The Dragon Tree Spell Book Part II
If I Finish This Today, I’ll Actually Have Updated Two Weeks In A Row
That’s Some Potent Magic, Right There
(Nope, Had To Take Mother In Law To Urgent Care. Those Age Modifiers to Disease Saves Are Rough. So It’s Tuesday Now.)
So, in our prior article, we started a look at the Dragon Tree Spell Book, an Arduin-ish collection of spells for use with any role playing game, as long as it’s D&D. Any useful (and plenty of useless) commentary by me on the book itself is covered in the prior article, so, let’s just get to the spells.
PS: If anyone has a reasonably-priced copy of the 1981 edition, contact me.
Second Level Spells
Apoplexy: This spell causes the target to grow red-faced and furious, much like the GM when you find the glaring error in his dungeon design that allows you to bypass all the monsters and get to the loot. It lasts three rounds/level, but allows a Wisdom Roll each round to put it at abeyance. While in effect, the target is at -4 to attacks and saves. As is starting to feel like a pattern, this is overpowered for a second level spell.
A brief digression (not for nothing is this known as the Tristram Shandy of blogs!) into Old School rules design. You will note, class, that this spell requires a “Wisdom Roll” — not a “save vs. charm” or similar. It was commonplace in many gaming groups (but not in the core D&D rules, as I recall) for there to be some system of “attribute roll”. Depending on the group, this could be rolling under the attribute on 1d20, or 3d6, or multiplying the attribute by some value and rolling under it on percentile dice, or having a complex chart where the attribute value translated to a %age roll by an inobvious formula, or… you get the idea. Small press supplements like this tended to be written by tightly-knit gaming groups, often part of a larger community with shared assumptions/house rules, and they often forgot their internal rules were not, in fact, the rules of the game. (I shall also note that “Wisdom” was not normally provided for most monsters, leaving the GM to decide what to do. At a default, you could figure it was roughly equivalent to Intelligence, which was given a descriptor like “Low” or “Very”, but those values had numeric ranges provided. The spell does allow a normal save when first cast, which will negate it. So, one could argue, this is a good mechanic to allow those who failed the save, but who have high wisdom, to exert self-control even while the spell is in effect. Hm. I kind of like that.)
Druidic Sanctuary: Allows the druid to hide inside a tree. The spell notes this can be problematic if the tree is already occupied by a dryad, and “such conflicts of interest are not easily settled”. Sorry, but to me, that sounds like a generic porn plot in D&D worlds. “Oh, Mr. Druid. If you want to hide in my tree, we’ll need to be very close together.” “Ah, but where shall I store my mighty oak staff?” (Bob Kanefsky/Heather Alexander provide appropriate musical accompaniment.)
Eyes of Fire: Makes your eyes glow, which is impressive, but not much else. It’s worth noting a similar spell appeared in the Necromican at first level, and you can probably do it with a Prestidigitation cantrip in 3.x+ version of D&D. So, we rank this one as underpowered rather than over.
Fire Missile: Causes any fueled missiles in the vicinity to launch unexpectedly, triggering a nuclear war and… no, wait. This creates a missile of fire, like a magic missile, except, made of fire. Creates one per level, does no damage against fire creatures and increased damage against cold creatures. For most other purposes, then, it’s magic missile with a lot more missiles. (Note: Ice Missiles is on the next page.)
Foghorn: Summons a giant chicken with a southern accent. No, sorry, gives you a great, booming, voice. It can be reversed to cause laryngitis, which will shut down most spell-casting monsters.
Hand-Drop: Causes the target (if they fail a save) to drop whatever they were holding in their hand or tentacle or other appendage. Definitely useful in the right circumstances, but apoplexy is still the winner for general 2nd level utility. (Recall, however, you had very little control in Old School over which spells your casters had access to; this helped balance, somewhat, the often highly variant range of utility within a single spell level. Which would you rather have as a 1st level AD&D Magic-User? “Friends” or “Charm Person”?)
Instant Upholstery: Makes something feel soft and comfortable, but otherwise has no effect. This is pretty much a cantrip-level effect, and the short duration (1 turn, or 10 minutes) per level means it’s not helpful for getting a good night’s sleep in rocky terrain. Make it last 8 hours, and it might be worth a first level spell.
Magical Conscience: Sadly, this does not cause murderhobos to regret at least some of their murderhoboing, like the time they burned down that orphanage. No, this creates a permanent enchantment on an item that will cause it to yell out “Thief! I’m being stolen!”, etc., if it is removed from its rightful owner. I see this spell being used so frequently that eventually people ignore it, like they do car alarms.
Mental Mirror: A good spell for screwing over the GM’s plots if he’s already banned Speak With Dead and similar. This causes the last moments of a victim’s life to be played out on a mirror, with the limit that the target’s death must be within caster level * hours.
Transfer Stickiness: Goodnight, everybody!
Water Shape: A nifty spell, this allows the caster to mold 3cf/level of water as desired, and it will then be as hard as iron. Originally developed for merfolk to give them weapons, there’s plenty of other uses. It’s worth noting this is arguably less powerful than the first level “Hard Water” spell, which affects 1000cf/level. On the other hand, that spell doesn’t allow the water to be shaped and “only” makes the water hard as oak, not iron. (A lot of people don’t realize how much can fit into 3 cubic feet, and a 3rd level caster would have 9cf to play with. A single cubic foot is 1728 cubic inches, so, lets say we want a chain where each link is roughly 1 cubic inch… a single CF produces a chain 144 feet long, and you’ve still got 8 cf to play with to make swords, axes, armor, shields, a bridge(!), etc. (Hmm, a bridge 5′ across and 2″ thick is about 1,440 cubic inches/foot of length. This creates a 10′ bridge as a fourth level caster, useful. Of course, this assumes easy access to water — a given if the thing you want to bridge is a river or lake. You could also use this to provide form-fitting armor plating for ships or castle walls, at least for the relatively short duration of the spell.
Third Level Spells
Cassandra: This spell pretty much makes sure your NPC illusionist villain is much harder to beat. It creates a zone where attempting to disbelieve anything, whether or not you succeed, makes you incapable of speech or writing. This renders spellcasters mostly harmless, and, arguably, keeps the party from having 20 minute debates in the course of a 1-minute combat round over exactly where to move, whom to attack, and what spell to cast.
Create Poison Food: AKA “Summon White Castle”. Used by evil clerics to produce, somewhat obviously, poison food that looks wholesome. What’s interesting is that the poison rules are much closer to current (3.x+) D&D than the 81/91 iterations: It causes attribute drain rather than the period-typical “save or die”. Pursuant to my discussion of the homebrew rules, above, this spell requires a “save vs. Constitution”, which I guess is the same as a Constitution roll? Succeeding at the save means you only suffer a -2 penalty to attack and AC for 1d4 days. (Technically, it’s written as a +2 penalty to AC, because AC goes down, not up, except “+2 armor” lowers AC and “cursed -1 armor” raises AC and this is why us old school gamers laugh when people say the D&D rules used to be simple.)
Elmo’s Emetic: This spell causes you to vomit profusely, just like people do upon seeing Elmo. (I have to assume the name is coincidental, as Elmo the Muppet was not named until 1984, after the book’s first publication, and was not a pop-culture phenomenon until the mid-90s, after the second editions. But I won’t let a little thing like “facts” ruin my joke.)
Ethelbert’s Elegant Explosions: Generates a 1d6 explosion/level of the caster which has the side effect of creating dazzling fireworks, imparting a -1 to attack rolls to the targets because the explosions are so purty, and more amusingly, giving a 30% chance that any failed attack by those affected hits an ally.
Know Animal: Hopefully, not biblically.
Merlini’s Magical Multiple Missiles: Does not actually cast multiple magical missiles, but, instead, multiplies missiles magically. We clear on that?
>re: Magic Missile
>>>>>re:Magic Missile stop replying to all dammit!
>>>>>> Sorry was re:Magic Missile stop replying to all dammit!
>>>>>>> You’re still doing it was re:Sorry was re:Magic Missile stop replying to all dammit!
This spell “forwards” an effect from the spell’s primary target to its secondary target, so a door could “forward” spells to a stone wall, thus preventing a fireball from harming it. Lots and lots and lots of creative uses I can think of. In modern games, this would be a great metamagic feat.
Sylvester’s Slippery Surface: Makes an area frictionless, requiring a “save vs. Dexterity-6” to avoid falling if someone enters it; can also be cast on objects which has, and I quote, “many interesting possibilities”. This seems inferior to…
Transfer Friction: …which removes friction, in whole or in part, from one surface and transfers it to another. This is slightly shorter ranged, but covers the same area (10′ square/level), and is permanent. The flexibility — it might be used to transfer the friction of a rough granite ceiling to the greased floor below, negating a trap, or to increase the friction of steep slope so that it could be traversed — makes it the clear winner. Since it can remove all friction from a surface, it duplicates the former spell as well.
Time Rewind: (Out of order in this article, not in the book.) This “rewinds” time so that an object is in the condition it was in the past, but it comes with a host of confusing limits. A suggested use is to turn a pile of ashes back into a map, but then it says “the object will not return to a former location” so that scattered ashes result in confetti. The odds of a burned map remaining perfectly in position with not one ash out of place are, well, dim. Taken to the extreme, the spell is very hard to use:
GM: “Oh, you dropped the potion and now the liquid and the glass shards are all over the floor? Well, they won’t just magically reassemble themselves, will they?”
Player: “Uhm, yes, actually, that’s kind of why I took the spell…”
Further, since the time is limited to 15 minutes/level, it won’t work on cleaning up corroded runes from a century past, or similar dungeoneering uses. It can’t (this is mentioned) remove poison from a body, because (I guess) the poison won’t move to ‘out of the body’, and if you restore the body itself to its prior condition, well, it’s still full of poison. I have the feeling someone created this spell, saw it abused, and then decided to counter the abuse by enforcing a ridiculously over-literal interpretation. My call? It works if all components of the object are within the spell’s area of effect (sphere with diameter of 3″ * caster level squared) and other limits. So if the ash pile is intact in a small area, the map is reformed, if it’s been scattered over the room, too bad. (I believe the inches are real-world inches, not game-scale inches (10′))
Transfer Stiffness: Giggity.
Unseen Accountant: The best kind, especially if the IRS is looking into your activities. It stores your treasure in an extra-dimensional space, for a mere 20% fee (or 1 in 5 magic items). The space is unlimited, which is good, but the fee is kind of exorbitant if you ask me. The accountant lasts for 1 hour/level; it is not entirely clear if the treasure becomes permanently lost if not retrieved before then, or if casting the spell again allows you to retrieve the loot. (The implication is the latter, but check with your GM for their interpretation first.) If someone else determines the accountant’s location, it can be dispelled, which does permanently remove access to the stored treasure.
That’s sarcasm, BTW.
That’s pretty good for this week. Next time, whenever that may be, more spells!