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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Part 12: "Clerical Spells"

Part 12 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 17 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


The introductory paragraph is the same in the manuscript and the first printing of the rulebook. Later printings, however, add a sentence at the end, "Second level spells are not available to clerics at below fourth level, and are included for use with non-player characters and scrolls", clarifying why they are in a rulebook that only covers character levels 1-3.

One source for this section is Greyhawk, page 8, which clarifies that: "All cleric spells are "divinely" given and as such a cleric with a wisdom factor of 3 would know all of the spells as well as would a cleric with an 18 wisdom factor".

Holmes rewrites this as: "Since clerical spells are divinely given, they do not have to be studied to master them. A second level cleric can call on any first level spell he wants to use, thus the entire gamut of spells is available to him for selection prior to the adventure".

Following this paragraph, the manuscript goes straight into the spell descriptions. There are no lists of the spells as for M-Us. Thus, TSR added the lists, which include headers similar to the M-U lists (i.e., "Book of First Level Spells"). OD&D Vol 1, pg 34, implied spell books for clerics: "Characters who employ spells are assumed to acquire books containing the
spells they can use, one book for each level", so this would fit with that, although you have to work to reconcile it with the "divinely given" update from Greyhawk.

As with M-U spells, the cleric spells in the manuscript exactly match the spells from Greyhawk, and thus do not include the new spells Remove Fear, Resist Cold (1st level), Know Alignment or Resist Fire (2nd level).


Cure Light Wounds: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D, Vol 1, pg 31, with some light editing. It adds a sentence at the end that "The zero range means the cleric must touch the wounded person to heal him". This is something not mentioned in the original spell, but Swords & Spells indicates the Range as "touch", so Holmes may have gotten it there.
The published rulebook follows the manuscript, but changes "one full turn" to "one melee round". This is another instance of TSR editing material that Holmes included as written from the original rules, possibly here because the original description not clearly distinguishing between "turns" and "rounds". 

Detect Evil: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Detect Magic: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Light: I think Holmes misinterpreted the duration here, which he has as "12 turns" and is retained in the published rulebook. However, the original actually says "The spell is the same as that for Magic-Users, except that it has a basic duration of 12 turns". The magic user spell has a duration of 6 + caster's level in turns. I think the use of "basic duration" means that clerical Light should be "12 + caster's level in turns". Swords & Spells supports this (sort of), having "6 + level" duration for M-U Light and "12 × level" for Cleric Light, assuming the "×" is a typo for "+".

Protection from Evil: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Purify Food and Water: The only change in the manuscript from OD&D Vol 1 is the addition of a range of 10 feet, apparently an interpretation by Holmes since this spell does not appear in Swords & Spells. The published version is the same.


Bless: Holmes rewords the entry from OD&D but keeps the content the same, except for just having "raises morale" instead of "raise morale by +1", since he left the OD&D morale system out of the Basic rules. He also adds a range of 60 feet from Swords & Spells. The published version is the same.

Find Traps: No changes in the manuscript from OD&D Vol 1. Holmes left the word "feet" out of the range, so the published version adds this in.

Hold Person: The original in Greyhawk references the M-U version of the spell, except for having a duration of 9 turns and a range of 18". Holmes uses the description from the M-U spell, but mistakenly also the duration (6 + caster's level in turns) and range (120 feet). The original version of the spell just described the effect as similar to charm person; Holmes retains this but adds "Holds the person or persons rooted to the spot unless released or the spell wears out". Obviously this is the description of the spell that we all know from later editions, but I'm not sure where Holmes got this from since as far as I can tell it was never further clarified in any of the OD&D booklets. The published version follows the manuscript with the addition of "in turns" to the duration.

Silence: From Greyhawk. Holmes rewords the original description but it essentially the same, including range and durations. The published rulebook keeps the manuscript text, but adds a clarification: "Note conversation is not possible under a silence spell". The next version of Basic (Moldvay) would add that noises outside the area could be heard within, but that is not present here. 

Snake Charm: Another Greyhawk spell. Holmes follows the original but rewords it slightly changing, "one level (1-6 hit points) of snakes" to "one level of snake(s) (1 hit die of snakes)". Holmes changes the example from a 6th level cleric to a 3rd level cleric; presumably this is to fit with the Basic rules but unfortunately being a second level spell requires at a minimum that the caster is a 4th level cleric. Holmes changes the combat duration from 7-12 melee turns to 7-12 melee rounds. The published version follows the manuscript without change.

Speak with Animals: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 with minor rewording, and the published version is identical to the manuscript.


This section is completely absent from the manuscript, so it was added by TSR. Earlier in the section on Clerics, Holmes wrote "Spells for evil clerics differ slightly from those of good clerics" (this appears in the manuscript and also on 6 of the published rulebook), but there is no further explanation for this. In OD&D Vol 1 there's not much explanation either; it simply indicates which spells are reversed in the spell lists and references this on page 34 without any particular description or names except for the reverse of Raise Dead, The Finger of Death. So it makes sense that TSR doesn't fully describe these spells here, although I believe this was the first appearance of the reversed names for the spells.

That's it for spells - next we fight on to Combat!

Continue on to Part 13: "Melee is the Most Exciting Part of the Game"
Or Go Back to Interlude: "Who Edited the Editor?"
Or Go Back to Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript


  1. Great series, Zack. Keep 'em coming.

  2. I've sometimes wondered whether clerics were meant to have spell books that they were supposed to use to pray for their spells. Later editions clearly dispensed with this mechanic, but labeling the list as "Book of First Level Spells" is pretty suggestive. It would not be unreasonable to consider that clerics need religious tomes with spells in them.

    As to evil clerics using the reversed forms, I've always considered that they could only use the reversed form, not switch back and forth depending on what version they want to use. That way, evil clerics could not cure light wounds, or purify food and water (which doesn't make a lot of sense, if you think of the spells as divinely given).

    Interesting that "curse" is the reverse of "bless". Moldvay switched this to "blight" so that "curse" could be the reverse of "remove curse".

  3. I'd forgotten that about Moldvay, thanks. Since AD&D also has "curse" as the opposite of "bless", I think it's likely that Gygax came up with the list of Evil Cleric Spells in the Holmes rulebook, and this is another example of proto-AD&D material inserted by Gygax. The other evil cleric spells share the same names as in AD&D, with the exception of "Contaminate Food and Water" which is called "Putrefy Food & Drink".