Delver Evolution: part 2

Heroes and Wizards in Chainmail


This seems to be the starting point of what would evolve into the Fighter. Sure, all adventures are “heroes” to some degree but this unit type seems to center nicely on the epic warrior niche the fighter would come to fill. It seems to be a template that can be added on to other units, “from Light Foot to Heavy Horse”. The entry has a nice larger than life feel with a few specialized quirks.

  • “They have the fighting ability of four figures”. I’d assumed this mainly means increased accuracy as mentioned under halflings. However, there is a later note that it takes 4 “kills” to drop them, in what looks like an early hit point system. This is prefaced by “when meleed by regular troops” though so it may just be a kind of anti-mook mechanic.
  • They don’t need to make morale checks. There’s a mention of “adding one die to their unit”. This could mean they boost the combat abilities of any allies they’re paired with. However since it’s in the same sentance as the morale check feature I assume they just boost allied morale.
  • They are the last ones in their unit to be killed by regular attacks, though they can still be specifically targetted by other special units. It’s a nice “heroes don’t die to random shots” mechanic and fits nicely with the early anti-mook mechanic.
  • They “may act independant of their command” to fight “other fantastic characters”. I’m not sure entirely how that plays out, but it sound like they can slip away their units to duel other special characters.
  • If armed with a bow, they have a chance or shooting dragons out of the air, instantly killing them. This dragon killer ability doesn’t seem to work on any other flyers or against dragons on the ground. So far that just leaves the halfling with a racial enemy special ability.

Their morale is a whooping 20, as is their point value.

The ranger is also in this section. They’re just a hero with a small attack bonus at this point, but it’s interesting seeing the roots of the class this early on.

There’s also an upgraded “Super Hero” version of the unit. It basically counts as two hero with improved dragon shooting ability and the ability force morale checks with their mere presence.


Unlike with the hero progression, here they’re starting with the most powerful version and listing weaker versions after that. Here’s the progression from strongest to weakest: Wizard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Magician, and Seer. Those familiar with the titles of OD&D may recognize these. It looks like that may have started with the wizard and been applied to all classes.

For combat purposes, wizards count as “two Armored Foot, or two Medium Horse if mounted”. Since hero’s count as four of their unit type, we’re already seeing the fighter’s combat edge popping up. However it does say they can use magical weaponry, so apparently weapon restrictions aren’t in place yet.

As expected, where the wizard really pulls ahead is special powers. These include:

  • Turning Invisible, with the classic restriction of ending before they attack.
  • Being able to see in the dark.
  • The same aura of intimidate that Super Heros get. This suggests it’s more a high level character thing rather than being hero specific.
  • Missle attacks. These include the iconics fireball (treated as catapult fire) and lightning bolt (treated as heavy field gun fire). These seem to be normal attacks for them, making the wizard an artillery unit with extras. As with other artillery fire, these shots will kill most units automatically. Heroes, super heroes, wraiths, and balrogs can make a save to survive these shots. Giants can be driven back or routed. Dragons are driven back by either shot. Air and water elementals are driven back by fireballs while fire and earth elementals are driven back by lightning. As far as I can tell, you can’t kill something with attacks that drive it back. You can apparently fend of giants and dragons with these, but not drop them. Oddly, this also means you can kill a fire elemental with a fire ball, but not a water elemental. On the other hand the fire elemental entry gives the elemental a bonus against wizards that use fireballs, so it looks like a “who over hits first wins” scenario.
  • They can counter the spells of other wizards. More powerful wizards have an easier time with their counterspell rolls.

All those seem to be usable at will. The vancian “once per day” restriction don’t seem to be in place yet.

Wizards can also have spells. Number of spell available scales up with rank, from 1 for a Seer up to 7 for a full wizard. Range also scales up with rank, with wizards being able to land a spell anywhere on the map.

As with their other abilities, they don’t seem to have one shot restrictions yet. Instead, the wizard can not move or be attacked to cast or maintain a spell. There’s also an optional spell complexity system where the spell can be delayed on round or fail on a bad roll. The higher the spells level or the lower the rank of the caster, the greater the chance of delay or failure. It’s kind of a shame this system didn’t make it into D&D. It looks like it could have evolved into something like the casting you see in Donjon, where the caster accumulates spell power over time. Instead, it looks like the complexity system might be the ancestor of the spell level system.

Here’s a run down of the spells, in order of increasing complexity.

  1. Complexity 1
    • Darkness: decreases light levels for the entire playfield over three turns. after spell light levels recover at the same rate
    • Wizard Light: creates a lit area around the caster
  2. Complexity 2
    • Detection: “detects either hidden units or the use and effect of other magical spells”. less effective against higher rank wizards
    • Levitate: lets the caster rise in the air, but provides no ability to move horizontally while in air
    • Phantasml Forces: creates an illussionary unit. can be mainted for up to 4 turns.
  3. Complexity 3
    • Concealment: Hides a single unit.
    • Haste: increase the movement spedd of multiple units by 50% for 3 turns
    • Protection from Evil: creates a circle that keeps evil units out of it’s area
    • Slowness: halves the movement speed of multiple units for 2 turns. similar to the slowed effect in 4E
  4. Complexity 4
    • Conufsion: unlike the random effect it would later have, this version reverses actions. The caster writes down the targets, lets the enemy make their move, then reveals the targets and reverse their moves.
    • Hallucinatory Terrain: creates illusionary terrain features. These featurs vanish on contact with a living thing. The working suggest it may survive contact with undead.
    • Polymorph: caster gains the appearance of any creature from their own size up to giant sized. There’s no mention of gaining any traits from that creature.
  5. Complexity 5
    • Conjuration of an Elemental: summons an elemental to fight for the wizard. Limited to one of each type. If caster is attacked, they turn on the caster.
    • Cloudkill: creates an autokill zone. the zone moves away from the caster while maintained and drifts randomly when left on it’s own.
  6. Complexity 6
    • Anti-Magic Shell: creates a circular barrier that stops “anything magical”. This blocks movement either way, so no fire out from inside the barrier and vice versa. Given the wording it may word on magic weapons and creatures as well as spells.
    • Moving Terrain: lets the caster move terrain features. only usable by top rank casters.

Morale for casters starts at heroic levels for seers (20) and scales up past super heroic for full wizards (50). On the other hand, point values for even the weakest caster start at super heroic levels (50) and scale up to double that for full wizards (100). Wizards are outright stronger than heroic units at this stage. This was less a problem in chainmail as this meant they were correspondingly costly to field. It would become more problematic in the conversion to D&D where every character has the same “cost” to acquire.

So that does it for the proto-classes of chainmal. Over all it’s an interesting mix. It’s a shame some of these didn’t make the transition. Next week we’ll see what made the cut and what didn’t.

This weekend, I’ll show off a bit more what I’ve been working on and where it’s going. See you then.

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 7:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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