Rappy’s (Belated) RPG Reviews: Modern System-Gangland

28 Feb

Yes, it’s a day late, and yes, it’s another RPGObjects review…it’s the majority of my collection and I was more sick than usual yesterday, so deal with it. 😛 This time, we’re looking at a tome known as Modern System-Gangland; this will be in the same “break it down” style I used in Wizards and Wiseguys because, again, it’s a shorter book than most I review. Now, I haven’t actually used this book at all. I want to, but I haven’t found a good niche for it in my setting yet (although some ideas have come up that are WIPs). That doesn’t make it any less awesome, and again, Open Game Content abounds! I am nearly tethered to OGC, because of the fact that without it, I’d be doing a hell of a lot more homebrew than any one person should. Totally not lazy, though. Just some people have better ideas than I do that they allow to be reproduced with the Open Game License info added in as a “here, this is where I got this, you get it to” sticker. I don’t mind that. In fact, I love it as a way of citing references. But I digress…on to the actual review!

Advanced Classes

We all saw it comi…wait, no, actually, I didn’t. With a name like Gangland, I wasn’t expecting to have advanced classes so much as a look at crime and punishment in a d20 Modern in general. The advanced classes here focus around the aspects of crime, as to be expected, but have several flavors of such. (Also, I’ll be testing out a new formula for advanced class overview rather than just stuffing them in a paragraph, so don’t freak out that it looks different 😛 )

Bad Cop: The Bad Cop is an advanced class that doesn’t give a damn about rules and regulations; no, he’s going to lay a smackdown on crime whether the Feds like it or not. If you’re playing a Bad Cop, you’re going to have a fairly high hit point pool with a 1d10 roll rate, a sneak attack-like damage boost called Beat Down that has the bonus of psychologically messing with those that view it (Will save to avoid being shaken), a reputation boost around criminals and law enforcement (albeit an infamous one), and contacts gained via intimidation. Overall, I’d judge this as a solid and brutal class for a cop that wants to work outside the law and focus on melee combat and intimidation.

Banger: The seedy underworld’s answer to the Bad Cop, the Banger is the criminal brute. What a character gets from taking Banger is a Reputation bonus to Charisma-based skill checks on home turf, contraband sales, and rank-based bonuses that end in the ability called Ganglord. An average (1d8) hit die adds to the appeal of this class for someone who wants to be the ruler of the roost and gain a good dose of bonuses in his own area.

Good Cop: The Good Cop is, as expected, the polar opposite of the Bad Cop. If you’re a Good Cop, you’re gaining a Charisma bonus to defense, befriending people on the street for contacts, skill bonuses based on befriending rather than intimidating, an undercover persona, and the ability to transfer your Charisma bonus to Defense to an ally to shield them. While the Good Cop doesn’t have as big a hit die as the Bad Cop (1d8 as opposed to 1d10), it does get more skill points as compensation and balance. I think it works out well. Choose this advanced class if you’re one who wants to use words rather than fists to get the job done right.

Hitman: The Hitman is the guy who’s called in to do the dirty work when a criminal doesn’t want to do it themself. A Hitman gains bonuses geared toward an individual target as well as a sneak attack-like ability progression against them. Like the Bad Cop, a Hitman sacrifices skill points (3 per level plus Intelligence modifier) for hit die (1d10 die). This advanced class is for those who want to make a name for themselves one target at a time.

Mob Boss: The Mob Boss advanced class is for those who are reaching for the top rung of the criminal ladder. With contacts gained under a price (namely the price of making that contact hostile towards you), rank bonuses, henchmen, avendetta ability geared toward an opposing criminal group, and a high skill point bonus, the Mob Boss is best suited for those who want to have plenty of lackeys and their hands in all the major enterprises.

Vigilante: The Vigilante is an advanced class you’ll probably be taking if you want to emulate Batman…just kidding, just kidding, I know players aren’t usually that shallow-minded. Taking this class will be giving you bonuses to damage and skills against criminals, Frightful Presence against criminals (even if you don’t meet the prerequisites for the feat), and a double-sided ability called Urban Legend (in which Low Profile’s feat benefits are used with the general public and police, while Renown is used with criminals). The 1d10 hit die and decent 5 skill points per level don’t hurt either. If you want to be the hidden enforcer of justice in the shadows of the city, this is definitely for you.

Yakuza: This is essentially a martial arts-capable Japanese version of the Mob Boss. This one should be chosen more for flavor than strictly game rules.

Advanced Occupations

“Advanced occupations” are essentially feats that work like minor occupations, granting bonuses to certain skills. The advanced occupation feats here require having either the Criminal occupation or a new feat called Criminal Record. I will say that I love Criminal Record. It’s a feat that divorces crime from being strictly owned by the Criminal occupation, which is a good thing. Anyway, the advanced occupations are fairly well done, and range from hands-off crime such as Fixer and Wheelman to more involved crime-related feats such as Arsonist, Cat Burglar, and Safecracker. There are 10 in total, and they give you a general idea of what you could do to create some of your own.

What Else is There?

The book provides a nice rundown of criminal investigations and how various skills, from Diplomacy to Knowledge skills of different types, function in such an event. There’s also a campaign model called the Precinct, but you know that I don’t do campaign model overviews (usually).

The Art

The art is, as usual, crisp and clean black and white images. Really, can I say anything bad about RPGObjects art at this point? (Psst, the answer is “nope”).

Final Thoughts

This is a great book if you want to have a CSI or cops and robbers style campaign. It works even better if you have Modern System-Police Procedural as a supplementary item for it (which I might review in a mini-review set some time). I did notice there was a slight error in the Open Game License, listing the fiction as open content when it is presumeably closed content like every other RPGObjects item, but that might have been fixed in the time since I bought it, so it’s no big deal. So, all in all, not too thinly focused, good crunch, top notch. 10/10.

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Posted by on February 28, 2009 in RPG Reviews


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