Sunday, August 20, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 39: 2nd-Level Magic-User Spells

There are twenty-four 2nd-level magic-user spells in AD&D, which seems like a lot but is a slight relief after covering thirty 1st-level spells in my last post.  Fifteen of these spells have been carried over from the OD&D magic-user list; there would have been sixteen, but in AD&D phantasmal force has been raised to 3rd level.  Eight spells on the AD&D list are brand new: audible glamer, fool's gold, forget, Leomund's trap, ray of enfeeblement, scare, shatter, and (surprisingly) stinking cloudRope trick was a third-level spell in OD&D, but now has been dropped to 2nd.

Audible Glamer: This spell creates illusory sounds, of anything that the caster desires. When used by a 3rd-level caster the volume is equivalent to four men, and every level above 3rd adds an extra four men to that volume.  Examples given are as follows: a horde of rats equals eight men, a roaring lion equals 16, and a roaring dragon equals 24 men (at least). It's said to be very effective in conjunction with phantasmal force, which I believe creates illusions that are soundless.  This spell helpfully provides some guidelines for disbelief: the character must state that he disbelieves the sound before getting a saving throw.
  Material components for the spell are a bit of wool or a lump of wax.

Continual Light: Works like the cleric version of the spell, but it's range has been halved and it can't be reversed as continual darkness. (The radius of this spell has halved since OD&D - from 12" to 6".)

Darkness 15' Radius: Creates an area of total darkness, in which no form of light functions, and infravision and ultravision are useless.  The spell is negated by a light spell, but it's not clear what happens with continual light - I would rule that light negates darkness and has no further effects, whereas continual light negates darkness and also functions as normal.  The spell's material components are a bit of bat fur and either a drop of pitch or a piece of coal.
  The OD&D version of this spell was actually darkness 5' radius, which was probably too small an area to make it worthwhile.  It had a flat duration of 6 turns (in AD&D it's 1 turn + 1 round/level) and a flat range of 12" (in AD&D it's 1"/level).  So the spell was smaller in area, but more potent for low-level casters.  It otherwise functioned much the same (though without the mention of ultravision, which wasn't a thing in OD&D).

Detect Evil: This works like detect evil for clerics, except that range is halved, and the duration is much less (measured in rounds instead of turns). The major advantage for magic-users is that they have a casting time of 2 segments, whereas clerics take a full round.
  The major difference between detect evil in OD&D and AD&D is that the older version of the spell detected evil intent, while the new version flags anyone with an evil alignment.  In OD&D it had a duration of 2 turns (5 rounds/level in AD&D) and a range of 6" (unchanged in AD&D).

Detect Invisibility: Allows the caster to see objects that are invisible, and creatures that are "astral, ethereal, hidden, invisible, or out of phase".  That's a healthy list that's much more useful than the spell's name would imply.  It's material components are a pinch of talc and a sprinkle of silver powder.
  In OD&D the spell was awkwardly called detect invisible (objects), and was used to detect invisible creatures and "secreted treasure hidden by an invisibility spell".  The latter is very specific, and one wonders if the spell was intended for locating other non-treasure-related invisible objects.  The spell had a duration of 6 turns (5 rounds/level in AD&D), and a range of 1"/level (unchanged in AD&D).  The spell has become more versatile since then, at the cost of its duration (although given the tendency to use turns and rounds interchangeably in OD&D, that's debatable).

ESP: This spell allows the caster to read the surface thoughts of any creature within range. It doesn't work on mindless creatures, with undead being given as a specific example.  I would have thought that vampires and liches might be affected, but it's quite clear that the spell is ineffective on all undead.  ESP is blocked by two feet of rock, two inches of metal, and a thin sheet of lead; primarily it seems that the spell is used to detect creatures lurking behind doors.  The material component is a copper piece.
  There's one thing about the spell that doesn't make sense, though.  The caster can probe the thoughts of one creature per turn, but the spell only has a duration of 1 round/level.  A turn is equal to ten rounds, so what happens to low-level casters whose duration is less than one turn?  Do they round up to the nearest turn, or should it be one probing per round instead?  I could go either way.
  The OD&D version of the spell had no guidelines on the number of creatures that could be probed, and no mention of it being ineffective on mindless creatures.  It was said to be blocked by 2' of rock and a thin coating of lead, but there was nothing about metal other than lead. It had a duration of 12 turns (it's 1 round/level in AD&D) and a range of 6" (in AD&D it's 0.5"/level, with a 9" maximum).

Fool's Gold: Temporarily transforms items of copper or brass into gold.  It affects one cubic foot per caster level, but for the purposes of this spell a cubic foot is considered to be equivalent to 4,000 gold pieces.  It sounds implausible to me, but magic's gunna magic I guess.  Anyone who looks at the fool's gold gets a saving throw against their Intelligence score, but the higher the level of the caster the more difficult the save becomes.  The gold can also be detected if struck by an item of cold-wrought iron, which might transform it back to normal, depending on the material component used for the spell.  It seems that the caster needs to sprinkle a powdered gemstone over the metal to be transformed, and the higher the value of the gemstone, the less likely that it will be revealed by this method.  (The requirement for a gemstone defeats one of the purposes I had thought of for this spell: using it to buy things when you're completely devoid of treasure; if you have a gemstone to powder, you're hardly broke.  I'd allow the spell to be cast without the gemstone, but the cold wrought iron method would detect it automatically.)

Forget: Causes 1-4 creatures within a 2"x2" area to forget the last minute of time; every three levels of experience allows the caster to erase a further minute of memories.  The fewer the targets, the more difficult the spell is to save against.  The spell in no way negates charm, geas or quest spells (although I do wonder why Gary felt the need to call this one out).  It can be cured by a heal or restoration spell, or by a wish.

Invisibility: The target is made invisible, and remains so until the invisibility is dispelled, the caster ends the spell, the target ends the spell, or the target attacks someone.  So effectively, the spell can last forever, at least in theory. It works against normal vision and infravision, although it doesn't make the recipient any quieter.  The material component for the spell is an eyelash and a bit of gum arabic.
  Here's a rule I didn't know about before: all creatures with a high intelligence and 10+ Hit Dice or levels have a chance to detect invisible creatures.  There are no concrete rules given about this here. Is it something I've missed earlier, or is it coming in the Dungeon Masters Guide? (Further research tells me that certain powerful characters had this ability in Chainmail, but it seems odd to me to apply it to any creature with enough HD.)
  The OD&D version of the spell works similarly, but is given a range of 24".  It's not entirely clear what this means: could the spell be cast on a target up to that range, or was that the limit within which the recipient could operate in relation to the caster?  In AD&D, the range is touch, which means that the caster has to touch the target to cast the spell, and then the recipient can go off as far as he likes while remaining invisible.

Knock: Opens doors that are stuck, locked, barred or wizard locked. It will also open secret doors, presumably getting around the need to find the relevant switch or trigger.  It also works on chests, shackles, and chains, but it won't raise a portcullis. Weirdly, it only works on two effects per casting; a door that is locked and barred will require one knock spell, but one that's locked, barred and wizard locked will require two knock spells to open.  It doesn't dispel a wizard lock permanently, but simply suppresses it for a turn.
  The OD&D version of the spell worked the same way, but only specified doors and gates, and had no requirement for multiple knock spells to open a single door.

Leomund's Trap: This spell places an illusory trap on any small mechanism, such as a lock.  Anyone searching the device for traps is 80% likely to find it and believe it to be real (with this percentage being less for higher level characters).  As the trap is false there are no consequences for opening or otherwise activating the device - it's simply a harmless illusion intended to scare would-be thieves.  Said thief has a 20% chances of believing he has successfully disarmed the trap (again, this improves at higher levels). The material component is a piece of iron pyrite (also known as fool's gold).  For some reason, only one of these spells can be placed within a 50' x 50' area.  I wonder, does this mean one spell per caster in that area, or one spell overall?  I assume that the purpose of this limit is to stop areas from being overloaded with these things to the point of irritation.
  This is the first mention in D&D of Leomund, whose name will appear on a number of spells in the PHB. Leomund was a character played by Len Lakofka, one of the game's earliest playtesters and a significant contributor to Dragon magazine and D&D as a whole. The character of Leomund is an archmage in the World of Greyhawk, but as with many of that setting's characters there's a disconnect between the history of the character as played by its creator, and the history laid out by TSR.  It's something to consider later on, though I'm inclined to favour the creator where possible.

Levitate: Allows the recipient to float up or down, though it doesn't allow horizontal movement except via pushing against other objects.  The caster can levitate a weight equal to 1,000 gp per caster level.  The speed of movement is 20' per round if the caster uses the spell on himself, and 10' per round on other targets.  The spell can be cancelled as the caster desires, but before you get ideas about levitating creatures in the air and dropping them, it should be noted that unwilling targets get a saving throw.  (You can totally murder your friends though.)  The material component is a small leather loop or a piece of gold wire bent into the shape of a cup.
  The OD&D spell works the same way, except that the spell is limited to the caster, and no weight limit is given.  The movement rate was 6"/turn, which is about three times faster than the speed given in AD&D.  The duration was 6 turns + caster level, as opposed to 1 turn/level in AD&D.  The OD&D spell was seemingly more effective, but being restricted to the caster was less versatile.

Locate Object: This works like the cleric spell, except that it has a range of 2"/level where the cleric spell's range is 6" + 1"/level.  It also has a casting time of 2 segments, faster by far than the clerical casting time of 1 turn.  (Oddly, in OD&D the range for this spell was the same as that given here for clerics.)
Magic Mouth: This spells enchants any object with a mouth that activates under certain conditions and speaks a message of 25 words or less; if the object already has a mouth (such as a statue), that mouth will appear to move in synch with the words.  It can't cast spells, and it can't be placed on intelligent creatures.  The conditions can be as general or specific as the caster desires, but the spell can only distinguish tangible features: things like alignment, Hit Dice, level and class aren't discernible, and it also can't see creatures that are invisible.  The material component is a piece of honeycomb.
  The OD&D version of the spell actually could discern alignment and class, at least based on the examples given.  It was otherwise the same, but that's a pretty major difference.  It probably doesn't matter all that much, because it's not a particularly powerful spell.

Mirror Image: Creates 1-4 exact duplicates, which mirror the actions of the caster exactly. They disappear when struck, and shift around in such a way that if the real caster is struck they can't be picked out with subsequent attacks.  I'd always just rolled a 1d4 to determine the number of images created, but the spell actually uses a percentile roll, with a bonus based on the caster's level.
  The OD&D version of the spell is mostly the same, but it has nothing to say that attackers can't pick out the real caster after striking him, and it doesn't use the percentile roll.  It had a duration of 6 turns, whereas the AD&D spell lasts for 2 rounds/level.

Pyrotechnics: This spell works like the druid spell, which can either create a flash of fireworks, or a cloud of smoke.  The magic-user spell has a range of 12", whereas the druid version's range is 16", and it doesn't require mistletoe.  It's also a little quicker to cast, with a casting time of 2 segment as opposed to 5 for druids.
  In OD&D, the spell had a range of 24" and a duration of 6 turns (the AD&D version lasts for 1 segment per caster level for the fireworks, and 1 round per level for the smoke). The OD&D spell created smoke in an area of 20 cubic feet, but the AD&D spell's area depends on the size of the fire affected, being 100 times the volume of that fire.

Ray of Enfeeblement: Reduces the target's Strength by 25% plus 2% for every caster level above third.  At least, it says that it decreases Strength, but then it goes on to say that the penalty is subtracted from the damage the target deals with any physical attacks.  Obviously the latter is worse; a drop from, say, 12 Strength to 9 wouldn't make much difference to your damage (although someone with Strength up in the percentiles might suffer more).  I'd be inclined to apply the penalty to damage, just as it says, mostly so that the effect works the same way for characters and monsters.

Rope Trick: Causes a rope to stand perfectly straight, and if climbed the rope leads into an extra-dimensional space where the caster and up to five others can hide.  The rope can be drawn within this dimension, but only if there are five people or less inside. Anyone still in the space when the spell expires will reappear and fall to the ground. Apparently any creature that finds the rope can pull it down, but there's nothing written about the consequences of this; maybe it just forces the occupants to drop to the ground when leaving the space?  The spell's material component is powdered corn extract and a twisted loop of parchment.
  In OD&D, the length of rope required was 6' to 24' (it's 5' to 30' in AD&D). The extradimensional space was only able to hold the caster and three others.  Strangely, the old version of the spell does specify what happens when another creature pulls down the rope, and it's pretty much what I said above.  It's weird that it got omitted from AD&D.  There's nothing in OD&D about drawing the rope into the dimensional space, nor what happens when the spell expires. The duration was 6 turns plus 1 per caster level, whereas in AD&D it's 2 turns per level,

Scare: Causes one creature of less that 6 Hit Dice to tremble and shake.  The target will fight back at a penalty if cornered, but otherwise does not attack.  It doesn't work on elves, half-elves, undead, clerics, or demons/devils (only the weakest demons/devils are listed, presumably because those are the ones below 6 HD). The material component is a bit of bone from an undead creature.  I'm not really sure about the utility of this spell, to be honest; only affecting one creature is pretty weak, and it doesn't stop them from fighting back.  Why take out one creature when you can use web or stinking cloud to immobilise a whole bunch? It would probably fit better as a 1st-level spell, in my opinion.

Shatter: Smashes any non-magical object made of crystal, glass, ceramics, or porcelain, with a range of 6" and a weight limit of 100gp per caster level.  The object gets a saving throw against crushing blow to resist, which kind of negates the usefulness of the spell.  Again, this one feels a little too underpowered for 2nd level.  A chip of mica is its material component.

Stinking Cloud: Making a surprisingly late debut is this staple of the magic-user list. It creates a cloud of 2" x 2" x 2", and any creature within must save vs spells or be made immobile and helpless with nausea.  Even creatures who make their save are helpless until they can leave the cloud, and for another round thereafter.  Its material component is a rotten egg or several skunk cabbage leaves.  Really, you can't go wrong with this spell - it's one of the best of its level, just as long as you don't catch your mates in it.

Strength: Increases a single character's Strength score by a number of points dependent on their class: fighters get the most, clerics and thieves are in the middle, and magic-users and monks get the least.  If a score is raised above 18, then each point is equivalent to 10% of percentile Strength.  Characters are still restricted to the limits set by their race and gender, however.  The material component is a few hairs or a pinch of dung from a strong animal.
  The major difference between the OD&D and AD&D spell is in the number of bonus points per class.  Fighters got an extra 2-8 (it's 1-8 in AD&D); clerics got 1-6, which is unchanged; and thieves got 1-4 (which has been raised to 1-6).  There was nothing about how the spell affects magic-users (or monks), so presumably it didn't work for them at all.  If a fighter-type's Strength was raised to 18, the percentile score was rolled randomly rather than based on the bonus granted by the spell.  It had a flat duration of 8 hours, wheres in AD&D it lasts for 1 hour per caster level.

Web: Fills an area with strong, sticky webs, but that area must be anchored on either side by walls, a floor and ceiling, or the equivalent.  Creatures with a Strength of 12 or less are stuck fast, those with 13 to 17 can break through 1' per turn, and those with 18+ can break through 1' per round.  Large, heavy creatures are considered very strong for this purpose, and sufficiently large creatures are said to be able to ignore these webs altogether.  The saving throw for this spell is a little different than usual; if you fail you're caught, but if you succeed you can leap to freedom if you have room; otherwise you are caught in the web, but the part that surrounds you is only at half-strength.  Here's a doozy: any creature caught in the web has a 5% cumulative chance to suffocate to death per turn; I never knew that.  The strands can be burned away in a single round, though any creature within will take 2-8 damage.  The material component is (duh) a piece of spider web.
  The OD&D version of the spell was given as a power of the staff of wizardry, and was somewhat vague.  There was nothing about anchor points, or suffocation, or saving throws, and for some strange reason it only gave the rate to break free for giants, leaving the DM to calculate a proportionate rate for any other creature based on size.  It had a duration of 8 game hours, so it's just as well that the suffocation rules weren't given.  It's range was 3", whereas in AD&D it's 0.5" per level.

Wizard Lock: Magically locks a door, chest or portal permanently.  A dispel magic or knock spell will temporarily negate the effects.  A strong character can break it open, which makes the spell disappear. A wizard 4 levels higher than the caster can also open it automatically.  Unlike hold portal, extra-dimensional creatures can't bust open a wizard lock.
  The OD&D spell is similar, but could be opened by a magic-user three levels higher than the caster.  There was nothing about it being exempt from the rule about extra-dimensional creatures, either.

And that's another step take on my ultra-tedious journey through the PHB spell lists.  I really shouldn't have committed to this much detail.


Martin H. Olsson said...

Even if it's tedious to go through, it's interesting to read. Long and sometimes tempting to skim, but still interesting. (REAL AND GENUINE. NO SCAMS. :)

It's part of what I love about this blog, though if it's that bad I hope you can find some way to change it up and make it a little more fun for yourself even if it means sacrificing a bit of the detailedness.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

Thanks Martin. I was half-kidding with that comment, as I do enjoy finding obscure nuggets in the spells, and comparing the changes from OD&D. It's just taken far too long, and I'm ready for the PHB be to be done with so I can start covering shorter products.