Saturday, September 29, 2012

Death and Taxes

Well, it happened.

I warned you that if I tripped over an RPG, I'd post about it, and here I am.  My nerdly bachelor party was a success, with a Battletech match, followed up by a complete, first-to-three match of Epic Spell Wars.  Along the way, a case of beer and a half bottle of mezcal disappeared, and there was much rejoicing.

As the evening wore on, Ark started poking around my game library, alternately chortling and gasping at my incredibly inconsistent taste in RPGs.  Then he came across my box set of the 1st edition of Twilight: 2000, and, as they say, shit got real.

Now mind you, I played Twilight 2000 last when I was in high school, and the sum total of my memories of this game consisted of the party wandering through a radiation soaked area and dying several hours later of radiation poisoning.  TPK, end of game, thank you come again.

Ark had fond memories, though, and waxed romantic of the joys of the game, and our friend Kaye was taken in, announcing that he wanted to play the game, and sooner rather than later.  Merwyn chimed in that he was down as well, so plans were made for this afternoon to get together for a quick game of Twilight 2000.

As I said, I didn't remember much of the game, but it didn't take too long for it all to start coming back.  For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, T2000 is a realistic RPG.  They drilled character creation down to a science, in such a way that all of your stats feed into other stats, which you plug into equations, which tell you what your other stats are, which are used as the basis for another equation which tells you how many skills you have, and so on and so forth.  About ten minutes in, I made the realization that the game must have been designed by an accountant, because the character creation process is essentially your tax forms in RPG format - Take Line A, divide by Line B and multiply by 100, placing the result in Line F.  If Line F is more than 100, skip lines G through L, and take the sum of Line F and Line B and put that in Line G2.  You get the point.  Encumbrance?  Check.  Counting bullets?  Check.  Counting out liters of gasoline?  Check.  You name it, it's there.  As Ark said, it's a doomsday prepper's wet dream.

So finally we had our characters.  I was playing a 5'2 120 lbs fiesty Irishman named Mickey O'Reilly, an infantryman who specialized in Heavy Weapons and driving.  Unfortunately, the weapon he used and the ammo required weighed more than he could carry, so he stashed most of it in the 8 ton military vehicle that he found himself driving, with Kaye's Native American Mechanic (with a bow and arrow) riding shotgun.  The Boy and Merwyn (both officers) followed in a smaller vehicle.  All was well for about five minutes, until we ran into the Polish forces.  We tried to run the barricade, and took out five soldiers, just with the truck.  Then they fired back.  Kaye took a bullet in the leg and panicked, forfeiting his action.  I also took a bullet in the leg and was blown out of the drivers seat.  We managed to regain control and sped off, only to run smack dab into a convoy of tanks.  We tried to escape, failed and died.

So it wasn't quite, "You've wandered into a radiation field, you're dead!", but it was damn close.  Twilight 2000 is exactly what it sets out to be - a realistic depiction of a nuclear holocaust, and the people trying to scrounge out a living afterward.  It is a cruel and unforgiving mistress, and it will accept no foolishness.  You make the wrong decision and you're dead.  You make the right decision, and there's a pretty good chance you'll die anyway.

I wish the character creation was a bit less intensive - a game this lethal should encourage throw away characters.  It was still entertaining as hell, and strangely liberating.  We all got into the fatalistic spirit of things almost immediately.  It didn't take long for us to figure out that we were all probably going to die, so to hell with it - go out in a blaze of glory!

Good times.

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