>> I`m adapting this from d20Modern, Classically Modern, Spycraft, and my
>> own house rules. These products form a much better "core system" than
>> D&D does, and my Birthright game runs much better with these rules,
>> classes, etc. instead of D&D.
> I think by now you`ve pretty much convinced me that I need to go out and
> buy D20 Modern. *sigh* =) What are Classically Modern and Spycraft?

My own Birthright game doesn`t use the BR3e book, nor the D&D books at all.
I`m trying to writeup a new Birthright d20 ruleset which doesn`t really
contain a lot of new stuff, so much as it contains a compilation of all the
adaptable stuff from other products that best fits the flavor of Birthright.
Ironically, the best stuff I`ve seen is made for modern games for the
following reasons:
* they don`t have high magic
* encounters are not built around the idea that the right spell will
circumvent the obstacle easily
* common adventure/campaign/characters themes deal with information,
politics, intrigue, and espianage
* character generation is usually made for characters built around skills
instead of combat and spellcraft.
* modern characters usually have to be more versatile and less cookie-cut
than (highly specialized) fantasy characters, too.

I`m posting most of the stuff from d20Modern that`s relavent to Birthright
games onto this list, but I`m trying to do it slowly over time becuase
otherwise it seems to contrast too much with D&D and that seems to make some
people uncomfortable. Most of the specific little d20 rule changes will
probably be in D&D 3.5 (like Bull Rushing moving someone 5 ft for every 5
they exceed on the strength check, instead of the hard-to-use 1-for-1 scale
in the PHB). Some of the really specific changes will never be seen in a
D&D product, but I think should definitely be used in Birthright, especially
for games that don`t involve a lot of D&D-esque elements. Some examples:
* Action Points (as I described them, Regency Points)
* Talent Trees (customizable class abilities)
* Defense and Reputation class bonuses
* Classes only go up to 10th level; free multiclassing
* 1-3 Skills chosen at chargen to always be class skills
* The Wealth Score system (half my group hates this and the other half
likes it -- the budget points of Spycraft is better)
* Massive Damage Threshold: In D&D, if you take more than 50 damage in a
round, you have to make a save or start dying. In d20Modern, that number is
your Con score instead of 50.
* A lot of the class abilities and feats are better, but many are just
carry-overs from D&D that still need to be adjusted.

Classically Modern
Classically Modern is a web-based beta version of updated d20Modern core
rules used for D&D, made by Merlin`s Workshop. It breaks down all the
advance/prestige class abilities into Talents (see my Scion of Vorynn class
for an example of how Talents work) which are customizable class abilities.
In addition, all the classes from D&D are taken and turned into advanced or
prestige classes with their own prerequisites, 10-level writeups, and
talents/bonus feats. The magic system is heavily changed in a very
favorable way.
Although I agree with the methods and design philosophy of this product, the
product itself doesn`t appeal to me because it`s still trying to keep the
fantasy level that D&D has, since its basically meant to make better,
customizable D&D characters using the more versatile (and gritty) d20Modern
My system is using this product as a model, but with different Talents and
class writeups. The magical Traditions and Focuses that I`ll be posting
soon are all taken from this product, though the magic-using classes I`m
using them for have been completely changed. It`s difficult to discuss the
merits of this system without you being familiar with both d20Modern and
D&D. The product is currently on version 0.8, and is revised often.

Spycraft is a d20 book by AEG that I recently picked up that has gotten
really good reviews. They released their book before d20Modern came out,
and I think some of the stuff would have been different if that wasn`t the
case. This is a really good book, `cause its an example of how you can make
a good d20 product without carrying over junk from D&D. I personally think
a Birthright d20 product should be made like this, started from scratch and
treated as a different genre, rather than just converting all the D&D stuff.
Despite that, though, and how cool this book is, it doesn`t make as
effective a "core rulebook" as d20Modern does. There is some stuff,
however, I`m considering implementing into my Birthright d20Modern game:
* Action Points are similiar in concept to d20Modern, with slight
differences in their actual mechanics. They are given out per session
instead of per level (though the amount you recieve per session are
dependant on level). I`ll probably use the d20Modern Action(Regency)
Points, though.
* Most x/day actions are changed to x/session mechanics. I like this,
but my players don`t seem to. I think the main complaint is that it seems
too artificial and encourages shorter game sessions.
* Skills can now have critical threats and critical hits. Attack rolls
and skill checks now have critical errors and critical misses. (A large axe
has a critical error range of 1-3!) Usually, a critical skill success just
means that in an opposed roll, no one can beat you unless they roll higher
than you and also roll a critical success. There are no confirmation rolls.
To turn a critical threat into a critical hit, you must spend an action
* The skill based feats are much cooler now, because in addition to
giving a +2 bonus to two or three different skills, they also increase the
threat range of those skills for critical successes. They also have 1 rank
in each of the skills as a prerequisite. There are "advanced skill feats"
that increase the bonuses and advantages of having one of the familiar
"basic skill feats".
* Starting equipment is based on Budget Points which are used in place
of cash. Cash values are given for all equipment, but since real-world
prices have nothing to do with "game balance", abstract budget points are
used to reflect what the character can and can not purchase. Four resource
pools are given: personal budget points (which you always get to keep),
mission-specific budget points (based on the assignment), gadget points (for
superscience and vehicles), and field expenses (measured in $$$). Since all
the equipment and prices are for superspy genre, I don`t yet know how any of
this will be used in a Birthright game, but the concept is really good! I
like the idea of gadget points being things that only a regent could
normally get access to like travel arrangements, hired mercenaries, or
magical items. (Other ideas would be helpful.)
* Some of the Spycraft-specific concepts that don`t have anything to do
with game mechanics were kind of cool. Just the whole, you`re briefed, you
go out and do this, you get debriefed adventure style is nice for many
organization-based Birthright games -- a lot of material on following
orders, being autonomous, being secret, getting and using information,
representing your country(regent), etc. I especially love the concept of
Foils, important/powerful NPCs whose loyalty isn`t determined(rolled) until
during the adventure when the situation comes up! Having rules for
seduction (defined as the act of turning an NPC into an ally for the
adventure) and gambling (including cheating) was nice.
* Mastermind system: I`ve heard lots of praise for this. It`s a
point-based system for designing villanous organization, managing what kind
of henchmen you get, what type of minions they have, what kind of equipment
everyone has access to, the loyalty of foils, the security of the
headquarters, etc... nice concept, but my own testing of this system was a
failure. Its point system was more of a hinderance to designing these
things rather than a help. Usually I have over 100 points left over, and
don`t want to spend it anywhere `cause I`m done, and its what I want. I
think there`s a problem with any system that gives you like 800 points or
more to design something.
* Finally there`s a chapter on Chases. This is really the thing in this
book that I highly recommend for Birthright and was the whole reason I
bought the book. I`m sick of the d20-esque style of combat where no one can
really run away, we can`t handle those epic fight scenes where you`re
running through the castle while killing guards, or chase someone down in a
crowded area. Since this Chase system also includes the possibility of
attacking and defending, I might use this as a replacement to the typical
combat system -- not always, but few combats are convinient for the static
nature of d20 combat. And I like the idea of encounters where you have to
run someone down and force them into combat. This Chase section is mainly
for vehicles, with recomendations for foot chases, air chases, and water
chases. All that being said, even if you just use it for car chases (which
is what it was meant for), there`s still a few problems with it and much of
the use of this system is based on the proper excersise of sheer common
sense. Soon I will be posting a revised variant of this system for handling
Birthright chases including foot chases and mounted combat. (My first test
included a D&D monk chasing down a guy on a horse. The monk won, but it was
much more fun than the typical "I move 50/200 ft until I catch him" -- the
horseman kept trying to get the monk to crash into a tree, but he finally
crashed himself.)

If there`s anything you`d like me to post, or you have any questions either
about any of these products or my own system, let me know.

-Lord Rahvin

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