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Review of Twilight: 2000: You’re on Your Own, Good Luck

Imagine surviving another battle in war only to find yourself cut off from command. No medevac, no calling in incoming fire, no reinforcements, no going home. Twilight: 2000 takes the Year Zero system and couples it with brutal combat that leaves it mark on everyone involved who survives. A campaign kicks off with a lost battle and the last communication from headquarters, “Good luck. You’re on your own now.”
T2K1.png
Twilight: 2000 is a boxed set stuffed to the top with two rulebooks, combat maps, poster maps of Poland and Sweden, cardboard tokens, cards, and dice. Everything needed to get started is included. My thanks to Free League for providing me a copy to review.

The system is a variation of the Year Zero Engine. Instead of a dice pool, rolls are made with one attribute die and one skill die that range from a d6 up to a d12. Player characters track radiation points and use coolness under fire (CUF) to remain calm in combat. It even includes hit locations. The Referee Manual has rules to convert 1st and 2nd edition material as well as solo rules.

The PCs are going to endure hardship, experience fear, and feel like they are up against all odds. Some PCs are going to die. What is going to make the campaign work are those fleeting moments of victory and especially those times the PCs really get to make a difference. These wins may be helping people in need, creating a safe haven, and maybe someday even returning home. These emotional wins function as a means of catharsis from fear and anger, and not only will the character feel good but so will the players themselves.

To pull of this range of emotions, the rules have to simulate the stress of combat and the toll it takes to be good at killing people. Coolness under fire (CUF) is a mechanic that allows PCs to function while getting shot at and to bring the violence to the enemy. However, as CUF rises and their skill at killing increases, their Empathy goes down as they find it hard to interact in normal ways. This drop in Empathy also ties in to killing a helpless foe as actually committing this act first requires a failed Empathy roll or a PC can’t go through with it. So a PC with a higher CUF also has an easier time killing outside of combat.

This combination is powerful. In order for the emotional toll to be worth it, the PCs need to get some real wins. This is where the referee comes in. A referee needs a way to be impartial. To allow random events to happen and not come across as the bringer of misery.
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At the same time, the referee also has to set up those moments of difficult choices for the PCs. Present PCs with tough situations with no easy solution and let them figure things out for themselves.

The rules support the referee both by providing dozens of small encounters that can happen completely randomly alongside a handful of full adventures with tough choices. In one adventure, the PCs have to face child soldiers. What happens if they have to fight them? In another, siding with marauders against the locals may help the PCs out more than defending the locals. Are they willing to side with the bad guys to get ahead? And there is enough overall background on and rule support for the various powers in Poland and Sweden for the referee to make their own adventures.

The best part is, a referee can simply pull out the map of Poland and Sweden, point to the hex the PCs are in, and repeat the last message from HQ: “Good luck. You’re on your own now.” Where the PCs go and what they do next is entirely up to them. And the campaign kicks off from there.

Free League has never disappointed me with an RPG before. But this one really resonates with me and the value is outstanding. Months and months of gaming can be found in this one box. And it will be a Twilight: 2000 campaign of hardship, hard choices, death, and every once in a while, hope.
 

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody


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Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
Standard YZE excepting the magic item dice, which can add up to 4 successes instead of the 1 of a standard attribute, skill, or tool die. But I didn't include tool dice in the above, since those vary more by YZE game.
I'm not the best at figuring out the maths in the way you listed so I was really curious since the item dice can have a serious impact on the successes. :)
 

I'm not the best at figuring out the maths in the way you listed so I was really curious since the item dice can have a serious impact on the successes. :)
to figure the expected number of successes on a die (keep it in fractions; it's easier than decimals): total the number of successes on the die for the numerator, and the sides as denominator - then just add the number of dice together.
So the standard YZE d6 is 1/6 success. It adds 0 to the minimum, and 1 to the maximum. The arithmetic mean should be the same as the expected, but real world dice are not truly fair most of the time.
Comparing the dice: [x, ..., y] brackets indicate array of sides, braces the range component. The fraction is the expected result contribution.
DieT2KFL
d6[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1] = 1/6 {0-1}[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1] = 1/6 {0-1}
d8[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1] = 3/8 {0-1}[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2] = 4/8 {0-2}
d10[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2] = 6/10 {0-2}[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3] = 9/10 {0-3}
d12[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2] = 10/12 {0-2}[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4]= 16/12 {0-4}

Note that expected result is only valid for pools or repeated rolls; it roughly corresponds to the arithmetic mean expected on the initial roll. For the expected results for a pool, just add the dice's expected together. For the ranges, add the low ends together and add the high ends together.
With pushing, the T2K dice become
d6 [[0,0,0,0,0,0}, [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1],[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1],[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1],[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1],[1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1]] = 10/36 each (vs 6/36 unpushed)
d6 with no negative on 1 is 11/36, since the first group becomes [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1]
d8 [[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1]] 36/64=9/16
d10: [[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1,], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1],[2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2]]= 76/100 =19/25
d12 [[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2],[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2],[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2], , [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1], [2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2], [2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2], [2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2]] = (1×0)+(4×10)+(4×10)+3×20)=0+40+40+60=140/144.
Note that I'm making the inner dice reflect the final outcome; the first die is the outer set; each reroll (or the lack thereof for 1 and 6-12 is because no reroll, hence all the possibilities are the same result as the initial die would be.

Not showing the work as detailed on all the FL dice
d6: 1/6 unpushed, 10/36 pushed
d8: 4/8=1/2 unpushed, [1×[0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0], 4×[0,0,0,0,0,1,1,2], 2×[1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1], 1×[2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2]]=(0+(4×4)+(2×8)+(1×16))/8²=48/64, = 3/4
d10: 9/10 unpushed,. [[1×[0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0], 4×[0,0,0,0,0,1,1,2,2,3], 2×[1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1, 1], 2×[2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2], 1×[3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3]]=(0+(4×9)+(2×10)+(2×20)+(1×30))/10²=(0+36+20+40+30)/100=126/100 =63/50 = 1 13/50
d12: 16/12 = 4/3 unpushed. [1×[0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0], 4×[0,0,0,0,0,1,1,2,2,3,3,4], 2×[12×1], 2×[12×2], 2×[12×3], 1×[12×4]]=(0+(4×16)+(2×12)+(2×24)+(2×36)+(1×48))/12²=(0+64+24+48+72+48)/144=256/144=16/9 = 1 7/9

Important Note: The expected result normally doesn't tell you the odds of success. It will tell you only if you're above or below 50%...

finding it provides the needed information to work out actual odds. As a GM, I've only needed to eyeball the odds. Is it likely they're going to succeed? At C+C, unpushed? 3/4 expectation is below the 1 needed, so likely to fail. C+B, 3/8 +6/10= 15/40+24/40= 39/40 - pretty close to 1 success, so just under 50%. Pushed C+C is 9/16+19/25... time for prime factors... LCD=400, so... (25×9)+(16×19)/400=(225+304)/400=529/400= 1 129/400. Pretty good but still plenty of chance for failure. Note the range is 0-4...

It's also a case of do the hard part once, and be able to eyeball it. In YZE games with variable numbers of successes needed, instead of variable pools, the expected result lets you eyeball very quickly. 7d? Expected= 1 1/6... but a difficulty of 2s? that's 1/6 expected. Long odds. (and not the same odds as 1d needing 1s.) It's a rough eyeball route.
 





Tantavalist

Explorer
It can feel generic in a lot of cases when that happens, yes. But in the case of YZE the system was specifically built for post-apocalyptic survival in mind, so Twilight 2000 is actually a perfect fit. Other games maybe not so much- I'm inclined to take the setting of Coriolis and run that with something else- but here it's definitely not a shoehorned system.

Since it's also designed in a way that getting highly skilled improves your chances but never 100% guarantees success, I found that Alien was also a good fit when I played that. It re-created the feeling of desperation and mortal danger that the movies had for their cast.
 

It can feel generic in a lot of cases when that happens, yes. But in the case of YZE the system was specifically built for post-apocalyptic survival in mind, so Twilight 2000 is actually a perfect fit. Other games maybe not so much- I'm inclined to take the setting of Coriolis and run that with something else- but here it's definitely not a shoehorned system.

Since it's also designed in a way that getting highly skilled improves your chances but never 100% guarantees success, I found that Alien was also a good fit when I played that. It re-created the feeling of desperation and mortal danger that the movies had for their cast.
Concur on both points.

Vaesen (not a licensed) isn't PA but is very well served by the YSE... but it's a strongly adapted core. You won't be crossing characters from Vaesen to T2K, Alien, MYZ, or Coriolis without some conversion efforts; different skills, subtly different attribute definitions.
Forbidden Lands is post apoc.

I will say that I feel the 4 attributes to be a flaw; it's even more noticeable when crossing from one to another, as they are subtly different. I also feel the 12 skill limit of more recent flavors also a strong negative, but it works well enough, and the system is solid.
 

MGibster

Legend
I've got a big problem with the Scrounging table. My first problem is that the size of the hex used when scrounging is the same as the travel map which is 10 kilometers. So if a PC wants to scrounge in the area any other PC will need to go 10 kilometers away to scrounge over there which just seems ludicrous. A 10 km hex is a lot of area to cover and maybe something a little more reasonable would be more appropriate. Granted, it does take a full shift (5+ hours) to scrounge but the size of the area searched is way too big. But I'll give some credit where credit is due. If an item can be reasonably be expected to be found in a small location, such as a tire in a garage, then the GM can just decide it's there and it doesn't take an entire shift to search the area. So that's nice I guess.

An even bigger problem in my eyes is that a PC might succeed at a scrounging role and still end up with something near useless. If you succeed at scrounging, you roll on a chart and may get something like a credit card, a movie poster, or a teddy bear all of which are pretty much useless in that they're worth almost nothing in trade and don't provide you with a piece of useful equipment. At least an electric guitar or a vacuum cleaner can provide you with electronic/general parts that can be applied to other projects. I would have to advise a player not to invest their points in the Scrounging skill because I think they're going to be disappointed. I mean, damn, you can find a wallet full of moldy cash. On a successful scrounging roll.
 

HorusZA

Explorer
I've got a big problem with the Scrounging table. My first problem is that the size of the hex used when scrounging is the same as the travel map which is 10 kilometers. So if a PC wants to scrounge in the area any other PC will need to go 10 kilometers away to scrounge over there which just seems ludicrous. A 10 km hex is a lot of area to cover and maybe something a little more reasonable would be more appropriate. Granted, it does take a full shift (5+ hours) to scrounge but the size of the area searched is way too big. But I'll give some credit where credit is due. If an item can be reasonably be expected to be found in a small location, such as a tire in a garage, then the GM can just decide it's there and it doesn't take an entire shift to search the area. So that's nice I guess.

An even bigger problem in my eyes is that a PC might succeed at a scrounging role and still end up with something near useless. If you succeed at scrounging, you roll on a chart and may get something like a credit card, a movie poster, or a teddy bear all of which are pretty much useless in that they're worth almost nothing in trade and don't provide you with a piece of useful equipment. At least an electric guitar or a vacuum cleaner can provide you with electronic/general parts that can be applied to other projects. I would have to advise a player not to invest their points in the Scrounging skill because I think they're going to be disappointed. I mean, damn, you can find a wallet full of moldy cash. On a successful scrounging roll.

I completely agree.
The scrounging and hunting tables could use a do-over for sure.
My group found it hard to believe that after searching an urban hex (87km^2) for four hours all they found was a credit card? We also discovered that there is only a single Vehicle Spare Parts entry on the Scrounging Table. Are there really no cars, trucks, disabled military vehicles, etc. left to be stripped of useful parts?

Another feature of the Scrounging Table that caused some head-scratching in my game were the miscellaneous items that come with some kind of bonus. For example: "Frying Pan: +1 to Cooking" or "Tire Iron: +1 Tech". Does this mean the party is currently cooking without a frying pan or that their Jeep doesn't have a tire iron in the boot? If they are assumed to have those items (or something similar), can they get those bonuses normally?
 


MGibster

Legend
My group found it hard to believe that after searching an urban hex (87km^2) for four hours all they found was a credit card? We also discovered that there is only a single Vehicle Spare Parts entry on the Scrounging Table. Are there really no cars, trucks, disabled military vehicles, etc. left to be stripped of useful parts?
I think urban areas are supposed to be mapped on in 1 km hexes instead of 10. And the rules for scrounging does mention that the referee can decide what item you find instead of having you roll on the table so that's something I guess. If the PCs come across a battlefield strewn with disabled vehicles here and there I'd probably let them find vehicle, electronic, and weapon parts by searching. Since fuel has been low to non-existent for more than a year, I imagine there are vehicles all over the place just sitting in towns, farms, and abandoned on the roadside and people fled as far as their limited fuel would take them. And I can't find it now, but I think the PCs can search smaller areas like a farmhouse without having to spend their whole shift scrounging.

I get what they're trying to do with the scrounging rules. There's only so many hours in the day and time is a resource that needs to be managed just as your food, ammunition, and fuel does. But I feel like any player who makes a character with a skill emphasis in scrounging is going to be sorely disappointed with the rules as written. I'll have to fix it before I run the game.
 

Another feature of the Scrounging Table that caused some head-scratching in my game were the miscellaneous items that come with some kind of bonus. For example: "Frying Pan: +1 to Cooking" or "Tire Iron: +1 Tech". Does this mean the party is currently cooking without a frying pan or that their Jeep doesn't have a tire iron in the boot? If they are assumed to have those items (or something similar), can they get those bonuses normally?

I think you might be overthinking it a bit. Maybe the frying pan they found is bigger or of a better quality, and the vehicle they were already using was a previously stripped repair job without a tire iron or similar tools. A lot of the system is about straddling the line between simulation and streamlining, so if you find a neat little thing while scrounging or looting, it can just be a neat little thing that gives a narrow, conditional bonus.
 


MGibster

Legend
I think you might be overthinking it a bit. Maybe the frying pan they found is bigger or of a better quality, and the vehicle they were already using was a previously stripped repair job without a tire iron or similar tools. A lot of the system is about straddling the line between simulation and streamlining, so if you find a neat little thing while scrounging or looting, it can just be a neat little thing that gives a narrow, conditional bonus.
I appreciate that it's abstract to a point. I'm perfectly fine with spare parts being electrical, general, or weapon because that's just less fiddly paperwork for everyone. But how exactly does a tire iron give you a +1 tech roll to automobiles? Is it a magical tire iron? Does it give you a +1 to all tech rolls related to the automobile? Since the cooking skill is about more than making an appetizing meal, it includes skinning, cleaning, and preparing the food in a safe manner, I could certainly see equipment adding a bonus to the roll. And odds are good the PCs aren't in possession of good cooking equipment at the end of Operation Reset. I'd probably change the description from frying pan to some sort of camping equipment.
 

Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
@HorusZA @MGibster I'll agree that the scrounging tables and information feel a bit lacking. I'd honestly just use them as a baseline and then build upon it depending on the area. In the end I think they gave us good ideas and then it's up to us to build upon them as needed. I'd design scrounging tables based on an area/location because not all areas will be the same. Also I don't mind the 10k search areas as long as the GM would allow multiple people to search with some sort of multiplier to your chances to find things.

I like the idea that mentioned above about them being 1k areas instead, but I'd adapt it as GM that would allow up to 10 people to search that same 10k grid. Really I never liked that you had to limit how many could scavenge/search an idea in any of Free Leagues games and I were running any of them I'd tweak it.
 

MGibster

Legend
I like the idea that mentioned above about them being 1k areas instead, but I'd adapt it as GM that would allow up to 10 people to search that same 10k grid. Really I never liked that you had to limit how many could scavenge/search an idea in any of Free Leagues games and I were running any of them I'd tweak it.
I think one of the ideas is that they don't want PCs to get too comfortable sticking around one hex for a extended period of time. Unless they've established a semi-permanent base of course. And since the situation has been in declination for a few years, it makes sense that the pickings are slim so far as scrounging goes. People have been scrounging in that area for a few years at the point the campaign begins so pickings will be slim.

In a Deadlands Hell on Earth campaign, we had one session where several people made phenomenal scrounging rolls. One PC found a motorbike, another found a HMMWV, and a third found some sort of regular weapon all on the same day. The PC who had invested the most in salvaging found a tube of toothpaste. She rolled the best but the results of her find was a tube of toothpaste. Years later I still bring it up telling her she finds a tube of toothpaste when looting a body.
 



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