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.”
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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

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
On first look this is defiantly a different game than earlier editions. Far more RP emphasis with buddies and unit morale and that. I like the character generation takes a cue from Traveller. Need to read though the combat system more and get a better handle on the dice. Never been a fan of games with specialty dice, aka die with funny symbols on them, but it looks like the rest of the table can use use regular dice. Nice package, though part of me wishes I could get a hardback version. Need to get a pdf as well. So far so good.
 

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Urban Operations Announced for Twilight: 2000 RPG

Free League today announced Urban Operations, the first expansion for the recently released new edition of RPG classic Twilight: 2000.

Twilight: 2000 - Urban Operations is a modular expansion focused on cities. The expansion is loosely based on the classic module Free City of Krakow for the first edition of Twilight: 2000 RPG, but designed to be used in any city environment. Krakow is described in it as one example town, another being Karlsborg in Sweden.

The expansion will include guidelines for playing in cities, new factions, new scenario sites, and introduce several plots to create longer story arcs. It will be a boxed set with a scenario book, city maps, scenario site maps, modular battle maps for urban environments, and new encounter cards for urban environments.

A pre-order will be launched in the Free League webshop in Q1. Pre-orders will give instant access to the full PDF of the expansion, ahead of the physical release in Q3 2022.
 

Okay, this might sound odd. Am I missing where the statistics are for the average soldier, marauder, civilian, etc., etc.?
P. 37 of the Referee's Manual.

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.
Seeing as most of the Tech rolls you make related to vehicles are to keep them running or fix them when they break down, I'd assume that's a bonus to general repairs and maintenance. It's similar to how some games abstract tools, or make some items a one-time bonus (like in The Between or many Forged in the Dark games), even though in a strictly simulationist way that doesn't make sense. The alternative, after all, would be to blow out the word count, make tables unwieldy, and have lots of subsystems tied to various types of tools. Some like like a tire iron is just a suggestion, a narrative nudge. And if a player said they want to use the tire iron to add armor to a car or something, you can just point out that it doesn't make sense, and move on.

I know we all know how to GM and how to say no. I just think it's important to meet a game where it is, and specifically in what it's trying to do. This version of Twilight 2000 is trying to avoid sweating all of the small stuff, or falling into simulationist rabbit holes. It's on a slightly more narrative, story-game-ish wavelength. One of the biggest pitfalls of survival-based games, in my experience, is when they become an arena for dueling armchair expertise--folks trying to apply lots of real-world, out-of-game knowledge to the situation. Worse still, some games with a survival focus bury you in rules based on the authors' own supposed expertise. And previous T2K editions, intentionally or not, often fed into that dynamic, or at least didn't head it off. One of the things I really like about this edition, though, is where and when and how it zooms out and abstracts certain things. Like the fact that you make a Driving roll to see if you have a mishap during a given amount of travel time--it's not meant to be a literal test of your ability to keep the vehicle on the road. It's a more general, narrative mechanic, to see if something goes wrong. Likewise, a lot of the survival stuff is pretty zoomed out, but still needs to be tracked. Only to an extent, though. There's a certain amount of boardgamey-ness to this edition, which I wouldn't like in every setting or system, but I think works well to cut to the chase, which is when you have to interact with other humans. Everything between those interactions, to me, is just about what sort of state you're in--what your current priorities and goals are, as well as your physical condition--when it's time to talk, fight, negotiate, etc.
 

Never been a fan of games with specialty dice, aka die with funny symbols on them, but it looks like the rest of the table can use use regular dice. Nice package, though part of me wishes I could get a hardback version. Need to get a pdf as well. So far so good.

I don't typically like specialty dice either, but the ones they created for this game are absolutely great. They're what made me a physical backer, and after using them (both in person and on Foundry) I can't recommend them highly enough. They do a ton of stuff, so fast, and not in a reading-the-tea-leaves FFG sort of way. Just tons of stuff resolved and easily read at once. One handful of dice tells you if you hit or just suppressed, where you hit, how many bullets you used (or in the case of NPCs, if it's time for them to reload). You could do all of that with standard dice of various colors, but it'll take longer to sort the results, and feel less visceral.

I'm not saying you should pick up the dice before checking out the game. But if you like the PDFs enough to want to run it, really don't sleep on those dice.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I don't typically like specialty dice either, but the ones they created for this game are absolutely great. They're what made me a physical backer, and after using them (both in person and on Foundry) I can't recommend them highly enough. They do a ton of stuff, so fast, and not in a reading-the-tea-leaves FFG sort of way. Just tons of stuff resolved and easily read at once. One handful of dice tells you if you hit or just suppressed, where you hit, how many bullets you used (or in the case of NPCs, if it's time for them to reload). You could do all of that with standard dice of various colors, but it'll take longer to sort the results, and feel less visceral.

I'm not saying you should pick up the dice before checking out the game. But if you like the PDFs enough to want to run it, really don't sleep on those dice.
The odds of my players buying specialty dice is minimal but as long as we can work around it with normal dice we will be okay. I've got the box set so I've got a set so that's fine. The main question is will my group that came up on late 70's/early 80's gaming prefer this to 1e and then will more than one of the cheap bastards actually buy a book.
 

The odds of my players buying specialty dice is minimal but as long as we can work around it with normal dice we will be okay. I've got the box set so I've got a set so that's fine. The main question is will my group that came up on late 70's/early 80's gaming prefer this to 1e and then will more than one of the cheap bastards actually buy a book.
Very good questions.

And if you're playing in person I don't think you need more than one set of dice for it--we were good with just what was in the box set. But obviously a different situation if your group is online/remote.
 


MGibster

Legend
P. 37 of the Referee's Manual.
I knew it was in there I just couldn't find it.

Seeing as most of the Tech rolls you make related to vehicles are to keep them running or fix them when they break down, I'd assume that's a bonus to general repairs and maintenance. It's similar to how some games abstract tools, or make some items a one-time bonus (like in The Between or many Forged in the Dark games), even though in a strictly simulationist way that doesn't make sense. The alternative, after all, would be to blow out the word count, make tables unwieldy, and have lots of subsystems tied to various types of tools. Some like like a tire iron is just a suggestion, a narrative nudge.
They could have avoided this if they just listed "Tools" instead of a tire iron. It's a minor gripe though.
 

I knew it was in there I just couldn't find it.
To be honest, it's not listed very clearly, and I don't believe it's in the table of contents--when I was running I kept losing track of the page.

They could have avoided this if they just listed "Tools" instead of a tire iron. It's a minor gripe though.

A good point, though I'd say it should be more like "tool," as in singular, something that implies it's a narrow aid, not a general one. That way if you roll it multiple times, and the GM doesn't want to replace it entirely, it could be some other useful tool or spare part.

Since I only ran a few sessions, and using the core framework (NATO soldiers in Poland looking for some way home) I did wonder how useful the various tables and encounters would be if you were to alter the premise, and especially if you ran a single campaign for a long time. My hunch is that if, say, the PCs managed to get to the U.S. or similar, you'd have to leave most of that material behind, or maybe grab some previous-edition books and do whatever conversions are necessary. But stuff like table-based scrounging would, I imagine, get old and a little silly in an extended campaign. Eventually things would have to shift to a different kind of story.

In other words, I see the scrounging table and random encounters as sort of a disposable, early-game resource, so even if some stuff seems odd or too specific as a general world-building tool, you probably won't be using it for long.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Seems like the whole hex crawl aspect of this is a big part of it. Which isn't bad mind you. I haven't had time to fully read it, just flip though, but it seems to be a bit skirmish game, as well as a RPG. The core dice mechanics remind me of some miniatures games I have. But those may be more common in modern RPG than I'm aware of. Unfortunately this is making me want to add more miniatures to my collection for this game, which leads to terrain, etc.
 

Seems like the whole hex crawl aspect of this is a big part of it. Which isn't bad mind you. I haven't had time to fully read it, just flip though, but it seems to be a bit skirmish game, as well as a RPG. The core dice mechanics remind me of some miniatures games I have. But those may be more common in modern RPG than I'm aware of. Unfortunately this is making me want to add more miniatures to my collection for this game, which leads to terrain, etc.

I'm sure you could minifig it up, but since each hex is something like 10 meters, you'd need to go for some real small minifigs.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Scales can easily be adjusted in most games, I'm assuming that is the case in this. Change combat encounter hexes to 2m or something, go off a dry erase hex map with building and stuff, or ditch hex maps and use my wargaming matts and buildings with tape measures. Would depend on the scale, 15/20/28mm. I've already got some WW2 European buildings that would work fine. I need to read the entire ruleset first before making any changes but I can't see staying attached to those small maps and counters.
 

MGibster

Legend
Scales can easily be adjusted in most games, I'm assuming that is the case in this. Change combat encounter hexes to 2m or something, go off a dry erase hex map with building and stuff, or ditch hex maps and use my wargaming matts and buildings with tape measures. Would depend on the scale, 15/20/28mm. I've already got some WW2 European buildings that would work fine. I need to read the entire ruleset first before making any changes but I can't see staying attached to those small maps and counters.
I thought about miniatures. If you're going with 2m hexes, the short rage of an M-16 would be 25 hexes (50 meters). I don't know about your table top situation, but for me, at that scale, I don't have enough room. So for practicality, I'm thinking 15mm but I'm not sure how well that works out either though. I found it somewhat difficult to find appropriate 28mm miniatures for a 1990s Cold War setting (plenty for WW II) but there are some good modern 15mm ranges with vehicles and soldiers from the United States and the Soviet Union.
 

aramis erak

Legend
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?
1 - spares - the ones not stripped are pretty much still in service, you get them from encounters, not scrounging.

2 - cooking gear - US troops only have their canteen cups and a cheap mess kit (No longer the canteen, even, since it went plastic about the time I was in.) US rations are made so all you need is hot water... The mess kit has a knife, fork, spoon, 5×8×1/2 inch tin skillet, and matching two-well plate. Post 2002, they even dropped the mess kit. (Personal carry is still allowed, but it's not issue)
So any real cooking gear is better than issued.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I thought about miniatures. If you're going with 2m hexes, the short rage of an M-16 would be 25 hexes (50 meters). I don't know about your table top situation, but for me, at that scale, I don't have enough room. So for practicality, I'm thinking 15mm but I'm not sure how well that works out either though. I found it somewhat difficult to find appropriate 28mm miniatures for a 1990s Cold War setting (plenty for WW II) but there are some good modern 15mm ranges with vehicles and soldiers from the United States and the Soviet Union.
15mm Team Yankee stuff would be good.
 


sgtnasty

Explorer
I grew up in West Germany as well, in a border town with France and I recall many times our lessons in our little village school would get interrupted by massive American, German, French and British convoys on the way to and from exercises to simulate the inevitable Soviet invasion of the Fulda Gap. Imagine trying to learn your multiplication tables with tanks and self propelled guns on trailers rolling by.
Oh the Fulda Gap, so many memories cross training to 13F. T2k was THE rpg to play back then and GDW made the game feel so much like it was in the Army.
 

MGibster

Legend
I wish recent news didn't make this game seem so relevant today.

1 - spares - the ones not stripped are pretty much still in service, you get them from encounters, not scrounging.
I wouldn't have a problem with this if they didn't have a Scrounging skill. It's just a trap an unsuspecting player can fall into thinking, "Oh, boy! I'll be the guy whose good at finding stuff!" only to spend their skill points and find out that no matter how good they roll they'll hardly find anything of use.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I wish recent news didn't make this game seem so relevant today.


I wouldn't have a problem with this if they didn't have a Scrounging skill. It's just a trap an unsuspecting player can fall into thinking, "Oh, boy! I'll be the guy whose good at finding stuff!" only to spend their skill points and find out that no matter how good they roll they'll hardly find anything of use.
My players found things of use. Things on the scrounging table are repairable, but aren't spares. It's just a matter of what one is looking for and why...
 


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