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Brandes Stoddard has a fun article called Leomund's Tiny Problem, where he discusses ways in which Leomund's Tiny Hut is "highly exploitable" in D&D 5e, and offers suggestions on how to fix it.

The article provides an interesting history of the way the spell has evolved since AD&D. He writes that beginning with AD&D the spell "only implicitly hedges out creatures other than the caster and six friends", and that even in 3.5e "It's still only implying that unwelcome creatures would be unable to intrude."

The relevant wording in AD&D (2e is fairly similar) is as follows:

In no way will Leomund's Tiny Hut provide protection from missiles, weapons, spells, and the like. Up to 6 other man-sized creatures can fit into the field with its creator, and these others can freely pass in and out of the tiny hut without harming it, but if the spell caster removes himself from it, the spell will dissipate.

So, the spell can't block physical objects (missiles, weapons) or spells. But Stoddard writes that it "implicitly" keeps out enemies, presumably because "these others" refers exclusively to the "6 other man-sized creatures" that can fit into the hut, rather than to whatever any 6 creatures, enemies or allies, could fit.

My question is whether there is any historical evidence as to how AD&D (1e or 2e) players actually used this in play. (My own memory is of this spell never being used, which weakly implies that it could not actually function as an impregnable fortress, but I also don't remember the question ever coming up.) The main historical source that comes to mind is Dragon or White Dwarf magazines, but considering some recently published books on the history of D&D (such as Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons) and how 5e and Stranger Things have sparked an interest in the history of D&D, there might be articles, conference panels, or other sources that can shed light on this.

Related (rules) question concerning D&D 4e: Should Leomund's Tiny Hut keep enemies out?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dragonsfoot forums has an active community of people who played 1st Ed back in the day, and many still do. You might ask this question there or even make a poll. Just as a quick search I found this post saying "[magically safe places start] with Leomund's Tiny Hut which is safe, if a bit exposed - you can see the monsters massing around your little bubble!" which implies that at least that player used it as a barrier to monsters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 27, 2023 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ This thread debates to what extent it protects against weather but does not mention monsters. Do note if you try a forum search there that most hits for LTH are for the article series that Len Lakofka wrote for Dragon Magazine, not for the spell itself (Len was the author of the spell and the player of Leomund in Gygax's game). \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 27, 2023 at 7:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...why did? Some folk still play AD&D :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Jan 27, 2023 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: Xabloyan's comment there is fairly insightful: "The Leomund spells were invented by Len Lakofka, who, IMHO, was fond of making his spells quite weak." On rechecking, this is pretty accurate. I don't know the complete list of spells Len invented, but the 2E Leomund's spells are mostly long-duration non-combat utilities significantly higher level than they should be (the main spell with combat potential, Leomund's Lamentable Belaborment, is a 5th level spell that heavily overlaps the 2nd level Hypnotic Pattern, and the improvements it grants mostly apply to non-combat scenarios). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger In a game where MUs have to actually find their spells and an imperfect chance of learning them, having two spells, say Alice's Amazing Amuser and Bobs Bewildering Balderdash, that do virtually the same thing but operate at different spell levels may offer some interesting gameplay... \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave
    Jan 27, 2023 at 19:36

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Given how much of the 1E and 2E period pre-dates the Internet, I doubt there'd be much actual data to base an answer off of.

I played 2E, and personally, I never treated the rules on how many people could fit as implying that it was only specific designated individuals that could enter or exit. The relevant wording describing protective capabilities in 2E was:

When this spell is cast, the wizard creates an unmoving, opaque sphere of force of any desired color around his person. [...] Up to seven other man-sized creatures can fit into the field with its creator, and these can freely pass into and out of the hut without harming it, but if the spellcaster removes himself from it, the spell dissipates.

...

The tiny hut also provides protection against the elements, such as rain, dust, sandstorms, and the like. The hut can withstand any wind of less than hurricane force without being harmed, but wind force greater than that destroys it.

...

Note that although the force field is opaque from the outside, it is transparent from within. Missiles, weapons, and most spell effects can pass through the hut without affecting it, although the occupants cannot be seen from outside the hut. The hut can be dispelled.

The spell itself is just creating a sphere around the wizard. The spell specifies how many man-sized creatures can fit in it (so there are no arguments about the precise capacity of a 15' diameter sphere, and how the slope of the sphere reduces space and the like), but those creatures are not targets of the spell (only the caster is special), and there is no indication that the ability to move through the sphere is tied to being within it at casting time, being designated by the caster, being friendly to the caster, etc. This is unlike 5E, which explicitly says:

Creatures and objects within the dome when you cast this spell can move through it freely. All other creatures and objects are barred from passing through it.

The 2E sphere is clearly not intended as a strong protection; it's essentially an environmental shield that provides one-way visibility of the surroundings, protecting against nothing but the weather, especially at night, where you could stay warm, without drawing attention with a fire visible (potentially) for a few miles around the camp site, with your guards still able to keep watch without exposing themselves to view. You'd even get some defensive benefit from ranged attacks needing to fire blind (basically all rules for concealment and invisibility and the like describe a -4 to hit modifier for attacking blind, which isn't nothing). In a game with dangerous wilderness and a DM who would inflict more random encounters on a party that doesn't take precautions, or a game using more detailed environmental rules (e.g. like those introduced in 2E's Dark Sun setting, where environmental heat and cold effects were thoroughly quantified, and reducing the heat by 30 degrees could make the difference between life and death) this could be worth it by itself.

For folks from later editions, you might erroneously interpret "sphere of force" as being impassable by default (because "magical force" gets more strict, consistent and reused definitions in later editions), but there was no fixed concept of what constituted "(magical) force" in 2E. Very few spells referred to force at all, and when they did, the parameters for what was blocked by the force were spelled out in exhausting detail (or incorporated by reference to another spell, usually a similar spell of lower level). For example, Otiluke's Resilient Sphere's wording is:

The resilient sphere contains its subject for the spell's duration, and it is not subject to damage of any sort except from a rod of cancellation, a wand of negation, or a disintegrate or dispel magic spell. These cause it to be destroyed without harm to the subject.

Nothing can pass through the sphere, inside or out, though the subject can breathe normally. The subject may struggle, but all that occurs is a movement of the sphere. The globe can be physically moved either by people outside the globe or by the struggles of those within.

While Wall of Force says:

A wall of force spell creates an invisible barrier in the locale desired by the caster, up to the spell's range. The wall of force cannot move and is totally unaffected by most spells, including dispel magic. However, a disintegrate spell will immediately destroy it, as will a rod of cancellation or a sphere of annihilation. Likewise, the wall of force is not affected by blows, missiles, cold, heat, electricity, etc. Spells and breath weapons cannot pass through it in either direction, although dimension door, teleport, and similar effects can bypass the barrier.

Wall of Force actually describes itself primarily as "an invisible barrier", because, without some word that says "This blocks things", things are not blocked merely because the word "force" was used; a "force" can be a tingly static field, a slightly resisting membrane in the air, etc., etc., it's not (in older editions) automatically an indestructible, impermeable barrier. This is how much of older editions worked; there was very little pre-defined terminology that could be used to minimize verbosity by referring to a common, explicitly defined game term. Either the words had a plain English meaning, they got defined in place (and the DM had to adjudicate gaps in the definition), or they referenced a specific other thing for details (e.g. Otiluke's Telekinetic Sphere incorporated the base effects of Otiluke's Resilient Sphere by reference).

Basically, without the existence of 5E's overpowered Tiny Hut, there'd be no reason to suspect the 2E version was intended to restrict the movement of people, when it allows everything else save rain, dust and sand through.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "An opaque sphere of force." Force effects are generally unpassable in AD&D and 2E; the text describing the seven man-sized creatures that can fit in there and how they can freely pass in and out of the sphere is the specification of an exception to the general impermeability of force effects, letting you know that they can pass through it freely, but for other creatures, it's still a sphere of force, and they can't. It's still not the safest bubble in the world to hinge your security on. It's meant to pop a rest, but if you don't have a plan for the massing mobs, you're boned. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne: You're trying to read 2E under the more rigid/well-defined categorizations introduced in later editions. 2E had no single reusable concept of "force"; the strictures were generally redefined from scratch in each spell, or incorporated by reference to some other (typically lower level) spell. Heck, the actual spell Wall of Force never uses the word "force" except when repeating its own name (it creates "an invisible barrier"; the spell goes on to describe the various things it protects against, and specific exceptions). Even when "force" is used, they specify the protections. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Compare Leomund's Tiny Hut to other "force" spells like Otiluke's Resilient Sphere (one of the few other spells that actually says "force" in describing the barrier) and Wall of Force. The latter two explicitly describe the exact parameters for what can and cannot get through the barrier, and list, individually, slightly different sets of spells and items that can destroy/bypass the barrier (and it's not consistent; Wall of Force, the higher level spell, can be destroyed by a subset of the things that end the sphere, plus one thing that doesn't affect the sphere). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Amusingly, Wall of Force doesn't explicitly say creatures/objects can't pass through it (just that the spell fails if the wall is created intersecting an object or creature), but it does at least describe it as a barrier (something that blocks things by definition), where, without the strict definition of magical force from later editions of D&D, a "sphere of force" could describe something like the atmospheric shields seen in stuff like Star Wars, where ships can freely pass through them without causing the bay to vent atmosphere (quite similar to what this spell provides actually). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 15:51
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The hut did keep out wild animals

Leomund's Tiny Hut in AD&D 1e says:

(...) In no way will Leomund's Tiny Hut provide protection from missiles, weapons, spells, and the like. Up to 6 other man-sized creatures can fit into the field with its creator, and these others can freely pass in and out of the tiny hut without harming it (...)

Leomund's Tiny Hut in AD&D 2e says:

(...) Up to seven other man-sized creatures can fit into the field with its creator, and these can freely pass into and out of the hut without harming it, (...) Missiles, weapons, and most spell effects can pass through the hut without affecting it, although the occupants cannot be seen from outside the hut (...)

While it is not explicit stated that the six or seven creatures are selected by the caster, if they were not it would not be these creatures that can pass in and out, it would be any creature, as long as no more than the caster and six or seven are in the hut. So the spell did hedge out creatures. Wild animals did not have any means to cast spells, or make weapon attacks into the hut, and it did protect against those, as they themselves could not physically pass in.

Even so, it was not worthwhile as a defensive measure against opponents -- while you can read the spell to keep out enemies physically, they still could hit you with spells and weapon attacks, so the Hut did not really provide meaningful protection against orcs or goblins. It was more of a glorified tent. You might prepare it as a creature comfort spell, at best.

How much people used the spell to do this is hard to say. There is no survey data. I think I used it a couple of times in Desert of Desolation with a gnome that was focused on comfort, until I found Leomund's Secure Shelter, which was much better at keeping you safe.

However, I think the spell was also rare back then, for the following reason:

Back in the day, you found most your spells

I did play in the 1E/2E era, and like in your case, nearly nobody "picked" the spell back then. The 1e DMG (p. 39) has you roll randomly at first level what offensive, defensive and utility spells you have, and then advises on gaining spells beyond first level:

Naturally, magic-user player characters will do their utmost to acquire books of spells and scrolls in order to complete their own spell books. To those acquired, the magic-user will add 1 (and ONLY 1) spell when he or she actually gains an experience level (q.v.). Therefore, most will be frantically attempting to purchase or cozen spells from non-player character magic-users, or even from other player character magic-users.

So you had but a single spell to gain on a given level, and because Tiny Hut was rather weak back then, it would have been unusual to burn your pick on it.

It also was not that clear if you even get to pick or if you should roll randomly for your new spell. At least in our community, we used to roll randomly, like for first level. All the rest of the spells came from finding them in adventures, either on scrolls or in the spellbooks of defeated opposing evil mages.

These spellbooks ususally contained spells that were geared to empower the evil mage to fight the party, like invisibilty, fly, or fireball -- your typical "the spellbook contains the spells the mage has memorized plus spells x, y, z". Leomund's Tiny Hut, as a party-oriented utility spell, was not commonly on the menu of memorized spells for opposing mages, so it is unsurprising it was not commonly found and therefore not used much.

Also in second edition, it is not a given the player gets to pick their spells. Page 32, PHB on specialist wizard spell selection:

Whenever a specialist reaches a new spell level, he automatically gains one spell of his school to add to his spellbooks. This spell can be selected by the DM or he can allow the player to pick.


As a flavor item of interest, Gary Gygax was a fan of Jack Vance's works, including those set on the Dying Earth, which is also listed as inpspirational reading in Appendix Y of the DMG. The spellcasting mechanism of D&D stems from Dying Earth. He particularily liked the stories about Cugel the Clever. In story The Eyes of the Otherworld Cugel uses a magic item that much like Tiny Hut to protect himself from weather and natural predators during his travels and travails. That would fit with other creaturs, but not weapons or spells, being hedged out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "... it would not be these creatures ..." : observation : IMO, the paragraph can be read as contrasting the caster himself vs. these. That is, the these is there because n creatures can pass/fit, but if the caster leaves it dissipates. \$\endgroup\$
    – Martin
    Jan 27, 2023 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Martin: Yeah, that's how I read it. It can fit a certain number of man-sized creatures. Anyone who can fit can enter, and they can freely leave and return unless the sphere is full when they return. If you want to read it very strictly, I suppose it might protect against creatures that aren't man-sized, but really, I read that as defining capacity, not strict "only man-sized can pass"; it would be very strange if you could use this spell to trap the party gnome/halfling. Perfectly reasonable to house rule some minimum size to enter based on its ability to block rain/dust/sand of course. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Martin The "these" would not be needed in that case, you could just say Up to 7 other creatures can fit, and (other creatures) can freely pass in and out of the hut, but the spellcaster himself…". However you read it though, it's just a relatively situational spell for your precious level 3 pick (if you have one), and one rarely found. We at least played it that way, so to the question, which is if people did the answer is yes, even if you think the wording is ambiguous. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2023 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. The answer to "How was Leomund's Tiny Hut used back in 1e, 2e?" is, "It Wasn't". I actively played AD&D several times a week for over a decade (including many conventions) and other than random spell rolls and maybe one published module, I NEVER saw any player, nor even any DM ever use it. (And DM's don't necessarily have to worry about spell slots). Virtually everyone considered it to be nigh-useless, and a real head-scratcher as to why it was even in the spell lists. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2023 at 16:12

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