Friday, September 23, 2016

Notes on OD&D - Part 29

So, where were we? OMG... it's been how long since my last post?! WOW! Time is absolutely ZOOMING! Ok Ok. Well, nothing to do now but carry on where we left off last time. Here we go. On to the next and final batch of 6th Level Spells!

Men & Magic
  • p31 - Explanation of Spells - 6th Level

Death Spell: An incantation which kills from 2-16 creatures with fewer than seven hit dice. The creatures must be within the area of 6" (180') x 6" to come under the spell. Range: 24" (720').

Short and sweet. I think it is safe to say that this is the Ultimate Weapon for MUs in the Original D&D arsenal. So lets look under the hood at the tiny but powerful engine there. Under 7 hit dice, eh? What's that give us? Let's take a look*:

Less than 1 HD
Bat, Normal
Bee, Giant
Centipede, Giant, Black
Centipede, Giant, Pink
Rat, Normal
Rat, Giant
Skeleton, Animal, Small
Snake, Viper

1 HD
Deer, Red
Dog, Hunting
Dog, Wild
Man, Bandit
Skeleton, Animal, Medium
Snake, Cobra

1+ HD
Beetle, Giant, Fire
Ferret, Giant
Man, Wild Berserker

2 HD
Bat, Giant
Deer, Reindeer
Dog, War
Green Slime
Horse, Donkey, Mule, or Pony
Horse, Riding or Wild
Mustard Mold
Oon (2nd level)
Orc, Lieutenant
Snake, Asp
Snake, Rattlesnake
Spider, Giant Crab

2+ HD
Ape-Man (2nd level)
Beetle, Giant, Bombardier
Camel, Bactrian
Camel, Dromedary
Camel, Leaper
Horse, Light Warhorse

3 HD
Crab, Giant
Frog, Giant
Fungus, Shrieker
Fungus, Violet
Horse, Draught
Hyaena, Common
Lion, Mountain
Lycanthrope, Wererat
Man, Bandit, Lieutenant
Musk Ox
Oon (3rd level)
Orc, Captain
Skeleton, Large
Snake, Python
Snake, Giant Water
Spider, Giant Black Widow
Spider, Giant Ogre-Faced
Tick, Giant

3+ HD
Ape-Man (3rd level)
Ape-Man Alpha
Bear, Black
Cave-Man, Sub-Chief
Grey Ooze
Horse, Heavy Warhorse
Man, Wild Berserker, Sub-Chief
Snake-Man (2nd level)
Spider, Giant Trapdoor
Toad, Giant

4 HD
Ant, Giant
Ape, Albino
Blink Dog
Deer, Giant Elk
Gelatinous Cube
Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Oon (4th level)
Scorpion, Giant
Spider, Giant Wolf

4+ HD
Ape, Mountain
Ape-Man (4th level)
Eagle, Giant
Fish-Man, Sub-Chief
Gibbering Mouther
Hyaena-Man, Leader
Lizard, Giant Draco
Lizard-Man, Sub-Chief
Snake-Man (3rd level)
Snowman, Abominable
Weasel, Giant
Wolf, Dire
Wolverine, Giant

5 HD
Ape, Carnivorous
Eel, Electric
Hell Hound
Hyaena, Giant
Hydra, Aqua-Hydra (5 heads)
Hydra, Pyro-Hydra (5 heads)
Leech, Giant
Lizard, Giant Chameleon
Man, Bandit, Captain
Man of Leng
Ochre Jelly
Oon (5th level)
Orc, Chieftain
Owl Bear
Rust Monster
Skeleton, Animal, Large
Slithering Slime
Snake, Giant Python
Tentacular Horror
Troglodyte, Chieftain

5+ HD
Ape-Man (5th level)
Bear, Brown
Cave-Man, Chieftain
Man, Wild Berserker, Chieftain
Snake-Man (4th level)
Spider, Giant Phase

6 HD
Beetle, Giant, Stag
Lizard, Giant Tuatara
Lotus Woman
Lycanthrope, Werewolf, Superior
Oon (6th level)
Shark, Great White
Skeleton, Giant
Snake, Giant Asp
Whale, Killer
Wolf, Winter

6+ HD
Ape-Man (6th level)
Daemon, Succubus
Elder Thing
Gorgon, Greater
Lizard-Man, Chieftain
Snake-Man (5th level)
Snowman, Abominable, Alpha


But to be complete, lets take a look at what that doesn't cover as well. Here we go:

7 HD
Ghost, Banshee
Hydra, Aqua-Hydra (7 heads)
Hydra, Pyro-Hydra (7 heads)
Lizard, Giant Komodo Dragon
Oon (7th level)

7+ HD
Ape-Man (7th level)
Bear, Polar
Fish-Man, Chieftain
Snake-Man (6th level)

8 HD

Ape, Albino, Superior
Daemon, Class I
Daemon, Class V
Elemental, Air, Class I
Elemental, Earth, Class I
Elemental, Fire, Class I
Elemental, Water, Class I
Invisible Stalker
Octopus, Giant
Oon (8th level)
Salamander, Fire
Snake, Giant Cobra
Tiger, Sabre-Tooth
Tree-Man, Adult

8+ HD
Ape-Man (8th level)
Bear, Cave
Snake-Man (7th level)

9 HD
Daemon, Class II
Daemon, Swine
Hydra, Aqua-Hydra (9 heads)
Hydra, Pyro-Hydra (9 heads)
Oon (9th level)
Salamander, Ice
Whale, Narwhale

9+ HD
Ape-Man (9th level)
Automaton, Flesh
Snake-Man (8th level)

10 HD
Black Pudding
Colour Out of Space
Daemon, Class III
Fomorian, Chieftain
Giant, Frost
Great Race
Oon (10th level)
Rhinoceros, Woolly
Shambling Mound
Thew Wagon
Tiger, Sabre-Tooth, Superior

10+ HD
Ape-Man (10th level)
Minotaur, Superior
Snake-Man (9th level)

11 HD
Daemon, Class IV
Giant, Fire
Oon (11th level)

11+ HD
Ape-Man (11th level)
Automaton, Clay
Snake-Man (10th level)

12 HD
Aerial Minion
Crocodile, Giant
Elemental, Air, Class II
Elemental, Earth, Class II
Elemental, Fire, Class II
Elemental, Water, Class II
Mammoth, Woolly
Oon (12th level)
Sloth, Ground
Slug, Giant
Squid, Giant
Tree-Man, Old

12+ HD
Ape-Man (12th level)
Snake-Man (11th level)

13 HD
Daemon, Class VI

14 HD
Giant, Frost, Jarl
Purple Worm

14+ HD
Automaton, Stone

15 HD
Crab, Monstrous
Giant, Fire, Jarl

16 HD
Elemental, Air, Class III
Elemental, Earth, Class III
Elemental, Fire, Class III
Elemental, Water, Class III
Mammoth, Woolly, Superior
Sea Serpent
Tree-Man, Ancient

16+ HD
Automaton, Iron

18 HD
Squid, Colossal
Whale, Blue

... um wait. Uh. That's a shiton of monsters that the very Best of the MU class can't touch with this. I mean that's A LOT OF MONSTERS the World Famous MU with the Shaznitz Death Spell can't even scratch with the thing. Better not bring him along for those Epic Level adventures, then cause, well, he's going to be pretty embarrassed, don't you think?

Ok kidding aside, this is a solid and lethal offensive spell that will crush 2d8 trolls in a flash. We can't sccoff. That's baddass to be sure. That it won't scratch a Monstrous Crab or a Fire Giant, or even a Griffin is perhaps a frustration on those higher level adventures to be sure, but should we really balk at that? I'm not sure. I would imagine that combinations of other MU spells can handle pretty much anything the system can throw at our hapless party. Or so I would expect. But maybe not. After all, what do you do when you're on the high seas and you encounter a 18 HD colossal squid? There you are, sea sick next to the fore mast watching the tentacles from the sea scooping up men 4 at a time and dragging them to the briny depths. You look forlornly at the party MU, and he looks forlornly back. There you both are... seasick, helpless and then the colossus crushes the hull for good measure. Maybe you have a Beowulf with you and he leaps into the sea to do battle with the great beast of the deep. If not, well, I dunno how you deal with it. Well, of course that's not really the case. The MU casts Lightning Bolt which does as many dice damage as the MU's level. So if the MU is 18th Level then hell with it - that thing is not going to want to mess with our ship for long. And if that doesn't do the trick he can then cast FireBall of the equivalent damage. And if that doesn't seem to do the trick, why not use the old Hold Monster trick? There you go. And if all else fails, our friendly neighborhood MU can fly away. Hey, at least someone gets to survive and tell the tale. But as far as Death Spell goes... well, for higher level monsters it's a wash, but lethal and a half for the entire lower level monster set. I'm good with that, frankly.

I rate this spell 5 Stars out of 5 for lethal effectiveness. Yup. I take this spell fo shizzle!


Geas: A spell which forces the recipient to perform some task (as directed by the Magic User casting the Geas). Any attempt to deviate from the performance of the task will result in weakness, and ignoring the Geas entirely brings death. The referee must carefully adjudicate the casting and subsequent performance of the geased individual when the spell is used. Duration; Until the task is completed. Range: 3" (90').

Mmmm... that is pretty nasty. It's not a charm where the person has no control over their own actions, but if you don't obey, you die. Nice. The Range is a bit short so you better get that Geas off before the recipient can reach you, I suppose, or you might wind up with a sword in yer gizzard, wizard. But still, lets assume that Geases are given to those who are somewhat willing to accept them. In mythology it was pretty much something that old withered hags handed out that put Kings and Heroes in an awkward position. Things like "You may never eat dog meat". And meanwhile there might be a general taboo against refusing hospitality as a guest in someone's home. This is pretty much what happened to CĂș Chulainn, and it didn't go well for him. So in the sense of tradition this spell is something used by the subtle and the wise to thwart the ambitions of the proud and the powerful... or something along those lines. Anyway, for the blunt and the ruthless there is always Charm, which kind of works a little more succinctly, in my opinion. And then there's Hold Person as well. I'm not sure why I would rather choose Geas over Charm, actually. But heck, it's kind of cool in an old worldish sort of way. I'm down with it. But it doesn't seem that essential. Take it if you want to be more classically in tune with the mystical woah and travail of it all, I suppose.

I rate this spell 3 Stars for usefulness.


Disintegrate: This spell will cause material of any kind - other than that of a magical nature - to Disintegrate(!!!). It will blast a tree, dragon (if it fails to make its saving through against magic), wall section, or whatever. Range 6" (180')

Woah! Ok, Colossal Squid, that's it - you are toast! Or not toast. You're un-toast! Ok, you get the idea. Now THIS is the ultimate weapon of the Magic User against all things Higher Level than 7 HD. Of course you have to get past that pesky Saving Throw. Let's check that out, shall we? So let's posit our 18th Level MU. He's a total badass with Disintegrate. Here comes the colossal squid. So how do we determine what the saving throw for our colossal squid vs Disintegrate is? We don't. It's not specified in the rules. Later editions and commentaries however come to the rescue. An article of the Strategic Review, 1975, explains that:
Saving throws for monsters are the same as for the appropriate type and level of man, i.e. a balrog would gain the saving throw of either a 10th level fighter or a 12th level magic-user (the latter based upon the balrog’s magic resistance), whichever score is the more favorable for the balrog. A troll would be equal to a 7th level fighter as it has 6 dice +3, virtually seven dice.**
So there we have it. 18th Level Fighter Saving Throw vs Magic = 8 or better on a 20 sided die = 60% chance to make the save. ***

On the other hand, in the same thread it states that in Chainmail, which is mechanically fused to OD&D, the rule for saving throws was that monsters get no saving throws vs magic unless specified in their descriptions. So in this case our Colossal Squid ... is not described per se in the OD&D books, nor in Chainmail. So we should probably conclude that it goes under the heading of Sea Monsters, and these do not get a specific Saving Throw in the rules book.

Whww. So yeah. Good bye Mr. Squid. You are UN-TOAST.

I rate this spell 5 Stars for effectiveness. Take it! You can't go wrong.


Move Earth: When above ground the Magic User may utilize this spell to move prominences such as hills or ridges. The spell takes one turn to go into effect. The terrain affected will move at the rate of 6" (180') per turn. Duration: 6 turns. Range 24" (720').

Ok. Yes. That's hefty. When you need to remove a wall from yonder fortification during your honorable King's next war... this is your spell, bro. I'm sure the ingenuity of our Magic Users knows no bounds when it comes to this spell. I see nothing wrong with it, and it probably comes in quite handy at times.

I rate this spell 5 Stars for usefulness.

Next (and last)!

Control Weather: The Magic User can perform any one of the following weather control operations with this spell: Rain, Stop Rain, Cold Wave, Heat Wave, Tornado, Stop Tornado, Deep Clouds, Clear Sky.

Hey, any Magic User worth his salt should be able to control the weather, right? And heck it comes with Tornado! The only question is ... what does Tornado DO, exactly? Not defined. So that leaves it up to the GM to decide. But really, no matter what, a Tornado is a hell of a thing to throw at your opponents. And besides, being able to make it rain... that's a life saver for many peoples in the world. I'd say this is worth taking in order to firmly establish your street cred as a Magic User of no-small import in the world. Go for it.

I rate this spell 4 Stars for usefulness.

And that concludes my coverage and commentary on the Spells of OD&D.  Next up: Clerical Spells!


* - Monster list ruthlessly pilfered from

** - Quote obtained from:

*** - Saving Throws:

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