Wednesday, June 15, 2016

AD&D Players Handbook part 25: 1st Level Cleric Spells

Cleric Spells - 1st level: AD&D clocks in with a dozen 1st-level spells for clerics, which is up from the meagre six that they had in OD&D.  Those six OD&D spells have all made the transition to AD&D: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Light, Protection From Evil and Purify Food & Drink.  Bless used to be a 2nd-level spell.  Create Water has been dropped from 4th level back to 1st (a pretty hefty drop; I'm pretty sure I mentioned how absurdly high-level this spell was when I covered it the first time).  Command, Remove Fear, Resist Cold and Sanctuary are all new.

Before I begin on the spells themselves, there are a few notes about cleric spells.  It's mentioned that material components are consumed in the casting of the spell, except for religious items such as holy symbols and prayer beads.  The connection between cleric alignment and certain spells is also discussed.  Spells that promote harm (especially those spells that are the reversed versions of "good" spells) should be used with care by good clerics, or they risk alignment change.  The same is true for evil clerics, and spells that promote good.  In regard to reversible spells, the version to be cast must be chosen when the spell is prayed for, and not when the spell is cast.  It's reiterated that a spell won't always be granted by the cleric's deity, and higher-level spells are more likely to be withheld.

The first thing that pops out on glancing at the spell entries is how organised they are.  Everything is codified and standardised, a far cry from the loose, free-wheeling tone of OD&D.  It's a blessing and a curse, although I think AD&D hits a decent middle ground with it.  Every spell has been categorised into a certain type/school, and it's clearly noted which spells are reversible.  Range, duration, area of effect, and whether the spell has a saving throw are clearly marked.  The spell components for each spell are described, as well as whether the spell requires spoken words or hand gestures.  It covers everything, and in many ways this is the most well thought out section of the three core AD&D books.

Bless: Bless has been dropped from 2nd level to 1st.  It's now been categorised as a conjuration/summoning spell.  The duration remains the same, but it's been given a range and an area of effect.  Otherwise it's the same, granting a +1 bonus to morale and attack rolls on friendly creatures who are not in combat.  The reversed version, Curse, inflicts a -1 penalty on morale and attacks.  (Strangely, the OD&D version of Curse inflicted it's targets with Grippe, a disease from Supplement II: Blackmoor which is basically the flu.)  Bless requires holy water to cast, while Curse requires "specially polluted water".

Command: An enchantment spell that allows the caster to issue a one-word command.  Undead are immune to it, and creatures with 13+ Intelligence or 6+ Hit Dice get a saving throw.  I've always been fond of this one; I even had a player throw a tantrum and leave the table when I used it to simulate a Finger of Death on his 2nd-level character (it was all fine, he calmed down when his character woke up a round later).  The command of "suicide" is ruled out, because it's a noun, but then again there is a bit saying that the command must be in a language the target can understand.  Language being what it is, some languages are going to have different words than others, and there's bound to be one in which "suicide" is a verb.

Create Water: Dropped from 4th level to 1st level, as it should be.  The OD&D version created enough water for a dozen men and horses for a day (doubled for every level of the cleric above 8th).  The AD&D version creates four gallons of water per experience level of the caster.  I like the practicality of the former presentation, but it implies a certain spell function that might discourage players from using the spell creatively.  I would have preferred the two approaches side by side, but I suppose an extra bit of math isn't too difficult.  The spell can be reversed as Destroy Water (new to AD&D), which does pretty much what it says.

Cure Light Wounds: Heals 1d8 points of damage to any living creature touched (in OD&D the amount healed was 1d6+1).  New to AD&D is the restriction that it doesn't work on creatures that can only be hit by iron, silver or magical weapons.  The reverse, Cause Light Wounds, does damage rather than healing.  (The OD&D version was another weird case of a spell causing Grippe.  That crazy Dave Arneson!)

Detect Evil: A divination spell that detect "emanations of evil" from any creature or object (it can be reversed to detect good as well).  It specifically notes that "evil alignment" is something picked up.  In OD&D there was some wiggle room, as it said that the spell detected "evil thought or intent".  In AD&D, if you're alignment is evil, you'll be pointed out by a detect evil spell.  Deal with it.  The range of this spell is the same as it was in OD&D, but the duration has been altered.  It starts lower, but increases with caster level, so eventually it will last longer than the OD&D version.  The cleric has to hold his holy symbol out to cast the spell, so doing it on the sly isn't really an option.

Detect Magic: Divination magic that detects magical radiations.  The range and duration of this spell have been halved.  Otherwise it works as in OD&D, with the added clarification that it can be blocked by a foot of stone, 3 feet of wood and about an inch of metal.

Light: Alteration magic that creates a light equal to torchlight by "exciting molecules".  The diameter is a little larger than it was on OD&D, but the duration is halved.  The major difference is that it can be used as an attack spell, effectively blinding the target.  It's not made clear if the spell can be made mobile - can the light be made to follow you, or can it be cast on an object and then carried like a torch?  I've always played it that way, but it says nothing here on the matter.  As in OD&D, the spell can be reversed as Darkness (albeit with a duration half as long)

Protection From Evil: An abjuration spell that creates a field of protection around the caster.  It prevents bodily contact from enchanted or conjured creatures, and this is clarified with a specific list: aerial servants, demons, devils, djinn, efreet, elementals, imps, invisible stalkers, night hags, quasits, salamanders, water weirds, wind walkers and xorn.  It also works this way on summoned animals and monsters.  (Though I wonder, it does specify "bodily contact" - could they still hit you with a weapon?)  In addition, the person protected has a +2 bonus to saving throws against attacks from evil creatures, and evil attackers suffer a -2 to hit.  (In OD&D, they were +1 and -1 respectively.)  The duration of the spell has been changed from 12 rounds to 3 per caster level: it starts lower, but won't stay that way for long.  As in OD&D, it can be reversed as Protection from Good.  For Protection from Evil, the caster to sprinkle a ring of holy water on the ground, or burning incense in the air.  Protection from Good requires blood, or (my favourite) smoldering dung.

Purify Food & Drink: An alteration spell that makes a cubic foot of food and water safe for consumption.  At higher levels it affects a greater amount of food.  It will also ruin unholy water.  The reverse spoils food and holy water.  (In OD&D the spell affected enough food to serve a dozen people, so at least at low levels it's been weakened.)

Remove Fear: A new spell that grants a bonus to saving throws against magical fear.  Surprisingly, there's no mention made here of how it affects morale (probably not at all).  It can be reversed as Cause Fear, which causes the target to run at top speed away from the caster.  The duration of this 1 round per caster level, which makes me want to try it out with a high-level NPC - the idea of one of my players running like hell for 10 rounds or more is amusing to me.

Resist Cold: A new spell that totally protects the target from natural cold - even in the nude.  (Thanks for the clarification, Gary.)  Against magical attacks and breath weapons, it grants a save bonus and drops the damage sustained by half.  It's a damn good spell mitigated only by the rarity of monsters that use cold-based attacks.

Sanctuary: Another new one.  As I understand it, it makes it so that a single creature ignores the caster totally.  The spell is broken if the cleric takes any offensive action, but otherwise he is completely protected from attack from that one creature.  I'm not sure how useful this is, as most combats involve multiple foes, but I suppose in a fight with one powerful foe it could keep the cleric alive to provide support.

Friday, June 03, 2016

AD&D Players Handbook part 24: Time, Distance and Spells

Time: This is just a quick paragraph that notes the importance of keeping track of time in the campaign.  Like a lot of things in the PHB, it brings up the general concept then passes all responsibility for the specifics on to the Dungeon Master.  I assume that there'll be more concrete rules in the DM's Guide.

The most important thing here is the codification of turns, rounds and segments, used to track time during dungeon exploration.  A turn is 10 minutes, a melee round is 1 minute, and a segment is 6 seconds.  Again this isn't explained further here, but I wanted to bring it up because the terminology was pretty loose in OD&D: turns and rounds were tossed out interchangeably.  From this point on, the game tightens up on this kind of thing.

Distance: The main thrust of this section is the rule that ranges for missiles and spells are effectively tripled when aboveground.  Every ranged attack in the game has a value denoted with the " symbol - when underground it represents 10 feet, and when aboveground it represents 10 yards.  The rule is intended to simulate the idea that you can fire arrows and such further without the impediment of a roof, and the darkness of the dungeon.. Works for me.

It's important to note that this conversion is only done for range, and not for area of effect.  It's so important that Gary writes a whole sentence in ALL CAPS.  Basically, a fireball shouldn't triple in size just because you're outside.

Monster, The Term: Possibly the most pointless section of the book, in which Gary notes that the term monster is used to describe pretty much any creature you can encounter.  I guess some people need to be told that not all monsters are evil?  Ah well, it's not like it takes up much space.

Character Spells: And now we reach the section I've been dreading the most: the spell list.  I'm not going to start on that today, but I'll do the preliminary stuff.

The most interesting tidbit here comes in the description of how cleric spells function.  Clerics have to pray for their spells (in advance, of course).  Spells of 1st through 4th level are granted to the cleric by lesser servant of the cleric's deity, and it seems like there's not much limit on those.  Higher level spells, however, can only be granted by the deity directly, and this is subject to all sorts of factors.  The door is opened here for the DM to require that a cleric makes sacrifices and atonements for high level spells, which could get really annoying.  I'd be inclined to ignore this except in extreme circumstances, such as a severe alignment deviation.

There's not much that's new in the section on magic-users.  It's the same standard, Vancian system from OD&D, which is fine by me.  D&D just ain't D&D without it.