Even though my books haven’t shipped yet, I’ve had several opportunities to get Free League’s Twilight: 2000 to the table. I played in a short online campaign GMed by my friend MadJay, and I ran sandbox-style for my home group. Both times we embraced (and enjoyed) 4th Edition’s new life path character generation.
I noticed, though, that when were making characters it was easy to get lost in the process. As we joked around, chatted, and made suggestions to each other, I’d look down at my notepad and think–where am I? Did I make that aging roll yet? When did I advance my Survival skill… was that this term or last term?
And then I thought… wouldn’t it be nice to have a worksheet to help track this? Not being the type to wait around, I decided to create one myself. And here it is, the Twilight: 2000 (4E) Character Creation Worksheet.
I won’t claim it’s perfect; for starters the PDF isn’t form-fillable. But I have used it enough to find the mistakes and correct them accordingly. It works really well for me, and I hope it’ll help you, too.
As a lonely fun assignment, I’m going to use it to make a 4th Edition character loosely based on my wife, who’s currently a professor of Theatre. To follow along, print out your own copy of the worksheet (or load it into your preferred PDF reader) and keep the life path generation rules handy. (Twilight: 2000 Players Manual, pg. 31)
Begin at the Beginning
The first 4 steps of the life path process are covered in the worksheet box labeled, appropriately enough, Beginnings.
After picking a nationality (American) we move to generating starting Attribute points. In our case the total is 4. That’s good for 4 possible Attribute increases. As per the rules, all attributes start at C. The real Deanna is very smart, so 2 upgrades of her INT get her to A, with a couple of other points to spread around. In the end I choose to go with STR B; AGL C; INT A; EMP B. The advances tend to slowly leak away during character creation, so I’m not concerned that these scores seem high.
Next we come to Childhood. Right out of the gate I’m going to be my own generous Referee. Instead of rolling randomly, I’ll choose the skill and speciality for Deanna. After all we are trying (somewhat) to model a real person here, and I want to see what her life looks like through the lens of Twilight: 2000.
I pick the Working Class background (close enough since she comes from a big family with working parents). I choose the skill Stamina because her family did a lot of hiking when she was growing up, and Builder as her speciality. (She was a Tech Theatre kid.)
Takin’ Care of Business
Next we enter the cycle of Deanna’s working life. (When you’re using the life path, this involves repeating steps 5 through 9 until The War starts.) I’ll do my best to model the actual choices Deanna made to see how those play out in the system. In Term #1 she goes to a Liberal Arts college. Not a lot of juicy skill choices here (just Persuasion) so I bring that in as a new Skill at D, and add on to Stamina, which you’re allowed to do in any career. (She’s still working in the scene shop and hauling lighting cables.) I use Stamina (now at level C) for her promotion roll, and boom, Success. I’m grabbing the Cook speciality, thanks to her family’s focus on making food from scratch. It doesn’t make a ton of sense as part of this Term, but it allows me to fill a gap in her backstory.
Up next is the box helpfully labeled At the End of Each Term. Tick off the boxes as you make each roll. (It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of these rolls!) Deanna ages 4 years in college (perfect!). Deanna can’t get any “senility” effects on her first Term, and the same is true of the War roll. I check these boxes anyway to keep my place.
After school (in Term #2) Deanna ends up being a Union Stagehand for a few years. So we move to the Blue Collar: Builder career. I double advance the Tech skill, taking it up to Tech C. She’s promoted again(!) and I allow myself to choose the Electrician specialty.
She ages 3 years and her CUF (Coolness Under Fire) stays the same at D. (Spoiler Alert: that CUF score is not going anywhere.) She blows the senility roll and I move her Empathy down to C. She was working in Chicago after all. And I actually blow her War roll as well! (But for the purposes of this example, let’s give her a mulligan.)
Weary of the long hours in the IATSE world, Deanna decides to go back school for a graduate degree. She’s looking to focus on her set design career. So, Term #3 sees her back in Education: Liberal Arts. In real life this was a 3 year marathon, so I’ll add another bump to Stamina, now B; and take Persuasion to C. She’s promoted again, and I give her Counselor. (The gang in the grad program helped each other through those tough all night design sessions.)
After her degree she enters the world as a freelance Set Designer/Builder. Even though she’d prefer to focus on the design aspect, she ends up having to build what she conceives! For my money this is an artsy form of Blue Collar: Builder for Term #4. I advance Tech to B and start Driver at D. (But she gets no promotion even though she’s rocking a d12/d10 combo.)
Term #5 sees her get a teaching opportunity; she suddenly finds herself an adjunct assistant professor at a small university. To mirror this, we head to White Collar: Professor. I see, quite by accident, that I’ve put her in position for this career by getting her two terms in Education. (It’s cool that the life path models this so well.)
Over Terms #5 and #6 she moves up the academic ladder until she has tenure and starts chairing her department.
By the time war breaks out she’s got the Teacher speciality along with Psy Ops. (How else do you get your way in those department meetings!) But unfortunately her stats have decreased significantly as well (STR C; AGL C; INT A; EMP D). If you’re playing along at home, that’s how 3 failed senility rolls ravage your character.
Deanna is now a 45-year-old theatre professor, and is shocked when WWIII breaks out.
Perhaps an ill-timed visit to the Prague Quadrennial finds her in Eastern Europe just as the Cold War goes hot. With little choice she picks up an assault rifle and vows to get back home to her husband and son… someday.
War, What is it Good For?
Apparently two skill advances and a speciality!
During the At War term Deanna is drafted (Players Manual, pg. 39). She doesn’t already have Ranged Combat so she must take that at D as one of her two skills advances. Looking at her pre-existing skills and putting on my What Would Deanna Do? cap, I decide that she boosts her Tech to A. The combat support services/fix-it role would suit her, and with her administrative acumen, she’ll be running the motor pool in no time. In that spirit I pick up Quartermaster for her final specialty. (Bonus points if you caught me cheating there at the end… Quartermaster doesn’t appear on the White Collar list.)
Here’s what the completed worksheet looks like…
And here are the final totals to transfer to Deanna’s character sheet…
Age: 45; CUF: D
Skills: Driving (C); Mobility (D); Persuasion (A); Ranged Combat (D); Stamina (B); Tech (A).
Specialties: Builder, Cook, Counselor, Electrician, Psy Ops, Quartermaster, Teacher.
We’re not done with Deanna just yet… There’s still equipment to record, starting Rads (yeah!), and a few other things, but we’ve gotten down all the fiddly bits. The other life path steps are easy to put directly on her character sheet.
As I look over Twilight Deanna, I’m already thinking, this is not bad, not bad at all. If we can keep her alive long enough to pick up some Survival and Recon, along with Heavy Weapons to leverage how the artillery rules work, then she might just make it home after all.
If I had more time I’d make the worksheet prettier, or figure out the form-fillable part, but I’m trying to talk back to my perfectionism these days. If you are moved to do something amazing with this, then please let me know, and I’ll make sure to check out your thing.
And if you feel like what I’ve done is useful, please link back here.
Thanks, and watch this space if you like Free League Twilight: 2000 content. I’m digging in to the system, and I’ve got more pieces coming.
Next time I’ll take a deep dive into T:2000 life path generation, and discuss my two approaches to building skills, the Escalator and the Leap.
‘Til then keep your heads down and your safeties on.
Acknowledgements: This post formatted under the influence of Spacemen 3’s Dreamweapon. Nice lady with M-16 image is copyright Free League Publishing. Proofreading, as always, by Deanna.
4 thoughts on “Keeping your S*** Together: A Character Generation Worksheet for Free League’s Twilight: 2000 RPG.”
My group tried your worksheet this weekend, at our annual “still playing RPGs in our 40s” retreat in a remote cabin. It worked well for us. BTW, rolling for all the careers and stuff was a nice throwback and netted us some nice PCs.
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Glad it was of use. I hope you keep your cabin tradition going… no reason to stop playing now!
This looks very cool. Do you have a Form Fill version available?
I need to figure out how to do that!