The Skills to do the Job, and the Feats to do it Right
While there were decent occupations and aliens and good talent trees, this section is where Tomorrow’s Foundation truly comes into its own. D20 Future‘s look at skills was rather limited, covering the bases of starship computers and astrogating, treating injuries of species from a creature type other than your own, disabling and repairing robots, and understanding unfamiliar technology. Here, we get the much-needed rules for using Climb and Tumble in the void of space, as we as skill uses for reprogramming robots, complex jetpack use, and comprehending alien technology. In addition, there are a few skills that apply to non-futuristic campaigns as well, which always puts a smile on my face; really, why weren’t there rules on sabotage and falsifying manufacturing notes in a modern book? The biggest note is a completely new skill (rather than simply a new skill use): Craft (Biological). This skill is the one used to create things that were not meant to be, from test tube babies to mutants and wetware. My only complaint here is that it notes that you’ll need Future Player’s Companion: Tomorrow’s Hero for specific DCs for using Craft (Biological). Unless you got the three-title set on sale like I did a few years back, this is a somewhat tall order in the current economy.
As for feats, well…suffice to say, there’s plenty of bases cover. Want an old serial-style alien or mechanical sidekick? Take Alien Cohort or Robotic Companion, of course! Want to create strange and wonderous technology? Craft Nanotech, Gene Therapist, Mecha Engineer, or Powered Armor Engineer. There are also plenty of feats that either grant or augment mutations and cybernetics; for instance, with the Gene Spliced feat, you get a free mutation tied to a specific animal you’ve had your DNA mixed with. There are also some wildcards like Jetpack Flare (the ability to use a jetpack as a weapon and a means of transport at the same time), Evolved Organ (one of your organs functions beyond that of a standard member of your species), and Trigger Latent Mutation (which allows you to have a mutation that is dormant and can be activated, rather than constantly activated). All in all a lot of fun stuff in this section. It doesn’t hurt that the feats Timewalker and Tinkerer can be combined to make a good facsimile of the Doctor’s abilities, which gives my Dr. Who fangirl side a tickle.
Combo Class Concepts
Class combinations: now here’s something really interesting. Those of you that might have played the d20 Star Wars Roleplaying Game should be familiar with archetypes; the idea of creating a specific “class” concept by taking the base classes you’re given and taking certain feats, skills, and abilities to reflect the concept. The class combos presented here work the same way. Instead of having a class for everything, these archetypes are presented to craft concepts using just the six base classes. Even nicer is that over half of the 17 class combos presented here work just as fine in a modern campaign as a futuristic one; combos such as Aide, Medic, Miner, and Pilot are beautifully easy to plop down in a standard d20 Modern campaign. For fairness, however, I’ll take a look at the specifically futuristic ones to give you an idea of how the class combos work and what you’ll find within.
-Cybertechie: Splitting her 10 given class levels between 7 levels of Smart Hero and 3 of Dedicated Hero, the Cybertechie archetype reflects a technophile that has taken her love of machinery and transformed it into a full-blown profession in crafting and installing cybernetics. The writers recommend that, should you use the Cybertechie archetype, one should start out by focusing on repairing and medical skills and work up to full-on cybernetic building.
-Net Jockey: This archetype spreads his levels evenly; 5 of Smart Hero and 5 of Charismatic. As the name implies, a Net Jockey strives to be the very best at cyber-wizardry, taking all sorts of talents and feats to augment the Computer Use skill. It is worthy of note, however, that things like Low Profile and the Research skill are suggested as being rather helpful too…
-Warbot: 4 levels of Strong and Tough Hero and 2 levels of Fast Hero make this robot a force to be reckoned with. Focusing on both defensive and offensive talents, a warbot has managed to make itself stand out amongst its many assembly line “siblings” as a truly deadly opponent.
-Xenobiologst: While this one could teeechnically be used in a non-futuristic campaign, the Xenobiologist is a bit harder to manipulate. Xenobiologists study alien lifeforms, and dedicated 7 levels of Smart Hero and 3 levels of Dedicated Hero to it. “Wait a second,” I hear you say, “didn’t Cybertechie have that same class layout?” Indeed it did, but that’s the wonderful thing about these archetypes! By taking different talents, skills, and feats, the Xenobiologist becomes her own entity entirely.
What can I say, really? Tomorrow’s Foundation does what it aims to do extremely well, forming a great baseline for what d20 Future left out. At the same time, Tomorrow’s Foundation is just what its title implies….a foundation. The title leaves you thirsting for a bit more, filling out those cracks and brightening up the shadows in the text. As such, it’s probably best not to pick up this title unless you are willing to commit yourself to Tomorrow’s Hero and Tomorrow’s Evolution as well (which will both get their own reviews in the near future). 8/10.