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.