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08/11/2004


d20 Future Excerpt
By Christopher Perkins, Rodney Thompson, and JD Wiker

Always wanted to adventure among the stars? Then the d20 Future book is for you! Aliens, spaceships, unexplored planets, cybernetics, mutants laser weapons -- they're all here, just waiting for your intrepid heroes. You can even create heroes from alien species to add new dimensions to your spacefaring adventures.

The d20 Future book gives you everything you need to create and play d20 Modern games set in the near or far future. Our sneak peek offers just a sampling:

From Chapter Thirteen: Xenobiology

Xenobiology is the study of alien life forms, with particular emphasis on the analysis of their ecology and physiology.

Monstrous Xenomorphs

Terrifying alien monsters -- from the acid-dripping creature in Alien to the ravenous star doppelganger in The Thing -- are staples of science fiction. Entire d20 Future campaigns can be built around the simple prospect of placing the heroes in conflict with monstrous adversaries.

Monstrous xenomorphs can be sentient or nonsentient, malevolent or benign. Compare the alien conquerors of Independence Day to the harmless alien of E.T. or the indiscriminate and amorphous threat of The Blob. The rules for creating challenging alien monsters already exist in Chapter Eight: Friends and Foes of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game (pages 216-230). A Gamemaster looking for exciting xenomorphs to fill a night's adventure need look no further than the d20 Moderncore rulebook and other d20 Modern supplements.

Vrusk

"We used to serve House Ektar. Now you can call us -- I mean, me -- Zivik."

A vrusk (singular and plural) resembles a large insect. Eight legs grow from her abdomen, four on each side. Her somewhat humanoid torso is mounted upright in front of the abdomen, and she has two arms connected at the shoulders. Vrusk hands are circular pads with five fingers spaced evenly around the edge. A vrusk's shoulders are double-jointed, allowing her to rotate her arms in a full circle without straining any muscles. This flexibility also enables a vrusk to reach any point on her abdomen or behind her back easily.

A hard, jointed carapace covers the vrusk's body. The carapace protects the vrusk from bruises, cuts, scratches, and other minor injuries. A young vrusk has a blue carapace with bright orange near the joints. As the vrusk ages, her carapace changes to dull green with yellow joints.

Unlike insects, a vrusk has an internal skeleton supporting her body. Her large eyes are protected by hard, transparent enamel, and four large eating mandibles surround the vrusk's mouth. The two larger mandibles hold food while the small ones tear it apart and place it in the mouth.

Vrusk are omnivores. They have lungs and breathe through many small nostrils under their abdomens; this arrangement makes it difficult for vrusk to swim.

The average vrusk measures 5 feet tall and 5 feet long and weighs 185 to 200 pounds.

Vrusk have excellent color vision, but they see more of the short wavelengths (blue and ultraviolet light) than humans do, and less of the long wavelengths (orange and red). Their sense of smell is centered in their antennae and is slightly better than the average human's. They can also touch with their antennae. Their hearing is about the same as a human's. A vrusk's speech combines mandible clicks with buzzes produced by a plate in her mouth.

Vrusk are driven, practical beings who base their society and values around independent corporations. A vrusk's company determines whom the vrusk lives with, what the vrusk's job is, where the vrusk travels, and so forth. Often, a vrusk gives her company name before her personal name, and any vrusk in the service of a company usually refers to herself as "we."

Vrusk society supports two different types of corporations: conglomerates and trade houses. Conglomerates have business interests in many areas. For example, a single conglomerate might have divisions that build computers, operate farms, train lawyers, and terraform worlds. A vrusk who works for a conglomerate usually works for only one division, and might not even know what other divisions the company owns. Trade houses specialize in one type of business. Because all vrusk working for a trade house do the same work, trade houses usually work together. For instance, a trade house that builds farming equipment would hire accountants from an accounting house to keep its financial records. Byzantine laws regulate business between the myriad vrusk companies; few other than the vrusk can grasp them.

Vrusk adventurers seldom belong to a company. Some are independent operators, some are company employees who were terminated, and some are just too rebellious to tolerate the company rules. Such atypical vrusk are among the few who use the "I" pronoun when referring to themselves. As with their company-bound kin, however, they are driven by a desire for wealth, power, success, and happiness.

Species Traits

Vrusk share the following species traits:

Type: Monstrous humanoid.

Size: Medium-size. Vrusk have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.

Ability Modifiers: -2 Strength, +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom. Vrusk are bright and perceptive, but not particularly strong.

Speed: 30 feet.

Natural Armor: A vrusk's hard carapace provides a +3 natural armor bonus to Defense.

Armor and Weapon Restrictions: A vrusk cannot wear armor designed for other species. A vrusk relies on her natural armor for protection, and worn armor must be specially tailored to a vrusk's unique physiology; increase the purchase DC of vrusk armor by +1.

Because of their unusual hand structure, vrusk have trouble wielding weapons not designed specifically for them. A vrusk takes a -4 penalty on attack rolls made with nonvrusk weapons unless she has the Alien Weapons Proficiency feat. A vrusk-made weapon costs the same and has the same statistics as its nonvrusk counterpart.

Darkvision (Ex): Vrusk possess darkvision out to a range of 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only but otherwise the same as normal sight, and vrusk can function with no light at all.

Stability (Ex): A vrusk's eight legs grant it a +4 stability bonus on checks made to resist bull rush and trip attempts.

Swim Penalty: A vrusk is a poor swimmer and takes a -4 penalty on Swim checks.

Bonus Feat: The vrusk education system is second to none. A vrusk gains the bonus feat Educated, although one of the chosen Knowledge skills must be Knowledge (business).

Free Language Skills: Read/Write Vrusk, Speak Vrusk.

Level Adjustment: +0.

Weren

"Of course I care whether I live or die. Did you think that big meant stupid?"

Standing roughly 8 feet tall and weighing in at a hefty 400 pounds, a weren (singular and plural) is hard to miss. Covered in thick fur, he has a powerful form and wicked claws that make him a formidable opponent even when he is not carrying a weapon. A great mane of hair flares from his head. His fur ranges from black to shades of gray, brown, or white -- regardless of color, weren fur has a shimmer and an ability to shift slightly in hue, varying with the surrounding lighting. Weren males are slightly larger than the females and have two oversized tusks jutting from their lower jaw; the females do not bear tusks but share the males' powerful builds.

A weren approaches life with amazing intensity. When he embraces a new idea or belief, he becomes a zealot. He professes the tenets of his beliefs with word, deed, and weapon. Though built for battle, a weren also loves to talk and share ideas. Despite his fervor and martial nature, not every discussion leads to a fight, and a weren usually won't fight a weaker creature unless he is left with no choice.

Weren are proud, fierce, honorable warriors, although their eagerness to make peace leads many to become diplomats of one sort or another. They make stalwart companions and bond easily with humans and other species that have learned to temper their primal natures.

A weren's senses are comparable to a human's.

Weren speak a guttural language punctuated by deep growls. They have the capability to speak other humanoid languages as well.

At the time humans develop faster-than-light travel, the weren clans are embroiled in their version of the Renaissance, a time of great learning, debate, and speculation about the nature of life. Before this time, weren clans were locked in deadly, generations-long wars for supremacy. Wise weren now acknowledge that their race's enlightenment could come only after centuries of bloodshed. The past has allowed them to evolve into philosopher-warriors, the absolute dichotomy of gentle scholars and noble savages.

Species Traits

Weren share the following species traits:

Type: Giant.

Size: Large. A weren takes a -1 size penalty to Defense, a -1 size penalty on attack rolls, and a -4 size penalty on Hide checks. He gains a +4 size bonus on grapple checks. His lifting and carrying limits are twice those of a Medium-size character.

Weren must use two hands to wield a Huge weapon, and light weapons for them are Medium-size.

A weren occupies a 5-foot-by-5-foot fighting space and has a natural reach of 10 feet.

Ability Modifiers: +4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution. Weren are incredibly strong and resilient, but they lack agility.

Speed: 30 feet.

Armor and Weapon Restrictions: A weren cannot wear armor designed for other species. Weren armor is larger and costs more than similar armor sized for a Medium-size character; increase the purchase DC of weren armor by +2.

Weren cannot effectively wield Small or smaller weapons.

Claws: A weren has retractable claws that can be used in combat. (Extending or retracting the claws is a free action.) A weren can make one claw attack per round (or more if he has multiple attacks in a round). Each successful claw attack deals 1d6 points of lethal slashing damage plus the weren's Strength modifier. A weren making a claw attack is considered armed and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Low-Light Vision (Ex): A weren has low-light vision. He can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of shadowy illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Natural Camouflage (Ex): A weren's fur shimmers and changes color to match his surroundings. Even in an urban setting, this natural camouflage helps the weren blend into the background. If the weren doesn't take more than a 5-foot step on his turn, he gains a +4 bonus on his Hide checks. (This bonus offsets the weren's -4 size penalty on Hide checks.)

Free Language Skills: Read/Write Weren, Speak Weren.

Level Adjustment: +1.

Playing a Weren at 1st Level

Because of its Large size, great strength, and natural weapons, a weren character has a level adjustment of +1. Consequently, when a weren hero takes his first level in a basic class, he effectively becomes a 2nd-level character. Put another way, he is significantly more powerful than his 1st-level peers.

A player can, with the GM's permission, play a weren as a 1st-level character. To balance the weren with the nonweren heroes in the party, the weren hero must take a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, level checks, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws until he gains 1,000 XP (that is, enough XP to advance to 2nd level). At that time, the -1 penalties are lifted, the character's XP total automatically resets to 0, and the weren does not gain a new class level. From that point on, however, the weren advances normally. The weren will have one fewer class level than the other heroes, but his Effective Character Level (ECL) will be the same (taking into account the +1 level adjustment).

Weren Weapons

The following weapons are typical of weren technology (see Table 13-5: Alien Weapons for statistics).

Weren Dire Axe (PL 2)

Weren warriors favor this massive great axe. A Large creature can wield the weapon with two hands, adding 1.5 times its Strength modifier to damage. The dire axe is too large for Medium-size or smaller characters to wield effectively.

Flintlock Musket (PL 3)

The musket is perhaps the most successful of the black powder weapons, firing a .50 to .60 caliber bullet. The weapon is unreliable, however; on a natural roll of 1, the flintlock musket breaks and cannot be fired again until it is repaired. Repairing the musket takes 10 minutes and a successful DC 15 Repair check.

Reloading the weapon is a full-round action.

This weapon requires the Personal Firearms Proficiency feat to use properly. A weren character can fire the weapon with one hand.

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