Featuring What May Be The Best Piece Of Erol Otus Art Ever
At Least, Excluding Those That Show Boobies
I’ve got two long 4e articles in draft mode — one on armor and endurance, one on population demographics — both hovering at the ‘90% done’ level (which means, about 10% of the way done for anything I’d expect people to pay for, but remember my unofficial motto:”Mrlizard.com — free and worth it!”), but I’m not finishing them right now. Instead, I am continuing my walk through the dire and dread pages of the Necromican (note: Not Necronomicon), a classic late 1970s supplement for Dungeons & Dragons published by Fantasy Art Enterprises, and featuring some great gonzo art by Erol Otus, and great gonzo ideas by, I assume, both Erol Otus and Paul Reiche III. (You can see the first part here , the second part here, and the third part here.) The late 1970s were a great time for role playing game supplements, full of the insane energy of a new medium defining itself — the burgess shale of the gaming era, a collection of strange and bizarre experiments, perhaps matched, briefly, by the first year or two of D20 supplements, which gave us “Broncosaurus Rex”, perhaps the only game set on a distant planet filled with semi-sapient dinosaurs in an alternate history where the Confederacy won the Civil War.
This has nothing to do with the Necromican, though. It’s just where my mind happened to wander.
(No one is selling the Necromican at Amazon, so I linked to the Necronomicon instead. There’s also a “real” (snicker) Necronomicon, and what’s scary/hilarious is that you can click a button to “Look Inside!”. How much San loss is that?
OK, the spells. As usual, this is not all the sixth level spells, just a sampling of the most interesting, in my wholly subjective opinion.
Sixth Level Spells
Cataclysmic Calcium Corruption
Causes up to three targets’ bones to decompose (they get to save against spell first), killing them instantly unless they make a “constitution roll”, which might mean a System Shock roll, or it might mean “Roll 1d20 and roll under your Constitution”, which was one of those house rules that were amazingly commonplace but never official, like money on Free Parking in Monopoly. If you make your roll, you are merely reduced to a pile of boneless living flesh.
This potent dweomer (sorry, slipped into High Gygaxian there) allows the user (yes, the book says ‘user’, not ‘caster’ or ‘wizard’ or ‘player’… do you want to bet one of the authors was an early computer geek who wrote documentation?) to ‘give the victim his dice in damage’, a phrase I can’t parse — is it the caster’s dice or the victim’s dice, and what does that even mean? It’s not a mechanic I’m familiar with at all, but it’s just sitting there like everyone should know it. Each round, the damage doubles(!), so long as the mage concentrates, or until he runs out of spell points…wait, what? Spell points? This is the first mention of a spell point system; it’s not included in these rules and it’s not part of any official version of D&D. But, again, it’s just sitting there, expecting you to know what it means. The spirit of the age, I guess. It’s odd that in an era when fan communication was by APA (imagine USENET by snail mail), there was this innate assumption of shared culture, of things so obvious that their meaning did not need to be explained — if you had to ask, you weren’t the target audience. Fortunately, we’re well beyond that kind of thing now.
Rotate Body Parts
This spell causes the victim’s body parts to change position randomly, sticking their head where their left leg should be, etc. It causes no ill effects, except that they may have “trouble walking, sitting, etc”. I see humongous arguments with the DM over whether you can cast spells with somatic components or wield a sword effectively. If you save, only two body parts are rearranged. Yay.
Spell Of Undying Nourishment
Directly ripped from Jack Vance (hey, why should Gygax have all the fun?), this spell lets you go without food or water for one week per caster level. Wait, this is a sixth level spell? At sixth level, you have access to spells that can ravage armies. You are likely buddies with a cleric who can cast create food and water a dozen times a day. Hell, I don’t even think there were any rules for starvation in the 1e DMG… wait, there have to have been, there were rules for everything in there, from how much beer was in a serving to what kind of hooker you ran into in a random encounter. (For the younger among you… no, that was not a joke. Such a table actually exists in an official TSR product. Obviously, this was before the “No boobies!” days of Lorraine Williams.) Well, shoot… no. I can’t find such rules anywhere in the DMG. Go figure. Even 4e has rules for starving to death. Weird. So, a sixth level spell to ward off something there are no rules to deal with.
Thoth Amon’s Organ Request
This spell will call forth an organ of the caster’s choice from the target, causing it to rip out of the body and fly to his hand. In other words, it’s a save-or-die spell, with a gory effect, and the potential for arguments about what happens if you rip out a vampire’s heart and if gelatinous cubes even have organs. (A true nerd would argue that since the ochre jelly is described as a giant amoeba, it has organelles, and they should be affected.)
The Benign Boots
This is an eighth level spell, so will be covered, at the rate at which I update this stuff, sometime in 2014. However, the picture for it is in the midst of the sixth level spells, and so, I just had to include it here.