Advice for running a modern campaign?


I want to run a game set in the modern day, with spellcasting and psychic classes banned. I'll do something in place of magic that would be available to everyone, but I have to use Pathfinder rules.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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My advice, don't.

They have more modern and technologically advanced games, stripping Pathfinder of its magic doesn't make it modern, and subtracts from the experience available.

In my opinion.

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I'm kinda with Voodist on this. My brother and i have tried this off and on for years and it just doesn't seem to take very well. Starfinder's rule set might work better.

Being said, there will be skills like computer use and various other sciences that will need to be added, as well as some skill mechanic for driving. There are more advanced firearms in one of the Pathfinder Adventure Path modules (the last one involving Baba Naga i believe) but those are only getting you to WWI level.

To try this you have your work cut out for you. Good luck.

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Technologist feat will be at the top of everyone's list.

If you are nixing magic, turn Knowledge: Arcana into Knowledge: Science. Turn Knowledge: Dungeoneering into Knowledge: Technology. Science and technology are different enough to have separate skills for each.

Remove the stupid broken gun misfire crap from firearms, make pistols revolvers considering nobody gets 6 attacks in a turn anyways. Same with muskets, make them 5 shot bolt action rifles. Increase range, maybe. Make them hit full AC, maybe.

There are feats and rules for vehicle use, but I would probably just "fast travel" everyone instead of dealing with car chases or helicopters.

Somehow explain away cell phones, or don't. It's your choice. But there's a lot of skill checks that will be made useless and just won't make sense when everyone has the entirety of history and knowledge in their pocket.

Maybe more steampunk or BioShock-ish.

Siege weapons like the hand cranked gattling guns and maybe a primitive mortar.

Steam machinery and springs will be commonplace. Trains cutting across what was once our old adventuring grounds. That bog with the swamp hags and black dragon, remember that one? Well it's been drained and the steam rail goes through once a day, twice mid-week.

Gnomes and halflings will rule the day with a lot of their tinkering stuffs.

Alchemist will be about as much fun as you can have, and that's really sad.

Are you getting rid of Rage and Bardic Performance, too?

It's starting to sound a lot like Black Ops/Call of Duty/every other shooting game ever...

I don't think magical development level and technological development level are too closely related. But checking out what has been achieved in both domains is necessary to create a coherent society. Since I've seen that the rules work on your project ended up somewhere else, I suppose this is for rp purpose. So here are a few tips.

Be extremely precise as to what exactly is the technological level. From what has appeared on the other thread, it might not be the same as ours. When you concieve your world technology, decide what is possible, and what is not, how easily people access to it, and such.

Decide just how well known technology is, and distinct the skill to use it and the knowledge of how it actually works.

Pay close attention to the communication techniques and devices present in your world, and how accessible and easy to use they are. Information storage is important as well. From this partly depends the diplomatic development, since it eases official and unofficial communication between territories.

Pay close attention too to warfare. Decide in which proportion it relies on technology and on dragon abilities (different countries may have different traditions on that aspect). Decide about its potential destructive power. Depending how high is it, and wether it relies on skilled individuals, on replaceable machines, or on machines harder to produce, the art of war will differ, as well as the probability to encounter a war. In this aspect, terrorism is a type of war, by the way.

Political forms are very free. They can basically be any and everything. Just like a medieval game, though, ultimately, you have to chose which government exist in the country (or countries) in which you'll play. In a modern game, you should pay close attention when designing the world to this country exterior politic, even if you don't necessarily have to explain that situation to your players. But you should know with which countries it is allied, to which it is hostile, if it is in war or not.

Next think about legislation. Modern countries can have any legislation toward weapons and such, but you must know which one is in effect in the country in which you'll play. You must decide to what extent law is present, known, applied, inforced. Decide who deals with what - from drug, to thievery, to school, to abuse, anything. Vigilante jobs are not necessarily tolerated, and it might be judicious to rather play on the authorities side - either experts occasionaly working with the authorities, or the authorities themselves. Even if not playing the authorities, forgetting about them is a bad idea, unless you have decided your country doesn't really have them in the first place. Decide how easy it is to pass the frontiers.

Think about criminal rates. Organized crime and occasional crime, as well as accidents, rebellion, anything you might incorporate. Decide which methods they commonly use - different groups may use different methods. Playing those chaotic villains too is possible, by the way.

Think about the regional organisation (federal system? centralist or not?). Population density. Agriculture is important as well. It doesn't have to be as extensive as in a medieval game; in fact, that would be surprising. It has also a lot more variety in what is cultivated. And modern techniques make it so that the fields will be fewer but wider, I think. Basic society forms should already have been defined along with the political form if it is very unusual; if not, you'll not necessarily need it.

Now that the world at large is defined, time to deep. At this point, stop a bit and think about your scenario. Depending who will be played and what the campaign will be about, you might need to go into the everyday life of your random citizen (if you have citizens in the first places... they might be regnicols too!), the social structures (casts, nobility, families), but at this point it is pretty much the same as for any med-fan campaign, except that you might expect your random citizen to know more than the usual commoner from medieval games.

So, summing up :

  • many common points with medieval games : in the end, it's still roleplay, and you can still go and try with the same political forms
  • legislation and law enforcement are more important
  • criminality doesn't follow the same patterns (e.g. drug dealing vs. caravan attacking and pillaging
  • diplomacy is more intense between countries
  • wars are not necessarily fewer, but they depend how you develop your dragon abilities and technology; from what I see, it is going to be terrorism and intimidation tactics if war has to be fought, with countries faking not to be at war
  • instead of mostly rural, it might be mostly urban, but it doesn't have to be the case
  • it is infinitely easier to travel and transmit information as long as it is not illegal to do so

Did I say something weird or stupid?

If it really was about rules work, it will be harsh to do with Pathfinder's rules set. I'm not that much of an expert, but if I had to do it, I'd go see in GURPS how they balanced technology stuff. Starfinder is a good thing to look at too, I guess, but since I haven't had an occasion to read it yet, I don't know.

I'd be disappointed if people kept surviving many many shots, though, technology wasn't developed just so it wouldn't work any better than swords. I see it as a lot of discussion matter, and making actual combat situations exceptional and decisive. It would work better for investigation games, be it judiciary, spying, or illegal stuff; smuggling people out of crazy situations without having someone open fire, inflitration and exfiltration and so on. Shadowrun has many scenarios of this type.

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I found The Modern Path: Heroes of the Modern World. I'm looking at it now.

The Modern Path has exactly the level of technological advancement I want.

Would it help if I give the campaign's introduction?

I was going to recommend using a system better equipped for the task, such as d20 modern, but you beat me to it yourself! Best of luck.

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