Sunday, December 8, 2013

Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"

Part 11 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 15 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


The list of second level spells from the start of the section on spells in the manuscript:

As mentioned previously, this list is the same as in Greyhawk, and thus Audible Glamor and Ray of Enfeeblement are not present.

Continual Light: The manuscript text is almost identical to the second and third sentences of the original in OD&D Vol 1, pg 23, except that 24" is changed to "24 inches in diameter". The published version follows the manuscript except that "24 inches" is changed to 6". Swords & Spells also had 24" for the diameter, but the AD&D Player's Handbook has 6", so this is probably a change for AD&D that TSR added to Holmes Basic.

Darkness: A spell added in Greyhawk, where it is called "Darkness, 5' radius". Holmes drops the area of effect from the title and moves it to the spell description. He also adds an aside that, "(Dispel magic is a third level spell)" because the Basic rulebook does not describe this spell. The published rulebook changes "5 inch radius" to "50 feet radius" but is otherwise the same.

Detect Evil: The manuscript and published rulebook follow the original in OD&D Vol 1.

Detect Invisibility: The manuscript follows the first two sentences of the original in OD&D Vol 1. Holmes writes the range as "10 x level of the spell caster"; TSR adds "feet" to this, but otherwise is the same.

ESP: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, but adds "The undead do not think". No changes from this in the published rulebook.

Invisibility: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, but omits the reference to CHAINMAIL, and adds the clarification that "he becomes visible again before he strikes a blow". The published version further clarifies "...and the spell is broken".

Knock: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1. TSR makes two additions: "secret doors" becomes "known secret doors", clarifying that the spell can't be used to find secret doors, and "locked chests" is added to the list of items that can be opened with the spell, providing another use.

Levitate: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 very closely, even keeping the the duration in the spell description despite also having it in the standard header. Holmes clarifies the original's "Range (of levitation): 2"/level of Magic-user" as "If cast on another person, range 20 feet for each level of magic-user". The published version follows the manuscript, changing "Range 20 x level of spell caster" to "Range: 20 feet x level of spell caster in 10's of feet" and adding "in turns" to the durations. The change in range is a mistake because it makes the range 10 times as long. This was corrected in later printings of the rulebook by removing "in 10's of feet".  

Locate Object: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, with the addition of a duration of 2 turns from Swords & Spells. The only change in published version is changing the Range from "60 + level of spell caster" to "60 feet + level of spell caster in 10's of feet", in line with the original.

Magic Mouth: A Greyhawk spell; the manuscript follows the description there but condenses the examples of triggering conditions from "i.e., if anyone comes within 10' of it, if a neutral person comes within 10', if Flubbit the Wizard comes within 10' and so on" to "such as when anyone comes within 10 feet, or when a specific person comes within ten feet, etc". So Holmes doesn't include the name Flubbit here, but he did use this name in the section on Magic Spells (see Part 9 of this series).

Mirror Image: Another Greyhawk spell used in the manuscript without change. The published version adds one clarifying sentence at the end: "Roll a 4-sided die to determine the number of images created by the spell". Without this statement it could be assumed that the spell caster can choose the number of duplicates. 

Phantasmal Forces: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 very closely. The TSR version adds a clarifying sentence at the end: "Note the illusion is visual and not auditory", which complements the addition of Audible Glamor as a new 2nd level spell. 

In Dragon #52, Holmes commented on the changes to this spell in Moldvay Basic:

"Phantasmal force has been appropriately weakened in the new rules, however; even if the victim fails a saving throw, he or she is not permanently harmed by the phantasm. If determined to be killed, the character actually only passes out, and recovers in 1d4 turns. Presumably, hit points lost in this manner are also restored after 1-4 turns. This makes the phantasmal force a much fairer attack. With the old spell, the M-U could summon a dragon or demon and, if the poor victim failed his saving throw trying to disbelieve it, he was as good as dead. A phantom, it seems to me, should indeed be terrifying, but basically harmless."

Pyrotechnics: From Greyhawk; Holmes follows it closely, just changing "bonfire" to "campfire", perhaps to emphasize something that characters could use it on. The published rulebook adds "for example" following the descriptions of the fireworks display or smoke that the spell can create, suggesting other creations are possible.

Strength: The manuscript follows the description of this spell from Greyhawk, but appears to make a mistake by inverting the points added for thieves (1-6) and clerics (1-4). Holmes drops the last sentence relating to exceptional strength which is not covered in the rulebook. Since there are no specific strength bonuses in the Holmes Basic rulebook, there's no real mechanical effect for this spell (other than perhaps an XP bonus for fighters). Holmes also changes the duration of the spell from "8 game hours" to "48 turns", in line with a 10 minute turn. No changes to this spell in the published rulebook; I guess TSR missed Holmes' swap.

Web: The original version of this spell in Greyhawk has a strange description, because it is brief and simply references, OD&D Vol 2, page 35. There we find "Webs" as a power of the "Staff of Power". Holmes' manuscript follows the description in Vol 2, but changes "A flaming sword will slash through a web in one turn" to "one melee round". He makes this change but does not change the part about Giants requiring "two turns" to break free. OD&D does not always appear to clearly distinguish rounds/turn, and Holmes must have felt this was one location. The published rulebook leaves the flaming sword as Holmes had it, but further changes giants to "two melee rounds" and adds, "i.e. a normal man would require 2-8 turns to get through them".

OD&D gives two different ranges/durations for this spell: Greyhawk has a range of 3" and a duration of "8 game hours" but Swords & Spells has a range of 1" and a duration of "until destroyed". Holmes goes with the latter in the manuscript, writing "Range: 10 feet, Duration: infinite". The published rulebook leaves the range as per the manuscript but changes the duration back to that of Greyhawk, listing "48 turns".

Wizard Lock: The manuscript follows the OD&D Vol 1 original very closely, but Holmes adds a range of 10 feet from Swords & Spells. The published rulebook uses the manuscript version without change.

Here is the list of third level spells from the start of the section on spells in the manuscript, including the same eighteen spells as in Greyhawk:

The brief section on third level spells is the same in the manuscript as published:

This suggests that it was Holmes' decision to list but not describe these spells. Personally I wish he had included the descriptions in the same manner that he included second level cleric spells that are beyond the casting ability levels 1-3, because it would make it easier to expand the game just using the rulebook. In the next version of Basic, Moldvay dropped the list of 3rd level spells but instead included full descriptions for three of them (Dispel Magic, Fire Ball and Fly).

Overall we can infer that an expansion of the Holmes spell lists to cover higher level spells would gather together the relevant information for each spell from OD&D Vol 1, Greyhawk and Swords & Spells. 

Continue on to Interlude: "Who Edited the Editor?"
Or Continue on to Part 12: "Clerical Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 10: "Book of First Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering if Holmes consciously aligned thieves with fighting men in terms of both saving throws and the Strength spell...certainly makes for more Leiberesque thieves! Another cool feature of the blue book.

    Another instance of a possible indefinite Web spell is perhaps the webbed cavern on the lower level of Quasqueton in B1 - the text specifies to use details from the spell.

    Kind of fitting that the Trampier illlustration of the Web spell was included, since it was the first proper writeup of the spell...