Coolness Under Fire and Initiative (Twilight: 2000 4th Edition House Rules)

It should come as no surprise by now that the tinkering with rules continues in my Kaserne on the Borderlands campaign.

Improving Coolness Under Fire

I’m not a fan of the rules as written because of the chance to lose Empathy on increasing CUF. As there’s no way to improve attributes during play, that’s a permanent hit to any EMP-reliant character. We’re currently assessing the effects of the following house rule:

At the end of each session, roll your base Coolness Under Fire die.

If the die comes up its maximum value and you were in combat during that session, increase your CUF by one step, to a maximum of A (d12).

If the die comes up a natural 1 and you took a critical hit or were incapacitated from stress during that session, decrease your CUF by 1, to a minimum of D (d6).


I’m definitely not a fan of a random initiative system that doesn’t reflect character proficiency (leaving aside the poorly-named Combat Awareness specialty). Our current initiative system, which we’ve been using since the first session, is:

At the beginning of each round, each player rolls Coolness Under Fire (adding Unit Morale if the PC is within voice or visual contact of a teammate). With success, they act in the fast phase, before all NPCs. With failure, they act in the slow phase, after all NPCs. Characters in each phase may act in any sequence and players may (briefly) discuss tactics and order of operations before declaring actions.

As a play aid, I’ll watch the dice log and drop a brief summary of the rolls into the chat. A typical turn sequence may look like:

  1. Fast phase: Red, Leks, Magda, Arkadi, Pettimore (in any order)
  2. NPCs
  3. Slow phase: Minka, Zenobia, Miko (in any order)

This incentivizes keeping the team close (no lone-wolfing), rewards both individual proficiency (Coolness Under Fire) and team cohesion (Unit Morale), and allows the sort of coordinated action that we see in both documentary and cinematic examinations of small unit tactics.