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 Future Art Gallery as reference only.
Well, I was planning on returning to the long-neglected review of the Future Player’s Companion trilogy, when I realized…well…there’s no review for d20 Future itself, so those reviews look kind of awkward! Well, I’m here to rectify that now.
The introductory chapter of d20 Future does two things. First off, it notes the function of d20 Future. It’s not a campaign setting, it’s not a sourcebook, it’s a module set. This is not a bad thing; no, it means that you can pick and choose what pieces of this 223-page title you wish to use in your own personal futuristic campaign, be it hard sci-fi, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic, or what have you. Secondly, it provides an overview of Progress Levels. Progress Levels were introduced by the game system Alternity (which also spawned the Dark*Matter campaign setting), and return for d20 Modern consumption via this book. Progress Level 5 is the modern day, the world around us, “the land outside your window”, etc. Progress levels 6 through 9 (Fusion Age, Gravity Age, Energy Age, and “beyond human comprehension”) are covered in this book. I would say that Progress levels 0-4 (Stone Age,Bronze/Iron Age, Middle Ages, Age of Reason, and Industrial Age) were covered in depth, but it’s more like they had some bits and pieces excreted by a certain paperback title. Anyway, enough chitter-chatter, let’s get into the meat.
Characters of the Future
Like any good sourcebook, d20 Future starts out with character options. First off, we have new occupations: Astronaut Trainee, Colonist, Drifter, Gladiator, Heir, Outcast, Scavenger, and Transporter. What is great about these is that none of them are future-specific. Hell, even if you have a game before the modern era you’re still only removing the Astronaut Trainee (or the Transporter if you go pre-Industrial Revolution). The other occupations are classic archetypes; the colonist of a new land, the wandering hero (or villain), the warrior forced to fight for their life, the ostracized wanderer, the collector of things on the fringe of society…you know the drill. Similarly, while most of the new uses of old skills focus on things such as robots and starships, the notes on using Treat Injury on non-humanoids is great for urban fantasy games as well as sci-fi, or even simply as a note for character who is a veterinarian or wants to help an injured animal they’ve come across.
Feats come in several different flavors. First off, you have your universals that don’t really hurt to be in non-futuristic campaigns. For instance, there are Jack of All Trades (which you can only take at higher levels and allows you to use any skill untrained; you still can’t take ranks in an untrained skill, of course, so how useful that is varies), Oathbound, and Urban Tracking. Followed in a close second by utility are the “future-inclined, but not necessarily future-bound) feats, such as the Plus feats (which let you trade a feat for two extra class talents), Nerve Pinch (a la Spock), and Ultra-Immune System. Finally, you have the future-tied feats, most of which either focus on cybernetics or starships. The big exception to this is Planetary Adaptation, a first-level only feat that lets you represent a character that has adapted to a non-standard environment for their kind. All in all, some fun and useful feats.
Ambassador: We’re already off to a good start with a fairly flexible advanced class. Filling in the role of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game‘s Noble or Dungeons and Dragons‘s Aristocrat, the Ambassador advanced class reflects a character with political and social experience. This advanced class grants extra wealth, bonuses to Diplomacy, and diplomatic immunity, amongst other things, and is a solid start for the advanced class.
Dogfighter: The Han Solo or Anakin Skywalker-type of pilot, a rough-and-tough starship ace who has the abilities to hit hard and strike fast, as well as keep their ship together to tell the tale. The Dogfighter is fun, but it’s also one of the few advanced classes that is really limited to a certain genre. If you don’t have players with starships, this advanced class is rather pointless for your game.
Dreadnought: Dreadnoughts are human(oid) heavy artillery, walking tanks of destruction that can take a lickin’ and keep on kickin’. The Deadnought can temporarily exchange points of Defense for Strength, lift weaponry as if they were a size smaller (sort of like D&D’s Powerful Build), and learns to master overruning, knockout attacks, and defensive combat. If you want an archetypical “Tank” character in d20 Modern, this advanced class is for you, especially since it isn’t necessarily tied to the futuristic world.
Engineer: Engineers are like Techies, only with less robots and more expert crafting, as well as repair and sabotage skills. Indeed, I’d say the Engineer is actually more fitting for modern campaigns than the future, and vice versa for the Techie. Huh.
Explorer: This version of the Explorer, unlike the one in d20 Past, is more or less a mixture of D&D Bard and Rogue in a d20 Modern advanced class package. Explorers gain both lore and trap sense, as well as evasive abilities. This is a great advanced class for an Indiana Jones-type.
Field Officer: As the name implies, Field Officers are…well…officers in the field. This advanced class focuses on tactics and coordination, as well as giving Charismatic Heroes a full Base Attack Bonus bite to go with their bark. This is a great advanced class, with its only flaw being that you need Personal Firearms Proficiency to enter it. If that wasn’t true, this advanced class could go all the way back to the great commanders of antiquity. Of course, nothing stops you from replacing that feat prerequisite with a differing one…
Helix Warrior: You gain Darkvision, extra carrying capacity, and some combat bonuses due to genetic engineering…you know, things that monstrous species can get without any DNA tampering. This is decidedly the most average of the advanced classes presented, and I’m not quite sure what archetype it is meant to represent, save for possibly Captain America-style “human peaks”.
Space Monkey: This advanced class is truly as odd as its name implies. An eclectic mix of abilities such as teamwork, dirty fighting, and healing trances. I..honestly can’t figure out what this is supposed to replicate. Anyone who knows of a sci-fi film, TV series, game, or otherwise that has a character that fits this archetype, please tell me.
Swindler: A bit of Han Solo, a bit of Faye Valentine, a bit of grifter and con..the Swindler is your classic scoundrel archetype. They have more than their fair share of luck, and cheat fate at every opportunity they get. This advanced class is good for any game that has a rogue, scoundrel, smuggler, or other character who beats the odds.
Technosavant: Like the Dogfighter, this advanced class is rather limited to certain campaigns. If you don’t have robots, the Technosavant is essentially useless; most of its abilities focus on building and tearing down robots. This would be good in a Terminator-style campaign, but for…a campaign focused around genetic engineering, let’s say…it becomes rather pointless.
Tracer: Focusing on tracking and striking, this advanced class is for characters such as bounty hunters. Good class, but not exactly worthy of much description times.
Xenophile: Xenophiles take the concept of having a “favored species” target and stretch it into an entire advanced class. Don’t worry though, the Xenophile does have some abilities that don’t focus on what creature types they choose to be able to defend, attack, cooperate with, and oppose; for instance, they gain bonuses to any special attack from a species other than their own, and a creature-focused variant of lore. Not the best advanced class in the book, but not the worst, either.