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d20 Past (d20M)

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Rally Heroes and Rewrite History.

Dash down the gaslit streets of Victorian horror or ride the dusty trails of the Wild West. Board the tall ships of the Spanish Main or raid the trenches of the Great War. in d20 Past, heroes can find excitement in any historical era from the Renaissance to World War II. Whether period-specific or pulp-flavored, the posibilities for adventure in the world of yesteryear are endless.

To use this product, you also need the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. For players and Gamemasters, this product is compatible with other d20 System roleplaying games.

Product History

d20 Past (2005), by James Wyatt and Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, is a setting supplement for the d20 Modern roleplaying game. It was published in March 2005.

Continuing d20 Modern. d20 Past continued in the footsteps of d20 Future (2004) by expanding the setting of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game (2002). However, where d20 Future went forward, d20 Past instead went back.

Some players expected a supplement spanning Earth's entire history, but d20 Past instead stays within the Modern world: it covers the period from the Renaissance to World War II, with most of its attention focused from 1667-1936.

D&D and the Past World. This was not D&D's first foray into recent history. 

  • HR4: A Mighty Fortress Campaign Sourcebook (1992) was the first major release to move D&D up into the modern-day, with its focus on the Elizabethan Era.
  • Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (1994) then advanced the timeline even further by moving the Ravenloft (1990, 1994) setting into the Victorian Age of Gothic Earth.

Meanwhile, TSR also published several other RPGs in this time period:

  • Boot Hill (1975) was TSR's classic western RPG.
  • Gangbusters (1982) imagined a pulp 1920s setting.
  • The Adventures of Indiana Jones (1984) moved into the tail end of the d20 Past era with its WWII adventures.
  • Finally, AM2: "For Faerie, Queen, & Country" (1993) was TSR's only standalone RPG to detail a fantasy-tinged past. Using the Amazing Engine (1993) system, it imagined an 1870s Victorian England touched by faerie.

Expanding d20 Modern. d20 Past develops the idea of Progress Levels (PLs) introduced in d20 Future. Where d20 Modern focused on PL 5 and d20 Future investigated the possibilities of PL 6+, d20 Past covers the Age of Reason (PL 3) and the Industrial Age (PL 4).

Besides that, d20 Past contains what you could increasingly expect from a d20 Modern setting supplement, including new starting occupations, new skills, and new feats. There's just one new advanced class available for general play, the explorer. However, there are also numerous advanced classes and prestige classes spread out among the supplement's campaign models.

Finally, d20 Past contains a short section on vehicles, most of it focused on sailing ships and ship-to-ship combat — for use in pirate games. Notably missing are the animal-drawn conveyance that would be important for pre-Industrial games.

Expanding the Past World. d20 Past contains three extensive Campaign Models, each of which highlights a different era of play:

  • Age of Adventure is a fantasy/pirate game set in 1667. That put its 17 years after A Mighty Fortress, creating a nice dividing line between D&D and d20 Modern.
  • Shadow Stalkers is a fantasy/horror game set in 1872 that acts as a prelude to d20 Modern's "Shadow Chasers". It's the same era as Masque of the Red Death, which was Ravenloft's 1890 horror setting. Shadow Stalkers even features a cabal from Red Death: "The Order of the Crimson Dawn" — verifying a link already hinted at in "Shadow Chasers".
  • Pulp Heroes is a science-pulp game set in 1936. It had previously appeared in Dungeon/Polyhedron #90/#149 (January/February 2002) as a D&D variant, then in Dungeon/Polyhedron #102/#161 (June 2003) as a d20 Modern game.

Whoops. The overland movement rules in d20 Past were taken straight from the d20 SRD … which unfortunately means that they use D&D's version of nonlethal damage rather than the newer nonlethal damage rules from d20 Modern.

About the Creators. Kestrel and Wyatt both worked on D&D projects throughout the '00s, but this was their only d20 Modern book.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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April 5th, 2009
An overall okay expansion to d20 modern, but very limited in its scope. It basically tries to fill in all the details between the age of fantasy/myth that Dungeons and Dragons encompasses up to the d20 post WWII era. While it does that somewhat, it doe [...]
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File Last Updated:
December 21, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on December 22, 2015.