Monday, November 30, 2015

Notes on OD&D - Part 17

Onward with my journey through OD&D - Men & Magic - the Spells List, continued ... picking up where I left off yesterday ...

Men & Magic 
Protection from Evil: This spell hedges the conjurer round with a magic circle to keep out attacks from enchanted monsters.  It also serves as an "armor" from various evil attacks, adding a +1 to all saving throws and taking a -1 from hit dice of evil opponents.  (Note that this spell is not cumulative in effect with magic armor and rings, although it will continue to keep out enchanted monsters.) Duration: 6 turns.

This spell bares some thinking about.  First we should note it only protects the conjurer, and not other members of the party.  Two, we might note is it creates a magic circle, not a cube, or sphere, so there might be some wiggle room in certain oddball situations, possibly.  Something to keep an eye out for if you are a really picayune rules lawyer.  Nothing comes to mind off hand though.  The size of the circle is not stated, but I think it would be fair to assume that since it only protects the conjurer the circle is fairly small, say 5 feet in diameter.  That's an assumption, however, and it is not stated in the rules, so there could be some variance on that.  Also note that the rule says it will "keep out attacks from enchanted monsters".  This suggests it will keep out ALL attacks, magical or physical of any enchanted monsters (including Dragons?), but this seems unclear, and possibly a bit unreasonable as it would mean that even the lowliest Magic User could be fully protected from all of the attacks of a Dragon, for example.  Somehow, I think not.  

The "armor" aspect protects from "various evil attacks", but which ones isn't stated.  I suppose we should assume that this means "low level evil attacks", and by this I am guessing it means clerical spells that are explicitly Evil, but as that too that is not clear, I can only speculate at this point.  I suggest we assume that the evil attacks might be no greater than 3rd Level if my assumption about low level clerical attacks is correct.   That would suggest protection from the following Evil clerical spells:

  • Cause Light Wounds (1)
  • Cause Disease (3)
  • Hold Person (2)
  • Curse (2)

That at least would put a reasonable bound on this spell, and not make it over powered, but this is an inclusive adjunct power of the spell, and I have to assume that each part stands as fully effective on its own.  Hence, it provides complete protection from all attacks of enchanted monsters, and a +1 Saving Throw protection from the above listed evil spells.

Additionally, as if that were not enough, this potent little spell also provides physical protection in the event of mano-a-mano combat.   How it does that is by weakening evil opponents with a -1 to their Hit Dice.

The description doesn't say which evil opponents, if there is a limit to the number of them, or if it means only those evil opponents who engage the conjurer in physical combat.  As this rule seems a bit vague to me in certain regards, and so seems open to interpretation, and therefore a good deal of fudging (and mistakes) may be made in regards to its usage, I'm curious to see what others have to say.  Google!  I summon thee!

As this transmits the spell's features more clearly I will copy it for your convenience here:

Prevents "enchanted monsters" from attacking the caster. Other "evil attacks" are at -1 to hit and saves are at +1. Is not cumulative with other magical protection. 6 or 12 turns (for M-Us and clerics, respectively).

Thank goodness for Google.  That certainly clarified my confusion.

Lastly we should note that the magical protection is NOT cumulative with other magical protections, so I imagine if the Magic User is wearing a magical armor that protects against physical attacks (such as bracers), then whichever is the higher protection value is the one that gets used by the GM.

All in all, I'd say that this is an essential spell for Magic Users who want to maximize their chance of survival in dangerous fighting conditions, and being a multi-part spell you certainly get a lot of bang for the buck out of it.

I rate this spell a 5 Stars for usefulness.

Light: a spell to cast light in a circle a 3" in diameter, not equal to full daylight.  It lasts for a number of turns equal to a 6 + the number of levels of the user; thus a 7th level Magic-User would cast the spell for 13 turns.

Given that the spell is of such a limited duration, and that most parties are not going to be dumb enough to go into a dark place without light, and if they did lose their light, a relative few turns with magical light would be insufficient to escape anyway, I'm thinking this is really not all that handy or useful

I rate this spell a 1 Star for usefulness.

Charm Person: This spell applies to all two-legged, generally mammalian figures near or less than man-size, excluding all monsters in the "Undead" class but including Sprites, Pixies, Nixies, Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls. If the spell is sucessful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such a time as the "charm" is dispelled (Dispel Magic).  Range: 12"

Oh snap!  Now this is a POWERFUL spell.  It basically can turn almost any humanoid foe into a friend (except Undead).  Dang!  This not only includes having your new friends divulge everything they know about the enemy (which could be quite a lot), but also fight for you, as well as return to home base and burn it down in the middle of the night, or any other damn fool thing they'd never be willing to do otherwise.  As Thulsa Doom once pointed out, "Steel is not strong, boy... Charm Person is Stronger... Now THAT is POWER!"

The fact that this spell lasts until dispelled makes it unutterably powerful in so far a clever and devious Magic-User with a deft touch could do enormous damage with it.  However, there are a few caveats.  One, is that it might now work, and the higher the level the creature it is being cast on the less probable it will be to work.  So there is that.  On the other hand our Very Clever Magic User might not need high level "Friends" to execute a devastating blow on the enemy.  A lowly serf with a Wand of Fire Balls put in the right place at the right time could wreck as much devastation on a Kingdom as an invading army.  Interesting, isn't it?  The other caveat, of course, is the Range.  And yet, that range is not all that meager either.  12" (360' according to the Chainmail rules).  Daaaang, bro!  I don't care what people say about Charm Person - that's a damn POWERFUL spell!  In the right hands, under the right circumstances, of course.

I rate this spell 5 Stars for usefulness.

Sleep: A Sleep spell affects from 2-16 1st level types (Hit dice of up to 1+1), from 2-12 2nd level types (hit dice of up to 2+1), from 1-6 3rd level types, and but 1 4th level type (up to 4+1 hit dice). The spell always affects up to the number of creatures determined by the dice.  If more than the number rolled could be affected, ddetermine which "sleep" by random selection. Range: 24".

Well, this one is pretty much the only truly offensive combat spell in the lot, and as such it's not half bad, as it can knock out a large number of creatures at once.  And after they're on the ground and fast  "Asleep" ... one can easily run around and do whatever to them.  But the spell is also a bit problematic.  The dice spread seems fairly reasonable, if slighly uneven, but I won't quibble about that.  1st Level you roll 2d8, second level 2d6, third level 1d6, and forth level you can only affect 1 creature.  Not bad.  But the problem is ... how long are they asleep for?  The description does not say.  On the other hand that Range is awesome.  Note that archers in the Chainmail Rules only have a Range of 15, or 18 at the best.  This means that your lowly 1st Level Magic User, can stand out of range of archers and render up to 16 first level bad guys asleep per melee.  By the time the archers could even get into range (Archers move 9, so it would take 3 turns for them to get into range, assuming the Magic User is not moving) the Lowly 1st level Magic User could take out 48 1st level enemies.  On average he could take out between 24 and 36 foes.  Ok, ok, ok.  That is not bad!

I rate this spell 5 Stars for usefulness.

And that does it for the 1st Level spells.  More to come, so stay tuned.

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