Thursday, December 10, 2015

Notes on OD&D - Part 18

Continuing on the journey through OD&D ... Men & Magic - The Spells List ...

Men & Magic 

  • p23 - 25 - Explanation of Spells - 2nd Level
Detect Invisible (Objects): A spell to find secreted treasure hidden by an invisibility spell.  It will also locate invisible creatures.  Duration: 6 turns.  Range: 1" x the level of the Magic-User casting it.

There isn't much to say about this spell, I suppose, except that I would imagine its usefulness is rather limited, given that there are not that many invisible creatures lurking about.  I suspect that invisible treasures were not that common either.  It's limited duration and range add to my sense that this spell is leaning towards the relatively useless side.  On the other hand, on those rare occasions where it may come in handy, I suspect it's utility suddenly skyrockets.  Rare to use, but when needed is extremely helpful.

I rate this Spell 2 Stars (out of 5) for usefulness.

Levitate: this spell lifts the caster, all motion being in the vertical plane.  However, the user could, for example, levitate to the ceiling, and move horizontally by the use of his hands.  Duration: 6 Turns + the level of the user.  Range (of levitation): 2" / level of Magic-User, with upwards motion of 6" / turn.

Another spell that is only somewhat useful under the right circumstances.  If one were strapped in a room that was filled with poison snakes and there is a grate on the ceiling that might do, so long as the ceiling were not too high.  But this kind of necessity is not really what I think of as common, at least in my experience.   More of a parlor trick than a useful bit of magic, perhaps - except under some rare circumstances.  It's limited duration and range also serve to make me feel it's not a spell I would relish selecting off the top.

I rate this Spell 2 Stars for usefulness.

Phantasmal Forces:  The creation of vivid illusions of nearly anything the user envisions (a projected mental image so to speak).  As long as the caster concentrates on the spell, the illusion will continue unless touched by some living creature, so there is no limit on duration, per se.  Damage caused to viewers of a Phantasmal Force will be real if the illusion is believed to be real.  Range: 24".

Ok!  Now THAT's a serious piece of arcane fire-power there!  At first glance it suggests that it's a nearly unconquerable death knell ... for by the wording it sounds like our dear Magic-User could create a vision of a rather enormous stone and simply drop it on those who fall victim to it.  Of course success requires that the recipient miss their saving throw.  On the other hand a blue poison gas might serve just as well to clear a half a room at a shot.  The range is huge.  That means coverage area is huge.  Blazing fire, maybe?  A swarm of deadly giant wasps?  The spell is only limited by the imagination of the caster.  Well, well, well... a clever soul could do a lot with this spell.  And not just limited to damage inducing visions, either.  One could create a duplicate of someone else, the King perhaps. A lot of interesting things can be done with this kind of thing.  Of course one would have to be clever enough to use it well but this seems like the total Swiss army knife of spells.

On the other hand there's a caveat.  That pesky touch-it-and-it-goes-away thing.  What's that about?  Would the stone falling "touch" the person and then disappear because it touched them.  I don't think so.  It says that some creature has to touch the illusion.  But not that the illusion will disappear if it touches a person.  Subtle distinction.  Yet, how else could it do damage?  Hmmm... I suppose there is just enough wiggle room here to suggest that maybe this spell is going to wind up being curtailed in ways my Magic-User will be disappointed with.  On the other hand, for a 2nd Level spell of this magnitude and versatility I don't see how I can complain.  Based on a strict reading of the rules on Phantasmal Forces, I'm going to say that it may well be the most powerful spell of them all.  Why cast a Fireball with a burst radius of 2" when you can cast a Phantasmal Fire-Storm of 24"?  Hah!

I rate this Spell 5 Stars for usefulness.

Locate Object: IN order for this spell to be effective it must be cast with ceretain knowledge of what is to be located.  Thus, the exact nature, dimensions, coloring, etc. of some magical item would have to be known in order for the spell to work.  Well known objects such as a flight of stairs leading upwards can be detected with this spell however.  The spell gives the user the direction of the object desired but not the distance. The desired object must be within range.  Range: 6" + 1" / Level of the Magic-User employing the spell, i.e. a "Necromancer" has a 16" range.

This spell is versatile enough to come in handy in a wide variety of situations, and though the range is kind of short for low level Magic-Users, it is still nevertheless probably proves pretty useful more than a few times during the course of a campaign.

I rate this Spell 3 Stars for usefulness.

Invisibility: A spell which lasts until it is broken by the user or by some outside force (remember that as in Chainmail, a character cannot remain invisible and attack).  It affects only the person or thing upon whom or which it is cast.  Range: 24".

Yup.  I can see that being hecka-useful for anyone trying to slink around and hide, or hide something of value.  Escaping the scene of a crime?  Fleeing the Kingdom?  Hiding out in a dungeon waiting for some fool goblin to open the secret door?  Yup, Yup and Yup.  This is a useful spell.  And the best thing is that you can cast it on someone or something from all the way across the road.  24" is equal to 720 feet.  Yup.  Niiiiice.

I rate this Spell 4 Stars for usefulness.

Wizard Lock: Similar to Hold Portal, this spell lasts indefinitely.  It can be opened by a Knock (spell) without breaking the spell.  A Wizard Lock can be passed through without a spell of any kind by a Magic-User three levels above the one who placed the spell.

Hmm... yeah, ok.  That's an upgrade to Hold Portal, and with the caveats it's really not that much better.  It is permanent, but with all those ways of breaking through... meh.  Not so impressed.

I rate this Spell a 1 Star for usefulness.

Detect Evil:  A spell to detect evil thought or intent in any creature or evilly enchanted object. Note that poison, for example, is neither good nor evil.  Duration: 2 Turns.  Range: 6".

The short duration and limited range normally would make me say this is not worth the ticket price ... but being able to detect intent and evil objects makes it pretty darn helpful in a world where evil is likely to be lurking all over the place.  Since the range is 180 feet it would be quite helpful, for example, in knowing if there are monsters way up the corridor beyond the range of your torch light.  Through walls, even.  In fact you could get a kind of radar sense all around you in a 180 foot sphere of bad guys.  Yup... I am going to go ahead and say that this is a solid spell to have in your toolkit.

I rate this Spell 4 Stars for usefulness.

ESP: A spell which allows the user to detect the thoughts (if any) of whatever lurks beyond doors or in the darkness.  It can penetrate solid rock up to about 2' in thickness, but a thin coating of lead will prevent its penetration.  Duration: 12 turns.  Range: 6".

Oh my.  This is even better than detect evil - except that detect evil has no such restrictions regarding the thickness of the rocks or lead coating.  And also the range is the same, and the duration is only 12 turns, which means it won't last all that long when traipsing through a dungeon.  2 turns or 12 turns, they're not that significantly different because you spent way way way more turns than 12 in a dungeon.  Heck, getting to the first set of stairs going down to the second level takes more than that even if you don't encounter anything (just saying).  On the other hand... who really needs to know what kind of thoughts are more than 2' of stone away from you?   Well, on the other other hand, 2' when your talking dungeons can be deceptively close.  Turn a corner and all of a sudden what was on the other side of 2' of stone is now only one thin door away from you.  So... this is a judgement call.  On the other hand, being able to read the thoughts of all creatures, good or evil, can be a pretty big boon at times.  Yet it doesn't say you can read the thoughts ... it only says you can detect them.  As in ... yes you detect some thoughts on the other side of this wall (only 1.9 feet thick, don't you know).  "What are the thoughts?" ... "You have no idea." ... "Oh.  Darn."   At least with detect evil you know the nature of the thoughts.  Overall... I think I'm going to vote for detect evil as more useful.

I rate this Spell 3 Stars for usefulness.

Continual Light: This spell creates a light wherever the caster desires.  It sheds a circle of illumination 24" in diameter, but does not equal full daylight.  it continues to shed light until dispelled.  Range: 12".

I take it that this spell doesn't move.  If it said "emanates from whatever object the caster desires" then I would say it moves.  In this case it may be permanent, but it's stationary nature makes it only so so useful.  Yay, I can light up the cavern.  But after that, well, now we have to leave the cavern and so the spell is no longer of any use to me.  Why should I need to have a continual light in some dungeon somewhere.  Once we leave, the presiding wizard or magical beastie is going to dispel it anyway if they don't like it there.  So ... meh.  Not so useful.  The fact it doesn't turn trolls to stone as well is another minus (although I shouldn't expect such power at 2nd Level, I suppose).  I dunno.  I guess if you're in a pinch, all the torches are gone, you're in a cavern and being attacked by a pack of whosiewhatsits ... yeah, then ok, it's not that bad.  Otherwise... so so.

I rate this Spell 2 Stars for usefulness.

Knock: A spell which opens secret doors, held portals, doors locked by magic, barred or otherwise secured gates, etc.  Range: 6".

Simple, clear, to the point, versatile and has a decent range.  Ok.  I buy it.

I rate this Spell 4 Stars for usefulness.

Ok and that's it for today.

In other news, things with the Elthos Project are coming along well.  I should be finished with the final version of the Core Rules book in a day or two (or three)... but getting closer!   If you're interested in jumping in on the Open Beta, please feel free to go to, create a free beta account, and try things out.  It's coming along nicely but I can always use feedback.  Find a bug?  Tell me!  See something that can be improved?  Let me know!   Ok, thanks folks!   Till next time.  Ciao.

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