Monday, 5 March 2012

Fiend Folio = monsters & deities, Unearthed Arcana = spells?

Inspired by Chris' post over at the Vaults of Nagoh about the idea of running a campaign using the AD&D Fiend Folia as the sole source of monsters, and Jeff's post about using the deities in that book as the only deities in a campaign, my thoughts turned suddenly to Unearthed Arcana. Could one run a campaign using only the Fiend Folio and Unearthed Arcana?

My answer quickly developed into a "no". Well, of course one could, but I wouldn't want to. Depending how strictly you were to follow the law of only using that one book, the only character classes available would be the cavalier and the barbarian!

However, I did have a look at the spells section, and thought it'd be rather cool to run an "alternative D&D" game where the spells in that book were the only ones in existence. I surmised that it'd probably make sense to combine the magic-user and illusionist spell lists, as both (and especially the latter) would be rather sparse on their own.

The combined list of spells in Unearthed Arcana produces a patchy list, skewed heavily towards spells of charm, illusion, abjuration and binding. Very different then to the standard AD&D spell list, which is largely focussed on invocation and alteration. I think that would make a very interesting list to play with though, forcing players and DM alike to look at some of the more obscure and less popular spells in a new light! It also lacks what are normally considered to be some fundamentals of arcane magic, like means of detecting and dispelling magic.

Here are the combined lists (with illusion spells in italics).

1st level
Alarm
Armor
Chromatic orb
Firewater
Grease
Melt
Mount
Phantom armor 
Precipitation
Read illusionist magic
Run
Spook 
Taunt
Wizard mark
Write

Notes:
1. There's apparently no need for the spell read magic, except for spells of illusion. Perhaps they're written in some semi-phantasmagorical script which is impossible to read normally?
2. With no sleep or charm person, firewater is about as close as it gets to a killer 1st level spell!
3. Given the lack of power in these 1st level spells, I'd probably allow beginning magic-users to memorize two at a time. The extensive list of cantrips would probably see some use as well.

2nd level
Alter self 
Bind
Deeppockets
Fascinate
Flaming sphere
Irritation
Know alignment
Melf's acid arrow
Preserve
Protection from cantrips
Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter
Ultravision
Vocalize
Whip
Whispering wind
Zephyr

Notes:
1. A few more useful spells here, including a bit more offensive capability.

3rd level
Cloudburst
Delude 
Detect illusion
Item
Material
Melf's minute meteors
Phantom steed
Phantom wind
Secret page
Sepia snake sigil
Wind wall
Wraithform

Notes:
1. With no means whatsoever in the whole spell list of detecting magic in general, here we get a limited means of detecting spells of one specific type, illusions.
2. Without the introduction of fireball or lightning bolt, 3rd level spells are not the tipping point we're used to.

4th level
Dispel illusion
Evard's black tentacles
Leomund's secure shelter
Magic mirror
Otiluke's resilient sphere
Rainbow pattern
Shout
Solid fog
Stoneskin
Vacancy
Notes:
1. Again, thus far there's been no way of dispelling magic. Now we have a means of dispelling illusions, at least.

5th level
Advanced illusion
Avoidance
Dismissal
Dolor
Dream
Fabricate
Leomund's lamentable belabourment
Sending
Tempus fugit

Notes:
1. The oddly named advanced illusion implies the presence of a series of antecedent spells which no longer exist.
2. Here we see the beginning of a pattern in the higher level spells -- means of binding and dismissing summoned creatures, but no means of summoning them! Presumably this would be achieved by magic items, or perhaps naturally occurring dimensional rifts.

6th level
Chain lightning
Contingency
Death fog
Ensnarement
Eyebite
Mirage arcane
Mislead
Mordenkainen's lucubration
Phantasmagoria
Transmute water to dust

Notes:
1. Chain lightning is probably the most deadly spell in the list.

7th level
Banishment
Forcecage
Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion
Sequester
Shadow walk
Teleport without error
Torment
Truename
Volley
Weird

Notes:
1. Here we encounter the only purely planar spell in the list: shadow walk. The plane of shadow would probably play a significant role in such a campaign world.
2. Teleportation seems to be a very safe business, and also provides a risky means of planar travel.

8th level
Binding
Demand
Otilkue's telekinetic sphere
Sink

Notes:
1. Lots of unpleasant ways of trapping things.

9th level
Crystalbritlle
Energy drain
Mordenkainen's disjunction
Succor

Notes:
1. At last! A means of dispelling magic! Mordenkainen's disjunction would probably be regarded as the ultimate peak of the arcane arts.

4 comments:

  1. Neat idea, as a less extreme version, ask a veteran player rolling up a magic-user/cleric what his top five(ten?) spells for each level are. Then tell him these spells DO NOT EXIST in this campaign. Might make for an interesting campaign (or you'd have to use spell creation rules for the first time)

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  2. Haha that'd be a really mean but kind of fun trick to play! :)

    Yes I'd also thought that a severely limited spell list might bring the old never used spell research rules out of their dusty closet!

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