Escape from Kalisz – a Twilight: 2000 Solo-mini campaign

I have decided to run a solo-campaign for fun and to test the new Twilight: 2000 4e rules. Playing an RPG solo, how is that possible, you might be forgiven to ask!? Well, the game has a solo-rules component and is – even as a group game – quite a “gamist” hex crawl. It is designed to be player driven with random elements being key components to a campaign.

The resulting narrative is based on character goals (called Big Dreams in the game), motivations and responses to whatever they encounter. A classic goal is “Escape back to America” or establish a “safe haven – a base”, but that is very long term. A more immediate goal is: survive – get away from the advancing Soviets.

My intentions are to document the game on this blog, mainly focusing on the narrative, but with brief explanations of core elements and references to the rules when I feel it is appropriate and to demonstrate how they inform the narrative. This will allow people not familiar with the game to follow the game. I’ve added small dialogue and fiction elements in order to bring out the character motivations and personalities.

Twilight: 2000 by Free League was released end 2021 in its 4th edition using a variant of the Year Zero game engine.

Why this solo game and posts?

  • I thought it would be fun!
  • It would be interesting to see how a narrative would develop using the solo rules
  • I would familiarize myself with the rules, hopefully for a future campaign
  • To provide a game example to other referees or potential referees

To do so, I have created four player characters using the game’s Life Path system, where the character is fairly randomized (you roll stats, and start with an 18 year old, aging 1D6 year for each new career step). I have adjusted a couple of minor details to make for an interesting group.

I’ll be using Roll20 as the VTT to play the game.

The game and background

In short, Twilight: 2000 is a survival game in a past that never was. Our timelines diverges after 1991. The Soviet Union remains after a coup against Jeltsin – but the Warsaw pact was dissolved and Poland allies with the West. It ends in an escalating conflict, which turns into all out NATO – Soviet warfare with Poland on the NATO side. Nuclear weapons are exchanged, but the two sides show enough restraint to avoid complete nuclear holocaust. The result is nuclear winter, collapsed infrastructure, famine and disease. When the game begins, NATO has tried a last push in Poland, called Operation Reset, but they underestimate Soviet strength, and it fails. The characters are part of the collapsed 5th US mechanized division, and are given the final message by HQ: “You are on your own. Good luck!”. They must now survive, as the Soviet forces expends their last effort in a counter-attack. 

The default is that most of the characters are soldiers, but they can also be government agents or civilians of a wide variety of backgrounds.

Twilight: 2000 differs from most role-playing games in that there are zero supernatural elements (not that you can’t run a great zombie apocalypse game with it!). It is all about humans. Human failure, morality, hard decisions, violence, hope, friendship, loyalty – or disloyalty. Stuff that incredible dramas are made of.

The ruleset is fairly crunchy – simple at its core, but with many details and modifiers. Survival requires multiple rolls per day to determine weather, drive a vehicle (if you have one) on wartorn roads or off-road, spotting potential hazards (encounters), setting camp, foraging and hunting, maintaining equipment weekly etc. 

The core mechanics is four attributes with a value of A to D. Each letter represents a dice. A is D12, B=D10, C=D8 and D is D6. The 12 skills have similar values + F which is no skill, and you add them together in a dice pool. When attempting a task, you need to roll a six or higher. You can attempt all skills using only your attribute dice. Rolling a 10-12 counts as two successes. More successes can give extra damage for example.  

If you want to read more about the game system, I wrote a long preview of the alpha rules.

The characters* are (briefly):

Captain Charlie King, until a year or two ago a reservist, intelligence officer and desk jockey
Lieutenant Krysia Zielinski, brigade liaison officer from the Polish armed forces
Corporal Jason Kelly, only survivor of a mortar team
PFC Juan Pérez, keen eyed US army rifle-man

*Use the links to see PNGs of their character sheets.

Intentionally, there are also obvious conflicts in the Moral Codes of the characters.

The Solo Rules

For the solo rules, you turn up the randomness. The game comes with 52 random encounters selected by drawing cards from a regular deck. These can be everything from meeting a group of US stragglers, vehicles hit with a tactical nuclear weapon, Soviet soldiers to civilian refugees etc. The solo rules add an “oracle” where you also draw playing cards. Red is a boon. Black is a hazard. And further information can be gained from the exact number on a table – for example, 6 of black: mildly dangerous or Red Ace: life saving. In addition, there is a similar table to determine NPC intentions. It is up to the player to interpret these and represent characters and the world fairly to create the narrative.

The core set has four ready to play “Scenario Sites”, which I won’t be using. They are quite complex places with multiple NPCs and plots. Using them would also introduce major spoilers.

If you think that sounds interesting, more details of the characters and the first day of the lives of these survivors is ready:

Go to:
Day 1

5 thoughts on “Escape from Kalisz – a Twilight: 2000 Solo-mini campaign

  1. I’ll be following this with interest. Four characters seem like a lot to handle (?), but I guess the upshoot is that it comes some built-in tension that you can always riff on. (I want to solo this as well, and I look forward to both Starforged and The One Ring, both with solo rules by Shawn Tomkin).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Thomas. It isn’t too hard, because Roll20 makes the admin a bit easier. The caveat is that they haven’t been in a big fight. But when you are the only one playing, you can take your time! No one is waiting impatiently when you look up to hit modifiers 😁

      Like

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