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...

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.
T2K2.png

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. :)
 

aramis erak

Legend
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.
 




Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I am not a fan of YZE, either, and didn't back the KS because of that -

I like YZE more (WAY more) than 2d20, and I have a lot of respect for FL, but it just rubs me wrong when a publishing company wants every game to use their core engine, regardless of setting or genre. Feels too generic.
 

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.
 

aramis erak

Legend
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.
 

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