Men & Magic
EXPLANATION OF SPELLS
Pages 23-34 of Men & Magic are devoted to brief explanations of the 70 Magic-User and 26 Cleric spells found on the SPELLS TABLE. Before I dive in and begin quoting items of note, I’d like to make an observation that stems from my experience as an AD&D Dungeon Master for three decades. If you, like me, are using these rules after playing later editions of D&D, you might consider the system unclear or enigmatic. Just take the leap and try it, remembering that the great fun in playing this way is that the referee is free to decide how it works on his own. It might work one way today, and another tomorrow (it is magic, after all). If you’re like me, though, you will probably feel the burning desire to add some level of definition to these spells, be it prior to actual play, or on the fly. Either way, knowing what issues might arise down the road and being prepared for the magic system and its somewhat fuzzy nature can never hurt a prospective referee.
What struck me immediately is that certain AD&D-isms have not been introduced at this point in the magic system. There is no notion of Casting Time, for example. Whether or not the target of a spell is allowed a Saving Throw is indeterminate at times. Material components and spell casting methods are not defined. For the most part I like the bare bones presentation here. It’s a simple system; spell casters memorize and can then use the indicated number of spells each day. That’s it. For my own treatment of the rules here, I will attempt to sort out the ins and outs of various spells, based on text in the spell, and upon precedence established elsewhere (such as the Saving Throw Matrix).
Casting Time: Dexterity is the only precedent here; as it helps in ‘conjuration’ and indicates speed in regard to ‘getting off a spell’. The assumption is that either spells may be cast ‘faster’ or that reaction and perfection of motion are increased with an above average Dexterity rating; and the contrary with a below average Dexterity rating. Nothing in the rules indicates that a spell caster has a chance to ‘fail’ his spell; just that it might not ‘go off’ before something else (such as an enemy’s attack) transpires.
Spell Casting Methods: Based on what we know about Dexterity, one may assume then that spell casting involves motion of some kind. Being bound or otherwise restricted might prevent successful spell casting. Likewise, being struck in melee might also interrupt or prevent a spell casting; this is entirely a judgment call on behalf of the referee.
Saving Throws: As noted above, I will attempt to approach this category in a logical fashion. In the end, though, like all of the rules, this is a judgment call by the referee if it is not specifically stated (and even then, the referee runs D&D his way and changes will be commonplace).
Area of Effect: This is very rarely defined. For spells like Sleep or Confusion, I would simply assume that it affects with line of sight; if the Magic-User can see the enemies, they are potential targets if they are within range.
“Read Magic: Without such a spell or similar device magic is unintelligible to even a Magic-User.”This is the all-purpose identification method for Magic-Users, and the text hints that without it (and therefore without a M-U, or similar device) that no magic items may be understood (and subsequently used). I would presume that this includes scrolls, wands, staves, miscellaneous items and certain rings, but not magic items which are simply enchanted (such as weapons and armor). A very handy spell if players want to discover the usefulness of items mid-adventure.
“Read Languages: The means by which directions and the like are read, particularly on treasure maps. It is otherwise like the Read magic spell above.”This is interesting. If it is like the Read Magic spell, one can assume that directions and treasure maps are in code or cipher, and are unusable until deciphered. Does this mean ALL treasure maps are so encoded and useless until a Read Languages spell is cast upon them? That’s up to the referee, but it certainly adds an amount of utility to this rarely memorized spell.
“Protection from Evil: …also serves as an “armor” from various evil attacks, adding a +1 to all saving throws and taking a -1 from hit dice of evil opponents.”Ah, the good/evil debate is back. Protection from Chaos might have proven to be more useful. Keep in mind that ‘-1 from hit dice’ doesn’t mean it reduces an evil monster’s life total, it simply means his attack rolls are less likely to hit you (since they are based on hit dice). Remember, evil is Chaotic, but not all Chaos is evil…or something like that. I’d say considering Undead and Anti-Clerics as evil is pretty much a safe bet, the rest is up to you.
“Charm Person: If the spell is successful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User…”Save or no Save? It says IF successful. Therefore, a Saving Throw is permitted. This spell is immensely useful, as it is PERMANENT until the victim is the beneficiary of a Dispell Magic spell. It not only removes a potential enemy from a conflict, but adds that target to the Magic-User’s own side. Furthermore, it states ‘completely under the influence’. Those familiar with the AD&D version should understand that this original version is far superior.
“Sleep: The spell always affects up to the number of creatures determined by the dice.”A cornerstone Magic-User spell, even in later editions. Based on the above text we can see that there is NO Saving Throw against Sleep. Will the targets be awoken by loud noise? Can the PC’s easily give them the slip, or can they quietly cut the throats of all of these now slumbering foes? Again, this is a judgment call, as the only effect is that those targets indicated by the dice are asleep.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee