Monday, July 30, 2018

Skyship Spells III

(Image: source & artist unknown)
This is the third and possibly final entry for skyship spells (at least for now). This follows the previous article on the subject. Most of these spells were introduced in #Calidar's CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," and they are described here using D&D BECMI game stats for simplicity and clarity. As always, opinions are welcome as regards their game balance and playability.


Unyielding Cord
Spell Level: 3 (School of Illusion)
Range: 30’ + 3’ per exp. level of the caster
Duration: 1 Turn
Effect: Produces a phantasmal rope

Appearing as a strand of purple light, the Unyielding Cord is cast so that one end attaches to a sentient creature while the other remains in the caster’s hands or is attached to an object within the caster’s immediate reach. This spell cannot bind two objects together or creatures immune to mind-affecting magic. Objects do not save. Creatures get saving throws vs. spells adjusted with Intelligence modifiers (with rules other than BECMI, a –2 penalty for low Intelligence, or a +2 bonus for high Intelligence). The spell’s effect ends if the saving throw succeeds or if an attack against the cord with a slashing weapon, claws, or talons scores a critical hit. It can otherwise be dispelled by a third party (or the caster). If cast at a creature’s neck, the cord forms a tight noose preventing speech, spellcasting, and breath weapons (though it still allows labored breathing). The Unyielding Cord may target an object within range, so long as the caster holds its other end; in this case, the caster and companions failing their saving throws can use it to climb past obstacles. Ref. CAL1 pg. 35 & 49.

...OK, that was a weird one. J

Wizard’s Tail
Spell Level: 3 (School of Enchantment)
Range: 30’ per exp. level of the caster
Duration: permanent until dispelled
Effect: Places a tracking enchantment on a person or an object

The spell enables the caster to mark an object with a tracking enchantment. It produces a small ball of faint blue light, about the size of a large cherry, which moves at 90’ per round until it reaches its target. The caster controls its flight. A saving throw vs. spell is required if the target is a living creature; none is required for any other creature or an object (such as a skyship). If successful, the light fades out, and the tracking enchantment remains on the target permanently. A spell to detect magic may reveal the presence of a Wizard’s Tail, and enable it to be dispelled.
Later on, periodic locate object spells are needed for the caster to sense the target’s position, regardless of how far away it may be at the time (including on another planet). In other words, the tailing spell acts as an emitter while the locate object spell works as a receptor. The enchantment’s signal does not extend past outer planes. The Wizard’s Tail informs the caster of the target’s heading and speed at the time the locate object spell is cast (for example: the target is on another planet, which moves in a predictable way), making it possible to set an intercept course through the Netherworld. Several attempts at locating a target may be needed if it changes direction unexpectedly while the caster travels to reach it. Ref. CAL1 pg. 34.

Dimension Door II
Spell Level: 4 (School of Alteration)
Range: 30’ + 3’ per exp. level of the caster
Duration: 1 round
Effect: Relocates a creature or item

This is a variant of the original Dimension Door spell described in the BECMI game rules. The target range is much longer, while the effect is much reduced—60’ maximum from the caster’s position. It can also affect objects that aren’t fastened to something else, for example: a section of wall, part of someone’s body, or a weapon held in someone’s hand cannot be targeted, but a weapon lying on a table certainly can. The destination remains within the caster’s line of sight and free of obstructions. Unwilling victims get a saving throw vs. spells. Ref. CAL1 pg. 8 & 49.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Happy Gygax Day

Hardly does a day go by when I'm not at work on an RPG, or at least thinking of something related--a monster, a spell, a trap, an NPC, an encounter, a dungeon to design, minis to sort out, a story plot, a fantasy world, an ad for a game book, a poster map to drop in the mail, a convention to attend, a social media discussion, a deadline to make, an upcoming Kickstarter, or a blog post. I'll dedicate this last one to a person who clearly had a hand in how my life was shaped during the past 35 years.

Happy Gary Gygax Day!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Skyship Spells II

Image: J. Rainville. ©2016 Wizards of the Coast
Moving right along following the first article, here are another three spells described using D&D BECMI game stats. Any comments or suggestions regarding game balance and playability are greatly appreciated. More will be added in the coming days. Keep a wizard eye out for them.


Booming Voice
Spell Level: 1 (School of Alteration)
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 Turn or until dispelled
Effect: Amplifies and broadcasts one’s voice

The spell enables one’s voice to overcome all ambient noises and turn it into a booming address within the area of effect, regardless of any airless void. The area affected is a 60˚ cone extending from the recipient’s mouth and as far away as 300’ + 20’ per exp. level of the caster. Ref. CAL1 pg. 15 & 51.

Sky Sight
Spell Level: 2 (School of Divination)
Range: Caster only
Duration: 1 Turn
Effect: Detects ships (short range)

This spell detects large flying objects or creatures. It displays the positions of detected items as flickering dots of colored light within three concentric circles on a ghostly greenish or amber screen. The dot at the center of the screen reflects the caster’s own position. The area of effect covers three ranges corresponding to the screen’s concentric circles. Short range (within the smaller circle) reaches 2 miles plus 150 yards per exp. level of the caster. Medium range (within the center ring) adds an extra 3 miles plus 250 yards per level. Long range (in the outer ring) adds another 4 miles plus 400 yards per level.
                “Bogies” 50’ or larger are detected at short range, 100’ or larger at medium range, and 200’ or larger at long range. Sizes refer to ships’ hulls (ignore masts and sails) and monster bodies (rather than their full wing spans and tails). Sky Sight cannot detect invisible objects/creatures or those flying less than 300’ from the ground or the surface of a sea. Darkness, clouds, or fog do not affect detection, but large objects (asteroids, mountains, or huge ships) may hide anything smaller aligned exactly behind them, from the caster’s point of view. Two items immediately adjacent to each other or a swarm of small objects may appear as one larger signal on the screen.
                The outside ring shows numbers on its perimeter, ranging from 0 to 359 (zero being the direction in which the caster is facing). When used in conjunction with the Wizard’s Tail, the spell identifies the item of interest if it flies within the area of effect. A spy glass may be pointed at a dot on the screen, enabling the caster to examine a magnified view of the detected item for 1 round, after which the spell ends. (Not referenced in CAL1.)

Smother Conflagration
Spell Level: 3 (School of Alteration)
Range: 30’, 900 ft2 area
Duration: 1 Round
Effect: Prevents fire from spreading

All open flames in the area of effect are immediately snuffed out. This spell prevents collateral blazes resulting from magical and non-magical attacks from spreading. It does not remove a persistent fire hazard (such as a lava projectile or a red-hot cannonball); subsequent actions are therefore needed (such as dousing or cold-based magic). Though unharmed, fire elementals and similar beings will seek to exit if caught within. Though the spell effect appears as a bubble, it does not prevent anyone from stepping into or out of it, nor does it prevent projectiles and magic from passing through it. Ref. CAL1 pg. 12.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Skyship Spells

While re-reading the story in CAL1 In Stranger Skies, I made a list of Capt. d'Alberran's spells. I listed a few here using D&D BECMI terminology for the sake of clarity. Let me know your comments as to playability/usefulness. I'll add more later if you're interested in this.

Helmsman’s Helping Hand
Spell Level: 2 (School of Invocation)
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 hour for every 3 exp. levels of the caster
Effect: Temporarily improves a helmsman’s abilities

The spell temporarily improves a helmsman’s basic navigation/piloting and observation skills +10% (+2 on a scale of 1-18), as well as the crew member’s Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence ability scores +5% (+1 on a scale of 1-18). Bonuses to ability scores apply solely as regards challenges in handling the helm and keeping on course despite adverse conditions. Ref. CAL1 pg. 4.

Artificer’s Mending Brace
Spell Level: 3 (Schools of Abjuration and Alteration)
Range: 30’ +2’ for every 3 exp. levels of the caster
Duration: permanent mending; brace on concentration
Effect: Temporarily prevents a wooden object from breaking and repairs structural damage

The spell enables the caster to prevent a wooden structure such as a ship’s mast, part of its hull, a palisade, part of a bridge (etc.), from breaking so long as concentration is maintained. The spell affects a structure up to 90ft3 +3ft3 per experience level. While concentration is maintained, the spell repairs 10% of any kinetic damage to the affected structure for each combat round. The spell does not replace material that no longer exists; burned, dissolved, or disintegrated matter cannot be repaired. Ref. CAL1 pg. 6.

Artificer’s Unseen Shield
Spell Level: 4 (Schools of Abjuration and Invocation)
Range: 30’ +1’ for every exp. level of the caster
Duration: 1 battle encounter
Effect: Generates localized protection

The spell brings into existence an invisible barrier lessening the effects of magical attacks crossing through it. The shield covers a flat area 100ft2 +10ft2 per experience level. Effects apply in the following order—1. If the attack did not involve a saving throw, one is allowed; if it succeeds, damage is halved (if no physical damage was involved, then the effects are negated). 2. If a saving throw was allowed, it automatically succeeds. The shield remains anchored in place or moves with the closest structure at the time the spell was cast (a fortification, a ship, a bridge, etc.) The shield’s protection benefits both structures and creatures. Ref. CAL1 pg. 12.

Note: The schools are part of some design work I'll introduce in CAL2 On Wings of Darkness (Calidar's alter-ego to Mystara's GAZ3 Principalities of Glantri). An index of all spells  listed in the following eight articles is available, along with their links (click here).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Along Comes a Dragon

I've always been fascinated with dragons variants and sub-variants. Purists may frown. Here's one I'm developing for #Calidar, written up here with D&D BECMI stats. I'm looking for comments on playability and DM usage. I'm not familiar with 5e, so if a charitable soul wants to come up with a conversion, thank you!!

Shadow Dragonby Max-Dragon

Entropic Dragon:
AC –2, 14 HD, MV 150’ (50’)/360’ (120’) flying, AT 1 bite (breath or spell) + 2 claws + 2 wings + 1 tail whip, Damage 2d10+8 (bite) + 1d8+3 (all others), Size VL—Str 20, Dex 8, Con n/a, Int 17, Wis 11, Per 15 (in elven form), MR 10, Saves as warrior Lvl 36, AL C. Faith: Astafeth (pious). Apparent Age: young adult. Ancestry: Draconic (usually appears to be a dark-skinned elven sorceress).
Abilities: Spellcasting as a sorcerer—Lvl I x4, Lvl  II x3, Lvl III x3, Lvl IV x3, Lvl V x2, Lvl VI x1. Breath weapon—either acid spit (a 120’ x 5’ strip inflicting as many hit points of damage as the entropic dragon currently possesses) or a cone of entropic darkness (90’ x 40’); everything caught in the cone must save or suffer the following—living creatures permanently age +50% (or +25% with a successful save); ferrous metals rust (magical items get a substantial bonus to their saves), organic materials rot/spoil away (including leather goods, wooden objects, clothes, scrolls, spellbooks, potions, food, etc.). All spell effects end at once aside from the cone’s own impenetrable darkness (no save). The entropic dragon can also switch at will between its dragon and elven appearances, and enjoys the abilities of a rogue LF14.
Ring of Secrecy: [The dragon presented in the upcoming Wings of Darkness gazetteer] wears a magical ring protecting its owner from crystal balls and all mind-reading attempts.