Everyday Heroes, The Rebirth Of d20 Modern: An Interview

d20 Modern is coming back under a new title with a new system. The first teaser information caused a nice bit of interest leading to this interview with Dave Scott of Evil Genius Productions. In this, he shares some more details for the upcoming Kickstarter and book.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): This is an exciting concept to bring back to tabletop and I’m eager to talk with you about it. What are you bringing to crowdfunding?
DAVE SCOTT (DAVE)
: We’re refreshing d20 Modern by updating it to the 5e system. We brought a few of the original team back to help us with this refresh.

EGG: What will the name of this project be?
DAVE
: The project is called “Everyday Heroes™.” We picked that name because we wanted to distinguish it from the super hero genre. This game is about the John McClanes (Die Hard), the John Rambos (First Blood), even the Snake Plisskens (Escape from New York). It’s about the heroes that look like you and me, but are capable of extraordinary things.

EGG: Are you planning a core rulebook? What about a monster manual or a campaign setting?
DAVE
: The initial release will include a core rulebook. We’re also planning a few expansions. One will be focused on weapons, another on master villains. We also want to do an expansion focused on our military – the real everyday heroes.

EGG: This project brings the modern world to 5e. What inspired that?
DAVE
: I have always loved modern RPGs – Top Secret, Champions, James Bond, and Spycraft. These were the games I played when I was a kid. Some people wanted to play in a fantasy setting, but I always wanted to recreate my favorite action movies.

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Dave Scott (left) and Jeff Grub (right)​

EGG: Who is working on this project?
DAVE
: We’ve assembled an amazing team of designers, some well-known and some new to the industry. On the “well-known” side, we have Jeff Grubb. He was not only one of the original designers of the game, but also known for some of the most iconic games in the field. On the other side, we have Chris Ramsley. I fell in love with their work on Dungeon Master’s Guild where I discovered them. All Chris’ was rated 5 stars.

EGG: What makes this the right time to bring this classic to a new edition?
DAVE
: Given that this is the 20th anniversary of d20 Modern, we felt like this was the right time to do this project. As I started to do my homework, I was blown away by how many people are still running the d20 Modern system – holding it together with gum and tape.

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EGG: I’m glad you’re bring them a new version to play. There have been other modern 5e projects such as Ultramodern5 REDUX or the cyberpunk GeneFunk 2090. Not to denigrate those projects, but what separates your version from those?
DAVE
: I would classify both of those games as being a future or science fiction setting. Everyday Heroes is rooted in today’s world. When we first launched the game, we promised each other that the most advanced technology in the game will be a smart phone. This game pays homage to all of the great action films of the 80s, 90s, 00’s, and today.

EGG: That’s a fair call out. You’re still in early days on this project, yes? What sort of stretch goals are you considering for this campaign?
DAVE
: We’re planning to go above and beyond the typical stretch goals such as new classes or special edition covers. We’ll have those, but we have some exciting stretch goals in mind. I can’t announce anything yet, but stay tuned.
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EGG: Beyond d20 Modern, what else are you working on?
DAVE
: We see d20 Modern as a platform to launch several campaign settings. As far as we’re concerned, we consider the modern era as everything from the 1900’s to the near future. There is a lot of storytelling within that window.

EGG: Thanks for talking to me about this project. Where can fans learn more about your work?
DAVE
: Please visit our website or check out our Kickstarter page.

Everyday Heroes: The Roleplaying Game from Evil Genius Productions
Everyday Heroes is a tabletop roleplaying game for the modern world using officially licensed content from your favorite action films.”

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
 

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry

sigfried

Explorer
I wonder, though, if they see this as somewhat of a "generic" system, like the original D20 Modern was. That is, even though Dave says it's about recreating action movies and not sci-fi like other similar products, could you easily create material to adapt the core rules to a sci-fi or urban fantasy game with it? Horror?

Hi, I'm one of the lead designers on the game so I can answer a few questions.

The rules design is fairly generic in the sense that you could play a wide range of genres using the system. It is a little less generic in that our classes/subclasses are more specialized in their abilities and were made under the notion that when we do more genre-specific material, those classes would be very genre-focused. So the core subclasses are Hollywood / HongKong action cinema-inspired.
 

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Hi, I'm one of the lead designers on the game so I can answer a few questions.

The rules design is fairly generic in the sense that you could play a wide range of genres using the system. It is a little less generic in that our classes/subclasses are more specialized in their abilities and were made under the notion that when we do more genre-specific material, those classes would be very genre-focused. So the core subclasses are Hollywood / HongKong action cinema-inspired.
Will the core book be standalone, or will it require use of D&D 5E core books to fill in the gaps?
 

sigfried

Explorer
I liked that they made an official D&D-compatible modern-day game. I disagreed with a LOT of design decisions in d20 Modern.
I hated the base/advanced/prestige class system. . .forcing characters to take generic "base" classes their first 3 levels before they could qualify for the advanced class that was usually more what their character concept was.

That is something we address. In Everyday Heroes, you get a subclass at level 1 that is very "flavorful" and specialized like an advanced class in d20 modern. As you level up you can take feats that effectively let you pick and chose aspects of other classes and subclasses and mix them into your core class/subclass.

I really disliked the wealth bonus system.

We have a very simple way of dealing with wealth. Heroes have a wealth level, and gear has a Price level. If a Heroes wealth level is equal or greater, they can afford the item. If an item's price is higher, the hero has to obtain the item through role-playing. There is a bit more to it, but no dice rolling or tracking is involved, just GM guidance on what to do in specific situations where wealth would go up or down.

The subdual/nonlethal damage system was awful.

We just use 5e mechanics for this. If a player wants to take someone alive, they can just declare they are doing that.

Hit Points.

Here you won't be quite as happy, we are sticking with HP for the sake of cross-compatibility with other 5e material. We will have an optional system for injuries for GMs that want to introduce that into their game.

I really think they overdid it on the weapons and armor table

Ours is a bit stripped down, but not a lot. We focus more on a weapon group (weapons with similar stats) but we do provide specific examples of a weapon in that group. We tried to balance making firearms feel correct, with not making it feel complicated. Modern genre fans have wide-ranging opinions on this issue so we are going for the best compromise we can muster.

I get they wanted the supernatural elements to be D&D compatible, but Urban Arcana felt indecisively stuck between 1990's "Urban edgy, dark, gothic" stuff like World of Darkness and D&D's usual tone.

Our core rulebook doesn't have much in the way of supernatural material, we are focused on "modern action" in the movie sense. That said, they system is designed to support genres with supernatural elements so our Adventures and Supplements are very likely to have rules for horror, supernatural, and sci-fi elements.
 


Greg K

Hero
Hi, I'm one of the lead designers on the game so I can answer a few questions.

The rules design is fairly generic in the sense that you could play a wide range of genres using the system. It is a little less generic in that our classes/subclasses are more specialized in their abilities and were made under the notion that when we do more genre-specific material, those classes would be very genre-focused. So the core subclasses are Hollywood / HongKong action cinema-inspired.
How will the system be handling martial arts syles and maneuvers?
 



BoxCrayonTales

Adventurer
I get they wanted the supernatural elements to be D&D compatible, but Urban Arcana felt indecisively stuck between 1990's "Urban edgy, dark, gothic" stuff like World of Darkness and D&D's usual tone.
I would love to see more new urban fantasy games. Games made with the benefit of hindsight, making use of a less dated and more modern zeitgeist, full of mysteries to solve, devoid of problematic issues, full of multiple campaigns settings and guidelines to make your own, supported with pre-made adventures and adventure paths...

What I liked about d20 Modern and its various spinoffs is that it wasn't limited to a single campaign setting, but instead gave you a wide variety of options and guidelines for running and making your own. d20 Future, d20 Past, d20 Apocalypse, the various settings in Polyhedron including tour bands and planetary romance, not to mention the 3pp... The benefit of using universal rules is that it was very easy to import stuff from one book to another.

Urban Arcana and other settings didn't overwhelm you with decades of irrelevant "canon" that sucked out all the mystery and that fans would rip your head off for not worshiping or, gasp, daring to make homebrew that sullies the sanctity of canon. d20 Modern was actually made to be played and to inspire creativity, not passively read like a comic book.

Sure, you can argue that GURPS does all that and more (and how!), but WotC has a huge advantage when it comes to marketing.
 

naturaltwenty

Explorer
Publisher
I think it looks awesome! I can't wait for the Kickstarter to begin. These days, a lot of Kickstarters include a VTT component. I'm hoping that this will have one as well.
 



Eyenuv

First Post
Just took a quick nostalgia look at my d20 Modern book, and I was wondering if there was a good sucessor to it today. Quick google search and i saw your project! I am pretty happy to see it back just at the time I was thinking about running this kind of game and just register on your kickstarter link to learn about the launch.

I really liked all the idea that the original system had, but as you said, it need to be "held together with gum and tape" to be run efficiently. It was already apparent at the release that the system would need an update to be runned well. If you can do that, I will gladly buy your book!

As for your streched goals, I strongly suggest urban arcana and cyberpunkish extension at first. While I disklike the whole urban arcana thing, that seem to have been the d20 modern bestsellers and will help you get financially afloat enough to develop the rest of the setting. As for cyberpunk, I really saw in my circles a fad for the genre with Cyberpunk 2077 and I'm pretty sure a good d20 Modern system would give a good opportunities for people that want to stay in the d20 environnement but want to play a cyberpunk/shadowrun style of game. VTT integration is also a must now in a pandemic/post-pandemic environment. I now play more on fantasy ground than in person.

As for the art, it's not the most beautiful art, but it really does the job to inspire and set the tone for action movie style adventures, and the original d20 Modern art has aged pretty well compare to others arts of the times. So don't change it!

All in all, I am enthousiast at what I see and impatiently wait for your kickstarter.
 
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Eyenuv

First Post
Serious? Really skinny waist, overly broad shoulders, extremely muscle bound. Negative body image issues aren't just for the ladies, you know?
Well, the goal of the game seem to emulate Hollywood movies, and I don't know if you have realise it, but Hollywood seem to be casting people whose apperances are considered the most attractives in our society. I don't know why the art of a game that want to emulate those kind of movie should be different than what Hollywood does.
 

I liked that they made an official D&D-compatible modern-day game.

I disagreed with a LOT of design decisions in d20 Modern.

I really disliked the wealth bonus system. I figured it out and could make it work, but so many people couldn't and there were so many misunderstandings and errors in how that system was run in so many games. It was a good idea in theory, to have a game mechanic to represent someone's wealth in modern finance terms with concepts like bills, credit, net income etc. all abstracted. . .but when players are used to dealing with D&D gold coins first, going from that to an abstract number where it's fully possible to buy many everyday items at essentially no cost to the character (because the character could easily afford the items without it noticeably affecting their finances) was confusing for a lot of players.
I don't really care about the truly awful cover art, but this is a complete deal-breaker for me.

It is complexity which adds nothing. It is very simple to say 'Your PC has X in the bank, and X per month', so why bother adding rules to something that everyone does daily?
 

Serious? Really skinny waist, overly broad shoulders, extremely muscle bound. Negative body image issues aren't just for the ladies, you know?
Looking at the picture, besides being rather badly drawn, the character appears to have orange skin , shoulders that are about 12" too wide on each side for a human being, is around 8' tall, and had biceps that are about twice the current world record.

The figure literally does not look like any Human being who has ever existed. Kind of odd for 'heroes that look like you and me'.

To me, the cover screams: more of the same, nothing new here.


 

I don't really care about the truly awful cover art, but this is a complete deal-breaker for me.

It is complexity which adds nothing. It is very simple to say 'Your PC has X in the bank, and X per month', so why bother adding rules to something that everyone does daily?
I remember the creators of d20 Modern, about 20 years ago when it came out, answering that question.

One of the authors of d20 MOdern said that every time he tried to run modern games, his players would always try to "game the system" around modern-day credit. They'd have characters that would open up every credit card possible and max them all out buying ammunition and guns, or insist on trying to invest in the stock market, or they'd sell their houses to buy adventuring gear and just say they'd all crash at the house of one guy in the party, or otherwise fixate on how to manipulate modern personal finance to their best end. They created the wealth bonus system in d20 Modern to address the players who would do those things.

I never saw that behavior in my modern-day games I'd run before then, but I don't doubt there is a subset of players who would act like that. It's the people who would try to powergame a modern-day game through finance, much like some players would try to powergame through elaborate character "builds" or other fancy rules lawyering.

Instead it created a system that was far more complicated and hard to grasp, and for your typical player that didn't care about trying to game the system of modern finance, it just made the game much harder to play.
 

View attachment 152947Are we really trying to say it's that different?
the PREMISE of the game is everyday heroes that LOOK LIKE YOU AND ME. A stunningly SMALL percentage of actual people look like that and none of them without chemical enhancement. Also, the actual picture of 'the brick' makes Arnold look small.

The art direction should reflect what the creators have to say about their game, full stop. If you're going to try and sell me a game about super heroes that look like me and you, then the art should reflect that.
 

If they wanted a cover image of heroes that 'look like you and me', why not just use photos of average people?

Aside from the central oddity, I don't often see many androgynous individuals in full combat rig wandering around town. Or bloated androgynous people in 1930s business suits (actually, that one reminds me of Pam from Archer).

Looks like a low-end indie project, really.
 

the PREMISE of the game is everyday heroes that LOOK LIKE YOU AND ME. A stunningly SMALL percentage of actual people look like that and none of them without chemical enhancement. Also, the actual picture of 'the brick' makes Arnold look small.

The art direction should reflect what the creators have to say about their game, full stop. If you're going to try and sell me a game about super heroes that look like me and you, then the art should reflect that.
The interview specifically references a trio of 80s action movies including Rambo (he's smaller than Arnold, but same energy). The art is a cartoon. People do come in a lot of shapes and sizes and one of those sizes is 'big and very muscular". You can often find people in these sizes outside the doors to nightclubs, guarding "vips", engaging in sporting activities, etc.

Is it great art? no. Is it a reasonable approximation of 80's action heroes? Sure, at least a couple versions of them. Could it represent 'real' people? Sure-ish, but probably not your average desk jockey.
 


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