What is This Site?

This site houses The Phoenix Project RPG, a d20 Modern expansion pack for superhero role-playing. It assumes you have access to those rules and already understand them.

How is this Site Organized?

Every post has a category that corresponds to the menus (above), which themselves are analogous to chapters in a linear book. However, RPG manuals aren’t linear. Rarely will you sit down and read one from cover to cover. Therefore, the primary method by which this site is organized is tags. Tags refer to the content or subject of a post, so if you’re looking for all posts related to, for example, Sneak Attacks, you can view them all at once. You can think of categories as vertical and tags and horizontal, or if you like, hierarchical and associative.

Who Made This Site?

There once was a game called Deeds Not Words created by Scott Lynch, but his growing career as a novelist drew him away from it. He left the game to the discussion forum that had by then grown up around it. Two members of that group, Jayson Stevens and Orion Ussner Kidder, took the lead in creating a second edition, which Jayson called “Phoenix” because it was rising from the ashes of DNW. That name stuck. Jayson was also drawn away from the game, unfortunately, which left Orion with the project. He decided to take what we had and make an expansion pack for d20 Modern rather than a standalone game. Many others have contributed to this book and the rules herein, ether through conversation or play-testing. There are too many to list here. See the “Contributors” list in the Appendix.

As a result of all of this, the game is a living ruleset that grows and develops as we get feedback from people who’ve played it. What that means is that if you find something that doesn’t work, something that isn’t properly balanced, or a loophole of some kind, we’d like to hear about it. Play the hell out of the game and then email us and explain what you found and how you’d recommend we fix it. We’ll compile a list of such suggestions, complaints, and proposed changes and incorporate them into future iterations of the game. If you want to speak directly to the primary creator, Orion Ussner Kidder, you can join the discussion in the Out Of Character thread at MythWeavers.

Who Owns This Site?

First, the majority of material on this site technically belongs to Wizards of the Coast through the Open-Gaming License, but we have placed the remainder of the content under a Creative Commons (CC) license instead of a Copyright. CC licenses allow creators to decide how much of the content is in the public domain and what end users/readers can do with it. We have decided that you can freely use, distribute, copy, and disseminate this document, and you can freely derive new creative works from it, with the following three stipulations:

  • Attribution (BY): You must cite the original text.
  • Non-Commercial (NC): You cannot charge money.
  • Share Alike (SA): Any derivative work automatically takes on these same stipulations (i.e., BY-NC-SA).

This combination means that Phoenix is and always will be free to use and distribute.

How do these rules work?

Phoenix is an expansion pack; it runs on top of standard d20 rules, which are freely available as System Reference Documents (SRDs), so you should always go by Phoenix rules first, and if anything seems missing, check Modern. However, if you encounter a contradiction between Modern and D&D v3.5, go with D&D because it is the most polished version of d20 (Pathfinder notwithstanding).

What is on this Site?

This site offers four things over-and-above regular d20 rules. First, it has thirteen new classes that are tailor-made for pulp and superhero adventures. Second, is has a vastly expanded selection of feats, so that you can play a superhero without powers if you so desire. Third, is has dozens and dozens of superpowers. Finally, it has a whole schwack of new rules designed to take into account the superhero genre and its elevated power level.

How is Phoenix Different?

To account for the great variety that the superhero genre requires, Phoenix uses a point-based system to buy powers and feats. These are called character points (or CPs). Also, this game has, in addition to skills, feats, and powers, a whole other way to add flavour to your characters called advantages and complications.

To use your powers, you often have to expend a little bit of energy, which takes the form of Power Points (PPs). Powers also have origins, in-game explanations for how they manifest, and they include things like mutant physiology or fantastic technology.

Character classes in Phoenix are built on the D&D model (“core” classes), not the d20 Modern model (“base” classes), which means that they proceed from 1st to 20th level. They are also divorced, as much as possible, from powers and instead represent superhero and pulp-fantasy archetypes such as the wealthy playboy, the street scrapper, or the loyal sidekick. That’s why you can buy magic, psionics, and supertech as powers, and the actual F/X classes are optional.

In order to replicate the feel of comics in which many characters routinely ignore bullets and other small, conventional weapons, the most expedient game mechanic is to give them enough DR that they can ignore those kinds of attacks. Therefore, DR is cheap compared to other d20 games.

Any attack using a weapon that has an origin, including your body, is super, an inherent quality that is similar to “magical” under standard d20 rules. Any ability score of 25 or higher is also super. Whereas in standard d20, DR is vulnerable to energy and magic, in Phoenix, it’s also vulnerable to super attacks only, which includes magic.

Finally, there are several styles of play for this game, and they reflect different eras and sub-genres of superhero comics. The styles contain few hard-and-fast rules; they are meant as a guide to storytelling and game-play in this system.

You Spell Things Weird

Yes. Yes, I do. This site was produced in Canada, so it follows Canadian spelling standards, with words like “defence” and “armour.” We promise that you’ll get used to it. We also provide, as much as possible, metric conversions for imperial measurements so that you can set the game outside of the US.