Last night, I was bored. Boredom led to apathy, apathy to irritation, irritation to aggrivation, and aggrivation to anger. I had had a good weekend, writing and writing to my heart's content and was satiated intellectually. While, there were some interesting movies on t.v., the content started to peter-out and it was raining outside. Nothing really to do, nowhere really to go. I needed to do something, so I decided I would take it out on Lolth. I had written a blog post about Lolth and Holy Water, but that was only for one aspect of the dual goddess. What should I do about her better half? And, then it struck me, psionics. Now, I have been saying things to the effect of "God-bless the old days when psionics were really interesting" But, I have said nothing about the brutality inherient in the system. Tonight, as there is nothing on t.v. again, I will write about last night.
Lolth and her Psionic Abilities
I should state here that Lolth's psionic abilities are somewhat unclear. In the stats block it says "see below", it happens that in the spider form Lolth has no psionic ability, so we aren't going to fight her there (her saving throw based on combined Wisdom and Intelligence is too easy, being 99%). Besides, we splash spiders with water when we want to get rid of them, so that had already been covered. Lolth has psionic disciplines in her Drow form, so she can engage in Psionic Combat.
I put Deities and Demigods down on the table and pulled out my DMG and PHB from AD&D. Which form of combat are we going to engage in? Psionic vs. Psionic or Psionic vs. Defenseless Psionic. I looked at defenseless first as I thought it would be advantagous. I quickly realized that it would be far too easy and that there would be little to no sport in killing her straight off the bat. So I dug into the PHB.
Psionic Abilities in AD&D
Okay, I had a psionic character back in the good-old-days. I didn't want to use my old character for a simulation so I decided I would roll up new attributes for my psionic abilities based on a PC similar to my old character. Intelligence 18, Wisdom 14, Charisma 13. I rolled up my percentile dice for psionic ability and got 64. Good, good. Now I added 1 point of psionic ability for every point of the three aforementioned attributes over 12. Intelligence 6, Wisdom 2, and Charisma 1. That made 9. Okay good, that goes on the total. But, wait! I had to quadruple that score, because all three abilities were over 12. giving me 36. My total psionic ability was 200. The reason for this is: psionic ability is both attack strength and defense strength. This means, basically, that you double the total and that gives the total strength. Make sense? I hope so. I quickly rolled percentile dice for the available modes and got 80 for attack and 87 for defense, so I had 4 for each (in the end I didn't use more than one for each, but more about that later). I chose all attacks except Id Insinuation, and all defenses except Tower of Iron Will. This gave me a psionic PC for the sim. Now time to deal with Lolth.
Generating Lolth's Psionic Abilities.
Because she has no psionic abilities listed in Deities and Demigods (or Q1), and if I played her as defenseless I could kill her instantly with Psychic Crush. I chose to roll up stats for Lolth. Okay here we go, psionic ability 64 (weird). Intelligence 21, Wisdom 16, Charisma 23. Uh oh! Okay, well I wanted a fight. So Intelligence 9, Wisdom 4, and Charisma 11. That gives 24 x 4 (see above)= 96. Okay, (96+64)x2=320. So, I rolled up a psionic strength of 320 for Lolth, I though that was appropriate. I also rolled up attack modes and got 88, I got a 24 for defense modes. Hah, I thought, bingo. So for attack modes she had 4, and for defense modes she only had 2 (although she only needed 1 for what we were about to do.) I gave her all attack modes except Psychic Crush (I figured, as a girl, her grip would be weak) and I gave her Mind Blank and Tower of Iron Will for defenses. (Mind Blank is a required defense.)
Now we get to fhe fun stuff!
Psionic Combat with Lolth.
Okay, I rolled straight initiative with no modifiers. Lolth won, rolling 16 with my roll being 12. I started with Psionic Blast for her and then decided a goddess like her would probably want to whip me to death, rather than piss on me; so I changed it to Ego Whip. This is why I decided this: (NOW PAY CLOSE ATTENTION!)
When psionic combat is tabulated, with the exception of Psychic Crush, it is a "numbers" game. First, though, I will explain the attack sequence of Psionic Combat.
Lolth got to go first so she chose an attack mode (lets just skip a turn, or two and say she chose Ego Whip.)
Next, the PC choses a defense mode to go with her attack, I chose Intellect Fortress (go figure).
Now, that is her turn. We subtract the point usage for her turn: 7 for Ego Whip. We then go to the Combat Table for Psionic vs Psionic Combat in the DMG (page 76) We read her total psionic strength which is 126&up and get the resultant defense point loss which is 7 (that comes off my total)
Why I chose to do it this way.
Here is why I chose to do battle, on her behalf, this way. I looked over at the lines under the table on the other page and realized it was brutal when one combatant lost all their points. At this rate she would outlast me no-matter what. I had 200 points, she had 320. I would lose and she would slowly bleed me. Now, I will explain what I chose to do on my attack sequence.
Attacking Lolth Psionically.
I chose to use Psychic Crush, and for this reason: in the context of play going straight for the kill with her is the only logical tactic. Although, looking at the table now, the other options may have ended game play and made her into my personal idiot. This was not to be, but something better was about to come down.
Back to the game, I chose Psychic Crush, and I chose the obvious Tower of Iron Will for her. I expend 14 points, and looking at the table I have a 7% chance of killing her. Great, I am going to bleed quicker than I first thought I realised. Okay, rolled the dice, didn't get it. Now the problem was made worse by the fact my only chance to win was to kill her, and the chances were low.
Okay, what happened is a long-shot, I know.
On the 5th sequence I rolled the percentile dice and got a 01 which meant 1%. **** me running, I thought. I had killed her. I was left with 137 total points for my psionic abilities, which meant 68.5 attack and 68.5 defense. It was close, too close, and I am not going to try that again anytime soon.
What I learnt from trying something so stupid.
Okay, whew! The thing I took from this, which I had forgotten, was how ****ing brutal Psionics used to be. Here I am going to add the possible conditions resulting from Psionic combat vs. A defenseless Psionic.
C= Confused for 2-8 rounds, no psionic activity is possible.
D= Dazed for 1-4 turns, no psionic or other activity.
I= Idiocy, psionic ability lost forever, though idiocy is curable by a heal spell.
K= Killed, raising/resurrection is possible, but psionic ability is lost.
P= Permanent loss of one attack or defense mode or psionic discipline and dazed as above.
S= Sleeping is a coma for 1-4 weeks (catatonic state 99% likely to be mistaken for death.)
R= Robot, meaning mind is under control of the victor until realeased or 2-8 weeks have elapsed and a saving throw versus magic is made.
W= Wounded psionically, one attack or defense mode or psionic discipline unusable for 2-8 weeks.
Now, this only happens if you are defenseless. If you reach 0 points for your psionic defense score, hit points are deducted as if they were psionic points (as per the line below the table on page 79.)
Had we played on the other table, my chance of killing her straight out would have been very high. Here, I will explain, with the defense strength total of Lolth being zero, hit points would be taken off in a point, by point basis. Her total defense strength would be zero, because if we were assuming that she was defenseless then we accept her total psionic strength as zero because it is not listed. If you look at the table for 100 psionic attack strength, you realize that if we consider her >10 points we have to use the first column for her. This means attacks would result in the following.
Psionic Blast = W
Mind Thrust = P
Ego Whip = P
Id Isinuation = R and finally,
Psychic Blast = 84% chance of Lolth being killed.
that is a high enough chance, I'd say.
So we have two conclusions arising, with regards to Lolth.
1) If we play her as psionically defenseless she is pretty killable. If we play as Psionic vs. Psionic she is able to be killed.
2) There are no diffinitive numbers for her total psionic ability. Which, should have been corrected; or else her entry in AD&D is incomplete.
Now, I know, that the stats I rolled for her are not official. But they are pretty high, and it was the best I could come up with without making her a defenseless psionic in combat. Had I done otherwise, I would have had a pretty good chance of killing her, or the damage would have had to come off her hit points (which means for every attack I would have done automatic damage). With just 66 hit points, it would be a matter of rounds until she was dead.
Now, take that as you will, eiither way she has a pretty big achilles heel here. We can't use the saving throw table for attacks on a non-psionic, because she has psionic ability, as per disciplines/devotions, and can't be considered non-psionic.
Conclusion to the Encounter.
Either the psionic attack method is the solution to the puzzle of how to defeat Lolth (in drow form) or her stats block invalidates here role in Q1 and the system of AD&D. We have dealt with Lolth as both spider and Drow, so that should be the end of the matter. With both Gary and David gone now, I am going to say that Q1 is off my list of problems to deal with and will content myself to leave Lolth alone, for now.
A quick Post-Script to this: If we play Lolth "by the book" as a Drow, she is a defenseless Psionic. The above example is then obviously more theortical than anything else. The DM is not entitled to roll up attributes for the stats block of Lolth, and because she is "psionically endowed" she must be considered as psionic. The possesion of psionic disciplines, in this example indicates she is psionically endowed (see PHB Appendix I Psionics page 111), she simply is defenseless in combat.