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.
General Gadgets and Gizmos
Before we even get into actual gear, d20 Future provides a new game rule: the gadget system. The gadget system in and of itself a nice idea, providing accessories for equipment customization. There is a problem, however; there is no limit. Sure, gadgets increase the price of an item, thus making them less cost-effective, but you could theoretically create a weapon with almost every weapon gadget in the book (buying it would be a different story, but still). As such, my suggestion is to impose a by-size restriction to how many gadgets a piece of equipment can hold. Anyway, first off are the universal gadgets, which are not limited by Progress Level and could presumably see play even in modern games. There are 18 universal weapon gadgets, only two of which (genetic tags on ammunition to note who fired it and techno-organic “bioweapon” composition) are questionable for modern-era, rather than future-era, play. Some of these weapon gadgets include range-finding scopes, booby traps implanted in the weapon, and alternate weapons such as knives strapped to a gun barrel or underslung grenade launchers on a military rifle.
There are only 6 universal armor gadgets, one of which is a reiteration of the techno-organic makeup. I’d say the most useful of the gadgets presented for armor would be either the integrated equipment or environmental sealing, both of which make for good kitted-out armors. Finally, there are 6 universal general equipment gadgets; the most futuristic of these is the spray-on LCD gadget, which allows any equipment piece with the gadget to function as a computer screen. Even that, however, isn’t that far into the future, but is certainly more of a “future game” set piece.
PL 5 Tech
The technological pieces shown here are “late modern” items; ones that do have precedent right now, but are either still in the development phase or are generally rare. Well…usually. There are two exceptions in the flight suit and helmet (which any jet fighter pilot will have) and the space suit (which any astronaut will have), but the others fit in my previous note. The weapons provided for this section are the OICW rifle, TacMil sniper rifle (a long-range sniper rifle version of the OICW project, which is pure invention on the d20 Future writers’ part…as far as we know 😛 ), and the Falcon .45 (similar to the TacMil, but with a pistol). There are also two grenades; the sonic pulse grenade, which is fairly self-explanatory, and the shrapnel grenade (which is pretty much just a stronger version of the frag grenade as far as game rules go). In addition to the aforementioned flight suit and space suit, there is another armor type in the Land Warrior armor. The flight suit and helmet is light armor, while the space suit and Land Warrior armors are heavy armor.
For general gear, there are various pieces that run the gamut from understandable to odd. On the one hand, you have things that obviously exist already such as the explorer’s outfit and the action movie staple that is the laser tripwire (rather odd those are in d20 Future, rather than the standard d20 Modern rules). On the other, you have oddities like the shepherd chip. The shepherd chip is a microchip ID…this in and of itself isn’t an oddity. What makes it odd is that shepherd chips give their owners information on other shepherd chips through handshakes. …Huh?
PL 6 Tech
Okay, now we’re into full-on future tech. For weapons, there are miniaturized versions of rocket and grenade launchers (a la Boba Fett), the trapping tangler gun, three laser weapons (laser pistol, rifle, and sniper rifle), stun batons, and the high-frequency sword (or vibroblade, for you Star Wars fans out there). PL 6 also has a fairly varied amount of grenades, with EMP, fire-producing (“fireflush”), tangler, and concussion grenades provided. The armor for PL 6 is decidedly less varied; there are three pieces (light combat armor, scout armor, and survival suit), all of which are light armors. General technology in the PL 6 section of the book introduces chemical compounds, which will fill out portions of every Progress Level afterward, as well as a few sci-fi classics including jetpacks and fusion/plasma torches. There are also a few PL 6-specific gadgets: video scope for weapons, self-repairing and prehensile appendage for armors, and HUD software (sensor link, targeting, or vehicle link) and self-repairing tech for general equipment.
PL 7 Tech
PL 7’s weapons gallery gives us the plasma upgrades to PL 6’s laser weapons (oddly enough, there are only plasma pistols and rifles; ah well, poor snipers lose out), as well as gravity well-inducing “gravity snare” pistols, concussion rods and rifles, and the good ol’ rail gun. There are acid “dissolver” grenades, heavy stun grenades, and gravity well “gravitic grenades” as well. In a strange progression of “bigger is better”, PL 7 has no light armors, instead having two medium armors in the medium combat armor and silent suit, as well as our first power armor of the book: the space combat suit. The general equipment of this chapter is rather uninteresting, mostly focusing on the gravity theme as well as adding another new chemical to the mix, a few knick-knacks, and introducing sensors. Finally, the PL 7-specific gadgets provided are the sound suppressor (essentially an uber-silencer) for weapons, chameleonic surfaces for armor, and sound suppressors and yet another piece of HUD software (ammo tracking) for general equipment.
PL 8 Tech
Here’s where the weapons go all-out sci-fi crazy. We have a lightning gun, a disintegrator, a pulse rifle, a cryonic rifle. Hell, it even gives us a lightsaber…. *coughs* sorry, “beam sword”. The grenades are also a little wacky; in addition to a cryonic grenade for the freeze-happy out there, there is a grenade that releases a blast of psionic energy, and one that produces a miniature black hole. There are only two pieces of armor: unisoldier combat armor for heavy, and boost armor for powered. Most of the general equipment for the era focuses on either force fields, holograms, or computer-brain interfaces. The gadgets are teleporting magazines for weapons (for those who want unlimited ammo without magic), boosters for both gravity increase and decrease as well as morphic metal alloy (“flex-metal”) for armor, and yet another HUD software gadget for the general equipment (this time a biosensor).
Alright, so in overview: lots of fantasy staple weapons, fun gadgets, but too many sensors and chemicals, and piss-poor amounts of power armor. I mean, really, why only two suits of power armor? Why even provide a different feat for power armor as opposed to other types of armor if you’re only gonna give two examples? But I digress…
A Dangerous Universe
Alright. So you’ve gotten yourself a class, geared up…what awaits you now? Well, space certainly isn’t a friendly place, so the next chapter focuses on environmental rules, something that was sadly lacking from standard d20 Modern books. First off is a reiteration of the radiation rules, which first appeared in Urban Arcana. Afterwards, you get rules for low-, high-, and “zero”-gravity environments, as well as several atmospheres including thin and thick, corrosive, and vacuum atmospheres. It also details decompression rules, which is good if you want to have that classic scene of a starship taking damage and decompressing while the heroes have to find a way to survive. Finally, the chapter gives you a list of star types and the number of planets they are likely to have, as well as their radiation factors and other rules, and gives “star hazard” data for cosmic rays and solar flares. While a short chapter, it is definitely a breath of fresh air in the relatively environment rules-void d20 Modern layout. It’s also a good tool for GMs who want to create a star system on the fly, which is good by me.