Thursday, September 07, 2017

AD&D Players Handbook part 40: 3rd-Level Magic-User Spells

There are twenty-four 3rd-level spells for magic-users in AD&D.  In OD&D there were 18, and all but one of them has made the transition at the same level (rope trick got demoted to level 2).  Phantasmal force got bumped up to 3rd-level (it was 2nd in OD&D).  Five spells are brand-new: blink, feign death, flame arrow, gust of wind, Leomund's tiny hut, and tongues (although feign death and tongues have appeared previously in the PHB).

Blink: This spell causes the caster to "blink" in and out of the material plane in a random pattern.  The segment of the round in which the magic-user disappears is randomly determined using 2d4.  When the magic-user reappears, he will have moved to a space 2' distant from where he started, in a random direction.  There's a chance here that the caster can reappear in a solid object, which might result in being trapped in the Ethereal Plane.  The caster can't be attacked for the rest of the round after he reappears, unless it's by an attack that can reach both his starting position and the place he reappeared (such as an area affect like a fireball).  While blinking, the caster can make melee attacks normally, but any other activity has a 25% chance of failure.  This is a great spell, with just enough minor risk involved to deter players from over-cheesing it.

Clairaudience: Allows the caster to listen in on any area that he's familiar with, regardless of range (although it only works on the plane where it was cast).  It can also be cast to listen in on unfamiliar locales that are obvious and close by, such as the opposite side of a door, but it can be blocked by a thin metal sheet.  Its material component is a silver horn worth 100gp, which is consumed in the casting.
  The AD&D version of the spell is now far more powerful than it used to be.  In OD&D it could only be used to listen to areas close by, although this could be extended by using a crystal ball.  The older version of the spell could be blocked by over 2' of solid rock, or a thin sheet of lead, whereas the new version is stopped by any type of metal.  It also didn't require the silver horn; I'd be tempted to allow for short-range use of the spell without the horn.

Clairvoyance: This spell works like clairaudience, except that the caster can magically see from the area he chooses.  As with clairaudience the spell has an unlimited range within the same plane on which it was cast, provided that the area chosen is familiar, but sight is dependent on light being present in the area to be "clairvoyed".  (It must be a word, Gary uses it in the spell description.)  If it's dark, vision extends to 1", otherwise it's to the extent of normal vision.  Metal sheeting or magical protection will block it.  The material component is powdered pineal gland from a humanoid creature.  It's odd that this spell has a less valuable component than clairaudience; I would have thought sight more useful for scrying than hearing, or at the very least equal in importance.
  The OD&D version of the spell only had a range of 6", so it's much less powerful.  It last longer, though: 12 turns as opposed to 1 round/level.  Lead stopped the OD&D spell, whereas the AD&D spell is stopped by any metal.  It also wasn't necessary to powder some poor buggers eyeball to cast it, either.  Like clairaudience, I might be willing to let a caster use the short-range version if they don't have the necessary component.

Dispel Magic: Works like the cleric version of the spell, but its range is doubled and its casting time is halved.
  The OD&D version of the spell was written as dispell magic.  It had a range of 24", as opposed to 12" in AD&D.  It also had a duration of 1 turn, whereas in AD&D the duration is "permanent".  For some discussion of what this "permanent" duration means, and the new method for determining if a dispel is successful, follow the link above.  My conclusion then was that the OD&D spell is much more likely to succeed.

Explosive Runes: The caster can place these runes on a book, map, scroll or similar object, and anyone who reads them will trigger a blast that does 12-30 damage to the reader (no save) and the same amount to everyone within 1" (save for half).  The object the runes were placed on will also be destroyed, unless it's immune to magical fire.  The caster, and anyone else they instruct, can avoid triggering the runes.  A magic-user has a 5% chance per level of detecting them; thieves can also find them, but they only get a 5% chance in total. The runes last forever, until dispelled, or until removed by the caster.
  In OD&D the runes could only be placed on parchment, whereas AD&D allows the caster to place them on anything that contains writing.  This means that in OD&D there was no need to specify that some of these items won't be destroyed in the blast.  The blast only affected the reader, and dealt 4-24 damage. There was nothing about thieves being able to detect explosive runes, but magic-users two or more levels higher than the caster had a 50% chance to find them and a 75% chance to remove them.  Obviously, this spell's been upgraded to be more difficult to detect, and can only be magically removed with dispel magic.

Feign Death: This spell is new to AD&D, but appeared earlier in the PHB as a cleric spell.  It allows the caster to place himself or a target equal to or lower than his own level in a death-like trance.  (Clerics don't have this limit, and can use the spell on creatures of any level/Hit Dice).  The target can hear and smell, but can't see or feel, and won't react to being wounded. Any attack on the body only deals half damage.  (I think I said this when I covered the cleric spell, but the implication here is that half of all damage is due to shock and mental trauma.)  The target is immune to paralysis, poison and energy drain, but can still be poisoned (which takes effect when the spell wears off).  It only works on a willing target, and can be ended by the caster at any time. 

Fireball: Hey look, it's fireball, aka the best of all spells.  I'm sure nobody reading this needs me to go over what it does, but here goes.  Fireball creates a 2" radius explosion that deals 1d6 damage per caster level (save for half).  The fire ignites combustibles, and can melt soft metals (you know, gold, silver, copper, all the valuable ones).  Basically, any item caught in the fireball needs to make a saving throw to avoid destruction, although items on a person who makes their save are considered unaffected.  Here's a new one on me: the caster actually has to point their finger and speak the range at which the fireball will explode.  I don't think there are any other spells that require this, and perhaps Gary meant it to apply to the player rather than the character, but a guy shouting "150 feet" before loosing destruction is weird enough for me to like it.  A fireball "conforms to the shape of the area in which it occurs, thus covering an area equal to its normal spherical volume".  As I understand it this means that a fireball expands to fill 33,000 cubic feet, but I find the wording a little vague.  And then there's the bit where Gary says that it fills "33,000 feet [or yards]" - is this an error?  I thought the feet-to-yards conversion when outside only applied to spell ranges, not area of effect.  As everyone knows, the material component for fireball is a ball of sulphur and bat guano.  Or as we call it in the real world, "poo".
  In OD&D the spell was written as fire ball (two words), and didn't require the caster to shout the range out loud.  The language used to describe the fireball expanding to fill its space is clearer in OD&D - it actually uses the word elongate, so there's no ambiguity at all.  The OD&D spell had a range of 24", whereas in AD&D it's 10"+1"/level.  Otherwise, it's the same in damage and area, but there was nothing about it destroying items.

Flame Arrow: The caster can ignite arrows and crossbow bolts by touching them. One such missile can be ignited per segment, and the spell lasts for 1 segment per caster level.  These missiles are considered to be magical, and they deal +1 damage against creatures vulnerable to flame, but otherwise they get no bonuses at all.  The missile must be fired within 1 round, or it will be consumed by fire.  Its material components are a drop of oil and a small piece of flint.  Is it just me, or is this spell super-weak?  Sure, you can set things on fire from a distance, and damage creatures that can only be hit by magic weapons, but what else?  If you fired it an ogre, would you really only get a +1 damage bonus and nothing else?  There's no way it's worthy of being 3rd level.

Fly: Lets the target fly at a speed of 12" per move.  The speed is halved when ascending, and doubled when diving.  The spell lasts 1 turn/level + 1d6 turns, and the duration is always kept secret from the caster so that there's a chance of the spell ending while they're still in mid-air.  This spell hasn't changed one bit from OD&D, which is a genuine rarity.  Its material component is a bird's wing feather.

Gust of Wind: Creates a "strong puff of air" that can blow over light objects, blow out candles and torches, possibly extinguish lanterns (5% chance per caster level), fan larger fires out 1' to 6', force small flying creatures back, check the movement of man-sized flying creatures, and slow large flying creatures by half.  It's range is 1" per caster level, and the material component is a legume seed.  It's another spell that seems under-powered for 3rd level as written, but I could definitely see some creative uses for it.

Haste: Causes all targets (one per caster level) within a 4"x4" area to move and act at double speed. This means that movement rate is doubled, as well as number of attacks, although it doesn't apply to spell-casting. (Possibly there's a level of precision and timing involved with spell-casting that means it can't be performed any faster than usual.)  It negates the slow spell.  There's a line here about recipients of the spell being prematurely aged, but no numbers are given (they'll presumably come in the DMG).  It's material component is a shaving of licorice root
  The OD&D version of this spell was called haste spell, and it was hella-vague.  It was said to be the opposite of a slow spell, but that spell had no effect described either: all it said was that it affected up to 24 creatures in a maximum area of 6" x 12".  To get an effect, we need to go all the way back to the wargame Chainmail, which says that the haste spell increases movement by 50%.  The AD&D version affects far less creatures, but is more powerful in that it increases attacks as well as movement.  Also, there was nothing in OD&D about the spell ageing its recipients.

Hold Person: This one's like the 2nd-level cleric spell, being able to paralyse up to four "persons".  The fewer targets that are designated, the harder the spell is to save against.  Here's something I've never noticed before: if the spell is partially negated (a ring of spell turning is given as a possible example) then the spell acts as a slow spell.  We get a precise list of all the creatures that the spell affects: brownies, dryads, dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, goblins, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, hobgoblins, humans, kobolds, lizard men, nixies, orcs, pixies, sprites, and troglodytes.  I appreciate a list like this, but it comes with its own problems in that it necessitates the spell description being updated every time a new Monster Manual comes out.
  The OD&D hold person was odd in that it was said to be a more powerful version of charm person (although I'm pretty sure there's anecdotal evidence from the earliest players to suggest that it was used as a paralysis spell, as it is in AD&D).  Like the AD&D spell, it was more effective when cast at a single target (although the save penalty was -2 as opposed to -3 in AD&D, and there was no difference to saves when the spell targeted 2 or 3 creatures).  The duration was 6 turns + caster level (it's 2 rounds/level in AD&D), and the range was 12" (which hasn't changed).  The OD&D spell, as an extension of charm person, affected "two-legged, mammalian figures" of man-size or less.  Some monsters were specifically cited, but it's notable that lizard men and troglodytes wouldn't count as mammalian, and so wouldn't be affected by the original hold person spell.

Infravision: Grants the target the ability to see in infrared. It's noted that this type of vision is adversely affected by strong heat sources nearby, and that it can't detect creatures that are invisible.  It's material component is a pinch of dried carrot or an agate.
  The OD&D spell also granted the ability to see in infrared, but there was nothing about heat sources or invisible creatures noted.  In OD&D the duration of the spell was a whole day, whereas in AD&D it's been reduced to 2 hours, plus 1 hour per level.  The range of this sight was 40'-60' in OD&D, and it's a flat 6" in AD&D.  I do wonder how to adjudicate the variable range given in OD&D.  Is it a random determination when the spell is cast, or a rough guideline to be used by the DM in various conditions?  I'd go with the latter for simplicity's sake.

Invisibility 10' Radius: This spell works like invisibility, in that the targets remain invisible until they attack someone.  I'm still unsure exactly how this spell works, though.  It's said to have a single target, and an area of a 10' radius around the target.  Okay, but is it just that it affects every creature within that radius when the spell is cast, and those affected remain invisible regardless of where they move?  Or is it an area affect that moves with the target, necessitating that those wishing to remain invisible must stay close by?  Given that the creatures made invisible by this spell can't see each other, it seems logical that the former would be true.  It's certainly a more useful spell that way.  As with invisibility, its material components are an eyelash and a bit of gum arabic.
  The OD&D spell was similarly vague.  It had a range of 24", whereas the AD&D version requires the caster to touch the target.

Leomund's Tiny Hut: Leomund makes a second appearance, with a spell that creates a globe of force around the caster that keeps out winds up to 50mph and maintains a comfortable temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (about 21 degrees Celsius, as the civilised world would measure it).  Temperatures below 0 degrees lower this on a 1 for 1 basis, and those above 105 degrees raise it in a similar ratio.  The caster can also control the ambient lighting within the globe.  From outside the globe can't be seen through, but it's transparent from inside.  Up to 6 man-sized creatures can fit inside (along with the creator), and the spell ends when the caster leaves.  It's not stated what happens if more creatures try to enter, but the globe provides no protection from attacks.  The most surprising thing about this spell for me is that it's not actually a hut, it's just a boring old globe.  An actual hut might be a little silly, but D&D could use a bit more silliness.  The material component is a crystal bead that shatters when the spell ends.

Lightning Bolt: It's like a fireball, but electric, and in a straight line.  The caster designates the bolt's starting point and it blasts out from there, dealing 1d6 damage per level.  It can destroy wooden doors, about a foot of stone, and like fireball will melt most valuable metals.  The caster also decides the dimensions of the bolt: it can either be 1" wide and 4" long, or it can be 1/2" wide and 8" long.  If the bolt is blocked by a non-conducting barrier, it will extend backwards to its full length.  (Note that it says non-conducting; it won't rebound off metal walls, for instance.)  Material components required are a bit of fur and a rod made out of glass, amber or crystal.
  The OD&D lightning bolt did the same damage, but it had fixed dimensions of 3/4" wide and 6" long (funnily enough, that still works as a mid-point between the two AD&D options).  It still had the rule about extending backwards if the bolt hits an obstacle.  The spell had range of 24", and the end of the bolt could never extend beyond that range.  In AD&D, the range is 4" + 1"/level, but that range designates the beginning of the bolt; there's no maximum range, it just keeps growing indefinitely as you gain levels.

Monster Summoning I: Summons 1d8 creatures of 1st level within 1-4 rounds, that will attack the caster's enemies or perform some other task within their abilities.  They appear in the spot designated by the caster, so presumably they are magically summoned rather than wandering in from the surrounding area.  The monsters that appear are either randomly determined or decided by the DM, but there's no table given for what sort of creatures to expect, and with no DMG available at the time there weren't any random encounter tables to use either.  The best bet at this point in the game's history was probably the dungeon encounter charts from OD&D, which would turn up things like kobolds, skeletons or spiders (or gelatinous cubes, which could be fun).  The material component is a tiny bag and a small candle.
  Indeed, this is the method used in the OD&D version of the spell.  It's interesting that the older spell had provisions for doubling the amount of creatures summoned if they're particularly weak or small.  The default number summoned in OD&D was 1-3, and they arrived after 1 turn.  The spell lasted 6 melee turns (as opposed to 2 rounds +1/level in AD&D) and had a range of 1" (3" in AD&D).

Phantasmal Force: Creates a visual illusion that can affect anyone looking at it, to the point where it can even inflict actual damage.  The spell doesn't create sound, so obviously there'll be some illusions that just won't be believable.  Anyone who disbelieves the illusion gets a saving throw, and if successful can confer a +4 bonus to their mates by telling them about it.  The illusion will disappear if struck, although the caster can stop this by making the illusion react accordingly.  It also disappears if the caster stops concentrating on it.  Moving will break this concentration, as will being damaged.  The material component for this spell is a bit of fleece.
  In OD&D this spell was 2nd level, and was called phantasmal forces.  It worked like the AD&D version, but there was nothing said about it being unable to create sound.  There were also no rules about disbelief provided.  It had a range of 24", whereas in AD&D it's 8" + 1"/level.  This spell has been simultaneously moved up a level, and lowered in effectiveness, which is an odd combo.  Its guidelines are vague enough that it could probably work at 4th level; it's certainly very effective in the hands of a creative player or DM.

Protection from Evil, 10' Radius: It's the same as the 1st-level protection from evil (hedging out enchanted and summoned evil creatures, -2 on attacks from evil creatures, +2 on saves from evil attacks), except that it affects a 10' radius area around the target.  It also takes an extra segment to cast.  The material component is powdered iron and silver.
  In OD&D the spell lasted for 12 turns, whereas in AD&D it lasts for 2 rounds/level.  It also had -1/+1 modifiers on defense, instead of the -2/+2 in AD&D.

Protection from Normal Missiles: Completely protects the recipient from non-magical missiles and small stones, and reduces 1 from each damage die on attacks from magical missiles and larger stones.  It doesn't give any protection against spells.  The material component is a bit of tortoise or turtle shell.
  The OD&D version of the spell protected against normal missiles, but it also went on to clarify that it didn't protect against missiles projected by men that were "above normal".  I'd previously wondered if this meant that the spell was useless against high-level characters, but the AD&D spell indicates that it wasn't intended to be taken this way.  There was nothing in OD&D about damage reduction against magic missiles, either.  The range was 3" (it's a touch spell in AD&D) and the duration was 12 turns (it's 1 turn/level in AD&D).

Slow: Halves the movement and attack rate of creatures within a 4"x4" area (affecting 1 creature per level).  It can stack as well, which is a new one on me; two or three doses of this spell would render a lot of monsters useless.  There's nothing here about spell-casting being slowed, but I would say that it is. It's easy to rationalise that haste doesn't apply to spell-casting, as a hasted caster can deliberately slow themselves down to perform the various rituals.  If you've been slowed, you can't just voluntarily speed yourself up, can you?  Its material component is some treacle.  (It's a bit odd that this spell and haste aren't reversible with each other, but they're probably too powerful to combine in the same spell.)
  In OD&D it was called slow spell, and it affected up to 24 creatures in a 6"x12" area.  As with haste there was no effect given, so we have to go back to Chainmail, which says that the spell halves movement.  There's nothing in there about attacks.  The duration in OD&D was 3 turns (it's 3 rounds +1 round/level in AD&D), and the range was 24" (it's 9" + 1"/level in AD&D).

Suggestion: Allows the caster to make a reasonable suggestion, that the target will agree to if it fails a saving throw.  The more reasonable the suggestion, the more difficult it is to resist.  I was ready to declare this spell as useless compared to charm person, but there's an example in the spell description that clearly has it being used against a dragon.  Charm person could only affect humanoids, so that's a big difference.  It doesn't work on undead, though.  Material component is a snake's tongue and either a drop of sweet oil or some honeycomb.
  The OD&D spell was much the same, though it had nothing about undead being immune.  It also had a duration of 1 week, whereas it lasts for a much shorter time in AD&D (6 turns + 6 turns/level).

Tongues: As with the 4th-level cleric spell, it allows the caster to speak the language of any creature within a 6" diameter circle.  The cleric spell had a duration of 1 turn, whereas the magic-user version lasts for 1 round/level.  It has a faster casting time: 3 segments, as opposed to 7 for clerics.  It also has a material component that the cleric spell doesn't have: a small clay ziggurat that shatters when the spell is cast.  The spell can also be reversed, which confuses all verbal communications within the area.

Water Breathing: Like the 3rd-level druid spell, this allows the recipient to breathe underwater.  Its duration is only 3 turns/level, half that of the druid version.  Its casting time of 3 segments is faster than that for druids (5 segments).  It's reversible as air breathing, which allows aquatic creatures to survive on land.  The material component is a short reed or a piece of straw.
  The OD&D version of the spell had a duration of 12 turns, and a range of 3" (it's a touch spell in AD&D).  It wasn't reversible.

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