Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Spell Enlarge

Finding myself stuck on my book for a bit, I'm taking a few hours to go back to something that is old business.  This post is going to discuss AD&D, so if that doesn't interest you, please go check out the podcast I made available earlier today.  It has been described as,

"Clear and crisp . . . a lot of subtlety.  I was recently discussing with a friend how it's difficult to find D&D podcasts that are actually worth listening to."

You don't want to miss it.


I have always had trouble with the Enlarge spell as written in the original Player's Handbook, specifically because it totally fails where it comes to expressing the actual physical changes that occur in the character changing size.  Here are the salient bits (expurgated):

"Enlargement causes increase in both size and weight; the effect is to increase the size of a living creature by 20% per level of experience of the magic user, with a maximum additional growth of 200%."

The size of what, exactly?  Height?  Weight?  The spell description doesn't say.  However, it seems to imply that height is the adjustment, since it speaks of persons 12 feet and 18 feet tall.

If we increase the height of a human that is 6 feet tall and 216 pounds, by 200% (to a 300% total), then yes, we will have an 18 foot tall human.  However, in doing this, we will have increased the weight of the human to a total of 5,832 lbs.  The new height may be 6 feet x 3; but while the old weight was 6 x 6 x 6, the new weight is 18 x 18 x 18.

The writers of the Players Handbook don't seem to be aware that while height increases as an arithmetic number, weight increases geometrically.  A human that is 18-feet tall has not had its size increased a mere 300%.  It has actually had its size increased 2700% . . . the amount that would require a mage of 135 level to case (if no +200% restriction existed).

Thus, the spell is fucked up.  Logically, neither height nor weight should be adjusted, but mass.

I've decided to make two adjustments to the spell.  The first was that the increase of 20% per level should apply to everything about the mass of the character, including weapon damage and the distance the character should be able to cover.  Neither of these were discussed in the original spell description . . . though the point was made that a +1 sword would still be +1 - a really, really important stipulation, that, on a weapon that should be at least three times larger as the mage reaches 10th level.  It's clear to see from that rule what sort of arguments went on around Gygax's table.

The other adjustment I made was that there should be no limit.  20% per level, period.  No limitation except the number of levels a mage has.

We should therefore be able to start with the character's weight (216 lbs) and apply it to the character's height (6 feet) and see what happens when we increase mass per level of the mage.  The cube root given is for the character's weight in order to determine the character's new height.

Many players and DMs will actually hate this - because it doesn't sound near as sexy as being 18 feet tall.  This means that a 1st level mage can only make the 216 pound character weight 259 lbs (120% of the original weight) and 6'5" tall.  Which sucks, right?

I don't really think so.  I feel that adjusting the weapon damage ought to follow:

This greatly increases the amount of damage an individual can bring to the table once the spellcaster reaches 4th level - particularly if the spell is cast on a character with multiple attacks per round.

I think we should remember - this is only a 1st level spell - on the same rank as things like dancing lights and unseen servant.  The increasing capacity of the enlarge was always way over the top.

In any case, I have tried this with my players and they are just fine with it.

There are other issues here - the reverse of the spell, for one, and movement as I've already mentioned.  I'm not going to deal with these - in a while I will provide a fully updated version of the spell for my wiki and I will be sure to link that to the blog when I'm done.  For now, I should be returning to my book.

Please keep those donations coming!

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