Sunday, February 28, 2021

Weighty Chest (2nd Edition Spell) & Thor's Hammer Mjolnir

I was reminded tonight of an old nostalgic game that I ran many years ago. We were playing AD&D 2nd edition, Dark Sun campaign setting. My stepbrother... what can I say? He often takes a simple character concept and makes it awesome. AND by "awesome" I mean he makes it game-breaking.

In this instance, he had made a halfling druid/thief named Samone. Halflings in Dark Sun are typically animalistic and ritualistic, with cannibalistic tendencies. Rogues are pretty straighforward. Druids gain their spells and powers from a special relationship with a Spirit of the Land which inhabits a certain geographical feature, and the druid guards this land in exchange.

In our collection of sourcebooks at the time, we had access to the Tome of Magic. And in this book, he stumbled upon a utility spell called Weighty Chest.

Weighty Chest

1 day/level

This spell enables the caster to enchant a chest, book, package, or any other nonliving object no larger than a 5'x5'x5' cube. When the enchanted object is touched by anyone other than the caster, the apparent weight of the object increases, becoming 2-5 (1d4+1) times the weight of the person or persons touching it. This condition makes the object extremely difficult to move for anyone but the caster. The caster can move the object normally throughout the duration of the spell.

The material component is a lead ball.

It's a pretty simple utility spell with an obvious use. You cast it on an object that you don't want stolen or moved. And if anyone attempts to pick it up besides yourself then the weight of the object magically increases beyond most mortal attempts to lift it. Simple.

But what happens if you cast it on a weapon that you throw at (or stab into) an enemy? Based on interpretation, it's possible that you could cast it on a throwing dagger and then stab an enemy with it. That enemy would then fall to the ground and be unable to get back up again because of the weight. Does this remind anyone of Thor's hammer? Watch this video around the 16-minute mark.

Samone used this to devastating effect, loading up with a belt full of throwing daggers enchanted in this way. As a DM, I should have ruled against it with no hesitation but it was actually pretty fun to let it go for a good while. Doing a quick search tonight, I note with satisfaction that our game was not the only game where this question about this spell was brought up.

I could have simply pointed to the material component, a lead ball, as being pretty prohibitively expensive in a campaign setting like Dark Sun. Or I could have ruled that someone being touched (attacked) by a weapon thrown at you, is not the same as touching an object that you want to pick up. Eventually, I think I just banned the spell. Samone moved on to using Enlarge Insect to great effect, and tamed a hive of wasps that he regularly used as mounts.

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