A Spell For All Time: Inaudible Intelligence
OK, some backstory.
At GenCon, I picked up Matt Finch’s “Eldritch Weirdness”, along with one or two other items. One item included in compilation of interesting bits of magic for retro-clone style games was a random spell name chart, significantly richer in words than most others I’ve seen, which tended to have 25 to 50 entries. This has 8 major columns (A through I, without “H”, not sure why), with each column having 100 adjectives and 100 nouns, for a total of 640,000 combinations, or about one-third as many spells as were published under the OGL in 2002. (Ba-dumb BUM!)
I had a thought. What if, I thought, I rolled randomly on the chart, and then took whatever I got and evolved it forward through successive iterations of D&D?
Well, I think someone said “The thought is father to the deed”, so, here you.
What did I roll? Did it make any sense? Can I pull this off? I don’t know, I haven’t rolled yet — all these things are written live, I hope you knew that.
Read on to find out what happened… as I find out what happens, and write it down!
(For those of you being clever and wondering how I knew to write “Inaudible Intelligence” if I’m writing this as I go through the process, it used to say “Put Spell Name Here”. Then I edited it. Nyeah.)
There’s eight letters listed, and Mr. Finch basically said “Screw all y’all, I ain’t doin’ no more. Go make up your own shit”, so, this makes it easy. Roll 1d8 for letter. Matt suggests we go for appealing alliteration, and being a fan of the old style of spell names, I conclusively concur. Unless it makes not a scintilla of sense, in which case I will reroll rapidly.
Hey, you’re not paying for this. Don’t complain.
Anyway, first roll, to determine the letter: 8, or I.
Second roll, adjective: 45, “Inaudible”
Third roll, noun: 50, “Intelligence”.
Hunh. (This needs to be read in a Nathan Fillion voice, the sound he made when he opened the case in the first episode of “Firefly” and saw River.)
There’s two possibilities that come instantly to mind. One is something telepathy like, which plays more off “inaudible”, the other is something more, well, “knowledge” like, playing more off “intelligence”. I think the latter could be more fun.
Original D&D (“Brown/White Box” + Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry)
(As published in Supplement VII, “Waterdeep”, 1977)
Explanation Of Spells (Addition): Magic-User Spells
Inaudible Intelligence:A spell which allows the magic-user to hear the advice of minor spirits or demons, who will provide him answers to some questions. He does not need to speak the question out loud, and no one else can hear the answer. The spell lasts for three questions at most and is in any event dismissed in an hour. The spirits are usually friendly but are sometimes malevolent or tricky, and they have only knowledge of what may be local to them.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition
(As published in “Deeper Arcana”, 1st printing, 1989, Earth-14)
Magic User Spells
Second Level Spells:
Inaudible Intelligence (Divination)
Duration: 10 minutes or three questions
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 Round
Saving Throw: None
Explanation/Description: The spell of inaudible intelligence allows the magic-user to commune with minor spirits or demons or suchlike beings. These forces often have knowledge of the local area or events they may have seen, and by means of this dweomer, the magic user may ask questions of them. Such questions are both stated and answered silently, so no one knows what the magic user is asking or what is being told to him; this can be quite handy, for example, when asking “Did the thief pick my pocket?” The questions generally must pertain to that which is clear or visible; the spirits may now a trap is present if they’d seen it set off, for example, but not otherwise. In general, the spirits answer as honestly as they are able, but some may be mischievous or even malign. There is a base 80% chance of an accurate answer, +2% for each point of the magic-user’s charisma above 14 and -3% for each point below 8. Asking the same question twice to see if an answer is identical is impertinent and the spirits will simply be silent and the spell is ended. The longer or more convoluted the question, the more likely it is the spirits will answer inaccurately; brevity is best!
The material component of this spell is a small seashell. The magic-user whispers or mouths the question into the shell and then holds it to his ear to hear the answer.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition
This spell was not published in Second Edition, because Lorraine Williams thought communing with spirits was “satanic” and could cost them Bible Belt sales. Also, she couldn’t work out a way to tie Buck Rogers into it.
Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition, Revised
(As published in “Lost Lore” from Necromancer Games, 2008, a compilation of spells “abandoned” in older editions of D&D and revised for 3.5)
School: divination Level: Bard 2, Sorcerer/Wizard3
Casting Time: One standard action
Components: V, S, M (a polished seashell worth at least 20gp)
Duration: 1 minute/level or special, see below
When you cast this spell, you tap into the knowledge of local spirits, who may be able to answer simple questions and provide guidance. The spell lasts for the listed duration or until three questions are asked, whichever comes first. The spell draws in those spirits which exist in a radius of 25′ +5’/ level of the caster, up to a maximum of 50′ radius, and they cannot answer questions about things which exist outside this range.
You do not need to speak aloud to ask questions, and may ask them as an immediate action. The answers to the questions come into your mind silently, as well, so no one can know what was asked or what the answer was. (This does not in any way protect against mind-reading or other forms of divination which can detect surface thoughts.)
The spirits understand all languages and will answer in your native language.
A question can be no more than 20 words, and must be clearly phrased and not require judgment or evaluation. “Which door is safest for us?” will get a meaningless or possibly false answer, while “Is there a dragon behind the left door?” will get an accurate answer — if the dragon is in range of the spell at the moment the question is asked. (“Does the dragon live behind that door?” or “Have you seen a dragon enter that door?” would be better.)
The spirits are generally benevolent. However, there is a base 20% chance they will lie, increased or decreased by 2% * your Charisma modifier. If you suspect they are lying, you may make a DC 20 Sense Motive check to reveal this. If the check succeeds, they will be forced to re-answer the question honestly. However, making the check (whether they were lying or not, whether the check was successful or not) will terminate the spell and you will lose any remaining questions. You cannot cast this spell in the same general area more than once per day.
DMs who dislike the open-ended nature of this spell and who prefer a more structured system may instead allow this spell to grant a +5 bonus on up to three Knowledge or Search checks made in or regarding the spell’s area of effect, reflecting the spirit’s guidance in seeking answers or finding hidden objects.
Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition
(As published in Arcane Power IV, 2013)
Inaudible Intelligence (Wizard Utility 16)
You briefly commune with local spirits to enhance your knowledge.
Daily * Arcane, Zone
Minor Action Close burst 10
Effect: Until the end of the encounter (or for a period of 5 minutes), so long as you are in the zone created by the spell, you may “call upon the spirits” and roll two dice for any Knowledge or Perception check related to things within the zone, choosing which of the dice to keep. The results of these checks, and even the fact you are making them, is not evident to any observers. (You may wish to give the DM a note detailing the check you’re making, and he may send a note back.)
Special: You may do this only three times during the spell’s duration, and only once per turn. If the check you wish to make would normally be a minor action, you can perform it as a free action instead.
If anyone would like to see more in this “series”, let me know.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 August 2010 16:19 )
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