Sunday, August 16, 2009

B/X Dungeons and Dragons Observation

Hey, check this out...Apparently a "Protection from Evil" spell (1st level cleric spell) is a pretty nice spell in B/X. This has some potential to be a seriously powerful spell.

"This spell circles the cleric with a magic barrier. This barrier will move with the caster. The spell serves as some protection from "evil" attacks (attacks by monsters of some alignment other than the cleric's alignment) by adding 1 to the clerics' saving throws, and subtracting 1 from the "to hit" die roll of these opponents."

So that's pretty great eh? Nothing too surprising besides the statement talking about "alignments other than the cleric's...", which is a pretty strong ability. But, that's not the kicker, the following text is even better:

"The spell will also keep out hand-to-hand attacks from enchanted (summoned or created) monsters (such as living statues), but not missile fire attacks from these creatures (see COMBAT)."

Wow...I mean really, that's awesome. So if I'm following this correctly, they're talking about all sorts of creatures. Things like golems, elementals, demons, devils, effritis, djinns, etc. That's a pretty potent group of creatures to be held at bay with a 1st level spell.

Anyway, I really do love B/X. I'm reading through it for the first time in a LOT of years, and finding all sorts of little gems.

Consider the "Light" spell. You cast it on a creature's eyes (it DOES get a save) and it's blinded for 12 turns. AND, in Basic, if you're blinded you do NOT get an attack! Range 120 and you don't even really have to aim it. Now THAT'S what I call a utility spell.


kelvingreen said...

I would read "keep out" in that second bit as meaning the same kind of attack penalty as mentioned in the first bit, not a broad immunity; otherwise it would be overpowered indeed.

Lord Gwydion said...

The BECM version states that if the protected character attacks an enchanted creature, then they can melee with the protected character after that, but the bonus to AC and saves still remains.

It is a pretty powerful spell. I've always ruled that any creature requiring a magic weapon to hit, as well as summoned creatures, can't melee with a character under that spell. If you use it, you can't be energy drained by a specter, can't be hit by gargoyles, etc. Very powerful spell, but it comes at the cost of fewer Cure Light Wounds or Sleep spells.

Tacoma said...

I think Gwydion has it. Your memorized spells represent an opportunity cost, a choice to take Protection from Evil rather than Cure Light Wounds.

Choose poorly, and you need a spell you don't have while stuck with a spell you don't need.

Further, it's well within the intent of the game to give a powerful yet specific defense. A young acolyte, if prepared ahead of time, can keep even a powerful demon at bay. Of course, the demon could just fry him with fire or something, or throw javelins at him. Furthermore it doesn't let you kill the creature. It just protects you from it - if you don't attack it. Again, I see this as very balanced, even though a 2nd level Cleric might use it against a 36th level demon.

How often will you encounter a creature who has either been summoned or created? It depends on how liberal your DM is. A Hippogriff is the result of magical mutation or mixing, but does it count as created? How about a chimera? Or are these creatures natural because they were born from created parents?

I like the idea of just saying the spell protects against creatures with "plus X to hit" defenses. But I would stipulate that if a demon or something has no defense because of a fluke or mistake, you're still protected. But as a broad definition that's great!