Poll Position: Spellbinding

Continuing our D&D style RPG slant these days here at the ol' blog, here's a new question for you:


Discussion after the jump, and you can find further explanations of all these spells (and more!) at the d20 spell index.

wizardcastspellI'm going to posit, for the purposes of this hypothetical discussion, that you're a sorcerer and not a wizard, thus obviating the need for a spell book. Which would be darn awkward to lug around the ol' steel factory here in the real world, you know? So you could cast this one spell multiple times in a day, but not an infinite number -- let's call it five times per day that you could cast it, along with the other inherent limitations of each in terms of duration and whatnot.

Now, when I consider these sorts of "magic or powers in the real world" sorts of questions, I have found I tend to think more about what kind of a person I would want to be, given that power, than about the power itself for the most part. So for instance, I tend to wonder how I would hold down a job if I could do this thing, and since I'm not really a mob type guy, "hit man" is not usually on that list. So I don't generally go for the more offensive sorts of abilities.

  • Air Walk: This is kind of like levitation, but with the additional bonus of being able to walk around while airborne. Which is kind of neat. I'd think this would be a blast for outdoor explorers, or even for just getting around the city.
  • Animate Dead: For those of you with a more sinister bent, this would have to be appealing. Remember, though, you're not reincarnating or raising the dead, you're just animating them -- zombies and skeletons and that sort of thing. If you like the idea but "evil" isn't your bag, you could be the greatest special effects guy ever.
  • Charm Animal: Siegfried and Roy are looking for a new partner. Or you could be a great horse trainer, whale tamer, horse jockey, etc.
  • Charm Person: Essentially you get to make someone feel like you are their best friend for a while. Excellent for getting out of tickets, getting someone to help you shoplift, scoring a date with that person who never talks to ANYone, etc. You basically could get by almost on your charming personality alone.
  • Clairaudience / Clairvoyance: The ability to see or hear through walls, at a distance, as if there were a video camera in the target room. You could be a spy, or a blackmailer, or an investigative journalist, or the greatest employee the National Enquirer ever had, or just kind of a pervert. Endless possibilities!
  • Commune: You get to ask your divinity simple one-word-answer questions. Depending on your deity, bugging them from time to time could be either a Good Thing or a Very Bad Thing, so believe wisely. Pretty powerful stuff, though.
  • Cure Moderate Wounds: You could help a lot of people a fair bit, but not work miracles. I always loved the idea of healing magic.
  • Darkvision: Who doesn't want to see in the dark? It's a spelunker's dream! As an aside, I love that your choice of components for this spell are either a gemstone or a piece of dried carrot.
  • Dimension Door: Basically a short-range teleport.
  • Ethereal Jaunt: Like being Kitty Pryde for a while.
  • Finger of Death: If you DID want to be a hit man, you'd be the best one ever, as within a range of fifty feet or so you can cause instantaneous death.
  • Glibness: Unlike Charm Person, this spell would work on multiple people at once, by making you sound inherently more believable. So in other words, it would presumably work through a television camera. I'm just sayin'.
  • Levitate: Pretty self explanatory.
  • Locate Object: Hey, you could make a living.
  • Polymorph: You get to change someone else into almost any other creature you can think of. What I like about this idea is how flexible it is, but that you'd have to rely on others to help you accomplish your goals. If you were creative enough, you could duplicate an awful lot of other spell effects by polymorphing someone into a magical creature with a similar ability.
  • Remove Disease: You wouldn't be much good in a trauma ward or combat situation, but think of the great good you could do.
  • Speak with Animals: I'm an animal lover, so this would be pretty cool for me. Note that you don't get any special ability to order them about, just to talk. I've always wondered why my dog eats poop, for instance, I'd like to find that out.
  • Water Breathing: This would be pretty amazing, but the drawback is that it doesn't protect you from pressure, so you couldn't go all that deep into the oceans, for instance.

So, looking over that list, I'd probably go with either Remove Disease because I love to help people, and hate disease, or with Polymorph for the flexibility it'd give you to do other things with a willing accomplice. Plus, you could make a fortune getting people to pay you so they could experience a few hours as, say, a leopard or gazelle or whatnot.

What about you, what would you choose to be able to do?

13 Responses to Poll Position: Spellbinding

  1. PCFDPGrey says:

    Oh, come on Jeff. What, No Fireball, Lightning Bolt or Meteor Shower? You’re really harshing my mojo man. 😉 Although I suppose those spells would be too much like having force powers in the real world, huh? There’s be too many people lobbing offensive spells in rush hour traffic.

  2. Jeff Hebert says:

    Exactly, I wanted there to be a couple of offensive-ish sorts of things in there, but not the big heavy-combat-hitters. For one, they’re just not practical. And for two, people love them and I figured they’d run away with the vote, which isn’t much fun. I wanted you to have to THINK man, THINK!

    Having said that, no question lightning bolt hurling is fun. That’s why Zeus went into the god trade in the first place, I bet.

  3. Joshua says:

    Here’s a dark thought: what if Charm Person became the new date-rape drug? Investigations would center around certain questions, i.e., “Do you remember this man mumbling anything under his breath, like…I don’t know, an incantation?” rather than blood tests. And not just date-rape; Charm Person would be a con-man’s delight.

  4. Bael says:

    Wow. They really gutted Charm Person in the last couple editions, didn’t they? Too bad. From this list, I’d go with Dimension Door or Locate Object. I’m a sucker for teleport effects, and Locate Object would be great for prospecting or police work. I thought about Polymorph (there are way too many talking monkeys around here these days), but they gutted that one, too.

  5. redvector says:

    Hey if you had Charm Person you could make a fortune as a used car salesman.

    But for myself I would choose water breathing. I love the water but not that interested in going too deep so the limitations wouldn’t be that big an issue.

  6. cavalier says:

    Remove Disease won both my altruistic side and my selfish side. You could make thousands each morning from the insurance companies, devote the afternoon to helping the poor, and still go home early.

  7. William A. Peterson says:

    I’m another fan of Remove Disease, though I think Cavalier misunderstands how many times a day you can cast these things!
    Still, curing two or three cases of inoperable Cancer a day would be quite profitable…

    Though, Jeff, you seem to have forgotten one of the greatest Utility Spells, ever, and one that would be very popular with Uncle Sam, right now…
    Tenser’s Floating Disc!
    Just the thing for boosting G. I. Joe’s carrying capability, with backpacks getting up near 70 pounds each!

  8. Cybertourk says:

    I’m for Locate Object you could really help people out with that one, and make a fortune if that was your bag. As for Wizards though a spell book is kinda old fashioned why carry around an old musty tome when you can fit all your E-spells as PDFs into a light weight Kindle or Ipad. This is modern times right? Hook up a wireless printer and make a fortune selling Scrolls.

  9. Air Walk. I live in a hilly area and don’t drive.

  10. X-stacy says:

    Remove disease. I know lots of sick people.

  11. Kalkin says:

    Charm person is the most suitable spell for a socially challenged geek such as myself.

    Ethereal jaunt or dimension door would be great for robbing bank vaults and remove disease would be good for a guy who catches every single flu. Clairvoyance/clairaudience would be nice for spying, but I’m pretty sure the sensory point of view cannot move, which limits its usefullness. You’d have to know what to look at.

  12. Gene says:

    Decided to go with Dimension Door. Most opportunity for fun, profit, and heroics. Even with only a half dozen uses a day and short range.

  13. knight1192a says:

    Let’s face it, in the real world some of these would be fun to have, some pretty stupid to have, and some useful. But only one would really be a must and that would be the ability to locate objects. “Where’s my car keys?” “Where’s my wallet?” “Where’s my cell phone?” “Where’s a pen?” “Where’s my check book?” “Do they have this in my size?” “Where do they keep the batteries?” “Where’s that screwdriver?” “Where’s the matches?” “Where’s the flashlight?” Ever say any of these, or anything else for lost items or items you may be trying to buy (or at least thinking of buying)? Either some time in your life you have or some time in the future you will. Locate objects would be the absolute must spell to have. Forget all the others.