Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Swords & Wizardry Complete: What does the Robe of Wizardry do?

The other night I took a break from game prep and reading for work and browsed the always-enjoyable Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook.

Besides finding an annoying error (an unbolded magic item!) I really took a good look at this item:

Robe of Wizardry: This robe grants the wearer the ability to cast charm, polymorph, and hold spells with a 95% chance of success. The robes may be tied to specific alignments. Usable by: Magic–Users only.

Okay, I can't parse the intent here. Do I now have:

- All charm spells
- All polymorph spells
- All hold spells

. . . useable as often as I want on a 01-95 on d100? 96-100 I waste my round and fail to cast?

At first glance I thought it might mean those spells succeed 95% of the time - that is, I learn them, I memorize and cast them, and then on a 01-95 they just work, no save. It's not like S&W has a spell failure chance when casting spells normally, so "95% chance of success" has to mean one or the other of "use it" or "use it successfully."

The first is a major item, and probably what is intended. The second isn't quite as major of an item, but it vastly improves your own magical ability with those spells.

If you're tempted to answer this question with, "You're the GM, you decide!" please do not. That won't help. I'm trying to parse the author's intent.



    If it were me, I'd just write to the frogs. Unlike original D&D, OSR stuff wasn't written a generation back by guys who either don't remember or can't answer.

    1. That's probably what I'll do. Considering the sales and the Kickstarter work going on, though, I figured it was worth a shot seeing if anyone else knew before I threw an email into their pile. :)

  2. I've linked this post over in the G+ S&W community. Maybe someone there knows.

  3. To me it looks like your initial impression is the intent behind the item. The second makes it seem like it's just a way to learn crappy versions of some spells.

  4. S&W's "Robe of Wizardry" is the nudge-nudge-wink-wink version of OD&D's "Wizard's Robe":
    "Wizard's Robe: When garbed in this robe a Wizard has a 95% chance of success when casting the following spells: Charm, Hold. Polymorph. There is a 60% chance the robe will be white (Lawful), a 30% chance it will be gray, and a 10% chance it will be Chaotic (black)."

    Sounds to me like the 95% chance of success just replaces the usual saving throw.

    1. Aha. I didn't think to look back at my OD&D set. I did now but I can't find it - what book is it from? I took a quick glance at book 2, Greyhawk, and Eldritch Wizardry.

    2. Thank Guy I know it from OD&D but the PDF search were zilch. Now see it had a different name.

    3. Yep, per AD&D a robe of wizardry just means creatures only save against your hold, charm, or polymorph if they roll a 20.

      Which is pretty amazing in higher level play.

    4. Where in AD&D is that from? The DMG, pg. 152, has the Robe of the Archmagi, which is the only thing I see that's close. It doesn't work like the item above. It does reduce resistance to similar spells, but only by 20%/-4.

    5. Guy, I found it as "Wizard's Robe", thanks. The intent of the wording is a little clearer there.

      Weird to be saying that about the Greyhawk supplement, but still.

  5. I would assume the former, but Guy Fullerton makes a good point.

  6. This is how I interpret it for the Majestic Wilderlands

    Robe of Wizardry
    Duration: Permanent
    The wearer of this robe can cast any of the following spells if they roll 2 or higher on 1d20.

    Charm: The target makes a saving throw. If saving throw is failed the target(s) are under the influence of the wearer and consider the wearer a loyal and trusted friend. The duration of the spell is permanent unless dispelled.

    Hold: The wearer can immobilize up to 1d4 humanoids. If they fail their saving throws they are completely immobilized. The wearer may opt to target a single humanoid, in this case the saving throw is at a disadvantage.

    Polymorph: A creature can be turned into another type of creature. The polymorphed creature gains all the abilities of the new form, but retains its own mind, to hit bonus, and hit points. Likewise the wearer can turn into another type of creatures with the same advantages and limitations.
    Costs Creation: 6,000d; Sale: 12,000d.


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