“Typical glyphs shock for 2 points of electrical damage per level of the spell caster, explode for a like amount of fire damage, paralyze, blind or even drain a life energy level (if the cleric is of high enough level to cast this glyph).” – 1st Edition Players Handbook p. 47.
That’s the extent of the spell description for the 3rd level clerical spell glyph of warding in the 1st edition Players Handbook when it comes to detailing the actual effects of the spell. Like a lot of earlier versions of the rules of the game, there’s a lot of room for the referee to extrapolate on this spell when it comes to his or her particular campaign. First off, the spell states that these are the effects of the “typical glyphs.” By that logic, one must assume that atypical glyphs exist as well. Secondly, the spell mentions that the most potent version of the typical glyph – the one that drains life levels – is only available to a priest that is “high enough level to cast this glyph.” No mention of the actual level required is present, leaving the referee to decide such things for himself.
When I was working away on Gloomrisk (formerly known as The Dungeon Not Yet Named™), I took the opportunity to play around with a few variant versions of glyph of warding to include in the depths of that dungeon. I also wanted to establish a few level guidelines as to when a PC cleric might find himself able to cast these variants. Image my chagrin when I discovered, after completing about 85% of that project, that Larry DiTillio had already covered a lot of this same ground in his article “The Glyphs of Cerilon” in Dragon #50. He’d even included illustrations of specific glyphs along with the article; a step that I had undertaken myself. Rather than being discouraged by this discovery, I did what any decent referee would do: I stole the parts that I liked and added it to my own work.
What follows in this post, as well as in Part 2, is a sample of my glyphs of warding for R’Nis, including my own house-rules for level determination of what glyphs are available to the cleric as he progresses. A total of twelve glyphs are presented in this series, with a few more held in reserve to protect their secrecy from possible delvers into Gloomrisk.
Upon reaching the 5th level of experience (deity permitting), the cleric gains access to the prayer, glyph of warding. At 5th level, the cleric may invoke the power of his or her deity to cast two versions of this glyph as determined by the player and the referee. The two initial glyphs must be of the 5th level variety (see below). For each level of experience past the 5th, the cleric gains access to another type of glyph from this list. Upon reaching the 7th and 9th levels of experience, the cleric (with the referee’s permission) may chose a glyph of warding from the appropriate higher level lists. In addition, the cleric may encounter alternate glyphs during his adventures (on scrolls, in prayer books, or some other format). Should this event occur, the cleric may either seek out the guidance of a higher level priest or, if high enough level himself, consult his deity for permission to be able to employ these new forms of glyphs. To gain permission, the cleric must either cast, or have cast for him, the 5th level spell, commune. After doing so, the cleric will learn if he may invoke the powers of his deity to use these glyphs and, in the case of a positive response, may add them to his available repertoire.
5th Level Glyphs
The victim of this glyph is struck blind by a radiant light of divine origin. The effect is permanent unless the victim makes a successful save vs. spells. If the saving throw is successful, the victim is only blinded for 2 rounds per level of the caster. A blind character suffers a -4 penalty to its attack rolls, and all opponents gain a +4 bonus to their attack rolls against the character.
The victim of this glyph is deafened by the sound of celestial horns or demonic roars, depending on the caster’s alignment. The effect is permanent unless the victim makes a successful save vs. spells. If the saving throw is successful, the victim is only deafened for 2 rounds per level of the caster. A deafened character is surprised on a 3 in 6 chance and has a 20% chance to miscast spells. A dispel magic will restore the character’s hearing
Agony of the Heretic
The victim of this glyph is wracked with pain, causing them to drop to the ground in agony if a save vs. spells is not made. This pain effectively paralyzes the victim for 2 turns per caster’s level, but causes no actual damage. If the saving throw is successful, this glyph has no effect.
The victim of this glyph is subjected to a blast of electrical energy that causes 2 points of damage for each level of the caster. A successful saving throw vs. spell will reduce the damage inflicted by half. Due to the divine nature of this electrical power, the referee may deem that any magical protections the character possesses against electricity offers limited or no protection against this glyph.
The Burning Touch of Imix
The victim of this glyph is subjected to a blast of burning flame that causes 2 points of damage for each level of the caster. A successful saving throw vs. spell will reduce the damage inflicted by half. Due to the divine nature of this fiery power, the referee may deem that any magical protections the character possesses against fire offers limited or no protection against this glyph.
The victim of this glyph is subjected to a wave of chilling frost that causes 2 points of damage for each level of the caster. A successful saving throw vs. spell will reduce the damage inflicted by half. Due to the divine nature of this freezing power, the referee may deem that any magical protections the character possesses against cold offers limited or no protection against this glyph.