Monday, November 17, 2014

Previewing Book of Spells 2E: Stone to Flesh

Who's this gentleman, on the very last page of the new Book of Spells, 2nd Edition, available Monday December 1st?


That's the illustration that my partner Isabelle came up with for the very last spell in the book, stone to flesh. Now, a couple things that I like about this "Easter Island" looking fellow, inspired by that spell: it's a little ambiguous exactly what would happen if you cast stone to flesh on him. Is the implication that it's a trapped giant who then comes back to life and serves you? Can the spell give animation to a huge statue and possibly answer questions from the party? I actually want to give DM's some amount of flexibility and authority in interpreting those kinds of questions, particularly so for spells at the maximum level -- and if I or they are inspired by a work of art like this, so much the better. Plus, he echoes the "great stone face" of the Original D&D Greyhawk supplement -- which Isabelle has never seen.

Here's my current rules text for the stone to flesh spell. Note that there is no allowance for a "reversed" usage of the spell; in OD&D it's the only magic-user spell that seems to imply such usage, and I thought it much cleaner to just remove that complexity from the system (if you want a different effect, then research a different spell).


Stone to Flesh: (Range: 12 inches, Duration: Instant) This spell restores any petrified creature to its normal state. The spell can also convert a mass of stone into a fleshy substance; such flesh is inert unless a life force or magical energy is available. The caster can affect a mass up to 3 feet in diameter and 10 feet long.


The funny thing is that prior to Isabelle's illustration, I had the spell much shorter; it simply said, "This spell restores any petrified creature to its normal state," and I'd cut out the other usage that comes from AD&D/3E SRD. But seeing Isabelle's vision for the spell, I decided I really wanted a figure like that to be affected by the spell. Will it have some "life force" or "magical energy" available for it to speak or act? Or maybe it's just a big slab of meat to use in some more profane way? The DM gets to decide within the given parameters of the spell. At the topmost levels, I think there should be a little mystery in your campaign (at least until your players put their magic to the test).


10 comments:

  1. 3' diameter? At 10' tall that may be a skinny Giant.

    I love the open ended wording of life force maybe being present.

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    1. Actually, look at this Harvard listing of average male dimensions: height is 5'-9", and width across the shoulders is 1'-6". So if you double all those dimensions you get 11½' tall (about like a hill giant) and 3' across at the widest point.

      http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~loebinfo/loebinfo/Proportions/humanfigure.html

      If anything maybe I should boost the length to 12' to encompass true giant height? Thanks for getting me to check on that!

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    2. Edit: That's not male, that's average for all adults.

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    3. I was also thinking about statues with outstretched arms etc. but I suppose DMs should be smart about such things.
      I would be tempted to up it to 5' to stick with the common D&D scaling.

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    4. You know, I almost just took your suggestion just now and then I realized that there's a connection to the math of Gygax's rule in 1E (9 cu. ft. per level) that works out really nicely for the nominal 12th-level wizard. For personal amusement I think I'll keep it compatible with that.

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  2. My copy of Men & Magic doesn't "seem to imply" reverse usage, it is EXPLICIT in this function:

    "This spell turns stone to flesh, and it is reversable [sic], so as to turn flesh to stone."

    I'm not sure where the extra complexity is in this. Using the standard OD&D rule of "one use of each spell" it offers an interesting choice of which version to cast. However, I guess my real reservation in axing it is I've always considered FtoS kind of the OD&D equivalent of Power Word Kill, and I hate seeing it go away.

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    1. Yeah, I guess what I mean is that nowhere else in OD&D is there any talk about wizard spells being reversible in the first place, so it's the only thing that implies reversibility is something you might need to track in general for wizard mechanics. Contrast with clerics who have a general rule (Vol-1, p. 22 and 34) and notation (underlining in the spell list) for a number of spells get reversed by evil clerics. Meanwhile, "stone-flesh" is not underlined in the spell list, so in some sense it's breaking a rule or is (to me) an irritating outlier.

      I would think that presence of "disintegrate" at the same level would be the best analog to power word kill?

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  3. I don't see any problem with keeping the reverse function, though I could see tweaking the language to be clear this isn't quite like the reversible spells of a cleric (kind of a non-issue for you). It's basically just saying that switching between flesh and stone is the same either direction, relying on the same knowledge. If you know how to do one, you know how to do the other as well

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    1. It's certainly doable, but personally I really kind of hate wizards in OD&D having exactly one reversible spell in their list to worry about. I feel like it's a nicer system to just have one less mechanic (no reversibility). And it opens some campaign texture (in general it's resuscitative, but some evil wizards may secretly have a flesh-to-stone casting?). This is one where I agree with 3E splitting off separate spells.

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    2. Okay, I see in my notes that there's also transmute rock to mud. Which kind of highlights my point that it's such an outlier, it's hard to remember about this mechanic for wizards in OD&D.

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