Can a Magic-User cast a spell while holding a torch?
This question popped up in a debate on a forum. The implicit question is: Does spell casting require what AD&D refers to as "somatic components", and if so, how much? AD&D has an answer, or at least a partial one. OD&D doesn't, because that's left up to the GM or group, as are all the derivative questions.
If a spell caster can't hold a torch, but must have both hands free for magical gesticulations, does that imply that spell casters can be prevented from casting spells by chopping off a hand?
If a spell caster only needs one free hand, do cautious villains and/or barons need to chop off both hands to prevent magical reprisals?
Does losing a hand through accident make a PC spell caster useless?
If spell casters don't need their hands free at all, but do it entirely with magical words, why can't they carry shields or use swords?
These questions have no right answer, but must be answered at some point. Players are going to alter the way they play based on how they think magic works. GMs are going to change the way they build the world based on how magic is supposed to work.
My own answer is that the the words and gestures are mnemonic triggers for a prepared spell. They aren't actually part of the spell itself, but part of a memory system the spell caster has developed and practiced. Cutting off a hand disrupts the ability to cast currently prepared spells, and for a time also prevents preparing any new spells, but the caster can come up with a new set of mnemonic triggers tailored for any new body configurations, using the spell research rules.