Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Notes on OD&D - Part 24

Ok, lets continue with the 5th Level Spells...

Men & Magic
  • p28 - Explanation of Spells - 5th Level
Animate Dead: The creation of animated skeletons or zombies. It in no way brings a creature back to life. For the number of dead animated simply roll one die for every level above the 8th the Magic User is, thus a "Sorcerer" gets one die or from 1-6 animated dead. Note that the skeletons or dead bodies must be available in order to animate them. The spell lasts until dispelled or the animated dead are done away with.

KerrrPow!  That's HEFTY.  If you're the chaotic sort, and don't have qualms about waking up grandma to fight for you, this is your spell, bro!  I see no downsides, and no risk.  Just wave yer Magic Hands in the air and you've got yourself some Undead!  If we just jump ahead to Volume II - Monsters & Treasures for a second, we find out:

Skeletons / Zombies: Skeletons and Zombies act only under the instructions of their motivator (that's you, bro), be it a Magic-User, or Cleric (Chaos)(remember this is OD&D - there ain't no stinking Good or Evil). They are usually only found near graveyards, forsaken places, and dungeons; but there is a possibility of their being located elsewhere to guard some item (referee's option).  There is never any morale check for these monsters; they will always attack until totally wiped out.  
- M&T p. 9.

So there you have it.  Totally solid monsters under your command.  All you need to do is be near some dead people and you're golden ... or charcoalish, as the case may be.  The fact that they will hang out until destroyed is a huge bonus.  It means you can order them around basically forever. Need your house cleaned and too much of a cheapskate to hire a maid?  Zombie-Maid at your service.  Pesky kids always sneaking into your pantry?  Skeletal Cookie Jar Guardian is there for you. And so on.  And when it comes to fighting... well aren't Undead usually hard to beat?  Well... not really all that hard to beat if you check out their stats.  And if you happen to have even a pretty lowly Cleric, you're odds are not bad that you can handle them.  Also, I notice that some people have suggested that in the older versions of D&D silver weapons were required to do damage to skeletons and zombies, however, I'm not seeing that in the OD&D rules, so I think I'll just pass over that.  At any rate, here's the undead turning chart for Clerics.

Cleric Turn Chart: 
Cleric Level        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Skeleton (½ HD)     7 T T D D D D D
Zombie (1 HD)       9 7 T T D D D D

Overall, this is certainly a kickass spell.  One assumed you must be Chaotic to use it, however.  So keep that in mind.

I rate this spell 5 Stars (out of 5) for Usefulness.


Magic Jar: By means of this device the Magic User houses his life force in some inanimate object (even a rock) and attempts to possess the body of any other creature within 12" (360') of his Magic Jar.  The container for his life force must be within 3" (90') of his body at the time the spell is pronounced.  Possession of another body takes place when the creature in question fails to make its saving through against magic.  If the possessed body is destroyed, the spirit of the Magic User returns to the Magic Jar, and from thence it may attempt another possession or return to the Magic User's body.  The spirit of the Magic User can return to the Magic Jar any time he so desires.  Note that if the body of the Magic User is destroyed the life force must remain in a possessed boyd or the Magic Jar.  If the Magic Jar is destroyed the Magic User is totally annihilated.

Hmmm... hmmm... hmmmm... This is really kind of complicated.  Neat, for sure, but ... complicated. I'm trying to think when I would want to use a Magic Jar.  The problem, of course is that it is rather risky.  If I use Magic Jar and my body is destroyed then I'm stuck in the Magic Jar, or in the body of someone else.  The thing is, my body must be within 90' of the Jar for me to execute the spell, and that would likely mean that I have to absolutely ensure that my body remains safe while I'm using the Magic Jar.  Ok.  And then what do I do with the Magic Jar?  I possess someone else's body who is within 360'.  It doesn't say what happens to the spirit of the creature who I've possessed, but I'm going to guess it goes into the Magic Jar, like a prison.  From there I can use the creature's body.  Maybe to fight, or do an errand, or I don't know.  Sweeping is always good.  But ok, let's say it's to fight my opponents who have invaded my secret Wizard Lair.  Fine.  So some group comes in, I use Magic Jar and take possession of one of them.  His spirit is in the Magic Jar, and I do my best to use the possessed Character to fight the other ones.  Ok.  Let's say they are like "Oh snap!" and kill their buddy.  Then I can try another member of their party.  Through this process, maybe I can whittle down the whole group.  So I either kill them, or they kill the possessed body, and I wind up back in the Magic Jar.  We'll assume that when the other guy dies his spirit vacates the Jar and goes to heaven.  I hope he left the place clean.  Ok, so that's a use for it. I can kind of see it.  Sort of.  More or less.  But what happens if the party discovers my body, which is somewhere within 90'.  While my one guy is fighting their group, one of them lopes on over to my body with a torch and voila - I'm forever stuck in the Magic Jar.  Or in someone else's body.  Ok.  That might not be so bad, I guess.  Especially if the new body happens to be a lot better than my old one.  So fine.  But that's not the only risk here.  What if instead of finding my body, the other party finds my Magic Jar?  I think a simple Detect Magic might reveal it's location.  Pretty sure.  So their Magic User shouts "It's that rock over there in the corner!" and the big burly fighter lopes on over and smashes it with his warhammer. WTF?!  Maybe, though I'm really super smart and I put the Magic Jar inside a secret door.  Whatever. The Detect Magic is going to spot it anyway.  Maybe I hide it behind a stone wall.  Ok, but they still know where it is because Detect Magic is kind of kick ass that way.  According to this site, Detect Magic has a Range of 6" (180').  Since I need to be within 90' to cast the spell, it means that any dumb-luck MU that comes along can locate the Magic Jar with a simple Detect Magic.  Yay.  From there it's just a matter of time before my Character gets annihilated.  If they know what Magic Jar is, and if they have an MU with Detect Magic.  Chances are they do.  And they do.  So.  Bleh.  Not too happy with this spell.  Too complicated.  To risky.  Not liking.

I rate this Spell 2 Stars for Usefulness.


Contact Higher Plane: This spell allows the magical-type to seek advice and gain knowledge from creatures inhabiting higher plances of existence (the referee).  Of course, the higher the plane contacted, the greater the number of questions that can be asked, the greater the chance that the information will be known, and the higher probability that the question will be answered truthfully.  Use the table below to determine these factors, as well as the probability of the Magic User going insane.  Only questions which can be answered "Yes" or "No" are permitted.

The Chart

Ok... What do I make of them apples?  Gosh... The higher Level the MU the greater the chance of going insane, but also the less chance of getting the answer wrong.  Inverse risk.  Ouch.  And it's a Yes or No only question.  And the creature from the other plane (the GM) has to be willing to tell the answer.  So lets check this out.  I'm 3rd Level.  I ask "Did the Wizard Magic Jar himself just now?" The Other World Thing (that bastard) knows the answer?  25% chance.  Is he willing to tell me the Truth?  30% chance.  Total Chance of my getting a valid answer seems kind of low.  At least I have no chance of going insane.  Lets do it the other way.  I'm 12th Level.  Chance of getting a valid answer:  Pretty high (almost 100%)... but the chance of my going insane? 90%!?!  WTF!?!  So the higher level I get the less often I'm going to use this spell, fo shizzle-dizzledy-doo!   No freakin way I'm taking more than a 10% chance on going insane.  Even taking the 10% chance of going insane is ... insane.  I won't do it.  So in other words...Unless the situation is such an astounding emergency that with divine help in the way of a "Yes" or "No" we're TOTALLY screwed ... I won't use this spell. Sorry, fellas... let me mention though, you probably do not want an insane MU hanging out with you. Really.  Believe me.  You don't.

I'm going to rate this spell 1 Star for Usefulness... because as far as my MU is concerned, after 3rd Level it's pretty much useless because I ain't gonna take that chance.  And you shouldn't let me, either.

Mm... ok, I think I've spun my doilies on this enough for tonight.  I'll pick this up again next time with ... Pass Wall (sounds promising).

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