Rewriting the B/X Spell List (2nd level)

As promised, this is the second part of the spell list for Dungeonsnack, my minimalistic adventure game system. (I guess I have no excuse to not release it now.) You can find the first part of the spell list here. Again, the goal is to have an original spell list that encourages out-of-the-box thinking for my team building sessions of Dungeons & Dragons.

What’s next? I’ll look at the lists for higher level spells, but as I have made these more flexible, I’m expecting a lot of the spells to be redundant. Also, first and second level spells are what I need for introductory games, so it may be a while.

1980s wizard ladu by Larry Elmore.

30 Low-Level Spells for Adventure and OSR Games

1. Attune Map
2. Aura Sight
3. Battle Hymn
4. Blessing of the Fickle Saints
5. Celestial Window
6. Cloak of the Chameleon
7. Commune with Stygian Librarian
8. Crystalline Barricade
9. Djinn Guardian
10. Eldritch Surgery
11. Emberskin
12. Experience the Possible
13. Fly True, my Trusted Friend!
14. Fungal Changeling
15. Gift of the Tongue
16. Halo of the Selenites
17. Head over Heels
18. La Fontaine’s Trick
19. Mechanomancy
20. Microwave Shell
21. Mouldbane
22. Phase Shift, Offensive
23. Pylophony
24. Reflective Retreat
25. Shadow Torchbearer
26. Soul Vortex
27. Spelltrap
28. The Unwearied Wanderers
29. Toadstool Theatrics
30. Vermin Friendship

Attune Map

Duration: 10 minutes
The caster causes a map they are holding to commune with the part of reality it represents. They can ask it one yes-or-no question per caster level. The map’s knowledge is limited to cartographical features: it doesn’t know about occupants or the history of the place (unless the map is ancient, missing pieces, or otherwise special – at the referee’s discretion).
For the price of 3 questions, the caster can point to a blank space on the map. The room or area there appears, drawn as accurately as the rest of the map. There is 1-in-6 chance that each trap, secret door, or other hidden feature is represented. 

>> I love locate object for dungeon delving. It took a while to find an idea for this, but I’m quite happy with the way this makes the in-world map more relevant.

Blessing of the Fickle Saints

Duration : until fully expanded (see below)
The Kasinous, also known as the 36 fickle saints of chance, turn their attention onto the caster and their allies. The party gets a Blessing risk die according to the caster’s level: Δ6 if 1st to 3rd levels, Δ8 at 4th to 6th levels, Δ10 at 7th to 9th level, and Δ12 at 10th level and above. 

  • Every round, exploration turn, or travel day, any player can roll the Blessing die and add its result to the dice roll of their choice. 
  • On a result of 1 to 3, the die is stepped down to the next lower die (Δ12 to Δ10 to Δ8 to Δ6 to Δ4). A Δ4 that is stepped down means the blessing is expanded. 
  • On the maximum result, the die is stepped up (Δ6 to Δ8, and so on) and the 36 saints change their mind: the Blessing die goes to the referee, who uses it as they want. 
  • If the referee gets the maximum result, they give the Blessing die back to the players.
  • If the Blessing die hasn’t been used at the end of a round (in combat) or exploration turn (outside of combat) or day (in a city or wilderness environment), whoever holds it (referee or players) must give it to the other side. 

* Risk dice are from Macchiato Monsters: they are noted Δn instead of dn (where n is the number of sides of the die).

>> This is obviously bless. I’ve just tried to make the spell more interesting than an improved 5% chance of hitting monsters and resisting spells.

Celestial Window

Duration: until dispelled
A spell inherited from spacefaring elven archmages. It creates a minute, airtight window to the vicinity of a distant sun. The window appears on the palm of the caster’s dominant hand, projecting a cone of light. Within their ability, the caster decides the type of sun and how close to it the portal is.

  • The caster chooses the colour and the range of the light (up to the caster’s level in metres). 
  • If the caster wills it so, the window also casts radiation that is damaging to living tissue (caster level in damage per round of exposure — save to avoid). 
  • A sentient being staring directly at the window for several hours can sometimes glimpse a secret of the universe (referee decides – a save is always needed to stay sane).
  • By touching their palm to a surface (an attack roll may be needed), the caster can stick the window to it. It stays there after that. 
  • Star invasion. If the window is left unattended, there is a 1-in-6 chance every month it opens and lets something out.

>> Continual light is such a good spell for enterprising PCs, and also the first premise of the old magic-breaks-the-world conundrum. (Why isn’t everything lit by continual light items after a couple of generations?). We already have two light shedding spells, so I looked at the offensive aspect of the light spells, trying not to undermine shadow torchbearer and aura of the Selenites.

Cloak of the Chameleon

Duration: until removed
The caster grants the power of camouflage to a single skin or pelt. The more exotic the skin is, the harder it is to notice the wearer (or hidden area/object) by sight or smell (the wearer make just as much noise as anyone else).
Some guidelines are given below. Note that the chance of hiding is for a creature who stays very still; it is reduced by 1 or more if it is moving. At the referee’s discretion, a large pelt can be used by more than one creature. When the skin is removed, the spells ends and the skin is destroyed.

  • Hood of pigeon feathers: 1-in-6
  • Ram or billy goat skin: 2-in-6
  • Stallion or bull hide: 3-in-6
  • Polar bear or white tiger pelt: 4-in-6
  • Halfling scout or elf maiden skin: 5-in-6
  • Blink dog or displacer beast fur: 6-in-6
  • Lammasu or ki-rin: 7-in-6

>> This is merely a reskinned (haha) version of invisibility with a tug towards plot creation. Side note: I love that invisibility can make objects disappear permanently. I don’t think this is used often enough! Maybe because of magic-breaks-the-world again? How long does it take until cities are full of invisible doors and coffers?

Crystalline Barricade

Duration: permanent until destroyed
This spell creates a 10 square metres surface of translucent, friable quasi-matter (the caster chooses the exact dimensions). The barricade has d6 hit points per caster level and can be destroyed by normal means. 
Reducing the barricade’s HP to half is enough to poke holes into it, making it porous to spells and missile attacks. 

>> Basically, a more combat focus version of web. It’s not as awesome, though. I may rework or rewrite it later.

Emberskin

Duration: 1 turn per caster level
This impressive but uncomfortable spell wreathes the caster’s skin in hot smoke and burning ash. They are immune to normal and magical fire, but everything they touch or wear have a 1-in-6 chance of melting or catching fire every minute.
Also, even if the caster can breathe normally, their companions may want to stay upwind of them. 
Of course, stealth is out of the question in most environments (except maybe volcanoes and hellish planes).  

>>This is resist fire with a bit of added texture and risk.

Experience the Possible

Duration: 1 second per caster level
Casting this spell with a mere whisper, the character can glimpse into a timeline branching from reality, starting with their next action. The experience is very short, but sufficient to get an idea of whether a door is trapped, or if an interlocutor would take offense at a joke, etc.
When the spell ends, the caster effectively goes back in time and must decide what to do. If they choose not to act at all, they must save or be forced to reenact the triggering action. This is why wizards have a reputation of acting strangely sometimes.

>> Without invisibility, detect invisible is useless. So I thought abut information gathering spells, keeping in mind that I have two strong ones already. I am aware that this could be used to accurately detect traps, but as it’s a one-use spell, I don’t think thieves will feel disempowered.

A magic user casting the DPS spell. Art by Larry Elmore

Head over Heels

Duration: 1 hour
The target’s relationship with the floor and ceiling is inverted; also, their feet and hands swap purposes. Not only are they able to use their hands to walk, magically suspended from the ceiling, but also they can manipulate objects with their legs. If there is no ceiling, tree branches and other overhead objects can be used to walk. The spell doesn’t work if there aren’t any.
It is however very difficult for them to interact with the floor and ceiling normally (just as it would be for someone else to walk on their hands while holding a sword with their toes). An unwilling target is allowed to save. 

>> A silly reskin of levitation. I voluntarily glossed over its effect on gravity to let referees decide what happens when this spell is cast in places with very high ceilings.

La Fontaine’s Trick

Duration: permanent
Up to one normal animal per caster level is granted the ability to speak. Roll 1d12 to know what languages the creatures know. Look at the table below: it can understand and speak the languages between (die result) and (result + caster level).
The animals also gain the personality traits in brackets corresponding to the die’s result, which may influence their reaction to the characters. 

1: Demonic (cruel and scheming)
2: Draconic (greedy and temperamental)
3: Goblin (cowardly and mocking)
4: Medusa (artsy and traitorous)
5: Gnoll (proud and ferocious)
6: Dwarvish (gruff and industrious)
7: Elvish (haughty and intellectual)
8: Gnomish (curious and inventive)
9: Halfling (hungry and jolly)
10: Sylvan (shy and benevolent)
11: Celestial (peaceful and judgmental)
12+: Common (talkative and nosy)

For example, a 3rd level caster who rolls a 6 to bestow speech to a group of mules would bestow them the ability to speak Dwarvish, Elvish, Gnomish, and Halfling. The animals would behave like a bunch of grumpy miners. 

>> Talk with animals. A druid spell before there were even druid player characters! Again, I tried to make it more playful while covering the same area. I hope you will forget the meta/French name.

Mechanomancy

Duration: 1 hour
The caster gets an innate sense of how mechanisms and complicated machines work. Their chance to detect moving parts, such as pressure plates and secret doors is twice as likely with a cursory glance (they will always detect them when looking).
The caster is able to infer what (non-magical) effects pulling a lever or turning a key will trigger. They aren’t able to disarm a trap, but their description of the mechanisms should give a generous bonus to the thief’s skill roll. The caster also learns how to operate machinery, but they must make an INT check if they want to keep doing so after the spell ends.

>> I cast find traps and we can fire the party’s thief! Again, this is an attempt at broadening the applications of the spell while creating a lot of edge cases (and headaches for the referee).

Reflective Retreat

The caster holds a silver mirror (worth 10 GP) in their hand. If they are hit by an attack, the mirror is destroyed and the caster disappears into the mirror dimension for 1d4 rounds. Note that the caster can also destroy the mirror.
They cannot affect the material world, but they can watch it (and be seen) through reflective surfaces, including the mirror’s fragments. They are free to do whatever they like during the spell’s duration. If they wander too far away from a reflective surface however, the referee may ask for a check or save to avoid becoming lost in the mirror dimension. 
At the end of the spell’s duration, the caster reenters reality from the closest mirror or reflective surface.

>> Mirror image is everyone’s favourite defensive spell, even if this version is less efficient than the one I remember from AD&D. This is less efficient as a combat spell, but creative PCs can use reflective retreat to explore and bypass obstacles.

Soul vortex

Duration: 1 hour
Range: 10 metres per level
This spell lets the caster open an invisible gate into the astral void, where the spirits of the dead travel. The astral currents thus released let the caster perceive the souls of sentient beings in the vicinity, even if the beings are not normally seen (i.e. invisible, or just in another room). By concentrating on one soul in particular, they can:

  • Know whether it has a connection to a divine or other powerful supernatural being (like clerics, warlocks, or some undead). 
  • Borrow the soul for up to a minute per level, allowing instant communication of complex thoughts and concepts. (Touch required, save cancels.) The target’s body falls unconscious until the soul is returned. 

>> As written in Moldvay and Cook, ESP is mostly useful for detecting enemies (provided you have time) and interrogate prisoners. I tried to duplicate this and add another use. Also, there should be more soul magic in D&D. Soul harvest from Wonders & Wickedness has provided much entertainment at my table!

Spelltrap

Duration: 1 minute per caster level
The caster conjures a mystical sphere of energy that automatically captures a spell cast or aimed at a point in its immediate vicinity. The spelltrap hovers and can be moved slowly as long as its caster concentrates. When the spelltrap ends, the captured spell takes effect as if cast at the spot where the trap was. Some additional details:

  • A spelltrap can be popped like a bubble; it has AC 0 (19), and a number of hit points equal to its caster’s level. 
  • The caster of a spelltrap can attempt to dissipate the captured magic, effectively negating the spell. However, there is a base 1-in-6 chance that the spell is released accidentally. Add 1 to these odds if the caster of the trapped spell is of higher level, and 1 if the caster of the spelltrap doesn’t know the captured spell. 
  • At level 3, the caster can capture their own spell if they cast it immediately after spelltrap
  • At level 7, the spelltrap can be kept empty and floating for up to an hour, or until it captures a spell. 

>> Replacing silence, 15ft radius is no easy task. I had to choose between its two effects: stealth and incapacitating spell casters. I went with the latter, and made it more polyvalent if not as efficient ror the purposes of killing evil cultists.

Toadstool Theatrics

Duration: concentration (see below)
The caster throws mushrooms on the ground (up to one mushroom per level); each one grows into the desired shape, up to the size of a large humanoid. The caster must concentrate on the spell to animate their fungal creations. If they stop, the theatrics crumble in 1d6 minutes. 
Only rare and expensive* mushrooms can accurately mimic a creature or object, but any fungus can approximate a humanoid or a door well enough to fool a casual viewer at a distance or in dim light.

* Rare and expensive: according to the setting and the referee’s discretion. If they plan to impersonate an elven queen, the caster may have to quest for the mythical royal purple milkcap, which can only be found in Farthest Faerie. Any decent alchemist will sell a dozen greenwart puffballs, good for mimicking goblinkind humanoids, for about 8 GP. 

>>This is phantasmal force with a fungal twist and an opportunty for story hooks.

Vermin Friendship

Duration: 10 minutes per caster level
The caster is able to communicate with one type of creature commonly considered as vermin (insects, arachnids, some rodents, birds, or bats, etc.). Cooperation is not guaranteed: roll 1d10 + caster level on the monster reaction table (reproduced below).
At the referee’s discretion, an offering (of food, for example) may justify another roll. 

2d6 Reaction
2 or less Hostile, attacks
3–5 Unfriendly, may attack
6–8 Neutral, uncertain
9–11 Indifferent, uninterested
12 or more Friendly, helpful

>> I have no idea how snake charm made it into the Greyhawk book of OD&D. Bible inspiration? Good ole orientalism crap? Did someone in the original crews run a snake themed dungeon? Will we ever know? John Peterson, we need you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *