Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Retrospective: Twilight: 2000

One of the things I've realized as I've looked back on the history of the hobby is that there are many games that are hard to appreciate out of context. If you weren't alive and gaming at the time of their release, looking at them now will leave you puzzled and nonplussed. GDW's Twilight: 2000 is such a game. Its first edition was published in 1984, when the Cold War was still very much a going concern. Hardliner Konstantin Chernenko led the USSR and Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Films like Red Dawn depicted a Soviet invasion of the United States, while miniseries like The Day After showed us the horrors of a nuclear war.

I can't say I lived in fear of World War III, as some people I've known have said of themselves, but I won't deny that, at the time, I found it implausible that the Warsaw Pact would one day simply cease to be, without a shot being fired in a war with the West. Consequently, a game like Twilight: 2000, in which players took on the roles of American soldiers trapped in Poland after the functional collapse of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, resonated powerfully with many gamers, myself included. The game's background included a limited (but nevertheless devastating) nuclear exchange that left most of the major nations of the world unable to continue hostilities, leaving anarchy in its wake.

The player characters, as highly trained and heavily armed men -- and women, as Twilight: 2000 presumes that women will take on combat roles in its future history -- thrown on their own resources to do whatever they wished. And it was here that I think Twilight: 2000 was at its most interesting. In such a chaotic environment, PCs should be counted on to take full advantage of their superior firepower and the lack of widespread governmental authority to commit mayhem on a vast scale. This was a common experience of many gamers I've met who played Twilight: 2000 back in the day, including my own group of friends, whose characters set themselves up as mercenary kingmakers in post-war Poland.

Despite this, the adventures GDW actually produced to support the game assumed a somewhat more altruistic approach, with the PCs being akin to the "necessary barbarians" of many a tale of the Old West. Thus, they'd hire themselves out to defend villages from bandits, overthrow would-be tyrants, and generally attempt to maintain a veneer of civilization amidst the the societal upheaval of World War III. Some of the players in my Dwimmermount campaign played in a Twilight: 2000 campaign that hewed closer to that approach and the stories of their characters' exploits are almost moving -- proof, I think, that, in the hands of a good referee, the game need not degenerate into macho gun fantasies and nothing more.

Still, looking back on Twilight: 2000, it's very much a product of its age and I suspect that younger gamers, who were born and entered the hobby after the fall of the Soviet Union, wouldn't be able to get their heads around its central premise. GDW attempted to revamp the game in the early 90s to take into account contemporary history, but the result was a flat, unbelievable game, lacking all the historical and cultural markers that made the first edition so potent. I understand there's been yet another attempt to rework the game and, while I haven't seen it, I find it difficult to imagine that it could recreate the strange glory of its predecessor, which, for all its faults, was a game that nicely captures the era of its making.

55 comments:

  1. Twilight 2000 remains one of my favorite games for its premise but so poorly executed that I could never get around to playing it.

    I tried back in the time that it was released (James, keep in mind you are a few years older than me) I could not find any motivation to play soldiers and Twilight v.1 was a very American game. For me, Twilight represents what was wrong with Traveller at the time. It was a wargame trying to do a RPG thing. Whereas, Traveller had the brilliance of the Keiths and non military professions to save its bacon, Twilight had none of those advantages. Having said that, it was better than the Morrow Project in playability but literally Twilight v1 required that players be railroaded across Europe to make it back in time to fight the Mexicans before doing the good fight again in Europe. The whole thing reminded me of a kid relating how his grandfather went to fight in WW1 to save civilization and then his father came back for the sequel in WW2.

    There also was a lack of hope or utopia that was prevalent even in the SF at the time (think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). Twilight was compounded the error of also not tying into GDW's number one seller...had they linked it with Traveller rules and make something akin to Striker or Mercenary then they may have a hit. As a result, Twilight lingers neither here nor there.

    A few months or last year, I picked up Twilight 2013 which was even worse than Twilight v2. So, if it is broke...sometimes, it is better not fix something.

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  2. Wolverines!!!

    That out of the way the whole idea of "hey the army is disbanded and your stuck in Poland, have fun" feels like it could lend it self to a whole Post Apocalyptic version of the Aeneid, Odyssey, or Xenophon's Persian Expedition as soldiers just trying to get home to their families or find a place to settle down.

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  4. I still have 1e Twilight 2000, along with the new 2013. I played 1e a LOT when I was younger. It was a great game. 2013 is cool, but is more rules-heavy than I care for these days.

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  5. Great Game! It would be a little difficult in todays context, but no too difficult. But it was an interesting post apocalyptic game.

    I always felt the re-edited version that came out in 1991 was kind of lame.

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  6. Nice retrospective. I remember the game garnering some scathing reviews at the time. Will you be following this up with a retrospective of The Price of Freedom?

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  7. We tended to use Aftermath for our post-Collapse games. At University the "you* survive the collapse of civilization" was a perennial favourite. I think the game went through almost every possible variation (plague, secret conspiracy of religious maniacs to create a New World Order, alien invasion, return of magic, etc), each time with about 30 to 40 active players.

    The one time I actually tried out the Twilight 2000 rules myself, the game consisted the retreat of stranded Combine units from remnant Paneuropean forces at the end of the Last War in around 2070. Most of the game and scenarios could translate directly. The exception. being, of course, the Ogres (but they tended to be moving scenery than anything else).

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  8. @blizack... I've seen TW:2013 on the shelf at my FLGS. Perused its pages. Left uninspired, and the system, called Reflex, appeared to have "stages," e.g., I, II, III, that attempted to provide a spectrum of introductory and complex play.

    I picked up TW2K v1 (I never saw a need for a v2, or a v3 for that matter) and ordered the core reprint from FFE (Far Future Enterprises). I consider TW2K to be one of those foundational games that to this day inspires my imagination (Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay the other).

    I grew up during the Cold War (42 this year) and the idea of a nuclear exchange was truly MAD, but always present. My parents and grandparents served in the Navy, Army or Marines (my father later a senior civilian DoD Logistics consultant), so that added a certain amount of "inside baseball" feelings about the Cold War.

    Something that put the TW2K book in my hands again this week (and this retrospective cements some of those feelings; thanks James M!) is Strategy Talk, a podcast. A specific episode that captures some of the mood up to and after the fall of the Berlin Wall captures a microcosm of the Cold War in Eastern Europe from the perspective of military historians, with a dash of the politics. The specific podcast is The Decline and Fall of the Berlin Wall.

    As an aside, one of the regular hosts of Strategy Talk is James F. Dunnigan. James founded SPI, wrote the definitive book on wargaming, and designed several classic Avalon Hill games, such as Panzer Leader and PanzerBlitz.

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  9. Twilight was compounded the error of also not tying into GDW's number one seller...had they linked it with Traveller rules and make something akin to Striker or Mercenary then they may have a hit.
    As I recall, Traveller: The New Era used a very similar system to Twilight 2000, close enough that you could import ideas from each game into the other with very little conversion; I think it was simply a matter of switching between a d10 and a d20 for task resolution. A friend of mine used T2000 to run an X-Files type game, and all the alien technology was designed using TNE's Fire, Fusion and Steel, for example. As it was, bringing everything under one system didn't really do much for GDW, as they folded soon after.

    feels like it could lend it self to a whole Post Apocalyptic version of the Aeneid, Odyssey, or Xenophon's Persian Expedition
    That had never occurred to me before, even though it's quite clearly there. Well spotted!

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  10. My junior high gaming group tried one adventure with T:2k.

    When character generation took us about 3 hours, and half of the group of 6 died in the first scenario (vs. 2 Soviet soldiers with AKs, blocking a road with their jeep), we gave it a pass... but plundered the T:2k books for other stuff.

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  11. I have such vivid memories of playing this as a kid! It got me fascinated with the concept of desolate, post apocalyptic Earth. Probably me working through my WWW3 fears as well, of which I was terrified.

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  12. I recall reading one of the GDW principals one time in an article saying that the results of their T:2000 game laid the basis for the world in Traveller 2300.

    security word: "grinstal," the much abused servant of your typical evil archmage.

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  13. I *loved* this game. It came out when I was half-done with high school, and as a patriotic wargamer, I was inclined towards a military career (which never happened). T2k is the game that brought me into game-mastering for real-- I had only really dabbled at AD&D and Top Secret before this.

    I ran two year-long campaigns and a few short events, as well as an episodic Mercenary game in the mid-90's. I collected all of the modules and still have a yen to run the ones "that got away."

    Regarding the untimeliness of the setting, I recently expressed to my wife that desire to play it again, and she pointed out that I have sons. I doubt they could embrace the Cold War assumptions that underlay the whole thing.

    "in the hands of a good referee, the game need not degenerate into macho gun fantasies and nothing more." This is one reason I would love to convince some of my current group members to take this game up, even briefly. I've played it as a teenager, I want to try to play with grownups this time around.

    A secondary thing is that the Polish setting of the first 5 modules hooked me into Polish history, I liked the idea of becoming a kingmaker there, and rebuilding that unfortunate nation.

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  14. I was one of those who genuinely feared nuclear war. I was smack in the Pershings to West Germany, Day After, 4 minutes to midnight, bombing jokes in the live mic middle of it. I figured it was inevitable. Hence this game was a natural. My players quickly established a fiefdom quite clearly delineated by piles of charred and rotting corpses. Claymores FTW.

    I found the game a little dry. Looking back, I think radioactive eyeball beams for the PCs and the occasional clan of rifle-toting bunnies to contend with would have definitely spiced it up.

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  15. I'm a child of the '90s - born in 1987, so growing up the Cold War was certainly something of a past event for me. But for what it's worth, I always found the Twilight: 2000 setting to be compelling and incredibly evocative. Now that I think about it, this may be a function of my having strongly dosed myself on military and espionage material as a kid (and still to this day).

    It's going to be rare, but there are definitely post-Cold War gamers out there who would leap at a chance to play T:2K.

    "You're on your own - good luck..."

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  16. I had forgotten that I had that game, way back when. I don't know what happened to it, but I suspect it got sold at a yard sale or something.

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  17. Growing up in the tail-end of the Cold War (late 80's - early 90's), I enjoyed the brief flirtation we had with T:2K. Although we only played a handful of scenarios, I vaguely remember my PC mining a road out of a village to destroy a column of Soviet-remnant troops en route to back up a tin-pot dictator who had set himself up as a feudal lord over several settlements in far-eastern Poland.

    Admittedly, we didn't play for long (preferring D&D), but we had fun with what we did. T:2K (as originally presented) is definitely a snapshot of a bygone age (wow, am I really that old?) that younger players would have a tough time absorbing.

    With the various tensions our present world faces today (& the resulting post-apocalyptic hell that could still result as a result of those tensions exploding), I believe a revised & reformatted T:2K (to reflect the climate & politics of the present & near future) would work pretty well.

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  18. I find it rather puzzling that people accepting the existence of orks and dragons (in "alternate worlds", one presumes) reject an alternate history of post-nuclear war Europe as "implausible".

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  19. Kelvin:
    Dark Conspiracy, Traveller New Era, and Twilight 2000 2ed. all used the same rules system. They also all included the GDW trademark typos, errors, and errata cut n' pasted to each new product.
    It was a horrendous system and deserves to be buried and forgotten. 1st ed. Twilight 2000 was a different slightly more playable system.

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  20. James, this one got you another off the wall link, from the Corner blog at National Review Online:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=OGMzMzJlZGE0MjZmYjlkOWMwYjhkYmY0NWE4YjAwNWQ=

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  21. Okay, first the LA Times and now NRO? That is beyond "way cool." :)

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  22. @Anthony: I'll admit it was a bit odd to log into one of my favorite right of center political sites and read "My favorite blog of the moment is Grognardia, ".

    It was very much a wtf moment.

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  23. I played Twilight: 2000 v2.2 as recently as college in the 2006. OK, so by that point we dispensed with the game story and substituted our own -stuck behind enemy lines and trying to get back to friendly territory was a common one -being pursued the whole way by a crazy Russian bio-weapons engineer who believed the players had survived his weapons and wanted to find out why (they hadn't, but try explaining that to him).

    We had to houserule a heck of lot of it for speed and playability, but at core, the close-combat rules and the vehicle rules were some of the best I've ever played with.

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  24. I think Twilight 2000 would still work. You just have to substitute your favorite doomsday scenarios.

    EMP, plagues, crazy attempts to establish a caliphate, lack of Europeans in the back country because of low birth rates and everybody moving to the cities, wolves and nature taking over, bio-engineered stuff, evil hackers taking over the Internet and convincing your girl you're cheating on her, Putin getting uppity, China getting uppity, North Korea getting uppity, Iran, Syria, etc, etc.... Just shake well and there you go.

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  25. A 1991 online argument about Twilight: 2000 prompted me to write an essay, "Do the Right Thing," about the importance and utility of an ethical system in campaign world design. "Necessary barbarian" pretexts to the contrary, T:2000 presented an almost complete moral vacuum, and I believe the published adventures (with a few exceptions) suffered for that lack.

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  26. A great game. I ran a great campaign of this my senior year of high school, with eight or ten people shuffling in and out of the campaign over the course of several months. I seem to recall my players ended up going north, through Warsaw, and since I owned -- for some reason -- a very large map of Sweden and the Baltic Sea -- I ended up playing part of the scenario with Sweden, who had stayed out of World War III, reasserting themselves along the Baltic Coast. Fun to make the Swedes the bad guys as my PCs ended up trying to defend some small Polish fishing village in Pomerania.

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  27. Will you be following this up with a retrospective of The Price of Freedom?

    I never owned or played the game, so it's unlikely.

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  28. I recall reading one of the GDW principals one time in an article saying that the results of their T:2000 game laid the basis for the world in Traveller 2300.

    That's correct. The guys at GDW and their pals all played a kit bashed political/economic simulation known affectionately as "The Great Game." The results of that simulation laid the groundwork for the future history of 2300 AD (née Traveller: 2300).

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  29. "Necessary barbarian" pretexts to the contrary, T:2000 presented an almost complete moral vacuum, and I believe the published adventures (with a few exceptions) suffered for that lack.

    I recall many of the adventures involving helping/defending locals menaced by violent outsiders, with the PCs doing their best impressions of The Magnificent Seven. That's certainly how lots of people played the game. Even my own players, who tended to be somewhat more callous and mercenary than many, didn't see the collapse of society as an excuse to abandon morality entirely, even if they weren't always selflessly altruistic.

    Its being a GDW game, I'd guess that its designers simply assumed players would accept and abide by the morality of honorable soldiers, nuclear war or not. I doubt the thought even crossed their minds that players might use the post-war chaos as an excuse to engage in amorality. Was that naive? Probably but I'm not sure the game can be blamed for it.

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  30. The thing I remember most about Twilight 2K was the character generation. I spent the better part of a day programming a TRS-80 Model 4 with a BASIC program which I'd written to do character generation. As for actually playing the game, our group played a couple of times, but prefered Top Secret for modern gunplay (especially after the first time someone in Twilight got hit in the head with a 30mm shell . . .)

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  31. My group's one (unfinished) campaign in T:2000was sort of in-between the two playstyles mentioned.

    Anabasis style, we were just warriors in a land not our own trying like hell to get home. Sometimes we helped those we encountered, a few times we harmed, but always the goal was to return to the U.S.

    We never got there, though, as we never finsihed the campaign.

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  32. I loved t2k. Hated the system, but once we got use to it we had many great adventures in Poland.

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  33. I might add that the Cold War was an almost necessary prerequisite for understanding the mindset that lay behind many of the old SPI wargames. I wrote about that nostalgia myself a while back:

    http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2009/04/ebay-nostalgia-and-soviet-threat.html

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  34. When I'm in to mood to play something less Gamma World-y, and more Red Dawn-ish, I play this game. One of the best excuses to to put out my old Weapons & Warfare books.

    For some quick NPCs, I just pull out some old G.I.Joe filecards (more so, the early ones), because they are well written (simple, and to the point), and they use real military traditions and terminology. Oddly enough, just by dropping their well known code names, most players never figure that they are playing along side the same action figures they played with as kids! Even when they do pick that up, most really enjoy the cameos.

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  35. I doubt the thought even crossed their minds that players might use the post-war chaos as an excuse to engage in amorality. Was that naive? Probably, but I'm not sure the game can be blamed for it.

    On the contrary, that was the exact point of the essay I linked above. I think both ethics and simple pragmatic motives of good design obligate a campaign setting's creators to define, explicitly, some expected code of behavior. It may be inherent in the setting's cultures or, in the case of T:2000's anarchic setting, it may be defined more abstractly. But good setting design creates a context, a set of norms, for the PCs to adhere to or violate as they decide is best. This helps lend their actions significance in the game. Any RPG of serious intent is better for this, and RPGs like T:2000 that blithely ignore it, whether by intention or absentmindedness, deserve blame.

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  36. But good setting design creates a context, a set of norms, for the PCs to adhere to or violate as they decide is best.

    I agree, but doesn't Twilight: 2000 have a set of norms for the PCs to adhere to or violate, namely those of mid-80s America and specifically of its armed forces? I'm not sure the game suffers greatly for not having a section of the referee's manual devoted to explicating this. The game is clearly about NATO forces thrown on their own resources after the war effort has collapsed. Will they hold true to military SOP/ethics even the End has come or will they cast them aside out of convenience? That question seems to be at the heart of what the game is about.

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  37. So true... Paranoia is another that simply doesn't resonate with people today. Without the cold war backdrop, it makes very little sense...

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  38. While I agree that someone living in the Cold War era would feel more for Twilight: 2000 than someone who hasn't, I completely disagree that the game makes no sense to those who are post-Cold War.
    I've seen players as young as 17 getting into the game because irrespective of it's background setting, at it's heart the game is about a group surviving the ruin of the world.

    I've read Mister Varney's article, but I think he misses the point entirely. Everyone I know was gaming for the enjoyment and fun, the entertainment you gain from indulging in a hobby. If we'd wanted lessons in morality we would have gone to church instead.

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  39. P.S. For anyone who thinks that Twilight: 2000 is dead, they should take a look at the volume of traffic generated at the main forum devoted to the game.

    http://forum.juhlin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=1

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  40. As I recall, Traveller: The New Era used a very similar system to Twilight 2000, close enough that you could import ideas from each game into the other with very little conversion; I think it was simply a matter of switching between a d10 and a d20 for task resolution. A friend of mine used T2000 to run an X-Files type game, and all the alien technology was designed using TNE's Fire, Fusion and Steel, for example. As it was, bringing everything under one system didn't really do much for GDW, as they folded soon after.

    Wasn't Dark Conspiracy GDW's answer to X Files & Call of the Cthulhu? This mechanic could have used the Twilight v2 but I am not sure. I remember at the time there was excitement that Traveller, Fantasy (under the Dangerous Journeys line), Horror were to be united in some sort of GURPS like system.

    Indeed, T2000 v2 had much in common with TNE but by the time TNE and T2000 hit the market, their potential had already been sapped. While each had their potential audiences there was no unifying them.

    My point was that GDW had great potential to marry the two lines at the beginning but did not seize that opportunity because they still thought as wargamers not role players.

    feels like it could lend it self to a whole Post Apocalyptic version of the Aeneid, Odyssey, or Xenophon's Persian Expedition

    Certainly, it could be played that way with hindsight but I think the way the game was presented was for hardcore military types that GDW had built up with Traveller. Somehow, Traveller was very popular in the US Military.

    I don't think that Twilight is dead no more than say the Morrow Project is dead. But, the feeling that it captured is dead. And the reason for that lies beyond the geopolitical situation but more in terms of the belief in American supremacy.

    An aside, an interesting game that picks up many of T2000 strengths is Millenium's End and brings up to a techno-thriller standard. But, sadly, it too has disappeared. Are there any more realistic & gritty Modern RPGs still out there?

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  41. T:2000. Now that was a long time ago. (-: I was working on the US Army's chemical weapons program at the time, and it freaked out some of my non-gamer coworkers to see coverage of stuff we were more or less working on in a post-apocalyptic game. I guess most of them managed to suppress thoughts about what they were doing. I, on the other hand, grew up with Starman's Son, Alas, Babylon, and a whole heap of other post-apocalpytic literature, so T:2000 was no big deal as far as that went.

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  42. Wasn't Dark Conspiracy GDW's answer to X Files & Call of the Cthulhu?
    It was an odd beast, with one foot in cosmic horror, and another in technothriller-bordering-on-cyberpunk, but broadly, yes. Still, said friend simply used T2000 for the base ruleset. I have another friend who ran a similar X-Files-inspired game, this time using DC, and it seemed largely the same to us players.

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  43. @HgMan... you too with the TRaSh-80? I distinctly recall writing mine on 120 column paper prior to keying it; then saving/restoring my T:2K chargen to cassette tape. I think I had 16K of RAM.

    As an aside, some notes about v1 release of T:2K are on the inside cover of the reprint volume:

    Wars and Rumors of Wars

    The 1980s were a time af apprehension. The Soviet Union was a super-power co-equal with the United States in world affairs. President Ronald Reagan's address to the House of Commons set the tone:

    "If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma--predictions of doomsday, anti-nuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who see subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?"

    --June 8, 1982

    It was in this pervasive atmosphere of fear of impending doom that Twilight:2000 burst on the role-playing scene at Thanksgiving, November 26, 1984. Traditionally, the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period shows the highest game sales of the year, and game publisher GDW worked hard to ensure the new game would be available by Thanksgiving...

    The initial Twilight:2000 print-run of 10,635 was exhausted by March [1985] and another print-run of 10,000 was ordered for April.

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  44. As a point of view comment, I ran and played in several T2K vol.1 campaigns in the late 80's, With the most memorable one while I was serving in the military. Everyone playing was military and it made for a hyper-realistic game. After the wall came down I moved over to T2k vol.2 and ran Merc 2000 campaigns. The campaign was based in the far furure of 2004.
    I really enjoyed both versions and they still set together on my bookshelf.

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  45. Everyone I know was gaming for the enjoyment and fun, the entertainment you gain from indulging in a hobby. If we'd wanted lessons in morality we would have gone to church instead.

    This isn't even remotely what I was arguing in my essay "Do the Right Thing." I asserted it improves a campaign setting to define an expected morality and mode of conduct. This gives the players a reference point so they can better judge the consequences of their actions. James can argue T:2000 assumed as its standard 1980s military codes of behavior, but none of its published material (that I saw) ever mentioned any code, or in fact any moral issue of any kind whatever.

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  46. I wasn't criticizing the point of view you expressed, I was commenting on why it was felt necessary to make it. I do not believe the game needs to provide a moral code for the players, the players should already have an idea of what is right or wrong simply from living in their own real world community.
    I feel it's the job of the GM to illustrate the morality of their own gameworld if the players don't undertand it and the GM's job to enforce it. If someone needs a paragraph or three in the rulebook to provide a way to judge the consequence of their actions, I would argue that that person would be better served playing any of the don't-think-just-act hack'n'slash games that are out there.

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  47. James can argue T:2000 assumed as its standard 1980s military codes of behavior, but none of its published material (that I saw) ever mentioned any code, or in fact any moral issue of any kind whatever.

    That's because I don't believe it ever made this explicit; it was simply assumed, much in the same way that most other modern day RPGs don't talk much about the immorality of murder. In fact, outside of fantasy and superhero games, which are commonly derided for advancing "simplistic" moral codes, it' pretty rare to find games that talk much about morality at all.

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  48. I seem to be very much in the minority on this blog. My character was a 2nd Lt in charge of a scout platoon attached to the 5th Division. Before the first die hit the table I had made up my mind that we were starting as soldiers in the United States Army and live or die that was how we would end the campaign. And after a campaign that ran for well over a year when we finally rolled out of Poland we did so scouting for a short division. We brought the 5th back to life. I’m not saying there wasn’t a bit of wheeling and dealing along the way. We were known as the 40 Thieves by the reformed division. On the other hand we did outfit the division out of our own stocks. But none of our deals were worse that any you might hear about from any combat veteran you might fine who is willing to talk.

    I have been trying to get our game master to pull out game again but keep running into the same old line of ‘the Cold War is over, the background doesn’t fit,’ so forth and so on. In my time rolling dice I’ve been a knight in armor, a spell caster, a star ship pilot, a hard boiled detective and a super hero. To the best of my knowledge none of those backgrounds fit what is happening outside of my door. But I still have hopes of replaying the campaign with a new set of gamers who weren’t born when the game first came out.

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  49. I would love to get my hands on a 1st edition copy of Twilight2000. Not playing it when I had the chance is one of only a few gaming regrets I harbor. I would love to run a campaign with players that have the same memories of the 80's/Reagan Years that I do.

    @ James: your experience with gamers setting themselves up as "kingmakers" rather than "altruistic mercs" sounds far more realistic to me...but I've been reading Stirling's "Dies the Fire" lately and I may have a slightly warped perspective.

    @ Archer: damn straight. Treat it as "alternate history" just like Deadlands or Rifts or Godlike. Jeez...sounds like the GM lacks some imagination!

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  50. @JB Check out Far Future Enterprises, farfuture.net. Reprints of all editions in hard and soft form. I picked up the v1 "bundle" color plates, GDW Challenge articles, errata, the first five modules and original rules. If you ever owned a copy, it is the original typesetting.

    @James, et. al

    That's because I don't believe it ever made this explicit; it was simply assumed, much in the same way that most other modern day RPGs don't talk much about the immorality of murder.

    This discussion had me looking at the rules for "specifics" about guidance on the "expectations" of morality. I believe the rules did spell out some guidance:

    "The rules of the game allow the players to chart their own courses. Since they are members of a military unit, they will be reasonably well-equipped and proficient at combat. They can attempt to survive by taking what they need by force, or they can attempt to befriend the local civilians, and obtain the goods they need by trade or in return for assistance. They can become a guerrilla force, attacking Soviet and Polish bases and supply convoys, become marauders attacking anyone with something of value, or head for one of the 'free cities' that offer haven to any man and allegiance to no government. The choices are up to the players."

    I see this paragraph as nothing more than the expectations of any RPG. An amoral, not moral or immoral, setting. Pirate == "marauder"; "Wolverines!" == guerrilla force.

    Giving the global, certainly the immediate regional, collapse, the real world analog to the PCs would likely seek an immediate path to home.

    T:2K does make a lot of assumptions. No argument there. Examples abound throughout the setting: the characters, despite being members of a coherent military force before the last communique, certainly must have been aware of "free cities" like Krakow, the scarcity of high quality fuels (no A-10s in the sky for a long time), etc.

    @Arther I think sums it up the best: "Before the first die hit the table, I had made up my mind that we were starting as soldiers in the United States Army and live or die that was how we would end the campaign." Fear The Boot would call that "having a group template." Everyone loves the stereotype thief stealing from the party, but no one really likes him. The social nature of the game works best when the players decide what they are going to do... now that "[They're] on {their] own," and the GM works with appreciation for the player's goals in context of the campaign he is framing.

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  51. Old post, but...

    Born in 1974, T2K 2nd Ed. was my second RPG and the first one in english (I'm from Spain, by the way).
    I never liked fantasy much, and there was nothing else available to me in a modern setting. It took me a long time to read it (my knowledge of english was'n much by then), and simply loved it.

    Altough I GMed more MERC and Dark Conspiracy, this has been always my favourite game. Then, with the update to "2.2 Edition", I found things easier for all of them (only had to scrap some house rules), and TNE made me return to the Traveller universe (altough never liked much the Third Imperium).
    It's also the game I used often to get new players into roleplaying games. No need to explain fantasy worlds histories or such. Real world, nuclear war, you are stranded somewhere far away from home or right at home, but besieged by marauders, enemy troops or wathever. And the basics of the rules are easy to explain to the uninitiated, leaving details to be explained after they get into it. With some adjustements could make a good generic rules system.
    I was part of the playtesting of Twilight 2013, but left it early for lack of time and the directions it was taking. I better stick to the old one and "update history" as needed before beginning tha campaign.

    Also, I got the reprint of 1st Ed., but I have never seen, nor understood, why so many people in online forums consider it very superior to later ones, frankly. But this is not the place for old flames.

    Now, if I could get a new group to start another campaign...

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  52. Twilight: 2000 was a huge part of my teenage years. I have fond memories of walking to a friend's house after school where would we game for a couple hours every afternoon. But for us, the appeal of the game was not its post-nuclear world but the fact that it was, at heart, a military game. There were so few military RPGs back then, and fewer that were so well developed. Not surprising, we chose Iran as our area of operations, since it had a more "conventional" war scenario in the Twilight world. Of course, few of us had "regular" Grunt characters. We were all SEALs, Delta, SAS, or Special Forces of some kind or other. And nobody was content with a regular M-16A2--it was Finnish SAKO sniper rifles, Barrett .50 calibers, and RAW HEAT rifle grenades all around. I later became a US Air Force historian and despite friends' attempts to rewrite the game's history or play "alternate universe" campaigns, I just couldn't accept some of the more ludicrous aspects of game play. Reading back through old modules now, I roll my eyes at the many errors in unit designations. I guess I should be more forgiving of a pre-Internet age. Modern computer shooter games have all the whiz bang thrills, but I do think the current generation of kids miss out on the imagination that RPGs required. I do think all the attempts to redo Twilight should end and developers should focus on a military RPG that incorporates the best of the original game, but not its premise.

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  53. I first played the game in '88 and for me T2K has always had a special place in my heart: For one it was (at the time) the best attempt at a 'current' RPG instead of Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

    But its the other reasons: For me the premise of the game was not nearly as far-fetched as people assumed it to be.

    I was born in Germany in the late '60s and lived there until 1983. The idea that I might have to learn russian due to being under Soviet Rule was a possible outcome of what was going on around me as I grew up and seemed very real. It got even scarier after my mother met and married a G.I. in 1980. I clearly remember my mother and stepfather pulling me aside one day (I was still attending German school at the time) to tell me that if a couple of MPs or CID agents came to my school and said the word 'monkey' I was to simply get up and leave with them, to not say anything to anybody, take any of my stuff - because at that point the shytte had hit the fan and the Soviets were coming for real...

    But all that aside, I still love my Mk I, Mod I version of the game and still run the occasional session with my friends =)

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  54. I ran a Twilight 2000 1st Edition game with my brother and some friends as a sort of one-shot. Trying to survive the encirclement and annihilation of the 5th Division. We had a great time with it. Now I'm playing Merc 2000 with the 2.2 rules with some friends, most of whom barely remember the Cold War, they still enjoy the game even with the altered timeline. I just tell them it's like it is now... just worse...

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