26 April 2012

Megadungeon Mania

Today, I ordered a print copy of Patrick Wetmore's ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment and became a backer of Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze II project. On the 21st, I purchased the PDF of Barrowmaze I. Last month, I became a backer of James Maliszewski's Dwimmermount project. Just one megadungeon is supposed to keep one's players busy for a long, long time, so what am I doing with three? And why am I seriously planning my own megadungeon? It must be megadungeon mania.

Murdundia and Monotheism

I think the first campaign setting I ever created for a role-playing game was the World of Murdundia for Dungeons & Dragons. It was a fantasy world loosely inspired by medieval Europe (as is typical), and it was dominated by a monotheistic religion strongly based on Christianity (which was atypical for fantasy games that were not Arthurian). It wasn't that I had any aversion to polytheistic settings—I was a big fan of the World of Greyhawk—but the desire of one of my players to play a paladin, coupled with the strong presence of infernal monsters in the Monster Manual, led me to envision a world closer to the historical Middle Ages than Middle Earth, the Young Kingdoms, or the Hyborian Age. (The fact that I once had the sun blotted out by a swarm of byakhee is beside the point.) The monotheistic religion was called Veritas (Latin for "Truth") or, less-believably (and less pronounceable), Veritasism. Its antithesis was diabolism (the worship of devils) and demonolatry (the worship of demons, primarily Orcus), both of which were at odds with one another. FrDave's Blood of Prokopius has caused me to seriously consider resurrecting this campaign setting. Polytheistic settings are great, especially when the pantheons are fascinating, but there is so much to be mined from all the history, literature, art, architecture, folklore, and cultural traditions of monotheistic medieval Europe that it would be a pity not to use it for at least one setting where paladins, clerics, demons, and devils are important. Murdundia might have to be one of my OSR projects. A better name for the religion might be in order, though.

24 April 2012

Of Wizards' Guilds and Mentors

My gaming group has always taken a rather relaxed attitude toward the acquisition of new spells by magic-users, partly because we never subscribed to the idea of training between levels. As soon as a magic-user gained a level, it was PRESTO! New spells! I presume the rules for training were designed as an excuse for lightening the pockets of adventurers (which seemed to be a major preoccupation of game design in early editions of D&D). Personally, if I'm worried that player characters are becoming too wealthy to be concerned about adventuring, I have more plausible and interesting methods to part them from their treasure. I must admit, however, that if any class had a good rationale for training between levels, it's the magic-user. Unless their only means of acquiring spells is by finding them during an adventure (a severe restriction reminiscent of — and appropriate to — Call of Cthulhu), it seems there ought to be some explanation for how they suddenly gained access to x new spells.

Wizards' guilds are perfect for this purpose. A mysterious cabal of sorcerers united to protect their secrets and their fellow members, as well as to advance their esoteric interests (generally the gathering and safeguarding of occult knowledge), is the proper instrument for the guidance and instruction of magic-users. In any fantasy world where there are sufficient numbers of magic-users, this is the obvious place for magic-users to receive their training. Any town or city should have a wizards' guild, either secretly or publicly. Villages or hamlets, however, are unlikely to support such a guild.

The problem with magic-user training arises when the fantasy world has very few magic-users. So few, in fact, that there are entire communities, perhaps even entire nations that doubt they even exist! How does one get enough magic-users together to form even a single guild in such a world?

One could assert that all one needs is one's mentor to provide new spells, but there lies a host of other problems. What if the student surpasses the master? What if the mentor is faraway? What if the mentor dies?

In my fantasy campaign (IMFC), I have decided to grant all magic-users a special ability. This ability is not a spell and needn't be memorized. It is only used between adventures when the magic-user is in a place safe from immediate danger.

Astral Sanctum

All magic-users, beginning at the first level of experience, are instructed by their mentors in the discipline of reaching the astral sanctum. This is an ability that enables the practitioner, through a process of meditation that places one's body in a state of suspended animation, to travel in one's astral body to a pocket dimension that is accessible only to others who have received the same instruction. Each astral sanctum is the exclusive domain of a particular guild, and it is here that magic-users are inducted into the higher levels of their order and receive their new spells. The astral sanctum enables the far-flung members of guilds to share their knowledge and even convene councils though their physical bodies are many leagues apart from one another.

The astral sanctum does not confer any other extra-planar abilities and does not grant the ability to astrally travel anywhere except the astral sanctum.

The length of time required to gain the new spells due one's level whilst in the astral sanctum is one week.

Blogger Aside

This new text editor is terrible. It doesn't fit my browser, it doesn't allow me to scroll horizontally so I can see everything, and part of the time my text disappears behind the sidebar even though the sidebar is already retracted. I guess I'll have to compose all my posts in a separate text editor and paste them into Blogger's text editor when I'm ready to publish them. Thank you, Blogger, for forcing me to take an EXTRA step. Thank you, Blogger, for restricting me to an inferior "upgrade" rather than allowing me to choose.

21 April 2012

Clerical Spell: Sanctify Weapon

As I mentioned previously, fantasy worlds where magic weapons are rare in the extreme needn't be devoid of those supernatural horrors that can only be harmed by magic weapons, but adventurers will stand a better chance of surviving if they have some sort of alternative at their disposal. One alternative is the spell, of which the second level magic-user spell ensorcel weapon is one example (q.v.). The fourth level clerical spell sanctify weapon, described below, is another.

This spell conforms to the wisdom of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord in that creatures who are only affected by magic weapons are affected by any magic weapon regardless of its bonus.

Sanctify Weapon

Spell Class: Cleric
Spell Level: 4
Range: 0
Duration: special

This spell invests one ordinary weapon with a divine purpose: that of destroying supernatural forces of an alignment other than the caster’s. Specifically, it renders the weapon effective against those beings who are invulnerable to non-magical (or non-silver) weapons. The spell lasts as long as it is being used against such beings. If the weapon is ever used to strike any foe other than supernatural enemies, the weapon will become desanctified and the spell’s effect will end. This spell does not confer combat bonuses.

Lawful clerics may employ this spell against demons, devils, the undead, and hostile elementals. Chaotic clerics may employ it against angels and hostile elementals.

If the ninefold alignment system is being used, alignment opposition will be determined by Good vs. Evil, not Law vs. Chaos.

Magical Spell: Ensorcel Weapon

Previously, I mentioned that one of the consequences of a wizard-scarce fantasy world is that there will be a dangerously short supply of magic weapons with which to dispatch those foes who are unaffected by mundane weapons. A scarcity of magic weapons is, I should mention, a desirable feature, not a flaw. The scarcer they are, the greater they are valued, and the more they add to the fantastical atmosphere of the adventures. Making these supernatural monsters vulnerable to non-magical weapons is not a solution. It reduces the value of the coveted magic weapon, and it reduces the impressiveness of the monster. Rather, I think the answer lies in spells. AD&D already gives us the fourth level magic-user spell enchanted weapon, but this spell is too weak for its assigned level, and it comes far too late in a magic-user's career to be useful, for by the time he or she has reached the minimum level to cast it (seventh), the adventuring party will surely have found at least one magic weapon. In fact, they probably would not have survived long enough to reach that level if they hadn't found one considerably earlier. The answer is to make the spell accessible at an earlier level. The following variant is a second level spell, accessible to magic-users and elves at the third level of experience.

This spell conforms to the wisdom of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord in that creatures who are only affected by magic weapons are affected by any magic weapon regardless of its bonus.

Ensorcel Weapon

Spell Class: Magic-user
Spell Level: 2
Range: 0
Duration: 6 rounds per level of the caster

This spell temporarily enchants one ordinary weapon (or up to three small weapons, such as arrows, bolts, or daggers), thereby rendering it effective against foes who are invulnerable to non-magical (or non-silver) weapons. This spell does not confer combat bonuses.

19 April 2012

A Dearth of Magicians

In at least one of my campaign worlds, human magic-users are encountered very rarely. I prefer the mystique of magic items, monsters, and workers of magic shrouded in mystery and spoken of in awe. Most humans have never had personal experience of any of the above, and some may even doubt their existence. If a magic item were discovered, its only viable market would probably be that of kings and rulers of city-states. If a monster were seen, it would probably inspire incredulous terror in all but knights or experienced adventurers. If a known magic-user were encountered, the reaction might vary from swooning admiration to fear to fanatical hatred. Low level magic-users are as rare as earls, dukes, or princes. High level magic-users are as rare as kings or emperors (which is why many of them are employed as highly paid court wizards). Some of them may be kings or emperors. If a magic-user is found undisguised in the midst of non-magical persons, everyone will know that something ominous is afoot, for it well known that magic-users never travel anywhere without some arcane objective.

Due to the rarity and, in some cases, disputed existence of magic-users, magic has not influenced the economy of the world, nor has it altered the boundaries of kingdoms, nor has it affected the lifestyles of ordinary subjects (as far as anyone knows). There are no magic shops where one may purchase magic items. There are no magical telecommunications services. There are no magical rapid transit systems. There are no magical strategic defense initiatives. There are no magically-powered factories. Any and all of the above would be possible if not inevitable in a world where magic-users are as common as they seem to be in some campaigns.

In most of my fantasy games, I prefer magic to retain its sense of wonder, and that means it can never be mundane. When magic happens, stomachs churn and hair feels as if it's standing on end. It becomes something to tell one's children and grandchildren. Troubadours sing of it. A magic-user by his or her very nature is a living legend.

The fantasy in my world is fantastic. One might even say it's fantastical... At any rate, fantasticality has consequences. One consequence is that adventurers will not have a reliable source of magical weaponry, which is very serious indeed when one considers the variety of monsters that are invulnerable to non-magical weapons. Another consequence is that it's deucedly difficult to join a wizards' guild when there aren't enough magic-users in any given area to form one (the absence of which may adversely affect spell acquisition). I shall attempt to address both matters (and any others that occur to me) in the days ahead.

Magic-User or Elf Spells

This is a new rule for my version of the reincarnation spell: If an elf casts induced reincarnation, he or she may choose whether to roll on the druidic table or the magic-user table. NPC elves have a 50% chance of choosing either table. (It just seemed to me that the druidic table was probably more appropriate to elves and should therefore be an option.)

This thought, along with the observation that magical spells are listed in Basic/Expert D&D as "magic-user and elf spells," led me to consider making separate magic-user and elvish spell lists in order to emphasize their differences. I could say that elves just use druidic spells, especially if I don't use druids in my game, or I could just include druidic spells as elvish specialty spells, just as magic-users who belong to guilds will have access to guild specialty spells. That might be the best approach. Then if I decide to use druids, they would still have greater access to druidic spells.

For now, the rule will be: Elves may choose one druidic spell per spell level of each spell level they are capable of casting. These spells are actually magical in nature, and must be memorized in the same manner as their other spells.

17 April 2012

Monster: Dire Beastfolk

This is the creature mentioned at the end of the beastfolk article.

Dire Beastfolk

No. Enc.: 2d4 (5d12)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: by armor type
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 (bite or weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or by weapon type
Save: F1
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XXI
XP: 15

Dire beastfolk are inherently vicious humanoids whose minds and bodies are warped by the powerful dark magic that spawned them. Believed to be the result of an unholy merging of beast and goblinkind, they were created to be slave soldiers, and as such their culture is entirely militaristic. Most dire beastfolk appear to be an indeterminate mix of various beasts with goblinoid features, but a few exhibit a singular (though goblinish) beast nature, such as that of the bear, great cat, mole, rat, wild boar, or wolf. Their lairs usually consist of barracks in the forts or strongholds of their masters, although there may be independent tribes of dire beastfolk who became free by virtue of the death of their masters, in which case they might inhabit caves or ruins. They are typically armed with pole arms, morning stars, or spears. A minority are armed with crossbows. Typical armor includes padded and leather, with a shield for those not wielding two-handed weapons (AC 8, 7, or 6). Officers, chiefs, and sub-chiefs have 2+2 hit dice, wear laminar armor, carry a shield, and wield a sword or scimitar (AC 3).

14 April 2012

Combat House Rules

I prefer to run combat situations quickly, cleanly, and creatively. My players are not burdened with overcomplicated tactical rules and options; neither are they prevented from attempting crazy stunts if they so desire. It does help, however, to have a few more standard combat rules than are found in the rulebooks of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord. Here are some of my weapon-related house rules:

Just as a mounted attacker charging with a lance causes double the normal damage to an opponent, a defender armed with a spear or pike set to receive a charge causes double the normal damage to a charging opponent.

In any clash in which a mounted attacker is charging with a lance against a defender armed with a spear or pike set to receive that charge, both attacks are handled simultaneously and any resulting damage is dealt simultaneously.

Up to two ranks of spearmen or three ranks of pikemen in a single file may attack a single foe. If there is room for multiple files and the foe is large enough (such as a large monster), additional files may also attack the same foe.

Shields are useless against flails. A shield confers no armor class bonus when its bearer is attacked with a flail.

An attacker armed with a pole arm may opt to strike with the intent of dismounting a rider rather than causing damage. A successful hit indicates that the pole arm has hooked part of the rider's armor.

And, as I mentioned previously, wielders of two-handed weapons may not use shields, but are not otherwise penalized.

Old School Renaissance Logo

Yes, this is an Old School Renaissance Web log (and yes, I use the classical term "Web log"), so I thought it would be appropriate that it bear an OSR Logo. The one I chose was created by Stuart of Strange Magic, and I think it's a great design.

12 April 2012

D&D Dream Edition

A hardcover edition of Dungeons & Dragons that incorporates all the rules from the Basic Set of Mr. Moldvay and the Expert Set of Messrs. Cook and Marsh (integrating the spell lists and monsters and such), with Erol Otus' cover illustration of the Basic Set as the front cover and his illustration of the Expert Set as the back cover — that's my dream edition of D&D.

[Edit: Oh, and it would include simplified versions of all the AD&D 1st Edition spells, including those from Unearthed Arcana and Greyhawk Adventures.]

11 April 2012

Labyrinth Lord Wins Initiative

Within the pages of the Moldvay Basic D&D rulebook (page B27), there is a sentence that reads "Whenever a two-handed weapon is used (including pole arms), the attacker cannot use a shield (this may reduce the Armor Class of the attacker) and will always lose the initiative, whatever the roll (see page B23)." I have no dispute with having to give up the advantage of using a shield when wielding a two-handed weapon, but the initiative penalty is another matter. Presumably the rule applies only to "pair combat" in which each combatant rolls initiative (as opposed to each side rolling initiative). It seems curious, though, that weapon speed should only be taken into account for one type of weapon. If two-handed weapons are penalized compared to one-handed weapons, should there not also be a distinction made between heavy and light one-handed weapons? (Someone recently wrote an article answering this very question with a new house rule, but I can't remember which Web log it was in. If it's you, please feel free to comment.) If speed is taken into account, shouldn't the reach of a weapon be a factor, too? A spear may be slower than a dagger in hand-to-hand combat, but odds are pretty good that the spear will strike its target sooner. It makes more sense to adopt a system that includes the speed and the reach of every weapon if any distinction is to be made at all. That way leads to AD&D, of course, and since I've decided instead to return to the Basic/Expert edition (with the Erol Otus cover illustrations), I have opted for the simpler method of editing the offending sentence to read "Whenever a two-handed weapon is used (including pole arms), the attacker cannot use a shield." This is patently obvious, and Labyrinth Lord, the Basic/Expert D&D retro-clone, to its credit doesn't even mention it. As far as I can tell, there are no weapon-specific initiative penalties mentioned at all in its pages. That is why Labyrinth Lord wins the initiative.

10 April 2012

Monster: Beastfolk

This is another creature that makes an appearance on the Neutral Monster Incarnation Table of the induced reincarnation spell.


No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d12)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 3 or 1 (claw/claw/bite or weapon)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6 or by weapon type
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 29

Beastfolk are semi-human creatures with beast-like characteristics both in temperament and appearance. Undoubtedly the result of magical experimentation on a large scale in the distant past, most beastfolk exhibit a single dominant beast nature, typically that of the bear, great cat, or wolf. They have human-like intelligence, but rational thought is at constant war with their animal instincts, a condition which has prevented their society from rising above a very primitive tribal structure. Their lairs are natural caves, although hunting bands sometimes build temporary structures of hide or foliage when they are far from home. The only weapons they make or use are spears or hand axes, both of which have stone blades. Shunning armor of any kind, beastfolk rely on their natural agility to avoid death when hunting dangerous prey. Beastfolk in their natural habitat surprise enemies on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6 and are only surprised on a roll of 1.

It is rumored that there are dire beastfolk, created by a merging of beast and goblinkind and trained in the arts and weapons of war, but these rumors have not yet been confirmed.

09 April 2012

No Half-Measures

In my pursuit of hassle-free gaming, I decided to switch from AD&D 1st Edition, the role-playing game I DMed and played the longest, to Basic/Expert D&D, the first role-playing game I ever DMed or played. I still use a great deal of AD&D material (spells, monsters, etc.), but the rules I am using are primarily Basic/Expert D&D, Labyrinth Lord, and some sections of the Advanced Edition Companion. One of the advanced rules I am not retaining is the separation of demi-humans and classes. Right now, in this overcomplicated world, simplicity is very appealing to me. One might even say it's a fantasy. Justifying which demi-humans can select which classes and to what levels is an activity I find tiresome and pointless. In my own house rules, there is sufficient room for tailoring any class, human or demi-human, to ensure variety. (I am not an advocate of cookie-cutter characters.)

This brings me to the subject of half-elves. As far as I can tell, the only reason for having half-elves is to allow a different combination of classes to be selected than would otherwise be possible. If, however, demi-humans are classes, what would be the benefit of being a half-elf? Is there anything intrinsic to half-elvishness that significantly differentiates it from pure elvishness or humanity? Should a half-elf be a "watered down" elf? If so, what would be the advantage of playing one? (I should mention here that level limits are not a factor in my games, as all classes are considered unlimited in potential.)

Rather than be lured into the trap of creating unnecessary rules complications (coughAD&Dcough), I am providing the following ruling for anyone who wants to play half-elves, half-orcs, or half-anythings in my games: Any character whose parents are of two different species will, for all intents and purposes, physically, mentally, and spiritually, be considered a member of the species of one of the parents. Genealogically, they will have branches of both species, but they will have the appearance, advantages, and disadvantages of only one of the species. The child of an elf and a human will always be either an elf or a human. If a random determination ever needs to be made, there is a 50% chance that a child resulting from any such union will be of either species.

If anyone has any questions about my reasoning, see Spock, Vulcan, Science Officer of the Federation starship Enterprise.

07 April 2012

Monster: Snakefolk

Behold my first creature contribution (inspired by my need to add another creature to the Neutral Monster Incarnation Table for the induced reincarnation spell): a variation of the ophidian from the Monster Manual II (AD&D 1st Edition).


No. Enc.: 1d12 (6d8)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
      Swim: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 6 (5 with shield)
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (bite) or 2 (bite, weapon)
Damage: 1d4 + poison; or 1d4 + poison and by weapon type
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 80

Snakefolk are creatures of human intelligence who resemble large venomous snakes (average thickness 8-12") with two human-like arms that give them the capability of using tools and weapons. Their scales are the equivalent of scale armor. In combat, snakefolk attack by biting with their venomous fangs and striking with a weapon (if armed). Those who are bitten must save vs. poison or fall asleep for 4d6 hours. Upon waking, the victim must make another save vs. poison. Failure to save means the victim will gradually transform into one of the snakefolk within 1d4+3 days. The spell neutralize poison will prevent the transformation if used before it is complete. The spell cure disease will reverse the effects of the poison. Humans, demi-humans, and humanoids who fall unconscious from the effects of the poison will not be harmed, but will be bound and taken to special chambers deep within the lair until they are fully transformed. Enemies who do not fall unconscious or who resist the transformative effects of the poison are slain and devoured.

Snakefolk who use weapons are typically armed with spear and shield, sword and shield, trident, or bow. Snakefolk are equally at home in caves, trees, rivers, marshes, and deserts, and their coloration varies depending on the habitat of their colony. Those encountered in the natural habitat of their colony are able to surprise enemies or prey with a surprise check of 1-4 on 1d6 due to their camouflage.

06 April 2012

Armor Class Inconsistency

Leafing through the AD&D Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and the Basic/Expert D&D rulebooks, it strikes me that the assignment of Armor Classes is disconcertingly arbitrary. Why, for example, would an orc have an Armor Class of 6? They have neither natural armor nor superhuman reflexes, so what accounts for this? If the Armor Class represents armor worn, why don't the descriptions mention it (as they do for elves and dwarves in the Monster Manual)? If damage can be described as "by weapon type," would it not be logical to describe Armor Class as "by armor type" for those creatures who wear it and have no other advantages?

That would solve the problem if it were the lone problem with Armor Class assignment. Why does a gelatinous cube have an Armor Class of 8? It's a 10' cube of protoplasm that causes no damage when it makes physical contact. It should have an AC of 9 or 10 (depending on the edition), i.e. equivalent to an unarmored person. If anything, it ought to be easier to hit, perhaps even impossible to miss.

Why do ogres, who are "human-like creatures" who "wear animal skins for clothes" (Basic D&D), have an Armor Class of 5? If their skin is as tough as chain mail, is that not worth mentioning? The Monster Manual says "They care for their arms and armor reasonably well." Does that mean ogres wear chain mail? Where do ogres get suits of chain mail that fit them? Surely creatures of "low" intelligence do not make chain mail armor.

In the future, I will be treating the Armor Class of all humans, demi-humans, humanoids, and the like as "by armor type," but I think I'll need to reevaluate the Armor Class of most other monsters to see if the rating is justified by their description or abilities. If not, I'll decide on a case-by-case basis whether to change the Armor Class or alter the description (or both).

The side benefit is that it adds an element of uncertainty where player knowledge is concerned.

03 April 2012

Variable Weapon Damage

This is the chart I use for weapon damage in all editions and retro-clones of Dungeons & Dragons except AD&D. The first chart is arranged in order of ascending weapon damage; the second chart is arranged alphabetically. Conveniently, there are exactly 30 weapons listed (just in case I ever need to generate a random weapon).

[Edit: I changed these charts on 14 April 2012. And again on 4 May 2014.]

Variable Weapon Damage

Damage/Weapon Type

1d4 - Dagger
1d4 - Rock
1d4 - Sling Stone
1d4 - Torch
1d6 - Arrow (Bow)
1d6 - Bolt (Crossbow)
1d6 - Club
1d6 - Horseman’s Flail
1d6 - Horseman’s Mace
1d6 - Horseman’s Pick
1d6 - Javelin
1d6 - Quarterstaff
1d6 - Short Sword
1d6 - Throwing Axe
1d6 - Throwing Hammer
1d8 - Battle Axe
1d8 - Footman’s Flail
1d8 - Footman’s Mace
1d8 - Footman’s Pick
1d8 - Morning Star
1d8 - Scimitar
1d8 - Spear
1d8 - Staff Sling Stone
1d8 - Sword
1d8 - Trident
1d8 - War Hammer
1d10 - Lance
1d10 - Pike
1d12 - Pole Arm
1d12 - Two-Handed Sword

Variable Weapon Damage

Damage/Weapon Type

1d6 - Arrow (Bow)
1d8 - Axe, Battle
1d6 - Axe, Throwing
1d6 - Bolt (Crossbow)
1d6 - Club
1d4 - Dagger
1d8 - Flail, Footman’s
1d6 - Flail, Horseman’s
1d6 - Hammer, Throwing
1d8 - Hammer, War
1d6 - Javelin
1d10 - Lance
1d8 - Mace, Footman’s
1d6 - Mace, Horseman’s
1d8 - Morning Star
1d8 - Pick, Footman’s
1d6 - Pick, Horseman’s
1d10 - Pike
1d12 - Pole Arm
1d6 - Quarterstaff
1d4 - Rock
1d8 - Scimitar
1d4 - Sling Stone
1d8 - Spear
1d8 - Staff Sling Stone
1d8 - Sword
1d6 - Sword, Short
1d12 - Sword, Two-Handed
1d4 - Torch
1d8 - Trident

Random Weapon Table

Roll 1d30

  1. Dagger
  2. Rock
  3. Sling
  4. Torch
  5. Bow (Roll 1d6: 1-2=shortbow, 3-4=self bow, 5-6=longbow)
  6. Crossbow (Roll 1d6: 1-3=light crossbow, 4-6=heavy crossbow)
  7. Club
  8. Horseman’s Flail
  9. Horseman’s Mace
  10. Horseman’s Pick
  11. Javelin
  12. Quarterstaff
  13. Short Sword
  14. Throwing Axe
  15. Throwing Hammer
  16. Battle Axe
  17. Footman’s Flail
  18. Footman’s Mace
  19. Footman’s Pick
  20. Morning Star
  21. Scimitar
  22. Spear
  23. Staff Sling
  24. Sword
  25. Trident
  26. War Hammer
  27. Lance
  28. Pike
  29. Pole Arm
  30. Two-Handed Sword

Druidic Spell: Induced Reincarnation

The following variant of the druidic spell reincarnation is based on my magic-user variant I call induced reincarnation (q.v.) to separate it from the metaphysical concept of reincarnation that would be in the hands of the gods (or Nature) rather than mortals. This version offers two tables: one for d30 and one for d%.

Induced Reincarnation

Spell Class: Druid
Spell Level: 7
Range: 0
Duration: permanent

This spell restores life to a dead being by transforming its remains into a new, healthy, youthful body. This new incarnation will be different in appearance and may even be of a different species. Once induced reincarnation is cast, a roll should be made on the Induced Reincarnation Table. The new incarnation will retain the Intelligence and memories of the previous incarnation’s life, as well as those skills not rendered unusable by the new form. Other characteristics may remain the same or may be rolled again or rearranged to better suit the new incarnation. If the new incarnation is a character class, the incarnation’s level will be the same, but the hit dice may need to be rerolled if the new incarnation uses a different type of die. If the new incarnation is a humanoid monster, the monster will be treated as a character class of the same level as the previous incarnation. If the new incarnation is an animal or a non-humanoid monster, it will be treated as the same character class and level for which it makes saving throws, but rolling 1d8 for hit dice, and using the Monster Attacks chart for to hit rolls. If its hit dice are greater than the previous incarnation’s level, its hit dice (and saving throw level) should be reduced to match the previous level. Druids may cast this spell on themselves if death is near, up to 1 turn per level in advance of their expiration. Druids who cast self-induced reincarnation will return as druids even if their new form does not normally permit such a class. If a druid returns as an animal, the animal will be capable of speech.

There are two Induced Reincarnation Tables. One requires a roll on 1d30; the other requires a percentile roll. The selection of incarnations is identical, but the odds of rolling Elf, Human, or Original Class are slightly higher in the latter table.

N.B. If classes are being treated as separate from races, then the player may choose the class if the previous incarnation's class is not available with the new incarnation. (Druids, however, always return as druids whatever the form.)

Induced Reincarnation Table

Roll 1d30

1. Badger
2. Bear, Black
3. Bear, Brown
4. Centaur
5. Dwarf
6. Eagle
7. Elf
8. Elf
9. Fox
10. Gnome
11. Halfling
12. Hare
13. Hawk
14. Human*
15. Human*
16. Lion
17. Lynx
18. Mouse
19. Owl
20. Pixie
21. Rabbit
22. Raven
23. Sprite
24. Squirrel
25. Wildcat
26. Wolf
27. Wolverine
28. Original Class
29. Original Class
30. Roll on the magic-user induced reincarnation table.

* The player may choose a class.

Induced Reincarnation Table

Roll 1d100

01-03 Badger
04-06 Bear, Black
07-09 Bear, Brown
10-12 Centaur
13-15 Dwarf
16-18 Eagle
19-29 Elf
30-32 Fox
33-35 Gnome
36-38 Halfling
39-41 Hare
42-44 Hawk
45-55 Human*
56-58 Lion
59-61 Lynx
62-64 Mouse
65-67 Owl
68-70 Pixie
71-73 Rabbit
74-76 Raven
77-79 Sprite
80-82 Squirrel
83-85 Wildcat
86-88 Wolf
89-91 Wolverine
92-99 Original Class
100 Roll on the magic-user induced reincarnation table.

* The player may choose a class.

02 April 2012

Magical Spell: Induced Reincarnation

The D&D spell reincarnation, although interesting (and at times very entertaining in execution), has two flaws. The first is its name. If the spell really involved reincarnation, then the recipient's soul or spirit would be reborn in another body as an infant, probably somewhere far away — not exactly practical for adventuring purposes. What we have in D&D's reincarnation is closer to what Time Lords are capable of doing in Doctor Who, except they call it "regeneration," which in D&D is the name of a spell that allows for the rapid recovery of lost hit points. When a Time Lord regenerates, his dying physical body undergoes a transformation at the end of which he emerges younger, perfectly healthy, and different. Not only does he look different in such things as facial features, hair color, eye color, height, and weight, but his personality has somewhat changed. He may have developed new quirks and eccentricities to replace others he has lost. In a way, he is a different person, yet he is still the same. This is what the spell reincarnation accomplishes, but with less efficiency: a character is reborn on the spot in a fresh new body, but with the same identity. That's the point of the spell — to revive a dead player character so he or she can continue with the adventure — isn't it? This is where the spell's second flaw comes in. According to the description, reincarnated characters not only have a randomly determined species, but a randomly determined level as well. The new level may not exceed the previous level, but it can certainly be lower (being "randomly determined on a six-sided die" in Basic/Expert). Furthermore, "a monster does not advance in experience." That's a discouraging state of affairs for a newly reincarnated individual who already has to cope with being a monster, much less a monster with no future. The following spell variant is an attempt to correct these flaws. The name induced reincarnation hopefully distinguishes it from the metaphysical version, which would be out of bounds for mere mortals, and the specifics of the spell ensure a much greater likelihood that the reborn character will be able to maintain his or her identity. Several new monsters are included in the tables, all of whom will be revealed on this site in the near future. Others may be substituted as desired.

Induced Reincarnation

Spell Class: Magic-user
Spell Level: 6
Range: 0
Duration: permanent

This spell restores life to a dead being by transforming its remains into a new, healthy, youthful body. This new incarnation will be different in appearance and may even be of a different species. Once induced reincarnation is cast, a roll should be made on the Induced Reincarnation Table to determine whether the new body will be a character class or a monster. If the latter, another roll should be made on the Monster Incarnation Table of the appropriate alignment. The new incarnation will retain the Intelligence and memories of the previous incarnation’s life, as well as those skills not rendered unusable by the new form. Other characteristics may remain the same or may be rolled again or rearranged to better suit the new incarnation. If the new incarnation is a character class, the incarnation’s level will be the same, but the hit dice may need to be rerolled if the new incarnation uses a different type of die. If the new incarnation is a humanoid monster, the monster will be treated as a character class of the same level as the previous incarnation. If the new incarnation is a non-humanoid monster, it will be treated as the same character class and level for which it makes saving throws, but rolling 1d8 for hit dice, and using the Monster Attacks chart for to hit rolls. If the non-humanoid monster’s hit dice are greater than the previous incarnation’s level, its hit dice (and saving throw level) should be reduced to match the previous level. Magic-users may cast this spell on themselves if death is near, up to 1 turn per level in advance of their expiration. Magic-users who cast self-induced reincarnation automatically return as magic-users if the result is Human.

N.B. Elves in campaigns that do not have level restrictions for demi-humans, thus enabling them to reach levels that would grant access to this spell, may switch the Elf and Human results of the Induced Reincarnation Table. Elves may choose to roll on either the magic-user or druid Induced Incarnation Table (q.v.).

Induced Reincarnation Table

1. Dwarf
2. Elf
3. Halfling
4. Human*
5. Human*
6. Human*
7. Monster**
8. Monster**
9. Monster **
10. Original Class
11. Original Class
12. Original Class

* Roll on the Human Incarnation Table.
** Roll on the Monster Incarnation Table of the appropriate alignment.

Human Incarnation Table

1. Cleric
2. Fighter
3. Magic-User
4. Thief

Lawful Monster Incarnation Table

1. Blink Dog
2. Giant Eagle
3. Neanderthal
4. Pegasus
5. Roc (small)
6. Unicorn

Neutral Monster Incarnation Table

1. Ape
2. Baboon
3. Beastfolk
4. Centaur
5. Griffin
6. Hippogriff
7. Lizardfolk
8. Monkey
9. Pixie
10. Snakefolk
11. Sprite
12. Werebear

Chaotic Monster Incarnation Table

1. Bugbear
2. Dark Elf
3. Dire Wolf
4. Gnoll
5. Goblin
6. Hobgoblin
7. Kobold
8. Minotaur
9. Ogre
10. Orc
11. Troglodyte
12. Troll