Mourning's Aftermath (5e Campaign Setting)/Magic and Technology

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Magic and Technology

The Day of Mourning brought with it strange changes to the magic which permeated the world; once where it worked in harmony with technology, the great elemental airships and lightning trains which were models of marvel throughout the world, not magic and technology are antithetical to one-another; magic bends, twists, and breaks the laws of physics, and the mere act of casting a spell can disrupt the clockwork gears within a pocket watch, or even destroy the axel of a wagon, causing it to twist and break irreparably. On the other hand, within the presence of a clockwork factory or steam-powered automata, even the simplest of magic spells can fail as physics presses down with strange force, maintaining its grip on reality and ceasing the function of magic within its area.

Within the campaign setting of Mourning's Aftermath, both the act of casting a spell and the use of a magic items forces a check when in the presence of a large amount of technology, as does activating or making use of technology when entering a magic-rich area such as a druid's grove or an enchanted castle. The level of technology present dictates the DC that a user attempting to activate the magic item must make (see the table below). This is an ability check using the user's spellcasting ability modifier + their proficiency bonus + the level of spell being cast. In the case of a magic item, use the creator's ability score and proficiency to determine the check.

Technology DCs
Level of
Example of this Level of Technology DC to cast spells or
activate magic items
Very Low An attempt to produce fire such as through flint and steel or a bow drill. 5
Low The use of a potter's wheel or attempting to use a screw. 10
Moderate Hydraulic power, such as a water wheel or water clock. 15
Moderately High A compass and other magnetic works. 20
High Clockwork or steam works, such as automata or a pocket watch. 25
Very High A processing plant or factory. 30

Furthermore, only spells or magical items of a certain power can affect certain levels of technology, according to the following table. If the spell or magic item cannot affect the technology, treat it as though 100 was rolled on the above table. The following table also shows the required DC to activate a technological item or make use of one in an area permeated by magic, according to the spell's strength, forcing the user to roll the relevant ability modifier for using the item + double the user's proficiency bonus for activated items, or the creator's Intelligence bonus plus twice their proficiency bonus for items that constantly function. See the following table for the DC set by the magic in the area.

Spell Disruption Effectiveness
Spell Level Item Rarity Technology
Level Affected
DC to Activate
Cantrips Common Very Low 5
1st and 2nd Uncommon Low and lower 10
3rd and 4th Rare Moderately and lower 15
5th and 6th Very Rare Moderately High and lower 20
7th and 8th Legendary High and lower 25
9th Artifact Very High and lower 30

Should a spell be cast, a magic item used, or technological item attempt to be activated successfully close enough or upon one of the above examples and fail the check, nothing occurs and the spell slot is wasted or the piece of technology simply doesn't work. However, should the check succeed, roll a d20 and consult the following table, adding one to the roll for every level of technology present above Very Low (so High for example, would add 8 to the roll).

Die Roll Magic Activated Technology Activated
1-10 Nothing occurs. Nothing occurs
11-15 While inoperable, the technology can be repaired and used in the future. The magic is suppressed for 2d4 hours.
16-20 The technological tools are so twisted and bent that they are beyond repair. The magic is utterly disrupted and must be recast.

Alternatively, a DM can do away with the entire process and declare the result. Remember the following rule of thumb: lower levels of technology are more resistant to disruption by magic, and vice versa for magical effects.