All right, you've seen a little of how the heroes are going to be built ... you've gotten a feel for some of the cool stuff they'll be able to do ... I've taken you out for a little window-shopping of the gear they'll be packing ... and last month, you saw a snippet of what those heroes might be like when they grow up (and take levels in advanced classes).
It's time we took a break from the "How to Build a Character" stuff you'll find in the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook and ponder all the other critters those heroes are going to run into. You know -- the monsters and the NPCs. Sure, the chapter (and this sneak peek) is mainly for GMs, but if there's anything a player wants to know a thing or two about when putting together those first-level characters, it's where the XPs to make 'em second-level PCs are going to come from.
So, for all you GMs, players, and fine folk who pop back and forth from behind the screen, here's a bit of the introduction to Chapter Eight:
...GMs need opponents to challenge the heroes, allies to aid the heroes, and various anonymous "bit players" to fill minor roles in a scene -- often at a moment's notice.
This chapter provides pregenerated creatures and characters for GMs. It also includes tools to help GMs create interesting new creatures to fit the special needs of their campaigns.
Like pretty much everything else you're going to find inside the hefty, 384-page d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook, the chapter on Friends and Foes gives you a pile of puppets (monsters and NPCs) to run, along with all the information you need to build just about anyone or anything you could ever want to concoct from the safety of your GM screen.
The Creature Factory
The chapter jumps right in with a big toolbox full of the stuff you'll need to breathe life into all the twisted monsters you dream up to throw at your players. It starts with explanations of each element of a creature's stat block: CR, size, type (aberration, humanoid, ooze, etc.), Hit Dice, speed, special qualities, and all the other information you need to know and understand before piecing together your first critter for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game.
Once you know all about reach, damage reduction, and other powers that make things tough for characters, you learn how to advance your monsters by adding class levels. (Like Chris Perkins stated in the brochure we made for Gen Con -- give your troll an M-16 assault rifle and a flame-retardant suit, and he's ready to take on the world.)
Once you've finished with the guidelines for putting together new monsters, you get to see what the finished product looks like. That is, you can flip through a nice-sized zoo of monsters that are ready to roll initiative and mix it up a little. The nifty bit about this Monster Manual-esque section is that not only do you get the basic description and stats, but you also learn how most of these meanies have worked their way into every day life in the d20 Modern world.
Each entry includes a physical description of the creature, a summary of its nature and common tactics, and suggestions for how it might integrate into modern society or, in the case of a fantastic creature, burrow its way into the typical human's subconscious. Many creatures have a difficult time fitting into modern society in a traditional way and are often found at the social fringes of urban life. Others are highly adaptive and can easily create their own power bases within our world.
For those of you who play a little D&D, you'll recognize this guy. (Keep in mind that because of the magic of the d20 System, the monsters in D&D can translate straight into d20 Modern, and from d20 Modern right into D&D. You might want to spend a few minutes considering whether you really want d20 Modern-ized kobolds running around the Forgotten Realms with frag grenades.)
Bugbears are larger, stronger, and more combative relatives of goblins. They survive by hunting and dominating smaller and weaker creatures.
Bugbears are tall and muscular. Their flesh varies in color from light yellow to yellow-brown, with thick, coarse hair ranging from brown to brick red. Their eyes are greenish-white with red pupils, and they have large, wedge-shaped ears. A bugbear has long, sharp fangs, and its nose is blunt and snuffling.
Bugbears have insinuated themselves in the modern world as leg-breakers, enforcers, and bodyguards for organizations and individuals who appreciate their violent dispositions.
Bugbears often hide their savage features beneath heavy coats and slouch hats. To mundane viewers, they appear as oversized, musclebound humans. In rural locations, they might spark reports of large vagrants, sasquatch, or werewolves.
Bugbear adults average 7 feet tall and 450 pounds.
Scent (Ex): This ability allows the bugbear to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.
Skill Bonus: Bugbears receive a +4 species bonus on Move Silently checks.
Bonus Feat: Bugbears gain the bonus feat Simple Weapons Proficiency.
Automatic Language: Bugbears read, write, and speak Goblin.
Bugbear: CR 2; Medium-size humanoid; HD 3d8+3; hp 16; Mas 13; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; Defense 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +3 natural, +1 leather jacket); BAB +2; Grap +4; Atk +4 melee (1d3+2, slam or 1d6+2/19-20, metal baton); Full Atk +4 melee (1d3+2, slam or 1d6+2/19-20, metal baton), or +3 ranged (2d6, Colt Python); FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; SQ darkvision 60 ft., scent; AL chaos, evil; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +1; AP 0; Rep +0; Str 15, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 9.
Skills: Climb +2, Hide +3, Listen +3, Move Silently +6 (includes species bonus), Read/Write Goblin, Speak Goblin, Spot +3.
Feats: Alertness, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency.
Possessions: Leather jacket, metal baton, Colt Python (.357 revolver), 50 rounds of .357 ammunition, hip holster, casual clothes.
Advancement: By character class.
So here you have your standard bugbear jogging around the streets, wearing a leather jacket and toting a big handgun. That's a tad frightening in and of itself. But what would happen if you decided your PCs were up for a tougher challenge? How 'bout you decide you've got a bugbear that's an overachiever, one with real aspirations? You want a bugbear with a couple levels in a heroic class.
Bugbear Fast 3: CR 5; Medium-size humanoid; HD 3d8+3 plus 3d8+3; hp 32; Mas 13; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; Defense 21, touch 15, flat-footed 20 (+1 Dex, +4 class, +3 natural, +3 undercover vest); BAB +4; Grap +6; Atk +6 melee (1d3+2, slam or 1d6+2/19-20, metal baton); Full Atk +6 melee (1d3+2, slam or 1d6+2/19-20, metal baton), or +5 ranged (2d8, Mossberg); FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; SQ darkvision 60 ft., scent; AL chaos, evil; SV Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +2; AP 7; Rep +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 9.
Skills: Climb +2*, Drive +3, Escape Artist +3*, Hide +5*, Knowledge (streetwise) +2, Listen +3, Move Silently +8*, Read/Write Goblin, Speak Goblin, Spot +3, Tumble +3*.
*Includes the -2 armor penalty for wearing an undercover vest.
Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (light), Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Simple Weapons Proficiency.
Talents (Fast Hero): Evasion, uncanny dodge 1.
Possessions: Undercover vest, metal baton, Mossberg (12-gauge shotgun), 20 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition, fatigues, fatigue jacket, car opening kit, climbing gear.
Bugbear + Point Blank Shot + 12-gauge = Roll up the windows, lock the doors and keep driving -- fast.
That's just one of the nasties in that section. There are over fifty sample critters (including moreaus, for all of you who are really going to miss the GeneTech; setting) to pull straight outta the book, along with more than enough examples and rules to put together gobs of creatures that will make your players want to roleplay their characters' day jobs.
Yes, NPCs. These are the folks the characters run into on a day-to-day basis, as well as the villains they're pitted against and the other good guys they might team up with to win the day. This section introduces you to the regular Joes, the non-heroic people of interest who are in the game to fill some (general or specific) purpose -- the Ordinaries:
"Ordinaries" are nonheroic supporting characters and extras. They include the back-alley thug, the university academic, the fearless security guard, the smalltime drug dealer, and the nosy reporter. Ordinaries are built using the six basic heroic classes (Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, and Charismatic) and have starting occupations, skills, and feats. As they gain levels, ordinaries increase their skill points, base attack bonus, saving throw modifiers, Defense bonus, and Reputation bonus -- just as heroes do. However, ordinaries differ from heroes in several ways:
- Must use starting ability score package
- Random starting hit points
- No action points
- No class features
- No advanced classes
So, you have these folks, just regular folks, wandering into and out of your game. What makes them interesting? What makes them memorable? Their quirks do: those little bits and pieces of personality that make each one of them an individual of note. Maybe you already have an idea in mind for a weasely informant who wears too much Hai Karate cologne and is never without his New York Times. But if you're in need of a quick idea or two (or just some inspiration on adding those finishing touches to your "ordinary" NPCs), you'll want to check out Table 8-27: One Hundred Character Traits.
The example Ordinaries aren't really all that ordinary. That's because you have a pile of NPCs built as multiclassed characters that combine two of the six basic classes. By combining two different basic classes, rather than just doubling up on a single one, you have a wide range of "ordinary" characters that have some real depth built into them. In fact, each of the archetypes has a list of suggested roles it could fill with just a few minor tweaks. Check 'em out:
Sample characters of this archetype include thugs, soldiers of fortune, security guards, marines, mercenaries, amateur wrestlers, bouncers, football players, and professional movers. The statistics given below are for a typical thug; the GM may adapt these statistics for other character types or professions by changing the occupation, reallocating skill points, and swapping feats as needed.
Low-Level Thug (Strong Ordinary 1/Tough Ordinary 1): CR 1; Medium-size humanoid; HD 1d8+2 plus 1d10+2; hp 14; Mas 15; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; Defense 14, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+1 Dex, +2 class, +1 leather jacket); BAB +1; Grap +3; Atk +4 melee (1d6+2 nonlethal, unarmed strike), or +4 melee (1d4+2/19-20, knife); Full Atk +4 melee (1d6+2 nonlethal, unarmed strike), or +4 melee (1d4+2/19-20, knife), or +2 ranged (2d6, Colt M1911); FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; AL any; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +0; AP 0; Rep +0; Str 14, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 8.
Occupation: Blue-collar (class skills: Drive, Intimidate).
Skills: Craft (mechanical) +5, Drive +5, Intimidate +3, Knowledge (popular culture) +2, Knowledge (streetwise) +2, Profession +4, Read/Write English, Read/Write Spanish, Repair +2, Speak English, Speak Spanish, Swim +3.
Feats: Brawl, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency.
Possessions: Leather jacket, Colt M1911 (.45 autoloader), 50 rounds of .45 ammunition, knife, various gear and personal possessions.
Sample characters of this archetype include crime lab technicians, doctors, paramedics, journalists, forensics experts, scientists, academics, antiquarians, entrepreneurs, computer hackers, and stockbrokers. The statistics given below are for a typical crime lab technician; the GM may adapt these statistics for other character types or professions by changing the occupation, reallocating skill points, and swapping feats as needed.
Low-Level Crime Lab Technician (Smart Ordinary 1/Dedicated Ordinary 1): CR 1; Medium-size humanoid; HD 1d6 plus 1d6; hp 7; Mas 10; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; Defense 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+1 Dex, +1 class); BAB +0; Grap -1; Atk -1 melee (1d3-1 nonlethal, unarmed strike); Full Atk -1 melee (1d3-1 nonlethal, unarmed strike), or +1 ranged; FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; AL any; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +4; AP 0; Rep +2; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 12.
Occupation: Technician (bonus class skills: Craft [chemical], Knowledge [earth and life sciences], Research).
Skills: Computer Use +6, Craft (chemical) +7, Craft (electronic) +6, Craft (pharmaceutical) +9, Investigate +7, Knowledge (earth and life sciences) +10, Knowledge (physical sciences) +9, Knowledge (technology) +6, Profession +7, Read/Write English, Read/Write Language (any two), Research +7, Search +6, Speak English, Speak Language (any two), Treat Injury +6.
Feats: Educated (Knowledge [earth and life sciences] and Knowledge [physical sciences]), Medical Expert, Simple Weapons Proficiency.
Possessions: Various equipment and personal possessions.
Now you have an idea what the critters and baddies will be like when you step onto the streets of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game.
But what if you run into some of these tough customers, and the skills, feats, talents and equipment your characters are packing don't seem up to the task?
Well, that's when you bust out some FX -- you know: spells, magic items, psionics, and psionic devices -- the kind of mojo you'll want to have up your sleeve when an AK-47 loaded with hollow-points doesn't cut the mustard.
If you wanna know more about that mumbo jumbo, check back next month.
About the Author
Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been here, golly, two whole years now. He's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing length of time, and now gets to spend an astonishing portion of his days thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.