Wednesday, October 5, 2022

9 Months and 18 Days

Earlier this year, I wrote a brief post about the Twilight: 2000 campaign I began in December of 2021. This campaign is in addition to my House of Worms Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, which is still ongoing. There's some overlap between the players of the two campaigns, but the majority of the Barrett's Raiders players don't participate in House of Worms. I should also note that we make use of the new edition of T2K published by Free League rather than either of the old GDW editions. (One of these days I should write a full review of the new edition, since, after nine months of play, I think I have a decent handle on its strengths and weaknesses,)

The title of this post is a reference to the fact that, while the campaign has been up and running for nine months of real time, only a few weeks of game time have passed – an average of about two game days for every month we've been playing. That may seem like an unduly slow pace, but a lot has happened in those few weeks of game time, as the characters have made their way from Kalisz toward the Free City of Kraków. Along the way they've scrounged for supplies, aided Polish civilians in the town of Krzepice, avoided dealing with some rogue US soldiers who'd established a base in Dobrodzień, dodged elements of the Soviet Third Tank Army, and more. It's been a very enjoyable ride for me as the referee and, I assume, the players, since they keep showing up each week.

Twilight: 2000 has always included a very strong hexcrawl element to its gameplay. The characters, after all, are the survivors of a US mechanized infantry division smashed by a Warsaw Pact offensive and now are left to their own devices. Whatever their goals, whether short-term or long-term, they have no choice but to travel overland through the terrain of war-torn Poland. Much of what happens in a given session is the result of random encounters that occur along the way. The Free League edition of the game is very good in this regard, providing lots of useful tables, not to mention maps, from which the referee can cobble together situations with which the characters can deal. Of course, there are also set encounters, too, scattered throughout the countryside, such as the aforementioned Free City of Kraków.

The characters' ostensible plan is to find other NATO forces so that they can get back to (relative) safety and eventually the USA. That's what led them to Kraków in the first place. As a free city independent of all sides in the ongoing war, they figured it'd be a good place to hole up for a while and get a better lay of the land. Unfortunately, Kraków proved almost as fraught with danger as the countryside, albeit of a different sort. The Free City is wracked with factions, several of whom attempted to recruit the characters to their cause. It quickly became clear that the place was a powder keg about to blow and they'd be better off leaving on their own terms while they still could do so.

While in the city, the characters did succeed in making contact with other NATO (and NATO-friendly) personnel. This not only increased their numbers – providing a pool of secondary and replacement characters – but also opened up more options to them, as they plan their next move, From what they have learned, the remaining NATO forces in Poland have retreated to the northwest of the country, where Free (aka non-Communist) Polish forces have established themselves. That's more or less on the other side of the country from their current location, which is why they're currently considering the use of a boat (or several) to move north more quickly.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the campaign has been very enjoyable so far, though not without its challenges. The wide range of possible avenues for character action has sometimes led to analysis paralysis on the part of the players. This, in turn, has sometimes made it difficult for me to anticipate what they might do and keep even five minutes ahead of them, which is what I prefer in campaigns like this. Consequently, I feel as if I've been thrown back on my heels more often than I like. This isn't something that happens often in, say, my House of Worms campaign, where I feel like I have a good handle on things most of the time. With this, I feel much less confident, but that's probably a good thing. I now have to exercise "muscles" I haven't in a while, not to mention re-learn certain refereeing skills I'd apparently let atrophy. 



  1. It's an interesting time to run a game like T:2K. What's depicted in the game isn't too far off as to what's happening in the world today.

    1. There's a local group that's taken the game mechanics and used them as the basis for a Twilight: 2023 campaign set in the Ukraine shortly after the major nuclear exchange triggered by tactical nukes being used in late 2022. The PCs are primarily pro-Ukraine US volunteers, most of whom no longer have a home to go back to (not that Russia is in any better shape). The main opposition are apparently Wagner mercenary troops hell-bent on making themselves petty kings.

      I can understand why someone might want to explore this kind of situation but it's not something I'd want to do as a game myself. Twilight has always left a bad taste in my mouth in a way no fantasy, scifi, or historical game has. Only one of GDW's games I've never cared for at all.

    2. And that's the wonderful thing about RPG's: You have a myriad of settings to play and explore. The only reason why I wouldn't GM a modern, world at war, campaign isn't the themes, but the sheer amount of prep time I would feel to do the game justice.

    3. Interesting.

      I picked up the new T2K last year, right before the invasion happened. Since then, I haven't had the heart to open's still in shrink wrap in the office.

  2. I have found a simple request to the players a few days before of "whats the plan this week" goes a long way towards helping me prep for sandbox play. Usually I get one or two options, which helps me know where to focus (e.g., were going to check out that treasure map or head back to the red dungeon to talk to the shroom queen).