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Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt

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.

Underfed Bear as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, our first random encounter in Twilight 2000 RPG
Underfed Bear as drawn by Jennifer Weigel

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.

Wild dogs from our first session encounters in Twilight 2000 RPG, drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Wild Dogs, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

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.

Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt

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.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at:

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Into the Odd Remastered: an Ethereal Steampunk TTRPG



“Fallen cities are adorned with statues of star-beings, cultists manifest their fervour into reality, and belligerent unions prepare for a cosmic invasion. Familiar landscapes are overrun by strange weeds, corrosive mists creep in from the sea, and jet black mountains watch from the horizon. This odd world has been affected by beings stranger than we can imagine.” -pg 4, INto the odd remastered: introduction

Into the Odd Remastered is an update of the 2014 role-playing game of the same name. Written by Chris McDowall and sold by Free League Publishing, the rules-lite tabletop roleplaying game asks you to place yourself in a world long ago ravaged by cosmic horrors. The general atmosphere comes across as dark steampunk though there is room for plenty of genres to intermingle.

The rules are relatively simple. Characters have four stats; Strength, Will, Dexterity, and HP. Strength, Will, and Dexterity start as a value between 3 and 18, as determined by rolling 3d6. During the game, players roll a D20 versus their stats, attempting to roll lower than the value in order to succeed. Many effects damage the stats as well as the HP value. Additionally, all attacks always hit, with rolls being used just to determine damage.

The rules can fit on a single page as evidenced by the handy Into the Odd cheat sheet made by garkia19. As a note, this cheat sheet has some minor typos. For example, characters don’t have a Charisma score. However, I found it incredibly helpful to use as a reference while I played Into the Odd. Another great resource was Søren Nøhr Ryborg’s The Odd Generator, which auto generates characters for Into the Odd. Since we were just trying out the system, both these resources made it really easy to jump in without my players needing to read the whole rule book.

A screenshot from the Into the Odd character generator by Søren Nøhr Ryborg (LINK).

A general shoutout to Owlbear Rodeo, a free virtual tabletop software, David Wilson’s 2-minute tabletop token library, and Kenku FM for their role in creating an immersive gaming environment.

The Player Experience

The Into the Odd rulebook, in addition to rules, also contains a sample dungeon. It was this dungeon that I ran for a party of three adventurers. They found the system to be easy to understand, however, coming from more rules heavy systems they often felt like they weren’t doing enough. For example, they wanted to roll dice more often. However, they still had fun crafting a narrative and working with each other.


The Gamemaster Experience

I was in love with the idea of Into the Odd. An accessible, low barrier RPG with a splash of steampunk and cosmic horror. What’s not to love? But I found the Into the Odd system left a little to be desired. In particular, combat doesn’t feel particularly difficult or interesting. Since players always go first and everyone always does damage, it meant my party of three people were able to dispatch any enemy before it could hurt them. Skill checks felt like they had the opposite problem. None of my players could succeed in a skill check because their stats were so low. This meant that the tension was removed from both combat and skill checks. Playing the dungeon and rules as written, I didn’t feel as if I had the mechanical or narrative tools to rectify either issue.

The dungeon itself was a bit drab. I loved the art and ideas behind it, but there wasn’t much content. A smaller, more detailed dungeon would have been easier to run and better received by my players than a large, sparse dungeon. I also wished for far more traps. While I recognize I could have populated the dungeon myself, I often don’t expect to finish a dungeon myself when given one to run.

Into the Odd Rulebook Sample Dungeon (page 75)

Outside of the sample dungeon, there is not much content for the gamemaster to work with. If I wanted to start running my own Into the Odd games there are very few monster, trap, and loot examples so I would have to come up with everything myself. This is not the end of the world, however, I personally like to have more content than what was provided to start doing my own adaptations. If I were to try this system again, I would want to use it for a heist narrative over a dungeon crawl. 


The Into the Odd rulebook provides the skeleton for a rules-lite RPG adventure, however it fails to add any meat to the bones. The result is an RPG that requires far more work for a gamemaster than the rules-lite exterior would indicate. This is not inherently negative, however could be surprising given the game’s pitch. If you are looking for a new system to tinker around with, this could be a great next purchase! 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Disco Elysium – A Reflection




Disco Elysium is a role-playing video game released in 2019. It was developed and published by ZA/UM under the lead of Robert Kurvitz. The Final Cut was released in 2020 featuring full voice acting and new content. It is available to play on PC and console.

The game cover for Disco Elysium The Final Cut. It shows two men standing next to each other. One holds a flashlight and the other holds a gun.
Cover art for Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Disco Elysium is a weird game. I have been playing video games, especially RPGs, for most of my life and I can confidently say this game is an outlier. Instead of a focus on combat, the game is written almost entirely around skill checks and dialogue trees. While that alone isn’t enough to make the game a stand-out, it is the fact that a vast majority of the dialogue trees occur as your own internal monologue which sets it apart.

Who Are You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium. It is a blurry watercolor image showing the faint hint of a man's face with a red nose.
No really, *who* are you?

There are 24 different skills split across the four categories of intellect, psyche, physique and motorics. You of course have the more traditional skills such as Logic, Empathy, Endurance and Perception. But there’s also more elusive skills, like Esprit de Corps which determines how connected to your home police precinct you are.

After all, you are a police officer in town to solve a murder. It’d certainly help things if you hadn’t drank so much that you absolutely ruined your memory (among several relationships in town). “What kind of cop are you?” the tagline reads. You get to decide because you cannot remember who you once were.

This isn’t a review about Disco Elysium in the traditional sense. Because Disco Elysium ended up being far more than just a game to me. I found myself relating to the main character (whose name in and of itself is a spoiler) far more than I ever should have. He doesn’t know how to be human – and for the most part neither do I.

What Makes You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing internal dialogue and skill checks.
An example of internal dialogue and skill checks in Disco Elysium

As you play through the surrealist dream that is the setting of Revachol, interactions with the townspeople can be tedious processes. The entire time, you are in constant dialogue with yourself trying to figure out the right thing to say. Logic makes some good points, but Electro-Chemistry says I should forget about all of this and go get wasted because Empathy just chimed in and told me I hurt this woman’s feelings with my failed attempt at Rhetoric.

The first time I played Disco Elysium felt like an awakening. No game has ever so accurately managed to tap into the types of conversations I have with myself daily. No game has ever so accurately managed to tap into the sheer shame and self-degradation I endure when I mess up a social situation.


Luckily, in video games there is this neat trick called save scumming. It is when you save the game before important decision making, and if things don’t go the way you’d like you simply re-load the save and try again. There is seemingly nothing better than doing something over differently and a new part of your brain chiming in to say, “Damn, that felt *good*. Your heart is pounding nicely. You should tell people to fuck off more often.”

What Breaks You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing a bombed-out city statue.
The environment is almost as much of a mess as you.

In real life, there is no save scumming. There is no going back in time to give yourself a do-over. I think that is why RPGs speak to me so strongly in general. I can slip into the skin of a new character and failure never has to be an option. The sinking pit of shame only has to last as long as the game takes to reload.

Disco Elysium feels like a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. Probably because it is a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. My entire life has felt like a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. I’ve gone through like the protagonist – bumbling and trying so hard to pick the correct option in the dialogue tree and only realizing moments too late that I chose the wrong one. My only reward, like his, is a stream of insults hurled at me by my own brain.

Of course, I learned nearly two years after my first play-through that I am autistic. It turns out, most people do not constantly have dialogue trees of pre-scripted responses popping up in their head when they speak to others. They can just… have conversation? With my diagnosis came a lot of soul searching and an equivalent amount of therapy.

What Heals You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium depicting two men sitting on a swing set in a snowy environment.
The protagonist takes a respite with his partner.

However, it turns out, my diagnosis and the resulting psychology bills shifted the way I play RPGs in a way I didn’t realize until I picked Disco Elysium back up for another playthrough. As I load into the opening scene hotel, I walk away from the first skill check knowing I won’t pass it. The first time I played, I probably re-did that skill check ten times alone before I got the result I wanted.

As I exit the hotel room to encounter the next character, I’m open and honest with them about the fact I cannot remember anything. I previously ran through that conversation five times trying to convince them that I was normal and that everything was fine with me (despite the obvious indications otherwise).

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize I wasn’t save scumming. Something inside of me had clicked into place. It was a new feeling replacing the insane urge to “get it right.” I stopped focusing on how to play correctly and realized that there is no way to play correctly.


I have my skills and I can use what skills I have to solve the problem, even if it isn’t the conventional or correct way. There is no sense in trying to shove a square solution into a circular problem.

What is Next?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing the protagonist's revealed face.
Don’t be too afraid to look in the mirror.

I realized that it’s ok to get things wrong, it’s ok to admit you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s ok to ask your partner for help when you’re terrified they’re just going to laugh at you. More importantly, I learned that in Disco Elysium and life that it’s ok to walk away from things until you have the needed skills to go back. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it.

The first time I played – I immediately reloaded when Drama chimed in to tell me “This may have been a *grave* mistake, sire.” This current playthrough I sat firm in my decision and finally got to hear Volition’s response: “Maybe. Maybe not. Mercy is rarely a *complete* mistake.”

My rating for Disco Elysium: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Dune – Adventures in the Imperium: Gen Con Review



“A debt owed. A missing heir. A new cult rising in the desert. Trapped between an ageless prophecy and sensitive politics, a delicate path must be walked. What is the truth? With whom will you stand?” Introduction, Time Becomes A Narrow Door by Modiphius Entertainment

August 3rd through 6th I had the absolute delight of attending Gen Con, as they like to say,The Best Four Days in Gaming™. It is an enormous gaming convention, primarily focused on tabletop gaming and filled with vendors, events, workshops, and anything else you can think of. 

While at Gen Con, I was able to sit down and play Dune: Adventures in the Imperium by Modiphius Entertainment. Modiphius is known for their 2D20 RPGS such as Achtung! Cthulhu, Star Trek Adventures, and the Fallout RPG. They also carry some familiar items such as the Bladerunner RPG and the Tales From the Loop Board Game. As a well-regarded publisher with great titles, I was excited to check out how they made the Dune universe immersive.

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, like many of Modiphius’s RPGs, utilizes the 2D20 system. Each character has Skills and Drives that are added together in a given situation to produce a target skill value. In order to succeed on a test, a player must roll below that skill value. Players roll 2d20 by default, but can spend a luck currency, called momentum, to add additional dice and/or activate their special abilities. More information about how to play can be found in the Modiphius-recommended video below.

‘World of Game Design’ Teaches how to play Dune: Adventures in the IMperium

Playing the Game

I played the scenario Time Becomes a Narrow Door, with a table full of players new to Modiphius’s system. We used the pre-generated characters available in the Dune Quickstart Guide, which is available for free on Modiphius’s website. I’ve included two sample pre-generated characters from the free Quickstart Guide for reference. All six re available through the official Quickstart Guide. Worth noting, the Quickstart Guide also includes the scenario Wormsign to help get you started, which we did not play. 


In Time Becomes a Narrow Door, we were members of a small house trying our best to garner favor, help our rivals, maintain our morals, and make sure we still came out on top. Our main task was to convince the son of another house to return from his spiritual journey. Our table had a lot of silly energy, so we named ourselves House Montana, with our patriarch being Lord Billy Ray Cyrus. Of course, bad southern accents abounded. We had a blast bouncing off each other and making the world our own. Big props to the person running the game for making it such an enjoyable and accessible experience. 

The system was a lot of fun! It was easy to build an environment where collaborative wins were rewarding. The system prioritizes collaborative storytelling as well as mutual success or destruction. Therefore, it was easy to treat everyone at the table’s rolls as meaningful and contributing to the betterment of the house. I also loved the mechanic of building our own house. We only did a small amount of this in our session, but by reskinning House Atreides to be our own small house, we felt a lot more ownership over the assets, favors, and enemies we were gaining.

An image from page 9 of the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Quickstart Guide

My one caution is that we didn’t do a lot of combat. There was only one fight, and we let it be a duel. As this is a part of the game we didn’t experience much of, I can’t really speak on how robustly the system handles that kind of conflict. My initial impressions point towards combat lacking some mechanics. However, I only got a small introduction. 

If you are a fan of Dune, check out the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Quickstart Guide! While I cannot rate the system as a whole, the experience was definitely worth its time! Try Time Becomes a Narrow Door yourself, or just check out the Quickstart Guide.

4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Find more of my Gen Con 2023 shenanigans here.

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