run solely for the benefit of the Consortium.
The vast majority of outposts in the Dayside and those closer to the Rimview are undefended except for a scattering of small arms in private possession. If threatened by a Kafer raid they are completely vulnerable and easy prey for the aliens. To counter this the CDF has established a rapid response unit at Rimview, known as the Fireforce.
The Fireforce is composed of an infantry company, a troop of close combat specialists from the Storm Commando and a Troop of the Armoured Commando. These units are manned by different units in rotation and are maintained at high states of readiness. When an alert is received the troops scramble aboard the four stand-by Raven-class landers of the RSN's 1108 Naval Interface Squadron. Using these landers they can reach most locations across the Dayside within 45 minutes of an alert.
The Ravens land at a pre-surveyed landing zone near the settlement, usually carrying two sections of CW and two platoons of infantry. The CWs and one platoon of infantry advance to the settlement whilst the remainder dig in and secure the LZ. The Ravens then split, two remaining to give fire support and local mobility whilst two return to Rimview to bring in the rest of the Fireforce if required. If the troops on the ground run into Kafers they will attempt to destroy any vehicles with air support whilst pinning down any foot soldiers until the arrival of reinforcements.
Most Fireforce operations are false alarms, which is frustrating for the soldiers. However the creation of units like the Armoured Commandos Recce Troop and Auxiliary Patrol Units of the BCP has reduced the proportion of these occurrences.
However when the Fireforce does run into Kafer forces it can have a serious fight on its hands. The presence of CW can usually swing the fight in its favour but battles have often been close run, on occasions escalating into major battles with the committing of other CW Troops and infantry battalions. If the enemy has taken the settlement the Fireforce usually cordons off the area and awaits the arrival of the Storm Commando troop to enter the location. Sometimes the Fireforce is just too late and can only mop up the dead.
Whatever happens, a tour on Fireforce duty is never dull.
CW operations are the life blood of human military operations on Crater. They take the place of the infantry in most operations, having the firepower, protection and mobility to undertake operations both on the plateau and in the wadis. Their sensors and fire control systems allow them to dominate enemy infantry at relatively little cost to themselves. Whilst a pair of walkers can easily outfight and outmanoeuvre most Kafer fighting vehicles.
CWs are most often used to secure areas around settlements or bases, especially clearing out Kafer positions on the approaches either on their own on in combination with small units of infantry. They can also be used in ambush. However CWs must always be used with logistic and maintenance support close at hand, even the heavily modified Bowmans of the Armoured Commando will not last long on their own on the Dayside.
A key role for CW is in the provision of stop groups at key areas during clearance operations. Kafers are renowned for assaulting these positions to escape from killing zones and only CW's have proved consistently effective at stopping them breaking through when placed in the correct locations.
Deployment techniques have been mentioned above. However a special note should be made that para dropping, so successful on New Africa, is not viable on Crater due to the low atmospheric pressure. Similarly low altitude para extraction deliveries limited for similar reasons and because the Raven is not capable of this technique. Rocket assisted drop techniques have been experimented with but because of the effectiveness of Raven insertions have not been continued with.
In addition CWs retain their efficiency in urban warfare, and were used to great effect in the guerrilla war under Rimview during the occupation and in clearing the upper levels of Krak des Chevaliers. However most CW pilots dislike this role as casualties are always very high. However the presence of CWs in any battle decreases casualties amongst the infantry as well as vastly improving their moral. In short, on Crater the combat walker is a battle winner.
The Kafers on Crater have proven themselves to be immensely resilient. Twice now the human forces have been convinced that the aliens have been beaten, only for them to spring up again. The Kafers on Crater have gained a reputation as being immensely difficult to destroy, with some justification.
The key to their resistance is their leader, Kch*k'ch*!!, or Disciple of Struggle. A commander from the Ylii border worlds in charge of a well armed detachment sent by its Suzerain V'ded'ah as a token of support for Triumphant Destiny. However this unit was relegated to garrison duty on newly conquered Crater. Disciple of Struggle was quick to realise the vulnerability of Rimview to attack, and it set about creating 'depth' to his position. It did this by using human prisoners to build an array of small supply depots and bases on the Dayside. Including the safe place the humans came to call Krak des Chevaliers.
When the humans attempted to liberate Crater its initial defence, mostly conducted with Kafers loyal to Triumphant Destiny, was almost good enough to destroy the invading human force. However it was forced to withdraw into the Dayside position where many of the troops were concealed. It intended to fight on at a low intensity, conserving its strength as best it could until the Kafer fleet returned. However the nature of the Kafer troops meant Disciple of Struggle had to sanction raids on human outposts to keep its force together. In doing so it started the 1st Dayside Campaign in earnest.
The fight was an intense and stimulating one for the Kafers, especially when subjected to storming attacks, but one they were to loose as more and more resources were pitted against them. During the campaign Disciple of Struggle came to realise that its position was doomed, it realised that fixed positions would eventually be the end of its force. So it planned a further fall back position, except this time there would be no single safe place. The surviving troops would instead roam through the canals in the deep Dayside between a number of locations stocked with supplies, from time to time these forces would gather to launch raids and to harass the humans. In this way it hoped to buy even more time for the return of the fleet.
When Krak des Chevaliers fell Disciple of Struggle's plan came into action, although it was badly injured in the storming and only just managed to escape alive. Now the 400 remaining Kafers exist in the deep Dayside, largely concealed from the humans and emerging only to launch vicious raids. However Disciple of Struggle has come to the worrying conclusion that the dispersed operations vital to the survival of the remaining troops is reducing them to something like Aach*ah, smart barbarians. It even fears for its own sense of race.
The Kafer troops that remain under Disciple of Struggle's command are survivors. They live under constant threat of death from the humans and their environment. Half of them are Gnich*, thinking veterans. They represent an exceptionally wily enemy for the human troops that oppose them, there are no easy battles against these Kafers. They have truly mastered light infantry tactics especially in the wadis and canals of the Dayside. Concealed amidst the rocks and debris their shells blend into the background. Even in small numbers can give human soldiers, even the impressive CW's, nightmares and make them pay in blood for every foot of ground taken.
Their main problem is in the lack of supplies. Disciple of Struggle planned well however, creating many small, buried supply caches that they can draw upon. However these will become a dwindling resource and probably run out in the next six months. Another problem is water, some precious deep drilled wells are available at some base locations but water is a key raiding target for some groups.
The main military weakness is the lack of vehicles, most of which were destroyed in the climactic Battle of Krak des Chevaliers. However some survived and some have been recovered and repaired by Kafer salvage parties operating perilously close to the human stronghold. A very few Deathsleds are present but most surviving vehicles are tracked APCs, some human vehicles have also been pressed into service.
Raiding parties usually consist of up to thirty Kafers and two or three rare combat vehicles. Disciple of Struggle has even managed to co-ordinate long distance raids in which units have to attack small settlements in order to get to their actual targets in the twilight zone. This usually calls requires feints to draw out the Fireforce, but the technique has proven successful and may be called upon later for more impressive raids.
Above: Commando dagger capbadge used by Contract soldiers
5. The Armoured Commando is giving me increasing concern. The high proportion of Reformists and foreigners in its ranks and generally lax standards of discipline has led to routinely seditious opinions being held by all ranks. Off duty troopers are commonly discourteous to members of the British Crater Police and drunken brawls are an all to frequent occurrence. The fine combat record of this unit does not give its members licence to undermine the law, order and efficient administration of this colony. It also increasingly evident that the CO of this unit is distracted, obsessed with trivia and prone to glory hunting. His post must be under consideration.
6. I have often raised these points with Major General O' Connor. However I believe this great man perceives the Armoured Commando as his own personal toy and lacks objectivity about it. I write this letter not through any disloyalty to the General, who retains my unbridled confidence, but to keep Your Grace informed of events.
Letter from Colonel J Holden, Chief of Staff, Crater Defence Force to the Duke of Crater Intercepted by RSNIS 12/04/03 1530 ZULU
The Armoured Commando gives many PCs a rare opportunity to get their hands on state of the art military kit or to work in recce or command capacities. Whilst the usual array of Kafer bashing missions on the Dayside are available to members of the Commando there are also missions involving Crateran politics, international espionage, internal arguments within the Commando as well as foiling the Kafer leader's endgame. These scenarios are, of course, just suggestions and except for the end game could be run in any order.
In the early stages of the 2nd Dayside Campaign the CDF HQ has become increasingly frustrated with their inability to locate the new Kafer safe place. To solve this problem they launch Operation LEWES. LEWES involves luring a Kafer raiding party to attacking an isolated settlement, ambushing them but allowing the survivors to escape. These will then be tracked back to their hiding place. Once this has been located forces on board the Leviathan Task Force and the Fireforce (located forward at Krak des Chevaliers) will be brought into destroy the base.
The Armoured Commando will be heavily involved in this mission with three fighting troops and the recce troops as integral parts of the operation (alongside the Storm Commando and 1st Battalion, The King's Own Royal Border Regiment). This is an opportunity for the PCs to be involved in a fairly major, multi-phase operation and be introduced to the Commando's tactical doctrines.
However Operation LEWES will ultimately be a failure. When captured it will become obvious that the Kafer base is only a small supply and rest area, it is not the safe place High Command are looking for. (Of course the humans are unaware that Disciple of Struggle has not constructed a safe place just a series of bases similar to the one captured.)
Intercourse and Intoxication
I & I is the CDF's much preferred version of R & R. After a tour on the Dayside or on Fireforce duty the Troop is usually given a three day leave pass. A large part of this is usually spent on Edge Street, Rimview's raciest district. The player's Commando status usually attracts free drinks and loose women but also hatred from other soldiers or civilians. The ultimate Commando night out revolves around the '3 F's' (feeding, fighting and f******) but is anchored by prodigious consumption of alcohol. Unlike other units Commando officers live and drink with their men and see these nights as vital for esprit de corps. For young soldiers who regularly risk death on the Dayside, living life to the full at every opportunity is a necessity.
Whilst most Commandos are satisfied with drunken nights others take the opportunity to see what Rimview has to offer them. Small collections of art and theatre companies exist in the city, whereas some might take advantage of invites to exclusive parties held by members of Crater's Loyalist upper crust. Others might accompany local Crateran soldiers to visit their families in Rimview's poorer districts or on Ranches and mines in the Uplands. Some characters might gain an insight into Crateran life and even begin to take sides in the colony's political divide.
Entrepreneurial characters might take the opportunity to make a little extra money on the side. These could range from the above board to the down right dishonest and might bring them into contact with the Rimview underworld or with the Military Police. It is not difficult for a PC to become very quickly out of his depth. He might find himself RTU'd, on long term detachment on the Dayside or even dead depending on who gets to him first.
I & I interludes should come around once every 6 to 8 weeks although commandos can find themselves in Rimview for short periods at other times. They can be used to break up the routine of patrols, duties and combat missions.
The most dangerous thing in the world
During a contact on the Dayside a prominent Loyalist Crateran in the Commando is killed during the firefight. (It could well be No.5 Troop's Captain Newberry). However when his CW is recovered it becomes obvious that the killing shot was fired from the rear. Was the pilot simply unlucky, or was he 'fragged' by his own side?
An incident such as this will ignite the simmering distrust of the Armoured Commando and its many Reformist troopers amongst staff officers at CDF HQ. BCP Special Branch officers are brought into investigate the killing. The Commanders off the Commando fear that the findings of the investigation will be used to justify a purge of much of the Commando's rank and file and their replacement with Loyalists soldiers lacking in CW skills. This would emasculate the combat efficiency of the unit just as the tempo of the Dayside Campaign is increasing.
With the backing of General O' Connor, Major Frost has launched his own investigation under the command of CSM White with Senior Rate Llewellyn and a hand picked team. This ad-hoc group must find out what actually happened in the face of opposition from politicians and the military. This should not be an easy task and may prove to be almost as deadly as facing the Kafers, but should they fail they know that the next time they do go into battle they may have a barely trained rookie on his shoulder.
The New Guys
Four months into the campaign the colony receives some new reinforcements from the Wellon Expeditionary Force. The 7th Battle Group is a composite force drawn from elements of the 7 (Wellon) Armoured Brigade, Desert Recce Force and a composite CW company. The unit has been training hard in Wellon's own main deserts the Blight and the Koevoet, and their Montgomery and Templer AFV's will be a greatly appreciated addition. However they still must be indoctrinated into Dayside survival techniques and tactics.
CDF HQ has decided to attach elements of E (CW) Company to the Armoured Commando in order to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible. Equipped with gleaming new Bowman walkers and weapons and the recipients of extensive training, these Wellonese regulars have never seen real combat. Obviously they have much to learn from both the Commandos and the Kafers, however the learning process might not be an easy one.
Nowhere to run
Crater's internal political difficulties are relatively small when compared to some colonies but because of the media coverage they receive have a very high profile. Britain was widely regarded to have come out of the Kafer War relatively well, loosing the smallest proportion of its space fleet and suffering the least permanent damage to its occupied colonies. With the threat from the Kafers seemingly receding, international power politics has reared its ugly head again. One (or more?) major power has decided to 'clip the Brit's wings' by encouraging revolt on Crater.
(The actual country involved in this could be one of many, it is up to the GM. France and Germany have both been hit very hard with colonies in need of great levels of humanitarian aid. Argentina might be involved out of shear spite. Another wild card could be America, many of whose expatriate citizens live and work on Crater.)
As a partly mercenary force the Armoured Commando is very open to infiltration by people with more than one agenda. An agent within its ranks could be capable of stirring divisions within the unit (possibly tying in with the scenario above), sabotaging military operations or civilian facilities. Whilst on I & I in Rimview they could undertake more traditional espionage activities under the guidance of their handler. An obvious target for subversion, who is also a possible suspect, is Lieutenant Liang whose history is known to both French, German, Elysian and Manchurian agents.
The PC's could be part of a team established to hunt down the traitor within the ranks. Alternatively at the start of the campaign one of the PC's could be the spy from the very beginning. In such a scenario paranoia would be very much to the fore.
Every Man A Hero..
Major Frost is continuously trying to increase the profile of the Commando. His and the unit's constant appearances in the Crateran media has always exited comment amongst other CDF formations and especially at HQ (Many senior Commandos also find these activities 'tasteless'). Frost is not above using direct appeals to the media to gain his unit extra funding or new equipment. The increasing fame of the unit has led to interplanetary media interest, especially from Joi, Earth and Beta Canum. Rumours abound of possible films, mini-series or even an animated kids show.
The players could be roped into Frost's plans in a number of ways. They could be assigned to baby-sit journalists or camera crews, with orders to make sure they get some good footage. They could discover an attempt set up by other CDF units to show the Commandos in a bad light. Alternatively if the PC's have just come from an exhausting mission they could be set off-world to Joi or Beta Canum as part of a recruiting drive, appearing as genuine 'war heroes' in front of the media and other soldiers.
Back to the Krak
Six months from the start of the 2nd Dayside Campaign the Kafer leader Disciple of Struggle has come to realise that the Kafer fleet is not going to be returning. It is very aware that its supply caches are running perilously low, the time for hiding is over and it intends to land a heavy blow on the humans before it is overwhelmed.
Disciple of Struggle's plan is two fold. It intends to mass its force and attack the stronghold at Krak des Chevaliers to kill as many humans as possible and seize the supplies hidden under it. Whilst the humans are distracted by the main force a small raiding force will slip across the twilight zone, using the carefully developed long range techniques. On the way they will recover two tactical nuclear weapons (the only examples they posses) from a concealed cache. They will then try to infiltrate Rimview through the under-city tunnels, attacking the catapult and the fusion plant. This will devastate the human city and render the colony untenable.
The attack on the KDC is a do or die effort. It will be led by infiltrators who will enter the complex by the lower levels and attempt to cripple any carriers at the base. The follow on force will then mop up the external defences and flood the base with the remaining Kafer foot soldiers. It will be a harsh and bitter fight.
The Kafer raiders heading for Rimview are a hand picked group of 20 Gnich* travelling in four APC's. They intend to travel the hard-way through the wadis and canals to avoid humans and satellite coverage. They will have to hit at least three human outposts to get enough supplies to get to the Rimwall, also they have to collect the nukes from a concealed bunker in the twilight zone. It is entirely likely that the fight for KDC is long over before they reach their target. If the Kafers have won the humans may be too busy to notice the small group of raiders. If the humans have held on then they will be at leisure to try and locate the group before it is too late. The Kafer infiltration through the under-city could also be problematical and their greatest risk of discovery.
The room for the involvement of the PC's is obvious. They can either be a part of the KDC garrison, the Fireforce or as reinforcements for KDC. The fight for the stronghold will be one of exceptional ferocity. Once the battle is over (successfully or otherwise) the PCs could be called into to investigate the loss of communications with a number of twilight zone outposts and be put on the tail of the raiders.
Whether the Kafer raiders succeed in destroying a large part of Rimview or not, the end of the campaign is near. Either Disciple of Struggle's soldiers are still holding out at Krak des Chevaliers or they have been forced back into the deep, and the battered CDF will be out for revenge and a final victory (even a phyrric one).
The assault carrier HMS Arnhem has arrived above Crater carrying much needed reinforcements of the 6 PARA Battle Group. Composed of elite paratroopers, veterans of New Africa and the 1st Dayside Campaign and reinforced with three CW Platoons this is a powerful and mobile force. The CDF intends to cordon off the enemy's location and pound them from orbit before sending in the ground troops to finish them off in Operation ROCK CRUSH.
The Armoured Commando, with 6 PARA's four CW platoons under command, will be inserted en-masse by Arnhem's Ravens to form the perimeter. Then the remaining CDF carriers will bring in all the ground forces that can be mustered. The perimeter expects to be the target of almost suicidal attacks by the Kafers. Once the orbital bombardment is over the CW's will have to force an entry down the main canals to the entrance so the infantry can storm the complex.
By this time the PCs and the Armoured Commando as a whole are very tired and battered by nearly six months of operations. Many notice the difference between them and the Para and Pathfinder CW platoons alongside them. Nevertheless the fighting spirit of the Commando should see it successfully through its role as the spearhead of the assault but with serious casualties.
Once the fighting is over there is still an uncertain future awaiting the colony.
'I tell you Fireforce is the only way to go to war darlin'. You sit around in four star comfort until the hooter goes and then it's on to the Dusty for a half hour boost to the target. You're so goddamn busy getting geared up and briefed you've barely got time to get scared. You hit the dirt, have a firefight, kill some bugs and you're back home for a beer two hours later. Damn sight better the lurching about in some carrier with a stupid name. Those things always make me barf.
'Another beer? Sure thing babe!'
Trooper John M Wilczynski Jr, No.6 Troop 'Reapers', The Armoured Commando
The D-607 is a common sight on Crater especially in the Uplands and Dayside and is one of the few vehicles constructed on-world. It is a rugged ACV which although designed for hauling medium loads can be easily converted to a range of tasks. On Crater this can range from ranching, to prospecting to acting as a mobile caravan for a small family. The military has taken many into service as extemporised APC's and load carriers. The Armoured Commando has had eight converted to carry a section of CW's into action.
The Armoured Commandos Chariots have an open rear deck containing six frames, three to each side, which hold the CWs firmly in place. When they need to disembark the frames pitch forward and the CWs can walk away into action. The Chariot also has a single 25mm auto-cannon in a turret over the cab, however whilst tough they are practically un-armoured and shouldn't be used as fighting vehicles. The have two crewmen from the RNVRC, usually Uplanders skilled in travel across Crater.
Type: Refitted Hover Truck
Hercules-Class ACV Carrier
The Hercules-class has its origins in the hubris of pre-War attempts to rapidly expand Crater's mining capacity. Beta Canum's Schwerfabrik Industrie was commissioned to design a heavy load carrying ACV that could move enough mining equipment to rapidly establish strip mines and to carry ore back to centralised refineries. The first prototype, the Hercules, was delivered and assembled in 2282 and quickly proved a success. Other orders followed bringing the number up to eight but a change in the economy resulted in most being placed in mothballs. As the invasion neared the British resident Naval officer was put in charge of efforts to get them to safety and use them as mobile warehouses for supplies.
This proved highly successful and when the 1st Dayside Campaign started up the RN officer was quick to propose the use of his 'landships' to support the military effort. The results were far greater than he could possibly have envisioned and the independent, nuclear powered carriers were a major factor in the eventual success of the campaign. Five of the seven survivors were returned to civilian hands being instrumental in Upland reconstruction efforts. Two, Behemoth and Leviathan remain in service.
The Hercules are massive ACV's, fully 50 meters in length and can reach surprising speeds across the desert. Route selection is a major problem as canal crossings can only been undertaken at certain locations. These choke points are well known and have been the site of battles in the past, units of the carriers Task Force are normally sent ahead to secure the crossings.
The militarised models have the main bay halved in height to accommodate a second floor of fuel tanks, ammunition, supplies and cramped quarters. The lower floor can accommodate up to 20 military ACVs, a full company group, or an exceptionally cramped infantry battalion. These carriers are very vulnerable and equipped only with limited defensive armament. They must be escorted and their drones and part of their vehicle complement are deployed at all times. Their damage resistance properties are also marginal. HMLS Hercules was lost with all hands (although thankfully the infantry had disembarked) shortly after the 2nd Battle of Eisen's Tower when Kafer missiles ignited the magazine which in turn breached the fusion plant containment.
Type: Converted Hover Carrier
Annihilator-Class ACV Carrier
The Annihilator-Class was the brain child of Lt-Cmdr Vaughn, who recognised his heavy carriers must have protection and that heavy weapons support could be given to disembarked troops. Schwerfabrik Industrie's Mule-class ACVs had long been used on Crater and were of an excellent general design. The RNVRC acquired several and began to convert them using supplies moved to Crater to support the RGL Kampfgruppe. Montgomery HBT components along with locally produced armour plate were utilised to create an ACV gunship.
Annihilator, the first of the class, made its debut half way through the 1st Dayside Campaign and was used as a close escort to the bigger ACVs and was swiftly joined by others. It proved its use as a goalkeeper and in providing indirect fire support to dismounted troops. Although no match for a Hovertank and vulnerable to anti-tank teams they provided sterling service, also being used for deep Dayside raids on their own. Much smaller than the Hercules they have greater mobility and are not constrained by anything but the biggest canals.
Type: Refitted ACV Carrier
On Crater the RSN's 1108 Naval
Interface Squadron operates six Ravens, four of
these are constantly stood for Fireforce duties but are
also used for other tasks as required. The Ravens
are invaluable not only for their capacity to move troops
swiftly, but to operate as ad-hoc ground attack aircraft,
a capacity used to the full by intelligent Fireforce
commanders. The squadron, crews and Ravens are
collectively referred to as 'Dusties' by the ground
troops. This comes from both the massive clouds of dust
they throw up on landing and take off, but also the
'dust-off' role of rushing injured troops to safety that
has saved many live. Needless to say the RSN crews rarely
need to buy any drinks when off duty.
Hoppers are stub-winged aircraft powered by vectored thrust engine. With low cruising speeds (around 400kph) they were used to move mining personnel around the Dayside and remote Uplands and back to Rimview. Although relatively slow they are cheap and more comfortable than ACVs, essentially they were flying busses. Many were destroyed during the occupation but those that remain have been co-opted by the military to move between bases on the Dayside and for non-urgent troop and supply movements.
Any campaign involving military units develops its own military and civilian slang and argot. Crater has been no exception.