Monday, October 20, 2014

Previewing Book of Spells 2E: Sleep

This December 1st I'll be releasing a 2nd-edition update to my Book of Spells (see sidebar). This is my interpretation of the wizard spells in Original D&D, as they initially existed in levels 1-6 (plus some Greyhawk spells thrown in), with some hopefully judicious edits and fixups for things I've seen in my games over the 40 years since then.

This is meant to serve a couple of purposes simultaneously: one, to be able to provide each wizard player at the table their own concise documentation for the effects of their spells in the game (without burdening other players with that information in a rulebook); and two, to fill in the gap that the original edition has been out-of-print and difficult to obtain for quite some time (while other editions are now sold digitally online, the original game is still not made available by Wizards/Hasbro).

The new edition is, of course, meant to serve the same major goals. While the 1st edition was based rather strictly on the Open Gaming System Reference Document (the new edition is still OGL), in the 2nd edition I've been spending more time individually crafting each spell to bring it more in line with the original game in terms of range, duration, effect, thematics, etc. And generally to try even harder to cut down the text and produce maximal brevity in the spell descriptions, to make things as clear and fast to players and DMs during play as possible. And also do some tune-ups to things that have bothered us in last couple of years about certain spells, or were unintentional side effects of using the SRD as a basis, etc.

One other thing: the 2nd edition has all-new interior artwork by my talented and beautiful partner Isabelle. It's been really delightful to throw some ideas for spells I'd like to see illustrated at her and see what she's come up with. In the next couple of weeks I'd like to share some of these with you. Let me start with this: I think she managed to nail the single most perfect, archetypal, and hilarious depiction of the omnipresent sleep spell in all the years that I've been gaming. Check it out:

(Yes, apparently some adventurers had the decency to put a blanket over their fallen victims before departing.) I'll provide some more updates to Book of Spells, 2nd Edition here in the weeks before Dec-1. If you have other ideas for errata I or rules details you think I may have missed, feel free to send them to me before that time. And check out past "Spells Through the Ages" posts (link) for analyses and discussions that we've had before.


  1. I have a mental image of the Sleep spell not only rendering the targets unconscious, but compelling them to get ready for bed. Putting on their nightcaps, brushing their fangs, etc,

    1. I do like your version. Also summon monster spells that don't pop the monster into existence, but make the nearest one come to you. Which could take days or even weeks.

    2. Ha! Nice. On the monster summoning, that is actually how I always read 1E (partly due to the delay in arrival). I didn't realize until this moment that it does say "appear in the spot"!

  2. Great news, I'll be sure to get the 2nd edition! BTW, I like what Simon Bull has done in Delving Deeper. I think he made some interesting changes to the usual "lineup" of 0e spells. I am sure your goals are different, but still, can't hurt to take a look.