Author Topic: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military  (Read 849 times)

Offline ChalkLine

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Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« on: February 08, 2021, 12:59:16 PM »
This is based on the old GDW Role Playing Game and its more recent versions.

The setting is a general engagement, usually in Poland, of Cold War equipment and personnel in 1995 and culminating in a post apocalyptic breakdown in 2000.

Generally there is a mix of units and equipment, all showing heavy wear and weathering, right down to modern European civilian stuff "liberated" and often mixed troops types.

The enemy in the western-centric version of the game is Warsaw Pact units and "marauders" which are broken down units that have turned bandit.

Often individual soldiers have a mixture of weapons and uniforms from right across the setting. It's not unusual for Warsaw Pact individuals to be incorporated into the survivor units.

Modern equipment up to (and in some cases just past in the Eastern European case as many projects went on hold because of the dissolution) 2000 is the usual subject. As the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact is not supposed to have collapsed in 1989-1991 these vehicles should have the appropriate Cold War markings.

Some aspects of this scenario is the very heavy weathering of all the subjects, the mixture of both sides' equipment, the mixture of current and outdated equipment as old stocks were introduced in desperation during the time preceding the collapse (such as an old MUTT M151 jeep alongside an M1A1) and the post-apocalyptic setting for vignettes. Subjects often would have an obsession with food stocks so hunting scenes would be cool.

Offline Kelmola

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2021, 04:41:27 PM »
One thing that has always irked me in the setting is the availability of fuel. Sure, the oil shortage is intrinsic to the setting (all oilfields and refineries nuked several times over), but I still think there's too much emphasis on motor vehicles. Depending on how far you want to take the collapse of society, synthetic fuel plants (Fischer-Trops process etc.) could still be operational. That said, usually the setting assumes that nation-states have essentially collapsed and any remaining authorities are concerned with the immediate survival of the people, so it's doubtful how viable this source would be. (Might be that the powers that still pretend to be decide this is essential.)

Whereas many vehicles could run on alcohol as such, it is perhaps unrealistic to assume that enough alcohol could or would be produced from energy crops to power tanks in a setting where famine is an acute problem. Yes, ethanol can be produced from calcium carbide, coal, and wood (leftover starch from pulp production has been turned into ethanol for a long time); again, this requires industrial plants capable of doing this either with or without conversion and would require some semblance of society (whereas distillation from plants can be done by local communities).

Equipping lighter vehicles (jeeps and trucks) with wood gasifiers could also be a partial solution. (Can't really imagine a tank with one, but if one could...)

Offline Kelmola

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2021, 06:03:18 PM »
Another thing is - just how far would the society have collapsed? As far as the game suggests, or not nearly as much?

Twilight: 2000 was created in a time (ie. the 1980's) when popular culture had convinced everyone that in the future there would be marauding gangs in full leather daddy getup riding around a post-nuclear desert in gas-guzzling V8's for which magically have always enough fuel and spare parts. However, societal structures are suprisingly inert. Yes, there would be incalculable suffering, failures of almost every system, and there would be civil unrest and widespread crime, and fallout would be a major problem, but when people would clamber from their fallout shelters, they would more likely than not start to get the wheels running again.

Even in the full nuclear arsenal was spent, it must be remembered that it was assumed in the war plans that up to two-thirds of nuclear weapons would not succesfully "initiate" over designated target: cold-fired missiles failing, bombers shot down (probably the source of highest failure rate), SSBN's sunk before launch, warheads failing either spontaneously or due to EMP or directly affected by a nearby initiation (which is why there was a strict timetable with calculated intervals), missiles shot down by ABM, etc., so even some targeted cities would be left intact - military targets on the other hand would have been targeted so many times over that a kill was practically assured.

So some cities (especially the smaller ones that were not on any target list) would have power generation and have some industries capable of working as soon as the logistics would allow, and since the military units not in the way of tactical warheads (most of which would have been used at the immediate frontline, not the rear areas) didn't disappear magically, much less civilian police forces, I can't simply realistically envision a tribal society with roving bands of mercenaries defending isolated settlements from roving bands of marauders. Of course, the latter was practically a prerequisite for a RPG where players could play the same kind of murderhobos in a modern environment that they were accustomed to playing in a fantasy setting. ;D
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 06:05:28 PM by Kelmola »

Offline ChalkLine

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2021, 08:51:22 PM »
Oh, it's not feasible on several counts. Like you say the fuel is not possible as methanol and ethanol both don't put out nearly as much power as possible and ethanol burns way too hot, you'd have to mix it with the methanol further reducing its power. You could retcon it as iso-butanol cookers but they need special microbe mixes that weren't available in 2000 (although you might say that the war accelerated research).

Also, as you say it's silly because they have a tiny nuclear effect. Firstly, no one launches part of their nuclear arsenal as stated as that means the bit you held back simply gets destroyed on your turf when the enemy initiates a general strategic response. In fact India once said the bleeding obvious when they declared "there is no such thing as a tactical strike; any nuclear strike will trigger a strategic response" in case anyone had any doubts and that was the stance of all Cold War belligerents (if that's the right term).

Also the effects of nuclear strikes is massively understated. It's since been calculated that even a tiny response from any nuclear-armed nation would have catastrophic climate effects. (I have a paper on this if anyone is interested, it was released in 2020 and is the latest model).

I suspect you are being kind and not detailing the other silliness like the Poles greeting NATO with open arms after they killed millions of them with Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons. The misunderstanding of how people as you have mentioned respond to disasters that is the "bunker survivor lone warrior" fantasy with a howling wilderness. Also somehow whole divisions wander around without any logistical supply route and even more unlikely simply don't up stumps and try and get home rather than waste time getting cancer in a radioactive landscape.

You may not have read the backstory but several NATO and Warsaw Pact members switch sides in a strange attempt to have a general engagement in every part of the world that simply defies logic (and is frankly offensive in the way they treat the French, Italians and Greeks). Also it simply dismisses that the former communist nations heavily prepared the nuclear war because that would have to admit they were terrified of the west which opens up the whole question that maybe the Cold War wasn't as black and white as simplistic popular history would say, and in doing this adroitly avoids the fact that as unpleasant authoritarian states they'd probably marshal recovery faster. Also I'm Australian and I can tell you that's not how people react to disasters, when our country burns we combine and overcome rather than throw each other to the dogs and I think this is just human nature.

All that said, it can still be made to work. I've personally done extensive rewrites of the background to create an alternate history that if not remotely likely is not impossible, however much of the fan base doesn't like my ideas much :)

The setting is still evocative.

The idea of doomed soldiers in worn out gear trying to get home while World War Three mindlessly drags on after all reason for its continuation strikes a chord with me personally as a statement of the futility of that period.

It also allows interesting depictions of extremely weathered vehicles in a strange post apocalyptic setting with things like T-55M2s that have kontakt-5 and Shtora systems besides an M2 Bradley is kinda funky. :)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 08:55:54 PM by ChalkLine »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2021, 03:39:34 AM »
Quote
The idea of doomed soldiers in worn out gear trying to get home while World War Three mindlessly drags on after all reason for its continuation strikes a chord with me personally as a statement of the futility of that period.
Hmm, sounds like the Czech Legion after World War One, a fighting withdrawl across the breadth of Russia (including along the Trans-Siberian Railroad) to Vladivostok where they took ship to return home.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2021, 09:10:06 AM »
Quote
The idea of doomed soldiers in worn out gear trying to get home while World War Three mindlessly drags on after all reason for its continuation strikes a chord with me personally as a statement of the futility of that period.
Hmm, sounds like the Czech Legion after World War One, a fighting withdrawl across the breadth of Russia (including along the Trans-Siberian Railroad) to Vladivostok where they took ship to return home.

Pretty much.
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Offline Kelmola

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2021, 09:36:33 AM »
I have to admit that beyond the general concept, my last in-depth contact with T2K was in the 1990's playing the pen and paper version, and a brief reunion with the highly ambitious but spectacularly failing computer adaptation*, so my memories might be hazy.

I had heard that they tried to modernize the backstory or keep inventing reasons why the Soviet Union did not collapse or make a comeback (even briefly considered backing the 4th edition Kickstarter for nostalgia kicks), but personally, I think that a post-nuclear game is so deeply tied to the Cold War that the developers should just have kept it as an alternate universe. Or now that the year 2000 is farther in the past than it was in the future in the 1980's, why not go full retro and have the setting as "Twilight: 1985"?

That said, I bothered to google and apparently even the original game needed an outlandish plot to trigger The War where a cabal of East and West German officers stages a joint coup against the Soviet troops in East Germany, whereas a simple accident or a single incident escalating out of hand would have been more plausible (and more likely) alternatives. That WW3 was averted at all was either a testament to the good in human beings or just sheer dumb luck, or a combination of both. (And then I ran into the background for the third edition and sighed deeply. Either it was meant to be an outlandish prank, or, well, I don't know.)

But like said, the real attraction of T2K is to set the tried and true tropes of "fantasy adventurers versus an evil overlord" or "frontier pioneers are harassed by bandits, cavalry to the rescue!" in the modern age. Balancing between making the world devastated enough to allow this to happen, but not so devastated that nothing matters anymore because everyone is going to die two weeks from now anyway, well, that is certainly difficult.

Regarding the relations between the local civilians and the adventuring party, one could argue that the survivors are so jaded that they don't care anymore who was fighting whom before the bombs went off, or who exactly fired that theater ballistic missile at the nearest town, it's enough that if the latest armed arrivals are NOT arriving as oppressors or raiders but willing to sell their services to the community which might help them to survive to another day. Plus this being the nuclear war and whatever author's fiat brought NATO troops to Poland, one can be sure that the West was not the only one to drop nukes on Poland in such a scenario. (Acccording to now-declassified war plans, "sunshine from both directions at once" was actually in the cards for Finland even before the War would have gone nuclear between NATO and Warsaw Pact. So much for "credible neutrality".)

---

*) It was entirely possible to find in the post-nuclear Polish countryside someone who was supposedly a key person in the local resistance against the Evil Overlord, yet only spoke French, or Estonian, or Azeri - yes, the only language a key NPC to advance the plot halfway through the game spoke was randomly selected from the pool of the 30 or so languages characters could be given as background skills, and loading a saved game didn't help because the selection had been randomized at the beginning of the campaign: if you hadn't chosen the right language in the beginning of the game, you had to restart the game from beginning or use a hex editor to alter your save files. This being before everything was on the Internet, I started over, taking care to include in the party a couple of throwaway characters who spoke all the possible languages, then breezed my way through using all intended or most likely unintended exploits of the game I had already discovered while playing. Was it worth it? Not in the slightest. There was less and less narrative and cutscenes the farther the game went on, and finally it ended in a congratulatory text screen, including a blurb for (never released) Twilight: 2001 set in the ruins of the US, as if I or anyone else who bought or copied the game had wanted any more of the same.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 09:39:22 AM by Kelmola »

Offline ChalkLine

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Re: Twilight 2000 - Post World War Three Military
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2021, 09:14:44 AM »
Hi, sorry for replying so late. I've been away.

Yeah, it's a very old game from a former age. I'm an Australian so we had a very different take on it, we didn't have the ideological basis that many European and US people back then had (that has changed) so our take on it was always more a post apocalyptic slide to extinction rather than "shooting commies in the woods on a summer afternoon in fantasy Europe complete with all the European stereotypes".

There are two firm camps in the Twilight 2000 community: those who adopt the established strongly Anglocentric published setting that only really has Americans, English and Germans in NATO (everyone else is either unimportant or traitors) versus evil Russians and their Polish slaves (now with added Ukrainians), or the people who give other settings a go. Once again it falls in strongly ideological camps, the former often being Cold War former soldiers who trained all their life for a type of war that never happened. Don't get me wrong, they're still nice people and I count them as my friends but I think a general conflict in late 20th century Europe would have been very different to what the propaganda (in the neutral sense of the term) acculturated us to believe. Really, many people want to see the Warsaw Pact as a morally acceptable target for imaginative violence and not the vast mass of individuals under some pretty ugly governments who were in effective just as human as everyone else instead. To riff off your comment: orcs with commie uniforms.

----- Modelling -----

The basic trope is, as mentioned earlier, Cold War vehicles in gypsy caravans with piles of stowage and all weathered and battered. NBC gear is prolific. All the vehicles and equipment are extremely weathered, almost junkyard rust levels is okay for some. For vignettes and dioramas the surroundings should be heavily damaged, in fact trench warfare settings in some cases wouldn't be out of the question. A common trope is the MBTs have run out of fuel so stripped-down abandoned tanks are a good subject, especially if juxtaposed with a smaller vehicle. Scratch building can have a field day as those vehicles still in use can be heavily modified with both advanced and ad hoc changes such as hillbilly armour up to refurbished older vehicles from storage with up to date late 1990s sights, radios, and even weapon systems. Also the admixture of NATO and Warsaw Pact vehicles travelling together, often with a few civilian vehicles for light weight and fuel economy (I have to get myself a 1:35 Polish Fiat). Want to try out an M41 Walker Bulldog with that Stingray turret in a battle weary condition?. Here's your chance! :)