Development Diary IX: Old World Blues
Hello and welcome to another diary for The New Order: Last Days of Europe. This diary will take us further east than we ever have gone before.
In preparation for our entrance into Asia and the Co-Prosperity Sphere, we're taking a short trip to a middle ground, in Russia. Specifically, the Southern Urals region, where Dirlewanger's Black Bandits, as the Russians call them, have come into conflict with the Ural League and their elite soldiers of the Ural Guard. The Guard has been fighting the bandits bitterly to protect the peasant communes of Orenburg, where the locals have refused their offers to help in fear of losing their anarchistic way of life.
There is much that creeps in the darkness however, for in what the locals have come to call the Black Mountain, and what is more commonly known as Magnitogorsk, Trofim Lysenko and his scientists have emptied the Bashkir countryside of people and goods, using them for foul experiments in their mountaintop fortress. Their goal? Perfect a method to make a superior, invincible, soldier, so that they can create an army to destroy the Germans. Only one obstacle stands in the way of them capturing a suitable number of test subjects however: The Ural League. The League, however, may also just provide the perfect test subjects.
None of these nations, if they can be called that, have any greater designs in Russia. All they wish is for victory over their enemies, or in the Communes case, to be left alone.
Before we get into the diary proper, let me show you a little image I made to describe the deep nuances of the region:
And now, here's a screenshot of the region itself, along with the flags of the respective entities there:
Now let's get to it.
During the near mythical West Russian War of the 50s, the SS had come to a turning point. Himmler, seeing the war turning against Germany, finally lost any faith he had in the Reich truly reaching its goals of an Aryan utopia, as the military struggled to hold the line against the advancing forces of the West Russian Revolutionary Front.
As the army retreated deeper west, abandoning the A-A line, the SS plotted. They slowly began to influence the retreating local garrisons and the Wehrmacht units sent to reinforce their lines, and prepared for a killing blow to the German military.
A younger Hans Speidel, however, saw this. Together with men loyal to him, he organized and led Operation Fehlzündung, named after the term ‘Backfire’, or the method for starting fires to fight them, against the SS.
Speidel and his men descended in the dead of night on SS camps and on marching formations and rapidly disarmed and captured the units and their entire chains of command. The operation was a rousing success, with only three wounded and several hundred SS fighters and their leaders imprisoned by Speidel's loyalists.
One unit, however, was not so easy to tame.
The 36th Waffen SS Panzergrenadier Brigade, or the Dirlewanger Brigade. Known for their excessive cruelty, even for an SS formation, the men of the Brigade were widely considered the attack dogs of the German military in the east. Sent to tear apart and brutalize anything the military sent them at before being tossed a bone and kicked back into its cage. Most of the military had little regard for who they considered the lost and the damned, renegade soldiers hardly held on their leash only for the promises of spoil.
Speidel had not told many units of the operation beforehand, fearing a leak, and redirected the Wehrmacht’s 30th Infantry Division to arrest Dirlewanger as they were marching back to camp from the front.
As elements of the 30th surrounded the 36th, they were surprised when Dirlewanger immediately ordered his men to open fire. The 30th was already exhausted, and not quite ready for the operation, and the 36th punched a hole clean through them and escaped camp in several stolen vehicles.
German units chased Dirlewanger and his men in their own vehicles. Luck seemed to be with Dirlewanger however, as the Russians chose the moment to begin another assault, and the 30th was quickly forced back to their lines. Dirlewanger and his men disappeared into Russian lines just as one of the worst blizzards of the area's history began, and were never heard from again. Presumed dead, and forgotten to the annals of history. Perhaps the Germans just hoped that no man so foul could survive the inhospitable Russian wastes and the Slavic hordes both.
Himmler was outraged at Backfire, but German politicians used the captured SS formations as leverage to convince Himmler to accept their offer of the formation of Burgundy. Relations between Speidel and the SS would be forever damaged, but Germany was saved.
The 36th however, were branded as traitors. Realizing that the madmen who caused the deaths of nearly a hundred German soldiers were his responsibility, Himmler officially reneged their membership in the SS and disowned them. Outcasting them to whatever fate they would meet.
But it seemed father time was not so good as to snuff Dirlewanger and his dogs out of the books. As the West Russian front and central authority in Russia once again collapsed, settlers and survivors across Russia reported disturbing news. Many thought the Germans were invading anew, or that they had secretly infiltrated Russia. All reported bloodshed, as the Germans seemed to roll into towns, seemingly at random, rape and pillage, and then leave. With them they took the scum of Russia. Petty criminals, former Gulag inmates, other bandits and even Cossacks seemed drawn to the Germans, and reports said that the band had begun to swell to massive numbers.
When they finally settled down south of the Urals, controlling one of the most important trade routes in the new Russia, many were shocked to see that at the head of this army of brigands, the lost and the damned, was Dirlewanger. Independence from the chain of command had done him well, as he had become the Bandit King of Southern Russia. The 36th, or the Black Bandits as many Russians now called them, sat in Orsk, growing fat on their spoils, and becoming the most feared group of bastards in all of the former Soviet Union.
Dirlewanger's Brigade starts out as a deadly force, but not a long lasting one. His men want for nothing more than to pillage and loot Russia, and have no desire to build a nation to last into the future. The band is also solely held together by Dirlewanger, and, being comprised of everything from German deserters to Russian bandity to Kazakh horsemen, would easily collapse in on itself without the aging bandit king.
As said before, however, they are deadly. Most of the band has seen combat in some form or another, and have become infamous as the deadliest and cruelest bandit group in the entirety of the former Soviet Union.
Dirlewanger starts with the largest force in the area, and benefits from attacking his opponents before they have a chance to build up against him. His men are also some of the most experienced, second only to the League, and is made up of a mix of German regulars and native bandits.
He also starts with the Luftwaffe Terror Bombing modifier, that most Russian nations have, thanks to Germany's indiscriminate bombing campaign of Russia, it is much harder for the Russians to actually build their societies. Not that Dirlewanger overly cares about industrial efficiency.
His goals are simple, loot the fabled city of Orenburg. Relatively untouched in the war and having grown into, if not a symbol of wealth, a symbol of stability in Southern Russia, the city holds much wealth for he who sacks it. The mountain passes are blocked by the League however, and their Guards harass and neutralize any bandits attempting to cross west into the Communes territory.
They must be destroyed.
To do this, the bandits can either go in alone, or more likely, and a better idea all around, make a deal with Lysenko.
The foppish scientist who sits on top of the mountain is an odd one, but he also wishes to see the League removed and Orenburg destroyed. In return for the capturing of the populations of both and their transfer to the Black Mountain, he has offered to send material and military aid to the bandits. The mountain is claimed to be full of old Soviet weaponry the band sorely needs, and the deal can be quite profitable. And when it's over, nothing is stopping Dirlewanger from smashing the scientists and stealing anything else he is hiding.
The League is the only real obstacle to Dirlewanger's goals in Orenburg, which stands weak and disunited. The Guards are formidable foes, but they will be smashed like all others.
And when they're done with, Orenburg will burn.
Of course, this is assuming that Dirlewanger survives all of this. But what's the worst that could happen? The man's practically invincible!
It should be noted that Dirlewanger has over a hundred death events, largely made by the team and friends of the team as a group effort. You know, to blow off steam.
It was a good time.
To finish this note, Dirlewanger benefits from raiding various places, and can expand further into Russia if he pillages Orenburg and destroys the League. Dirlewanger takes a state, destroys all infrastructure and factories, giving himself massive amounts of goods as he does so, and expands his radius outward. Some even say he has ambitions on moving further west, into German lands...
The Ural League
The Ural League is a collection of fortresses in the southern Urals with a colorful history.
Initially formed far, far north in Vorkuta, the League was established shortly after the fall of the Union. When prisoners of Vorkuta’s gulag rioted against the guards, and the guards prepared to open fire on the crowd, prisoner Janis Mendricks, a Latvian Catholic Priest and anti-German who had traveled east to escape the Germans but had found himself imprisoned by the Soviets soon after, stood up and managed to prevent bloodshed.
Luckily for him, many of the guards felt the same, and the prisoners and guards instead decided to work together to ensure their own survival. The movement spread to several other gulags still inhabited nearby, as Mendriks, former Commissar Mikhail Gefter, and recaptured Red Army defector Sergei Bunyachenko, all worked tirelessly to turn the Gulags into villages.
All was not to be however, as the nearby warlords and the lack of food or warmth in the north forced the prisoners and guards to abandon Vorkuta and the several other gulags that had joined them, and together they marched south.
The march was tireless, with dozens, and then hundreds of their number dwindling, but eventually they found shelter in Sverdlovsk. While the locals feared them and refused them shelter, many of the local gulags were still filled, either with prisoners who had freed themselves, the garrisons who had let them leave or similar groups of the two working together. They settled down in the mountains, creating a fortress far away from civilization where they could live in peace.
The guards would organize parties to scout the surrounding land or scavenge for supplies, and although they were initially ordered to stay out of others affairs for the safety of the group, it wasn’t long until several of the guards found themselves protecting a small group of survivors from bandits.
The survivors made their way to the town, and then, slowly, more and more of the loners and peasants around the area did as well, seeking the shelter the group afforded. The gulags grew from prisons to castles to cities.
It was not long until Ilya Starinov, Soviet military veteran and formerly a strong proponent of the use of well-trained forces in unequal combat situations, wandered to the city. Having been traveling across Russia, offering his services to the highest bidders and training villages to fend for themselves in return for food and shelter, he has decided his nomadic life must end, as he is now entering his 60s.
Seeing a need and unique opportunity for the force he has always dreamed of in the League, he has settled down and decided to help the locals. With him, the Ural League Guard, formed from the original bands of guards who scouted out of the compounds, was founded. Taking men from all walks of life, and even women, the Guards were trained to be the most elite, powerful, and well drilled force on any battlefield. Meant to be able to scavenge for supplies or fight well away from any supply train, the Guard soon became possibly the most powerful fighting force in the former Soviet Union.
Their numbers, however, are small, and the League continues to struggle with resources as the Gulags they call their home continue to offer them little. In order to gain supplies, groups of Guards often leave the mountains to act as mercenaries, lending their assistance to villages in return for supplies for the homeland.
The League slowly civilized the areas south of them, clearing out the bandit gangs and uniting or colonizing the rest of the gulags as well as any mountain villages into their polity, when Dirlewanger and his men pillaged Orsk and the surrounding countryside, turning it into their personal fiefdom. The two sides have been in constant conflict since.
Guards also have begun drifting east, to Bashkortostan, one of the most poor and damaged lands in Russia. The Guards there often work for lower rates, working more out of kindness for the poor souls left behind by the stream of refugees traveling east into the League or into Orenburg. A dangerous route with the Germans roving the passes. This has brought them into conflict with Lysenko’s 22nd Motor Rifle Division NKVD, who the Guards have been forced to defend the locals from.
Stuck between two very hostile groups, low on resources and with a growing refugee problem, the Guards have begun looking for ways to save themselves and the locals of their new home from the situation. There has been talk of finding allies in Orenburg, but so far, the locals have proven quite uncooperative.
The League starts with the modifiers 'Refugee Crisis' and 'Children of Vorkuta'. As people flee west from Orsk and Bashkir, the League has taken it upon themselves to save as many as they can and safely escort them through the Urals. It has taken a major strain on the League, however, and it must be resolved quickly if the League will survive.
In addition, the League has the Children of Vorkuta spirit, which grants them impressive army benefits but makes training new men much more difficult. With Ilya Starinov, famed Russian general, as their starting advisor, the modifiers from this are doubled. The Guard is elite, but its strict training regime and spartan lifestyle means that they can not bring enough men to bare against their enemies. Alongside the Guard stand a small number of militia units, trained from volunteers among the refugees to help bolster the League's defenses.
Two paths can be taken, either the Guard can be further built up and reinforced, further increasing the benefits of Children of Vorkuta and raising their experience even higher, while granting a scant few more regiments, or the militia can be expanded upon, lessening the quality of the Guard but giving them enough men to punch back against the bandits and scientists both.
The League can have its cake and eat it too, however, and could bolster its manpower by enlisting assistance from those they've sworn to protect, the Communes in Orenburg. The Communes are a paranoid lot, however, and fear the highly regimented and militaristic Guard will take power if given the chance to enter, and have so far refused to aid or be aided by them.
If they were to unify, however, and the Communes convinced to allow the Guard to train their people and organize to fight their attackers, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
If Dirlewanger's bandits are crushed and the Commune saved, the League can then move on to the Black Mountain, and free Bashkir from the tyranny of 'comrade' Lysenko.
The battle will be hard fought, Lysenko has built himself the strongest fortress in all of Russia and has one of the last organized remainders of the Red Army, still acting soldierly even as they operate as bandits and thugs. But the League will persevere, as it always had, and crush the tyrant.
Orenburg is a loose collection of peasant communes south of the Urals, only tangibly related on a map, but rarely considered an actual group by the locals. By game start, the Communes have been forced to band together under a ‘Worker’s Council’ with representatives from each of the dozens of the Communes to address the growing crisis of refugees pouring over the Urals and the approaching bandits on the border.
The Council, however, is not exactly the most capable of governments.
Every single worker must have his voice heard, even outside the representatives. Since the meetings take place in Orenburg, the largest city in the region, these interruptions are regular. In addition, these dignitaries hardly trust each other, seeing every other representative as an agent attempting to take power. This is especially common when the Orenburg representatives are considered. Orenburg, the least anarchic of all of the Communes with its own city council, is seen as a threat to the freedom of the other Communes, with its population and larger industries.
Orenburg is certainly not the richest region in the former Soviet Union, and would just like to be left alone by all of the damned people who either want to murder them or making them not be so damn independent of one another.
While it is not the most rich nation, its ‘government’ also makes sure it will remain that way. While Orenburg has grown to be a hub for the surrounding land, the rest of the Communes sit in obscurity, living at near medieval levels and simply wanting nothing more than to keep the outside world out. The land has become something of a cornucopia for every expansionist group in Western Russia. Relatively untouched, even during the West Russian War, and fiercely independent, Orenburg holds numerous resources everyone wants.
Orenburg will need to decide how exactly to answer the crisis against the Bandits that are preparing to burn their lands to the ground. Their options for this are, of course, strike out on their own or allow the League to begin sending aid. Orenburg can attempt the first and give up and start taking aid, or start taking aid and decide that enough is enough and cut it off.
The Council is Orenburg’s biggest issue with dealing with the crisis. Every time you force an issue through the Council, ie: you don’t let it get bogged down in endless debate and betray the Council’s institution, a variable will rise showing the Communes anger. As it raises, Communes can one by one withdraw from the Council until only Orenburg itself remains. At which point you are more than likely doomed.
However, you can also take efforts to curtail the power of the Council. The centralized power variable will allow you to slap down issues depending on their size. For instance, an event may come up saying that the Communes have decided that each militia should have a seperate training regime decided by the village. You can spend CP to slap down this proposal and force them to work together, stopping a debuff and instead turning it into a buff. Doing this, of course, will also anger the Communes.
However, the higher the CP the higher your chance of telling an angry Commune wanting to withdraw to fuck off. If your CP is high enough, you can dissolve the Council and take power in Orenburg.
Once the Council is dissolved or pacified, three choices can be made.
1. The League can be invited to help take charge of the Communes, which will lead to Orenburg becoming a puppet of the League and having a common military, if one has not already been founded, built up by the League to prepare against the Bandits. The League would likely leave afterwards if asked, but them suddenly leaving may cause the developments they’ve built up to collapse, causing chaos, or causing several of the Communes members to attempt to join them permanently. They may help otherwise as well, but many fear that without utter control of Orenburg's resources, that help will not be enough.
2. Comrade Malenkov can take charge. Malenkov, one of the representatives of the Orenburg council, who had escaped south back to his home when the Union collapsed, can take charge of the Communes himself, declaring himself the Protector of the Orenburg Communes. Malenkov will attempt to curb the influence of the League or throw them out if able, fearing their military will attempt to overthrow him, and then try and strike deals with the Bandits, which is impossible to actually make work. Assuming he doesn’t manage to break the alliance and the Bandits are defeated, he will attempt to peacefully start dragging other Communist nations to the Communes while he attempts several industrial programs which will most likely fail. Expect him to eventually be smacked down by another Warlord. If he somehow manages his dream and unite Russia, then it will be a fairly limp wristed one, unlikely to reach its potential.
3. Aleksander Burba can step in and take charge, proposing his expedited plan to turn Orenburg into an industrial powerhouse. A local industrial magnate, Burba had been sent to Orenburg to assist as senior engineer of the MCSP in Orenburg, with the fall of the Union, he has used his extensive knowledge and skills to rebuild the city to become the Venice of West Russia. While the city is not quite that capable, Burba still is, and he will, if ruling Orenburg, will attempt to transform most of Orenburg to be similar. He will reform the Communes into a democracy, heavily influenced by industrial leaders, scientists and engineers (quasi-technocracy) and will attempt to build up Orenburg to be a shining beacon in the wasteland.
If nobody takes power and Orenburg somehow survives, the Communes will shift back to their previous state (assuming the player does not force through a candidate after, possibly causing a conflict) before becoming effectively impossible to play.
Orenburg starts with the 'Refugee Crisis' idea like the League and faces the same issues. They also start with the 'Anarchic Commune' modifier, which neuters them in almost every fashion. This modifier can be improved through a series of events, decisions and focuses, lessening their impact or removing certain ones altogether depending on your choices.
Orenburg's military is equally dilapidated, made up of the scant few militia units the Commune could agree to organize. They are poorly trained and equipped, and the smallest fighting force in the Southern Urals. If the League's assistance is granted, the militia may be expanded and trained into a proper fighting force, but the Communes have so far refused all help...
Will Orenburg survive into the future? It is unclear, but one thing is for certain, change will need to be made if the city will survive.
Finally, but not least, we have the Black Mountain.
Magnitogorsk was, before the war, a polluted mess. The mountain was stripped of its coal and steel and the rest of Bashkortostan faced rising pollution as the Soviets turned the mountain into not only a strip mine but also a military post, chainmail fences, large walls and gun nests ensuring nobody dared risk disturbing the operations of the mine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed to the German onslaught, the many guards, miners (many of whom were American) and officials at the mine abandoned the mountain, trying to return to their families or settling in with the various factions across Russia. The Black Mountain sat dormant, its many industries and supplies being forgotten to time, becoming just another dark blip on a bleak horizon. The pollution began to settle, and Bashkortostan became one of many anarchic regions as every village and farm looked inward to their own protection.
Then came Lysenko. Nobody knew exactly where the scientist came from, he had been in hiding ever since Bukharin disappeared in the 40s, but in the late 50s, he and his supporters slowly drifted in from the north. Lysenko, a small army of former scientist, and a larger army made up of the remnants of the 22nd Motor Rifle Division NKVD. It’s a bit of a mystery how this group had formed, but it’s generally believed that the 22nd, retreating east with much of the Soviet ground forces shortly after being mobilized, had been tasked in evacuating most of the intelligentsia of the Kremlin across the Urals, and that Lysenko had used his influence to take charge of the group in the meantime.
The group quickly swept into Magnitogorsk, chasing out the small number of scavengers and loners they found inside. After this, they quickly set up shop, rebuilding and improving the mountains fortifications, restarting the factories, and making their base entirely self sufficient. The peasants at the base of the mountain looked up one day as the cogs slowly turned again.
Then they disappeared.
As the smog filled the valley again, and as a series of ramshackle new mines and factories were built by the Scientists, pumping out even more smoke into the air, people in surrounding villages began to disappear. Hunters, traders, wanderers, all started to seemingly go missing. Entire villages then began to vanish, and soon, Bashkortostan was declared cursed, and slowly the peasantry began to evacuate.
The missing had become victims of what became to be known as Black Mountain.
Lysenko had once refused to ever consider his experiments on people, only plants. He had believed thoroughly in Lamarckian Evolution. Beings did not inherit traits from DNA or mutations, they inherited traits from what their forebears were forced to do and what they had grown in. His theories were, thankfully, only kept to plants, where he claimed that by forcing plants to grow together, they would grow as Marxists, and the plants would work to distribute sunlight and nutrients evenly among themselves.
His ideas were never popular in Bukharin’s Soviet Union, but his status as a peasant playing at greater things appealed to the Politburo greatly, and he found himself in a position of moderate power before the war.
Now, however, the war seems to have pushed Lysenko over an edge.
Now believing thoroughly that his theorem can be placed on people as well, he has given up his previous restrictions from earlier in his life, seeing the needs of Russia as above all other needs and wants.
He will bring a new dawn, with the powers of science.
At night, his men descend into the smog filled valleys, wearing chemical masks and bodysuits as to remain safe and keep the test subjects ‘uncontaminated’ by their contact, as Lysenko demands, the thugs round up men, women, children, entire villages, in the night and drag them up the mountain for ‘processing’ where the strongest and most fit for experimentation are chosen.
Lysenko has two main theories he is working to put from the test from Black Mountain:
1. That grain can be grown stronger and fuller by forcing it to work together under extreme duress.
2. That people can do likewise.
Lysenko has contained numerous men, women and children in cells and cages, and has worked to breed only strong soldiers, or force them to become stronger. Torturing pregnant women, locking men and women alone in a room and forcing them to procreate. Him and his scientists claim this is for science, although most can see they’ve gone completely and utterly mad, nobody has been able to properly stop the insanity, and Bashkortostan has faced the worst of it.
However, his plan has reached a standstill. The people of Bashkortostan have become increasingly protected by the Ural League and their Guards, and the weak and feeble peasantry are unable to withstand his tests. He needs stronger bodies to truly make a super soldier, and where better to get soldiers then with the finest soldiers in the Soviet Union?
While his security is strong, however, perhaps the strongest in the Soviet Union, the 22nd Motor is not the force it once was and Lysenko greatly doubts the ability of his men to defeat the Urals. To this end, he sees the nearby bandits under Dirlewanger as a gift. As previously said, Lysenko can propose a deal, offering Dirlewanger all of the riches of Bashkortostan and Black Mountain, as well as the Urals, in return for them assisting him in destroying the pesky societies there so he can capture specimens and no longer worry about their patrols killing his few men. With the Urals out of the way, further experimentation could also be done in Orenburg…
Lysenko starts with the 'Mad Scientist' spirit, which gives him great boosts to research time and improves his defenses while bleeding the land dry. Lysenko will be a technologically advanced opponent to fight, and an extremely well armed one, but manpower will be his weakness.
Lysenko starts with a force equally as small as Orenburg's, but far more elite and and much better armed. Lysenko will need to cut a deal with the southern bandits if he wants to have a shot of defeating his enemies, but they are nothing but pawns to Lysenko, and will also be removed in due time. No true deals will ever be cut with the Germans after what they did to the Union.
When the time has come, however, and the bandits suitably prepared, it will be time to destroy the League which has so annoyed Lysenko and his men.
The fighting will be harsh, but with Comrade Lysenko's guiding hand and the brute force of the bandity, it will be possible to shatter the League's defenses and open the road to Orenburg.
And then, when Orenburg has been finished, the final step must be taken to secure the south for the future. The bandits will be crushed.
Thank you for reading this diary from the future! I have had to step out for a week or two for military purposes, so I had to rush this and finish writing at 2 AM (I will be leaving in 2 hours :v) so I apologize if it seems rushed or confusing. It isn't exactly up to normal quality, I know, but I think we got close.
Next week we'll be traveling further east, to where one of the most populated nations on Earth has become a diplomatic battling ground for the Reich, the United States and Japan, but which has a host of problems of its own that it must deal with. But maybe, just maybe, it may grow to become a super power in this Cold War.
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