d20, d20 Modern, Horror, McWOD, Monte Cook, Post Apocalyptic, RPG, Vampire, White Wolf, World of Darkness
An odd-ball release at the tail-end of the d20 era was Monte Cook’s re-envisioning of the classic White Wolf World of Darkness game lines and world as a d20 setting. The end result was an oddball mashup of the genres and themes of the World of Darkness in a post-apocalyptic setting with a very different rules set.
I don’t think it ever saw much play, mostly purchased by people like myself who love all things game, including both the d20 system and the World of Darkness.
So, for the hell of it, I cracked out my copy again (for the second time since buying it at GenCon the year it was released).
I’m going to make a Vampire for this, since it is the most well-known, heavily-played and iconic of the World of Darkness games. However, in McWOD (What a horrible nickname), Vampires are the results of the Inconnu (the evil bad-guys) merging the souls of evil dead with the bodies of the living in a hostile invasion that mostly kills the host and grants them great strength and resilience, and of course all the other gifts and curses that the angst-lords of the undead come with.
The standard for rolling up stats is 4d6-L, placed as you like. I’ll run with that and make a Nosferatu, the ugly mo-fos of kindred society. In this game, your “type” (in this case, Vampire) replaces the concept of class in most d20 games.
My character concept is a tough vagrant who has lived for years on the streets of Newark before the beginning of the end. Now poor old Matt the homeless has been seemingly possessed by the soul of Dorian Post, a mafia enforcer from the roaring 20’s in Chicago.
My ability rolls are 11, 12, 12, 10, 9 and 17. Damn close to McAverage for this die rolling method. Since I’m playing a Nosferatu, I’m definitely going to use Charisma as a dump stat. So my ability scores come out as:
As a vampire I get an immediate bonus of +2 to Strength, Constitution and Charisma (to reflect the awesome supernatural appeal and might of the undead – even the stinky mutated undead). I start with 4d8 hit points plus 4 times my Constitution modifier (supernaturals in this game are roughly the equivalent of level 4 characters in other d20 games – including their hit dice, attack bonuses, saves and so on). As a Nosferatu I get +2 Strength and –2 Charisma.
I also get the vampire standards of a bite attack, the Predator’s Taint (which allows me to immediately identify other vampires as well as their relative level compared to myself), and of course the legendary resistance to damage. On the downside I sleep all day, explode on contact with sunlight, and cannot be healed by natural means, just by vitae expenditure.
I can spend Vitae (blood points) to boost my stats, pretend I’m alive and heal damage.
As a level 4 equivalent, I start off with a +1 to a stat of my choice (hmmm… Constitution?), 2 feats, and a single discipline. Vampires also get 4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Another twist from the classic d20 system is the Character Focus. At each level you choose a focus – you spend your skill points in the skills from that focus, and for that level you get a +2 bonus to the stat appropriate to the focus. The four focuses are Might, Intellect, Spirit and Stealth. While old Matt was probably more interested in Stealth and Intellect, the new soul inside him is a bruiser, so I’m going with the Might focus, which gives him a +2 Strength bonus until he decides to switch focuses. I also get 3 skill ranks in all the skills from 2 skill themes. I’ll grab the Criminal and Stealth themes. Then I get to spend 5 skill points on the Might Focus skills – grabbing a rank of pilot (so’s I can drive the getaway car) and putting the rest into demolitions (bringing me up to 7 ranks in demolitions, my max).
As a mafia thug in the 20’s, he needs the Semiautomatic Weapon and Automatic Weapon Proficiency feats so he can swing around his Tommy Gun with impunity and at least a bit of skill.
My one discipline is a hard choice between Vigor (grants a bonus to Strength), Resilience (a bonus to Constitution) or Blood Potency (increases Vitae pool by 10 and max expenditure per round by 1). Although as a Nosferatu, the Vigor bonus is bigger than normal… So Vigor it is for now, with Blood Potency to be picked up at level 2. So for now I can spend a vitae for +6 Strength from Vigor one round, and then another vitae the next round for a +4 Strength from my vampiric abilities… So Strength of 28 in combat. Niiiice.Definitely a fun badguy to throw at a “normal” d20 modern group.
- Strength – 18 (+4)
- Dexterity – 10 (+0)
- Constitution – 20 (+5)
- Intelligence – 12 (+1)
- Wisdom – 11 (+0)
- Charisma – 9 (-1)
Hit Dice: 4d8+20
Hit Points: 42
Base Attack Bonus: +3
Defense Bonus: +3
Fort Save: +9
Ref Save: +4
Will Save: +4
Special Abilities and Traits
- Bite Attack | 1d4 + (Str Mod x 1.5) damage
- Predator’s Taint | spot other vampires automatically and determine their relative power
- Damage Resistance | Criticals deal no Con damage. Cannot bleed. Does not breathe.
- Low Light Vision | See twice as far as a human in low light situations
- Deathsleep | Cannot be active during the day, spend 1 vitae to awaken at sunset.
- Sunlight Vulnerability | 4 Con damage per round of exposure to sunlight
- Undead | Cannot heal naturally or with the benefits of medicine.
Vitae Max: 14
Vitae Expenditure: 1 / round
- Boost Physical Stats – +4 Str, Dex or Con for 1 minute (stacks if used more than once in the same round only)
- Counterfeit Life – 1 Trait for 1 hour per point spent
- Heal Wounds – 10 Hit Points per point spent or 2 ability points
- Demolitions (Int) | 7 ranks | +4
- Disable Device (Int) | 3 ranks | +4
- Forgery (Int) | 3 ranks | +4
- Open Lock (Dex) | 3 ranks | +3
- Sleight of Hand (Dex) | 3 ranks | +3
- Hide (Dex) | 3 ranks | +3
- Move Silent (Dex) | 3 ranks | +3
- Pilot (Dex) | 1 rank | +1
- Semiautomatic Weapon Proficiency | Not flat-footed by double-tapping
- Automatic Weapon Proficiency | Not flat-footed firing bursts or strafing. No –4 to hit strafing. DC to avoid strafing is 15.
- Vigor | Spend 1 Vitae for +6 Strength and +5 on jump checks for 1 minute.
I love your Nosferatu! I thought about picking up this game, too. I agree that McWoD is an unfortunate nick name!
I saw the d20 Call of Cthulhu as some kind of obscene joke, but I’ve always been intrigued by the d20 World of Darkness. I suppose because it’s not “my” game, I’m less precious about the d20 juggernaut stomping all over it.
See, while as a fan of CoC, I enjoyed seeing d20 CoC. Primarily because it meant more exposure of CoC to other player bases, and it was a damn pretty book. DAMN pretty.