Sage Advice Collection

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 141DR047 Dragon #47 I am very confused about the range of spells. Look in the Players Handbook (page 78) at Wall of Fire or Wall of Ice spells. 6”? Also, look at the area of effect. The book says “radius of the ring-shaped wall of fire is 1”+¼” per level of experience of the magic-user casting it.” What is this in reality?  Under “Distance” on page 39 of the Players Handbook, it is stated that the scale of distance is 1” = 10 feet, or 1” = 10 yards, depending on whether the adventure is taking place underground or aboveground. Thus, the range of a Wall of fire is 60 feet underground, 60 yards (180 feet) aboveground. However, a spell’s area of effect should almost always be translated using the 1” = 10 feet scale, whether underground or not; the wall of fire created by the spell has a radius of 10 feet plus another 2½ feet for each level of the caster, no matter where it is cast. 
 142DR047 Dragon #47 The Speak with Animals spell allows communication only with “basically normal, non-fantastic creatures such as apes, bears, cats, dogs, elephants and so on.” (Players Handbook, page 46) Does this mean that anything in the Monster Manual cannot be spoken to?  The Monster Manual includes many examples of “non-fantastic creatures.” Generally, they include all monsters whose AD&D™ attributes correspond to the abilities and characteristics of the actual animals, and who do not have any magical or unnatural abilities — such as (to name just a few) elephant, jaguar, herd animals, flightless birds, whales and camels. Generally, Speak with Animals cannot be employed against creatures which are altered versions of “real” animals, such as the Giant Skunk or Giant Beetles, because these are not “basically normal” creatures with regard to the natural animals of those types. 
 143DR047 Dragon #47 Do player character gnomes have constitutional poison resistance? This is mentioned in the Monster Manual but not in the Players Handbook.  The concept of a player character is built around the idea that such figures are generally above average, compared to the norm for their race. Using that reasoning, it is permissible to award the gnome’s special poison resistance to player character gnomes as well as NPC gnomes. For player characters, assign the poison saving-throw bonus according to constitution (as per the Players Handbook), instead of simply allowing a save at 4 levels higher (as noted in the Monster Manual). 
 144DR047 Dragon #47 With regard to weapon type “to hit” adjustments, does the table on page 38 of the Players Handbook refer to armor types without shields? If the opponent was wearing chain and shield should we refer to column 5 (scale mail + shield/chain mail) or column 4 (chain mail + shield/splint mail/banded mail)?  Chain mail by itself is AC 5; with shield it is AC 4. The problem lies with determining what the “/” marks on the Armor Class Table (PH, page 36) mean. Each mark separates a specific type of combination of armor which shares the same AC rating with the others grouped with it. A shield, when one is conjunction with the type of armor which precedes it, not the type which comes after the “/“. 
 145DR047 Dragon #47 Are player characters allowed to be drawn from Grey Elf stock or Drow stock?  Each DM must decide whether such unusual player-character types will be allowed in his/her campaign. In the case of unusual elf types, there should be a possibility for a player character to become any of the elf subspecies, including aquatic elves and wood elves. However, it should be apparent that life as a player character under such conditions would be hard — for the character, the player, and most of all the DM, who must be prepared to cope with the added responsibility of trying to incorporate such a “rare” character into the campaign without sacrificing its balance and flexibility. 
 146DR047 Dragon #47 is it okay for a chaotic good character to torture others? To slay heipless opponents? To back stab?  The act of torturing is basically “ungood,” and even in the case of extreme hatred for another race or creature type a good character will not perform such an act. But there might be times when it is justified, if the end result is good and it cannot be achieved any other way. A character who can justify his actions (to the DM) in such a manner might expect to be able to torture an enemy without changing his alignment status. The “clean” slaying of helpless opponents is acceptable, if those opponents had previously presented a challenge to the character and his party and had attempted to harm the chaotic good character. The act of back stabbing by a chaotic good character is acceptable when it is performed on an enemy of the character and his party — but turning on other party members in the middle of an adventure is not a good act. 
 147DR048 Dragon #48 Once a character drops a class to switch to another class, can he/she ever gain levels in his/her former class?  No. According to page 33 of the Players Handbook, “ progression in the original class is possible” after a character decides to switch to a different profession. Note that this is different from a multi-classed character, who holds two or more professions simultaneously and gains experience in more than one class at the same time. Also note that only human characters can “drop a class” and take up a new one. 
 148DR048 Dragon #48 First, can Clerics or Paladins cure themselves by a Cure Light Wounds spell or by “laying hands” on themselves? Second, do Clerics or Magic- Users get experience points for casting spells?  As stated in the description of the Paladin character class (Players Handbook, page 22), the Paladin can “lay hands” on his/her own person or any other character or creature. However, the rules of the AD&D™ game do not specify whether or not the Cure Light Wounds spell can be used on the body of the caster. However, the recently revised and expanded rulebook for the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® game does specify that Cure Light Wounds “may be cast on the cleric’s own body” (D&D® Basic Rulebook, 1980 edition, page B15). This does not mean that the AD&D version of the spell must be handled in the same manner, because there is no direct relationship between the rules for the D&D Basic Game and the AD&D game. Ultimately, the decision is up to the AD&D Dungeon Master; it would certainly be logical and reasonable to allow the Cure spells to heal the spell caster, if the DM wished to allow such activity. Second, there is no provision in the AD&D rules for awarding experience points for the simple casting of spells. There are, however, many unspecified factors which the DM may take into consideration when determining how many points a character has gained. In a particular campaign, it might be quite appropriate for the DM to award experience points for the successful casting of any spell, or of certain spells. (For instance, just “getting off” a spell in the manner it was intended might be a noteworthy accomplishment against an opponent with a high degree of magic resistance, and such an accomplishment might indeed be deserving of an experiencepoint bonus.) As with so many other questions, the answer lies in the preference of the DM and the conditions present in his/her campaign. 
 149DR048 Dragon #48 Should a neutral good bard be allowed to back stab?  Yes. Since bards have previously acquired thieving experience, they receive benefits on attacking from the rear just as thieves do. A neutral good character would be allowed to back stab under the conditions described above for a chaotic good character — any time the attack is made against a known enemy and not a helpless or harmless victim. 
 150DR048 Dragon #48 In the ninth-level Magic- User spell Power Word, Kill the spell description states, “The power word will destroy a creature with up to 60 hit points, or it will kill 2 or more creatures with 10 or fewer hit points...” How should the word “destroy” be interpreted, as “blown out of existence” or “merely killed”?  One way to answer this question is to refer to the description of the sixth-level MU spell, Death Spell. That spell’s description states that affected creatures are slain “instantly and irrevocably,” which means without possibility of resurrection. Since Power Word, Kill is a more powerful spell than Death Spell, it is reasonable to assume that victims of that spell are also not able to be resurrected. Whether or not they are literally “blown out of existence” depends on the nature of the creatures(s) destroyed, but in any event victims are not “merely killed.” 
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