Before the current campaign, it’d been many years since our last Twilight 2000 game. A few things a more mature “me” noticed this time around:
Fuel. Thankfully, I’d read about this before starting the game. Limit the fuel the players have at the beginning. Don’t allow gasoline. Only alcohol, and a limited amount of that. Or rule that onroad movement rate only applies to stretches of maintained highways, which disallows pretty much any pavement in the Kalisz region map.
Many groups will immediately head to Kraków, because players know that’s the first module and it’s a magnet. And the situation pushes parties south. If fuel isn’t an issue, they could – with two lucky encounter rolls and good roads – drive to Kraków in about eight hours. And blow past everything in between.
Or they could go westward, and be on the German border by nightfall.
Disregard if you don’t care, but take note of the possibility.
Encounters. They dangerous ones aren’t as common you remember them. I’m rolling up animals, derelict vehicles, hunters, abandoned towns, etc. Only occasionally do marauders, military or slavers show up, which brings me to…
The Observation skill (or RCN in 1st ed). It has a disproportionate impact on gameplay. My younger son wanted to be a sniper, and so Observation was a skill he focused on. Well, that determines encounter ranges, because they keep decreasing until one group or the other makes a successful roll. My group has been able to avoid several potentially hostile encounters. (My sons of course want to shoot at everything, but my brother holds them in check, reminding them that here, targets shoot back.)
I’ve realized that I’m going to have to rule a few encounters being NPC ambushes in order to challenge the party. When both groups are in vehicles, they’re too easy to avoid.
Travel. My brother and I came up with a “compromise” travel speed, splitting the difference between the often large gulf between on and off road travel movement rates.
The UAZ-469, for example has travel moves of 215 km (onroad) and 45 km (offroad). Poland is crisscrossed with country lanes everywhere. Just because the party isn’t travelling on a highway shown on the game map doesn’t mean they’re driving through grassy fields.
So, if they were choosing to take back-country lanes – perhaps less likely to be traveled by organized military than open highway – we declared a travel move of 130 km per period for the UAZ-469.
EDIT Sept 5, 2020. Just wanted to note that I have since changed my stance on these “little rural roads” that criss-cross everywhere in Poland.
By and large, the party’s “offroad” vehicle movement in Poland isn’t literally driving across field and farm.
Much of this “offroad” movement will be on these aforementioned little back country lanes and small roads. Many are just dirt paths. None of them will be maintained, so there will be debris, mudpits, and manmade blockages by locals (to discourage armed transients, like the player group). And always staying on guard on these winding roads will slow down travel, as every house, bush, and rise can potentially conceal threats.
So slower travel will be explained by those obstacles, as well as the doubling-back required to deal with them, as well as getting briefly “lost” on these unmarked, unmapped lanes.
Radio. We didn’t do anything with this back in the day. In the current campaign, my brother has been focusing on this, listening for signals intel, with a nice radio set and recording capability. A lot of transmissions by the various sides are in code of course, but there’s still the opportunity to gain useful information now and then. For the ref, it’s a useful way to drop adventure hooks and give some hints into the large scale situation.
Religion. GDW made a few pokes at this in the modules, but I’ve been adding more Christian elements to the campaign. Poland is/was a very devout country. It was the only communist country with chaplains in its army, or so I’ve read. After a cataclysm like the Twilight War, I’d reckon religiosity would only become more prevalent.
The Language. Polish isn’t pronounced as it looks to English speakers, but it is fairly regular. Kalisz is something like “kaleesh”. Łódź sounds like “wooj”. And Kraków sounds like “krakoof” to my ears. Nowdays, we have the internet, which makes word pronunciations easily available. There are many language resources online. My go-to has been Forvo, which features submissions by native speakers.
Having a fluent Polish speaker – a couple actually – among the characters has had a real impact on encounters, and the flow of the campaign in general. Encounters have been made much easier for the party with both Maks and Wojciech speaking native Polish. If you want a more “Stranger in a Strange Land” atmosphere for your campaign, you should disallow native Polish language ability in your group.
Black Madonna. The Black Madonna adventure was written after Free City of Krakow. One of my favorite modules, Black Madonna is not only an adventure (with a dungeon!), but a concise guidebook to Silesia. Even though PC parties will likely travel through Silesia on their way to Kraków, the modules don’t flow that way. You’ll have to take that into account as you’re adapting them for your campaign.
Two examples: The party may well pick up the trail of the B Troop cav unit heading south before they’ve even left the Kalisz region map (from the introductory adventure), and that’s nowhere mentioned in the Escape From Kalisz notes. I had to go back and add that element before the campaign started.
The small group of NPC American soldiers (I’m not talking about B Troop here), and their misfortunes that form the main thrust of the Black Madonna’s adventure hook… They take over a month to reach Silesia after fleeing the 256th’s destruction at Łask. (Mirroring my adjusted campaign start, curiously enough).
150 km in vehicles in one month. That’s quite a leisurely pace. They had a lot of problems, and that NPC group had already started fracturing, according to the journal entries.
For us, what this means is that our PCs are almost certainly going to miss that plot seed, and the Black Madonna adventure only works as written if the players backtrack into Silesia at a later date, after adventures elsewhere. I had to adjust this a bit to get it to work for our group as they made their way south. I told my players to ignore the journal dates.
Maps from the modules. The Kalisz region map from the Twilight 2000 1st edition box set‘s introductory adventure neatly mates onto the north border of the Silesia map in Black Madonna. Yay!
But not the Krakow region map to the east. The Silesia map in Black Madonna and the Kraków region map in Free City of Krakow are incompatible: Not at the same scale.
Also, in the Silesia map, Kraków is literally just off the east side of the map. Why not include it? It would be helpful to show the geographical relation between the two. They are trading partners. I had to draw it in the margin myself.
Edit June 3, 2020
“Is their any advice or tips you can give out to help me out? A friend did give me a lot of the source books and some modules.”
Know your table. Twilight 2000 can be played in different places and levels. Some players just want to shoot at things in the ruins. Others enjoy compiling extensive equipment lists. Some like politics. Others are empire builders.
Background. Doing the traditional Poland campaign? That’s what I went after in my blog. Kalisz, Krakow, Vistula, and Warsaw are the common touchstones between T2000 gamers. But you can set your game anywhere in the world. Change the background details if you want; make it a harder apocalypse or zombies, or whatever.
Read my blog beginning to end if you haven’t. I’m always exploring the background, setting, and various rules in every post.
See also: I Blame This Man: Grigory Romanov