Meet the Party: D&D 5E Modern Magic

A cop who draws divine power from the beating heart of his city. A hacker who has been given arcane strength by a ghost in the machine. A scholar who focuses his studies on the blending of the technological and the arcane. An assassin in the shadows who makes his pay one gunshot at a time. Each Meet the Party article gives you an entire group of ready-to-play adventurers (maybe even some heroes) for your gaming needs for a variety of systems and settings. It’s time to travel to a world of urban dungeons and modern day dragons with Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition: Modern Magic!

Back in 2002 Wizards of the Coast published d20 Modern, which adapted the d20 system and the D&D 3.5 rules so that players and DMs could build and play in a setting that paired modern day culture and technology with swords and sorcery. Flash forward to the 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, which included a few pages about modern firearms, and I suppose the spirit of d20 Modern started lurking in the minds of the creators again. Last month they released Unearthed Arcana: Modern Magic, which provided new spells and builds for clerics, warlocks, and wizards in a modern urban setting. This UA article built off of a Behind the Screens article that was published back in April, which detailed what kind of firearm proficiencies classes might have, as well as modern armor. Unearthed Arcana is always ‘written in pencil, not ink’. but when drawing from multiple articles like this it’s easy to feel like we’re exploring the uncertain frontier. Much like these characters have to deal with an uncertain world of technomagic and gunfire, I suppose. Let’s meet them!

Ramas Hahpet, Human Level 3 Cleric

HP: 24  AC: 18

Str: 11  Con: 14  Dex: 15  Int: 13 Wis: 16  Cha: 9

Racial/Class/Background Features: Bonus Proficiencies (Sidearms, Vehicles (Land)),  Heart of the City, Spellcasting, Divine Domain: City, Bonus Cantrip: On/Off, Channel Divinity, Spirits of the City, Background: Soldier Cop, Rank

Gear: Mace, Light-Duty Vest, Automatic Pistol, Priest’s Pack, Shield, Holy Symbol, Rank Insignia, Medal, Deck of Cards, Set of Common Clothes, Wallet with 10 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion, Athletics, Intimidation

Tool Proficiencies: Playing Cards, Vehicles (Land)

Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma

Ramas has walked the streets of his city a long time, and it shows; the people know him and trust him despite his gruff manner (Heart of the City grants advantage on some social checks), and the city itself seems to obey him (Spirits of the City grants control over city utilities nearby). His domain spells (comprehend languages, remote access, find vehicle, and heat metal so far) give him great utility as he makes his way among the social and technological urban landscape. When things go poorly, his police-issued gear and sidearm make him the toughest memeber of this little group, as well as a solid shot.

Ramas has been the subject of a little bit of house-ruling above and beyond his gear, adapting the Soldier background so he is narratively a police officer. Aside from the narrative change, the background’s effects are unaltered.

Amafrey Galanodel, Half-Elf Level 3 Warlock

HP: 24 AC: 12

Str: 8  Con: 14  Dex: 13 Int: 14  Wis: 10 Cha: 17

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Skill Versatility, Otherworldy Patron: Ghost in the Machine, Expanded Spell List, Pact Magic, Bonus Proficiency (Hacking Tools), Information Surge, Eldritch Invocations (Arcane Gunslinger, Eyes of the Rune Keeper), Pact Boon: Pact of the Blade, Background: Folk Hero, Rustic Hospitality

Gear: Shotgun (Pact Weapon), Arcane Focus, Hacking Tools,  Leather Jacket, Club, Daggers x2, Cook’s Utensils, Shovel, Iron Pot, Common Clothes, Wallet with 10 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Deception, Investigation, Stealth, Animal Handling, Survival

Tool Proficiencies: Hacking Tools, Cook’s Utensils, Vehicles (Land)

Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma

Cantrips: On/Off, Minor Illusion, Eldritch Blast

Spells: Remote Access, Expeditious Retreat, Charm Person, Digital Phantom

Invocations: Arcane Gunslinger, Agonizing Blast

Amafrey is an arcane and digital bag of tricks, capable of holding her own in a fight with Eldritch Blast and her shotgun but more at home baffling her enemies and circumnavigating digital security. A talented liar, Minor Illusion and Charm Person make her even more slippery on the social front, while Expeditious Retreat helps her slip away when things go south. Remote Access gives her the ability to enter systems from afar, while Digital Phantom makes sure she leaves no trace of her presence. Arcane Gunslinger makes her shotgun her pact weapon, while Agonizing Blast makes Eldritch Blast even deadlier. Her Folk Hero background means that she’ll always have a friendly place to hide when all of these other abilities land her in trouble.

Alston Daergel, Forest Gnome Level 3  Wizard

HP: 17 AC: 12

Str: 8  Con: 12 Dex: 15 Int: 17 Wis: 13 Cha: 10

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Gnome Cunning, Natural Illusionist, Speak With Small Beasts, Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery, Arcane Tradition: Technomancy, Bonus Proficiencies (Sidearms, Hacking Tools), Technological Savant, Background: Scholar, Two Extra Languages

Gear: Revolver, Arcane Focus, Hacker’s Tools, Storage Device, Notebook, Pen, Small Knife, Letter from a Dead Colleague Posing a Question You Have Not Yet Been Able to Answer, Common Clothes, Wallet with 10 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Medicine, Arcana, History,

Tool Proficiencies: Hacking Tools

Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom

Cantrips: On/Off, Shocking Grasp, Mage Hand

Spells: Infallible Relay, Comprehend Languages, Identify, Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Thunderwave, Mage Armor, Unseen Servant, Arcane Hacking, Locate Object

Alston brings a more straightforward application of magic in a modern age than Amafrey, with less sneaking about and more obvious usage. Many of his spells offer some sort of utility, and the gnome has a certain specialty in communication with Infallible Relay and Comprehend Languages. His magic also makes him tougher than he looks, and he’s packing a decent number of offensive spells in his arsenal. He’s actually as good a shot as Ramas with his revolver, too. Finally, despite not being as skilled as doing it covertly, his higher Intelligence and Arcane Hacking actually make him a better hacker than Amafrey in some situations.

Welvyraen Aleanlylafin, Drow Level 3 Rogue

HP: 18 AC: 14

Str: 8  Con: 10  Dex: 17 Int: 12 Wis: 13 Cha: 15

Racial/Class/Background Features: Superior Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity, Drow Magic, Drow Weapon Training, Bonus Profiency (Longarms), Expertise (Stealth, Perception), Sneak Attack 2d6, Thieves’ Cant, Cunning Action, Roguish Archetype: Assassin, Bonus Proficiencies (Disguise Kit, Poisoner’s Kit), Assassinate, Background: Criminal, Criminal Contact

Gear: Shortsword, Hunting Rifle, Burglar’s Pack, Light Undercover Shirt, Daggers x2, Thieves’ Tools, Crowbar, Dark Common Clothes Including A Hood, Wallet with 15 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Investigation, Perception, Persuasion, Deception, Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools, Disguise Kit, Poisoner’s Kit

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence

Welvyraen might not have as much magic as the others, limited to that granted by his Drow blood, but he more than makes up for it with his skill with a rifle. He brings a rogue’s usual array of skills, and is particularly sharp-eyed and stealthy. Sneak Attack and Assassinate make him the single deadliest member of the group, and his rifle’s range make him hard to escape. Even if a target goes where a bullet won’t suffice Welv is no slouch with a blade, and he could even lie his way close enough to use poison.

I had to take a few more liberties than is usual for a 5th Edition Meet the Party. While the Behind the Screens article gave information on what firearms were available to who and what kind of modern armor could be used, no details were give as to cost or what could be granted at character creation, so I used my best judgement. In another break from tradition, you can see I chose spells for Amafrey and Alston. This is because, unlike previous articles, the focus of the Unearthed Arcana it’s based off of is very reliant on the spells found therein. Without making sure that our half-elf and gnome had at least some technomagic to their names, they’d be indistinguishable from any other warlock or wizard who happens upon a firearm. There’s nothing to say that a modern spellcaster has to use technomagic, but this crew does exist to display it, so here we are.

Who They Are

Ramas Hahpet didn’t just swear an oath to protect and serve as an officer of the law. He also swore an oath before the altar of his god, that he would safeguard the people of the city and help the metropolis itself thrive. It’s been a tough beat for the cleric patrolman, but the city itself and the will of its people give him the strength to stay on the right path. Of course, being a cleric of the city means that he considers himself to be on duty even when he’s off the clock. He could probably use a vacation, but someone would likely have to knock him out and throw him in a shipping crate heading out of town to get him to take one.

Amafrey Galanodel always believed that the freedom of information on the net was necessary in order for the common people to oppose their overlords, corporate or otherwise. She knew many people agreed with her; she just didn’t expect the net itself to do so. Something spoke to her in the net, something with no address, no IP, no source in the ‘real’ world. Suddenly empowered by the ghost in the machine, Amafrey redoubled her efforts to help the downtrodden. Working outside of the law whenever she has to, she has become a name spoken of in whispers across the city: whispers of admiration by those she helps, whispers of hatred by those she opposes.

Alston Daergel considers himself a simple scholar, even now. His area of study is and always has been the integration of the arcane forces of old and the technological advances of the modern age. While the relatively new Tradition of Technomancy offers many great and new wonders to civilization, it also offers many new threats. Alston conscience chewed at him over this, making him consider his ability to help combat such threats with his knowledge and skill and his moral obligation to do so. While he still refuses to publicly attach the old title of ‘adventurer’ to himself, he does privately acknowledge that he moonlights as one when the need arises. This may explain the increased attendance rate of his classes, as he is now a ‘cool’ professor. He is unsure how he feels about that.

Welvyraen Aleanlylafin, or Welv as he prefers, hasn’t joined the modern adventuring lifestyle to protect anyone or raise up the common people or to use his knowledge for the betterment of others. He’s really good at killing people, and for some reason there’s nearly always someone offering money for someone else to be killed. It pays well, it keeps him out of the daylight, he’s his own manager, and not many people tend to bother him out of fear he’ll decide to make a freebie out of them. Recent events have made him be a little more discerning in his job selection, if only to avoid unnecessary and unprofitable conflict, but despite this business is booming.

How They Interact

Ramas is professionally conflicted about Amafrey, but not morally so. While the warlock sometimes operates outside of the law she always does so in an attempt to do good for the city. So long as that is the case, the pair have zero problems from Ramas’ point of view. The officer worries about Alston, concerned that this particular civilian isn’t quite cut out for the violence of the streets, but the gnome has yet to prove him right in that regard. Certainly the professor has proven an invaluable ally. Ramas doesn’t like Welv, professionally or morally. The only reason that he hasn’t tried to haul the drow in is the assassin’s promise to not go freelancing beyond the auspices of their little group. If an innocent dies under Welv’s gun, then the deal is off.

Amafrey has been slow to trust Ramas, as the potential that he could be another oppressive member of the authority certainly existed. So far, though, he’s proven to be one of the ‘good’ ones. She’s not so much of a rebel that she doesn’t think he’s a good ally to have. Alston is a stuffy old geezer, but despite that (or maybe because of it) he knows a lot that Amafrey might find useful some day. While he’s not so great at avoiding trouble, she keeps a close eye on him to learn as much as she can. Welv’s a bit of a puzzle. He has an access to the city’s shadows that even Amafrey can’t match, but not everything in those shadows champions the people’s causes. Still, she’s more than glad to guide him to the people’s enemies.

Alston finds himself depending on Ramas, at least a little. The police officer seems to know what he’s about, and by and large Alston trusts his judgment. Now that he’s ‘adventuring’ he doesn’t really listen to Ramas’ efforts to keep him out of harm’s way, though. Amafrey is a breath of fresh air to the gnomish scholar. If half of his students had her passion, he’d probably be too busy managing them to hit the streets! While too smart to try and place himself in a position of authority over the warlock, Alston does consider himself her tutor in technomagic. Welv is exactly the kind of threat that Alston fretted over facing when he considered hitting the streets, but it was actually Alston who brokered the ‘truce’ between Ramas and Welv after arguing that the drow could be useful in their efforts to help the city. He remains cautious of Welv, but trusts him to keep his word.

Welv actually considers Ramas helpful; if the law didn’t exist, then there’d be no ‘criminal’ element, which would mean everybody would have the stones to go around killing people for cash. It’s simple economics; Ramas and his ilk keep down the supply by bagging lesser criminals. Doesn’t mean he has to like the guy. Amafrey’s pretty incomprehensible. Babbles to her machines all day, thinks something in the net is talking back. She’s a nice addition to Welv’s contacts, though, really good at getting him intel on targets. Alston’s a crafty geezer, and Welv isn’t one to underestimate him just because he looks like a gnomish librarian.

The Future

It’s a strange new world out there, with car chases that exchange spells as well as gunfire and magic that you can email. Will Ramas, Amafret, Alston, and Welv be able to navigate their arcane yet urban world, or they end up spell fodder on the mean streets? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

Originally posted 9/24/15 on the Mad Adventurers Society!

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