Is d20 Modern dead?

When I am not totally mistaken the last major release for d20 Modern was d20 Dark•Matter and it was released in September 2006. The most recent article on the official d20 Modern site was posted in december 2006. So d20 Modern has got no official support for almost two years now. After D&D 4th Edition was announced there was some talk about a new version of d20 Modern based on the 4th edition of D&D but nothing further has been announced. So, is d20 Modern dead or is there some hope that it will come back in one form or another? And how will a 2nd edition of d20 Modern look like?

“Dead like a dodo?”
In my opinion d20 Modern is dead. WotC is currently focussing on D&D 4th Edition and the Star Wars roleplaying game. When the recent lay-offs were announced Wizards let us know that they want to focus on their core brands. And from what we’ve seen in the past, they probably don’t count d20 Modern to their core brands.

“Pathfinder Modern”?
No, no, Paizo hasn’t announced their own version of d20 Modern (yet) but I think it would fit into their portfolio. With the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game they are releasing an updated version of D&D 3.5 for people who just don’t make the jump to 4th edition. So they, or another third-party publisher could release something like an updated d20 Modern in the future and revitalize the game when Wizards is unwilling to fill that gap. The d20 Modern SRD was released under the OGL, so at least there should be no legal barrier.

“D20 Modern 4th Edition Style”
Ok, let’s imagine I am wrong and Wizards would release a new d20 Modern based on the changes they made to the d20 System in 4th Edition. Most changes would be welcome like changing saves into defenses and dropping multiple attacks per round. But I just don’t think that powers would work well in a modern campaign. D&D 4th Edition feels a lot like a superheroes game set in medieval times (which I like) but I don’t think this will work in a modern low-magic world. Also “roles” and “power sources” probably have no meaning in a modern game either. It would however perfectly suit a superheroes game but I don’t think Wizards will release a game in that genre.

So, what are your thoughts on d20 Modern? Is the game dead or will we see a revival in one form or the other? Please use the comments below to share your ideas.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

9 thoughts on “Is d20 Modern dead?”

  1. 4e may translate well into a modern setting, but it depends on the "flavor."

    Take the "setting" of the TV show Supernatural… I can watch that show and clearly identify different powers and roles. I think it would probably translate pretty well into a 4e-ish game.

    However, if you wanted to do something more like, say, Diehard – it just wouldn't work.

    That said, the last few years, when I play Modern anything, I just play PL6 or PL8 Mutants and Masterminds. 🙂

  2. D20 Modern by WoTC is dead. Deader than dead.

    There was talk of a SuperD20 but I think they've mentioned that it's been shelved until WoTC can allocate the proper manpower behind it.

    There is already alot of 3PP support for D20 Modern. Namely from the Game Mechanics who were the guys who designed and developed D20 Modern before they got laid off. Modern20 is also a good looking substitute for D20 Modern (or a Pathfinder-ize D20 Modern, if you want to call it that).

    If D20 Modern does get the 4th Edition treatment, I believe we will see it more like the Saga Edition than D&D. The idea of Modern powers for each class just doesnt swallow well for me.

  3. There's definitely a "4th edition-ized" version of d20 Modern floating around among some WotC staffers, and was mentioned in relation to early GSL announcements. I wouldn't count on it any time soon.

    I also know there is support for using the powers system for this new edition, but I'm sure nothing is definite at this point. Wildly speculating at this point, I'd imagine that they wouldn't launch a close analogue to d20 Modern (as it related to 3e) from 4e unless they also launched a minis line with it, which is a big undertaking.

  4. @d20Blonde: So you have used M&M with non-superheroes settings in the past? When I got M&M 1st Edition some time back I thought about using it for a fantasy campaign but this never made it beyond the planning phase.

    @Questing Game: Oh, I have never heard of the Game Mechanics before… I think I will have to do more research. And I will have to check out Modern20.

  5. Actually, I'd think a spin-off of the Star Wars SAGA edition ruleset would work best for an update to d20 Modern. Drop the Jedi/Sith and the Force powers and you could make the remaining 4 core classes work…

    If you wanted to do a magically modern day setting ala Shadow-Chasers or Urban Arcana, you could do with a magic base class, then prestige classes for different traditions.

  6. D20 modern will never be dead as long as there is interest and there is publisher's/writer's use of the open gaming license. If it is dead, it is only because of lack of interest or small publishers' unwillingness to publish adventures and supplements. I'm still banking on d20 modern sticking around for a while.

  7. I think a 4th edition d20 modern would be excellent. A lot of people seem to think the “powers” wouldn’t work well with it, but I think that’s only because it’s called “powers”. Many of the powers in 4th edition D&D are in fact just tactics. Change them around a bit and make the game more about tactical moves and I think it would work. You could even have modern classes based on professions; Doctor, Martial Artist, Gunner, Sniper, Thief/Assassin, etc… all with “powers” aka Tactics appropriate for their profession/class. Sounds wonderful to me.

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