It’s late, I know, but I had a bit of a rough day, ‘kay? Today we’ll be looking at Modern Organizations-Crime and Punishment, by the Game Mechanics! This is another one of those books not actually grouped into chapters, so I’ll overview each organization presented, as well as the Open Game Content boxes. Yes..boxes. Most of this stuff is closed content, save for some new rules in green-shaded boxes. This means that the overviews in this review will be short and sweet. Enough dawdling, though, let’s dig in!
The Dimitriano Group
The Dimitriano Group is a financial empire, the big fish in the pond. They also happen to dabble in crime on the side…although the police aren’t able to get them pinned down as connected to it. The group’s main face, “Big Solly D” Dimitriano, is an 11th-level Tough/Smart hero with a knack for business and intimidation. The two OGL items for the organization are both feats; one (called On the Take) gives you a Wealth bonus at the cost of being under the beck and call of the briber, and the other (Hired Help) allows the briber to milk even more favors from the poor sap that took the On the Take feat. These feats add good flavor to the game, definitely.
The Dwyer Commission
This group is a specialist team of law enforcement meant to take on the BIG problems..be that huge gang wars, supernatural threats to security, etc. Their leader, Captain Dwyer, is a 15th level Fast Hero/Smart Hero/Investigator whose claim to fame is being a skilled tactician. The new game rules here are “Dynamic Action Points”. Now, this variant rules changes a part of the core rules; in core d20 Modern, once you spend an action point, it’s crumbled into dust. This variant rules that you get another action point that fills the spot of the used one if you either: A) succeed a 6 on a 1d6 roll or B) Do something over the top heroic. I might allow this in some settings, but it seems more relegated to heroic action style than grittier games, so you need to be careful before adding this variant.
The Felt Flophouse
As the name implies, the Felt Flophouse is…actually, no, it’s not what you’d think. It’s a casino in a highrise that hosts gambling events to those who know the secret to getting into the supposedly non-existant floor. The cash that has to be put on these tables is fairly high, so it’s mostly for those well-to-do people. The main man of the flophouse, Jimmy Arturo, is a 6th level straight-up Dedicated Hero, not exactly as exciting or high-level as the others surprisingly. The variant rule present here is a fourth saving throw type, the Luck Save. This save can be thrown out by GMs that want to use the rule for games of chance, skills such as Gamble, and events such as “blue wire, no red wire, DEFUSE THE BOMB!!” There are also three feats presented: Born Under a Bad Moon (-2 to Luck at the exchange of +2 to Fortitude, Reflex, or Will), Born Under a Good Star (the reverse), and Press Your Luck (you can use a Luck save in place of a Fortitude, Reflex, or Will save at the cost of an action point). I really don’t like the idea of a Luck roll, but eh, it’s there for those that want it.
The House of Dusk
This organization is the classic assassin’s guild of fantasy, given a modern form. Their NPC is a 10th-level Fast Hero/Unseen Hand..which brings us to our material! The big OGL content here is a new advanced class called the Unseen Hand. This advanced class entirely revolves around gaining sneak attack as well as feinting abilities. It also notes that with the d20 Modern Rules, the Dungeons and Dragons sneak attack doesn’t quite work right….so they handily provide us fixes for those issues here, in case you want to convert, say, the Rogue, into an advanced class.
Hyung, A’Donna & McCormick
This is your crime persecution cog for this tome. These are the legal tycoons who can get your heroes out of a jam…or oppose them miserably. The new rules here are three feats that represent a character being “in” with the law; they aren’t law enforcement, but they have gotten friends in high places and can use that as weight on their side during activities that might attract a bit too much fo the law’s attention.
The Lords of Agony
The Lords of Agony started out as a social club dedicated to martial prowess, but eventually devolved into a fight club that organizes big street brawls. Various gangs compete to see who gets the bloodiest first. The rules here are for creature groups being turned into mobs, which are essentially upscaled swarms.
Shield of Justice
The Shield of Justice is a neighborhood watch-turned-vigilante organization. No, seriously. That’s what they are. Their main character is a 6th-level Fast Hero/Gunslinger named Ray Ensino. The new material here is a feat (and an advanced version of seat feat) called Firepower, which lets you, on your attack, subtract a number from your ranged attack bonus and apply it to your ranged damage bonus; this means you are less likely to strike your smaller target (a specific weak point), but if you hit, it will be nasty. It cannot be used in the same round as Power Attack, for obvious reasons.
The art is awesome grayscale imagery of the major NPCs, nice and clean at that. My favorite is the Lords of Agony image of a big street brawl between thugs in heaps of old trashed cars.
This book is living proof that you can mix Closed and Open Game Content and still have a good book…a lesson Wizards of the Coast never really learned. I’ll be honest that this book has problems, like the fact that the Luck rules are downright unusual since luck bonuses to the three actual saves exist in core, but overall it’s solid like most of the Game Mechanics books out there. 9/10.