Been waiting for Summer to kick off a Twilight 2000 campaign, now that the boys are out of school and actually have time. Got them, my brother and a friend started on weekly sessions.
We’re using v2.2 rules, but with 1st edition timeline and materials, and background.
The v2.2 book is available in PDF and Print-On-Demand at DriveThruRPG. I have bought a reprint book that way (a couple of them, actually) for our own group, and the print quality is good. Not quite like having the original book, but close enough. Used copies of the original v2.2 book can get spendy.
However, in Second Edition T2000 (1990-), GDW broadened the scope of the background to anywhere in the world, rather than the Poland campaign embedded in the First Edition. Makes sense, as many players over the years had homebrew T2000 campaigns all over the world.
But my brother and I wanted to run a traditional Poland Campaign all the way through. For that, you need First Edition.
The Twilight 2000 Box set (1984) had a number of supporting materials that would kick off a campaign among the ruins of war-torn Poland, beginning with the characters fighting for their survival.
- Beginning Adventure: Escape From Kalisz
- Adventure Handout: Escape From Kalisz
- Intelligence Briefing
- Campaign Map (Poland, color)
Then from 1984-6, GDW released 5 loosely linked modules. The party ends up travelling all over southern Poland, dealing with a number of factions and threats:
If you find that you’re wanting more than one book on DriveThru, they’ve got the Twilight: 2000 v1.0 [BUNDLE]. It’s an amazing deal for all the material together in one place. And it appears you get credit for past purchases of items in the bundle. My account has the note: “You already own some contents of this bundle so we are reducing the price accordingly.”
I set the campaign as an alternate history where Mikhail Gorbachev never became General Secretary of the CPSU. This allows me to use the classic Twilight War timeline.
See Also: About our T2000 campaign for a brief summary of the war, the characters, and about us.
The Cold War Era
As one of my boys said, “That’s before I was born.” Yep. They weren’t even around in 2000, much less the Cold War years. We spent the weeks leading up to Session One talking about the Cold War, and watching some movies and documentaries about the era.
I was also doing some homework about Polish language pronunciation, as I knew we had been pronouncing all the place names wrong back in the old days.
I searched online for Twilight 2000 pages that could inform my Poland Campaign.
Why reinvent the wheel, right? I found one site in particular that I’d like to call out.
Example: The Player’s Handout (“Death .of a Division”) details the movements of the 5th Division’s constituent brigades and battalions in great detail. Very cool, but also very difficult to follow. If only someone had made some maps charting all those unit movements…
Well, someone did. Jed McClure’s “An Old School Polish Sandbox” has several very helpful resources, most notably a day-by-day rundown of those same unit movements. Here’s a snippet from his “Escape from Kalisz: The Death of a Division“:
Cool, huh? And there are several other goodies there as well.
Update December 2018:
Twilight 2000 Play Reports & Kalisz Resources. A great collection of links for GMs starting a Twilight 2000 Poland campaign.
Update July 2019:
I shifted the PC’s starting location.
I’d read online in a forum, a guy grousing about how all the interesting stuff is on the east side of the Warta River in Escape From Kalisz, and it’s very likely the players won’t go that direction. That offhand comment really stuck with me.
I pondered that thought for a while, and while reading the Player’s Handout, I noticed that the 256th Brigade was stuck in Łask – out of fuel – and wiped out on 16 July, two days before the rest of the 5th Division meets its own fate.
16 July 2000
I placed the PCs over at Łask Airbase with the 256th Brigade (Louisiana National Guard), as the Soviet 124th Motor Rifle Division assaulted their positions.
It was a Last Stand. The brigade’s few remaining tanks were mostly out of gas, immobile, dug-in behind berms. I had the players man the tanks, plus one brave soul running around with a Javelin “Tank Breaker” (all Redshirt characters) and try to inflict as much damage as they could before being rubbed-out.
A mistake in retrospect. Them Tankbreakers are sweet weapons. I should have issued more relic-type AT weapons. Would have reduced the party’s effectiveness, and been more in line with the “Slump” background of Twilight 2000.
0400. The brigade’s CO, Col Sims, met with Maks and the other battalion commanders.
“Fight to win. But if the brigade’s armored vehicles are destroyed, or run out of ammo, personnel are to disperse on foot in small groups, and attempt to link up with the 5th Division’s main body in Kalisz. Give ‘em hell. Godspeed.”
The brigade was crushed after a brief fight, but the Americans knocked out a half-dozen T-80 tanks of the 124th MRD, as well as several APCs.
The players switched to their PCs and fled to the forest to the south with the rest of the surviving personnel. Now they were fleeing from Pact forces south through the forest. They were exhausted, beginning play with 2 levels of fatigue already.
Fortunately, they’d hammered the Soviets enough to cause them to pause and regroup, delaying sending out parties to round up stragglers for hours.
The Beginning of the End
17 July 2000
On the radio, the party hears all the developments on the Player’s Handout from 16 July and forward. They think that they’ve gotta somehow get to Kalisz, or they’ll get “left behind” as the 5th Division makes its breakout, and retreats back to NATO lines.
Except as the hours pass, the noose seems to be tightening around 5th in increasingly grim radio transmissions, leaving the party wondering if Kalisz was salvation, or a trap.
The party was very happy when they heard about the 3-70 Armored’s ambush of the 124th MRD approaching Kalisz.
“3-70 Armored reached a position two kilometers north of the road at 1100 hours with nothing left in its fuel tanks but fumes. Taking up defilade positions atop a low rise, the battalion commander saw the main body of the Soviet 124th Motor Rifle Division stretched out on the road below him. At 1110 hours the battalion opened fire and immediately began registering hits along the length of the column. Soon the column was covered in dense black smoke from burning vehicles, through which the tankers could see numerous secondary explosions as ammo vehicles went up.
By 1220 hours the Soviets were counterattacking, but several attempts to storm the position by tanks and armored personnel carriers were broken up, and the 2000 meters of open ground between 3-70 Armored’s position and the road became littered with the wrecks of most of the Soviet division’s remaining armor. A late afternoon attempt to outflank the position was thwarted by the arrival of 3-10 Infantry.”
It was doubly sweet for the players, as the 3-70 Armored smashed the same Soviet division that overran their 256th Brigade the day before.
However, the elation would prove to be short-lived.
Tomorrow – 18 July – will be an entirely different day…