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Twilight: 2000 4E: An Interview With Free League

Free League’s Twilight: 2000 crowdfunding project is lighting up the RPG section of Kickstarter. Having shot past its initial goal, it continues to unlock a stack of stretch goals building out the core RPG boxed set. I’ve spoken with Tomas Härenstam, CEO of Free League Publishing, several times before (here, here, and here), and wanted to get his take on their latest project. Because this campaign combines a known property with the Year Zero Engine (YZE), we discuss how this game helps to expand the YZE while bringing back a classic.
Twilight- 2000 04.jpg
EGG EMBRY (EGG): As always, it’s good to talk to you. This time around, we’re discussing Twilight: 2000 Fourth Edition. For fans that don’t know, what is Twilight: 2000?
TOMAS HÄRENSTAM (TOMAS)
: Twilight: 2000 is a classic RPG released by Game Designers’ Workshop in 1984, set in the immediate aftermath of World War III in the year 2000. Back then, of course, it depicted an apocalyptic future scenario of the Cold War turning hot – in our upcoming edition, it’s alternate history.

EGG: By the by, congratulations on all of the 2020 ENnie Award wins as well as the UK Expo Awards! This was another banner year of awards for Free League Publishing. Add to that the announcement that you’re taking over the Middle-earth RPG license and the debut of the Tales From the Loop series based on Simon Stålenhag's artwork on Amazon Prime [read RPG creator’s thoughts on the series here] , there’s been a big spotlight on Free League. With Free League’s profile, what made Twilight: 2000 Fourth Edition the right project to pursue now?
TOMAS
: Thank you! Actually, we have been working on Twilight: 2000 for over two years. It’s really a passion project for me personally. As for the company profile, I think Twilight: 2000 will make a good addition to our range of sandboxy and survival-focused games like Mutant: Year Zero and Forbidden Lands.

EGG: The fourth edition of the game is coming to Kickstarter. It’ll be a boxed set, correct?
TOMAS
: Yes indeed, it will be a boxed set filled with books, maps, counters, dice, and more!
Twilight- 2000 01.jpg
EGG: You’re using “a ‘hexcrawling’ system established in the post-apocalyptic Mutant: Year Zero and survival fantasy Forbidden Lands RPGs (both Silver ENnie winners for Best Rules, in 2015 and 2019), developing it further to fit the gritty world of Twilight: 2000.” Will this use a variant of the Year Zero Engine?
TOMAS
: Yes, but Twilight: 2000 will use an alternative version of the rules that uses only two dice for most rolls, as opposed to the dice pools of other YZE games.

EGG: As an 80s RPG, Twilight: 2000 had a crunchy system. The internet [of negative things] has “asked” if the new version will have enough crunch. As the lead of the design team, what level of crunch are you aiming for?
TOMAS: Twilight: 2000
will be the crunchiest YZE game yet, for sure – but without getting bogged down in details. We aim for game rules that give an authentic feel to combat and survival, but less granular and detailed than earlier editions. That’s the balance we’re looking for.

EGG: The game takes place in Poland and you’re adding a Swedish setting. As the game is localized to different languages, do you foresee other localized settings being added?
TOMAS
: Hopefully yes! Additional settings will almost certainly come along, and we also hope to see a lot of great community content – via our community content program Free League Workshop – in this area as well.

EGG: What do you think fans of Twilight: 2000 will be most excited to see in the crowdfunding campaign?
TOMAS
: Hm, hard to say – but I definitely feel that there are many players out there who have an emotional bond to the franchise and are happy to see it return. We will do our utmost not to disappoint them.

EGG: You’re working with EN World alum, Angus Abanson (Amargosa Press), Game Designers’ Workshop, Polish RPG publisher Black Monk Games, and Far Future Enterprises on Twilight: 2000. How are you finding working with a squad of publishers?
TOMAS
: It’s been great! Marc Miller from GDW and Far Future Enterprises manages the license and has been great to work with. Angus will be the lead editor, and Black Monk will help us make sure we get the Polish setting right.

Twilight- 2000 02.jpg

EGG: Switching gears, can you share a few words about the Middle-earth RPGs. How is that license progressing, are you close to making any announcements or reveals?
TOMAS
: Soon, stay tuned during the fall!

EGG: At the same time I’m sending you these questions, I have questions out to Mattias Johnsson Haake and Jacob Rodgers about Free League’s Symbaroum RPG for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. As you’re moving into Adventures in Middle-earth for 5e, are there any discussions about moving additional Free League properties such as Forbidden Lands to 5e?
TOMAS
: No concrete such plans at present, but you never know.

EGG: How has the pandemic impacted Free League’s 2020 plans? Not to be trite, but have you found any wins during the quarantine and difficulties?
TOMAS
: Our distribution has been hit pretty hard, it’s been hard to get games out. Both our UK and US warehouses shutdown completely for a while. They are up and running now, but still operating on limited capacity with causes delays. Another result of the pandemic is that we have increased our focus on virtual platforms. The Tales From the Loop Starter Set was recently released on Roll20, and more games are coming soon to Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds.

EGG: During the TFtL series you offered the Tales From the Loop Boxed Set and Tales From the Loop – The Board Game. How has the response been for each?
TOMAS
: Very nice! The RPG Starter Set is sold out and we’re printing more. The board game is still in development of course and will be released next year, it’s looking really good!

EGG: Tomas, as always, I want to thank you for your time. Where can fans learn more about your work?
TOMAS
: Thank you! You can find us on Facebook or our website.

Twilight: 2000 – Roleplaying in the WWIII That Never Was from Free League Publishing
  • End Date: Thu, September 3 2020 3:00 PM EDT.
  • “A classic tabletop RPG returns in a new retro-apocalyptic edition, from the makers of the ALIEN RPG and Forbidden Lands.”
Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG and Amazon.
 
Egg Embry

Comments


marroon69

Explorer
Apparently it's negative to wonder if a game company with no record of making crunchy simulationist games, will be making the latest edition of a crunchy simulationist game crunchy and simulationist enough.

Cool.
Huh? Was there a comment removed or something?
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
EGG: As an 80s RPG, Twilight: 2000 had a crunchy system. The internet [of negative things] has “asked” if the new version will have enough crunch. As the lead of the design team, what level of crunch are you aiming for?
TOMAS: Twilight: 2000
will be the crunchiest YZE game yet, for sure – but without getting bogged down in details. We aim for game rules that give an authentic feel to combat and survival, but less granular and detailed than earlier editions. That’s the balance we’re looking for.
Huh? Was there a comment removed or something?
 




Ohh enworld is like crack some days, I've backed the TWILIGHT: 2000 BOXED SET level. I've never heard of the game before and the setting sells it. It looks like a Strategy War game but It's an RPG? I'm clearly going to have to to some reading up.
It is the 4th edition of an RPG from the 80s. It will use a new rule system used in other RPGs like Alien and Tales from the Loop called the Year Zero system. I agree, the setting sells it. Most PCs will be military but without the command structure. So small, well-armed, well-trained, and motivated to make their own way in the wrecked world while looking out for their buddies.
 


Psikosis

Villager
I'm excited they are doing a 4th edition and have backed it. It's a bit too polite to call an earlier edition "crunchy". It was a bit of a mess and in the games I played in, we house-ruled a lot of stuff to get it back to something that was both playable and fun. It'll lose some impact as an alternate history. Back in 1986, the vision presented by Twilight 2000 was all too possible and that gave the game a sharp edge many others didn't have.

Completely agree with folks who commented the Free League is doing good work. I really like Symbaroum, both the system and the setting. Every book has been worth the time to read and money to buy. Great stuff!
 

Thanks for that Charles, I'm guessing the RP aspect is in the form of banter between squad mates and with NPC's (if there are any in game) The more I think about this RPG the more excited I get.
In Alien you can run out of bullets if you roll a 1 on a Stress die. Looks like Twilight 2000 will have bullet dice which might do something similar. So you have the simulation of running out of bullets without trying to track the number of bullets you have. And in real life, most people can't keep count of the 30 rounds in a magazine easily so if Twilight 2000 does use a die mechanic you'll be surprised when you run out of bullets. I like that type of mechanic; it is easy in play and feels real without being cumbersome.

And to your point, banter can be pure RP or in a game like Alien it can also have a mechanical function. Alien's Stress dice can be relieved by talking to your buddies in a safe place. Colonial Marines have a talent called Banter that doubles the amount of Stress relieved when you talk with your fellow Marines in a safe place for a few minutes. Twilight 2000 may not have something similar but then again it might. Again, a tight design that fits what we think should happen without being hard to implement.
 

I'm excited they are doing a 4th edition and have backed it. It's a bit too polite to call an earlier edition "crunchy". It was a bit of a mess and in the games I played in, we house-ruled a lot of stuff to get it back to something that was both playable and fun. It'll lose some impact as an alternate history. Back in 1986, the vision presented by Twilight 2000 was all too possible and that gave the game a sharp edge many others didn't have.

Completely agree with folks who commented the Free League is doing good work. I really like Symbaroum, both the system and the setting. Every book has been worth the time to read and money to buy. Great stuff!
I played Twilight 2000 and liked the edge you mention. It will be interesting to run this version with players who didn't grow up in the Cold War. Hopefully that weird tension can be recreated.

I'm running Alien and one of my players has never seen Alien or Aliens. He has only watched Alien vs Predator (shudder). That is likely as weird as running Twilight 2000 might be. Alien and Aliens defines some of my gaming style and thoughts and I suppose growing up during the Cold War does as well. Should be interesting using all these retro RPGs to re-experience the past but with modern mechanics and roleplaying.

This is a great time to be a gamer.
 


This is cool. I'm really glad EN World ran this article 'cause I'm going to back this.

Really interested what they're going to do with the Middle Earth products. I have all of The One Ring products, and wasa really excited for the release of Moria ... only to have the license change before that product came out to really complete the line for me. :(

Hopefully they do the re-release justice; I'd like a One Ring compatible Moria product.
 

This is cool. I'm really glad EN World ran this article 'cause I'm going to back this.

Really interested what they're going to do with the Middle Earth products. I have all of The One Ring products, and wasa really excited for the release of Moria ... only to have the license change before that product came out to really complete the line for me. :(

Hopefully they do the re-release justice; I'd like a One Ring compatible Moria product.
I would also like to see Moria. I ran TOR once and I might again if Moria releases.
 

T2K was a great game and I played in a campaign that ran for years from Poland, across Europe, back to America and covered much of the published material and homebrew too.

That said it was very gritty - this is a post-apocalyptic setting with a lot of military hardware floating around and no magical or super-science healing. That means characters die or can be laid up for weeks or months with gunshot wounds, catch diseases, suffer radiation exposure, and generally find all kinds of bad ends. Gasoline is scarce so vehicles run on alcohol and keeping up with fuel is part of the action. Food... medicine... ammo... it's a survival type game - at least that's what it was. It's not cinematic in an action movie sense at all. It's definitely fun but it's a different kind of fun and I'm curious how many people are interested in that kind of RPG these days.
 

T2K was a great game and I played in a campaign that ran for years from Poland, across Europe, back to America and covered much of the published material and homebrew too.

That said it was very gritty - this is a post-apocalyptic setting with a lot of military hardware floating around and no magical or super-science healing. That means characters die or can be laid up for weeks or months with gunshot wounds, catch diseases, suffer radiation exposure, and generally find all kinds of bad ends. Gasoline is scarce so vehicles run on alcohol and keeping up with fuel is part of the action. Food... medicine... ammo... it's a survival type game - at least that's what it was. It's not cinematic in an action movie sense at all. It's definitely fun but it's a different kind of fun and I'm curious how many people are interested in that kind of RPG these days.
Quite a few of Free League's RPGs are about survival. Mutant Year Zero and Alien are both survival games and in both survival is not really an end goal. Crits are scary. I MYZ the mutations that give the PCs superpowers slowly kill them. In Alien a xeno can kill with one attack and space itself kills (radiation and vacuum bad). I imagine T2000 will be harsh and tough to survive as well.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Ohh enworld is like crack some days, I've backed the TWILIGHT: 2000 BOXED SET level. I've never heard of the game before and the setting sells it. It looks like a Strategy War game but It's an RPG? I'm clearly going to have to to some reading up.
1st, 2nd, 2.2nd were given a premise of «You're in the 5th Mech Inf Division. You're in Poland, and the Germans and other NATO forces you were counting on are months late due to late plantings. You get orders from HQ, reading, ‹Good luck, you're on your own.›»...
1e's default assumption was PCs would be US soldiers who are going to do any of...
  • Find their way west to go home
  • help locals
  • settle down and become locals
  • continue to fight as partizans, preventing Communist forces from taking over.
2 and 2.2 supported even wider.

So, it's part post-limited-nuclear-war survival, part travelogue, part ideologues on patrol... Very sandboxy despite the go west to go home metaplot.

It's a hopeful survival game.

Everything points to that being retained to at least a degree.
 

MGibster

Legend
I wonder if this is a game that will find an audience among younger people. I was fifteen when the Soviet Union went kaput, but I can at least remember when they were still a credible threat. I've visited East Germany, my father was in the army and would occasionally be called out of the blue for military exercises, I remember Exercise Reforger, and I've seen US tanks on German roads, and I don't recall any of us having any idea just how weak the Soviet Union actually was at the time. I never played Twilight 2000, but the setting resonates with me because I can remember when war with the Soviet Union seemed like a real possibility.

But people born just a few years after me don't have the same perspective. Their earliest memories don't include the supposed threat posed by the Soviet Union. East Germany, what's that? And with hindsight available now, the idea that the Soviets were in any position to fight a war against NATO is somewhat unbelievable.

Not that a game necessary needs to appeal to younger players. I was just thinking of very much how dated the premise of Twilight 2000 is even if I'm fascinated by it. I don't think many other games explore what happens to military units when everything has collapsed and you find yourself in a foreign country far from home. I also think it's neat that they use Poland.
 

Green Onceler

Explorer
I was just thinking of very much how dated the premise of Twilight 2000 is even if I'm fascinated by it.
I find the premise interesting as well. My main concern is not the fact that it is clearly dated, but the fact that playing as forces on the side of either of the superpowers during the cold war seems rather objectionable. When I had this game as a kid, I happily accepted the default assumption that NATO were the "good guys". In adulthood, that seems a bit too simplistic.
 

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