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Choice and Blood (D20 Modern) $1.99
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Choice and Blood (D20 Modern)
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Choice and Blood (D20 Modern)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2008 13:44:15

Picking one of – if not the single most – controversial topics in the United States to focus on, Choice and Blood is a “d20 abortion” supplement. The book presents a mixture of fluff and crunch, presented over twenty-four pages. The illustration on the cover page is the only instance of artwork in the book. However, a slice of this is reproduced as a border at the top of every page. Further, page numbers and section headings are all in light blue. There are no bookmarks present.

Despite my calling it a “d20 abortion” book, Choice and Blood isn’t focused on abortion so much as it’s focused on the massive controversy around abortion. In this context, the book’s aim is understandable. Not since civil rights has there been an issue that’s nor only evoked such strong feelings, but networked in the religious right, military-style attacks on people, and government actions of all kinds. Knowing this, the question then becomes how well does it present this with a d20 focus?

The author opens with a rather forthright notation that he personally is pro-choice, and that the book is slanted towards presenting the pro-life camp as being the bad guys. Beyond that, the book opens with a large amount of explanation regarding the issue and related things. Brief descriptions are given of a typical abortion procedure, of a clinic’s layout, tactics used by pro-lifers to discourage/stop abortions. This takes up roughly a fourth of the book before we move on to the crunch.

The main thrust of the book is the new classes it offers. A single new advanced class is given, the abortion provider. This class is a mixture of a medical practitioner and public speaker; a person who can treat injuries and at the same time sway people at a rally. The remaining classes are intermediary classes. Intermediary classes are a new concept, presented here. They’re short classes that can be taken at character creation, having only story-based requirements to take levels in. Most are three to five levels in length, and serve as gateways to a specific advanced class. For example, a character can take their first three levels in the Blogger intermediary class, at which point they’ll be in a perfect position to take levels in the Personality advanced class, though don’t need to. Discouragingly, there are some errors here, such as missing numbers for the Blogger’s Fort and Ref save progressions.

Following that is a too-brief section on running a medical campaign, which then segues to sixteen new feats are presented, with a selected bibliography rounding out the product.

Choice and Blood isn’t a bad book unto itself. However, by focusing more on crunch than fluff, it ultimately paints itself into a tough position; the new classes and feats need to be recognizably abortion-centered, but not too much so or they’ll become too specific to be used. The book handles the dilemma relatively well, by making the classes short and leading to more generic advanced classes, but the feats have no such out. Moreover, the best part of the book, how to run a medical campaign, is glossed over with little in-depth instruction for how to make such a campaign work. Add in to this some mechanical errors that cropped up throughout, and the book can largely be summarized as “hit-or-miss.”

Ultimately, concrete ideas lend themselves to role-playing games much easier than political ones. It’s easy to dedicate an entire sourcebook to a new race, or a particular region. A supplement based around a political belief, however, is much harder to cover from a game standpoint. Choice and Blood tries its best to do so anyway, but only achieves limited success.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Choice and Blood (D20 Modern)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Jason C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2007 00:00:00

An interesting supplement.

The cover art is awful and is the most exploitive thing about the supplement.

The first section is a systemless generic treatment of abortion clinics and providers, as well as an overview of the controversy and strategies of both sides in it. This is useful, although brief, supplement that could enhance any game.

The second section is the Abortion Provider advanced class. I question the logic of making this an advanced class, I would rather the class features have been incorporated into the much stronger feats section below (or maybe as Dedicated Hero talents?) Still, it seems to be a decent class with some good detail.

The third section is several "intermediate classes". These are classes that are more focused than d20 Modern's basic classes that are "aimed" at getting into a particular advanced class. Some are more successful than others. For example, the Irregular, which is an attempt to make a terrorist-type class, does not appear very play-balanced. The Blogger, by contrast, is a great addition and is well-differentiated from normal journalists. The downside is that the Blogger class stat block is partly blank - and it's been that way in several LPJ products, a highly shoddy and unprofessional mistake.

Fourth section: new feats based around political action and medical feats. I would have liked to see this section expanded significantly and perhaps even separated out the political action feats, because they are doing something not previously seen in D20 Modern. Street Demonstration in particular makes a cool mini-game out of keeping the pressure on an organization or person you are trying to persuade.

Fifth section: A too-brief discussion of medical campaign design. Needed more detail.

Sixth: A brief bibliography.

All in all it's a solid supplement. If the mistakes were fixed, it could easily be a four-star product.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Solid overview section, excellent feats and creative additions to the D20 Modern system. The Intermediate classes are also terrific. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Abortion Provider class features would probably do better as a fully fledged medical character system. The Blogger stat block is screwed up. The cover is awful.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Choice and Blood (D20 Modern)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by James D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2007 00:00:00

There's, obviously, a lot of controversy surrounding this product which just goes to show how much of a hot-button issue it is. There's been a lot of criticism and hoo-hah on the net over the product without ever having seen it. This, I think, says everything about it.

d20 Modern isn't my system of choice and I don't think it particularly suited to games that delve into these sorts of issues but, nonetheless, it is extremely well written and handled sensitively.

I should like to see more products from this writer on other political and protest issues, or perhaps a larger more complete product handling the tactics and culture of protest as a whole. I have a feeling they'd do well writing up anti-capitalist and ecoterrorist groups, anarchist black-blocs and others.

Overall I rate the product a 4, but I'm giving it a 5 for having balls and for pleasantly surprising me in terms of quality.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The product is created from a pro-choice stance but, coming from the UK where this controversy is practically unknown, that tends to agree with my viewpoint. Even so I think the product is quite fair and balanced and has good utility.

As I said, I'm from the UK so a lot of this is alien to me outside of second hand news reports. Getting a summary of the US history of what has gone on around this and the lengths people go to to protest either way, especially from a gamer's perspective was extremely useful.

Even the parts I was dubious about, such as the prestige class, have been handled maturely and fairly and I'm pleasantly surprised. There's a lot in here that can be used more widely in street/protest and medical based games that have nothing to do with abortion.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The product's second half is quite unfocussed. This does increase the material's utility beyond the narrow focus of the abortion issue but also waters down the product a little. The artwork is spartan while they layout is good, but it is also a little too obviously influenced by GTA.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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