(also known as: SPELLCASTER)

Richard Bartle

Taken from Duel Purpose fanzine, written by Mike Lean

Scanned, OCRed & edited by Andrew Buchanan (buchanan@heron.enet.dec.com)

Follow ups can be directed via snailmail to:

    Mike Lean
    74 Friary Park,
    (Near UK)

This is an interesting, fun game, with some unique mechanisms, developed about 10 years ago. Looking at it today, it struck me that reality contains something similar. Obviously, combat between strands of DNA is more complicated and less teleological than this game, but there are definite parallels...

Andrew Buchanan



A number of years ago, Richard Bartle published a zine called Sauce of the Nile. One feature I particularly liked was the rules for new games which he produced. One game appealed to me more than the others but it never seemed to achieve the fame it deserved.

Since then Richard has rewritten some of its rules and has tried to have it produced commercially but, as his proposed publishers have been using delaying tactics for some time now, he has given me permission to reprint the game. The original name of the game was Spellbinder but, as that name has been used in a commercial game since Richard thought of it, he told me to think up some other name. The game is a rarity as it can be classed as a "fairy game" which is totally dependent upon skill!

Mike Lean



This is a game concerning the imaginary conflict between 2 powerful wizards in a duel of sorcery. The 2 opponents perform magical gestures with their hands to create their supernatural weapons -- spells. Some are so potent as to be able to blind a man, call forth terrifying creatures, or even kill the unfortunate victim instantly. Consequently each wizard must rely on his own cunning to be able to time enough defensive spells to avoid the brunt of his adversary's attack, yet force in sufficient offensive spells of his own to crack the magical armour of his opponent, and kill the wizard outright.

The game is an attempt to capture the spirit of such a battle in as simple yet exciting way as possible. The only equipment needed is pencil, paper and opponent. Time taken varies between 15-30 minutes. The inventor wishes to state that he has never been involved in a magical duel but would be interested to discover how realistic the game is for those who have...

The Turn

The activities of wizards and those of the monsters they create, are written down simultaneously in secret, both players for their respective selves and monsters but occasionally for their opponent or one of his creatures as dictated by certain spells. After both have completed this, their moves are exposed at the same time and dealt with as if they occurred coincidentally. Certain spells may alter these circumstances -- for example, you don't get to see all your opponent's moves if he is invisible.

Each of these periods of activity is a "turn". In a turn, the player's wizard can either gesture with his hands for part of a spell, stab with his knife, or do nothing. They use both hands and both hands can act either independently -- or in concord with the other. Monsters cannot make magical gestures but will obey their master's commands exactly -- although the identity of the master could change as a result of enchantment.

Since wizards are trained intelligent humans they are able to gesture and attack using both hands independently or in conjunction. Each monster, being an untrained, unintelligent biped, attacks the same way every time and picks whichever victim its master decides. As a result, only wizards can gesture and cast spells. Players personally acquainted with monsters who wish to vouch for their ability to cast spells are requested to keep quiet.


Spells are created by strings of gestures made with the hands. There are 5 single-handed gestures, these being with the fingers (F), with the palm (P), the snap (S), the wave (W) and the digit pointing (D). There is one 2-handed gesture, the clap (C) which must be done simultaneously with both hands to be valid. The meaning of each gesture can be safely forgotten as only the abbreviations are used, for simplicity. The other things which can be done with the hand are the non-gestures: stab (stab) and nothing ( ).

To cast a spell, gestures are put in an order characteristic of a spell. A list of spells including the gestures needed for them is given in the last section. For example, 3 finger gestures on consecutive turns (F-F-F) initiates a 'paralysis' spell. The uniqueness of the game, however, is that gestures can be made to operate in more than one spell, provided that a) the gestures have been made in the correct sequence without interruption, b) not more than one spell is created per gesture, c) All gestures for one spell are made with the same hand.

For instance, the left hand could cast the F-F-F above and could be followed by S-S-D-D in the next 4 turns to finish off a 'fireball' spell (F-S-S-D-D) as the last 5 gestures are those associated with that spell. Another alternative is to simply perform another F for a second paralysis spell, as the last 3 gestures are still F-F-F. Thus, it is apparent that if spells are used in a wise manner and overlap a lot, the overall number of gestures needed to cast them can be cut quite dramatically.

If a gesture can be construed to create 2 or more spells then the caster chooses which one he wants to use. For example, the last 2 gestures of a 'finger of death' are the same as 'missile', yet only on odd occasions would the latter be used. Another example of the one-spell-per-gesture concept is the following:

    Right hand:     P P W S    Last 4 gestures form 'invisibility'
    Left hand:      W W W S    Last 3 gestures form 'counter-spell' 
The trouble here is the 'invisibility' spell needs both hands to perform certain gestures. However, since the final S of the left hand cannot complete 2 spells it is clear that a choice must be made between the W-W-S of the 'counter- spell' and the P-P-(w-(s of the invisibility. Here and in the rest of the document an open bracket, followed by a lower-case letter, denotes a gesture to be performed with *each* hand simultaneously. E.g. (w denotes a W by each hand.

The caster must choose one spell if the gestures are completed in the correct sequence. Most of these are shot off to nowhere if not required but some cannot be, for example 'fire storm' which gets you no matter where it is released. Some of the larger spells have smaller ones incorporated within.

All spells and monsters need a target, that is someone or something to be the victim. This is usually obvious, for example all enchantments and damaging spells are usually cast at the opponent, whereas protection and summons spells are used by the caster himself. However, if your target is not the usual one, (e.g. you wish to cast a 'counter-spell' at your own monster to stop a 'charm monster' spell from making it attack you), then the target must be written down with the gestures. The target need not exist, for example, "the elemental he's about to create", but if it still doesn't exist when you loose the spell then you lose the spell. Monsters will usually attack their controller's opponent but if the target is different, e.g. another monster, then it must be written.

Spells can be aborted any way along their development simply by performing a gesture with the hand doing the spell which is not one needed for that spell. There is no penalty, save having wasted some time. Note that no spells contain "stab" or "nothing" (C with just one hand is the same as nothing) and consequently after pursuing one of these alternatives, any spell must start from scratch. Note also that wizards only have one dagger each so cannot stab twice at the same time, although they can change hands for stabbing without wasting time. Such are the disadvantages of physical violence...

Certain spells cancel each other if they take effect simultaneously. An obvious example is 'finger of death' and 'raise dead'. Cancellation occurs when the subject for the spells concerned is the same person, although there are some of the heat versus cold variety which don't care who is the subject. Other spells which cancel harmlessly are mostly the enchantments which direct that something be done which it is impossible to obey due to some contradiction (e.g. you cannot both repeat last turn's gestures and give a random gesture with one hand, as you would if the subject of the spells 'amnesia' and 'confusion' at once). If you have a situation where someone is the subject of some spells which seem to cancel yet which aren't mentioned in the section on spells, use your common sense (or someone else's) and you can't go far wrong.

Since spells detonate simultaneously, there is occasionally confusion over spells which don't cancel yet which seem to depend on which happened first. The best example is when a monster is created and, on the same turn, hit by a 'fireball', or something else sufficient to kill it. Since both are simultaneous, the monster will attack that turn whilst being destroyed. There are some examples explicitly mentioned, for example ice elementals in 'ice storm' or 'counter-spell'/'dispel magic' against all other spells but these are clearly stated in the final section.

Another example of a seeming conflict is when someone who is resistant to fire is the subject of both a 'remove enchantment' and 'fireball'; the enchantment is removed as the fireball explodes (since they are simultaneous) hence the poor victim is fried. If instead, he were not resistant to fire and was hit by a 'resist fire' and 'fireball' at once then he would start to resist fire as the fireball exploded and thus be saved.

Before the battle commences, the referee casts a 'dispel magic' followed by an 'anti-spell' at each of the wizards. This is so that they cannot commence gesturing prematurely so that they've nearly finished a spell when they start the battle. Thus being resistant to fire in your last battle doesn't do you any good in the next.


Each wizard can sustain 14 points of damage but on the 15th or above he dies and the surviving wizard is declared the winner. Simultaneous death is a posthumous draw. Damage given to wizards and monsters is cumulative (so you don't have to do it all in one go!) Dead monsters take no further part in the game. There is another alternative to being killed, namely the 'surrender'. This is not a spell, but a pair of P gestures made by both hands at the same time. See the final section for details.


There now follows, in 4 sections, a list of spells (plus 'surrender') what they do, how long they last. In the gestures given for the spells, upper case letters are used as abbreviations except when 2 simultaneous single-handed gestures are required using both hands, when an open bracket followed by a lower case letter will be used instead e.g. (w. Afterwards is a short list of spells in forward and reverse order, intended for use as a reference sheet for players during the battle. To see if a spell has been cast, look up in the reverse section the last gesture and follow back.

Protection spells

gesture P. This spell protects the subject from all attacks from monsters (that is, creatures created by a summons class spell), from missile spells, and from stabs by wizards. The shield lasts for that turn only, but one shield will cover all such attacks made against the subject that turn.

Remove enchantment
gestures P-D-W-P. If the subject of this spell is currently being effected by any of the spells in the spells in the "enchantments" section, and/or if spells from that section are cast at him at the same time as the remove enchantment, then any such spells terminate immediately although their effect for that turn might already have passed. For example, the victim of a 'blindness' spell would not be able to see what his opponent's gestures were on the turn his sight is restored by a 'remove enchantment'.

Note that the 'remove enchantment' affects all spells from the "Enchantment" section whether the caster wants them to all go or not. A second effect of the spell is to destroy any monster upon which it is cast, although the monster can attack in that turn. It does not affect wizards unless cast on a wizard as he creates a monster when the monster is destroyed, and the effects described above apply.

Magic mirror
gestures C-(w. Any spell cast at the subject of this spell is reflected back at the caster of that spell for that turn only. This includes spells like 'missile' and 'lightning bolt' but does not include attacks by monsters already in existence, or stabs from wizards. Note that certain spells are cast by wizards usually upon themselves, e.g. spells from this section and the "Summons" section, in which case the mirror would have no effect. It is countered totally, with no effect whatsoever, if the subject is the simultaneous subject of either a 'counter-spell' or 'dispel magic'. It has no effect on spells which affect more than one person, such as 'fire storm' and 2 mirrors cast at someone simultaneously combine to form a single mirror.

gestures W-P-P *or* W-W-S. Any other spell cast upon the subject in the same turn has no effect whatever. In the case of blanket-type spells, which affect more than 1 person, the subject of the 'counter-spell' alone is protected. For example, a 'fire storm' spell could kill off a monster but not if it was simultaneously the subject of a 'counter-spell' although everyone else would be affected as usual unless they had their own protection.

The 'counter-spell' will cancel all the spells cast at the subject for that turn including 'remove enchantment' and 'magic mirror' but not 'dispel magic' or 'finger of death'. It will combine with another spell of its own type for the same effect as if it were alone. The 'counter-spell' will also act as a 'shield' on the final gesture in addition to its other properties, but the shield effect is on the same subject as its other effect. The spell has 2 alternative gesture sequences, either of which may, be used at any time.

Dispel magic
gestures C-D-P-W. This spell acts as a combination of 'counter-spell' and 'remove enchantment', but its effects are universal rather than limited to the subject of the spell. It will stop any spell cast in the same turn from working (apart from another dispel magic spell which combines with it for the same result), and will remove all enchantments from all beings before they have effect. In addition, all monsters are destroyed although they can attack that turn. 'Counter-spells' and 'magic mirrors' have no effect. The spell will not work on stabs or surrenders. As with a 'counter-spell' it also acts as a 'shield' for its subject.

Raise dead
gestures D-W-W-F-W-C. The subject of this spell is usually a recently-dead (not yet decomposing) human corpse though it may be used on a dead monster. When the spell is cast, life is instilled back into the corpse and any damage which it has sustained is cured until the owner is back to his usual state of health. A 'remove enchantment' effect is also manifest so any 'diseases' or 'poisons' will be neutralized (plus any other enchantments). If swords, knives, etc still remain in the corpse when it is raised, they will of course cause it damage as usual. The subject will be able to act as normal immediately under the influence of the caster of the 'raise dead' spell, so that next turn he can gesture, fight etc (in fact he will be able to fight on the turn upon which the spell is cast.)

If the spell is cast on a live individual, the effect is that of a 'cure light wounds' recovering 5 points of damage, or as many as have been sustained if less than 5. This is the only spell which affects corpses properly. It therefore cannot be stopped in such circumstances by a 'counter-spell'. A 'dispel magic' spell will prevent it, since it affects all spells no matter what their subject. Once alive the subject is treated as normal.

Cure light wounds
gestures D-F-W. If the subject has received damage then he is cured by 1 point as if that point had not been inflicted. Thus, for example, if a wizard was at 10 points of damage and was hit simultaneously by a 'cure light wounds' and a 'lightning bolt' he would finish that turn on 14 points rather than 15 (or 9 if there had been no 'lightning bolt'). The effect is not removed by a 'dispel magic' or 'remove enchantment'.

Cure heavy wounds
gestures D-F-P-W. This spell is the same as 'cure light wounds' for its effect, but 2 points of damage are cured instead of 1, or only 1 if only 1 had been sustained. A side effect is that the spell will also cure a disease (note 'raise dead' on a live individual won't).

Summons Spells

Summon Goblin
gestures S-F-W. This spell creates a goblin under the control of the subject upon whom the spell is cast (or if cast on a monster, *its* controller, even if the monster later dies or changes loyalty). The goblin can attack immediately and its victim can be any any wizard or other monster the controller desires, stating which at the time he writes his gestures. It does 1 point of damage to its victim per turn and is destroyed after 1 point of damage is inflicted upon it. The summoning spell cannot be cast at an elemental, and if cast at something which doesn't exist, the spell has no effect.

Summon Ogre
gestures P-S-F-W. This spell is the same as 'summon goblin' but the ogre created inflicts and is destroyed by 2 points of damage rather than l.

Summon Troll
gestures F-P-S-F-W. This spell is the same as 'summon goblin' but the troll created inflicts and is destroyed by 3 points of damage rather than l.

Summon Giant
gestures W-F-P-S-F-W. This spell is the same as 'summon goblin' but the giant created inflicts and is destroyed by 4 points of damage rather than l.

Summon Elemental
gestures C-S-W-W-S. This spell creates either a fire elemental or an ice elemental at the discretion of the person upon whom the spell is cast after he has seen all the gestures made that turn.

Elementals must be cast at someone and cannot be "shot off" harmlessly at some inanimate object. The elemental will, for that turn and until destroyed, attack everyone who is not resistant to its type (heat or cold), causing 3 points of damage per turn. The elemental takes 3 points of damage to be killed but may be destroyed by spells of the opposite type (e.g. 'fire storm', 'resist cold' or 'fireball' will kill an ice elemental), and will also neutralize the canceling spell.

Elementals will not attack on the turn they are destroyed by such a spell. An elemental will also be engulfed and destroyed by a storm of its own type but, in such an event, the storm is not neutralized although the elemental still does not attack in that turn. 2 elementals of the opposite type will also destroy each other before attacking, and 2 of the same type will join together to form a single elemental of normal strength. Note that only wizards or monsters resistant to the type of elemental, or who are casting a spell which has the effect of a 'shield' do not get attacked by the elemental. Casting a 'fireball' upon yourself when being attacked by an ice elemental is no defence! (Cast it at the elemental...)

Damaging Spells

gestures S-D. This spell creates a material object of hard substance which is hurled towards the subject of the spell and causes him 1 point of damage. The spell is thwarted by a 'shield' in addition to the usual 'counter-spell', 'dispel magic' and 'magic mirror' (the latter causing it to hit whoever cast it instead).

Finger of Death
gestures P-W-P-F-S-S-S-D. Kills the subject stone dead. This spell is so powerful that it is unaffected by a 'counter-spell' although a 'dispel magic' spell cast upon the final gesture will stop it. The usual way to prevent being harmed by this spell is to disrupt it during casting using, for example, an 'anti-spell'.

Lightning Bolt
gestures D-F-F-D-D *or* W-D-D-C. The subject of this spell is hit by a bolt of lightning and sustains 5 points of damage. Resistance to heat or cold is irrelevant. There are 2 gesture combinations for the spell, but the shorter one may be used only once per day (i.e. per battle) by any wizard. The longer one may be used without restriction. A 'shield' spell offers no defence.

Cause Light Wounds
gestures W-F-P. The subject of this spell is inflicted with 2 points of damage. Resistance to heat or cold offers no defence. A simultaneous 'cure light wounds' will serve only to reduce the damage to 1 point. A 'shield' has no effect.

Cause Heavy Wounds
gestures W-P-F-D. This has the same effect as 'cause light wounds' but inflicts 3 points of damage instead of 2.

gestures F-S-S-D-D. The subject of this spell is hit by a ball of fire and sustains 5 points of damage unless he is resistant to fire. If at the same time an 'ice storm' prevails, the subject of the 'fireball' is instead not harmed by either spell, although the storm will affect others as normal. If directed at an ice elemental, the fireball will destroy it before it can attack, but has no other effect on the creatures.

Fire storm
gestures S-W-W-C. Everything not resistant to heat sustains 5 points of damage that turn. The spell cancels wholly, causing no damage, with either an 'ice storm' or an ice elemental. It will destroy but not be destroyed by a fire elemental. Two 'fire storms' act as one.

Ice storm
gestures W-S-S-C. Everything not resistant to cold sustains 5 points of damage that turn. The spell cancels wholly, causing no damage, with either a 'fire storm' or a fire elemental, and will cancel locally with a 'fireball'. It will destroy but not be destroyed by an ice elemental. Two 'ice storms' act as one.


gestures D-P-P. If the subject of this spell is a wizard, next turn he must repeat identically the gestures he made in the current turn, including stabs. If the subject is a monster it will attack whoever it attacked this turn. If the subject is simultaneously the subject of any of 'confusion', 'charm person', 'charm monster', 'paralysis' or 'fear' then none of the spells work.

gestures D-S-F. If the subject of this spell is a wizard, next turn he writes down his gestures as usual and after exposing them, rolls 2 dice to determine which gesture is superseded due to his being confused. The first die indicates left hand on 1-3, right on 4-6. The second roll determines what the gesture for that hand shall be replaced with: 1=C, 2=D, 3=F, 4=P, 5=S, 6=W. If the subject of the spell is a monster, it attacks at random that turn. If the subject is also the subject of any of: 'amnesia', 'charm person', 'charm monster', 'paralysis' or 'fear', none of the spells work.

Charm Person
gestures P-S-D-F. Except for cancellation with other enchantments, this spell only affects humans. The subject is told which of his hands will be controlled at the time the spell hits, and in the following turn, the caster of the spell writes down the gesture he wants the subject's named hand to perform. This could be a stab or nothing. If the subject is only so because of a reflection from a 'magic mirror' the subject of the mirror assumes the role of caster and writes down his opponent's gesture. If the subject is also the subject of any of 'amnesia', 'confusion', 'charm monster', 'paralysis' or 'fear', none of the spells work.

Charm Monster
gestures P-S-D-D. Except for cancellation with other enchantments, this spell only affects monsters (excluding elementals). Control of the monster is transferred to the caster of the spell (or retained by him) as of this turn, i.e. the monster will attack whosoever its new controller dictates from that turn onwards including that turn. Further charms are, of course, possible, transferring as before. If the subject of the charm is also the subject of any of: 'amnesia', 'confusion', 'charm person', 'fear' or 'paralysis', none of the spells work.

gestures F-F-F. If the subject of the spell is a wizard, then on the turn the spell is cast, after gestures have been revealed, the caster selects one of the wizard's hands and on the next turn that hand is paralyzed into the position it is in this turn. If the wizard already had a paralyzed hand, it must be the same hand which is paralyzed again. Certain gestures remain the same but if the hand being paralyzed is performing a C, S or W it is instead paralyzed into F, D or P respectively, otherwise it will remain in the position written down (this allows repeated stabs).

A favourite ploy is to continually paralyze a hand (F-F-F-F-F-F etc.) into a non-P gesture and then set a monster on the subject so that he has to use his other hand to protect himself, but then has no defence against other magical attacks. If the subject of the spell is a monster (excluding elementals which are unaffected) it simply does not attack in the turn following the one in which the spell was cast. If the subject of the spell is also the subject of any of 'amnesia', 'confusion', 'charm person', 'charm monster' or 'fear', none of the spells work.

gestures S-W-D. In the turn following the casting of this spell, the subject cannot perform a C, D, F or S gesture. This obviously has no effect on monsters. If the subject is also the subject of 'amnesia', 'confusion', 'charm person', 'charm monster' or 'paralysis', then none of the spells work.

gestures S-P-F. On the turn following the casting of this spell, the subject cannot include any gestures made on or before this turn in a spell sequence and must restart a new spell from the beginning of that spell sequence. The spell does not affect spells which are cast on the same turn nor does it affect monsters.

Protection from Evil
gestures W-W-P. For this turn and the following 3 turns the subject of this spell is protected as if using a 'shield' spell, thus leaving both hands free. Concurrent 'shield' spells offer no further protection and compound 'protection from evil' spells merely overlap offering no extra cover.

Resist Heat
gestures W-W-F-P. The subject of this spell becomes totally resistant to all forms of heat attack ('fireball', 'fire storm' and fire elementals). Only 'dispel magic' or 'remove enchantment' will terminate this resistance once started (although a 'counter-spell' will prevent it from working if cast at the subject at the same time as this spell). A 'resist heat' cast directly on a fire elemental will destroy it before it can attack that turn, but there is no effect on ice elementals.

Resist Cold
gestures S-S-F-P. The effects of this spell are identical to 'resist heat' but resistance is to cold ('ice storm' and ice elementals) and it destroys ice elementals if they are the subject of the spell but doesn't affect fire elementals.

gestures D-S-F-F-F-C. The subject of this spell immediately contracts a deadly (non-contagious) disease which will kill him at the end of 6 turns counting from the one upon which the spell is cast. The malady is cured by 'remove enchantment' or 'cure heavy wounds' or 'dispel magic' in the meantime.

gestures D-W-W-F-W-D. This is the same as the disease spell except that 'cure heavy wounds' does not stop its effects.

gestures D-W-F-F-(d. For the next 3 turns not including the one in which the spell was cast, the subject is unable to see. If he is a wizard, he cannot tell what his opponent's gestures are, although he must be informed of any which affect him (e.g. summons spells, 'missile' etc cast at him) but not 'counter- spells' to his own 'attacks. Indeed he will not know if his own spells work unless they also affect him (e.g. a 'fire storm' when he isn't resistant to fire.) He can control his monsters (e.g. "Attack whatever it was that just attacked me"). Blinded monsters are instantly destroyed and cannot attack in that turn.

gestures P-P-(w-(s. This spell is similar to 'blindness' only the subject of the spell becomes invisible to his opponent and his monsters. All spells he creates, though not gestures, can be seen by his opponent and identified. The subject cannot be attacked by any monsters although they can be directed at him in case he becomes visible prematurely. Wizards can still stab and direct spells at him, with the same hope. Any monster made invisible is destroyed due to the unstable nature of such magically created creatures.

gestures P-W-P-W-W-C. For the next 3 turns, the subject (but not his monsters if a wizard) makes an extra set of gestures due to being speeded up. This takes effect in the following turn so that instead of giving one pair of gestures, 2 are given, the effect of both being taken simultaneously at the end of the turn. Thus a single 'counter-spell' from his adversary could cancel 2 spells cast by the hastened wizard on 2 half-turns if the phasing is right. Non-hastened wizards and monsters can see everything the hastened individual is doing. Hastened monsters can change target in the extra turns if desired.

Time stop
gestures S-P-P-C. The subject of this spell immediately takes an extra turn, on which no-one can see or know about unless they are harmed. All non-affected beings have no resistance to any form of attack, e.g. a wizard halfway through the duration of a 'protection from evil' spell can be harmed by a monster which has had its time stopped. Time-stopped monsters attack whoever their controller instructs, and time-stopped elementals affect everyone, resistance to heat or cold being immaterial in that turn.

Delayed effect
gestures D-W-S-S-S-P. This spell only works if cast upon a wizard. The next spell he completes, provided it is on this turn or one of the next 3 is "banked" until needed, i.e. it fails to work until its caster desires. This next spell which is to be banked does not include the actual spell doing the banking. The spell must be written down to be used by its caster at the same time that he writes his gestures. Note that spells banked are those cast by the subject not those cast at him. If he casts more than one spell at the same time he chooses which is to be banked. Remember that P is a 'shield' spell, and surrender is not a spell. A wizard may only have one spell banked at any one time.

gestures S-P-F-P-S-D-W. This spell only works if cast upon a wizard. The next spell he completes, provided it is on this turn or one of the next 3, and which falls into the category of "Enchantments" (except 'anti-spell', 'disease', 'poison', or 'time-stop') will have its effect made permanent. This means that the effect of the extended spell on the first turn of its duration is repeated eternally. For example, a 'confusion' spell will be the same gesture rather than re-rolling the dice, a 'charm person' will mean repetition of the chosen gesture, etc.

If the subject of the 'permanency' casts more than one spell at the same time eligible for permanency, he chooses which has its duration extended. Note that the person who has his spell made permanent does not necessarily have to make himself the subject of the spell. A 'permanency' spell cannot increase its own duration, nor the duration of spells saved by a 'delayed effect' (so if both a 'permanency' and 'delayed effect' are eligible for the same spell to be banked or extended, a choice must be made, the losing spell being neutralized and working on the next spell instead).


gestures (p. This is not a spell and consequently cannot be cast at anyone. The wizard making these gestures, irrespective of whether they terminate spells or not, surrenders and the contest is over. The surrendering wizard is deemed to have lost unless his gestures completed spells which killed his opponent. Two simultaneous surrenders count as a draw. It is a skill for wizards to work their spells so that they never accidentally perform 2 P gestures simultaneously. Wizards can be killed as they surrender if hit with appropriate spells or attacked physically, but the "referees" will cure any diseases, poisons etc immediately after the surrender for them.

gesture stab. This is not a spell but an attack which can be directed at any individual monster or wizard. Unless protected in that turn by a 'shield' spell or another spell with the same effect, the being stabbed suffers 1 point of damage. The wizard only has one knife so can only stab with one hand in any turn, although which hand doesn't matter. The stab cannot be reflected by a 'magic mirror' or stopped by 'dispel magic' (although its 'shield' effect *could* stop the stab). Wizards are not allowed to stab themselves and must choose a target for the stab. Knives cannot be thrown.

Players are not expected to remember all the spells and their gestures so here is a brief list in forward and reverse order:

Spells in Forward Order

C-D-P-W          Dispel magic               P-S-D-F         Charm person
C-S-W-W-S        Summon elemental           P-S-F-W         Summon ogre
C-(w             Magic mirror               P-W-P-F-S-S-S-D Finger of death
D-F-F-D-D        Lightning bolt             P-W-P-W-W-C     Haste
D-F-P-W          Cure heavy wounds          S-D             Missile
D-F-W            Cure light wounds          S-F-W           Summon goblin
D-P-P            Amnesia                    S-P-F           Anti-spell
D-S-F            Confusion                  S-P-F-P-S-D-W   Permanency
D-S-F-F-F-C      Disease                    S-P-P-C         Time stop
D-W-F-F-(d       Blindness                  S-S-F-P         Resist cold
D-W-S-S-S-P      Delayed effect             S-W-D           Fear
D-W-W-F-W-C      Raise dead                 S-W-W-C         Fire storm
D-W-W-F-W-D      Poison                     W-D-D-C   +     Lightning bolt
F-F-F            Paralysis                  W-F-P           Cause light wounds
F-P-S-F-W        Summon troll               W-F-P-S-F-W     Summon giant
F-S-S-D-D        Fireball                   W-P-F-D         Cause heavy wounds
P                Shield                     W-P-P           Counter-spell
(p   !           Surrender                  W-S-S-C         Ice storm
P-D-W-P          Remove enchantment         W-W-F-P         Resist heat
P-P-(w-(s        Invisibility               W-W-P           Protection from evil
P-S-D-D          Charm monster              W-W-S           Counter-spell
!   This is not a spell
+   Each wizard may use this spell once per battle, then the gestures
    have no effect.

Spells in Reverse Order

(read your last few gestures backwards to see if you've made a spell)
C-D-D-W   +      Lightning bolt             (p   !          Surrender
C-F-F-F-S-D      Disease                    P-F-S-S         Resist cold
C-P-P-S          Time Stop                  P-F-W           Cause Light wounds
C-S-S-W          Ice storm                  P-F-W-W         Resist heat
C-W-F-W-W-D      Raise dead                 P-P-D           Amnesia
C-W-W-P-W-P      Haste                      P-P-W           Counter spell
C-W-W-S          Fire storm                 P-S-S-S-W-D     Delayed effect
D-D-F-F-D        Lightning bolt             P-W-D-P         Remove enchantment
D-D-S-P          Charm monster              P-W-W           Protection from evil
D-D-S-S-F        Fireball                   (s-(w-P-P       Invisibility
(d-F-F-W-D       Blindness                  S-W-W           Counter-spell
D-F-P-W          Cause heavy wounds         S-W-W-S-C       Summon elemental
D-S              Missile                    (w-C            Magic mirror
D-S-S-S-F-P-W-P  Finger of death            W-D-S-P-F-P-S   Permanency
D-W-F-W-W-D      Poison                     W-F-D           Cure light wounds
D-W-S            Fear                       W-F-S           Summon goblin
F-D-S-P          Charm person               W-F-S-P         Summon ogre
F-F-F            Paralysis                  W-F-S-P-F       Summon troll
F-P-S            Anti-spell                 W-F-S-P-F-W     Summon giant
F-S-D            Confusion                  W-D-D-C         Dispel magic
P                Shield                     W-P-F-D         Cure heavy wounds

Sample Game

I now include a sample game with following comments. Significant spells are marked +. Null gestures are in brackets. Underlined gestures and above cannot be used further due to the effects of an 'anti-spell'.
Turn            BLACK                         WHITE
	Left    Right    Damage       Left    Right    Damage
 1        W       W +      0            W +     P        0
 2        W       P +                   W +     D
 3        D       F +                   F +   + W
 4        D     + D +                   P +   + W        3
 5        F     + P                     S +     S +
 6        F     + P        1            W       D +
 7        S       D                     W +   + D
 8        S       W                     W +   + S +
 9        F       F                   + S +   + F +
10        P +    (C)                  + D  +  + W ++
11       Stab   + P                     P ++  + D  +
12        P +     S                     P  +    D  +
13        P +     S        6            C       C  +
14        W +     W                     S +   + S
15      + S +   + S                     W +   + P
16      + D     + D                     W +   + F        5
17        W +     S +     11            C +     C
18        D +     P +                 + S     + S
19        D +     F +     13          + D     + D
20        C +   + C                     S +     S       10
21        W     + W                     P +     W
22        P       P                     F +     W
  1. Black starts with 2 W's hoping to use the left as a possible W-W-S 'counter- spell' in the event of White opening with an attack, or as a possible W-W-F-P resist heat' spell. His right hand also opens for a possible 'counter-spell or W-P-F-D 'cause heavy wounds' if White has no possible attack; the second P will also cover against any S-D 'missile attack'. White has the same ideas for his left hand as Black and opens with a P for his right hand in case Black tries a stab, leading to P-D-W-P 'remove enchantment' hopefully.

  2. Both complete their second gestures as intended and both notice that neither can use an offensive spell on the third turn so they can switch their left hands to W-W-F-P 'resist fire'. Black notices that the only spell White could be preparing with his right hand is remove enchantment and hence his own 'resist fire' would be canceled. Since he cannot adjust his right hand sequence to produce a 'counter-spell' he resolves to use his latest W to start a W-D-D-C 'lightning bolt'.

  3. White had to continue his 'remove enchantment' in case Black called his bluff but now knows it is pointless to continue as there will be nothing to cancel. Black is certain to hit White with an unstoppable 'cause heavy wounds' next time but notices too late that, had he instead of gesturing a D with his left hand, gestured a W, he could have cast a W-W-S 'counter-spell' at White and stopped his 'resist heat' from working. However, he has a 'lightning bolt' coming as compensation...

  4. Black hits White with his 'cause heavy wounds' and White becomes fire- resistant. White notes that had he gone ahead with his 'remove enchantment' spell he would have been doing two P gestures this turn -- surrendering! Instead he performs a W with his right hand to time a 'counter-spell' after Black's last continuation.

  5. Black aborts his 'lightning bolt' spell, but White still follows through with his 'counter-spell', just in case. Black switches to the other combination for 'lightning bolt', D-F-F-D-D and sneaks in the start of an amnesia D-P-P. White commences a 'summon ogre' P-S-F-W with his left hand, but upon seeing that next time he will be struck by 'amnesia' realizes that he won't be able to continue it. Knowing the nature of the spell, he decides to switch next time to a spell starting off with 2 identical gestures, a W-W-S 'counter-spell' for safety.

  6. Black hits White with the predicted D-P-P amnesia spell, meaning that White must repeat his gestures next time with the same hands. White knows that he has a "free" S-D 'missile' on Black since Black cannot do a P shield to defend himself or he would be performing the 'surrender' gestures.

  7. Since Black knows White's gestures, he can tell that White will be able to time a 'counter-spell' to ward off the proposed 'lightning bolt' D-F-F-D-D, so he changes to a 'fireball' F-S-S-D-D. However, White is resistant to fire so a P-D-W-P 'remove enchantment' is called for from the right hand.

  8. White surprised Black by repeating his W gesture in the left hand so he can now time a counter spell for the next round and thus prevent the 'remove enchantment' from affecting his fire invulnerability (although his resistance to fire will be unaffected by the 'counter-spell' since he has already cast the spell on himself in round 4). With his right hand, White half-heartedly starts off a 'confusion' spell to interrupt Black next time.

  9. Black does 2 F gestures having to change in mid-spells after White's cunning gestures last round. He decides to go for a 'blindness' spell D-W-F-F-(d with his right hand, and for 'cold resistance' S-S-F-P with his left, to cut his losses. White casts the counter spell W-W-S on himself so that his 'confusion' D-S-F will work on Black.

  10. Black writes down P for his left hand and F for his right, and White writes D and W. Since Black was hit by a 'confusion' last time one of his gestures will be affected. He rolls a C on the right hand and this supersedes the F he had written down. Since he didn't C with his other hand and C is a 2-handed gesture, it counts as a null. Note that if he had rolled for a P he would have surrendered. White finishes off a 'summon goblin' spell S-F-W, and a 'missile' S-D. Black's left hand finishes a 'resist cold' S-S-F-P but he decides to use only the last gesture as a P 'shield' so that neither of White's attacks harm him. Now he will wish to dispose of the goblin as soon as possible so he can stop performing P's to protect himself.

  11. Black stabs the goblin and, since only 1 hit is required to kill it, eliminates it. He also gestures a P 'shield' so that it cannot harm him in that turn. White gestures for an 'amnesia' D-P-P and a 'lightning bolt' W-D-D-C (the sort which can only be used once per wizard). He also performed a P 'shield' but didn't notice and since it is in the "protection" section it was cast upon himself. If he had cast it at the goblin it wouldn't have been killed. Black realizes that he will have no defence against either of White's forthcoming attacks, so chooses to work 2 spells beginning with the same gesture next time so that the amnesia won't be too damaging.

  12. Black must start off both gestures from scratch after the stab and half-C and opts for P-P-(w-(s 'invisibility' and 'resist cold' S-S-F-P. White's 'amnesia' spell is completed so Black must repeat next time as expected.

  13. Black repeats, and White does a C gesture with both hands to terminate a W-D-D-C 'lightning bolt' giving 5 points of damage to Black. White cannot cast another 'lightning bolt' using the same gestures now, even if he does W-D-D-C since this type is allowed only once per battle. However, he may use the alternate gestures if he desires.

  14. Black aborts his right-hand spell since a W with both hands is needed for the 'invisibility'. White does 2 S gestures, hoping for a C-S-W-W-S 'summon elemental' and either an 'anti-spell' S-F-F or 'summon goblin' S-F-W.

  15. Black goes invisible for the next 3 turns so White won't be able to see his gestures. White continues with his 'summon elemental' but has the option to change to a 'fire storm' sequence if he so desires.

  16. Realizing that he is about to be hit by an 'anti-spell' S-P-F from White, Black opens up with 2 'missiles' S-D and catches White off guard. Next time Black must gesture from scratch again. Although White does not see Black's gestures he knows he has been hit by 2 'missiles' so can work them out.

  17. For the second time, Black starts up for a 'lightning' bolt W-D-D-C, hoping this time to complete it, and a covering 'anti-spell' S-P-F so that White will be unable to defend himself from it. Meanwhile White realizes he is resistant to fire and unleashes a 'fire storm' giving 5 points of damage to all those not fire-resistant which just happens to be Black.

  18. White does 2 S gestures again hoping to fool Black into thinking that he will repeat the sequence he used after the last C gesture, whereas he intends to hit out with 2 S-D 'missiles' next turn (when Black becomes visible again). Black continues with his plan.

  19. Black is surprised by the 2 'missiles' from White and is not performing a P 'shield' which would protect him. White is hit by Black's 'anti-spell' S-P-F but is unaware of the impending 'lightning bolt' anyway...

  20. Black hits White with his 'lightning bolt' as White prepares 2 more 'missiles' which would kill Black if they hit, but, noting Black's C he daren't risk the possibility of it being followed by a pair of W's for a C-(w 'magic mirror' which would reflect them back at White. Hence White decides to go for another 'anti-spell' and 'fire storm'.

  21. Black does perform the 2 W's planning to 'cause heavy wounds' or defend with 'counter-spell'. White continues as planned and Black becomes aware that he is about to be burned to death.

  22. Resigning himself to defeat Black surrenders just as White's 'anti-spell' hits him. The battle ends before White can make the final C gesture which would have disposed of his enemy. White wins the contest.

Computer Spellcaster

On Usenet, in comp.games.design, Colin Coghill (colin@kcbbs.gen.nz) mentioned he had a computer version of SpellCaster that runs under Unix X11. No further information is available at this time.

HTML conversion by Eddy Carroll (ecarroll@iol.ie)