Saturday, September 29, 2012

Protection from Evil

Weevil by kampang
Weevil, a photo by kampang on Flickr.

I’m running a game in which one of the PCs is a paladin, meaning that we have to figure out what that permanent protection form evil spell is all about.  We are using Labyrinth Lord rules with the Advanced Edition Companion.  According to those rules, Paladins “radiate protection from evil in a 10 foot radius at all times.”
Protection from evil refers to a 1st level cleric spell (also quoted from LL AEC):

“This spell wards a creature from attacks by “evil” creatures. It creates a magical barrier around the subject that moves with the subject. The subject gains a bonus to AC of –1 and a +1 bonus on saving throws. Both these bonuses apply against attacks made or effects created by evil creatures.

In addition, this spell prevents bodily contact by summoned or created creatures. This causes the natural weapon attacks of such creatures to fail, and the creatures recoil if such attacks require touching the warded creature. However, these creatures can attempt missile attacks. The protection against contact by summoned creatures ends if the warded creature makes an attack against or tries to force the barrier against the blocked creature.”

Despite the scare quotes and alignmental relativism, we could figure out the bit about “evil” creatures.  But what about “summoned or created creatures?”  If a creature is not “created” then what is it?  By one logical interpretation, a paladin and five of his closest friends are completely immune to undead touch attacks and a lone 1st level paladin could sit down and have a picnic whilst surrounded by mummies, wraiths, and spectres.
The 2e rules are nicely succinct and don’t make a mistake of referring to a spell without seeming to think through what that spell really says:

“A paladin is surrounded by an aura of protection with a 10-foot radius.  Within this radius, all summoned and specifically evil creatures suffer a -1 penalty to their attack rolls, regardless of whom they attack.  Creatures affected by this aura can spot its source easily, even if the paladin is disguised.”
I like the 2e rules, but I don’t mind granting a little extra protection in the case of “summoned” creatures as long as I can be sure what that means.  So, for the purposes of my game and maybe yours, here is what the paladin’s protection is:

·         All “evil creatures” (which includes bad people of all sorts and almost anyone or anything that would attack a paladin in earnest-- except for things like giant frogs, green slime, and crazy drunkards) get a -1 to hit the paladin and anyone else within the spell’s area of effect.

·         The paladin & co. get +1 to saving throws against attacks from such creatures even if the creatures are attacking (by missile or magic) from outside the area of effect.

·         Summoned creatures are those creatures that were called into battle by some unnatural means.  The bats summoned by a vampire and a demon summoned by an evil cleric would not be able to touch the paladin or his friends who were within the area of effect.  If the summoned creatures successfully goad the paladin into battle (perhaps by threatening to attack innocents outside the area of protection) then the protection is “waived” with regard to those summoned creatures that the paladin attacks.

·         Created creatures are golems.  Undead are not created, but reanimated.  I can’t think of anything besides golems that would be “created” in this sense.  Such creatures are subject to the exact same rules as summoned creatures.

·         Creatures affected by this spell do figure out the paladin is the source of the protection.

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