Author Topic: Modern Spell Guide (d20 Modern)  (Read 934 times)

Offline Nanashi

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Modern Spell Guide (d20 Modern)
« on: August 04, 2019, 02:58:01 AM »
Why did I make this? Frankly I'm not sure.

D20 Modern casters have five important distinctions from a D&D caster.
1: Limited Caster Level: Since all casting classes are Advanced Classes, they require three or more levels in a basic class to enter. This means your CL will be 3+ levels behind all enemies. The result of this is that direct damage is even worse than D&D (but see 4), saving throws will be harder and buffs are about the same potency with slightly less duration.
2: Defense Bonus: All d20 Modern classes automatically grant a bonus to armor class, which applies to touch AC. This makes touch attacks rather inaccurate against enemies that advance by class level.
3: The Masquerade: By default d20 Modern assumes that “normal” people will attribute mundane explanations for magical effects and appearances. This makes magic a good deal more subtle than using mundane options, which is nice if the campaign doesn’t want big incidents on the news. You also don’t have to carry around any obvious weapons to function and most mundane security will quickly fall to magic tricks. On the other hand, those who aren’t “normal” will instantly realize you aren’t normal if you have any obvious effects up.
4: Low Massive Damage threshold: A character’s massive damage threshold is only their con score. Damage exceeding this forces a save or negative HP. This damage is relatively easy to hit, but the DC doesn’t scale. By the time you can hit the treshold consistently (before saves for half) enemy saves aren’t that threatened by a DC15.
5: Harder to sink enemy saves: Few spells cause conditions that lower saves, and there’s few mundane ways to do it. The only reliable ones are Prayer (-1), Bestow Curse (-4, requires touch) and the Frightful Presence feat (-2)


There are only five (technically six) sources for spells in d20 Modern: Core, Urban Arcana, Menace Manual, d20 Past and Dark Matter (also the web article Even More Modern, but everything in that is a less finished version of Urban Arcana spells). Of these, the first three are OGL, the third has one crappy spell, and the fourth only has Shaman exclusive spells.

The Mage list can be accessed in one of five ways
1: The Arcane Heritage feat. This is primarily useful for being able to say your character is a mage for the first few three levels. See if you can retrain it afterwards.
2: Mage. Largely the default option
3: Techno-Mage from Urban Arcana.
4. Sorcerer, from d20 Past
5: Scientist, also from d20 past

The trade offs between Mage and Technomage are the following
1: Mage has a good will save. Technomage has a medium reflex save.
2: Mage has a better reputation growth.
3: Technomage has Craft (Mechanical), the most useful craft skill, Disable Device, Knowledge (History, Streetwise), and Repair as class skills. Mage has (Earth and Life Science, Physical Science)
4: The requirements are different, but both require Smart hero for on-time entry.
5: Class features differ but are largely interchangable. I give the edge to Technomage for quicken spell, being able to cast through cameras and a homunculus that can go through walls.
6: Technomage may wear light armor without penalties. That would be nice if Mage Armor wasn't better than actual armor.

The two are so interchangable that which one you pick is largely a fluff choice. Scientist is a weird artificerish class that eats XP to use its abilities, but becomes really crazy when Extend Invention comes online and lets you start spaming spells without limit. it also doesn't have any surcharge for expensive material components.

Sorcerer is the more interesting beast. I'd say its abilities are overall worse, especially in the skills department, as was typical of spontaneous casters in this era of design. Still it has a couple of unique tricks.
1: Being charisma based, Frightful Presence can be used to lower enemy saves. This stacks with Fire Focus.
2: Being charisma based with a high reputation growth, a Sorcerer can take Minions (d20 Past, page 18) and abuse them for Incanations. The -10 to incantation DC for 100 minions makes boosting attributes with the Fortify seed a lot more obtainable. Once you can hit that, you can start giving the smartest person in the party permanent bonuses to intelligence, then use it to afford more bonuses of unusual type  and boost everyone's everything to very high levels.
3: You can fly.

Mage/Techno Mage/Sorcerer list:

0th level
Arcane Graffiti N/A: Its long lasting duration makes this a downtime spell, largely fluff based. The ability to embroider your gear is neat.
Dancing Lights **:  It’s like Light with a few differences. Better if you have a tall building to stand on, worse if you’re relying on some kind of launcher (like a sling). Note that Urban Arcana's table lists this as a level 1 spell instead of the level 0 it is in core/srd. In that case, it deserves ZERO stars.
Daze ***/*: This cantrip is less useful than its D&D counterpart because you get it three levels late when it starts to become less useful. Still usable for distracting mundanes I guess, and temporarily useful if you got it via feat.
Detect Magical Aura N/A: Depends greatly on the DM to be useful, but when it is it’s mandatory.
Haywire *****: A distraction and a way to bypass security. Note that the spell never actually says electronic device (though it seems to have been intended to do so), so it can work on mechanical devices.
Light **: Non-combustible, long lasting, light is cheap in this setting, even if you want it hands free. The sole saving grace is using it as a signal at night if you can stick it on an object and launch it (like with a sling). An extra star or two in a d20 Past campaign.
Mage Hand ****: Useful to bypass some security. Let down by the requirement line of effect be a straight line.
Magic ID **: Could be very useful when you need it, but defeated by the short duration combined with components and inability to let someone see it.
Mending *****: Just casting this once per day via Magical Heritage alone is enough to beat a specialist at their own game.
Message ***: Largely replicated by common technology that’s easily concealed, but enough areas prohibit that it can be useful. Also a good deal more secure and can’t be jammed.
Prestidigitation ******:  Still as good as it normally is, but also good for destroying pesky evidence.
Read Magic N/A: When you need it, you need it. When you don’t, you don’t.
Resistance **: A bit better than normal since cloaks of resistance aren’t everywhere, but the 1 minute (not even 1 minute per level) duration hoses it.

Spells as Powers
Burst *: Too small a lead, even as a free action.
Distract : A -1 penalty after you activate it on a target? Can I rate this zero stars?
Far Punch : 1 damage? Even if it was a once a turn free action infinite use this wouldn’t be too useful. Zero stars again.
Finger of Fire : Did d20 modern writers hate Psionics? It came out before 3.5 Psionics so the answer is likely “Yes”.

1st level
Alter Data (DM) ***: Variant of degauss.
Blood Weapon (DM) **: This would be much better if it didn’t last for one attack. As is, the ability to trade 5 damage for ~6 on a target isn’t great. Better (***) if it works with splash weapons.
Burning Hands *: The range is too short and the damage too low for a world where everyone has guns. Junk. Gets the star only for arson purposes.
Fear **: Save or Lose, but HD limits hurt this a lot. Good for removing normals I guess.
Change Self ****: Quick change alone is good, but it’s good for augmenting a disguise. Also helps hide all your weird stuff.
Disguise Self * (Dark Matter): Strictly worse Change Self. I have no idea how this got through editing.
Clean *****: How did this spell not get into D&D? Evidence clearing alone makes them great, but it has other uses.
Comprehend Languages N/A: Plot device spell. Duration is too short for Japanese video games.
Degauss ***: More evidence destruction.
Feather Fall */*****: Unlike D&D, where you’ll encounter pit traps and other unexpected falls, this spell will only be useful if you’re around tall buildings or airplanes. If you’re going to do either of those, this should be prepared, if only to enable a cunning escape.
Hold Portal ***: Impeding pursuers is more likely to be useful in a d20 Modern game than normal D&D. Can shut down all kinds of technology or create a distraction. Verbal only.
Instant Identify N/A: If you get un-IDed magic items you need this. If you don’t, you don’t.
Jump *: +30 to Jump sounds nice until you realize how little an increase that actually gives you and that you cap out at 8 feet high anyways.
Mage Armor *****: Congrats! You actually have better armor than most d20 Modern characters now! Allies too!
Magic Missile **/***: Benefits from the Masquerade and not being detectable, but also hurt a lot by the late entry. If your GM reads the increase to come from character level instead of caster level (or you somehow got them to approve Practiced Spellcaster), give it the full three stars. Might get **** for scientist with Extend Invention
Magic Weapon ****: Solid buff to an ally, especially given how hard it is to increase gun damage and rarity of magic weapons. If you entered (Techno) Mage via Smart Hero with Exploit Weakness you can actually use it pretty decently. May even be ***** if you fight shadowkind with DR that requires magic to bypass and you can't afford a magic gun.
Mask Metal */***: Good to bypass a common security device. A few minor things sink this though: The material component is itself visible to metal detectors, more modern scanning devices won’t be impacted by this spell and the “single object” means you need a separate casting for every piece of ammo and the magazine. If your DM ignores these, give it the full three stars.
Obscuring Mist *****: Another spell that’s even better in d20 Modern due to the presence of high speed vehicles. Aside from its combat utility, you can cause all kinds of problems with this, especially in a chase.
Power Device ***: Vague on what its max size is. ***** in a sci-fi campaign with limited ammo energy weapons if it can apply to them.
Ray of Fatigue **: No saving throw, but has short range and fatigue isn’t nearly as debilitating for ranged combatants as it is for melee ones (who can’t charge).
Shield ***: The short duration and personal only make it not as good as mage armor, but they stack.
Sleep **: HD dependent and late entry don’t mix. 2 stars for the ability to disable mundane witnesses.
Summon Vivilor I **: Summoned creatures are considered weak for the level you get them in normal D&D, depending on SLAs and expendability to maintain relevance. Delay being able to summon them by 3 levels, give them no SLAs and exclude Augment Summoning and the only reason I give them two stars is the ability to be a distraction/alarm bait.
Trace Purge ***: More evidence removal, but got enough omissions to make it clear something happened.
True Strike ****: A useful buff as always. Does not actually help sniping that much, since it will only compensate for about 200 yards of distance with a scoped rifle.

Powers as Spells:
Charm Person *****: Psionic cantrips may have sucked, but this is great. The ability to just make someone a friend with a gesture and words opens up all kinds of doors in the modern world.
Control Object ***: Use this as a greater mage hand rather than an attack power.
Lesser Concussion *: And we’re back to suck. It doesn’t even scale, which is just sad.
Lesser Mindlink ****: The silent part is what makes this better than message or a cell.

2nd
Arcane Lock N/A: Worth casting on your car or base, but the component DC is just barely too high to make it castable all the time.
Blur ***: Good defense boost.
Burglar’s Buddy ****: Good, broad spectrum survaliance defeating. Only shame is the low duration.
Curse of the Putrid Husk (DM) ****: An outright save or die as a second level spell?! This has none of the restrictions (long casting time, bad range) of spells like Sleep, Hold Person, or (in normal Dnd) Color Spray.
Darkvision ***: This can be accomplished with tech, but it’s expensive and cumbersome. 
Dataread **: Doesn’t really do anything common tech can’t, but has some niche uses if you can’t take the original with you. Whoever wrote this doesn’t know how a bar code works.
Enhance Ability ****: Broadly useful buff of +2/+3 to things based on one ability score. The ability the choose when casting makes it better than the traditional Animal’s Attribute series, as does the lack of items to do this.
Glitterdust *****: It’s glitterdust, and not the nerfed PF version either.
Invisibility ****: A good defense buff (if you’re just buffing allies it won’t break the spell) and utility power.
Knock ****: Useful anti-lock spell. Lots of locks in the modern world.
Levitate **: The commoness of ranged attacks make this a poor choice for combat, but still useful for infiltration. Spider-Climb is generally better.
Locate Object ****: Some nice divination that can sidestep an investigation if used right (Note, Core and Urban Arcana’s table gives this as a 2nd level Arcane spell, but the text does not give it as a mage spell at all)
Machine Invisibility **: Invisibility does most of this, but has a small niche in that it blocks other forms of detection by machines.
Magic Message ***: Interesting when used on a publicly visible device, which the spell specifically allows.
Protection from Arrows/Bullets **: The DR will go quickly when a basic 9mm does 2d6, and the nerfed duration stopped it from being an all-day buff.
Relay Text **: Niche use for private communication. Note the range is unlimited, unlike Magic Message.
Resist Energy ***: Typically only protects against monsters, but when you need it, you need it.
See Invisibility N/A: Entirely dependent upon if you actually fight invisible creatures, which is not guaranteed in d20 Modern. Good for a scroll I guess.
Spider Climb ***: Largely used for getting into places you’re not supposed to be able to.
Summon Vivilor **: Gets two stars for flight utility. Still useless in combat.
Web ****: How does this work with vehicles? Never the less a good buff.
Wings of Icarus (Dark Matter) ***: Has largely the same utility as Spider Climb. The lack of a proper Fly spell means this actually could benefit from an Extend metamagic.
Zap (Dark Matter) **: This would be a nice spell in D&D, but your being behind in CL and prone being a good thing for a gun users hurt this.

Powers
Brain Lock ****: Strictly better Hideous Laughter (which isn’t even in this system).
Clairaudience/Clairvoyance *****: Espionage and the girl’s locker room.
Claws of the Bear *: You’re not a melee combatant.
Electric Charge : 2d6 on a touch attack? Strictly worse than the two under it. Zero stars.
Concussion *: One use 3d6 damage that doesn’t improve is terrible.
Inflict Pain *: Strictly better than Concussion because you can concentrate on it and use it for multiple rounds. You still have to concentrate on it and it’s still lame.

3rd
Breath of the Deep (Dark Matter) ****: Save or die. I’d rather use Hold Person on a humanoid, but against anything else...
Dispel Magic N/A: Really campaign dependent. Generally though your opponents will have higher CL than you do.
Displacement ****: A solid defensive buff.
Effigy of Black Binding (Dark Matter) */****: The need to prep the component renders this rather useless. If you have Eschew Material Components, it’s a fine way to prevent an enemy from hurting you.
Electromagnetic Pulse ****: You can cause a good deal of havoc and shut down a lot of stuff in addition to stopping a lot of surveillance and devices being used against you.
Fireball ***/****: Direct damage gimped by your lower caster level, but over a good area. For Sorcerer however, Fire Focus and Frightful Presence give this a good chance to instant kill foes through massive damage.
Flaming Projectiles **: I always thought this spell would have been perfectly fine as a level 2, maybe even level 1, spell if it applied to a weapon or 50 projectiles in D&D. I still think so in d20 Modern.
Gaseous Form ***: Solid for escape or infiltration.
Greater Magic Weapon ****: Good all-day buff. Sadly doesn’t scale to Archmage level CL, but +3 weapons are rare in d20 Modern anyways.
Halt Undead ****: Great if you fight undead. Otherwise useless.
Haste ****: Notice how WotC realized 3.0 Haste was broken before 3.5 came out? Still a solid buff if you have party members who can attack.
Hold Person ****: Save or die. Was better a level ago for Acolyte, but still nice. Unlike Haste, this does not have the 3.5 nerf of the target getting a new save each round. Do note that you still can’t CDG in d20 Modern with a ranged weapon, even at point blank.
Improved Arcane Lock: Wait, this only lasts a few hours, but still needs an expensive component? Zero stars.
Invisibility Sphere ****: It’s invisibility for the whole party, so long as they don’t stray from you.
Keen Edge ****: Another 3.5 change not reflected in d20 Modern is that you can stack critical range increases.
Lightning Bolt **: It’s direct damage, but not even in a good area.
Nondetection ****: Stop diviners. Thanks to the way d20 Modern’s wealth works, the material component is effectively free.
Phantom Chopper **/***: This spell sounds nice, but “realistic looking” does not mean “in the database” and will instantly be identified as a fake. If you’re away from government roads (or better yet, roads at all) this is nicer, but only works for you.
Secret Pocket ****: Bag of holding, but very limited size. Still, this makes it easy to smuggle things past security. For those wondering, a modern rifle is about 7 inches at the widest point when unloaded/using a flush magazine, and closer to a foot if it has an optic, so you’d need something a bit bigger than cargo pants pocket (A traditionally stocked rifle might fit though).
Shutdown ***: More anti-security stuff, but less destructive. Also centered on a point so it is less effective against vehicles.
Slow ****: Still great debuff.
Summon Vivilor III **: Terrible at combat and no new utility, but if you can last the full round action you might throw 1d4+1 weaklings that the enemy must waste attacks killing or be hit with aid another.
Tongues N/A: Plot device power.
Vampric Touch *: Melee touch attack and gimped by your low caster level. A whole 5 temporary HP on average when you first get this!
Wall Walk ***: Trying to fight on the wall is unlikely to be a good idea when everyone is a ranged attacker, but still has its uses.
Water Breathing N/A: Another spell that’s mandatory or useless.

Powers:
Detect Thoughts ****: The deck of cards may be weird and you get this a level later than Telepath, but good information to have. Remember how normal people don’t realize magic is happening?
False Sensory Input ????: I have no idea how this power can be used beyond making people look like someone else (which is accomplished with lower level spells). I’m likely missing something.
Mental Blast ****: Stun is a good effect and this has a duration that is, on average, better than rounds per level (and still long enough to CDG on minimum rolls).
Mind Darts *: 5d6 fixed against a single target? 3rd level? Save allowed?
Mindlink **: I’d rather just use three castings on Mindlink than spend one 3rd level slot. Really needs something more.
Suggestion *****: Any form of mind control is great in a world where most people have no idea it exists and low will save saps hold some power, even if you do get it late.

4th
Animate Dead ?: Finally! An effective minion creation spell! Sadly actually keeping that giant skeleton is going to be a problem in the modern world depending on how mundanes see it. Plus getting your hands on a large+ creature that flew by magic and is suitable as a mount will be annoying.
Arcane Eye ****: Less useful for spying, but more useful for checking ahead of you.
Banish (Dark Matter) *****: Save or die against any non-native shadow creatures. This breaks Urban Arcana as a setting.
Bestow Curse ***: A good way to hose saves or shut opponents down, but getting to melee is hazardous.
Blood to Acid (Dark matter) *: This is Heat Metal, but worse and two levels higher.
Clown Car ?: Interesting. Requires you have a need to transport that many people though.
Confusion *****: Mass save or lose with a good chance of making your enemies kill eachother.
Detect Scrying ?: Useful if the GM actually pulls that on you. Nice duration.
Dimension Door *****: It’s teleportation. Your cargo capacity will be a tad limited though.
Energy Trap: The damage would have been bad 6 levels ago. Zero stars.
Fear ****: Mass save or die.
Gris-Gris (Dark Matter) *: A variant Spell Resistance, and even worse. Remember that in d20 Modern casters are either dragons, operate under the same rules you do or are so high a caster level this minimal SR means nothing to them.
Ice Storm *: This is direct damage suitable for last level with a very lame rider. Would have been a two star last level.
Magic Bullet **/*****: Gives 50 rounds of ammo a low save rider. The duration is long enough I suppose you’ll get at least two enemies to roll a 1 on Panic Bullet, but its unreliable. This is ***** for a sorcerer that dipped Holy Knight and can get 300-650 points of healing from the spell.
Minor Globe of Invulnerability **: Few, virtually no, creatures uses spells offensively in d20 Modern. This will however stop a good deal of the shenanigans Baal is able to pull.
Phantasmal Killer *: You’ve got much better save or die this level than one that requires 2 saves.
Scrying ****: Shortcuts a lot of plots and good for info gathering.
Shout **: You get a lot better save or dies this level, but this is the only fortitude flavored one.
Stoneskin *: Remember Protection From Arrows? Well this is it but against melee attacks too for the price of a new motorcycle.
Summon Vivilor IV: Nothing new from 3, and even worse for its level. Unless you want to do the aid another trick on a flyer, there’s nothing worth using it for.
Wall of Fire *: This spell did bad damage for its level in D&D and its worse here.
Wall of Ice **: The wall will break if anything level appropriate attacks it, but that still costs them an action. Has a bit of utility.
Via Negativa *: You’re not grappling anything and you’ve got better ways to kill someone willing to shake your hand.
Wire Walk *****: Has some differences between this and Dimension Door. Both are good.

Powers
Forced Mindlink: Am I missing something? This power would have been useless as a first level one.
Lesser Domination *****: See Suggestion. I’m not sure why Dominate Person but Better is two levels lower level in d20 Modern than D&D, but I’ll take it.
Natural Armor *: Too little duration
Tailor Memory ????: I’ve got no idea how to use this. Sadly inferior to Modify Memory so you can’t delete memories of mind control.

5th
Cloudkill *: Doesn’t do anything to creatures with level appropriate HD, unlike the 3.5 version.
Cone of Cold *: Is this a third level spell?
Dreamwalk (Dark Matter) ****: Arcane Eye but not stopped by barriers
Hold Monster ****: Not as good for the level as Hold Person was, but still good and still the 3E version
Instant Connectivity ****: Wire Walk, but more people. Also: Holy shit that’s an expensive hard drive for the focus!
Passwall *: Only works through wood, plaster and stone. Did you know modern concrete has steel reinforcements in it? You can Dimension Door past anything lower security.
Phantom Limousine **: Not street legal.
Phantom Projectiles **: OK buff but too late.
Phantom Watchdog **: Late Spiritual Weapon with some alarm utility.
Secret Vault ***: Good smuggling/securing stuff. Just how small or bluffable past security the replica is changes this spell a lot.
Seeming *: Shouldn’t this be a level 2 or 3 spell?
Summon Invisible Stalker (Dark Matter): This has at least a 1 in 20 chance each hour of backfiring and trying to kill you?
Summon Vivilor V: See IV.
Synchronicity ?: No strict mechanical effect except a bonus against AoOs but interesting RP considerations.
Telekinesis **/***: Your caster level is too low for consistently picking people up. Once you hit Archmage levels however it can take people out of the fight.
Wall of Force ****: Stops attack.
Wall of Iron **: Too expensive.
Wall of Stone ****: Stops attacks, but in a world of a building codes and concrete the building utility isn’t there.

Powers
Domination: This would be great… if lesser domination didn’t exist. It does though and the improvement from the lesser version is so minimal I won't bother rating this.
Mind probe ****: Information gathering, and a fort save for some reason.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 10:35:22 PM by Nanashi »

Offline Nanashi

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Re: Modern Spell Guide (d20 Modern)
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 05:08:43 PM »
Now with Acolyte.

There are four ways to cast spells from the Acolyte list
1: Divine Heritage: Gain three level 0 divine spells each one a day. This is largely for establishing a character as a caster at level 1-3.
2: Acolyte: The primary divine caster of the system. Medium BAB, medium defense, spontaneous healing, five skill points and the two best saves make it a pretty good base.
3: Mystic: The spontaneous casting version of the Acolyte, but made worse for no reason. Low BAB, no healing spells and MAD with only the ability to Command Humans in return, and an Acolyte gets to pull that same trick off once they reach level five in Ecclesiarch.
4: (Un)Holy Knight: This is hard to qualify for “on time” (very few classes have full BAB in Modern), but trivial to qualify late when a character has finished their Advanced Class. This places the emphasis even more on utility spells. There’s no reason to take it on a character who can already cast, except as a dip for Divine Grace.
5: Scientist: As above. Unlimited healing is worth a second level discovery and the feat,
6: Spiritualist. This class is based on random/GM pick of abilities and is near impossible to make recommendations for, but it's still a spellcaster.

Level 0:
Create Water ****/*****: Omnipresent running water and public drinking fountains render the drinking part uneeded most of the time, though some situations (leaving the city for whatever reason, d20 Past) returns that use. Even without it, it can fight fires, make people slip, get people to avoid an area and more.
Cure Minor Wounds *****: Just the ability to stabilize anyone automatically makes you a world changer. Add an extra star for a scientist.
Detect Magical Aura N/A: Depends greatly on the DM to be useful, but when it is it’s mandatory.
Haywire *****: A distraction and a way to bypass security. Note that the spell never actually says electronic device (though it seems to have been intended to do so), so it can work on mechanical devices.
Inflict Minor Wounds: Unless you’re healing undead minions in down time, this is useless.
Light:  Light **: Non-combustible, long lasting, light is cheap in this setting, even if you want it hands free. The sole saving grace is using it as a signal at night if you can stick it on an object and launch it (like with a sling). An extra star or two in a d20 Past campaign.
Mending *****: Just casting this once per day via Divine Heritage alone is enough to beat a specialist at their own game.
Read Magic N/A: When you need it, you need it. When you don’t, you don’t.
Resistance **: A bit better than normal since cloaks of resistance aren’t everywhere, but the 1 minute (not even 1 minute per level) duration hoses it.
Virtue *: Meh.

Powers as Spells:
Far Punch: Utterly useless.
Sending *****: A 5th level power as a cantrip?! Clearly an error, but run with it if you can.
Missive *: What Sending was likely supposed to be. Expensive material component and voice component requirement make this a poor spell. As a power it’s slightly better, but there’s no way to suppress a display in d20 Modern psionics.
Valor ****: Free action to give anyone in range a +1 bonus on their save. It’s a tiny bonus, but the action economy makes this worth prepping at later levels.

Level 1:

Bane **: Not a big penalty, especially for you when you get it 3 levels late and ranged weapons are omnipresent.
Bless ***: Not a big buff, but if you get prebuff time, you can use it.
Cause Fear ****/**: The HD limit will quickly be an obstacle to this spell, but the ability to remove mundanes remains forever.
Clean *****: How did this spell not get into D&D? Evidence clearing alone makes them great, but it has other uses.
Command ****: Save or Suck and utility. Notice this the 3.5 version, not 3E.
Comprehend Languages N/A: Plot device spell. Duration is too short for Japanese video games.
Cure Light Wounds *****: You’ll stop prepping this once you can convert spells, but magical healing is a rarity in Modern campaigns.
Degauss ***: More evidence destruction.
Faerie Fire ***: Counters some specific spell effects. You can use this as marker dye for some utility, though the duration is short.
Inflict Light Wounds *: See minor. Might send an ordinary into negative HP, but you have to touch them to do that.
Instant Identify N/A: If you get un-IDed magic items you need this. If you don’t, you don’t.
Magic Weapon ****: Solid buff, especially given how hard it is to increase gun damage and rarity of magic weapons. May even be ***** if you fight shadowkind with DR that requires magic to bypass and you can't afford a magic gun. Much less useful to a (Un)Holy Knight if they entered via Shadow Slayer.
Obscuring Mist *****: Another spell that’s even better in d20 Modern due to the presence of high speed vehicles. Aside from its combat utility, you can cause all kinds of problems with this, especially in a chase.
Remove Fear ???: Great if you encounter fear effects, but they aren’t that common in Modern. You can’t even demoralize people with intimidate.
Sanctuary ****: If the enemy has bad will saves, this is great.
Shield of Faith ***: A decent buff that stacks with most other sources of armor.
Summon Vivilor I **: Summoned creatures are considered weak for the level you get them in normal D&D, depending on SLAs and expendability to maintain relevance. Delay being able to summon them by 3 levels, give them no SLAs and exclude Augment Summoning and the only reason I give them two stars is the ability to be a distraction/alarm bait.
Trace Purge ***: More evidence removal, but got enough omissions to make it clear something happened.
Black Karma Curse *** (Dark Matter): Does this cause noise and ammo loss as though the target’s gun were fired? Does the bonus damage of burst fire apply if the enemy has the feat? Regardless, it’s an interesting thing.
Steal Life ** (Dark Matter): Not good damage. Only source of healing for a mystic though.

Powers
Attraction ****?: Indirect mind control.
Combat Precognition *****: Low bonus to defense, but it lasts for hours.
Lesser Bioweapon **: You made a club.
Lesser Concussion *: Terrible.
Object Reading *****: Shortcuts most mystery plots
Vigor: No augments and no share powers means this is useless.

Level 2:
Aid *: Bless, but single target and give some temp HP. Meh.
Augury ****: No expensive components and low casting time make this have a variety of uses. Never that accurate though. Add an extra star for Scientist, who can spam this at high levels.
Cure Moderate Wounds **: Same as normal D&D
Darkness ****: Obscuring Mist, but it moves with an object. Beware of shadowkind with darkvision and humans with nods.
Dataread **: Doesn’t really do anything common tech can’t, but has some niche uses if you can’t take the original with you. Whoever wrote this doesn’t know how a bar code works.
Daylight **: Counters darkness, but otherwise doesn’t do more than a mundane flare
Delay Poison ?: Useful if there’s a poison plot or poison monsters show up. Very situational.
Enhance Ability ****: Broadly useful buff of +2/+3 to things based on one ability score. The ability the choose when casting makes it better than the traditional Animal’s Attribute series, as does the lack of items to do this.
Hold Person *****: This is the 3E Hold Person, not the nerfed 3.5 version. Note you still can’t CDG with a ranged weapon in d20 Modern.
Inflict Moderate Wounds *: Low damage on touch.
Lesser Restoration ?: Downtime spell unless you expect such damage regularlly.
Remove Paralysis ***: Hard counter to some really bad conditions.
Resist Energy ***: Typically only protects against monsters and maybe fire, but when you need it, you need it.
Shatter ***: A good deal more useful in a modern setting due to ceramic objects being fairly common in armor.
Shield Other ****: If you can stand the damage, this is a good buff for the defense and resistance bonus. Helps with escort missions.
Silence *****: This stops your spellcasting, but makes stealthy vehicles, guns and alarms, not to mention whatever other antics you engage in. Cast it on a hollow point to mess with enemy casters.
Speak With Animals ***+: If you can find a rat or crow to ask, this may give useful information, or they might not know anything.
Spider Climb ***: Largely used for getting into places you’re not supposed to be able to.
Summon Vivilor **: Gets two stars for flight utility. Still useless in combat.
Zone of Truth ?: Nice if you know the target failed their save, useless otherwise.
Blood Weapon (DM) *: This would be much better if it didn’t last for one attack and you got it at the same time a mage did. As is, the ability to trade 5 damage to yourself for ~6 on a target isn’t great. Better (**) if it works with splash weapons.
Ayza’s Juju (Dark Matter) *****: Subject can reroll any save they want in the next hour per subject? Take it.

Powers:
Combat Focus **: +4 to initiative check in the next hour would be neat if it didn’t take a full minute to cast.
Combat Prescince **: A decent buff
Concussion **: Still bad.
Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions ?????: Well this is interesting. Might help an investigation, might not. Great if you want front row tickets to historical events of the last couple centuries, but that has no mechanical use.

Level 3:
Animate Dead ?: Finally! An effective minion creation spell! Sadly actually keeping that giant skeleton is going to be a problem in the modern world depending on how mundanes see it. Plus getting your hands on a large+ creature that flew by magic and is suitable as a mount will be annoying.
Bestow Curse ****: A good way to hose saves or shut opponents down, and you might survive getting into melee.
Cure Serious Wounds **: Still as useless in combat.
Dispel Magic N/A: Really campaign dependent. Generally though your opponents will have higher CL than you do.
Glyph of Warding **: You don’t really have useful spells to apply to it, and it’s expensive.
Inflict Serious Wounds *: Still bad.
Locate Object *****: Can shortcut a lot of plots, and track people through their possessions.
Magic Circle ???: All the incantations that mimic effects this would normally be used for don’t need it.
Prayer ****: A buff and debuff for most of a fight. One of the few ways to lower saves in d20 Modern.
Recharge, Remove Curse ****: If you need to remove these conditions, this is great. Recharge can get rid of the need for sleep.
Remove Disease **: Not as great since most diseases don’t have a cure. Still cheap and instant for the ones that do.
Searing Light **: One of the few direct damage cleric spells, and still bad at it.
Secret Pocket ****: Bag of holding, but very limited size. Still, this makes it easy to smuggle things past security. For those wondering, a modern rifle is about 7 inches at the widest point when unloaded/using a flush magazine, and closer to a foot if it has an optic, so you’d need something a bit bigger than cargo pants pocket (A traditionally stocked rifle might fit though).
Shadowmoth Plague: Darkness and Obscuring Mist did it better.
Shutdown ***: More anti-security stuff, but less destructive. Also centered on a point so it is less effective against vehicles.
Status **: Modern communications mitigate most of the use of this, but it has some.
Summon Vivilor III **: Terrible at combat and no new utility, but if you can last the full round action you might throw 1d4+1 weaklings that the enemy must waste attacks killing or be hit with aid another.
Vampric Touch *: Melee touch attack and gimped by your low caster level. A whole 5 temporary HP on average when you first get this!
Water Breathing N/A: Another spell that’s mandatory or useless.
Erzuli’s Fetish ***** (Dark Matter): This spell is essentially a Death Note. The target, which can be anyone on the same plane (note that planar travel spells are explicitly banned in d20 Modern), takes damage done to the doll times 2d6. The damage to the doll still provokes massive damage checks and you can still do overkill damage. Even if you can only do ~35 damage a day, you’ll eventually kill anyone without magical healing on hand.
 
Powers:
Lightning Strike **: Not terrible, but still fixed amount of direct damage.
White Fire ****: Does more damage than Lightning Strike and, more importantly, has a useful rider. Not every day that you see a decently useful direct damage spell on the Cleric list.

Level 4:
Crawling Carpet **: The spiders have poison (DC14, 1d4 strength damage) which makes them mildly more useful than the moths.
Cure Critical Wounds *: See the rest of the line.
Discern Lies ?: See Zone of Truth.
Divination *****: Break the plot, and the component is free with how wealth works in d20 Modern.
Faith’s Fury */****: Good if the bad guys all have allegiance to evil, terrible if they don’t.
Freedom of Movement *****: Hard counter to a lot of bad effects, and has a good duration.
Greater Magic Weapon ****: Good all-day buff. Sadly doesn’t scale to Ecclesiarch level CL, but +3 weapons are rare in d20 Modern anyways.
Inflict Critical Wounds *: Again.
Magic Bullet *****: Turns a pile of 22lr into ~475 points of healing, which can be split up as desired.
Neutralize Poison ?: See Delay Poison.
Restoration N/A: Great when you need it, but not a daily prep.
Spell Immunity ****:  Nearly all spells in d20 Modern are level 4 or lower. Can totally shut down some enemies.
Summon Vivilor III **: Terrible at combat and no new utility, but if you can last the full round action you might throw 1d4+1 weaklings that the enemy must waste attacks killing or be hit with aid another.
Tongues N/A: Plot device power.
Via Negativa *: You’re not grappling anything and you’ve got better ways to kill someone willing to shake your hand.
Wall Walk **: Was better when Mage got it, but if you don’t have alternatives...
Banish (Dark Matter) *****: Save or die against any non-native shadow creatures. This breaks Urban Arcana as a setting.
Gris-Gris (Dark Matter) *: A variant Spell Resistance, and even worse. Remember that in d20 Modern casters are either dragons, operate under the same rules you do or are so high a caster level this minimal SR means nothing to them.

Powers:
Fire Storm *: Late, under damage Fireball.
Greater Bioweapon: This would have been meh as a second level spell.
Telekinesis ***/****: Your caster level is too low for consistently picking people up. Once you hit Archmage levels however it can take people out of the fight. (Why do you get this a level before Mage does?)

Level 5:
Break Enchantment N/A: You have enchantments to break? It’s awesome, otherwise useless.
Flaming Wrath: Very late fireball. Could have been useful if it was half divine damage like the text implies.
Greater Command ****: The effect isn’t as great relative to how it was before, but it applies to a lot of creatures.
Insect Plague: Bad.
Mass Cure/Inflict: Lame for level.
Rage of Bees: Another late summoning spell? Why?
Raise Dead *****: Aside from the obvious, this removes mundane diseases even if there’s no cure.
Scrying ****: Shortcuts a lot of plots and good for info gathering.
Spell Resistance: Just use Spell Immunity.
Summon Vivilor V: See IV.
Synchronicity ?: No strict mechanical effect except a bonus against AoOs but interesting RP considerations.
True Seeing: Are you fighting illusionists or monsters with natural illusion effects? Grab this. Otherwise pass.
Wall of Stone ****: Stops attacks, but in a world of a building codes and concrete the building utility isn’t there.
Legba Rides ***** (Dark Matter): XP cost sucks, but you could play 20 questions with Legba and break many plots.
Panacea *****: Hard Counter to lots of things, and can remove diseases for which there is no cure.
Revify *****: Prep it every day, at least if you expect combat.

Powers:
Spell Resistance: Yes, again.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 10:41:06 PM by Nanashi »

Offline Nanashi

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Re: Modern Spell Guide (d20 Modern)
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2020, 10:18:32 PM »
Psionics in d20 Modern suffer the same problems as magic users. Since they’re halfway between 3.0 and 3.5 psionics, they suffer from MAD (since they retain each power using a different attribute), and complete lack of scaling (since augmentation doesn’t exist). Thankfully the MAD isn’t as big a problem as 3.0 since, for the most part, each class focuses on one attribute for powers with saves with some utility powers based on dex and con (scores you want anyways). Also Telepath is, for some reason, the only one of the four to get bonus PP from high attribute points, which is likely an error.

The Telepath (Note: Mesmerist seems intended to use this list, but never says in the class details and is useless on its own.)

0th level
Burst: Meh
Daze ****: See the Mage’s version
Detect Psionics: Plot device.
Distract: Meh
Far hand ****: Great utility
Finger of Fire **: Meh, but arson utility.
Missive **: There’s one way to suppress displays in modern, and it requires burning a feat per power, so the uses are limited.
Telempathic Projection *****: Improve the target’s attitude one step if they fail a save and give +1 to social skills? This is actually pretty good.
Verve: Meh.
Drop **** (Dark Matter): Actually pretty good
Whelm ***/**** (Dark Matter): Actually passable damage. Four stars in settings where it’s undetectable by normal people. A possible option for your first Trigger Power if you want a theoretically bottomless attack that might be largely undetectable. (Note: Non-Lethal Damage doesn’t actually exist in d20 Modern. According to the articles on WotC’s website, everyone uses DND’s version of non-lethal combat because d20 Modern’s is wonky)

1st level
Attraction ****: As Acolyte.
Call Weaponry **/****: The only augmentable power in the system. At ML4 this gets you a free gun in high security areas. Note that you can’t ever summon an exotic or archaic weapon due to manifestor level restrictions. An option for Trigger Power if you find yourself wanting for ammo, since this is still a 1st level power despite its augments.  (Note: This is not included in the Telepath’s powers known table, but the power text does include it).
Charm Person *****: See Mage. An option for Trigger Power.
Conceal Thoughts *****: +20 to bluff for hours per level, even limited as it is, is crazy.
Control Object ***: See Mage.
Lesser Body Adjustment **/****: If your setting and party have an Acolyte, you don’t have much use for this. If you don’t, you might want to grab the 11 strength needed.
Lesser Mindlink ****: See mage.
Object Reading ***: Breaks a lot of plots, but requires 11+ wisdom.
White Noise ?: This has some utility, but difficult to rate.
Hunter’s Stare *** (DM): Very situational, but good in that situation. Add an extra star for d20 Past.
Masquerade *** (DM): The weakness to cameras makes it a step down from its arcane counterpart.
Mute *** (DM): Can stop screams for help, but the will save means it won’t work against casters.


2nd
Brain Lock ***: Not as good as Hold Person, but decent.
Clairaudience/Clairvoyance ****: A great power, but sadly wisdom based.
Detect Thoughts *****: See mage, but ignore the need for a material component.
Electronic Fog ?: A lot broader than white noise, but still just as campaign dependent.
Inflict Pain **: Low damage and save
Levitate ****: Doesn’t compete with Spider Climb on this list.
Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions ????: Still just as weird
Suggestion *****: Still just as broken. A good canidate for second Trigger Power.
 
Dark Matter:
Evil Eye ****: Save or Lose
Psychic Puppet **: Unless you’re fighting in the land of a thousand cliffs or a “smoke and fire factory”, the odds of this doing much of use are low.

3rd
Charm Creature ****: See Charm Person, though higher level and non-humanoids are less likely to be in places of authority despite low will.
False Sensory Input ?: Still just as confusing as when Mage got it.
Lesser Domination *****: Still just as good as when Mage got it, and you get it earlier.
Mental Blast ****: A good offensive power.
Mindlink **: It costs less to cast the lesser version multiple times
Negate Psionics: See Dispel Magic, but worse since you will be using a secondary stats.

Dark Matter:
Psycholocate ***: Can break plots, but you can’t really afford the wisdom required.
Skillwipe */*****: If you can wipe out the target’s social skills without them knowing what you’re doing, it’s five stars. Otherwise crap.
Whelming Blast **: A psionic damage power that scales! Too bad the scaling is awful.

4th:
Domination: So little improvement over the lesser version it’s not worth it.
Forced Mindlink: I still don’t know what this is for.
Internal Barrier ****: Stoneskin, but free. Also a rare auto scaling power.
Mindwipe *****: Save or take four, later five, negative levels? No prohibitions on stacking? Yes.
Tailor Memory **: You can’t delete memories, and are limited in duration.
Telekinesis ***: Sadly, unlike caster level, there’s no way to get a manifestor level over 10 in Modern.

Dark Matter:
Power Resistance: See Spell Resistance
Split Mind **: Roll twice for saves is great, but not as important for your best save, and requires an ability score you don’t care much about.
Whelm, Mass ****: Actually a decent damage power.  Fireball with shapeable area and untyped damage is worth the slot increase.

5th:
Catapsi: Garbage. Manifestors have high will saves.
Mindprobe ****: Detect Thoughts, Greater.
Power Resistance: Needs really high wisdom on a charisma based class and the result isn’t that good anyways.
Sending ***: Cell Phones kinda obsolete this, but when playing a psionic character in d20 Modern, odds are high you’re being spied on. Also you don’t need the target’s number to harass them.
Signal Feed: Didn’t mage get this levels ago?

Dark Matter:
Mindwipe **: You’ve got plenty of ways to destroy people who fail a will save already, and they don’t need touch attacks to do so.
Overwhelm **: 々
Restore Mind: Plot spell on spontaneous “caster”. Also based on a stats you don’t care about.
Track Mind: You could already work around the limitations many levels ago, and this needs very high wisdom.

Battle Mind list

0th: (Skips ones shared with telepath)
Far Punch: As terrible as a power as it was as a spell
Lesser Natural Armor **: Minor and low duration, but little for it to not stack with.
Valor ****: Minor effect, but great action economy.

1st
Biofeedback ***: Improves your suitability, but not staying power. (Again, Non-Lethal damage doesn’t actually exist in d20 Modern)
Combat Precognition ****: Long lasting buff of obscure type, even if the result is minor.
Fire Bolt **: Low damage, fixed DC15 save or take 1d6 damage a round till save.
Lesser Bioweapon: Why is this a thing? You literally get Mind-Blade at this level which does this but better, free and as a move action.
Lesser Concussion: Just take Whelm as your Wild Talent power if you want it that bad.
Vigor: No augments and no share powers make this lame
White Noise: See above.

Dark Matter:
Amplify Psi-Blade/Sharpen Psi-Blade *: Even as move actions, these are too luck based to be used reliably.
Black Shroud *: Low, indescriminate damage in a smallish area for a short time. Not useful.

2nd
Claws of the Bear **: It’s called claws, but you only get one for some reason. It’s got a long duration and better damage than your mind blade has, but still not worth taking until you get Bite of the Tiger, and even then is questionable since mind-blades are magic.
Combat Focus *: The casting time makes it worthless
Combat Prescience ****: Low duration, but such bonuses are rare in the system.
Concussion: Even without competing with a cantrip, this is underwhelming.
Darkvision **/****: This can be replicated with gear, but it’s clumbersome, expensive and rather recent.
Electric Charge: Why does the class that can make magic weapons with its mind get some many direct damage powers?
Painful Touch: And ways to make weapons?

Dark Matter:
Hunter’s Stare **: This was questionable as a first level power, and is worse as a second.
Psi Wave ****: Save or suck in good area and the save is based on con.
Pyrokinesis ***: The ability to set fire to objects, which can’t make the save to extinguish themselves (The hardness is too high for it to ever take damage), with no size limit is the main use. Oh bugger the tank is on fire!

3rd
Bite of the Tiger ***: Gives an extra attack that can still be used with your mind blade.
Metaphysical Weapon *****: Not needed for you, but a great buff for any ally.
Improved Biofeedback ****: Duration increase helps this a lot.
Lighting Strike: Why do you keep getting direct damage spells?
Mind Darts: Again I ask…
Negate Psionics: Same issue as rest of dispels.
Whitefire ***: You want this for the save or take fire.

Dark Matter:
Fortify Self ***: Useful if you expect those conditions. Criticals are a bit too random to depend on for a rounds per level duration.
Incite foe: Sounds cool, but gives a save that depends on dump stats
Split Mind ****: Better because you have a bad will save and this has a lower duration.

4th
Fire Storm: Whitefire did its only useful thing.
Greater Bioweapon: 2d6+4 (or 3d6+4 with a feat from Dark Matter) for free, or 2d8 for the cost of your only 4th level power, and 7 power points. Your choice.
Natural Armor **/****: No other source for this buff in modern without Shaman.
Psychofeedback: If you dump the max of 10 points a round you can increase your strength mod (at least it’s not the direct score) by 5 for one round. That’s one attempt at +5 to hit, +7 to damage for way too many resources even before you factor the initial action and power cost cost to start this trash.
Short Sharp Shock: Mage got this ages ago.

Dark Matter:
Ballistic Shield ****: A shame the duration sucks, but this is a notable increase in armor. If you pick this or Natural Armor depends on what magic items you’ve got and what you’re fighting.
Power Resistance: Still garbage.

Psionic Agent:

Psionic Agent is an oddball. Most scattered attributes needed, worst class features, but can be entered from any class with the right occupation (but Fast Hero is the obvious and most practical).

0th:
Detect Poison: It’s their only unique 0th level power. Situational but destroys some plots.

1st:
Call Weaponry **/****: Still good.
Combat Precognition: Still good
Feather Fall: Per Mage
Identify: Per Mage
Less Concussion: Still underwhelming
Object Reading: Per Telepath
Spider Climb: Per Mage

2nd
Chameleon ***: Long lasting bonus to an opposed skill. Unfortunately does nothing to move silently, but may help beat security cameras.
Combat Focus: See Battle Mind
Combat Prescience: See Battle Mind
Darkvision: See Battle Mind
Knock: See Mage
Levitate: See Telepath
Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions: See Acolyte

3rd
Dimension Slide ***: Teleportation, but self-only, very limited (can’t even go through glass) and eats your action. Still has some tactical use, and may allow getting out of cuffs.
Fly *****: One of two ways of getting flight with any kind of meaningful duration in the system (Sorcerer being the other) that isn’t vehicle based. While omnipresence of guns diminishes the defensive value, being able to fly is still really useful.
Instant Reload **/****: The ammo is free, but ammo normally is due to how wealth works. The real use for this is with heavy weapons where carrying more ammo is actually an issue and costly enough to cost something.
Metaphysical Weapon: See Battlemind, but beware this is an Intelligence based power
Prowess *: That’s a lot of PP to blow for one use of a feat. Also unlike Star Wars, AoOs are still melee only in d20 Modern and wis based.
Ubiquitous Vision **: Flanking is still a melee only thing in Modern (I don’t get it either), and it’s wisdom based. Unlike the above, this is at least usable sometimes.

4th:
Dimension Door: See Mage
Fate of One ***: Good, but severely hurt by how late you get this and being wisdom based.
Freedom of Movement *****: See Acolyte
Ghost Shot ***/****: Remember way back at the start where it says creatures that advance by character level actually have decent touch AC? Of limited use against humans (Cover and maybe a couple points of armor), really great against monsters.
Immovability *: This would have been ** or maybe *** as a Battlemind power, but for a class based on movement, this seems like the exact opposite of your job, and requires an ability score you likely don’t have.
Steadfast Perception *: Very small boost to skills (at least they’re good ones) and saves against a very narrow threat. May have been OK at second level with its duration, but no way is this worth your only 4th level power. Also wisdom based.