The first item in the series is born out of the emergency that occurred in my G1 game the other weekend. It seems like the whole session may have gotten thrown out of whack with a version of the haste spell (as in my Book of Spells) that has a +4 AC benefit, as well as double-move, double-attacks, affects the whole party, and fairly long in-game duration. Historically, haste first appears in the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement:
Haste: A spell which speeds the movement of up to 20 figures by 50% for three turns. (Complexity 3) [Chainmail, p. 32]So the effect here is to merely boost movement by one-half -- not too bad. It affects 20 men (remembering that Chainmail Fantasy is at 1:1, man-to-man scale), and lasts for 3 turns (recalling that 1 turn = 1 minute here). It's reminiscent of the spell slowness that comes right before it, slowing 20 figures by 50% for 2 turns. Then came Original D&D:
Haste Spell: This is exactly the opposite of a Slow Spell in effect, but otherwise like it. Note that it will counter its opposite and vice-versa. [OD&D Vol-1, p. 26]This is kind of amusing, because in OD&D it actually doesn't tell you what the effect is. Neither does the preceding slow spell, other than to tell you how many are affected, which is similar to Chainmail (Slow Spell: A broad-area spell which effects up to 24 creatures in a maximum area of 6" x 12". Duration: 3 turns. Range: 24".) Paul had a good laugh last year when he started playing OD&D and couldn't see any actual effect for these spells!
Result: I think we're forced to fall back onto the prior Chainmail description and use that. ("Special Ability functions are generally as indicated in CHAINMAIL where not contradictory to the information stated hereinafter...", OD&D Vol-2, p. 5). Compare, however, to certain magical items: potions of speed and boots of speed both double the movement of the wearer (Vol-2, p. 31 & 37; technically boots of speed say "speed of a Light Horse for up to one full day, but he must then rest one day", that being 24" to a man's 12"), so perhaps that was the intention for the haste spell as well.
The other wiggly problem you have here is that even while copy-and-pasting the "3 turns" duration, the meaning of a "turn" has changed between Chainmail and OD&D. In Chainmail it's simply one combat cycle (explicitly 1 minute); in OD&D, we are told, "ten minutes... constitute a turn... There are ten rounds of combat per turn." (Vol-3, p. 8). So as a more general problem, were spells like these in OD&D really meant to last 3 turns (30 minutes) or 3 rounds (3 minutes, as in Chainmail)? We may never know. Next, 1E AD&D:
Haste: ... When this spell is cast, affected creatures function at double their normal movement and attack rates. Thus, a creature moving at 6" and attacking 1 time per round would move at 12" and attack 2 times per round. Spell casting is not more rapid. The number of creatures which can be affected is equal to the level of experience of the magic-user, those creatures closest to the spell caster being affected in preference to those farther away, and all affected by haste must be in the designated area of effect. Note that this spell negates the effects of a slow spell (see hereafter). Additionally, this spell ages the recipients due to speeded metabolic processes. Its material component is a shaving of licorice root. [1E AD&D PHB, p. 74]Okay, so here we now have double-movement, and also the first mention of double-attacks. Range is cut to 6" and number affected is limited by caster level (less, but still quite likely a whole AD&D party of around 7 or so). Duration has been cut back (or up?) to 3 rounds + 1 round/level. And, we have an explicit prohibition against accelerated spell casting, which is a good idea.
Near the end, it also has a limiting side-effect bolted on, namely the "ages the recipients" clause. It's detailed in the DMG, haste being in a short list of spells with aging effects, adding 1 year to a creature's age. (DMG p. 13) While the potion of speed matches the 1E spell (double move & attacks), the boots of speed still act basically as in OD&D (light horse 24" base movement, rest equal to time sped up, no extra attacks), and also add in a +2 AC bonus for the first time.
In 2E AD&D, as usual, the spell is mostly just copy-and-pasted from 1E:
Haste: ... When this spell is cast, each affected creature functions at double its normal movement and attack rates. A hasted creature gains a -2 initiative bonus. Thus, a creature moving at 6 and attacking once per round would move at 12 and attack twice per round. Spellcasting and spell effects are not sped up. The number of creatures that can be affected is equal to the caster's experience level; those creatures closest to the center of effect are affected first. All affected by haste must be in the designated area of effect. Note that this spell negates the effects of a slow spell. Additionally, this spell ages the recipient by one year, because of sped-up metabolic processes. This spell is not cumulative with itself or with other similar magic. Its material component is a shaving of licorice root. [2E CD-ROM PHB]Duration is again 3 rounds + 1/level; still double move and attacks, still one-year aging side-effect. The only change here is a +2 initiative bonus (done in 2E on a d10).
In the same general era, the BXCMI line has a haste spell which is a mixture of the preceding: 24 creatures, 3 turns (explicitly 30 minutes), double move and attacks. However, it adds a 9-paragraph section in "Dungeon Master Procedures" enumerating about the effects of just this spell (I think this first appeared in Mentzer's Companion Rules set; copy below is from the D&D Rules Cyclopedia). It allows multiple speed effects to stack, giving +2 to hit per step, and +2 AC if double-hasted. It ends thusly:
The DM may add other restrictions as desired. For example, problems in communication can develop through speed differences, especially when a character moving at four times normal speed tries to talk with other moving normal speed.Perhaps the "add any controls" language is a wink at the AD&D aging rule, without actually including that complication in BXCMI? In any case, here comes 3E:
Speed can be an extremely valuable tool for characters in combat. If the bonuses gained by speed give the PCs too much power, you should add any controls needed to keep the game balanced and entertaining. [D&D Rules Cyclopedia, p. 147]
Haste: ... The transmuted creature moves and acts more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects. On its turn, the subject may take an extra partial action, either before or after its regular action. The subject gains a +4 haste bonus to AC. The subject loses this bonus whenever it would lose a dodge bonus. The subject can jump one and a half times as far as normal. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus. Haste dispels and counters slow. [3.0 SRD]Now, this is more radically changed than most spells in the 2E -> 3E switch. The effect is more limited in creatures affected (just one!), range (25 feet + 5/2 levels), and duration (1 round/level). You get a +4 AC included in the spell (somewhat like 1E boots of speed and BXCMI double-hasting language). Aging is persona non grata in this ruleset, so that's not present.
More keenly however, the core effect of the spell is now: "an extra partial action", which is basically whatever "normal" thing you can do in a round, any one of: (1) an extra move, (2) one more attack, or (3) an extra spell. (!) That last bit is an enormous break with the strict "no extra spells" rule that was consistent in 1E, 2E, and BXCMI. It was so potent in 3E that some people argued it would still be desirable as a 9th level spell for any casters. Ultimately, WOTC adventures wound up having almost every NPC wizard with haste ready as their first action in any fight. This was perhaps the #1 item on the list of things that really needed fixing in the 3.5 update:
Haste: ... The transmuted creatures move and act more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects. When making a full attack action, a hasted creature may make one extra attack with any weapon he is holding. The attack is made using the creature’s full base attack bonus, plus any modifiers appropriate to the situation. (This effect is not cumulative with similar effects, such as that provided by a weapon of speed, nor does it actually grant an extra action, so you can’t use it to cast a second spell or otherwise take an extra action in the round.) A hasted creature gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. Any condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses. All of the hasted creature’s modes of movement (including land movement, burrow, climb, fly, and swim) increase by 30 feet, to a maximum of twice the subject’s normal speed using that form of movement. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus, and it affects the creature’s jumping distance as normal for increased speed. Multiple haste effects don’t stack. Haste dispels and counters slow. Material Component: A shaving of licorice root. [3.5 SRD]Well, it's certainly grown to a heck of a lot more text than it started out in the Chainmail days, hasn't it? It's back to affecting 1 creature/level. We've yanked out the 3.0 "partial action" language, and hence the ability to cast extra spells. It doesn't double moves & attacks, but rather gives up to one extra attack, and up to 30 feet extra movement (or double if that's less). It also adds a whole bunch of fiddly +1 bonuses: (1) +1 attacks, (2) +1 Reflex saves, and (3) just a +1 AC bonus.
Okay, so let's consider what happened when I drafted my Original Edition Delta: Book of Spells. I started with the 3.0 SRD text for everything because it was closer to older sources. In this case, I had more work to do, because "partial actions" are not a rule mechanic that we deal with, and extra-spells are certainly a hideous error, not found in any other edition of the game. I yanked out the "partial action" line and replaced it with the familiar, common thread from 1E, 2E, and BXCMI: double move and attacks, for a whole party of people. I left the +4 AC bonus in place (not thinking too much about it, or at least thinking it about balanced and simpler than 3.5's basket of various +1 bonuses). I was also turning all duration into "turns", just like OD&D, avoiding the issue of whether rounds or turns should really be intended, thus:
Haste: (Range: 6 inches, Duration: 3 turns) The transmuted creatures (1/level) move and act more quickly than normal. On their turn, the subjects can move and attack at twice the normal rate. Also, the subjects gain a +4 bonus to AC. Haste dispels and counters slow. [OED Book of Spells, p. 8]So frankly, as I found in my recent G1 session, the +4 AC itself is just too potent for an OD&D game. (It's the first thing I've found in Book of Spells that seems to really need revision.) If it weren't for haste, no negative ACs would have been seen; it switched several fighters from AC0 to AC-4, cutting giant hit probabilities from about 1-in-2 to about 1-in-4 (from 12+ to 16+). While cutting the giant hits in half, it simultaneously doubled the hits the party fighters were dishing out with their extra attacks. (So that's sort of a 4-multiple swing in terms of hits-taken versus hits-given). It also affected the whole party for 30 minutes in-game; several players agreed that it would still be game-changing even if it only last 3 rounds.
Let's think about it more carefully this time. Assume that we just sweep the table of fiddly side-effects like the aging bolt-on, different action types, system-shock rolls, etc. Assume that we're playing a game as close to OD&D as possible, affecting the whole party as in every version except 3.0 (and in that way being symmetric with slow in every edition), and also interpreting "3 turns" in whatever standard way you use for OD&D. What would be a reasonably balanced effect for the haste spell as a 3rd-level wizard (magic-user) spell? (See poll results here.)