Can a wizard cure your light wounds? No, but. . .new.gif (131 octets)

by Bruce Kvam

Villem was dying. His breathing became ragged and irregular, and his eyes glazed over as he muttered a prayer to Tyr. His grasp on Renfrew's forearm loosened.

"Can you do something to heal him?" Renfrew cried, turning on Fratakara.

The mage took a step back, stroking his chin slowly. His eyes were hooded by shadow, and the others could not read his expression. He shook his head.

Renfrew knelt over Villem, checking the bandages with which he had crudely bound his brother's wounds. He cursed himself for not listening to Villem's lessons, being more interested in the arts of combat than the arts of healing. The young priest had taken the brunt of the dragon's attacks, holding the monster off so that the others could pull Renfrew from beneath its claws. Now Villem was paying for his bravery with his life.

As the last breath slipped from Villem's slim body, a rage grew within Renfrew, a senseless rage that he could not hold back. "Damn you, Fratakara!" he shouted. "All your books, all your knowledge, all your spells, and you can do nothing to save my brother's life! Your magic is worthless!"

It is by design that magic-users have no healing abilities in the AD&D(R) 1st Edition game. Were they able to heal as well as they harm, they would be invincible indeed. Game balance dictates a separation of powers. But must the answer to the question, "Can you do something to heal him?" always be negative? Three typical responses from magic-users are:

1. "Alas, no," the low-level mage replies. "I am not trained in the healing arts."

2. "Alas, no," the high-level mage replies. "But after he dies, I can reincarnate him as a bugbear."

3. "No problem," the very high-level mage replies. "I can wish him back to full strength, but I'll age three years in the process. Got a potion of longevity?"

None of these options is particularly heartening to the player whose character has no hit points left to his name. Is it possible for magic-users to heal others? Is it desirable?

What is healing? When we speak of healing, we mean restoring hit points that a character has lost due to damage. The powers that affect healing are represented by: the clerical spells cure light wounds, cure serious wounds, cure critical wounds, and heal; the potions healing and extra-healing, and the elixir of life. It is also possible to give a character more hit points than his maximum, by means of the clerical aid spell and the potions of heroism and super-heroism.

Other forms of healing that most clerics have access to can: restore functions to a damaged character (spells like cure blindness, cure disease, restoration, and regenerate, and the elixir of health and ring of regeneration); negate the effects of poison (slow poison, neutralize poison); bring the dead to life (raise dead and resurrection, and the rod of resurrection); and prevent death (death's door). Other forms of clerical healing include a full-spectrum immunity energizer (heroes' feast) and your basic snake-oil (Keoghtom's ointment).

One could argue that magic-users can already heal, because they (along with alchemists and other spell-casters) are the manufacturers of potions - and potions are, after all, spells in a bottle. This begs the question, though, because mages cannot carry their laboratories when they go adventuring. But it does point out that magic-users can heal. Why, then, can they not cast spells that have the same effects as the clerical healing spells?

Why no healing? Magic-users and clerics (including druids) share many spells. Most of the detection spells are common to both character classes (detect evil, detect magic, know alignment, etc.). Some combat and person-affecting spells are the same or very similar: hold person; quest and  geas; and flame strike and fireball. Many general-purpose spells are also held in common, such as light, animate dead, protection from evil, and rock to mud

The magic-user's arsenal generally packs more powerful punches when it comes to damage (e.g., the clerical flame strike does an average of 27 hp damage, whereas the equivalent 9th-level magic-user's fireball does 31.5 hp), while the cleric's arsenal generally offers longer spell durations (e.g., the clerical protection from evil at one turn per level, while the magic-user's is two rounds per level). As far as casting time goes, magic-users are quicker on the draw than are clerics - but not always (e.g.,  know alignment).

There is a philosophical difference between mages and priests that is reflected in their abilities. Magic-users are interested in abstract knowledge, personal gain, and shaping the universe to fit their whims.

Clerics desire to serve a deity, aid and serve those who share this desire, further a particular ethos, and gain converts to their beliefs. Clerics, by virtue of their relationships with higher powers, have a closer connection to the origins of life. Thus, they have a wide range of healing and detection abilities to help further those goals. Magic-users, on the other hand, have many spells that allow them to dominate the physical world.

Not all magic-users are selfish, power-mad individuals lusting for control of the universe. The question is, then, how can we give magic-users spells that heal without disturbing game balance? It would help to see what magic-users can already do to heal themselves and their fellows.

                             Magic-user healing

"Magic-user healing" sounds like a contradiction in terms, but magic-users (including illusionists) do indeed have rudimentary healing powers, though it may not seem that way at first glance. Here's the rundown by spell level:

Find familiar (first-level spell):

This double-edged spell allows the magic-user to add the hit points of a familiar (2-4 or more hp) to his total when the familiar is within 12". Unfortunately, if the familiar is killed, the magic-user loses double the number of its hit points.

Feign death (third-level spell): This is a useful but underused spell. it  can produce the same effect as slow poison (though for a lesser duration), because poison does not affect a person under the effect of feign death. It might also be used to prolong a character's life when he has been brought to zero or fewer hit points.

Dispel exhaustion (fourth-level illusionist spell):

This spell temporarily restores 50% of lost hit points. However, the character loses those magical hit points at the end of the duration of the spell (thus, if he is "running on empty," he will collapse).

Polymorph self (fourth-level spell):

This spell heals only the magic-user who casts it. When he finally reverts back to his original form, the spell-caster is cured for 1-12 hp. Many mages keep this spell memorized only for this reason!

Dream (fifth-level illusionist spell):

This spell is similar to the limited wish spell but is a little more flexible.

Reincarnate (sixth-level spell):

This spell brings someone back from the dead in much the same way as the clerical raise dead spell. No system-shock or resurrection survival roll is required. There is, of course, a drawback:  The recipient of the spell most likely will not return as his original race.On the positive side, there is a 48% chance of returning as a humanoid (so for a fighter, this might not be a terrible option if no others are available).

Tenser's transformation (sixth-level spell):

This spell temporarily doubles the mage's hit points, giving a kind of healing. It has many drawbacks, though. It makes the mage berserk and unable to cast spells. If he is damaged beyond the added hit points, the mage takes double damage.  And to top it off, the material component for the spell is a potion of heroism!

Limited wish (seventh-level spell):

This spell cures the mage of some of his hit-point loss, or all his hit-point loss temporarily. As with all wishes, the wording of the wish is critical and is subject to the interpretation of the Dungeon Master. It is also an expensive spell to cast, for it ages the caster by one year.

Alter reality (seventh-level illusionist spell):

This spell is similar to the limited wish spell.

Clone (eighth-level spell):

Though not as obvious as the other spell choices, this spell is an excellent replacement for raise dead (albeit a less-convenient replacement). When combined with the preserve spell, an effective life-insurance policy can be taken out with a high-level magic-user. A character need only donate a bit of flesh to the mage (who preserves the flesh) at regular intervals. If the character meets an untimely end (such as disintegration), he can be restored to life as he was when the last donation was made. The character loses some memories and experience points, but he will at least be alive. Be forewarned: Some DMs may not be amenable to this sort of bending of the rules.

Temporal stasis (ninth-level spell): Similar to the feign death spell, temporal stasis might be used to defer curative action to a later time when a cleric is available.

Wish (ninth-level spell): This is the ultimate spell, the one every mage itches to be able to cast (but is afraid to cast). This is the magic-user's cure-all: It can restore lost hit points, remove diseases, raise the dead, etc. It has the drawback of aging the caster by three years, and it is subject to the interpretation of the DM. But healing is the most benign use of the wish (as it has no debilitating side effects other than the aging) and will most likely be granted by all but the most heartless DMs.

There may be other conniving schemes by which magic-users can obtain healing powers, but this list is sufficient to draw a few conclusions. These conclusions are as follows:

1. Spells that mages can use to heal are higher level (none below 4th).

2. The amount of healing is either small, temporary, or the by-product of another effect.

3. There is a substantial cost for casting the spell (e.g., aging or an expensive material component).

4. There are often undesirable side effects.

5. Increases in hit points are generally confined to the spell-caster.

6. No new life essence is created. Healing is accomplished by accelerating normal processes or by transferring hit points from another source.

This last point (#6) shows the key difference between the clerical and magic-user spells: The former produce a net increase in life-force while the latter maintain a balance.

New magic-user spells Keeping the above guidelines in mind, we can design curative spells for the magic-user that do not disrupt game balance or anger the gods.

Arnvid's Unseen Limb(Conjuration/Summoning)

Level: 4 Components: V,S,M

Range: Touch

CT: 1 round

Duration: 6 turns/lvl.

ST: None

AE: Creature touched

Explanation/Description: When Arnvid's unseen limb is cast, the magic-user causes an invisible limb (arm, hand, leg, or foot) to come into being. This limb may replace a missing limb, or it may be used to create an extra one.The invisible limb functions exactly as a normal limb, except that, at the option of the recipient of the spell, parts of it may become immaterial so as to pass through solid objects. For example, the limb could be used to uncork a potion inside a closed chest and dump the bottle out, but it could not remove the potion from the chest. The limb has normal touch sensations. It may be used to wield a weapon only if the limb is replacing a missing arm or hand. The limb bestows no extra senses other than touch, so it cannot be used, for example, to add a second shield arm in the middle of the recipient's back. The invisible limb has no hit points or armor class as such, and it cannot be harmed unless it is dispelled.

The material component of the spell is the tail of a lizard (any type that regenerates lost body parts). This is touched to the place on the body  where the limb is to be restored.


Level: 4 Components: V,S,M

Range: Touch

CT: 5 rounds

Duration: Permanent

ST: None

AE: Creature touched

Explanation/Description: The empath spell enables the caster to transfer a certain loss in hit points from another creature to himself, thus curing the recipient. Up to 2 hp per level of the spell-caster may be transferred, so a 10th-level magic-user could cure his friend of a 20-hp wound (but the magic-user will then take 20 hp in damage himself). The hit-point loss could have originally resulted from physical attacks, certain poisons, spell effects, diseases, or curses (except those that cannot be removed by remove curse). This spell cannot restore amputated limbs, drained life levels, or death. It also cannot undo any continuously acting poison or disease, so the spell only temporarily reverses such harm, which will then continue to affect the victim. If the caster is brought below zero hit points by use of empath, he begins to die. No effect results from casting empath on the deceased character.

The material components of this spell are hair and blood from both the recipient and the caster, two newt eyes, and two wolf teeth (each from a different animal). The components disappear in the casting of the spell.

Life Force Transfer(Necromantic)

Level: 4 Components: V,S,M

Range: 12"

CT: 4 segments

Duration: Instant

ST: None

AE: One creature

Explanation/Description: This spell allows the caster to transfer some of his life-force to another creature. When cast, the spell transfers 1 hp/level of the caster to the target creature, plus an additional 1-4 hp. The hit points are added to the target's current hit-point total and deducted from the spell-caster's. Thus, a 7th-level magic-user can transfer 8-11 hp from himself to another creature. The caster can transfer only as many hit points as he currently has; if he purposefully or accidentally transfers more, his current hit-point total plus 1-4 hp are transferred to the target, while that amount is subtracted from the caster's total (and the caster begins to die). The target creature cannot gain more hit points than its full normal total; such extra hit points are merely lost. The magic-user's hit-point losses can be regained by normal healing or magic.

After the transfer is complete, the magic-user loses four points of constitution temporarily; each point may be recovered by six turns of rest.   If the caster's constitution drops below 3, unconsciousness results and full constitution is not regained for 24 hours. The material component of this spell is a glass tube filled with the caster's blood, which disappears when the spell is cast.

Dispel Exhaustion(Illusion/Phantasm)

Level: 5 Components: V,S

Range: Touch

CT: 5 segments

Duration: 2 turns/lvl.

ST: None

AE: 1-3 persons

Explanation/Description: Except as noted above, this spell is the same as the 4th-level illusionist spell of the same name.

Accelerated Metabolism(Alteration)

Level: 6 Components: V,S,M

Range: Touch CT: 6 segments

Duration: 1 turn/lvl. ST: None +1-6 turns

AE: One creature

Explanation/Description: This spell speeds up the life processes of the recipient at a rate of 1 day/turn for the duration of the spell. All life processes (sleeping, eating, healing, etc.) progress at this accelerated pace. If insufficient nourishment is provided, the recipient suffers from thirst and starvation. Three rounds of rest per turn must be allowed, otherwise exhaustion results and no healing is possible. The other seven rounds per turn must be spent eating and drinking a day's rations. The recipient regains 1 hp/turn for the first seven turns (minus any penalty due   to poor constitution). In subsequent multiples of seven turns, characters with constitution bonuses additionally receive their constitution bonus score. In any case, 28 turns of accelerated metabolism heal a character completely. However, each turn ages the recipient a week (as opposed to a day), due to the stresses of the artificially high metabolic rate. Note that the character does not move or fight any faster than normal. Also, if the recipient of the spell is unwilling, a saving throw is applicable.

The material component for this spell is a candle, which must be lit at both ends. The candle must burn for the duration of the spell; if it is extinguished, the spell ends prematurely. The candle is completely burned if the spell runs its normal course.

Vampire Dagger(Necromantic)

Level: 6 Components: V,S,M

Range: 0 CT: 6 segments

Duration: 1 rnd./lvl. ST: Neg.

AE: Personal

Explanation/Description: By casting this spell on a specially prepared  nonmagical dagger, the magic-user is able to drain hit points from other creatures that he strikes with it and bestow those hit points on himself. The magic-user must attack the creature normally with the dagger. If the hit is successful, the creature takes normal damage from the dagger (1-4 for small-and man-sized creatures, 1-3 for large-sized creatures, plus any strength bonus), plus bonus damage of 1 hp for every two levels the spell-caster has. The magic-user in turn gains this bonus damage as curative hit points. If the victim makes its saving throw vs. death magic, it takes damage from the dagger but no hit points are transferred to the spell-caster. If the save is a natural 20, the magic-user takes the bonus damage instead of the victim. If this spell drains more hit points from a victim than remain in that victim, the victim dies; only those hit points left to the victim after the dagger's damage (with strength bonuses) is subtracted are transferred to the magic-user. The magic-user cannot gain hit points above his normal hit-point total; all extra hit points are lost. For example, a 16th-level magic-user hits a minotaur with 26 hp and rolls a 2 for damage, doing a total of 10 hp damage. The minotaur fails its saving throw, and the magic-user gains 8 hp (he lost 10 hp in a previous fight). The next round, the magic-user hits again and does 1 + 8 = 9 hp damage. The minotaur makes its save, so no hit points are transferred. On the next round, the magic-user hits again and does 2 + 8 = 10 hp damage. The minotaur fails its save and dies, having had only 7 hp left. Thus, only  7 - 2 = 5 hp can transfer to the caster. The caster gains only 2 hp, however, since this increase puts him at his maximum hit-point total.

This spell is ineffective against creatures that can be harmed only by magical weapons (undead excluded) and creatures that have no blood (e.g., golems). If the dagger is used in an attempt to drain an undead being, the magic-user must save vs. death magic with each strike or die himself; the undead being only takes damage from the dagger and associated strength bonuses.

One of the material components of the spell is a dagger that has a channel inside it running from the tip through to the handle. The dagger must be forged from an alloy of silver and steel that has been mixed with the crushed bone of a vampire. The minimum cost of such a dagger is 2,000 gp. Blood from the dagger's wound must travel through the channel and touch the bare flesh of the magic-user's hand for the hit points to be transferred. The dagger remains after the completion of the spell. The other material component of this spell is the claw of a vampire, which disappears after the spell is cast. The effects of this spell do not protect the caster from any unusual effects of the victim's blood.


Level: 8 Components: V,S,M

Range: Touch CT: 5 rounds

Duration: Permanent ST: Neg.

AE: Two creatures

Explanation/Description: This spell is similar to the empath spell, except that it allows the caster to transfer a hit-point disability (of up to 2 hp/level of the caster) between any two creatures, excluding the caster. The magic-user must be able to grasp both the creature with the disability and the creature about to receive the disability without having to make to-hit rolls, so the two beings involved must either be willing to undergo the spell or else be sleeping or unconscious. The recipient of the disability is entitled to a saving throw vs. spells if unwilling. If the recipient's saving throw succeeds, the exchange is incomplete and nothing further happens.

If the recipient fails the saving throw, the disability passes through the magic-user, inflicting him for an instant. If such a wound would normally place the magic-user below zero hit points, it immediately does so, and the spell ceases; the creature that first bore the hit-point loss is healed, and the recipient is unharmed.

The material components for the spell are the same as the empath spell, except for a ruby (worth at least 5,000 gp), which is shattered as the disability passes through the caster. If the risks of some of these spells seem to outweigh the benefits, remember that these spells deal with life and death - dangerous territory for magic-users. But these spells offer new options in role-playing. Empath and life force transfer allow magic-users to perform heroic acts of self-sacrifice without stepping on the hem of the cleric's cloak. Arnvid's unseen limb allows limbless victims to limp along until a high-level cleric can be found. With exchange, black wizards can trade lives and white wizards can save them.

Can your magic-user do something to heal his wounded comrades? Perhaps now, the answer is yes.

Based on material copyright TSR, Inc. All rights reserved.