From the AD&D Players Handbook (page 67):
Push (Conjuration/Summoning)Level: 1Range: 1" + 1/4"/levelDuration: InstantaneousArea of Effect: SpecialComponents: V, S, MCasting Time: 1 segmentSaving Throw: Neg.Explanation/Description: Upon pronouncing the syllables of this spell, the magic-user causes an invisible force to strike against whatever object he or she is pointing at. The force of the push is not great, being 1 foot pound per level of the magic-user casting the spell, but it can move small objects up to 1' in a direction away from the caster, topple an object under the proper conditions, or cause a creature to lose its balance when it is attacking, for if the creature fails its saving throw, it will not be able to attack that round. Of course, the mass of the creature attacking cannot exceed the force of the push by more than a factor of 50, i.e. a 1st level magic-user cannot effectively push a creature weighing more than 50 pounds. A push spell used against an object held by a creature will cause it to subtract the force of the spell in foot pounds (1, 2, 3, etc.) from its chance to hit or add to opponent's saving throws as applicable if the character fails to make its saving throw against magic when the spell is cast. The material component of this spell is a small pinch of powdered brass which must be blown from the palm prior to pointing at the object of the spell.
So much wrong (as I've written before).
Gygax is sometimes praised and sometimes derided for his prose. "Evocative" and "convoluted" are both words that come to mind when I consider his writing. But his spell work (i.e. his compilation of spells in the AD&D books) is some of the worst. I mean...hoo boy howdy. In actual play, I generally do my best to NOT read (or make use of) the textual descriptions.
Back when I was a kid playing AD&D, we didn't see all that many spell-casters. In fact, we probably saw more psionic use than spell-casting. Certainly, psionics seemed easy enough to use. But we only had one kid who routinely played magic-users (or, on one occasion, an illusionist), and the kid who had cleric duty spent most of his spells on healing (natch) which are about as "no brainer" as AD&D spell-casting gets. Most of our characters were fighters, thieves, bards (who used their fighting and thief abilities, not their druidic powers), or some subclass of these: rangers, acrobats, assassins, fighter/thieves, etc.
To be honest, I think MOST of the spell-casters encountered in our old campaigns were opponents...and as such their spells were confined to the needs of the scenario (i.e. mostly attack-oriented spells). As such a lot of the dross in the PHB (spells like erase and push) saw zero use. We didn't realize just how messed up some of these reworked spells were (polymorph other, for example) because we made assumptions that the descriptions would, more-or-less, match what we already knew from the B/X books. All we REALLY cared about were those notes at the top: range, components, casting time, and saving throw. Those were the important factors in running the AD&D game, not whether or not Gygax is calculating his newtons of force thing correctly (spoiler: he's not).
One of these days, I'll get around to curating the entire list of PHB spells for my home campaign (much as other folks have done), but at the moment I have more pressing campaign needs (just finished redoing the age tables, and am considering how to do height/weight based on species and ability scores...the current randomness on page 100 of the DMG yields "unsatisfactory" results). The push spell is, however, on my mind because it's one of the possible starter spells on the offensive list and I like the idea of a first level spell that shoves someone with telekinetic force. It's a logical "first step" on the road to more subtler manipulations.
Reviewing the other 1st level spells, I see that Tenser's floating disk allows a 1st level magic-user to carry 100# of weight for forty minutes, whereas unseen servant allows manipulation of only small amounts (10 or 20 pounds) but with more direction (opening and closing, stepping and fetching, etc.) for an hour and ten. That's very useful: wondering who's going to carry the lantern and allow hands-free adventuring? Get an unseen servant!
Ignoring all the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, what exactly is the push spell trying to accomplish. What is the intention of the thing? THAT, is where I want to direct my focus:
- The spell is quick to cast (1 segment), instantaneous of effect, and short range.
- The telekinetic shove is enough to move the target a minimal distance (1') unbalancing it (causing it to lose its attacks for the round) or take a penalty to attack rolls (??) or saves (??) though ONLY upon failing a saving throw
- The spell affects larger creatures/objects depending on caster level.
Compared to other 1st level attack spells (magic missile, sleep, charm person...even light!) this is pretty weak sauce. Burning hands and shocking grasp at least scale up damage based on level...an 11th level wizard can't even exert as much force as an unseen servant (11 foot pounds of force?!)! Probably not enough to knock a goblin off a cliff (let alone an ogre) unless he's already balanced on one foot.
What we really want is something that slams the target (or pushes a large object) for a split second. Let's see, let's see. How about this (changes in bold):
Push (Evocation)Level: 1Range: 1" + 1"/levelDuration: InstantaneousArea of Effect: SpecialComponents: V, SCasting Time: 1 segmentSaving Throw: SpecialExplanation/Description: Upon pronouncing the syllables of this spell, the magic-user causes an invisible force to strike against whatever object he or she is pointing at, pushing it 10' directly away from the caster. Creatures must save versus magic or be knocked sprawling, taking 1 to 6 points of damage and losing their action for the round; a successful save allows the creature to stay on its feet, but it still loses its action for the round. The push will not affect creatures whose hit dice exceed the caster's level of experience; inanimate objects may not exceed 50 pounds per level of the magic-user.
There...was that so hard?
Later, gators. Happy Friday!