A Modern Brainstorm: Need For Creative Ideas


Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

I am working on a homebrew game based on Pathfinder, 3.5, and D20 Modern.

The game is set in modern time and the heroes are gifted with extrodinary powers and abilities but must keep them hidden from the world at large. The PCs will start out working for an agency outside of any government and will be sent on missions to recuit or supress gifted individuals. As the game progresses they will have to make hard choices as a covert war between several group heats up.

What I have already done is taken character concepts and created specialized "Advanced Classes" for each PC. The idea was to have the players give a short one sentance description of their character's abilities and then create something around that. I have based the "Gifted" classes on psionic classes found in a 3pp PDF that adapts the Expanded Psionics and Complete Psionics books for 3.5 into a useable d20 Modern format. For the powers list I went ahead and created specialized lists from all the arcane, divine, and psionic spell lists in PF, 3.5, and D20 Modern.

For example, one of the concepts was, "The ability to create walls and protective barriers." I then crafted a Gifted class that protects and buffs the PC and his allies. His powers list is smaller because his class abilities are larger and more powerful.

What I am thinking, and here is where I would like some help, is that I want to be able to tell a story instead of just rolling the dice. I really, really like the idea that even combat is described and driven more by story and action then dice and actions. At the same time, I don't want to leave everything up to anyone declaring any single action as successful.

I have considered using the Plot Twist cards, and I am liking them more and more as I read about them. Having something random, but merely guiding the action instead of declaring success/fail is very appealing to me for this game.

Because of that train of thought, I have thought about looking at the different powers and giving them a straight mechanic that will effect a combat list situation, and three sugesstions of how to use them as a story element. For example, a fireball could be used just like the spell, or have it clear out a room of light and/or burnable objects, send a signal in the air, or create a hazard in the path of an enemy (either by blowing up something like a vehicle or causing a weak part of a structure to fall.)

Another idea is to use more "Chase" encounters over combat encounters. This would have the players thinking outside of the box in terms of how to use their powers.

I am also considering not giving out experience points, but action points or some other consumable reward besides wealth. I have a few ideas on leveling I can post in a moment. The consumable rewards would be given for creativity in their use of abilities, description of action, and roleplaying. I like the idea of passing out plot cards, action points, or possibly additional powers or abilities.

As for leveling, I am considering doing it in a few different ways. The easiest way would be to just give them a level when I want to up the ability of the party. Another idea would be to give them the different parts of their level as rewards for completing big objectives. For example a raise in BAB, saves, a feat, or hit points for completing the sessions objective. I have also thought about leveling up everything but the powers they have access to and/or the power points needed to use the powers. I would level the party evenly this way, but give the powers and power points as certain events unfold.

For example: The party as a whole moves up in stats and class abilities, but their powers vary in level. In order to gain a power (and I would let them have a choice of powers) they would need achieve goals specific to their character. This could be simply, "deafen several people with shout" or as complex/specific as, "Take 25 points of fire damage not meant for you, while protecting the target in a way they take no damage." This would allow the player to try for goals they normally would never try for, and in response they would have a more fluid powers list.

These are just a few of the ideas I have. To be honest, this is just a public brain storm. I still hope people jump in and give some ideas and thoughts. Maybe a few of you have even thought of an tried out some of these ideas. Please feel free to give your thoughts.

it sounds as though you have some great ideas.

The only recource that I might suggest would be the wiz kids site for shadowrun. Those adventures can be very adaptabile for any modern fantasy setting.

I particularly like your idea on ad hoc leveling. I have used this in the past and seems to work fine, when it isn't 3.x and you have casters that need to know how much xp they have to burn for crafting. Gaining everything, but the powers and giving unique (and possibly hidden) ways to gain powers is a great step as well. The idea of the plot twist cards seems interesting, but I'm not sure I'm in love with the idea. Might as well play lunch money, it seems.

If it is inspiration you want, there are many fine sources out there. The campaign you are describing reminds me of many shows I have seen in the past. Mutant X, Heroes, and No Ordinary Family come to mind. I have recently become enamored with No Ordinary Family, for an ABC show, it is actually quite well structured, and low key. The movie, Jumper, was also an interesting tale.

If you are looking for pre-defined systems and modules to use in your campaign, Shadowrun is good, but I have a feeling it will not suit your campaign world, just a hunch. World of Darkness could provide you with some inspiration, it was designed by our friend, Monte, after all. Eden Studios also produced a system, that several games were launched on, including: Buffy, Angel, Serenity, and Army of Darkness. They have a couple of balancing issues, in my opinion, but the systems are interesting. If nothing else, they provide for an entertaining read.

Hope this helps :)

Here's where I plug myself. The Dragon's Arsenal is putting together a community project and is trying to recruit all creative minded players interested in creating custom fan based content for pathfinder/3.x If this sounds like anyone, come on over and check us out. We are just getting started, so we could use all the help we can get!


Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

Thanks, both of you. I will be looking into those games you mentioned.

I am thinking about this a great deal right now. So far, the people who will be playing are really excited over what I am working on, and several of them have said they almost never look forward to a "Modern" game.

I would love to look at that project. As someone who wants to build up my writing skills and resume so I can become a game designer, that sounds like a good project to become involved in.

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