So continuing the saga of my review and ongoing campaign log for Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG, we finally met for our first session earlier in the previous month and here’s what happened. We created characters, whom you met previously on Haunted MTL here. We got the Brief History of WWIII as we know it and the introduction of a failed major assault to set the scene. The backstory and setting were believable and provided a good launching point for the game. (I won’t go into this so you can enjoy the setup when you play for yourselves, and so you can adapt it to current events if you want to hit even closer to home.) And so we began gameplay. Here’s the story of what happened.
After all Hell broke loose…, as told by Kyle Van Schoen (Ice)
Our first encounter after all Hell broke loose was with some US troops messing with a radio they’d propped up on a Jeep: Captain Morris and his entourage, Radioman Scott, Carlos, and Deb. Once they tuned out the initial static the message was loud and clear – we’re on our own. Maestro (Roger) pansied up to the Cap’n seeking orders but the Cap’n commanded that we split up to draw less attention by having fewer vehicles and because frankly we wouldn’t be able to keep up. I think he just took one look at our baby-faced leader and wanted us gone so our asses wouldn’t be blown to smithereens on his watch. They were heading west; he suggested we go a different direction away from the Ruskies, perhaps southwest.
So we embarked on the bumpy off-road journey through the deep woods towards Kepno. Fortunately, our driver Nadya, a local Polish girl, is on it. On the way, we encountered a not-very-well-fed bear that sized us up and thought we might make a tasty dinner if not for the truck. Apparently Pooh had blown through his stash of honey and was looking for something meatier. Scope (Alek) handily shot the hostile creature in the head and blew out its brains. It’s definitely cold dead, Jim, time to take its… oh never mind.
Having put the beast out of its misery (and us out of possible harm), we loaded the bulky fuzzy-wuzzy-ass bear carcass in the truck in the hopes that it may be worth something to the townsfolk in trade. Nadya set up camp in a small plot of woods on the other side of the river and, after an uneventful night, we made it to Kepno in the morning, bear in tow.
Nadya talked our way into town despite some sideways glances from the locals. Someone threw a blanket over the SAW as if my bulging package was somehow less conspicuous. We were told to keep our hands in sight and our weapons in the truck and tooled slowly into town looking for some dude named Hirek. A number of other Poles talked to Nadya as she recounted our story over and over; I lost track of who all they were, I think there was a Tytus and a Kornel and a Luiza and a local yokel whom I’ll just call D. Thankfully D stayed out of our business for the most part.
Luiza ran shop and Brick (Jack) & I were recruited to help haul Pooh in to be appraised. After much banter, Nadya let us know that we would be able to get a small still to keep the truck running in exchange for the bear, but that she would have to work on a couple of vehicles to seal the deal. A day out on our own and we’re already getting hooked up with some reasonable equipment, that’s a good shake.
We were just lollygagging around near the truck killing time for most of the afternoon. Once Nadya finished working on the car, she needed some parts for their truck to fix a blown-out engine. I tagged along to help and keep her out of trouble, and to stretch my legs. We found a couple of car parts we could salvage from some old beaters and they let us keep the extra. As dusk settled in, we heard a commotion out front. We grabbed our weapons out of our truck because the townsfolk were busy and we’d do best to ready ourselves for action whether they told us to lay low or not.
It seems some wild dogs were trying to run amok in the village and the guards were calling for help. Nadya revved the truck and sped off as we piled through the streets to get a better view. Sadly, I’d been taking a piss at the time so I was not on top of my game and brought up the rear. Wild dogs, whatever. I heard a resounding scream as I rounded the corner. Damn rabid bitches, who’d they jumped now?! By the time I caught up and could see what was going on, the guards were elbow deep in the fray and one of them was badly bitten.
Someone had culled a few curs from the pack and Nadya was taking it off road to ram and scatter some of the mongrels in the back. Yep, that settled it – she’d earned the name Wheelz that’s for sure. Scope aimed and downed one of the dogs in the midst of the crazy, but the terrified locals cowered in fear and were soon awash in the frenzy. There was a dog on Brick, so I ran in and smashed it with my rifle to save his ass.
Scope took a pot shot and took out one of the dogs on the downed guard without aiming. Brick ran over to club the remaining mongrel with his rifle butt in a giant F-you-I-don’t need-your-stinking-help as he sneered at me. It was on. I raced in to take out the last dog on the other guard but Brick beat me to it. Scope lowered his rifle looking sheepishly at the other guard who had snapped out of the cowering stupor and was yelling a string of profanities at him. I don’t speak a word of Polish but I can recognize a good swear streak in any language when I hear one… Hirek and the copper D started asking around about what happened. Time to melt back into the background. At least Doc (Trish) was on it and Nadya (Wheelz) was helping her to smooth things over. It must’ve worked because everyone quieted down for the time being as we all went in for supper.
From a Gaming Perspective – So, How Did It Go?
Play in Twilight 2000 RPG went pretty smoothly. The encounters that were drawn provided a good way to ease into combat and get a feel for the mechanics, which was helpful since we are all fresh as rain (no seasoned veteran gamers in this system here). Action was intense but we were able to think on the fly. Drawing for initiative worked well.
Rolling for skill checks and attacks was relatively straightforward once you got the hang of it. I’m especially grateful that not everything relies on dice rolls because I’m a total snake eye salesman and that is rarely a benefit in these sorts of games. (It did hinder me when rolling up characters, but you learn to work with what you have when you are blessed with these sorts of abilities in real life…) I like the die roll percentage tables – they really do help calculate what dice you should use when upgrading (or downgrading) a roll for the best likelihood of success.
The ability for others to help with skill checks simplified game mechanics and kept things from slogging on like in some other RPGs where everyone rolls to see who struck it lucky and made the check versus who fell flat on their face this time. The dogs were able to act together which further helped to keep things from getting convoluted. The skill-pushing mechanic is interesting and adds another layer to the storytelling aspect of the RPG.
From a referee standpoint, you’re supposed to go with the flow and my husband did for the most part but he did do a lot of prep getting things together beforehand to flesh out the possible random encounters. I think this greatly strengthened the experience and appreciate all of the effort. Depending on the gaming group and the referee it may not be wholly necessary, but some work ahead of time means you don’t get caught with your pants down and name every NPC they meet Bob regardless of gender, nationality, etc. Not that names matter when they’re just cannon-fodder (damn those red shirts), but it still provides depth and decreases the likelihood of that outcome being the only path forward. Because everybody’s somebody to someone. I will admit, my husband is a bit extreme in his not wanting to use the same name twice though, which inspired me to write a short story as part of our upcoming spring series here on Haunted MTL…
I like the game mechanics so far and think all of us enjoyed ourselves. V is looking forward to the next session and has asked about taking it to video chat to game again sooner, but my husband and I would rather not because that seems… overly complicated…. There is more prep on behalf of the referee than necessarily known up front but that isn’t unexpected in RPGs and is generally what the group makes of it. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and we all look forward to playing again when we can get together, about every other month.