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.