Most Impactful Spells on Dungeon Exploration

Hello everyone!
I’m soliciting opinion on which spells tend to be the most impactful on various facets of the game. Please share your opinions. If you are wondering why I listed something, ask…
[UPDATED to include your recommendations - keep them coming]

Dungeon Exploration:
Charm Person
Continual Light
Dimension Door
Dispel Magic
Find Traps
Gaseous Form
Silence 15’ Radius
Summon Berserker
Wizard Eye

Hypnotic Pattern
Lightning Bolt
Magic Missile
Stinking Cloud

Wilderness Exploration/Travel:
Polymorph Other (creating flying mounts)

The Campaign World:
Charm Person
Continual Light (if permanent)
Cure Disease
Magic Jar
Neutralize Poison
Polymorph Other
Read Language (archaeology)
Restore Life and Limb

Sleep should definitely be in combat, possibly the campaign world. The ability to immediately incapacitate a foe and have the option of either killing or imprisoning them is a big deal.

If I am to judge based on my usage of them, Magic Jar warps campaigns.

There are just so many things you can do with bodysnatching, and on top of it, it functions as a lesser phylactery. It makes any wizard of 9th level or above with few to no morals a quasi-immortal spying machine, and that’s just in the basic use of the spell.

I would probably also include Permanency in the Campaign section, although campaign worlds where no new permanent magic items can be created are pretty cool.

I realized, after posting this, that Permanency is not required for permanent magic items in ACKS. I play too many editions of D&D and cannot edit my posts!

If we have both Fly and Levitate, I’d argue for the inclusion of Continual Light in addition to Infravision. ContLight is one of those wonderful spells that removes gameplay - as soon as someone in the party learns it, you no longer have to keep track of torches, and underwater adventure also becomes somewhat more viable. It doesn’t have the stealth applications that infravision does, but it’s also a level lower (much as with fly / levitate). I would also argue for Create Food and Create Water on the wilderness side for the same reason - they free you from tracking rations for a party-sized group.

Great feedback! Magic Jar & Continual Light are great additions. (Continual Light was much worse before I added the “sustain” duration limit…)

Can’t believe I missed SLEEP. I must have been…asleep…when I wrote this list.

You just listed the reasons for playing a wizard… And living with the crappy combat abilities, scant HP and lack of armour or good weapons.

He has a point :slight_smile:

Could add the Clair* spells to dungeon exploration, maybe.

It looks like we’re mostly looking for spells that obviate a class feature or rule subset - eating, light, the thief, a squad of fighters. I don’t know where that bar should be - one could page through ACKS core and match a rule to a spell that breaks it.

You’re playing the Mage BECAUSE occasionally you can create food OUT OF THIN AIR.

You’re playing the Mage BECAUSE occasionally you can create light WITHOUT A TORCH.

You’re playing the Mage BECAUSE occasionally you can STAND IN FOR A THIEF.

You’re playing the Mage BECAUSE occasionally you can be as effective in combat as A SQUAD OF FIGHTING-MEN.

These are THE reasons for playing a Mage.

But these come at a price.

Fighters fight like fighters 24/7/365. You, the Mage, can be MUCH more powerful than a single Fighter, BUT only a few times a day. Otherwise, you’re VERY weak in combat.

Thieves can use their skills 24/7/365. You, the Mage, can be automatically succeed at a Thief task or two, BUT only a few times a day.

You run out of spells, you only have your wit to save you. Unlike the Fighter and Thief who have unlimited, if much weaker, abilities.

Take away these spells and there will be little reason to play a Mage.

I don’t believe Alex intends to turn ACKS or OSR dungeon fantasy roleplaying on it’s head. I believe his questions are aimed at considering how to make the future “Heroic Fantasy” roleplaying book include magic more in line with literary fantasy. In general, more subtle, although still potentially powerful.

Upon returning to OSR play after a long absence, the spells that surprised me with their combat effectiveness were the aforementioned sleep as well as light and continual light when cast “on the target’s ocular organs”. This powerful offensive addition to an otherwise good utility spell makes it very hard to value in the spell system, i.e. a “breakthrough” by someone. The continual light version is a utility spell combined with an offensive curse-equivalent spell.

IF ordinary light can be used offensively, I think it should dazzle or distract and/or the duration should be swift, like command word.

I agree; I did not catch any undertone of “nerf incoming”. It seemed more like an attempt to understand which spells kick ass and why.

That’s exactly correct.

In “Heroic Fantasy ACKS”, I combined the spell lists of mages and clerics into one. Game mechanically, I created a new magic type called “eldritch magic” which has a spell source modifier of x1 for all types of spells. I’m now going through the different spell types and adjusting the source modifiers to what is appropriate for a heroic fantasy setting.

I’ve already concluded that all blast and wall spells will have a x1.5 modifier (between mages and clerics) and that movement spells which allow you to fly, TK, or teleport will have a x2 modifier. A heroic fantasy mage who wants to fly transforms into a bird, instead of soaring like a superhero. Commune is removed, as is restore life and limb.

The overall “feel” of magic should result in a very different game. Here are some spells…

Shatter Blade Range: 30’
Eldritch 1 (Grey) Duration: instantaneous
By means of this spell, the caster destroys a single weapon, causing its blade to shatter or melt away into smoke. If the weapon is held by a creature, the wielder may make a saving throw versus Death to resist the effect, adding the weapon’s magic bonus (if any) to the effect. In any case, the spell causes no harm to the creature holding the weapon (except for depriving him of it).

Summon Giant Eagle Range: Special
Eldritch 3 (Grey) Duration: 1 day
This spell calls a small roc to the caster to serve as a winged steed (see the Monsters chapter of Adventurer Conqueror King System for details). The summoned roc will travel by air to the caster’s destination at its flying movement rate. It will generally take 1d3 hours for the roc to arrive if the spell is cast in mountain terrain, and 1d6 hours when cast in other terrain. The time to arrival may be much shorter if a roc lair is nearby (rocs fly at 24 miles per hour). If called while the caster is unreachable (deep in a dungeon, for example), the roc will travel as close as it can to the caster and then circle the sky in that vicinity. For the duration of the spell, the roc will understand the spellcaster’s speech, and will serve as a loyal mount. The spellcaster may choose to mount the roc himself, and/or command that the roc carry others. This spell does not conjure up saddle and tack, nor does it automatically grant the rider the equivalent of Riding proficiency, so unproficient characters who ride the roc into battle do so at their own risk. The spell persists until the roc is slain, or until the spell is dispelled or 1 day passes (at which time the roc departs).

Guise Self Range: self
Eldritch 4 (Grey) Duration: 1 day
This spell grants the caster the ability to alter his shape into that of any other humanoid creature. The caster can control his new shape’s physical qualities (such as height, weight, gender, hair color, hair texture, and skin color) within the normal ranges for a creature of its kind. His equipment, if any, remains worn or held where possible, and otherwise melds into the new form. If used in conjunction with a successful Disguise proficiency throw, guise self can allow the caster to appear as a specific individual.

Clairvoyance, Greater Range: 100 miles
Eldritch 6 (White) Duration: 8 hours
This spell enables the caster to see into other areas through the eyes of a selected type of living creatures, such as bats, hawks, or rats. The caster must specify the direction and approximate distance, up to a maximum of 100 miles away, of the first creature he wishes to clairvoyantly contact. If there is no appropriate creature in that area, the next closest creature of the appropriate type will be contacted instead. No saving throw is allowed, and the subject is unaware that it is being so used. The caster may choose another subject creature after at least a turn has passed, enabling multiple locations to be viewed. If the subject creature moves out of range, contact is lost, and the caster must choose another subject in this case. A lead barrier between the caster and the subject creature(s) will block the effect. This spell is difficult to cast, taking one full turn, and is so draining that it can be used but once per week.

Good point and something I’ve been mulling over too. I’ll make the change and see how it plays.

So, in essence, you have weakened the Mage by taking away some of his most awesome powers. Will this be compensated by something, such as, for example, loosening the armour and/or weapon restrictions on Mages (i.e. reducing the class-design costs of Mages so that they can take HP and Fighter points like the Cleric does)?

Jeez, Golan, give me some credit. Before I did anything, I built a magic type class category creation system so I could see what the XP impact was. All will be taken into account.

Of course. This is what I figured you’d do.

Are you planning to print that magic class category creation system in the heroic fantasy book (likely an appendix) or will I have to kickstart at some ridiculous level to get my hands on it? :stuck_out_tongue:

Option 3 is that he posts it to the forums :stuck_out_tongue: It’s happened before.

At some point I really do intend to ship more product and maybe even ask for money.