Thursday, February 21, 2008

Those Blasted Clerics

Random idle research topic: Where did D&D clerics get all these blasting spells from?

OD&D -- Good clerics don't have any direct-damage spells whatsoever. The closest thing to offensive spells they have are hold person, sticks to snakes (no stats for the snakes), and insect plague (which routs weak creatures but does no damage). The chaotic Anti-clerics do get to use reversed cure wounds spells and ye olde time finger of death.

1E AD&D PHB -- Now all clerics can use the reversed spells if they feel they really need to. You also have the damage-dealing spiritual hammer, blade barrier, earthquake, and my favorite outright blasting spell, flame strike.

1E AD&D UA -- Adds stuff like magic stone, spike stones, and spike growth. (Hmmm, seems like a lot of stoning going on there.)

2E AD&D PHB -- At this point you fold in all the spells that were previously unique to druids into a single, unified cleric spell list (and give pretty wide access under the 2E "spheres" system), such as: entangle, shillelagh, fire trap, flame blade, heat metal, produce flame, trip, call lightning, hold animal, pyrotechnics, snare, produce fire, wall of fire, fire seeds, animate rock, creeping doom, and fire storm. (You know, suddenly it makes a lot of sense why the long-running cleric character I had, made first for 2E, was something of a pyromaniac.)

3.0 D&D PHB -- So here some of those spells above again become restricted to just druids, but you also add stuff like: magic weapon, death knell, shatter, sound burst, searing light, greater magic weapon, energy drain, implosion, and storm of vengeance. Certain domains even add more stuff than that, like burning hands, wail of the banshee, disintegrate, incendiary cloud, Bigby's clenched fist et. al., subeam, sunburst, power word stun/ blind/ kill, ice storm, cone of cold, acid fog, horrid wilting, plus chaos hammer, unholy blight, holy smite, and order's wrath. Hey-o!

Okay, so the point is, when clerics started out, they were almost entirely defensive -- they could paralyze or drive off creatures with their spells, but not directly damage them. Except for the chaotic Anti-clerics. That's basically maintained throughout the OD&D supplement series, except for Druids being given a big heaping helping of fire-based attack spells (and there's some confusion in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement about whether they're supposed to be a sub-class of Clerics or Magic-Users). Then with 1E AD&D clerics get the flame strike spell outright, and we're sort of off to the races. Nowadays we don't think much at all of clerics having a wide array of long-distance direct blasting spells, even though that was (literally) the Antithesis of clerics in their original conception.

Friday, February 1, 2008

No OGL For 4E

One month ago in my "Promise of OGL" post, I wrote this about Wizards of the Coast with regard to 4E D&D (Jan-2, http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2008/01/part-iii-promise-of-ogl.html ):


They claim that there will be an OGL version of the rules, but details are extremely vague (frankly, I remain skeptical at this time).

And as of today, that's turned out to be the case. There won't be on OGL for 4E; instead there will be a brand-new license called the "Gaming System License" that is a far more restricted grant of rights than 3E allowed (Feb-2, http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=218031 ):


Mike: Why is Wizards of the Coast calling it the OGL when it really doesn't seem quite open?

Linae Foster: We decided that yeah, OGL isn't the best name for it. So we're going to call it The Game System License from now on or GSL.

You can see comments and links to the prior "OGL" post here about why that was probably necessary. In particular, it's been pointed out that OGL v.1 Section 9 actually makes forward-referencing grants of rights to anything ever released under any OGL. (i.e., WOTC wants OGL v.2 with lots more restrictions, but OGL v.1 says you can take any such content and just re-release it under the less restrictive OGL v.1 anyway.)

So, as of today no more use of OGL by WOTC. I actually think that's positive, in that they're being up front about it and not trying to confuse/FUD-up the legal standing of the first OGL.