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Twilight:2000 First Edition Boxed Set from GDW

Twilight:2000 First Edition Boxed Set from GDW

It is the year 2000, and the world has been at war for five years. The nukes started to rain in 1997. Civil authority no longer exists. Military units are practicing local recruitment to remain operational – on their own soil as well as in foreign lands.

And now your unit has been destroyed deep inside Poland, crushed by a Soviet tank army that should have been on the Chinese border according to all intel. You and a few friends have survived, and the last message from division HQ in Kalisz was “You’re on your own. Good luck.”

Twilight:2000 was one of my first military RPGs. I bought my first copy in High School from another student. I played it to death. I bought a second copy from another friend after the release of the second edition of the game (because I prefer the first edition). I also played it to death. I bought my third (and current) copy at the GenCon auction in 1998. It’s been played nearly to death.

Twilight:2000 is interesting in one way because of the little abstractions and wargaming elements – “shots” are actually three rounds fired from a small arm, not individual bullets, combat is handled in a very wargame-like manner with “low cool” characters actually having to “miss” certain combat rounds each combat turn, while characters with a lot of military experience can act each round (or at least, more rounds).

It also begs for some serious book-keeping work as you play a campaign. All it takes is for one vehicle to break down and suddenly you are reassigning all the gear, leaving hardware behind, and trying to figure out if you really need all that 4.7mm ammo for the one bloody West German in the team who had to have his high-tech G11 assault rifle.

It is also full of weird anachronisms because it was published in 1984. It assumes that the German and US forces are equipping fully automatic shotguns based on the H&K CAWS prototype, that the German military has adopted the G11 prototype as their standard assault rifle, that the M988 Sargeant York air defense system wasn’t scrapped, and that the proposed M1A2 design with a smaller unmanned turret had been adopted to replace the M1A1 Abrams.

And of course, the Soviet Union still exists and Germany wasn’t united prior to the third world war.

Twilight:2000 was the first RPG (and the only one I can think of) that has not only a character sheet, but a “character generation worksheet” that helps you go through the character generation process.

First off when making a character, you roll your attributes. You can choose to Favor or Slight attributes before rolling (if you favor one, you have to slight another) – which averages the attribute towards the top end of the scale or the bottom end. For this character, I’m just going to roll the dice and see where they take me.

The core attributes are Fitness, Agility, Constitution, Stature, Intelligence and Education. All the stats apply directly to combat or to skills, and none to role-played scenarios. The assumption in the game is that you will role-play interaction free-form, and use dice for combat. Strength is also a key ability score, but isn’t rolled, it is determined by the average of Fitness and Stature. After being used to determine your Strength, Fitness is never seen again – it doesn’t even make it over to the record sheet from the generation worksheet. The six stats are determined by rolling 4d6-4 and rolling again if you get a 0.

Rolls of FIT 9, AGL 12, CON 12, STA 9, INT 7 and EDU 14 give us a not very clever, but generally average soldier who spent a lot of time in school prior to signing up. WIth FIT and STA of 9, his Strength is also 9. The total of his 6 main stats is 63 (which comes into play quite often actually as we continue). His stats, added up in a variety of arcane ways, determine his hit points in his head, chest, and other hit locations. His Stature x4 + 40 is his weight in kilos (76 kg).

His Military Experience Base (which is used to determine military skills, time in combat and so on) is equal to (120 – his stat total) / 7. In this case it comes out to 8. We then roll that many d6 to determine his time (months) in combat  – 23 months – and his accumulated radiation exposure – 25 Rads. His coolness under fire (which tells us how many rounds he misses every combat turn) is 10 – 1d6 – Time/10 = 8-1d6. The d6 comes out a 3 so his Coolness Under Fire is 5, so he’ll be missing half that many rounds per turn unless he does something simple and repetitive (like sending bullets downrange) – or three out of six rounds every turn.

His age is (Time/12) + EDU +8 + 1d6. The number of d6 goes up if the character’s time in combat is higher than the length of World War III, as it means he had to spend a lot more time in the forces to get that combat experience. In this case a roll of 1 makes him 24 years old.

The next step is determining Nationality and Army. As a good Patriot, I’m going for the Canadian army, and have to decide between French Canadian and Anglo Canadian. My love of poutine wins out and French Canadian it is. As a French Canadian he automatically speaks French and has a 30% chance to also speak English. The dice come up 07, so he speaks both languages.

To find out if Jean-Guy has been commissioned, we roll 2d6+16 and see if the roll is less than or equal to his combined INT and EDU. A roll of 22 means he just failed to become an officer… someone back in Ottawa realized that even though he’s got a good education, he is still pretty much an idiot.

Jean-Guy Levesque’s rank is determined as (Time/10) + d3 – 2. In this case a low roll on the d3 gives him a rank total of 1, so he’s still Private Jean-Guy Levesque.

Jean-Guy likes the idea of signing up for special forces training. With his Constitution of 12 he can get it too (or Ranger training). His attempt to get into the Special Forces as a Weapons Specialist requires that he roll an 8+ on 2d6 (otherwise he’s got to try for a different specialty or branch, and each successive attempt is at a cumulative -2 penalty). A roll of 7 fails, so it’s on to try to become a Ranger Infantryman (now needing a roll of 9+). A 4 on the 2d6 makes it look a bit rough. Not wanting to get shafted with Support Services, he tries for the easiest entry – Infantry – which normally needs a 5 to get in, but now needs a 9+ because he’s failed two rolls so far. The dice finally smile on Jean-Guy with a 12, and he’s an Infantryman.

As an infantryman, he gets +20 to his Combat RifleMan (CRM) skill and his Heavy Weapons (HW) skill. Basic training gives him 20 CRM, 20 MC (melee combat), 20 BC (body combat), 40 WVD (wheeled vehicle driver), 20 TW (thrown weapons) and 20 SWM (swim). He then gets to spend points on skills. All skills are listed as a percentile, and it costs 1 skill point per level for the first 50 levels, and 2 skill points per level after that, to a maximum of 80 levels in a skill. Except of course that some skills cost more or less than that depending on how you get it – because you have three different pools of skill points. Military Skills (MEB x 40), Education Skills (EDU x 20) and Background Skills (300).

So for Jean-Guy, he has 320 Military skill points, 280 Education skill points, and 300 Background skill points.

Because he wants to shoot people, he immediately cranks up his CRM and HW skills to 75 – spending 140 Military points. Since the war was already underway when he was recruited, he learned to Forage for food as part of his training and this became his specialty in his unit at 75% (and setting him back another 100 skill points – leaving him with 80 military points left). To go along with this foraging, he learned the basics of Recon – spotting enemies, ambushes, and learning to be stealthy (this skill costs double, so he gets it at 40 for his remaining points).

His Education points he uses to learn some martial arts (BC), computer skills (because that’ll be so useful after the nukes…), teaching skills, and pick up a pretty solid grasp of Mandarin and Cantonese.

His Background skill points go improve his Recon skill, and the obvious support skill for foraging, which is scrounging (finding non-food items). Having grown up in a rich family outside of Montreal, he also learns how to ride a horse (EQ), and how to forge signatures on his parents’ cheques (FRG).

With these skill totals we can determine how much damage he does in bare-hand combat – (STR+STA)xBC/200 = 5.4 (5 points) – as well as his base to hit numbers at close, medium and long range with small arms and heavy weapons.

Then we get to find out how much gear he starts with. In his case it is $500 of gear per month of combat time, or a total of $11,500 of gear, plus a free firearm from his nationality’s firearms list – in this case an M16 (actually a C7, but it’s the same gun stat-wise). He converts 10% of his starting allowance into gold (the most he can), and then picks up some rifle grenades, ammo, grenade launcher and grenades, and leaves the rest as “allowance” for when the rest of his team is rolled up so he can buy a few choice bits of ammo for the team vehicle and maybe pitch in towards picking up a good alcohol still wagon, or even a huge tanker wagon and a lot of distilled ethanol to use as fuel.

Name: Jean-Guy Levesque
Nationality: French Canadian
Army: Canadian
Rank: Private
Age: 24
Branch: Infantry
Specialty: Infantryman
Weight: 76kg

Strength: 9
Agility: 12
Constitution: 12
Stature: 9
Intelligence: 7
Education: 14

Hit Capacity – Head: 12
Hit Capacity – Chest: 30
Hit Capacity – Abdomen: 21
Hit Capacity – Right Arm: 21
Hit Capacity – Left Arm: 21
Hit Capacity – Right Leg: 21
Hit Capacity – Left Leg: 21

Base Numbers to Hit
CRM – S:45 – M:22 – L:7
HW – S:45 – M:22 – L:7
TW – S:12 – M:6 – L:2

Throw Range: 18m
Load: 30 kg

Military Experience Base: 8
Time in Combat: 23 months
Rads accumulated: 25 Rads

BC 60%
CMP 50%
CRM 75%
EQ 50%
FOR 75%
FRG 50%
HW 75%
INS 50%
LNG (English) 100%
LNG (French) 100%
LNG (Mandarin) 60%
LNG (Cantonese) 55%
MC 20%
RCN 70%
SCR 75%
SWM 20%
TW 20%
WVD 40%

$1,150 in gold
Case of 10 140mm RAW HEAT grenades
Case of 72 40mm HE grenades
Case of 280 shots 5.56mm NATO
10 M16 Magazines

$2,950 allowance left