Sunday, May 5, 2019

OWB T2k - Character Generation

The following are some initial ideas for using the OWB (Operation: White Box) ruleset for a Twilight 2000 campaign. Unless otherwise noted, this is presented as an alternative to the more mechanically complex T2k v2.2 rules that provide significant detail but may be seen as a barrier to new players picking up the game for the first time. 

OWB is based on a much simpler, familiar game system.

War. War Never Changes... but does the ruleset always remains the same?
(Artwork is a mashup of the OWB and T2k v1.0 Covers)

Twilight World Character Creation, OWB style...

In general, as OWB is much simpler and more streamlined than T2k so my comments default to using the RAW ("rules as written") for the game, but there are some distinctive elements from T2k v2.2 that capture the particular feel of the GDW game that I think could be readily incorporated as "optional" rules and are therefore noted below.


Replace with the standard OWB Abilities; AGL becomes Dexterity, EDU becomes Wisdom.

As T2k v2.2 uses a 1 to 10 scale, halve all T2k v2.2 related formulas when using OWB Abilities instead of Attributes for any non-OWB based mechanics used.

Use one of the following approaches:

  • Random Generation: In this method, each Ability is determined by rolling 4d6-4 (reroll any roll that would result in a 0 Ability score). This gives a range of from 1 to 20 for each Ability. A player who rolls attributes totalling less than 60 points may add attribute points (allocated as he sees fit) to bring the total up to 60. This way the character is always at least average. 
  • Allocation: Players who choose the allocation method have a total of 64 points to be distributed among their Abilities in any combination they wish. No Ability may have a value of 0 or more than 20.

Nationality & Languages

Pick a Nationality as per OWB, pages 8 and 9. Substitute "Soviet" for Russian - this reflects either Russian, Polish, or other Eastern Bloc origin personnel. Such characters can only choose to be Partisans (if Polish in the default setting) or Defectors (if Russian or other Eastern Bloc see below) and cannot choose one of the basic OWB classes.

Polish or other Eastern bloc characters are treated as "European" for the purposes of determining their fluency and number of additional languages. Russian characters, however, begin only with fluency in Russian (F) and only basic fluency (B) in one other language unless they have high Intelligence.

Terms (and Professions)

OWB does not use Terms to generate characters, unlike T2k v2.2. The closest correlate is probably character level - each character level reflects up to 4 years in service. A party of mixed character level is possible but it is recommended that the characters are all within 2 levels of each other.

For beginning campaigns, set the party's average character level at between 1st to 3rd level. At the GM's option, a starting character may be 4th level but automatically apply ageing effects to their attributes as if their roll was unfavourable (see Age below).

OWB professions (Pages 9 and 10) provide some background detail but minimal mechanical effect.

Character Classes

The six basic OWB special operative classes: Charmer, Combat Engineer, Grunt, Sniper, Tactician, and Wheelman are available without modification. There's not really a direct OWB equivalent of armor crewman, artillery specialist, combat medic, heavy weapons specialist, or pilot at this stage so creating a character along the lines of these archetypes may require some ingenuity.

The Maquis and Uberlaufer classes are readily modified to reflect non-Western individuals as follows:
Partisan replaces the Maquis class. This reflects Polish (or other Eastern Bloc) civilians siding with the western forces and/or local militia unfriendly to the Soviets. Use the same mechanics except that instead of France, abilities such as Contacts and Resistance Leader mentioning France are linked to the character's country of origin based on their chosen Nationality (default is Poland). 
Defector replaces the Uberlaufer class. This reflects Soviet (Russian, Polish regular or other Warsaw Pact forces) personnel forced into military service that defected early during the Twilight War and have since become incorporated into regular Western (US or German army) units. Replace Wermacht Understanding with Soviet Understanding and Nazi Hate with KGB Hate, modifying the mechanical effects to reflect the appropriate modern groups. Hero's Welcome changes to Defector Leader and  reflect a cohort of more recent defectors that join the character attracted by their fame and deeds rather than individual's from his or her hometown but is otherwise mechanically identical.
Option: non-Western military personnel of the six basic OWB classes are possible as later player characters and recruits as the unit travels through post-war Poland. Such characters gain the equivalent of Soviet Understanding in addition to their usual class abilities, but suffer a -5% XP penalty and may not speak English particularly well. 


Use the OWB rules on page 10 for simplicity - rank has no real mechanical bearing on *either* game in actual play except for doubling the starting equipment buy allowance in T2k v2.2.

Option: all characters except Defectors (Uberlaufer), Partisans (Maquis), and Tacticians roll 1d6 - on a 6 they are an officer. Defectors and Partisans are never officers. Tacticians also roll 1d6 - on a 4 or greater they are officers and are automatically officers if they start to play at 3rd level or higher.


Consider using the general rules from T2k v2.2 but modify as there are no Terms in OWB - add one contact per character level note this may adversely affect the uniqueness of the "Contacts" base ability of the Partisan (aka Maquis / "Resistance Fighter") class.

Initiative (and Panic)

Use the standard OWB rules, rolling 1d6 every round of combat.

Option: use the T2k v2.2 rules based on character generation and NPC classification below:
To determine Initiative, regulars roll 1D6, reservists roll 1D6/2 (round up), and draftees roll 1D6/2 (round down, but re-roll results of 0). Add +1 to this roll for rangers, airborne, special forces, force recon, snipers, and equivalents. Modify by -1 from this roll for support, air force enlisted, aviation enlisted, and military intelligence (but never reduce Initiative below 1). Animals have a base Initiative of 6 unless noted otherwise.
Converting across, OWB Snipers add +1 to the base initiative roll, Charmers and Wheelmen modify by -1 from this roll. For all characters add the character OWB level to the player's Initiative rating instead of tracking experience separately for Initiative. Characters with an Initiative of 5+ gain an additional action per round (see T2k v2.2, page 194).


If the character is knocked down or surprised, roll a 1D6 and if the result is higher than the character's OWB level, the character is frozen and stunned for a number of rounds equal to the number by which the die roll exceeded the character's level.

Option: the character can make a Saving Throw against being stunned.

Alternative: using the expanded initiative option above opens up the potential of the original Panic rules (T2k v2.2 p197, formerly referred to as the "Coolness Under Fire" mechanic in T2k v1.0 and modified for the later edition):
Whenever a character is knocked down by wound damage (see "Wound Effects and Healing," page 211) or surprised (attacked from an unexpected direction, ambushed, or surprised by an encounter as defined in the encounter rules), there is a chance that he or she will panic. This is not blind panic which sends the character screaming away, but panic which causes him or her to momentarily freeze.

To determine if a PC panics, roll 1D6. If the result is greater than his or her Initiative rating, he or she panics. The PC may not conduct any action for the number of turns by which the die roll exceeds his or her Initiative. However, if the character is forced to freeze for more than one combat turn, he or she may go prone on the second turn and remain there until able to move again. If the character has already conducted his or her action for the turn, the following turn counts as the first turn frozen. If the character has not yet acted in the turn in which he or she panicked, the current turn becomes the first turn frozen.
NPCs have initiative based on their equivalent level (see T2k v2.2 page 139).
For ease of reference, use the following T2k v2.2 values below:

  • Novice NPCs have Initiative 1
  • Expert NPCs have Initiative 3
  • Veteran NPCs have Initiative 4
  • Elite NPCs have Initiative 5

NPCs with OWB professions add their character level to their Initiative as above.


Civilians roll 1d10 x 1d6. Others roll (2x OWB Level) x 1d6 for a minimum of 1d6 Rads. Radiation rules are otherwise the same as for T2k v2.2 (p242-243) but halve the Constitution score in the formulas (as T2k v2.2 uses a 1 to 10 Attribute scale).

If using the optional expanded Initiative rules above, Rads = (2 x Initiative) x 1d6.

Radiation isn't dealt with in the basic OWB rules, so that will have to be detailed further later.


OWB does not use anything similar to T2k v2.2's 4-year Terms, but the concept of effects beyond age 29 affecting starting characters significantly makes sense. Terms loosely correlate to character level (see above), so requiring Ability loss checks at Level 4 and for each level thereafter as per the table on page 24 of T2k v2.2 makes sense - this encourages low-level play and retiring older characters.

Excerpt from T2k v2.2 Rulebook

The character loses 1 point from the relevant attribute if the 1d10 roll is less than the current level of that attribute. If the roll equals or exceeds the attribute, there is no loss.
This check, also called an age saving throw, is made at the end of each term.

Skill- and Attribute- Derived Values

The combat values are irrelevant in an OWB based game (Hit Capacity and Unarmed Combat Damage), but the other derived values are of optional relevance: 
Weight: A character's weight in kilograms is equal to 80 plus two times Strength minus Dexterity [2x(Str - Dex)] +80. This accounts for the difference in Attributes between T2k v2.2 and OWB
Load: in  T2k v2.2 a character may carry, without being heavily burdened, weight in kilograms equal to three times the sum of his Strength and Constitution divided by two (Str + Con) x 3/2 to account for the differing Attribute scale. This is called his normal load - compare to the more generous default 11kg (25lbs) for normal individuals and 45kg (100lbs) for the somewhat cinematic allowance for special operatives (OWB pages 38-39).
Throw Range: the distance (in meters) a character can throw a one-kilogram weight accurately is called his throw range in T2k v2.2. Throw range in OWB is twice the character's Strength (Str x 2) in metres or six times the character's Strength (Str x 6) in feet, depending on which scale of tactical combat grid is being used.


Use the T2k v2.2 rules for starting equipment with "generic conversions" to OWB mechanics. This equates to $5000 x number of Terms in the military, but instead use OWB character level (doubled if an officer, see above). Additional equipment can be bought using the usual T2k v2.2 Equipment lists and/or P. Mulcahy's online expanded equipment lists if desired.

Most equipment other than weaponry has clear benefits that can be converted easily across to OWB mechanics as needed (see later post for details), but see the special section on modern armour such as kevlar flak vests and ballistic kevlar helmets.

Starting Transportation

Use the standard T2k v2.2 "Starting Vehicle" table on page 26; roll 1d6 for every 3 characters in the unit (as opposed to 1d6 for every 2 characters in v1.0). Vehicle conversion will be covered in separate posts, with modifications (and quirks) playing an important part in an individual vehicle's "character" and performance. 

Option: use either my simple Revised US Starting Vehicles table or the complex Version 2.0 PDF derived from Paul Mulcahy's excellent resource website.

WWII: Operation WhiteBoxTM is a trademark of Peter C. Spahn 

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