Rappy’s RPG Reviews: d20 Modern Core Rulebook, Part 6 (Finale)

19 Aug
Mage Brandon and Acolyte Lily

Must...not...make...'flaming' joke...

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.

Campaign Slogans: Prelude

The DMCR provides three pre-made campaign concepts (I’m loathe to call any of them campaign settings, as they aren’t really thick enough for that) for you to utilize if you don’t have your own. Sadly, out of the three of these presented, only Urban Arcana got its own sourcebook….of course, that’s a topic we already covered, so let’s look at what is actually provided in this book, rather than go off on that tangent again.

Campaign Slogans: Shadow Chasers

Shadow Chasers is, more or less, an homage to a specific genre of urban fantasy that includes things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (complete with Sunnydale Syndrome, no less) and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. The campaign setting focuses around characters being hunters of the things that go bump in the night, be it with a camera or a blade. The campaign overview covers a look at police and reporters, as well as information on the Fellowship, a secret society that would later go on to be a part of the Urban Arcana campaign sourcebook. There are also three adventure hooks (one involving gold-cursed skeletons, one with territorial and predatory gargoyles, and one involving a devious mummy. There is also a several-page long introductory adventure involving our favorite mindless mooks: zombies. This section also provides two new advanced classes that are not really tied to the campaign so much as something you can use in any supernatural campaign: the sword-swinging Shadow Slayer (both an alliterative and unsubtle reference) and the monster-binding, scroll-crafting Occultist, who can replicate spells but not cast any naturally. Both are lower-key compared to full-on spellcaster classes, but are useful in their own right. All in all, Shadow Chasers is a decent enough campaign setting, but it’s not necessarily a “must have”.

Roxanne Wallace, Strong Hero/Battle Mind.

Roxanne exercises her right to bear arms.

Agents of PSI

Agents of PSI…ugh….Agents of PSI. A great idea, but one that was sadly utterly ignored by Wizards of the Coast. While I personally love magic, I know a lot of people love psionics, and this campaign setting is built entirely upon both psionics and government conspiracy. This campaign idea introduced the research agency PSI, the Illuminati-expy that is “the Enlightened”, the psionic ninjas known as the Silent Walkers, the knowledge-gathering Knightly Order of St. Bartholomew, and the psychotic Mindwreckers, all of which…unsurprisingly…were absorbed into the Urban Arcana campaign sourcebook hive mind when it was printed. The illithids, moreaus, replacements, and an insectoid race known as the puppeteers all factory heavily into the non-human enemy factions of Agents of PSI; in addition, any supernatural monster can be stripped of its magic and used as an “id beast”, a psychic manifestation, if you so wish. Finally, two psionic advanced classes, the defensive Telepath and the offensive Battle Mind, are presented. Agents of PSI is a fun campaign if you like psionics, and it’s a damn shame it never got any more attention beyond this. Alas, such is the way of things, as we’ll learn when we get to the campaign ideas of another Wizards book…

Fighting the gargoyle.

Hey, magic missile can't miss! I call foul!

Urban Arcana

Okay, Urban Arcana‘s sourcebook I already reviewed. I don’t think I really need to go into that much detail about Urban Arcana. So I’ll just cover the two advanced classes the core rulebook provides here. The Mage is like a Wizard, only more varied and less powerful, while the Acolyte is like a Cleric, only…well…less powerful.

It’s Supernatural!

For the most part, d20 Modern doesn’t go too far off the beaten trail for magic and psionic powers, but there are a few exceptions that must be noted. First off, there are less spells overall, and spells only go up to level 5, rather than level 9 like in D&D. This means that magic and psionics are less “overpowered”, as it were, in d20 Modern. Second off, the charm and domination spells are shunted into being psionic powers instead, for whatever reason. Anyway, there are some magic item examples, but they aren’t really that awe-inspiring and we’re running rather long anyway, so let’s just wrap this up.

Final Thoughts

Is the DMCR in and of itself a good book? Yes, I’d certainly say so. Is it a great book? …Eh…it really depends on what you’re looking for. In and of itself, there’s a lot of good stuff and the laying down of new rules, but there are holes that I’ve mentioned that you need to fill with other sourcebooks to fit your needs. This means that, in and of itself, I will give the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook a 8/10; above average, but not utterly awesome without some add-ons to prop it up.

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Posted by on August 19, 2010 in RPG Reviews


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