In my review of the excellent & Magazine, I noted how I thought it a good idea to introduce new monsters with a short, descriptive story, rather than a dry block of stats. The same can be said for new spells, so I thought I’d give it a try with a new spell for low-level Druids, Illya’s Earthen Prison.
Effric approached slowly, willing his hand to stop shaking as he pushed the heavy wooden door open.
“What’s taking you so long, Effric?” Myrena said, “Let’s get this over with.”
Other grumblings could be heard from Fin, no doubt he and Myrena were being urged forward by that impatient Halfling Delth. He’ll be the death of us one day, but hopefully that day is not today, thought Effric.
The Druid’s free hand tightly gripped his scimitar, held in front of him as he slowly crossed the threshold. The torchlight from behind illuminated the stone walls of a large, circular room, the light flickering as if willed by some invisible breeze, shadows dancing against the rough stone walls, at the same time gliding across the smooth stone floor. It was dark, and smelled of incense and far-away earth. Large objects filled the semi-darkness – was that a desk, perhaps? Effric just had time to notice the darkened braziers on the walls, when they came to life. In the newly formed light and between squinted eyelids, he saw a man dressed in dark robes standing before him. A hood obscured his features, but Effric felt a sudden chill as the man spoke and he recognized the voice.
“You dare enter my abode unannounced?”
There was no doubt they had found Viz, the wizard some say had gone mad. Effric just thought him evil – only someone aligned with the powers of chaos would enjoin tribes of orcs to pillage and burn nearby towns. The orc guards had been no trouble. Viz he was not so sure about.
“Down in front!”
Effric turned and saw the motion behind him, heard Myrena’s command even as two arrows flew past his head in rapid succession. Her arrows flew unerringly to their target – Viz’s chest – then snapped in half and bounced away as if they had hit an unseen wall.
VIz was speaking incomprehensibly now, his hands moving. Effric, guessing a charge would not end well, reached into his belt pouch and grasped a sprig of mistletoe, starting a chant of his own and moving towards the wall on his left. Delth and Fin felt no such hesitation, and were rushing at the wizard, swords at the ready. Even as they did so, a cloud of shimmering dust filled the air in front of them, then all around them, and Effric watched helplessly as the duo fell to the floor, unconscious. Viz grinned and turned his attention to the two remaining heroes.
Effric continued his chant, backing away from the approaching cloud and stooping, touching the stone floor and connecting with the earth beneath it, speaking to it, enjoining it to help. His back hit the wall behind him, as the dust came impossibly close to his face, and stopped, the motes swirling, beckoning him forward. Effric finished his chant, and Myrena watched from the doorway, transfixed as the floor beneath Viz had already started to crack. After a few seconds, there was a noise like shattering rock, and bits of stone could be seen forming into jagged strands, circling the wizard’s feet. Viz was in the depths of another enchantment, oblivious even as the strands mixed with earth and quickly rose up and encircled first his legs and torso, then his arms. Too late he fought against the living rock, then was held fast.
I’ve mentioned before that I think low-level druids are fairly worthless as spell-casters in a dungeon setting. Here is a spell to put them on par with low-level Mages and Clerics, who sling charm, hold-person and sleep spells with abandon. This is something like the first-level druid entangle spell, but is useful anywhere there is a connection to the earth – in a dungeon or the wilderness. Note the spell description is written in OSRIC/1e format, just ignore components and casting time for other systems like Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord.
Illya’s Earthen Prison
- Level: 2
- Range: 80 feet
- Duration: One turn per caster level
- Area of effect: One creature at 2nd level, one additional every three levels
- Components: V,S,M
- Casting Time: 3 segments
- Saving throw: Limited effect (see below)
The druid, by touching the earth, can draw upon its power and force rocks and dirt to consolidate and rise up into rope-like strands, encircling one or more opponents and holding them firm for one turn per level of the Druid. At 2nd level, Druids can affect one creature, and one additional creature for every three levels advanced beyond 2nd (so 5th, 8th, 11th, and 14th). The stone and dirt need not be in rock or broken form – the spell will force stone to crack and shatter into suitably-sized chunks so it can re-form. Once held, such creatures can speak, but are unable to move, attack or cast spells. Creatures of five hit dice or greater, Druids greater than or equal to the caster’s level, or creatures only hit by magical weapons are unaffected by the spell. A good rule of thumb would be any creature of ogre size (assuming the standard 4+4 HD ogre) or smaller.
In any case, creatures who save versus spells can move at half normal rate and can attack with a -2 penalty to all to-hit and damage rolls for the duration of the spell in combat rounds (instead of full turns).