Our Daily Beard – 24/03/13

While the snow persists…

I’m getting acquainted with D20 Modern again.

I’d like to know people’s thoughts on this RPG system.

The two things that stick in my craw are the classes and the levels.

Clearly, the classes are a direct port over from D&D.

That’s fine, of course- they were, after all, modernificating a fantasy game. I just find that every time I read ‘strong hero’ or ‘dedicated hero’ it feels incredibly clunky and game-y.

The last thing an RPG should do is pidgeonhole players. It’s one thing in a fantasy setting to delineate fighters from mages (it’s not ideal but does make some sense with the pseudo medieval society), but quite another to say ‘you’re strong, you’re wise, you’re tough’.

Now, I’m aware that you can multiclass, but even then, we’re talking about fiddling with rules and having to manage a multiclass character sheet just so you can be, for example, as smart as you are quick.

Has anyone found a way around this, or a way to streamline it?

The classes directly tie in to the levels. I find it very awkward having a ‘level x’ character- not only are we right back to feeling very game-y, but also it means that two characters of differing level can be wildly outmatched. It feels like players get to become superhuman- depending on your RPG, that may be a good thing, but I feel that a modern game demands an amount of realism and grit, which you don’t get from being bulletproof.

So what to do?

Rename levels maybe, present them as some other degrees of development? In my Sleepwalkers setting, I considered making them more about a character’s magical progress and therefore the degree to which they had tuned into the otherworld. That, however, jars with regular feats and skills gained from levelling-up.

Can D20 be done without levels- perhaps just by setting all starting characters at, say, level 3 or 4 and then allowing the purchase of further feats and whatnot with a new, simpler XP system? That sounds entirely feasible. Classes, perhaps, could be removed too, replaced by a tooled-up version of the starting character occupations.

Let me know if you’ve had any experience of this.



by Bret

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