Magic-Technology, Technology, High-Magic
In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons™

    Some say that this has nothing to do with AD&D, some say go play "Gurps" / "Shadowrun" / "Star Trek RPG" if you want technology, don't bring this into our wellknown Advanced Dragon slaying game. I don't want to play those other systems, I want to play AD&D cos' that's what I like. So If You Don't Like This, Don't Read It, And Don't Use It. It's that easy.

    I will admit bringing technology and magic together will not be easy. But TSR has tried both earlier, in dragon magazine, and now in the boxed set "The Tale Of the Comet" to implement technology into AD&D. I like the idea of someone suddenly stands in unknown land, as has to roleplay their way out of trouble (or into it if that's what they want). With Player's Option is IMO easier to implement magitech, with "Character Points-" instead of "Slots"-system, and the new critical hit system and accompanying charts. As for the problem with technology giving unlimited power to even low-level PCs, so what their enemies have the same options. And its not that technology doesn't have its disadvantages. Items taken from a High-Tech environment to a High-Magic might never work (as per DM's choice), most high-tech equipment have charges, or equivalent, and charges have damn habit of running out (I have never figured out why <G>).

    I have divided the different eras up into these categories:

Standard AD&D style - This covers over items that could have been made with the knowledge that exists. The arquebus isn't exactly in the same line as longsword and shortbows, so that's one example. The repeating Crossbow is also an item that would fall into this category. I the Guide to RPG technology are they describing a shot-gun as it would look in std AD&D setting

Early 1900 - This covers items that doesn't really belong to the 20th century, and its just a tad to "modern" to be in to std AD&D era. Its actually a quite large era, as it will cover things like, the early hand-guns, WWI arms, steam trains and the like.

Era 20th Century - Now this we like and know about, because it the era that we live in. Now we are talking about Computers, guided missiles, tanks that has accuracy of close to a 100%.

Era 21th Century and Later - High performance computers with implemented AI, serious spacetravel, shields to prevent you from being blasted to atoms on every hit.Movies like "Star Trek", "Star Wars", "Space: Above and Beyond" goes into this category.

Era Far Future - Things that none has dreamed about (nightmares is also dreaming). The "Tale Of the Comet" boxset comes close.

    What Magic can do to high-tech weaponry.               What Others have accomplished before me.
What Others are doing right now.                                         Suggested Reading
NonWeapon Skill                                                           Hit Location chart
Cast and Props


What Magic can do to high-tech weaponry.

Spells from the Players Handbook

  • Shield (1st Wiz): provides x armor class to all projectiles and/or +n to ac/save.

  • Affect Normal Fires (1st Wiz): would either make the powder fizzle and smoke or flash and explode the weapon (as well as give quite an extra oomph to the projectile.

  • Fire Trap (4th Wiz, 2nd Pr): arcane equivalent to black powder (you can't say a charge of black powder in any muzzle loading infantry personal/squad weapon actually causes more of a blast than 1d4+7 with a 5' radius (minimum damage for a mage of level enough to cast the spell).

  • Web (2nd Wiz): no missile attacks at individuals completely caught in web and no missile attacks through web.

  • Produce Flame (2nd Pr): throw a palm full of fire, flammable objects, powder kegs, primers, loaded guns, unmixed sulfur, saltpeter, charcoal, powder horns, body, clothes, hair of gunners, etc..

  • Fireball (3rd Wiz): PHOOOOOOOOOOOM! save vs magical fire

  • Wall Of Fire (4th Wiz): see Fireball.

  • Lightening Bolt (3rd Wiz): see Fireball.

  • Dancing Lights (1st Wiz): cast it at the powder store house and see them run (it can look like a group with torches).

  • Mirror Image (2nd Wiz): go ahead... hit me (doesn't work to well against shotgun or especially chain or volley fire for that matter).

  • Grease (1st Wiz): flammable coating all over those peasants (low save) with firearms.

  • Wall Of Fog (1st Wiz): go ahead-shoot your mud!

  • Flaming Sphere (2nd Wiz): see Fireball.

  • Melf's Acid Arrow (2nd Wiz): for spiking a canon.

  • Gust Of Wind (3rd Wiz): bad for long distance targeting.

  • Protection From Normal Missiles (3rd Wiz): protects from siege weapons.

These are the spells that may be found in the Players Option™: Spells & Magic.
(I have noted how I would rule their use, Questions or Comments - Email me) (Wx = Wizard/Px =  Priest;  x = level)

  • Ray of Fatique (W1): Extremely useful when the enemy are carrying around heavy artillery.

  • Displace Self (W2): First attack / shot / etc still miss, and subsequent attacks are made at -2. (even against Shotgun fire or volley fire, though they have their second shot very quickly after, so duck..)

  • Protection from Poison (W2): Protects against poison even if its not magical in origin, or is in cloud form.

  • Wall of Gloom (W2): Obscures infravision targeting.

  • Proofing versus Combustion (W5): protect against the fire of a hand-grenade, or the fire from a flame-thrower. If placed upon a hand-grenade prior to use do it need to make its save to explode.

  • Rusting Grasp (W5): If placed on a barrel of a gun, the gun must make a save vs disintegration or blow up next time its fired. Cleaning the gun might remove the rust, but the structures is still damaged.

  • Tenser's Destructive Resonance (W5): Uh boy, nitroglycerin - Boom!, no save. gunpowder in the bullets (1st bullet no save, all other bullets nearby have their normal save, a hand-grenade still in enemies belts,

  • Dimensional Blade (W6): Good for opening tanks, but no good against Force-walls

  • Etherealness (W6): Good for spying on someone, as their electronical measurement doesn't detect on this level.

  • Superior Magnetism (W6): Goody, Cast it on a rock, throw the rock into the enemy's camp and see them panic, when their weapons suddenly get a mind of their own.

  • Heart of stone (W8): Ok you fire that bombard at me, I won't move an inch.

  • Iron Body (W8): Ever seen Terminator I or II. That's the Wizard for a short period.

  • Sphere of Ultimate Destruction (W9): Cast it inside a tank and run. Or close to the force-field door that blocks your way and move it around to make a door beside it.

What Others have accomplished before me.

  1. A Guide to RPG technology by A group of people (Txt-file)

  2. A Star Wars to Spelljammer conversion by A group of people.

  3. A Star Trek inspired Spelljammer by A group of people.

What Others are doing right now.

  1. Steven Swenson is not quite done with his project, so we might expect to see more from that side.

Suggested reading.

Modern Monsters - DRAGON #57, BEST OF DRAGON VOL. V - The legendary Ed Greenwood takes a look at technology in AD&D.

The City Beyond The Gate - DRAGON #100 - An adventure set in modern day London where characters experience current technology.

High-Tech Hijinks - DRAGON #114 - Advice on using technology in your campaign.

The Voyage of the Princess Ark Part 23 Shootout at South Gulch – DRAGON #176 - A story that is an excellent example of a western setting in a D&D world, but without the intervention of technology.

Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery - BEST OF THE DRAGON VOL. 1 - Gary Gygax takes a look at AD&D and WWII.

Expedition To The Barrier Peaks - AD&D Module S3 - An adventure that incorporates hi-tech weaponry to make adventurers' lives miserable.

Tale Of the Comet by TSR Inc ©1997

Books Recommeded by Lyndon Baugh

Poul Anderson's OPERATION CHAOS is perhaps the best thought out and best written depiction of a society with high levels of both magic and technology (it opens with Worldwar II with bomber magic carpets, multi-broomstick fighters, and one of the main characters being a reconisance werewolf --- Kodak has developed a moonlight flash so he can transform immediately even if there isn't a convenient moon around.)

Harry Turtledoves CASE OF THE TOXIC SPELL DUMP is a later 20th century work, with effect of environmental impact, on both
pollution, and what introducing leprechauns might do to native American spirit fauna, and all kinds of clever stuff.

Melissa Scott's FIVE TWELTHS OF HEAVEN and following books have alchemical FTL starships.

SHADOWRUN has cyberpunk and magic in mid 21st century.

SPACE 1889 has steam and what might as well be magic.

Poul Anderson again, HIGH CRUSADE has longbows, knights and starships (an alien starship lands in England on a village where the local baron is preparing to go on Crusade. The invaders contemptuously blaster a few, the English, rather than panicking, gallop up the gangplank and along the corridors of the starship seizing it ... ). No magic, but a very good read.

Tim Powers DRAWING OF THE DARK has (slight spoiler), Merlin in the 16th century Siege of Vienna (by the Ottoman empire), ... gunpowder, swords, flute-playing soul-devouring magic, mamluks, beer that has been brewed for several thousand years, and very etc. ON STRANGER TIDES has magic and pirates of the Caribbean. (These are both probably mineable for spelljammer ideas as the tech level is reasonably close).

I've also enjoyed A.B. Chandler's RIM stories with various techn-jammers. The Timejammer FTL drive is especially prone
to slipping into alternate universes, sometimes with functional local deities.

James Schmitz's WITCHES OF KARRES is a classic of starships and sorcery and worth reading
(well, technically it's psionics, and "klatha", but it acts like magic ...)

The Keltiad by Patricia Kenneally Morrison. (Recommeded by: Abe Brown)