Melf. Tasha. Bigby. Leomund. Drawmij. Otiluke. Tenser. Evard.
Other than being famous D&D wizards, what do all these people have in common? They have spells named after them, of course—spells such as Tenser’s floating disc, Otiluke’s resilient sphere, and Melf’s acid arrow.
D&D spells that include proper names are rich in history, both because of the real-world story behind a particular name, and the in-game myths that surround the famous wizard in question. For example, the spell (and 4E ritual) Drawmij’s instant summons was devised by Drawmij the archmage, who was a founding member of the conclave known as the Circle of Eight. And in the real world, Drawmij is the talented and famous Jim Ward’s name spelled backward. Jim, a player in one of Gary Gygax’s games, once remarked how darn useful it would be to have a spell that would summon misplaced but owned articles to hand. And so it came to be.
Spells that bear a creator’s moniker have been part of the game nearly since its inception. There’s an argument (given some, but not complete, heed during 4th Edition design), however, that eponymous spells speak to a specific D&D setting. To include eponymous spells in the core game is anachronistic for games that take place in settings that don’t include those wizards in its history. The argument goes that to avoid anachronisms across all the possible potential settings DMs might create for their campaigns, all such eponymous spells should become mere spells, which would mean that Melf’s acid arrow, for instance, should just be acid arrow, Bigby’s grasping hand would be grasping hand, and so on.
The counterargument goes something like this: Eponymous spells are part of D&D. Wizards created these spells, and to strip those iconic spells of their names is to do damage to the story of D&D. If a particular DM wants to strip names from spells, then he or she can do so by indicating that those spells are not part of the game, or, to the extent they are in the game, different (or no) names are associated with those spells. But D&D has lore all its own—lore that is part of the game’s identity—and eponymous spells speak to that. Besides, is it so hard to believe that an ancient archwizard’s spells have spread by a panspermialike migration of dimensional travelers over the millennia?
What do you think?