Twilight 2000

The best Twilight had nothing to do with Vampires

World War III that never was

Classic Old School Games are enjoying a renaissance these days, some in the form of cloned rulesets and others in the form of new approaches to the intellectual property. Twilight 2000 is getting a fourth edition that is in the form of the latter thanks to the Swedish company Free League Publishing. There is Kickstarter campaign running through 3 Sept 2020 to bring this title back to market that is already knocking down stretch goals like an armored thrust through central Europe.

The core gameplay uses the hexcrawling system established in Mutant: Year Zero and 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. The core rules build on the Year Zero Engine, but heavily adapted to fit Twilight: 2000 and its focus on gear and gritty realism.

Free League Publishing

For those of you who are not familiar with the previous incarnations of Twilight 2000 let me provide a short synopsis of the setting.

In the first edition of the game, a Sino-Soviet border war escalated into nuclear exchanges while military officers from West and East Germany tried to reunite their nation with aid from NATO leading to a larger Warsaw Pact conflict across central Europe. The culmination of the conflict is a surprise Thanksgiving Day nuclear first strike by Soviet forces on the US and UK mainlands which is responded to in kind leading to a “nuclear autumn” and breakdown of civilization with casualty figures somewhere around 50%. The conventional war front across Poland and the Baltics grinds to a stalemate and a final NATO push is met with the last remnants of the Warsaw Pact, effectively grinding both armies into shambling ghosts.

The characters are assumed to be the survivors of the US Army 5th Division, cut off from command and supply in Poland and left to fend for themselves. The result being a sandbox full of combat trained and equipped characters having to deal with hostile troops and civilians as they try to survive. Do they try to make their way home, become another band of roving warlords or make alliances with the friendly civilians who need protection from the predations of other military remnants?

The second version of the game, faced with a post-Soviet collapse world, posited a successful 1991 coup where Gorbachev and Yeltsin were eliminated and Communist hardliners maintained the Soviet state control with a similar follow on of events causing a nuclear exchange and societal collapse.

Gotta love a setting where radiation dose is calculated during character creation and the MAC-10 is illustrated

The end result was a popular setting where you had armed military and civilian survivors, surrounded by a dangerous environment where power was taken and free-will was enforced at gunpoint. This was a gritty and realistic exercise rather than the mutant fun of Gamma World. Exploration was required for food, fuel, supplies and news so there was always potential for conflict. There were many adventures and supplements produced to expand the coverage of events in the US, UK, and Middle East along with various equipment catalogs of eastern and western military hardware.

So if you are a fan of Cold War fiction and post-apocalyptic or military gaming check out the upcoming version of Twilight 2000. From what we have seen so far, Free League Publishing is making great strides at adapting the Mutant Year-Zero engine to the Twilight 2000 setting and the end result should be well worth it.

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