Sunday, December 24, 2017

Powers in Lords of Creation

Art by Dave Billman

In Lords of Creation, there are twelve power sets, each with a hierarchy of five more-or-less related powers.  Sometimes, Moldvay refers to these sets as 'classes'.  However, he also uses the term 'class' in reference to how these sets are grouped.  There are three power groups (or types):  Magical, Psychic, and Futuristic.  These types “help show what type of setting is most appropriate for the various powers.”  According to the Setting Index optional rule, “each of the three types of powers would be categorized one of three ways” in any given setting.  Either a power type works in the setting, “that type of power has only a 50% chance to work in the setting, or that type of power will not work in the setting.”  For example, Moldvay posits a GM could decide that for a 20th century setting:  a 50% Psychic Index, a 50% Technology Index, and a “no” Magic Index.  (Apparently, 'Technology' equates to 'Futuristic'.)  “These three simple classifications,” Moldvay informs us, “give 27 different possible combinations for setting classifications.”

The dozen power sets, along with their associated powers, are listed below, grouped according to type:

  • Adept (Remove Magic, Magic Armor, Magic Weapon, Magic Prison, Shape Shift)
  • Invoker (Elemental Shaping, Invoke Elementals, Possession, Elemental Body, Dimension Walking)
  • Sorcerer (True Sight, Fascination, Illusion, Enchanted Sleep, Animation)
  • Wizard (Animal Control, Necromancy, Fly, Curse, Storm)

  • Clairvoyant (Clairvoyance, Cure, Psychometry, Precognition, Photon Ray)
  • Mentat (Hypnosis, Persuasion, Altered Features, Metamorphosis, Mass to Energy)
  • Poltergeist (Sound Control, Telekinesis, Apportation, Gravity Field, Teleportation)
  • Telepath (Mind Block, ESP, Telepathy, Neural Overload, Forced Rapport)

  • Cyborg (Recycling Implant, Weapon Implant, Plasteel Body, Exoskeleton, Back-up Metabolism)
  • Magneto (Electrosensing, Electrosleep, Energy Field, EM Tuning, Energy Beam)
  • Projector (Sensual Chaos, Invisibility, Fear, Hallucination, Automaton)
  • Somatron (Physical Control, Dermal Armor, Regeneration, Energy Absorption, Shock Control)

Player characters do not begin with any of these powers, but when they gain powers, “they must always choose the powers in order within a category.”  As an example, Moldvay informs us that a “character could not choose the Magneto power of Energy Field until he or she already had both the Magneto powers of Electrosensing and Electrosleep.”  Non-player characters are not bound by these restrictions.  For instance, the write-up of Circe in The Book of Foes indicates she has the Wizard powers of Animal Control and Storm, but none of the intermediate Wizard powers.  Incidentally, Hercules has most of the Somatron powers even though they are Futuristic.

Unfortunately, Moldvay does not disclose exactly how player characters may obtain these powers.  In the Lords of Creation Introduction, we are told:
As the characters continue to gain experience, they will gain special powers.  When a character qualifies for a special power, the player should read PART 6 – POWERS to decide what power their character chooses.
This suggests that acquiring powers is dependant upon gaining experience.  It also suggests that players select the powers they want their characters to have.  Page 29 specifically states, “When characters choose powers, they can choose freely from any category except Cyborg.”  Cyborg powers can only be obtained in a futuristic setting hospital and the “character will also be charged a fee for the surgery...”

A study of the published adventure The Horn of Roland does little to educate the prospective GM as to how player characters should gain powers.  In one encounter ancillary to the plot, a single character makes a Luck Roll:
If successful, the individual gains the power of Clairvoyance.  If unsuccessful, the character's mental ability is immediately reduced to 2.
In another ancillary encounter, it is possible for a single character – after winning a series of combats – to gain “the power of True Sight.”  Neither of these circumstances involves a character choosing freely (or even the character being aware that a power may be gained as a result of the circumstance).  As such, they do not seem to conform to how Moldvay intimates characters gain powers.  Although Moldvay wrote several articles about Lords of Creation in the periodical Heroes, in none of them does he touch upon power acquisition.  This seems to be an oversight of a vital aspect of the game.

Art by Dave Billman

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