Hey, guys. I`ve been keeping up with some of the news regarding "d20
Modern", and I like what I`ve seen so far. It comes out next month, and
when I recieve the product I`m probably going to base a Birthright
conversion on it -- it seems to be a much better set of rules than D&D.

d20m supposedly uses the "d20 system", and if you know how to play D&D,
evidently you`re supposed to know d20m already. I don`t think it actually
seems to work that way, and I`m glad for that. I think d20m can be used to
represent the high-realism, low-magic, skill-centered campaigns that I want
to run in a Birthright setting.

If anyone else plans to work on something similiar, could you please drop me
an email. It might be nice to exchange some ideas before I writeup the
conversion document.


I`m not sure if this is really relevent to the post, but for those of you
who haven`t heard of "d20 Modern", here`s a quick rundown of some of the
stuff I`ve learned about d20m so far:

* Although I`m told d20m will have a lot of skills and feats, I think one of
the most important and convinient things about it will that it will have the
latest updates so far on all the skills and feats, in one place. All those
"new ways to use old skills" stuff was evaluated with the skill system and
taken into account, and either used or discarded (mostly used). Most of the
new feats are probably "too modern", consisting of guns, vehicles,
computers, etc. but I expect there will be some well-written feats regarding
martial arts, magic, the use of your Reputation and Wealth scores, and that
kind of stuff.

* Low-level characters (1st-4th level) typically represent what we might
call "exceptional commoners". They`re everyday folks with some very decent
abilities but no supernatural powers or ability to use magic or any of that
stuff. At around 4th level or so, Advanced Class start opening up, which
are like Prestige Classes except that they are more of what we think of as
typical D&D-type classes, and represent specialization in a particular
occupation or aspect of the game (such as Mage or Infiltrator). At higher
levels, campaign specific prestige classes (not provided in the d20m
rulebook) may open up, depending on your DM and campaign setting (as per
what we usually think of as prestige classes).

* During character generation, each player choose a starting occupation for
his character to represent his occupational background. Each background has
some (minor) prerequisites and provides different benefits, including
establishing skills that will always be considered class skills for your
character. An "Academic" background (prereq: Age 23+) allows you to choose
3 skills from a large list of intelligence-related skills to be class skills
(or additional languages) and provides a +3 bonus to your Wealth score. An
"Athlete" background requires a Str or Dex score 13+ and allows you to
choose 3 permanent class skills from a smaller list of options
(Balance,Climb,Drive,Jump,Ride,Swim,Tumble) but allows you to recieve either
Archaic Weapons Proficiency or Brawl as a bonus feat and gets you a +1 bonus
to your Wealth score.

* The traditional alignment system is gone (sort of), replaced by a system
of Allegience tags. You simply choose what your Allegiences are, and that
serves in place of alignment. "Good" and "Evil" are types of Allegiences
and many wicked monsters have an "Evil" allegience. Spells and magical
items may effect creatures differently depending on their allegiences. A
small press release suggested that every character generated is likely to
have 3-6 allegiences.

* Multi-classing is not only unrestricted, but highly encouraged. In fact,
I think it`s actually necessary, since all of the class writeups only go up
to 10th level. (One trend in the d20m introductory material seems to be
that they`ve got rid of those "non-levels" where you level up but don`t get
anything for it in terms of class abilities and saves and such -- this is
probably a result of the convinience of only having to work with 10 levels
per class.)

* The Basic Classes are all named after an ability score -- Strong Hero,
Fast Hero, etc. Each of these recieves bonus feats every so often (I think
it`s every 4 levels, but I`m not sure) for greater customization, but can
also choose their class abilities ("Talents") from "Talent trees". For
example, one 1st-level Tough Hero might choose the "Remain Conscious" talent
(allowing her to act even when reduced to -9 hit points), while another
1st-level Tough Hero might choose the "Damage Reduction 1/-" talent (to
reduce the damage from all attacks by 1).

* While I don`t particularly like the naming scheme of the basic classes,
everything else about them seems really intelligently done. The Basic
classes were made to be as generic and customizable as possible, while
Advanced classes are typically more specialized and recieve benefits like a
typical D&D class. Prestige classes can, of course, be even more
specialized, depending on the design theory put behind them by their

* It should also be noted that since only two classes have magic using
ability, and they are both advanced classes (that only go up to 10th level),
magic is considered a completely optional part of the system and is easily
removed or restricted. (Of course this is a little easier to do when you`re
compensating with guns and chainsaws.) Other than that, magic in d20m is
traditional D&D magic and psionics is similiar to the psionics handbook. It
should be noted that since the Acolytes (clerics) and Mages (wizards) only
go up to 10th level, the maximum spell level is 5th level (and you`d
probably have to have around 14 total character levels or so to achieve

* Although it would be a low magic setting, and characters wouldn`t have
hoardes of magical items, characters are compensated by recieving a defense
bonus (that stacks with the Defense bonus from armor), and a few other extra
goodies like a Reputation score, Wealth score, and Action Points. Action
Points seem critical to balancing out the system, and are recieved every
time a character levels up. Once an action point is used, it is gone
forever. An action point can be used to add "+1d6" to any d20 task
resolution roll.

* I`m not sure if the Wealth system can actually be used effectively in a
Birthright game, but given the fact that PCs may work with, for, or as a
regent, they may often have access to massive resources. This hasn`t been a
problem in my games, but I could see how a Wealth score might be a good
thing to at least try converting.

* The most important thing, and in all honesty the part that I have the
least information on, is how compatible the D&D Monster Manual is with
typical d20 Modern characters. Equipment is a very important balancing
factor in d20m, and that element is kind of taken away when converted back
to fantasy, so this one`s going to take a bit of analysis. But there does
seem to be a greater emphasis on the whole "build-your-own-monster"
"creature-factory" in d20m, which is especially nice for a Birthright
campaign given the nature of Awnsheighlein and such. Action Points are
still a huge balancing factor, though monsters get a few Action Points too.


Overall, this rule system seems a much better "core system" for running the
types of Birthright games I`d want to play. Whereas all the D&D rules were
made to reflect a "back to the dungeon feel", d20m was made for more general
campaign-themes -- there are a lot of class abilities and skill uses, for
example, that were obviously made with the idea of a detective/spy theme
involved, which just makes it a better core system.

Whether you plan to get d20 Modern or not, if any of you are interested in
seeing this as a Birthright product, please feel free to send me any of your
comments or suggestions. My email address is LordRahvin@softhome.net.

-Lord Rahvin

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