Modding The Sleep Spell
Sleep Spell, page 68 AD&D Players Handbook Sleep Spell, page 68 AD&D Players Handbook

Modding The Sleep Spell

I’m an AD&D 1e player & GM. There are parts I really like about it. Recently I was thinking about the lowly Sleep spell and how it has the same efficacy for all levels of spell caster.

I see two different ways to mod the spell without making it over-powered. After all, magic missile adds more missiles, fireballs adds more hit dice.

Number of Dice

By changing the number of dice used with a formula of an additional die per 5 levels, it raises both the minimum and the maximum. The high end of the hit dice affected don’t change, but rather the chances of affecting an ogre. Boosting the chances from 50% to 75% and finally automatic. Why shouldn’t a name level Wizard be able to take out an ogre? An ogre with maximum hit points has 33 and the average damage from an 11th level fireball is 38.5 hp.

Hit Dice No. Affected 1st – 5th level Wizard 6th – 10th level 11th level +
Up to 1 HD 4d4 (4-16) 5d4 (5-20) 6d4 (6-24)
1+1 to 2 HD 2d4 (2-8) 3d4 (3-12) 4d4 (4-16)
2+1 to 3 HD 1d4 (1-4) 2d4 (2-8) 3d4 (3-12)
3+1 to 4 HD 1d4/2 (1-2) 1d4 (1-4) 1d4 + ½ d4 (2-6)
4+1 to 4+4 HD 1d4, 3 or 4 (0-1) 1d4, 2-4 (0-1) 1 Creature

Size of Dice

Changing the size of the dice raises only the maximum affected, but use similar changes for the top tier as in the number of dice example.

Hit Dice No. Affected 1st – 5th level 6th – 10th level 11th level +
Up to 1 HD 4d4 (4-16) 4d6 (4-24) 4d8 (4-32)
1+1 to 2 HD 2d4 (2-8) 2d6 (2-13) 2d8 (2-16)
2+1 to 3 HD 1d4 (1-4) 1d6 (1-6) 1d8 (1-8)
3+1 to 4 HD 1d4/2 (1-2) 1d4 (1-4) 1d6 (1-6)
4+1 to 4+4 HD 1d4, 3 or 4 (0-1) 1d4, 2-4 (0-1) 1 Creature

Other Possibilities

A third possibility would be to allow the spell to affect up to 5 to 6 HD creatures on a 1d4, with a roll of 4. However, there aren’t many monsters in that category, other than NPCs. At that level, I’d give a saving throw if they were affected.  But to me, boosting the level does make it seem overpowered.

Another possibility would be to increase the Area of Effect, so instead of a 3″ diameter circle. For example, add 1″ at 6th level and another 1″ at 11th level. This wouldn’t change the number affected, just the size of the affected area.

A final way to mod this spell would be to boost the minimum. At 6th -10th level make the minimum affected be half the count, and at 11th+ make the minimum 75% of the count, such as below.

Hit Dice No. Affected 1st – 5th level 6th – 10th level 11th level +
Up to 1 HD 4d4 (4-16) 4d4+4 (8-16)* 4d4+8 (12-16)**
1+1 to 2 HD 2d4 (2-8) 2d4+2 (4-8)* 2d4+4 (6-8)**
2+1 to 3 HD 1d4 (1-4) 1d4+1 (2-4)* 1d4+2 (3-4)**
3+1 to 4 HD 1d4/2 (1-2) 1d4,1 (1),2+ (2) 2 Creatures
4+1 to 4+4 HD 1d4, 3 or 4 (0-1) 1d4, 2-4 (0-1) 1 Creature

* Add 1 to all 1’s rolled
** Add 1 to all 1’s & 2’s rolled

If one wants a more powerful sleep spell, one could make an Improved Sleep of a higher spell level. There is nothing to prevent a PC from researching this. Some ideas for this are for affecting either higher hit dice creatures, or perhaps creatures unaffected by sleep. The latter might require some ingredient from a ghast, since their touch affects elves. Discovering this spell when up against an enemy spell caster would really get the players’ attention.

Conclusion

I’m not sure if I will add one of these to my house rules. I had to write this out so I could pull back and consider the ramifications for game balance. I don’t often mod spells, but this one captured my attention. At time like that, I just need to write it out. Then I can come back later and review it after I have had time to ponder it.

Have you modded the sleep spell? Did you make it more or less powerful?

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