Category Archives: Modern Assembly

Adapting D&D 4E for modern, Information Age adventures.

Science Skill – Modern Assembly

Fields of Science by Image Editor on Flickr

Science (Intelligence)

The Science skill encompasses modern analysis and knowledge gained from it, including the chemical analysis of materials, experimentation to draw new conclusions about a particular object, creature or behavior and the use of computers for research and analysis.

Training in this skill represents either formal study or extensive experience at an University or with a Research facility. Those with training are more likely to know esoteric information or gain new knowledge through active experimentation.

Science Knowledge

Make a Science check to recall a relevant piece of information from modern studies, such as chemistry, computer science, or physics. You may also make a Science check to recognize a Science related clue.

Examples of Science knowledge checks include identifying a common substance in the field (Easy), identifying a potentially dangerous chemical (Medium), and predicting the course of a new mutation (Difficult).

Monster Knowledge

Make a Science check to identify a creature created or altered by Science.

Computer Hacking/Programming (Trained Only)

Creatures that have training in Science can use the skill to break into a computer, write their own programs, identify foreign and malicious elements in computer software and trace their origin. The following checks may often be part of a greater skill challenge.

Create Program
(Standard Action. Easy DC of the creature’s level)
Make a Science check to create a program intended for a particular task, including security software, games, or malware.
Success: You create your intended program. The result of your check becomes the DC needed for creatures to counter your program.
Failure: You cannot attempt to create the program again until after a short rest.
Special: You can make an attempt, after a short, rest to increase the DC of an already created program. Make the check as normal, if your result is the same or higher than the current DC, the new DC matches the higher result. If your result is lower than the current DC, then decrease the DC by 2.

Hack Computer (Standard Action. Variable DC, determined by the security of the computer)
Make a Science check to gain access to a computer, program or network you would not normally have access to.
Success: You gain access, and can gain any information the target may hold, or allow a created program access.
Failure: You cannot attempt to gain access again until after a short rest. If you fail by 5 or more your intrusion was detected.

Detect Hacking or Malware (Standard Action. Hard DC of the creature’s level)
Make a Science check to detect the presence of foreign or invasive elements in a computer. The skill is often used in this way when no intrusion is observed but they suspect it is present.
Success: You detect each source of hacking or malware on the computer, and recognize whether each program is running locally or from a network connection.
Failure: You detect nothing. You cannot try again until after a short rest.

Identify Hacking or Malware
(Minor Action. Moderate DC of the intrusion’s level)
Make a Science check to identify the source of the malware or hack and know it’s effects.
Success: You identify the program and/or programming language used to create each piece of malware or hack and you know the effects of the intrusion.
Failure:  You cannot attempt to identify the hack or malware again until after a short rest.

Counter Hacking or Malware (Standard Action. Hard DC of the intrusion’s level)
Make a Science check to counter malware or hacking, preventing further damage to your system.
Success: Choose one effect per success. Against malware, you may disable or remove the program. Against a hacker, you may trace the hacker’s location or cut the hacker off from the computer.
Failure: You take a cumulative -2 penalty against further counter attempts until after you take a short rest.


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Mechanics Skill – Modern Assembly

We’re using two new skills in Modern Assembly, to help fill in the gaps on opportunities that just didn’t exist in medeval times. You may notice that these skills really could be multiple skills. We chose to condense modern knowledge to 2 skills, to keep the total number of new skills down.

Mechanic by slagheap on Flickr

Mechanics (Intelligence)

The Mechanics skills encompasses knowledge of engineered constructs, as well as the ability created, repair and operate them. This includes vehicles, computers and other machines such as a power generator or crane.

Training in this skill represents either formal study or extensive experience at formal institution or as an occupation. Those with training are more likely to know esoteric information or be able to solve unknown issues through active repair.

Mechanics Knowledge

Make a Mechanics check to recall a relevant piece of information about mechanical construction, operation, and applications. You may also make a Mechanics check to recognize a Mechanics related clue.

Monster Knowledge

Make a Mechanics check to identify a creature created or altered by Mechanics.

Drive (Move Action. Variable DC)
Any creature can operate a simple land based vehicle, such as a truck, car or motorcycle without being trained or making checks. In a more stressful situation, such as driving during combat or while being chased.

Pilot (Trained Only. Move Action. Variable DC)
Creatures that are trained in Mechanics can operate boats, airplanes and other advanced devices.

Repair (Trained Only)
Creatures that are trained in Mechanics can aid machines which are failing.

Heal Construct (Variable)
You use a Mechanics check to treat a mechanical creature as if using heal against a living creature. (See Heal)

Quick Fix
(Minor Action. Easy DC)
Make a Mechanics check to quickly patch a machine.
Success: You are able to temporarily stop further damage to a machine. An object immediately stops its actions, or continues properly at its slowest speed.
Failure: You are unable to affect the target.


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Fated Theme – Modern Assembly

. . .to be fated by Khanh Hmoong

Some people are born great, some achieve greatness and some are just surrounded by the abyssal horrors! Fiction is filled examples of heroes who aren’t smarter, faster or stronger than everyone else, they’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet somehow these hapless regulars wind up on top! One way or another, they not only survive the fight but they manage to contribute significantly to the final victory, while fighting alongside super cops and powerful wizards.

These heroes rarely begin adventuring careers by choice. More often than not, adventure springs right up around them. They could be the only person who seems to notice the demons in their hometown. It could be that a group of established heroes are venturing into the local woods, and the fated is persuaded at knife point to come along as their guide.

No matter your reason for adventuring, you soon pick up other useful skills, and may even eventually gain a bit of courage and self confidence. Even when your battling against epic foes, there’s always that bit of luck or fate tat shines through.

Examples include Xander, Kagome, Katniss or Stephanie Plum.

Fated Starting Feature

You always seems to be have a little bit of extra skill just when it seems that failure is inevitable. Whether it’s fate or just a surge of willpower when all hope is bleak, the you get the job done when it’s the most critical.
Benefit: You gain the Burst of Hope power.

Burst of Hope Fated Utility 1
At the last moment you fumble with your tools as you try to disable the doomsday device. By some stroke of luck, they fall in just the right spot.
Encounter * Martial
No Action       Personal
Trigger: You make an attack roll, a saving throw, a skill check, or an ability check and dislike the result.
Effect: You add 1d4 + 1 to the triggering roll. At 11th level you add 1d4 + 2. At 21st level you add 1d4 + 4.

Fated Level 5 Feature
With all the crazy stuff happening in your life, you find yourself constantly running just out of reach of the next villainous threat.

Benefit: You gain a +1 power bonus to all defenses vs. opportunity attacks. This bonus increases to +3 vs. opportunity attacks made by aberrations or undead.

Fated Level 10 Feature
Sometimes when things seem there worst, that’s when the greatest opportunities arise. You spin a great failure into a moment of keen insight.

Benefit: Whenever you roll a natural 1, your action still fails as normal. Your next attack roll, a saving throw, a skill check, or an ability check gains a +2 power bonus.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power
Sometimes you just have to get across the room, in an impossible amount of time. You find something greater, deep inside, when the need is high.

Burst of Speed Fated Utility 2
With a great push you launch yourself desperately across the room.
Minor Action Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 power bonus to speed until the end of your next turn.

Level 6 Utility Power
When your surrounded by soldiers in full battle gear and brutes with bulging muscles, it’s easy for enemies to forget just how tough you can be.

Tougher Than I Look Fated Hero Utility 6
When things get tough you rise to the task, shrugging off your enemies assault so that you can be the hero your destined to be.
Minor Action Personal
Effect: You gain resist 3 to all damage until the end of your next turn. At 21th level this increased to resist 6.

Level 10 Utility Power
It’s easy for others to dismiss your character in battle, but they have no idea how many times you’ve risen to the challenge. You know how to shrug off a debilitating effect and come back strong.

Sudden Revival Fated Hero Utility 10
Just when it looked like you were out of the fight for good, you stand and do what’s needed.
Free Action Personal
Trigger: You start your turn dazed, dominated or stunned (save ends).
Effect:  You make a save vs. that effect with a +2 power bonus.

*If this seems familiar it’s based on a theme written for A Night in Lonesome October. Modern characters were heavily considered for that project and it seemed folly not to include it in this project.

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Firearms and Other Weapons – Modern Assembly

DSCF1084 by joelogon

In our modern times, arrows and swords are often out of place, even impractical. The following modern weapons are written using the base rules presented for weapons in the core game.

They’re also balanced with the existing sword-and-sorcery weapons. This serves two key functions: First, you can easily swap a fantasy weapon for its modern equivalent; a baseball bat can use the same mechanics as a club, or a woodsman’s hatchet can be used as a hand axe. Secondly, both fantasy and modern weapons can be used in the same party, without any trouble.

There are a couple of key additions to help make modern weapons flow seamlessly with the core game.

Ammunition: Each weapon group uses a different type of ammunition. 20 rounds of any one type costs 2 gp. Weapons that use magazines instead cost 1gp per magazine. Some weapons, like the assault rifle or semi-automatic pistol, may actually use more than one bullet when fired, but for ease of tracking, only one round gets used for each enemy targeted.

Fuel: Chainsaws and flamethrowers also need to be loaded, but their ammunition is fuel. 1 pint of fuel is required every encounter and costs 1 gp.

Load: Just like bows and crossbows, guns take time to load. However, guns typically hold more than one round. If a gun has the Magazine property, it uses the same rules as a repeating crossbow, with each magazine holding the number of rounds in parenthesis.

Other guns need rounds loaded individually, like shotguns and revolvers. Each round takes one action to load, with the total number that can be loaded in parenthesis after the load type.

Grenades and the Grenade Launcher: Grenades use the same rules for the consumable Alchemist’s Fire, with each different level representing a different grade of explosion.

The grenade launcher is a special weapon, used to direct grenades and launch them greater distances. The grenade launcher uses a grenade as ammo, with the grenade’s damage determining the weapon’s base damage. However, a grenade launcher can be used with any ranged attack power instead of the grenade’s item power.

Simple Melee
One-Handed Prof. Damage Range Price Weight Group Properties
Brass Knuckles +2 1d6 - 5 gp 1 lb. Unarmed Off-hand
Superior Melee
Chainsaw +2 2d6 - 10 gp 20 lbs. Heavy Blade High Crit
Simple Ranged
Grenade - - - - - - As Alchemist’s Fire
Double Barrel Shotgun +1 2d4 5/10 25 gp 11 lbs. Shotgun Load Minor (2)
Pump Action Shotgun +1 1d8 5/10 35 gp 8 lbs. Shotgun Brutal [1], Load Move (6)
Military Ranged
Light Pistol +2 1d6 15/30 30 gp 4 lbs. Pistol High Crit, Off-hand, Load Free, Magazine 6
Revolver +2 1d8 10/20 25 gp 4 lbs. Pistol High Crit, Load Move (6)
Semi-Automatic Pistol +1 2d6 15/30 40 gp 3 lbs. Pistol Load Free, Magazine 6
Light Rifle +2 1d8 20/40 25 gp 8 lbs. Rifle High Crit, Load Free, Magazine 5
Heavy Rifle +1 1d10 15/30 35 gp 25 lbs. Rifle Brutal [2], Load Free, Magazine 10
Superior Ranged
Assault Rifle +1 2d8 10/20 50 gp 10 lbs. Machine Gun Brutal [2], Load Free (10)
Flamethrower +2 2d8 Fire 5/10 60 gp 15 lbs. Special Brutal [1]
Sniper Rifle +3 1d10 40/80 35 gp 11 lbs. Rifle High Crit, Load Minor (1)
Grenade Launcher +2 See Notes 15/30 360 gp 20 lbs Special Special

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Faceman Theme – Modern Assembly

Me? I’m a nightclub singer. . . and a security guard. . . and a local politician. Don’t believe me? Just give me a few seconds to convince you.

Lust - CLose up by Anita Claven

A diplomatic leader who strives towards bi-partisan laws, or regularly entreats with foreign dignitaries. A charismatic rogue who smiles at you just so to keep you off balance, before he shoots you. The faceman represents the type of hero that can talk their way through anything.

Whether you’re a well trained agent or you just have natural charm, you’re party depends on you to speak for the group, negotiate in tense situations, and sometimes even infiltrate the enemies ranks.

Examples include James Bond, Templeton “Face” Peck, and Elizabeth Lochley.

Starting Feature

Most people feint with their weapons. A false thrust can cause an enemy to dodge one way and open themselves to your real attack. You know how to feint using your body as weapon. A seductive wink, a change in posture, or a sly word can make your target let down their guard and make your blow land all the easier.

Benefit: When making a Bluff check to gain combat advantage, the target may be within a close burst 5, as long as you have line of sight.

Additional Features

Level 5 Feature
All the world’s a lie and you’re its top player. You know the sweetest words, the meaning of body language and all the master tricks.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Bluff and Insight.

Level 10 Feature
Facemen are often called into situations where they need to know an answer, whether it’s their specialty or not. Those with the skill and experience develop an ability to produce an answer so convincing it actually works. This ability to wing it is often the difference between a crucial success or failure.
Benefit: Once per day, you may make a Bluff check with a +2 bonus in place of an Arcana, Dungeoneering, Mechanics, Nature, Science, Streetwise, or Religion check.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power
Just as you can use your charisma to open up an opponents defenses, you’ve learned how to throw your opponent off balance when they attack. When it seems like you’re about to be taken down a notch, you slow them down with the power of your being.

Innocence Maneuver Faceman Utility 2
As they blade arcs toward you, a sudden flash of surprise or concern crosses your face, forcing your attackers aim purposefully away.
Encounter * Martial
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: Your AC is targeted by an attack
Effect: The attack instead targets your Will defence.

Level 6 Utility Power
When things are getting hot and all guns are blazing ,you need to get where you’re skills are best, even if that’s the heck out of here. You make yourself seem small and less imposing so that no one gives you a second thought as you pass by.

Nothing to See Here Faceman Utility 6
In the chaos of battle you quickly pass through the ranks of friend and foe.
Daily * Martial
Move Action Personal
Effect: You move up to your speed. You do not provoke Opportunity Attacks when moving out a threatened square for this movement.

Level 10 Utility Power
When people are at their weakest you are at your best. Whether working with a partner or solo, you know how take a confused opponent and knock the world out from under them.

Staggering Finish Faceman Utility 10
With a shove or a demoralizing look you send your confused foe staggering backwards and onto his ass.
Encounter * Martial
Free Action Melee 1
Trigger: An adjacent enemy becomes Dazed or Stunned
Target: The triggering enemy
Effect: You push the enemy back 3 and knock it prone.


Filed under D&D 4E, Modern Assembly

Modern Assembly: Mundane Items

Your Modern Assembly heroes likely have access to some modern equipment, even if they’re not in in a fully modern setting. The table below includes the most common modern items likely to be carried as personal equipment. Remember, if the hero has these things in their home, but they’re not likely to carry them to encounters that’s an Asset and should not be purchased from Cash.

Some common modern items have been intentionally left off the list. In the interest of only adding what is needed to the existing core material, items that are very similar to existing items should be treated the same. For example a briefcase can be treated as a backpack, a set of handcuffs can be treated as manacles and a flashlight is roughly equivalent to a hooded lantern (just swap batteries in place of oil).

Any item needing batteries or a filter to operate have one use included in its purchase price.

Item Price Weight Description
Audio Recorder 10 1 lb. Picks up sound within ten feet. Can record up to 8 hours. Batteries last 24 hours.
Batteries, Common 2 gp .5 lb. Batteries for small portable devices.
Batteries, Specialized 75 gp .5 lb. Batteries for larger devices like laptops or Cellular Interceptor.
Binoculars, Standard 15 gp 2 lb. You negate the penalty to Perception checks made to spot something over 10 squares away.
Binoculars, Advanced 520 gp 3 lb. As standard binoculars but also displays the distance of an object digitally and act as night vision goggles.
Bolt Cutter 4 gp 5 lb. Provides a +5 item bonus Strength checks made to break chains or locks.
Camera, Digital 50 gp .5 lb. Standard common amateur camera. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Camera, Professional 360 gp 2 lb. Multiple Lenses for high quality photos. Can double as telescope. Battery or outlet charged for 30 minutes every 8 hours.
Cellular Interceptor 840 gp 1 lb. Can intercept cell phone calls within 5 miles with a successful Science check. Battery lasts for 10 hours, and is charged in 1 hour.
Demolitions Kit 25 gp 5 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Thievery Checks made to set or disarm explosives.
Duct Tape (120 ft) 5 gp 1 lb. Duct tape can support up to 200 pounds indefinitely, or up to 300 pounds for 1d6 rounds. Easily teared and applied. Character bound by Duct Tape must succeed on a DC 22 Strength or Acrobatics check to escape.
Electricians Kit 30 gp 12 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a computer or small electronic device.
Gas Mask 360 gp 5 lb. Protects the eyes and lungs from toxic gas. Can be used up to 12 hours before a filter is replaced.
Gas Mask Filter 40 gp 1 lb. Canister used to filter air in a gas mask.
Laptop 680 gp 3 lb. Portable Computer. Needs local wireless or Ethernet for Internet access. Battery lasts 4 hours and is outlet charged in 1 hour.
Lighter 1 gp - Instant fire, up to 3,000 times.
Mechanics Tools 50 gp 20 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Mechanics Checks made to repair a car or large mechanical device.
Metal Detector 150 gp 2 lb. Device that grants a +10 item bonus to Perception checks used to locate metal creatures or items.
Night Vision Goggles 360 gp 3 lb. Grants darkvision 20, but imposes a -4 to Perception checks due to poor clarity.
Phone, Basic Cell 15 gp - Common digital phone, that works in any area with cellular service. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 2 days.
Phone, Smart 360 gp .5 lb. Phone with digital camera, GPS, and Internet. Can be used to connect Internet to laptop without local wireless. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.
Science Kit 40 gp 6 lb. Provides a +2 item bonus to Science Checks made to analyse objects.
Telephone Tap 50 gp .5 lb. Taps either into the line (usually in an adjacent room or outside the building) or is placed into the receiver and broadcast to a Walkie-Talkie frequency. Requires a Mechanics check to place.
Video Camera 100 gp 1 lb Can record up to 5 hours of video and audio. Batteries last up to 12 hours.
Walkie-Talkie 360 gp 1 lb. Allows direct communication on thousands of unique frequencies, up to a range of 15 miles. Needs to be outlet charged for 1 hour every 6 hours.

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