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d20 Modern Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook Hardcover – November 1, 2002
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About the Author
Jeff Grubb is an award-winning game designer whose recent credits include Manual of the Planes and Enemies and Allies for D&D and the Ice Age Cycle novels, which are set in the Magic: The Gathering (r) universe.
Rich Redman is a member of R&D at Wizards of the Coast whose recent credits include Deities and Demigods, Defenders of the Faith, and the Monster Manual II.
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Top customer reviews
It does a good job of keeping the weaponry balanced, and allowing tactics that are used modern-day (dropping prone, darting from cover to cover, et cetera) to be used with realistic efficiency, which I find satisfing.
However, the fact that the Player's Handbook, DM's Guide, and Monster Manual are all compressed into one book means that naturaly some depth had to be sacrificed. Its combat section, while it covers most key points, has only breif mention of many rules. This came up once in a session, and I ended up having to make an ad hoc ruling because I couldn't find the rule. This was a combination of a confusing index which isn't as thorough as those in the traditional D&D books and the sometimes as short as two-line mentions of a rule that can be crucial in a firefight. The only other issue is that the GM's (Game Master, as opposed to Dungeon Master in the tradittional D&D game) guide doesn't specify what to do with characters over 20th level. This is an example of where you'd need a fair traditional D&D base to know what to do, and even then you still have to make a fair number of ad hoc rulings to keep the game balanced and going.
However, these are perhaps the only shortcoming I can name. Its advanced class system (A quicker version of "presteige classes") is very fun, and its action point system (In wich you are allocated a set number of "action points" per level, and can one to increase the results of a d20 roll) adds something interesting to the mix. The modern skills temper all of the above by letting the players do things in as roundabout or direct of a way as they wish, which is something we all find entertaining.
In short, I would say that while it leaves some to be desired, the d20 Modern Role Playing Game book is a good buy for a D&D fan who always wanted to roam around fighting crime or evil, stealing just for the heck of it, enganging in high-stakes industrial espianouge, or otherwise have a heck of a time doing things you could never get away with in real life.
Then Wizards of the Coast decided to make a generic game to compete with the likes of GURPS and Hero System. To say that I was skeptical is, at best, an understatement. I think I may have used some rude language, and for that I appologize to the folks at Wizards. d20 modern proves me wrong in all the right ways.
The system starts off with some generic classes that don't really have much life to them. After level 3, however, characters start to branch out into "advanced classes," which are essentially de-fantasied D&D classes like fighter and monk with some new entries like scientist and personality. So far so good... it's a mildy workable class-based system. Now, thow in the typical d20 feats and skills to make it a lot more personalized and a bit more GURPS-like. This makes it a very workable generic system.
But d20 modern does more. It adds in a Wealth System that abstracts the purchase of gear. At first, I was turned off by this because it "required" rolling for gear, which doesn't make any sense to me. However, in reading further, I was reminded that you never have to roll for a skill or other non-combat check in d20 as long as you're not rushed or working under adverse conditions. You can always "take 10" or (for the cost of more time) "take 20". This makes the Wealth System a joy. It's a nice simple way to handle wealth in a complex economy without worrying about how much interest your credit cards charge or what the mortgage rate on your house is.
There's also a set of "talents" which are like D&D class special abilities, but they're in modular sets that you can choose from during your early "generic" levels. These are very nice, and let you further customize classes to taste.
The Urban Arcana and other paranormal add-ons are great, and there are whole books dedicated to them. I'm a big fan of the way they brought the fantasy elements into the system without dwelling overly much on a particular setting in the core book.
If I had to list one copmplaint, it would be the number of things in the book that are off-putting to people who are just coming up to speed (but make sense in the long run). This certainly makes it harder to win converts among the typical gaming crowd.
One word of warning: be careful about books that claim to be d20, and are set in the modern day. Some aren't d20 modern, and they're not always nearly as good a d20-based system as this.
If you have a group of players itching for a modern-day or early 20th-century game, I recommend d20 modern with two thumbs up and only minor reservations about the salesemanship factor.