Saturday, January 27, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 45: 8th-Level Magic-User Spells

There are 16 magic-user spells of 8th level in AD&D, up from 8 in OD&D.  All 8 OD&D spells have made the transition to AD&D at the same level.  One spell - maze - was originally 9th level.

Antipathy/Sympathy: This spell imbues an object or an area with an aura that either attracts or repels certain creatures.  It can be set up to affect a specific creature type (hill giant, red dragon, orc, etc.), or a specific alignment.  If set up to repel, all relevant creatures need to make a saving throw to remain in the area, but if they do remain they suffer some loss of Dexterity.  If it is set to attract, all relevant creatures need to make a saving throw or they'll feel an overwhelming urge to remain in the area, or to grasp the object.  Even if they make the save, they'll need to make another in 1-6 turns to prevent themselves from going back.

Bigby's Clenched Fist: Creates a fist that the caster can use to strike opponents with.  It always hits, with its effect dependent on a d20 roll, ranging from 1-6 damage to 4-24 damage and stunning for 3 rounds.  It has the same number of hp as the caster.  The material component is a leather glove, and a device made of four rings that sounds a lot like brass knuckles.
  There's a bit of an inconsistency in this spell that I'm not sure about.  It says that no other spell-casting can be done while the fist is in effect, but later it says that it can be used with any of the other Bigby's Hand spells.  So can those spells be cast and no others?  Or can the Clenched Fist also be made to perform the actions of those earlier spells?  I might be inclined to allow the latter.

Clone: This spell creates an exact duplicate of a person that grows over 2-8 months.  The clone and original know of each other's existence, and will seek to destroy the other.  If this hasn't been achieved within a week, there's a 95% chance that one will go insane (most probably the clone), and a 5% chance that both will go mad and commit suicide.  The material component is a piece of flesh from the original, and the clone will possess the attributes of the original from when that flesh was taken.
  The OD&D spell was much the same, but with that spell it was inevitable that clone and original would both go insane.  It also spells out that the spell is useful for being brought back from destruction, provided a lump of flesh and appropriate instructions are left behind with the right people.

Glassteel: Gives a small amount of glass or crystal (10 lb./level) the strength of steel, with a permanent duration.  It material components are a piece of glass and a piece of steel.

Incendiary Cloud: Creates a cloud that burst into flame after a number of rounds.  On the third round it deals damage of 1/2 hit point per level, and in the 4th round it deals 1 hp per level, before dropping back to 1/2.  After the 5th round, it is simply an obscuring cloud.  It requires an existing fire source, and affects an area 100 times that of the fire.
  I'm tempted to criticise this as yet another high-level spell that doesn't deal a whole lot of damage, but that area effect is potentially massive - under the right conditions, you could wipe out an army with this spell.

Mass Charm: This works like charm monster, but it can affect a number of creatures with Hit Dice totalling up to twice that of the caster.  The spell is potent, and all targets suffer a -2 penalty to their saves.
  In OD&D, the spell affected a flat 30 "levels" of monsters, with "level" here presumably referring to Hit Dice.  It had a range of 12", as opposed to 1/2"/level in AD&D.

Maze: The target of this spell is doomed to wander in an extradimensional maze of force planes, for a time determined by their Intelligence.  In a lovely mythological touch, Minotaurs are immune to this spell.
  This spell was 9th level in OD&D.  It was much the same, but it's duration based on Intelligence had less tiers.  On the whole the AD&D spell lasts longer - a creature of average Intelligence in OD&D will be trapped as long as someone with an Int of 17 in AD&D.  There was nothing mentioned in OD&D about minotaurs.

Mind Blank: The recipient of this spell is protected from all forms of mind-reading and also cannot be discovered by scrying devices and spells.  This also includes psionics, and even wishes, but doesn't extend to powerful deities.
  The OD&D spell is the same, albeit with a much shorter list of powers that it protects from.  It doesn't specify protection from psionics, or mention deities at all.

Monster Summoning VI: This summons 1 or 2 monsters of 6th level.  Once more taking a look at the tables from Supplement I: Greyhawk shows some exceedingly nasty stuff: titans, golems, balrogs, beholders, liches, purple worms.
  The OD&D spell only summoned a single 6th level monster.

Otto's Irresistible Dance: The target of the spell must dance uncontrollably, suffering a -4 AC penalty, losing all shield bonuses, and automatically failing all saving throws.  Note that this spell also has no save, although it does require a touch attack.  Still, if it works it gives you 2-5 rounds to throw spells at a target for which it will get no saving throw, which seems pretty deadly to me.
  From what I can gather, Otto was an NPC magic-user that lived on the second level of Castle Greyhawk, who was subdued by various PCs and became the henchman of Robilar. 

Permanency: This spell can be used to make another permanent, but there's a finite list of spells (twenty in all) that it can affect.  Some of the better examples are infravision, protection from normal missiles,  and enlarge.  Any spell that is made permanent on the caster drains him of 1 point of Constitution.
  The OD&D version was known as permanent spell, and had far more leeway in interpretation.  It was recommended that there be a limit of one permanent spell per object, and two per creature, but otherwise it's left up to the DM.  It specifically mentions levitate, haste, fly, and water breathing, all of which are not allowable in AD&D.

Polymorph Any Object: This spell can be used to transform any creature or object into anything else, with the duration determined by the difference between the two forms.  If the forms are closely related it will be permanent, but otherwise it varies.  It's barely been changed from the OD&D version.

Power Word, Blind: This spell affects up to100 hp worth of creatures, striking them blind with no saving throw.  The spell lasts longer the less hp worth of creatures it affects.
  The OD&D version of the spell worked on a single creature of up to 80 hit points, and its blindness effect lasted for days rather than rounds.

Serten's Spell Immunity: The caster can grant resistance to various spells to a number of targets, one per 4 levels of the caster.  It lasts for 16 rounds, but this is spread out between all recipients.  The spells it grants resistance to (in the form of a saving throw bonus) are mostly mind-affecting: charm, suggestion, fear, hold, geas, quest, etc.  The material components are diamond dust sprinkled over each target, and a diamond in the possession of each target as well.
  Serten was a cleric played by Ernie Gygax, which raises the question: why is an 8th level magic-user spell named for a cleric?  He most certainly didn't develop it himself.

Symbol: This spell creates a magic rune that has one of a number of effects when triggered: death (killing up to 80 hp worth of creatures); discord (loud bickering); fear; hopelessness (the targets are dejected and basically helpless); insanity (targets act randomly); pain (-2 dexterity and -4 attacks); sleep; and stunning.  It has a material component of 5,000gp worth of powdered opal and diamond.
  The OD&D version of the spell has less effects (fear, discord, sleep, stunning, insanity, death).  The first three of those have no limit on the number affected.  The latter three start talking about "level points", which isn't entirely clear.  If it refers to Hit Dice, then the "death" function kills 75 Hit Dice worth of creatures, which is pretty full on.  If it refers to hit points, then the power levels are somewhat comparable.

Trap the Soul:  The target's soul is trapped in a specially prepared gem worth 1,000gp per Hit Dice of the target.  The true name of the target is required for this spell to work.  It can be cast directly on the target (in which case they get magic resistance and a saving throw), or it can be applied to a "trigger object" that will trap the target when it is handled.  The soul is trapped forever, or until the gem is broken.  If the creature trapped is a powerful extraplanar being, the person releasing them may demand a service of some sort.  In a great touch, this can apply to high-level PCs who are so trapped outside of the Prime Material Plane.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 44: 7th-Level Magic-User Spells

There are sixteen magic-user spells of 7th level in AD&D, up from the nine that were in OD&D.  The OD&D list has made the transition unchanged, and the remainder of the spells are all new.

Bigby's Grasping Hand: This is a more powerful version of Bigby's forceful hand, but rather than pushing targets away it grasps and holds them motionless.  It can hold a creature of up to 1,000 pounds weight, and it can move creatures of up to 500 pounds away from the caster.  The material component is a leather glove.  I'm a little underwhelmed by the weight limit for such a high-level spell, but on the other hand it offers no saving throw, and it ignores the target's level and Hit Dice, so I guess it's a good way of taking out a high-level NPC.

Cacodemon: This spell is used to summon a specific, named Demon of Type IV, V or VI, which can then be bargained with to perform some sort of service.  I'd be shocked if this spell wasn't one of the more oft-quoted passages during the 80s "devil's game" witch-hunts, as it has all sorts of language about making pacts with demons and blood sacrifices and whatnot, with little more than lip service given to the idea that this is something that would probably be restricted to evil characters.
  There are three methods given for bargaining with a summoned demon.  The first involves invoking the threat of the spiritwrack spell, which has a pretty good chance of turning said demon into your enemy.  The second method involves the offering of human sacrifices, which is a little safer, but can still go wrong if the demon decides that the tribute is insufficient.  The third involves using a trap the soul spell to imprison the demon within an inanimate object, which can be broken later on to release the demon to do the bidding of whoever just did the breaking.  All throughout these descriptions it's reiterated that dealing with demons is dangerous, that they will turn a bargain against the caster at any opportunity, and that the proper protection is required to deal with them safely (protection circles, thaumaturgic triangles, and the like, which aren't really described in the Player's Handbook but are further developed in the Dungeon Masters Guide.)
  As I mentioned above, the true name of the demon to be summoned is required for the spell.  It's specifically stated that there are no demons weaker than Type IV whose names are known, and the spell is not strong enough to summon anything stronger than Type VI (like Orcus or Demogorgon).  There's a chance with each casting that the demon named has already been imprisoned or destroyed in the past, or simply that the name has been pronounced incorrectly.  In all of those cases, a new name will be required to attempt the spell again.
  Material components are five black candles, a brazier of hot coals, sulphur, bat hair, lard, soot, mercuric-nitric acid crystals, mandrake root, alcohol, and a piece of parchment with the demon's name on it.  It also requires a dish of blood from some mammal, preferably human, so there's blood sacrifice going on with this spell regardless of how the caster wants to use it.

Charm Plants: Plants in a 3"x1" area come under the control of the caster, and will obey his commands to the best of their abilities (including any special abilities a plant might have).  Intelligent plants get a saving throw (with a -4 penalty).  The material  components are a pinch of humus, a drop of water and a twig or leaf.
  The OD&D version of the spell had more specific limits on the number of plants affected based on size, rather effecting everything in a blanket area.  It had a range of 12", which has been shortened to 3" in AD&D.

Delayed Blast Fireball: It's a fireball that deals 1d6+1 damage per caster level, that can also be delayed for 1 to 50 segments (a segment being 1/10th of a round).  I've never, ever seen the delay effect used, but the extra damage dealt has always been appreciated.

Drawmij's Instant Summons: A non-living object no larger than a sword and no heavier than a shield can be instantly summoned into the caster's hand from anywhere.  The item needs to be previously prepared, and a 5,000gp gem is also required for the preparation as well as the casting.  The object can be summoned from other planes of existence (being able to traverse more planes the higher-level the caster is), but it can't be summoned if it's in the possession of someone else (although the spell will reveal the identity of the possessor).  It's another spell that I'm not sure justifies its high level and exorbitant material requirements.
  This is the first in-game appearance of Drawmij, a character from the Greyhawk campaign played by (who else) Jim Ward.  Apparently the spell was created by Gary after a game where Ward's character had left a potentially life-saving magic item behind, and complained that wizards should have some means of summoning important objects to their hand.  It's not clear whether the name Drawmij was coined by Gary for the spell and later adopted by Jim Ward, or if it happened the other way around.

Duo-Dimension: The caster becomes two-dimensional (losing the dimension of depth).  Thus they can slip through cracks, and become invisible by turning sideways.  While so invisible they can only be detected by a true seeing spell, and they are immune to all forms of attack.  Otherwise, attacks on them deal triple the normal amount of damage.  Recipients of this spell are partially within the Astral Plane, and can be drawn fully into it if noticed and attacked by a hostile Astral creature.  The material components are a strip of parchment, and an ivory likeness of the caster worth 5,000-10,000 gp (which is consumed by the spell).  Again, it's a spell that costs a hell of a lot to use.

Limited Wish: A spell that can pretty much do anything the caster asks for, within ill-defined limits.  It can't create wealth or grant experience.  Some examples that the spell gives are as follows: it can partially or temporarily restore hit points, reduce damage and hit probabilities of enemies, increase a spell's duration, change the disposition of a monster, or give minor clues to treasure or magic items.  Greedy desires will often turn against the caster.
  The OD&D spell is much the same, but doesn't bother to give any examples of what the spell can accomplish.

Mass Invisibility: Works like invisibility, but it affects a 3" x 3" area.  Practically, this means that it can affect 300-400 man-sized creatures, 30-40 giants or 6-8 large dragons.
  The OD&D version of the spell could affect 100-300 man-sized creatures, or up to 6 dragons.  It had a range of 24", as opposed to 1"/level in AD&D.

Monster Summoning V: Summons 1 or 2 monsters of 5th level, that appear after 1-3 rounds.  Looking at the Supplement I: Greyhawk tables (the only ones available at time of publication) shows a very nice spread of powerful monsters: trolls, ogre magi, wyverns, umber hulks, and even lammasu.
  The OD&D version of the spell summoned but a single monster of 5th level.

Mordenkainen's Sword: Summons a "sword-like plane of force" that can be wielded mentally by the caster.  It attacks as a fighter half the level of the caster, and can hit any creature (even those that are astral, ethereal or struck only by magical weapons).  It deals 5-20 damage to a man-sized creature, 5-30 to anything larger, and will automatically hit on a 19 or 20 regardless of the target's AC.  The material component is a miniature platinum replica worth 500 gp.
  (I've already talked about Mordenkainen in an earlier post.)

Phase Door: The caster can pass through walls in a similar manner to the passwall spell, but a phase door is invisible to everyone else and can be used on multiple walls per casting.  It can be dispelled by dispel magic cast by a higher-level caster.  There's also an intriguing mention here of lower level casters being able to cast dispel magic in concert, and thus combine their levels for the purposes of the spell (though in this case they need to be double the level of the caster).  This isn't something mentioned in the dispel magic description, so I'm wondering if it's just useful in this specific instance, or more generally?  I rather like it.
  The OD&D spell is similar, but it can be used 7 times per casting rather than a number based on the caster's level.  The bit about casters combining their level for a dispel magic was also present in OD&D.

Power Word, Stun: Stuns any one creature for a number of rounds based on their hit points (4-16 rounds for creatures with 1-30 hp, 2-8 rounds for 31-60 hp, and 1-4 rounds for creatures with 61-90 hp).  Creatures with over 90 hp are not affected.  It should absolutely be noted that this spell offers no saving throw: it's an instant death sentence for any solitary creature that's under the hp limit (unless they happen to have magic resistance).  It's also interesting that the spell goes off the creature's current hit points rather than their total.  I tend to do the opposite in most cases.
  The OD&D spell was similarly tied to the target's hit points, but it had a maximum cap of 70hp.  This is understandable, as the hit points of monsters and PCs has increased on average since the spell was first created.  It had a range of 12", whereas AD&D has changed that to 1/2" per level, shortening the range for the vast majority of casters.

Reverse Gravity: Affects a 3" x 3" square area, causing everything within that area to fall upwards for a single second.  Apparently it can affect things even thousands of feet in the air, so it has no practical upper range.  The objects "fall" 16 feet during that time.
  The OD&D spell was the same, but it didn't have anything to say about the spell's vertical limit (or lack thereof). It had a range of 9", which has been changed to 1/2" per level for AD&D.

Simulacrum: A duplicate of the target is created from snow and ice.  It is physically indistinguishable from the target, but is significantly weaker in level and hit points, and doesn't have the target's full knowledge.  The simulacrum is mindless, and must be commanded by the caster.  It can be given "vital force" with a reincarnation spell, and a limited wish empowers it with a portion of the target's knowledge and personality.  The simulacrum can never gain levels.  The material component is a powdered ruby, as well as a piece of the target placed within the snow or ice.
  In OD&D, an ice storm spell was necessary if there was no snow present, and an animate spell was required as well (presumably this was changed to reincarnation).  It's noted that the real person will be easily identifiable the two are encountered together.  There's also a bit about the simulacrum gaining in strength if the original person is killed, which I like a lot.  (On the whole, I would say that the OD&D spell is better explained than its AD&D counterpart.)

Statue: The target of the spell is transformed into a statue, and can change back and forth for as long as the spell lasts.  The target retains all of its senses while a statue, and can be damaged, but is indistinguishable from a regular statue.  Somewhat alarmingly, the use of the spell requires a system shock roll to survive, albeit one that's easier to survive than usual.  The material component is lime, sand, and a drop of water stirred by an iron bar.

Vanish: The caster can cause an object to disappear, and reappear elsewhere at a location of their choosing.  It has a weight limit of 500 gp per caster level.  Heavier objects can be made to disappear, but when they "reappear" they are replaced by a like amount of stone.