How This Mess Started

posted by Rockopolis Original SA post

Well, it was either Tekumél , Blue Planet or this, and the Traveller F&F inspired me to pick this for my very first Fatal and Friends.
I've got pretty much every splat or scenario pdf.

Egregious Offenses, how much of Traveller were you planning to do?

Let's starve, with
Twilight 2000 v2.2 (1993)
Frank Chadwick, Game Designers Workshop
Part 1; How this Mess Started

Twilight 2000 v2.2 is a post-apocalyptic RPG set in post-WWIII Poland, in the far future year 2000.
It's a very spergy grognard sort of game, notable for being a post-apocalyptic game not having much, if any, in the way of sci-fi weirdness.
It's largely about scarcity, with the players frequently trying to find supplies, carting around a still to brew more fuel for their vehicle, and just trying to survive life in a very scary world. It's actually kind of like Mad Max

The book opens with a forward discussing the shift from a D10 system to a D20, to give the game more granularity and make it compatible with Traveller New Era .

There was apparently a big "Oops, no more Soviet Union" acknowledgement between version 1&2, but I can't find it.; probably not the only thing that's changed since they were guessing the future.

Then, the timeline leading up to the setting, starting in 1989. The Warsaw Pact explodes in a wave of pro-democracy protests and revolts, reform politicians elected, governments toppling, Soviet troops withdrawn, you know how it goes. Central Asian republics and the Caucasus are a hotspot, with a constant low level insurgency. The Gulf War rolls along, but the big issue on everyone's mind is the German reunification, and there's a lot of tensions between the Eastern European countries.
Pro-democracy protesters in China get crushed.

Saddam gets a brief mention in 1991, then it's back to Europe as Yugoslavia breaks apart into civil war, the insurgency in the Central Asian republics continues to get worse, and in August hardliners in Moscow launch a coup, imprisoning Gorbachev. Protestors and dissident army units gather Moscow, but are scattered by soldiers of the Kantemir division and the KGB Alpha Team, killing Russian President Yeltsin and 800 other protestors.
Wait, what ?

Yeah, the big alt-history event for Twilight 2000 version 2 was the coup attempt actually suceeding. I'm not sure what it was in version 1.

So, the coup succeeds, and the new government declares the Soviet Union is back together, and...nobody wants to sign up.

1992 rolls around, and it's mostly bad shit going down, but in a local sense; unhappy rebels everywhere, continued civil war in Central Asia, that kind of thing.
In the US, unhappiness about drugs, trade, and military demobalization means the Republicans are out and Democrat John Tanner is elected President, with Deanna Pemberton as Vice President.

1993, and the drug problems in the US are just getting worse.
Back in Europe, Germany is having problems with skinheads and a weak economy in East Germany, and they...decide to pass strict immigration laws (mentioned as an attempt to compromise).
Central Asia settles down to constant guerilla warfare, reminiscent of the war in Afghanistan.

In 1994, Germany quietly starts beefing up its military.
There's another pro-democracy movement in China, but better prepared, lasting whole months before being put down. It also strains the government enough that regional military commanders start setting themselves up in China.
In the US, prototype-AIDS vaccine gets rushed through trials.

1995. China and the USSR go to war, when the hardliner government and northern warlords see an opportunity to press for border adjustments. The Soviets make a rapid initial advance, but the Chinese mobilize, do way better than expected, and the war turns into a giant meatgrinder.
With Eastern Europe still going crazy, Germany decides to military again, freaking the hell out of Poland.

1996, the wars are dragging badly on the Soviets, who are forced to mobilize category B divisions and send them East, and prepare the category C and worse soldiers.
Poland, freaked out by Germany and Belarus, opens talks with the USSR, resulting in Warsaw Pact II; fuck Belarus. The new Pact consists of the USSR, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Belarus gets straight up partitioned.
Border tensions between Germany and Poland break out into full-on, half-assed war. Germany loses, the Pact plans to repartition Germany, and...Germany calls on NATO. Shit is going down. By the end of the year, Europe is one giant war.
Also, the Shining Path take half of Peru, and most of South America is in a similar state.

1997, war, war never changes-oops, the Soviets have started using tac nukes; 'sparingly', on troop concentrations in the West, liberally in China. NATO responds in kind.
No one is willing to go all out on white people , but they go in a slowly escalating tit-for-tat exchange of tac nukes, military, then logistic and industrial targets (including decapitation strikes on the US), before realizing "holy shit are we actually using nukes?"
India and Pakistan nuke each other to finish off the year.

The winter of 1997-1998 is much colder than usual, with famines and crippled infrastructure making things worse. Spring thaw leads to global epidemics from rotting corpses and lack of medicine. Global casualty rates are around 50%.
France and Belgium close their borders to refugees, using military force and pushing up to the Rhine.
Back in central Europe, the military is chewed up pretty badly, but not as badly as the civilians and civilian government. The fighting grinds to a halt because of supply problems, but "there are no surviving governments to negotiate [peace]".
In the US, the Joint Chiefs are the de facto government, and the food riots and mistreatment of Mexican refugees lead to a war with Mexico.
More war in Central Europe, and a little nuclear fuck you to the UK and Italy.

In 1999, Congress reconvenes, filled mostly by local strongmen. The Joint Chiefs say fuck that, and boom, MilGov and CivGov. Large parts of the country refuse to pick a side and ignore both.

By 2000, most of the armies have settled into cantonment systems, just to raise food and keep up recruitment from locals. Nominal titles of units no longer mean anything about unit size.
"In early summer, the German Third Army, spearheaded by the US Eleventh Corps, moves out of it's cantonments on what is to become one of the last strategic offensives of the war."

The chapter ends with a sidebar of two characters reminiscing about TV, and how it made dictators look crazy.

Looking back on this, the setting relies on people being crazier violent maniacs. Reading the timeline closely isn't that great, to be honest. They keep throwing in random events and small details, which, while some lead to later plot points or serve as plot hooks, the overall effect is rather confusing. It does sort of give off a highschool history textbook vibe, with the way it's laid out.
On the plus side, I do like to extract the overviw being that the war crapped out and governments petered out over logistic and infrastructure issues as much as fighting.

This was a pretty rough start, I'm hoping the next section will be easier.
Twilight 2000 is even grimmer than I remembered; you're kind of still in the apocalypse part of post-apocalypse.
Also, I constantly want to make Twilight vampire jokes.

Next time; How I got in this mess! Character creation.

Checking my library, for the series, a lot of the splats are from version 2, but here's my list of Twilight 2000 books that I may cover next. I haven't read any in a while.
Twlight 2013; recent remake by someone else
Merc 2000; Alternate, non-apocalyptic, setting involving, well, mercenaries
American Combat Vehicle Handbook
Bangkok Cesspool of the Orient
Castle by the Sea
East Europe Sourcebook
Heavy Weapons Handbook
NATO Combat Vehicle Handbook
Nautical/Aviation Handbook
Operation Crouching Dragon
Rendezvous in Krakow
Soviet Combat Vehicle Handbook
Special Operations
Twilight Nightmares

How We Got Into This Mess

posted by Rockopolis Original SA post

Man, it's neat posting these, I hear cool stuff about the game that you wouldn't have known about otherwise. Thanks!

I remember hearing something about part of version 1's backstory being kind of ehh, that must have been it.
At least it's not Twilight 2013's France going out of their way nuke-happy for...reasons? Wasn't that the plot to a John Ringo book?

I liked Blue Planet , so it'll be good to see someone else F&F it. I'm not sure I could find anyone to play it, and despite the fact that I'm terrified of water, I think it's a cool setting.
To avoid spoilers, I will lock my jaw on my favorite unit/faction in the game.
Do you know if they still donate proceeds from the game to the Cousteau Foundation?

...and, you know, I shouldn't plot out the next F&F before I finish the current one. That would just be dumb.

The pair of quotes requested before

I Miss TV posted:

One day Griffith looked over at me and said, "Monk, you know the worst thing about all this? No more television."
I just looked at him for a second.
"You miss Green Acres, do you?" I asked sarcastically.
"Hey, I'm not kidding. You know about Hitler and Mussolini and all those guys, right? Well, we never had anybody like that once we had television. And you know why? 'Cause all those guys look like clowns on TV. I mean, you're sittin' in your living room in front of the tube, watching some little guy scream and rant and foam at the mouth. Then they interrupt him for a commercial for a blender that makes salads or some damn thing, and then some cereal that's gonna make you regular, I mean who can take him seriously? What planet is that guy from? You wanna laugh, not get in line behind him.
"So now we've been - what? - three years without TV? And those people out there just keep getting loonier and loonier. I tell you, unless someone gets a network up and running pretty soon, we're gonna be in a world of hurt."
"Griffith," I said, "I think that we are already in a world of hurt."

"HQ posted:

There really weren't many of us left after Kalisz. I remember that Carson, the major's driver, found some paint and stenciled a sign he stuck in the ground next to where we had the Hum-Vee parked.

3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry
2nd Brigade
5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
United States Army

When Gordon saw it, she borrowed the paint and stencils and painted the same thing on a sign we put next to our other vehicle, the old LAV-25, except instead of headquarters she painted "Main Body". The major laughed when he saw it, but made us get rid of both of them. Security.
There was a time when none of us laughed much at all, but now we laugh again. What the hell. We're still alive.

As requested.
Man, what a pain to type all that out, I had to break out my keyboard and hook it up to my phone. No OCR on the PDFs; I'm pretty sure DriveThru just scanned it straight from the book. No advanced PDF things, like a linked table of contents or bookmarks, either. The Tekumel PDF I have is similar.

I think the second one makes for a pretty decent anecdote to describe the mood and setting of the game.
The first's interesting to see what someone wrote twenty years ago, but, well, we've got that and things seem to be getting worse


Twilight 2000 v2.2
Frank Chadwick, Game Designers Workshop

Part 2: How We Get Into This Mess
Character Creation

So, Twilight 2000 character creation starts with choosing your background; your gender and home country. The default is the United States, with modifiers later in the chapter for pretty much anywhere in North America or Europe.
And then your attributes, the relatively straightforward
which are on a 1-12 scale (though you can only generate up to a ten).
Attributes are generated by point buy, die roll (with rerolls for zero stats, and an optional rule for adding points if your total is less than 30)
Then, you get your native language(s) and four free low-level background skills; stuff like swimming or computer or farming.

From there, you go to the a lifepath character generation system. Starting as a 17 year old high school graduate, you pick 4 year terms of schooling or careers or the military and advance in four year terms, adding skills and other perks based on careers, plus skills from
A lot of terms have prerequisites; gotta have high Intelligence and Education to pick higher education, or in good shape to join the Marines. Military careers are special, giving you a set of basic training skills in addition to your first career path.
The focus of this game being what it is, there's a page of education terms three pages of civillian careers, and seven pages of military terms, plus 3 pages of modifications for the militaries of different countries. The military options are much more detailed, with four branches of service, each with their own specialty terms for officers and enlisted in stuff like artillery, support, armor, mech infantry, mountain infantry, pilots, special forces, SEALS, technical...
There's a couple quirky option that go between the military and civilian terms, like ROTC or joining the reserves, or doctors getting a commission on joining.

At the end of each term, you roll a d10 for war; World War III war breaks out if you roll less than or equal to the total number of terms you've served. If war breaks out, stop character generation and serve a term in the military. American civilians get drafted and shipped overseas, which means basic training, while European characters get drafted into the militia, which means they get...nothing. Suck it, Eurotards!
Yes, this means that your character's number of terms, their age, is up to chance. It's possible, though not very likely, to start the game in your fifties. Your attributes will have decayed, but on the plus side you'll have a ton of skills, probably be a Colonel, and have enough resource points to start with a tank.

After character creation, roll for starting Rads. Rads are bad; they represent your cumulative exposure to radiation. They don't go away, when you max it out you drop dead, and the higher it is, the worse the symptoms of further radiation exposure are for you.
Civilians roll a pair of dice, soldiers roll a number of dice based on their initiative score; the more badass you are, the more likely you've been through some irradiated area.

Next, starting gear.
You get different starting gear, like flak jacket, helmet, survival gear, plus weaponry based on your home country, such as an M16 for an American or an AK 74 for a Soviet. Americans get a free upgrade to the superior kevlar armor.
Then, the party gets a d6 for every 3 players in the party. You roll them against the vehicle table, singly or in groups of up to three; the vehicle table runs from a 3/4 ton truck for a 1, to a M1A2 Abrams tank if you roll an 18. Or you could trade your vehicle dice for animal dice, and roll for the number of appropriate animals.
And finally, you for every term you spent in the military, you get $5000 ($10000 for officers) worth of equipment that you managed to steal prior to the start of the game, assuming it fits on your vehicle , because you start the game on the road, with whatever you can carry.
Oh yes, best perk ever; Army Special Forces start the game with a green beret in their inventory.

Finally, contacts are one of the perks you get at the end of certain terms, and I find it to be a really nifty resource. Contacts have in a couple categories; foreign or not, type (academic, military, law enforcement, criminal, etc), and importantly, generic or solid. A generic contact is an unspecified contact held in reserve, while a solid contact is one that has been statted out, met, and permanently added to the game.
The example used is that of that of the party running into a Soviet patrol, and Master Sergeant Anderson decides (with GM approval and roll) the patrol is led by Femerov, his drinking buddy from when they were both stationed in Iceland , turning one of his foreign military generic contacts into a solid contact.

And, that was character creation.
Compared to Traveller , your character can't get killed in character generation, and you have a freer choice of terms, but you can't choose when to stop, either.
One of the things I really liked about Traveller was that your character sheet fit onto an actual, physical index card (along with every other kind of data sheet). Twilight 2000 is more verbose, but I think it could fit, if you had good handwriting.

Next time, I will make a sample character or two; the obligatory special forces soldier Blast Hardcheese, and then I've want to try making a European character, maybe engineer or doctor, who's a reservist of some kind (so they don't get totally screwed on combat skills).

From you, I will take suggestions suggestions and make the ones I like.

Part 2.5: Who Are You? (sample characters)
Part 3: What Is This Crap? (equipment list)

What Is This Mess?

posted by Rockopolis Original SA post

I'm back.

I've noticed that there seems to be a bit of goofiness regarding civilian characters whose professions exempt them from the draft. In addition to having to figure out why they're in Europe, they do not get default gear, or money with which to purchase it, since starting money is based on number of terms served in the military.
This makes the Idle Rich career's special essentially worthless, as it's double starting money, but only if you don't serve in the military.

Twilight 2000 v2.2
Frank Chadwick, Game Designers Workshop

Part 3: What is this?

The equipment list is essentially a forty page sperg on absolutely every piece of equipment possible. The vast majority of this section is simply equipment lists, into which I will dip for examples or for interesting items, but there are a few rules here and there.

Everything is listed in dollars (for the purposes of determining starting gear), weight, and availability.
Availability is listed Very Common, Common, Scarce, Rare, and Unavailable, and has a seperate value for East and West bloc. Europe is divided as you'd expect, while North America and Japan are part of West, the Soviet Union and Northern China are East, and everyone else is Third World, using the lowest availability of either.
Gameplay stats aren't available until the later part of the section, which is full of illustrated data cards for gear and vehicles.

The section starts with...Melee Weapons, of which there's only one. I'll use it for an example.

Garotte: A length of rope or wire used for strangulation.
Wt: 0.2 kg
Price: Usually improvised (V/V)

Gee, thanks. That's super useful...also, it's like the heaviest fucking garotte imaginable.

It then moves on to firearms, starting with...autocannons and large-caliber guns, and howitzers, most of which don't have any stats at all because they're usually vehicle mounted. They do have little blurbs, but they're kind of generic.
There's five different autocannons, five different large caliber guns, and three howitzers, of which only the Rapira-3 125mm Gun and the 122mm howitzer, have stats, for their towed versions. Both are insanely expensive, being $50,000 each, but they're only Scarce or Common for the appropriate side.

I suppose that's only five military terms for an officer character, so I suppose if a player got lucky, Podpolkovnik Sergei could blow his starting cash on a Rapira-3, which is apparently the main gun for the T-72, T-80, and T-90, assuming he rolls well enough to get a vehicle that can tow a three and a half ton gun. Or the party could pool their cash.

Next is a half dozen tripods, none of which costs more than $350, and are mind numbingly specific about which machinegun or grenadle launcher or whatever they go with.

Small arms ammunition!
Magazines are purchased separately, costing $1 per 3 rounds of capacity, unless you're buying a thousand round drum of 5.56mm Nato, which costs $200.
The more I read, the more this is sounding like a surprisingly high powered game. If any of your characters are career military, you're far more limited by your carrying capacity than starting cash.

Anyway, it starts with...Longbow arrows and crossbow bolts, then loose black powder and balls, before finally getting to the modern stuff, which is generally arranged by caliber. There's an entire page of this, from 4.7mm Cis to 12 Gauge.

Next, is the a big sidebar on specialized round types, for grenades and big shells, from Armor Piercing Depleted Uranium through White Phosphorus.
Then it starts listing hand grenades, launcher grenades, rockets, rifle grenades, anti-tank missiles, and finally the ammo for the autocannons, guns and howitzers, then mortars.
They list mortar rounds, but no mortars. Weird.

Oh yes, one of the special rounds is CHEM. Chem hand grenades are available in smoke or tear gas (double price).
On the other hand, basic rounds are available in 122mm for only $350. If you already dropped $50,000 on a howitzer, you might as well go wild and pay pay $1400 per round so you could start with FUCKING NERVE GAS ! That's right, you can start the game with enough nerve gas to wipe out a major city.

Continuing our warcrime spree; landmines! The next whole page is for explosives, from dynamite to plasitc explosives, along with a the demolitons kit used to set things up.

After that, we get into more general gear, which I actually kind of like. I think because it's like camping, with out actually having to go out and camp
My favorite category of item; Stills!
To me, they're one of the iconic items of Twilight 2000, really hammering home the idea of scarcity (much better than running around with tanks full of NERVE GAS is, anyway). Your military vehicles have diesel engines that can run on alcohol, and most surviving vehicles have been converted, so most parties are supposed to lug around a still to brew more fuel. It makes diesel a treasure as well, because it's a lot more powerful.

A small still costs $500, is very common, and...weighs 700kg. It pretty much eats up an enitre trailer, and turns 30 kilos of organic material into five liters of alcohol daily.
I'll have to do the math when that section rolls around.
Not quite as cool as I'd first thought.

Skipping the medium still, the large still is $200000, common, 83 tons, and turns three tons of organic material into 2400 liters of alcohol.

Next is generators, which are pretty standard. Gotta keep your electronic gizmos running.
Freezers and cookers for your food. Tools; a trailer with a full machine shop needs 60 kilowatts, costs $75000, is rare, and weights 1.75 tons, and what it can and can't do is basically up to the referee's imagination.
Radios&scopes are as you'd expect.
Radar is hugely expensive, with the only affordable one being the $40,000 ground surveilance radar, with no game mechanics given.
Laser designators are here, though I don't think smart munitions are in the game.

Good old fashioned NBC equipment. Characters all start with gas masks...but you want to pick up a chem defense suit and extras. There's maniacs with nerve gas running around. Maybe get a Steam Deconamination Trailer; it's only $5000 and one ton, and it washes off fallout and traces of chemical agents.

Body armor is rather limited in choice, being kevlar helmets and vests, and flak jackets and steel helmets. It notes that none of it is designed to defend against direct hits from small arms, but is supposed to protect against fragments.
I seem to recall that kevlar vests actually made for pretty decent armor in this game.

Next, medical supplies, much of which needs refrigeration.
You've got your generic medkits or doctor's kits, which are mostly just collections of the drugs and tools in the rest of the section, but some of the interesting items are that antibiotics are divided into +, -, and +/- for different types of bacteria, you can get whole blood or plasma, and atropine injectors are available.

Then there's "Other" equipment. Tents. Scuba gear. Skis. Reactive armor blocks.

It's here that the default equipment is listed.
Uniform, steel helmet, backpack, shelter half, the gas mask, combat webbing, bayonet, whatever personal weapon you get from your country, some ammo and grenades. It notes that the US soliders are better equipped and start decked out completely in kevlar, and with a medkit and some personal comforts like warmer clothes and flashlights.

Next, the cards! Vehicle cards. Each one is probably about the size of a three by five index card and is illustrated, and loaded down with mechanical information. The main stats of note for vehicles maintenance, which represents how much of a pain in the ass something is to keep running, their fuel type, capacity, and consumption. Fuel consumption is listed for liters of gasoline...conversion isn't listed for another fifty pages or so, but basically multiply by three for alcohol.

First up...the humble bicycle. Trucks, wagons, trailers....and tanks! Most of them are there for the stats, or the off chance you roll well on the vehicle aquisition table, because they're all hugely expensive, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and worse, they guzzle gas like crazy.

On the other hand, there's animals...including Elephants! Yes, for $20,000 a head, you too can cross the Alps with Elephants.

There's a couple boats with a rudimentary separate damage system to keep track of if they're going to float or sink.

Then it's guns, guns guns...I can't even care anymore, this is getting dull.
Most of them are very very similar game mechanically and very few stand out. They don't even have different reliability ratings.
Notably, the G11 is the standard weapon for the German army; it's got decent stats, especially a huge magazine capacity and low recoil, but it makes a note of the caseless ammo being more or less impossible to manufacture more of.
Wikipedia says the G11 was a prototype gun firing caseless ammunition that was stuck in development hell for thirty years, and was finally finished and shitcanned in 1990, when that whole no more Cold War thing hit. Just like Twilight 2000 , really.

Towards the end they finally list mortars, including the 60/81/82mm Wojo combo. Relatively cheap and available, it's supposed to represent the various hand made mortars in production in the year 2000, this particular example being from Wojchiechowiecz armaments factory in Krakow. This one has the virtue of being able to use wooden sabots to fit ammunition of varying sizes.

And...that's it. This chapter turned into a serious chore, I'm hoping the next one is easier. There are limits to my sperg, and this chapter was a bit oddly organized.

OTOH, at least I now have a goal for the character creation thread; create an insane Colonel and see just how much of the setting he can wipe out with just his starting stock of NERVE GAS.

Next time
Part 4 : Who the hell is running this thing?
The Referee