Saturday, March 3, 2018

Holmes & Cook: Illusionist (Saintly Saturday)

Today is the feast of the Martyrs Eutropius and Cleonicus who were betrayed to the Governor Asclepiodotus of Amasia (northern Turkey) during the reign of Diocletian (A.D. 284-305). They were tortured and crucified. Both of them were kinsmen of the Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit who had been martyred under the previous governor.

This last fascinating piece of information has me meditating on such things as legacies, mantels and traditions of what has come before. In context of RPGs, my first was Holmes Basic D&D. Recently, this reality has hit home because I’ve been watching Matt Finch run Swords & Wizardry Complete on YouTube. 


One interesting quirk about the Complete edition of S&W is that it offers up several different ways to do initiative, one of which emulates Holmes. Fascinatingly, it is this version that Matt uses when running his games. I’ve always wanted to try it out, and I’ve got to admit that it is a lot more elegant that I ever imaged.

This got me reminiscing about my own meditations on Holmes and the thought experiment I had about using it in conjunction with Cook’s Expert D&D. Specifically, this quote:
There are a number of other character types which are detailed in ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. There are sub-classes of the four basic classes. They are: paladins and rangers (fighting men), illusionists and witches (magic-users), monks and druids (clerics), and assassins (thieves).
I’ve postulated an Assassin class (which still needs work), a Paladin class, a Ranger class and a Witch class (reskinned as an Alchemist). Since my last post reskinned magic in terms of language I decided to see what would happen if I used some of the principles I postulated there to come up with a spell list for a Holmesian Illusionist class.

The principles I used look like this:

  • All the spells come from either Holmes or Cook no new spells
  • I took all the spells (from both the magic-user and cleric lists) that could be understood as illusion magic and moved them one spell level down. For example, Mirror Image (a 2nd level magic-user spell) becomes a 1st level Illusionist spell.
  • I then filled out the rest of the spell list with mostly utility spells, moving most to be one spell level higher. For example, Floating Disc (a 1st level magic-user spell) becomes a 2nd level Illusionist spell.
  • I went half-way in-between clerics (8 spells per spell level) and magic-users (12 spells per spell level) to give the illusionist spell list 10 spells per spell level.

Finally, there weren’t enough spells to justify a 6th level spell list, so I limited the Illusionist to 5 spell levels:

1st Level

  1. Audible Glamer
  2. Charm Person
  3. Dancing Lights
  4. Detect Illusion
  5. Invisibility
  6. Light
  7. Magic Mouth
  8. Mirror Image
  9. Phantasmal Force
  10. Read Magic

2nd Level

  1. Cause Fear
  2. Dispel Illusion
  3. Floating Disc
  4. Hold Portal
  5. Invisible 10’r.
  6. Shield
  7. Silence 15’r.
  8. Sleep
  9. Snake Charm
  10. Suggestion

3rd Level

  1. Charm Monster
  2. Confusion
  3. Continual Light
  4. Detect Illusion
  5. ESP
  6. Hallucinatory Terrain
  7. Invisibility 10’r.
  8. Levitate
  9. Massmorph
  10. Wizard Lock

4th Level

  1. Clairvoyance
  2. Dispel Magic
  3. Feeblemind
  4. Fly
  5. Haste
  6. Hold Person
  7. Infravision
  8. Magic Jar
  9. Protection from Normal Missiles
  10. Water Breathing

5th Level

  1. Cloudkill
  2. Dimension Door
  3. Geas
  4. Hold Monster
  5. Invisible Stalker
  6. Projected Image
  7. Remove Curse
  8. Telekinesis
  9. Teleport
  10. Wizard Eye
Spell progression would look like this:
Level…Spells Slots per Spell Level
Otherwise, they function as magic-users.

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