Author Topic: Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5  (Read 4455 times)

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  • Bi-Curious George
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Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5
« on: May 01, 2008, 05:16:04 AM »
Hi -- I hadn't heard of the play with anything seminar before but I'm starting up a play with anything campaign and have done two d20 Modern Characters in a D&D 3.5 Adventure one-shots that went well so I'm going to track what issues I've come up against and what resources I'm using to manage those issues.

First, the one-shots:
A while back I ran two one-shots for two players -- I took off-the shelf D&D 3.5 one-shot adventures and without any modification had the players roll up d20 Modern characters of the approximate level listed in the adventures.

There was a keen chainsaw wielding everyman and a spec-ops shooter mowing down zombies in a church and it went pretty well.  The two issues were that the D&D monsters seemed to assume that they'd get into melee range with the players which didn't happen much because the shooter was a very effective ranged fighter.  This was before the Warlock existed but I'd assume the adventures would've had similar trouble with an optimized archer, really.  The second adventure, which featured two Ogre Magi as the climactic battle was much more suited to the d20 Modern characters but again, the monsters lacked ranged staying power which was the base of their downfall.

So, from this experience I gathered that tactically, encounters need to take into account the improved ranged fighter options given revealed by including the d20 Modern source material.

Now, the Campaign:
Melding worlds -- The campaigns I run tend to handwave away anything that seems implausible and my players usually run with it just fine.  Just making sure the players understand that they're supposed to be working together gives them the impetus to concoct the reason to work together.  That's how I intend to deal with the side-by-side existence of fantasy and mundane worlds, really, just ignore what makes is "logical" and keep to the parts that make it fun.  With this in mind I intend to have sections of the world where d20 Modern is the standard and sections where D&D 3.5 is the standard and it's harder to find equipment or possibilities of the other type.  However, I also intend very much to merge these two worlds together and use them to enhance each other.

For example, some encounters and creatures I'm considering:
Power Suit Goblins -- Take a d20 Modern Mecha, make it out of Darkwood and place a goblin or two inside.
Zombie Survival -- Make ammo scarce, make the players work for their rest and downtime, see if they can find synergy in the two sides of the coin to survive

Wealth or GP -- This was something that immediately became apparent as a prospective problem since d20 Modern and D&D 3.5 assume two different economic systems.  Since I'm already handwaving away the duality of the world I can simply choose one and stick to it but then how do I convert one to the other?  How much GP is an AUG worth?  What's the purchase DC for a flask of Alchemist's Fire?  I figured it'd be easier to use Wealth checks in place of GP than the reverse and as far as I can tell it'll be a lot of determining the purchase DC for something similar in d20 Modern then giving it a +/-[0-8] DC modifier for being easier or harder to find in the part of the world the players are in.  Also, when I need a ballpark figure I did find a useful resource, the Frilond Currency Converter.  Someone already took a campaign and created a GP to Wealth Check DC mapping which seems to be fairly on target for magical items that are duplicated between d20 Modern and D&D 3.5 such as potions and wands.

Therefore, I'm going to go with Wealth checks and see how it works out.

Feats and Issues of Competing Cost -- One of the glaring problems that is probably indicative of a whole slew of issues I saw was the existence of Archaic Weapon Proficiency in d20 Modern.  It's effectively equivalent to Martial Weapons Proficiency but is only one feat.  Sure, being able to get MWP for the cost of a single feat isn't all that impressive from a CO standpoint but it shows that one system or the other will have something that's considered a discount and hard to pass up.  (Magic use is another obvious similar issue -- why choose d20 Modern Mage when I can just be a Sorcerer?)  So how does one handle this?  Again, I think I just need to make it more or less difficult to obtain and prevalent depending on what part of the world you're in.  Thus I full expect to have Ogre Magi wielding M60s and the Mage advanced class will probably be totally shunned.  Will this result in more powerful characters on average?  Yes, of course.  This power difference will be mitigated by two factors -- First, I'm a better Min/Maxer than my players this time around, since they're all noobs, and second I'm still the DM and that still means I get to control the overall level of resources in the game.  If I make ammo scarce then it's harder for the AUG to be more powerful than it needs to be.  It makes every shot count.  If I'm stingy on rewards then it means it's tougher for the players to just roll around in a tank and run over piles of kobolds.

Skills -- When you add up two systems, both of which have a large skill set you'll make it even more difficult to make positive skill choices.  Therefore I'm going to test out a skill system modification:  Synergy categories.  The basic idea is one that's been used in Paranoia d20 -- group up certain skills into one super-skill.  So Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Jump and Tumble will all be considered under the Acrobatics skill set but they'll also be their own skills.  You buy ranks in Acrobatics at 2:1 and you apply your ranks in Acrobatics as a Synergy bonus to all the skills in the Acrobatics skill set at 1:1 for class skills and 2:1 for cross-class skills.  However, your base ranks in the particular skills are still the official "ranks" score for that skill for things like fulfilling Prestige Class requirements.  Yes, this could allow someone to get a +385 jump modifier if they wanted but again, I can work around that as the DM.

So far these are the only major issues I've seen that are glaringly obvious.  I'm currently fully into world-and-campaign-building mode so as things come up I'll expand on this.  Also, I invite anyone to propose theoretical issues or cases to be considered, asking how I would deal with some situation or to propose solutions to any problems I or anyone else comes up with.  I'll try to keep this updated as the world building and eventually the game progresses.



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Re: Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2008, 07:22:40 AM »
Have you heard of "True20" from Green Ronin?

It is a really good thing to use as a base and add in other d20 elements. 
Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009


  • Bi-Curious George
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Re: Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2008, 10:52:15 PM »
So this game is actually going and we've had two sessions so far.  I'll try to keep this thread updated with the latest on my mix-and-match experiment.

The group went all D&D to start -- one player was going to do a Gunslinger but dropped out.  So the party is left at:
Human Wizard (Evoker)
Elf Cleric (Turning Focused)
Kender Rogue (Aiming at Arcane Duelist)
Kender Bard (Unknown Objective)

So not terribly optimized.  I don't mind, especially since I've been tossing them pretty easy encounters so far.


  • Bi-Curious George
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Re: Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2008, 11:09:02 PM »
House Rules
Wealth DCs - Mostly as the equivalent in D20 Modern works.  Technology is overcosted by +2 to +4 or more depending on location in game and level of technology.
Action Points - Unlike any other system, I really just stole the name.  Players get action points per day and can use them to reroll (except natural 1's) or add a (level-scaling) bonus to rolls.  I'll be expanding the uses as the players get more accustomed to the rules.
Item Creation - I'm trying an alternate item creation system designed elsewhere.  Instead of the standard system the character invests spell levels into an object for a given amount of time.  Thus, item creation can occur on the road without the need for a day of downtime for a single scroll but item power is still limited by level and time.
Skills - I merged a few skills but didn't go with my synergy idea.

So I totally took a trick from the BG podcast playbook and tried the "ask a question - first answer is correct" game.  As a result the party leader is Jajoon, the Wizard.  He has founded a group named the "Ubiquitous Fantastic Searchers" (UFS) not more than two days prior to the first session.  The UFS works as a neutral mercenary group focused on retrieval missions.  (This worked out really well since the second adventure concept I had was the party trying to get back a stolen mecha or two.)

As such, three out of four of the party members (Jajoon the Wizard, Solivat the TN Cleric and Bob* the Rogue) are in it for the money.  I can play to that easily, just put shiny things in front of them and they dance for it easily.  Sparrow the Bard, however, is in it for the adventure and somewhat idealistic, so getting her to dance is a little tougher.

*Bob's actually name is something akin to Bobbledeboingyboing or something at least as ridiculous.

Also, I'm trying to follow the general idea of the 5-room dungeon, extrapolated to the whole campaign.  I'm guessing it'll be 3 levels deep, leaving us with 125 encounters over the course of 25 (relatively short) adventures.  Where about 1-1.5 adventures should be completed each week, which means we have about four hours per adventure, including introduction, travel, encounters, rewards, shopping, etc.  Given the first two sessions this seems like it'll be about right and also puts us on a 1-year campaign track (1 session every three weeks, approximately.)


  • Bi-Curious George
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Re: Play With Anything - Mostly d20 Modern and D&D 3.5
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2008, 11:24:45 PM »
Mission #1 - Retrieve two stolen mecha
Now, I'll be sparing a lot of the narrative detail since this was supposed to be an experiment in alternate rules and merging worlds.  This is also my first attempt at such a radical situation so I'm likely to screw up rules here and there.

First, the mecha:  They're Large d20 Future mecha except that they have only 50 HP, no armor and at 2/3 HP (33) become entangled and at 1/3 HP (16) have to Fort save DC 19 or catch on fire.  (As the campaign progresses there'll be better mecha out there.)

The mecha are piloted by a pair of Goblin Expert 1s.  This means the goblins don't have the Mecha Weapons feat and thus have crappy attack rolls.  This offsets the 1d8-3d6 (depending on weapon) the Mecha normally do.  So you end up with a Large (Tall) Goblin with 22+ Strength but an attack roll of +0 or worse next to damage of 1d8+6 to 3d6+12.

Next, wealth was a big part of the beginning campaign.  Because anyone can always get anything with a Wealth DC of 20+Wealth Bonus given enough time everyone started off pretty well supplied.  Some people were even smart enough to ask if they could get a lighter.  So everyone has gear that 1st level characters normally can't get including lighters, a riding dog, breastplate, chain shirts, etc.

Surprisingly (or not-so, considering player knowledge), no one even asked about masterwork weaponry.  Except for basic equipment, everyone skipped on d20 Modern stuff.  So no guns here.

The riding dog has been a boon to the Bard in battle.  She points and it attacks.  I've been doing all the dog's actions by asking the player "what do you want it to do" then adjudicating as necessary.  So she'll have to say, "I want it to kill that hobgoblin" but can't say "I want it to kill that hobgoblin but avoid going near the fire over there."

The lighters and other relatively mundane gear hasn't been an issue as none of it has any features that D&D didn't already have even though I've effectively removed gold restrictions for mundane items.  I mean, is it really game-breaking if your party has as many Sunrods as they want?

So for the first mission the mecha are the only real big d20 Modern placement that doesn't belong.  However it went pretty smoothly.  I didn't try giving the goblins-in-a-mech a specific CR at this point since they had abysmal attack bonuses (and the PCs weren't expected to take a hit, and didn't) but I'll have to work out a more CR-appropriate version since the group'll be fighting up to four of them in the next session.

Conclusion from Mission #1
So what did I gain from having d20 Modern here?  What did I lose?

I think the major gain was that the players got to see something cool and absurd -- a 10' tall hobgoblin-looking machine piloted by a goblin.  They had fun and digged the idea of goblins in heavy gear.  They're also looking forward to stealing some mechs for themselves and, I can only imagine, going on a gold-grabbing rampage.

The major loss was definitely the creation time -- I had to answer a lot of "what's the Wealth DC for ..." questions.  I should've worked it out earlier but now I've got a little chart that I can use though I have to streamline it for the next session so I can also add in any ad hoc DCs I make up.

If there's interest I may also do a narrative diary of the campaign instead of trying to focus mostly on balance and system issues -- though there's probably a better forum than Play with Anything than that.

Post Script
Oh, also, if you've ever seen Feng Shui, the action-adventure Hong Kong blood opera RPG, I intend to take a lot of inspiration in style from that as I go on.  I'd suggest flipping through that book for anyone that likes HKBO.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2008, 11:28:00 PM by ZeroSum »