Technology Traits (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Disclaimers and Notes[edit]


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Proprietary Information[edit]

This homebrew rule setting is inspired by various RPG source material. I do not own any intellectual property related to these other than the original ideas represented by my contributions to this website. These contributions are presented purely as not for profit.


I noticed the SRD had an entry for magic traits of a plane but not technology traits, so I decided to create this homebrew rule.


The following definitions are for the purpose of this rule only.


Wikipedia describes "Technology" as "a species' usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species' ability to control and adapt to its environment.

For this rule, Technology is defined as items and special abilities, excluding anything that are part of a creatures' normal nature or due to magic. For example, a dragon's talons are nontechnological for the dragon, but another creature using one as a dagger would be. Likewise, if there is a sword+1, the +1 effect may be pure magic, but everything else is technology.


I use the term "setting" to indicate any setting, evironment, demiplane, region, realm, etc.


Any identifiable group of creatures that are sentient or sufficiently near - sentient or intelligent enough to use tools or learn complex skills.

Native Technology[edit]

Native technology describes the technology that local people in a setting normally have access to without importing something exotic from the outside. Technology that is imported so regularly people think of it as a normal part of their world is considered native technology.

Imported Technology[edit]

Any and all technology brought into a setting by any means from the outside, regardless of wheter the same or similar technology exists within the setting already.

Tech Levels[edit]

Many RPGs have a system for classifying individual technologies into categories or ranking them numerically from advanced to most advanced. Settings, species, and civilizations are also given a tech level. It is presumed that any technology at or below the same level as the civilization is available, and anything above isn't.

A very simple category system[edit]


Any and all technology that is part of the SRD, and similar homebrew technology appropriate for high fantasy or sword and sorcery settings. Typically, anything invented after the beginning of the Renaisance is not allowed.

No Tech[edit]

Technology does not exist. There are either no sentient creatures here, they are creatures that use no technology such as, or the locals live a very primitive existence. Clothing is limited to skins, vines, etc, simply draped or wrapped around the body if locals bother to wear clothes at all, and tools and weapons are likely limited to rocks and twigs locals find.

Lo Tech[edit]

A specific subset of normal technology is available. The most sophisticated equipment, perhaps crossbows and katanas, are not available. Typically the technology available is intended to match a historical civilization or era such as the Roman republic, or a work of literature.

Hi Tech[edit]

In addition to a specific subset of normal technology, settings with this rating also have some slightly more advanced technology such as gunpowder cannons and more advanced sailing ships.


Pretty much every technology that exists, or used to exist, in the real world, might be available, but it may not be available to everyone or common enough that anyone could easily find it.


SciFi and fantasy are mixed here, so both fantasy and scifi technology such as robots, laser weapons, warp drive, etc., might be available.

Other Systems[edit]

Taboo technology[edit]

Local culture often restricts what technology is available beyond the restrictions imposed by tech level. Some groups regard certain items or skills as taboo, or may pride themselves on using certain items. For example, an adventuring party travells to a continent where the only local races that will trade with them are axe - loving dwarves and orcs, elves who worship a deity who hates metal weapons, and humans who are obsessed with katanas. The party's cleric is not likely to have an easy time finding a replacement for his mace in most of the local markets.

Altered Technology[edit]

Usually, when an item is brought into a new setting, it continues to work the same way. Some settings, however, have their own variant laws of physics or are protected by magic from alien technology. This is very rare for most travel; typically it only occurs when travelling between planes, layers, worlds or entering the realm of a deity or other being(s) of truly extraordinary ability, such as a fairie city. The outside technology might be changed in some way or work differently than it would in its native setting.

Forbidden Technology[edit]

Technology that the the local laws of physics, setting - wide magical effecs, etc. does not permit to exist. If someone attempts to bring it into the setting, it may be transformed or simply vanish altogether and be lost forever.

Transformed Technology[edit]

Technology that, when someone attempts to bring it into the setting, is literally transmuted into something else. It might be magically transformed into a different item with the same shape, size, etc., but made with the appearance of being made with locally available materials and techniques (e.g., a calculator might become a crude wood carving of a calculator), or an item from the native technology that has a similar function (e.g., a calculator would become an abacus). When returning the item it might change backk or it might not, depending on the setting.

Affected Technology[edit]

Technology that, when someone attempts to bring it into the setting, works differently than it would in its native setting due to the local laws of physics, setting - wide magical effecs, etc. For example, a pistol looks unaffected, but whenever it is fired in the new setting, it misfires, regardless of die rolls, repairs, etc.


  • Overtechnology is so advanced that the local magic can't make heads or tails of it, so while it still works normally, magic affects it differently. For example, a laser pistol with a +1 enchantment on it might be usable as a club+1, but would act as a nonmagical weapon when used normally. Often, overtechnology tends to be no more effective in personal combat than comparable native technology weapons. This might be because:
  • Most overtechnology devices are difficult to repair or maintain, require vast amounts of ammunition, power, or supplies, or are only usable as part of a fixed infrastructure system, and repair parts, ammo, etc., are virtually impossible to find.
  • More primitive people, magical beings, etc., automatically save against it.

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