Sunday, April 7, 2019

Answers to 20 Quick Questions for a Twilight: 2000 Polish Campaign

This is based on a now classic 2011 post by Jeff Rients about D&D campaigns, but I think with a bit of interpretation it can be adapted for a Twilight: 2000 Poland campaign. In a way, it forms the basis of an introduction to the default "Escape from Kalisz" beginning game and the "Vistula Trilogy" / "Going Home" campaign for those players that mainly have experience with fantasy games. 

Kalisz Area Topographic map
(thanks to Jed McClure for original link)

Note: I've left the original "high fantasy" questions even though the genres are very different to be consistent with other examples of this list but do provide T2k themed alternatives at the end of this post so the questions could be modified for your own campaign if not set in Poland.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

The predominant religion of Poland is Roman Catholicism with a small Jewish minority. The current pope at the time of the Twilight War John Paul II was the Archbishop of Krakow before his election by the conclave of 1978 and this may make for an interesting story element if he was visiting his native Poland as war broke out. The remnant American soldiers are of mostly Christian denominations although there are likely to be Jewish individuals also. Soviet forces are ostensibly atheist although many Russians and characters of the eastern European republics are Eastern Orthodox.

A "cleric" is a member of the religious hierarchy rather than a class, profession or career in T2k v2.2 - there's no divine channelling, turning undead or miracles here. Priests are more leaders than warriors of the faith, although there are army chaplains and ex-priests turned partisan/bandit or soldiers that have turned to religion and peace. 
The potential base or second careers for a non-military priest include Attorney, Idle Rich, Manager, Politician, and Professor with a focus on CHR based Skills such as Instruction, Language, Leadership, Persuasian and maybe even Interrogation. Local village priests or monks may be built adding a few "terms" as Farmer and adding some of the INT based skills. 
An army chaplain could optionally be created as an officer through attending the Military Academy and can choose to *not* take any weapon skills (although can take levels in Unarmed Martial Arts for self-defence) and use a variant of Basic Training that grants the normal skills except drop all combat skills to 0 except Unarmed Combat 1,  adding Leadership 2 and Persuasian 1 instead. An ex-soldier that becomes a priest or lay preacher after initial training is created as normal and can take combat skills then picks one of the suggested civilian terms above.
Silesia, the southern area of Poland near the Czech border, is known for its famous relic "the Black Madonna of Czestochowa", lost at the beginning of the campaign. Although the relic has no magical powers per se, it's religious importance to the people of the area is so significant that its owner may become legendary or infamous. The "side quest" module, The Black Madonna, details its possible discovery and the southern area of Poland to the west of Krakow.

Alt T2k Q: What is the deal with religion? 

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

The villages and towns in the surrounding area will have basic non-military supplies and simple weaponry but will be very reluctant to part with food, fuel, small arms ammunition, explosives or medicine - for that you'll have to find a larger established town or "free city" like Krakow or perhaps even Raciborz, the seat of the recently formed Margravate of Silesia. Otherwise, try one of the occupied settlements used as a military cantonment by a large force such as Lodz, Lublin, Torun or similar as they may be willing to barter - note that the Soviet military will be wary of independent armed groups of Americans and restrict the amount of food and fuel available for purchase, keeping a close eye on those purchasing heavier weaponry and explosives. 

3. Where can we go to get plate mail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

If by the "monster" you mean that captured BTR-80 APC, OT-64, 5-ton UAZ or GAZ variant truck or any other common Warsaw Pact vehicle in need of repair and refit to replace your high-profile US equipment and be less of an obvious target, then you need a decent (preferably mobile) machine shop, a reliable source of steel armour plating and/or a swag of reactive armour blocks ready to go.

This is not your average medieval fantasy campaign after all and the "bears" are not easy to tame even if you wanted to try - we'll assume that you don't have the reserve fuel to keep a Soviet tank travelling across Poland, even if you wanted to and there are good reasons to avoid that option.

Sure you could mean horse barding if you're a cavalry unit but that's not going to be that effective against modern weaponry, although you could try for something using more modern materials.

Alt T2k Q: Where can we go to get armour repaired or added to salvaged vehicles?

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

There's no "magic" in a default T2k v2.2 game other than the advanced technology of the late 20th century, so if we invoke Clarke's Third Law and by "wizard" you mean "scientist" then you're probably looking for one of the few remaining nuclear missile experts in Poland with a decent AGL Warhead asset. Of course, given all the destruction caused by the missile strikes, nuclear physicists are not everyone's favourite these days and he may well not want to be found. So it won't be easy. 

Sounds like a great adventure seed to me...

Alt T2k Q: Who around here is a nuclear physicist?

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Baron Czarny. Just ask him yourself and I'm sure he'll give you his reasons before executing you for your impertinence although the same could be said of any petty marauder warlord or Soviet officer with more than a handful of troops and an APC or functioning tank. As the main antagonist of Ruins of Warsaw (and the later Return to Warsaw module) with his army composed of various marauders including some US survivors notably, the Baron becomes the focus enemy of the so-called "Vistula Trilogy" arc and the "Big Bad Guy".

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

Define rich.

It's not like anyone accepts gold or cash these days, mostly trade is barter based whether it be goods (fuel, ammunition, medicine in particular) or "services otherwise rendered". No invoices.

The simple peasant with enough food and a sturdy hunting rifle safety from lone marauders may be far richer than you relatively speaking if he has a stockpile of food for the winter you don't know about. You have to be alive to enjoy riches they say.

A soldier with a machinegun can take what he wants from peasants like the man above easily enough - does that not make him the richest man in town for as long as he stays?

With the almost complete lack of medical facilities, the trained doctor with a supply of antibiotics and antitoxins has wealth indeed, beyond what is available to either of the above even if she gives them away to the needy.

Or is the richest man the one sitting on a cache of aviation gas and a functional helicopter, rich with the freedom to travel or escape far away from his current cares and troubles?

Wealth has a different meaning to different people in the Twilight World.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

See 4. above, there's no "magical healing" as such, but given the breakdown in infrastructure and services, any decent medical care is going to see magical to the average soldier or civilian. Krakow has its own hospital in a wing of the Wawel salvaged from pre-war facilities and the University capable of manufacturing antibiotics, vaccines and anti-toxins (see Free City of Krakow, page 17) but otherwise you'll be relying on either limited medical clinics in the larger towns or a mobile military medical corps associated with one of the larger remaining units in cantonment. 

Regardless of who is supplying the healing, it's going to be really expensive, and that's provided they agree to help you in the first place. What is human life truly worth to you in 2000?

Alt T2k Q: Where can I find a doctor?

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

See 7. above, almost the same question - poison and disease are potentially curable with advanced medicine and medical facilities but there's no equivalent of curses, level drain, lycanthropy or polymorph in the Twilight World.

If by "alignment change" you mean madness and insanity then there's plenty of risk of that (although few specific rules presented) but psychiatric and psychological services are virtually absent in post-war Poland circa 2000. 

Death is permanent.

Sorry, it's a gritty and realistic world and often lethal combat system.

Undeath? There's enough challenge without this becoming a The Walking Dead knock-off although you could run a Twilight Nightmares style scenario - there's even been a discussion about using the game system for a Zombie Apocalypse setting.

Alt T2k Q: Where are there "modern" medical facilities?

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

See 4. above, Poland in the Twilight World isn't a medieval fantasy setting. 

The closest to a "magic guild" would be a university or academy but unfortunately, of the 40 odd pre-war universities there's none left functioning close to their usual capacity - the targeting of Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw, Gdansk and most of the other major cities with any industrial capacity or military assets has seen to that. Lodz, Lublin and Torun might have some residual academic capacity, but the faculty of Krakow has fled, been killed or otherwise disbanded into isolated local scholars.

France, comparatively untouched in the Twilight war due to its declared neutrality, remains civilised and protected by its regular army - although life is onerous, it is tolerable. The coastal areas and oil refining capacity were damaged to deny their use by NATO forces but many of the cities and higher educational institutions are relatively undamaged. (see T2k v2.2 corebook page 226). Many of these remain open, including the various Parisian faculties, and so despite the repressive military government these become the ultimate destination location for higher scholars. Of relevance to US characters, this set includes the English speaking American University of Paris founded in the 1960s, which is likely to have aligned itself with CivGov and can provide accessible EDU Skill instruction.

Founding and then protecting a revived community of Polish scholars along the lines of the "Abbey of St Leibowitz" order from A Canticle for Liebowitz and the longer sequel or Lombardi's Alcatraz Island librarian group from The Book of Eli makes for a different campaign goal to most T2k games and one that lends itself to staying in Europe rather than the default "Going Home" arc. ONe security is established, assembling remaining local pre-war professors, escorting visiting Parisian scholars and recruiting a new student base are all novel potential challenges for a Poland based group. 

Alt T2k Q: Is there a university my scholar character belongs to or that I can join?

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

If by "other expert NPC" you mean an expert in one of the EDU based skills or a master (Aircraft) Mechanic, Gunsmith, Machinist or Forger then you're more in luck. Individuals with Expert level assets are prized for their abilities and are either well protected, well supported, wealthy or a combination of all of the above depending on where they live and where their loyalties lie.

Most civilian experts will gravitate toward the safety of either Krakow or Lublin probably.

Otherwise, I'd suggest you seek out the few other loyal Polish government-controlled cities or the various division sized cantonments scattered on both sides of the now static German-Polish front. Experts with military backgrounds will be encouraged to remain with their units by their commanders, although the incentive may be only weak, often just the assurance of being provided regular meals and shelter.

Securing an expert's services otherwise depends on their motivation and loyalties - the Soviet commander isn't likely to be generous with the time of his valued gunsmith and will be suspicious of any Americans enquiring after an aircraft mechanic given the paucity of aviation fuel in the region and potential tactical advantage of even flimsy ultralights. You have been warned about being too indiscreet.

Alt T2k Q: Where can I find a <insert Skill> Expert NPC?

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

The short answer is everywhere - if you believe everyone has a price and sadly most people do have a price these days and it's depressingly cheap. Whether they be 5th Division survivors, Soviet deserters, marauders, local militia or just civilians with a hunting rifle, mercenary work is viable although a somewhat dangerous option for the desperate.

Try Krakow or one of the communities in Warsaw if you just need one or two extra rifles, but if you need a squad or more of trained combatants you'll need to negotiate with one of the remnant Soviet units or worse, one of the larger marauder bands. Can you trust them? Probably not, but trusting a mercenary is as good or bad an idea as its always been if you've read any Machiavelli you'll know what the score is on that. 

Caveat emptor.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

If by "swords" you mean assault rifles and "magic" you mean still functioning technology such as computers and advanced radio then you're in luck really, there's such a breakdown in order that apart from the larger military encampments and towns such as Krakow or Lublin, no one is going to seriously try and confiscate your weapons and equipment unless they have clear superiority.

If they do have more firepower, you're already in big trouble.

No wonder everyone is on edge and mistrusting.

As to "Jasio Prawo" (OK maybe it's Jan Prawo, I don't know any Polish), that's just a poor Google translation and Google hasn't been founded in the Twilight World as they never reached our version of 1998. Not that there's any decent internet access anyway as broadband hasn't even been invented yet so no need to worry about Facebook or the government spying on you.

Alt T2k Q: Is there any place on the map where weapons are illegal or confiscated?

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

Any of the larger intact towns will have a bar, if only for R&R of the occupying cantonment troops - Lodz, Piotrkow, Lublin, Torun, Pila, Glogow and similar former cities fit in this category but you'll likely have to deal with the local military one way or the other.

It may not be the closest at 250km to the southeast of Kalisz, but the Na Zdrowie, run by Henryck Hallecki in Krakow, is arguably one of the best bars in Poland. This is not so much for the food and alcohol but more so for the opportunity to meet the various players in the political and espionage game between the various agencies operating in the area. If you want to have intimate conversations with representatives of the ORMO, the DIA, the CIA, the KGB or any other group then the booths of the bar and just the place to meet. If you want to start an adventure, this may well be the place to start looking, but you have to make it to Krakow alive first...

Otherwise, you always have the still to fall back on. Sure it's meant for distilling fuel, not grog but if you set aside some of that grain you "confiscated" from the last village and added some "botanicals" to the pure ethanol you might approximate something close to gin. Or at least vodka. OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves and call it what it is and say moonshine then and don't tell the commander - for God's sake just don't try cutting it with methanol or you'll go blind or worse.

Still, coping with the reality of Poland in the Twilight World is enough to make anyone need a drink now and then, believe me, tavern or no tavern.

So as they say in PolandCzłowiek nie wielbłąd, pić musi!

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

Marauders mostly, the larger bands such as Marczak's Legion (the former Czech 8th BGB) in Silesia being a good example although numeorus similar bands exist.

These are formed mainly from disbanded Soviet military unit deserters and militia units such as the various bands spawned from the dissolving of the Soviet 2nd Tank Division that now pillage a quadrangle bounded by the cities of Wroclaw-Gorlitz-Kostrzyn-Poznan.

Baron Czarny's forces are perhaps one of the larger and more cohesive bands.
Depending on your perspective the two Polish Free Legions (1st near Leszno, 2nd near Tuchola) and other partisans are just as troublesome, if not for their antics for the attention they bring from the remaining Soviet forces. In nearby Germany, the local equivalent is the Freibroderbund.

Alt T2k Q: What enemies are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

The whole region is a broken-backed war situation, in fact Twilight: 2000 is stated as an example. So there's plenty of war, but in terms of existing or brewing conflict there's the expansion of the Margravate of Silesia in the south, the stagnant German-Polish front and the upcoming "war" between the communities of Warsaw and the horde of Baron Czarny.

You're welcome to start your own local war between two or more of the larger military cantonments in the area, just be careful to pick the winning side if your involvement is discovered.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Not really in the classical Roman sense or like Daznak's Pit in Mereen, although it's likely that in Krakow, within the Baron's camps or as part of the lifestyle of the larger cantonment settlements that prize-fighting and betting on the match are common enough. James Langham's advanced Unarmed Combat Rules should prove useful if you want to make this a large part of the campaign.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Yes actually. 

There's plenty of involvement from the KGB, the DIA and the CIA, most notably in Krakow as part of the main "Operation Reset" plotline for The Free City of Krakow but any of these agencies could be acting in their own interests anywhere in Poland. 

The Cold War may have ended with the nuclear exchange but loyalties and schemes remain. Ideology may all seem a bit irrelevant to you these days but there's plenty of people that take it seriously still.

18. What is there to eat around here?

Not a lot

Particularly when you first start travelling overland from the rout of the US 5th Division at Kalisz.

Your military issued MRE ("meal, ready to eat") rations ran out long ago and weren't much to write home about anyway from memory - you've been foraging off the land as you travel, hunting the local game when encountered and "borrowing" food from the fields of farmers without leaving IOUs. If that old pack horse you "liberated" from the Soviet cavalry convoy doesn't recover from going lame soon it'll be on the menu, but it will probably taste better than the wild dogs you shot while passing through the ruined town last week. Grenade fishing sure seems like an attractive option, if only you had grenades to spare.

After fuel, food is probably one of the most valuable resources in a Twilight: 2000 Polish campaign, at least until you can buy or trade for surplus food at a decent market like the ones in Krakow. Most of the larger military units are short on food just from sheer numbers of mouths to feed and the local villagers are going to be close-lipped about the location of their stockpiles for the coming winter.

Forget gold and jewels, a decent meal is a treasure beyond worth.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Sure, a good campaign needs more than just food to drive character motivations. There's plenty of "treasures" you and your buddies could go looking for, here's 10 of them off the top of my head:

  • The Black Madonna of Czestochowa relic 
  • The Modular Computer Chip Prototype
  • Krakow's "flying carpet" (or another helicopter)
  • A 1000L tank of avgas / gasoline / diesel
  • A surviving nuclear missile specialist
  • A portable tactical nuke / "nuclear suitcase"
  • A functioning M1A2 Abrams (or T-90) tank with a full tank of fuel
  • A working steam locomotive (or armoured train)
  • A(nother) way home to America
  • Peace on Earth for All Mankind

Of course, there's that rumour about the divisional supply of hundreds of US MRE packs lost after the battle of Kalisz and never found, so food can still be a motivator. Imagine all that food piled up alongside your Hummer, that'd be a sight to see, wouldn't it? 

Did I mention how hungry you were already... you're probably even hungrier now. 

A 53.5kg SADM Man-Portable Nuclear Device

20. Where is the nearest dragon or another monster with Type H treasure?

Remember this isn't a medieval fantasy campaign.

Well OK, legends they say there's really a dragon underneath Krakow's Wawel Castle guarding treasure and in a way maybe they're right if you consider the "treasure" to be Krakow's "Flying Carpet" (a functional helicopter and enough fuel to fly to the ruins of Gdansk on the Baltic Coast) and the "dragon" is Prefect General Bohusz-Syszko, commander of Krakow's ORMO built from the 8th Polish Motorized Rifle Division. If you're looking for a local "Big Bad" with a hoard worth plundering then the Prefect may be the "monster" you're looking for.

Alternatively, Baron Czarny is the "dragon" of the east with his "Big Gun" a treasure worthy of consideration for the power it brings over the fledgeling communities of Warsaw.

So there are no dragons as such but plenty of "monsters" that are men or made by men and "treasure" as noted in the previous question may mean different things depending on your immediate needs.

Looking at things another way as a non-human threat, the ruins of the larger cities of Poland may be filled with "treasure" for there taking but the insidious invisible "dragon" that is high-level radiation.

Add to this starvation, running out of fuel, disease and the Poland of the Twilight World is overrun with "dragons" and the greatest treasure may be simply a means to finding the way home to America (or Russia) for many...

Alt T2k Q: Where is the nearest powerful enemy with a hoard of "treasure"?

Appendix: 20 Specific T2k Campaign Questions

These are the collated questions, reworded in italics to be more specific to a modern setting to make it easier. Questions 8 & 9 are almost the same question in context so you could argue there's really only 19 separate questions but a "list of 20" has a nicer ring to it so let's stick to the format.

  1. What is the deal with religion? 
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
  3. Where can we go to get armour repaired or added to salvaged vehicles?
  4. Who around here is a nuclear physicist?
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
  6. Who is the richest person in the land?
  7. Where can I find a doctor around here?
  8. Where are there "modern" medical facilities?
  9. Is there a university my scholar character belongs to or that I can join?
  10. Where can I find a <insert Skill> Expert NPC?
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
  12. Is there any place on the map where weapons are illegal or confiscated?
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
  14. What enemies are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
  18. What is there to eat around here?
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
  20. Where is the nearest powerful enemy with a hoard of "treasure"?

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