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

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
I assume that's cannibalism (eating 'people') as a matter of course, as opposed to an act of desperation in dire straits.
I don't think the question of eating people when there's nothing else to eat comes up in this book but I do wonder whether Siembieda would have distinguished between that and eating people as a matter of preference. The book doesn't actually define 'cannibalism' (despite giving percentage rates for it) but does describe various playable and non-playable races eating 'intelligent' and 'humanoid' races.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Shadow Walk/Meld’ can be cast on the caster themselves or (presumably one or two) ‘others’ they touch while casting it. It lasts two minutes per caster level. It enables the target(s) to become invisible ‘even to a See the Invisible spell’ by stepping into any size of shadow. While melded with shadow, the target can’t be harmed ‘by weapons or most magic’: the write-up says ‘only charms and sleep are effective’.

I suppose ‘charms’ here means charm-type magic rather than the type of magic item called charms (see below): ‘all charm type magic’ is mentioned as being affected by the protective use of the ‘Charm’ ward (see below) and I suppose, going by the names, that would include
  • the first level spell ‘Charm’
  • the second level spell ‘Love Charm’
  • the ‘Charm’ ward itself when used offensively.

I suppose ‘sleep’ here means sleep-type magic, which would include
  • the spell ‘Cloud of Slumber’ – maybe (going by the effect rather than the name)
  • the sleep ward when used offensively.

The write-up specifies that the shadow-melded target is still vulnerable to psionic attacks and still detectable using the first level psionic ability ‘Presence Sense’. The shadow-melded target can talk and/or cast spells but can’t attack anyone physically. While melded, they have the prowl skill with a 60% chance of success (better than a fourth level assassin). It occurs to me that melding into a person's shadow in order to follow them undetected would be an excellent way of infiltrating a place and/or listening in on conversations.

The write-up also specifies that the light of ten torches or five lanterns is required to dispel a shadow and dimmer light will just make more shadows. That’s not how shadows work at all – what if the shadow in use is being cast by the sun? – but it’s nice to have a ruling. I do wonder if this spell gives a detailed account of how the shadow beast’s gimmick works. I’d be very tempted to treat shadow beasts as having a spell-like ability similar to this spell, especially for player character shadow beasts.

‘Teleport Self’ transports the caster, along with up to 100lb per caster level of material the caster ‘is maintaining some kind of physical contact with’, up to five miles ‘in the blink of an eye’. The write-up specifies that the luggage allowance can include ‘another person’ (I assume that means it could include multiple other people: a fifth level witch would have a luggage allowance of 500lb when they first gain access to this spell) but taking a passenger (or passengers) means a 26% chance of all concerned being knocked unconscious for 1d6 hours by the shock (once they’ve been transported, I think, although it’s not entirely clear).

The chance of successfully teleporting to the desired location is
  • 99% for a location the caster can see when they cast the spell or one with which they’re familiar
  • 76% for a place seen ‘2-6 times before’
  • 32% for a place ‘never seen but described in detail’
  • 11% for ‘a totally unknown place’.
I suppose the ‘totally unknown place’ means a place the existence of which the caster deduces, such as the other side of a door. I’m not sure why there’s no percentage chance for teleporting to a place seen once before: I suppose the ‘2-6 times before’ must be a typo for ‘1-6 times before’.

If the teleportation is unsuccessful, there’s a percentile table to roll on, with
  • a 60% chance of just arriving somewhere else (‘Totally wrong place. No idea of present location.’)
  • a 21% chance of teleporting into a solid object and just dying instantly
  • a 19% chance of teleporting three hundred feet up in the air (nothing is said about whether this is 300’ above the point of origin, 300’ above the intended destination or what) and falling to the ground for 6d6+6 hit points of damage.
According to the write-up for the scale walls skill discussed above, a three hundred foot fall would cause 50 hit points of damage, so I suppose teleporting into a fall slows the fall somewhat. I don’t like those odds, though. It’s obviously not a good idea to try teleporting to a place you’ve never been but trying to get to a place visited six times carries just over one chance in twenty of instant death.

I assume the caster could deliberately teleport into a large, solid object such as a hill (this would count as ‘a totally unknown place’, I suppose, unless an earth warlock who knew the ‘Travel Through Earth’ and/or ‘Travel Through Stone’ spells described it for the caster), instantly killing themselves and anyone they’re touching, with no saving throw . The experience rules do encourage self-sacrifice and killing menaces, so it would be in keeping with how the game is supposed to be played.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘The Strength of Utgard Loki’ can be cast on the caster themselves or someone else in their line of sight up to thirty feet away. It lasts two minutes per caster level. It gives the target
  • a +5 bonus on all saving throws
  • a +6 bonus to damage (it’s not clear whether this is in addition to the bonus from and exceptional PS score – see below – or this is that bonus)
  • a +5 bonus to dodge
  • a PS attribute score of 21
  • a PE attribute score of 24 (this would normally carry a +18% bonus to save against death and a +5 bonus to save against magic and/or poison – nothing is said about those bonuses, nor about whether this temporary PE score affects the target’s hit points)
  • a Spd attribute score of 24 (meaning a running speed of 480 yards a minute, equivalent to a three minute forty second mile)
  • one extra attack per minute ‘in hand to hand combat’.
So this is another spell to boost the target’s stats. The +5 bonus to all saving throws is pretty good, meaning all saves have at least an even chance of succeeding (absent any other modifiers). If the exceptional PE score provides its usual bonus to save against magic and poison, and it stacks with the blanket bonus to save, that means a total +10 bonus to save against magic and poison, or a 95% chance to save against spells (absent any spell strength bonuses) and an 85% chance to save against poison.

Whether the bonuses from this spell are to be considered separately or they’re somehow derived from the attribute scores it gives, it seems a little feeble for a fifth level spell (considering ‘Fleet Feet’ – discussed above – is third level). There are a number of variables, of course, which affect that assessment.
  • Do damage bonuses – ones for exceptional attribute scores and other ones – apply to ranged attacks or just hand-to-hand combat?
  • Is the +6 bonus to damage from this spell in addition to the bonus for the PS attribute score from this spell or are they the same thing?
  • Does the exceptional PE score from this spell affect the target’s hit points?
    • Does it provide the usual bonuses for a PE score of 24?
    • Is the save bonus from this spell in addition to the save bonuses for the exceptional PE score from this spell or are they the same thing?
  • Does the doubling effect of ‘Fleet Feet’ on attacks per minute apply to ranged weapon proficiencies or only hand-to-hand combat?

The answers to some of those questions determine the utility of this spell without reference to ‘Fleet Feet’: if this spell does provide the save bonuses from the PE score of 24 in addition to a blanket +5 bonus to all saves, for instance, it means first and second level spellcasters only have a 5% chance of someone under this spell not saving against their spells. (This chance increases with spell strength bonuses but fifteenth level wizards only have a 25% chance; fifteenth level witches, priests and shamans, 20%.)

And, of course, it’s not necessarily an either-or proposition. A fifth level troll priest of the cult of Kalba could know ‘Fleet Feet’ and ‘The Strength of Utgard Loki’ and could cast them both in a minute, giving themselves
  • a PS attribute score of 21 (three or four points higher than the mean score for a troll)
  • double their usual PP attribute score, for a mean of 28 with an accompanying bonus of +7 to strike and parry
  • a +12 bonus to dodge
  • a PE attribute score of 24 (ten points above the mean score for a troll)
  • a Spd attribute score of 48, meaning a running speed of 960 yards a minute, equivalent to a one minute, fifty second mile
  • seven or eight attacks per minute in hand-to-hand combat, depending on how the total is calculated (assuming the character knows the assassin version of the hand-to-hand combat skill – which 55% of troll priests of gods of darkness qualify for)
  • the +5 bonus to all saves
  • the +6 bonus to damage, possibly meaning a total bonus of +14 including the +2 from the assassin hand-to-hand skill (so, attacking from behind with an ordinary goupillon flail, the character could do a mean 49 hit points of damage with each blow that lands – enough to put an average dwarf, kobold, ogre, troll or gnome with ten class levels into a terminal coma)
  • all dodge and parry rolls doubled, meaning an attacker would have to roll at least a 17 to strike – including bonuses – to have any chance of beating the character’s parry and at least a 27 to have any chance of beating their dodge
for ten minutes.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Turn the Dead’ is discussed above. This is a purely defensive spell, as all it does is repel animated dead and mummies. It’s one of the feeblest abilities, if not the feeblest ability, in this book for repelling the dead, as discussed above. I suppose you could use it to lay a trap for someone by repelling the skeletons and mummies in a place and then convincing them it was safe to go to before they returned. But, especially given that ‘Animate/Control Dead’ is a fourth level spell, and the priest class abilities turn dead and animate/command dead become available at first level, I’m not sure why this is a fifth level spell. I suppose the priest class abilities both have only a 40% chance of succeeding at fifth level but I don’t see why this spell is a level higher than ‘Animate/Command Dead’, the spell it basically counteracts.

‘X-Ray Vision’ lasts two minutes per caster level. It enables the caster, with a minute or more’s concentration, to see through various thicknesses of various substances. A table gives the thicknesses seen through with various amounts of time spent concentrating:
  • wood and dirt: the caster can see through two feet per minute of concentration
  • iron: six inches per minute
but ‘clay or stone’ doesn’t have such a simple progression. The caster can see through one foot of clay or stone with one minute’s concentration; two feet with two minutes; four feet with three minutes and six feet with four minutes. I’m not sure whether that means four minutes is the maximum concentration time (it would be enough to look down and see through six feet of dirt and wood into a coffin, if light isn’t an issue) or the book expects the reader to extrapolate the thicknesses of clay and stone the caster can see through with five or more minutes’ concentration.

This spell would obviously be useful for many kinds of spying and invesigation. It might also be handy for secure communications or records, in that a character could send a letter in a sealed iron box or hide their diagram for a magic circle behind a brick wall and (either assuming lighting isn’t an issue for this spell or having small holes and/or translucent material to let in light) only spellcasters with ‘X-Ray Vision’ could easily read it. As with ‘Turn Self into Mist’ (discussed above), this could be used to create a spellcaster’s study quite difficult for those without this spell to access. I do like the idea of a sealed room with no door – possibly surrounded by a deep pit – where the only way in is to turn to mist and seep through cracks between the bricks. The idea that the room seems to be featureless but ‘X-Ray Vision’ allows you to see all the notes and diagrams on a second wall behind the bricks fits very well with that, I think.

‘Animate Plants’ – also a third level earth warlock spell – lasts two minutes per caster level (the warlock version lasts four minutes per caster level). It enables the caster to ‘mentally manipulate’ all plants within ten feet (the warlock version enables the caster to control all plants within forty feet), making them grab and hold things and people. The caster can make plants move but they remain ‘rooted in the soil’. To attack with plants, the caster must have line of sight to the target – nothing is said about rolling to hit so it’s unclear whether the player rolls without bonuses, whether plant attacks can be dodged and/or parried, or whether they hit automatically. ‘Entanglement’ doesn’t require line of sight. ‘Maximum attacks by a plant per melee is eight.’ I’m not sure whether that means maximum attacks by any individual plant or maximum attacks by a character using this spell to attack with plants; I’d be inclined to say the latter, since eight attacks a minute seems quite a lot for a third or fifth level spell.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
Various plants, from grass to large trees, are given basic details: natural armour rating, structural damage capacity and damage per successful attack. ‘This spell requires the full concentration of the spell caster preventing him from casting any other spells.’ It’s not clear whether that means the caster can’t do anything else or just can’t cast other spells while this spell lasts. If the caster can move while under this spell, it’s not entirely clear whether the area of effect moves with them or not but I assume it does.

This spells seems to fall between the spells for incapacitating people within a small-ish area and the spells for hurting people (although ‘[e]ntanglment’ isn’t really given any rules to work with so I suppose any incapacitation is up to house rules). Large trees – which have the best stats in this spell’s write-up –
  • have a natural armour rating of 10 (equivalent to hard leather armour or a half suit of double mail)
  • have a structural damage capacity of (2d6 x10) + 40 points, for a mean total of 110 (more than the mean hit point total of a dwarf, kobold, ogre, troll or gnome with twenty-seven class levels)
  • do 2d6 damage with each successful attack
so a shaman casting this spell within ten feet of a large tree could use it to do – potentially – more damage than a ‘Call Lightning’ or ‘Fireball’ spell cast at fifteenth level strength. If plant attacks can be parried, and if plants strike without bonuses, they aren’t going to have a huge rate of success hitting higher level characters with arms-class hand-to-hand skills but they’ll still wear them down. A character without a parry bonus, even if they can parry without spending attacks, will still suffer a mean of nearly 27 hit points of damage (in total, to their armour – if any – and/or their hit points). Even a character with an automatic parry and no more than a +2 bonus to parry (ie one without the hand-to-hand combat (soldier) skill above second level; knight above third; mercenary above fourth; longbowman above eighth; palladin or assassin above tenth; or ranger or thief above twelfth) can still expect to suffer over 21 hit points of damage each minute.

‘Circle of Rain’ – also a fifth level air warlock spell and a third level water warlock spell – is discussed above. (The warlock version has an area of effect with a sixty foot radius per caster level and lasts half an hour per caster level.) As well as the effects noted above, it reduces visibility to thirty feet for ‘normal and nightvision’. This is another spell for incapacitating – or, rather, in this case, slowing down and making uncomfortable – everyone in a certain area, although the area of effect of the warlock version isn’t really even small-ish. A fifth level shaman would cast this spell with an area of effect of over twelve hundred square feet but a fifth level warlock would cast it with an area of effect of over two hundred and eighty thousand square feet (just under six-and-a-half acres).

Apart from spoiling festivals and dispersing crowds, this spell could obviously be used to set up ambushes: not only are the victims slowed to a third of their normal movement rate, their visibility is less than the range of most ranged spells and most ranged weapons (the weapons with a range of thirty feet or less are thrown ½ lb rocks – 20-40’ – thrown blunt weapons – 30’ – darts – 30’ – thrown short swords – 30’ – thrown staffs – 20’ – thrown large swords – 15’ – and thrown ball and chain weapons – 12’). The question remains, as with ‘Cloud of Smoke’ and ‘Dust Storm’ (discussed above), whether those outside the area of effect can see into it clearly or not but I can’t imagine they’d be at a disadvantage shooting, casting or throwing things at people coming within thirty feet of the edge. I suppose this spell also has the advantage over something like ‘Miasma’ that it could just about be passed off as a natural event and not a spell.

‘Heal Burns’ – also a fourth level fire warlock spell and a sixth level water warlock spell – can be cast on someone the caster touches while casting it (the warlock version can be cast up to twelve feet away). It permanently restores up to 2d6 hit points but only those lost as a result of suffering burns. ‘It soothes the burns and heals the skin, even lessening the scar tissue.’ I suppose that might relate to the result on the ‘Optional Recovery Side affects [sic] (from severe damage) Permanent Physical Damage’ table on p7 of ‘[m]ajor scarring’, which reduces the victim’s PB attribute score by 2.

This is a very limited healing spell. It certainly fits the fire theme for fire warlocks and, by extension, the water theme for water warlocks, but it’s a bit less relevant on the main list. It is the only healing spell below eighth level on the main list that’s useable on other people (‘Restoration’ – see below – is a lot more powerful, depending on how the write-up is interpreted; ‘Resurrection’ – see below – may not restore any hit points at all, again, depending on how the write-up is interpreted).
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Melt Metal’ – also a seventh level fire warlock spell – can be cast up to sixty feet away (the warlock version can only be cast up to fifteen feet away) and lasts two minutes per caster level (the warlock version lasts four minutes per caster level). It melts a ‘metal object’ the caster stares at – up to forty pounds of metal per caster level. After two minutes, the metal object is ‘too hot to hold/touch’ and does two hit points of damage ‘if touched’ (I suppose that would mean two points a minute if touched continually, for instance, if someone’s jewellery or armour is heated and they can’t take it off). After four minutes, the object is ‘slag’. This spell doesn’t work on magical metal objects.

None of the weapons listed on pp45-46 weigh as much as forty pounds. The (mostly) metal armour weights break down as follows.
  • 40lb or less
    • chain mail – half suit (18lb)
    • scale mail – half suit (20lb)
    • double mail – half suit (20lb)
    • plate armour – half suit (20lb)
    • splint armour – half suit (22lb)
    • chain mail – full suit (40lb)
  • more than 40lb but no more than 80lb
    • scale mail – full suit (45lb)
    • double mail – full suit (50lb)
    • splint armour – full suit (50lb)
    • plate and chain – full suit (52lb)
    • plate armour – full suit (58lb)
    • plate barding – average horse, half suit (50lb)
    • plate barding – war horse, half suit (60lb)
    • plate barding – average horse, full suit (70lb)
  • more than 80lb
    • plate barding – war horse, full suit (100lb)
so a second level caster (or scroll) is enough to melt any sort of ordinary gear. The weight limit given is very large, in fact: a fifth level priest gaining access to this spell can melt a metal object weighing up to 200lb. Barring iron golems – see below – I’m not sure what sort of metal object that large was in mind when this spell was designed. On the other hand, by my calculations, the basic unit of the ‘Wall of Iron’ spell (discussed above), a solid block of iron eight feet by eight feet by two feet, would weigh over twenty-seven tons and require this spell to be cast at over fourteen hundredth level strength to melt it.

(The requirement to stare at the target object for four minutes to actually melt it, combined with the listed duration, means a first level wizard who knows this spell can use it to heat metal but not actually melt it.)

‘Part Waters’ – also a fourth level water warlock spell – can be cast up to four hundred and twenty feet away (the write-up for the warlock version doesn’t list any range as such) and lasts ten minutes per caster level (the warlock version only lasts three minutes per caster level). It parts a body of water – the write-up specifies that it’s effective on ‘lakes, rivers, seas, oceans, etc.’ – leaving a gap ‘200 foot long by 10 foot wide (per level of experience)’ in which individuals can walk along the bed of the body of water. If the caster ‘loses concentration, is knocked unconscious, or slain, the spell is broken’ although nothing is said about any restrictions on what the caster can do while the spell is working.

Individuals caught in the area of effect when the water returns have a 70% chance of drowning and take
  • 40 hit points of damage from a river or lake
  • 120 from a sea
  • 160 from an ocean.

The details of this spell are unclear: the dimensions of the dry area created could be two hundred feet per caster level by ten feet per caster level or (as with my reading of the ‘Wall of...’ spell write-ups) could be a number of 200’ x 10’ units equal to the caster level. The fact that the warlock version doesn’t mention a range while the main list version specifies a range of 420’ may be a mistake; then again, it may not.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
However the area of effect is supposed to scale with caster level, it has a maximum length of two hundred feet per caster level. With the main list version of the spell lasting ten minutes per caster level, that requires anyone using it to cross a body of water to move at a leisurely twenty feet a minute at a minimum if the gap is of maximum length for the spell. The warlock version is a bit more demanding, requiring a minimum movement rate of nearly sixty-seven feet – or over twenty-two yards – per minute. That’s within the capabilities of everyone who has a Spd attribute score of more than 1 and a PE attribute score at least equal to the duration of the spell in minutes if they’re running as fast as they can but it might be a struggle for people transporting cargo or just carrying luggage.

Since nothing is said in the write-up about whether or not the caster can cast further spells without breaking this one (unless ‘loses concentration’ implies casting further spells is disallowed), it’s not clear whether or not a spellcaster – or a team of spellcasters – could string together instances of this spell to cross a wider body of water, casting each spell before the previous one runs out but after the people making the crossing are ready to begin the next leg.

All of the above discussion assumes, of course, that this spell is to be used in order to enable individuals to cross a body of water without a vessel. It could also be used to create a barrier blocking the passage of a boat or ship: Book III: Adventures on the High Seas has an explanation of that use of this spell on p207 which specifies that the spell works in such a way that sailing vessels can’t cross the gap nor sail into it and fall to the bottom; rowed vessels can but only if the crew make a deliberate effort to. Nothing is said about what happens downstream if this spell is used to part a river: I suppose the water downstream would naturally flow away and the spell could be used as a sort of temporary dam. Whether or not the water upstream would pool and overflow its banks is also not clear. Maybe running water is magically teleported across the gap by the spell? Given the duration, that seems like a largely academic question, but a more permanent version of the spell would need answers to questions like this.

This is the second spell on the main list, by my reckoning, that closely resembles a specific miracle described in the bible (Exodus 14:21-31 in this case). The length of the gap produced in the sea in that case isn’t clear but the sea was driven back all night according to Exodus 14:21, a duration of several hours implying a spell strength of dozens of levels. The bible passage makes it clear – or at least my reading of it does – that Moses achieved the effect in dialogue with and under the direction of the God of the Jews, implying that he was (in terms of this book) a priest using his prayer of intervention class ability (whether that class ability is restricted to priest of gods of light or available to priest of gods of darkness as well isn’t entirely clear – see below) and therefore within five priest levels of the spell strength used.

‘Wall of Stone’ is discussed above.

‘Water Seal’ – also a second level water warlock spell – can be cast up to five feet away (the warlock version can be cast up to six feet away). It permanently envelops an object – up to forty pounds per caster level – in ‘an invisible force that will protect it from getting wet’ (the warlock version isn’t permanent and only lasts an hour per caster level). That’s all. The write-up explains that it’s useful for keeping scrolls and books from suffering water damage; that would also be a concern for bows, armour, provisions and lots of other adventuring equipment, I would have thought. I suppose you could cast it on your secret records then keep them down a well or something so that, if they were in imminent danger of being discovered, you could just cancel the spell to destroy them. But apart from that sort of thing, it really seems the only use for this spell is to prevent things getting wet that you don’t want to get wet. It seems like a good idea but I’m at a loss as to why it’s a fifth level spell. The main list version (ie the permanent version) would be a good way of making waterproof clothing, tents and equipment, but even the most generous interpretation of the write-up and the most creative use of this spell doesn’t, I think, put it on the same level as ‘Shadow Beast’, ‘Part Waters’ or even ‘Magic Pigeon’ or ‘Mystic Illusion’.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Whirlwind’ – also a fifth level air warlock spell – can be cast up to sixty feet away (the warlock version can be cast up to three hundred feet away) and lasts two minutes per caster level (the warlock version lasts three minutes per caster level). It creates a twenty-foot-radius whirlwind with winds up to 75mph that ‘will suck up, hurl and dash to the ground anyone or anything within’. Individuals inside the area of effect ‘cannot attack, cast spells, speak, etc.’, which, I assume, means they can’t do anything except think – which I would say includes psionic abilities. They will also be carried ‘12 to 24 feet’ up into the air and dropped, suffering 2d6+2 hit points of damage. The write-up says, ‘The whole experience lasts about one melee’, which seems like it implies the damage is suffered every minute the spell lasts, although I’d be inclined to read the write-up as saying the damage is only suffered once per victim per casting, since 4d6+4 hit points of damage per caster level with no saving throw to everyone in a twenty foot radius seems like a bit much for a fifth level spell. Then again, ‘Snow Storm’ (see below) is a sixth level spell that does 8d8+8 damage per caster level to everyone in the fifteen-foot-radius area of effect with no save, so maybe the damage is per minute.

The write-up also specifies that wooden structures in the whirlwind are smashed in two minutes while stone structures are worn away at the rate of ‘one foot’ every four minutes but iron isn’t affected. The caster can move the whirlwind ‘all directions’ but must stay in range to do so and can’t cast any other spells ‘while maneuvering a whirlwind’: I suppose that means you can park the whirlwind, cast another spell, then move the whirlwind again; that implies a single spellcaster could have multiple whirlwinds going at the same time, which would be quite an effective offensive tactic.

The mean range for fifth level spells (not counting ‘Eyes of the Wolf’, ‘Heal Self’, ‘Metamorphosis (Self)’, ‘Shadow Beast’, ‘Shadow Walk/Meld’, Teleport (Self)’, ‘X-Ray Vision’ or ‘Heal Burns’) is nearly sixty-six feet, with a median of thirty and modes of thirty and sixty. All the ranged spells from first to fifth level, considered together, have a mean range of fifty-four feet and a median and modal range of sixty.

The mean duration of fifth level spells (excluding ‘Create Bread and Milk’, ‘Heal Self’, ‘Induce Epilepsy’, ‘Teleport (Self)’, ‘Turn the Dead’, ‘Heal Burns’ and ‘Water Seal’) is just over ten minutes per caster level; the median is five-and-a-half minutes and the mode is two. Considering all the first-to-fifth level spells with a duration in minutes per caster level as a group, the mean duration is just over eight-and-a-half minutes per caster level, the median is eight and the mode is ten.

A number of fifth level spells don’t scale at all with caster level:
  • ‘Create Bread and Milk’
  • ‘Detect Poison’
  • ‘Heal Self’
  • ‘Induce Epilepsy’
  • ‘Turn the Dead’
  • ‘Heal Burns’
  • ‘Water Seal’
seven in total, or nearly 32% of the twenty-two spells of this level, as opposed to fewer than 7% of the first-to-fourth level spells.

Four fifth level spells have more than one parameter that scales with level:
  • ‘Animate Plants’
  • ‘Melt Metal’
  • ‘Part Water’
  • ‘Wall of Stone’
(all of these have a duration that scales with level in addition to other parameters); that makes 18%, in line with first-to-fourth level spells. Only one fifth level spell – ‘Teleport (Self)’ – has a parameter that scales with caster level without having a duration that scales with caster level, which is also more-or-less in line with first-to-fourth level.)
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
Sixth level spells are written up on pp70-72.

‘Age’ can be cast up to ninety feet away and lasts three minutes per caster level. Subject to a saving throw, it imposes extreme old age on one individual, reducing their Spd attribute score to half its usual value, reducing their number of attacks per minute by half and giving penalties of -8 to dodge and parry, -5 to strike (nothing is said about a penalty to throw weapons or hit with missile weapons but I assume those are intended to be covered – although I like the idea of an elderly longbowman being just as effective as ever) and -4 to damage (no penalty to the victim’s PS attribute score is mentioned, so a character with a PS score of 20 will lose their usual damage bonus but still be able to carry 200lb of gear).

This spell works the same on different races that age at different rates because it ages the victim to the limit of their natural lifespan, rather than by a set number of years. The write-up says, ‘Only supernatural creatures such as gods, demons, devils, faeries, spirits, and dragons are not effected [sic] by this spell.’ I assume that means immortal races and individuals – that just don’t age – aren’t affected.

Apart from the obvious combat use of this spell, it could be pretty handy as a disguise: cast in on someone who needs to pass unrecognised and suddenly they’re extremely old. That does raise the question discussed briefly above as to whether a player can waive the saving throw their character gets against a spell.

‘Animate Object’ can be cast up to sixty feet away and lasts two minutes per caster level. It animates and allows the caster to mentally control a number of objects up to 50lb in total weight. The objects can be made to move – ‘a table to walk, a broom to sweep, etc.’ – and/or ‘to hover up to six feet off the ground and move in any direction’. Nothing is said about movement speed, nor about how good animated objects might be at fighting. (I suppose, lacking any guidance from this spell’s write-up, I’d be inclined to say animated weapons – or animated objects acting as weapons – would fight with the combat stats of the caster and that they’d have to share their attacks per minute between all animated weapons.) The write-up specifies that the spell is cancelled if the caster loses consciousness or dies and that the caster needs line of sight to the animated object or objects to control it or them.

The write-up for this spell is very vague, in fact. It’s not clear whether or not the spell could be used to make a (temporary) flying broom or carpet – maybe it could, since a broom or carpet would easily fit within the weight limit and the object can be made to lift off the ground and move (the only question is how much, if anything, the animated object can carry). It’s not clear whether the spell could be used to throw objects as a form of attack, as with ‘Telekinetics’ (see below: I assume this spell couldn’t reproduce the effects of that one or there’d be no sense in anyone knowing that spell). It’s not clear how much useful work can be got out of animated objects, although the mention of brooms sweeping puts me irresistibly in mind of the ‘sorcerer’s apprentice’ segment of the film Fantasia and the fifty pound weight limit probably represents a dozen or more brooms.

‘Dispel Magic Barriers’ is discussed above and ‘Exorcism’ is discussed above.

‘Metamorphosis (Others)’ can be cast up to thirty feet away and lasts fifteen minutes per caster level. It changes a single indiviual, subject to a saving throw, into the shape of another living thing. ‘All the principles and limitations described under Metamorphosis (Self) [discussed above] apply to this spell.’ As discussed under ‘Metamorphosis (Self)’, it’s not entirely clear what those limitations are but that spell explicitly states that the target retains all their abilities, including any spellcasting ability. Given that, this spell seems more like a disguise the caster can use use for their allies than an attack (turning people into toads to neutralise them as threats, for instance). In fact, since this spell is literally ‘Metamorphosis (Self)’ but useable on other people, I assume it entirely supersedes that spell. It’s not clear whether or not this spell can be used on animals (or plants): turning mice into carriage horses and footmen and that sort of thing, but that would obviously be another use for this spell if possible.
 
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Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
‘Mind Wipe’ can be cast on an individual the caster touches while casting it. It removes, subject to a saving throw, the target’s memory of ‘a particular event, name, spell, location, etc.’ of the caster’s choosing. There’s a percentile table to roll on that gives various random durations after which the erased memory will return, with
  1. a 30% chance of 1d6 years
    • a 20% of 1d6 days
    • a 20% chance of 1d6 weeks
    • a 20% chance of 1d6 months
  2. a 10% chance of the erasure being permanent
so, aside from the one chance in ten of the effect being permanent (the duration listing for this spell is ‘conditional’ so I assume that outcome would make this a permanent spell), the mean rolled duration is just over a year. Taking the save against spells into account, there’s a nearly 6% chance on casting of permanently erasing a specific memory and otherwise a mean length of forgetting on casting of nearly eight months.

The write-up doesn’t mention a person as one of the things this spell can make someone forget, nor a skill nor class ability. I’m not sure whether that means those sorts of things can’t be erased from someone’s memory or they’re covered by the ‘etc.’ It’s also unclear what happens if a victim of this spell encounters something that’s been removed from their memory: I assume they’re free to learn about it again as though they never knew it but other readings are certainly possible.

If someone’s memory of a specific location is forgotten, does that mean they can’t remember things that happened in that location or they just can’t remember where those things happened? If a spellcaster forgets a particular spell, do they forget it exists, forget they ever knew it, forget learning it or just forget how to cast it? If someone forgets an event (and ‘event’ is pretty vague), do they remember its results and consequences? Does a dwarf, who hates elves because of the elf-dwarf war, stop hating elves if they forget the war or just forget why they hate them? Does a character with an insanity lose the insanity if they forget the event that caused it? Some of these questions might be a lot of fun to explore in play. Others just cast the usefulness of this spell into doubt.

‘Mystic Alarm’ can be cast up to twelve feet away and lasts one week per caster level. It’s ‘equivalent to the diabolists [sic] wards of alarm’ in that ‘invisible ward·like symbols’ appear on the target object and, if it’s touched or disturbed in any way while under the spell, ‘an instant silent alarm will buzz in the spell caster’s head alerting him to the intrusion.’ There is no limit on the distance across which this alarm signal will function: the write-up specifies that it even works if the caster is in another dimension. Once set off, the symbols disappear, so the alarm will only sound once at most.

This spell isn’t very useful for its stated purpose: assuming the caster isn’t close at hand when the alarm is triggered, there’s a limited amount they can do about people touching their stuff. Based on the spells covered so far – assuming, for instance, the caster of this spell is a sixth level shaman who selected ‘Mystic Alarm’ as the one spell they gained on reaching sixth level – the best they could do to respond to a mystic alarm at a distance might be to cast ‘Shadow Beast’ and instruct the beast to retrieve the object that’s been disturbed.

The information that this spell conveys to the caster seems to be minimal: merely a buzz indicating that the object under the spell has been touched and/or disturbed. It might be quite easy to distract a spellcaster who’s put their belongings under this spell by, for instance, shoving a bird through the window of their room while they’re out, to flap about and land on things.

I assume it’s possible for a spellcaster to have more than one object under this spell at the same time and that the alarm will tell them which object’s been touched and/or disturbed. If so, this spell could be quite useful for long distance communication. You could set up a cupboard with objects in it repreesenting different emergencies and leave the key with a trusted associate after casting this spell on each of the objects. Then, if and when one of the emergencies occurs, your associate could touch the appropriate object to warn you. A pair of spellcasters could even set up two-way communication of a sort in that way.
 
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