Sunday, April 21, 2019

Answers to 20 Quick Rules Questions: Twilight: 2000 v2.2

Similar to the previous answers to 20 Poland campaign answers post, this is based on a similar OSR blog post list that I stumbled across - Brendan S. of Necropraxis' 2012 post "20 Quick Rules Questions".

As this list was originally meant for a fantasy RPG (specifically an "OSR" style retroclone game based on the original D&D ruleset or similar) some of the questions aren't quite suitable but I think the answers also help for new players unfamiliar with the rule system, particularly those players who have a background in "d20" based games. 

The Twilight: 2000 v2.2 Rules Boxed Set 
(photo courtesy of Wayne's Books)

These are not meant to be a complete run-down or summary of the (complex) rules but rather give a sense of some of the mechanics that are likely to come up in play in advance.

Note: the answers below are based on the Twilight: 2000 v2.2 corebook, and although most of the mechanical aspects between editions are similar enough, the page references refer specifically to this supplement.

1. Ability scores generation method?

Referred to as Attributes, there are two methods to generate the six scores as per page 18:

Random Generation: In this method, each attribute is determined by rolling 2d6-2 (re- roll any roll that would result in a 0 attribute score). This gives a range of from 1 to 10 for each attribute.

Allocation: Players who choose the allocation method have a total of 32 points to be distributed among their attributes in any com- bination they wish. No attribute may have a value of 0 or more than 10.

When generating the various pregen characters I mostly used the "allocation" method but most averaged out at 32-34 (some build choices increase the scores and therefore the total - put simply, the "allocation" method allows every character can have an average score of 5 and two Attributes with a score of 6, two Attributes with a score of 8 and four with a score of 4, or else some other combination with a wider spread such as two scores of 8, two scores of 5 and two scores of 3 etc.

2. How are death and dying handled?

All editions of Twilight: 2000 are comparatively deadly, particularly fire combat.

  • A critical head injury causes immediate death. A critical injury to any *other* body part causes immediate loss of consciousness and requires medical attention within 10 minutes, or the character will die from loss of blood (page 211). Strangling can lead to death once "total control" at grappling is achieved and head wounds occur each turn (page 201).

A character can die in the following additional ways:

  • Ammo hits in vehicle combat that cause ammunition explosions kill all the crew (page 219).
  • Starvation. Eventually, a character on less than half rations will starve. This takes about a month of no food or several months of half rations (page 148). Technically a character can't die from Fatigue alone despite the Attribute penalties.
  • Disease. A character can potentially die if they fail their "recovery roll" against a disease and then roll less than the "Death Probability" number on 1d10 (page 245).
  • Radiation can kill a character that has accumulated 300+ rads (page 243).
  • Drowning after a water vessel explodes occurs unless a character makes a FOR Swimming check (IMP Swimming check if the character is below decks).

3. What about raising the dead?

This isn't a fantasy game, once a character dies that's it, they're permanently dead.

Sorry. Not sorry. The Twilight World really isn't that kind of place.

4. How are replacement PCs handled?

By the usual character creation process, there is no provision for multiple starting characters and even if this was suggested for many reasons isn't common practice in most RPGs. Twilight: 2000 can be relatively lethal so creating some extra "backup" characters or using pregens for the "secondary roles" (combat engineer, mechanic, medic etc) is probably worthwhile.

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?

Individual - it's initially a calculated characteristic from character generation modified by conditions such as fatigue and wounds then increases as if it were a skill, there's no random dice roll per round or turn. Wounds can decrease a character's initiative.

Animals have a set Initiative of 6.

Characters act in order starting at the highest Initiative "step":

The number and order of actions that a character may conduct in a turn are determined by the character's Initiative number. This number usually ranges from 1 to 5, but this limit can be exceeded by player charac- ters with large amounts of experience. The Initiative number can also be temporarily reduced in the course of combat as a result of panic or wounds... (see pages 194-195).

Characters (and animals) with an Initiative greater than 5 receive an extra action at the "step" equal to half their total initiative (rounding down) - animals have two actions and act at "step 6" and "step 3".

Initiative is also linked to a character's chance of Panic - a character knocked down by wound damage or surprised panics if they roll greater than their Initiative on 1d6 (see page 197).

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?

Yes, they're a big part of the game.

The task resolution mechanics for combat are skill based (page 135).

An outstanding success occurs when a character rolls 10 lower than the required roll for any given task including combat eg. if they needed a 12 and roll a 2, they achieve an outstanding success. A catastrophic failure is similar in reverse, so if a character needs a 4 or less to succeed and rolls a 14, they check again and if they fail a second time it's a catastrophic failure - if they succeed it's just a normal failure. The rules state no specific rules for either of these except in fire combat when an outstanding success *doubles* damage (page 209).

In addition, successful shots on an NPC target's head or chest can trigger a "Quick Kill" automatic death if the firer rolls *under* the damage inflicted (except on a natural 20). Player characters are exempt from this rule and suffer damage instead although it is recognised as unrealistic (page 210).

7. Do I get any benefits of wearing a helmet?

Yes, the two types of helmets (steel or kevlar) provide an Armor Value (AV) of 1 when worn for Head hits and so reduce the chance an attack will penetrate and cause damage. The only mechanical difference between the two types of helmets is their weight and (relative) cost.

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

Yes, when using automatic fire you can definitely hit your friends or other targets in the "Danger Zone" (an area 5m to either side of the firer to the target and within the same range band, unless at short range - see page 203). If using area of effect weapons (grenades, RPGs, HE rounds etc), there's a good chance of hitting unintentional targets.

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?

You will definitely need to run sometimes and preferably avoid some encounters altogether.

In Poland in particular, there are large cantonments and moving lines of troops of hundreds and even sometimes several thousand men. Although tanks and other armoured vehicles are rare or difficult to operate through lack of fuel, ammunition or other parts some of these groups have sufficient firepower to be relatively untouchable. Non-human threats such as disease and radiation can also be very difficult to "defeat" without the appropriate protective equipment or medicine.

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

This isn't a fantasy game.

In any case, there are no "levels" as such, task success or failure is "Asset" based (Attribute or Attribute+Skill) modified by Difficulty multipliers. There is Attribute loss "damage" however whether it be from Fatigue, wounds or other hazards (disease, radiation, starvation), so in a sense, these are the equivalent "monsters".

Alt T2k Q: What threats can reduce my character's effectiveness?

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?

There are no saving throws per se, task success or failure is based on Attributes or Attribute+Skill checks referred to collectively as "Assets", modified by Difficulty multipliers.

Disease and radiation each have their own mechanics / mini-games where death can result from a failed roll, this is probably the closest to a saving throw. You can drown from a failed Swimming check also, but that's a Skill check, not really a saving throw in the traditional sense.

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?

Very strictly - all editions of the game are very resource management intense and detailed. Time is measured in 4 hour periods, encumbrance is tracked and heavy loads penalised, carrying capacity is a calculated score based on Attributes and resources such as ammunition, food and fuel are tracked by the round, kg and litre respectively.

13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for downtime?

There are no levels but Experience is accumulated per session. Skills are increased on a point for point basis - raising a skill requires a number of Experience points equal to the next skill level eg. if a character has a Small Arms: Rifle level of 3, they need 4 Experience points in that skill to increase it to the next level of 4.

Instruction is the equivalent of training and dependent on the Instruction skill, with a teacher spending one period a day for a week with either a single or multiple students with Skill levels less than the teacher.

Improving skills by assimilating Experience occurs *between* sessions not automatically.

Initiative is improved similar to the above but specific Experience is tracked separately.

Alt T2k Q: How do I improve my character's capabilities? Training? Is downtime needed?

14. What do I get experience for?

Experience is gained at least 1 point per session plus additional points for particularly dangerous or skilled use of a Skill and/or stating well in character (see page 138-139). A character can also learn from close observation if the observer's skill level is less than half that of the character they are observing. Instruction (see 13. above) grants either 3 or 1 Experience points depending on the number of students being taught (see page 139).

For Initiative, a character gains one Experience point per session and then potentially an additional point for either a particularly difficult shot or feat of hand to hand combat (see page 139).

15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?

Probably some combination, but mainly using the Observation (INT) skill which is used to detect ambushes or spot enemies. A Geiger counter is probably needed for anything involving radiation although not technically a trap per se. There are no specific rules about setting/creating or disabling traps compared to most fantasy RPG games but the same principles hold and ideas from other sources could be readily adapted with some work.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?

NPCs are readily generated according to 4 ranks (Novice, Experienced, Veteran, and Elite) with a few relevant corresponding Assets (Skill + corresponding Attribute), Initiative, Unarmed Combat Damage, and primary Attribute scores. NPC "Motivations" determined by drawing from a deck of playing cards. There are also some "stock" NPCs, making it simple enough to create retainers and other "expert" hirelings (pages 139-143).

There's no morale system and retainer loyalty is left up to the Referee to adjudicate.

Every character has a chance of panic in combat (freezing for a number of rounds) depending on their initiative score - each rank of NPC therefore has a set Initiative score.

17. How do I identify magic items?

This is not a fantasy RPG so there are no "magic items" as such, but invoking Clarke's Third Law, their equivalents are advanced technology and equipment that are now in limited supply and/or damaged in need of repair. This question and the next two probably, are more of a "campaign" question - see my other post of Poland campaign answers based on Jeff Rient's list of questions.

So identifying such items isn't difficult and does not require a skill check but *using* the equipment may require levels in the relevant skill eg: Aircraft Mechanic, Computer, Electronics, Pilot (any), Scuba, Tac Missile, Warhead and others.

Alt T2k Q: How do I find advanced technology, weapons and vehicles? 

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?

See 17 above - technically no, but advanced technology while rare and expensive is available for purchase or barter in the more civilised areas such as the larger towns and free cities. You can't just choose your pick from a showroom of tanks and pay cash drive away - there's no technological equivalent of the "local magic shop", most advanced items will require almost an adventure in themselves to track down and earn.

If by potions you mean medicines (antibiotics, antitoxins, vaccines) then these can potentially be bought from larger towns and cities who may even have limited manufacturing capability.

Alt T2k Q: Can I buy advanced technology, weapons and vehicles?

19. Can I create magic items? When and how?

See answers to 17 and 18 above. Technically no, never and not applicable...

Some characters can at least attempt to *repair* advanced machinery and technology using Computer, Electronics, Gunsmith, Mechanic, Warhead or similar skills. This includes electronics/computing equipment, heavy weapons and armoured vehicles.

Crafting from scratch will be difficult without the dedicated tools, a machine shop and the correct parts, which may well be in short supply and/or expensive. Manufacturing medicine is very difficult and likely beyond the reach of a travelling group given the general lack of facilities, although not impossible if a dedicated laboratory could be established perhaps in one of the major cities.

Alt T2k Q: Can I construct advanced technology such as computers/electronics, heavy weapons and armoured vehicles? 

20. What about splitting the party?

Never split the party. It's always a bad move.

OK, all jokes aside the main issue is the meta-game issue of player boredom while one group or player sits out while the Referee concentrates on the others but this is better discussed elsewhere (such as here, or perhaps here).

However, splitting up the group makes a lot of tactical sense in many situations - scouting, foraging/hunting, maintaining vehicles and other "down-time" activities are often better split up between members of the group given the emphasis on resource tracking including time. So using some of the suggestions in the links above will be useful as it's not an uncommon occurrence.


  1. Talking about lethality, last session my brother and I would pause before every "to hit" roll of that tank cannon. There was the chance of the tank gun hitting, followed by a percent chance of that hit being scored on the OT-64, BRDM, or the locomotive itself.

    He had Maks stay with the engineer, and sent Wojciech making his way backwards along the train cars... to start preparing explosives to blow the track, and for continuity of command if the locomotive got shellacked by a tank round.

    1. I can imagine... a T-54 turret with it's gun isn't as modern as the later T-70/80 series but still packs a wallop relative to the small arms and autocannons used by most APCs and modified light vehicles / "technicals". HE rounds are nothing to laugh at when they're being fired at you as you are trying to reverse a locomotive...

      (this references this post: for those in the dark)