View Full Version : d20 Modern/Steampunk-ish Alternate History

2012-11-03, 09:30 PM
Hey, all. I've been a lurker on GitP for quite some time while I've been working on various P&P game campaigns. I figured I would finally get in the mix and start off by sharing some of my ideas for a new game I'd like to run once it's finished.

The backdrop for the game is a steampunk-style alternate earth history, going with the premise of how technology might have advanced without the widespread use of plastics and silicon. My premise has this alternate history, as of 2012, at a sort of pre-WWII technology level, but with advancements in analog computers, automated constructs, radio and "projected image" technology, as examples.

I am also incorporating a Jedi-like system of mind over matter abilities to replace the lack of magic in the game.

In my alternate history, certain things have happened differently and certain things have happened almost as they did in our history. The great majority of historical changes are from the 19th century onward, such as:

The US Civil War: Instead of Lee surrendering at Appomattox, he and Lincoln agree to a peace treaty which establishes the Union and Confederacy as separate nations.

The American West: The Republic of Texas and the Republic of California are sovereign nations. Between they and the Union and Confederacy is a "badlands" area in which the spirits of the Old West and Weird West are still very much alive.

Central Europe: WWI happened pretty much as it did in our history, with a few changes, mainly that the Union was very much involved from the beginning in an effort to create an allegiance with the UK. Germany was defeated and its military dismantled, paving the way for Adolf Hitler and WWII.

WWII: Things turned out differently this time. The development of WMDs by both the Allies (consisting of the Union, Confederacy, Canada and the UK) and Hitler's Fourth Reich resulted in a stalemate after the destruction of a major city on either side. A reluctant treaty was drawn up, allowing Germany to keep nearly all of the territory it had claimed.

The War in the Pacific continued for several more years before Japan was allowed to keep some of her territories in exchange for peace.

For the following half-century, tensions between Imperial Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Western Allegiance (the Allies) kept everything in a very tense status quo, just as with our Cold War. Eventually, however, tensions eased to the point where mutual assured destruction is no longer a serious consideration for the developed nations.

Historical intricacies aside (and yes, I am sure there will be those who will take issue with my choices of what happened and what didn't happen, but it's my game, dammit :p ), I am interested in feedback regarding the mechanics, classes and other aspects of the game.

So here goes:

Races: Obviously, all characters are human. Going with an alternate history Earth, I can't justify throwing in elves and dwarves, and I really don't want to.

Classes: I am going with the core attribute-based classes from d20 Modern: the Strong, Tough, Agile (Fast), Smart, Dedicated and Charismatic Hero classes. As for Advanced Classes, I have created one for each of the talent trees of the above classes, which expand upon those talent trees even further. Each Advanced Class has six levels and only one Advanced Class may be taken at a time.

Specialist Classes: I am using, for now, the term vis vitae to describe an all-connecting energy (like the Force in Star Wars) which can be used by characters through various skills and feats. I have three classes in mind that use a more codified system as taught by the Mystic College, called the Mystic Paladin, the Mystic Seeker, and the Mystic Advocate. I also plan on having Witch and Warlock classes with slightly differing abilities and classes based on Eastern mystical philosophy and myth (i.e., the Shaolin Monk). The main difference between the basic classes and the specialist classes is that there is no multi-classing available among the specialist classes, except, maybe, between related specialist classes (the Paladin might be able to multi-class to Seeker, for example).

Technology: As I mentioned above, the technology of the world is what might exist now if there had never been significant advancements in plastics and other synthetic materials. So, no nylon, no chemical rubber, no laminated faux wood . . . there are, however, radios and telephones, projected image (television) boxes, automobiles, airplanes and zeppelins, and animated constructs (robots), but all existing in the context of a very streamlined form based on what they were in the first quarter or so of the 20th century in our world.

So as there is an abundance of technology, there is an emphasis on technological weapons. In a game sense, I can see creating a system of enhancements to weapons which would add bonuses to hit and damage, increase critical hit threshold, and so on. I would like to even go so far as to come up with chemical ways in which, say, a flaming sword could be duplicated.

Magic: None such as is prevalent in D&D, but the use of metaphysical skills duplicates some of the effects of magic. Mystics, Witches et al can use these skills to temporarily enhance their ability scores and skill rolls, drain people and objects of energy, heal themselves and others, and even produce pyrokinetic and cryokinetic effects. Some feats I have already written up would grant limited flight, invisibility, and superhuman speed. Lastly, Witches and Warlocks choose, as part of their class progression, various Ritual feats which allow them to create enchanted items, powerful potions, and arcane wards.

I know all this is pretty general, but I have already written a lot in this post already. As questions come up, I will be glad to supply more detailed information.

ETA: As my wife was reading this while looking over my shoulder, she made the comment that the game I'm making sounds like "Steampunk/Star Wars/Dune with a twist." I guess that's not a bad way of putting it . . . .

2012-11-04, 02:17 PM
In the hope of getting some feedback, I thought I would share how I have organized the classes.

Basic Classes: Strong, Agile, Tough, Smart, Dedicated and Charismatic. Players also choose an occupation, which grants them additional class skills and an extra starting feat.

Advanced Classes: These build off the talent trees of the basic classes. Players may only take levels in one advanced class at a time. Each advanced class has six levels and every level grants a special ability, feat, or extension of a previous ability. The advanced classes are:

Strong Hero
The Berserker -- builds off the increased melee damage talent tree; gains Rage ability.
The Destroyer -- builds off the ignore hardness talent tree; increased damage vs. constructs and grappling bonus.
The Pusher -- builds off the extreme effort talent tree; gains strength bonus and ability to extend the duration of extreme effort.

Agile Hero
The Speedster -- builds off the increased movement talent tree; gains Defense and Heroic Surge bonus.
The Acrobat -- builds off the evasion talent tree; gains dodge bonuses, increased jumping distance, and slow fall ability.

Tough Hero
The Brick -- builds off the damage reduction talent tree; gains increased saves and immunity from poisons and disease.
The Conductor -- builds off the energy resistance talent tree; gains ability to store and use energy as a damage bonus.
The Undying -- builds off the die hard talent tree; gains increased negative hit point threshold and a "death save."

Smart Hero
The Genius -- builds of the savant talent tree; gains ability to add Int modifier to initiative, special knowledge rolls, and Int bonus to action point rolls.
The Tactician -- builds off the strategy talent tree; adds Int bonus to attack and damage rolls, stealth checks, and gains Evasion.

Dedicated Hero
The Physician -- builds off the healing talent tree; gains Treat Injury and Surgery bonuses.
The Favored One -- builds off the faith talent tree; gains smite-like special ability called decisive blow, luck roll ability, and bonuses with favored weapon.

Charismatic Hero
The Luminary -- builds off the leadership talent tree; increases potency and range of coordinate and inspire talents and immunity to morale and fear effects.
The Wierdling -- builds off the fast talk talent tree; gains dazzle bonus and sonic-based special abilities to command and harm opponents.
The Chameleon -- builds off the disguise talent tree; gains reduced time to don disguises and sneak attack ability.

So far, I've finished all of the basic information on each of the above classes, with descriptions of what their special abilities do. Each of the advanced classes' abilities are considered extraordinary abilities, although I am considering making a few of them (the Brick, Conductor, and Wierdling) supernatural in nature.

Specialist Classes: These are the classes that use the metaphysical skills, although, technically, anyone who takes the requisite feats would be able to use metaphysical skills. The specialist classes, however, gain extra skill points.

Mystics: Educated and trained at the Mystic College in Boston, Massachusetts, mystics learn a codified, philosophical system of using metaphysical skills, without bias toward any religious ideology. Mystics are a sort of "new age" organization of martially-trained scholars.
The Mystic Paladin: This mystic concentrates on combat prowess and using his metaphysical skills to augment his abilities. He selects a weapon specialty -- single blade, dual blade, or double-blade -- and gainst increased damage with his chosen weapon as he advances in level.
The Mystic Seeker: This mystic is something of a cross between an investigator and a spy. They concentrate on stealth and skills but have impressive combat abilities as well. They primarily use unarmed martial arts and have a number of 3.5E Monk-like abilities.
The Mystic Advocate: This mystic uses the most metaphysical skills and they have the most charisma and wisdom-based skills. While not as potent in direct combat, they make up for it with their use of metaphysical skills.

Witches/Warlocks: Representing the ancient wiccan faith are the witches and warlocks, who are not as well organized as the mystics but who still maintain communities for mutual support and learning. Their abilities are based on the use of potions, fetishes, and charms, but they have access to the full range of metaphysical skills. Witches gain potent healing and charm abilities while Warlocks gain aggressive supernatural abilities (I am considering making them shape-shifters).

Inquisitors: The Church ahs its own arm of metaphysical-using agents, known as inquisitors. Something like modern templars, they are powerful, feared, and backed by the vigorous faith of the Roman Catholic Church. They gain defensive and attack bonuses and a collection of smite-like special abilities with which they can blind, stun or even curse others.

Meditators: A sort of catch-all group for Eastern and tribal mystics, these classes more closely resemble the Monk class from 3.5E, as well as other classes such as the Sacred Fist and Tattooed Monk. Each class, I figure, will incorporate its own organization. Not quite finished with these yet.