... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spell Study Series: Light

There's enough things to say about the Light spell that it warrants its own post as well.
Light: A spell to cast light in a circle 3" in diameter, not equal to full daylight. It lasts for a number of turns equal to 6 + the number of levels of the user; thus, a 7th level Magic-User would cast the spell for 13 turns.
This is another spell with no range listed, at least in this version. We could go with the 10 feet/spell level without any problem. This is the first spell listed that includes the Magic-User's level as a variable; in this case, it alters the duration. If the duration is meant to be exploration turns, it lasts longer than a torch and is essentially a replacement. If the duration is in combat turns, then the Light spell is an emergency light source, not a replacement for torches.

It's also the first spell that affects an area; Protection from Evil creates a "circle" around the caster, but this is purely conceptual, since the spell only affects one person of any size. It would be nice to regularize areas across all spells the same way I'm considering regularizing ranges, but if we use 10 feet diameter per spell level, the Light spell becomes much smaller; if we use 10 feet radius instead of diameter, that could cause problems later. Perhaps 30 feet diameter per 3 spell levels, round up. We'll see how this affects other spells as we go along.

The big question is mobility. Perhaps this is reading too much into the wording of the spell, but I think it's notable that it "casts light in a circle" rather than "causes an object to radiate light in a circle". I think this is meant to be a non-mobile effect, effectively lighting a specific room, rather than replacing a torch.

The brightness is specified as "not equal to full daylight". This is important mainly because the monsters listed as sensitive to light are only affected by full daylight. There may be more sensitive creatures at the GM's option, of course, but in general, a Light spell isn't that effective as an attack. Casting Light on a creature's eyes should only startle it briefly (reroll surprise,) but might trigger a morale roll for goblins and kobolds.


  1. I'm enjoying this series. B/X goes into more detail, stating explicitly that "It may be cast on an object" and that the duration is 6+caster level turns (all turns being "exploration" turns in B/X - combat "turns" being rounds). It may also be cast on an opponent's eyes which causes blindness for the spell's duration failing a saving throw.

    Of course, B/X also introduces continual light, which I despise because once they cast it on a rock goodbye torches and resource management forever.

    Also, as an aside, I noticed when reading the D&D Next playtest materials that the pre-gen wizard has light as a cantrip (basically an at-will) but still has 10 torches on his equipment list.

  2. Yeah, the AD&D version does the "cast on object" and longer duration as well. I'm saving Continual Light for later.

    An at-will Light cantrip in D&D Next is a bad sign.

  3. Seriously? You want to count torches and keep track of how long they've been lit? I guess some people like that sort of thing, but the less crap I have to keep track of at the table, the better I like it...

    (handwave handwave handwave) "It is assumed that you are smart enough to bring enough torches, lamps and oil to last several days..."
    There, now I don't have to keep track.

    1. Yep. If you have an exploration/clever use of resources game, you need actual resources you can use, which means keeping track of them. You can, of course, use D&D to play something closer to epic fantasy, with quests and missions, in which case stuff like torches should be hand-waved. But the horrific dungeoncrawl needs to have worries about running out of supplies, or being plunged into darkness.

  4. The at-will light is nothing new (assuming you consider 3-5 years old as "not new"). Pathfinder made all "cantrips" at will. The "light whenever you want/need it" became such a problem that I actually house-ruled Light to be a 1st level (rather than "0th level") spell in any Pathfinder games I run.