Friday, June 5, 2020

Going Through the Spells: Remove Fear

This is another of those first level spells I don't recall my players or myself using. I'm surprised how many first level cleric spells are meh. Before I go into why I'm not a huge fan of this spell, let's look into the particulars. 

Old School Essentials Mechanics
Duration: 2 turns
Range: touch
The creature is touched and purged of fear. Magically induced fear may be dispelled, but this requires the subject to make a caving throw versus spells. The save is modified by +1 per level of the caster.

Reverse: Cause Fear
Will cause a target within 120' to flee for the duration unless it saves versus spells. 

So I searched the monsters within OSE, just those, not any additional books, and discovered not one monster creates fear. The mummy has an ability to paralyze with terror. But using the wording, terror and fear are two different things. The fear this spell affects is magical by nature and requires a save versus spell, where the mummy's terror requires a save versus paralysis. So this spell only specifically assists in removing fear caused by the spell. There is nothing to fear, but the Fear spell itself.

Magic items that it would help with is Drum of Panic and Wand of Fear. And of course the reverse of the spell, Cause Fear. A very narrow lane of usefulness. 

And it's a prep spell first. Cast it on a creature ahead of time to boost their save so the party would have to know someone one is sporting some Drums of Panic, Wand of Fear, or their go to spell is Cause Fear. So unless those specific cases were in play, the spell is left in the bin. 

Secondly, it's a get another chance for a save spell, after you chase the fucker down because Remove Fear is a touch spell.  

Even Cause Fear is limited in use (but strangely enough has a 120' range). It scares a creature away... That means you have to chase it down to kill it or shoo it away...until a couple turns later, it returns to eat you. If there is a big, bad baddie squatting on the treasure this spell could make easy work of it and the party loot the treasure with expending a drop of hit points. And we all know, its the treasure is where the experience in OSE, not the monsters. 

AD&D Mechanics
Duration: Special
Range: Touch
By touch, the cleric instill courage in the spell recipient, raising the creatures saving throw against magical Fear attack by +4 on dice rolls for 1 turn. If the recipient has already been affected by fear, and failed their saving throw, the touch allows another saving throw to be made, with a bonus of +1 on the dice for every level of experience of the caster. A 'to hit' roll must be made to touch an unwilling recipient.

The reverse of the spell, cause fear, causes the victim to flee in panic at maximum movement speed away from the caster for 1 round per level of the cleric causing the fear. Of course, cause fear can be countered by remove fear and vice versa.

Not a fan at all of this one. First off, the duration is a single turn. So it is a prep spell, but the duration is short. In AD&D the Fear affect is more in play. I guess it is useful if the party gets information ahead of time about where they are going, and discover Fear is a tactic the enemy uses. But again, it only affects one character. So chose the one that stands in front of the magic-user.

Cause Fear duration is even shorter. One round per level. I'm sure there are tactical situations where this spell would come in handy, but they would have to be very specific. Again, neither version would be a high priority to memorize.

Swords & Wizardry Core Rules
No entry for the Remove Fear spell which is no surprise since it is a 0 edition conversion. 

Swords & Wizardry Complete
Duration: 1 hour
Range: 240'
Before I get into this version I have to state that in the Swords & Wizardry Complete ruleset, there is no Remove Fear Spell either. But there is a 4th level magic-user Fear spell. I am adding it here because of the other version had a reverse spell of Fear

The spell causes creatures in its cone-shaped path to flee in horror if they fail their saving throw. If they do so, there is a 60% chance that they drop what ever they are holding. The cone extend 240' to a base 120' across. 

I so much prefer this spell. Makes more sense and I love the detail about dropping things. But I think I would change that. Tie it into the save itself. 10% multiplied by what they missed their save. Miss your save by 4, you have a 40% of dropping your stuff. 

Its got a good duration and can affect a lot more. Simple. The only thing not simple is that cone shit. If I have to get my protractor out I don't want any part of it. And you always get into the arguement with your players. "Only my foot was in the path. That's just the mini standing like that, I am standing straight up." You know what I'm talking about. 

Overall though, Remove Fear and its reverse, Fear, are not high priority spells in my book. I am sure there are some inventive ways to make it more interesting, I just don't like the narrowness of it and the fact in OSE very little actually causes Fear. I think you'd need to house rule this spell and expend its usage to make it worth a lowly 2nd level cleric to use its only spell slot on this one. 


  1. The fear spell first appears in The Strategic Review #4 as a 3rd level illusionist spells (TSR4 being the introduction of that class); like its companion spell (Paralyzation) it appears to have been based on the wand of the same name, and has no “reverse.” While I would have GUESSED that remove curse was created as a means of countering it (as well as an addition to help fill out the 1st level cleric spell list), its first appearance seems to be in Holmes Basic...which leads me to think the good professor just found a need to counter the fear wand (which makes an appearance in the Basic magic items list).

    I actually like both fear and remove fear as 1st level cleric spells in the B/X game because of the strong Morale mechanic in that game. I think the spell has to be looked at in light of THAT as well as magical fear.

    (with regard to AD&D there are many additional creatures that generate fear effects, including dragons)

    1. Thanks for the explanation JB. I was surprised when I saw none of the monsters caused fear in BX.

  2. I wonder if there are Fear mechanics for monsters, particularly size Large, in Chainmail? Lots of the old WFB monsters, especially Undead, cause Fear.