Monday, April 03, 2017

Notes On OD&D - Part 34

Continuing on with the 5th Level Clerical "Spells"...

Men & Magic
  • p33 - Explanation of Clerical Spells - 5th Level
Dispell Evil: Similar to Dispell Magic spell, this allows a Cleric to dispell any evil sending or spell within 3" (90') radius. It functions immediately. Duration: 1 turn.

Ok, this seems fair enough, though I would have thought this would be a lower level spell (I always thought they should not be called spells, but miracles, but heck, that's probably just me). Maybe 4th. After all, the Cleric's main bag is, I thought, dealing with evil, and such. So to have this so high up in the spells hierarchy just feels a bit off. I could be wrong. And I'm sure it largely depends on how the game is played. And it may well be that in those days, when OD&D was first played, the whole concept of the game was so much more focused on the wargaming side that this may have been just fine, and no one thought twice about it. In other words, if you're playing a miniatures game on an 8'x12' table with armies and such you might not be thinking so much in terms of the "story" aspect at all. So this may have been totally find for how the game was payed in those days. Curious to hear if anyone has any experience of it from that era and might be able to comment on my conjecture.

At any rate, I give this 5 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Raise Dead: The Cleric simply points his finger, utters the incantation, and the dead person is raised. This spell works with men, elves, and dwarves only. For each level the Cleric has progressed beyond 8th, the time limit for the resurrection extends another four days. Thus, an 8th level Cleric raise a body dead up to four days, a 9th level Cleric and raise a body dead up to eight days, and so on. Naturally, if the character's Constitution was weak, the spell will not bring him back to life. In any event raised characters must spend two game weeks time recuperating from the ordeal.

Hmmm... ok the way this is phrased may be a little confusing. I think what it means that a 9th level cleric can raise a dead body if that person has been dead for up to 8 days. And as for the weak constitution, I'd rather that this was a little more specific. But I will take it that a "weak Constitution" means those below average, which on 3d6 is probably 9 or less.

The only other questionable aspect is that it can't be used to raise Hobbits. Really? I mean, common. Hobbits are nice guys. You should be able to raise them. :p

I rate this 5 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Commune: A spell which puts the Cleric in touch with the powers "above" and asks for help in the form of answers to three questions. Communing is allowed but once per week maximum; (referee's option as to making less frequent). Veracity and knowledge should be near total. Once per year a specially communing should be allowed wherein the Cleric can ask double the number of questions.

Hmmm... ok. Not crazy about this one. Not that it isn't useful, it probably is. But it feels too static. Three questions? Ok, I guess so. Not crazy about it, but I can see why they chose to do it this way. You don't want to leave this sort of thing open ended I guess. And besides, they did add the caveat that it's up to the GM so that helps. But my real problem with this is that it's such a game changer when it goes into effect. From my viewpoint as a GM I don't like it. I'd be forced to give away my best secrets to any player who achieves this power. Yuck. Not so great. From the Player point of view though? Yup Yup Yup - sign me the hell up! So ... meh. Problematic.

I rate this, however 5 Stars for usefulness.

Quest: This is similar to Geas, except that the character sent upon a Quest by the Cleric is not killed by failure to carry out the service. However, the Cleric may curse him with whatever he desires for failure, and the referee should decide if such a curse will take effect if the character ignores the Quest, basing the effectiveness of the curse on the phrasing of it and the alignment and actions of the character so cursed.

Too weebly. Not that great. I don't really see the big difference between the MU version and this one other than the "you die" aspect. I guess from a flavor perspective it sort of makes sense, kind of. Except, if you're a Cleric and the reason your version of Geas doesn't kill is because you're too much of a "good guy" for that, then what's the point of Cursing?! Oh I'm too good to kill you, but not too good to curse you! Mwahaha! I don't know. Something doesn't seem right about it to me.

I rate this 3 Stars for usefulness.

Insect Plague: By means of this spell the Cleric calls to him a vast cloud of insects and sends them to where he will, within range of the spell. They will obscure vision and drive creatures with less than three hit dice off in rout. The dimensions of the Insect Plague are 36 square inches. Duration: 1 game day. Range: 48" (1440'). (Note: the spell is only effective above ground.)

Ok! That's persuasive! It's a huge area, and I could see this as being incredibly useful under certain, and highly variable, circumstances.

I rate this 5 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Create Food: A spell with which the Cleric creates sustenance sufficient for a party of a dozen for one game day. The quantity doubles for every level above 8th the Cleric has attained.

Ok, not terrible, but this is another one that I would kind of think belongs at a lower level than 5th, as it seems out of synch with the power of the others at this level. But still, when you're hungry, you're hungry and this is definitely a nice to have.

I rate this 3 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Ok and that's the end of the list of Clerical Spells!

Overall, I rate Clerics as being damn kick-ass character class in OD&D on account of that they are both mystics and fighters, and so they pack a heck of a punch.

Note: There are Anti-Clerics (listed below) who have similar powers to Clerics. Those Clerical spells underlined on the table for Clerical Spells have a reverse effect, all others functioning as noted. The chief exception is the Raise Dead spell which becomes:

Finger of Death: Instead of Raising the Dead, this spell creates a "Death Ray" which will kill any creatures unless a saving throw is made (where applicable). Range: 12" (360') (A Cleric-Type may use this spell in a life-or-death situation, but misuse will immediately turn him into an Anti-Cleric.)

Anti-Clerics: Evil Acolyte, Evil Adept, Shaman, Evil Priest, Evil Curate, Evil Bishop, Evil Lama, Evil High Priest.


Ok that's it for tonight. We pick up next time with the last of the sections in Men & Magic, which has to do with Magical Research and Books of Spells. Till then, ciao! :)
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