Sunday, September 8, 2019

For When You're On Your Own (YOYO) - More pre-generated characters!

So despite my intentions to have a break from Twilight: 2000 material, a recent post on the little-visited Twilight: 2000 subreddit prompted me to post this in response.

A while back I lamented the lack of pregenerated character for Twilight: 2000 as a potential barrier to adoption of the setting and the game by new players and presented six pregen "archetypes" to help provide inspiration and fill out a small party with some core roles if needed:

  • The Wheelman
  • The Heavy
  • The Scout
  • The Doctor
  • The Engineer
  • The Major

  • I had developed v1.0 versions of "Monk" and "Bobby Lee" based on the example characters in the rulebooks, then updated them to v2.2 ("the Wheelman" and "the Scout") and added in the other four archetypes as I had only limited information on the rest of the named characters, but I didn't have the time or inclination to develop all the characters mentioned in the example fiction.

    But it turns out a Reddit user known as "u/wbgamer" has now done exactly this according to his post.

    He's created a great resource of pre-generated characters in my view for both new and old players and referees alike. Apparently, he saw my original v1.0 characters on my old blog "My Life as a Grog" and felt inspired enough to complete the set!

    The twelve v2.2 characters are linked to a Google Docs zip file of PDFs of the "advanced" Excel character sheet developed by Marc on the Juhulin forums that include character portraits and some background notes, with an accompanying "Notes" file with suggestions for the group's backstory and vehicles (LAV-25 and HMMW M1029), weapons and other equipment they share in common at the beginning of the default Escape from Kalisz campaign scenario.

    I hereby salute you, good sir!

    For those interested in the breakdown, the characters are:

    • Alvarez (support - electronics, fluent Spanish, secondary combat medic)
    • Anderson (sergeant, 49yo, speaks Russian and has contacts)
    • Bobbi Lee (MP not ranger but scout and rifleman; see also my version
    • Carson (truck-driver for LAV-25, crack shot)
    • Gordon (former construction engineer and combat engineer support) 
    • Griffith (supply sergeant, scrounger and wheeled driver)
    • Jefferson (reservist, tank gunner and heavy weapons)
    • Jones (Welsh SAS / sniper with Polish and German, stealth and combat)
    • Major (prior enlisted combatant, now older officer; see also my version)
    • Monk (drafted pre-war mechanic support character, see also my version)
    • Toye (captain, typical infantry combat officer)
    • Wood (not actually a medic just "the closest thing")

    u/wbgamer's "Design Notes" for his iconic Escape from Kalisz Party

    Note: the zip file and PDFs are private documents initially but accessible upon requesting permission and being approved by the author. I'd be happy to mirror host the files here and will contact the creator to check what he's comfortable in sharing soon or if he has any issues with the screenshots.

    The Same, but Different?

    So that's great, but what's the difference between u/wbgamer's characters and my pregens?

    I mean you already have my pregens, what more do you need right... right?

    Well, it really depends what you're looking for, as I think the two sets of pre-generated characters are not only both useful but also complementary. Sure, we both present versions of "Monk" and "Bobbi-Lee" (which intentionally vary only slightly in end result according to u/wbgamer although Bobbi Lee is a very different build as he explains in the "Design Notes") and both groups have a "Major" but the two sets follow different design philosophies there are enough differences to comment on.

    character sheet by u/wbgamer

    Group #1

    My half-dozen characters were designed to be *supplementary* to an existing small group, ie. for a game with 3-4 players with their own individual characters who need or want some more developed NPCs than the standard NEVE / 2 card mooks, villagers and adversaries of the basic game with their set Attributes, Assets and random motivations.

    As a set they allow for most of the core roles of a Twilight: 2000 group stranded in post-WW3 Poland to survive, covering the major threats: food, breakdowns, disease, injury and social interaction. Probably I should have included a scrounger but I made a decision not to partly because Scrounging is a very rare skill limited to only a few career terms (as u/wbgamer notes) and because despite the setting's emphasis, there are no workable rules for scrounging presented (a significant omission - I'd suggest the rules from the Other Dust RPG could be readily adapted).

    They are also designed to be readily modified to give some basic builds and variants for new players that don't want to spend too much time on learning character generation, as inspiration for more proficient players or to provide a quick replacement or fill-in character when a primary character meets a grisly end or the group realise that they need more than a single-digit Mechanic Asset for the grease-monkey that's been tagging along and driving their 5-ton truck as a cardboard cut-out.

    Group #2

    u/wbgamer's characters, however, are a whole pre-generated group, ready to run as a unit and designed to function as a unit with the group assets and history to match. In that sense, his approach is more traditional providing the elements of a party for the initial campaign, much like the "iconic party" of a certain draconian spear derivative campaign for a particular original fantasy role-playing game. Sure, 12 characters may sound like a lot to run, but at least you have the option of choosing from the whole gang ready to go, there's an available specialist for all the major non-combat threats (including a scrounger) and the Referee can handle a couple of the others that provide key roles if they're looking for a more cinematic approach.

    Unlike my archetypes, a backstory is provided for the individuals and for the group as a whole, adding to the limited background presented in Escape from Kalisz and fleshing out the world just that little bit more. I think this helps give this set of characters an edge for a Referee kicking off a Twilight: 2000 game for a beginning group of younger players that may have never played the game before - they can just jump straight in and not only explore the mechanics readily but also have suggested interpersonal relationships from the get go. They don't need to get bogged down in character creation which some people find overly complicated.

    The group's shared equipment seems quite reasonable without being overpowered and matches the canonical LAV-25 / HMMV combination from the original v1.0 boxed set. This is an aspect I hadn't considered previously but provides an example to use as inspiration for your own player group or similar remnant groups from the US 5th Infantry Division.

    Final Comments

    I think u/wbgamer's pre-generated characters are a great contribution to the non-canon resources of the game, helping lower a significant barrier I believe exists for new players adopting T2k - the relative complexity and time sink of character creation. I like the way the dozen have been designed to interact as a group, their shared resources and their common backstory - they could even be used as a rival group to your game's player group and a source of potential allies or replacements.


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