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Elf Heartspells and Mutations for OD&D or B/X

I’ve long been an AD&D person, but as a result of my interactions of late with The Wandering DMs and my recent reading through the full rules for some of the simpler D&D editions (and their derivatives), I’ve been thinking about trying out playing either OD&D or 1980 B/X.

As well, I really like James Young’s idea of elfin heartspells and associated mutations/abilities to make elves more fey and further removed from humanity. That said, since I like having a race/class split (although I’m willing to do more experimenting with “race-as-class” to see if it can grow on me), it’d have to be modified to work without assuming that all elves have wizardly magic by default. Additionally, since I’m not sure which of those old systems I’d try it with, I want an approach that could be stacked on top of either OD&D or B/X without overlapping or interfering with what’s in them already.

For my purposes, I think the best approach would be for elves to get a random roll for an innate spell, usable once per day (or maybe once per 2-3 levels, min. once per day), that grants a mutation/ability while it’s available. I also like Young’s idea of elves dancing and frolicking in the moonlight instead of normal sleep or trance, so I'll steal that shamelessly and just modify it for non-wizardly elves. Lastly, I like enforcing the stereotypical divide between elves and dwarves by requiring elves to align with Chaos and dwarves to align with Law (halflings, I like to throw out entirely, but if I must have them, they have to be Neutral).

Without further ado, here we go:

Modifications for standard OD&D or B/X Elf

Alignment: An elf must be of Chaos alignment.

Frolic: Instead of sleeping, an elf must dance and frolic in the moonlight for at least four hours per night.

Heartspell: An elf has innate knowledge of a random spell (roll 1d12 and see below), which they can cast once per day. While the spell is available, they have a mutation of Chaos. If cast, the spell’s availability and its mutation are restored after the elf completes their moonlight frolicking.

1. Affect Normal Fires

Range: 60 feet

Duration: 1 turn

For the duration, the elf can select any non-magical fires within range and either extinguish them, reduce their size/brightness (down to glowing coals), or increase their size/brightness (up to double their norms). The effects can be changed at will. Fuel consumption and burning damage are unaffected.

Mutation: The elf’s irises and sclera flicker with shifting colors, and the elf can alter the color of nearby natural flames at will (no change to amount of illumination).

2. Burning Hands

Range: Melee

Duration: Instantaneous

Gouts of elfin flame burst forth from the elf’s hands, dealing 1d10 damage (save halves) to anything in a frontal arc.

Mutation: The elf exhales wisps of vapor. This can be changed to colored smoke (lingers for 1 round) or non-pressurized steam (insufficient to cause direct damage) at will.

3. Change Self

Range: Self

Duration: 1 turn/level

Casts a glamor over the elf, changing their appearance to be as another humanoid of similar height but any desired race, general features, weight, and/or clothing. A specific person cannot be imitated. The illusion is purely visual.

Mutation: The elf appears to be a human, and magical detection identifies them as Neutral alignment.

4. Chill Touch

Range: Touch

Duration: 1 turn

Frigid energy swirls around the elf’s hand for the duration. On a successful unarmed attack, the target suffers 1d4 damage and a -1 penalty to attack rolls for the spell’s duration (save negates both effects). Undead are especially vulnerable to this spell, suffering an extra 2 damage if affected.

Mutation: The elf’s skin has splotches of hypothermic pallor, and they suffer no ill effects from normal cold.

5. Color Spray

Range: Self

Duration: See below

Scintillating colors spew from the elf’s mouth in a 20-foot long X 20-foot end diameter cone. Any creatures in the area failing a saving throw with 1 Hit Dice or less are struck unconscious for 1 turn, those with 3 Hit Dice or less are blinded for 1d4 rounds, and those with less than 6 Hit Dice are stunned for 1 round. Creatures with 6 or more Hit Dice or creatures without normal sight are unaffected.

Mutation: The elf’s pupils writhe and swirl constantly, and they gain a +1 bonus to d6 searching checks.

6. Dancing Lights

Range: 100 feet

Duration: 1 turn

The elf conjures up to four floating wisps of light or a single faintly-human-shaped glow. Each light is equivalent to torchlight. The light(s) may be moved at will within range with minimal concentration.

Mutation: The elf’s fingers and toes trail faint trickles of light. They can weave these into hypnotic patterns, dazing one target in melee range (save negates). The elf can prolong the daze without additional saves by continuing to weave, but forcible distraction of either the elf or the target breaks the effect.

7. Enlarge

Range: 60 feet

Duration: 1 turn/level

A target creature or object (up to 30 cubic feet, including any possessions) grows by 20% per level of the elf. Unwilling targets may make a save to negate the effect. Hit points, AC, saves, and magical properties are unaffected, but weight and strength are scaled proportionally (assume physical attacks by an enlarged creature deal +1 damage per level of the elf).

Mutation: The elf has unusually large hands and forearms. They gain a +4 bonus to d20 rolls (or +1 to d6 checks) for unarmed attacks, grappling, wrestling, climbing, etc.

8. Entangle

Range: 60 feet

Duration: 1 turn

Grasses, weeds, bushes, trees, roots, and other plants in a 20-foot radius grasp at all nearby creatures. Any failing a save are completely restrained; others can take actions as desired and may move up to 10 feet per round to escape.

Mutation: The elf has a trifurcated tongue capable of speaking with natural plants. Friendliness or cooperation are not assured, but most plants can be persuaded to provide easy passage or to snag at pursuers.

9. Faerie Fire

Range: 60 feet

Duration: 5 rounds/level

Conjures a harmless aura of eerie flames around one creature or object in range per level of the elf (save negates). The target(s) shed light equivalent to torchlight, suffer a -2 penalty to AC, and cannot benefit from invisibility.

Mutation: The elf’s hair shimmers with ripples of shifting color, and they can see faint auras of colored emotion around living creatures in dim light or darkness.

10. Shocking Grasp

Range: Touch

Duration: 1 round/level

Electricity sparks between the elf’s fingers for the duration. On a successful unarmed attack, the target suffers 1d8 damage, plus 1 damage per level of the elf. There is no saving throw.

Mutation: The elf’s fingertips and ear tips always appear singed, and they can conjure tiny sparks at will (too weak to inflict damage but may ignite combustibles).

11. Speak with Animals

Range: Self

Duration: 2 rounds/level

For the duration, the elf can speak to and understand normal and giant-sized animals. Friendliness or cooperation are not assured.

Mutation: The elf’s enlarged nose is especially sensitive. They gain a +1 bonus to d6 surprise checks, and they can smell anger, fear, and lust from other humanoids.

12. Spider Climb

Range: Touch

Duration: 2 rounds/level

The elf imbues a single creature with the mobility of a spider, provided their hands and feet are free. The target can traverse walls and ceilings at their full movement rate, and objects weighing 1 pound or less stick to the target’s hand/feet.

Mutation: The elf’s palms and soles are covered in fine, tacky hairs. If they can touch a vertical surface during most of a fall, they slow down enough to halve any falling damage.


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