Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Brief Hiatus

Yes, I know it's been a while since I've posted here, but rest assured that the blog is not dead.  I still want to post, but the last couple of months have seen me dealing with some difficult personal issues and the emotional stress that comes with them.  I haven't had the mental energy or focus to do any sort of writing, or much of anything else to be honest.  The good news is that these issues are over, and and I'm in a good place right now.  I want to start blogging again soon.

The bad news (at least for readers waiting for the next post) is that the G1 Climax tournament is going on right now.  For those not in the know, it's a Japanese pro-wrestling tournament that is basically a solid month of hard bastards leathering the shit out of each other.  If WWE is the Nickelback of pro-wrestling, the G1 is like the Beatles, or a Mozart symphony.  Basically, it's great, but it also takes up a lot of my time, so I won't be getting back into writing until after it's done. So expect me back somewhere in mid-to-late August.

This is the part where I might ask for some monetary support, but let's be real here: what I write on the blog ain't worth charging money for.  But if you are looking for some more of my writing, I have a novel that's been available on Amazon for a few years. Jack Manley and the Warlord of Infinity is a fast-paced, B-movie sci-fi action adventure, and I have it on good authority that it's excellent (my Mum would never lie to me). So if you'd like to provide me with some lovely feel-good endorphins, please head over to Amazon and buy my book for the lovely price of 99 American.cents - it's totally worth it, and you can find it RIGHT HERE.

So, until my next post, I thank you for your patience (and ask you to forgive me for the blatant advertising).  I'll be back before you know it.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

AD&D Player's Handbook part 38: 1st-Level Magic-User Spells

Notes Regarding Magic-User Spells: Before the spell descriptions begin, there's a short section that mostly deals with magic-user spell components. The most interesting thing here is that casting times are dependent on the caster having all of their components to hand and easily accessible; if that's not the case, a 30-second delay is recommended to rummage in packs looking for them. It's also said that any delay by the player in deciding on a spell to cast will impact on the character's casting time, with every 6 seconds of real-world delay counting as 1 segment of the combat round. It's a way to curtail magic-users somewhat, and it also enforces a certain style of play. Of all the classes, magic-users emphasise preparedness the most, and this rule really punishes players who don't live up to that requirement.

1st-Level Magic-User Spells: There are a whopping 30 1st-level magic-user spells, so grab some snacks, make a coffee and find a comfy chair, because this is going to take a while.  There were only 11 1st-level spells in OD&D, so it's obvious that there are a lot of new spells being introduced here.  All the spells in OD&D have made the transition, although read languages has had its name changed to comprehend languages.  We also have three spells that were in the first D&D Basic Set: dancing lights, enlarge (formerly known as enlargement) and Tenser's floating disc. That leaves 16 all-new spells, which is fine by me, because it's much quicker for me to write about them without doing comparisons back to OD&D.

Affect Normal Fires: Allows the caster to alter the size and brightness of a small fire. It can shrink a fire to as small as a candle, or increase a fire's brightness to equal that of a light spell (2" radius). The amount of light produced changes, but the heat of the fire doesn't, and the change in size also comes with a change in fuel consumption: quicker for brighter fires, lower for smaller ones. It's interesting to note that the spell says you can shrink a fire, but it says nothing about enlarging one; it seems that the only property of the fire that can be increased is its brightness. I had originally thought that it could be use it to set torch-wielding goblins on fire, but it doesn't seem so. Blinding them might be possible, though.

Burning Hands: Creates a jet of flame 3 feet in length, with a 120 degree arc (so it can hit up to two, maybe three opponents). It deals 1 point of damage per caster level, which... is pretty good for a 1st-level spell at high level, I guess, but what do you do with this as a 1st-level caster? Kill swarms of bees? It really does seem under-powered.

Charm Person: Charms any one "person", causing them to believe that the caster is their trusted friend. The spell has a long duration, with the target getting a regular saving throw based on Intelligence; for example, a creature with an Intelligence of 3 gets a saving throw every 3 months, whereas a creature with 18 Intelligence gets a save every 2 days.  The types of "persons" affected by the spell are specified as follows: brownies, dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, goblins, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, hobgoblins, humans, kobolds, lizard men, nixies, orcs, pixies, sprites and troglodytes.

In OD&D, the spell was said to affect "all two-legged, generally mammalian figures near to or less than man-size". The list included sprites, nixies, pixies, kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins and gnolls. The main difference here is that the "mammalian" restriction seems to have been lifted in AD&D, with the inclusion of lizard men and troglodytes. The OD&D spell also put the target under the caster's complete control. The periods of time between saving throws were different in OD&D, mostly skewing towards more frequent saves. Overall, the spell has changed to give less control over the target, but a greater duration on average and a slightly wider range of creatures that can be affected.

Comprehend Languages: Allows the caster to read an incomprehensible language, or understand speech in a language they otherwise don't know. The caster must touch the object to be read, or the creature to be understood, which could cause some complications if said creature is unfriendly. It doesn't allow the caster to read magical writing. The reverse of the spell, confuse languages, prevents comprehension or cancels out a comprehend languages spell.

In OD&D, the spell was called read languages, and it had a vague description about allowing the caster to read directions, such as those on a treasure map. It didn't allow the comprehension of spoken languages, and didn't have a reversed version. The AD&D spell is more versatile, and much more well-defined.

Dancing Lights: Creates one of three effects: 1-4 lights, each similar to a torch or lantern; 1-4 glowing spheres similar in appearance to a will-o-wisp; or one glowing, man-like shape. The caster can make the lights move however they want, and doesn't need to concentrate on them at all. They wink out if they get beyond the spell range. Useful for distractions, luring creatures into traps, or just plain old illumination I suppose.

It's meant to be 1-4 lights, you cheat.

Detect Magic: Like the cleric version of the spell this detects magical radiations, can scan a 60 degree arc per round, and is blocked by a foot of stone, an inch of metal or 3 feet of wood. It's detection range is double that of the cleric spell, though, and has a duration of 2 rounds per level instead of the cleric's flat duration of 1 turn.  The OD&D version of the spell was basically the same, but had a flat duration of 2 turns (which could mean rounds, because OD&D is very screwy with its rounds/turns terminology.)

Enlarge: The caster can make one object or creature larger. When cast on a creature, the growth is 20% per caster level, to a maximum of 200%. On inanimate objects, the increase and maximum are both halved. Magical properties aren't increased proportionately, not even for potions, which must still be consumed in their entirety to be effective. Natural properties, such as strength, weight and durability, are increased proportionately. It's stated that a person increased to 12' in height would be "as an ogre", while someone 18' tall would be "as a giant". Nothing is given statistically for these effects, and with the Dungeon Masters Guide still a couple of years away we can't look at the gauntlets of ogre power and girdles of giant strength for guidance. A look at the Monster Manual might give us a +2 damage bonus for ogre-sized characters; an 18'-tall character would be the equivalent of a cloud giant, and might deal 6-36 points of damage and be able to hurl boulders. At this point, it's all up to the DM.  (That +2 damage bonus for ogres is small, though; a full-strength human gets a damage bonus of +6. Perhaps the +2 could be in addition to whatever the character already gets?)

The spell was in the D&D Basic Set, under the name of enlargement. Curiously, it was more effective on non-living matter than on living creatures, which is the opposite of AD&D. It didn't give any guidelines for characters with increased Strength, so it's no help on that matter.

Erase: Erases any writing from a scroll or a piece of paper, even magical writing (though it doesn't get rid of explosive runes or a symbol). The spell doesn't always work, but it's more effective the higher level you are. I'm sure there must be situations where this spell has come in handy for somebody, but it really is highly specific and not particularly useful for adventurers.

Feather Fall: Causes the target to fall slowly, and thus land without taking any damage. It has a casting time of 1/10 of a segment, so it can be cast almost instantaneously.  It only lasts for 1 segment per caster level though, so at 1st level it won't fully protect from a fall longer than 12 feet.  What I can't figure out is if the spell can affect multiple creatures. It's said to affect an area of "1 cubic inch"; because it's written as the word and not the symbol, it should mean an actual inch, and not a "game inch" of 10 feet. That's weird, because it wouldn't even cover a single creature. Yet the spell does say it can affect "creature(s)", so I don't know what to think. I'd be inclined to interpret the inch as a ten foot cube, and allow the spell to affect creatures within that area up to the weight maximum of the spell. Another curious thing is that the spell can apparently affect missile weapons, which makes for a nice one-off defensive tactic.

Find Familiar: The caster summons an animal familiar that serves them and grants them some extra-sensory powers. The spell can only be attempted once per year, and the caster gets no choice in the type of animal that answers the summons. Most of them are regular animals (cats, crows, hawks, owls, toads, and weasels), and the powers they grant are mostly enhanced sight, smell or hearing. Sometimes there will be no suitable familiar within range, and the spell is wasted, and can't be tried again for a year. Rarely (a 1-in-20 chance) a special familiar will be summoned, dependent on the caster's alignment: chaotic evil or chaotic neutral casters will summon a quasit; chaotic good, neutral or neutral good casters will summon a pseudo-dragon; lawful neutral or lawful good casters will summon a brownie; and lawful evil or neutral evil casters will summon an imp.

Each familiar adds its hit point total to that of the caster when within 12", but if the familiar dies the caster loses double the amount permanently. The special familiars grant a host of abilities as follows:

Brownie: a Dexterity of 18, immunity to being surprised, and +2 on all saving throws.

Imp and Quasit: telepathic communication with the familiar, 25% magic resistance, regeneration of 1 hp/round, and an extra level of ability (!). That's dope as fuck, but if the imp or quasit is more than a mile away the character loses a level, and if it dies they lose four levels, so the risks are harsh. The familiar can also contact a lower plane once per week and ask six questions to help its master. Evil magic-users always get the best stuff.

Pseudo-Dragon: Telepathic communication, the ability to see invisible creatures, 35% magic resistance and maybe a chameleon-like power (it's not as clear-cut with the pseudo-dragon as it is with the others).

Friends: Either increases the caster's Charisma by 2-8 points, or lowers it by 1-4 if the creatures nearby make their save vs spells. The spell doesn't affect creatures of animal intelligence or lower. It requires the caster to rub his face with chalk, soot and vermillion, which would kind of make it obvious that they're about to cast a spell, wouldn't it? And technically, a crowd of onlookers would be split between those that made their save and those that didn't, unless you make a single save for everyone.  This one might be best used to influence a single person, or a small group.

Hold Portal: A spell that keeps a door or gate closed as though it were locked. It can be forced open by normal means, and also opened with a knock or dispel magic spell. A magic-user four or more levels higher than the caster can pass through at will, and an extra-dimensional creature can shatter any portal held with this spell.

The OD&D version of the spell had a duration of 2d6 turns, whereas in AD&D it lasts for 1 round/level.  The creatures that could shatter it were said to be "strongly anti-magical", with the balrog being called out specifically; AD&D has changed this to the more concrete descriptor of "extra-dimensional". There was also no indication that higher-level casters could pass through it at will (although this was in the description for wizard lock, so it's possible it was intended for hold portal as well).

Identify: This spell lasts 1 segment per level, and for every segment the caster has a chance to determine one magical property of a specific item (15%+5% per level). The caster has to hold or wear the item being identified, and so will have to suffer any possible curses or ill effects. An item never reveals exactly how many plusses or charges it has, but an approximate value might be given.

I might be wrong here, but it seems to me that in addition to the percentage roll above, the caster must also make a save vs. magic; if the save is successful the property is revealed. If the roll is one point short, a false property is revealed, and if it's lower than that the caster learns nothing.

The item must be examined within 1 hour per caster level of its discovery, or "all readable impressions will have been blended into those of the characters who have possessed it since". Is it just me, or does this make the spell mostly useless? If you're more than a day away from a large city when you find an item there's no way you'll ever get it identified.  And what about items that recently belonged to someone else? Wouldn't they already have their readable impressions all scrambled?  None of this makes a lot of sense, but it could all be tied into Gary's earlier notions about every creature having their own connections to various planes and pocket dimensions.  Perhaps only items that have been lying unclaimed for a while should be identifiable. It might be that killing the owner breaks whatever is scrambling the impressions. Food for thought.

Not only is there a time limit and a decent chance of failure, but the caster temporarily loses 8 points of Constitution, so it's not really something for one of your adventuring buddies to cast in the middle of a dungeon. Throw in the 100gp pearl that's required, and it becomes a spell that just has too many restrictions to be practical. Something tells me that Gary wanted to maintain the trial-and-error approach to magic items, rather than giving everything away with a simple spell.

Jump: One creature touched can leap 30' forward or 10' back or straight up.  At 4th level the caster can enable two such jumps, at 7th level three, and so on.  The material component is a broken grasshopper's leg.  It's a handy spell for low-level parties, before they get the ability to fly.

Light: Like the cleric spell it creates a globe of light similar to a torch, can be targeted at creatures to blind them, and is reversible as darkness. It has half the range of the cleric version, a much shorter duration, but a faster casting time.

Magic Missile: Creates one or more missiles that "unerringly strike" their target, each dealing 1d4+1 damage. For every 2 levels of experience, the caster creates another missile: two at 3rd, three at 5th, and so on.  They can be targeted at multiple creatures, so long as those creatures are all within a 10' square area. This is the rare case of a spell that gets more useful at higher levels. And there's no cap on the number of missiles that can be created, which could make this spell pretty devastating.

The OD&D version of the spell dealt 1d6+1 damage per missile, and it created an extra two missiles every five levels: three at 6th, five at 11th, and so on. The main difference is that the OD&D spell said nothing about the missiles being "unerring", so they would have required attack rolls to hit (and they were interpreted that way in the Holmes Basic Set).

Mending: Mends small breaks, cracks or holes in normal objects, but can't repair magic items. Requires two magnets or two burrs as material components.  It's another of the AD&D spells with everyday applications but not much use for adventurers, but it still seems like it would come in handy more often than erase.

Message: The caster can whisper a message, point to someone in their unobstructed line of sight, and that target will receive the message. If there's time left, the target can whisper something back. The material component is a piece of copper drawn fine.  Again, it's very situational.

Nystul's Magic Aura: Casts an illusory magic aura on a normal object (with a weight limit of 50gp per level). Anyone detecting magic can hold the object, and will get a saving throw to determine whether the aura is fake.

The biggest thing here is the introduction of Nystul, who will eventually be developed as a powerful archmage in the Greyhawk setting. At this point it's just a shout-out to Brad Nystul, a guy that Gygax had played with. (It's often attributed to Mike Nystul, his son, but that goes against Gary's own recollections and those of some other contemporaries of Gary; I could be wrong about all of this, but there's discussion about it over here. It's also the same guy who became an NPC in some Ultima games, which is pretty rad. I'll quite happily declare them as the same character, unless there are large discrepancies.)

Protection from Evil: Like the cleric spell, it stops bodily contact from all summoned, conjured or enchanted creatures (aerial servants, demons, devils, djinn, efreet, elementals, imps, invisible stalkers, night hags, quasits, salamanders, water weirds, wind walkers, xorn, and any other summoned animal or monster). It also causes evil creatures to attack the caster at -2. It doesn't last quite as long as the cleric version, but it does have a faster casting time. The material component is a powdered circle of silver and iron.

The OD&D version of the spell protected from attacks from "enchanted" creatures, and granted a +1 bonus to saving throws and AC against evil creatures.

Push: Causes an invisible force to strike the target, albeit a weak one of 1 foot pound per level. It can move small objects, topple them, or cause a creature to lose its balance and be unable to attack that round (but the creature can't weigh more than 50 lbs. per caster level). It can also be cast on an attacker's, subtracting the force in foot pounds from the attacker's to-hit roll. The material component is a pinch of powdered brass.

Read Magic: Allows the caster to read magical writing, which is normally unintelligible even to spell-casters. (It's noted that magic-users can read their own writing though, which isn't always true even of regular folk writing in English.)  Once a piece of writing has been read, it can thenceforth be read without the need for a read magic spell. The material component is a clear crystal or a mineral prism. It can be reversed as unreadable magic, which makes the writing indecipherable to read magic for the spell's duration.  The reversed spell has different components: a pinch of dirt and a drop of water. (Clear as mud, innit?)

The OD&D version of the spell was simply "the means by which the incantations on an item or scroll are read". That was pretty much it in its entirety.

(As for the reason that magic-users can't read the magical writing of others, I'm going with the idea that arcane magic is very idiosyncratic, and every magic-user learns and does things in their own way. Part of the reason for this is security, so that other magic-users can't steal their secrets at a glance.)

Shield: Creates a barrier in front of the magic-user that: completely negates a magic missile; provides AC 2 against hurled missiles like axes; provides AC 3 against small, device-propelled missiles like arrows, bolts or manticore spikes; provides AC 4 against all other attacks; and grants +1 on saves against all frontal attacks.

The OD&D version of the spell was much simpler: it granted AC 2 against missiles and AC 4 against other attacks. It lasted for 2 turns, whereas the AD&D version lasts for 5 rounds/lvl.


Shocking Grasp: Gives the caster an electrically-charged touch attack that deals 1d8 points of damage +1 per caster level. It's a lot more useful at low levels than burning hands, and it can deal more damage than pretty much anything else a wizard can use in melee.  Obviously it improves at high level, but probably never becomes more useful than magic missile.

Sleep: Puts a number of creatures within a 3" diameter to sleep, based on their Hit Dice. At most, it can affect 4d4 creatures of 1 HD; it can't affect creatures with more than 4+4 HD, and it's also ineffective against undead. Targets get no saving throw, but they can be awakened by slapping or wounding (but not by noise). It's noted here that one sleeping creature can be killed per slayer per round (a rule that should probably be in the Combat section to cover a bunch of situations). The material component is a pinch of sand, rose petals or a live cricket.

The OD&D spell was similar, but it had different - generally lower - ranges for the number of creatures of each Hit Dice that would be affected. It also wasn't clear whether targets got a saving throw or not (they don't in AD&D). The range was 24", whereas in AD&D it's been significantly shortened to 3"+1"/lvl. It seems as though range was sacrificed for power with this spell.

Spider Climb: Lets the target cling to walls and the ceiling, with a movement rate of 3". What's interesting is that, because the target's hands become sticky, they can't handle light items, which makes spell-casting impossible (at least for spells with material components). That's a bummer, but check it out: this spell has no saving throw. Technically, you should be able to use it as a touch attack that can temporarily disable an enemy spell-caster. The material component is a drop of bitumen and a live spider. Most people would be concerned about eating the spider, but I'd be more worried about the bitumen personally. At least the spider is organic.

Tenser's Floating Disc: Creates a "circular plane of null gravity", a concave disc 3' in diameter. It can hold a weight of 1,000gp per caster level.  (A weight requirement is all well and good, but there's only so many coins that will fit on the disc regardless of weight.) It always floats about 3' off the ground, and always remains level. The caster can command its movements (at a speed of 6").  If the caster moves out of range or the spell ends, the disc disappears and whatever was on it crashes to the ground. The material component is a drop of mercury.

This spell wasn't in OD&D proper, but it was in the first D&D Basic Set. There it functioned similarly, but with a few numerical differences. It could carry a flat weight of 5,000gp.  There was nothing in the spell about the magic-user commanding the disc's movement; it simply followed along six feet behind the caster. It had a range of 10 feet, as opposed to 2" in AD&D. It's duration was 6 turns, whereas in AD&D it's 3 turns + 1/level.

Tenser was described as being greedy for treasure in the Basic Set.  In AD&D he's described as a "famed wizard", known for his ability to locate treasure and his greed to recover every copper piece.

Unseen Servant: Creates an invisible force which can perform menial chores: open doors, hold chairs, clean and mend items, or whatever else the caster commands. It can only carry items to a maximum weight of 200gp. It can't fight, but it can be dispelled or destroyed after taking 6 points of damage. The material components are a piece of string and a bit of wood.  The most obvious use of this spell (and one called out in the description) is as a valet or butler, but there are definite uses for this one in dungeon exploration.  Touching potentially dangerous objects, mostly.

Ventriloquism: The caster can make his own voice appear to emanate from somewhere else (1"/level away, to a maximum of 6").  The voice can be altered to sound like someone else, or to make sounds that the caster would normally be able to make. (Can it be used to impersonate a specific person? It's not 100% clear.) Character with an Intelligence over 12 have a chance to recognise the ruse. The material component is a cone of parchment.

The OD&D version of the spell simply allowed the caster to make his voice issue from somewhere else, to a range of 6". It had a duration of 2 turns, as opposed to 2 rounds +1/level in AD&D.

Write: Allows the caster to transcribe a spell that he doesn't understand (either due to low Intelligence or being too low-level) into his own spell-book. Doing so requires a successful save vs. magic, with success being more difficult for higher-level spells. Failing the save results in the caster taking 1d4 points of damage per level of the spell; this is a mix of psychic and bodily damage that takes longer than normal to heal. It takes an hour per level to transcribe a spell, and during this time the magic-user is in a trance and will always be surprised by enemies.  It also requires fine ink of at least 200gp in value.

As far as I can tell, there was nothing in OD&D about copying spells from scrolls or other spellbooks, so this might very well be the first time this idea comes into the game. I've never used the spell, as we always just assumed that the process was automatic (if time-consuming). I like this method though; it's nice to add a little bit of risk to the obtainment of spells.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 37: 7th-Level Druid Spells

There are ten 7th-level druid spells in AD&D, up from eight in OD&D. All eight spells from OD&D have made the transition to AD&D. Chariot of Sustarre is a new spell, and finger of death has been bumped up from 6th level.

Animate Rock: The caster can animate up to 2 cubic feet of stone per caster level, and it will follow simple orders of about 12 words or so. The only other restriction is that the stone must be a whole object in itself; you can't animate part of a boulder, for example. There are no stats given for combat and the like, but animate object is referenced, so presumably the guidelines there would be used.

The OD&D version of the spell had one major difference, in that the stone being animated had a 30% chance to not obey the caster. This is a pretty big deal, considering that it's a 7th-level spell; for that investment, you'd expect it to work reliably. The AD&D spell specifically states that the stone being animated is mindless, so something fundamental has changed about the spell since then. Perhaps in the OD&D version the spell was infusing the stone with an elemental spirit of some sort? The druids may have grown frustrated with the spell not working all the time, and altered it to move the stone without the need for dealing with elementals.

The animated stone was also given a movement rate (2-4", more for statues), which isn't done in AD&D. The duration was a flat 6 turns, whereas in AD&D it's 1 round per level.

Chariot of Sustarre: This spell creates a flaming chariot, and a pair of fiery horses to pull it. It can carry up to eight passengers as decided by the caster, and anyone else within 5 feet of it will take damage as from a wall of fire. The chariot and steeds can only be damaged by magical weapons or water.  The big thing here is that this is the first mention of Sustarre in D&D.  The spell is named after B. Dennis Sustare, the creator of the druid class.  As for who Sustarre is in the World of Greyhawk, I can't find anything outside of this spell.  Unless something comes up to contradict it later, I'll make him the very first Great Druid.

Confusion: Causes 2-8 creatures within the area of effect to become confused, and act randomly. Actions for confused creatures are checked at the start of each round, with the following results: wander away for 1 turn, stand confused for 1 round, attack nearest creature for 1 round, or attack druid and allies for 1 round. That first option will pretty much take an enemy out for the entire battle, as it lasts for ten rounds. Affected creatures get a saving throw each round with a -2 penalty, but I'm not sure if it throws off the spell completely or simply allows that creature to act normally for 1 round. I would go with the latter. The spell can affect more creatures than the dice indicate, dependent on the druid's level compared to that of the strongest creature affected.

The OD&D spell was automatically effective against creatures of less than 2 HD. It also had a weird delayed effect, where the caster rolled 1d12, subtracted his level, and the result was the number of rounds that the spell was delayed. The spell does clarify that the saving throw is to act normally for 1 round, as I suspected. The "wander away for 1 turn" result wasn't present, the range was 12" as opposed to 8", and the duration was fixed rather than based on caster level. Presumably in-world the spell was altered to get rid of the delay effect, at the cost of automatically affecting weaker creatures.

Conjure Earth Elemental: Summons a 16 HD earth elemental that does the druid's bidding completely, and remains until destroyed, dismissed or sent away by the druid (or the spell ends). The OD&D spell was much the same, although it did have a restriction whereby only one elemental could be summoned per day.

Control Weather: A more powerful version of the cleric spell. It has twice the duration and area of effect, and the weather conditions can be altered by two steps instead of one if greater mistletoe is used.

The OD&D version of the spell was much different, in that it had a set number of effects it could create, and wasn't dependent on the current weather conditions. It was probably a more versatile and powerful spell, but perhaps druids stopped using it because it was harming the weather patterns.

Creeping Doom: This spell summons 500-1,000 venomous arachnids, insects and myriapods, which swarm forth in a 2"x2" mass at a speed of 1" per round. Anything caught within the area that is subject to normal attacks will be killed instantly, as each creature inflicts 1 point of damage and then dies. (Presumably anything with over 1,000 hp would survive, but that's well beyond AD&D's power scale.)  If the mass gets further than 8" away from the caster, it loses 50 of its number for each 1".  I've always loved this spell, if only for its rad name.

In OD&D the number of creatures summoned was 100-1,000, with a 1-3 turn delay until they appeared. It seems as though the OD&D version of the spell could only be targeted at one creature, which would be pursued by the creeping doom until destroyed or the spell ended; the AD&D spell could also be interpreted in the same way. Most importantly, OD&D gives no indication of what happens to those caught by the spell, which is a pretty big oversight.

Finger of Death: The caster points his finger, and the target's heart stops. It doesn't get much simpler than that. In OD&D, the spell had the restriction that it could be used by druids "only when their lives are in the direst peril". Moral standards have lapsed since then, it seems.  The spell now has a range of 6", whereas in OD&D it was 12".

Fire Storm: Fills a 2" cubic area per caster level with flames that deal 2d8 damage to all within (+1 per level of the caster). The area can be shaped by the druid. It can also be reversed as fire quench, which douses normal fire in an area double that of a fire storm (magical fires have a 5% chance per caster level of being doused).

The OD&D spell was almost exactly the same; it had a larger area of effect, but dealt less damage (2d6).

Reincarnate: If cast on a creature that has been dead for no longer than a week, it brings them back in a new body. What the creature is reincarnated as is determined by a random roll, and the vast majority of the results are animals; there is literally only a 21% chance that someone will come back as a PC race, and no chance at all for dwarves, halflings and half-orcs to retain their original race.  Even the character's class might be different, although there are no rules for determining this; it just says that the "character must be created", which to me indicates that while stats are rolled randomly and race is determined by the spell, the player can choose their own class just as they would when creating any other character.  To be honest, casting this spell on a fellow player is the ultimate dick move. I would think that most players would prefer to wait for a raise dead or resurrection.

The OD&D version of the spell simply said that it was the same as the magic-user spell, but with a bias towards animals; no other guidelines were given.

Transmute Metal to Wood: Changes metal items to wood, with a maximum weight of 80gp per caster level. Magic items only have a 10% chance of being affected.  Once an item is changed, it can never be changed back, not even with a dispel magic.

The OD&D spell had a shorter range, and could only change a weight of 50gp per level.

And that's it for druid spells!  I realise that this stretch of the blog hasn't been the most exciting. I do have a tendency to get bogged down in minutiae, but once I'm through the magic-user and illusionist lists it will be a while before I'll be stuck doing this sort of thing again. Until then, I'll try to keep on a regular schedule and finish the Player's Handbook as quickly as I can. Hey, it took me five years to get through the Monster Manual, this is very fast by comparison.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 36: 6th-Level Druid Spells

There are ten 6th-level druid spells in AD&D, up from eight in OD&D.  Seven of those spells have been brought forward from OD&D.  Cure Critical Wounds has been brought across from the cleric spell list.  Fire seeds and wall of thorns are both new spells.  The OD&D spell list had finger of death on it, but in AD&D that's been move up to 7th level for druids.

Animal Summoning III: Works like animal summoning I, but calls up to 4 animals of 16 Hit Dice, 8 animals of 8 Hit Dice, or 16 of 4 Hit Dice.

The OD&D spell is said to be a "quadruple strength" version of animal summoning I, but as with animal summoning II there's no indication of what exactly that means. Hit Dice? Numbers? It's all up to the DM, but I would be inclined to apply it to numbers, as the OD&D spell summoned animals based on size rather than Hit Dice.

Anti-Animal Shell: Creates a globe around the caster that prevents the entrance of all animal life of a non-magical nature. This is a case where the word "animal" is used differently than usual for AD&D, because here it basically means any living thing; giants are specifically called out as being affected.  Undead, aerial servants, demons, and devils are said to be immune, so presumably that rules out any other extraplanar beings. There's a large grey area here for things like dragons and manticores and the like; this is a spell that could cause some real debate at the table as to what monsters count as magical.

The OD&D spell hedged out "basic animal types", such as giant animals, birds, insects, and reptiles, but excluding fantastic animals (centaurs, gorgons, etc.). There's a bit less ambiguity there, I feel, but the spell is also not as powerful. It also precluded those inside the shell from attacking creatures outside, which the AD&D spell doesn't do.

Conjure Fire Elemental: Opens a plane to the Elemental Plane of Fire and summons forth one of the following (determined randomly): a 16 Hit Die Fire Elemental; 2-4 Salamanders, an Efreeti; or a huge Fire Elemental of 21-24 HD.  Because druids are connected to nature and elemental forces, they don't have to worry about the elemental attacking them, and they don't need a protective circle. The elemental pretty much does what the caster wants, and stays until the spell duration ends, or it is killed or dispelled. The reverse of this spell - dismiss fire elemental - can send it back, as can a dispel magic, but salamanders, efreet, and the strongest Fire Elementals can only be dispelled by druids.

The OD&D spell was much the same, but the druid could only summon 1-3 Salamanders, and had no chance of summoning an Efreeti. It also had no reversed version.

Cure Critical Wounds: Same as the cleric spell, except that it needs mistletoe.

Feeblemind: This spell can only be used on a spellcaster, and it reduces the victim's brain to "that of a moronic child". This can be cured with a heal, restoration or wish spell. Various different classes get modifiers to their saving throw, with clerics the least susceptible (with a +1 bonus) and illusionists the most (with a -5 penalty).  Non-humans get a -2 penalty, which I'm not sure how to apply; is it cumulative with the class penalty, or is it instead of the class penalty?  Anyway, the effect of being feeble-minded isn't spelled out at all. Obviously it stops magic-users and illusionists from casting spells, but what about clerics and druids? Their spells are based on wisdom, so the ability should still be there. Although now that I think of it, feeblemind doesn't necessarily just target Intelligence; it targets "the brain". So yeah, I'd rule out spellcasting for all classes, as well as using wands and scrolls and such.

The OD&D spell worked in much the same way, but it could only target magic-users.

Fire Seeds: Creates four acorn fire seeds (that can be hurled as missiles) or eight holly berry fire seeds (that can be set to detonate with a command word). The acorn fire seeds must be thrown, and deal 2d8 damage to anyone within 1" of the explosion. The holly berries are set on the ground, detonated with a command word, and deal 1d8 points of damage to anything within 1/2".  It's nice for druids to get some sort of damage spell (especially one that's not dependent on prevailing weather conditions), but it seems a little weak for a 6th-level spell to me. Perhaps I'm just unfairly comparing it to the magic-user spell list; druids aren't supposed to be offensive casters, really.

Transport Via Plants: Allows the caster to enter a plant and exit from a different plant of the same species anywhere else on the planet. (Actually, it says "regardless of distance" - could it be used to travel to a tree in another dimension, or on another planet?)  There's a small chance (which gets smaller the higher-level the druid is) that the caster will be sent to a plant 1 to 100 miles from the intended location.

The OD&D version of the spell required the destination plant to be one that the druid has seen or heard about (that's not the case in AD&D). It was also limited in that the caster could only use it once per day; the AD&D spell can presumably be cast as many times as a druid wants to memorise it.

Turn Wood: This spell pushes back or splinters any wooden objects in the spell area, although it doesn't affect anything over 3 inches in diameter that is firmly anchored. That's a shame; I had images of a druid knocking a village over, but I figure that houses would count as being anchored.

The OD&D version of the spell is basically the same.

Wall of Thorns: Creates a wall of thorny brush that deals 8 points of damage to anyone that tries to break through (or is otherwise pushed into it). This damage is modified by the victim's Armor Class, so the more defenses you have the less damage you take. (This is a really good mechanic, it's a shame that D&D doesn't make more use of it.) The thorns can't be burned with normal fire, but magical fire burns them away in two rounds; however, for those two rounds it functions like a wall of fire spell, which is pretty rad.

Weather Summoning: This is another powerful yet vague spell: it can do a lot, but it's impossible to give mechanical effects for what it does. In general, the caster can change the weather pattern based on what the current season is: tornados or thunderstorms in spring, torrential rain or a heat wave in summer, fog or sleet in autumn, cold or blizzards in winter, etc. This is dependent on climate as well - obviously things in the Arctic would be different, and I feel like Gary is applying his own personal experiences to the examples given. Still, it might be a reasonable guide to the seasonal conditions in and around the Greyhawk area. The weather takes 6 to 17 turns to arrive after the spell is cast, but it is in no way under the caster's control. Several druids can work together to create even more powerful effects. The power of the spell is dependent on the druid possessing greater mistletoe (mentioned a few posts back), and the effects will be weaker without it.

The OD&D spell works similarly, with a few numbers tweaked here and there.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 35: 5th-Level Druid Spells

There are ten 5th-level druid spells in AD&D, just as there were in OD&D. None of the spells are new; the only alteration from the OD&D spell list is that hold plant (which was dropped to 4th-level) has been replaced by insect plague. Otherwise, it's the rare case of a spell level that has survived relatively unchanged.

Animal Growth: Causes up to 8 animals within range to double in size, which also doubles their Hit Dice and damage. It should be noted that this doesn't necessarily mean that said animals will aid the caster, although spells like speak with animals and charm person or mammal are specifically called out as good ones to cast in conjunction with animal growth. Once again there are no guidelines as to what constitutes an "animal" in D&D, but it's been previously established that it means real-world animals, which also includes dinosaurs. So look out for those double-strength tyrannosauruses.

The spell can also be reversed, which halves animals in size, Hit Dice and damage. But it also lets those tyrannosauruses fit into smaller corridors...

The OD&D version of the spell only affected 1d6 creatures, and was also vague in its mechanical effects: it caused animals to "grow to giant-size with proportionate attack capabilities". Another one for the DM to figure out himself, I'm afraid. It didn't have a reversed version.

Animal Summoning II: Like animal summoning I, but it can summon six animals of up to 8 HD, or twelve animals of up to 4 HD. (Animal Summoning I could only summon eight 4 HD animals.)

In OD&D, this spell was a double-strength version of animal summoning I, which was quite different to the spell in AD&D: it allowed the summoning of one large animal, three of medium size, or six small animals. Whether the doubling of animal summoning II applied to Hit Dice or number of creatures (or both) is not made clear.

Anti-Plant Shell: Creates a barrier that keeps out all living plant creatures, such as shambling mounds or treants. Note that it specifies "living" plant matter; it won't stop clubs and arrow shafts or other wooden weapons. The OD&D version of the spell was much the same.

Commune With Nature: Grants the caster knowledge of the surrounding area, with a radius of half a mile per caster level. The caster can learn one fact per level, which generally means things like terrain, the presence of water, inhabitants, minerals, etc. It only works outdoors, so it can't be used to learn about a dungeon. (What if you cast it at the dungeon entrance, though? Would you then be able to learn things about a subterranean dungeon?)

The OD&D spell was effectively the same, but it specified that the Druid was communing with "higher powers". What those higher powers were was left unclear. Were they gods? Nature spirits? Who knows, but I'm happy to leave it unanswered; not every mystery needs to be solved.

Control Winds: This spell has a simple effect - it can increase or decrease wind force by 3mph per caster level - but the ramifications of that effect are anything but simple. The spell goes into how high wind speeds affect flying creatures, missile fire, structures, and sailing ships. The guidelines are bare bones, but evocative; I'd love to play a high-level druid that can uproot a city block with hurricane-force winds. The spell can be counteracted by the same spell cast by a higher-level druid. It can even be cast indoors or underground, but when this is done the "safe space" around the caster grows proportionately smaller, making the spell more dangerous for the druid's allies.

Insect Plague: Like the cleric spell of the same name, this spell summons a swarm of insects that obscure visibility, inflict 1 point of damage per round to all within range regardless of AC, and cause weaker creatures to flee if they fail a morale check.

The OD&D spell was similar, but didn't inflict any damage, and the creatures that it caused to check morale were a little weaker. It also lasted for a full day, as opposed to AD&D's more reasonable 1 turn per level.

Pass Plant: The caster of this spell can step inside a tree, and teleport into another tree of the same sort within range. Oddly, the range is dependent on the type of tree, and I can't really see the logic in it. Why does an oak tree grant a better range than an elm? Why do deciduous trees give a better range than coniferous? Only Gary knows, and I doubt anybody ever bothered to ask him. Anyway, the caster specifies which direction he wants to teleport, but he can only go that way if there's an appropriate tree there; if not, he is transported to the tree nearest to his desired location. If that tree happens to be in the opposite direction, well, that's bad luck. (This is another spell that's highly dependent on DM fiat; it's unlikely that the DM will have specified the type and location of every single tree in the forest, so it will all come down to the DM's decision, or a random die roll.)

The OD&D version of the spell is basically the same, only with some different range values for the various types of tree.

Sticks to Snakes: This spell is the same as the cleric spell, turning one stick per caster level into a snake (that may be poisonous). The druid version of the spell has a greater range, and requires mistletoe, but is otherwise unchanged.

Transmute Rock to Mud: Transforms a 2" cube per caster level of natural stone into mud. Creatures that can't free themselves from the mud (via flight, levitation or some other means) will sink down and suffocate, which is incredibly lethal if you play this by the book; it's an instant kill with no saving throw, and given its large area of effect could take out a small army in one go. The mud remains until a dispel magic or transmute mud to rock (the reverse of this spell) is cast on it, or until it dries up (a process requiring 1 to 6 days for every 1" cube).

The OD&D version of the spell had a fixed area of 30" square, and made no specific mention of creatures caught within being suffocated. It dried up in 3d6 days, regardless of area.

Wall of Fire: Creates a wall of amber fire that inflicts 4d4 damage (+1 per caster level) to anyone that passes through it, 2d4 to anything within 1", and 1d4 to anything within 2". Certain creatures susceptible to fire, as well as undead, always take double damage. The wall lasts for as long as the caster concentrates on it (or for 1 round per caster level without concentration). It can be shaped as a stationary wall, or a ring that moves with the caster, and only the side facing away from the caster inflicts damage.

In OD&D, the spell repelled all creatures of less than 4 Hit Dice, but it only dealt 1d6 damage to creatures passing through (although it still did double damage to undead). There was no mention of the ring version of the spell being able to move with the caster, and the spell only lasted as long as it was being concentrated upon. It's range was lower, and the area of effect was fixed rather than increasing with level as it does in AD&D.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 34: 4th-Level Druid Spells

Druids get twelve spells at 4th level, nine of which have carried over at the same level from OD&D. Two spells are new (call woodland beings and repel insects), while hold plant used to be a 5th-level spell. OD&D druids could cast insect plague as a 4th-level spell, but in AD&D that's been bumped up to 5th.

Animal Summoning I: Allows the druid to summon up to eight animals of a type of his choosing, as long as the animals have no more than 4HD each and are already found within the spell's range. This is potentially very powerful, but it's also completely subject to the DM's whim, as it's the DM who gets to determine how likely it is that the named animal is present.

The OD&D version of the spell was almost completely different, in that it allowed the summoning of one large animal, 3 of medium-size, or six small animals. Obviously it was lacking in power, but it also didn't have the stipulation of the animals already being present.

Call Woodland Beings: Works much like animal summoning, but instead of animals it calls a set number of woodlands creatures, e.g. 2-8 brownies, 1-4 centaurs, 1 treant, etc. Again, it's up the the DM to determine if the desired creature is present. If there are evil characters accompanying the druid, the summoned creatures will flee if they make a saving throw, and regardless of alignment they need to pass a loyalty check if the druid asks them to fight.

Control Temperature 10' Radius: Allows the druid to alter the temperature up or down by 9 degrees Fahrenheit per caster level - which could get potentially deadly for anyone within range, even though no concrete spell effects are given. If there's one limiting factor it's that the spell is centered on the druid, and there's no indication that the caster is immune to  the spell's effects. It's probably intended more as a way to offset environmental hazards, but if you get a high-level druid who somehow gains immunity to heat or cold, and the ability to raise temperatures by 100 degrees+, that could get very dangerous. The OD&D version of the spell had a maximum temperature variation of 50 degrees up or down, which was probably for the best.

Cure Serious Wounds: Just like the cleric spell of the same name, except that it requires mistletoe to cast.

Dispel Magic: Just like the cleric spell, but it has a longer range and larger area of effect, and it also requires mistletoe.

Hallucinatory Forest: Creates an illusory forest that affects those within it as though it were real. Other druids will recognise the illusion, as will certain forest-dwelling creatures (such as centaurs, dryads, nymphs, satyrs, treants and even green dragons), and the spell can be negated with dispel magic or a reversed hallucinatory forest. There's no indication of whether characters within can attempt to disbelieve, as they can with many other illusions. The only mechanical difference from OD&D is that the original spell had a fixed shape (3" square per level); in AD&D the spell has a larger area and can be shaped into a square or rectangle as the caster wills.

Hold Plant: Can be used to stop/paralyze any form of plant life, including various plant monsters and funguses. It even specifies that it stops plants from making noise, which means that it can stop a Shrieker from doing its thing. Like hold person it can target multiple plants, but it's more effective the less targets there are. As for the OD&D spell, it seems that that version couldn't affect regular plants: as it said, "this spell will affect only vegetable matter which is self-ambulatory or magically animated".

Plant Door: If I'm reading this correctly, the spell allows the caster, higher-level druids and dryads to pass freely through trees and undergrowth, and also allows the caster to step inside a tree trunk and hide for the duration of the spell. For some reason, druids can't hide for as long inside an ash tree, which might make sense to tree-heads but means zilch to me. The major difference from OD&D is that the path created is now taller and wider, and it's length is based on caster level.

Produce Fire: Creates a 12' square area of fire that burns for a single round, deals 1-4 damage to everyone within, and sets combustibles alight. It can also be reversed to put fires out, but to my eyes it seems a little weak for its level. The OD&D spell had a smaller area and a lower range, and didn't specify damage dealt.

Protection From Lightning: Just like protection from fire, but for lightning - meaning that it grants immunity to normal lightning and a hit point buffer against magical lightning. The OD&D spell was different, in that it granted complete immunity to all lightning, but was negated after the first bolt.

Repel Insects: Creates a barrier that wards out all normal insects. Giant types with 2 or more HD can pass through if they make a saving throw, but will still sustain 1d6 damage. It only works on actual for real insects, not spiders and scorpions and such - so it requires some genuine real-world knowledge.

Speak With Plants: Just like the cleric spell, but has a longer duration and a greater area of effect. It also requires mistletoe.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 33 - 2nd- and 3rd-Level Druid Spells

 2nd-Level Druid Spells

There are twelve 2nd-level druid spells in AD&D, up from eight in OD&D. Seven of those spells were taken directly from OD&D: produce flame, locate plants, cure light wounds, obscurement, create water, heat metal and warp wood. There are five brand new spells: barkskin, charm person or mammal, feign death, fire trap, and trip. The odd spell out from OD&D is speak with animals, which was changed to be 1st level in AD&D.

Barkskin: Makes one creature's skin tough like bark, and grants a +1 bonus to AC and all saves except those against magic. It sounds good, but having a short duration and being limited to a single creature really hampers its utility, especially for a 2nd-level spell.

Charm Person or Mammal: This spell works pretty much exactly like charm person, but it can affect "mammalian animals" as well. As with charm person it doesn't mean that the caster can necessarily communicate with the target, so a speak with animals spell might be a good idea. Mammalian animals is a good descriptor to limit the spell a bit - it explicitly rules out fantastic creatures as well as solving the Dinosaur Quandary.

Create Water: The druid can create one cubic foot of water per caster level. In OD&D the spell was based on the 4th-level Cleric spell, which didn't give a precise volume but instead created enough water for a dozen men and horses for a day. As I mentioned when I discussed the cleric version, I'd really like the spell description to include both.

Cure Light Wounds: This is exactly like the 1st-level cleric spell.

Feign Death: The spell description here points to the 3rd-level magic-user spell of the same name, so let's look at that. It lets the caster put a willing recipient into a "cataleptic state" that makes them appear to be dead. The person in this state is still conscious, but they can't move or feel anything, and they can't see. Curiously, any damage done to their body is one-half normal - does this make half of all damage psychological, the result of pain or shock? The one feigning death is also protected from paralysis and energy drain. Paralysis I get, but I'm not sure about energy drain. Perhaps the "life force" is disguised or shunted away somewhere, and so can't be drained? Poison affects them once the feign death spell wears off though (probably because that's when blood flow starts up again).

Fire Trap: Again, this spell points to a magic user spell, this time of 4th level. It can be cast on any closable item (usually a container of some sort), as long as it's the only spell affecting that item. The caster can then open the item safely, but anyone else will trigger a 5'-radius explosion that deals 1d4 damage +1 per caster level (save for half damage). It's harder for thieves to detect than normal traps, though to be honest I'm surprised that the thief roll even applies to magical spells. I've been in two minds over that for decades, but I guess now I can lay that to rest. The druid spell is identical, except that it takes a bit longer to cast. It's a bit weak though, isn't it? I suppose it's good for protection your stuff from regular folks, but against seasoned adventurers it's a nuisance.

Heat Metal: Causes ferrous metal to become blisteringly hot, with the main application seeming to be the heating up of armour with people inside. The spell last for seven rounds. On the first round, the metal becomes warm but does no damage. On the second, it deals 1d4 damage to anyone touching it. On rounds 3 through 5, it deals 2d4 damage and also disables certain body parts. This is where it gets vague. Contact with the head results in 1-4 turns of unconsciousness, which is fair enough. But what about disability of hands or feet, or the body? We get durations for each of these, but no mechanical effects. I can figure out stuff for hands and feet easily enough, but what does it mean to have a disabled torso for 1-4 days? Is the character completely out of action? It's a massively potent spell if so. After round 5 it goes back to 1d4 damage, then to harmlessly warm, then back to normal.

It also causes materials like wood, leather and cloth to burn if exposed, which I assume means rolling on the dreaded item saving throw tables. This spell just gets more and more powerful. It can be negated with the spell's reverse (chill metal), as well as an immersion in water or snow, fire resistance, or being hit with an ice storm. To me, the ice storm damage sounds preferable to being hit with the effects of heat metal.

Chill metal can also be used to damage foes, though it only does half the damage listed. It can also cause frostbite, requiring the amputation of fingers, toes, noses and ears. For a 2nd-level spell, this is brutal stuff.

The OD&D spell worked similarly, but it only stayed searing hot for two rounds, didn't inflict as much damage, and only had mechanical effects for injuring the head and hands.

Locate Plants: The caster can find any type of plant desired within a 10" diameter circle per level. There are no significant changes from the OD&D spell.

Obscurement: Creates a fog that limits visibility to 2d4 feet. In AD&D, the area affected is a 1" cube per caster level. In OD&D, the area was 100 cubic feet per caster level. That's a massive drop.

Produce Flame: The caster creates a flame about the size of a torch in his palm, which can be used for light and to burn things. It can also be hurled like a missile, but it doesn't seem to do any actual damage. The only difference from the OD&D spell is that the missile can now be hurled a little further.

Trip: Causes a length of rope, a vine, a stick or a similar object to trip anyone (including the caster) that tries to step over it. The creature being tripped gets a saving throw. If the target was running, a trip causes 1d6 damage, and if it lands on a hard surface will be stunned for 2-5 rounds (!). That's a bit harsh - if that happens in the middle of combat you're basically dead (depending on your definition of being stunned, I suppose). I'm sure just about everyone reading this has fallen on concrete or a basketball court, and I'd hazard a guess that most weren't stunned for two to five minutes, or even more than a few seconds. I understand trying to make the spell useful, but there's logic to consider, and I just know that this would strain credulity if I tried to use it on my players.

Warp Wood: A spell to bend and warp wood, with a number of practical applications. The description is mostly focused on weapons; at 1st level a druid could warp an axe handle or four crossbow bolts, and at fifth level he could warp a spear. It doesn't seem all that great to use one spell to disable a single weapon, unless that weapon is very powerful. Of more use is the ability to warp doors and chests and the like. The AD&D caster can affect 15 inches of wood per level, whereas in OD&D it worked on about 3 feet per level. Obviously the OD&D spell was much better, but I wonder if Gary nerfed it because casters were warping the shit out of ships and siege engines. If so, I don't know why he bothered - shouldn't high-level casters be able to do that sort of thing?

3rd Level Druid Spells

There are once again twelve spells for 3rd level druids in AD&D, up from eight in OD&D. All eight OD&D spells have carried over into AD&D: pyrotechnics, protection from fire, call lightning, cure disease, hold animal, plant growth, water breathing, and neutralize poison. The following new spells have been introduced to the list: snare, stone shape, summon insects and tree.

Call Lightning: As in OD&D, this spell allows the caster to summon lightning bolts to strike at their enemies, but only if there is already a storm of some sort in the sky. The bolts deal a lot of damage (1d8 per level, plus an extra d8) - more than fireball or lightning bolt - but they're mitigated by the weather constraints, as well as the limitation of one bolt per turn. The major difference from OD&D is that the bolts formerly dealt "8 dice + level of the druid" damage, which could be interpreted as , say, a 6th-level druid dealing 8d6+6 damage, or 14d6 damage. So it's either potentially less powerful than the AD&D spell, or far more powerful. Take your pick, I guess.

Cure Disease: Works just like the cleric spell, but uses mistletoe as a material component. It also shortens the casting time from 1 turn to 1 round, which may be an error.

Hold Animal: Paralyzes a number of animals (birds, mammals or reptiles), with a total body weight equal to 400 lbs. per caster level. (For some reason, non-mammals are more resistant to the spell, and only 1/4 as many can be affected.) The druid can split the spell between up to four targets (within the weight limit, keep your encyclopedias handy people), but the more targets there are the less likely the spell will be effective. The spell has a number of changes from OD&D, the first being that fish are specified as being affected by the earlier version of the spell. Only 200 lbs./level of mammals could be affected (although non-mammals were still 100 lbs./level), the range was increased from 6" to 8", and the duration cut from 1 turn + caster level to 2 rounds/caster level.

Neutralize Poison: Same as the cleric spell, but druids get it a whole level earlier, and can cast it a little bit quicker (5 segments vs. 7 segments).

Plant Growth: The druid causes pre-existing plant life to grow and create a barrier that slows movement down to 1" per round (or 2" for creatures of larger than man-size). The area affected grows larger the more levels the druid has, and can be shaped as the caster wishes. The major difference from OD&D is that the earlier version of the spell affected a flat area of 30" square (though it could still be shaped by the caster), and the range was only 12" as opposed to 16" in AD&D.

Protection From Fire: The effect of this spell differs depending on the target. If a druid casts it on himself, he becomes totally immune to regular fire, and gets a buffer of 12hp/level against magical fire - he's effectively immune to magical fire until that buffer is used up. When cast on someone else, the target is immune to regular fire, and gets a +4 bonus and 50% damage resistance to magical fire.
  The OD&D version of the spell was different, in that it only granted druids immunity to magical fire for a single turn (or round, OD&D was screwy with the terminology). To others it gave the same protection as a ring of fire resistance, which was immunity to normal fire, a +2 save bonus against fireballs and dragon breath, and -1 from every die of damage caused by those attacks as well as Balrog immolation. Gary has beefed this one up by quite a bit.)
  (Can I just mention how irritating it can be to look things up in old-school D&D? The druid spell directed me to the ring of fire resistance, which referred me to the potion of fire resistance, a process that can really slow things down at the table.)

Pyrotechnics: This spell requires a fire of some sort, and has two effects: a blinding fireworks display, or a cloud of obscuring smoke. The main difference here is that the OD&D version of the spell never specified any mechanical effects; the fireworks in particular had no obvious application, and using them to blind your enemies would have required you to convice the DM.

Snare: The druid creates a snare from a rope or a vine or something similar, and it will contrict around the "member" of any creature that steps inside it. (Gary's words, not mine.) The snare is 90% undetectable without magic, and it's very difficult to break: a Strength of 23 is required during the first hour, and every hour after that the requirement to break it drops by 1. The target will be freed regardless after 12 hours. It doesn't sound like a great spell, until you get into how difficult the thing is to escape - 23 Strength isn't all that common (although I guess the far more common dispel magic would also do the trick).

Stone Shape: A super-versatile spell that allow the caster to reshape stone to his will, to a volume of 3 cubic feet + 1 foot/level. It doesn't allow for fine detail, but I could see clever players wreaking all sorts of dungeon havoc with this thing.

Summon Insects: The caster can summon a swarm of flying insects (70% likely) or crawling insects (30% likely) that will attack a single target dealing 2 points of damage per round. Ideal for disrupting spellcasters, I'd say. When underground, there's also a chance that 1-4 giant ants might be summoned.

Tree: Transforms the druid into the shape of a small tree, shrub or a large dead tree trunk. The druid is fully aware of what's going on around him, and can change back at any time. Nothing is said about what might happen if the druid is chopped with an axe, or burnt (my instinct would be to have them take damage, seeing as they're able to change back and defend themselves at will).

Water Breathing: A spell that allows creatures to breathe underwater. It can also be reversed as air breathing, and allow aquatic creatures to come up on land. The OD&D version wasn't reversible, and had a flat duration of 12 turns, as opposed to 6 turns/level in AD&D.

Monday, February 06, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 32: 1st Level Druid Spells

Before the book gets into the spell descriptions for druids, it goes into the use of mistletoe (or holly and oak leaves) as a druidic holy symbol. Every druid spell with material components requires one of these plants, and the type used affects the range, duration and area of the spell (and possibly saving throws in some cases). Oak leaves are the weakest (reducing said factors to 50% normal), then holly (about 75%), then borrowed mistletoe (that which hasn't been personally harvested by the caster), then lesser mistletoe. To get the full effect of a spell the druid requires greater mistletoe, which must be harvested at Midsummer's Eve with a gold or silver sickle, and caught in a bowl before it touches the ground. (This is all great flavour, but it sounds like hell to adjudicate in the game. I doubt the rule gets used much; it's the first time I've ever seen or heard about it.)

And now, the spells. Druids in AD&D get twelve 1st-level spells, up from six in OD&D. Those six were predict weather, locate animals, detect snares & pits, detect magic, purify water and faerie fire; all of them have carried over to AD&D. In addition they get five all-new spells (animal friendship, entangle, invisibility to animals, pass without trace, shillelagh) and one ported over from the 2nd-level cleric spell list (speak with animals).

Animal Friendship: Allows the caster to befriend any animal of semi-intelligence or less. The animal will follow the caster around, and can be taught three simple tricks per point of Intelligence. This training takes a week per task, and must be done within three months of casting the spell. The druid can so befriend more than one animal, but is limited to a total Hit Dice of no more than twice his level. The spell is basically permanent, which pretty much guarantees any starting druid character at least one or two pets/sidekicks.  (Once again, though, the Dinosaur Quandary rears its head: is a dinosaur an animal for game purposes? Game balance says no, but Rad's Law* says yes.)

*Rad's Law: If it's rad, go with it.

Detect Magic: It's the same as the cleric version of the spell, only it lasts a little longer, has a slightly longer area of effect, and takes less time to cast.  (It's range and duration are less than they were in OD&D.)

Detect Snares & Pits: When in "the underground" (which I assume to be another word for a dungeon), it detects only simple pits and no other types of trap. Outdoors it detects all forms of trap, with specific examples given being deadfalls, missile traps, and snares. The OD&D version of the spell would only function outdoors, but it had a duration of over an hour, whereas the AD&D version has a duration of 4 rounds per level.

Entangle: Causes any nearby plants to wrap around and immobilise any creatures within a 4" diameter for 1 turn. Targets that make their saving throws can still move at half their normal movement. (No consideration is given here for the size and strength of any affected creature, so things are left to the DM's discretion here.)

Faerie Fire: Outlines multiple creatures or objects with a glowing light (the higher the caster's level, the more targets can be affected). The glow doesn't harm the target, but makes them easier to see and hit when in the dark. (The OD&D spell seemed to only affect one target, and gave no explicit mechanical advantages.)

Invisibility to Animals: Makes one creature touched completely undetectable by normal animals with an Intelligence under 6. Finally, we get a definition of what a normal animal is: "Normal animals include giant-sized varieties, but it excludes any with magical abilities or powers". The tyrannosaurus rex is specifically called out as  being affected by the spell, and so the Dinosaur Quandary is solved (and just five paragraphs after I named it).

Locate Animals: The caster faces a direction and concentrates on a type of animal, and the spell tells him if it is with range. The OD&D spell was basically the same.

Pass Without Trace: The target can move through any terrain, and leaves behind no tracks or scent. It should be noted, though, that he does leave behind a trail of magic, and could still be tracked that way.

Predict Weather: The druid knows the exact weather conditions within 9 square miles, for a length of time equal to 2 hours per caster level. The OD&D version of the spell allowed a flat forecast duration of 12 hours, but had a range of 2 square miles per level, and so gave a much greater spread of knowledge. It was also only 95% accurate, whereas the AD&D spell gives 100% accuracy.

Purify Water: Makes one cubic foot per level of water safe for consumption, and can be reversed to contaminate a like volume. It even works on holy/unholy water. The OD&D version of the spell was exactly like the cleric spell purify food & drink, but worked only on water.

Shillelagh: Aside from being fun to say, this spell transforms any oaken cudgel into a weapon that deals 2-8 damage and has a +1 bonus to hit. Not the best spell, but handy when confronted with monsters that are immune to regular weapons.

Speak With Animals: Works exactly like the cleric version of the spell, but is quicker to cast and has a longer range. The druid also gets it as a 1st-level spell, as opposed to 2nd-level.