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).
Read illusionist magic
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.
Melf's acid arrow
Protection from cantrips
Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter
1. A few more useful spells here, including a bit more offensive capability.
Melf's minute meteors
Sepia snake sigil
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.
Evard's black tentacles
Leomund's secure shelter
Otiluke's resilient sphere
1. Again, thus far there's been no way of dispelling magic. Now we have a means of dispelling illusions, at least.
Leomund's lamentable belabourment
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.
Transmute water to dust
1. Chain lightning is probably the most deadly spell in the list.
Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion
Teleport without error
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.
Otilkue's telekinetic sphere
1. Lots of unpleasant ways of trapping things.
1. At last! A means of dispelling magic! Mordenkainen's disjunction would probably be regarded as the ultimate peak of the arcane arts.