So, I've been working on my own personal redesign of modern for quite awhile now, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts that have gone into the design.
The first thing I wanted to do was define the gamespace. This is not a physical space, it's the place that allows the "magic" to happen. That place that allows the imaginations of several people to mingle and combine into the creation of a place that doesn't exist, but where the game will actually take place.
What does the gamespace need to do to facilitate the imaginations of everyone at the table?
Well, first, I'd argue, the game needs to stay the hell out of the way!
What do I mean by this?
A lot of games seem to love throwing obstacles in the way of the adventure. For example, let's say the game master has a mysterious criminal organization capture one of the PCs loved ones.
If the PCs do not break into the mysterious vault on the 50th floor of Moxy-corp towers and steal some plans, their loved ones will be toast.
This is the adventure. Moreover, this is the part of the game that relies completely on the game itself.
Many parts of the game don't actually NEED the game. Players role-playing, interacting with each other and with NPCs, for example. These things really don't need rules to function.
Sure, rules can help, like the Bluff skill. But (I know this might seem alien to some out there) PCs were successfully lying to NPCs *all the time* before the Bluff skill was invented.
But this adventure thing, that really needs the rules. There will be guards to bypass (through stealth or force), and a state of the art safe to defeat.
Before the PCs can decide how to tackle this obstacle, the GM has decided they need three key things: they need to know the location of the vault, the composition of the vault and then, once they've decided how to tackle opening that vault, they will need to acquire or make those items.
I'm sure experienced GMs can already see where I'm going with this. In d20 Modern, the game itself provides several hurdles that might make each of these steps take longer than it needs to.
Why do I assume these things are nuisances? Because they are between the players and the adventure. The adventure is getting to that vault and getting it open.
The game system should not only aid the GM in running the encounters, it should also get the players to them as fast as possible.
Each die that must be rolled during these preliminary stages of the game is a potential failure. Complications at this stage, are just delaying the actual adventure.
So what if you could eliminate all these die rolls? Well, as I started work on Modern 2.0, that was my first goal.
Every die roll that does not involve interaction, either verbally or through conflict, had to go.
They were giving a part of the game (the preliminary) attention it really didn't deserve.
How I did that, well, that's a story for another post.