D20 20 Years on

ffilz

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Oh, and as to D20, I didn't engage D20 until 2003 when Arcana Unearthed came out. I forget, I might have picked up some stuff earlier, but it was Unearthed Arcana and feeling like I needed to run the current version of D&D that got me going at the end of the summer. For the previous year or so I had tried a Talislanta game using GURPs and another using Cold Iron, but neither survived long.
 

Jetstream

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Tulpa Girl

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Decent villains are tough; you need them to be interesting enough that the players care about them going down, but not so cool that players want to swap teams.
You also need to be able to convey that coolness in a naturalistic fashion, ideally by some other manner than just reading off tons of exposition while the players just sit on their thumbs.
 

Malleustein

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Decent villains are tough; you need them to be interesting enough that the players care about them going down, but not so cool that players want to swap teams.
There is something off with the traditions. Not individually, but as a collective they are just "the other guys", when they needed to come across as the Rebel Alliance. The Technocracy were cool in a sinister sort of way. They've got MIBs, Hit Marks, shades and gadgets. Plus, the internal politics of the Technocracy was more interesting that squabbles between the Traditions.
 

The Butcher

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For all the faults of the original World of Darkness, at least the clan/tribe/traditions were memorable.

"What's a Verbena?" "Pagan blood witch".

"Can I be a necromancer?" "Euthanotos."

While White Wolf fumbled the concept, at least the Ascension War was something you could wrap your head around as an ongoing conflict. It just sort of fell apart when the Technocracy ended up as popular with players as the Traditions.
The nWoD/CoD went for broad, archetypal splats and did away with much of the uniqueness of oWoD splats. This worked better in some games (Vampire: the Requiem) than others (just about everyone else).

I think, fundamentally, the drive by White Wolf to create a New World of Darkness was a mistake for them. It broke their own market. I can understand the frustration with edition wars, which plagued all their Revised editions (particularly Mage), but they should have kept going with new editions and just braced themselves for the inevitable fan backlash as is always the case.

Indeed, although White Wolf is commonly noted as declining in the 00s, they actually held their No2 Retail ranking behind D&D for most of this period. The Trinity games were, by most accounts, a flop but Exalted and their own D20 products sold well I think. I also think that, with a more concerted effort, Scion could have been a bigger hit had it been released earlier. It was the sort of setting they excelled at and it could have been released as a more heroic counterpoint to the WoD games.

All speculation of course, but it is clear that White Wolf are one company that has changed more than most since 2000.
When the nWoD came out, I was a strong proponent of homebrewed settings, freedom from metaplot, and gritty local stakes over grand global schemes. So I was ground zero for the target audience and embraced the nWoD with gusto.

However, as years went by, it became clear they swung the pendulum too far towards the opposite side. I remember how a Requiem neonate built for combat trouble beating two cops (as per nWoD core stats). They threw out the baby with the bath water, pure and simple.

Haphazard writing and development also plagued all lines. Mage: the Awakening only clicked for me (and became my favorite nWoD/CoD game) when I read Dave Brookshaw’s now classic Broken Diamond campaign write-up over at RPGNet.

In my view it didn’t quite fit the rest of the WoD in terms of backstory (how could the cold rationalist/materialist Technocracy supposedly be dominating the paradigm of reality when vampires and other supernatural beings were also?). I also felt that the ongoing development of the game made it messier and too eclectic in style and scale to implement over time - with Mage edition wars being a symptom of this. Much of the protest of the Revised edition was against the attempt to scale down the game to a more street level, while many just took entirely different takes on what the game was fundamentally about. The vast 700 page bulk of the 20th Anniversary Edition illustrating this still.
I picked up Mage: the Ascension, First Edition, in 1996, at the impressionable age of 16 and the whole consensual reality thing blew my mind.

But even back then “science bad” annoyed me a little, which made me welcome the more ambiguous take on both Traditions and Technocracy.

Nowadays, where anti-intellectualism and science denialism are actual threats to the continued existence of humanity, I would take a far more dim view of a game that set out with “science bad“ as a core part of the premise.

Mage: the Ascension aged very, very badly. And Changeling: the Dreaming felt to me like a thematic mess from day one, at least as far as “Banality” is concerned. Which is why most of my oWoD nostalgia (that’s been hitting me really hard these days) harkens back to V:tM and W:tA.

My only taste of Dragonsfoot was the occasional missionary they sent to other forums to tell us all how we were playing RPGs wrong. There were a few hilarious ones at the site back in the day.
Gene. He was there!
 
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Malleustein

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The ultimate shark jump for that era of games is on sale on dtrpg today:

McWoD
Y'know I never looked at it on release and entirely forgot it existed until now.

I don't see Monte Cook as the rpg demi-god bestride the Earth like some do.

I remember (or misremember, it's been a while) that the blurb on the back made it sound like Palladium's Nightspawn/Nightbane, which I already had.
 

Silverlion

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Sadly, I never, during the entire 90s, met a single person that had ever played Mage. The WoD groups I encountered generally fell in to 2 types: those who played just Vampire, and those that played Vampire with Werewolf, Changeling, Mummy, and a few of the other offshoot games thrown in (for some reason, Mage was the redhead stepchild excluded from those games, in at least one case because the GM thought they were too powerful to mix). I attempted to run a Wraith game, but the combination of my inexperience as a GM with the wrong group of players meant it crashed and burned fast. So I ended up running Changeling whenever I could, as it was the only way I got to play it.

I ran Mage several times with different groups, I rather like the reality is perspective take, although I was never sure if the Technocracy were really good guys or bad (after all yeah, bad stuff, but vampires, werewolves and the like were real, and they changed moving those things into "less real") I never grokked Changeling at the time--now I think its one of my favorites. Werewolf saw a lot of play with me, though I eventually found I liked Unisystem's Nomads (Witchcraft RPG) better. I do plan on running my Werewolf 20A game someday, though I'm streamlining some mechanics to later WOD versions (the cleaner versions, of later editions.) I find that new Trinity look way to Exalted-ish for my personal taste (I hate the tick initiative system.) Why can't we just use the roll and go? Shorter rounds less worry about time keeping?

I got tired about 20 minutes into D&D3E (a short run, played it later, decide "not for me at all."

I'd been a lot more voracious for games before that era, and dropped off a lot, because I wanted new games/engines/worlds, not just a retread of a version of a game I wasn't fond of at all. (3E), I think I owned 1E and 2E of most WOD books, which always seemed to surprise people who knew me, because the sheer number of goth-people into Vampire (which they always seem stuck on) and I wasn't.

2001-2004 that broke me down mentally, and I was pretty harsh online for a while, but I tried to keep to reasonable arguments, not personal attacks or such. I wasn't perfect though, after that, well fallout from 2004 carried me through the next few years as I tried to rebiuld my life. I started focusing on super games even MORE, especially after reading XID's Providence's introduction which still sits with me as a wonderful world and a terrible game system. Some of the things that kept me together was the internet and not just forums, but the ability to game online. H&S notably, and others.

Although there are some good things to come from d20--like what became the Iron Kingdoms miniature and RPG games. Which I think are cool (though not actually managed to PLAY the miniature game, I love the faction I would play and got painted, since my hand shake to much.) After d20 crashed I felt it was a good thing--like a cleansing, we got lots of strange new things, and a few old things revisted, I mean even Old School stuff made now, often is of better quality and has more heart and fewer dollar signs than d20 did.

It is a shame the 90's and Oughts, brought the loss of so many companies though (WEG, Fasa) I kinda saw Guardians/GOO coming with how much sheer stuff they put out and changes to the system that REALLY stepped away from simplicity of BESM (SAS was the first one I went whoa hold up...)

Though now it feels sorrowful for some losses, we've also got some neat innovation, in smaller companies or even just small fan/hobbyist works.

The d20 maybe was a necessary purge to the hobby, so it could thrive as a HOBBY, and less a business (Mind you as a game writer, I want a little bit of business, but I'll admit, I produce games for fun, and like others to try them and play them, its less about dollar signs other than getting enough buy a burger or the like sometimes)
 

TristramEvans

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I kinda saw Guardians/GOO coming with how much sheer stuff they put out and changes to the system that REALLY stepped away from simplicity of BESM (SAS was the first one I went whoa hold up...)
BESM was my go-to system for a few years, and I could never look through the rulebook without thinking "hey this would be great for superheroes", so when Silver Age Sentinals was announced I was really looking forward to it, and ran out and grabbed it as soon as it arrived at my FLGS. I still remember this desceding feeling that came over me as I read through it the first time, as I slowly came to the inevitable conclusion "they ruined it!"

I'm sure the game is completely playable, but the wonderful simplicity, the frenetic energy, and the overall fun of the BESM system was sapped out of it.
 

Gringnr

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He wasn't wrong assuming he meant the original '77 Traveller and not that '81 abomination. :devil:

What are the differences again? I have three reprints of the LBBs, but I'm pretty sure all reprints are '81 material.
 

ffilz

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What are the differences again? I have three reprints of the LBBs, but I'm pretty sure all reprints are '81 material.
Here’s my section by section comparison:

 

Trippy

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I picked up Mage: the Ascension, First Edition, in 1996, at the impressionable age of 16 and the whole consensual reality thing blew my mind.

But even back then “science bad” annoyed me a little, which made me welcome the more ambiguous take on both Traditions and Technocracy.

Nowadays, where anti-intellectualism and science denialism are actual threats to the continued existence of humanity, I would take a far more dim view of a game that set out with “science bad“ as a core part of the premise.

Mage: the Ascension aged very, very badly. And Changeling: the Dreaming felt to me like a thematic mess from day one, at least as far as “Banality” is concerned. Which is why most of my oWoD nostalgia (that’s been hitting me really hard these days) harkens back to V:tM and W:tA.



Gene. He was there!
Just to note that the underlying theme of Mage is not "Science bad" as such. It is the postmodern take that what constitutes reality is formed through paradigms. Science itself understands this to a degree - although the speed of light will always absolutely be the speed of light, no matter what an individual chooses to believe about it. Mage, of course, is a fantasy though - with a philosophical bent that makes it interesting - rather than an actual manifesto of real world beliefs, which is worth remembering.

The main issue I had about the science in the game was not that it suggested it was bad - because I think this is open to interpretation - but more to the point that it butchered basic scientific concepts in their explanations. I still read to this day that the writers of Mage do not understand what a Force is, for example.
 

Jetstream

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The ultimate shark jump for that era of games is on sale on dtrpg today:

McWoD
I honestly really like McWoD. It was weird but a neat little expression of D&D3.X

The only part I hate are the demons. The demons suck ass.
 

Black Vulmea

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My first taste of it was on Dragonsfoot, with their TETSNBN nonsense.
Blocking the noise from drowning out the signal isn't nonsense - it's good business, much like this site's ban on political discussion.

Remember that awful forum that Wizards had; Gleemax? It was after they had a relatively normal forum . . .
I returned to gaming, through 3.x, around winter '01 or spring '02, after a layoff since 1989, and the WhizBros forum was my intro to online gaming forums, not counting the TML; I spent most of the my time in the d20 Modern subforum.

The WhizBros forum is where I first experienced play-by-post, which would become a mainstay for me for the next several years. and is probably my most significant memory of that time.

The redesign as Gleemax was . . . unfortunate.

. . . but not so cool that players want to swap teams.
Wait . . . you say that like it's a bad thing.
 

Voros

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I missed the whole D20 era and it doesn't sound like I missed much, a few gems aside.
 

Silverlion

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BESM was my go-to system for a few years, and I could never look through the rulebook without thinking "hey this would be great for superheroes", so when Silver Age Sentinals was announced I was really looking forward to it, and ran out and grabbed it as soon as it arrived at my FLGS. I still remember this desceding feeling that came over me as I read through it the first time, as I slowly came to the inevitable conclusion "they ruined it!"

I'm sure the game is completely playable, but the wonderful simplicity, the frenetic energy, and the overall fun of the BESM system was sapped out of it.

I offered to write it for them, but they wanted only Sentai at the time. Which I'm way less familiar with and noticed they never actually got one out.
 

AsenRG

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Decent villains are tough; you need them to be interesting enough that the players care about them going down, but not so cool that players want to swap teams.
Why wouldn't you want them to switch teams? I'd say if they do, you've done something right:thumbsup:.
You also need to be able to convey that coolness in a naturalistic fashion, ideally by some other manner than just reading off tons of exposition while the players just sit on their thumbs.
Or, at least, in no more time than the group is willing to sit on their thumbs (without inventing new uses for said position, I might add:shade:).


Classic Traveller sucks! If it's not T4 it's a just a steaming pill of monkey poop
I'm sure there's a goose out there, looking for whoever dissed Classic Traveller:evil:!
 

The Butcher

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Just to note that the underlying theme of Mage is not "Science bad" as such. It is the postmodern take that what constitutes reality is formed through paradigms. Science itself understands this to a degree - although the speed of light will always absolutely be the speed of light, no matter what an individual chooses to believe about it. Mage, of course, is a fantasy though - with a philosophical bent that makes it interesting - rather than an actual manifesto of real world beliefs, which is worth remembering.

The main issue I had about the science in the game was not that it suggested it was bad - because I think this is open to interpretation - but more to the point that it butchered basic scientific concepts in their explanations. I still read to this day that the writers of Mage do not understand what a Force is, for example.
I’ll beg to differ: 1st edition core was very much Science Bad.
Sure, it came to us wreathed in the regalia of PoMo (something which would take me decades to figure out) but quite honestly, even 16-year-old me, blown away by the philosophy, was iffy on how the game’s primary antagonists were the people who invented public illumination, antibiotics and airplanes, and downgraded vampires and werewolves from real threats to myth, and the good guys ranged from stoner mystics to pseudoscientists (when the Etherites come up everyone thinks Frankenstein, am I the only one who thinks Time Cube and antivaxxer moms?) to actual wizards who wanted a return to the “mythic age” with dragons razing villages and crap.

I realize that at least from 2nd edition on, Brucato and later Heinig presided over a more relative take on both factions. But for 1st edition core it was all but plastered all over the book.

And I’m not sure whether it’s this or just the fact that a played a lot less Ascension than I played Masquerade or Apocalypse, but my oWoD nostalgia doesn’t seem to be particularly geared towards Mage.
 

The Butcher

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On the actual subject of the thread: I had a short hiatus in my late teens (1996-1997) as I geared up for college admission, and a second, long (2002-2009) hiatus from mid-medical school to near the end of fellowship, which is when I joined the ‘Site.

I never did stop reading RPGs, though. Maybe for a few years in the middle of the second hiatus. But I always held out hope for a return.

When I finally got back on the horse it was the tail-end of the d20 era. We did get a little d20 action in but my first and only attempt at running it was a complete disaster.

Savage Worlds and the OSR to the rescue.

The OSR also nudged me towards extant versions of other great games I’d missed back in the day such as WFRP, Runequest and Traveller.

I invested heavily in nWoD material as well but ended up never getting a game off the ground, to my chagrin.
 

Torque2100

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My experience with that period was formative and is part of my deep-seated aversion and loathing towards D&D 3.0 and it's derivatives.

My first experience with tabletop gaming was through Battletech in 1996 or so. I discovered tabletop RPGs shortly thereafter and I remember playing Shadowrun 3rd ed, D6 Star Wars and BESM 1st edition. I was a wee lad back then, not even in Junior High yet so I didn't see the cracks forming in the industry. For me every trip to the game store was like a trip to a candy store. The shelves were filled with different games and everything looked vibrant and healthy. I left in late 1997 when my Father was deployed to South Korea.

The internet was still nascent back then, and we were limited to a sub-56k dial up connection. I didn't have any friends into nerdy stuff, so I kind of lost interest in gaming. Living on an Army base in Korea was a bit like being in cultural hibernation. It was hard to get new games or new movies or new TV shows. Still I watched publisher's websites like FASA with baited breath. I couldn't wait to get back to the US and discover all of the cool games that would have come out. In particular, i was fascinated by Crimson Skies as a setting and game. I was blissfully unaware of FASA's financial issues. However, I could never convince my parents to spend$60 on a board game plus shipping and waiting often upwards of a month for it to get there.

I didn't realize anything was wrong until in 1999, one by one the publisher's websites stopped posting announcements and then went offline.

Coming back in late 2000 was like coming out of a bunker and finding oneself in an apocalyptic hellscape. We moved back to the same Stateside base where we had been, but most of the comic and game stores I knew in 1996 had gone out of business or switched their business entirely over to comics and /or CCGs. I was persuaded to try D20 Star Wars by a friend and I learned something the hard way. IT WAS AWFUL. So I tried DnD 3.5. IT WAS ALSO AWFUL. That's the story of me being burned by 3.5 and D20. I discovered to my absolute horror, that ALL NEW RPG MATERIAL COMING OUT WAS D20.

I spent the next several years picking through used bookstores and dwindling stocks in independent online stores (remember those?). I tried several times to get a RIFTS campaign going (I wasn't very smart).

It really wasn't until I had amassed a large collection of Deadlands and Hell on Earth books that I really ran my first proper campaign. I enjoyed that campaign.

I also discovered Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Savage Worlds, which are two of my go to games now.

Lately I am all about the OSR. I have discovered Basic/Advanced DnD through Old School Essentials which is the only version of DnD that I don't hate. DnD Basic did SO MANY THINGS RIGHT that AD&D screwed up. The Alingment system in OSE is like a breath of fresh air. No "Good x Evil" axis means that the Alignment doesn't straitjacket roleplaying. Likewise the slower general HP gains avoid the trap of Hit Point Bloat that AD&D and on suffered.

It's also made me a HUGE fan of THAC0. Now that I have tried it, I can see the logic behind Armor Class in DnD. It also absolutely highlights how Ascending Armor Class in DND 3.0 on MAKES NO SENSE.
 

robertsconley

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Since 1988, GURPS was my main fantasy system including through the release of D&D 3.0. I bought the core books, and was interested in the SRD. But GURPS remained my go-to system. The big deal for me was the release of GURPS 4th edition.

I got involved in publishing for the D20 SRD because of Judges Guild. First by contributing to the Necromancer Game Wilderlands Boxed Set, then working with the Eostros team on the three Goodman Games Judges Guild modules. The boxed set was stat lite so it wasn't hard to deal with it. Plus even though I was using GURPS, I still kept to the traditional roster of monsters, and broad character types that D&D had.

With the Goodman modules I wrote the new revision of Thieves of Badabaskor, and did the layout for all three (Badabaskor, Citadel of Fire, and Dark Tower). I will say that I hated dealing with the D20 Stat Block with a passion born out of the fires of a thousand suns. The only thing that go me through it was a program called DM Genie who also checked things for consistency. With DM Genie I was able to input a character and copy and paste its text mode stat block into Pagemaker. The only thing left was to properly bold and italicize the different elements.

So I wasn't going to do that for my two Points of Light. Luckily the shitty Game System License that D&D 4e had mean that Joseph Goodman was willing to go a stat-lite route. And after the second PoL book was published that when the OSR popped up on my radar and never looked back as far as my publishing endeavors go.

I stilled used GURPS throughout all of this until I wrote my Majestic Wilderlands rules and started to run a campaign to playtest them. Since then I ran one GURPS Campaign, a bunch of campaign using my expanding Majestic Fantasy rules, and a pair of D&D 5e campaigns.

If I was to do D20 I would stick probably with D&D 3.0 core books only.
 

NinjaWeasel

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2000-2006 was a strange period in gaming for me. In the late 90s I was caught up with the same old games that I'd been playing through 88-95 and, apart from occasionally getting my attention caught (I remember being close to getting Talsorian's Bubblegum Crisis books), I wasn't up to date at all. I think that was partly because there wasn't healthy magazine support any more and I didn't have internet access at home until 99. I discovered The Big Purple sometime in 2000 and started checking that out from time to time but I was starting to drift away. Then, around 2002 I'd gotten myself quite enthusiastic about crunchy, generic systems because I figured I could get one or two and then play anything I wanted! So I ended up trying to get into Hero 5th and GURPS 4th. The former... I wanted to like but kept bouncing off the crunch. The latter? Well, I liked it (and still do) but I started to realise that it really wasn't doing anything much for me. This, and the success of 3.0 and D20, nearly led me to give up on RPGs.

I remember reading about 3.0/D20 and it sounded kinda cool. Lots of character options. That's good right? Streamlined and unified mechanics. That's got to make it so much easier to get into surely? Then I took a look at it and it was a total "wtf?!" moment for me. Just waaaaaaay too much crunch. Sure, a lot of it wasn't super complex, but there was so damn much of it! The central task resolution seemed okay though, with the exceptions that I couldn't figure out why the standard TN was 15 (instead of 20) and why the Attribute numbers still seemed mostly redundant. I could see possibilities inherent in it but I definitely didn't like it.

Then the forums became dominated by it and that was the worst. Someone would make a post on a forum, like "I want to run a game for my 5 and 6 year old kids, where they play magical porcupines trying to liberate the souls of woodland animals that have been captured by mysterious alien marshmallow beings", then you'd immediately get ten responses that were some variation (and sometimes not even variations!) on "any reason you wouldn't use D20?". That drove me insane! I avoided anything D20 for quite some time and started wondering if RPGs were still for me anymore. Thankfully, around 2005/6 I started looking at BRP based games and then discovered things like Mongoose's Traveller, Barbarians of Lemuria, Buffy, BESM 2nd, OVA, and Hollow Earth Expedition. Those games really rekindled my interest.

At some point, nearer the end of the decade I did pick up Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition and True20 Revised. I liked a lot about them but they never truly won me over. To me, the best thing about the D20 boom was that it led to some cool OSR games that I like, such as The Black Hack (although I always house rule), and a small selection of excellent books were produced for it that proved to be good sourcebooks that could be used with other systems.
 

robertsconley

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I think the release of the D20 SRD as open content under the OGL, showed how many people wanted to publish RPG material. Sure one could publish independently before, but often involved writing one's own system, or catering to what a publisher wants. With the SRD "in-between" projects could happen.

Much of this at first was pent-up demand then became a fad. Finally by the late 2000's settled down as it even out throughout the hobby. Afterwards it became more of a mixed bag without D20's shadow over everything.

Fifth edition largely avoided this because of the DM's Guild. Which sucked a lot of energy into its publishing eco-system by enticing authors with the ability to play around with the full system. Not a subset like with the D20 or 5e SRDs. So 5e publishing had a crazy explosion it mostly confined into the DM's Guild storefront.

Plus with the internet playing an even more dominant role it become easier to narrow things to your own particular slice of the hobby. If you walk into most game store today, you think 5e was the only game in town with a scattering of Pathfinder, Starfinder material. With the occasional oddball.
 

Endless Flight

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I liked the d20 era. I wish some of the games were still around, like d20 Modern. Mutants & Masterminds was a revelation when it first came out in 2002. It showed how d20 could be stripped down to its core.
 

NinjaWeasel

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D20 Modern was the first RPG I ever reviewed online
I always wanted to get into D20 Modern. I nearly bought it once but I knew it wouldn't work for me. The main thing I disliked about D20 was combat and it looked like Modern was doubling down on that side of things. I did buy Spycraft 2.0 in 2008 though and, while it was cool to flick through, my eyes glazed over when I tried to read it. I maybe got 20 pages in.
 

Caesar Slaad

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What else has changed since then? What else was big back then?
What has changed:
- Kickstarter sort of supplanted D20 and OGL as the big thing pushing non-Wizards gaming products
- Gaming Forums were bigger back then. A lot of forums disappeared as social media grew.
- I don't have any business numbers to back this up, but the "second tier" of gaming seems broader and smaller. There doesn't seem to be a strong 2nd banana RPG company like WW, but there seems to be more smaller companies.
- On a personal scale, I used to be the guy who got excited when a snazzy new D20 book came out. Nowaways, I roll my eyes when I see something majorly non-D&D being given a 5e-derived rules-set.
- iPads! (and tablets) PDF rulebooks are more practical now than during the heyday of the D20 cottage industry. And now, most major publishers make their books available in PDF. Back in the day, the fear of pirates was so deep that many major companies avoided putting out their products electronically, and many courted DRM PDF schemes that were never ready for prime time.
 

Trippy

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I’ll beg to differ: 1st edition core was very much Science Bad.
Sure, it came to us wreathed in the regalia of PoMo (something which would take me decades to figure out) but quite honestly, even 16-year-old me, blown away by the philosophy, was iffy on how the game’s primary antagonists were the people who invented public illumination, antibiotics and airplanes, and downgraded vampires and werewolves from real threats to myth, and the good guys ranged from stoner mystics to pseudoscientists (when the Etherites come up everyone thinks Frankenstein, am I the only one who thinks Time Cube and antivaxxer moms?) to actual wizards who wanted a return to the “mythic age” with dragons razing villages and crap.

I realize that at least from 2nd edition on, Brucato and later Heinig presided over a more relative take on both factions. But for 1st edition core it was all but plastered all over the book.

And I’m not sure whether it’s this or just the fact that a played a lot less Ascension than I played Masquerade or Apocalypse, but my oWoD nostalgia doesn’t seem to be particularly geared towards Mage.
That is the version of events that Brucato likes to sell, but actually I found his style of grandiose, provocative writing to be where more problems began, to be honest. The original edition, which I still own, makes it clear that the game is about paradigms in its Introduction. It establishes that the goal of the Technocracy is Ascension through eradication of supernatural threats and that its use of Science in establishing a materialistic and reductionist world view is what is bad, not the science itself. The presence of both the Sons of Ether (mad scientists) and Virtual Adepts (cyberpunks) in the Traditions as protagonists is testament to the point that the book goes to great pains to make it clear that Science can be good. The fundamental text that supposedly inspired the premise of the game was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig.
 

robertsconley

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I liked the d20 era. I wish some of the games were still around, like d20 Modern.
It is

The D20 Modern SRD.
The D20 SRD

Of course there are better formatted websites out there.

Personally when I think the d20 nostalgia hits years from now it going to a bit weird compared to other nostalgia waves due to the ability of folk to readily produce new and old content free of IP constraints. The OSR is kinda of there but it suffered from "it is a hack" stigma for a while. In contrast D20 was clearly open content from the start.
 
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Caesar Slaad

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I would still run Spycraft 2.0 in a heartbeat.

(I'd house rule the gear acquisition system, but I'd run it.)
 

Bunch

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It is

The D20 Modern SRD.
The D20 SRD

Of course there are better formatted websites out there.

Personally when I think the d20 nostalgia hits years from now it going to a bit weird compared to other nostalgia waves due to the ability of folk to readily produce new and old content free of IP constraints. The OSR is kinda of there but it suffered from "it is a hack" stigma for a while. In contrast D20 was clearly open content from the start.
D20 nostalgia is also going be weird because Pathfinder 1st edition D20 is only starting to disappear. I mean it's 20 years after d20 came out and it's just now starting to limp out.

I guess the closes analogy for it is the AD&D 1st & 2nd edition longevity. If you played 1st the changes between it and 2nd edition core were not so huge. Like with 3.0 vs Pathfinder 1.X it was the splats that introduced the major at the table differences.
 

The Butcher

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That is the version of events that Brucato likes to sell, but actually I found his style of grandiose, provocative writing to be where more problems began, to be honest. The original edition, which I still own, makes it clear that the game is about paradigms in its Introduction. It establishes that the goal of the Technocracy is Ascension through eradication of supernatural threats and that its use of Science in establishing a materialistic and reductionist world view is what is bad, not the science itself. The presence of both the Sons of Ether (mad scientists) and Virtual Adepts (cyberpunks) in the Traditions as protagonists is testament to the point that the book goes to great pains to make it clear that Science can be good. The fundamental text that supposedly inspired the premise of the game was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig.
Look. I’m sure a lot of thought went into Ascension 1st edition. But whatever the intent — modernity and the scientific worldview were presented as the problem. If your RPG can not convey an idea without a recommended reading list; maybe the author thought it wasn’t that important?
 

Trippy

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Look. I’m sure a lot of thought went into Ascension 1st edition. But whatever the intent — modernity and the scientific worldview were presented as the problem. If your RPG can not convey an idea without a recommended reading list; maybe the author thought it wasn’t that important?
Modernity and science mean different things and, as I said before, the text of the books goes to great length to discuss about how science isn't the problem, merely the reductionist and materialistic worldview embedded in the concept of the Technocracy as a fictional group. It is an interesting and provocative idea for a game - that's all.

I'm not sure what you are driving at with the last comment. The game was originally dedicated to Pirsig's work with a direct quotation in the credits. I could comprehend the ideas being presented.
 
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