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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    BR mailing list
    D&D is a great game. It really is. Objectively, it`s awesome. It`s not
    perfect though, and in my opinion it`s already dated. D&D has
    single-handedly revolutionized the roleplaying game market. It`s not just
    another edition of Dungeons & Dragons we`ve always known, it`s an entirely
    new game. And a damn good one. But let`s face it: it`s effectively the
    first edition to an all-new game that uses some rather new ideas (or old
    ideas given a refurbish and combined in new ways) for roleplaying games.
    It`s not surprising that they wouldn`t get everything quite right.

    The most extraordinary example of this is the CR system. It`s not really
    based on anything, but its presence gives a certain control to the GM in
    designing his games and giving the whole game some internal consistency to
    hold it together. I personally think it`s broken, and the actual CR values
    don`t seem to represent anything except some guys "eyeballing" to see what
    difficulty the challenge is, whereas other games assume each GM`ll do this
    himself. D&D seems to treat it more as a labor-saving device than anything
    else, but I think it has the capacity to be a lot more. The whole system
    would need to be scratched and worked anew with some of the design ideas of
    current thought, mostly those inspired by working with the old CR system.
    This is very typical of all current D&D and d20 products.

    I`m a tinkerer. It`s my personal delight to analyze the virtues and sins of
    roleplaying systems, tear them apart and rework them. Sometimes I try to
    make them better, other times I just try to implement what someone has done
    in one field and expand it. Other times I`m just trying stuff new just for
    the hell of it to see how it would work. It`s my philosophy that such work
    is never done, and my sessions are as much about testing rules as they are
    playing the games. Usually I`m just trying to collect kernals of ideas and
    share them with likeminded people who might do something incredibly
    different or something similiar. I don`t believe in the popular philosophy
    that you can`t please everyone, everyone`s going to do their own thing
    anyway, and so one shouldn`t even try. It`s always worth trying. I don`t
    know whether or not its possible to please everyone, but it is possible to
    improve the roleplaying hobby as a whole for everyone by working to improve
    it, keep it new, give it depth, and update it to popular philosophy or pave
    the way for new design philosophies.

    Usually, before I begin a comprehensive analysis, I just skim rules and seek
    their merits. What`s this trying to accomplish and why would the designer
    put this here? The first thing I find is that most rules have a certain
    "coolness factor" which is just my personal reaction to their "flavor".
    GURPS-esque point value systems, objectively, have extraordinary potential
    to make very good, well-balanced games. But I don`t like them. Personal
    taste; they lack flavor. They lack "coolness", whatever that is.
    Armegeddon 2087 (I think that was the year...) has a d20 mechanic where
    Ripple Fire Rockets use an attack roll of 1d20 + the number of rockets shot
    at the enemy instead of 1d20 + base attack + dex. Artillery uses
    Intelligence instead of Dexterity. Something about these rules massively
    appeals to me, and therefore rates high on my "coolness" scale even though I
    can`t particularly explain why.

    There are those few times, however, when someone does make a cool rule,
    either because it appeals to me on a flavor issue, it accurately represents
    something I think should be represented, it provides potential options for
    roleplaying games that otherwise wouldn`t be easy to implement, it`s new or
    experimental, it provides a good internal consistency (or "Control") within
    the game`s interaction with itself, or it streamlines an otherwise
    cumbersome process. Such things are my "wow rules", `cause I`m usually
    surprised to find them. Usually they are things that are so different or so
    specialized that in the end I`ll scrap them before actually implementing
    them, but I still take delight in collecting and analyzing them. Other
    rules have "potential." That is the rule doesn`t have much merit unless its
    in a system with other rules that compliment it, and usually the appropriate
    complimenting effects aren`t all that apparant which makes working with
    these rules particular challenging. Examples of this would include the CR
    System and Presitge Classes from D&D.

    Very, very rarely does someone make a "wow" SYSTEM of rules. The 3rd
    edition Dungeons & Dragons Player`s Handbook was a "wow" system for me, and
    a particular delight that`s given me much enjoyment. Almost all d20
    products have given me something to work with because all try to add
    something different, something new. For the most part these are just
    marketing tools and cheap gimmicks; not something that truly adds to the
    system. Spycraft has a Chase system that has "potential" and "coolness",
    while the feat system seems to be made much more intelligently (but still
    suffers from some severe flaws). The Mastermind system of Spycraft was a
    good idea, but needs to be scrapped and redesigned. It`s agenda, that is,
    the purpose it`s trying to accomplish, is good and worth trying again. A
    lot of D&D is like that, which I guess is what gives birth to obsessive
    hobbies like mine.

    Classically Modern is a "wow" system for me. Based on d20 Modern, one of
    the most intelligently designed d20 products from Wotc (not really a
    compliment...), it expands on some of the design philosophies of d20Modern
    and tries to portray D&D settings / characters / adventures with new rules
    that provide more options and versatility. I`ll say it again: this was a
    "wow" system for me. When I saw this, I scrapped my previous ideas for
    Birthright conversions and I`m currently using some of the ideas inspired by
    this product instead. (My `Better Birthright System` is not really d20,
    just inspired by d20 and a lot of other stuff.) There are three things to
    mention about the Classically Modern system: first, it`s not done. Second,
    it`s only a draft, and the author has decided to re-work it, and produce it
    commercially. But the first "edition" and some of the revisions can be
    found for free at the link below. Third, it didn`t really hold up to my
    test as a internally consistent system mostly because, like most d20
    products, it tries too hard to be consistent with D&D.

    I`ve previously mentioned some of the virtues of using d20Modern for
    Birthright instead of D&D: basic open-ended classes that provide
    versatility before the advanced classes provide career specialization, a
    system of Talents that allow you to customize your class abilities,
    occupations that allow you to pick your class skills and starting feats
    independant of your class, a more intelligently written skill section
    (though 3.5 will be implementing these changes already), defense and
    reputation and wealth scores that are well-suited to Birthright, magic is
    treated as optional and is largely (not completely) independant of the rest
    of the rules.

    Classically Modern takes the ideas of Talents, that is customizable class
    abilities, and extends this to an insane level that would make an obsessed
    game-tinkerer say "wow". The designer took all the advanced classes
    (similiar to standard D&D classes) and broke up their class abilities into
    customizable Talent trees (kind of similiar to feats, but class-exclusive).
    He then wroteup a bunch of D&D classes as Advanced and Prestige classes and
    gave them talent trees. Many classes ended up sharing talent trees, and so
    all the Talents are compiled in their own chapter like feats. So now each
    class provides bonus feats that could be selected off a list and exclusive
    Talents that only similiar classes could get access to. Hence, the Soldier
    class gets the Tactical Awareness talent tree (a collection of Talents that
    help others in combat) and the Weapon Master talent tree, with a few bonus
    combat feats thrown in for good measure. The fighter has the same talent
    trees, but gets far fewer talents and more bonus combat feats. The ranger
    gets Damage Reduction, Favoured Enemy, Nature`s Friend, and Unbreakable
    talent trees in addition to a few spellcasting talents which involve
    choosing between better spellcasting power or better "Turn Natural Creature"
    options (allowing you to choose to turn a different type of creature, such
    as animals, vermin, magical beasts, fey, elementals, etc.)

    Tinkers rejoice! There`s a lot in this product that has great potential,
    though as a complete system unto itself it still needs quite a bit of work.
    It`s incompatible with my concept of a level-based system wherein each level
    should be treated as a linear power level with no level cap. But it claims
    to be balanced with d20/D&D. (It is compatable, just not completely
    compatable and may require some cumbersome tweaks to completely implement in
    a standard D&D game.). It`s magic system is really flawed as far as game
    balance and convinience both go, but really, really "cool". I`ve already
    posted some of that on this list, a while back. It provides more
    customizable options and more versatility than D&D could ever provide, but
    it tries to combine two games of somewhat different scales. You`ll see what
    I mean. Take a look. Try it out. Lot of potential. Too much, actually.
    I think it would benefit a campaign greatly if a dungeon master just picked
    a handful of classes and talent trees that would be most appropriate for his
    game, but hell, options is what this product is all about.

    It was created by Merlin`s Workshop and can be found at their website.
    Here`s the link:

    Comments welcome.

    -Lord Rahvin

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  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Hello, I just happened to stumble across this after an internet search.

    Allow me to introduce myself (in true Role-player’s Anonymous fashion). My name is Antony and I am the author of Classically Modern.

    I enjoyed reading Lord Rahvin's review of Classically Modern, and in many ways agree with his conclusions - not all of them mind you, but then again diversity prospers.

    There are a few points that I would like to clarify, not on Classically Modern itself but on Lord Rahvin's perception of my aims with it.

    No, I have never stated, and never intended, for Classically Modern or its companion documents to be commercial entities - there is WAY too much duplication of the SRD and MSRD for me to consider charging for it with a clear conscience. Think of it as my trial initiation into D20 publishing.

    Yes, Classically Modern is nearing the end of an extensive review and revamp. It now (as of 15 July) has 128 pages. There is also a better page layout and page furniture, a comprehensive index, and summary appendices for skills, feats, talent trees and talents.

    I agree that, if power played, that magic could be gained more easily than in the straight D&D rules, and is a considerable departure from the route WOTC have taken with Urban Arcana.

    Classically Modern is a living document, and has evolved in the past based upon feedback from readers. If there is something not satisfactory or ideal, I am actively happy to try and incorporate (and credit) your ideas. A good example of this evolution in progress is the section on Archaic Occupations.

    At present Classically Modern is receiving some 3.5 tweaks, and is just waiting for the SRD 3.5 updates before the release version is posted on the Merlin's Workshop website.

    Tinkerers All


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Glasgow, Scotland
    That is the single ugliest website I have ever seen.


    (Actually I'm lying, but it is close.)

  4. #4
    Moo! Are you happy now? Arjan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Woerden, Netherlands
    Maybe another job for me :)

    Met vriendelijke groet

    Arjan Duijs

    > -----Original Message-----

    > From: Birthright Roleplaying Game Discussion [mailto:BIRTHRIGHT-

    > L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM] On Behalf Of CMonkey

    > Sent: dinsdag 15 juli 2003 21:21


    > Subject: Re: [BIRTHRIGHT] Classically Modern and the tinkerer`s


    > [2#1767]


    > This post was generated by the message forum.

    > You can view the entire thread at:



    > CMonkey wrote:

    > That is the single ugliest website I have ever seen.


    > CM.


    > (Actually I`m lying, but it is close.)



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