Thursday, July 29, 2010

D&D Basic Set part 8

CLERICAL SPELLS: The brief run-down of how clerical magic works goes through the basics, such as the fact that OD&D clerics don’t cast spells at first level. It is said that they don’t have to study spells to master them, which just means that they don’t use the Chance to Know Spell table that magic-users do. No, clerics are lucky sods in that they have access to every single spell on their spell list. This was fine when clerics were mostly defensive, and had a small list of spells. But once the spell list expands, and clerics get a host of offensive options, it gets problematic. Thankfully, that time is well out of the purview of Holmes’s Basic Set.


The list of 1st level cleric spells is the same as that from OD&D, with the addition of two new spells: remove fear and resist cold.

Cure Light Wounds: This spell is identical to the OD&D version, with a couple of minor changes. OD&D is often vague about the distinction between rounds and turns, and there it says that the spell cures the target over the course of one turn. The Basic Set clarifies this as meaning one melee round. It also specifically says that hobbits can benefit from the spell (in OD&D they were alluded to with a dismissive etcetera), and mentions that the caster has to touch the target for the spell to take effect.

Detect Evil: Just like the OD&D version.

Detect Magic: Also the same as the OD&D version.

Remove Fear: This spell does what it says on the tin: it lessens fear in the target touched by the cleric. Against magical fear it grants another saving throw (with a bonus), but it doesn’t mention anything about non-magical fear, such as in an NPC who has failed a morale check. I’d be inclined to have it automatically dispel any non-magical kind of fear.

Resist Cold: This spell protects against regular cold, grants a save bonus against cold attacks, and lessens any damage taken from said cold attacks. It’s of a lower level than its counterpart resist fire, probably because the latter is a much more common form of attack.

Light: This is the same as the version cast by magic-users. See previous blog posts for the differences from OD&D.

Protection From Evil: Again, it's the same as the version of the spell cast by magic-users, with all the differences detailed there.

Purify Food and Water: This is just like the OD&D version, but now it has a range of 10 feet.


This spell list is the same as that in Supplement I, with the addition of two spells: Know Alignment and Resist Fire.

Bless: Just like the version in OD&D.

Find Traps: Just like the spell in OD&D.

Hold Person: The major difference here is that the spell’s effect gets a proper explanation. In OD&D it is described as being similar to charm person, with nothing further said. Here it is clarified as the paralyzation spell that we all know and love. Also, in OD&D clerics cast this spell with a greater range and duration than magic-users. In the Basic Set, the cleric does not get these extra bonuses.

Know Alignment: This spell tells the caster the exact alignment of the target, even going so far as to indicate exactly how evil, good, chaotic or lawful he or she is. It’s a handy spell for players, that’s for certain, but a problematic one for DMs. I’m not entirely opposed to the existence of it, but I do think it should be higher level than it is.

Resist Fire: This spell grants a save bonus and damage reduction against fire. It doesn’t work against prolonged exposure though; if you’re stuck in a fire for longer than two rounds, the spell won’t protect you any more.

Silence: 15’ Radius: Just like the spell in Supplement I.

Snake Charm: The only difference from the spell as presented in Supplement I is that the duration is clarified, as hostile snakes are charmed for a shorter time than docile ones.

Speak With Animals: Just like the spell from OD&D.

EVIL CLERICS: They're no longer called Anti-Clerics, unfortunately. Their reversed spells now get actual names; cure light wounds becomes cause light wounds, detect evil becomes detect good, light becomes darkness, purify food and water becomes contaminate food and water, remove fear becomes cause fear and bless becomes curse.

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