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08/29/2002


Advanced Classes
Do one thing, and do it well.
No, do two things… Wait, three...

Mat Smith

By now, you should already know that when you crack open the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook, you're going to face a lot of choices in a character building system that's more flexible than microwaved Silly Putty.

Not only can you customize your character by multiclassing all over the place, but you can focus in on a specific niche and really crank up the coolness factor on what your character is capable of. That, my friends, is what we call taking levels in an advanced class.

Check out Chapter Six, paragraph one:

Sooner or later, your character is going to want to specialize, sending his or her heroic career in a particular direction. In addition to multiclassing freely among the six basic classes (Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, and Charismatic), eventually your character will qualify to take levels in an advanced class.

The nifty bit about the advanced classes you'll find in the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook is that you can "eventually qualify" for all of them by the time you hit 4th or 5th level -- assuming you start, from Day One, building your character toward that advanced class. It's fast and easy.

The fastest, easiest way of all is to take levels in the basic class that corresponds most closely to the advanced class you're focused on. A Strong hero is going to meet the requirements to take the Soldier advanced class much faster than a Dedicated hero. Not that your Dedicated hero can't qualify for the Soldier advanced class -- it's just going to take a little longer because your basic class doesn't earn those specific prerequisites quite as quickly as other basic classes.

A Dozen Advanced Classes (to Start With)

There are six basic classes. Each one of those has two advanced classes that are tied most closely to it. That's twelve advanced classes inside the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. "Only twelve?" you say. (Some people are never satisfied. OK, technically, there are 18 advanced classes -- Chapter Nine: Campaign Models features six more. But you'll have to pick up a copy of the core rulebook to find out more about those.) Twelve advanced classes gives enough options to start fleshing out characters. These twelve also provide a solid base of good examples when you decide to build your own advanced classes.

You want a list? Here's a list:

Basic Class Advanced Classes

  • Strong Soldier, Martial Artist
  • Fast Gunslinger, Infiltrator
  • Tough Daredevil, Bodyguard
  • Smart Field Scientist, Techie
  • Dedicated Field Medic, Investigator
  • Charismatic Personality, Negotiator

Most characters are likely to dabble around with multiclassing in two or more of the basic classes. Really, that's what the system is set up for. The truly impressive thing about the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game is how it's been designed, from top to bottom, to allow maximum flexibility so you can play the character you want to play. It's all about options.

Regardless of how you get there and what basic classes you take along the way, when you take levels in an advanced class you're bringing certain aspects of your character into sharper focus. I think that's why they decided to call them advanced classes rather than prestige classes. It's not just a change in nomenclature to help make d20 Modern feel different from Dungeons & Dragons. It's because advanced classes really are different from prestige classes.

Prestige classes are the expression of a specific path a character might take -- a very focused and highly specialized niche that few individuals explore. An advanced class, on the other hand, feels more like a natural extension of what the character's been up to all along. That is, taking an advanced class is like pushing your character's "thing" to the next level. If you have a character who's been racking up unarmed combat feats and skills that let you do things you'd see in a Jackie Chan movie, it won't take much to put you on the path of the Martial Artist advanced class.

Gunslinger Martial Artist Shadow Hunter
and Occultist
Soldier

With far fewer prerequisites, most of which you can accrue regardless of which basic class levels you take, an advanced class is something just about any character can work its way into with an appropriate amount of effort. That means you can create a whole army of Soldiers with characters that have completely different backgrounds -- kinda like the real, modern world.

When you understand that it takes only a few levels of one advanced class to pick up the prerequisites for another, you're tapped into a crazy festival party of multiclassing abundance.

Once you get a look at the stuff you can do with each of those advanced classes, you're going to be hard-pressed to settle on just one of them. I know I keep going back and forth between wanting to do the unarmed combat, "my body is a lethal weapon" kind of character, and the lead-spitting, trigger-twitching, pistol-toting slayer type. Like the Gunslinger advanced class, for example:

Gunslinger

The Gunslinger knows everything there is to know about handguns of all types. Whereas the Martial Artist develops her body into a perfect weapon, the Gunslinger trains his mind and body to work in concert with his handguns. His pistols become an extension of him. The Gunslinger can be a mercenary or a modern-day knight, defending the weak and the innocent with a pair of blazing pistols instead of a sword and shield.

Select this advanced class if you want your character to excel with handguns or other ranged weapons.

The fastest path into this advanced class is from the Fast hero basic class, though other paths are possible.

Requirements

To qualify to become a Gunslinger, a character must fulfill the following criteria.

Base Attack Bonus: +2.
Skills: Sleight of Hand 6 ranks, Tumble 6 ranks.
Feats: Personal Firearms Proficiency.

Class Information

The following information pertains to the Gunslinger advanced class.

Hit Die: The Gunslinger gains 1d10 hit points per level. The character's Constitution modifier applies.

Action Points: The Gunslinger gains a number of action points equal to 6 + one-half his character level, rounded down, every time he attains a new level in this class.

Class Skills: The Gunslinger's class skills are as follows -- Bluff (Cha), Demolitions (Int), Drive (Dex), Escape Artist (Dex), Gamble (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (current events, popular culture, streetwise) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Read/Write Language (none), Ride (Dex), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (none), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at Each Level: 5 + Int modifier.

Class Features

The following features pertain to the Gunslinger advanced class.

Close Combat Shot: At 1st level, a Gunslinger gains the ability to make a ranged attack with a Medium-size or smaller firearm while in a threatened area without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Weapon Focus: At 2nd level, a Gunslinger gains the weapon focus class feature, providing the benefits of the feat with the same name. The Gunslinger must choose a specific personal firearm, such as a Walther PPK or an M4 carbine. You add +1 to all attack rolls you make using the selected personal firearm.

Bonus Feats: At 3rd, 6th, and 9th level, the Gunslinger gets a bonus feat. The bonus feat must be selected from the following list, and the Gunslinger must meet all the prerequisites of the feat to select it.

Advanced Firearms Proficiency, Advanced Two-Weapon Fighting, Burst Fire, Dead Aim, Double Tap, Far Shot, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Precise Shot, Quick Draw, Quick Reload, Shot on the Run, Skip Shot, Strafe, Two-Weapon Fighting.

Defensive Position: Starting at 4th level, a Gunslinger gains the ability to use cover to maximum advantage. The Gunslinger gains an additional +2 cover bonus to Defense and an additional +2 cover bonus on Reflex saves whenever he has one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, or nine-tenths cover.

Lightning Shot: Starting at 5th level, a Gunslinger can make a flurry of ranged attacks with a personal firearm at the expense of accuracy. With a lightning shot, the Gunslinger may make one extra ranged attack with a personal firearm in a round at his highest base attack bonus. This attack and each other attack made in the round take a -2 penalty. Using lightning shot is a full-round action. The Gunslinger can't take more than a 5-foot step and use lightning shot in the same round.

Sharp-Shooting: At 7th level, a Gunslinger gains the ability to score hits that others would miss due to the target's cover. If the Gunslinger uses a personal firearm to attack a target, the cover bonus to the target's Defense for one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, or nine-tenths cover is reduced by 2.

Greater Weapon Focus: At 8th level, a Gunslinger receives a +1 competence bonus on attack rolls made with the firearm selected for the weapon focus ability at 2nd level. This bonus stacks with the earlier bonus.

Bullseye: At 10th level, a Gunslinger becomes so adept at using the firearm to which he has applied weapon focus and greater weapon focus that his attacks with that firearm can deal extra damage. With a successful attack, before damage is rolled, he can spend 1 action point to deal +3d6 points of damage.

Sounds good. Put a Desert Eagle .50 or two in my character's hands, and stand back, 'cause crazy ballistic things are going to happen. I'd say I feel sorry for anything that gets in my way, but I just can't. That's because the bad guys I'll be running into will be just as tough if not tougher. And the critters you can run into out there are even nastier.

Curious about the competition being run from behind the GM's screen? Me, too. I'll look into that and get back to you next month.

About the Author

Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been here, golly, two whole years. He's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing length of time and now gets to spend an astonishing portion of his days thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.

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