Game: Ultramodern Firearms
Publisher: Green Ronin
Review Dated: 22nd, December 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 17
Average Score: 5.67
Right from the start the book pitches the bizarre idea that firearms are somehow important to modern day roleplaying. Hmm. I remain to be convinced. Change the spelling slightly so that firearms are important to modern day rollplaying and I’ll accept that. Sometimes firearms can be used as part of a story plots in modern day games. The peculiarity of a weapon can be used as a clue but typically RPG firearm encyclopaedia fail to make it easy to find the specific peculiarity you want. This is at least one test Ultramodern Firearms can try and pass in order to have some claim of appeal to those of us who aren’t gun-geeks. I’m a European without even the faintest trace of the “gun gene” and so if I can find my way around this collection of firearms then there’s another success.
Ultramodern Firearms is filled with modern firearms. Yeah, I know, the “ultra” seems redundant but the word is in the dictionary. The supplement is the evolution of Charles Ryan’s original Ultramodern Firearms for the Millennium’s End RPG. If you pick up your copy of d20 Modern, which you’ll most likely be using along with Ultramodern Firearms, you’ll see Charles Ryan’s name on the front cover as one of the designers. It’s there. Right on the end.
There’s more than just firearms and ammo in the book. Since this is a d20 product – you’ll find some more feats. Better than feats are the wealth of indices and appendixes.
You’ll find the features index in an unusual place: near the front of the book. It’s here that Ultramodern Firearms starts to prove that it’s more than just a pretty encyclopaedia of weaponry. These indices are presented in a series of tables for each weapon type; pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, rifles, shotguns and machineguns. If you want to know if any particular submachine gun comes with a bipod, whether a submachine gun is common enough to have found its way into the hands of your newly created criminal organisation or a pistol works well with a silencer then it’s just a simple matter of checking the table. A check-mark (a tick) is used to indicate whether the gun has the feature and a heavy cross is used when the feature is particularly appropriate for the weapon. At a glance I can see that FN Five-SeveN has an especially large magazine and that it’s on page 33. The same table tells me that the LEI Mark 2 is a good pistol to use if you care about silencers.
I even know how silencers work now. I don’t care about the details but I might want to know enough to have a realistic and convincing explanation for my game – and that’s exactly the level of detail that Ultramodern Firearms puts in. The basic ins and outs of each type of firearm is quickly and clearly described at the start of each chapter. The view is that it is as useful to dispel any misconceptions the reader might have about the weapon, as it is to teach gun lore. Along with the stats for any given gun; the damage, the critical, damage type, range increment, rate of fire, size, purchase DC or restrictions there’s a paragraph of two on the history of the gun. If I want to give my French police French guns than I can check the gun’s entry in the book or at an appendix at the back. Sometimes there are extra d20 Modern rules for the gun. The very first gun in the book, the Astra (Spanish, easily used by left-handed people) has such an added d20 Modern rule. There’s a +2 circumstance bonus to Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal this weapon.
Ultramodern Firearms is a pretty book. There are 160 pages if you don’t count the leading and trailing blank pages. It’s a hardback book and the paper quality is high. The layout is pristine. Text appears in a single column and covers about two-thirds of the page. In the other third of the page you’ll find detailed illustrations of guns. Every gun statted in the book is drawn.
Ultramodern Firearms does what it sets out to do – and that gives it a perfectly acceptable rating on the GameWyrd scale. Ultramodern Firearms is an especially easy book to use, it’s very easy to find what you want and because of this the book scores better than merely acceptable. If you’re planning to run a game where individual firearms will be important or could be important then you’ll not go wrong with this book.