Rappy’s RPG Reviews: d20 Modern Core Rulebook, Part 5

18 Aug

NOTICE: All art on this page is from Wizards of the Coast, and is thus copyright of its appropriate authors. It is shown here via the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game Art Gallery as reference only.

Welcome to Hel

This is usually the first sign that your Gamemaster wants you to die.

Gamemaster’s Guide

Since I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard the standard GM/DM/Rolemaster/etc.”how to run a campaign” shtick before, I’ll be focusing on game-applicable items in the Gamemaster’s chapter. What I’m happy to see:

  • A dollars-to-Purchase DC conversion chart, which is useful for anyone unfamiliar with the system, obviously.
  • Thelist of diseases; while brief (only 6 entries), has diseases that are, rather than arcane or obscure, either relatively common or have names with “star power”: Pneumonia, hantavirus, necrotizing faciitis/gangrene, West Nile virus, salmonella, and the infamous anthrax.
  • A list of how much services libraries, hospitals, and crime labs can give characters by population level.
  • Electricity hazards, from mere car battery jolts to power line blasts and lightning. This is definitely useful in the electrically-charged world of the modern day.

And, of course, to balance it out, here are some things I’m not happy are missing:

  • Rules for wilderness environments. While the basics such as light, heat and cold, starvation and thirst, drowning, and the like are present, there is nothing on altitude, trees and brush cover, or similar things.
  • More complex building-craft rules, with things like elevators, escalators, walkways, etc. Surely they could have cut out some of the same old same old “don’t be a prick to your players” stuff in favor of this, right?

Obviously, there’s less bad than good, which is…good in and of itself, I guess.

'Flayer Father Ted

I think this one speaks for itself, really.

A Monstrous Menagerie

Oh yes, y’all know I love my bestiaries. Sadly, this is one of the lower points of the book, and I’ll tell you why in a sec. First off, I’ll take a note that while creatures are mostly the same as in any d20 source (with the exception of having allegiance and Massive Damage Threshold factored in), creatures of the Animal type in d20 Modern don’t get any feats by hit die progression for some reason. This is a rather odd choice, since animals still have an Intelligence score and all. Anyway, let’s look at what we’ve got here…

The Good: Well, we have over 50 creatures, which is great for a core rulebook. There are also some interesting new monsters such as the monstrous flytrap that is such a staple for Lost World settings, the aptly-named Moreaus (one of d20 Modern’s only additions to Product Identity…although I’m not sure why they felt creatures called Moreaus, of all things, were worthy of Product Identity status), and the malicious tooth fairy, a fey you don’t want to get anywhere near your mouth.

The Bad: While rather subjective (I don’t really mind myself, but your mileage may vary), some may find it bad that a lot of the monsters are D&D migrants such as bugbears, gnolls (gnoll pimps, no less), and the Product Identity cash cows that are the displacer beast, mindflayer, and Yuan-ti. Similarly, some might be disappointed that there are only five templates, and out of those only one is modern-specific; that template is the vat-grown clone Replacement template, which stands uniquely amidst the old template standards of the werewolf, vampire, skeleton, and zombie.


The Gordon's Fisherman looks a

The Ugly: The creeping in of the alignment system. How did it get in through the back door and give us creatures with such notes as “Allegiance: Evil, chaos”? This rather diminishes the point of allegiance, which seems to try and move away from the alignment system.


The Supporting Characters section gives the stats for specific archetypes with Ordinary classes at 2nd, 6th, and 10th levels. The book provides NPC stats for the three aforementioned levels for a bounty hunter (Strong/Fast Ordinary), thug (Strong/Tough Ordinary), mechanic (Strong/Smart Ordinary), police officer (Strong/Dedicated Ordinary), gang leader (Strong/Charismatic Ordinary, gang member (Fast/Tough Ordinary), criminal of indeterminate type (Fast/Smart Ordinary), taxi driver (Fast/Dedicated Ordinary), dilettante (Fast/Charismatic Ordinary), terrorist (Tough/Smart Ordinary), private eye (Tough Ordinary/Dedicated Ordinary), drug dealer (Tough/Charismatic Ordinary), crime lab technician (Smart/Dediated Ordinary), politician (Smart/Charismatic Ordinary), and reporter (Dedicated/Charsismatic Ordinary).

Suffice to say, while not exactly awe-inspiring, these are all useful and typical archetypes that can get some use out of them.


Next time: we finish this up!

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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in RPG Reviews


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