Earlier in the week I looked at the spell progression for magic-users across OD&D (O), B/X D&D (B), and AD&D 1e (A). Today, I thought I’d take a look at the same for clerics.  In this case I stopped the comparison at level 10, as that’s as high as OD&D goes, and 11th level is where AD&D starts adding 6th level clerical spells, which do not exist in the other two editions.  Interestingly, I’m just noticing on the AD&D chart that there’s a note that 6th level spells require a 17 Wisdom, and 7th level spells require an 18 Wisdom.  It’s an interesting attempt to try and continue to limit access to these higher level spells, but with the ability score glut the game gets into by this edition, I wouldn’t be surprised if most PC clerics had access to these spells.  Anyway, here’s the chart:

O1 B1 A1 O2 B2 A2 O3 B3 A3 O4 B4 A4 O5 B5 A5
1 1
2 1 1 2
3 2 2 2 1
4 2 2 3 1 1 2
5 2 2 3 2 2 3 1
6 2 2 3 2 2 3 1 1 2 1 1
7 2 2 3 2 2 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
8 2 3 3 2 3 3 2 2 3 2 2 2 2 1
9 3 3 4 3 3 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 1
10 3 4 4 3 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2


Interestingly, in this case it’s AD&D that’s the outlier.  B/X hues pretty close to OD&D, and not just in the fact that it starts 1st level clerics with no spells.  For the first two levels B/X gives a few more spells at higher levels, though the charts are identical up to level 7.  Spell levels 3 and 4 are exactly identical, and then oddly B/X grants fewer 5th level spells.

AD&D, on the other hand, not only starts the progression earlier granting a first level spell at level 1, but it also grants spell levels 2 and 3 a character level earlier.  It grants more of these spells faster, but by the higher levels it tapers off to be equivalent of the other editions.  Let’s not forget though that this is also the edition that grants even more low level spells for high Wisdom scores, which as mentioned before your PC probably has.

Then there’s spell level 4, where everything goes crazy.  In OD&D and B/X for some reason both spell levels 3 and 4 are first granted at character level 6.  I’m pretty sure this always surprises everyone.  It seems very strange to me that one level would grant you access to two new tiers of spells.  AD&D does not do this, rather it grants access to higher spell levels at a steady pace, meaning that by character level 7 suddenly the AD&D spell progression is well behind the other editions.  Fifth level spell access remains behind, with AD&D only granting them at character level 9, and catching up in number to B/X at character level 10, though both are still behind OD&D.

Oddly in this case, I find my personal preference aligning with AD&D of all things.  I like the idea of granting a spell right at first level (an idea even Gary mentions preferring in Cheers Gary), and I like smoothing out the weird bump at level 6.  That said, I also like my level cap around level 14-15, where OD&D takes magic-users and B/X takes everyone.  However if you follow the spell progression talbes of either B/X or AD&D up to that level, you’ll find clerics gaining access to many more low level spells than the equivalent magic-user.  In B/X a 14th level cleric has 6 first level spells, and likewise in AD&D he’s got 6 first, second, and third level spells.  In comparison, the magic-user tops out at 4-5 spells per level.  I can’t help but wonder why?

I’m conflicted here.  I see three options.  Hmm, maybe a poll is in order:

Which spell progression table is best to use for clerics levels 1-15?

  • B/X chart by the book. (50%, 2 Votes)
  • AD&D chart by the book. (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Same as for OD&D magic-users. (25%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 4

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