Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Going Through the Spells: Find Traps

Yeah I went for the obvious, but still funny meme. The next spell up is Find Traps. I think it's a straight forward spell, but let's take a look.

Old School Essentials
Duration: 2 turns
Range: 30'
Trapped objects or areas within range of the caster glow with a magical blue light. 
Magical and mechanical traps: Are both detected.
No knowledge: About the nature of the trap or how to deactivate it is granted.

I like this spell. It's useful by letting the party know about a problem, but doesn't offer a solution. It's an abstract description so it doesn't so the trap itself, but the object or area. So it would show the hidden rope and pulley that releases the falling block. But a section of the ceiling glows blue. And for some reason I enjoy that it glows blue. Knowing me, I would have it glow blue for the first three times, bit on the fourth casting a trap glowed green. Watch the party speculate on why it's green. 

Duration: 3 turns
Range: 3"
Area of Effect: 1" path
All traps -- concealed normally or magically -- of magical or mechanical nature become visible. Note this spell is directional, and the caster must face the desired direction in order to determine if a trap is laid in that particular direction.

Sometime I wonder how I played AD&D for so many years. The spell is straight forward yet the need to put in the caveat about the 1" path just seems to give a dickhead GM a reason to mess with players. I'd just rule if its with 30' sight range of the cleric it's good to go. And where's the blue glow?

D&D 3ed.
Duration: no idea
Range: no idea
Notice traps as a rogue does.

...I should say I play 3rd edition once when it first came out. Once. I never played it to figure out how the casting works and the descriptions for the spells are all around one to two sentences. I'm sure somewhere there was a place that told you how long it lasted and what range it was, but I couldn't find it. But the description is about as succinct as it gets. It carries the spirit of the spell.

Find Traps is a tricky choice at 2nd level. I think it falls in the mid range of usability. The reason it's not higher if the duration. The cleric would need to already suspect a trap was in the area to cast it. It's not one to cast and start wandering around. The cleric casts it to confirm what is already suspected and it doesn't last that often.

But what if the trap isn't mechanical? Say you have coins in a chest coated with a contact poison? It is neither mechanical or magical. As a GM I would still have the coins glow blue, but give no further comment. Since it is a spell that will probably only detect one trap it doesn't threaten a trap laden dungeon. 

That's it. I'm out. Until next time we look into the nastiest of the 2nd level cleric spells in my opinion, Hold Person!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Going Through the Spells: Bless

Last year I went through all the first level cleric spells, focusing on the Old School Essentials system. Then I compare the OSE version against the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons version of the spell. And if that's not enough, I throw in a random third system spell comparison. 

So let's jump into the 2nd level spells. First one up is Bless.

Old School Essentials 
Duration: 6 turns
Range: 60'
May be used in one of two situations:
1. Battle: Allies within a 20' square area who are not yet in melee gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls and a +1 bonus to moral.
2. Ritual: Casting bless may also form part of rituals or purification or consecration, at the referee's discretion. 

Reversed: Blight
Incurs a -1 penalty to morale checks, attack and damage rolls of enemies within a 20' square area. A save vs. spells is allowed to resist the blight. 

Bless is a useful spell. Especially when you have a combat option, which is always a benefit, but it's that second option, the ritual component I really like. It's one of the few times where a spell's affect is not specifically determined by the text. This gives the GM and the players additional opportunities to utilize bless in game and in different ways. I don't recall using bless in that way in my game and this is one of the reasons I'm doing this series, even though I've been playing for over four decades, I'm always learning new things. 

The only thing that doesn't make sense to me is the exclusion of those already in melee combat. Do you have to pay attention to get the bless? If so, aren't the archers drawing arrows and aiming, spellcasters prepping spells, thieves strategizing from the shadows? There is no reason the ground pounders up front shouldn't be blessed. 

The reverse, blight, is less exciting. Maybe because it's focused more on a combat aspect. I think I'd add 'defile' as an aspect. Where a rival cleric can contaminate or unsanctify a holy site. Any special properties the site may have held are now gone. I can see an evil cleric sticking the stinky pinky into a batch of holy water contaminating it.  

Duration6 melee rounds
Range: 6"
Area of Effect: 5" x 5"
Upon uttering the bless spell, the caster raises the morale of friendly creatures by +1. It also raises "to hit" rolls by +1. A blessing however, will affect only those not already engaged in melee combat. 

Reversed: Curse
Curses the enemies with a -1 to morale check and "to hit" rolls. The spellcaster determines the range of the spell (up to 6") and it affects all creatures within an 5" square centered on the point the spell was cast upon. 

There are many differences so I listed them.
  • First big difference of note, the AD&D bless spell is a 1st level spell. This is huge. Because in AD&D you get bonus spells for high wisdom. And the fact clerics get spells starting at 1st level compared to OSE, at 2nd. This means access to this spell is wide open comparatively. 
  • Absence of a bonus (or penalty) to damage rolls. I agree with the absence. I don't see a bless affecting the amount of damage done, but definitely the ability to hit an opponent.  
  • The duration is significantly different. Melee rounds are 1 minute in AD&D. So the bless lasts 6 minutes. Faster than a one pump chump on prop night. OSE version lasts 6 turns. Huge difference. This blessing would need to be done in the heat of battle otherwise it'll quickly fade after the fight starts. (thank you to Possibly Adam Morton for the time correction)
  • While maybe not a difference, but a distinction, is when casting reverse its called curse instead of blight, but acts the same relatively. In OSE the third level Remove Curse has a reverse called Curse. So imagine that's is the reason for the name difference. 
  • Also, the reverse, Curse, hits friend of foe when cast. OSE notes that enemies suffer the penalty while in AD&D, everyone within the area of effect must make the save or suffer the penalties. 
I'm not a fan of the AD&D version of bless and probably one of the reasons I rarely used it myself back in the day. Seems an ineffectual spell with little upside compared to, in this case, other first level spells, like a cure light wounds, light, or even detect magic. Bless would be way down on my list. And it doesn't have that cool role-playing component, ritual, written in like the OSE version.

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game
Duration: 1 minute/level
Range: 50' radius
Gives the caster and his or her allies a bonus of +1 on attack rolls, morale checks, and saving throws against magical fear. 

Reversed: Bane
If fills the caster's enemies with fear and doubt, causing each affected creature to suffer a -1 penalty on attack rolls. morale checks, and saving throws against magical fear.

Slightly different from the OSE version. I find it interesting that it gives a bonus specifically against magical fear, but not against a creature that produces a natural fear. I'd think it would work for both. And I'm inclined to take it a step further and say a bless would provide a +1 to all saves for the duration. 

I also like that it gives the front line fighters some love. They don't have to disengage to high five the cleric to get the bless. 

I prefer this duration compared to the others. I like that level is taken into consideration to extend the affect. And again, I'd like it seen taken a step further by maybe adding an additional level of  blessing. Say a 5th level cleric casts the bless, then the bonus (or penalty) would be at +2 (-2). I don't think this unbalances the game and keeps the bless spell more relevant at higher levels. 

So that's it from the murky sylvanlands of PA. I hope you are enjoying this series and if you have any input please comment. I do have the monitoring option on due to waves of spam. 

Thanks again. The spell coming up next...Find Traps! And you know what meme is going up with that spell without having to tell or show anyone. :)