Monday, July 25, 2016

Notes on OD&D - Part 28

Time for us to take the next step forward! On to the next batch of 6th Level Spells!

Men & Magic
  • p30 - Explanation of Spells - 6th Level

Lower Water: Utterance of this spell causes the water level in a river or similar body of liquid to drop 50% of its depth for ten turns. Range: 24" (720').

Um. That's a 6th Level spell? Really? Um... I don't know about you but this one is not on my "Must Have" list... at all. Nope. This seems like a totally wasteful spell to take as I can not think of any time in the past 30 years of gaming that I would have needed to lower a body of water 50% for 10 turns. I am guessing though that it's intended to allow troops to pass over waterways like rivers where otherwise it would not be possible. Let's remember that D&D 1st Edition was a military miniatures wargame, and things like River Crossings had a bearing on troop movements. That, of course, no longer (afaik) has much bearing on how RPGs are played, but if we harken back and consider the potential utility of this spell in that particular context then perhaps it begins to make more sense. Ok, on the assumption that I'm kinda guessing right about this, I would still say that as a 6th Level spell, this one is more or less shite. Why? Well because reducing a river 50% will not necessarily allow troops to cross, and doing so for 10 turns only even moreso limits it's potential usefulness. An army can not cross even a dry river bed in 10 turns. So, yup. Pretty much shite all the way around. I guess you have to have some shite spells in the list so that people can feel good about saying "Nope, not that one."

I rate this Spell 1 Star out of 5 for uselessness.

Next!

Part Water: A spell which will part water up to 10' deep for a maximum of six turns. Range: 12" (360').

Goodness no. That's pretty much just as bad, and pretty much for the same reasons, although at least if you actually part the water then the troops can certainly pass through, as opposed to "maybe" for the previous water barrier passing spell. So this one is a minor improvement. But it only will only part water 10' deep. Sorry Moses, this ain't gonna be so easy after all. Yeah, I think this one is only a thin silky blond hair better than the last one.

I rate this Spell 1.01 Stars out of 5 for uselessness.

NEXT!

Slightly Shift Water A Little Bit Spell:  This spell moves one gallon of water an inch or so in any direction the Magic User wishes for 1 turn.  Range: 1" (30').

Hehe... Just kidding!

NEXT!

Projected Image: By means of this spell the Magic-User projects and image of himself up to 24" (360') away, and all spells and the like used thereafter appear to originate from the Projected Image. Duration: 6 turns. Range: 24" (360').

Hmmm... 6th Level? Um, hey, Gygax, old buddy... what's up with the super-underpowered 6th Level Spells? My MU has gone through hell and high water (literally) to get to a level where he can select even one of these puppies and ... this is the selection? Seriously? This is ok useful, to a certain degree, but still... I'd have thought this would make a perfectly fine 3rd Level Spell, frankly. Not 6th. Don't waste my time with this one.

I rate this Spell a 2 Stars out of 5 for uselessness.

NEXT!! (come on, come on)

Anti-Magic Shell: A field which surrounds the Magic-User and makes him totally impervious to all spells. It also prevents any spells from being sent through the shell by the Magic-User who conjured it. Duration: 12 turns.

Well that one was looking promising, until the joy-diminishing caveat that it doesn't allow spells through in either direction. That's like jumping inside a tank, only to find that all you can do is drive around because you're totally out of shells (see what I did there)? Can I say that this too is a Booooooogus spell? Ok, let me think this through here. Maybe Gygax really, really, really didn't want Magic-Users to be too powerful. So the list of 6th Level spells is designed to make Magic-Users lose heart, and fall into despair, maybe? I don't know. If I'm going to take on that much risk, and commit to that much of a long slow haul up Levels to get to the point where I can get my dirty little hands on some 6th Level (that's the Maxi-Premium-Top-of-the-Line spells, btw) spells, and they turn out to be this crappy and mitigating... yeah, I'm going to be preeeety disappointed. And next game I'll be playing a frikkin barbarian with a two handed broadsword with the words "I Kill MUs" on his shield. Just sayin.

Also, almost as an aside, the description doesn't tell us what the diameter of the Anti-Magic Shell is. Can it fit more than one person in it? The whole party? Well, from the description as written it seems to suggest (strongly) that only the Magic-User can fit inside the Anti-Magic Shell. Yay for the MU. The rest of us? Oh, yeah well you guys are SOL. Sorry bout that. :p

I rate this Spell 3 Stars for usefulness (its not horrible, but ... meh. Not impressed after all)

Ok, that was depressing. I'm going to stop there. BUT ... I notice from a quick scan that the last 5 Spells actually do look promising! Let's keep our fingers crossed that good old Gygax doesn't screw the pooch on those as well, eh? :)
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