Monday, July 20, 2009

B/X Companion: Spell Progress

I've finally sat down and finished off the spell lists for my B/X Companion set. This is something I was putting off for awhile, and I am extremely pleased with the results.

The tough part, of course, is actually getting the writing down to pithy little blurbs, easily (or not) interpreted as with the Moldvay or Cook rules. Fortunately, only one uses any sort of table, and so none of the descriptions should be longer than, say, the Contact Higher Plane spell of B/X.

One thing that really helped was to "get all Vancian with it." I finally just embraced the whole magic-users-are-mediums-of-POWER-thing. For example, there is no casting time or spell components to any B/X spell. None! Not even Magic Jar (you simply jam the soul into any inanimate object in range). Everything casts in one round, everything is fire-and-forget.

BECMI did not take this approach...coming out after AD&D, it carried all the same Gygaxian misgivings about the power levels of magic-users. So while it is not as over-blown as AD&D, it requires the use of powdered gems and extended effect times (Clone, for example). None of which is really Vancian.

Not that MY clone spell goes off instantly or fact, I don't even have a clone or simulacrum in the repertoire. I don't have anything that can't be simply explained as "words of power" that have been memorized by the magic-user...complex or not, they all go off the same.

The other thing I've done is that, while I reviewed BECMI, AD&D, and Labyrinth Lord to see how they all did, I didn't necessarily hold myself to that. Mainly, I held myself to Moldvay/Cook and the whimsy of Vance, Gygax, and Arneson.

Give you an example: the Expert set description of Efreeti - Lesser (page X31...and don't worry, Efreeti - Greater is already on the monster list) states that efreet "can be summoned by high level magic-users that have researched the special spells required." What could be simpler than a Summon Efreeti spell (7th level Magic-User). Fire and forget, just like invisible servant (and similarly requiring nada-zilch-nothing. Just a few words of power).

Hey, it's not like he's summoning a sandestin or something.

[as a side note, I have no intention to use Vance-specific monsters in the B/X Companion, so there won't be any sandestins. However, it would certainly be a fun house rule for someone's high level B/X campaign!]

All right, now for a little break, then back to work!


  1. Sound reasoning, I prefer MUs to be the conduit of power rather than it spring from the use of collected ingredients, it just seems more heroic, less like being a herbalist or alchemist.

  2. This sounds awesome, if you need any help doing the layout for pdf or print, let me know. I recently completed Ruins & Ronin using InDesign, and I think I have a good feel for it now.

  3. Thanks, folks.

    Mike, I really appreciate the offer. Right not I am getting all the text down, but if the recent SNAFU with gametable is any indication I may need some assistance when it comes to lay-out. I will let you know, man.

  4. Print it out and compare, but I'd guess 9 and 8 are too large, and the actual print used is probably a 6 or 7 or something.