As I prep for my Dolmenwood game (using the retroclone Delving Deeper as my base), I’ve decided to keep some of the rules back from the players and introduce them as needed.
After all, none of the players have ever played OD&D before (and neither have I) so dumping all the rules on them means having them reading Delving Deeper from scratch.
But why? The rules of OD&D are simple. That’s the point. You don’t need to pour over rules to understand the game. There is no “system mastery.” There is exploration of the world and the choices your characters make… and that’s pretty much it. Apart from some resource management issues–which are in fiction concerns, not mechanics concerns–there is very little to know about how the rules work.
Further, I’m already pulling in rules from other games to add onto the game I’m building, and making changes to the game based on how I see the setting playing out. This is another feature of OD&D’s simple rules: Bolting stuff onto the game doesn’t change much else. But if the players read the Delving Deeper rules they’d find themselves reading rules that don’t match what we’re playing.
So, again, it makes sense to dole out the rules as required, and keep the fictional details of the setting (my description of the setting to the players) as the core entry point for the shared imaginative space we are creating.
With that in mind I decide to create shorter rules descriptions of the Magic-User and Cleric spells. I wanted to strip out the game mechanic portions of the descriptions so the spells would be punchy and evocative. I also gave the spells new name so they would conjure a bit more color for both magic in general and the setting of Dolmenwood in particular.
Here are the reworded 1st-level spells I’m handing out to the players as they make their characters.
First Magnitude Magic-User Spells
All Magic-User can cast the spell Sense Magic at will, allowing them to recognize the presence of any enchantment on a person, place, or object within range and sight. This spell does not take up a slot of memoriazation.
The Apprentice’s Radiant Shield: This spell prevents any enchanted or conjured creature from contacting the magic-user. Furthermore, attacks made against the magic-user by other chaotic types will be at a disadvantage for both melee and magic.
The Charm of the Sirens: Brings a single man-type completely under the influence of the magic-user.
Comprehend Languages: Enables the magic-user to read any language, cipher, message, map, or other written instruction apart from magical spells or command words.
Feramar’s Blight of Sight: Conjures a small bank of thick fog, impenetrable to sight, about 60ft in length and 20ft deep.
Galzar’s Transformation: The magic-user can assume the appearance of any creature of the same general size and shape as himself.
Harrowgrove’s Gate: Holds one door, gate, window, shutter, or other portal securely fast exactly as though it were locked, and only opened by the use of greater magic.
The Helping Ember: Causes an object or volume of space to be lit as if by torchlight.
The Medusa’s Mirror: The magic-user’s eyes become mirrored granting him immunity to dazzling and gaze attacks without impairing his sight. Moreover, any gaze attack attempted within 30ft will be reflected back at the attacker exactly as if they had looked into a mirror.
The Sandman’s Early Arrival: Causes a number of people or creatures to fall into a fitful slumber.
The Violent Shades of the Rainbow: Several seeing creatures are rendered unconscious by a dazzling glare of clashing colors.
Cleric Meditations of the First Order
God’s Breath Reveals: The cleric can sense the presence of any enchantment on a person, place, or object within range and sight.
The Grace of the Devoted: After one minute of prayer the cleric can restore hit points to a creature or himself.
He Reveals What is Hidden: The cleric can sense the presence of any enchanted, conjured, supernatural, or undead creature, as well as any curse or malicious enchantment upon an object or place.
St. Eggort’s Taper: Causes an object or volume of space to be lit as if by torchlight.
St. Offrid’s Radiant Refusal: This spell prevents any enchanted or conjured creature from contacting the cleric. Furthermore, attacks made against the cleric by other chaotic types will be at a disadvantage with both weapons and magic.
The Purity of His Faith: Makes spoiled, poisoned, or contaminated food, drink, or Unholy water whole and suitable for consumption. Enough food for one dozen men or two weeks worth of rations are affected.