d20 Modern Dark*Matter Excerpts
By Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook

The time has come to introduce (or reintroduce) your players to the world you'll find within the pages of d20 Dark*Matter. Be "in the know" or become so through adventuring in the setting when you take advantage of Dark*Matter's conversion to the d20 Modern rules. If you aren't sure what to expect, then you're off to a good start -- perhaps your characters will be a bit more prepared for anything.

However, to make it a bit easier on you, we're providing you with some excerpts, including the Table of Contents, a list of feats, the entry about the Alchemist prestige class, and some information about the Greys.

The World as We Know It
Ten Things To Know
What You Need To Play

1: The Hoffmann Institute
Overview of the Hoffmann Institute
Agent's Guide to the Hoffmann Institute

2: Heroic Options
Starting Occupations
Nonhuman Heroes
Rules for Nonhuman Heroes
Fraal (Grey)
Sand Slave Outcast
Alien Craft Operation
Alien Weapons Proficiency
Blood Magic
Closed Mind
Disciple of Life
Mind over Body
Greater Power Crystal
Greater Psi-Blade
Hurl Psi-Blade
Nanite Mastery
Open Minded
Power Focus
Power Penetration
Psi Mastery
Psionic Surge
Sixth Sense
Spell Focus
Spell Penetration
Spell Recall
Sudden Manifest
Advanced Classes
Field Antiquarian
Field Guide
Prestige Classes
FX Abilities
Divine Spells
Arcane Spells
Spell Descriptions
Battle Mind Powers
Telepath Powers
Power Descriptions
Specialized Equipment
Paranormal Combat Gear
Exotic Drugs

3: The True History
Ancient History
The First Strangers
The Arrival of the Greys
The Rise of Atlantis
The First Conspiracy
The Alien Retreat
Passing into Legend: The Silent Epochs
Mesoamerica: A New Canvas
The Fall and Rise of Europe
An Age of War
The Black Death
Enlightenment and Industrialization
A Rising Tide
Nakami and the Great War
The Institute
World War II
Roswell: The Greys Return
The Secret War
The Lunar Landings
The New World Order

4: The Illuminati
The Illuminati
What Do Players Know?
Using Illuminati
Hidden Agendas
Thirty-Three Degrees: The Freemasons
Keepers of Knowledge: The Rosicrucians
Secrets of God: The Hidden Order of St. Gregory
Creative Anarchism: The Invisible College
A Modern Crusade: Knights of Malta
Occult Masters: The Final Church
Wealth of Nations: The Bilderbergers
Search for Truth: The Hoffmann Institute
Dr. Itohiro Nakami
Special Division
New World Order: The United Nations
Project Glacier
The Elite Security Force (ESF)
The Land of the Free: The United States Government
Agency for Foreign Technology (AFT)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Center for Xenological Studies (CXS)
National Air and Space Administration (NASA)
Additional Government Agencies
Visitors from the Stars: The Greys
Fraal Politics
Rogue Fraal
They Walk Among Us: The Sand Slaves
Other Organizations
Aum Shinri Kyo
The Kinori
Knights of Unity
The Mafia
The Neo-Scientologists
Opus Dei
The Priory of Zion
Skull and Bones Society
The Vril Society
Africa: Birthplace of a Species
The Congo

5: Places of Power
The Americas: A New World
The Black Hills
Cape Hatteras
Cheyenne Mountain
Groom Lake (Area )
La Venta
Los Alamos
Machu Picchu
New York City
Washington, DC
Asia: Land of Ancient Wisdom
Angkor Wat
The Golden Triangle
The Himalayas
Lhasa and the Potala
Australia: The Island Continent
Ayers Rock
Europe and the Near East: Architects of the Modern World
The British Isles
St. Petersburg
The Poles: Lands of Desolation
The North Pole
The Oceans: Two-Thirds of the World
Mariana Trench
Extraterrestrial Sites
Earth Orbit
The Moon

6: Running the Campaign
Running a Game
Starting the Campaign
Types of Missions
Mixing Normal with Paranormal
Using Conspiracies
Conspiracy Campaigns
The Nature of Conspiracies
Fighting Against a Conspiracy
Using the Paranormal
Paranormal Campaigns
High Strangeness
General GM Advice
Do Something!
Getting into the Frying Pan
. . . And Getting Out
The Long Arm of the Law
Using Xenoforms
Horrors of Nature
Otherworldly Threats
Creations of Man

7: Exit 23
Adventure Background
Beginning the Adventure
Scene 1: A Grisly Discovery
Scene 2: Danny Wood
Scene 3: Who Goes There?
Scene 4: Smoke 'em Out
Scene 5: Firebug
Scene 6: The Thirteen Crows
Scene 7: Fire and Ice
Experience Points


Recommended Reading and Viewing


Think back to every story of alien visitors, psychic powers, occult lore, unexplained miracles, strange cults, and secret societies that you've ever heard . . . then imagine if they were all true, and your job was to investigate them.

d20 Dark*Matter is a game about terra incognita, and about the part of the world ordinary people never see. It's a setting that assumes our world is anything but dull and predictable; that, in fact, we live in an occult world, full of secrets and invisible forces we can't readily understand. Deep mysteries and the unraveling of the truth are at the heart of d20 Dark*Matter.

d20 Dark*Matteris about like-minded people investigating that which lurks on the fringes of human understanding. These individuals seek to make a better world, to expose its secrets, and cast a very bright light on the things that hide in the dark. In short, these extraordinary people -- let's call them heroes -- crave anything but an ordinary life.


d20 Dark*Matter takes place in the real world . . . almost. It's about conspiracies and cover-ups, hidden truths and unfathomable mysteries, and monsters (some human and some not) that prey on humanity for their own ends. It's a modern world in which suspicion has displaced trust, a world where belief in the strange is replacing belief in the normal. When pressed, most laugh off such claims, or at least ignore the greater implications of such beliefs. But every now and then, something unexplainable occurs -- something that shouldn't have happened the way it did, or that surely can't mean what it seems to suggest. It is at precisely those moments when the façade of comfort drops, and we can't help but wonder:

What if it's all true?

Welcome to a world of the peculiar and unexplainable, a world where the "can't be true" has been replaced by the "anything is possible," a world where mysterious players weave a drama of secrets and disinformation. A Dark Tide is rising, and danger and intrigue lurk in every shadow. The only weapon capable of holding back the darkness is knowledge: knowledge of what's out there, what it's trying to accomplish, and how to stop it.


d20 Dark*Matter blends fantasy, horror, dreams, ghost stories, and science fiction into a potent brew of the paranormal and the paranoid. Call it "pseudo-science fiction," if you will. Whatever you call it, d20 Dark*Matterfalls into the genre of things that might be, or at least ought to be, true. Television shows such as The X-Files popularized this genre in the 1990s, and popular novels such as The DaVinci Code keep the genre alive in the twenty-first century.

In keeping with the spirit of secrets revealed, here are ten basic truths about the d20 Dark*Mattersetting you should know before you go off in search of werewolves, Elvis, or the Loch Ness Monster:

1. Leave the danger to the professionals! The heroes of d20 Dark*Mattercome from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common from the outset: the Hoffmann Institute. For reasons known only to itself, this private organization (detailed in Chapter 1) has sought out extraordinary individuals from around the globe and gathered them together to learn about the growing darkness and, if possible, to stem the tide.

2. It's about the real and the unreal. The heroes of d20 Dark*Matterare normal people who have been awakened to the realities of their world and thrust into decidedly abnormal situations. In addition to dealing with ordinary life in the twenty-first century, they're facing conspiracies and horrors that would drive most humans mad. Yet for them, investigating the unexplainable is just another day at the office.

3. Truth is stranger than fiction. The unknown doesn't come in simple, easily digestible bits. It's not like a puzzle, because all the pieces don't fit together. Moving lights in the sky often exhibit properties that could be attributed to an alien spacecraft, but not always. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense, and no explanation can cover it. Why do frogs sometimes fall from the sky? No one's come up with a plausible guess. Not all of life's mysteries come with a ready explanation, which guarantees that examining the unknown never becomes routine. The more our heroes learn, the less they understand.

4. One investigation begets another. A d20 Dark*Mattermission usually begins with a straightforward paranormal investigation. The weird thing is, once the heroes start looking into, say, Bigfoot, they learn that sasquatch sightings often occur in conjunction with UFO sightings. While looking into UFOs, they uncover government cover-up conspiracies. Suddenly, Bigfoot seems less important than a secret plot to sell the human race into slavery. Paranormal investigations have a way of becoming hopelessly entangled, and before long the heroes will be thoroughly wrapped up in all of it.

5. The only thing harder than keeping a secret is learning one. For all of their efforts, Hoffmann agents must resign themselves to the fact that much of what they're investigating is, by its very nature, unexplainable. Still, they can savor the sweet taste of success when they finally confront the truth and secure it for study . . . or blow it to pieces with automatic weapons.

6. The heroes become part of the conspiracy. As the heroes complete missions for the Hoffmann Institute, they begin to amass secrets of their own -- secrets they're forced to keep from the general public, "for the good of humanity." Simply put, there are some truths the world isn't ready for. Even if the heroes capture El Chupacabra or learn the truth about the Bermuda Triangle, the Hoffmann Institute doesn't approve of their agents speaking candidly to reporters or sending their memoirs to book publishers. Not that ordinary folk would be willing to accept the truth anyway.

7. Knowledge is its own reward. The Hoffmann Institute provides its field agents with the equipment they need to complete their missions, and the work pays the bills. Heroes working for the Hoffmann Institute do not seek glory or money. They seek knowledge -- the rarest of all treasures -- and they take great satisfaction in attaining it.

8. No investigation is as straightforward as it seems. For this reason, heroes work in teams. The Hoffmann Institute assigns agents to "field teams," usually numbering four (although smaller and larger teams are possible). Ideally, each member brings some unique talents to the team. The best field team is greater than the sum of its parts, and Hoffmann agents quickly learn that trust among teammates is vital for survival.

9. Heroes die. Although the Hoffmann Institute takes great pains to assign field agents to missions they can handle, it's difficult to predict what might go wrong during a field investigation. Sometimes heroes get killed in the pursuit of the truth. But at least they died doing something important.

10. The truth is worth dying for. When the Hoffmann Institute loses one or more of its agents, it recruits and trains new ones. Its quest to save humanity -- from itself, if necessary -- cannot be allowed to end in failure. New agents must learn from the mistakes and misfortunes of their predecessors. The future of the world depends on it!


To run or play in a d20 Dark*Mattercampaign, you need the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. Gamemasters (GMs) will find the d20 Menace Manual supplement a valuable resource for ready-to-use d20 Dark*Mattermonsters and supporting characters.

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