Modern Assembly: A 4e Hack

Detective Shoot by Jef Harris

I’ve wanted to work on a modern update of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons for a long time. It may seem counter intuitive at first glance. D&D is not a modern game. Dungeons and Dragons celebrates medieval fantasy where the most modern piece of technology is a trebuchet (if even that) and magic isn’t just a tale but is a real part of many people’s daily life. Seems like a strange place for guns and computers.

It turns out I’m not the only person who thinks this is a good idea, so the Gamer Assembly is joining me on this quest. We’re not the first to do this. Dave Chalker worked on the 4th Power Project a couple of years ago. Casey Steven Ross wrote about his work updating d20 Modern for his home game over on DMG 42. There was an even fuller project I found linked on Enworld as well, but as of this writing their forums are down.

So if so many people have done this before, why are we doing it again? Well, what’s come before just isn’t exactly what we want. I absolutely respect the work they’ve done, and they’ve given us a reference that makes our job a lot easier. They have updated d20 Modern so that it’s more in line with the feeling of 4e and its mechanics. We are not doing that. We’re giving 4e Modern options.

I love 4th Edition. It’s the game my players want to play. I just want guns and cars!

We are building an expansion to the current version of Dungeons & Dragons. We want you to be able to play that new cleric build you’ve been looking at. We want your rogue to hack the Lich’s Defense Grid. We want you to be able to gun down a Dragon! Perhaps, most importantly, we want you to be able to do this while still playing the game you love.

Modern Assembly is being built with a few major goals in mind:

  1. Keep as much of the currently available 4e content as straight-out-of-the-box useful as possible.
  2. Only create what needs to be created, with a focus on mechanics that are modular and/or easily incorporated.
  3. Support as many variations of modern fantasy as possible.
  4. Keep it fun and action focused.

To that end, we are not designing any new races or classes. Most Modern Fantasy games are already human centric. Any additional races needed will be very dependent on the setting that you choose to play in. They may already exist, like the Vampires from Heroes of Shadow, or are likely easily skin-able (Warforged can easily replace most robots or cyborgs). Either way, new races would be better suited to a setting supplement and not this core set.

The current list of classes available in 4e is a long one. They run the gamut of power sources, ranges, and roles. Modern humans aren’t more powerful than capable of medieval humans, we’ve just have more knowledge and more stuff. We’ve broken the 4e mechanics slightly to accommodate this. Instead of writing new classes based around knowledge and equipment, we’re making new backgrounds and themes, that grant you the ability to take Modern Skills and Modern Equipment. So if you want to play a trained mercenary you could take the Ranger or Warlord Class with an Ex-Military Background. A nerdy librarian might be an Ardent, Bard or Rogue with the Scholar Theme.

This is an ongoing project, instead of a monthly theme like 3 Generations from the End. That means you’ll occasionally see posts on it, but you should still see other things churning through at the same time. There’s also no hard end date on the project, but a personal goal of mine is to be able to run a Play Test at PAXEast.

If you have any ideas, comments, or concerns please throw us a comment. We love to have feedback. Otherwise keep your eyes on this page for new Modern Assembly content coming soon.


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