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Ultramodern4 $13.99
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Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Merlin R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2014 18:35:15

Finally, a modern ruleset for 4e!

I liked d20 Modern well enough, I really did. It introduced certain elements like Damage Threshold (making guns very scary things even when the PCs had buckets of HP), heroes based directly off of a particular stat, and easy multiclassing that gelled well.

Now we have Dias Ex Machina's offering, making the D&D 4th Edition game system viable with firearms, grenades, even up to futuristic robots, nanomachines and laser/plasma weapons. You choose from a Ladder which helps offset the need for enchanted gear by using enhancement bonuses granted every few levels, then you select a Class. There's quite a few to choose from, and while some Ladder/Class combinations are more optimal when paired together, there's really no useless selection to make (with the understanding you may have to strain your attributes a bit).

The system can do anything from Civil War to Wild West to Space Opera. It's not a standalone, instead a supplement to the WotC 4e books. Well worth the price of admission, I give this one 5 stars.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Jordi F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2013 10:36:49

It seems I deleted my previous review trying to edit it ... (is what happens when the site doesn't have all the buttons for other languages) ... so I'll put a short version of it.

If you wan't a d20 Modern version of D&D 4e ... this is it.

Have a nice day.

You need more? ... ooooookey ....

You'll have classes, ladders (a typical D&D class has been divided in two, class and ladder, and you combine them as you please), new skills, feats, equipment, monsters and new rules involving firearms and such. I suppose clases and ladders could have even more powers and such ... but I suppose this would be more expansion related or maybe web features.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Rodney G. M. T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2013 20:41:45

Ultramodern 4 is a sci-fi rpg and you are going to need Dungeons and Dragons 4 editions rulebook. Now, this book was written before Essentials in mind, so just remember that. Also, this book is a mixture of D20modern and D20future. The ladder system is a much more robust version of WoTC’s themes. The seven ladders look like classes and give option all the way to level 29. The ladders and class can almost seem like an easier version of multi-classing. Also, the ladders are a source of enhancement bonus.

You don’t have as many powers for classes in this game compare to 4th edition, but the ladders make up for it. There are eleven classes, and along with the ladders you can still multi-class like in DnD 4th edition. There is a lot of optimization for your character.

The class of the specialist I felt that many of the powers could have been gear. He is the combat medic, and the powers are named after drugs, but that is easy to house rule. You can always use the powers, but less potency than the Specialist.

I really liked the way the powers were written in this book as they don’t feel like the same powers. As you know DnD 4th edition was plagued with, and the powers can be pretty entertaining as hell.

Now this game does not have rules for cybernetics or space travel, but what it does have will keep you busy for a while. It has different levels of range weapons and armor which can be collection of rifles to laser and tactical vest to power armor. I know the upcoming book Neurospasta is going to have cyber rules, so be on the lookout. Most of the equipment rules have to deal with weapons and armor. Also there is a tech level, so you can decide how far into the future you want this.

One of the bad things I have to say is the PDF book marks a name just Ultramodern4 chapter one, Ultramodern4 chapter two, and so on. The contents pages have no links to them either. For these omissions, I give 4 out of five stars.

I really can’t wait to get a game together for this game and really put this system through its paces. I do go a little be more in depth about it on my YouTube channel.


[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2012 11:12:57

(This review was originally published on Roleplayer's Chronicle - http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21866)

Few independent publishers handle 4e material, let alone provide truly innovative concepts and products stretching the mechanics to their limit like Dias Ex Machina. Their highly successful Amethyst setting was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems, and they’ve taken the applications of the core rules found in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition RPG away from the fantasy genre to create an open-ended modern/sci-fi alternative without completing revising the game. In other words, it’s GSL compatible.

Right off the bat, I have to warn those experienced players and GMs if you think you’ve seen the full potential of these rules, you are sadly mistaken. One of the biggest issues for DEM and some of the concepts brought forth in Amethyst was the comparison to D&D‘s style of play and handling of the delicate balancing act the 4e mechanics presented. For example, DEM introduced attack powers without damage and received a fair bit of flack online for it. The biggest issue they’ve had to deal with is working alongside D&D. With Ultramodern4, they have simultaneously strayed away from the comparison while running alongside its core foundation. There are no new character generation, experience, or class format rules, just new components building on the essential foundation of 4e. Frankly, what Ultramodern4 has done here puts D&D to shame.

CONTENT At 244 pages in PDF (a POD copy should be available shortly and was not prepped at the time of this review), there’s a lot of material to go through with the goal of allowing GMs to create their own modern or futuristic setting. This book is not a setting nor does it lean towards one genre or another other than step far back from fantasy. Rather than offer a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the book, it’s better to provide a point-form analysis of the provisions offered in Ultramodern4.

Ladders & Classes Characters are created using 11 new classes (Faceman, Grappler, Gunslinger, Heavy, Infiltrator, Man-at-Arms, Mastermind, Sniper, Specialist, Techie, and Vanguard) plus 7 ladders (Born Leader, Juggernaut, Runner, Savant, Survivor, Veteran, and Warrior). Ladders act as your character’s core personality to compliment your vocation (or class) and provide a load of options to tweak which class you choose. First of all, they offer alternate powers and additional features similar to a theme in standard D&D but with the level range of an entire class. More importantly, they provide level-based enhancement bonuses to balance off the lack of magic weapons in this game and you can choose between taking additional ladder features or more cash.

Ladders are an absolutely brilliant form of customization and allow players opportunity to adjust the classes in ways standard D&D never could. For instance, each ladder allows for an alternative primary ability in attack powers, such as the Veteran substituting Wisdom for all ranged, unarmed, and melee attacks with one-handed weapons. Each ladder can theoretically work with any of the 11 provided classes with more variety than a dozen official D&D supplements ever provided.

Paths & Destinies There are 28 paragon paths and epic destinies, none of them attuned to any particular ladder or class to allow for more variety and customization. (For a special chuckle, there’s even a Pathfinder paragon path.)

Powers & Keywords While the core mechanics of D&D remain, there are several new keywords and terms exploiting the possibilities of modern technology. The Open range, for example, allows leaders to assist allies through radio contact rather than bursts, auras, or even light of sight. The Auto keyword relates to particular weapons firing off multiple rounds and non-damaging keywords like Tactical allow you to gain power bonuses to following attack rolls if you make a crit within your initial drop of the dice. Oh, and it actually has wall powers, something D&D never uses and it’s listed in the Player’s Handbook.

The powers provided in Ultramodern4 are where the game really stands out. Without the restriction of standing alongisde D&D, the game has truly stretched out the mechanics’ wings and made playing 4e dangerous and risky upon my initial read-through. While I’ve yet to play, my personal feeling is eagerness (though I can just imagine the hesitation others may feel towards such alterations, but this game is not intended for them). The key to understanding this game is to leave your preconceptions at the door – this is not D&D and never tries to be D&D.

Basic attacks take on a larger role in this game than standard D&D with some powers allowing for additional bonus attacks as features, minor actions, and opportunity attacks better simulating two weapon attacks better than standard D&D.

Weapon & Equipment Each class provides a list of starting equipment and some cash for additional gear, as well as provide new weapon proficiencies appropriate to the use of firearms. These lists are vague enough to leave things open to the timeline of your particular campaign though there’s likely a strong possibility your GM may choose to alter these starting lists a bit to suit the game to come.

As previously mentioned, there are no magic items or equivalents in Ultramodern4. But there are lasers, plasma rifles, and heavy machine guns capable of firing 10 rounds in one attack roll. Certain weapons are assigned a level adjustment (increasing the average level of the party and the challenge a GM should create in an encounter) and a tech level (designating the strength and devastation of a particular weapon based on currently available technology). Many weapons provide an at-will basic attack, such as the flamethrower with ongoing 4 fire damage or the glue gun’s ability to restrain a target.

Rules for handling ammunition are also provided to prevent players from keeping track of hundreds of bullets, as well as rules for Armor Penetration (AP) negating the Hardness of certain inanimate objects like vehicles or brick walls.

While the application of equipment has changed for Ultramodern4, it does maintain the complexity of handling magic items and perhaps accentuates that complexity even more. In short, there’s no such thing as just wearing armor or carrying a simple weapon or gear.

Rounding It Out In addition to everything mentioned so far (and in an effort to keep this review short and effective), there are the typical provision of feats, new skills, alternate skill uses, and advanced rules for weaponry, armor, vehicles, and more. Plus the book includes pre-designed enemies and enemy traits built in the familiar style of 4e monsters ranging from levels 1 to 19 (which does leave epic characters out of the loop, but I’m suspecting that’ll be temporary).

An adventuring chapter provides sample set pieces complete with full-color maps and detailed room descriptions and applications to create specific incidences using those sets and a re-presentation of Biohazzard, the zombie-infestation adventure from the original release of Amethyst adjusted to work with Ultramodern4.

OVERALL This is an incredibly impressive book and it’s a shame for such gold to come about during the dying days of 4e. What it accomplishes with the mechanics is far beyond many things ever attempted by standard D&D in wild and exciting ways. If anyone ever tells you it’s impossible to try something different with 4e, your answer should be Ultramodern4.

RATINGS Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 As with all of DEM’s publications, this is a very attractive book with some great illustrations and layout. There may not be as much artwork as some of their earlier work, but what’s there definitely does the trick. While I did find some minor layout errors, this can be accounted through its reflow allowing you to instantly switch to text only for easy printing. There were no bookmarks in the PDF.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 As an experienced D&D player and GM, I can’t find any flaw with the work presented here, but I can certainly expect many others to judge it unfairly. If you look at these rules at non-D&D, what you’ll find is an electric awakening of what could have been had 4e not been called D&D. Honestly, if Chris Dias never gets the call to work for Wizards of the Coast, it would be a tragic failure on their part.

Desire to Play: 8 out of 10 Sign me up, that’s what I have to say about this game. Hell, I want to take my D&D players (even though it’s not my campaign) and get them to shift into this version in an effort to show them the true capabilities of this system.

Overall: 9 out of 10 Ultramodern4 is a magnificent accomplishment in alternative game design and I can’t help but feel it is superior to D&D, even if it is required to play this game. It achieves what D&D could not because it was not held down to a particular reference point – previous versions of D&D – and capable of stretching its reach far beyond what many experienced players may have expected of these troubled mechanics. I only hope the GSL does not make this product a limited edition.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2012 17:13:19

As a long time fan of Chris Diaz's work, I must say this is among the best he's done. I hope to see more books from Diaz as quickly as possible. If you want to run a Post-Apocalyptic or modern/near future game, this book is for you. He's evolved 4e into something much more usable, and if you're a follower of his work, you'll note that WotC have taken more than one idea from him.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Josiah B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2012 20:48:09

First off I would like thank Chris Dias for finally getting this book out, its been a long wait but it's so worth it!

Ultramodern4 (UM4) is the latest supplement from Dias Ex Machina, taking the next logical step beyond it's previous Amethyst setting and bringing more generic modern rules to the table.

The biggest changes from your standard D&D or amethyst game is the new class/ladder system.

Classes are a bit lighter in weight, they have fewer powers in general but still are the "What you do" of the game. They are a bit more generic with names like: Faceman, Heavy, Mastermind, Specialist. Anyone familiar with Amethyst will probably recognize a fair share of the mechanics, the sniper uses the marksmen talent from the stalker sniper for instance.

While classes are a bit pared down from what you would be used to it's because of the Ladder mechanic. Ladders are the other side of the coin, they are "How you do it". While you might be a sniper, you could be a Juggernaut Sniper, replacing your usual reliance on DEX for powers with CON. You could be a Savant Gunslinger, using your keen intellect to take your foes down.

Overall I love the mechanic, it really opens up more themes, letting more then one type of person be locked into a class.

Paragon paths and epic destinies like most items in this book are also fairly generic, with 22 paragon paths such as: Driver, Field Sniper and Cinematic Cliche and 5 Epic destinies like: Ultimate or Respected. you should have no problem bringing your character into the higher levels with some great mechanics and flavor.

Skill and feats, some of these are revised or updated versions of Amethyst rules, notable vehicle operation and demolitions, but with expanded sections in some of the skills such as sabotage under engineer there is plenty added for any game you'll run. Also included are contacts, which can be purchased or received with feats, these characters are pulled right out of an action movie, they are the people the hero always contacts for that helpful bit of information or to find some kind of black market object or occasionally showing up as added backup.

Weapons and equipment, For me this is the real meat of the book, there are items in here for every level of tech you might want. Everything from revolvers to plasma cannons, Ballistics Armor to XH Dragon powered armor. This book has it.

Another aspect I liked about the equipment is that everything has a price and a loadout value, loadout being rules for adventurers who might be a part of an organization or other kind of group where they wouldn't necessarily buy all of their equipment. it lets you set a loadout value per adventure with modifiers depending on intelligence and a few other items and lets the characters requisition equipment. Perfect for a military game.

included in the book as well are two adventures and a great resource with its Adversaries chapter, giving you a lot of basic bad guys with great trait templates.

Overall I have to give this product a thumbs up, its quality is not only in its content but its layout as well, I personally have not had many 4e 3rd party products with the production quality that DEM puts in its products.

If I were to place one complaint, it would be that the class layout is a bit of a jumble, no clear definitions between classes, they just flow into each other. But its a minor nitpick.

If you are looking for the perfect 4e modern rules, they are right here.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2012 19:11:01

Picked up U4 this morning. I've been waiting on this book for a long time and it was worth the wait. Great job DEM.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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