Author Archives: BrianLiberge

About BrianLiberge

Brian Liberge is a father of one, living in Boston, MA. Introduced to AD&D at an early age, he’s continued to update with the editions, and regularly DM’s two concurrent 4E campaigns. He loves home-brewed ideas, is honest to a fault, and thought that the idea that converting 3.5 to 4e is impossible, is just plain silly. With a B.S. Degree in Theatre Arts, a job in Information Technology, and a love of strategy gaming, he tries to bring the best of each into his new creations for the D&D World. You can find my work in Kobold Quarterly 19, available now. You can track all his work on http://brianliberge.wordpress.com/

Firearms and Other Weapons – Modern Assembly

DSCF1084 by joelogon

In our modern times, arrows and swords are often out of place, even impractical. The following modern weapons are written using the base rules presented for weapons in the core game.

They’re also balanced with the existing sword-and-sorcery weapons. This serves two key functions: First, you can easily swap a fantasy weapon for its modern equivalent; a baseball bat can use the same mechanics as a club, or a woodsman’s hatchet can be used as a hand axe. Secondly, both fantasy and modern weapons can be used in the same party, without any trouble.

There are a couple of key additions to help make modern weapons flow seamlessly with the core game.

Ammunition: Each weapon group uses a different type of ammunition. 20 rounds of any one type costs 2 gp. Weapons that use magazines instead cost 1gp per magazine. Some weapons, like the assault rifle or semi-automatic pistol, may actually use more than one bullet when fired, but for ease of tracking, only one round gets used for each enemy targeted.

Fuel: Chainsaws and flamethrowers also need to be loaded, but their ammunition is fuel. 1 pint of fuel is required every encounter and costs 1 gp.

Load: Just like bows and crossbows, guns take time to load. However, guns typically hold more than one round. If a gun has the Magazine property, it uses the same rules as a repeating crossbow, with each magazine holding the number of rounds in parenthesis.

Other guns need rounds loaded individually, like shotguns and revolvers. Each round takes one action to load, with the total number that can be loaded in parenthesis after the load type.

Grenades and the Grenade Launcher: Grenades use the same rules for the consumable Alchemist’s Fire, with each different level representing a different grade of explosion.

The grenade launcher is a special weapon, used to direct grenades and launch them greater distances. The grenade launcher uses a grenade as ammo, with the grenade’s damage determining the weapon’s base damage. However, a grenade launcher can be used with any ranged attack power instead of the grenade’s item power.

Simple Melee
One-Handed Prof. Damage Range Price Weight Group Properties
Brass Knuckles +2 1d6 - 5 gp 1 lb. Unarmed Off-hand
Superior Melee
Two-Handed
Chainsaw +2 2d6 - 10 gp 20 lbs. Heavy Blade High Crit
Simple Ranged
One-Handed
Grenade - - - - - - As Alchemist’s Fire
Two-Handed
Double Barrel Shotgun +1 2d4 5/10 25 gp 11 lbs. Shotgun Load Minor (2)
Pump Action Shotgun +1 1d8 5/10 35 gp 8 lbs. Shotgun Brutal [1], Load Move (6)
Military Ranged
One-Handed
Light Pistol +2 1d6 15/30 30 gp 4 lbs. Pistol High Crit, Off-hand, Load Free, Magazine 6
Revolver +2 1d8 10/20 25 gp 4 lbs. Pistol High Crit, Load Move (6)
Semi-Automatic Pistol +1 2d6 15/30 40 gp 3 lbs. Pistol Load Free, Magazine 6
Two-Handed
Light Rifle +2 1d8 20/40 25 gp 8 lbs. Rifle High Crit, Load Free, Magazine 5
Heavy Rifle +1 1d10 15/30 35 gp 25 lbs. Rifle Brutal [2], Load Free, Magazine 10
Superior Ranged
Two-Handed
Assault Rifle +1 2d8 10/20 50 gp 10 lbs. Machine Gun Brutal [2], Load Free (10)
Flamethrower +2 2d8 Fire 5/10 60 gp 15 lbs. Special Brutal [1]
Sniper Rifle +3 1d10 40/80 35 gp 11 lbs. Rifle High Crit, Load Minor (1)
Grenade Launcher +2 See Notes 15/30 360 gp 20 lbs Special Special

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Faceman Theme – Modern Assembly

Me? I’m a nightclub singer. . . and a security guard. . . and a local politician. Don’t believe me? Just give me a few seconds to convince you.

Lust - CLose up by Anita Claven

A diplomatic leader who strives towards bi-partisan laws, or regularly entreats with foreign dignitaries. A charismatic rogue who smiles at you just so to keep you off balance, before he shoots you. The faceman represents the type of hero that can talk their way through anything.

Whether you’re a well trained agent or you just have natural charm, you’re party depends on you to speak for the group, negotiate in tense situations, and sometimes even infiltrate the enemies ranks.

Examples include James Bond, Templeton “Face” Peck, and Elizabeth Lochley.

Starting Feature

Most people feint with their weapons. A false thrust can cause an enemy to dodge one way and open themselves to your real attack. You know how to feint using your body as weapon. A seductive wink, a change in posture, or a sly word can make your target let down their guard and make your blow land all the easier.

Benefit: When making a Bluff check to gain combat advantage, the target may be within a close burst 5, as long as you have line of sight.


Additional Features

Level 5 Feature
All the world’s a lie and you’re its top player. You know the sweetest words, the meaning of body language and all the master tricks.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Bluff and Insight.


Level 10 Feature
Facemen are often called into situations where they need to know an answer, whether it’s their specialty or not. Those with the skill and experience develop an ability to produce an answer so convincing it actually works. This ability to wing it is often the difference between a crucial success or failure.
Benefit: Once per day, you may make a Bluff check with a +2 bonus in place of an Arcana, Dungeoneering, Mechanics, Nature, Science, Streetwise, or Religion check.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power
Just as you can use your charisma to open up an opponents defenses, you’ve learned how to throw your opponent off balance when they attack. When it seems like you’re about to be taken down a notch, you slow them down with the power of your being.

Innocence Maneuver Faceman Utility 2
As they blade arcs toward you, a sudden flash of surprise or concern crosses your face, forcing your attackers aim purposefully away.
Encounter * Martial
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: Your AC is targeted by an attack
Effect: The attack instead targets your Will defence.

Level 6 Utility Power
When things are getting hot and all guns are blazing ,you need to get where you’re skills are best, even if that’s the heck out of here. You make yourself seem small and less imposing so that no one gives you a second thought as you pass by.

Nothing to See Here Faceman Utility 6
In the chaos of battle you quickly pass through the ranks of friend and foe.
Daily * Martial
Move Action Personal
Effect: You move up to your speed. You do not provoke Opportunity Attacks when moving out a threatened square for this movement.

Level 10 Utility Power
When people are at their weakest you are at your best. Whether working with a partner or solo, you know how take a confused opponent and knock the world out from under them.

Staggering Finish Faceman Utility 10
With a shove or a demoralizing look you send your confused foe staggering backwards and onto his ass.
Encounter * Martial
Free Action Melee 1
Trigger: An adjacent enemy becomes Dazed or Stunned
Target: The triggering enemy
Effect: You push the enemy back 3 and knock it prone.

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Modern Assembly: Mundane Items

Your Modern Assembly heroes likely have access to some modern equipment, even if they’re not in in a fully modern setting. The table below includes the most common modern items likely to be carried as personal equipment. Remember, if the hero has these things in their home, but they’re not likely to carry them to encounters that’s an Asset and should not be purchased from Cash.

Some common modern items have been intentionally left off the list. In the interest of only adding what is needed to the existing core material, items that are very similar to existing items should be treated the same. For example a briefcase can be treated as a backpack, a set of handcuffs can be treated as manacles and a flashlight is roughly equivalent to a hooded lantern (just swap batteries in place of oil).

Any item needing batteries or a filter to operate have one use included in its purchase price.

Item Price Weight Description
Audio Recorder 10 1 lb. Picks up sound within ten feet. Can record up to 8 hours. Batteries last 24 hours.
Batteries, Common 2 gp .5 lb. Batteries for small portable devices.
Batteries, Specialized 75 gp .5 lb. Batteries for larger devices like laptops or Cellular Interceptor.
Binoculars, Standard 15 gp 2 lb. You negate the penalty to Perception checks made to spot something over 10 squares away.
Binoculars, Advanced 520 gp 3 lb. As standard binoculars but also displays the distance of an object digitally and act as night vision goggles.
Bolt Cutter 4 gp 5 lb. Provides a +5 item bonus Strength checks made to break chains or locks.
Camera, Digital 50 gp .5 lb. Standard common amateur camera. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Camera, Professional 360 gp 2 lb. Multiple Lenses for high quality photos. Can double as telescope. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Cellular Interceptor 840 gp 1 lb. Can intercept cell phone calls within 5 miles with a successful Science check. Battery lasts for 10 hours, and is charged in 1 hour.
Demolitions Kit 25 gp 5 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Thievery Checks made to set or disarm explosives.
Duct Tape (120 ft) 5 gp 1 lb. Duct tape can support up to 200 pounds indefinitely, or up to 300 pounds for 1d6 rounds. Easily teared and applied. Character bound by Duct Tape must succeed on a DC 22 Strength or Acrobatics check to escape.
Electricians Kit 30 gp 12 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a computer or small electronic device.
Gas Mask 360 gp 5 lb. Protects the eyes and lungs from toxic gas. Can be used up to 12 hours before a filter is replaced.
Gas Mask Filter 40 gp 1 lb. Canister used to filter air in a gas mask.
Laptop 680 gp 3 lb. Portable Computer. Needs local wireless or Ethernet for Internet access. Battery lasts 4 hours and is outlet charged in 1 hour.
Lighter 1 gp - Instant fire, up to 3,000 times.
Mechanics Tools 50 gp 20 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a car or large mechanical device.
Metal Detector 150 gp 2 lb. Device that grants a +10 item bonus to Perception checks used to locate metal creatures or items.
Night Vision Goggles 360 gp 3 lb. Grants darkvision 20, but imposes a -4 to Perception checks due to poor clarity.
Phone, Basic Cell 15 gp - Common digital phone, that works in any area with cellular service. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 2 days.
Phone, Smart 360 gp .5 lb. Phone with digital camera, GPS, and Internet. Can be used to connect Internet to laptop without local wireless. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.
Science Kit 40 gp 6 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Science Checks made to analyse objects.
Telephone Tap 50 gp .5 lb. Taps either into the line (usually in an adjacent room or outside the building) or is placed into the receiver and broadcast to a Walkie-Talkie frequency. Requires a Mechanics check to place.
Video Camera 100 gp 1 lb Can record up to 5 hours of video and audio. Batteries last up to 12 hours.
Walkie-Talkie 360 gp 1 lb. Allows direct communication on thousands of unique frequencies, up to a range of 15 miles. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.

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Modern Complications Table


Sometimes life just throws you lemons. . . really nasty lemons. Whether your game has a Complication mechanic or your GM needs to spice things up a bit, here’s a list of complications you can drop into nearly any scene. Try them in your next game of Modern Assembly, School Daze, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying or any game with modern elements.

  1. Your mother calls your cell phone
  2. Your cell phone battery dies
  3. Your credit cards demagnetize
  4. You realize you forgot your keys
  5. The power goes out
  6. The Internet is down
  7. Your/a nearby car backfires
  8. Your love interest changes their Relationship Status
  9. A parade comes through
  10. A drunk person enters
  11. There’s construction down your next path
  12. Your shoelace is untied
  13. There’s a fire in the building
  14. Building evacuated due to a bomb threat
  15. Police enter and mistake you for someone else
  16. Your car is stolen
  17. Step in gum/feces/puddle of mysterious provenance
  18. You forgot your phone/laptop charger
  19. You discover blood on your clothes
  20. You left the car lights on, battery is low or dead
  21. Significant other won’t return calls/texts/etc.
  22. Someone important to you unfriended you
  23. Endless email barrage, so you phone won’t stop going off
  24. You have a sneezing fit
  25. You have a flat tire
  26. Money is missing from your wallet
  27. You’re hungry
  28. Traffic is backed up because of a sporting event
  29. Your house/car has been broken into
  30. Your computer/phone reboots for no clear reason
  31. You find mouse droppings in salt shaker
  32. You find out the school teacher really is the witch you thought she was
  33. Something is leaking (car, toilet, ceiling, tanker truck in front of you, etc.)
  34. No cell service
  35. Your favorite band breaks up
  36. Someone forgot to put their cell on vibrate and now everyone hears “It’s Raining Men” at top volume.
  37. Automatic doors refuse to recognize you
  38. A cockroach scuttles across the floor.
  39. An emergency vehicle goes by, sirens blaring
  40. Kindergarten field trip goes walking by
  41. Awkward run in with ex
  42. Appetizer feeds one more person than your party.
  43. A panhandler asks you for spare change.
  44. Animal escapes from the zoo
  45. A bus unloads a group of foreign tourists
  46. You completely blank on the name of the person you’re talking to
  47. You scratch your head, and when you take your hand away, some hair comes with it
  48. Wind blows smoke from nearby factory in
  49. You feel a food coma coming on
  50. Flashmob begins…

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Wealth: Cash and Assets in Modern Assembly

Wealth by alexjtam

Modern Assembly supports many different worlds. In a game where modern characters don’t have access to a typical modern society, such as a post apocalyptic game or one where modern heroes are transported to a fantasy world, most of a character’s treasure goes into purchasing and upgrading their equipment. In these games you can treat wealth the same as you would in a typical fantasy game.

However if the game has a modern setting it becomes important to make a distinction between the wealth used in combat and the wealth used in story telling. You do not want a character to drag down regular encounter because they spent their treasure on a new apartment instead of an upgraded weapon. Modern Assembly separates these two types of treasure into Cash and Assets.

Cash Anything that you might find on a typical treasure table falls under cash. This includes starting equipment, combat gear and consumable items. It also includes any actual cash or liquid assets that could be used to purchase personal gear. We measure cash in gold pieces to keep things comparable to the base system. You should feel free to change this to a modern currency, just keep in mind that this is merely a representative system. Prices are balanced to keep mechanical balance, not to match realistic current day prices.

We also recommend using inherent bonuses, instead of bonus enhancements found on weapon, armor and neck items. That way a player using modern equipment will scale with fantasy characters without upgrading to brand new equipment every few levels. They can still get their equipment enchanted if your setting has magic, but it should be with alternate effects, instead of the typical +1 bonus.

Assets Anything that your character can acquire given a little time, that does not come into play in the average combat, is an asset. These can be physical objects, such as a car or a home, or more abstract rewards, like a seat on a board of directors, or being able to bribe your way into an affluent club. Think of these as story rewards more than typical treasure.

If an asset logically comes into play during an encounter then the DM may give out a bonus for having that asset. These are parts of your story and players should be rewarded for using the world creatively. If these assets come into play in more than one encounter a session, they should be reworked as part of the characters equipment, purchased from their cash, and not be considered an asset.

The recommended bonus for these effect is +2. In some circumstances assets are logically more useful, due to their quality, and can receive a bonus based on their distance from common. So for example if an common character uses their jeep as cover, they get a +2 bonus to their defenses, and so would a wealthy character using their corvette as cover. However, if an common character is trying to get a bonus to their knowledge roll by using the local library, and a wealthy character has a private library devoted to the subject at hand, the DM may grant the wealthy character a +4 bonus to the roll (+2 for common, +1 each for the two asset levels above common). This bonus is subject to the DM’s discretion.

There are four asset grades available to level 1 characters. All characters start as common but can gain a different asset grade through feats, backgrounds, or as rewards given out by the DM when the story permits.

Common: This is roughly where most of an average society fits. You likely have a full time job to provide you with income. You have shelter, whether its a small apartment, a room in your parents house or a modest home with a mortgage. You have a means of transportation in your immediate area, but its nothing flashy.

Comfortable: Your job requires a certain amount of skill, experience of education that puts you above average. You earn more money but probably work just as much as someone with common assets. You likely have a spacious apartment or your own home. You almost certainly own a car that’s equal to new in quality, and might include more luxurious options such as a powerful engine, or leather seats. It’s easier for you to find money for plane tickets, hotel rooms and other luxuries than it is for an common person. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background

Wealthy: Handling money is second nature to you. Your assets are big enough that they practically handle themselves. Whether your living off interest, your parents, or the profits from your company, you only go into work if you want to. You own multiple luxury cars, and may own, or can easily get the use of other modes transportation, such as a boat or small plane. Money comes with privilege, and it’s easier for you to get an audience with other key individuals. It also has its drawbacks. More people are aware of you and may seek you out or target you. It’s much harder for you blend into a crowd. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background, and the Wealthy feat.

Poor: You live below the poverty line. If you have an apartment it’s likely in a poor neighborhood. If you have your own car it may also be your home. You may be working multiple low income jobs, or out of work and on the street. It’s much easier for you to go unnoticed or go completely off the grid. You’re used to living off of very little and are able to survive in harsh situations. You understand the importance of trade and know where you can sell things quickly and quietly. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Poor Lifestyle background.

Fountain of Wealth by yoodz

Asset Grade as Story Once play has moved past the starting level, character’s asset grade may change as part of the story. Characters of higher levels may gain access to even higher levels of wealth in this way. These levels are limited by tier so that only characters of Paragon and higher can become Rich, and those of Epic and higher may be Unreasonably Rich. It’s possible for a character to achieve such wealth before these levels, but they do not have the experience needed to take the advantages of such wealth. Characters should not select asset based mechanics when leveling up.

Rich: You’re beyond wealthy, your rolling in it. You may be a pop superstar or the owner of one or two fortune 500 companies. You have your own plane, a mansion and more material goods than you can keep track of. You are constantly recognized in public and can buy your way into nearly any place or event.

Unreasonably Rich: You’ve achieved an asset grade that seems almost impossible. You fly from locations in a huge jet, that doubles as your luxury home. Maybe you own a whole city, and employ all it’s residents as your employees. Everyone knows who you are and they likely have very strong opinions about everything you do. You sway nations and command your own private army.

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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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