Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Perspectivism, Positivism and Progress - D&D and the Adventure Module




Being an academic I’ve been trained to do a few things more or less by default. One of them is to evaluate people’s opinions by assuming that there is a reason for their belief. Even if the belief is out there, or unusual, or seemingly contradictory, the job of the analyst is to attempt to reconstruct the reasoning from the perspective of the user.


In game design terms, if you see something that seems odd, or unusual, or whatever, you don’t just assume that the feature is the result of a mistake, or irrationality, or stupidity, you assume that it was there for a reason, and figure out what the reason is, to the best of your ability. When I look back on old RPGs that I am just discovering now, there will be bits that seem nonsensical or strange, but I assume that they are there for a reason.


Why does this matter? Well, there is a growing tendency amongst game designers to look at older games and think they are badly designed as they don’t make sense to them. It’s no different than looking at the practices of people in the past and assuming they are irrational as what they are doing makes no sense to us. Or looking at the cultural practices of others and assuming they are nonsensical. 


But that’s a mistake, it’s a mistake in history and it’s a mistake in game design. Game designers these days are thoroughgoing positivists, they see game design as moving towards some sort of platonic ideal of ease, elegance and playability. Older games were “prototypes” or “halting steps” along the inevitable road of TTRPG progress. We used to look at most things this way, science, civilization, etc, was on an eternally progressive road, more efficient, better, as time goes by. 


To do this however, you first have to establish that the old version was bad, that’s why the new version represents progress. So what you see going on now is a widespread effort not just to claim that D&D is “problematic”, which is the main spearhead of the initiative, but also to claim that it is badly designed.


So you see discussions of how “fail forward” mechanics are superior to “pass fail” mechanics. No, fail forward and pass/fail mechanics deliver different things in different ways, but one isn’t any better than the other. 


The latest salvo in this particular vein is one that looks at older TSR modules and argues that they were ‘badly designed’. 


I see this ALL THE TIME. So for example, people will claim that boxed text is “bad design”, and they will find stilted examples of boxed text that aren’t particularly well written, and point at it saying, “see, see, bad design”, but in actuality, the design is fine, the execution is wanting. You would see this if you just expanded your search to GOOD boxed text, and it certainly exists. 


Boxed text is ONE WAY of dealing with the fact that the ref will know some things that the players do not. Boxing the text to be read to the players is an easily recognizable way of ensuring that the ref gives out relevant, helpful information to inform the players about the environment so they can explore it. There are other ways to present information, but there is nothing badly designed about box text.


Another often cited complaint is that older modules are just a series of set piece encounters, and there is nothing else there, no RP guidance, no factions, nothing other than encounter after disconnected encounter. I think this sort of criticism is useful to unpack.


First, it’s false. Yes, older modules had less guidance for RP (social RP to be exact, all actions by your PC are RP), but that was standard in the game. Looking back on old modules and criticizing them for lack of social RP in a game that did not stress social RP is an odd criticism to make. That’s like criticizing a science-fiction RPG for lack of rules for making magical swords.


But older modules did have RP guidance, for example:


The Secret of Bone Hiil:





Isle of Dread:




Egg of the Phoenix:


 

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan



Yes, this is not the same as having a system with explicit social RP rules, but it is clearly direction for social role playing in the modules. 


And it’s more than this, although not all early modules “made sense”, and some were primarily disconnected encounters, this is an oversimplification. Modules had more than just encounters, they also discussed factions, how to handle the players passing through those encounters, what would happen when the PCs impacted the environment, and how to use the materials of the module in your game. For example,


Danger at Dunwater:





To the Aid of Falx:




Isle of Dread:




Isle of Dread





Older modules also encouraged expansion of the materials provided, something that helped new refs to grow and learn how to develop the materials that they had, for example: 


Dwellers of the Forbidden City:

Isle of Dread:




Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade



I should also point out (though I won’t quote as it would take up too much space!) that EVERY early module had a “background” section to introduce and contextualize the module. It was NEVER just a ‘series of disconnected encounters’, in some cases the background and set up for an adventure took up pages and pages of the module, and was intimately tied up to the unfolding of the story. 


So let’s put to bed the idea that older modules were just a series of disconnected encounters. Yes, by today’s “story game” standards they lacked a lot of the social RP and connections to the PCs ‘backstories” that you would expect in newer products, but that doesn’t mean that these elements weren’t there.



Minimalism in Game Design

An oft cited turning point in this arc of game design is the Desert of Desolation series, I have it, I’ve played it a number of times, and it is a great series. Fun, engaging, exciting, it delivers a great story with great flavor. Dragonlance is also cited in this context, but I have never played or read any of it.


I would agree that the Desert of Desolation series provides MORE social RP guidance, more story, more structure, and generally gives the ref more material to work with outside of and in addition to the encounters. 


But here is the interesting thing, that doesn’t make it better, it makes it different.


People seem to forget that modules are not “stand alone”, although they can be run that way. Modules were originally designed with the intention of being dropped into your campaign. Yes, many were based on tournament modules, but even these were then published so that D&D players could run them in their campaigns.


You could of course run a home game that consisted of a disconnected series of published modules, using different pregens for each adventure or rolling up new PCs each time, but the basic concept here was to drop these modules into your game with your existing PCs and such.


If that’s the case, and I’m fairly sure it is, then consider dropping the Desert of Desolation series into your game, or taking one of the modules from the series and using it in isolation. I’ve tried doing both, and it’s considerably harder to do than you might think.


All of that “extra” content that wasn’t in the early modules, the extensive social RP guidance, the lore and background that “fleshes out” the module, these things work against integrating the materials into your campaign. As you can imagine, individual campaigns vary WILDLY, so taking an existing module that specifies motivations, factions, backgrounds and such in a way that adds a lot of depth to the module creates barriers to integrating that module into your game. 


I am running 6 concurrent AD&D campaigns at the moment, I create most of the materials myself, but I periodically insert an old school module into the mix for fun, and I can tell you with confidence that the older, minimalist style of adventure module is PERFECT to drop into an ongoing campaign. 


I don’t have to significantly adjust modules to fit my campaign’s “lore” as they have minimalist design, so they are easily added. It is far easier to integrate a module into my game and my players past actions, etc. when it is minimalist in this fashion. In particular, if you run a game where faction play is important, minimalist design is brilliant. 


Older D&D modules are perfectly designed to be dropped rather seamlessly into a D&D campaign, no matter what the lore or the factions being used. That’s a great design feature, not a bug, and it should be recognized as such.


The Art of Empty Spaces

Another feature of older D&D modules that is worth noting is the “empty spaces” they left. Gygax was notorious for this. Heleft significant portions of modules undeveloped, for example, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks has over 200 unkeyed rooms on one level alone. Gygax deliberately leaves parts of the map undeveloped in many of his modules.


It’s easy to look at this and think it’s lazy game design, and I’ve seen people claim exactly this. However, there are two reasons why this is a mistake. First, it was a choice on Gygax’s part, he didn’t do it to save work or because he was too lazy to figure something out, Gygax didn’t lack in imagination or persistence.


He designed modules this way so you could flavor them for your own game. Non-designated spaces on the map are opportunities to bring in elements of your campaign to the module. In some cases there are spaces left and the module writers give suggestions as to how you can fill them, Gygax tended to leave you to your own except for vague suggestions. 


Leaving things up to the ref is often cited as bad game design, particularly for newer refs, where examples and specificity is cited as a goal. However, this just assumes that there is only one best way to teach people how to play D&D. 


Giving the ref specific instructions and details is one way to teach them how to run D&D games. And it can work well. You run a few detailed and fully specified modules and you can start to produce your own. However, leaving many things “open” is an excellent way to learn how to design your own adventures (by having to design the open components in an adventure) and to make your own decisions about how to develop your game. 


Pretty much every single person I know who grew up playing AD&D as a kid says something similar about this, yes, those lacunae in the early modules did create work for the ref, but they learned more from “filling in the blanks'' in old modules than they did from just reading the rules. For many people, specifying the blanks and fitting the game into their campaign was one of their first experiences of game design. Rather than running a whole module then seeking to emulate it in your game, refs were given a template for a more or less complete module and were asked to customize it and complete it for their game. 


If you think about it, it’s kind of genius design. 


Many people want “plug and play”, buy the module, read it and run it. Easy. And that’s fine, but “incomplete” modules invite the ref to make them their own, to integrate them into their existing campaign and to flavor them for their game. You don’t have to like this, you may simply prefer to have this work done for you, and that’s fine.


But designing modules where you have to do some work to integrate and complete the materials helps you to build your referee and game design skills. It’s not BAD design, it’s design with a particular purpose, and it works remarkably well in a long running open campaign.


Kit Bashing, Improvisation and Sandbox Play

The other aspect of this issue that is interesting is the idea of kit-bashing. Early D&D modules were written when the game was new. TSR cranked out materials at a fearsome pace, but even then, it was unlikely that they could satiate the growing appetite for new materials. 


Add to that the fact that many early game designers were inveterate thieves, they shamelessly stole game mechanics, plot elements, etc. from anywhere they could find them, as the game was new and growing, and they were trying out new things. And if you check in with “old school” refs you will often find that they create ‘Frankengames’, versions of D&D that have hacked bits off of other games and put them together. 


Modules that are light on the context and specifications are ideal for kit-bashing. You can pinch NPCs, maps, plot points, mechanics, you name it, from published modules. But here is the rub, the more context, lore, social role play direction, etc, that a module has, the harder it is to kit-bash.


Take just one example. Recently the PCs in my Monday game needed to find some frost giants (long story, suffice it to say they needed fantastic components to aid in the creation of a magic item). I could have come up with something myself, instead I grabbed my copy of Against the Giants, and grabbed the section for G2, The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. 


At a blistering 6 pages (5 if you take out the evocative artwork) G2 is a study in minimalism, just what you need and nothing more. That makes it ideal to pinch and drop into my game. 


As someone who runs a sandbox game where the players can pivot on a dime, being able to grab pieces of existing adventures and drop them into my game is a HUGE advantage. It’s not that you can’t do this with modules that have a lot more detail, of course you can, but finding what to pinch and extracting it is a lot more work. 


I quite literally took 15 minutes to read through G2, spent another 10 modding the map and I was good to go. The reason this works is that the module is lean, it gives you just what you need to run the encounters, how you frame them, contextualize them and fit them to your campaign is entirely up to you. 


Note, and this is very important, that having a preference for more fully fleshed out modules is just fine, you like what you like. And there are advantages to that approach, fully fleshed out modules can serve as templates for new refs, and having a “plug and play” module is on one level less work. But to call minimalist adventures “bad design” or “unplayable” just betrays a lack of understanding of both game design and campaign play. 







Thursday, February 18, 2021

Complexity in Gaming and Game Design



This morning I woke up to a discussion of how having spell levels and characters levels is confusing (as the level of spell you can cast is not the same as your character level) and that ability scores can be replaced with their modifiers, as we don’t really use the scores, just the modifiers.


Honestly, takes like this make me die a little inside, they are so remarkably infantilizing, treating players like they will wilt at the slightest complication in the rules. It also represents an odd take on game design, and as usual a complete ignorance of what has come before.


As an educator and a ref who runs games for 10-12 year old kids, I can confidently report that players who do find the “level” thing confusing can be sorted out pretty easily, in essence, spell level is half of PC level, so a 10th level priest can cast 5th level spells. That’s not hard.


Over the last 3 years of running after school games, and that represents about 40 players and around 240 hours of table time each, this issue has come up precisely 0 times. EVERY 10-12 year old player has figured this out without any assistance. In 35+ years of gaming, this has come up a few times, and a 30 second conversation sorted it out just fine. Honestly, if this sort of thing keeps someone from wanting to play D&D then they might as well give it up now, as there are plenty of more confusing things in the game. 


For real. 


Tweets like these are just part of a larger process to discredit and take down the big dog in the room. That’s it. There is no improvement here. If I replace ability scores with modifiers the game isn’t in any way better than it was before (nor worse), it’s just different. It also represents a curiously min-max view of the game. So, for example, it assumes that ability scores only matter for modifiers. However, ability scores are important for a whole host of reasons:


  1. There are mechanics in the game that use your scores rather than the modifiers (e.g. roll under checks, spells like phantasmal killer, rolling for the possibility of psionics, determining how much you can carry, opposed ability checks)

  2. There are multiple modifiers for various ability scores, strength has to hit, to damage, BBLG, carrying capacity and open doors, connecting all of these to a single number helps to unify them, just listing all the modifiers has the potential for confusion

  3. Refs can use ability scores to help with rules improvisation, LOTS of stuff in the game isn’t covered in the rules, ability scores are useful to improvise rulings

  4. Ability scores can be used to help with creating new game mechanics and game design, just because the game doesn’t use them very much doesn’t mean they can’t be used

  5. Ability scores aid with role playing whether they are high, low or in the middle, modifiers only matter for high scores or low scores

  6. Ability scores are intuitive and easy to grasp, if you had a new player a group of modifiers (for mechanics they are unfamiliar with) they won't have a clue what that means. However if you tell a player that the max score in strength is 18 and their PC has a 16 strength, they get that immediately

  7. Rolling ability scores (or using point buys to create them) is a fun and engaging part of the game. 


The other thing that I find challenging about all of this is the idea that you have to remove anything complicated from the game (though I don’t think that using level differently for spells and PC levels is complicated) for people to enjoy it. That’s just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous as it assumes that “simpler is better”. Simpler is different, and “simple” and “complex” are on a spectrum, there is no objective superiority to a simpler system. Some people prefer simple, rules lite, that sort of thing, some people prefer crunch.


It’s ridiculous as it assumes that the best approach to something that has the potential to be confusing or complicated is to remove it from the game entirely. Arrrggghhh. You know, figuring out something even mildly complex is a great confidence builder for players. Sure, TOO complex is a problem, but is anyone seriously arguing that having levels be different for players and spells is somehow “too complex”? I hope not. So having these “low hanging fruit” complexities is actually a positive in a TTRPG.


Instead of seeing it this way, any sort of challenge is treated as “gatekeeping” to those who find it challenging. This is the source of the rot that has gutted our education system, if it’s too hard just avoid it, so people don’t feel left out. 


WHY NOT JUST EXPLAIN IT? 


It’s ridiculous as it represents the most obvious and odious form of cherry picking. On a daily basis I see independent games suggest complex and innovative new mechanics for TTRPGs, and if anyone objects, “You are just so used to D&D you can’t understand it”, or, “try other games, they may be challenging as you are used to D&D, but it will make you a better ref or player”. Or “get outside your comfort zone”. 


I see these takes CONSTANTLY. But suggest that it might be some work to explain an aspect of D&D and that’s a problem, the game needs to be changed, it’s badly designed! In short, the main reason to pick on this particular low hanging fruit is that it’s part of D&D. If people were really consistent about this sort of thing there are lots of mechanics in other games to go after.


Take a simple example, D&D uses pass fail mechanics, on off, win lose.


Other games use “fail forward” mechanics, with a span of different results, hard fail, soft fail, neutral, soft success, hard success, that sort of thing. CLEARLY a span of results is more complicated, and requires more of the group as you have to come up with a span of results (either the ref does, or the players and ref do together), rather than a simple pass/fail. So we should probably drop fail forward mechanics, as they will be challenging to new refs and players, and represent a form of gatekeeping. 


I suspect this critique would not go over well if I posted it, but it’s no different. 


People are just coming to town to take out the local gunslinger, they are attacking the big dog to gain Twitter points and drive follower count and likes. This has nothing to do with better game design, or making the experience better for players, it’s just noise.


And I dislike it as it leads new players and DMs to think that the complexity is there to keep people out, or that the game is so badly designed they should play someting else, or that if they use these mechanics and conventions they are somehow gatekeeping others out of the game.


To be 100% crystal clear, I have zero issue with replacing ability scores with modifiers (though I do think ability scores are used for more than people realize, but that could be worked out), nor do I have any problem with a system that harmonizes the use of the word “level”. These ideas are perfectly fine, and changing D&D to use them would be fine as well, other games handle these things differently and work swimmingly well. There is nothing wrong with dropping ability scores or harmonizing “level” as a term.


What I find distasteful is the implication that there is something WRONG with D&D for doing these things, or that it’s badly designed, and that not doing these things makes the game objectively better. That’s the game design fail in these takes. It is not better “game design” to have mods rather than ability scores, it’s not better ‘game design’ to have “level” mean the same thing for PCs and spells. It’s just a different way to do it, a different convention. 


People are presenting their superficial preferences as virtuous game design principles, it’s just nonsense. Even having “vestigial” aspects of game design that are left over from previous iterations isn’t bad game design, its FLAVA! Not everything has to be useful, efficient or “make sense” in a game. There are days it seems like the dominant approach to game design seems to be to burn down everything that came before, as if newer games didn’t emerge from previous games, either as extensions or reactions to them.


It's the same sort of nonsense I see daily on Twitter where people suggest that games with a "rule zero" that allows refs to change or add rules on the fly are "badly designed". Ugh. They are differently designed, with different costs and benefits, that's all.


One day when I have the spoons and time I will blog about the impact progressivism and efficiency in the discourse, people have internalized progressivist, positivist thinking to such a degree that they see everything in that light, it's so deflating. These same people almost always criticize the idea of "progress" in modern, Western discourse, but they can't see it in their approach to game design.






Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Warlock Sub-Classes for Bhakashal Continued - The Necromancer


Image by Don Maitz (https://www.paravia.com/DonMaitz/website/index.html)

As part of my planned supplement there are 5 new subclasses of warlock (magic-user) for Bhakashal. Today I will cover the Necromancer.

The necromancer is a magic using specialist that focuses on spells that affect the dead, abjuration (anti-magic) spells and spells that alter the body. This makes a form of game sense as manipulation of the dead is manipulation of formerly living matter or bodies. Abjuration spells break magic like death magic breaks life. The necromancer can thus affect dead bodies by animating them, their own living bodies by transforming them and can impact magic by disrupting it. Controlling the bodies of other living things is not possible. This gives them necromantic spells, a few service spells (like read magic and Rary’s Mnemonic Enhancer), abjuration spells and alteration spells that impact the necromancer.


The "key" spell for the necromancer, animate dead, is currently a 5th level MU spell, on this specialization it drops to a 3rd level spell like the cleric spell. In addition, the necromancer gains a few higher level versions of animate dead that allow the creation of higher order undead. The necromancer also gets “reverse healing” spells that "drain" life force from living things and redirect this energy to the animation of the dead. Their ability to control this energy allows them to use their reverse cure spells against undead, and it doubles their damage against them.


At 5th level or higher a necromancer has to find a patron being, a powerful entity that fuels their powers but also gains from the necromancer’s power. Many necromancers find alliances in powerful evil beings that revel in death, named demons and devils, slaad, or any other high HD monster who courts death. They need not be evil, but the will generally not be good aligned.


Warlock Specialization

Necromancer

Alignment: Any, though good necromancers are rare

Hit Dice: d4

Experience Progression: As warlock (MU)

Armor: None

Weapon Proficiencies: As warlock

Weapons Allowed: dagger, dart, staff

Ability score minimums: As warlock


General Magic Related Abilities

a) Same processes for reading, casting, learning, transcribing and memorizing spells as the regular warlock, can use any magic item usable by a warlock.


b) The origins of magic in Bhakashal are connected to dragonkind, in dragon form and polymorphed in humanoid form, they were part of the creation of all forms of magic. Each of the warlock subclasses is thus associated with a dragon type, in the case of necromantic magic it is a green dragon. This means the following:

1 - Necromancers read and speak green dragon

2 - Necromancers get a +20% on encounter reaction rolls with green dragons

3 - Upon reaching name level (9th) a necromancer may summon a green dragon once per month, odds of success are equal to their “to know” odds. The dragon will generally aid them in any way possible, pending an encounter reaction roll with the stated bonus.

4 - Necromancers follow the spell casting progression of a green dragon:


Caster level

1st level spells

2nd level spells

3rd level spells

4th level spells

5th

level spells

6th

level spells

7th

level spells

8th

level spells

9th

level spells

1

1









2

2









3

3









4

4









5

4

1








6

4

2








7

4

3








8

4

4








9

4

4

1







10

4

4

2







11

4

4

3







12

4

4

3

1






13

4

4

3

2






14

4

4

3

2

1





15

4

4

3

2

2





16

4

4

3

2

2

1




17

4

4

3

2

2

2




18

4

4

3

2

2

2

1



19

4

4

3

2

2

2

1

1


20

4

4

3

2

2

2

1

1

1


c) Initial spells are Read Magic, Necromancer’s Touch, then two other’s of the necromancer’s choice. A necromantic, abjuration or personal alteration spell will be given to them by their master (who is a higher level necromantic servant of their patron being) as their "free spell" at leveling up


d) +10% on the "to know" percentage for necromantic / personal alteration / abjuration spells


e) Modification of existing necromantic spells, new spells as noted.


f) The need to make a pact with a powerful extraplanar being. The pact works in the following way:


- The necromancer, upon gaining 5th level, must find a powerful patron being and make a pact with them. This is done by casting a combination of speak with dead and tongues after casting their 3rd level animate dead spell on a creature of at least 5HD that has been slain by the necromancer. The necromancer can then reach out to an extraplanar being to request becoming a servant of that being. There is a chance equal to their “to know” percentage that the being will agree, if they disagree, there is the inverse chance that the being will take a negative interest and send a minion to slay the necromancer for their arrogance. 


- The necromancer must make a totem to channel their power, the totem must be made from the bone of a powerful creature. Necromancers generally create a case or scabbard (whatever is appropriate) of cold iron (custom made for a minimum of 100 gp) for their totem to keep it safe from magical assault.


- The necromancer’s pact with the powerful being allows the totem to be used as a conduit for drained life energy. Necromancers have special versions of the standard necromantic spells, rather than "healing" targets, or "reverse healing" targets (as clerics do), necromancers drain HP from their victims using the totem, half this life energy is transferred to the patron being, and the other half is stored in their totem, where it can stay for at most 1 month.


- The necromancer can store 8 hp per level maximum in the totem. The necromancer can use that energy in one of two ways:

1) to heal themself, every 8 hp drained gives 2 hp of healing

2) to animate dead, for every 8 hp drained, one additional HD of undead can be raised using the animate dead spell.


- If a totem is ever lost or destroyed the necromancer cannot use their necromantic harm spells, though they may still cast animate spells (without the extra animate dead based on drained HP). However, every week they are without their token there is a 5% cumulative chance their patron will send a minion to slay their charge in punishment for losing the token. Tokens can be replaced by approaching the patron being and performing the ceremony again. Short term loss of token is acceptable as a regular consequence of pursuing necromantic magic, long term loss is not.


Custom Magic Items

Necromancers will create custom items geared to their specialization, for example:


Rod of Restoration 

This rod is made of pure iron, is 2-1/2 feet long, and it has an engraving of a sleeping humanoid with arms crossed at the top of the shaft.  When used by a necromancer against an individual undead, consult the turning table of a 10th level priest, but if a result of "D" is indicated a charge can be spent and the undead will be restored to life rather than being destroyed. For any other successful turning result, a charge makes the undead take 2-20 damage from the rod. The restored individuals will be disoriented and often (80%) have gaps in their memory that prevent full class functions for several months, but they will be alive and healthy. Those liberated from undeath by the rod will generally be grateful, offering to sign on as a henchman or follower, or be at worst indifferent. This rod can be recharged with a combination of any of the necromancer’s animate higher dead spells. 

4000XP/20,000GP



Spells Knowable

Note:

- Spells with a * are from UA

- Spells in italics have been moved from their regular level assignment, modified, or have been transferred from other spell lists (see below)

- Spells in bold are new spells (see below)


1st Level

Bolerastun’s Mantle of the Dead

Burning Hands

Necromancer’s Touch (Cause light wounds)

Feather fall

Jump

Protection from Evil

Read Magic

Shocking Grasp

Spider Climb

Write


2nd Level

Feign Death

Levitate

Poison

Strength

Vocalize*


3rd Level

Animate Dead

Blink

Dispel Magic

Fly

Haste

Immentaur’s Shroud of Lightning

Infravision

Protection from Evil 10’ rad

Speak with the dead

Tongues

Water breathing


4th Level

Animate Higher Dead I

Necromancer’sTouch II (Cause serious wounds)

Dimension door

Extension

Minor Globe of Invulnerability

Polymorph self

Rajmurangi’s Cunning Appendage

Rary's mnemonic enhancer

Remove Curse

Stone Skin*

Ultravision*


5th Level

Animate Higher Dead II

Brugg the Cruel’s Brutal Enchantment

Necromancer’s Touch III (Cause Critical Wounds)

Extension II

Teleport

The Terrifying Limbs of Brugg the Cruel


6th Level

Animate Higher Dead III

Anti-Magic Shell

Extension III

Globe of Invulnerability

Mordenkainen’s Lucubration*

Necromancer’s Embrace (Harm)

Repulsion

Spiritwrack

Tenser's Transformation

Torbin’s Turbulent Mourning


7th Level

Animate Higher Dead IV

Necromancer’s Touch IV (Degenerate)

Duo dimension

Nozzenur the Malignant’s Chain of the Damned

Phase door

Statue

Teleport without Error*


8th Level

Cinel’s Violent Amalgam

Clone

Mind Blank

Permanency

Polymorph any object

Serten’s Spell Immunity


9th Level

Prismatic Sphere

Shape change

Temporal stasis


Modified Spells


Necromancer’s Touch (Cause Light Wounds)

Level: 1, Range: touch, Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, Casting Time: I segment, Saving Throw: none


The necromancer’s version of cure light wounds requires that the necromancer touch the victim with their totem. If they are unsuccessful the victim will lose 1-8 hp. Half of these HP are immediately magically transferred to the patron of the necromancer. The other half are transferred to the necromancer’s token. If only 1 hp is drained the necromancer’s token receives no HP. The necromancer has 1 round / level to "discharge" the spell before it fades (e.g. after casting, a 5th level necromancer must use this spell in 5 rounds or it dissipates). If the spell is active but undischarged and the necromancer is hit by an undead, or hits an undead in combat, the undead immediately suffers twice the damage listed in the spell description. Any undead "killed" by this spell can be animated by the necromancer in addition to whatever dead they could normally animate for their level.


Poison

Level: 2, Range: touch, Duration: special, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: 2 segments, Saving Throw: special


A poison spell allows the necromancer to either speed up the poison by 2x (e.g. if it normally takes 1-4 rounds to take effect it would take 2-8) or slow down the spread of poison in a victim’s body. If the necromancer chooses to slow down the poison the victim is paralyzed for 1-4 days, and they can seek other means of dealing with the poison during that time. Necromancers frequently use this spell on poisoned victims so they can be slain and used in animate dead spells. The material component of this spell is a snake fang.


Animate Dead

Level: 3, Range: I", Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: Special, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: I round, Saving Throw: None


This spell creates the lowest of the undead monsters, skeletons or zombies, from the bones or bodies of dead humanoids. The effect is to cause these remains to become animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The skeletons or zombies will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 skeleton or 1 zombie for each level of experience he or she has attained. Thus, a 2nd level cleric can animate 2 of these monsters, a 3rd level 3, etc.


Necromancer’s Touch II (Cause Serious Wounds)

Level: 4, Range: touch, Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, Casting Time: 4 segments, Saving Throw: neg.


The necromancer’s version of cause serious wounds requires that the necromancer touch the victim with their totem. If they are successful the target will lose (2d8+1) hp. Half of these HP are immediately magically transferred to the patron of the necromancer. The other half are transferred to the necromancer’s token. The necromancer has 1 round / level to "discharge" the spell before it fades (e.g. after casting, a 5th level necromancer must use this spell in 5 rounds or it dissipates). If the spell is active but undischarged and the necromancer is hit by an undead, or the necromancer hits the undead with their token, the undead immediately suffers twice the damage listed in the spell description. Any undead "killed" by this spell can be animated by the necromancer in addition to whatever dead they could normally animate for their level.


Necromancer’s Touch III (Cause Critical Wounds)

Level:5, Range: touch, Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, Casting Time: 5 segments, Saving Throw: neg.


The necromancer’s version of cause critical wounds requires that the necromancer touch the victim. If they are successful the target will lose (3d8+3) hp. Half of these HP are immediately magically transferred to the patron of the necromancer. The other half are transferred to the necromancer’s token. The necromancer has 1 round / level to "discharge" the spell before it fades (e.g. after casting, a 7th level necromancer must use this spell in 7 rounds or it dissipates). If the spell is active but undischarged and the necromancer is hit by an undead, or the necromancer hits the undead, the undead immediately suffers twice the damage listed in the spell description. Any undead "killed" by this spell can be animated by the necromancer in addition to whatever dead they could normally animate for their level


Necromancer’s Embrace (Harm)

Level:6, Range: touch, Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, Casting Time: 1 round, Saving Throw: neg.


Necromancer’s Embrace enables the necromancer to infect the victim with a disease and causes loss of half the victim’s HP total if a successful touch is inflicted with their token. Half of these HP are immediately magically transferred to the patron of the necromancer. The other half are transferred to the necromancer’s token. The necromancer has 1 round / level to "discharge" the spell before it fades (e.g. after casting, a 7th level necromancer must use this spell in 7 rounds or it dissipates). If the spell is active but undischarged and the necromancer is hit by an undead, or the necromancer hits the undead, the undead immediately suffers twice the damage listed in the spell description (in this case lowering the undead to ½ HP). Any undead "killed" by this spell can be animated by the necromancer in addition to whatever dead they could normally animate for their level


Necromancer’s Touch IV (Degenerate)

Level: 7, Range: touch, Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: creature touched, Components: V, S, Casting Time: 5 segments, Saving Throw: neg.


Necromancer’s Touch IV causes the member or organ touched to shrivel and cease functioning in 1 round, dropping off into dust in 2-8 turns, and draining the target of ½ their HP. As is usual, creatures must be touched in order to have harmful effect occur. Half of these HP are immediately magically transferred to the patron of the necromancer. The other half are transferred to the necromancer’s token. The necromancer has 1 round / level to "discharge" the spell before it fades (e.g. after casting, a 8th level necromancer must use this spell in 8 rounds or it dissipates). If the spell is active but undischarged and the necromancer is hit by an undead, or the necromancer hits an undead, the undead immediately suffers twice the damage listed in the spell description. Any undead "killed" by this spell can be animated by the necromancer in addition to whatever dead they could normally animate for their level




New spells

Bolerastun’s Mantle of the Dead

Level: 1, Casting Time: 1 segment, Range: touch, Duration: 1 round/level, Area of Effect: special, Components: V,S,M, Saving Throw: none


Bolerastun’s Mantle causes the warlock to radiate negative plane energy, this energy is diffuse enough that it will not harm anyone, but it has the important benefit of making the warlock appear to be undead herself, and thus preventing undead monsters from attacking her. The deception only works against skeletons, zombies and ghouls for 1st - 3rd level warlocks, shadows, wights and ghasts for 4th - 6th level warlocks, and wraiths, mummy’s and spectres for 7th - 10th level warlocks. Any more powerful undead are immune to the spell’s deception.The warlock may include one extra target for every level, e.g. two targets may be hidden at 2nd level, 3 at 3rd, etc, to a maximum of 10. The material component for this spell is a bone from a skeleton and a black silk blindfold.


Immentaur’s Shroud of Lightning

Level: 3, Range: touch, Duration: 1 round/level, Area of Effect: Individual, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: 3 segments, Saving Throw: Neg.


Immentaur’s Shroud of Lightning covers the warlock with a crackling field of lightning. The lightning is magical, and anyone who touches the warlock, or hits her with a metallic weapon while the spell is active will take 1-8 + 1 hp per level of the warlock in damage unless they save versus spells. If the warlock makes a successful "to hit" roll while the spell is active the victim will take regular damage from the strike and must save versus spell or take an additional 1-4 hp + 1 hp/2 levels in lightning damage. Victims in metal armor save at -2. In addition, any lightning attacks directed at the warlock under a Shroud of Lightning will require a saving throw, if the save is unsuccessful the warlock will take 1/2 damage, if the save is successful the warlock can redirect the attack to its originator for the appropriate damage. The material component of this spell is a crystal rod and a small piece of silk.


Animate Higher Dead I

Level: 4, Range: I", Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: Special, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: I round, Saving Throw: None


This spell creates the next tier of undead monsters, ghouls and shadows, from the remains of dead humanoids. The effect is to cause these remains to become animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The ghouls and shadows will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 ghoul or 1 shadow for each level of experience he or she has attained, or 2 skeletons or 2 zombies.


Rajmurangi’s Cunning Appendage

Level: 4, Casting Time:4 segments, Range: individual, Duration:1 turn/4 levels, Area of Effect: individual, Components: V,S,M, Saving Throw: none.


The cunning appendage spell creates a lizard like, prehensile tail of 14 feet in length behind the warlock. The tail has several functions, any one of which may be carried out once per round:


1.Lash - it can lash anywhere forward of the warlock up to 10’ and strike a victim, regular to hit with dexterity bonus for missiles applied, damage 1-8.

2.Sweep - it can strike standing opponents in a 10’ radius and if they fail their save versus petrification or be knocked over, prone for one round

3.Deflect - it can strike out at incoming attacks, melee or missile, giving the warlock 1 AC bonus against missiles and a 2 AC bonus against melee weapons. Note that this bonus does not apply when the tail is attacking, and thus the warlock must state that she is defending with the tail that round and forfeits attacking to gain the defensive benefit. Note however, on any to hit roll of 1 against the warlock defending with the tail will cause the object used to be grabbed. BBLG to remove.

4.Grab - the tail can allow the warlock and up to 100 lbs of other goods to hang, it can curl around objects as small as scrolls, wands, or staves. It can be used to attempt a disarming strike or a stealing strike (-2 to hit) to gain an enemy object, BBLG to remove.


The material component of this spell is a lizard’s tail and an iron spike.


Animate Higher Dead II

Level: 5, Range: I", Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: Special, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: I round, Saving Throw: None


This spell creates the next tier of undead monsters, wight’s and ghasts, from the remains of dead humanoids. The effect is to cause these remains to become animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The wight’s and ghasts will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 wight or 1 ghast for each level of experience he or she has attained, 2 ghouls or 2 shadows per level of experience, or 3 skeletons or 3 zombies per level of experience.


Brugg the Cruel’s Brutal Enchantment

Level: 5, Casting Time:5 segments, Range:1" per level, Duration:1 round per level, Area of Effect:1 individual, Components: V,S,M, Saving Throw: special


Brugg the Cruel’s signature spell redirects all damage done to the warlock over the spell’s duration to a victim of their choosing. If that victim makes their save, the warlock may choose another victim as long as the spell duration is not up, up to one attempt to find a victim per round. If the victim dies as a result of the spell it immediately stops working. If the warlock takes enough damage to remove all of her HP during the casting of the spell, then the transfer stops immediately. The damage can be transferred anywhere in the range. The material component of this spell is a ruby worth no less than 50gp.


The Terrifying Limbs of Brugg the Cruel

Level:5, Casting Time:5 segments, Range:touch, Duration:2 rounds per level, Area of Effect:individual, Components:V,S,M, Saving Throw:none


When the terrifying limbs is cast the target instantly gains an extra pair of arms below their regular arms. These arms function regularly, and can be used with the same ability as the targets original arms (e.g. they have the same "to hit" values, same strength, etc.) This instantly doubles the number of regular attacks the target can make. Note that if the target is armored the arms will also be covered by armor when they are created, though this duplicate armor will not have any magical bonuses. In addition to the extra attacks, targets will gain +1 to hit and damage with all arms for the duration of the spell. If there is an extra shield available, the target could use two shields and reduce her AC another point, or use one where she had none before and do the same. The material component of this spell is a spider (dead or alive) and an iron spike.


Animate Higher Dead III

Level: 6, Range: I", Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: Special, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: I round, Saving Throw: None


This spell creates the next tier of undead monsters, wraith’s and mummies from the remains of dead humanoids. The effect is to cause these remains to become animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The wraith’s and mummies will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 wraith or 1 mummy for each level of experience he or she has attained, 2 wights or ghasts, 3 ghouls or 3 shadows, or 4 skeletons or 4 zombies per level of experience.


Torbin’s Turbulent Mourning

Level: 6, Casting Time: 6 segments, Range:1" per level, Duration:1 round/level, Area of Effect:1 apparition per 2 levels of warlock, Components: V,S,M, Saving Throw: none


This spell may only be cast when a known companion of the warlock has just been killed. When this happens, the warlock can cast the turbulent mourning. It must be done within an hour of the death. When cast a strong wind will begin to blow in the AOE, reducing visibility (-2 to all attacks in the AOE) and apparitions will appear, one for every 2 levels of the caster, and they will attack all those designated by the warlock. Each apparition appears as a screaming head on top of a long extending tail of bloody crimson energy. Apparitions are the same AC as the warlock, have the same THACO as the warlock, have 1 hp per level of the warlock, and do damage equal to 1-(level of warlock). For example, a 12th level mage would create 6 apparitions which do 1-12 hp damage per strike. The material component of the spell is blood from the deceased and an item from their possession.


Animate Higher Dead IV

Level: 7, Range: I", Duration: Permanent, Area of Effect: Special, Components: V, S, M, Casting Time: I round, Saving Throw: None


This spell creates the next tier of undead monsters, spectre’s and ghosts from the remains of dead humanoids. The effect is to cause these remains to become animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The spectre’s and ghosts will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 spectre or 1 ghost, 2 wraiths or 2 mummies, 3 wights or 3 ghasts, 4 ghouls or 4 shadows, or 5 skeletons or 5 zombies per level of experience.


Nozzenur the Malignant’s Chain of the Damned

Level:7, Casting Time: 7segments, Range:1" per level, Duration:2 rounds/level, Area of Effect:1’x1" square/level, Components: V,S,M, Saving Throw: none


Nozzenur’s ghastly spell draws on the lives of the recently deceased, so it is best cast on a battlefield or near a place where people go to die. When cast the spell will raise 1 of the dead for every level of the caster (assuming the supply of recently dead is sufficient). The dead so raised will be zombies, and they will be joined by a crackling chain of negative plane energy. They will attack marching forward in a line then surround individual victims attacking until they are dead. If any victim is slain by the zombies they will become one themselves in a round and join the chain, extending the duration of the spell by 2-4 rounds. The material component of this spell is a short length of iron chain and a black pearl worth 500 gp.


Cinel’s Violent Amalgam

Level:8, Casting Time:8 segments, Range:1" per level, Duration:permanent, Area of Effect:special, Components:V,S,M, Saving Throw:None


The Violent Amalgam takes any two creatures in the range of the spell and combines them into one creature with characteristics of both. The two creatures must be animals, not monsters. For example, an owl and a bear could be combined into an owlbear. It is not necessary to be restricted to existing combinations, new combinations are possible. Any creature so created is permanent and at the command of the warlock forever. Combined creatures will have 8HD, AC of 4, THACO of 14, 2 attacks/rd, DA of 1-10, 1-10 and one special attack appropriate to the amalgamation. For example, a crocodile and a bird could be combined and its special attack could be a powerful clamping bite (on a successful to hit that exceeds what is required by 4) that does an additional 1-10 hp of damage per round until dislodged. The warlock may only have one of these creatures in her service at any given time. The material component of this spell is a ruby and an emerald, each worth 50 gp minimum.


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