Let me start from the beginning. I've been playing D&D since 1993, back in the days of 2nd edition. We were a group of kids at the age of 10. My first character was a dracionian Mage with a domingo familiar (ever play Shining Force 1?). It was fun and as we aged so did our game. The plots became more complex and so did our characters etc. We stuck with D&D because thats what we knew and we enjoyed. When 3rd edition came out we play tested it, and I remeber the first time some goblin charged us in battle and everyone recieving the charge got an attack of oppertunity (yeah...combat relfexes was the shit until we learned better). Good times. Hell even my highest level character was the from the 1st 3rd ed campeign we ran (after a few tests ;)....and that was level 13.
Now. I like D&D. Its a fun system and I enjoy it. I know most of you do too, or else you would be here. But it is also not the end all be all of gaming. I hate, with a bloody passion, the open-gaming license. Now don;'t get me wrong. It has produced some fantastic material, especially by Sword & Socrery and Mongoose publishing. But at the same time it has produced things (some of the times by the same companies ) that are broken, cracked, and just plane stupid. Now any GM worth his weight in dice will deny the cracked stuff, but then there are things like d20 Modern, or BESM d20. Those annoy the hell out of me.
Have you looked at these rediclous systems that are just a hinderance to game play more then anything else. The rules should not be this clunky thing. d20 Modern can easily be replaced by the generic whitewolf system (1.0, but more likely 2.0), or Alternity. One campeign we actually played a fantasy / Sci-fi game (in the same world where we previously played D&D) in the Altetrnity system and it was great! The system only enchanced our game. This could have worked in the shadowrun system as well. But d20 Modern?
A better example. Has anyone here ever played "Call fo Cuthulu"? Its a scary fucking game where all you have to do is survive. The rules for Cuthulu and many deamons "Kills 1d4 PCs a turn". No stats....its just a horrific game where you are trying to survive and stave off insantiy. Cathulu d20..... You can actually try and fight some of the lowest end monsters...... yeah the power gaming system of levels and concepts do not compliment the horrific setting that is Lovecraft.
Whitewolf is another. I could go on and on. On the great ideals of point based over level based systems in chgaracter customization and realism. I mean can a 10th level mage who spent more time in a library then outside take more physical punishment then a military soilder who happens to only be 2nd level? But that too is another rant. Just keep in mind kids that d20 is not the end all be all system of role-playing. If power gaming and gaining levels is your thing, and you have fun like that. Cool beans, and stick with D&D. if your looking for a more simulationist or narritivist style.... one may suiggest switching from D&D to compliment that style.