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
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.
Magic can do to high-tech weaponry.
What Others have accomplished before me.
What Others are doing right now.
Hit Location chart
Cast and Props
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
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
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)
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
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
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
Iron Body (W8): Ever seen Terminator I or II. That's the Wizard for a
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
What Others have accomplished before
A Guide to RPG technology by A group
of people (Txt-file)
A Star Wars to Spelljammer conversion by A group of people.
Trek inspired Spelljammer by A group of people.
What Others are
doing right now.
Steven Swenson is not quite done with his project, so we might expect to
see more from that side.
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
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
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
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)