Sleep spell = TPK ?

I started role-playing with 1st edition in 1978, but I’ve played a lot of different games since then. Every once in a while, the old rules slap me upside the head.

Sleep doesn’t have a save!?! I start paging through various versions of the rules … It’s interesting what you can miss and/or forget.

I don’t ever remember a party being wiped out by a sleep spell, but it seems like that should have been a common event. I’m tempted to look at old modules to see if the writers avoided choosing sleep spells for the villainous mages.

With no save, how’s a party to defend itself from the beastman witch-doctors of the world? Include/hire lots of elves?

Yes, Sleep is awesome. I wish I had some right now. Knowing how powerful Sleep is, yes, you’d probably avoid giving it to your witch-doctors. Or, if you want that sandbox/verisimilitude feel, you can roll your witch-doctor’s spells randomly. Still not likely to have Sleep.

Also, as soon as the witch-doctor begins casting, everybody, and I mean everybody, should whip out missile weapons and unload on him, initiative permitting. You can pick your swords up off of the ground next turn.

So, it’s a nasty situation, but not insurmountable.

Huh. I’ve been giving sleep a save vs death. This has hurt the PCs more than the monsters…

This is why I do a double take every time someone griping about old school games uses the ‘wizards are weak at levels 1-3’ argument. A first level wizard with a Sleep spell can pretty much end an encounter with a pinch of sand and a wizard with Charm can turn an ogre to his side with the flip of a wrist.

Sure, they’re glass cannons and go down with a single hit, but weak? I think not. Especially if they hire a good number of henchmen with all that wizardly cash they start with and have nothing to spend on.

Not to mention the fact that EVERYONE almost goes down with a single hit at level one, so really, rock that sleep spell. I’ve only used it on the party twice, but luckily for them, they were spread out around a corner where the caster couldn’t see all of them at once, and that saved their bacon (that’s another think you can do if you can’t hit the wizard before the spell goes off…RUN!).

aren’t elves completely immune to it in D&D though? Perhaps that’s why Drow were picked as the “DM is here to kill you” antagonist race.