d20 Modern RPG Week Day Three

“So, how’s d20 Modern compare to other games, Grey?” Well, I’m glad you asked…..

What separates us from animals is that we like to compare and contrast. Hence the reason why we want to know what separates us from animals, I guess. Here’s a quick and dirty rundown of how d20 Modern compares to a few other systems. Feel free to add more to the list in the comments!

d20 Modern versus Mutants & Masterminds
The first most obvious difference between these two system is that d20 Modern isn’t a superhero role-playing game. Well, duh.

Except it’s a little more complicated than that. M&M is a rather excellent do-everything generic system in it’s own right and (especially at lower Power Levels) is more than capable of covering the same ground as d20 Modern. Roughly speaking, generate a PL4 character in M&M and you’re firmly into beginning level d20 Modern territory.

So, which is better for playing in the modern world?

I’d say that at this level d20 Modern has the edge. It’s more granular, and the class-based structure really helps to keep the characters within solid roles. Modern-day gaming isn’t someplace where you want your characters to be aliens from the planet G’thargg, talking dogs or intergalactic psi-police. Unless, of course, that is what you want in which case M&M is the place to be :D

As both systems share the same parentage there are many similarities, though they diverge when it comes to the combat system. Given the choice I prefer M&M’s Toughness system over Armour Class and Hit Points, though either are good. As we’ll talk about tomorrow, Modern Day gaming is less about the combat and more about the bits between the combat. But that’s for another day.

d20 Modern versus GURPS
Ahhh GURPS. How I love thee. Just why I love thee is going to be the topic of a future RPG Week so we’ll leave that for now and look at how it compares to d20 Modern.

Like M&M, GURPS is a generic toolkit which is capable (or so it claims) of running any type of game in any era and any style. I’m not convinced GURPS is a good choice of system when it comes to superhero gaming, but for playing a campaign set in the Real World (or a fascimile thereof), it’s very good indeed. GURPS provides more than enough information and rules to run pretty much any modern day campaign from police procedural to hi-octane spy thrillers. Character generation is a particular strength of GURPS and no two characters are likely ever to be the same. The only disadvantage to this is that chargen can be pretty time consuming and not for the newbie gamer.

So, which is better for playing in the modern world?

That depends on you, and your group. GURPS is more simulationist and crunchy than d20 Modern’s more cinematic style. It also opens up the possibility to run time-hopping games where your characters begin in the modern age and leapfrog around the whole multiverse. Not that there’s anything to stop you from doing that in any other system (including d20 Modern), of course – just that this is one style of play that’s downright encouraged in GURPS.

I love both. d20 Modern is easier to play and prep that GURPS thanks to the wealth of resources and D&D compatability, whereas GURPS is…. well, it’s GURPS.

d20 Modern versus Savage Worlds
Here’s where I need your help. I’ve played Savage World once and really enjoyed it, but that’s not enough to really form an opinion of how it compares to other systems. Is it as easy to prep? Fluffier? Crunchier? More fun? Do tell.

Over to you.

If you want to take a look at d20 Modern yourself the majority of the system is freely available under the OGL. Here’s a  HTML version of the rules (mirror of the zipfile). Enjoy.

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4 Responses

  1. Questing GM says:

    I would’ve like to see how D20 Modern matches up with True20 but I guess there aren’t too many big differences between the 2. ;)

    Questing GMs last blog post..{Quest Log} RL and RP Don’t Mix

  2. Helmsman says:

    Aw… I was hoping you’d be able to compare it to World of Darkness Storyteller too… methinks there’s another part to this comparison blog?

    Helmsmans last blog post..RPG Projects I’m Working On

  3. Greywulf says:

    @QuestingGM True20 would work out rather like d20 Modern but using a damage track – a halfway house between d20M and M&M. Given a choice I’d prefer one on the other over True20, really.

    @Helmsman Not a fan of the system, but I’m sure if anyone else wants to chip in with a comparison………

  4. Before I found Savage Worlds I was really digging d20 Modern. I have almost everything WotC put out and a few books from the Game Mechanics.

    Savage Worlds has Edges instead of Feats. With a smaller skill list more mechanical emphasis is placed on these Edges rather than on the skills.

    No classes, no HPs. In my head, they feel like the characters they produce are of comparable power levels, but I never got a chance to actually run d20 Modern. But, it’s d20 at its heart. So things like long combats at higher levels, long prep time… these things are still a part of it. I’m horribly biased. SW does everything I ever wanted d20 Modern to do with none of the work. Well, very little of it anyway.

    Captain Checkmates last blog post..Mark of the Movie 9: The Black Pirate

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