Monday, June 11, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 59: Appendix IV - The Known Planes of Existence & Appendix V - Suggested Agreements for Division of Treasure


The final stretch of the Players Handbook brings me to the penultimate Appendix, which gives the most detailed description of the D&D cosmology yet seen.  The various planes are separated into the Inner and Outer Planes, as I'll get into.

Inner Planes
This basically covers the Prime Material Plane, as well as the other planes that directly connect to it: the Positive and Negative Material Planes; the Elemental Planes of Air, Earth, Fire and Water; and the Ethereal Plane.  Of particular note is the repeated mention of "parallel" universes, all contained within the Prime Material Plane: it's a fairly clever way of including the multitude of home campaigns in existence and tying them into the cosmology as a whole.
  The Positive Plane is described as being a place of energy and light, the "source of much that is vital and active", and the "power supply for good".  The Negative Plane, conversely, is home to anti-matter, and powers the undead and evil energies.  It's all fairly abstract stuff, and neither of these planes seems like a place you can visit and adventure within.
  The Elemental Planes aren't described in any depth beyond their names, which is a bit odd.  Perhaps Gary thinks they're self-explanatory, but a little more detail wouldn't go astray.
  The Ethereal Plane surrounds and touches all of the Inner Planes, and any creature that can become ethereal can use this plane to quickly travel between these planes quickly.

Outer Planes
The Outer Planes are described as the homes of powerful beings and deities, and the source of the alignments.  The Astral Plane is described as a "non-space where endless vortices spiral to the parallel Prime Material Planes and to the Outer Planes as well", and can be used to travel from the Prime to the Outer Planes.  It's noted that, where a particular Outer Plane has multiple levels, the Astral Plane only connects to the topmost layer.
  Rather than keeping it simple and having a Plane for each of the alignments, Gary complicates things by including the intermediary steps as well.  So not only is there a plane for Chaotic Good and a plane for Chaotic Neutral, but there's one in between for "Chaotic Good Neutrals".  Notes that there's no plane for true Neutral.  This gives 16 Planes in all, with very little in the way of description:

  • The Seven Heavens (LG)
  • The Twin Paradises (NLG)
  • Elysium (NG)
  • The Happy Hunting Grounds (CNG)
  • Olympus (CG)
  • Gladsheim, which apparently includes Asgard, Valhalla and Vanaheim (NCG)
  • Limbo (CN, where Chaos is defined as entropy)
  • Pandemonium (NCE)
  • The 666 Layers of the Abyss (CE)
  • Tarterus (NCE)
  • The "Three Glooms" of Hades (NE)
  • The furnaces of Gehenna (NLE)
  • The Nine Hells (LE)
  • The nether planes of Acheron (NLE)
  • Nirvana (LN)
  • Arcadia (NLG)

It's an eclectic mix, with bits pulled from Christian, Greek, Roman, Norse, and Buddhist religions and mythologies, as well as bits of Milton and Dante.  I'm probably missing some of the other influences.  There's a diagram that shows how all of it ties together (and also seems to show how many levels each of the Outer Planes has):

In its basic outline, this stuff is broadly similar to how Gary outlined it in its early stages in The Dragon #8.  This is the diagram provide with that article:

I'd originally thought that these were identical, but further exploration shows that the arrangement of the Outer Planes has been a little but shuffled around.  More specifically, Planes 11 to 14 in The Dragon went in this order: Happy Hunting Grounds, Twin Paradises, Olympus, Elysium.  In AD&D, that's been changed to the following: Twin Paradises, Elysium, Happy Hunting Grounds, Olympus.  The rest are the same, but even something as small as four planes being shuffled around is a pretty major difference when it comes to the primary make-up of reality.  The only reason I can think of that doesn't involve major reality alteration is simply that the research of scholars in the OD&D era was faulty.  They believed it was one way, but later on found out the truth.  I just hope that it remains consistent going forward from here.

Ethereal Travel
This section briefly describes where you can go to via the Ethereal Plane, and some of the dangers that might be encountered therein.  There are monsters (and we already know that most of those with petrification abilities exist partially within the Ethereal) and also the Ether Cyclone, which can blow a creature into another plane, or cause them to become lost for many days.  Ethereal creatures travel fast, and require no food, drink or rest.  The specifics are left for the Dungeon Masters Guide.

Astral Travel
Likewise,  Astral travel to the Outer Planes is given a brief overview.  The Astral equivalent of the Ether Cyclone is the Psychic Wind, which can similarly buffet travellers about or kill them by snapping their "silver cord" (the connection to their physical forms).  Astral travellers also require no food, drink or rest.

Ethereal and Astral Combat
It's mentioned that, when Astral or Ethereal, it is generally only possible to attack and cast spells on creatures who are also within the same plane.  Some spells can be cast from the Ethereal to the Prime, but not from the Astral to the Prime.
  The concept of magic weapons not functioning on certain planes is brought up (it was detailed more specifically in The Dragon #8, and will presumably be explored even further in the DMG).
  Astral forms can be destroyed by most creatures, causing the consciousness to return to the physical body via the silver cord.  Only very powerful creatures can snap the silver cord and kill the traveller outright: demon princes, arch-devils, gods, godlings, etc.).  Ethereal damage is said to be real damage, so presumably a character killed there is actually dead.


Here Gary gives some ideas for how to fairly split treasure among the party.  There are three basic methods that he gives.  The first is to split the treasure equally, which is pretty obvious and workable.
  The second is to split it based on character level, with the more powerful characters getting more.  Again, this is pretty easy to work out, but I'm not sure about how fair it is.  It's fine assuming that the higher-level characters do the lion's share of the work, but that's not always the case.  It also creates something of an imbalance, where the stronger characters get more treasure and thus advance faster.  In practice it's probably fine, because of the large amounts of XP required to advance at high level, but it could lead to situations where lower-level characters are  perpetually outpaced.
  The third method uses equal shares, with bonuses for leadership and outstanding play.  This is the one with real potential for trouble, I feel, unless you have very easy-going players.   The decision as to who gets the extra shares could be a heated one, and objectively speaking it can often be the same players who are giving the most outstanding performances.
  Some modifiers are given, whereby NPC henchmen only get half shares, and dead characters only get treasure from before they were killed.  It's suggested that PCs whose actions are detrimental to the party (such as leading to a character death, or outright attacking one of the party) be stripped of shares.  Again, it's a recipe for dissension, although you're better off not playing with those kinds of people anyway I guess.
  Magic items are addressed, with the suggested methods boiling down to the players rolling dice and the highest getting first pick.  The suggestion that higher-level characters get to roll more dice and pick the highest is again one I'm not super-keen on.
  The thing to remember here, I feel, is that these are suggestions.  The most important thing is not the exact method chosen, but that the method is agreed upon and followed by all players.

And that, aside from some of the charts being grouped together, is the end of the Players Handbook.  I started going through it back in September 2015, and it's a relief to be done with it.  Now that I've finished, the main thing that strikes me about the PHB is what's not in it: the combat rules, most prominently.  I'm more accustomed to 2nd edition and beyond, where the PHB is the place you go to for the core rules of the game, so for me the 1e version feels a little bit lightweight.  I can understand Gary's idea that the game should be kept somewhat mysterious for the players, but personally I feel like everyone should know how the core rules work.  In real life I know roughly how likely I am to be able to accomplish a physical task, and D&D characters should be the same.  Anyway, I'm perhaps being a bit harsh.  Like the Monster Manual before it, this is an indispensable collation of the scattered bits of OD&D that came before, and I can't imagine how wonderful it must have been at the time to have all of this stuff in one great-looking hardcover.
  So what next?  The ostensible task of this blog is to go through every D&D product and stitch the lot together into one huge sandbox campaign.  With that in mind, my next stop ought to be The Dragon #15.  First, though, this feels like a good time to go back over everything and consolidate my work.  I was going to wait until I had the framework given by the introduction of Greyhawk as a setting, but that's a long way off.  The Players Handbook is as good a milestone as any.
  After that, I keep asking myself whether I should go forward, or move backward.  I keep wishing that I had used the blog as a sort of product-by-product history of the game, including the many semi-official non-TSR product lines.  So I might double back and look into some products like the Wee Warriors modules, Judges Guild, the early issues of White Dwarf, etc.  As usual, it's me making more work for myself when I really don't have the time.  This one's still up in the air.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 58: Appendix II - Bards & Appendix III - Character Alignment Graph


Bards have appeared in D&D before this (in an article from The Strategic Review #6 by a Doug Schwegman), as a standard character class.  They were a sort of combination fighter/magic-user/thief, with some charm and lore abilities on top of that.  The AD&D version of the bard fits that description as well, but it's there that the similarities end.  I'm not sure why Gary changed the class so much, but there's a telling line right at the start: "As this character class subsumes the functions of two other classes, fighters and thieves, and tops them off with magical abilities, it is often not allowed by Dungeon Masters".  It's likely that Gary objected to the combination of powers granted by this class, and instead of the fairly streamlined class from the article, we got the much less friendly version seen here.

To qualify, a character must be human or half-elf, and have the following minimum scores: Str 15, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 15 and Cha 15.  Good luck rolling those scores legitimately (although there are certain legit methods we'll see in the Dungeon Masters Guide that could produce such a character without too much difficulty).  The OD&D bard needed "above average" scores in Strength, Intelligence and Charisma, and the class was open to elves, dwarves and hobbits.

Now we come to the biggest difference: the AD&D bard doesn't begin as a bard.  Instead, they must start as a Fighter.  Somewhere between 5th and 8th level they must change class, becoming a 1st-level Thief.  Again, somewhere between 5th and 9th level, the character must change class again, into a druid.  Once they're progressing as a druid, they are considered bards, and gain the requisite abilities.  It's a hell of a process, and it results in a more powerful character than the OD&D version.  For starters, they get full thief abilities for their thief level, rather than the half-level abilities of the OD&D bard.  They also end up with a shitload of hit points: 1d10 per fighter level, with 1d6 per druid level on top of that.  I have to wonder what Gary was thinking.  (Oh yeah, they also get all the druid abilities as they advance in that class too.)

The switch from magic-user spells in OD&D to druid spells in AD&D is an odd one.  It fits well with the explicitly celtic, druidic nature of the class as it is at this point, but it clashes somewhat with the minstrel/trickster that the class would become.

As a bard gains druid levels, they progress through the various "bardic colleges": Fochlucan, Mac-Fuirmidh, Doss, Canaith, Cli, Anstruth, Ollamh and finally Magna-Alumnae.  None of these are really explained, except to say that bards won't associate with those from a lesser college until they reach Magna-Alumnae and become teachers of a sort.  These colleges were all present in OD&D, except for Magna Alumnae.  I'm not sure what their purpose is, except perhaps to limit the number of bards getting about in the same adventuring party.

As for the bardic abilities they get on top of the rest, they are as follows.  They can inspire their allies with some poetry, granting a bonus to attack, damage and morale.  They can negate song-based attacks like those from harpies, and soothe and quiet shriekers.  They can use their music to fascinate and charm monsters.  Finally, they have a large knowledge of legends and lore, and can use it to identify certain magic items.

All told, it seems like a really strong class, perhaps over-powered, but I'd love to see one in actual play.  The mechanical weirdness of the whole thing seems a bit off, though, and to me suggests a lot of the regrettable future developments that Gary will come up with in Unearthed Arcana.  I wish he'd just stuck with the class from The Strategic Review, to be honest.

As for the Ultimate Sandbox campaign, the differences between the two present a problem.  Normally I might just shrug my shoulders and ignore differences between editions, but this is a significant one.  The notable difference is that the AD&D bard seems much more exclusive than the one in OD&D, racially and statistically.  It also seems to tie more specifically to the Druids, as they cast the same spells and have the same powers.  So I wonder if the original bards were Druidic at all?  Perhaps they came about as an organisation (albeit a short-lived one) inspired by the Druidic Bards, an imitation rather than the real thing?  Joining that organisation was not so hard, far less so than becoming a bard in the ultra-secretive Druidic sect.  The alternative is to have an off-shoot Druidic sect that had less stringent requirements, but I think I prefer the former.


This is the graph as it appears in the PHB.

 There's no text accompanying this chart, so its intended purpose isn't entirely clear.  It's probably meant for charting the alignments of the various players in the campaign, in case they drift out of their current alignment.  I don't see much other use for it, though I like the four descriptors for paragons of the four most extreme alignments.  Some similar charts have appeared in OD&D, and those featured a lot of the various monsters scattered around as examples.

Monday, May 07, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 57: Appendix I - Psionics

And now we come to one of my least-favourite aspects of D&D, psionics.  I'm fine with them in certain settings, like Dark Sun, but get 'em outta my vanilla fantasy.  I'd rather not have them in Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms, but they're in the rules so they'll be in my Ultimate Sandbox.  I can't exclude stuff just because I don't like it.

It looks like psionics are restricted to humans, and possibly dwarves and halflings.  A character must have an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma of 16+ in order to test whether they have any psionic power.  Those characters with scores of 16 only have a 1% chance, but that chance is a little bit higher for those with stats of 17 or 18.  I think the best chance a starting character can have is 10%.

If a character has psionics, they then roll 1d100 to determine their psionic strength.  Bonuses are added to this roll based on the character's Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, ranging from 1 (for a character with a 16 in one stat) to 72 (for a character with 18 in all three).  The number is doubled to determine "psionic ability", and half of that total is used for psionic attack and the other half for psionic defense.

Attack Modes
There are five psionic attack modes, and a psionic character randomly determines how many of these they have access to.
  Psionic blast is a cone with a 6" range, and it's the only attack form that works on non-psionic foes. It's weirdly described as being like "stunning news" to the brain.  This to me suggests it would only be mildly startling, but something tells me it's probably more devastating than that.  In a somewhat familiar refrain, the actual effects aren't given.  Gotta wait for that Dungeon Masters Guide, folks!
  Mind Thrust affects a single foe, shorting their synapses.
  Ego Whip also attacks a single foe, attacking the ego either with feelings of worthlessness or megalomania.
  Id Insinuation pits the uncontrolled subconscious mind of the target against their super-ego.  We're getting into some real Freudian stuff here, but don't ask me what the actual effect would be because  have no clue.
  Psychic Crush tries to destroy every neuron in the target's brain, and it can only be defended against by Thought Shield.  So not only Freud, but with neurons we have some modern medical science.  The only thing to conclude is that certain theories were developed on Greyhawk earlier than they otherwise would have been due to magical research.

Defense Modes
Again, the number of defense modes a character can use is determined randomly.
  Mind Blank tries to hide the mind from attack by making it undetectable.
  Thought Shield tries to cloak different parts of the mind from attack.
  Mental Barrier builds a "thought repetition wall".
  Intellect Fortress calls forth the defensive powers of the ego and super-ego.  It can be extended to protect those within 10 feet.
  Tower of Iron Will uses the super-ego to build an unassailable fortress.  It can be extended to protect those within 3 feet.

Psionic Combat
Those in psionic combat can't do anything else, but because each exchange takes a single segment it probably won't matter.  I do balk a little bit at that.  I mean, when there are two guys in psionic combat, do they resolve ten actions for every one taken by the other PCs?  Doesn't that hold up the game a bit too much?  It probably doesn't come up too often, but I could see it getting annoying.
  Anyway, at the start of each exchange, each combatant chooses their attack and defense forms, lowering their psionic strength based on those chosen.  The attacks and defenses are cross-referenced on a chart to see what happens.  You guessed it: that chart is in the DMG.  It's no wonder everyone says that the 1st edition DMG is the best one, it has the whole bloody game system in it.  Multiple psionic creatures can combine their powers to increase their range, and their psionic strength.  If a creature runs out of psionic strength to defend with, they're open to all sorts of nasty effects that aren't in the PHB so I can't write about them.
  Psionic strength points are recovered more quickly than hit points, at a rate of 3 per hour when walking and up to 24 per hour when sleeping.

Use of Psionic Powers
There's a bit here about psionic powers and spells that create the same effects (such as ESP) attracting psionic monsters, but it says that it only happens when such monsters are within range and "attuned to such activity" whatever that means.

Psionics in OD&D
Psionics in OD&D were only open to humans, and were much more dependent upon character class than the system in AD&D.  Druids and monks were forbidden from learning psionics, but any other character with an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score of 15+ had a 10% chance of having some psionic ability.  Each class had specific penalties for gaining psionic power; for example, a magic-user lost spell slots with each ability, and a fighter lost Strength and followers.
  Characters with psionic potential had a 10% chance per level of gaining a new ability, so that at 2nd level they'd have a 20% chance, and so on until they had a 100% chance at 10th.  Abilities gained were randomly determined.
  The attack and defense modes in OD&D were the same as those in AD&D, but psionic strength was determined by the number of psionic powers possessed rather than ability scores.  The ranges for the various attack modes were notably longer.  It's hard to say how else psionic combat differs between the two though, because we don't have the complete AD&D rules yet.
  Probably the biggest difference between the two editions is that the psionic disciplines available to a character in OD&D were very much dependent on their class.  There are some restrictions in AD&D as well, but in general more of the powers can be used by everyone.
  I also just noticed that PCs in OD&D were heavily penalised for gaining psionic powers.  Fighters lost followers and Strength, thieves lost Dexterity, magic-users lost spells and clerics lost spells as well as weakening their turning ability.  None of that made the transition to AD&D.
  The two editions seem close enough that I don't think I'd need much of an explanation when doing the transition from OD&D to AD&D.  It might just be a difference in the way that psionics are taught, or a subtle shift in the Astral Plane.  I won't need anything major, if I do an edition shift with psionics at all.

Psionic Disciplines
The number of disciplines a character knows is randomly determined.  The disciplines are split between minor and major.  1st level character can only know one minor discipline, but they earn another one every two levels until they hit the maximum.  Most psionic disciplines grow more powerful as their possessor gains in level.

Minor Disciplines

Animal Telepathy: The character can communicates with mammals, but as they gain levels new types are added, such as reptiles, arachnids, monsters and even plants.
  In OD&D, this ability was only available to clerics.  It had the same advancement in types of animals that could be spoken to, but the levels needed is pretty much double in AD&D, i.e. you could talk to plants at 7th in OD&D and at 14th in AD&D.

Body Equilibrium: Allows a character to adjust their weight to walk on water, mud, sand, or to float down like feather fall.
  Magic-users couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  In AD&D it costs 1 psionic point per round, but in OD&D it could be used for an hour per level, so the duration has been greatly reduced.

Body Weaponry: Allows the caster alter their molecules to use their body as weapons or armor.  AC varies depending on character class, and both become more effective at higher level.  It's not clear if this actually makes the character metallic, or just really dense.  Magic-Users can't use it.
  In OD&D, only fighters and thieves could use this ability.  AC seemingly kept getting better with no cap (it stops at AC 0 in AD&D), and weapon equivalents went all the way up to longsword +5 (AD&D only gets to +4).  There's also a bit saying that a character can use the best possible weapon equivalent he has when Weapon Type vs Armor is in play.

Cell Adjustment: The user of this ability can heal wounds and cure diseases.  Clerics are the best at this, and thieves are the worst.
  Only clerics had this ability in OD&D.  It took 2 psionic points to heal 1 hit point in OD&D, which might be the same as or double that of AD&D.  (I'm not sure, because AD&D says that the cost comes from psionic points used for attack and defense.  I can't find an equivalent rule in OD&D, so they're probably the same, but if it's there somewhere then it's doubled.)  The OD&D ability was limited to once every 24 hours, but had a higher total amount that could be healed at one time.

Clairaudience: It's like the magic-user spell, with a 30 foot range.
  Clerics couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  It also increased in range at higher levels, whereas in AD&D it stays at 30 feet.

Clairvoyance: It's also just like the magic-user spell, but with a 20 foot range.
  Clerics couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  The range of this spell was ten times greater than the m-u spell, and at 7th level it became unlimited by distance.  Easy to see why Gary knocked that out.

Detection of Good or Evil: Allows the user to read the good/evil aura of a creature or object, with a lesser chance to learn their exact alignment.  The success chances get better at higher level.
  Fighter and thieves couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  It worked automatically, and didn't cost any points to use (it costs 2/round in AD&D).  Again, it was another ridiculous power that needed to be brought down a bit.

Detection of Magic: Detects presence and type of magical auras with a 5% chance per level.
  Fighters, thieves and clerics couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  It detected the presence of magic automatically, but had a lower chance of detecting the type.  There was a specific mention here that magic operates on a different plane, which seems consistent enough with what's in the books so far.

Domination: Allows the mental domination of another creature, although more psionic points must be expended the higher level the creature is, and trying to make them commit a self-destructive act also ups the point cost.  (I'm surprised it's allowed at all, D&D usually doesn't let that slide.)
  In OD&D, magic-users were the only class unable to use domination.  In AD&D, it's now thieves who can't use it, which makes a little more sense but also means I might have some explaining to do when the rules switch over.  Perhaps the magic-user's guild actually stole the ability from them somehow?

Empathy: The user can sense the needs, drives and emotions of unshielded minds within range.  Fighters can't use it.
  In OD&D, only clerics had this ability.  It's range was 2"/round, but in AD&D has been halved.

ESP: The user can read the thoughts of unshielded minds.  Interestingly. thoughts in an unknown language are meaningless.  Non-intelligent creatures transmit images or raw drives.
  Fighters and thieves didn't get this ability in OD&D.  Aside from having a longer range, it was otherwise the same.  It also has a bit about the ability allowing the user to "tune in" to thoughts, saying that it's "different from receiving or transmitting thoughts' telepathically".  Different how?  No explanation is given.

Expansion: Allows the user to grow in size, mass and strength, adding 1 foot and +1 damage per level.  Equivalent strengths are given for each level, ending with storm giant strength at level 12.  The ability also causes the user's clothing, weapons and armour to grow as well, but magic items expanded in this manner have a 5% chance of being destroyed.  Clerics can't use this ability.
  OD&D allowed the user to grow 2 feet per level, but still topped out at 12th level and storm giant strength.  It didn't say anything specific about damage bonuses.  It also had an arbitrary maximum duration of 2 turns, although growing to less than your maximum height could extend this.  AD&D dropped this for a flat 1 turn per level duration.  OD&D didn't say anything about items growing or shrinking either.

Hypnosis: The user can hypnotise a number of creatures, forcing them to follow reasonable orders or post-hypnotic suggestions.  The number hypnotised is based on the user's level, but the Hit Dice total is cumulative.  For example, a 4th level character could hypnotise 1+2+3+4=10 HD worth of monsters.  It only works on creatures whose Intelligence is between 7 and 17.
  In OD&D, fighters and thieves couldn't use this ability.

Invisibility:  This works like the spell, but because it affects the minds of its targets, it only works on creatures with a total HD equal to the user's level.  It can't be detected by magic, but a psionic with mind bar can use it to see the invisible creature.
  Only fighters and thieves could use this ability in OD&D.  It didn't mention anything about being undetectable by magic, or being blocked by a mind bar.

Levitation: This works like the spell, but its total duration can be split over a number of different uses.  The OD&D spell works the same, although it says nothing about being able to split the duration.

Mind Over Body: The caster can go 2 days per level without food, water and sleep.  This power can only be restored by resting completely for the same number of days for which it was used.
  In OD&D, clerics couldn't take this ability, but anyone can use it in AD&D.

Molecular Agitation: The psionic can agitate the molecules of an item, and after ten rounds that item will heat up: paper sets on fire, wood smoulders, water boils, flesh blisters, metal heats, etc.  If used on flesh it deals 1 point of damage the first round, 2 the next, then 3, then 4, etc.  On armour it works as a heat metal spell.  At higher levels, this ability works more quickly.
  Only magic-users could take this ability in OD&D.  It's otherwise exactly the same.

Object Reading: The user can "read" an object's history, possibly learning something about its former owner.  Legendary items may reveal a long, storied history, but not all magic items have such an aura.  Thieves can't use this ability (which is weird, it seems very appropriate for them).
  I believe that this ability wasn't in OD&D at all.

Precognition: The user can predict the result of an action in the near future.  The chance of success is increased by level, but it's also affected by the number of unknown factors, by the user's Intelligence and Wisdom, and pretty much by the DM's whim.  This one could bust some adventures, which is why Gary has a note at the end for the referee to adjudicate it carefully.
  In OD&D, only fighters and thieves had this ability.  It's otherwise exactly the same, right down to the wording used.  It's almost a cut-and-paste job.
Reduction: The user can shrink 1 foot per level up to 5th.  After that, the reduction is 50% of the remainder with each level.  Clerics can't use this ability.
  In OD&D the reduction is simply 1 foot per level, which would soon get into a situation where you have to figure out what happens when the character's level exceeds their height.  Gary fixed that up pretty well for AD&D.

Suspend Animation: The user can suspend all of their life functions, appearing as though dead for one cumulative week per level (meaning 1 week at 1st level, 1+2=3 weeks at 2nd, 1+2+3=6 weeks at 3rd, etc.).  They set a time at which they want to awaken, and nothing can wake them up until that time comes.  While suspended, the user doesn't need air, and can withstand temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (that's a bit over 1 degree centigrade in the civilised world).  Upon awakening, the user must rest for a day per week suspended before being able to use the ability again.
  Clerics and magic-users couldn't use this ability in OD&D.  It also didn't mention anything about temperatures, or not needing air.

Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions: The user can sense emotions and see visions in areas where dramatic events and deaths have occurred.  This ability is very much open to DM fiat.  It wasn't in OD&D.

Major Sciences

Astral Projection: The user can travel into the Astral Plane and the Outer Planes, as with the spell astral spell.  It only works for the psychic though, not their companions.
  In OD&D, the ability doesn't point to the spell but rather contains all of the information in its own entry.  It has an odd bit about the speed of astral traveller increasing with their level: at 1st they can only travel at walking speed, but at 10th they can "project into space at the speed of light".  No sign of that in AD&D.  All of the stuff about silver cords and psychic winds is mentioned in the entry for astral spell, and I assume that the actual table used to determine when the wind severs the cord is in the DMG.

Aura Alteration: The user can either hide their own alignment, or use the ability to remove curses from others, as well as the geas and quest spells.
  Only clerics could use this ability in OD&D.  It's only function was the removal of curses; nothing at all was said about geas and quest, and there was zero mention of using it to alter your alignment aura.

Body Control: This grants the user resistance to harmful elements and environments: heat, fire, cold, poison gas, acid, etc.   It lasts for 1 turn per level, and protects against "1 hit die" of damage per level, which I interpret to be one die of damage.  Does this mean that a 10th level character with this power would be immune to a 10-die fireball?  That's how it seems to me, unless it only works against natural hazards.  Given that this ability basically protects from everything, it's probably a bit over-powered.  Oh yeah, as if that wasn't enough it also lets you breathe underwater.
  In OD&D the ability was much the same, but the duration was cumulative: for example a 3rd level user would be protected for (1+2+3) 6 turns, rather than 3 as in AD&D.  If I'm reading it correctly, though, it only gave protection against 1 die of damage, with the severity of the hazard reducing the duration.  It seems like a much more balanced power, to be honest.  Only fighters and thieves could use this ability in OD&D, but now it's available to everyone.

Dimension Door: This works like the spell, allowing short range teleportation.
  Only magic-users could use this ability OD&D, but anyone can use it in AD&D.

Dimension Walk: The user is able to travel great distances by "moving through the dimensions by inter-dimensional travel, rather than along them".  I'm not quite sure what that sentence is trying to say, but in practical terms it allows a character to traverse 21 miles in about 10 minutes.  There's a 10% chance of going in the wrong direction, reduced by level, and also a chance that the trip might take longer than expected (also modified by level).  There are no hostile encounters during a dimension walk, which is disappointingly non-Gygaxian.  I'd also like to know the nature of the dimension traversed: Astral? Ethereal?  Something else entirely?  It's a mystery.
  Magic-Users couldn't use this ability in OD&D, but it's not restricted in AD&D.  The base rate of travel was 1 hour per 100 miles, as opposed to 21 miles per turn in AD&D.  With six turns per hour, this means an AD&D character travels 126 miles an hour, a decent amount faster.  The table for determining extra travel time was a bit more forgiving in OD&D though, and there was no chance of heading in the opposite direction.

Energy Control: The user can dissipate energy attacks directed at them, at a cost of 1 psionic strength point per level of the attack.  It works on spells and energy attacks using fire, lightning, cold, etc.
  Only fighters and thieves could use this ability in OD&D, whereas it's available to anyone in AD&D.  It cost 5 strength points per level, a far steeper requirement.

Etherealness: The user can become ethereal, along with objects equal to 50gp weight per level.  They can also emerge on those planes touching the Ethereal: the Positive, Negative, and Elemental Planes.
  Only magic-users had this ability in OD&D, but now it's available to all.  The OD&D ability goes into more specifics, mentioning that it works similarly to the potion of etherealness.  It also mentions the psychic wind, which has a 1% chance of blowing per turn, and increases the user's chance of becoming lost (though not killed).  Presumably this stuff will be delved into in the DMG.

Mass Domination: The user can dominate up to five creatures, with the hit die of said creatures being higher according to the user's level.  The duration is 5 turns per level, but this is reduced for creatures with a high Intelligence or Wisdom.  As with most charm-type spells, you can't use it to make a creature commit self-destructive acts.
  Only clerics had this ability in OD&D, but in AD&D it's available to everyone except thieves.  It allowed the domination of "5 creature levels for two turns" for every level, with the duration extending to a full week at 7th level, and adding a week for every level thereafter.  AD&D has a longer base duration, but doesn't extend it to weeks at a time at higher levels.  OD&D also doesn't have the cap on maximum Hit Die affected that AD&D has.

Mind Bar: This prevents most forms of mental attack, including the sleep spell (which makes sense, given that it's often lumped with charm as far as resistances go).  This also includes demonic possession, and it also allows the user to see someone who is psionically invisible.  It has a 10% chance of success per level, and past 10th level it grants a chance to instantly locate your attacker.
  Only fighters and thieves had this ability in OD&D, but everyone can use it in AD&D.  It's otherwise similar, though it didn't specify the spells and abilities it works against as well as AD&D does.  It seemed more geared towards protection from possessions and magic jar than against mental attack spells.

Molecular Manipulation: The user can alter the molecules of an object to make it easier to break.  It begins with the equivalent of a thin cord at 1st level, all the way up to a magic plate mail and swords at 14th.  (Magic items get a saving throw, though.)
  Only fighters and thieves had this ability in OD&D, but in AD&D it's available to everyone.  The OD&D ability went up to a 2-foot stone wall at 10th level, and said nothing about magic armour and weapons.

Molecular Rearrangement: The user can transmute one type of metal into another, up to 10gp of weight per level.  The level also determines the hardness of the metal, starting at lead and gold, and ending at adamantite at 16th level.  This ability is demanding and can only be used once per month.
  Magic-Users couldn't use this ability in OD&D, but anyone can in AD&D.  In OD&D the point cost was double, but there was no restriction on the hardness of the metal.

Probability Travel: As I understand it, this ability allows travel to the Ethereal Plane, those planes it touches (Positive, Negative, Elemental), and also to various parallel worlds.  It's all a bit vague.  The higher level the user, the more people they can take with them.  There's also a chance that the user might end up somewhere other than their intended destination.
  Only clerics had this ability in OD&D, but anyone can use it in AD&D.  It's a little more specific about what the ability actually does: it "closely corresponds to astral projection with the corporeal body brought along".  It also gives a few possible uses: communing with friendly powers, risking entrance into hostile planes, or exploring the probabilities of a course of action.  It doesn't mention anything about bringing others along, or ending up in the wrong dimension.

Shape Alteration: Like polymorph self, the user can change their shape and gain the physical abilities of the new form, i.e. flight and breathing underwater, but not breath weapons and magical abilities.  The user's gear becomes part of the new form, but the point cost is increased depending on the amount, and turning inorganic items organic costs extra.
  Only magic-users had this ability in OD&D, but in AD&D it's usable by anyone.  It mentioned nothing about what happens to the user's gear.  On the whole, the AD&D spell costs less to use, although this doesn't factor in the costs for converting gear.

Telekinesis: Allows the user to mentally lift and move weights of 30gp per level, cumulative.
  Clerics couldn't use this ability in OD&D, but in AD&D everyone can.  It had a higher weight limit of 50gp per level cumulative.

Telempathic Projection: Like the empathy ability, but rather than sensing emotions the user can project them as well.
  Only clerics could use this ability in OD&D, but in AD&D it's available to everyone except for fighters.  The OD&D ability was likened to telepathic projection, but there seems to be no such link in AD&D.

Telepathy: The user can mentally communicate with any creature with an Intelligence of greater than 5, regardless of language.  For most creatures this requires line of sight, but for those well known to the caster it works within 186,000 miles (or 1 light second, which is a bizarre and somewhat pointless quirk).  This range can be increased if all parties are telepathic, though it seems unlikely it would ever need to be.
  As far as I can tell, this ability didn't exist in OD&D.

Telepathic Projection: This ability grants the user telepathic communication with other telepathic beings, as well as the power to make suggestions and possess others.  Both of these abilities are effective against higher Hit Die creatures at higher level.
  Only magic-users had this ability in OD&D, but it's available to every class in AD&D.  The suggestion ability affected 1 Hit Die worth of creatures per level in OD&D, whereas it is 1 HD cumulative in AD&D.  Possession wasn't mentioned in OD&D.  The helm of telepathy was said to increase the range of this ability in OD&D, but there's no mention of it in AD&D.

Teleportation: This works like the spell, but the user can spend extra psionic strength points to influence the chance of a mishap.
  Only magic-users had this ability in OD&D, but it's available to every class in AD&D.  It's otherwise the same.

And that's a wrap for psionics.  The specific powers are very similar to those from OD&D, with the major difference being that they are more widely available to the different classes.  The debilitating effects of gaining powers have also been gotten rid of.  I'm pretty sure that in earlier posts I was planning to introduce psionics as a side-effect of the encroachment of mind flayers and other psionic beings.  I guess that eventually humans grow more acclimated to this "awakening", making it easier to learn the powers and less traumatic physically and mentally.

At this point, I should note that my posts are going to be a bit less frequent from now on.  I've never been the most prolific poster to begin with, but due to a change in circumstances I'm now spending the majority of my life on Melbourne's wonderful public transport system.  The upside of this is that I have a lot more time for reading, but the downside is that I have almost no time for writing.  I won't abandon the blog, but don't expect a post more than once a month.  It's the best I can do, unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 56: Morale, Mapping, Experience, Poison and Successful Adventuring

This section briefly outlines some things to consider when trying to get other character to obey your commands.  It mentions the confusion that can result when a party caller dictates one action, and an individual PC declares another, and suggests penalising the party for this.  It's a pretty foreign concept to me, having never played with a caller.  I suppose it was useful in large adventuring parties, but in the groups of 3 to 6 that I generally average it's never been necessary.
  Obedience also applies to hirelings and henchmen, with morale and loyalty being factors.  It also mentions the possibility that characters might be controlled by a powerful magic item.
  The final point that Gary hits on is that henchmen asked to wear or test a magic item will generally consider the item to be theirs afterwards.  Once cursed items were introduced to the game, it no doubt became standard procedure to get your henchmen to test items first before your PC does anything with them.  Here we have Gary's method of combating such tactics.

Here we get an outline of the concept of morale, and how it can affect the PCs.  Player characters never need to test it, as their actions are always dictated by the player, but monsters, henchmen and hirelings will all need to test it in various situations.  In general, a PC's henchmen will have better morale the better they're treated.
  Once again we have a section with no concrete rules at all.  It's odd just how much effort AD&D goes to in order to obscure the workings of the game from the players.  I really do think that this is all stuff they should know about.

It's recommended that at least one player makes a map while exploring a dungeon, and goes on to say that it doesn't matter whether the map is not exact, so long as it gives them an idea of how to get back.  I rarely get my players to map; in my experience the game flows better if I draw the map for them.  Still, I'd like to try it out, just to give them the possibility of becoming lost with an incorrect map.  The most important thing to remember is which character is actually making the map, so that if that character is separated from the party you can take the map away from the others.

Is it weird that is has teeth?

This simply tells the players that they'll need to specify a marching order for various dungeon passage widths, recommending that they'll need a rear guard.  The concept of the caller is brought up again, which I've already mentioned above that I'm not a huge fan of.

Characters gain experience points for defeating monsters and gaining treasure.  1 XP is gained per gold piece earned, with other treasures converted into their GP value for this purpose.  Magic items garner their full GP value in XP if sold, but are worth a minimal amount if kept and used.  XP earned is also modified downward if the monsters fought were weaker than the PCs, though nothing concrete is given.  Captured monsters grant as much XP as those killed, but you can also sell them on the open market, and gain XP for the gold earned, so obviously capturing and selling monsters is a quicker path to advancement.  It's also said that the amount of XP a monster is worth depends upon their hit points, which will be borne out in the DMG.  The Monster Manual had no XP values, so the exact worth of monsters was not yet apparent.
  PCs only get their XP once they have returned to a safe haven, so by the book there's no levelling up in the middle of an adventure.  We also get a little bit about characters only getting their full share of XP if they play their role effectively according to their character class.  Again, this will be elaborated on in the DMG, under the training rules.
  The idea of it being unrealistic to advance by gaining treasure is brought up, and dismissed quite thoroughly.  Gary pretty much just says that it's no more unrealistic than orcs, dragons and giants, and that things like training and study are assumed to happen during a character's downtime.
  Finally, I just want to note that it says right here that most NPCs are 0-level, without the ability to gain XP, and that PCs are "special" and "superior".  Obviously this is just a part of the game system, but what if it's baked into the setting as well?  What if only certain people have some undefined factor that makes them able to advance in power?  Some sort of divine blessing, or a genetic quirk?  I'm generally all for explaining the game system with in-world rationales, so I'll have to think a little more about this.

The various methods of using poison are discussed and ultimately discouraged.  Some methods, such as throwing a poison potion down a monster's throat, or tricking a monster into drinking one, are considered fair game, but Gary comes down hard on the use of envenomed weapons, declaring that they ruin the balance of the game.  He suggests a bunch of ways to discourage their use: social unacceptability, alignment restrictions, and the possibility that characters might nick themselves while handling their weapons, or hit their comrades.  It's even said that characters found with poison might be instantly slain, and have their bodies burned and ashes scattered (to prevent being raised from the dead, presumably).  Guys, Gary just really doesn't want you all using poison.
  There's an example at the end of what might happen should the Thieves Guild poison a gold-smithing and jewelry-making firm, rousing the ire of the Assassins Guild.  I'll take it as evidence that those Guilds would be present in Greyhawk City.  It also pretty much outright states that the activities of both are mostly tolerated, so long as they stay within their purview.  The Thieves Guild can pick pockets, rob homes, and waylay late-night revelers, and the authorities will leave them be.  Likewise, members of the Assassins Guild can commit premeditated murders and use poisons to kill people without fear of reprisal.  It's a weird set-up, but it's also a pretty solidly established fantasy staple, so I'm happy to roll with it.

Man, Gary really hates this guy.

This fairly lengthy section gives a lot of general advice for surviving adventures in AD&D, but it mostly boils down to two things: have an objective and stick to it, and make sure you can trust your fellow adventurers.  Other things are addressed, like making sure you have all the equipment you might need, as well as a good variety of spells and classes.  Wills are briefly touched on, for when you want to make sure your character's stuff goes to a relative when you die.  The importance of mapping is stressed again, as is the notion that avoiding monsters is generally better than fighting them.  It's an interesting window into how things were run in the Greyhawk campaign.

Not sure what I love more, the guy hoisting his axe in triumph, or the guy giving a knowing smile to the reader.

Friday, April 06, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 55: Surprise, Initiative, Encounters, Combat Procedures, Damage and Healing

The surprise rules are laid out in a fairly concise manner.  In a standard situation, each side rolls 1d6, and they are surprised on a roll of 1 or 2.  If the die indicates surprise for one side, the number rolled is the number of segments that side is surprised for.  If both sides are surprised, the difference between the two dice gives the number of segments the losing side is surprised for.  Some creatures and spells change the likelihood of surprise (1-in-6, 1-in-8, etc.), but the above rules are applied in much the same way.  It's all pretty simple, and not the complicated nightmare I'd been told to expect.  I'm wondering if the complicated stuff comes in with the DMG.
  One aspect of AD&D surprise that differs from almost every other version of the game is that a character who has surprise can make one attack per surprise segment.  That can add up to a lot of free attacks on the party, and I wouldn't be shocked if bad surprise rolls are one of the leading causes of TPKs in AD&D games that are run strictly by the book.

This section briefly outlines the nature of the various tricks, traps and encounters that the party might encounter on their adventures, and some tips for avoiding or dealing with them.  It's rudimentary stuff for experienced gamers, and there was nothing like this in OD&D.  It's similar to a lot of the advice seen in Dragon to this point though.  Things like using poles to probe the floor ahead, avoiding wandering monsters that have little treasure, minimising random encounter checks by not wasting time.  I wonder perhaps if Gary included this stuff after seeing how the game was played outside of his immediate circle, by people who were less tactically-minded.  It's all good survival advice for those starting out.

Some guidelines are given as to who acts first in an encounter, though at this point it's not dealing with first strikes in melee and the like.  Basically, the PCs roll 1d6, the monsters roll 1d6, and the highest roll goes first.  Dexterity isn't a factor, but hasted creatures always go first, and slowed creatures always lose initiative.  Like the surprise rules above, it's shockingly simple, but I know that there are complications to come.

I like that the first option given after Initiative is described is talking to the opposition: it's a clear indication to the players that there are more ways of getting through an encounter than killing.  There's not much here, though, besides bringing up the fact that non-humanoid monsters will be difficult to communicate with.

This section spends most of its time talking about bribes, and how they can be the difference between life and death for the PCs.  It also points out that even dumb monsters will know when they're outmatched, and in those cases won't push their luck when making demands.

In this section is covered the various major actions that a creature might make in combat.  The order that these actions are given in is strangely arbitrary.  I can't discern any rhyme or reason to it, and it definitely reinforces the notion that Gary was writing a lot of this off the cuff, regardless of whether that's true or not.

Turning Undead
The ability of clerics to turn undead is described, and it should once more be noted that this ability extends to demons, devils, godlings and (in the case of evil clerics) paladins.  I find it curious that this section (and pretty much this whole chapter) is mostly devoid of rules.  What we get is more like rough guidelines about what the players should know, and advice on how to play well.  It's noted that a turning cleric must be able to speak and hold forth their holy symbol, and that they can't cast any spells at the same time.

Magical Control
Gary talks a bit about items and spells that grant control over certain monsters, but rather than give guidelines about how much control is conferred, he makes it clear that these items don't function automatically.  These items must be used, and there are many ways in which that use can be disrupted.  Or, to use one of his own examples "a scroll cannot be read in the whirlwind of an air elemental's attack".  Words of wisdom.

Spell Combat
It's pointed out that spells take a long time to cast, and often go last in a round.  Casting can also be disrupted by striking, grabbing, or otherwise attacking the caster.  It seems to me that only successful attacks disrupt casting, but it's not 100% clear.

Breath Weapon Attacks
There's not much here, just a reminder that certain monsters have breath and gaze attacks, and that there are certain precautions that can be taken that might minimise their effects.  About the only thing of note here is these attacks happen really quickly, and so are difficult to disrupt.

Magical Device Attacks
Again, more vague waffle that's not all that helpful.  There are devices, they usually have an area of effect, saving throws apply, and attacks made with them happen quickly.

Missile Discharge
All this section does is outline what counts as a missile attack.  Included are catapults, rocks thrown by giants, manticore tail spikes, fireballs from a necklace of missiles, and poison spitting.  I appreciate the weird specificity here.

Melee Combat
After a brief definition of melee, and a reminder of how initiative works, it's noted that Fighters with multiple attacks will always attack first against opponents who can only attack once.  I wonder, does this apply to monsters with multiple attacks as well?  Or to non-fighters who otherwise acquire multiple attacks?  Or is it completely restricted to the Fighter and its sub-classes?  I'd be inclined not to apply this rule to monsters, because a lot of them have multiple attacks, and AD&D is deadly enough as it is.
  In a description of the melee actions a character can opt to take, there's a rule for parrying: the creature gives up its attacks, and its Strength bonus to attack rolls is subtracted from the enemy's attack rolls.  I'm not a fan of this rule, especially because the majority of AD&D character's just won't have any bonus at all.  Monsters don't even have Strength scores.  For most creatures, parrying will confer no benefit.
  Falling back is described as moving backwards away from the opponent, possibly in combination with a parry.  Fleeing exposes a creature to a rear attack as they move away from melee at top speed.  With both of these maneuvers, the opponent has the option of following the one moving, which makes a lot more sense than the "you move, now I move" sequence that D&D combat often has.

Example of Combat
In this example, five PCs (a thief, a magic-user, a cleric, a human fighter and a dwarf fighter) surprise an illusionist and twenty orcs.  There's only one thing about this example that I don't understand.  The PCs have surprise, and the magic-user starts casting a sleep spell.  After the surprise round the orcs win initiative, and one of them disrupts the spell with a thrown spear.  Sleep only has a casting time of 1, though.  Shouldn't it go off in the surprise round?
  Regardless, I'll probably use this party as a group of NPCs, probably assigning this battle as part of the backstory for whatever appropriate pre-gens are in the modules.  Or I might just decide that they all die here, and place their corpses in the Greyhawk dungeons.  If I go that way, I'll have to create a lair for the illusionist and his orcs (even though said illusionist is killed here).


Saving Throw
The process of rolling to save against various attack forms is detailed.  It's specifically pointed out that items need to make saving throws as well, although no guidelines are given.  Examples given include a cloak exposed to dragon breath, and (I love this one) a magic hammer flying through a cone of cold before reaching its target.

Armor Class
The various factors that can make up a character's Armor Class are laid out: armor, shields, Dexterity, other magic items, the dwarven bonus against giants, etc.  There's an example combat given in which it's made clear that a shield can only protect against a limited number of attackers (in this case it must be a large shield, because it's given as three).  It's also shown that a character can only react to those in front of him, so those attacking from the flanks and rear can ignore the defender's Dexterity bonus.
  The example character is a dwarf fighter, who's wearing splint mail, has a +1 shield and a displacer cloak, and has a Dexterity score of 16.  I might make him the same dwarf from the Example of Combat above, perhaps later in his career, and say that he survives both of these sample combats.

First Strike
No, it's not Jackie Chan's Police Story 4, it's the determination of who gets the first blow in melee combat.  Usually initiative determines this, but certain factors can influence it.  Fighters with multiple attacks will strike first, and take their remaining attacks last.  Slowed creatures go last, while hasted ones go first.  A creature with a significantly longer weapon than their opponent will get the first strike, at least in the opening round.  Dexterity and weapon factors are said to apply to important single combats only.

Weapon Factors
The various weapon properties are listed (damage, weight, length, space needed, speed factor, weapon vs. armor), but nothing is detailed.

Monster Attack Damage
Monsters either use weapon damage, or that of their own natural attacks.  No shit, Gary.

Attack and Saving Throw Matrices
All of the charts for attack rolls and saving throws, basically the whole guts of the combat system, are in the DMG.  I've always found this a little baffling, as I feel that it's really the sort of thing a player should have at their fingertips.  They should be able to look up the combat capabilities of the various classes, and compare them.  I know they can just get their own DMG, but I still find it a bit of an odd decision.  And then there's the fact that the DMG wasn't released for quite some time after the PHB, so at the time players could create AD&D characters but they couldn't run combats without referencing back to OD&D or the Basic Set.

Damage is taken away from hit points, and if a character is reduced to 0 or below, they're dead.  Trolls and those with a ring of regeneration are pointed out as an exception.  (Note that we still haven't got to the point where characters below 0 are dying, and can be bandaged and healed.  At this point, it's still outright death.)

Falling deals 1d6 damage per 10 feet, to a maximum of 20d6, possibly modified by the surface landed on.  The possibility that the referee might dish out broken bones and the like instead is alluded to.  I'm not 100% sure about this, but this might be the first time that falling damage has been outlined in the game.

Natural healing occurs at a rate of 1hp per day of rest, and after 30 days of rest that healing increases to 5hp/day.  This can be slow for high-level characters, and creates the strange phenomenon whereby 1st-level characters heal up from their wounds much faster than those of higher levels.
  In OD&D, characters didn't heal anything on the first day of rest, and after that they regained a hit point on "every other day thereafter".  Depending on how you interpret "every other day", that could mean that healing rates have doubled since OD&D, or it could mean that they're pretty much the same (at least for the first 30 days of rest).

Thursday, March 29, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 54: Spell Casting, Encumbrance and Movement

This section details the standard Vancian spell system for D&D, giving the basics of how it works.  It also specifies that if spellcasting is interrupted in any way - such as the caster being shot by an arrow for instance - the spell is lost.  There's a little bit about verbal and somatic components, and the kinds of things that can disrupt them: magical silence, paralysis, being grappled, etc.  Gary specifies at the end that any spell being cast in combat requires the player to be ready with his choice when the round begins: any hesitation, and the moment is lost.

Scroll Spells
There's a short bit about how spell scrolls work.  When read the spell disappears, and there's no need for somatic or material components.  Spells from scrolls are generally cast at 12th level, although attack spells are apparently a bit more variable.  Gary directs the reader to the Dungeon Master's Guide for more info.

In this section, Gary writes about the three main adventuring areas: dungeons, wilderness and cities.  There's nothing too revelatory here, just an outline of the basics, and some rudimentary survival tips.  The city section probably contains the most interesting stuff.  It's mentioned there that "questions about rank, profession, god and alignment are perilous, and the use of an alignment tongue is socially repulsive in most places".  There are a lot of setting implications in that short passage.

A brief discussion of encumbrance and movement rates is given.  In very general terms, a character carrying about 35# (pounds) of gear can move at 12".  One carrying about 70# can move at 9", and one with about 105# can move at 6", and has their reaction time and initiative slowed.  Gear over 105# results in a character only being able to move at 3" or 4", and being greatly slowed in reaction time and initiative.  It's also mentioned that bulk should factor into these calculations as well, but that's left pretty vague.  Strength scores modify these numbers (which wasn't the case in OD&D until the Greyhawk supplement).
  We learn that ten coins weigh a pound (which makes for some pretty hefty coins).  The weights of items have previously been given in coins, so it's kind of irritating to be working with two different measurements here; I feel like AD&D should stick with one.  If I recall correctly, coins are the usual measurement, so I probably don't have to worry about it.  I guess it's also handy for when you have to come up with weights for items that aren't in the PHB.
  I'm kind of surprised that we're not given anything specific here for how armor affects movement.  It's mentioned in passing, but there were no weights given for the various suits of armor in the equipment chapter, as far as I can see.  Have I missed something, or will this be delayed until the DMG?
  It's interesting to note the differences in how much characters can carry between OD&D and AD&D.  If I'm interpreting OD&D correctly, then any character carrying up to 750gp can move as Light Foot (12").  One carrying up to 1,000gp can move as Heavy Foot (9").  One carrying up to 1,500gp moves as Armored Foot (6").  In AD&D, it would seem that 12" movement ends at 350gp, 9" ends at 700gp, and 6" movement ends at 1,050gp.  The numbers given for AD&D are much smaller, but it should also be remembered that Strength didn't originally modify encumbrance in OD&D.

The scale of movement and how it interacts with the passage of time and your surroundings is detailed here.  Dungeon movement is tracked in tens of feet per turn, so that a character with a movement rate of 12" will cover 120 feet in ten minutes.  This seems ultra-slow, but it assumes mapping and exploring an unfamiliar area.  This rate is multiplied by five in familiar areas, and multiplied by ten when fleeing.  When the movement rate is so increased, it mentions that each move takes 1/5 or 1/10 of a turn; does this mean that wandering monster checks come more frequently, or does it only affect movement rates?  It also mentions that movement rates aren't increased during flight when you're encumbered, which is a little odd, but I guess it motivates fleeing characters to dump whatever treasure they might be loaded down with.  What do you do if you're in plate mail though?
  Combat movement is converted to tens of feet per minute (so the same pace as when you're fleeing), which is further divided by ten for each segment.  Again it seems slow - remember that a round is 1 minute and a segment is 6 seconds - but Gary counters by saying that the character is in a dangerous situation and probably on the defensive.
  For outdoor movement, the movement rate is converted to the number of miles the character can cover in half a day.  Combat in the wilderness is handled the same as in the dungeon, which surprised me.  I thought there'd be a mention of movement outside being converted to tens of yards rather than feet.
  In cities, movement is converted to tens of feet per minute.  If you're mapping, it reverts to tens of feet per turn (10 minutes), just as in the dungeon.  Mapping a city seems like a weird thing to do, though.
  There's also a note about mapping being impossible when pursued, and that light is required.  You can't map using infravision, either.  Is this the first indication that infravision is based on heat?  I can't recall for certain.  Gary also mentions that some standard maze navigation tricks - such as making marks or leaving a string - are useless, because monsters will come along and destroy them.

The range of illumination is given for various common light sources, although candles are a notable omission.  They're on the equipment list, so they really should be here as well.  Interestingly, the range of illumination is given for magic daggers, short swords and longswords.  Do all of these weapons glow in AD&D if they're magical?  What about other magic weapons?
  Infravision is described here specifically as "the ability to see radiation in the infra-red spectrum", and it's noted that most monsters and nocturnal animals will have it.  It's also mentioned that it's likely that not every member of an adventuring party will have infravision, and so a light source will probably be required.

Further information is given regarding infravision.  It detects heat radiation, so that warm objects are bright, cool objects are grey, and cold ones are black.  Dungeon dwelling monsters will have an infravision of 120', which is double that which will be possessed by most PCs.  Infravision is spoiled by regular light, and sources of great heat.  There's also a bit about it being able to pick up thieves that are hiding in shadows.  It's logical, but I feel like the poor old thief doesn't need to be hobbled in this fashion.

Creatures with this vision can see into the ultra-violet spectrum (gamma rays and x-rays are specifically mentioned), allowing them to see well at night.  Wouldn't this type of vision be more suitable for nocturnal animals than infravision?

Basically, thieves and those with the relevant magic items have the ability to move with complete silence.  Anyone else is out of luck - they can move quietly, but not silently.  The percentage roll for figuring this out is explained, and it's noted that characters moving silently gain a bonus to surprise rolls.

After a quick mention that cloaks of elvenkind provide invisibility to the area they cover, and that spells provide superior invisibility, it's noted that an invisible character still needs light to see, and that light will be visible to anyone else around as well.  Gary's always quick to point out logical stuff like this, especially when it can hose the PCs.  I guess it applies equally to monsters, but probably not, because most of them will have infravision.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 53: 7th-Level Illusionist Spells

There are six spells of 7th level for illusionists in AD&D, the same number as in OD&D.  The only difference is that maze has been replaced by first level magic-user spells.

Alter Reality: This spell is similar to limited wish, meaning that it can accomplish pretty much anything the caster desires, albeit partially or with a limited duration.  The major difference is that the illusionist must first visualise the effect they want with a phantasmal force.  (I assume this requires a separate casting of that spell, and isn't included as part of alter reality.)
  The OD&D spell is the same, although it only requires the casting of an illusion, not phantasmal force specifically.

Astral Spell: Like the 7th level cleric spell, this allows the caster to project into the Astral Plane, and from there enter the Outer Planes.  Check out this earlier post for my thoughts on the cleric version of the spell, and how it interacts with Gygax's previous writings on the planes.
  The OD&D spell seems to have been intended to allow the caster to explore the material plane in an astral form, rather than granting travel to other planes.  It doesn't mention the planes at all, as the spell was created before Gary had published his ideas about D&D cosmology.

Prismatic Spray: The caster fires seven rays, each of a different color and effect.  The ray that strikes the target is determined randomly, and it's possible that multiple rays may strike the target.  The various effects refer back to prismatic sphere, which I'll recap here: red - inflicts 10 damage; orange - inflicts 20 damage; yellow - inflicts 40 damage; green - save vs. poison or die; blue - save vs. petrification or turned to stone; indigo - save vs wand or driven insane; violet - save vs. magic or sent to another plane.
  Prismatic spray was mentioned in OD&D, as a new spell in an article from The Dragon #1.  But although it was in the list of new spells, it didn't actually get a proper description.  This is the first time that the spell has been given concrete rules.

Prismatic Wall: This spell is also similar to prismatic sphere, but it creates a wall that is 4' wide per caster level, and 2' high per level.  Anyone passing through is subject to all of the effects listed above under prismatic spray.  Each colour can be dispelled with a specific spell.
  In OD&D, the red, orange and yellow colours did slightly more damage.  The indigo colour turned creatures into crystal rather than driving them insane.  And the violet colour drive characters insane rather than sending them to another plane.

Vision: The caster contacts some sort of supernatural enemy, and asks a question which may be answered with a vision.  The result of this contact is determined randomly.  A high roll results in a useful vision, a medium roll results in a vision that may or may not be relevant, and a low roll results in the entity being annoyed and hitting the caster with a geas or quest.  The material component is the sacrifice of something important to the caster or the entity, and something very precious will grant a bonus to the roll.
  The OD&D spell doesn't specifically say that the reply comes in a vision.  It uses the NPC Reaction Tables to determine the result, but it is otherwise the same.  There's no mention of material components, though.

First-Level Magic-User Spells: Instead of gaining a 7th-level spell, the caster gains a number of 1st-level magic-user spells.  The list of spells to choose from isn't complete: dancing lights, detect magic, find familiar, identify, jump, light, push, spider climb, ventriloquism and write aren't included.  The illusionist gains four spells at 14th level, and an additional one per level above that - presumably this isn't set in stone when the spell is cast, and the caster keeps gaining m-u spells as they level up.  They don't get the spells automatically, though - they must seek them out like a magic-user.  To my mind this seems weak for a 7th-level spell, but I suppose it does give the illusionist a little more utility.  And magic missile is a pretty good spell even at high levels.
  The OD&D version of the spell was 4th level, and allowed the illusionist the use of every 1st-level magic-user spell.  No doubt Gary decided that this was too powerful, and pulled it back.  There was also a 5th-level spell that granted the use of all 2nd-level magic-user spells, but that was completely gotten rid of.

Some illusionist end-notes: So that's the end of the illusionist spell list, and the end of the PHB spells entirely.  Going back over my notes, I was reminded that the Illusionist spell list was rolled out in a piecemeal fashion.  The class was introduced by Peter Aronson in The Strategic Review #4, which gave spells up to 5th level.  For the most part they all made the transition, aside from the aforementioned 2nd-level magic-user spells.  Another article by Aronson in The Dragon #1 brought in spell levels 6 and 7, as well as introducing some more lower level spells.  Again, these made the cut for AD&D mostly unscathed.
  There was a third article about illusionists by Rafael Ovalle in The Dragon #12, which brought in a lot of extra details about illusionists and introduced a load of new spells.  None of these made it into the PHB, possibly because they were published too late.  Whatever the reason, it seems like they faded into obscurity.  I'll still have them in my Ultimate Sandbox campaign, but as spells that can be discovered in old tomes and scrolls rather than ones on the default spell list.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Play Report: Journey to the Sandbox

So I played some D&D yesterday, the first game I've had since... 2011? Can that be right?  Alas, yes.  It's one of the perils of growing up, and not really enjoying gaming with people I don't know.  It's left me with a small playing group of people who have very full lives, so chances to game have been scarce.

As to the game itself, it's a continuation of a 3rd edition campaign that's been running on and off - mostly off - since 2004.  The PCs just wrapped up all of the adventure hooks and subplots in the initial area (a wilderness fortress) and the goal for this game was to get them to a new area, the largest city in the world.

I haven't played much in recent years, but I've been thinking and reading about the game a lot, and I wanted to transition away from obvious pre-planned adventures and more into a sandbox style game.  So I mapped out the city, the catacombs beneath and the wilderness.  I came up with random encounter tables.  I wrote brief descriptions of a bunch of other adventure sites that the PCs could pursue or ignore if they wished.  To be honest I felt a little underprepared, but I'll have to get used to that if I'm going to keep things open-ended.

The first surprise to me is that the whole session went by without any combat, and barely any dice-rolling at all.  I've never experienced this before, and after the game I felt a little guilty about it.  There were certainly opportunities for conflict, and one scenario was right on the brink of it, but it just didn't happen.  The players who showed up were the cautious ones.  I probably shouldn't worry about it, because everyone was engaged and having fun, and interested in exploring their new home base.  But it doesn't quite feel like I gave them a real game.

In addition to that, I could see them struggling with a lack of obvious hooks.  I'm hoping they'll adjust in time, and become a bit more proactive.  I won't rely on it though, and for the next game I'll give them a choice of maybe three obvious things to do.  I've also told them outright that I don't care where the game goes, and that they should pursue their own goals both long term and short term.  I'm confident it'll work out, but it's going to be an adjustment.

The only other issue we had was a small bit of debate about how the spell detect thoughts works.  Does the target know that their mind is being invaded?  In this case the spell was cast right in front of the target, so I ruled that he knew.  In other cases, where the target hasn't seen any spellcasting, I'd rule that they don't know.  I need to look into this to see if there are any specific rules, but it's not a huge deal.

Other than those misgivings, it was great to be back in the saddle, and I'm looking forward to more.  The current plan is to make myself available to play once a month, regardless of who shows up.  The groups might be smaller, but I'll settle for it.  I'm not having another 6 year hiatus, that's for damn sure.

Friday, March 16, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 52: 6th-Level Illusionist Spells

There are 8 spells of 6th level for illusionists in AD&D, up from 6 in OD&D.  Shadow Monsters III has been renamed to shades, demi-shadow magic has been brought up from 5th level, and veil is brand new.

Conjure Animals: Like the 6th-level cleric spell, it allows the caster to summon a number of animals whose total Hit Dice are equal to the level of the caster.  It has a duration of 1 round/level (vs. 2 rounds/level for clerics) and a casting time of 6 segments (vs. 9 for clerics.)  I find the actual conjuring of for-real creatures somewhat of an odd fit for illusionists.  Doesn't it go against the theme a bit?  I suppose stage magicians are always pulling animals out of things though, so maybe it's fine.
  The OD&D version of the spell wasn't limited by Hit Dice.  It allowed the caster to summon one creature the size of an elephant, three the size of bears, or six the size of wolves.

Demi-Shadow Magic: The spell works like shadow magic (detailed in my last post), but it also allows the illusionist to cast quasi-real versions of wall of fire, wall of ice or cloudkill.  As with shadow magic, the spells function as though real to anyone who fails their saving throw.  Against anyone who makes it, the damage is reduced, and in the case of cloudkill it will only kill creatures with less than 2 Hit Dice.  It can still be used to cast the same spells as shadow magic, but they now deal 2 points of damage per level instead of 1 against those who make their save.
  The OD&D version of the spell was the same in that it dealt more damage then the weaker version of the spell.  It didn't allow for the casting of magic missile, cone of cold, or cloudkill.  The original spell allowed the casting of death spell, which seems to have been replaced by cloudkill.

Mass Suggestion: This works like the suggestion spell, but it affects one creature per level, as long as they're all within 3" of the caster.  Every target is under the same suggestion.  If cast on a single target, there's a penalty to their saving throw.
  The OD&D spell was the same, but it affected 1d8 targets rather than one per level.

Permanent Illusion: Like spectral force, it creates an illusion of a creature or object with visual, sound, smell, and thermal elements.  The main difference is that the illusion is permanent, requiring no concentration from the caster.
  The OD&D spell was exactly the same.

Programmed Illusion: This spell sets up a spectral force that is triggered by certain conditions, and last for 1 round/level.
  The OD&D spell had a flat duration of 12 turns, rather than 1 round/level.

Shades: Similar to shadow monsters and demi-shadow monsters, but the creatures created are 60% real.
  In OD&D this spell was called shadow monsters III.  It granted creatures a base AC of 7 (whereas the AD&D spell remains at AC 10), and allowed the creation of a total Hit Dice equal to double the illusionist's level (in AD&D it still remains equal to the caster's level).

True Sight: Like the 5th-level cleric spell (called true seeing), it allows the caster to everything within range in its true form, regardless of illusions, polymorphs, and other forms of disguise.  Unlike the cleric spell, the illusionist isn't able to discern alignment.  The illusionist spell has a range of 6" (vs. 12" for clerics) and a casting time of 1 round (vs. 8 segments).  Illusionists don't require any material components.
  The OD&D spell allowed the caster to discern alignment, class, level and the intentions of any target.  I'm not surprised that Gary jettisoned all of that.  It also had a complicated duration formula of the character's level minus 10, + 1d6 rounds.  In AD&D it's a simple 1 round/level.

Veil: The caster is able to change the visuals of their surroundings and/or their party.  These illusions can be touched without disappearing, and will only be penetrated by true seeing, a gem of seeing, or the like.

As you may have noticed, I'm powering through these entries as quickly as possible.  I started detailing these spells all the way back in 2016, and once I got started I felt obligated to see it the whole way through, regardless of how tedious it got.  Well, the end is quite literally in sight: I'm finally at a page in my PHB where the spell entries are done.  For those of you who followed me through this, thank you.  It should be quite a while before I do something like this again: I'm thinking it'll be when I hit the Moldvay Basic Set, and obviously that won't be anywhere near as long.  Regardless, I'm glad to be almost done.  It can only get more interesting from here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 51: 5th-Level Illusionist Spells

There are 8 spells of 5th-level for illusionists in AD&D, the same number as in OD&D.  The lists are a bit different, though.  The spells create spectres and 2nd level magic-user spells have both been dumped entirely.  Shadow magic is now 5th-level, whereas it was 4th in OD&D.  This means that demi-shadow magic has been bumped up from 5th to 6th.  Maze has been added in from the magic-user list, and shadow door is brand new.

Chaos: This is a variant of the 7th-level druid spell confusion, but instead of affecting 2-8 creatures it affects everyone within an area of up to 4" x 4".  The only creatures that get saving throws against this spell are straight fighters (not paladins or rangers), illusionists, and monsters with no magic and an Intelligence of 4 or less.  If I'm reading this spell correctly, it's incredibly powerful; you could take multiple high-level foes out of a fight unless they have magic resistance.  Going through this list is making me begin to realise why some 1e players love the illusionist.
  The OD&D spell only affected a 3" x 3" area.  It only gave a saving throw to high-level fighters and illusionists, whereas AD&D makes no such distinction.  It also lasted for as long as the illusionist maintained concentration, whereas AD&D changes it to 1 round/level. The range has also been changed from a flat 12" to 1/2" per round.

Demi-Shadow Monsters: This spell works exactly like shadow monsters (detailed in my last post), but instead of being 20% real the monsters created are 40% real, with an AC of 8.
  The only difference from the OD&D version is that the original spell allowed the caster to summon 1.5 times their level in total monster Hit Dice.  The AD&D spell keeps it to 1 level per Hit Die, the same as shadow monsters.

Major Creation: This spell is like minor creation (detailed in my last post), but it can also create mineral objects, things made from metals and stone.  These will last for 6 turns/level, and any vegetable-based items created last for double that.
  Again, as with  minor creation, the items created by this spell in OD&D were limited by weight rather than volume.  It also said that the caster gets "full djinni creation powers", which is a lot stronger than the AD&D spell, as it gives any vegetable matter created a permanent duration.  Metal items created were limited in duration based on the hardness of the metal, with gold lasting a day.

Maze: Like the 8th-level magic-user spell, it traps the target in an extra-dimensional maze.  The only difference between the two spells is that the illusionist spell has a casting time of 5 segments, whereas magic-users take 3 segments.  It has no saving throw, but a duration based on the target's intelligence.
  The OD&D spell had only minor differences in duration.  It also didn't mention that Minotaurs are immune to it.

Projected Image: Like the 6th-level magic-user spell (called project image), it creates an illusion of the caster that can be used to cast spells.  It has a range of 1/2" per level (1"/level for an m-u), and a casting time of 5 segments (1 turn for an m-u).  For some reason, the illusionist spell gives no duration at all, which I would assume is a mistake.  The magic-user spell has a duration of 1 round/level.
  The OD&D spell had a flat range of 24" and a duration of 6 turns.  It also didn't mention anything about the image being immune to damage, or specifically vulnerable to dispel magic.  It was otherwise the same as in AD&D.

Shadow Door: This spell creates an illusory door.  If the illusionist steps through, he turns invisible and can flee.  (No word on whether this spell functions like regular invisibility or improved invisibility).  Anyone else who looks through or enters this door will find a 10' x 10' room, and only a true seeing spell or a gem of seeing will reveal the truth.

Shadow Magic: The caster can cast quasi-real versions of the following spells: magic missile, fireball, lightning bolt or cone of cold.  It will deal regular damage on someone who fails their save, but against anyone who makes the save it deals 1 hp/level.
  The OD&D spell was similar, but it allowed the following spells instead: lightning bolt, fireball, wall of fire, wall of ice, and death spell.  As in AD&D, these spells were fully effective against those who made a saving throw.  Against others they dealt reduced damage, and the death spell would kill 1d8 1st-level creatures.

Summon Shadow: Summons one shadow for every 3 levels of the caster, fully under their control.  The material component is a bit of smoky quartz.
  The OD&D spell summoned one shadow for every level of the caster over 5th, so this spell has been significantly nerfed.