As “homework” in preparation for our Twilight 2000 campaign beginning the module Armies of the Night, the movie Escape From New York is a must-see.

We saw it last night. The boys were – as always – skeptical about papa’s old movies. But they were quickly engaged and loved the dark adventure movie. Anti-hero Snake Plissken was a favorite.

snake plissken

Escape From New York (1981) is set in 1997. Uncontrollable crime led to the island of Manhattan being walled off and converted into a maximum security prison back in 1988. The President’s plane goes down, and Snake Plissken is shanghaied into recovering the nation’s leader from the forsaken city.

Some pics of the Escape From New York boardgame by TSR at the end of post.

Armies of the Night (1986) takes some cues from the movie, while being it’s own story.

Armies of the Night and Escape From New York


The Steelbook Blu-Ray

Steelbook blu-ray case front back

I’m a sucker for cool packaging, so I picked up the Steelbook Blu-Ray edition of Escape From New York. Other than the art and metal packaging, I believe it’s the same as the other special edition sets that have the deleted scenes. It’s out of print now, but I found it on eBay for $28.


Similarities and Differences

Glider and World Trade Center

The World Trade Center is a star of the movie for sure. Snake Plissken must land his glider on the top of one of the towers to enter the city unseen. This won’t happen in the module. It’s technically possible as the naval base at Cape May NJ is noted as having light aircraft, and a ref could hand-wave a glider.

But, as I’ll get into shortly, the situation in NYC is different in Twilight 2000, making a solo incursion impractical. The World Trade Center, however, does figure into the adventure in Armies of the Night. Since Twilight 2000 predates 9/11, those magnificent skyscrapers are still there!



Snake Plissken is equipped with a number of devices. Radio, countdown timer (he has less than 24 hours), location tracker… But the most iconic is his Ingram M10 SMG with suppressor. Here’s a great webpage that goes into the movie’s weapons.



The Duke of New York (“A-Number One.” – here with that Ingram!) runs the prison city… mostly. You’ll note in the movie when Plissken and the others take Broadway (“What’s wrong with Broadway?”), the Duke is delayed, because there are places even the Duke won’t go.

The Duke in the adventure Armies of the Night (available at DriveThruRPG) is what they call in linguistics a “false cognate”. He shares nothing in common with the movie’s villain, and is just one of several faction leaders.

The primary difference between movie and module’s NYC: In the Manhattan Maximum Security Prison, firearms are mostly absent. Gangs are armed with improvised melee weapons and crossbows. That Plissken carries firearms is noteworthy in the movie.

In Twilight 2000, New York City isn’t a prison, but an abandoned metropolis. The bridges aren’t mined (maybe) and there are no walls on the shorelines across the rivers. Smugglers keep the city’s gangs well-armed. Player Character parties must act likewise.


Frank Doubleday

What is the same in both movie and module is the City itself in its post-apocalyptic neglect and the lawless inhabitants.

There are plenty of sights and sounds to draw from the movie into your T2000 adventure. The world-building in Escape From New York is second-to-none. John Carpenter’s techno music score is electrifying and memorable, and perhaps gameworthy in itself.

I hadn’t seen it in years, and was reminded again why EFNY is one of my favorites.


Escape From New York: The Board Game (1981)

Escape From New York box

Escape From New York box back

TSR (makers of Dungeons & Dragons) released an EFNY boardgame. Some classic TSR artists illustrated the rulebook.

See my reference site for more about the game


Escape From New York art 1
Snake Plissken at the Air Force One wreckage. (Artist: Bill Willingham)


Escape From New York art 2
The Crazies emerging from the sewer. (Artist: Erol Otus)


Dragon 50 - Escape From New York ad
An ad in Dragon Magazine, issue 50 (June 1981)


See also: CITY OF ANGELS: Twilight 2000 adventure in Los Angeles

Metropolis: Mission Briefing