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[Let's Read] The Palladium Roleplaying Game, AKA Palladium Fantasy First Edition

krate

Registered User
Validated User
Interesting that the spell shrinks a target to six inches. How they come up with that number? And also the spell doesn't say how a shrunken target fights or is affected for combat purposes. As a player I would love to shrink an igre or giant and then deal with him in uts diminutive state.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
...the spell doesn't say how a shrunken target fights or is affected for combat purposes.
Assuming it's the same as 'Reduce Self (6 Inches)', the target's clothes and equipment don't shrink, so they're effectively disarmed and naked even if you cancel the spell immediately after casting it. I suspect that Siembieda's intention is that most victims of 'Diminish Others' would run away (very slowly) but I'd be very surprised if he didn't have some surprise player spellcasters by still being able to use magical attacks at full strength.

As a player I would love to shrink an igre or giant and then deal with him in uts diminutive state.
On one level, it would seem to make sense to say you could just step on a six-inch opponent and kill them instantly. The process for doing that, however (determining whether you miss, determining whether they dodge out of the way, determining how much damage you do relative to how much damage it takes to kill them, all by analogy with the normal combat procedure), is left entirely up in the air.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Familiar Link’ can be cast up to ten feet away. It creates a permanent mental link between the caster and the target, which must be a small animal weighing no more than 25lb. The animal sees the caster as ‘its friend, master, and part of the animal’ and will obey the caster’s commands. The caster and the target can communicate telepathically at a distance of up to six hundred feet and each can also ‘see, hear, smell, taste, and feel’ everything the other does.

The caster and the target each gain six bonus hit points but, if the target is hurt, the caster loses the same number of hit points the target does. If the target dies, the caster permanently loses ten hit points (the six bonus points from this spell and four more) and has a 50% chance of going into a coma for 1d6 hours. ‘Another familiar link cannot be tried for a period no less than one year.’

The spell write-up doesn’t say that a character can only have one familiar at a time, unless that last sentence implies it. I’m not sure whether that restriction was intended (nothing is said about multiple familiars) but, if not, it seems like an obvious approach: a second familiar not only provides a buffer of bonus hit points in case the first one is hurt or dies but also provides a spare familiar and possibly one with different abilities useful for different tasks.

Whether or not multiple familiars are allowed, different familiars would obviously be useful in different ways. A songbird familiar would be an ideal scout and spy within the range of its normal habitat, as would a cat – assuming cats are not generally suspected of being spellcasters’ familiars and discouraged from approaching people, as has sometimes happened in the real world. (Despite a number of ancient Egyptian deities in the gods section, there is no cat god.) A venomous snake familiar might be perfect for assassinations if you’ve got a copy of Monsters and Animals as they’re written up with high percentages for ‘climb’ and the prowl skill and snake venom damage can be pretty nasty.

Witch (f they make a minor pact) and druid get a spell-like ability to link with a familiar, functioning like this spell, at second level. The write-up specifies ‘mammal, bird, or lizard’ and says the usual familiars are ‘cats, dogs, coyotes, foxes, weasels, rodents, birds, lizards, and snakes.’ The following twenty-five animals given write-ups in the ‘animals’ section on pp238-243 are mammals, birds or lizards weighing 25lb or less (listed here in the order they appear in the book):
  1. songbirds
  2. game birds
  3. hawk/falcon
  4. owl
  5. vulture – the write-up gives the weight of a vulture as ‘14 to 30 pounds’
  6. booted eagle – ‘15 to 35 pounds’
  7. wild cats/lynx/bobcat
  8. domestic cats
  9. wild dogs – ‘20 to 50 pounds’
  10. coyote/jackal – ‘25 to 30 pounds’, which seems iffy, but the spell write-up specifically lists coyotes as ‘usual’ familiars
  11. fox
  12. retriever/spaniel/setter/pointer – ‘25 to 60 pounds’
  13. hound (hunting) – ‘25 to 60 pounds’
  14. rat/prairie dog/hedgehog
  15. mouse
  16. squirrel
  17. raccoon
  18. rabbit/hare
  19. beaver/muskrat – ‘15 to 40 pounds’
  20. bats (fruit and insect eaters)
  21. bats (vampire)
  22. weasel
  23. mink
  24. badger
  25. otter.

If we add the animals from Monsters and Animals that fit the parameters for this spell, we also have the following sixty-nine:
  1. common frog
  2. common toad
  3. gog toad
  4. fire salamander
  5. golden arrow-poison frog
  6. boomslang
  7. king cobra
  8. spitting cobra
  9. cottonmouth
  10. desert viper
  11. yin adder
  12. diamondback rattlesnake
  13. green mamba (two-step)
  14. iguana
  15. marine iguana
  16. horned chameleon
  17. slider – the type of turtle
  18. snapping turtle
  19. serval – ‘20-50 pounds’
  20. bush baby
  21. red howler monkey – ‘20-35 pounds’
  22. black spider monkey
  23. indri
  24. ring-tailed lemur
  25. ermine – sharing a listing with mink
  26. ferret
  27. grison
  28. marten
  29. sea otter
  30. sable
  31. skunk (stinker)
  32. wolverine
  33. tree sloth (the old man)
  34. koala (faerie bear)
  35. yapok (water opposum)
  36. opposum
  37. giant anteater – ‘20-40 pounds’
  38. two-toed anteater
  39. banded armadillo – ‘10-30 pounds’
  40. western hedgehog
  41. common mole
  42. masked shrew
  43. chinchilla
  44. chipmunk (mini-bear)
  45. pocket gopher
  46. porcupine (porky)
  47. crested porcupine
  48. woodchuck (groundhog)
  49. wandering albatross
  50. brown booby
  51. brown pelican
  52. herring gull
  53. black headed gull
  54. storm petrel
  55. crowned crane
  56. northern goose – this would be the Canada goose, I suppose
  57. great egret
  58. glossy ibis
  59. red-throated loon
  60. mallard
  61. mandarin duck
  62. condor
  63. osprey
  64. red kite
  65. secretary bird
  66. scarlet macaw
  67. sulphur-crested cockatoo
  68. yellow-heade parrot
  69. toco toucan.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
The following thirty-seven animals get their own write-ups in Monsters and Animals instead of being lumped together with others as they are in this book:
  1. bobcat
  2. lynx
  3. red fox
  4. brown hare
  5. common rabbit
  6. jack rabbit
  7. beaver
  8. field mouse
  9. black rat
  10. swamp rat
  11. grey squirrel
  12. red squirrel
  13. prairie dog
  14. brown bat
  15. dog bat
  16. great fruit bat
  17. ghost bat
  18. tomb bats
  19. false vampire bat
  20. morning dove (homing pigeon)
  21. black grouse
  22. peafowl (peacock)
  23. ring-necked pheasant
  24. quail
  25. turkey
  26. peregrine falcon
  27. red-tailed hawk
  28. bare-faced vulture
  29. great horned owl (bubo)
  30. cardinal (redbird)
  31. crow
  32. goldfinch
  33. song sparrow
  34. scissor-tailed flycatcher
  35. starling
  36. olive thrush
  37. northern shrike (butcher bird).
These long lists of animals may seem pointless – bearing in mind that the book itself has a write-up with a description and stat block for each of these animals – but, if it makes no difference whether a player character wizard’s familiar is a loon or an egret, or what type of rat it is, I can’t imagine another circumstance in play when the differences between those animals will be relevant.

More interestingly, I think, Monsters and Animals also has write-ups for some small, fantastical animals:
  • acid lizard – small lizards described as ‘favored pets of merchants and bankers’, which spit acid that does 2d6 damage then continues to do 1d6 damage a minute indefinitely until washed off
  • floater – a swarming, ratlike animal which has a digestive system able to separate out and store ‘lighter than air gases’, enabling it to float through the air like a balloon; it also has a sting in its tail which does 1d4 damage and causes dizziness to the tune of a -2 penalty to strike, parry and dodge for 1d6 x10 minutes (further stings just extend the duration)
  • hopper – a nocturnal, gerbil-like animal which is a violent predator, biting twice a minute for 1d4 damage
  • serpent rat – a long, snake-shaped, ratlike animal (with legs) which attacks in packs, biting twice a minute for 1d6 damage
  • tree eel – an amphibious eel (with legs) that can climb trees, communicate telepathically with its own kind and bite twice a minute for 1d6 damage
(it’s not clear whether fire worms and tomb worms are snakes or something else as they’re not-quite-demons-and/or-devils, responding to a summoning circle for greater devils or demons but not to ‘Expel Demons’ or ‘Expel Devils’ – see below).

In addition to not excluding a spellcaster (or druid or scroll user – a scroll of ‘Familiar Link’ would only cost 900 gold as there’s no advantage to having any greater than first level spell strength) having more than one familiar, the write-up for this spell doesn’t exclude an animal from being a familiar to more than one character. Although I can imagine some utility in friends and allies sharing a familiar, I would think the more effective use of this spell would be to link with an enemy familiar and thus compromise its usefulness to the character with the pre-existing link.

Of course, it may well be that this spell was written with the assumption that a character can only have one familiar at a time and an animal can only be the familiar of one character at a time. It’s just not stated, or even really implied, anywhere in the write-up. The familiars discussed in English witch trials resemble the greater familiar described under witch (see below) more than the lesser, which is identical to the familiar constituted by this spell, but the courts, such as they were, seem to have accepted multiple familiars without blinking.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Magic Net’ is discussed above. This is obviously another spell for incapacitating people, albeit only 1d6 ‘within a 10 foot area’. The specification that the victims are ‘unable to attack or defend’ is pretty clear, although it does raise the question of how they might use magic, magic weapons or superior weapons to cut through the net: if I can use my lightning-spitting stone axe to cut through the magic net, why can’t I use it to strike the caster with lightning? Perhaps only people not trapped in the net can cut it with magic or superior weapons.

‘Magic Pigeon’ lasts two months per caster level. (The range is listed, unusually, as ‘immediate area’.) It creates ‘a mystic facsimile of a pigeon’ which looks exactly like the real thing but
  1. ’needs no food or rest’ and can consequently fly at 30mph indefinitely, covering 720 miles a day
  2. cannot be harmed or captured by ‘normal weapons’, only ‘magic spells of entrapment’
  3. is indestructible: ‘only a dispel magic spell can destroy it’
  4. can be set to seek out one or two individuals, wherever they are ‘(in the same dimension)’, as long as the caster knows their ‘general location’
  5. can memorise and deliver a spoken message of up to thirty words or carry a written message.
If the recipient of the message is in the general location given, the pigeon will find them and ‘immediately deliver the message.’ If they aren’t there when the pigeon arrives, it will wait ‘until he returns’, subject to the spell’s duration limit, at the end of which it will fade away. (The write-up doesn’t say but I assume the pigeon fades away once its message is delivered, since it can’t do anything else. I suppose it might just be a pigeon until its time runs out.)

There’s obviously a lot left unsaid in this spell write-up.
  • The range entry doesn’t really help – if a character is in gaol, can they create the pigeon outside the door so it can fly away or does it have to appear in the cell with them?
  • ‘[N]ormal weapons’ can’t hurt or trap the pigeon – what about superior and/or magic weapons? What about ‘normal’ traps, like, say, a passage with doors shut at both ends?
  • The pigeon can speak up to thirty words – can it be set up to cast a spell? Maybe more than one?
  • The pigeon can deliver a written messages – is there any limit to the length? Can it deliver a book? How about a scroll? A ward?
  • The pigeon can seek out a specific individual – can it be used to detect someone in hiding or in disguise? What about someone invisible or magically transformed?
These are all interesting questions, I think, and I’d be quite happy to explore them in play because it seems like it would be fun to find more uses for ‘Magic Pigeon’ than just a magical communication network. I think it would need some limits in play in order to not be far superior to other fourth level spells but it could certainly benefit from some additional utility.

‘Mystic Illusion’ is discussed above. Depending on whether or not the illusion can include movement, it may be more or less useful. Either way, this is a spell made for pro-active use. Combined with the ventriloquism and/or imitate voices skills, it could be particularly effective in deceiving and/or misleading people. I assume it could also be used to conceal things: an illusion of a wall where there’s a door, an illusion of a boulder where the caster and their companions are hiding, an illusion of someone attacking the caster’s companions and being killed in self-defence when they’ve actually already murdered the person monents earlier, and so on. It could additionally be used to present information in the form of maps, diagrams and/or even text for a literate audience; visual entertainments might also be appreciated, especially combined with music and narration.

‘Negate Magic’ is discussed above. The write-up describes this spell as ‘difficult and dangerous’ but no actual danger – apart from the risk of reprisals from the spellcaster whose magic is negated – is apparent. Obviously, this spell is only useful for negating other spells but that function raises two questions in my mind.
  1. Can it be used to counter a spell as it’s being cast? The write-up likens the process of negating a spell to the strike-and-parry procedure in the hand-to-hand combat rules but could a spellcaster who knows ‘Negate Magic’ use it in response to, say, ‘Fireball’, the way an armed character can parry a blow from a weapon?
  2. If this spell can be used to negate other spells as they’re being cast, can someone cast ‘Negate Magic’ to negate a ‘Negate Magic’ spell as it’s being cast?
I’d be inclined to allow both uses: if the one new magic power your shaman gains on reaching fourth level – or a power your wizard pays their favourite priest 7,000 gold for – is to cancel out other spells, I think that power should be pretty broad.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Spirit of the Wolf’ can be cast on the caster themselves or one other person and lasts ten minutes per caster level. It heightens the target’s senses, providing the following abilities:
  • eyesight
    • nightvision with a range of ten feet
    • a 50% chance to see the invisible
  • hearing
    • the ability to hear ‘a wider spectrum of sound frequencies’
    • a chance to ‘detect noise’ of
      • 90% within twenty feet
      • 40% within forty feet
    • only a 10% chance ‘to be caught off guard or from behind’ – I assume this relates to sneak attacks as discussed above
  • taste
    • a 50% chance to identify ‘foods, spices, plants’ (that’s a chance to identify plants better than a third level druid)
  • touch
    • a 60% chance to detect ‘even minor temperature changes’
  • smell
    • a chance to ‘identify odor’ within twenty feet or downwind
      • 80% for ‘humanoid’
      • 60% for animal odours.
The heightened senses also provide:
  • the track skill with
    • an 80% chance if the trail is ‘up to 3 hours old’ (as good as a seventh level ranger)
    • a 60% chance if the trail is up to a day old (better than a third level ranger)
    • a 20% chance if the trail is more than a day old (equal to a character who’s just got the track skill that level but with no class skill bonus to it)
  • the sense of direction skill with a 90% chance (better than a mind mage who’s had the skill for four levels)
  • a bonus of +2 to damage.

This is an interesting spell because it gives such a range of abilities. Most of them seem to be on the theme of tracking someone or something – the vision-related abilities are all detection abilities (natch); the smell-related ability is to identify an individual (I suppose: it’s not entirely clear) and the track and sense of direction skills would be extremely useful (in different ways) following someone or something who or which has recently passed by.

The hearing-related abilities seem to mostly be to avoid anyone sneaking up on the target: they’d be handy in avoiding ambush (which might or might not be in the context of tracking someone or something).

I’m not sure what you might do with the wider audible frequency range, the ability to sense minor changes in temperature or the ability to identify food and spices. The damage bonus is a bit of a puzzle as well. I assume it must be like the intelligence-based damage bonus in Villains & Vigilantes: representing the ability to strike precisely rather than great strength or whatever.

‘Size of the Behemoth’ can be cast up to thirty feet away and lasts five minutes per caster level. It makes the target fifteen feet tall, weighing 800lb, and increases their PS score to 30 while reducing their Spd score to 6. (Nothing is said about the tiny proportion of trolls who already have a PS score of 30 nor – more relevantly – about characters who already have a Spd score of 6 or less.) Clothes and equipment are not increased in size: the write-up doesn’t specify what happens to them but I assume clothes would tear apart like when Bruce Banner becomes the Incredible Hulk. As for armour, I suppose it would be destroyed but I’d be reluctant to say that about, for instance, magical armour: a hostile spellcaster could potentially wreck a character’s 46,000 gold investment with one spell that doesn’t have a saving throw (unless the implied rule about saving against any spell if unwilling – touched on briefly above – is intended to apply here).

This spell would be useful if you just need someone big and strong (and not too modest) in a hurry: a character with a PS score of 30 not only has a bonus of +15 to damage but can carry 300lb. Assuming characters’ effective Spd score scales with them, as discussed above for ‘Reduce Self (6 Inches)’, the target’s Spd score could be multiplied by between one-and-a-quarter for the tallest trolls and seven-and-a-half for the shortest gnomes, leading to an effective Spd score (assuming a mean Spd score for each race) of between 9 (equivalent to a nearly-ten-minute mile) and nearly 66 (45mph, equivalent to a one minute, twenty second mile). I rather like the idea of a desperate race to catch, say, a magic pigeon involving a naked, fifteen-foot-tall troglodyte running after it as fast as a horse.

Perhaps the best combat use of this spell – apart from casting it on an opponent to get them out of their armour and maybe disarm them – would be to cast it on a character proficient in longbow when there’s a giant longbow to hand: that would mean each arrow would do 3d6 + 15 points of damage, enough to put an average changeling with five class levels; human, elf, (hob-)goblin, orc, troglodyte or wolfen with four or dwarf, kobold, ogre, troll or gnome with three; into a terminal coma – assuming that damage modifiers for exceptional PS scores apply to ranged weapons.

This spell is also obviously an effective counter to ‘Reduce Self (6 Inches)’ and ‘Diminish Others’, since all three spells have specific outcomes rather than changing the targets’ height by a particular factor. If someone was the target of ‘Size of the Behemoth’ then ‘Diminish Others’, would they retain their PS score of 30 with their six-inch height? That might be quite fun. For that matter, of course, the write-ups for ‘Reduce Self (6 Inches)’ and ‘Dininish Others’ say nothing about how the targets’ PS scores might be affected. Reduced by the same factor as their height? Reduced by the square of that factor (since muscle cross-section is proportional to the square of height for a given body plan)? Unaffected?
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Turn Objects Invisible’ can be cast up to sixty feet away and lasts eight minutes per caster level. It turns a number of objects of the caster’s choosing invisible: the objects can be up to 60lb weight in total and must all be ‘within a 5 foot radius’. (It’s not clear to me whether that means each of the target objects has to be within five feet of all the others, like each one has a five foot radius around it limiting the spell’s area of effect, or whether the spell can affect objects within one circle of five foot radius.) Invisible weapons will become visible ‘when stained by blood’. I’m not sure whether that’s a magical limit – blood disrupts the spell and the weapon appears – or just specifying that the blood remains visible, showing where the weapon is. If it’s the latter, I suppose other substances could show invisible items up just as well: paint, ink, flour, coal dust, red wine, and so on. Magic objects remain detectable by ‘Sense Magic’.

The listing for invisiblity under ‘magic weapon properties’ on p136, in the alchemist class write-up, specifies that making a weapon invisible gives the wielder a bonus of +2 to strike and parry (except against opponents who can see the invisible, natch), so that would be one good use of this spell: a dozen halberds only weigh sixty pounds, so it might be an effective combat boost for one’s troops – or animated dead. Apart from that, there are obviously many circumstances in which being able to hide 60lb of something for eight minutes per caster level would be useful, whether to set up a booby trap (invisible tripwires, invisible spikes, large invisible pendulums, and so on) or to prevent people from finding an object for which they’re looking.

‘Clay to Lead’ – also a fifth level earth warlock spell – can be cast up to ten feet away (the warlock version can be cast up to twelve feet away). It permanently turns up to 50lb per caster level of ‘ordinary clay’ into lead. Apart from the fact that lead will usually have a higher monetary value than clay, I’m really not sure what this spell is for. The only other mention of lead in this book is in the write-up for the sixth level spell ‘Witch Bottle’ (see below), a spell to create an amulet that offers some bonuses to save against magic cast by witches and their familiars: lead is used to seal the bottle. Otherwise, I’m not sure what fifty pounds of lead per caster level would be good for, and it’s not as though clay is a problem substance that could be solved by turning it into lead, or a substance that’s difficult to work with in ways lead is easy, as may be the case with the ‘Rock to Mud’ spell discussed above.

As well as ‘Clay to Lead’, the fifth level earth warlock spells include ‘Clay to Stone’, an identical spell except that the clay is turned to stone (natch); there’s also a sixth level earth warlock spell ‘Clay to Iron’, which is, again, identical, except that the clay becomes iron.

Both of these other spells are mentioned in the write-up for the sixth level earth warlock spell ‘Sculpt and Animate Clay Animals’, which allows the caster to animate clay sculptures for six hours per caster level. The write-up specifies that combining ‘Sculpt and Animate Clay Animals’, ‘Clay to Stone’ and ‘Breath of Life’ (a fifth level air warlock spell that revives the recently dead) creates something like a stone golem; using ‘Clay to Iron’ in place of ‘Clay to Stone’ in the combination creates something like an iron golem and using ‘Clay to Stone’ then ‘Stone to Flesh’ instead creates something like a zombie (but with no pre-exisiting spirit animating it, interestingly). They are not actually mentioned but the use of both spells seems to be implied in the write-up for ‘Create Golem’, a seventh level earth warlock spell that can create a stone or iron golem (but not a flesh golem, oddly).

I wonder whether the thinking behind this spell (‘Clay to Lead’) was to have lead variants of those spells as well but they were missed out in the end. Otherwise, I suppose the use for this spell is reduced to things like changing clay into lead, making roof flashings or water pipes or whatever, then cancelling the spell to subtly damage someone’s building.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Extinguish Fires’ – also a third level fire warlock spell – can be cast up to thirty feet away (the warlock version can be cast twenty feet away per caster level). Although the entry on the main spell list only gives ‘permanent’ as the duration, the warlock version lists the duration as ‘4 melees per level of the warlock/permanent’. I’m not sure whether the two versions are supposed to function differently with respect to duration or the entry on the main spell list just doesn’t list the duration properly. The complete body text of the write-up on p93 is as follows.
This spell will permanently extinguish any fires within the area of effect. The warlock has the ability to snuff out one or more fires for a period of 4 melees per level of warlock. The spell does not work on magic fires.
I read that as meaning the spell (or, at least, the warlock version of it) has a duration of four minutes per caster level and, during that time, the caster can permanently extinguish any fires in range at will. If the version on the main list is supposed to work differently with its different listing for duration, I suppose it must be intended to enable the caster to extinguish any fires in range when it’s cast but with no ongoing ability after it’s cast. I’d be inclined, however, to assume both versions of the spell are intended to work the same way, albeit with different ranges.

This would be an excellent spell for fire-fighting (especially if it’s supposed to give the caster an ongoing ability to extinguish fires). It might also be handy for putting out lights, especially for a caster with nightvision facing opponents without. I suppose it could be used to murder – or at least inconvenience – people in cold weather by extinguishing their hearths and/or campfires while they’re asleep.

‘Fifteen-Foot Air Bubble’ – also a third level air warlock spell – lasts for five minutes per caster level (the warlock version lasts fifteen minutes per caster level). It creates a ‘durable’ fifteen-foot bubble of breathable air: the air remains breathable as long as the spell lasts. The bubble can go underwater (nothing is said about bouyancy so I suppose the caster must be able to mentally control the bubble’s movement underwater) and has an armour rating of 6 and a structural damage capacity of 30 points. I assume the armour rating is the bubble's own natural armour rating, with to-hit rolls of 6 or less meaning attacks do nothing, rather than the rating of the bubble considered as armour, with to-hit rolls of 7 or more meaning attacks bypass the bubble and hurt the people inside.

It’s not clear exactly how to use this spell. On one hand, a fifteen-foot-radius bubble (implied by the fifteen foot range entry in the main spell list) could contain twenty-eight people at its widest part, each occupying about twenty-five square feet. A fifteen-foot diameter bubble (which may be a more natural reading of ‘15 foot air bubble’) could contain seven. On the other hand, I’m not clear on whether people in the bubble stand at the bottom, float in the middle or what. And my supposition about the caster mentally directing the bubble underwater is really just a compromise between supposing the caster has no mental control over the movement of the bubble, in which case it would immediately remove them from any underwater environment without a ceiling, and supposing they can direct its movement full stop, in which case it would be tantamount to a flying spell. Either way, I think the write-up stands in need of some sort of guidance about movement speed in the bubble: can the people inside move at their usual walking speed? Does the bubble move at a certain speed? Do the people inside have to push it along like a sort of treadmill? It seems like the information given is quickly going to lead to questions in play, the first of which will be, Now what?

‘Hail’ – also a fourth level water warlock spell – can be cast up to ninety feet away and lasts two minutes per caster level (the warlock version only lasts one minute per caster level). ‘Golfball size hail stones pelt’ everyone in a five-foot radius (an eight-foot radius per caster level for the warlock version), doing 1d4 damage per minute.

Like ‘Miasma’ (discussed above), this would be a half-decent spell for hurting people if they could be kept in the area of effect somehow, and of some use in denying access, for instance by casting it in front of a castle door to discourage enemy troops with a battering ram. The damage the hail does might actually kill people if they could be kept in the area of effect for the whole spell: a fourth level witch, priest or shaman could expect to do twenty points of damage, which would be enough to put an average changeling with three class levels; human, elf, (hob-)goblin, orc, troglodyte or wolfen with two; dwarf, kobold, ogre, troll or gnome with one into a terminal coma.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Phantom’ – also a fifth level air warlock spell – lasts five minutes per caster level (the warlock version lasts fifteen minutes per caster level). As with ‘Magic Pigeon’ (discussed above), the range is listed as ‘immediate area’, which raises the same questions as with that spell. It summons ‘a minor air elemental’ obedient to the caster. The phantom
  • has a natural armour rating of 12 (equivalent to studded leather armour) – the same as the minor air elemental written up on p219 and discussed above
  • has 30 hit points (more than a changeling with six class levels; human, elf, (hob-)goblin, orc, troglodyte or wolfen with five; dwarf, kobold, ogre, troll or gnome with four) – the minor air elemental write-up specifies 5d8 hit points for a mean of 22.5
  • is eight feet tall – the maximum height given in the minor air elemental write-up
  • is naturally invisible and can see the invisible – the spell write-up says ‘[a]ll elementals can see the invisible’ but the elemental write-ups only mention that ability for air elementals
  • can fly ‘at speed 40’ (a Spd score of 40 is equivalent to over 27mph and a speed of 40mph, which may be what is meant, is equivalent to a Spd score of nearly 59) – the minor air elemental write-up lists a flying speed of 45mph (equivalent to a Spd score of 66)
  • has an IQ attribute score of 10 – no IQ score is specified in the minor air elemental write-up
  • has a PS attribute score of ‘221’ (I assume this is a typo: the listed damage bonus of +6 matches a PS score of 21) – the minor air elemental write-up doesn’t list a PS score but does list a damage bonus of +2, which would match a PS score of 17
  • has a PP attribute score of 19 and the matching bonus of +2 to strike, parry and dodge – the minor air elemental write-up gives the same bonus to strike but lists no parry or dodge bonus
  • has a bonus of +4 to dodge while flying (it’s unclear whether this is in addition to or instead of the +2 dodge bonus from its exceptional PP score; it’s also unclear why it would ever not be flying) – the minor air elemental write-up gives no special bonuses while in flight
  • attacks twice a minute for 1d8 damage or using weapons – that’s equivalent to what’s listed for a major air elemental (the minor air elemental write-up specifies 1d6 damage and doesn’t list a number of attacks per minute, implying it’s only one)
  • has the locate secret compartments/doors skill with an 89% chance (better than a mind mage or shaman who’s had the skill for thirteen levels) – the air elemental write-up gives a 75% chance (better than a mind mage or shaman who’s had the skill for ten levels)
  • can cast all first level air warlock spells as a fourth level caster, casting a total of eight spells a day – the minor air elemental write-up specifies all first and second level air warlock spells as a second level caster but doesn’t mention a number of spells per day
  • is ‘impervious to normal weapons’ – the minor air elemental write-up also specifies half damage from fire and cold.
The minor air elemental write-up also specifies the ability to pass through small cracks and openings, the prowl skill with a 94% chance and a bonus of +2 to all saving throws. I’m not sure whether those abilities are supposed to belong to this phantom as well but I’d be inclined to say not: the write-up does differentiate this elemental from the ordinary air elemental. It’s slower in flight, tougher, stronger, hits quicker and harder and knows fewer spells but casts them with greater spell strength, so it seems more like a variant than an unintentional mismatch of details.

This spell might obviously be useful in combat, as the phantom seems like it would be handy in a fight, especially if given a more damaging weapon. But it’s also an invisible, flying monster who can carry 210lb over two-and-a-quarter miles per caster level, so it would be good for scouting, spying and transport as well.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Wall of Ice’ – also a fifth level fire warlock spell – and ‘Wall of Thorns’ – also a fourth level earth warlock spell – are both discussed above under ‘Wall of Clay’. Of these two, I would think ‘Wall of Thorns’ would be more useful overall just because it’s more difficult to get through. Someone in a full suit of one of the heaviest types of armour will take two-and-a-half minutes to ‘chop’ through a ten foot unit of a wall of thorns (given an appopriate implement, I assume), while fire will destroy a unit of a wall of ice (going by the water elemental write-up on p217, a single torch would do 1d6 damage to a wall of ice, meaning a team with ten torches or equivalent could melt through a unit in less than six minutes). But, without a full suit of plate or ‘banded’ (ie splint) armour, there’s no way to get through the wall of thorns without getting badly hurt.

‘Wither Plants’ – also a second level earth warlock spell – permanently kills ‘all plant life’ within thirty feet over a period of three minutes (the write-up for the warlock version specifies both eight feet per caster level and twenty feet – I’d be inclined to pick the former as my impression is that warlock spells on the main list are usually more effective, if anything, in their warlock versions). Trees, vines and other plants that don’t just become mush lose half their ‘structure’ – I assume that means half their structural damage capacity, although it would obviously imply half the chopping time for a ‘Wall of Thorns’ (as discussed above).

I’m not sure how this spell could be very useful. It reminds me of ‘Reduce Objects’ (discussed above) in that regard: a spell for killing plants could be very useful but this one – with its thirty foot radius of effect – seems much too limited. You could ruin someone’s kitchen garden with that kind of area of effect but it would be a very small problem for a farming community unless there was a small but precious crop involved. The warlock version seems better in this respect: a tenth level warlock can kill all plants in an over-twenty-thousand-square-foot area as opposed to the less-than-three-thousand-square-foot area of effect of this version.

I suppose this spell would be useful for clearing an overgrown area – say, a dungeon the entrance of which has become blocked by trees – or for countracting ‘Wall of Thorns’ – but both of those seem quite contrived.

The twenty-one fourth level spells include
  • one detection and one communication spell (‘Magic Pigeon’) this level, making ten detection-and/or-communication spells in total, or 13% of the seventy-eight first-to-fourth level spells
  • one illusion and one invisibility spell this level, making seven illusion-and/or-invisibility spells in total (9%)
  • two for dealing with the dead, making three in total (4%)
but, on the whole, there are no clear schools or stereotypes of magic that most of these spells seem to naturally fall into.

I would definitely avoid ‘Death Trance’ (I can’t understand why it’s higher level than ‘Turn Self into Mist’, for instance), along with ‘Breath Underwater’ from the third level spells, but I’m not sure how I’d go about making a wizard with a particular focus using these spells. Perhaps that’s the point: wizards are generalists according to these rules and warlocks, diabolists and summoners are the specialists.

The mean range for fourth level spells (not counting ‘Commune with Spirits’, ‘Death Trance’, ‘Magic Pigeon’, ‘Spirit of the Wolf’, ‘Fifteen Foot Air Bubble’ or ‘Phantom’) is a little over fifty-three feet, with sixty feet being the median and the mode. The (ranged) spells of first-to-fourth level considered together have a mean range of just over fifty-one feet, with a median and mode of sixty.

‘Magic Pigeon’ raises the average duration of fourth level spells, as two months is 86,400 minutes (assuming a thirty-day month). Including ‘Magic Pigeon’ (but not ‘Familiar Link’, ‘Negate Magic’, ‘Clay to Lead’, ‘Extinguish Fires’ or ‘Wither Plants’), the mean duration is nearly four days per caster level (with the median being nine minutes). Excluding ‘Magic Pigeon’, it’s under seven minutes per caster level (with the median being eight). Either way, the modal duration is ten minutes per caster level. The mean duration for all first-to-fourth level spells with durations given in minutes per caster level is just over eight minutes per caster level, with the median being eight and the mode, ten.
 
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