Friday, August 2, 2013

50 Level 1 Spell List for BX/ODND/OSR/ETC games


I don't hate on the 12-spell table. It is great and there's not a spell wasted there. It's all lean. I mean I make protection vs. evil work differently but screw it it's a fantastic spell list. But when every Magic-User and Elf is drawing from that same list, and know more Level 1 spells than any others for so much of their careers, and so do all NPC spellcasters who are drawing from the same list, and then you're also generating a bunch of scrolls with the same list for NPCs and PCs to stumble upon and use...Eventually a little more variety can be really cool, and there are so many great spells out there. I want to try them all. I want my players to have the chance to try them all.

I've got no problem with an entire party where the spellcasters all know Charm Person, and they fight a group of Ogre Mages who all know Charm Person, and their loot has a scroll of Charm Person...that all sounds fine to me. Actually it sounds like a hoot. But if I've got a larger pool of Level 1 spells that implies a larger world of magical research and study and invention, and thereby a larger, weirder, more unpredictable world. Running into a new spell has a bit more of a WTF factor and makes any new encounter with a spellcaster a little more dangerous, which is always good.

This is nowhere near all the level 1 spells I could have collected, obviously, but it's what I limited myself to. This also meant not putting in any of my own spells, but merely spells found in the Basic rules, modified spells from Dungeon Crawl Classics, some from Lamentations of the Flame Princess/Better than Any Man, and a few from Labyrinth Lord Advanced. I also threw in a few level 1 spells (or ones I'm using at Level 1) from Playing D&D With Porn Stars, and, recently, added a few from this Space Age Sorcery document.

Make a percentile roll, re-rolling if you get a result above 50 OR doing the good ol' divide-by-half-round-down routine. You can also drop the first four results off the list and just roll 5d10:

1. Rugosity
2. Side-Step
3. Melt
4. Memories of the Trailblazers
5. Summon
6. Cantrip
7. Charm Person
8. Detect Magic
9. Read Magic
10. Comprehend Languages
11. Light
12. Shield
13. Sleep
14. Ventriloquism
15. Magic Missile
16. Protection Circle
17. Hold Portal
18. Floating Disc
19. Bookspeak
20. Enlarge
21. Faerie Fire
22. Feather Fall
23. Mending
24. Message
25. Spider-Climb
26. Unseen Servant
27. Allure
28. Burning Hands
29. Erase
30. Jolting
31. Jump
32. Manipulate Fire
33. Shocking Grasp
34. Be Impressive
35. Detect Undead
36. Speak with Insects
37. Enhance Sensation
38. Detect Weapons
39. Deflect Damage
40. De-Age
41. Read Brains
42. Cursed Utterance
43. Drunk Reversal
44. Animal Summoning
45. Mystical Mask
46. Force Object
47. Obsession
48. Ildiko’s Hideous Minstrels
49. God-Bet
50. Patron Bond

 I do tinker with these spells a bit, particularly in the naming. God-Bet was called Sacred Contest on Zak's blog, for example, but those kinds of changes are few and simple to figure out using those lists. 

I also redo the "protection from evil" spells to be general protection circles: they will protect you from what you ask them to protect you from when you draw them out. Level 1 is a protection circle you can fit in. Then there's a protection spell to ward a room, and everyone in it. Then there's the blood-above-the-doors warding that casts protection on a whole building (under a certain cubic footage of course).

The weird spells on the list are Patron Bond and Cantrip from DCC and Summon from LOTFP. I admit I'm mostly taking the spirit of these spells. 

Someone with Cantrip can add a little bit of magical flair to everything they do, like a good stage magician, or keep a spoon stirring the beans. There's no mechanical benefit other than style but being stylish can often be a benefit in itself.

Patron Bond works kind of like it does in DCC. You have to roll to connect with a Patron at first level and you can keep trying until you get a taker but you do take a negative effect each failure. Once a Patron (say Thor) is bound to you, you have "Invoke Thor" instantly prepared in your mind, and then a few level 1 spells that someone calling upon Thor could reasonably expect help with. This becomes a floating spell effect for that particular slot, balanced by having to make contact in the first place and potentially losing that slot for the day, the additional crummy failure effects (mutations, increase of Shock Value, loss of Barrel Points), and having to do shit to pay Thor back OR ELSE.

Summon has a base floor of mechanics I can rely on which is fantastic. In general though I use something like Animal Summoning and Charm Person as a baseline and give it a 89% chance to summon a 1HD critter of some kind, similar to those other level 1 spells. I add an extra 11% of failure chance depending on how high a spell level I think any greater summoning would be, so that at level 1 a Level 9 summoning would have 99% chance of failure or going awry. When you can cast 2nd level spells, that same 9th level summoning improves to a 12% chance, and so on. I eyeball it. This does mean that a caster who can cast level 9 spells effectively gets another level 9 spell, sort of, but there are some other variables from the LOTFP rules I can use to mitigate that a bit. Also it's something I'll worry about when any of my players actually get to level 9 spellcasting.

It'll be a long while before I expand the chart any but hey I've still got bard spells/illusionist spells/my own spells to cherry pick from.

And yes I do plan to expand the Cleric spells a little...but ONLY a little. Nothing like this.