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					                      SPELL
                                                version 0.2

What is this game?
Spell is a rules-light fantasy game in which you play characters who are able to manipulate reality (i.e., do
magic) through your knowledge of the secret names of things. Other than that, the sky is the limit!

To begin, the GM and players decide on the game's setting. Is it a high fantasy world? A dark and gritty
place where wizards are hunted? The modern day? Brainstorm a bit until you come to an idea in which
everyone is interested. The only element that is necessary (so that the game mechanics fit within the
setting) is that magic works by wizards manipulating people's and object's "true names." And even that
component is removable, if you and your group agree on it.

Then, players can start creating characters.

Character Creation
1.   Create a concept
     How does your character do magic? And to what end? Is he a bookish mage whose only concern is the
     accumulation of knowledge? Is she a master of blades, using magic to be the best duelist in the land? Is
     he a stealthy thief, wrapping the shadows around him like a worn cloak? Is she one with nature,
     protecting the animals with her power?

     Let your imagination run wild. The only restriction should be whether or not your character fits in the
     world created by you and your GM.
2.   Choose three Traits
     Traits are in-game representations of your character concept that encompass a particular category. By
     spelling words that fit into one of these categories, you will receive a bonus multiplier to your score.
     The specific names of these Traits are unimportant, so long as you and your GM agree on the types of
     words that go into the category. (Note: Choosing a category of “words” is out-and-out dickery.
     However, you may have a category like “language,” which will get you a bonus for words like
     “word.”)

     Some examples:
       Spell school: Pyromancy (words relating to fire—“burn,” “ember,” “pyre”)
       Spell school: Illusion (words relating to visual trickery—“phantom,” “figment,” “glamer”)
       Spell school: Verdimancy (words relating to plants—“flower,” “ivy,” “tree”)
       Culinary Master (words relating to food and drink—“spice,” “beer,” “roast”)
       Swordsmanship (words relating to bladed weapons—“dagger,” “stab,” “parry”)
       Need for Vengeance (words relating to revenge—“repay,” “settle,” “punish”)
3.   Choose one Ability
     Abilities are special qualities your character has that bend the rules a bit in your favor. Again, exact
     names are for flavor, only the actual mechanical effects matter. Below is a short list of Abilities. You
     may create your own with GM approval.

        Mana Reserve: You may hold eight tiles in your letter pool instead of seven.
        Arcane Knowledge: The Q and Z tiles count as blanks for you, though they still score 10 points.
         each.
        Spontaneous Casting: Before starting a conflict, you may exchange 1 tile without it going into the
         GM‟s pool.
        Powerful Magics: You may score 4-point tiles as 8-point tiles.
             Eldritch Assistance: When you use the "helping" action, multiply the value of your highest-scoring
              letter by three
           Counterspell: When you play a word, you may discard a tile from your pool to force the GM to
              discard a tile of your choice. Both tiles go back into the reservoir.
           Doppelmage: When you play a word, you may "transform" one of your tiles into an exact copy of
              a tile that is already in your pool.
           Fast Learner: Add an extra 1 point to your XP tally for each time you play a 1-point tile.
4.       Fill in the details
         If there‟s any part of your character that needs fleshing out at this point, come up with it now. Name,
         race, physical features, etc. Then you‟re ready to play!

How to Play
Each player draws 7 tiles from a standard pool of Scrabble letter tiles. (If you don‟t own Scrabble, you can
make your own tiles from scraps of paper. You should be able to find a letter frequency/point value chart
online easy.) This will form what we‟ll call your “letter pool." You‟ll probably want to keep your pool
secret, using one of those Scrabble tile racks. Then play like you‟d play any other RPG.

Conflicts
Eventually, you‟re going to want to pick a lock, haggle with a merchant, or cast a complicated spell in the
heat of battle. Follow these steps to discover how that conflict will be resolved:

1.       Exchange Tiles
         If you so desire, you may discard any number of tiles and pull an equal number of tiles from the
         reservoir. The discarded tiles are given directly to the GM for his letter pool and may be used against
         you in this conflict.
2.       Stakes
         Describe to the GM what your character would like to accomplish and give a general idea of how he‟s
         going to go about getting his way (casting a spell, swinging a sword, etc.). The GM will then let you
         know what will happen should your character fail. Both player and GM should agree on the stakes
         before continuing.
3.       Difficulty Tiles
         Based on the description of the player‟s action, the GM then assigns a difficulty to it and pulls an
         appropriate number of random tiles from the reservoir.
           Trivial (lighting a campfire with a cantrip) = 2 tiles
           Easy (levitating a small object) = 3 tiles
           Moderate (dazzling an audience with prestidigitation) = 4 tiles
           Hard (researching long forgotten magics) = 5 tiles
           Very challenging (defeating a master wizard in a magic duel) = 6 tiles
           Nigh impossible (displacing a god with a single arcane gesture) = 7 tiles
4.       Additional Tiles
         If the GM has tiles in his own letter pool (from previous failed actions, or from players exchanging
         letters), he may add them to the base difficulty, so long as these "penalties" can be explained by the
         current situation. For example, winning a horse race has a base difficulty of "moderate." The GM pulls
         four random tiles from the reservoir. However, if he's got some letters in his pool, he can add one by
         describing the track as muddy from the previous night's rainstorm.

         Also, if, when describing his action, the player adds something significant to the scene that wasn't
         described before, the GM has the option to pull an extra tile from the reservoir.
5.       Player Scoring
         Using the tiles in your letter pool, spell out a word and narrate what your character is doing to
         accomplish the stakes you set earlier. Then, score your word, as detailed in the example starting on the
         next page:
My character is Cypher, who, at the moment, has to Traits or Abilities. Cypher has gotten himself into a
knife fight with a ruffian at the local pub. And with my letter pool being AELNOST, I'm in a pretty dire
situation with all 1-pt. tiles. There are a few ways this could go down.

A. Word spelled not used in the narration of the action
    Score = single highest-scoring tile
Pressured by the situation, the only word I can come up with is LANE and my narration doesn't take this
word into account. I score a measly 1 point for this word.

B. Word spelled is used in narration
    Score = total of all tile scores
Feeling brave, I narrate that Cypher winds up his fist and punches the ruffian square in the schnozz and use
my tiles to spell NOSE. That nets me a total of 4 points.

C. Word spelled is used in narration and fits into one or more Trait categories
     Score = double total of all tile scores
Let's give Cypher a Trait to work with. After all, he is supposed to be a powerful mage. During character
creation, I created the spell school of Avimancy, which will give me a bonus for words relating to birds. I
narrate that Cypher makes a few arcane gestures and an invisible eagle swoops down to scratch at my
enemy. I spell TALONS and for that I get 12 points. Now that's more like it.


6.   XP Tally
     Write down your score on your character sheet in the space labeled „XP Tally.‟ It doesn‟t matter if you
     lose or win this conflict. Keep a running total of your points, which will be used for advancement.
BINGO BONUS
If you used seven or more tiles to form your word, add 25 points to your XP Tally!

7.       GM Scoring
         The GM has pulled tiles according to difficulty and added extra tiles to represent complications. Now,
         the GM totals the values of his tiles and applies his own multiplier, depending on the type of action
         described by the player. Remember that the GM doesn‟t need to make a word with his tiles.
           Mundane actions (anything that doesn't involved using magic) = x1
           Magic actions (anything that involves using quick magic) = x2
           Ritual actions (see below) = x3
8.       Compare Scores
         If your score meets or exceeds the GM‟s score, then you have won the conflict and get to describe the
         outcome. If your score is lower than the GM‟s, then the GM narrates the result, which will usually be
         to your character‟s detriment.
9.       Helping
         If your score is just a few points shy of beating the GM's score, then you may need to enlist the help of
         another player. If this player's character is part of the current scene, he must describe a way that he is
         helping you and spell a related word using his tiles. This word must intersect your word (Scrabble-
         style). In other words, it must have a letter in common with your word. You may then add the value of
         the highest-scoring letter added by your ally (i.e., not the shared letter) to your total to try to beat the
         GM's score. Any and all allies may help in this manner, so long as they have a usable word and can
         logically help within the scene. Each ally adds the number of points she contributed to her XP Tally. If
         the score still cannot beat the GM's score, the GM only takes his winning tiles equal to the length of
         the original word.
10.      Replenish Tiles
         Take a number of tiles from the reservoir equal to the number of tiles you just used in the conflict and
         then return your used tiles to the reservoir. If you lost the conflict, the GM takes a number of tiles from
         the reservoir equal to the number of tiles you just used before you are allowed to replenish your letter
         pool.
Ritual Actions
Rituals are complicated magical ceremonies that often require a great deal of arcane power and the
participation of several wizards. In game, ritual actions should have a profound effect and the game‟s story,
often creating other complications that may have to be dealt with in the future. In other words, the stakes
for such an action should be huge.

Performing a ritual works the same as any other conflict, with one major exception. Before exchanging tiles
(but after committing to performing the ritual), all players in the scene may combine their letter pools in
order to form a word. If any one of the players has an applicable Trait to the situation, that player must be
the one who narrates the group‟s actions. However, all players may use their Abilities if they so wish. All
players also add the score gained through ritual actions to their XP Tallies

GMs are encouraged to make performing a ritual as difficult as possible, in order to really challenge the
players. However, if the players do succeed, then the payoff should be momentous.

Advancement
You may spend points from your XP Tally to gain new Traits and Abilities. A new Trait costs a number of
points equal to (your character‟s current number of Traits  100). A new Ability costs a number of points
equal to (your character‟s current number of Abilities  500).
                 SPELL
            CHARACTER SHEET
Name:                Player:

Concept:


Traits               XP Tally
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Abilities
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posted:7/20/2010
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