Sunday, March 1, 2020

Going Through the Spells: Cure Light Wounds

I decided to go through each of the Old School Essentials spells, starting with the 1st level cleric spells and working my way up and then over to the magic-user spells. I'll compare the spells to their counterparts in different systems such as AD&D, and other random systems I pull off the shelf at the time. Let's get started. 

Cure Light Wounds is the first entry into the cleric spells at first level. All other characters in the party want the cleric to load up all his 1st level slots with this spell. The party medic. 

Gameplay Trend
I've read and seen a trend of games attempting to shy away from this. The cleric loses his band-aids and charges into battle as a holy warrior. I've got my own philosophy about that, it comes down to the god they worship. 

Cleric is a class that has the chance to be more diverse than any other class. A cleric that worships a war god acts/looks much different than one that worships a healing god, or a nature god. In my campaign it makes a huge difference. And just because a cleric has a healing spell doesn't mean it works automatically. Sometimes you've got to check in with the boss. And if the boss doesn't want you to heal a warrior who serves a different god, then the spell doesn't work and the cleric loses the spell slot. 

Old School Essentials Mechanics
Duration: Instant
Range: Touch or caster
2 Uses
- Heals 1d6+1 points of damage
- Cure paralysis
Reversible: Inflicts 1d6+1 points of damage

The cure paralysis is something I've known about for a very long time, but I don't ever recall a group using it in a game for that purpose. And the spell is loose in its interpretation of whether it is an either or proposition. Does the cleric have to choose between the two properties? I say both would work at the same time. Think of it as medicine, like NyQuil. It'll get rid of your cough and knock your ass into a coma. 

Lets look at AD&D Cure Light Wounds Spell.

AD&D Mechanics
Duration: Instant
Range: Touch
- Heals 1d8 points of damage
Reversible: Inflicts 1d8 points of damage

This version of the spell specifically states the creature being healed must have a corporeal body. And it doesn't work on those creatures that are only harmed by iron, silver, or magic. This spell is also reversible, but I have a question. If this spell cannot heal creature are are only harmed by iron, silver, or magic, doesn't that suggests it could not harm that same creature?

Again, this is something I haven't run into during a game. And to tell you the truth, Cure Light Wounds is one of those spells do people rarely read into too much. We all want to know how much we get healed and we're good. 

The other thing you'll notice is the lack of curing paralysis in AD&D. Ghouls and ghasts got a little more dangerous.

Let's take a look at the latest version of Cure Light Wounds in 5th Edition D&D. It is list as Cure Wounds.

5th Edition Mechanics
Duration: Instant
Range: Touch
- Creature regains a number of hit points equal to 1d8 + spellcasting ability modifier.
- No effect on undead or constructs.
- casting this spell using a higher level slot the healing increases 1d8 for each level above 1st. 

In 5th edition they made it a spell of some flexibility. It is not dedicated to a single spell level slot. This adds a nice strategic situation when it comes to selecting spells for the cleric. And interestingly, there is no reversible effect. No curing paralysis. This is a strictly, get healed and move your ass spell. 

My limited time with 5th edition the party did not have a cleric and the other time I played was in Adventures in Middle Earth where I played a scholar with healing ability, but it worked much differently. 

The Aside
Healing potions are found in magic-user shops or alchemist shops. Potions are considered magic items, created by magic-users, who have shown no aptitude for healing magics. Seems odd. And lets say they have a formula, add some troll's blood, with cinnamon, apple juice from first apples of spring and wala, you got yourself a Slurpee of Healing. But if they can do that, why aren't they able to use that same knowledge and create a secular healing spell? 


  1. CLW doesn't cure paralysis in OD&D or Holmes either. This sounds like Moldvay had a nice houserule that he decided to port over to the BX.

    I've used CLW as a way to do other sorts of physical healing as well as just HP.

    1. I think the same. I'm curious as to the other healing it does in your game?

    2. I use "Shields shall be splintered" and if they have a metal shield and sacrifice it, they actually lose use of their arm for a few days due to injury from the sacrifice, not allowing them to use a shield. CLW can cure that.

      CLW can also cure broken bones, burns and other minor issues. Major injuries or internal injuries would require CSW.

    3. Excellent. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. In the Basic book, CLW specifically says it does not heal HP if used for paralyisis. I like that aspect personally, because if you can't cure the paraylis, ghouls become even more deadly!

  3. The paralysis bit is a tidbit I always for get about. I don't think in 28 years of playing D&D I have ever had any of my players use it that way.

  4. Just to clarify the reverse of cure spells does not work against "creatures not living or those whic hcan be harmed only by iron, silver, and/or magical weapons". The line is, "It's reverse...operates in the same manner". The second edition AD&D further adds extraplanar creatures due to a previous sage advice answer on the subject. On that topic, is there any reason why you are not adding the 2e spell mechanics to your discussion? Although, I prefer avoiding 2.5e at all costs, so maybe that's alright...

    P.S. 3e-5e sucks.

    1. For this series I am using Old School Essentials and AD&D as the two I compare and then pull another system off the shelf at random. Thanks for all your input!

    2. Oh ok, I didn't realize that there was a random element. Keep on rollin!