This 13 page PDF (19 with cover, credits, OGL declaration & 3 pages of advertisements) provides 22 new talent trees for use in D20 Modern games, and four martial arts feats.
In the D20 Modern system, not only do characters have Feats as in the D&D3.x/D20 system, but they also have Talents. Talents are extraordinary abilities a character can acquire, each basic D20 Modern class, Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, & Charismatic has a number of talent trees available to it, receiving a talent each even numbered level. Talents provide character?s with unusual bonuses to various actions, or enhanced abilities or new actions, such as the Strong Hero?s Damage Reduction Talent, which provides points of damage reduction at various levels, or the Smart Hero?s Exploit Weakness Talent, which lets him substitute his INT modifier for his DEX or STR modifier on an attack, from the Strategy Talent Tree. The talent trees are specific to a character class, unlike most Feats, and offers abilities that tie into the basic class? ability based theme. However, the selection of talent trees provided in the SRD is fairly anemic, with the Smart only having two talent trees available to it, most other classes having 3 or 4.
The 22 talents trees mentioned in the title break down into three talent trees for the Strong Hero class, consisting of 17 different talents. There are five talent trees for the Fast Hero class, made up of 20 different talents. There are four talent trees for the Tough Hero class, consisting of 21 talents. There are only two talent trees for the Smart Hero class, dividing 13 talents between them. There are six talent trees provided for the Dedicated Hero, splitting 31 talents between them. Finally, there are just two talent trees for the Charismatic Hero, divvying up 12 talents between them.
The talent trees for the Strong Hero class are Brawler (which would have been better titled Grappler since all of its talents provide grappling related abilities), Melee Brute, and Rage. The talent trees for the Fast Hero class include Accuracy & Precision, the talents from which offers bonuses to hit and bonuses to damage, respectively, with ranged weapons. Also available to the Fast Hero are the Lightning Fists, Speed Wrestling, and Agile talent trees, the talents of which offer multiple unarmed attacks, multiple grappling attacks or other bonuses, and bonuses to reflex saves and enhanced dodging, respectively. The talent trees for the Tough Hero class include Grappling Resistance, the talents of which provides bonuses to AoO made against those trying to grapple him, an reduced damage, Survivalist, the talents of which provides various bonuses and enhancements to resisting exposure, starvation, and dehydration, Thick Skinned, the talents of which provides natural armor bonuses, and Toughened Grappling, the talents of which provides bonuses to grappling and allows the character to attempt to fatigue opponents he is grappling with.
The talent trees for the Smart Hero class include Arcane Secrets, the talents of which provide ability bonuses and spell casting & Psionic ability enhancements, the talents require spell casting or Psionic talents however, and Brains over Brawn, the talents of which allow the character to use his intelligence bonus on attacks, or to gain an advantage against opponents on a successful Knowledge (Tactics) check. The talent trees for the Dedicated Hero class include Astral Sense, the talents of which provide bonuses to spot check, or allow the spending of an action point to detect hiding or invisible creatures, Dedicated Warrior, the talents of which provide attack bonuses with a favored weapon, Divine Balance, the talents of which provide bonuses to dodge or reflex save, Hated Enemy, the talents of which provides bonuses when fighting an opponent of that type, Nature Lore, the talents of which provide bonuses to terrain related skill checks or special movement abilities within a favored terrain, and Zen, the talents of which provide bonuses to spot and listen checks, craft checks, and combat bonuses. The talent trees listed for the Charismatic Hero class include Fancy Fighter, the talents of which allows a character to cause opponents to act as if shaken, cower, or fight defensively, and Heroic Deeds, the talents of which allow the character to add his Charisma modifier as bonuses to attack and defense checks.
Finally, 4 martial arts feats are included, Devil Finger, which causes damage that cannot be healed normally, Locust Leap, that allows character to make leaping attacks against opponents 10 feet away or more, One Ton Kick, which is a kick that can knock the target back, and Zen Combat Focus, which provides bonuses to the character?s melee combat actions.
The PDF itself is a passable affair laid out in two columns, with easy to read fonts and tables, a few text-boxes, white text on a red background (a major ink waster), are used as well. The cover illustration is ok, a dark-red textured background with a line art piece of a female martial artist, and the title text in large black type. However, you will likely want to skip printing it to save ink. There are eight pieces of interior artwork, all line-art, about half of which are of good quality, and the other of poor quality. There are also 3 pages of ads tacked onto the end of the product, another ink waster.
Overall, this is a decent product. A majority of the talent trees in this product focus on combat abilities, which can be good or bad depending on the campaign. Some of them, such as the Tough Hero?s Grappling Resistance talent tree, or the Strong Hero?s Rage talent tree don?t feel very thematically appropriate to their class. Also, the value of the grappling based talents seems a bit dubious for most campaigns (Unless the campaign involves pro wrestler?s fighting evil, which would be cool.) The Accuracy and Precision talent trees for the Fast Hero class are also kind of iffy thematically, and would work just as well as feats for all classes. So, if a GM or player finds any of the talent tree?s appealing, this would make a good product to bulk up the talent trees available in the D20 Modern rules.
<b>LIKED</b>: Brains over Brawn talent tree, Hated Enemy talent tree.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Too many grappling based talents, Why 3 pages of ads?<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>
[3 of 5 Stars!]