Sunday, February 28, 2016

Notes on OD&D - Part 22

Ok, forging ahead yet again, with my OD&D journey of discovery.  So lets see, where were we?  Ah yes,.. I think I would like to at least get through the 4th Level Spells today.

Men & Magic
  • p27 - Explanation of Spells - 4th Level
Growth of Plants: This spell causes normal brush or woods to become thickly overgrown and entangled with creepers, fines, thorns, briars and so on, so as to make the area virtually impassable. It will effect an area of up to 30 square inches (1" = 30 feet, so 900 Square Feet) the dimensions decided by the caster of the spell. Duration: until the spell is negated by Dispell Magic. Range: 12" (360').

Right. Ok. That's a pretty good spell for wilderness adventures when you're being pursued by the natives. Makes sense. I'd say this is a fairly useful spell, and has the virtue of simplicity.

I rate this spell 3 Stars (out of 5) for usefulness.


Dimension Door: A limited Teleport spell which allows the object to be instantaneously transported up to 36" (1080') in any direction (including up or down). There is no chance of misjudging when using a Dimension Door, so the user always arrives exactly where he calls, ie "12" upwards, 32" east, etc. Range: 1".

Well, well, well, so Dimension Door starts out as a limited Range Teleport with the advantage of reduced risk of failure. I will take it that the caveat, unstated, is that if you don't know exactly what is 12" upwards by 32" east, you could materials inside of something. But still, this seems pretty rock solidly good. And no mention of the dreaded Phase Spiders one might meet in other versions of the Spell. Much cleaner. And powerful. I like. I would definitely take this spell.

Still though, as long as I'm picking through this I will mention that the rule is not 100% clear to me. It is a limited Teleport that allows "the object" ... and that has me wondering. Later it says "the user always always arrives"... so it would seem it can either be an object or the caster.  And I suppose since object is not limited by any sort of bound in the rule, one might say that persons and monsters could be construed as objects.  So this would mean that at a range of 30 feet, the Magic-User could Dimension Door friends to safety, or Monsters and Enemies down 12" into the ground.  I see nothing in the rule that says otherwise.  If that is so, then I triple down on my "Yes Take This!!" and think this is a damn useful Spell for sure.  Being able to disappear any monster within 30' is a definitely "YES" in my book.

I rate this spell 5 Stars for usefulness.
As a GM I think it is over-powered as defined, and so I hate this Spell.  It will cause me agita, I just know it.

Ok, Next!

Wizard Eye: A spell which allows the user to send a visual sensor up to 24" (720') away in order to observe the scene without himself moving.  The "Eye" is invisible.  It moves 12" (460') per turn. Duration: 6 turns.

Hmmm... I have to think about this one.  This is certainly a fast moving Eye.  It can travel a total of 2760 feet in it's 6 turns, but no further from the caster than 720'.  The circumference of a circle with a radius of 720' is 4523', so our Wizard Eye can make it to the edge of the circle and then go another 2040 feet along the circumference.  So it can go to the edge and then cover about 45% of the circumference in it's 6 turns, which means that it can very almost make one half circle before dissipating.  Sending out two would give nearly 100% coverage, if it were used this way.  Which I'm sure it rarely is.  Just testing the boundaries.  It's not too bad.  Has pretty good coverage, but I bet I would not be the only OD&D wizard to wish that it would last longer than 6 turns.

Overall, as a spy device, I think it's pretty nifty.  Not to mention the invisibility as a major plus on this baby.  I'm thinking this would come in handy pretty often, especially if you are scouting in unfamiliar terrain.  So yes, I would say this one is a Buy.

I give this spell 4 Stars for usefulness.
As GM I have no problem with it.


Massmorph: This spell is used to conceal up to 100 men (or creatures of near man size) as a woods or orchards.  The concealed figures may be moved through without being detected as anything other than trees, and it will not effect teh spell. It will be negated by a command from the caster or by means of a Dispell Magic spell.  Range 24"

Ok, this is definitely a spell that goes to the heart of OD&D's Chainmail and wargaming roots.  In the olden days of RPG, OD&D was played mostly as a military simulation wargame with miniatures and large tables with terrain mapped out on them.  Units were played on the board (which could be around 8', by 12' in size) as military units.  So one miniature might represent 10 Fighters.  Since OD&D was strongly invested in the classical wargame mode of play (at least at first), this kind of spell makes perfect sense.  It is a terrain altering spell that can effect how military units will be able to move on the board.

I rate this spell 3 Stars for usefulness.

Ok, last 4th Level Spell.

Hallucinatory Terrain: by means of this spell terrain features can either be hidden or created - an illusion which effects a large area.  This a swamp, hill, ridge, woods, or the like can be concealed or made to appear.  The spell is borken when the magicked area is contacted by an opponent.  Range: 24".

So here we have another terrain spell, and one that also seems to me to fit into the same classification as the previous spell.  It seems the intent here is to augment the Magic-User's ability to effect military style combat.  Hence the terrain-effecting spells.  Since OD&D is a wargame played with military units and similar tactics to other military wargames of its kind, I could see this being quite handy. Except for one little thing.

The 800 lbs Caveat for this spell is that as soon as it is touched the illusion vanishes.  This means that as soon as the first monster or npc enters the terrain - boom, it totally changes back to normal.  That surely limits the usefulness of this spell a great deal.  One could think of being able to cover a deep ravine with a gently downward sloping glade.  A nice trap for the hapless Goblins to fall into.  Unless as soon as the first one touches the glade and falls to it's demise, the rest will see it and so the trap has little chance of working to it's full potential.  But using it in other ways would probably come in handy just the same.  Instead of luring people onto bad terrain, perhaps it is best to hide from view the good terrain.  Oh there is a nice even piece of land from which archers can get a solid footing?  Better cover that area with an illusionary field of sharp watermelon sized rocks.   As long as it looks sufficiently unsuitable, one can hope that the oppoenent won't send someone over to investigate it.

It also must be the case that the enemy is as unfamiliar with the local terrain as you are.  Otherwise, it's pretty likely they might just say "Hey, wait... there's never been a field of sharp rocks here... It is a trick."

So for various reasons I think this spell would be of limited usefulness, especially when compared with the other terrain affecting spell, Massmorph.

I rate this spell 2 Stars for usefulness.
As a GM I don't think it is overpowered, but rather it seems a bit under powered comparatively.

Ok, well that's it for today.  Trying to keep these within the "bitesize" range for better digestion.  :)

Until next time, enjoy your gaming, folks!

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