This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross

The Swiss Guard

"We first ran into them in a village near the Czech border. There were two of them, on horseback, and they were wearing a camouflage uniform I'd never seen before. We weren't sure who they were. It was Kessler who recognised them. 'Sie sind Schweizer' he said to himself in German first - when the LT asked him what he had said he just said 'Swiss'. At first we thought they were just regular Swiss soldiers - although we'd no clue what they were doing in Poland - it was only later we found out who they really were."

From the journal of Spec 4 Olivia Greene, 5th Infantry Division, US Army

When the Papacy relocated from the Vatican to the City of Perugia in the summer of 1997 in what was intended to be as a temporary measure [see note 1]  Pope John Paul II was aged seventy seven and was already in poor health, suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's Disease (although Vatican officials ensured that this fact remained secret). Despite this, he would remain Pontiff and a figurehead for the World's Catholics (and anti Soviet movements in Poland) for the next two and a half years, before dying from natural causes in early 2000. Following his death, a makeshift Conclave was convened from the small number of Cardinals in Perugia, who elected the Italian Cardinal Francesco Ravasi, the former Archbishop of Venice, as John Paul II's successor.

Whilst historically the majority of Popes had been entombed in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, one of John Paul II's last wishes was to be laid to rest in the Wawel Cathedral in his native Poland (the Pope had been born in the town of Wadowice, some fifty kilometres from Krakow, and had served as Archbishop of Krakow for a number of years). After much discussion - and prayer - the new Pope acceded to his predecessor's wish, and directed that preparations be made to see the dead Pope's remains safely from Perugia to Krakow.

Whilst Vatican physicians embalmed John Paul's body, the commanders of the Swiss Guard sought volunteers to accompany the body on what would be a long and dangerous overland journey. Every man in the detachment volunteered, so the commanders selected fifteen of the most able to escort John Paul on his final journey. Travelling with them would be several Priests and a physician, who would be responsible for ensuring the embalming process remained stable. Like the soldiers, all were volunteers.

The group left Perugia at the end of March 2000, travelling north. For the first part of the journey they travelled by truck, and carried papers signed by the commander of the Italian Army forces in the region stating that Italian troops were not to hinder them, while more tangible assistance came in the form of  a company sized detachment of Italian troops who accompanied them as they travelled through Italian controlled territory (one Italian officer volunteered to stay with the group in case they should unexpectedly encounter more Italian troops) . They parted company with the Italians soon after they entered Austria, at which point they switched from trucks to horses and wagons, and continued their journey through Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Meeting the Swiss Guard

"I'd seen pictures of the Swiss Guard before, wearing their fancy renaissance uniforms that were supposed to be designed by Michelangelo and carrying swords and halberds.

These guys were different. They had camo uniforms, kevlar vests, other gear we hadn't seen for months if not years. And they were loaded for bear."

From the journal of Spec 4 Olivia Greene, 5th Infantry Division, US Army

The group has suffered some casualties in skirmishes, and currently numbers seven Swiss Guards (six Hellebardiers, or privates, and one Korporal, or Corporal), under the command of Wachtmeister (Sergeant) Michael Steiner, two Priests, the Doctor, and Capitano Luca Di Battista of the Italian Army. Whilst Di Battista is the senior military officer  in the group, he has no command position - Steiner's second in command is Korporal Neumann. They are travelling in a small convoy of two wagons, each drawn by a single horse, and have four additional horses. One wagon carries the Holy Father's body in a simple wooden casket that is always covered by several canvas sheets. The second wagon serves as a supply wagon, carrying the group's water, food, and ammunition.  They will take every precaution to avoid encountering large bodies of armed men from either side, travelling by minor roads and sometimes by night. Two men will generally scout ahead of the main body on horseback, and first contact with the group is likely to be with these scouts.

Whilst travelling through the Allied controlled part of Austria the Swiss Guard disguised themselves in West German uniforms (which they still have in their supply wagon) but since crossing the Austrian / Czech border they have reverted back to standard Swiss Army woodland camouflage uniform, including the national flag and "Suisse" shoulder title, and carry standard Swiss Army small arms - primarily SG550 assault rifles and SG552 carbines [note 2]. One Guardsman has a GL5040 grenade launcher mounted to his SG550, whilst another carries an FN Minimi and they have also "acquired" a PK Machine Gun during their travels. Capitano Di Battista also wears Swiss uniform and carries an SG550. Each man also carries a sidearm (a mix of 9mm SIG P220's and P226's) and several hand grenades (HE and smoke).  They have a small amount of surplus kit and weapons - as well as several SG550’s, they have three MP5 submachine guns, two G3 battle rifles, and five AK74 assault rifles.

The Priests and the Doctor wear civilian clothing (sweaters, jeans, etc - whilst both Priests still wear their clerical collars, they are not usually visible. Whilst neither Priest has chosen to carry a weapon, the Doctor has a 9mm SIG P220 automatic pistol, which he will use if necessary.

The group will not be openly hostile to any NATO groups that they encounter (i.e. PC's), but they will be extremely wary, and will not go into detail about their mission or why they are in Poland. Initial enquiries will be met with silence; repeated attempts to find out why a group of Swiss soldiers are travelling through southern Poland may lead to conflict. Utterly dedicated to their task, by the standards of the Year 2000 the Swiss troops are well armed and well equipped, making them a potent ally - or a formidable enemy.

Wachtmeister Michael Steiner, southern Poland,

September 2000

If a GM has the Twilight Encounter Module "What's the Polish For G'Day" it can easily be adapted to substitute the Swiss Guards for  the Australian SAS contingent.


Motivations are only given for selected NPC's. At the GM's discretion one of the group may be working towards their own agenda - establishing personal wealth, etc, in which case they can be assigned the cards Spade King (Deceitful), Spade Queen (Ruthless), if necessary replacing cards already assigned (see also A Potential Twist below).

Each Guardsman (including Di Battista) has a standard load of ammunition for their weapons, six hand grenades (four HE and two Smoke), a kevlar vest and helmet.

* Denotes the Character's native language

Wachtmeister Michael Steiner

31 years old Elite NPC (LNG German 100*, French 90, Italian 70, English 70); SG552 Carbine, P226 Pistol

Club Ace (War Leader); Heart Ace (Just)

A Swiss Guard since the age of nineteen, Steiner is dedicated to the completion of his mission and the welfare of the men under his command

Korporal Karl Neumann

28 years old Elite NPC (LNG German 100*, French 100, Italian 50, English 90); SG550 Assault Rifle, P226 Pistol, Franchi Spas 12 Shotgun

Spade Ace (Charismatic); Club Seven (Moderately Violent)

Hellebardier Stefan Lewandowski

24 years old Veteran NPC (LNG German 100*, Polish 90, French 90, English 70); SG550 Assault Rifle, P220 pistol, 2 x WP Hand Grenades (carried in lieu of two HE Grenades)

Swiss born to Polish parents, Lewandowski speaks almost fluent Polish, so, together with Monsignor Urban, will often serve as the group's interpreter

Hellebardier Brandt

33 years old Elite NPC (LNG German 100*, French 80, Italian 30, English 30); SG550 Assault Rifle, GL5040 Grenade Launcher, P220 Pistol

Hellebardier Briegel

27 years old Veteran NPC (LNG German 100*, French 100, Italian 60, English 50); FN Minimi Squad Automatic Weapon, P220 Pistol

Hellebardier Clerc

25 years old Veteran NPC (LNG French 100*, German 90, Italian 30, English 50); SG552 Carbine, P220 Pistol, 2 x WP Hand Grenades (carried in lieu of two HE Grenades)

Hellebardier Sturm

24 years old Veteran NPC (LNG German 100*, French 70, Italian 20, English 20); PK Machine Gun, P226 pistol

Hellebardier Altmann

22 years old Experienced NPC (LNG German 100*, French 80, Italian 30, English 40); SG550 Assault Rifle, P220 pistol

Capitano Luca Di Battista

30 years old, Veteran NPC (LNG Italian 100*, German 50, English 50 ); SG550 Assault Rifle, Beretta 92 pistol

Heart King (Honourable); Club Four (Somewhat Violent)

Di Battista was deeply troubled by his Government's decision to ally itself with the Warsaw Pact earlier in the War, but as a loyal soldier he has obeyed orders, fighting in the campaigns in Germany and Austria in 1998 until he was wounded and returned to Italy, where, after recovering from his wounds, he was assigned to duties in the Perugia region.

Monsignor Grzegorz Urban

57 years old Veteran NPC (LNG Polish 100*, Italian 80, German 60, English 50)

Heart Queen (Loving) - in this context, Urban is utterly devoted to the late Pope; Heart Jack (Wise)

Born in Warsaw, Monsignor Urban held various positions with the Vatican in the years immediately before the War, and when plans began to be laid to take John Paul II's body to Krakow he immediately volunteered to accompany it. Unlike the rest of the group, who plan to return to Italy after they have completed their mission, Monsignor Urban intends to remain in Poland. He knows the Archbishop of Krakow, and should PC's accompany the Swiss as far as the City he can serve as conduit to meet the senior leadership of the Church in Krakow.

At a GM's discretion, Monsignor Urban may also be acquainted with Father Niekarz from the Black Madonna module.

Father Patrick O'Donnell

28 years old Experienced NPC (LNG English 100*, Irish Gaelic 70, Italian 50)

Born in County Cork, Ireland, at the start of the War Father O'Donnell held a junior position in the Holy See's Secretariat of State before the move to Perugia.

Doctor Alessandro Rossi

35 years old Experienced NPC (LNG Italian 100*, English 80, German 10; MED70); P220 Pistol

A member of the Vatican's medical staff before the War, Rossi is a skilled physician. He carries with him a medical bag that contains a number of drugs virtually impossible to find in southern Poland in the summer of 2000. He and the Monsignor are good friends, he is also absolutely dedicated to the late Pope, and is considering staying in Poland with Urban rather than risking the return journey to Perugia.

Civilians all count as Novice NPC's for combat skills

A Potential Twist

At the GM's discretion, one character is secretly a sociopathic murderer, who kidnapped three different women in Perugia, raping, torturing, and finally murdering each of them. Fearing capture (and almost inevitably execution), the murderer volunteered to join the mission to Krakow as a way of getting out of Perugia, but is secretly biding his time until the right opportunity comes along to betray the group to marauders. This character has NPC Motivation Club Jack (Murderous) and Club King (Brutal). If one of the Priests, they will be carrying an automatic pistol and knife, both of which will be well concealed.

Note 1

Per Challenge Magazine Issue 43, the Papacy would remain at Perugia for the next several hundred years

Note 2

In real life production of the SG552 did not begin until 1998. For this article I am positing that in a V1 timeline with a continuing Cold War production may have started sooner.