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d20 Future OSSR
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:53 am    Post subject: d20 Future OSSR Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

d20 Future is a setting book for d20 Modern, and has a lot of its failings - in particular, the core classes are totally borked because of the strong/fast/tough/smart/wise/charismatic hero thing, and a hard class-based d20 system game doesn't make too much sense for the modern day anyways, but it's got lasers and power armor and mecha all in one book, so what's the worst that could happen? The answer is... d20 Future!

Introduction
The introduction starts off pretty generic - you need the d20 Modern rulebook to play. It notes that the book is broken up into modules that you can take or leave. We have chapters! who knew?

The meat of the introduction is the list of progress levels, which are honestly pretty dumb. PL 0 is the stone age, like that's a unitary thing (see Pre-Columbian America vs. everybody circa 20000 BC). PL 1 is the Bronze/Iron age, which maybe should be separated, but I'm not too worked up about it given that the book is about the future. PL 2 is the Middle Ages, because we are Eurocentric as fuck today. PL 3 is the Age of Reason, and I have no idea what years they think it is. Some of the scientific disciplines they call out as big deals didn't really get off the ground until the 1800s, while the social stuff they point to starts a lot earlier. I'm also not really sure where everything between the Italian Renaissance and Francis Bacon is supposed to go. PL 4 is the Industrial Age, which runs from the mid-1800s until computers start being a big deal. PL 5 is the Information Age, which is basically the space race through the present day.

Beyond here we start to get into bullshit. They really want to have a clean progression of aesthetics and technology as we go into the future, but that's not actually what anybody's after. What you really want is the ability to run your specific future setting, which might be cyberpunk where nobody's running around with laser cannons but 90% of the cast has major cyberware, or might be the Asimovian shiny future of laserguns and humanoid robots and sleek rocketships, and I'd rather see an explicit organization around a handful of sci-fi subgenres rather than just throwing a bunch of things at the wall in the character and equipment

So, that said, their next age is PL 6, the Fusion Age, which is really incoherent - there's fusion, but not so you can carry it around, and there's a nod towards cyberpunk, but there's also colonizing other planets, and also there's gravity manipulation, even though that's the WHOLE THING OF THE NEXT AGE. PL 7 is the Gravity Age, which focuses on gravity manipulation. Interstellar travel starts being a thing, and they call out power armor and a return to melee combat as big changes in military technology. Given how unimpressive their power armor is, I don't really buy it. PL 8 is the energy age, which means force fields and shields are go, as are starfighters. Beyond that there is PL9, which they don't really explain beyond noting that it's totally sweet, and that it has FTL and the lower progress levels apparently don't?
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter One: Characters
There's a little bit of introductory text about how you need to talk to your GM about what's available, which isn't entirely unreasonable. That's really about it for body text here, so the rest of this is just going to be stream of consciousness about skills and feats and such.

Drifters and Scavengers get a better wealth bonus than Astronaut Trainees or professional pilots. Yeah.

Outcasts get a +1 wealth bonus, toughness as a bonus feat, and a single class skill, putting them firmly in suck tier. Note that this is apparently the same income level as Astronaut Trainees, so... wat?

Bluff can be used in starship combat. what.

Knowledge(Technology) doesn't get subdivided any - starships, robots, mecha, it's all good.

Treat Injury takes a penalty for dealing with creatures of another type unless you have the Xenomedic feat. I'm mostly okay with this, except that Vulcans are probably humanoids, or worse, everything near-human is a monstrous humanoid and can all medic each other just fine.

Action Boost should have been in the core book but also is worth a +1 bonus when you use an action point to boost a roll. Not worth it for anyone ever.

Alien Weapons Proficiency? Really? Come on, man. Either there's a fat ergonomics penalty that doesn't go away or you can just hold it and shoot if you have the proficiency for the armor type

Armor Proficiency (Powered) seems reasonable - it requires Armor Proficiency(light) and Armor Proficiency(medium). Except that you have no base armor proficiency at all, so it actually eats three feats to get there, plus you probably want to be proficient in firearms, and you might also like to be able to use automatic weapons, so now you're five feats in the hole just to be a reasonably competent future soldier, and of those, only Personal Firearms Proficiency is available as a class or occupation bonus feat. The lowest level you can join the Mobile Infantry at is 6, apparently.

Dual talent feats (character class Plus) are actually worth having around, but the restrictions on them kinda suck.

Starships have a big feat tax to be okay at combat. No Luke Skywalkers for you.

Advanced Classes
Advanced classes mostly suck, thanks to the overall low power of the game - most classes give one feature per level, and it's just not enough. Generally the individual abilities aren't terrible, but none of them would be level-appropriate in D&D. If I were to actually run a game using this book, I'd probably compress them to five levels, make them base classes, and maybe run gestalt, then come up with some halfway decent prestige classes.

Half the Ambassador's class features are things they should get at first level by virtue of being ambassadors at all. It's not a horrible concept for a space opera game, but again, this is your entire character. Diplomatic Immunity is mostly a fluff ability, Open Arms is a +5 Diplomacy bonus, Information Access is pretty neat if you were actually requiring wealth checks for gather information (you weren't), Stipend is free money, and Restricted Access and Select Consuls are both things you probably should have had the instant you got Diplomatic Immunity.

The dogfighter pretty much does what he says on the tin, but there's not really enough there. Defender of the Universe is only good if you're playing a cocky, famous fighter jock. Shake, Rattle and Roll gives you some debuffs in combat, but even at level 10, a -2 to a starship for the next round 3 times a day just isn't that much. To the Max is only good because starship ranges are tiny in this game, and Keep it Together means you just lose a little slower.

The Dreadnought is a Tough Hero advanced class explicitly, except for the bit where you could sneak in if you wanted to set a feat on fire to grab Tough Plus. The only real active abilities are Ability Surge (+8 Str, -2 Dex for 1 round per class level) and Knockdown, which forces enemies to make fortitude saves or be knocked down in melee. There's a bunch of passive stuff that you'd want to grab, and the feat list is good for a future soldier, but there's nothing super-exciting going on.

The engineer hands out a bunch of nice side bonuses, but realistically unless the exact amount of time repairs take is a big deal, he's not that effective. If you really want to play Q instead of James Bond, it's not bad, but wouldn't you rather be a protagonist?

The Explorer is basically a rogue/ranger hybrid with all the combat efectiveness stripped out. They get two free feats you don't care about (Guide and Track), evasion, and a few low-end bonuses to trap-finding. The only real ability on the list is Extra Step, which lets you take a five-foot step as a free action by spending an action point. I can certainly see it coming in handy, but it's not what you want as the only combat-time ability in your entire class.

The Field Officer is pretty weaksauce. Most of his abilities are trumped-up aid another, and his action point banking isn't great, given that he can only spend one per round. In clutch situations where one roll decides the fate of the party and you know it in advance, he's fantastic, but he doesn't give any damage bonuses, and his leadership abilities all take attack actions, if not a full round.

The Helix Warrior is basically a 10-level class that hands out a suite of racial bonuses that would be great for a realistic soldier - massive carrying capacity, listen checks in their sleep, darkvision. On the other hand, they don't get a single active ability aside from a bonus on action point rolls. Again, stuff I'd happily take as side benefits and fluff abilities, but nothing you'd really want to spend 10 levels getting.

I really don't know how they think the Space Monkey is going to get used. They're a pretty reasonable jack of all trades class, with bonuses to a bunch of skills, feinting bonuses, and some attack bonuses. On the other hand, they seem to think that you're going to have multiple of them in the party, when they don't really have a primary role - you'd rather have a combat monster than monkey #2, despite the +1 attack bonus (really, a +1 attack bonus.) No idea what's going on with that.

Remember how exciting Action Points were in 2003? Yeah. The swindler is an entire class about action points. He also gets a reroll once per day, which isn't too bad, but beyond the one-level dip there's just nothing there.

The technosavant isn't quite a reworded engineer, I think. She builds and repairs high-tech stuff faster, has a damage bonus against robots, and gets a bunch of salvage bonuses. It's still not clear why these are two different classes - they aren't really distinct enough for me to care which one I have in the party, although I can see the salvage thing getting really obnoxious really fast.

The Tracer is one of those classes that they just didn't think of in time for the base book, like the Swindler and the Field Officer. There's nothing particularly futuristic about him - he's got Urban Tracking (ripped off from a prestige class in Masters of the Wild, IIRC), sneak attack but only against flat-footed targets, and some stealth and tracking bonuses. The only thing in here that is maybe sci-fi is favored enemy bonuses, but even then he could easily have been in the Urban Arcana section of the d20 Modern book.

The Xenophile basically gets favored enemy bonuses and bonuses to saving throws. Oh, and dodge but only against favored enemies That's it, aside from knowledge skill checks to learn about enemies... which apparently wasn't a rule until 3.5. In D&D, the ranger gets all that, full BAB, half-casting, and the Explorer advanced class. Really.
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momothefiddler
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

zeruslord wrote:
Drifters and Scavengers get a better wealth bonus than Astronaut Trainees or professional pilots. Yeah.

Outcasts get [...] the same income level as Astronaut Trainees, so... wat?


Student loans don't get any better in the future, it seems.
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codeGlaze
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I had a friend who had a few d20 Modern books... neither of us knew this supplement existed.

...now I know why. Tongue
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly, I don't really blame them for it - the core book established that you didn't get much interesting stuff per hit die, and they're mostly just following the pattern that the original advanced classes laid down.
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

zerus wrote:
I'm mostly okay with this, except that Vulcans are probably humanoids, or worse, everything near-human is a monstrous humanoid and can all medic each other just fine.


As the HIGHLY CANONICAL AND RELEVANT Star Trek: TOS episode has shown us, even creatures as similar in physiology to humans have a bunch of crazy shit going down in their organs. So this rule makes sense even for rubber forehead aliens.
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In short, your entire post is dismissive of not merely my intelligence, but my agency. And I don't mean agency as a player within one of your games, I mean my agency as a person. You do not want me to be informed when I make the fundamental decisions of deciding whether to join your game or buying your rules system.
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name_here
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, the problem he's pointing out is that either humans don't take a penalty treating Vulcans, or Vulcans don't take a penalty treating Klingons.
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Dean
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

D20 future was an unsalvageable catastrofuck. Besides everything in it sucking it's notable for having the least playable spaceship rules of anything ever printed. They are like a grognard's satirical parody of how complex 3rd edition might have looked to them. The book is noteworthy not only for having so many things wrong with it but also getting nothing right.
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Ice9
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've played it once. Went with the heir background, which meant unlimited gear up to a certain cost each. Bought a bunch of grenades and utility stuff, it worked out ok.

Char-gen was pretty much the peak though; the classes really don't get you much compared to having decent equipment. I believe I was trying to craft up some experimental stuff, as a technosavant, but the campaign ended before I got very far on that.

It was ... better than d20 Modern. Not saying much, I know. Mainly because the d20 system seemed somewhat less overkill when you had future gear and bio-mods and shit. We didn't do any ship combat - luckily, it sounds like.


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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's simply stunning just how much of a fuck the d20 modern line didn't give about anything. A d20 future or Urban Arcana or Dark Matter sourcebook was doomed from the very start -- but there was little reason why d20 past or d20 apocalypse had to be such a huge pile of hot ass.
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Josh Kablack wrote:
Your freedom to make rulings up on the fly is in direct conflict with my freedom to interact with an internally consistent narrative. Your freedom to run/play a game without needing to understand a complex rule system is in direct conflict with my freedom to play a character whose abilities and flaws function as I intended within that ruleset. Your freedom to add and change rules in the middle of the game is in direct conflict with my ability to understand that rules system before I decided whether or not to join your game.

In short, your entire post is dismissive of not merely my intelligence, but my agency. And I don't mean agency as a player within one of your games, I mean my agency as a person. You do not want me to be informed when I make the fundamental decisions of deciding whether to join your game or buying your rules system.
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lago PARANOIA wrote:
It's simply stunning just how much of a fuck the d20 modern line didn't give about anything. A d20 future or Urban Arcana or Dark Matter sourcebook was doomed from the very start -- but there was little reason why d20 past or d20 apocalypse had to be such a huge pile of hot ass.

While d20 future arguably was doomed from the start it is indeed stunning just how obvious it was they didn't bother giving a fuck and TRYING to even make the splat books work.

The whole point of d20Modern seemed to be it was a Generic core rules set which in itself wasn't all that interesting but was the launch point for adding a splat book and playing a more interesting Sci-Fi or modern fantasy mash up or something.

And yet they didn't even seem to try, d20 Future ends up looking like they just took a bunch of early drafts and unfinished ideas for an actual d20 Future book and just published them unedited, untested and flat out incomplete.
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Dean
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My memory of the entire line was that D20 Apocalypse was the best of them. That's saying extremely little in my opinion but my memory from the period that they were coming out was that d20 Apocalypse had some mutation abilities and a few other things that made it seem like a sourcebook someone put some effort into as opposed to something like d20 Future which informs you every page how few fucks it gives.
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


The Campaigns chapter is 22 pages long, and is basically a bunch of article-length setting/campaign sketches jammed together. It would have been better off if it had been longer - as it stands, each setting gets one advanced class and maybe an item or monster, when they really could have used two or three classes each. The layout is a bit inconsistent - the first couple campaigns get about a page of sample adventure writeups, which could have worked at a quarter the length and let them throw in something for the other settings.

Bughunters
Bughunters is exactly what it says on the tin - you play grunts on the frontline of humanity's expansion to the stars. They do point out that it doesn't have to be that straightforward, though. The sample adventure writeups are pretty good, although unnecessarily long - they take half a column to set up "you've got a nuke, the aliens are in the mine the colony is centered on, the next wave of colonists are coming early, and the bugs are starting to boil oout of the mine. Irradiate the mine and save the colonists, or keep the mine useable and let the colonists die?". The advanced class is a pretty generic soldier with weapon focus/specialization and favored enemy, although they do get controlled autofire (+5 to autofire dodge DC) at level 10 - way late.

Dimension X
Dimension X is kinda weird - the setting is a multiverse with interdimensional travel, and dimensions are being slowly destroyed by Mysterious Forces. The role of the PCs is to go into dimensions as they collapse, evacuate as much as possible, and record the last moments before jumping out. It would make a pretty good TV show, but there's not a ton of action and you'd need a strong RP group to realy make it sing. There's a paragraph on interdimensional raiders and crisis points (assassinations and such), but the focus of the writeup is mostly on the Dimensional Armaggeddon (that's what they call it, anyways. It's more like a Dimensional Fimbulwinter if you ask me, but no one ever does). They've basically got the full campaign arc plotted out, including ending with a twist - the dimensions are collapsing because there were too many, since the dimension police didn't do anything to stabilize the crisis points, and afterwards there will only be one dimension - BUT AT WHAT COST?

The advanced class is the Dimension Ranger, who gets a Dimension Wand and, at level 7 in the class can get an alternate dimension version of himself for big fights, as long as he has an hour to sync up. It's interesting, but when that's your only trick, it's going to get old pretty quickly.

From The Dark Heart of Space
I have no idea what's going on here, or why you would want to play it. Basically you fight psychic evil void monsters who are eeeevvvviiiilllll, and/or you are some kind of anti-void inquisition? There's not really much more detail than that, and they blew all their sample adventure page space on the first two campaigns. The art shows a guy kung-fu kicking the head off a void monster, but the advanced class, the Purifier, gets poor BAB, so idunnno.

Genetech
Genetech is one of the ones that I'd really like to see get a 10-page spread with enough detail to really be playable from the book. Basically it's a biotech-heavy cyberpunk setting where you play as gene-modded mass-produced soldiers who've rebelled against their ordained role. The high concept is nice, but they don't so much as name a corporation, so you've still got to do worldbuilding basically from scratch. On the other hand, it's skeletal enough to not conflict with whatever source material you wanted to pull from.

Mecha Crusade
Mecha Crusade is basically IP-scrubbed Gundam, but not in enough detail to beat IP-scrubbing Gundam yourself. No new rules are presented, because there's a Mecha chapter for that.

Star*Drive
Star*Drive is one of the old Alternity settings, from back in the 90s when naming stuff Star*Drive seemed like a reasonable idea. It's space opera but there's not room for them to really go into enough detail to make things playable. I'm a bit surprised they put it in here in this format, given that it was fairly well known at the time. They could pretty easily have put out a no plot advancement d20 edition instead, and it would have been enough to use. In here, it's not quite detailed enough to be intriguing, and because the setting is meant for a general RPG, there isn't really enough focus for me to say "oh, I could take this setting and run with it". The main bit of crunch here is the Concord Administrator, an advanced class for sheriffy types on the outskirts of known space. It's pretty lame - there's a custom weapon, a per-day stun, and a couple investigative bonuses, but they also pretend that selecting extra class skills after starting a class is worth anything at all.

Star Law
Star Law basically wants you to be space cops going after known criminals to bring them to trial. There's some criminal syndicates and power groups listed, but really this seems like a playtest game turned into a setting entry. There's a couple mechanical bits presented - a PL 7 ship presented as a template that seems to be tightly coupled to a particular PL 6 ship design and an advanced class that is basically fighter + spending an action point for a one round bless once per day. NEXT!

The Wasteland
Generic post-apocalypse setting. Pretty much everybody knows how this goes, and they don't really add anything to it. The crunchy bit here is the Nuclear Nomad, who gets radiation resistance or mutations, massive damage save rerolls, and radiation detection. Depending on the campaign, it's either mandatory to have one or totally useless.
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Gear
The main contribution of the Gear chapter is the Gadget rules, which are stupid, because wealth is stupid. Basically, each gadget has a purchase DC modifier, which gets added to the purchase DC of the gear being modified. This almost seems to make sense, until you realize that purchase DCs are nonlinear, so getting a rangefinding laser scope takes your OICW near-future assault rifle (actually the program got cancelled, but eh) from a purchase DC of 26, with a cost of roughly $12000, to a DC of 28 and a cost of about $20000. Getting the same damn scope for the PL 5 near-future pistol takes it from a purchase DC of 18 and cost of about $1200 to a DC of 20 with a cost of $2000 - basically, a scope can cost 10 times as much based on which weapon you're attaching it to. Now, there are some gadgets where this makes sense - the more expensive the base item, the more it will cost to miniaturize it, but a lot of gadgets are just a paint job or a second piece of equipment stapled on to the side.

The other major flaw in d20 Future's Gear Chapter is that it was written in 2004 and the iPhone came out in 2007, so smartphones just don't happen. You can kludge them together with the integrated-equipment and miniaturized gadgets, but a lot of the DISTANT FUTURE SUPER EXCITING things are stuff I do every day. (well, I only video-chat mondy-wednesday-friday, but still)

I'm mostly going to hit highlights here, because fuck if I'm reviewing every weapon in the book.

The Autofire gadget is seriously dumb. Like SERIOUSLY dumb. Most magazine-fed semiautomatic weapons are basically a couple moving parts from being automatic, and sometimes that means the semiauto version has MORE parts than the automatic. On the other hand, a shoulder-fired rocket launcher doesn't become automatic without some major reengineering, and it's not like you'd be able to carry enough rounds for an autofire attack anyway.

Paint-on LCD is a neat idea, although I feel like it should be a setting conceit - either this is a rare expensive custom thing, or your soda cans are animated.

PL 5 Gear
Most of this is plausible near-future stuff, to the point where some of it was part of military weapons programs. On the other hand, all of those programs were cancelled, so it's not clear how plausible they really were.

The Falcon .45 is a .45 caliber MACHINE PISTOL. Have fun with your broken wrists, asshole. Also, ever-growing firepower available to criminals and gang members means the police need machine pistols, rather than body armor?

The OICW is a rifle with all kinds of cool features, likea nightvision laser rangefinding scope with integration with your helmet-mounted HUD and a built-in mini-grenade launcher. The program got cancelled because giving everybody a grenade launcher isn't worth doubling the weight of everybody's rifle, and the helmet-HUD idea has yet to pan out (clear display technology never happened at the size and weight they'd need for it).

The Land Warrior armor was a real plan at one point. These days, everybody gets basically the armor they had ten years ago, plus a custom smartphone. Again, a key part of the concept was a light-weight, clear heads-up display on a helmet-mounted visor, and it just didn't happen. A lot of the communication ideas did happen, but as part of a smartphone rather than as part of the armor.

Display Glasses are basically the missing piece from Land Warrior - a pair of sunglasses that can display AR tags or be transparent on a per-pixel basis.

Duracable is stupid. Different ropes have different qualities and this actually matters. Climbing rope is very stretchy on purpose so that it can absorb the energy of a falling person slowly, while very unstretchy ropes are better for tying things together tightly. Webbing is nice because it's flat, so you can use it as a belt and pass it through buckles and sew it to itself. There's not going to be a one-size-fits-all rope substitute, and metal is expensive.

The Hackcard is stupid and videogamey. There's no real reason for these to be one-use, and even if you did try to DRM your cybercrime device, it takes one clever person to break the encryption and put it on the web. Also, they're licensed rather than black market? These are either being handed to you by your agency/mafia/team's hacking department, in which case that restriction doesn't matter (and they wouldn't be one-use by default) or you're getting them in sketchy black-market ways from someone you don't really trust who doesn't really trust you.

Laser tripwires sound really cool, but honestly they're on your automatic garage door and not controlling lights.

The range they quote on the nanobeacon is totally ridiculous, but the basic idea is pretty sound. No idea what resonable range is, but it's probably under a mile for anything small enough that you'd actually not notice it, especially if it's supposed to have meaningful battery life.

The puritizer would be totally amazing if it was real, and they're significantly underrating its societal impact by treating it as survival gear rather than an easily deployable, low-impact way to give CLEAN FOOD AND WATER TO EVERYONE ON EARTH. Slap a solar cell on that and watch the planet's GDP go up like crazy.

Spray LCD is another awesome idea but if it's a thing that actually shows up, it makes a radical change to the appearance of the setting

PL 6 Gear
PL 6 is the Fusion Age - fusion reactors are highly portable, apparently, which is unlikely to be the case. Personally, I wouldn't bet on meaningful power generation in anything you'd carry around while it's running, but slapping a fusion reactor on the back of your jeep is reasonable if you don't mind it blowing up every once in a while.

Bio-agent Ammunition is SERIOUSLY dumb. Like, you have SHOT SOMEBODY, and now you are going to wait for poison to kill them? Either you're basically using the future version of a blowgun or the BULLETS you are putting THROUGH SOMEONE'S BODY are going to be more effective than any amount of contact poison.

In the future, grenades are better! You get an extra d6 of damage per progress level. EMP grenades are a thing at PL 6, mostly because they're worth using once everybody's got HUDs and nightvision goggles and whatnot. Tanglefoot bags also come into existence at PL 6.

The High-Frequency Sword is basically a sword but better. Not sure this is a great weapon in a futuristic environment, or even a modern one.

Laser guns are basically just guns but with an extra die of damage, and doing fire damage instead of ballistic. Not terribly exciting

The mini-grenade launcher and mini-rocket launcher are pistol-sized, fire miniature ammo, and might actually be practical to have around. On the other hand, it requires Exotic Firearms Proficiency, so kiss your feats goodbye. Note that full-size grenade and rocket launchers don't seem to be any better.

The Video Scope is a PL 6 weapon gadget that is basically a video scope with zoom that can also make video calls. Really, this book suffers a LOT from coming out before the iPhone - there's so much stuff that was super sci-fi distant future stuff ten years ago that everybody has in their pocket now.

The survival suit is a PL 6 stillsuit ripoff, basically. It's a cool idea, but you're either in a desert or you can survive without recycling your bodily waste.

There isn't any PL 6 power armor, which is really bizarre. We've got prototype power armor today, and the main problem with it is that it needs to be tethered to a generator to run. Somehow, we can't take the power storage/generation technology that lets us run miilitarily useful rifle-sized lasers and put it on armatures we've already designed?

The Card Computer is kinda silly. Basically, either personal computers have more processing power than card computers, or all computers are card computers. Personally, I'm betting on option one. Now, I can see smartphones and screens and keyboards having default bluetooth and you just bring your phone over to your keyboard/screen desk, set it on the charging pad, and start typing away, but you are never going to get the horsepower in a card computer that you can get in an ATX tower of the same generation.

Display Contacts are real AR, and I don't know that you want them to happen at the same time as laser rifles (insert digression about progress level vs genre here).

The Motion Sensor is major magic - it can sense motion through walls, and maybe also generically see through them. The tactical and privacy implications are entirely ignored.

The Universal Communicator is basically a smartphone but without apps. Also, it has it's own frequency instead of being a cell phone? Some people's children.
>2004

Jetpacks happen in the fusion age! this is dumb. the problem with jetpacks isn't holding someone up, it's holding someone up while not burning their legs off.

HUD software gadgets are a thing, as though it's not just an alternate display for your smartphone
>2004

PL 7 Gear
PL 7 is the Gravity Age, but a lot of things don't really change. This is the first era with backpack generators, but msot stuff doesn't really change.

Plasma weapons are a thing as of PL 7, but there apparently aren't any direct gravity guns. The rail gun is total shit, at 18 pounds and 3d12 damage vs 8 pounds and 3d10 for the plasma rifle. If you ignore weight, it makes sense, but nobody would actually pick it up and use it.

The Space Combat Suit is the first piece of powered armor, but I don't see why it doesn't come with more in the way of built-in gadgetry. Like, we can SEE THROUGH WALLS, but this isn't considered a valuable tactical addition?

The sensors available at PL 7 strike me as basically just software packages for the Chemicomp and Geocomp Sensors from PL 6. There's clearly more processing power required for them, but I don't see why the armacomp and mechanicomp can't just be part of a PL 7 Geocomp.

It takes the invention of artificial gravity to get ammo trackers in your HUD. I'd expect this to be done on day 2 of writing your infantry HUD software. Also, +1 putchase DC? For an ammo tracker?

The Energy Age
Fusion and gravity generators get miniaturized, and the stardrive is invented.

Phasing ammo is rad - it teleports through walls! There goes tactics.

The Beam Sword is a lightsaber, except without the blocking bullets. Also, 2d8 damage as a melee weapon when the ranged ones are doing 3d8+? Fuck That.

You get cold, electricity, sonic, and unspecified energy damage at this progress level.

Boost Armor is power armor that actually hands out stat bonuses, but it's still dumb. Really, power armor whould replace your strength with whatever the strength of the motors is. OR it could just be gravity powered. Distant Future, remember? You take a speed penalty, even though being pwoered ought to negate that, if not enhance your speed.

The Unisoldier Heavy Combat Armor gives +10 AC, but isn't powered. What's up with that?

The Gravity Anchor lets you fight in nullgrav as though you were in gravity. Pretty cool, huh?

The matter shield is Just Worse than the Personal Force Field. The DR 5/- variant of the PFF costs less than the matter shield and doesn't seem to be limited to physical attacks? I forget exactly how DR works, but it seems a little unfair.

Holograms are a thing in the energy age. They also get applied for disguise, but apparently not stealth?

Neural links finally become a thing at PL 8. By default they aren't wireless, though. What?

ARGH THE ROBOCOMP. If you can identify and fix problems with computers, and you can identify and fix problems with mechanical systems, you can identify and fix problems with robots. Maybe this is just for esentient robots? But even then, mechanical repairs aren't any different from any other mechnical system with the same power transmission setup.



I didn't really mention it, but the weapons are all over the place. Supposedly more advanced weapons do less damage at shorter ranges than the laser rifle, and there isn't really any rhyme or reason to them. Also, no pistol variants except the plasma and laser pistols. No heavy weapons except the PL 5 fifty-cal machine gun, either. Aside from the non-lethal guns, there isn't really anything here that says "you're in The Future" aside from the damage types. Future Tech fixed some of this by filling out the lists a bit more, but in some ways it's too little, to late.

Would people be interested in a concurrent review of d20 Future Tech and/or a later review of it?
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm starting this back up because I stumbled across the old writeup in my dropbox and name_here was interested in seeing more of it.

Chapter Four: Environments
The Environments chapter is necessary but not terribly exciting. You probably would need to invent some or all of this eventually if your campaign has space travel, but they do it with much broader strokes than you really want.

Rrradiation
These are extremely rough radiation rules. If you're only concerned with the short-term viability of the character they're probably reasonable, although there's no precise measurements, just "lightly, moderately, highly and severely" irradiated areas and radiation sources. They consider radiation sickness treatable, which depends a lot on how much radiation you get. Also, no attention is paid to long-term cancer risks, which you can probably get away with in the average campaign, but is a bit of a hole in the rules.

Gravity
Gravity is pretty over-simplified. There's four levels: normal, low, high, and zero. I'd like to see a couple more bands, given that "high" and "low" seem to be very far from earth gravity. The effects of short-term stays in low-grav and zero-grav environments are wildly exaggerated - they think 5 days is enough to cause temporary strength damage, which given how low the granularity of D20 ability scores is seems unlikely. They give rules for zero-g movement, but don't seem to specify that you can't change speed while moving in zero-g (they do say straight lines only). Also, bull rushes in zero-g are strength based, rather than being just a matter of mass.

Atmospheric Conditions
Corrosive atmospheres kill you dead, but maybe slower than they should. Thick or thin atmospheres mean fort saves or disorientation. Vacuum kills you slowly, which is pretty realistic. Decompression is treated pretty well - you might get blown through the hull breach and take damage, but it's not "oh, you explode from decompression".

Star Systems
Space is full of radiation, which is true. Other than that, this section is basically useless. You can get anything in here from browsing Wikipedia, and while there's a chart that gives you dice to roll for number of planets, that's really not enough. If you wanted to actually generate any details about them, you'd need to go somewhere else, probably Traveller or GURPS Space or GURPS Traveller.

Because the writers have No Sense of Scale, they tell you that a solar flare's effects are comparable to "a radioactive blast from one hundred million billion tons of TNT" and compare this to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Note that space is really quite big, and you are probably much farther from the epicenter of the solar flare than any human has ever been from a TNT blast. Also, TNT isn't radioactive, and I really doubt a solar flare's radiation to energy ratio is within an order of magnitude of a nuclear bomb's radiation to energy ratio. Apparently cosmic ray showers will also fuck you up.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The only good that I see here is that I could see using these entries as a jumping off point for better thought out ones.

Also, the more tech levels at the bottom-end assessment feels really important, as most RPG systems tend to use similar breakdowns (e.g. GURPS).

Gobekli Tepe was built by pre-agriculture humans in 12,000 BCE, and the 5% we've uncovered includes stone support columns carved with a wide range of animals (insects, mammals, birds & reptiles).

I could see non-literate humans who are essentialyl nomadic (i.e. build no permanent structures) as PL 0 (however their historic oral traditions are probably better at long-term data storage than anything we've yet invented as a species; there's lots of evidence in the past few decades of ancient geological phenomena passed through indigenous people's oral traditions being proven correct).

Stone structure building pre-agriculture humans as PL 1; agriculture/city-states at PL 2; but the next stages feel a lot more murky.

Tenochtitlan had a population of 100,000's, but didn't use copper; while European cities didn't have sewer systems but had iron-armoured war horses, iron-armoured arquebusiers & crossbowyers. China & Japan had populations & population densities that were considered astronomical to "Age of Exploration" Europeans, but had given up on international trade fleets, and didn't have firearms; respectively.

Other factors to consider: the European dark ages were a post-Roman Mad Max world. People who existed during the era were basically the survivors of a world where 90% of the population of the previous cultural age (and its knowledge) had died off.

I could see the permanence of structures xor population density being the factors that gauge Progress Level. Instead of largely Eurocentric military technology advancements.
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Mord
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"Tech Level" as GURPS initially invented it was not really suitable for use as a sociological tool. The immediate applications it was put to were A) to serve as a scaling device for modeling increasingly powerful weapons and armor without wildly inflating the size of your damage dice pool and B) a way to give time travelers wacky penalties to using everyday devices in the distant past/future.

Trying to use the TL construct to meaningfully characterize actual past Earth civilizations is a waste of time for exactly the reasons JE already hit on. Trying to use it to characterize hypothetical future civilizations is equally useless. Civilizations of the sci-fi future, being fictional, are defined by their narrative and thematic elements more than whether the guns shoot lasers, plasma, or mag-accelerated Gauss junk. You could rank Mad Max, Numenera, Half-Life, Neuromancer, and Eclipse Phase by the maximum level of technology on display in the setting, but you would be wasting your time to do so.


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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Michio Kaku (physicist) has a book called 'The Science of the Impossible' which breaks down civilizations by the amount of energy they use. Earth is Type 0 (or maybe 1/2).
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Almaz
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That's the Kardashev Scale, which I assume he didn't credit its creator for.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Judging__Eagle wrote:
(however their historic oral traditions are probably better at long-term data storage than anything we've yet invented as a species; there's lots of evidence in the past few decades of ancient geological phenomena passed through indigenous people's oral traditions being proven correct).

Not as much as "better" than "people figured out how to speak much earlier than they figured out writing". The oldest texts are only some 5200-5300 years old, and only in recent centuries has the ability to write and read become anywhere near standardized among humies.

Although as somebody said, we've moved from writing into solid stone slabs that last millenia to writing in delicate circuits that break down quite easily.

Judging__Eagle wrote:

Other factors to consider: the European dark ages were a post-Roman Mad Max world. People who existed during the era were basically the survivors of a world where 90% of the population of the previous cultural age (and its knowledge) had died off.

And case in point, a lot of that old knowledge survived (many times in great detail) precisely because some people were copying it down in writing. Stuff like Pythagoras theorems can't really be trusted only to people's shifting memories, or we end up with vague stuff like "lots of time ago there was a really big flood, shit was real man, pray to the higher beings so it doesn't happen again".

Similarly in ancient China, Confuccionism became the main religion/philosophy because somebody managed to hide away a collection of Confuccius work during the infamous Yellow Emperor's book purge. When they were re-discovered, the chinese copied them like it crazy, literally overwriting all the other ancient chinese religions/philosophies that had been reduced to oral tradition.
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Hicks
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So if I were going to make a Traveller or GURPS Tech Level chart, I'd probably do something like below: technologies where if a civilization has them they grant an unbelievable advantage over any civilization that doesn't have them. Why are things like writing and agriculture and crop rotation not on the list? Because I do not believe they are as fundemental as the listed techs. Mid-African civilizations had routine cesarean births and cataract surgery but used oral traditions instead of the written word, and the Incans built up and down the Andes Mountains without the wheel, the Aztec had massive cities and a more massive empire but only had stone tools, all were destroyed by outside civilizations who had access to explosives. Then there are techs like electricity that could be discovered and implemented even with Bronze Age metallurgy technology. So the scale below represents technologies, power sources, and materials that kinda set the bar for civilizations.

Technology Level: Defining Technology
TL 0: Nothing
TL 1: Stone Tools (worked stone and the first tools and weapons)
TL 2: Fire (chemical reactions, the primary power source till fission)
TL 3: Bronze working
TL 4: Iron working
TL 5: Explosives (it starts with gunpowder, but each additional TL improves this)
TL 6: Steel working
TL 7: Steam engines
TL 8: Fission power generation
TL 9: Transistors
TL A: Fusion power generation (using fission bombs to start a fusion reaction dosen't count)
TL B: Antimatter power storage (at best 50% rest mass of paired matter into energy)
TL C: Conversion power generation (at best 100% rest mass of any matter into energy)
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Almaz wrote:
That's the Kardashev Scale, which I assume he didn't credit its creator for.


He probably does. I mean, I remember him talking about the scale a fair bit during the introduction but I did not remember the name of it and don't have the book hamdy to check. But if you like, I will.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:

Not as much as "better" than "people figured out how to speak much earlier than they figured out writing".


The thing with oral tradition histories is that they are often collectively remembered; and maintain their accuracy due to mistakes & changes being corrected by other members of the population.

With some of them going back 10,000 years. Other being scientifically substantiated accounts of geological events that happened 400 years. As well as their contents being considered admissible evidence in courts.

Yes, writing has allowed humans to review the story of Atrahasis' experience in the Mesopotamian deluge; thanks to the baked-clay tablet accounts from the Epic of Gilgamesh from 5,000 BCE; but oral tradition histories have been demonstrated to be more accurate than previously acknowledged by European colonists.

Hicks, I'd place "captured fire, scavenge animals, branch/bone tools/weapons, unworked stone" as TL 0.

While fire creation is a big fucking deal; hominidspre-dating Homo Sapiens have demonstrated that they were able to gather, carry and maintain, embers and sustain fires for generations. At one point in time, putting out an other communities 'generations-fire' was the equivalent of carpeting a developed nation with nuclear arms.

The problem with focusing solely on Indo-European technological progress is that you're focusing a lot on military technologies; and ignoring civilizationa technologies (e.g. high-intensity agriculture, metropolitan aqueducts, medical surgery, sewer systems, courts of law).

One thing that does come to mind is that as a civilization's technology advances; it's technological advances become increasingly democratized. Copper is rare, and the tin to make bronze was so rare that when it's supply was disrupted, the Bronze Age collapsed, much like the later Roman collapse. While ironworking involves more refined smelting and forging techniques, and is not only a more durable material, it's found almost everywhere. Likewise with ranged arms. The amount of training it takes to be a bowyer is massive; a crossbowyer large but not anywhere close to the same; a chu-ko-nu'ier less still; and a firelancer almost none.

Using the Kardashev scale might also make a lot more sense than the concept of "Tech Levels". Although "Tech Levels" could be seen as sub-gradients of the Kardashev scale.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Do you have any specific examples of oral trumping written? Because then I must seriously ask why did people bother developing writing and paper and libraries and whatnot if oral is so super awesome.

This is, why do so many smart people insist on making literacy mandatory for everybody if oral is seemingly better at everything?
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Hicks
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For god's sake, you can't have the internet without the written word. Computers don't work without memory to run programs, and that's the written word again. And every civilization that has had the written word has eventually eclipsed every other civilization that did not, but mostly because of other technologies. Other than Transistors, who's on/off states mandate a binary language be stored, every other technological advance could be done using oral traditions, it just makes your knowledge base suceptable to plague in addition to the standard fire, water, and blunt force books and tablets are suceptable to.

And JE, the the reason for the bronze age collapse is unknown, and cannot be solely attributed to a copper shortage. The point is there are low melting point metals, high melting point metals, and advanced alloys of metals; if you have mass produced bronze tools you beat those who can only mass produce wood or stone tools, and if you mass produce steel tools your cannon are stronger and can shoot further than those who can only make them out of iron.

And TL 0 being no technology is needed to not have negative tech levels, which are dumb. The floor is "no tool use at all" because you can make stone and wooden tools without fire.
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