TTRPG Roll 23-21 – Two Zines to Doomsday with Doomsday Soldier (Cepheus Engine, Jeffrey A. Jones, RPG Ramblings, 2020)

The three original Little Black Books of (Classic) Traveller were each digest-sized and no more than 48 pages long. It was incredible then, and still is today, at the amount of adventure that came out of that small package. Recently, I picked up Doomsday Soldier: RPG rules for supporting military-themed adventures in modern apocalypse that comes in two small pdf zines. Truth be told, I didn’t have huge expectations. After all, how much adventure can you find in a 32 and 44 page online zine?

Surprisingly, alot.

Little Tan Book

Dawn of T2K

In November of 1984 I was a senior in high school. I was also one of the first people to buy a then-new roleplaying game (RPG) that hit the shelfs of better gaming stores everywhere. This RPG was different; a product of its time yet timeless. As Game Designers’ Workshop tells the tale:

The 1980’s were a time of apprehension. With the Soviet Union a super-power co-equal with the United States in world affairs, the globe was locked in a Cold War (and had been since the end of World War II): neither side dared escalate their conflict beyond minor border skirmishes and regional wars. Yet each side maintained massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons as deterrents to World War, and with the associated danger that they would someday use them.

It was in this pervasive atmosphere of fear of impending doom that Twilight: 2000 burst on the role-playing scene at Thanksgiving, November 26, 1984. Traditionally, the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period was the highest game sales period of the year, and game publisher GDW worked hard to ensure that their new game would be available by Thanksgiving. To make a strong announcement of the game’s availability, GDW ran three full-color pages in Dragon Magazine; they appeared for November.

The response was gratifying. The initial Twilight: 2000 boxed game print-run of 10,635 was exhausted by March and another print run of 10,000 was ordered for April.

Players’ Guide to the Twilight: 2000 role-playing game system

Twilight: 2000 burst onto the RPG scene less than three months after the fall blockbuster movie Red Dawn hit theaters. To me the two titles have been forever linked. For those of us who grew up in Colorado in the Cold War, Twilight: 2000 was the worse-case scenario while Red Dawn was the guide on how to resist the Red Hordes.

I played the first edition of Twilight: 2000 almost exclusively. This edition used a unique GDW RPG system. When the second edition, using the GDW House System, came out I got a few of the supplements but for the most part I was in a RPG drought in those days (early years of a military career and family does that to you) and didn’t play T2K for many years. In 2022, I finally bought into Twilight: 2000 (4th Edition) by Free League Publishing that uses a variation of their Year Zero Engine. T2K 4e is a tome with two rule books coming in at roughly 270 pages of rules.

Two little zines to Doomsday

Doomsday Soldier comes in two zines—small pdf books—available from DriveThruRPG. The first book, DS 01-01 Doomsday Soldier: Character Creation, is 32 pages long and retails for $1. The second book, DS-02 Doomsday Soldier: Personal Combat Rules, is 44 pages and is nearly double the price at $1.99.

Doomsday Soldier uses what I call a “light” version of Cepheus Engine. If you are familiar with Classic or Mongoose Traveller or other Cepheus Engine products character creation should be easy and somewhat familiar. I say “somewhat” because there are some differences:

Characteristics. Instead of the classic Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, Social in Doomsday Soldier you have Physique, Dexterity, Willpower, Knowledge, Rapport, and Presence.

Career. All characters in Doomsday Soldier are “In the Army”—there is no other career option.

Skills. No career tables here! Characters get a number of background skills at Level 0 equal to 3+ the Knowledge modifier. Service skills are picked by the player (6 at Level 0) with two skill levels to be added as the player sees fit.

Skill Checks. Doomsday Soldier uses the standard skill roll of 2d6 plus modifiers versus a target of 8+. the Referee may assign a difficulty modifier as appropriate. A circumstance modifier is also encouraged. The result of the skill roll is subject to “Effect” which represents the degree of success…or failure.

Combat. Doomsday Solider uses the standard 6-second combat round and the major+minor actions routine.

Armor. Straight reduction to damage.

Book 2 for Doomsday Soldier is a more detailed look at Personal and Vehicle combat.

Doomsday Soldier Book 2

What Doomsday Soldier “lacks” are rules for creating your own vehicles or other worldbuilding minigames. Then again, there are a few modern Cepheus Engine products already out there (like Modern War from Zozer Games) that finding material should be easy. As a matter of fact, Modern War has a FREE conversion guide to take any modern firearm found on Wikipedia and “convert” it for use in a Cepheus Engine game.

Zozer Games

Working on Doomsday

Doomsday Soldier is, in effect, an adventure wargame. Take light RPG elements (some character generation in this case) and mix it with skirmish combat rules and you get a game for playing set-piece battles using somewhat generic soldiers with a touch of “personality.” If you want to make Doomsday Soldier into a campaign then the inner Referee in all of us needs to step up and do some research and worldbuilding.

Feature image courtesy

The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and are presented in a personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Navy or any other U.S government Department, Agency, Office, or employer. © 2007-2023 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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