18 November 2018

Wandering Monsters and Quantum Mechanics


"rules for wandering monster movement in B/X D&D—there aren't any. While player food, light and movement through the dungeon are all tracked meticulously, all of that is hand-waved for monsters.

Monsters (or townspeople) just appear when a wandering monster roll says they should, and nobody worries about their precise location before that. Their precise inventory doesn't matter either, not until they're dead and examined more closely.

Until it actually matters, most of this stuff is completely undefined, held behind a "curtain of vagueness," until it matters."

I ran across this and it got me thinking about quantum mechanics and Schrodinger's cat. The wandering monster is a better analogy/explanation than a cat in a box. This just clicked for me, I guess you could say others have already explained this with the quantum ogre to some degree, but I'm thinking more in terms or actual physics and less gaming. The common presence of wandering monsters in old school games is the clearest way of explaining quantum physics to the average person that I have seen.

If you substitute electron, or other subatomic particle, for monster and human measurement for roll, then the above paragraph is an apt explanation of how quantum mechanics (at least as I understand them).

While in standard Physics every particle and object can be all tracked meticulously, all of that can be in a state of flux for subatomic particles.

Subatomic particles just appear when a measurement made by our instruments says they should, and their precise location before that is unknown. The position and Characteristics of these particles on the smallest scale are not defined until they are examined more closely.

Until it actually matters, any information about these particles is undefined, held behind 'a curtain of vagueness,' until it matters.

Basically it is our measurement of the "quantum realm" (to use a Marvel term) which brings it into focus, before such measurement the quantum is present/existent but unknown. Like the wandering monster, it is there and has a possibility of appearing, but until a roll is made its exact features and location are unknown and could be anything within a certain range of possibility.

I find Schrodinger's cat to be flawed because the cat is either dead or alive, poisoned or healthy. your knowledge of it does not change the fact that it is dead. The cat can't be both dead and alive, it is one or the other, no matter whether we can see into the box or not. In comparison the wandering monster has both a possibility of being in the same location as the party and not being there, until the die is rolled the monster occupies both locations/possibilities and neither of them at the same time. Quantum Mechanics operate in a fashion more similar to the wandering monster, it is both here and not here a the same moment until it is measured.

So that's a little perspective on science for you.

17 November 2018

The Religion of the Cleric: 2nd Level Spells

I continue my analysis of the religion of the Cleric as implied by the Spells from BECMI. Part 1 and Part 2 discuss the implied setting of OD&D and 1st level spells. Here I examine 2nd level spells and the reversed 1st level spells.

A cleric may reverse a spell simply by casting it backward. The player simply says, “My cleric is casting the spell in reverse.” However, Lawful clerics prefer the normal spells, and only cast the reversed forms in life-or-death situations. Chaotic clerics often use the reversed spells, and only use the normal forms to benefit their friends. Neutral clerics may choose to cast the normal or the reversed forms, but the cleric must continue using the forms first chosen, and is not free to change from one to the other.

The fact that both Lawful and Chaotic Clerics have access to both the normal and reversed versions of the spells tells us that they are part of the same Church and know the same prayers and rituals. Three different philosophies exist within the clergy expressed by Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic Clerics. It does seem odd that both Lawful and Chaotic clerics can use the reversed or normal version of the spell when necessary, yet the Neutral Cleric must be consistent in their use of either the normal or reversed version of any spell. From the 81 Expert set we learn that this restriction on neutral clerics is based on the preferences of the Deity worshiped.

First Level Clerical Spells (reversed)

Cure Light Wounds (Cause Light Wounds)
When reversed, this spell, cause light wounds, causes 2-7 points of damage to any creature or character touched (no Saving Throw). The cleric must make a normal Hit roll.

From this spell we learn that a Chaotic Cleric supports a completely different message than the standard Lawful clerics. Instead of trying to bring comfort and healing into the lives of the people, the Chaotic Cleric brings pain and suffering to others.

Light (Darkness)
When reversed, this spell, darkness, creates a circle of darkness 30’ in diameter. It will block all sight except infravision. Darkness will cancel a light spell if cast upon it, but may itself be cancelled by another light spell. If cast at an opponent’s eyes, it will cause blindness until cancelled, or until the duration ends. The target is allowed a Saving Throw and if he succeeds, the spell misses.

Instead of bringing a message of light and clarity, a Chaotic cleric brings darkness to others. Darkness can represent being lost or without guidance. This implies Chaotic clerics teach that there is no single morality handed down by a supreme being, and everyone is governed by their own sense of right and wrong. Also of note is the ability of infravision to see through this magical darkness, which is strictly prohibited in AD&D.

Remove Fear (Cause Fear)
When reversed, this spell, cause fear, will make any one creature flee for two turns. The victim may make a Saving Throw vs. Spells to avoid the effect. This reversed spell has a range of 120‘.

Again the Chaotic Cleric doesn't bring comfort, peace, or strength, but fear and weakness in others.

Second Level Clerical Spells

Bless
This spell improves the morale of friendly creatures by +1 and gives the recipients a + 1 bonus on all Hit and damage rolls. It will only affect creatures in a 20’ x 20’ area, and only those who are not yet in melee. 
     When reversed, this spell, Blight, places a -1 penalty on enemies’ morale, Hit rolls, and damage rolls. Each victim may make a Saving Throw vs. Spells to avoid the penalties.

B/X - This spell may beused as a part of a blessing or cleansing ritual.

The effects of this spell come from a similar root to Remove Fear; it bolsters the will and confidence of the recipient and weakens it if cast by a Chaotic Cleric. The B/X version implies the presence of rituals such as Baptism.

Find Traps
This spell causes all traps to glow with a dull blue light when the cleric comes within 30’ of them. It does not reveal the types of traps, nor any method of removing them.

This is interesting, it at first seems completely unrelated to theology. However, it can be seen as somewhat similar to light; this spell illuminates danger, and allows the caster to see things that were previously hidden from sight.

Hold Person
The hold person spell will affect any human, demi-human, or human-like creature (bugbear, dryad, gnoll, gnome, hobgoblin, kobold, lizard man, ogre, orc, nixie, pixie or sprite). It will not affect the undead or creatures larger than ogres. Each victim must make a Saving Throw vs. Spells or be paralyzed for 9 turns. The spell may be cast at a single person or at a group. If cast at a single person, a - 2 penalty applies to the Saving Throw. If cast at a group, it will affect up to 4 persons (at the cleric’s choice), but with no penalty to their rolls. The paralysis may only be removed by the reverse spell, or by a dispel magic spell. 
     The reverse of the spell, Free Person, removes the paralysis of up to 4 victims of the normal form of the spell (including one cast by a magic-user or elf). It has no other effect.

B/X - not listed as reversible

Interestingly, the normal version of this spell is restrictive and the one used primarily by Chaotic Clerics seems to be a 'nicer' version of the spell. This can be interpreted to mean that the Deity of the Lawful Clerics places strict commands on men (human-like creatures) and the opposing philosophy is that all creatures should have free will.

Know Alignment
The caster of this spell may discover the alignment (Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic) of any one creature within 10’. The spell may also be used to find the alignment of an enchanted item or area (if any; for example, of a magic sword or temple). 
     The reverse of the spell, Confuse Alignment lasts for 1 turn per level of the caster, and may be cast on any one creature, by touch. No Saving Throw is allowed. For as long as the spell lasts, any cleric trying to find the alignment of the recipient by way of the normal form of the spell will get a false answer. That same false answer will be the result of any further attempts.

B/X - not listed as reversible

Holmes - caster can determine tendencies of character to other alignments, whether neutral tends toward lawful or good, or lawful uses law for evil ends, etc.

This spell demonstrates the omniscience of the Deity worshiped and the ability of Chaotic Clerics to perpetuate lies and to hide the truth from the Deity.

Resist Fire
For the duration of this spell, the recipient cannot be harmed by normal fire and heat. The recipient also gains a + 2 bonus on all Saving Throws against magical fire (dragon’s breath, fire ball, etc.). Furthermore, damage from such fire is reduced by 1 point per die of damage (though each die will inflict at least 1 point of damage, regardless of adjustments). Red dragonbreath damage is reduced by 1 point per hit die of the creature (again to a minimum of 1 point of damage per hit die).

The Deity worshiped by the Cleric has power over the elements and grants a degree of this power to his followers. The extent and the source of the Deity's power over nature is still questionable; the Deity may have this power because it created the world/universe/multiverse or because its nature is of the elements. Another explanation could stem from the ongoing theme of Law and Order, the elements must obey simply because the Deity commands and for no other reason; the Deity has command over all things and the opposing power which Chaotic Clerics worship wants to free creatures from command of the Deity.

Silence 15’ Radius
This spell makes the area of effect totally silent. Conversation and spells in this area are impossible for the duration of the spell. This spell does not prevent a person within the area from hearing noises made outside the area. If cast on a creature, the victim must make a Saving Throw vs. Spells or the spell effect will move with the creature. If the Saving Throw is successful, the spell remains in the area in which it was cast, and the victim may move out of the area.

Holmes - silences all noise, not just conversation, lets party move silently

The physical mechanics of this spell are a bit odd. This spell does not simply stop the movement of soundwaves through the air as any person in the area of effect can still hear noises from outside. It would appear that this spell stops the ability to speak, only affecting the vocal chords of individuals in the area of effect. From a theological standpoint I see this as a tool used to stop opposition in one form or another, and another example of the Deity's power to command and control.

Snakecharm
A cleric may charm 1 Hit Die of snakes for each level of experience with this spell, and no Saving Throw is allowed. A 5th level cleric could charm one 5 HD snake, five 1 HD snakes, or any combination totaling 5 Hit Dice or less. The snakes affected will rise up and sway, but will not attack unless attacked themselves. If used on attacking snakes, the spell’s duration is 2-5 rounds; otherwise, it lasts 2-5 turns. When the spell wears off, the snakes return to normal (but with normal reactions, and will not be automatically hostile).

This reaffirms the Deity's control over the natural world. The non-aggressive stance of the snakes shows the peaceful message spread by clerics.

Speak with Animals
When this spell is cast, the cleric must name one type of animal (such as “normal bats,” “wolves,” etc.). For the duration of the spell, the cleric may speak with all animals of that type if they are within 30’; the effect moves with the caster. Any normal or giant forms of animals (including mammals, insects, birds, etc.) may be spoken to, but intelligent animals and fantastic creatures are not affected. When there exist both normal and giant forms, only one type (either normal or giant) may be named. The creatures’ reactions are usually favorable (+ 2 bonus to reaction roll), and they may be talked into doing a favor for the cleric if the reaction is high enough. The favor requested must be understood by the animal, and must be possible for the creature to perform.

This implies not just a control over the natural world, but a favorable connection to it. From this is implied the omniscience of the Deity; both the thoughts of animals and persons are known, and the Deity can translate those thoughts to another creature of a completely different nature. The Deity is not just a God of men, but also holds some sort of significance to lower orders of life.

EDIT: added details from B/X and Holmes versions

22 August 2018

The Religion of the Cleric: 1st Level Spells

Continuing my examination of the implied religion of the Cleric in Basic D&D, we are are looking at the first level spell list and its implications.

Cure Light Wounds
This spell will either heal wounds or remove paralysis. If used to heal, it will cure 2-7 point of damage. It will not heal any damage if used to cure paralysis. The ceric may cast it on himself (or herself) if desired.
          This spell will never increase a creature’s total hit points above the original amunt.

The fact that this is a touch spell implies in my mind an anointing the head of the recipient, yet this may not be completely necessary as the cleric may cast the spell on himself. Perhaps the cleric simply needs to touch the recipient to indicate where the power of their Deity should be manifested. This ability to bless/heal yourself is interesting and definitely not christian in origin. All rituals,even non christian ones, I can think of require someone else to administer the ritual to you. Though this aspect may have been implemented simply for game purposes, it still affects the belief system of the cleric.

Also the very nature of the spell tells us the Deity wants to spread a message of healing. The power of the deity is manifest in improving the lives of followers and not through destructive force.

Detect Evil
When this spell is cast, the cleric will see evilly enchanted objects within 120’ glow. It will also cause creatures that want to harm the cleric to glow when they are within range. The actual thoughts of the creatures cannot be heard. Remember that “Chaotic” does not automatically mean Evil, although many Chaotic monsters have evil intentions. Traps and poison are neither good nor evil, merely dangerous.

The fact that this spell exists implies there is an 'Evil' entity/group in this world. We can consider this 'Evil' to be the antithesis to the deity worshiped by the cleric. We see from the description that those intending to harm servants of the deity are considered 'Evil'. Therefore 'Evil' creatures are hostile to the Deity, the servants of the Deity, and by extension the church. Not all evil creatures worship a specific entity or are part of a singular group; put simply, enemies of the church are 'Evil'.

Detect Magic
When this spell is cast, the cleric will see magical objects, creatures, and places within range glow. It will not last very long, and should be saved until the cleric wants to see if something found during an adventure is, in fact, magical. For example, a a door may be held shut magically, or a treasure found might be enchanted; in either case, the magic item, creature, or effect will glow when it is within the effect.

This speaks to the omniscience of the Deity; it is at least aware of all magic. Detect Evil also speaks to this aspect of the Deity. The omniscience of the Deity places it above most of the classical European pagan gods. Though these two spells could imply a lesser ability to know the nature of things and not necessarily know all things; after all the detect evil spell does not indicate the thoughts of creatures only their nature/intentions. This ability to know what a thing is could imply a completely different type of god and than one who knows all.

Light
This spell creates a large ball of light, as if a bright torch were lit. If the spell is cast on an object (such as the cleric’s weapon), the light will move with the object. If cast at a creature’s eyes, the creature must make a saving throw. If the saving throw is failed, the victim will be blinded by the light until the duration ends. A blinded creature may not attack.

 – Moldvay Basic – This spell casts light in a circle, 30’ in diameter.

– Holmes Basic – equal to full daylight

The Fact that this spell exists tells us a lot about how the Deity of the Cleric interacts with the world. This religion banishes darkness and brings light. The Moldvay version makes it clear that this is not a light emanating from a single point like a lightbulb (the way it has always been treated in my games), but is a globe of light filling the entire 30' diameter. And if we go by the Holmes version we could also rule that it can kill vampires and harm other creatures sensitive to daylight.

Protection from Evil
This spell creates an invisible magical barrier all around the cleric’s body (less than an inch away). All attacks against the cleric are penalized by -1 to their hit rolls, and the cleric gains a +1 to all saving throws, while the spell lasts.
          In addition, “enchanted” creatures cannot even touch the cleric! If a magic weapon if needed to hit a creature, that creature is called “enchanted.” However, a creature that can be hit by a silver weapon – a lycanthrope (were-creature), for example – is not an “enchanted” creature. Any creature which is magically summoned or controlled (such as a Charmed character) is also considered to be an “enchanted” creature. The barrier thus completely prevents all attacks from those creatures unless they use missile weapons.
          This spell will not affect a Magic Missile spell. If the cleric attacks anything during the spell’s duration, the effect changes slightly. “Enchanted” creatures are then able to touch the magic-user, but the hit roll and saving throw adjustments still apply until the spell duration ends.

– Moldvay Basic – protection from attacks by monsters of some alignment other than the cleric’s alignment .(not all attacks).

Again, evil exists, and along with this it is heavily implied that all Enchanted creatures are evil. With regards to the alignment mentioned in the Modvay version, we can assume that law/chaos are cosmic forces somehow related to the perception of evil. Also in regards to the enchanted creature aspect of this spell, we can infer that this god is a pacifist first. At least peaceful methods are encouraged, and if necessary  the servants of this Deity will be bolstered in combat against enemies of the church. This message of peace seems already to be implied by the types of spells the cleric receives in general and the weapon restrictions of the cleric.

Purify Food and Water
This spell will make spoiled or poisoned food and water safe and usable. It will purify one ration of food (either Iron or Standard rations), or 6 waterskins of water, or enough normal food to feed a dozen people. If cast at mud, the spell will cause the dirt to settle, leaving a pool of pure, clear water. The spell will not affect any living creature.

This Deity has control over the natural world. He can change the nature of things so they are clean/pure. It is reminiscent of the times when Jesus fed crowds of people and could be symbolic. This also shows that the servants of the Deity will never want, there won't be any monks going around begging for food. 

Remove Fear
When the cleric casts this spell and then touches any living creature, the spell will calm the creature and remove any fear. If the creature is running away due to magically created fear, the creature may make another saving throw vs spells, adding a bonus to the roll equal to the cleric’s level of experience, up to a maximum bonus of +6. If the saving throw is successful, the creature may stop running. A roll of 1 will always fail. This saving throw, with bonus, may be made even if the fear was so powerful as to no saving throw at first!

This is fairly straight forward; the church spreads a message of faith and hope, the opposite of fear and doubt.

Resist Cold
When tjhis spell is cast, all creatures with 230’ of the cleric can withstand freezing temperatures without harm. In addition, those affected gain a bonus of +2 to all saving throws against cold attacks. Furthermore, any damage from cold is reduced by -1 per die of damage (but with a minimum of 1 point of damage per die). The effect will move with the cleric.

Again, control of natural world is implied. This could be seen as a control over the elements, or as the ability to alter biology. The body of the person seems to be changed to withstand extremes normally harmful. This also sends a message that this deity not only  protect servants from enemies, but also from the harmful effects of nature/the world

18 August 2018

The Religion of the Cleric: OD&D

I've talked before about how the default religion of D&D is is analogous to the Catholic Church in the middle ages. Based on my last post reworking cleric magic I want to examine the what the divine powers granted to a cleric tell us about his religion. First I want to examine the implied setting of original D&D for clues about the religion and then I will go through the BECMI spell list and note what each spell tells us about the deity, religion, and beliefs of the Basic D&D cleric.


Original D&D:

One Sixth of all strongholds are ruled by Patriarchs (name level clerics), or possibly Evil High Priests. This implies that the church has a significant political presence, yet it doesn’t dominate the local rulers. Also, the fact that they specifically rule military strongholds implies a more militant view of the church’s role in society, or at least the Clerics, if not the whole church.

Again emphasizing the militant aspect, “Clerics are served by fighters of 4th level (hero) or 8th level (superhero), ents or hippogriffs.” These strongholds are clearly military outposts of the church. The alliance of the church with Ents is interesting to say the least; the implication being that one of the goals of this religion is to protect the natural world. I think this is reinforced when the Evil High Priest are allied with Trolls, Vampires, White Apes, and Spectres (Nazgul). The Evil High Priests, who are the direct enemy of the Patriarchs, are allied with unnatural creatures, the undead, trolls that regenerate, and white apes as an evil version of the normal ape. This supports “Clerics are much closer to the knight templar type,” they are an organization that fights against enemies of the church and the undead.

It is also telling that when a Patriarch’s stronghold is visited by an adventurer, a tithe is demanded. This can’t be a literal tithe of ten percent, or an annual tax that the clergy impose on the local populace (though we can assume this takes place also), the Patriarch has no way of knowing what income the adventurer has had over the last year or if he recently paid a tithe to another Patriarch. This means that the Patriarch isz demanding some sort of payment, not necessarily a tithe of ten percent, to prove that this adventurer is loyal to the church, and if the adventurer doesn’t have the money, he can prove his loyalty by going on a quest.


“each town must have some fairly active necropolis attached to it, and the population must bar themselves indoors at night.” Because of this, I suspect that Evil High Priests have more influence in the towns. The patriarchs may or may not have a presence in these areas, but it seems that the enemies of the church have more influence here. This may be due to the great number of dead bodies that accumulate in graveyards, or to the lack of faith of city folk. I also suspect that the raise dead spell of the clerics is meant to fight this plague of the towns. The fact that the spell is ineffectual after a few days tells us that the spirit/soul of the person has departed the body and gone to the afterlife.

11 August 2018

Cleric Magic using the Turn Undead table

So, after a lot of thought and number crunching, I think I have reached a solution for making clerical magic unique. Essentially I am replacing the vancian casting mechanic with the turn undead mechanic. With this I will keep the spells already in the books, and not rewrite the whole magic system.

Each spell is a called a prayer and takes a turn to perform instead of a round (maybe multiple turns based on level). Each spell also requires a component part, such as a holy symbol, holy water, consecrated oil, blessed bread/wine, etc. There will not be a large variety of components, I see this as more akin to tracking ammo than individual components. When performing a prayer a cleric has to roll to see if this favor is granted, by rolling 2d6 and getting above 7,9 , or 11 based on the level of the prayer and the cleric's level. if looking at the turn undead chart, a 'T' would indicate the prayer takes effect as normal, and a 'D' indicates that the prayer has its maximum effect. For cure light wounds a prayer at the 'D' level would automatically heal 8 hp instead of the normal 1-8. The success of a prayer lines up with the turn undead table as shown below

Undead
Skeleton
Zombie
Ghoul
Wight
Wraith
Mummy
Spectre
Vampire
Phantom
Haunt
Level of Prayer



1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Level 1
7
9
11







Level 2
T
7
9
11






Level 3
T
T
7
9
11





Level 4
D
T
T
7
9
11




Level 5
D
D
T
T
7
9
11














Level 6
D
D
D
T
T
7
9
11


Level 7
D
D
D
D
T
T
7
9
11

Level 8
D
D
D
D
D
T
T
7
9
11
Level 9-10
D
D
D
D
D
D
T
T
7
9
Level 11-12
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
T
T
7
Level 13-14
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
T
T
Level 15-16
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
T
Level 17-20
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D

When a cleric gains access to a new prayer level he is given/has to make a prayer book of the prayers of that level. I haven't decided whether I want to limit the number of prayers a cleric can know based on their normal vancian spells/level chart.