2d20 Mod, part 2 – Differences between the versions part a – Characters

In this second part of a series (looking at putting together a basic, modular, generic version of the 2d20 system), I will be looking at how characters vary between the different 2d20 versions.

Note – the 2d20 rules system is copyright of Modiphius games. I am simply looking at pulling the basic rules out of the different games and then putting it make together.

Differences between the versions part 1 – Characters

Generally over time the characters have become less complicated

Versions sorted by release
MC3
Infinity
Conan
JCOM
Star Trek
Dishonored
Dune
Achtung! Cthulhu
Versions sorted by Crunch/Heavyness
MC3
Infinity
Conan
Achtung! Cthulhu
Star Trek
Dishonored
Dune
JCOM

MC3, Infinity and Conan have the most in common, sharing large similarities in attributes, skills, focuses and how characters are created. JCOM made huge changes to all of this and is probably the most different from the others, although Dune looks closer to JCOM than anything else. Star trek again made changes to characters, but in doing so made the game match Star Trek incredibly well. Dishonored shares some similarities with Star Trek in characters but then also deviates a lot. Achtung Cthulhu seems to move back closer to the original 3.

Attributes

6 of the games match up their attributes quite well. Mutant chronicles started off with Agility, Awareness, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, Mental, Physique and Strength. Infinity and Conan combined Physique and Strength into Brawn, and called Mental Willpower. So Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, Willpower. These are the only 2 2d20 games to share attributes. JCOM has a new set of attributes; Daring, Empathy, Might, Cunning, Reason, Passion. These look different but actually match quite well to the Infinity/Conan 7. Star Trek has some overlap with JCOM having Daring, Insight, Fitness, Control, Reason, Presence. So these also match well to the 7. Dune and dishonored go in completely different directions having Drives (Duty, Faith, Justice, Power, Truth) and Styles (Boldly, carefully, cleverly, forcefully, quietly, swiftly). Achtung cthulhu brings it back to being very close to the 7 but only having 6; Agility, Insight, Brawn,  Coordination, Reason, Will. These match straight onto the 7 except for the missing personality attribute.

Putting these in a table to match them up looks like this:

MC3AgilityAwarenessCoordinationIntelligencePersonalityMentalPhysiqueStrength
InfinityAgilityAwarenessBrawnCoordinationIntelligencePersonalityWillpower
ACAgilityInsightBrawnCoordinationReasonWillpower
JCOMDaringEmpathyMightCunningReasonPassion
Star TrekDaringInsightFitnessControlReasonPresence

JCOM and Star trek lack a willpower stat but reason or control can account for that. AC misses a personality stat, i’m not sure how to deal with that though!

There is also how attributes are set at character creation. MC3, Conan, Infinity, Star Trek and AC all have similar scales. Attributes can go as low as 6 as high as 12 or 13 and average between 8 and 9. There are some differences in how the versions get to their final scores because the lifepath rules are different, but the end point is roughly the same. Dishonored and JCOM have a scale of between 4 and 8, but their replacement for skills also is between 4 and 8 so they end up with a similar total range as the other versions.

Skills and focuses

As with attributes the first 3 games are the most similar and Infinity and conan are almost identical. In these 3 games skills are linked to attributes and focuses are just a different rating on the skill. From Star Trek onwards, focuses became a specific area that you are better at, giving double successes if you roll under the skill, as opposed to the rating from the first 3 games. This works well as a way of distinguishing characters and was continued in every game since. Star Trek had 6 disciplines because it matched the 6 roles in star fleet. Dishonoured and Dune have a similar size as they are simpler systems. AC has a much bigger skill list, but still only half the size of the first 3 games.

VersionSkillsSkill RatingFocuses
MC317 skills and 12 sub skills0-5Same as skills rated 0-5
Infinity24 skills0-5Same as skills rated 0-5
Conan25 skills0-5Same as skills rated 0-5
AC12 skills0-5A focus is an area linked to a skill, no rating
JCOMNo skills – doubles up on attributesn/a
Star Trek6 disciplines1-5A focus is an area, no rating
Dishonored6 skills4-8Specific Area, rated 2-5
Dune5 skillsA focus is an area linked to a skill, no rating

The skills

MC3InfinityConanACStar TrekDishonoredDune
AcrobaticsAcrobaticsAcrobaticsCommandFightBattle
Close combatClose combatMeleeFightingConnMoveMove
StealthStealthStealthStealthEngineeringStudyUnderstand
InsightAnalysisInsightSecuritySurviveDiscipline
VacuumExtraplanetaryMedicineTalkCommunicate
ObservationObservationObservationObservationScienceTinker
SurvivalSurvivalSurvivalSurvival
ThieveryThieveryThievery
AthleticsAthleticsAthleticsAthletics
ResistanceResistanceResistanceResilience
Parry
Ranged weaponsBallisticsRanged
PilotPilotSailingVehicles
SpaceSpacecraft
EducationEducationLoreAcademia
MechanicsTechCraftEngineering
Hacking
TreatmentMedicineHealingMedicine
Psychology
ScienceScienceAlchemy
LinguisticsLinguistics
WarfareTactics
Animal handlingAnimal handlingAnimal handling
CommandCommandCommand
Counsel
LifestyleLifestyleSociety
PersuadePersuadePersuadePersuasion
WillpowerDisciplineDiscipline
MysticismSorcery

MC3, Infinity and Conan skills line up well apart from some setting specific ones (parry, sail, hacking). MC3 actually has less skills overall as it had subskills, but some subskills should probably be actual skills (Insight, Mysticism). AC cuts down the skills massively, half of those 3 but double the 2nd generation of 2d20 games. It’s a good set of skills, although tactics wouldn’t be needed in many settings and fighting should probably be split in 2 (particularly in any game where melee v ranged is a valid choice). Focuses allow the smaller set of skills and they can provide the smaller skills.

Can clearly see 3 paths for skills:

  1. Narrow skills, focus as a rating
  2. Medium skills, focuses as skill areas
  3. Wide skills, focuses as skill areas

Talents 

Talents work the same way in every version but are organised differently. Generally talents affect momentum or difficulty or effects in some way. In MC3, Infinity and conan there are talent trees based on skills, magic and sometimes specialist careers. In Trek talents are based on disciplines but are a free choice. In JCOM there is a more structured method to talents, and rules for making your own. Talents can also work as skills here. In dishonored talents are linked to the different careers.

Talents are probably the hardest part of the system to come up with, so a generic Talent system like JCOM is probably the way to go.

3 comments

  1. Great work, I have lived the 2d20 system since I first played Mutant Chronicles. I now own Conan, Infinity, STA , John Carter, Dishonered, and Devils Run not a Modiphius game but uses a 2d20 system. Been looking at a generic 2d20 system just have not had the time to work on it. Glad your doing the heavy lifting.

  2. WOW, I love it, I was reading Fallout handbook, and I was wondering if someone had written a comparison between every game using the 2d20 system, There is not Fallout yet, but it would be awesome to add it.

    1. I need to go back really

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