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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
Now, onto d20 Modern itself:
I had first learned of the book in late 2003, but I only glanced at it briefly and brushed it off as "inferior" to D&D.
How wrong I was.
After seeing the d20 Modern website in early 2005, and actually taking the time to examine what the system could handle and replicate, I re-read the Core Rulebook and was thoroughly pleased.
For starters, Modern differs from it's predecessor enough that even veterans of D&D will have some new rules to learn.
Character classes (a representation of experience in a variety of life paths) are not narrowly defined terms such as "Fighter" or "Rogue", but rather, they are based off of the six main attributes all characters have - Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.
The Strong Hero class represents physical training to exert more damage in melee combat, as well as training in athletic pursuits (climbing, jumping, swimming)
The Fast Hero class represents physical training to become more agile and capable of avoiding incoming danger, as well as training in ranged combat and stealthy pursuits (hiding, moving silently, sleight of hand)
The Tough Hero class represents physical training to withstand more punishment from the environment and recovering from injury quickly, as well as training to resist poisons, disease and keeping one's body focused (concentrating)
The Smart Hero class represents mental training to pick up on a wide variety of academic and technical skills to be prepared for any situation that calls for book smarts, as well as training to outsmart one's enemy in combat (crafting, knowledge)
The Dedicated Hero class represents mental training to be in tune with one's surroundings, aware of danger, able to ferret out deception, as well as training to be well versed in a wide variety of pursuits (listening, sensing motive, treating injuries)
The Charismatic Hero class represents mental training to become likeable or frightening to others, and one that movies through social circles with ease, as well as training to command others in conflict (diplomacy, intimidation, gathering information, inspiration)
In addition to the six basic classes above, there are twelve "Advanced Classes" that focus more on one aspect of a character, such as the Soldier class for general combat excellence, or the Field Medic, for the ability to work miracles and heal the mortally wounded.
Each class has ten levels of progression, and each character can achieve up to twenty levels through their journey. Therefore, you will inevitably come to a point where you must take one or more levels in a variety of classes.
For example, a boxer would typically be a Strong Hero / Tough Hero. Or, for one that is speedy and dodges well, they may be a Fast Hero / Strong Hero instead.
Want a scout? A Fast Hero / Dedicated Hero is ideal.
Or are you more of a highly intelligent smooth talker? Smart Hero / Charismatic Hero.
Did your character serve in the Marines, but is now a Detective? Tough Hero / Dedicated Hero / Investigator.
Asides from the classes, there are Occupations such as Academic, Law Enforcement and Technician - sets of permanent skills and a wealth increase, Feats - special abilities any character can eventually learn, and Skills - training anyone can pick up on. Most any character concept you can imagine, you can create.
Equipment - Outfit your character with everything from Desert Eagles, to PSG-1 sniper rifles, to mesh vests, to electrical tool kits and even a BMW M3 to carry all that gear around.
Admittedly there are some problem areas: non-lethal damage (knocking out opponents) is horribly ineffective and not worth it as-is. But with a house-rule (change to the rules as is) or two, you won't have any problems.
Finally, the book itself is well made. The binding is solid, the cover is durable and the pages are of a high quality stock.
All in all, d20 Modern is an extensive and engaging game sure to bring many hours worth of cinematic fun to you and your friends.
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.