Alternatives to Low Level Clerical Spells in AD&D

More than one commentator has found fault with the AD&D magic system for making magic overly commonplace and less "fantastic" than they would desire. I have some level of appreciation for this argument, and have particular issue with clerical (and druidic) spells; whereas problem magic-user spells can be considered to be "rare", difficult to procure, and in only few spellbooks, the clerical spell lists are available in their entirety to every cleric or druid. Hence, every "problem" cleric spell (setting-wise) is available to each and every cleric.

At the upper levels, the flavoring problem is most noticeable at the 5th level of spells. Every single High Priest (9th level cleric) in any temple of the game world can raise dead characters, commune directly with their patron deity, plane shift to any dimension, and use a magic font to freely view anyone in the world or even other planes. I've found no perfect resolution to this problem. The AD&D 2nd Edition game made modifications in a beneficial direction, by restricting clerics to limited "spheres" of spells appropriate to their faith, but apparently popular opinion has been that this made clerics too weak to be a viable player character class. It's likely that a proper solution requires heavy usage of the "deity might also ignore a specific spell request" rule for high-level spells (on PH p. 40), with the DM requiring (and alerting players to the fact) that these spells require prior specification of the subject and purpose, and that they will only be granted if the usage directly advances the deity's goals and desires. (Similarly, see the severe restrictions on commune on PH p. 49.) Other than that, I leave the issue of high-level problem cleric spells for some other discussion.

At the low levels, it's frustrating that every single acolyte in any clerical order can produce obviously-miraculous magical effects on demand. However, this is very nearly not the case; the majority of spells in the 1st- and 2nd-level lists have no visible in-game effect, and could otherwise be interpreted as expert skill or simple good luck in conjunction with a strong faith. For the 2nd-level, the spells are too fundamental to the class to allow significant alteration (such as hold person, silence 15' radius, and spiritual hammer). However, for the 1st-level, the outstanding spells (those which have an obvious, visible, "miraculous" effect) can be tinkered with to avoid this problem in the milieu.

The "miraculous" 1st-level spells are as follows. For clerics they are just create water and light. For druids, entangle and faerie fire. Under Unearthed Arcana rules, both also have the spell precipitation. One legitimate solution is to keep all these spells on the 1st-level list, but only allow them to be used by clerics of at least 3rd level (using the deity-may-ignore rule, as noted above). Otherwise, the spells can themselves be altered to have functionally similar, but non-miraculous, effects. Suggestions in this regard follow.

Replace Create Water with Locate Water

Explanation/Description: When the cleric casts the locate water spell, their holy symbol is empowered to serve as a type of "dousing" device. Over the course of 1 turn, the cleric can search his immediate locale, and will most likely uncover a source of fresh, drinkable water: a natural spring, a cracked wall feeding an underground pool, a water-bearing mountain plant, or a wet hole under desert sands are all possible finds. (Only if the DM decides that there is absolutely no fresh water in the setting, such as on the ocean or during an aerial or extraplanar journey, will nothing be found.) The uncovered water source will supply an amount at least equal to the create water spell (four gallons per caster level, and it may be much more if the DM so decides).

This spell requires the cleric's holy symbol and at least a drop of water. It cannot be reversed.

Replace Light with Light Lamp

Explanation/Description: The spell allows the cleric to automatically light any torch or lantern he can touch, immediately, and without regard for extenuating difficulties such as high winds or a light source that has become damp. The spell will not work if it is physically impossible for the lamp to be lit (because it is underwater, in a vacuum, broken, or entirely out of fuel). The lamp will resist extinguishing, and remain burning, for an extended time equal to the level of the spell caster, up to seven times maximum. (That is, a lantern lit by this spell from a 4th level cleric will burn for 4 times the normal time for the amount of oil it carries, and is 4 times as resistant to any extinguishing effect). The reverse of the spell, darken lamp, immediately extinguishes any torch or lantern the caster can touch, and makes it analogously harder to re-light, unless the light lamp spell is used. The normal form of the spell requires a flint and steel; the reverse, only for the caster to expectorate into their own hand.

Swap Entangle (1st-level) with Trip (2nd-level)

Explanation/Description: The 1st-level version of Trip works at half effect as compared the official 2nd-level version. In other words, the druid prepares a vine, root, or rope, up to 10' long, which requires a saving throw for those running over it. Those who fail take 1-3 (1d3) hit points of damage; if falling upon a very hard surface, they are stunned for 0-2 (1d3-1) rounds, or merely 0-2 segments if it is turf or another non-hard surface. The spell still lasts for 1 turn per caster level. (Note that the now 2nd-level spell, entangle, works exactly according to its book description.)

Replace Faerie Fire with Fire Flies

Explanation/Description: To use this spell, the druid must carry and nourish a tiny jar of captured normal fire flies with him at all times. On casting the spell, the druid opens and shakes out the jar of fire flies, and buzzes in the direction of his (using a simple speak with animals effect). The flies will pursue the druid's enemies for 4 rounds per level, and somewhat illuminate up to one man-sized creature per level (one per fire fly). In the darkness, this allows opponents to gain +2 on "to hit" dice against those so illuminated. In all other respects the effect of the spell is the same as that for faerie fire. At the end of the spell, the fire flies disperse and do not return.

Remove Precipitation from the spell lists

Explanation/Description: Precipitation is a very odd spell; it's the most "miraculous" of all the 1st-level clerical and druidic spells (it causes an instantaneous light rain shower near the area of the cleric or druid), and yet has almost no useful effect whatsoever (it's over in 1 round, only makes materials somewhat damp, and extinguishes flames up to the level of a single candle, but no more). I can't come up with any reasonable replacement for the minimal effect of this spell, and therefore recommend that it simply be banned from the clerical and druidic spell lists. (If you have other ideas for replacement, please email me your suggestion!)