Elemental Conjurations

November 4, 2015

I was thinking of making these spells for an upcoming deity, but decided it was not terribly useful, so I figured I’d just post them. These spells should all be very rare, and should only available to priests or religious orders who have one of these elements as a part of their faith. They are based off of the 6th-level Conjure Fire Elemental spell, rather than the 7th-level Conjure Earth Elemental. Read the rest of this entry »

Priestly Dragon Magic

March 9, 2015

As with wizardly magic, many dragons naturally gain access to priestly spells as they age. These spells are not granted by the draconic gods and  require neither prayer nor memorization. As with the wizard magic, such spells are cast with a Casting Time of 1 and only a Vocal component, regardless of the spell’s description. Such spells are gained automatically and haphazardly; as such, they should be rolled for randomly. They should make some sense, however; Warp Wood is of little use to a desert-dwelling dragon, and such results should be rerolled.

Note that spells restricted to specific deities, even dragon priests, should not be gained by normal dragons unless they worship said deities; for example, a red dragon who worships Tiamat would have a chance of gaining spells restricted to Tiamat’s priests (as an aside, dragons need not worship their own gods; a gold dragon may gain the special spells of Torm if he is a devout follower of that deity). Because of this, some draconic magic is substantially more powerful than a humanoid spell of the same level; even should a humanoid become a priest of a draconic god without an established humanoid faith, they should not gain access to the spells that are listed for the deity. It would not be unreasonable to assume a dragon worships a deity who shares an alignment and/or temperament when creating a list upon which to roll. As an option, non-priest dragons who worship a specific deity may gain only spells from the spheres listed for that deity’s specialty priests.

For those dragons who choose to become priests and forgo their normal wizardly magic, as well as those dragons who gain no access to wizardly magic normally (such as radiant dragons), it is advised to introduce a handful of the draconic wizard spells as commonly available priest spells. Those spells are: Calm (Wiz2); Hand (Wiz2); and Sharptooth (Wiz3). All three spells can be found in either the Cult of the Dragon accessory or the Wizard’s Spell Compendium volumes. In addition, another common spell granted by the dragon gods to their priests follows:

Craft Draconic Holy Symbol (Pr 1; Alteration)
Sphere:   All
Range:   Touch
Components:   V, S, M
Duration:   Permanent
Casting Time:   1 hour
Area of Effect:   Special
Saving Throw:   None

This spell creates a draconic holy symbol from raw materials. In order to create the holy symbol, the dragon must have on-hand a volume equal to twice the material necessary for the final holy symbol, although the form does not matter. In order to perform the spell, the caster must hold the materials in its claws while chanting the spell; at the completion of the chant, the material has reformed into the appropriate holy symbol. Most dragon-priests can only create symbols for their own faiths; the exception being those of Io and Zorquan, who can create any holy symbol. Excess material is consumed by the magic of the spell; the spell does not require the use of a holy symbol to create a new one. Holy symbols created in this manner radiate minor magic, but this is a residue of their creation, and have no inherent magical power.

Specialty Priests of Dukagsh

June 9, 2014

Over at Wildspace, the Spelljammer Fanzine, I’ve posted an article covering the specialty priests of Dukagsh, one of my own creation, and one modified from Roger Moore’s article on the Scro in the 1996 Dragon Magazine Annual. Included are some new spells for his faith. Enjoy!

Spellcraft: Stoneskin

August 1, 2013

It amazes me how often people fail to understand how AD&D 2nd edition (and 1st ed and OD&D, as well) are written using standard English, primarily. Jargon usage is minimal, especially compared to later iterations of D&D, as well as many other RPGs. A case in point is the stoneskin spell. The spell is written in English, rather than jargon, and yet people still seem to insist that it does things it does not, such as block touch effects from spells (shocking grasp) or touch based-effects, such as those of ghouls or vampires. However, even though the latter are usually caused by a damaging attack by claws, it isn’t necessary. All of those abilities would take effect, if the creature wished it, from a simple hand shake or a pat on the shoulder. The relevant line in the spell description is “the affected creature gains a virtual immunity to any attack by cut, blow, projectile, or the like;” the key point here is that damage by forceful strikes are what is blocked. None of the abilities mentioned above, which are often claimed to be blocked by the spell, fit the description of attacks that are blocked. Similarly, the use of “attack” in that line, as well as the line “This limit applies regardless of attack rolls and regardless of whether the attack was physical or magical” has led many people to claim that you don’t roll attack rolls at all. But that begs the question: if you roll no attack rolls, do the attacks automatically hit and cause no damage, or automatically miss? In either case, what’s the logical reasoning for believing *either* of these cases is true? Simply put, the spell claims nothing of the sort; you still technically need to roll attack rolls regardless of whether or not the stoneskin spell will completely block the effects of the attack or not. A DM can handwave attack rolls if there is no chance of an attack having an effect or not, but even so it is often better to require attack rolls in order to let the PCs discover on their own that a foe is protected.

The silliest thing about arguments against the way the spell is written, though, are the lengths of twisting people will go to in order to preserve their belief. For example, I’ve had people claim that Skip Williams, the author of Dragon Magazine’s Sage Advice column and the DM’s Option: High Level Campaigns, where clarifications of the spell have been published, is wrong so often that everything he says should just be discarded entirely. In addition, I’ve also seen the argument that since the word “blow” is not defined in the game, it can mean anything from a “giant’s maul to the touch of a feather,” which completely disregards what the word means in the English language. If you have to disregard the English definitions of words used by the game to make your argument valid, your argument is not valid.

Ancient Forms of Divination

December 29, 2010

I was recently thinking about how to incorporate the various ancient forms of divination (such as such as extispicy, haruspicy, augury, and astrology) into the 2nd Edition magic system for use in Bronze Age era adventuring without re-inventing the wheel and adding in a whole new system of magic.  I’ve been thinking that the best way to do it is to add in proficiencies for each type of divination, and require the use of them with the spells, and using the requirements of those proficiencies to replace most of the existing material and somatic components of the spells.  For example, to cast a divinatory spell using the Extispicy proficiency, a priest or wizard would need to examine the entrails of an animal of some sort; it would make sense that a larger animal would be required for higher level spells (birds for low level spells, sheep and goats for mid-level spells, and bulls for high-level spells, for example).

The main goal with this is to add flavor to a game without actually changing the rules.  Obviously, in this world, such divinations don’t really work (although haruspicy and extispicy can identify some aspects of poor health in local animals, which could indicate the area is poor for whatever plans the people have), however, it makes sense that in a fantasy version of the ancient world, they would work.   One thing that should not be done is making these types of spells any more explicitly difficult to cast, or no one would want to play characters who cast such spells.