Friday, August 27, 2010

OD&D Magic Champions Style Part 12

A Call for Comments

I realize that this particular project has not garnered a lot of comments; however, I am asking for feedback on this particular entry. As will become clear, this category requires a lot of interpretation. I don't know that I am happy with what amounts to a rough draft on this category, so I hope that those of you out there who bother to read this will help by chiming in below with your own point of view. Thanks.


This is the single most challenging spell category of any that I have found using the Oe rule set. Not only are the mechanics all over the place, but their descriptions are vague and deviate from what has come to be the norm in later editions. The spells:

Charm Person (1)
Affects humanoids. If successful, target is "completely under the influence" of caster until dispelled. Range = 12"

Sleep (1)Affects a variety of creatures depending upon HD. Max = 2d8 creatures of 1+1HD or less. Max HD affected = 4+1 HD (one creature). Range = 24"

Hold Person (3) [2]
Affects 1-4 persons (with a -2 to the save if targeting only 1 person) with a "greater effect" than Charm Person. Duration = 6 turns + spell caster. Range = 12" Cleric version has Duration = 9 turns & Range = 18"

Charm Monster (4)
Same as Charm Person, but affects monsters and charms 3d6 creatures of 3 or fewer HD.

Confusion (4)
Affects 2d6 +1 per caster level above 8th. Causes affected creatures to randomly determine their action during combat. Targets with 2 or fewer HD are automatically affected. Targets with more HD must save every turn for the duration of the spell or be confused. Duration = 12 turns. Range = 12"

Feeble Mind (5)
Affects only other Magic Users. Renders them "feeble-minded" until dispelled. -4 to the save. Range = 24"

Hold Monster (5)
Same as Hold Person, applicable to monsters.

Quest [5]
Similar to Geas, but the target will suffer a curse (determined by caster with Referee supervision) if the quest is ignored. Duration = until quest is complete. Range = ?

Geas (6)
Target must complete a given task. Ignoring the Geas ultimately causes weakness and death. Duration = until task is complete. Range = 3"


There are a few surprises here, which tend to add more confusion than clarify things. I find this descriptor of Hold Person absolutely fascinating, because as someone who came into the hobby via the Holmes edition and 1e, I have always understood it to be some variation of a paralyzing spell. Here, it seems to indicate a more effective version of Charm Person (though what is a "greater effect" than being "completely under the influence?"). This is a prospect that really excites me, because it opens up possibilities. This led to me to seeking out how other editions describe these spells, of which the 1e DMG notes on Charm Person are by far the most helpful:

Remember that a charmed creature’s or person’s priorities are changed as regards to the spell-caster, but the charmed one’s basic personality and alignment are not.

This allows for the possibility that though the victim may be "completely under the influence" it does not change the basic character of that victim. In turn, this allows for "greater effect" to mean changing aspects of that basic character (such as a survival instinct that would counteract freezing in the middle of a combat to allow an enemy to stick you in the gut with a sword).

As exciting as this revelation is, however, there is very little mechanically that is consistent within this spell category. Sleep, for example, is over all mechanically more powerful than Hold Person (greater number of targets, greater range and potentially a greater duration). In turn, Hold Person is mechanically potentially more powerful than Confusion ("greater than completely under the influence" is more powerful than causing random behavior). In addition — again mechanically — Quest and Geas are not that much more powerful than Charm Person. Although they grant some devastating consequences for not obeying, the enchantment comes to an end once one command is fulfilled. In addition, the targets are free to ignore the command (as long as they are willing to accept the consequence) and to go about the command in a disobedient manner. Charm Person is effective until it is dispelled.

In other words, no matter what progression I choose to use for a Champion-style version of this category, it will little resemble the original source material. With this in mind, I am simply going to proceed with mechanics stripped out of the source material to create a base spell and largely ignore trying to duplicate that source material because it is largely an impossible task.

  • Duration = until task is complete, 6 + caster level turns (12 turns), until dispelled
  • Range = 3", 12" (18"), 24"
  • Area Effect = 1 person/creature ≤ 4+1 HD, 1 person/creature of any HD, 2d6 + 1/per caster level above 8 creatures
  • Special = saving throw penalties/automatic success, curse or withering death if command not followed.
  • Target = humanoid, monster

Base Spell: Target must make a save or be compelled to carry out one command by the caster. Target is free to carry out this command in a manner that reflects their basic personality and alignment. Duration = until the task is complete. Area Effect = 1 person of 4+1 HD or less. Range = 3". Target = humanoid.

The following add 1 level:
  • Duration = 6 + caster turns (and thus possibly more than one command).
  • Range = 12"
  • Area effect = 1 person/creature of any HD
  • Save at penalty -2
  • No save for creatures with less than 1/3 of caster level (1/2HD at 2nd level, 1 HD at 4th level, 2 HD at 7th level, etc.)
  • Target = monster
  • Target's basic personality & alignment are subject to change at the will of the caster

The following add 2 levels:
  • Duration = until dispelled
  • Range = 24"
  • Area Effect = 2d6 creatures + 1 per level above 8
  • Save at penalty -4
  • Some kind of withering disease or curse affects the target when they do not fulfill the command(s) of the caster.

Example spell Feeble Mind
6th level spell. Target must make a save at -4 (+2 levels) or be compelled to carry out a single command of the caster. If the target refuses, their Int will be reduced to 3 (+2 levels). Magic Users will lose all memorized spells. Duration = until task is complete. Area Effect = 1 person of any HD (+1 level). Range = 3". Target = humanoid.

Again, please take the time to critique. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OD&D Magic Champions Style Part 11


Apologies for not getting on with this project for a number of weeks. As I noted in my last post, things have been busy around here lately and the last few spell categories are not as easily dealt with as previous categories. To the spells:
Vertical movement (horizontal only possible by other means). Duration = 6 turns + caster level. Range = 2"/caster level. Move = 6"/turn
Both vertical and horizontal movement. Duration = 1d6 + caster level turns. Range = self Move = 12"/turn
Dimension Door (4)
Limited teleport. Duration = instant. Range = 1". Move = up to 36" with no chance of misjudging.
Instant transportation from place to place. Duration = instant. Move = any distance as long as the destination is known. Any uncertainty might result in death (teleport into a solid object). Range = self
Pass-Wall (5)
Opens a hole in solid rock. Duration = 3 turns. Range = 3"


There are two "types" of movement: axial (horizontal, vertical) which travels through various mediums (air, solid) and teleportation which instantly transports to a specific spot. This begs the question as to whether or not these should be two entirely different categories or the same category with two different base spells that share similar mechanics. Given that the latter allows for more mechanical variety (and thus more spell possibilities) I am going proceed with two different base spells.

Duration = 3 turns/6(1d6) turns + caster level or instantaneous
Speed = 6" per turn/12" per turn/36"/unlimited
Range = self/1"/3"/2" per caster level
Medium = Air/Liquid/Solid (not relevant for teleportation spells)
Axis = Vertical or Horizontal/ both Horizontal and Verticle (not relevant for teleportation spells)

Using these mechanical progressions works very well with teleportation spells, but runs into problems with axial spells. Given these progressions Fly is a 4th level spell and Levitate ends up being a 5th level spell. The primary culprits are range and the necessity to differentiate the vertical only movement of Levitate. If the base spell is 0 level and requires at least one level-up purchase, this gets Fly to 3rd level. In order to get Levitate back to a 2nd level spell, the ranges of 1" and 3" must be eliminated. This, however, puts Pass-Wall at a 4th level spell. Frankly, I don't mind so much, because it is essentially duplicating Dimension Door with a different special effect.

Base spell (teleportation): 1st level. Duration = instantaneous. Range = self. Teleport 6" with no chance of misjudging.

The following add one spell level:
Teleport 12" with no chance of misjudging
Range = 1"

The following add two spell levels:
Teleport 36" with no chance of misjudging
Range = 3"

The following add three spell levels:
Range = 2" per caster level

The following add four spell levels:
Teleport anywhere as long as destination is known. Any uncertainty might result in death.

Example spell Blink
2nd level spell. Duration = instantaneous. Range = 1" (+1 level). Teleport 6" with no chance of misjudging.

Base spell (axial): 0 level (must purchase at least one addition) Duration = 3 turns. Speed = 6". Range =self. Medium = Air. Axis = Vertical or Horizontal

The following add one spell level:
Duration = 1d6 + caster level turns
Speed = 12"
Range = 2" per caster level
Medium = Liquid
Axis = Both Horizontal and Vertical

The following add two spell levels:
Speed = 36"
Medium = Solid

Example spell Dolphin Steed
3rd level spell. Duration = 1d6 + caster level turns (+1 level). Speed = 12" (+1 level). Range = self. Medium = Liquid (+1 level). Axis = Horizontal

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lost Colonies Session 21

After a long and unplanned hiatus, I finally got back in the saddle and played some Labyrinth Lord this weekend. In some ways, the hiatus worked to my group's advantage, because Hamlen's player was very close to completing a task he has been planning for quite some time — getting Grak his prosthetic arm. The extra wait actually made him even more eager to get it done.

The party had to find its way back to Headwaters, which they did after negotiating with the giant spiders they encountered at the river in the jungle they had lost themselves in. Of note, giant spiders in my world are intelligent, can speak and have a weakness for elf flesh. This, the players took advantage of and quickly got information as to the location of the "stinking rotten paladins" at Headwaters and then proceeded to feed the spider to "The Bag" as it is now referred to by the party (other wise known as the Bag of Holding with a dragon-kin inside). After re-orienting themselves, in was quite easy to follow the river into Headwaters.

Unfortunately, the town was being attacked by an small undead army of skeletons, led by a wraith and a pair of tentacled undead the party had previously encountered underneath Trisagia's city of the dead. The undead split their forces and attacked the two main strongholds of the paladins — a keep and a watchtower. Dn. Goram also spotted a small group moving towards the Church. Suspecting that the main assault by the skeletons might be a ruse, the party split up. Dn. Goram and Hamlen went to help defend the tower and keep, and the rest of the party went to the Church in order to see what was going on there.

Hamlen and Dn. Goram were able to fairly easily gut the main assault. Dn. Goram paved the way through the skeletons, automatically disrupting several a round with the help of some magic items, in order to free up his brother who charged the higher HD undead with his sword Liberator.

In the meantime, the rest of the party (minus their two highest level members) found themselves face to face with a pair of ogres and a golden masked magic user interrogating Fr. Valinor, the local priest. Afraid that they did not have the ability to go toe to toe with these three foes, they set about doing a quick strike to free Fr. Valinor and then high tail it until bigger guns could be brought to bear (I was very pleased that "run away" had finally entered the vocabulary of our younger players).

At this point I must explain an interesting quirk about this group. They have developed a very good relationship with Alidar, the local alchemist. They not only frequently buy potions from him but will bring him all kinds of oddities from their adventures in order to see if Alidar can "weaponize" them, as my players like to say. One such oddity resulted in smoke grenades which were used to confuse the ogres and the masked mage long enough to grab Fr. Valinor and run away.

The party quickly found out that the true purpose of the attack was to get the Eye of St. Gabriel and the golden mask that (unknown to the assailants) had been stolen by Xerxes (and was now, as far as the party knew, inside The Bag). The party managed to trace the attackers back in the general direction of the abandoned monastery (and the megadungeon of my campaign). The party resolved to begin a serious expedition into its depths, as soon as they could re-equip themselves and take care of a few things left hanging from sessions past (like Grak's arm).

At this point, I must explain yet another quirk about this group. They very much like the idea of henchmen and followers; however, their idea of what makes a good follower is rather unusual. Instead of hiring out normal NPCs, they have taken to adopting various NPCs and monsters that they have encountered in their adventures:

  • Grak the formerly one-armed tribesman of chaotic crab-grafting humans from the Giant Insect Jungle (who is now officially a 1st level monk, using the AEC LL rules).
  • A peg legged prostitute that is now going to be the main bar tender at Hamlen's tavern.
  • Pups, the dire wolf who has given birth to three healthy pups.
  • A camel
  • The unwitting and unpredictable dragon-kin inside The Bag

Other henchman have come and gone (and died) but no emotional attachment forms, unlike the devotion the party has shown for those in the list above. Also of note, Dn. Goram wants to make a golem and has begun a search for a manual to do so and the party has taken considerable interest in helping Ahkmed in building his son.

When I began this campaign, I had not spent much time at all sketching out the Elves, Dwarves and Halflings of my world. Indeed, I left much of that work to be done by players who wished to play a demi-human. When my Dwarven player heard about James' Dwimmermount dwarves, he was really excited about the idea and ran with it. The fun part is that, although there are similarities, allowing my players freedom in creating the demi-human cultures has resulted in quite a few deviations from Dwimmermount dwarves — a big one being that Ahkmed has insisted that all dwarves are neuter and has played up his ignorance about how other races reproduce.

This past session I mentioned in passing to Ahkmed's player that I have some specific rules for how to go about creating his offspring (using a variation on the work James has done with his dwarves). The party went absolutely nuts — they especially wanted to know (ironically, given discussions on this very topic over at Grognardia) if they could specifically try to make a gnome. All of this amused Ahkmed, but he seems more focused on saving his gold for a foundation for his stronghold — a revelation that I must say was surprising. Understand, Ahkmed's player is the newest to the game (his introduction to the game was my campaign along with a 3.5 campaign that runs when mine isn't in session); however, having read the rules about dwarves, the concept of the end-game sunk in. According to the rules (his words), he is supposed to build a stronghold in order to attract dwarves "from far and wide." Thus, he is already playing for that end game — I couldn't be happier.

The session ended with a rather mundane, but productive re-exploration of the catacombs beneath the lower temple at the monastery. The party decided that they needed a much more detailed map if they were to do some serious exploring there. I was quite happy to oblige. The one significant piece of information they garnered from the new exploration is that all the bones that used to be inside these catacombs are now gone.