The Origin of d20 Dark•Matter

In 1999, Wizards of the Coast published the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting, written by Wolfgang Baur and Monte Cook (and others). It presented a world of terra incognita, a world in which heroes risked life and limb untangling dark conspiracies and investigating paranormal phenomena. Although it received outstanding critical acclaim, the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting was quickly overshadowed by news of the release of the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons game, and the DARK•MATTER line ended after a few supplements.

Four years later, Wizards released d20 Menace Manual, a supplement for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game that incorporated material from the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting, including numerous creatures and organizations. Fans of the setting were delighted to see this material updated for the d20 Modern system and speculated about when Wizards might update the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting as well. Their prayers were answered in March 2004, when Dungeon magazine published Andy Collins’ DARK•MATTER mini-campaign “Shades of Grey.” This article whetted many appetites.

This September, Wizards releases d20 DARK•MATTER, which takes the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting and updates it to the d20 MODERN Roleplaying Game rules. d20 DARK•MATTER incorporates original text and artwork from the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting, text and artwork from the “Shades of Grey” mini-campaign in Dungeon magazine, and some new d20 Modern rules content. Although every chapter of the book has been revised and reorganized to some extent, players familiar with the original campaign setting will see a lot of familiar material in this new book.

“The original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting was a groundbreaking book,” says Chris Perkins, Design Manager for RPGs and miniatures games at Wizards of the Coast, “both in terms of content and presentation. Given the enduring popularity of the genre and the success of stories such as The DaVinci Code, it seemed like a good time to bring DARK•MATTER back into the light.” Although Wolf and Monte didn’t write additional material for the d20 DARK•MATTER book, a good chunk of their original work survives in d20 DARK•MATTER. “The book would not exist without the contributions of numerous others, as well,” says Chris Perkins. “Special thanks go to Andy Collins, whose Dungeon magazine article really showed folks how easy it can be to run a DARK•MATTER campaign using the d20 Modern rules.”

d20 DARK•MATTER is a 160-page hardcover supplement for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game. It is priced at $29.95 and scheduled to release the week of September 12, 2006.

d20 Dark•Matter Table of Contents

The Introduction tells you what you need to play d20 DARK•MATTER and lists the ten things players and GMs need to know about the setting.

Chapter 1: The Hoffmann Institute
The heroes of d20 Dark•Matter are field agents of the Hoffmann Institute, a secret organization dedicated to investigating paranormal phenomenon. This chapter discusses the organization and its agenda in detail. Much of the material in this chapter is picked up from the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting, reorganized into GM and player sections, and revised (where needed) to make it conform to the d20 Modern rules.

Chapter 2: Heroic Options
This chapter presents new options for d20 DARK•MATTER characters, including new starting occupations, feats, advanced classes, prestige classes, FX abilities, equipment, and nonhuman species choices. Some of the material in this chapter first appeared in Andy Collins’ “Shades of Grey” article. The rest is inspired by material that appeared in the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting.

Here’s a short summary of the chapter’s contents:

  • Three new starting occupations (mercenary, paranormalist, psychic)
  • Four nonhuman species options (fraal, moreau, sand slave, sasquatch)
  • More than 15 feat descriptions
  • Two 10-level advanced classes (field antiquarian, field guide)
  • Three 5-level prestige classes (alchemist, diabolist, visionary)
  • More than 20 new spells
  • More than 20 new psionic powers
  • New ammunition, grenades, exotic drugs, and paranormal combat gear

Chapter 3: The True History
This chapter explores Earth’s greatest mysteries as they play out over time, from the appearance of the first alien visitors and the fall of Atlantis to the New World Order and secret wars of the 21st century. Most of the material in this chapter comes from the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting, although the timeline has been extended to include events of the past six years.

Chapter 4: The Illuminati
This chapter sheds light on the secret societies of the world. Much of the information in the chapter comes directly from the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting. “Conspiracy Hunter’s Guide” sidebars specifically aimed at the players have been interwoven throughout the chapter as well.

Chapter 5: Places of Power
This chapter describes places known for their paranormal activity, giving GMs scores of adventure ideas around which to base adventures. It’s a distilled version of a similar chapter that appeared in the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting.

Chapter 6: Running the Game
This chapter combines new material with advice and adventure hooks plucked from the original DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting and the “Shades of Grey” mini-campaign published in Dungeon magazine. It’s aimed squarely at GMs.

Chapter 7: Exit 23
“Exit 23” originally appeared in the DARK•MATTER Campaign Setting as an introductory adventure designed for use with pregenerated characters. It has been revised to conform to the d20 Modern rules and recast so that players use their own characters instead of pregenerated ones. The adventure not only presents an ideal introduction to the world of d20 DARK•MATTER but also introduces the means by which the heroes can meet and join the Hoffmann Institute.

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