Energy Draining by Undead or Device

Use of Magic Items

When a character loses a level of energy, he or she loses an xperience level.
That is, he or she loses HP =equal= to those gained with the acquisition of the former experience level (including bonus points for constitution),
all abilities gained with the experience level now lost, and experience points sufficient to bring the total possessed to the mid-point of the next lower level.
    Example: A Footpad (T2) drained of one energy level becomes a Rogue (Apprentice) (T1) with 625 XP. (SA) <example added>

If this brings the character below 1st level of experience, then the individual is a 0 level person never capable of gaining experience again. <alt: see GHA.117>
If a 0 level individual is drained an energy level, he or she is dead (possibly to become an undead monster).
In order to allow for the possibility of the loss of HD due to energy level draining, you
might require that players record the score of each hit die rolled for their
characters, so that when a level is lost the appropriate number of HP also lost can be known immediately.

A multi-classed character (or character with two classes) who is drained of an experience level always loses the highest level he or she has gained
(e.g., a halfling 2nd level fighter/3rd level thief would lose one level of thieving ability).
If all levels are equal, the highest level of the class which requires the greatest amount of experience points is lost.
If a multi-classed character (e.g., a fighter/magic-user) is struck by a creature which drains two levels, a level is drained from each class.

When a character is drained of all energy levels, he or she might become
an undead monster of the same sort which killed him or her.
(See the appropriate paragraphs pertaining to the undead monsters concerned in the MONSTER MANUAL.)
(ie., cf. wight, wraith, spectre, vampire) <>

These lesser undead are controlled by their slayer/drainer.
Each has but half the HD of a normal undead monster of this same type.

Lesser Vampires: Lesser vampires have but half their former level of exerience with respect to their profession (cleric, fighter, etc.) <heading added>
at the time they initially encountered and were subsequently slain/drained by their now-master vampire,
i.e., an 8th level thief killed by a vampire, even though drained to below 0 level in the process, returns as a 4th level thief vampire, as appropriate.
However, upon the destruction of their slayer/drainer,
such lesser undead gain energy levels from characters they subsequently slay/drain until they reach the maximum number of hit dice
(and their former level of class experience as well, if applicable)
appropriate to their type of undead monster.
Upon reaching full hit dice status,
they are able to slay/drain and control lesser undead as they once were.

Question: Are creatures entitled to save vs. level loss when
hit by a wight, wraith, spectre, etc.?

Answer: No.— J. Ward, W. Niebling

Question: What are the exact effects of the succubus’ energy-draining power?
What is an “energy level”?

Answer: Quite simply, an energy level is equivalent to a level of exper-
ience. Losing an experience level means losing a number of
XP which will bring the victim down to the lowest
possible point total allowable for the next lowest level. Example:
A 4th-level fighter with 15,000 experience points get a big smack
from a succubus, turning him into a 3rd-level fighter with 4,001 XP.
    As specified in the MM description of the vampire,
a loss in energy level also requires “corresponding losses
in hit dice, ability level, attack level, etc.” In the case of our
unfortunate fighter, the loss in level would also mean the loss of
one weapon proficiency and the loss of any other abilities or
characteristics he received simply by virtue of being 4th level.
The loss does not include personal possessions, and does not
involve a mandatory decrease in an ability score.
(Correction: "XP sufficient to bring the total possessed to the mid-point of the next lower level")

Alternatives to Energy Draining

Many DMs are reluctant to use undead
as much as the vivid descriptions of
these monsters tempt them to; it seems
unfair to DMs and players alike to lose
10 years of life (in a campaign where
time is largely ignored, the loss is meaningless;
in a roleplaying campaign, the
loss seems horribly steep) at the mere
sight of a ghost, or have a single undead
attack drain one or even two levels of
hard-won experience, robbing a player
of the game benefits of what might be
literally years of AD&D® game play.
The horror and might of undead
must be preserved: to merely turn a
level-draining ability into so many dice
of physical damage seems a poor solution.
DMs may well devise their own
solutions, but here are some alternatives
to an attack that would normally
result in a loss of character experience.


Roll d10 once for every level drained (eg. once for a wight hit, or twice for a wraith hit), or for every 10 years of aging.


1. Temporary paralysis with no save, either complete or partial,
thereby preventing spell-casting, climbing,
picking locks, and giving a -2 penalty
to AC and attacks, for 1d12 + 10
rounds; curable.
<(note: the section on ghouls gives detailed rules for paralysis, incl. partial paralysis)>

2. Loss of all experience gained back to the minimum required for the character's current level.

3. Immediate loss of consciousness,
loss of 2d6 HP, plus
a permanent loss of 1 hit point per drain attack, plus
possible loss of currently memorized spells.

4. Loss of ability points at random;
character must save vs. poison to see if
each loss is permanent.

5. Permanent withering of touched
limb (limited wish or wish notwithstanding), or
bestowal of a disease of severe, chronic nature.

6. Bestowal of minor permanent curse (see "Curses!", DRAGON® Magazine, issue No. 77).

7. Character stricken with insanity
(refer to DMG for types), or, if the character
is a spell-caster, the PC permanently
loses knowledge of how to cast a
certain spell at random or perform a
type of a magic.

8. Alignment shift of character, one
step per attack, toward that of the
attacking undead. Note that this could
cause back-and-forth alignment shifts
as a character with a long career
encounters undead of different alignments.

9. Immediate feeblemindedness plus
a permanent loss of 1 ability point at random
choice, save vs. poison to avoid).

10. No effect || loss of 1 level, as per standard energy drain.



Would you allow a saving throw for level drain?


Simple as that.


garhkal wrote:
Ok another for you to ponder.

When you played and gmed, how were undead energy drains handled... When the pc got hit, did they roll the HD for lost points, or did they 'remove what they rolled' when they gained that level?

the loss was determined by the number of HPs gained when the now-lost level was attained, or were gained...

If there was no record, then the total HPs for the unfortunate PC were averaged per level, and that number was the loss for each level drained.


Elfdart wrote:
Are my eyes playing tricks or did the Colonel admit to going (relatively) easy on players? 

As a matter of fact I am usually prone to giving regular players in a campaign I am running a break in regards to loss of their character,
or a severe diminishment of that game perso9na due to level drain or similar loss.
That does not apply to players with characters that I judge to have uwarranted levels, cocky ones that ignore warnings, those that play foolishly,
or the magic items of any character whatsoever 


Originally Posted by mistere29
I would like your thoughts on posion and level drain in OAD&D.

Do you agree when some gamers say they are too deadly. If not, why, and did those dangers see frequent use in you campaign?


No I don't agree with those wimpy whiners who are afraid of a few living dead <stickouttongue>
There were always plenty of them in the adventures I ran, and likewise in those that I was playing in.
For example, in one Jim Ward scenario, the first monsters we encountered were liches attacking us with rods of cancellation.
This was likely in revenge for some of the perils Jim had to face with me as DM, such as when a vampire had his PC trapped.
Darned if Jim didn't roll well enough to force the vampire to dust-mote form while I couldn't hit his PC no matter what.

To answer specifically:

First, a cleric or two with a party means the threat is lessened dramatically.
Second, m-us have plenty of long-range spells to deal with undead.
Third, most other PC types have enough armor to make hitting them pretty difficlt.
In general the alert and wary party will not be surprised by undead, be able to stay at a distance to make touch by the undead difficult.
Wise players know when to have their PCs run away.
In extremis, le=ost levels can be restored by use of wishes and clerical spells,

Next those cry babies will be moaning about being turned to stone.

Tell the complainers they should be playing a CRPG where they can save and thus avoid all real danger--ues cheat codes too 


Originally Posted by scadgrad
And finally, one last question concerning level-draining, the latest edition makes this setback considerably less problematic than in the original. Personally, I prefer something closer to the original ruling, but I'm wondering, did your original players detest this rule as much as one might imagine (God knows my players always loathed it)? And, was this simply a very real method of instilling a sense of dread and fear into the players when confronted by powerful Undead? It always seemed cruel to me, but boy, it made those encounters tense and perhaps that was the point all along.

Continued good health to you Sir and looking forward to what you and the Trolls do w/ Castle Xagyg.

How I detest namby-pamby whiners that expect to play a real RPG without threat of character death or loss of a level, stat points, or even choice magic items! Without such possibilities, what it the purpose of play, a race to see which character can have the greatest level, highest stats, and largest horde of treasure? That is just too flaccid for words.

As an aside, level draining is less cruel that house rules I have heard about that cause loss of sight or appendages.

You pegged the reason for my adding that to the system. The threat is potent, yet does not actually kill the PC. There is even a clerical restoration possible, that costing much in the way of monetary and magical items likely, thus getting them out of play and giving more reason to PC to keep adventuring.

That said, when I was playing I dreaded seeing level-draining undead monsters, and thus they added as much excitement to the situation as might a death-dealing dragon


Originally Posted by Griffith Dragonlake
Hi Gary, I wanted to get your opinion on the level draining ability of undead. Personally I have no problem with it both as a player and as a DM. I believe that between turning undead and restoration, a careful party can deal with such creatures successfully albeit with a great deal of healthy fear.

However, there are some others who hate level draining. One argument against level draining is that at least in 3rd edition, it causes too much bookkeeping. Given the complexity of 3rd edition character descriptions, I can understand that argument but I think it is really an indictment of 3rd edition rules rather than level draining.

In the 30 years that have elapsed since the AD&D Monster Manual was released, have you changed your opinion on level draining?

Sbiort answer: No, I still am q=wholly behind loss of levels from undead and certain magic items.
As you note there are sufficient counters to such loss as to mitigate the worst effects if the PC party is played well.

I can not comment on the 3E system of handling this, as such effect never happened in the 20 or so game sessions I did play using that system.

In my experience most of the players that whine about level draining are either not truly skillful ones or pure power gamers.