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d20 Menace Manual (d20M)

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Designed for use with the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game, the d20 Menace Manual presents a host of villains, monsters, and other adversaries to pit against the heroes in any modern roleplaying game. It contains extensive real-world information, including information about existing organizations such as the CIA and write-ups of well-known mythical creatures such as the yeti and sasquatch. Adversaries for all levels of play are available, as are various allies, and there is extensive information on organization and factions that heroes can either join or combat.

For fans of the Alternity system: Along with other material, the d20 Menace Manual contains organizations from Dark*Matter and aliens from Star*Drive updated and converted to the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game.

Product History

d20 Menace Manual (2003), by JD Wiker, Eric Cagle, and Matthew Sernett, is the monster book for the d20 Modern line. It was published in September 2003.

Continuing d20 Modern. Any D&D game needs a good Monster Manual, and that's what the d20 Menace Manual is: a book of monsters for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game (2002). It would be followed by the third "core" book for d20 Modern: the d20 Weapons Locker (2004).

All of the creatures in the Menace Manual (and a few minor rules) were added to the d20 Modern SRD, making it a better-than-ever resource for other publishers to create their own d20 Modern supplements.

A Different Sort of Monster Manual. You'd expect any Monster Manual to have plenty of critters, and Menace Manual does — from the acid rainer to the zeikune. However, the Menace Manual also details two categories of adversaries not usually found in D&D monster books.

First, it provides a long list of GM Characters, including both ordinary characters and heroic characters. NPC stats were more important than ever with the release of D&D 3e (2000), which allowed NPCs to be very detailed, but which required a considerable amount of prep time to do so. Many of the Menace Manual's NPCs were initially intended for the Urban Arcana (2003) book, but were then cut for space reasons.

Second, it details Factions. This was a general focus of the d20 Modern line, beginning with its mechanics for allegiances. Many later books then featured organizations of their own. Wiker says that one of the trickiest factions was "Al-Jambiya". He wanted to present a modern terrorist organization, but to do so without feeding into the "anti-Muslim hysteria" of the early '00s. He eventually decided to present them "as decidedly nontypical Muslims" to solve the problem.

Welcome to the World of Alternity. In the late '90s, Wizards of the Coast released TSR's Alternity (1997, 1998) science-fiction roleplaying game, which included two well-loved settings: the space-opera SF universe of Star*Drive (1998) and the modern conspiracy world of Dark•Matter (1999). Unfortunately, the line was quickly cancelled, to make way for D&D 3e (2000).

d20 Modern gave Wizards the opportunity to revisit Alternity's settings, and the d20 Menace Manual did so. The book is filled with critters from Dark•Matter and its Xenoforms (2000) supplement, including the Elohim, the Etoiles, the Kinori, the Luciferans, the Sandmen and many more. Two of the Menace Manual's factions were also crucial to Dark•Matter: the Final Church and the Hoffman Institute.

The Menace Manual also includes most of Star*Drive's alien races, but in more Dark•Matter-esqueroles. The Fraal thus appear as grays, as they did in the original Dark•Matter. Similarly, the Weren appear as sasquatch. The N'sss and Sesheyan are also found within.

Wizards would continue the Alternity-Modern connection in later years, starting with conversion notes offered as a web enhancement. d20 Future (2004) then included even more Alternity aliens, while d20 Dark•Matter (2006) closed out the Modern line with an extensive return to conspiratorial Alternity setting.

Expanding Ravenloft!? Even more surprisingly, the Menace Manual features a minor connection to the D&D Ravenloft setting — specifically to the Gothic Earth setting introduced in Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (1994). This connection comes through a faction called the Six-Fingered Hand, which also appeared as a qabal in The Gothic Earth Gazetteer (1995); just in case you weren't sure it was the same organization, its description notes:

"Apparently, the Six-Fingered Hand has always had the goal of destroying the world. In the 1880s, the cult had a reason for this goal that involved some supernatural force called 'the Red Death.' This devil-like spirit was somehow everywhere and nowhere at once, and it tempted and corrupted people to do terrible things."

This suggests that one of the d20 Modern settings is in continuity with the Gothic Earth setting. Fans thought that "Shadow Chasers" was the most likely, a fact that Wizards confirmed with the release of d20 Past (2005). There, a predecessor setting to "Shadow Chasers" called "Shadow Stalkers" features another Red Masque cabal: the Order of the Crimson Dawn.

Monsters of Note. Keeping with the fantastical focus of d20 Modern, most of the monsters in Menace Manual are equally fantastic. This includes fantasy monsters, horror monsters, science-fiction monsters, and even psionic monsters. GMs wouldn't find much for a normal modern campaign here (except the GM characters).

The most-loved monster in the Menace Manual seems to be the drop bear: a "bloodthirsty cousin of the peaceful koalas". The book is always filled with interesting cryptozoological monsters, from Nessie to Spring-Heeled Jack.

About the Creators. Sernett was at the time a Senior Editor for Dragon magazine, but he was also taking on a variety of freelance writing — most of it for Wizards of the Coast and Green Ronin.

Wiker is the president of small-press Game Mechanics, Inc, while Cagle is one of the company's contributers. Wiker was the one with the Alternity experience, which he'd soon put to further use on d20 Future (2004). Cagle was just getting his start in the business and was focused mainly on d20 Modern, including work on the Urbana Arcana (2003) sourcebook and lots of online adventures.

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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Product Information
Pages
226
ISBN
0-7869-2899-9
Publisher Stock #
WotC177610000
File Size:
24.02 MB
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File Last Updated:
September 14, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on September 15, 2015.