D20 Modern, a game of anime art and strong mechanics

D20 modern Wizards of the Coast

There was a point in time when there were so many D20 games being released I had no idea what was in the marketplace.  It was during those days that I completely missed D20 modern by WotC.  Several years after its initial release, and certainly after it had already gone out of print, someone on some long forgotten forum suggested I use D20 modern if I didn’t want to try to readjust my gaming world’s current D&D 3.5 model to Shadowrun for a one-shot distant future adventure.

I ended up taking their advice and my gaming experience has been better ever since with the yearly running of my High Sanctum campaign set against the backdrop of the Nameless Realms 10th Age of Man.

However, I’m not here today to talk about my gaming experience in D20 modern [which I hope is a bonus] but instead talk about the art involved in the books creation.

As I said earlier, it was produced by Wizards of the Coast in 2002 and Art Directed by Robert Raper.  The content is one of the first to reflect what my friend Mike said yesterday in a random Facebook post, and I quote, ‘Why is it that for the past decade all RPGs have looked more like Exalted than Exalted?’  Translation, in 2002 the industry started going anime. 

Now perhaps this was a conscious choice by Raper considering the premise of the book, and from that standpoint it works well to further  its content, but still I have to wonder what was changing in the minds of the art directors around the marketplace. 

Covered by artist Dave Johnson, the work is a nice hybrid of anime and contemporary fantasy with strong lines and color choices although the book’s cover features more design work than true splash art.  This makes it simply a character piece, which I don’t have an issue with, but still it fails to fully capture the setting.

Inside, a small army of artists break bread together as they draft a much more animated style in rendering full color images that are well-placed and capture the essence of each item described by the writers in this 384 page book. 

In all, it works, and that is the best test for any RPG, so although it isn’t my all-time favorite style of artwork, it still manages to please the eye and compel the story forward.

Artistic Rating: 3.5 [out of 5]

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