Thursday, June 30, 2016

Whitewode Township - Tactical Map - Final

This is the latest, and final, tactical map for Whitewode Village - the West Gate.  Currently there is an army of Gnolls west of the town beyond the marshes, guided by, and aided by, the Military Commanders of the Pechs (an ancient Deep-Stone race, older than the Dwarves).  The town is being defended by two factions of Witches who seem confident in their ability to ward off the Pech Magic.  But the Gnolls?  That's new.  And who knows?  Stay tuned.

Notes on OD&D - Part 27

Time for us to advance!  On to the first of the 6th Level Spells!

Men & Magic
  • p30 - Explanation of Spells - 6th Level

Stone to Flesh: This spell turns stone to flesh, and it is reversible, so as to turn flesh to stone.  It is particularly useful in reviving characters who have been "stoned" by a stone monster.  it is permanent unless a reversed spell is used.  Range: 12" (360')

Well, not terribly exciting, if you ask me.  Though if we think about it this could be used in a variety of ways if you think creatively.  Obviously, using this against your enemies by petrifying them would be handy.  It doesn't say how long it takes for the spell to take effect, so that's a variable that would probably make a pretty big difference if you try to use it in combat.  As GM, I would probably adjudicate that it takes up to a full minute for it to completely take effect, and give it a roll of 1d6 melees.  I might say that after the 1st melee the victim can no longer actively fight and is rooted to the ground.  So that usage would probably be quite effective.  Especially since it can be cast at a distance of 360'.  Dang.  Not bad.  Of course it only affects one character at a time, but what the heck.  Nothing here says it couldn't take out a dragon, or a beholder, or a lich.  I'm thinking this is a pretty kick ass spell. frankly.  And then of course on the other side, you can use it to rescue your friends who may have been turned to statues.  But that seems like the kind of use that would come up only rarely.  It's the reversal that makes this thing powerful, imo.

I rate this spell 4 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Reincarnation: A spell to bring a dead character back to life in some other form.  The form in which the character is Reincarnated is dependent upon his former alignment (Law, Neutrality, or Chaos).  use a random determination on the Character Alignment table, and whatever the result is, the reincarnated Character is that creature and must play as it.  If he comes back a man, determine which level in that class and similarly check level for reincarnation as an elf or dwarf.

Hmmm... Well, that's certainly better than just being dead, I guess.  And since there's obviously a chance you could come back as a human that's not too terrible.  On the other hand, depending on the character's alignment you could come back as ... well ... anything.  That includes Dragons, Trolls, Beholders, and all other monsters.   Wow!   Actually, that makes this, depending on your luck, pretty damn kick ass.  Since the reincarnation is totally random among all possibilities you could also come back a skeleton, a kobold, or black pudding.  Yay.  Exciting.  I think this is a fun spell, and would really serve to spice things up in the game. On the other hand, I have to admit, as a Magic User I'd probably not care for this spell that much.  I'd only get to use it once in a blue moon when characters got killed, and then there's a very good chance that the reincarnated character won't quite be happy with the results.  Meh.  I'm not too excited about this spell for that reason.

I rate this spell 2 Stars for usefulness.

Invisible Stalker: The conjuration of an extra-dimensional monster which can be controlled with merely a word from the Magic User who conjured him.  The Invisible Stalker will continue on its mission until it is accomplished, regardless of time or distance.  They can not be dispelled once conjured, except through attack.  Details of the Invisible stalker itself will be found in the next volume. 

Woah.  That's definitely bad ass.  Let's check out the details.

INVISIBLE STALKERS: As previously noted (Vol 1) these are monsters created by level 6 spells, uttered directly or from scrolls.  They are faultless trackers.  They follow continually until their mission is accomplished at which time they return to the non-dimension from whence they came.  Until their mission is completed they will never vary, and must be destroyed by attack to be stopped, although a Dispel Magic spell will also work.  The referee should note, however, that Invisible Stalkers resent missions which entail long periods of continuing service such as guarding a Magic-User for a month, a year, etc.  They will then seek to fulfill the letter of their duties by perverting the spirit.  For example: An Invisible Stalker is order to "Guard me against all attack, and see that I come to no harm." In order to faithfully fulfill his endless duty the Invisible Stalker will hae to take the Magic-User to its non-dimensional plane and place him in suspended animation, and assume this is accomplished whenever a 12 is rolled with two six-sided dice, checking either daily or weekly as the campaign progresses.

Yow. A couple of things stand out.  First and foremost, the rule from Vol 1 contradicts the rule from Vol 2 on the point of the Dispel Magic. That is a clear contradiction there.  Aside from that, though, this is a pretty awesome spell.  One assumes that Invisible Stalkers should be used for stalking someone... presumably a foe or rival.  "Go forth, thou thing of dread, and slay my enemy, the Duke of Frothmoore!"  I don't think there's any doubt that this would be a perfectly acceptable mission for an Invisible Stalker.  One wonders, though how this would work if the Invisible Stalker is sent after your adventure party by an enemy Magic-User?   What powers and weapons does the Invisible Stalker have?  I'm not sure.  The description is certainly not clear on those points.  Lets poke around.  Ah. Found the stats in Vol 2.

Armor Class: 3
Move in Inches: 12" (360')
Hit Dice: 8
Treasure: Nil

That's an AC equivalent to Platemail (without shield).  This is one tough hombre!  He moves super fast, he's really hard to hit, he's got a lot of Hits, and worst of all - he ain't got no loot at all!   Dang! Dude that's just cruel.

So now back to the question.  We still don't know what kind of attacks he executes.  I'm going to assume he uses ... a long bow.  Why not?  I would if I were him.  I'd also give him a back up weapon in case long bow is not suitable.  A long sword.  Magical, probably.  Why not?  He's extra-dimensional, and we know he has access to magic of some sort because he can cause Suspended Animation.  While we don't know exactly what that means as it is not a Spell listed in the spell list for MUs or Clerics, we can suppose that it is magical.  Let's suppose it is.  This implies that the Invisible Stalker has at least some access to some kind of magic.  I say he gets a magic sword.  Ok, that's cool. Now what happens.  He stalks the party from afar until they come to an open area which gives him a good vantage point from which to shoot his long bow from a safe, protected and invisible distance. Thwap!  The MU goes down with an arrow through the neck.  The Stalker then waits.  The party scrambles around trying to get a bead on where the attack came from.  Meanwhile - Thwap!  The Cleric goes down.  Etc.  The Invisible Stalker, taking advantage of his, um, advantages, would be a miserably effective party killer.  Relentless, merciless, and highly efficient.  Even if they could manage to figure out where it was shooting from, attacking and killing it would be ... a challenge.

Used as effectively against one's opponents... yes, I think this would be quite effective.

I rate this spell 5 out of 5 Stars for usefulness.

Ok, that's good for today.  I pick up on the next set of Level 6 spells next time, and then we move on to Clerics.  :)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Notes on OD&D - Part 26

Ok, finally back to OD&D. Sorry for the delays recently, but a lot has been going on here. Ah, nevertheless, lets continue on with the next 5th Level Spell...

Men & Magic
  • p30 - Explanation of Spells - 5th Level
Cloudkill: This spell creates a moving, poisonous cloud of vapor which is deadly to all creatures with less than five hit dice. Movement: 6" (180') / turn according to wind direction, or directly away from the spell chanter if there is no wind. Dimensions: 3" (90') diameter. Duration: 6 turns, but the cloud is dispelled by unusually strong winds or trees. Note that the cloud is heavier than air, so it will sink to the lowest possible level.

Ok. That's solid. Let's take a quick look at how solid.

Five Hit Dice creatures or less includes the following: Goblins, Kobolds, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Ogres, Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, Wights, Wraiths, Medusae, Gargoyles, Centaurs, Unicorns, Nixies, Pixies, Dryads, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves, Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Green Slime, Yellow Ooze, Light Horse, Horses (all kinds). Also included are lower level men, some lycanthropes, insects, and large animals, all of whom have variable hit dice.

Ok so that's a hefty range of creatures. Now lets see how many that comes to, potentially. I'm going to assume that on average 1 creature can fit in a 5' space, though this is clearly quite variable. But lets take human size as average just for argument's sake. The dimensions are 90' in diameter and we will assume a circle shape. 6362 sq feet. 6362 / 5 = 1272 creatures. Since it can move at 180' per turn, which is twice it's diameter which means it can cover two of it's lengths per turn. So that comes to 1272 x 2 creatures per turn. 2545 creatures per turn, for 6 turns. That comes to 15,269 creatures in total before the spell dissipates. So we're looking at a spell that can potentially kill a small army in six turns. Granted all conditions would have to be right for this to happen, such as the army would have to situated in a 90' wide column stretching out in a straight line for 1080 feet, in the direction necessary for the cloud kill to pass over them all. Yet still, even if this isn't the case, the spell is frikking powerful, and well worth taking, even if conditions will never be absolutely ideal, and even though it can't kill creatures such as trolls, giants, Spectres, Vampires, Cockatrices, Basilisks, Gorgons, Manticoreas, Hydras, Chimeras, Wyverns, Dragons, Purple Worms, Sea Monsters, Treants, Rocs, Griffons, Invisible Stalkers, Djinns, Efreets, Ochre Jellies, or Black Puddings. It is still nevertheless the most powerful killing spell thus far. I say take it.

In addition, there are no stated downsides to this spell, and no limitations listed. Which is why I included Skeletons and Zombies on the list of things it kills... even though technically they're already dead, and so a cloud kill in theory shouldn't have an effect on them. But this is magic, and the poison is magical in nature and, well, them's the rules as stated. So there you have it.

Just make sure that you're party members are not in the path of Cloudkill, and the enemies are. Watch those winds carefully, Bub. But take this spell. It's a whopper.

I rate this spell 5 Stars out of 5 on usefulness.

Ok, I'll take a stab at the next spell too.

Feeblemind: A spell usable only against Magic-Users, it causes the recipient to become feeble-minded until the spell is countered with a Dispel Magic. Because of it's specialized nature the Feeblemind spell as a 20% better chance of success, ie lowers the magic users saving throw against magic by 4, so that if normally a 12 or better were required to save against magic, a 16 would be required against a Feeblemind. Range: 24" (720').

Feeblemind, therefore, is a spell designed to take down your opponent's Magic Users. And it comes with a hefty 20% bonus, too. And a pretty descent range, too. What the definition of feeble-minded is, exactly, is left to the GM to decide. Does this mean they become a sputtering imbecile? Or just too stupid to know that they shouldn't answer all of your questions truthfully? Doesn't say. But most certainly it would prohibit them from casting spells, and/or doing other useful things. So we need to take this with a grain of salt, as there's a lot of variability in terms of how the GM will interpret what the effect is.

I'd rate this spell 4 Stars for usefulness and still recommend it. But take Cloudkill first. That's my advice.

Ok, last one for 5th Level spells and we call it a day.

Growth of Animals: A spell which will cause from 1-6 normal-sized animals (not merely mammals) to grow to giant-size with proportionate attack capabilities. Duration: 12 turns. Range: 12" (360').

Ok this one sounds cool at first, but here's the catch. Nothing says the animals once enlarged will behave in any particular way. Animals can be highly unpredictable, especially when surprised. Growing to giant-size all of a sudden might just freak out the animals, and who knows what they could do. There is certainly nothing here to suggest that they will automatically become your friends and attack your enemies. They might even turn on your own forces. Who knows? They're animals. Unpredictable.

I rate this 3 Stars for Usefulness.

Ok, that's it for 5th Level Spells. The last leg for Magic will be the (undoubtedly) mind blowingly powerful 6th Level spells, which will be coming up next. Stay tuned (for hopefully not too long this time).