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Tabletop Game / Twilight: 2000

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Twilight: 2000 is a Tabletop RPG first produced by Game Designers Workshop (GDW) in 1984, and set in the aftermath of World War III (which took place in the late 1990s in that universe). It was popular during The '80s. Still played today, though- RPOL has a number of games in the setting.

The game centered around military characters, with the set-up in the first boxed set involving the last survivors of a US military division in Poland. The first few published adventures let the players journey through Poland and finally to the United States, where they become involved with a conflict between the military and civilian governments of the shattered U.S. and the fanatical New America group. Supplements were also provided for playing in The Middle East or the United States. A popular trilogy of adventures also involved the last few nuclear submarines.

Suffered massively from Failed Future Forecast, with the end of the Cold War invalidating the time line. The Second Edition (released in 1990) featured a new timeline. The new timeline didn't prove popular, especially in Germany, since whereas NATO launching a land invasion of Poland made some kind of sense when the latter was part of Commie Land, the new timeline basically had Germany starting WWIII by invading Poland. This led some players to disregard it and use the original timeline, treating the whole thing as an exercise in Alternate History.

The timeline in Version 2.2 (released in 1993) presented the 1991 Soviet coup attempt as having been successful, thus preserving the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact for the rest of the timeline leading up to and into the war.

A sequel science-fiction RPG also from GDW used the first-edition timeline as its background, and showed what happened over the next three-hundred years. Originally called Traveller: 2300, the name was soon changed to 2300 AD since it had nothing to do with any flavor of the Traveller RPG. It had its own ruleset that was not compatible with Twilight: 2000. See that page for details.

The first scenarios were set in Poland, which surprised some of the Polish roleplayers, and they featured horribly mangled Gratuitous Polish.

In addition to the main game, GDW released two alternative settings for the second edition of the rules:

  • Merc 2000, a game involving mercenaries (duh!) in another 2000 where the Twilight War didn't happen and a general global economic collapse leads to increased use of mercenary forces... the Germans and Poles still have a war, but it's a short one.
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs set in the universe of Xenozoic Tales

The second edition of the game also became the basis for GDW's House System, and was re-used with some modifications for the New Era edition of Traveller and the Dark Conspiracy game. Version 2.2, which refined the rules even further, was the final version of the game released by GDW.

A Spiritual Successor, Twilight 2013 which featured yet another rules set and a very different timeline was released in late 2009 by 93 Games Studios, but they went out of business in 2010 with little more than the core rulebook having been released.

Free League Publishing launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2020 for an new edition of the classic game. They partnered with Amargosa Press who worked on the 4th editions of Dark Conspiracy, Polish publisher Black Monk Games to create the parts of the game set in Poland, and Far Future Enterprises who published the 5th edition of Traveller. Their approach has more simple mechanics in many respects, and has two default campaign settings - either Poland or Sweden - with a roughly equal amount of material provided for either setting.

Not be confused with The Twilight Saga, with which it probably doesn't have a large crossover demographic. Though a crossover fic between the two would be hilarious, confusing the two is one of the Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG.

This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: In keeping with the game's military tone, there are a lot of abbreviations used in the 1st edition rules. Later editions have varying levels of this.
    • Along with abbreviations for attributes, which is normal for a tabletop RPG, all of the skills also have a two or three letter abbreviation.
    • The vehicle damage location lists are full of abbreviations used in describing exactly what happens when it is shot at. So you get a dozen lines like R: LH(200),G(1000),HB(80) D,R,G,E,F for the M1 Abrams tank note .
  • After the End: Kind of the point of the game, and played deadly straight.
  • The Alleged Car: There are at least four different elements that can turn any vehicle into one of those:
    • The Wear Condition of a vehicle governs how badly damaged it is in general and how easily it can break down. Combat is the quickest way to increase the vehicle's wear condition, and of course characters in military-themed RPGs tend to get in a lot of combat. In combat each received hit can permanently increase the condition, turning a Cool Car into a piece of junk that requires constant maintenance in no time. When it has 10 breakdowns at Wear Condition 10, a vehicle becomes permanently useless except as scrap or to cannibalise it for parts.
    • The maintenance value determines how many hours per week must be spent on the vehicle to keep it in top condition. Combined with an unfavourable Wear Condition, it can turn any vehicle into Cool, but Inefficient.
    • Fuel efficiency and type of fuel used. The most useful vehicles can run on alcohol, making them much easier to fill up. Others burn through their full tank in less than 200 kilometers.
    • Transport capacity. It might not sound that important, but when you have to haul all your gear with you, vehicles like tanks or small recon carriers aren't exactly useful.
  • Alcohol Is Gasoline: Justified example: because of energy crisis issues, many vehicles in the setting utilize a blend of high-powered alcohol named CHOOH-2 as fuel.
  • Alternate Timeline: More recent versions of the game explicitly said that the Twilight War and the events leading up to it are this.
  • Anti-Air: Aircraft became very scarce after 1998 or so, when most of the world's refineries were destroyed and aviation fuel became scarce. Anti-air units that were still functional have almost all been re-purposed as Anti-Infantry units as a result.
  • Anti-Armor: By 2000, anti-armor missiles are more common than the tanks they were made to target.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: By the end of the war, most armies were taking anyone they could draft, even conscripting locals. Many regular military units have also turned to banditry and pillage in Europe, becoming this.
  • Artistic License Military: With only a limited amount of open-source files (In particular Soviet and other Warsaw Pact forces). Various military inaccuracies slip in with regards to large scale orders of battle. Both the 2013 and various fan-made re-editions fix it to a degree, since far more data was became accessible over the years. This in particular covers the state of affairs in the Eastern Block and its militaries once the Curtain went down.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Military Experience and Time In Combat translate to the military rank a character has at the game's start. The way the character generation rules are structured, however, also means that characters with low combat experience have higher attributes and vice versa.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Having a high Education can make a character into an NCO or even an officer by default, which will greatly influence their gear budget. It is also provides additional points for non-combat skills, and those are essential for survival, even more so than combat prowess.
    • Being a member of the Support Services is probably the most valuable speciality any character can have, as they purchase mechanical skills for half price.
  • BFG: It's entirely possible to start the game with a towed or even self-propelled artillery piece. As long as it has shells the party can easily blow through most opposition.
  • Bigger Stick: A lot depends on how well armed and armoured are both the PC and their enemies. Starting with a tank or an IFV can give a trendemous advantage when in combat, doubly so when facing infantry with no vehicles on their own. Artillery pieces, especially the self-propelled ones, are capable of tearing down anything on their way as long as there are still shells for them.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The quality of the small bits of Polish included in the scenarios is just plain horrible.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Preventive maintaince. Having a semi-competent mechanic with a well-stocked toolbox in the group is more essential than having a few highly trained Rangers and a doctor. Unless characters want to fight with just knives, maintaince is what they will be busy doing most of the time, both during play and in the meantime.
    • Hand grenades and by extension, grenade launchers of all types and kinds. Fortified position? Cluster of enemies? Lightly-armoured vehicle carrying some BFG? Throw a grenade. Even if it won't kill or destroy everything, everyone in the realistically large radius of explosion will at least be in shock.
    • Military trucks. They don't sound great and obviously aren't all that useful in combat, but their sheer utility makes up for everything else. Almost all models are rugged, with low maintenance values and engines that can run on alcohol, in the same time easily carrying obscene amount of cargo, people and even towing an artillery piece in a pinch. You know, a truck.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Invoked and defied. France balked out from NATO and declared full neutrality before things went really bad, but this is portrayed as a good thing, since the country is left almost unharmed after the Twilight War, while everyone else is left in ruins. By 2300 AD, France is the leading power in the world, precisely because they didn't have to rebuild after the war.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Any critical hit to the head is instant death; in the first edition getting damage more than four times your hit capacity to the chest and abdomen also counts (in the second, it's death within 10 minutes unless the bleeding is stopped).
  • Common Tongue: In the European scenarios Russian is by far the most useful language. It's far from being "common" in the traditional sense, but most of people from the Eastern Bloc countries will know enough of it to communicate.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: High Maintaince value combined with bad fuel efficiency can render even the best combat vehicle useless for the basic purpose of traveling.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The game subverts Elites Are More Glamorous, since all sorts of elite soldiers are really good at fighting... and nothing else. Unless the group contains a field medic, a mechanic and a scrounger, the party can forget about making it through even the introductory adventure. The trope also applies to vehicles, as those best suited for heavy combat are just as badly suited for anything else, including moving between places.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The game starts its players right next to the horizon, and it's up to them to find a way to avoid crossing it.
  • Divided States of America: The prewar United States government has actually split into 'Civgov' (the old civilian federal government apparatus, led by Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President) and 'Milgov' (the United States military ruling its territory as a totalitarian dictatorship, led by the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Confusingly, Civgov has its own military consisting of units which have defected from Milgov and units mustered after the end of the war, meaning that for the duration of the setting there are actually two US Armies, two US Navies, etc. Taken together, the two control about a quarter of the old United States, with the rest ruled by a wide variety of different tribal warlords, local powers, foreign invaders, and the neo-Nazi 'New America' movement.
  • Dread Zeppelin: The adventure Airlords of the Ozarks pits the player character crew against a neo-fascist group that uses zeppelins for air support.
  • Early Game Hell: Zig-Zagged. Starting with a new squad is probably the easiest part, since characters are healthy, without any wounds, and well-rested. Most importantly their first aid kits and all of their initial weapons and vehicles start with full ammunition and gas tanks. This initial bonanza usually lasts for less than two full scenarios, after which Scavenger Hunt becomes the norm. What makes the start hard is the fact the party is deep into enemy territory, with no back-up or easy refills for hundreds of miles, with a very sketchy and unlikely destination to reach.
  • Failed Future Forecast: A major impact on the game, forcing the major timeline revisions between editions. It also impacted Merc 2000, released as The Gulf War was going on. Interestingly, stuff predicted by the timelines included Germany reunifying (first edition has it as the trigger for the war), the split of Czechoslovakia (Merc 2000, although it involves a civil war) and Kosovo's independence.
  • Fallen States of America: Several of the sourcebooks, written as historical texts on past events, reveal that this is what eventually happens to the United States after the time in which the setting takes place. The nuclear autumn combined with the ongoing civil war results in a nation that doesn't have enough arable cropland to feed its population, in addition to all the other problems that come with the apocalypse. The different factions are eventually forced to call off the civil war and peacefully reintegrate in a desperate effort to save what little remains of the country.
  • Grease Monkey: With The Scrounger they make the essential duo for the survival of entire group. Every edition of the game makes it crystal clear that not having such a character in the party is simply suicidal.
  • Great Offscreen War: World War III is actually pretty much over in 2000 when the first adventure is set, with the players as survivors of one of the last major battles. Everybody lost.
  • Hopeless War: Nothing has really been solved by the war. The setting is more about survival and going home than accomplishing any of the war's original objectives.
  • I Will Fight Some More Forever: The destruction of civilization happens pretty much because the world's militaries didn't know how to stop fighting, and they kept throwing good resources after bad until there was nothing left to fight with and the infrastructure that kept civilization going had been destroyed.
  • Irony: The game by default starts in Poland, right next to Kalisz. Twilight 2000 never had a Polish translation or any publication at all in Poland. It is virtually unknown there outside a literal handful of players.
  • Language Barrier: Intentionally imposed as one of the core rules, to strengthen the feel of isolation. Anything other than your native language costs skill points to buy. And using points to learn some foreign language to useful extent is not only costly, but also means said points weren't spent on other, usually much more vital skills.
  • Life Will Kill You: Neglect food quality and variety or ignore things like oncoming winter and it will kill you. It's easier and more common to die from natural causes - and trivial ones to boot - than in actual combat. Also, staying around irradiated areas is a really bad idea, even if the party carries NBC suits.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: By 1998 the U.S. Army in Europe was taking anyone they could get, even recruiting deserters from the other side and locals.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: Mexico invaded the US in 1998, with the help of the Soviet "Division Cuba", nominally to protect refuges that had fled from Mexico in prior years. As 2300 AD shows, some parts of the former US remained in Mexican control for at least the next 300 years, though not Texas itself.
  • Military Coup: The heads of the military in the US refused to recognize the civilian government that was elected in the aftermath of nuclear strikes on Washington, so they effectively headed a coup.
  • Military Moonshiner: An utter necessity. Ethanol is essential as a vehicle fuel, so keeping the still going is one of the most important jobs for The Scrounger.
  • Military Science Fiction: when it was produced it was of the 20 Minutes into the Future variety, with only a few extrapolations in military hardware from the then-present, like an M1 tank variant with an un-manned turret.
  • Minimalism: Not counting the cover art, all three editions were printed in a style echoing military guides. Internal illustrations are a "pencil sketch" style that might have been made by the characters. Some of the best illustrations were early work by artist Timothy Bradstreet, sometimes based on contemporary photographs and magazine adverts.
  • Multinational Team: The game is set up so the players can have a mishmash of both NATO, other allied, or even Warsaw Pact members on their team. In the same time, learning languages cost valuable points, so unless some house-rules are in place, things can get really weird, really fast.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted. Bicycles are considered much better than walking on foot. They by default multiply daily travel range by four, their maintaince is close to non-existent, and they don't require fuel other than eating roughtly 200 calories more per day of travel. They are also obviously unsuitable for combat and - depending on the edition - don't increase transport capacity or affect it only by a marginal value. With proper engineering and enough parts, it's possible to assemble a bike-powered cart, but again, it's only good for travelling and light transportation.
  • Nerves of Steel: Coolness Under Fire is probably the most important factor for characters in combat. It determines a character's susceptibility to hesitation and panic. It doesn't matter how good you are at shooting if you can't keep your head clear and stay focused. Team weapons allow you to use the highest value of all people operating the gun, while having a co-driver with higher CUF provides the driver with a hefty bonus.
  • Old Soldier: Military rank and combat experience are directly related with time the character already spent in combat before the game start. Age is a factor in this calculation, making soldiers in their early 40s best suited for actual combat. They make great non-combat specialists in their late 40s/ or early 50s. Just remember their age will affect their stamina too.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: What any player group in this game is. By the year 2000 US Army units included lots and lots of personnel who were hardly regular army: other NATO military personnel from defunct units, deserters from the other side, and even local recruits. The 1st edition rulebook recommends that at least half of the group be American.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: One of the core elements of the game is constant care for starting resources and the search for replacement parts, fuel, and ammunition, with half of all the rules dedicated to this. The game can turn lethal within single scenario if players aren't careful about their resources.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Molotov Cocktails are the bane of anyone using an armored vehicle. They don't kill the vehicle immediately, but If you ignore a hit by one your vehicle is on fire and will suffer increased Wear Condition or can even eventually be destroyed completely, killing the crew. If you get out to put the fire out you will probably end up killed by a waiting sniper or enemy crossfire... and the vehicle will still be burning.
  • Scavenger World: With the nuking of most major cities and the plagues and starvation that followed, the world has become this.
  • Scavenger Hunt: This is what characters will be doing for most of their spare time, or what's left of it after performing maintaince.
  • The Scrounger: Having those in the party makes a difference between relatively easy passage to West German harbours and quick but agonizing death. Your party is as good as the guy(s) responsible for gathering supplies.
  • Second American Civil War: One of the consequences of World War III is a Second American Civil War between an allegedly-elected civilian government (CivGov), a military government that doesn't believe the civilian government is legitimate (MilGov), and an ultra-reactionary survivalist militia called "New America". CivGov and MilGov eventually resolved their differences enough to allow them to join together to fight New America. 2300 AD reveals that they began fighting New America together by 2020 and the two competing governments fully re-unified by 2040.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: The editions are as follow: 1, 2, 2.2, "2013" and 4.
  • Shout-Out: A subtle one in the 'Boomer' adventure. The Soviet Typhoon-class submarine 'Barrikada' is stuck in the polar ice pack. In the mission briefing, it's mentioned that the Barrikada is named after one of two famous factory complexes in Stalingrad. The other? Red October.
    • The name of the supplement detailing the situation at New York City (which is overrun with criminal gangs)? "Armies Of The Night".
  • Shown Their Work: The first edition was clearly made by people who knew not only a lot about army operations and military gear, but also the then-recent political situation and cultural quirks, with meticulous details put into everything. And while the quality of the Polish is just cringe-worthy, the game had extremely detailed tactical maps of different parts of Poland, even including the layout of real streets.
  • Tank Goodness: "Lucky" player groups could start out with a main battle tank, but it's usually more trouble than it's worth, since fuel and munitions for it are extremely scarce. That makes them Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Title by Year: This is a game from the 1980s set in the war-torn future year 2000.
  • Too Awesome to Use: If a starting vehicle is something used by NATO with a gun mounted on it, getting new ammunition will be close to impossible. Meaning the 20-30 shells in it are all that the party will ever have. If the party is really unlucky, they might start with some recon vehicle carrying less than 10 rounds.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The introductory adventure features this for the players.
  • Urban Warfare: This happens quite often in the game, though the biggest cities are usually radioactive craters.
  • Unexpected Successor: Taken to the extreme. After the President and Vice President died in the initial nuclear exchange in 1997, the Speaker of the House was sworn in as acting president. The next year he had a nervous breakdown and resigned. His successor, the Secretary of State, died of a heart attack from the stress. A number of short-lived successors followed, with the final surviving cabinet official, the former Secretary of Energy, committing suicide shortly after being sworn in. As they had literally run out of people who could legally succeed the president without a new election, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs basically declared himself dictator, based upon the orders given to him by the original President just before the nukes hit. This is how MilGov came about.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: With working vehicles as rare as they are in 2000 this happens all the time.
  • Vicious Cycle: Depending on your group's starting vehicle and its condition, the game can quickly evolve into a loop of the same events: the vehicle needs a specific part to be replaced, the characters eventually end up fighting for it, in the process another part of the vehicle gets damaged and will require new spare parts soon or the characters will have to walk and abandon most of their gear. It's common enough to reach the status of Memetic Mutation.
  • War Is Hell: Amen.
  • A World Half Full: Countries who didn't participate in the war were left relatively unharmed. For example, while most of central and eastern Europe is an irradiated wasteland full of marauders that will kill you for a tube of toothpaste, France has martial law imposed and its untouched military guards the borders, but life continues much as ever.
  • World War III: A limited nuclear exchange with a lot of conventional ground fighting mixed in.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: One published adventure ("Airlords Of The Ozarks") pits the Player Characters against a neo-fascist warlord that has managed to obtain several commercial zeppelins (plus the means to create more) and plans to use them to provide air support to his growing army as they take over the Ozarks.