The Modern Path
The Modern Path is a modern action sourcebook for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game written by Chris Clark, Jason Mangum, Barry Spryng and Kevin Webb and published by Game Room Creations.
By Aaron T. Huss
The Modern Path is basically the Pathfinder version of d20 Modern. It is 100% crunch and lists every mechanic you need to create modern heroes. It is a very lackluster publication that simply gives you the tools you need without flooding the pages with unnecessary fluff or narratives. It is, in essence, the ultimate handbook for modern adventures using the Pathfinder core mechanics, but only those core mechanics that are necessary. All fantasy influence is stripped away and replaced by a completely humanistic setting using modern professions, equipment, and vehicles. Possibly the best feature of this entire book is how straight-forward it is. There’s no need to try reading between the lines or interpreting the mechanics into your own vision of modern times because it’s all done for you. And its execution is fantastic!
The Modern Path is essentially focused upon a single aspect of modern action: characters. Starting with skills and not ending until the character has a roof over their head (and of course everything in-between). The Modern Path strips away much of what makes Pathfinder epic fantasy for the purpose of creating a modern setting using mechanics that are themed with many aspects of modern day (21st century modern day).
The Modern Path is broken into several sections all centering around characters: skills, feats, traits, modern hero base class, talents, difficulties, archetypes/training, and equipment (including vehicles and lifestyle). The inherent design of Pathfinder does not accommodate modern technology nor does it cater to what is possible in modern action. The Modern Path remedies this through the mechanics it introduces starting with skill specialties such as electronic, pharmaceutical, technology, and pilot. Each one is properly described and detailed along with several charts giving DC examples.
Modern action wouldn’t be complete without some Feats to correspond to your modern heroes. 36 new Feats are described and detailed including computer stealth, gearhead, and surgery. Continuing the modern flavor are a number of character traits that describe a bit about the character such as blue collar, emergency services, and technician.
The Modern Path only utilizes one base class: The Modern Hero. Each modern hero is further detailed through Talents, Difficulties, and Training. Talents are similar to Feats but describe qualities about the character rather than what they are good at such as charming, empathy, and fearless. Difficulties are the negative traits that describe a character’s flaw in exchange for the ability to take additional Talents. Difficulties include addiction, kleptomaniac, and phobia. Training is what makes your hero unique from your friend’s hero. Training is similar to a profession although they could be better thought of as specialized training received such as in the military and include engineer, infiltrator, and physician.
Now that you have your character created, it’s time to outfit them with the right equipment – armor, weapons, vehicles, and a roof over their head. These lists are what really seal the modern action aspects of The Modern Path by providing a huge list of items for the characters to choose from before they venture out on their first adventure. One of my favorite lists is the general equipment which includes all types of computers and electronics, surveillance equipment, and survival gear.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to pick up a helicopter, because that’s in the vehicles section!
The Modern Path finishes up with some sample setting overview and conversion notes from the Modern SRD.
Overall The Modern Path is a good, solid entry into the modern d20 world. It updates d20 Modern to Pathfinder and adds a lot of new content to coincide with items available in current time. It’s all crunch without the fluff and filled with value!
Publication Quality: 6 out of 10
The Modern Path layout and presentation are overly simple. White space is not fully utilized, there is a total lack of illustrations, the overall appearance is a bit clunky, and there is an extremely excessive use of the color blue. However, it is easy to read with solid writing and a perfect blend of mechanics. The mechanics make the book truly shine but the visual appeal is quite low. Do not allow this to deter you from purchasing or using it as the mechanics are solid and worth the effort of perusing the content.
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The Modern Path is all mechanics. Other than the introduction, every single page is filled from top to bottom with mechanics allowing you to play a modern action setting using Pathfinder’s core mechanics. It is brilliant and wonderfully executed. Yes it takes much of its content from d20 Modern, but at some point you need to convert those mechanics. To enhance that conversion, there are lots of new mechanics to support not only the setting being created but also the aspects of the modern world. In addition, it strips away the fantasy-themed mechanics by removing character class and introducing professions. Essentially, everyone is a modern hero (the new base class) and you simply specialize in a certain function. One thing this does is allows for greater flexibility during character creation because every character has the ability to choose from every profession.
Desire to Play: 8 out of 10
Pathfinder is obviously wildly popular for fantasy players. It’s mechanics are designed around that epic-style of fantasy play and don’t always translate properly to modern action. The Modern Path does a good job of taking the core Pathfinder mechanics and making them useful for modern action. Other systems may do this better, but why learn another system? If you’re already a Pathfinder or D&D 3.5 player and are looking to start a modern campaign, The Modern Path is perfect. You retain the knowledge of all the mechanics and all you really need to do is understand the changes that are similar to differences in settings along with the new options for character creation.
Overall: 8 out of 10
The Modern Path is a great sourcebook for playing modern action using the Pathfinder core mechanics. It is fairly concise and contains a huge amount of options. It really sticks to the concepts of modern times considering technology and possible training for those in the espionage field. For those who are already familiar with Pathfinder, it’s a great addition should you decide to leave fantasy for a modern action campaign. It is a crunch-heavy book and the pages are filled with great mechanics.