Let’s talk monsters.
d20 Modern is a terrific system for shining the spotlight onto just one critter and making the players think just a little more about the foes they face. Drop a single Zombie into D&D and it’s barely even a speed bump. But a Zombie living in the basement of a Chicago apartment – that’s a story, right there.
The X-Files demonstrated this particularly well with their “Monster of the Week” episodes. Whether it’s a guy who can control fire (Efreet!), a Vampire or a Hairless Cannibal (Orc!), these stories all centred on the weird and unusual, and how they would fit into the Real World – or not, as the case may be. This is prime d20 Modern territory. It’s trivially easy to crack open the d20 Modern core book, Urban Arcana or your D&D Monster Manuals, pick a beastie and work out a plot based around the monster existing in the modern world.
In fact, let’s do it right now.
My nearest tome is the Fiend Folio so I grab that and let it fall open to….. the Alkilith, a Demon who “appears as a shivering blob of phosphorescent green corruption surrounded by a cracked, leathery coating that constantly oozes, secretes, hardens, and splits open.” Lovely. Page 46, if you want to look it up.
Our heroes have been called in to investigate the disappearance of Philip Barbur, noted wealthy industrialist and owner of BarChem. Workers at the chemical treatment plant are also disappearing, and it is feared that there may be a killer with a grudge on the loose – BarChem is a very unpopular company with a poor environmental record. It turns out the Mr Barbur slipped and fell into a vat of his own goo following a scuffle with Joe Wallace (one of the protestors). His soul was rejected by Hell as his Tally of Souls had not yet been met (his company was supposed to kill thousands) and he has returned as an Alkilith, existing in the very chemicals that made his life, and his death.
X-Files, with a dash of Supernatural. See?
I’ve said it before: one of the big strengths of d20 Modern is that I could run this right off the page without alteration. D&D rules. Modern day style. I love it.