Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Modern/Future Question

Observation -- Back in the 3E era, when it was announced that the new kernel of the classic Fantasy D&D rules would be released in an open SRD, and in addition there would be compatible Modern and Future rulesets, I thought that was totally the best idea since sliced bread. Totally psyched. Then I saw those rules - and actually tried to use them - and that feeling completely sputtered, gasped, and died. In particular, the whole superstructure of generic classes, elite classes, skill points, etc., just collapsed on me. Even I was overwhelmed by the math required to make pregen characters of basic pedigree (space marine, starship pilot, etc., who by the system would have to be at least 5th level and a combination of several classes to make work -- like in my attempt at converting Alternity Starcraft material; see bottom here).

Frequently I find my mind returning to the prospect of having a complete system, compatible with my D&D game, which expands across multiple genres, particularly Modern & Future. Ideally it would: (1) use the same core mechanics as OD&D or something close to it (AC, hit dice, hit points, d20-attack rolls, 6 abilities, etc.), and (2) have around 4 career-themed core classes something like: Soldier (Str), Technician (Int), Medic (Wis), and Diplomat (Cha). [NOT the Strong Hero, Smart Hero, etc. equivocal paste that d20 Modern came up with.] Sometimes I think about writing that up. But before I do that...

Question -- Has anyone already done such a thing? What OSR (or whatever) product comes the closest to what I just described?

13 comments:

  1. Chgowiz was working on an "OD&D modern" for his personal amusement...I'm not sure if he put together an actual product.

    The difficult thing (I think) is we don't usually think of "modern" and "future" settings in generic terms. A lot of the OSR products (which generally use the B/X edition as a base, itself a "streamlined version" of OD&D) are more specific: Mutant Future is post-apocalyptic, Stars Without Number is space opera (with supplements for cyberpunk, etc.), Great Kahn was working on a WWII version of B/X...the last of which would count as "modern" but is very different from, say, "spies" or "western."

    "Terminal Space" is a good, free product that is based on OD&D and is kind of a "D&D in space" game. You can still download it here:

    http://terminalspace.blogspot.com/

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  2. I haven't found anything specifically "modern". Like JB points out, what we've seen has been post-apoc or space based to my knowledge. It seems like you could draw from a combination of Mutant Future, Eclipse Phase, maybe X-Plorers and have a good start. Not sure.

    I've wanted to do the same thing, and one of my projects is to do a retro thing with B/X or LL mechanics that lets me run Shadowrun with D&D rules. That would be somewhat cyberpunk, obviously, but is essentially modern era and not too advanced from the current tech. Drop the actual cyber, and it's now since 80's future tech is here for the most part.

    I'd love to see what you come up with, no doubt!

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  3. The style of play is much more rules dependent than genre. The problem is people take a loose free-form system and try to use it for a crunchy, hard game that just happens to be sci-fi. (or various other poor combinations)

    GURPS, Rolemaster, and OD&D are all universal systems. In that you can play any genre with them. But they very much aren't universal across gaming styles.

    Many people tend to equate modern and sci-fi with more "realistic", detailed, crunchy, simulationist combat and mechanics. And want or are willing to accept less of all of that in fantasy. You aren't gonna find a decent system that bridges those "style" gaps.

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  4. I think Stars Without Number would be a great start for a modern game; yes, if you didn't have psionics you'd drop one of the classes, but the basic structure of D&D plus background and professions is easily re-skinned without the specifically space opera skills.

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  5. I'll need to look at SwN more closely. Downloaded the free version but haven't really looked at it. Is it fully, or at least mostly OGL?

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  6. SWN is not OGL at all, just standard copyright.

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  7. I'm going to work on something similar after I get a few other projects out of the way. Called Action X, it's going to be based loosely on the Modern SRD.

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  8. Great comments; thanks for the advice, guys. I suppose if someone could give me the Future part then I'd let it slide without requiring a Modern-specific part.

    I'll take the chance to look more closely at Terminal Space and Stars Without Number. And Matt, if you get your project going, I'd love to see that, too.

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  9. X - Plorers kinda works like that for Space Opera type stuff.

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  10. I think Carcosa actually has the seeds of a "modern" setting version of D&D in many ways, or at least, a good indication of what can be cut.

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  11. Get Stars Without Number NOW. You'll probably LOVE it.

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