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Twentieth Century Roleplaying: D20 Modern and the Future

Everyday Heroes from Evil Genius Productions Now On Kickstarter

Twenty years ago, in November of 2002, Wizards released d20 Modern, and it was a very different sort of RPG. The game system was designed by Bill Slavicsek, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, and Charles Ryan, aided by Chris Perkins and Stan! Brown. The game was edited by Charles and Michele Carter. So this was an all-star squadron of creative talent from Wizards of the Coast for that era. The game was very much an experiment — taking the strengths of the current AD&D game (then 3rd edition) and transposing them into a modern setting without losing the intent of the originals, but adapting them to a totally new genre.

There had been RPGs for modern settings before – those targeted to particular genres like espionage (the original Top Secret), horror (Call of Cthulhu), or superheroes (Marvel Super Heroes) have been attempting with original systems. And there have been universal systems, like GURPS or the Hero System, that sought to expand their rulesets out into simulating everything in all genres from medieval fantasy to science fiction. D20 Modern, on the other hand, concentrated on getting one time and place right. The time was now, and the place was the world outside your window.

D20 Modern set out to adapt the strengths of the 3rd Edition of AD&D into the modern settings, without lock-stepping it into the earlier game. It was meant to stand apart as a full system yet recognize its connection with the original. The ability scores were the same as for the original game, as were such basic concepts as combat rounds. But, for example, instead of classes as job descriptions, d20 Modern instead embraced broader archetypes based on the attributes themselves – the Smart Hero, the Strong Hero, and the Charismatic Hero. These archetypes then could specialize into their various appropriate subclasses, or remain true to their initial basis. By turning away from Class as Profession, D20 Modern created a system that could be turned to a variety of subgenres in the modern age.

It proved to be a successful and versatile base for adventures. The core book provided three separate types of campaigns set in the modern era. Shadow Chasers delves into a world of heroic horror, where heroes are protectors against the forces of darkness. Agents of Psi uncorked mental powers for the players in a modern setting. And Urban Arcana is was the archetypical Urban Fantasy, replete with creatures from the pages of previous editions as well as new creatures meant specifically for today’s age.

The game was well-received and spread further into other genres. Urban Arcana grew into its own full-fledged ruleset. D20 Future allowed the game to expand into various varieties of futuristic settings, and itself spawned several supplements. D20 Apocalypse took a darker turn at the future, and D20 past explored expanding the rules into pulp, swashbuckler, and gaslight eras. The resilience of the system proved to be extremely adaptive and allowed GMs to create a wide variety of stories.

Now, twenty years after the release of the original d20 Modern, Evil Genius Games is returning to the subject at hand. Game design has evolved in 20 years, and it is now time to revisit the core concepts of the original d20 Modern. Seeking inspiration, not imitation, Everyday Heroes follows in the footsteps of the original game, seeking to build off both its original concepts and those of the current incarnation of D&D, while expanding out to deal with very modern challenges within the games. Armed with this ability, Everyday Heroes™ has the potential to explore a variety of new worlds and licenses. But it is very aware of where its roots lie, in a very important game of twenty years ago – d20 Modern.

About the Author

Jeff Grubb is an award-winning game designer and best-selling novelist. He has worked for TSR, Wizards of the Coast, and ArenaNet, and his designs include Manual of the Planes, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Marvel Super Heroes, Spelljammer, Guild Wars, and D20 Modern. He is a design consultant for Evil Genius Games – the maker of Everyday Heroes™.

About Evil Genius Productions

Evil Genius Productions, a Black-owned game publisher was founded in 2021 to produce modern-day tabletop roleplaying games. With a team of deeply experienced game designers, Evil Genius is set to create games that are fun and epic in scope. Its first game, Everyday Heroes, is a tabletop roleplaying game set in the modern world. Based on the d20 Modern open gaming license, Everyday Heroes™ is set to ship on the 20th anniversary of its original release. Everyday Heroes will be launched on Kickstarter on May 17.

More information on Evil Genius Productions can be found online at