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Contact & Copyright Info

Spell: The RPG is © 2015 Taylor Smith and Whimsy


Machine Media. All rights reserved.

First edition printing 2018

Print ISBN 978-1-949029-00-0


Ebook ISBN: 978-1-949029-03-1

Spell: The RPG


Author + Developer | Taylor Smith
Editing + Design Consulting | Mariah Currey  mariahcurrey.com
Layout Design | Miss Mandible  shishidocreative.com
Spell Logo Design | Christina Gardner  artstation.com/littlewitchcurry
Cover Art | Nathalie Fourdraine  nathaliefourdraine.crevado.com
Interior Art | Leigh Luna  leighlunacomics.com

Additional supplements and materials for Spell: The RPG can be


purchased or downloaded for free at gumroad.com/whimsymachine.

If you enjoy this work, please consider supporting online at d.rip/


whimsymachine. Please look forward to the many great things to come
for Spell: The RPG and Whimsy Machine Media! Make sure to download
character sheets at whimsymachine.media/downloads. There is also an
online letter generator available at whimsymachine.media/letter-generator.
Most importantly, enjoy!

Any and all feedback is welcome! Contact me directly via email at


admin@whimsymachinegames.com, hit me up on Twitter @Taylor_CS,
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to hear about the campaigns you run!

An immense and special thank you to the 234 Kickstarter backers


who brought this project to life. You are wonderful!
W elcome to Spell: The RPG, a game of magic, spelling,
and fun! Take the role of magical characters, capable
of altering reality around them to their whim, and explore
the crazy worlds they inhabit. Each magical spell is cast
using letter tiles; whatever you can spell is what you cast!

This is a tabletop roleplaying game for around three to


six or so players. Roleplaying games, for those who are
unfamiliar, are like board games, except for a few key
differences: The players take the role of specific characters
of their own creation and the overall story of the game is
also created by at least one player (the Game Moderator,
or the one hosting the game). Gameplay follows a plot and
the players’ actions as their characters shape the course of
the overall game and story. Spell: The RPG can last a single
session or be played continuously; when a game goes on
for multiple sessions, it’s called a campaign.

Spell: The RPG is designed to be easy to get into and


emphasizes on play over simulation. The setting is loose
and open to interpretation, so it can be played in any genre
with any age group. Make sure to bring pencils, dice, and
plenty of imagination to the table.

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The world of Spell: The RPG is very much like our own, with one
major exception: There are those who can speak the universal language
of existence.
All of existence and nonexistence, reality and surreality, is spoken
in a specific language. This language describes all the laws of the
universe, defining exactly what is and is not. It tells of everything that
happened and everything that ever will, won’t, or can’t. This language
is beyond the full comprehension of any mortal, though a rare few have
an ear for it. These individuals can translate the universal language
into glyphs that they can understand and, from there, spell out new
descriptions, new laws, new realities. These individuals are called a
variety of different terms, depending on context and culture, but the
most common is “Speakers.”
Spell: The RPG, as a set of rules, can be played in any setting, in any
world. The following are common groups, character types, and schools
of thought that exist in worlds of Speakers and the universal language.
Inventiveness is always welcome; each story will be catered to the specific
group playing. Suggestions for building and filling in a playable world are
presented in the Game Moderator’s Guide chapter.

Groups the role of can be all from one organization acting


officially or from independent factions working as
It didn’t take long for Speakers to find each a mismatched group.
other and gather. Philosophies on the universal
language began to coalesce as ideas and theories
were exchanged. Many groups actively seek out Academics
any natural Speakers to help them understand
their gift; despite this, there are still Speakers who Words and language invite study — not to
remain isolated from a greater culture. These mention magical phenomena — and so there has
individuals often unknowingly let their gift lie always been an academic study of the universal
dormant, become dangerous outliers, or just live language and Speakers’ abilities. Academics tend
their own magical, independent life. to consider these abilities gifts and encourage
Speakers to push their limits. Magic for the sake
Beyond these basic groupings and philosophies of magic, to prove what magic is capable of, is
exist a myriad of in-betweens and unique ideas. a common aspiration of academics. Branches
These specific groups are just the most represen- of academics as specific organizations may

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tative and prolific. The characters that players take have roots in their regions’ historical periods of
invention and innovation, such as the Islamic Folklorists hold immense power in their reser-
Golden Age, European Enlightenment, or 9th voirs of history. When oral traditions are in dan-
century China alongside the advent of printing. ger of dying out, important information or secrets
may lay locked in the mind of just one folklor-
Campaigns including academics as protagonists ist, unable or perhaps unwilling to share their
will feature investigators, collectors, researchers, stories. As a more direct antagonist, a folklorist
and, of course, the ones bold enough to experi- may strive to bring to reality cataclysmic events
ment just for the sake of seeing what will happen. described in myths or to become the stuff future
Being the only academic member in a group can myths will be written about.
mean being a wild card or the powerhouse: the
one willing to use the universal language in what-
ever way necessary. Purists
Academics often walk a fine line; a line they me- There are those who hold the universal language
ticulously measure and calculate and occasionally sacred, believing it ought not be translated
cross, ostensibly for academic purposes only. As or changed in any way. Throughout history
villains or antagonistic authorities, academics can this philosophy has considered the language
easily go too far into the realm of experimental as an immutable truth. Purists who learn of
magic and leave ethics aside. There’s a posses- its secrets focus on revering and internalizing
siveness to the pursuit of knowledge and if those the language as it exists, not corrupting it with
with it are not willing to share, they might impose human fallibility. The core philosophy is that the
strict regulations on those they don’t see fit to universal language must not be wielded by mere
practice magic. mortals, however knowledge of other Speakers
have led some purists to take a more active role
in protecting their sacred tenets. There are purists
Folklorists known to make an exception to their rule against
translating if it means undoing the changes others
Long before people had any alphabet to speak have made and to prevent further changes.
of, the universal language still drifted in the
ears of special individuals. These Speakers relied Purist Speakers as the main characters could
on oral traditions to pass on knowledge from make for a campaign about cosmic defenders,
generation to generation, believing in the power protecting the world against those who would
and responsibility that comes with the spoken defy its laws. On a more personal scale, perhaps
tale. The universal language was merely a tool the party of purists just find rogue Speakers and
borrowed by storytellers and elders to translate help bring them under control. Harmony is an
history, myth, and values throughout their important theme for purists, who bring balance
cultures. Magic already exists within the world to tumultuous situations. A lone purist in a
and a folklorist treats it as just another natural group may struggle with the rest of the group’s
piece of communicating and interacting. practices, but a healthy level of respect can
temper the tension.
A party of folklorists is the most likely to be a
pack of adventurers, explorers, or folks who just While individuals can be understanding, a purist
like creating and sharing stories. A folklorist organization has unshakable beliefs. Purists can
can hold their own well enough in a group of become villains or sympathetic antagonists when
differently-minded Speakers; their collection of they’re unwilling to forgive whatever the party
oral history is invaluable to those willing to listen. needs to do to accomplish their goals. At an

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extreme, the organization could even have gone place. Through whatever means they’re made,
fully militant and looks to suppress any who dare Unspeakables are entities that should not be.
practice Speaking for their own purposes. Most of history’s monsters and legends can be
attributed to these entities: A Speaker makes
themself “undying” and becomes the living
Freeform dead; an animal is made “better” in the wrong
context, resulting in a monstrous beast. The
An additional, rebellious philosophy exists for most common cause, however, are Spells that
those Speakers who are more self-motivated are forced, deliberate misinterpretations of
and less interested in organizations and labels. translations, or simply too vague. A Speaker
Outsiders may consider these “free Speakers” must always be careful when building a context
selfish or irresponsible, but the truth is that there for their Spells.
is no catch-all behavior to describe freeform
practitioners. They do tend to eschew governance Unspeakables don’t represent any sort of unifying
for their actions, citing themselves as answerable school of thought — though plenty of schools of
only to the universal language itself — a law thought exist about them — and run the gamut
greater than any human construct. between mindlessly savage to self-loathing and
repentant to genuinely kind, yet monstrous in
A campaign starring a group of freeform Speakers appearance. While any Speaker is likely
must account for the level of anarchy the charac- \to collect a few odd features the longer
ters are interested in. A single free Speaker can they use magic, Unspeakables are
make for a rowdy, reluctant companion, so long truly and significantly reshaped
as their goals align with the rest of the party. into something far from human.
Freeform can be used for any sort of neutral An Unspeakable character offers
or unaffiliated Speakers, which can be an a unique challenge for roleplay
easy option for a character who’s yet to and requires a conversation with
make up their mind. the Game Moderator, or GM, first.

At its most extreme, followers of a


freeform approach can be violently Scribes
anti-establishment or sociopathically
devoted to the pursuit of power. A For those who believe, the
complete disregard for rules and Scribes are the ancient and
morals can certainly make for a timeless native speakers of
dangerous villain. the universal language. In a
way not unlike gods, the
Scribes are the authors
Unspeakables of all existence and
continually write
Manipulating the language the lines of reality.
of reality can sometimes Their presence is
have terrible and unforeseen entirely theoretical,
consequences. Sometimes but the theory
those terrible consequences greatly influences
are the whole point of that many Speakers.
manipulation in the first While some

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fear the Scribes will become aware of the edits societies certainly exist, representatives of these
they make, others strive to become a Scribe in different beliefs will make themselves known to
their own right. Neither instance has ever been new Speakers. Even without learning the terms,
documented, but the possibility is enough the characters still generally form a strong set of
to influence many. beliefs of the language and its role in the world.
It’s hard not to, since the knowledge of such a
Scribes are not designed to be playable and are thing is a pretty big game changer for religious
intended to be epic in scope. They can be used as belief, scientific inquiry, and folks’ general place
the fulcrum of a villain’s plot or the epicenter of in the universe.
a cosmological conspiracy. The party interacting
with a Scribe would be monumental. The characters players take the role of in Spell:
The RPG can be absolutely any type of person.

Characters
Characters can be wild adventurers on a high
fantasy quest or janitors in a magical department
store. They can be from any ethnicity, gender, or
Playable characters in Spell are human... background; if the setting allows, they can be any
technically. A Speaker’s gift is a natural talent fantasy species, profession, or class. Just like their
that can’t be learned by those without the latent magic, the possibilities are endless.
capacity to do so, but may manifest at any point

The World
in a character’s life. This talent, however, is not a
genetic or otherwise inherited ability. The gift is a
special footnote in their own descriptions, written
in the universal language, that allows them a The exact world the characters play in is up to
backdoor peek at the universal language. This can the GM and what the players want. Technically,
feel like a gentle comfort, maddening whispers, everything in this book is too, but we’ll go into
an extra sense, or something in between. Most of that more later. By default, Spell: The RPG has a
the time, this footnote only manifests as their gift, whimsical and optimistic view of the world: light-
but that’s not always the case. hearted and accessible, like the rules. There are
endless options, all of which are completely valid
It’s uncommon, but not impossible, for for a campaign.
Speakers to have some strange aspect to them.
Their skin or hair might be an unusual color or These rules are universal for any sort of world
they could have strange growths or deformities. or story. Campaigns set in the distant past, sci-fi
These differences can also come about from future, or parallel dimensions will be at home
Spell modifications: A Speaker parent may cast with this system, just as a modern day adventure
a blessing for a “stronger” child, resulting in a would be. The presented philosophies can be
hulking monster; a child bully could accidentally interpreted as groups of arcane templars, galactic
turn his victim into a literal “freak;” a Speaker in federations, road warrior clans, or rival schools.
true desperation may suffer the scars of a vital
casting. For the most part, though, the characters Characters will have the same Impulses regardless
are generally human looking. if they’re apocalyptic marauders, magical kids
or even both at the same time. Unspeakables
Most characters who are aware of their gifts manifest as mythic monsters worthy of great
and use them with any sort of frequency often conquest, confused beasts needing guidance,
find themselves associated somehow with one purely evil abominations, or citizens who just
of the philosophies listed above. Though secret look different. The only limit is the imagination!

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Use these tools to build the perfect world for your viable, now filtered through a lens of despair,
gaming group. antagonism, or intense circumstances.

Choosing such a setting puts a high emphasis


A Swell Time on sociopolitical intrigue and drama. This is
a suitable format for exploring heavy themes
Speakers are rare, but most people are aware and dark, troubling stories. Make sure everyone
of them and they usually think they’re pretty involved knows what they’re getting into and is
cool. While bad guys stand out as such, most on board for it.
folks see magic as a good thing. There may
be governments or corporations run by, for,
or against Speakers, or they may be a small, Everything Between
personal presence. Many Speakers lead normal
lives with some minor magic on the side; others The above options are just extremes; the actual
go on grand quests to mysterious realms and setting can be incredibly flexible. Each campaign
fight monsters. has a group of players to tweak and customize
this world until it works for them. Do aliens exist?
This world is a happy one, intended for fun and What do folks think of Spells? Is it
streamlined tales. High-flying adventures or the future? The distant past?
wacky episodes are welcome here. The themes
of these games rely more heavily on fantasy It’s up to each campaign to
tropes, but can be modernized in an action answer these questions in a
flick sort of way. A little moral ambiguity is way that will make that game
perfect, expressed as monsters who turn out to the most engaging.
be big sweeties or problems that can be solved
with love. Violence is made cartoony against
unquestionably evil entities. The group will
laugh, smile, and have fun through the course
of a session.

Bad Words
At the opposite end, Spell: The RPG really does
invite a grimdark and dystopian world. Speakers
have near unlimited power that could easily be
abused; the general populace would be skeptical,
afraid, or prejudiced against these outliers. As a
response, Speakers could push “normals” into the
role of second class citizens. The organizations
would be run as secret string-pullers or untouch-
able forces of social power. Speakers would live in
secret, victims of fear-based violence, or as brutal
tyrants. Unspeakables might form cannibalistic
colonies in the sewers or be tragic victims turned
to villainy. All time periods and stages are still

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Spell: The RPG is played with six-sided dice and letter tiles, such as
the sets included in a few common board games. The official set of letters
tiles includes 110 tiles with letters represented in different ratios and
featuring two wild tokens that can be played as any letter. Each player
will need six dice, including the GM. The whole table can share one set
of tiles. In lieu of physical tiles, an HTML letter generator is available at
WhimsyMachine.Media/letter-generator.
The mechanics, or rules of play, of Spell: The RPG are intentionally
open for interpretation. The core traits, or Impulses, are based more on
a character’s personality, values, and motivations than their capacity to
perform specific tasks. The magic, or Spells, that a character wields is
made up on the spot, not pulled from a prewritten list. Between the two,
which together form the majority of a character sheet, any given character
can be pretty good at anything. What differentiates each character is the
unique story and outlook they bring to everything they do.

Impulses is Average Difficulty or Hard Difficulty, taking


into consideration the objective difficulty of
A character has 12 stats that describe the key the action, any circumstantial factors, and
Impulses that define their core self and the values the character’s personal experience. Average
that are most important to them. These stats Difficulty has a value of 4 and Hard has a
correspond to the character’s motivations and value of 6.
personal drive and are open for interpretation
in each situation. Impulses are used to handle The player decides which Impulse their
all basic actions that an average, non-magical character uses to perform this action. The
character is capable of doing. Impulses are GM can make suggestions and explain how
selected not only to determine what a character different approaches may lead to different
is good at, but also how a character chooses to outcomes. Choosing an appropriate Impulse
solve their problems. is based more on how the action is being
performed, not necessarily what the specific
action is. The player rolls a number of dice
Actions equal to their level for that Impulse. Conditions
affecting the character, called Bonuses and
For a character to perform an action, the Penalties, may raise or lower how many dice
player states what they hope for the character they roll. If a single die meets or exceeds the
to accomplish and how they intend to go about value of the difficulty, the action is successful.
doing that. The GM decides whether an action All successes are considered equal, regardless

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of the value of the other dice or the number of
dice that meet or exceed the difficulty. FOR EXAMPLE

If the player succeeds on an action, the character Vesuvius wants to open a locked door. The
completes the goal at hand. If the roll fails, the GM says it’s a pretty solid door, so it’ll be
character learns something new and useful hard difficulty (value of 6) to get through.
about the situation at hand because they tried The GM suggests Force to break down the
and failed. The next chance they get, they can try door. Vesuvius, however, suggests Reason;
again or try something new based on the clue he’s a gentle soul, but can certainly figure
they gained. out the mechanisms. Vesuvius has 3 Reason,
so he rolls 3 dice; none turn up as 6, so the
Characters may occasionally encounter an epic action fails.
challenge. These challenges only pop up for tough
key moments in the story; they have a difficulty Corialus makes the next attempt, opting
and an Epic Rating. An action’s epic rating is on for Style. The GM raises an eyebrow, so she
a scale of 2 to 6 and equals the number of dice explains that — above all else — she knows
that must meet or exceed the action’s difficulty. how to make an entrance, locked door or
A roll with a hard difficulty and an epic rating not. It makes sense, but she’s making it
of 3 will only succeed if the player rolls three 6s. difficult on herself by interacting with the
That’s really hard! problem indirectly. The GM says there’ll be
a -1 penalty. She rolls 4 dice since she has 5
Impulses can have levels from zero to 6. A Style, but is penalized by one; one is a 6, so
character with a level zero Impulse cannot use she succeeds! In a majestic whirl, Corialus
that Impulse for actions, defense, or Spells — or busts open the door.
any other purpose, for that matter. However, just
because a character can’t use an Impulse doesn’t Corialus’ attempt was nowhere near as
mean they are incapable of experiencing that subtle as Reason would’ve been, but it
Impulse; for example, a character with Calm zero got the job done. If Vesuvius had tools
is still able to stay calm, they just cannot use that specifically for picking locks, the difficulty
calmness to inspire tangible action. Each Impulse may have just been average (value of 4),
is represented by an abstract term: A word that giving him a better chance to succeed.
is both a noun and a verb, a thing a character
has and an action a character does.

A character receives 12 points to distribute


between their Impulses as they’d like at character Calm
creation. Impulses can be later increased for 3
Potential Points for each increase in level. The Driven to create or promote calmness and order,
higher an Impulse’s level, the more that character to subdue chaos, or minimize confrontation.
can call upon that motivator for strength and pos-
itive action. The Impulse may be, but is not nec- This Impulse is a willingness to be reserved and
essarily, more present for them; a character with a harmonious, even in the midst of a hectic world.
higher Daring level doesn’t have to become more More than just avoidance of conflict, though that
reckless, but they’re able to channel their Daring can be included, Calm is about going with the
more effectively and reliably to be productive. flow when the flow is going or keeping still when

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everything else is collapsing. Sometimes this is a skydiving instructor, so they may have to do
exercised by finding the path of least resistance something less routine to call on it.
and sometimes it’s about applying the perfect
amount of gentle resistance. Over-reliance
on Calm can cause one to become wastefully Feeling
indecisive, inactive, or weak-willed.
Driven by emotion, whether to feel that emotion
Calm is used to diffuse intense or antagonistic to a greater extent or because there’s comfort in
situations, to comfortably navigate casual situa- that emotion.
tions, or to present oneself as non-threatening.
Beyond that, Calm can be used to find win-win This Impulse grows from a significant relationship
solutions and to help reconcile conflicts. Lastly, with emotion, both in general and with specific
actions don’t have to be explicitly non-violent moods. More often than not, there’s a certain few
or non-confrontational, however they cannot emotions the character regularly falls back on,
escalate a situation into further confrontation; which serve as an underlying base for their life-
for example, a disarm maneuver coupled with style: Anger is channeled into rebellion, melan-
a trip might end a fight early without too much choly incites introspection, joy begets generosity,
harm done, but continuing to fight past those to oversimplify. This emotional intensity reaches
actions wouldn’t be appropriately Calm. deep, fueling actions on autopilot or providing
a default approach to unfamiliarity. Relying so
deeply on emotions aids in the ability to recog-
Daring nize the same signs of those feelings in others.

Driven for the thrill of the experience, Feeling is used to act on emotion alone,
independent of personal well-being. to benefit from the overriding power of an
emotion, or to understand the emotional
This Impulse is the impetus of wild innovation actions of others. Most characters have a few
and the need to try new things, to experiment or certain emotions they understand best — ­  and
be reckless, or to do something new or different rely on the most — and those will be established
just because it can be done. There’s a fine line early on. While Feeling can be used for virtually
between bravery and stupidity, so Daring simply any goal, the character’s behavior and emotional
covers both sides and the line too. Those driven state before and after the action must match.
by Daring tend to shake up their surroundings, Sudden snaps of emotion and irrationality
for better or worse. certainly come with the territory, but aren’t
the norm.
Daring is used in situations that are very high
risk, experimental, or untrustworthy in their
outcome. Few actions ever accomplished with Focus
Daring are subtle; having Daring is all about
pushing limits and Daring individuals rarely Driven by a passion for a specialty, an
push the limits for how long they can sit quietly obsession of one topic, and/or a need to
and behave — even though that’s probably associate an experience with an expertise.
fairly difficult for them. What fits for Daring
is circumstantial and grows with a character: This Impulse clings to a specific subject in the
Jumping out of a plane becomes mundane for character’s heart and mind and causes them to

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act on, because of, or in a manner informed modern SUVs. A character could use Focus
by that subject. Focus must be defined with “Musical Theater” to act their way through a
a category, like “Cars,” “Musical Theater,” or tough situation or convince their friends to go
“Mythical Monsters.” The more specific the see a show with them. Consider having a Focus
topic, the deeper the knowledge; the more on a key setting-specific genre to facilitate
vague, the more general. Those with Focus worldbuilding and plot progression.
have an unparalleled knowledge and associated
skill set of whatever their subject of interest is. It’s
assumed the character has significant experience Force
in their topic, but — beyond even that — a
lifelong dedication to it. A character can only Driven by the notion that hard work or a simple
Focus on one subject and once it’s picked, it application of direct force can solve the problem.
can’t be changed without a dramatic life event.
A physical energy and headstrong will define
Focus is used when the character’s passion characters with this Impulse. Force is deceptively
is called into question, when their specialized simple and perhaps easier to define as what it
knowledge is relevant (or, at least, the character is not. Force is independent from aggression or
thinks it’s relevant), or for persuading others violence and is not a direct measure of strength
of its virtues. A character with Focus “Cars” or physical capability. There is no subterfuge
can fix, drive, or spout trivia about cars better when a character forces an outcome, though
than someone without; if someone had Focus maneuvering and deftness can be coupled with
“Classic Dragsters,” they could probably build the action. Force is the direct application of
one from scrap, but won’t know as much about physical will to achieve a goal.

Force, as a method of accomplishing tasks, is


all about doing things the manual way. It means
meeting challenges head on and going, often
literally, the extra mile. Some might even say it’s
about working hard, not smart. Force does not
always have to be used in challenges involving
raw physical ability, but is a common approach
to such challenges.

Grit
Driven by principle, often in opposition of
something disagreed with, or with dedication
or perseverance.

Characters with this Impulse are known for


their boldness of character and their willingness
to stand up for what they believe in, often to
the point of stubbornness or impudence. Often
mistaken as — or correctly associated with — a

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feeling of righteousness, those with Grit tend to across as raw talent on the character’s part:
consider compromise on par with outright failure. There’s always an aspect of what seems like
Having Grit is defined by having a personal, luck or serendipity that’s really to thank for
moral courage, though that doesn’t necessarily the success.
mean the character’s moral compass lines up
with everyone else’s.
Reason
Grit is used to face a spiritual or philosophical
opposition, no matter the odds, or to continue to Driven by the idea that the problem can be
push towards a goal out of dedication when skill thought through or figured out, given enough
or ability has failed. Grit comes into play over time or resources.
other Impulses when an action is more difficult
because of what it represents instead of the skills This Impulse is defined by a methodology
involved to complete it. Walking a dangerous of analysis, thoughtful consideration, and
path might be manageable, if not for the looming experimentation. The measure of a character’s
danger that the destination holds. Grit is often Reason is not the measure of their accumula-
also used as a failsafe for when all a character tion of knowledge, though a correlation is not
has left is their refusal to give up. uncommon. Reason is all about critical thinking:
breaking down a problem to its component parts
and rationalizing them until they make sense.
Hope
Reason is used to consider situations logically,
Driven by a reliance in, or motivation from, and handle raw data, or appreciate the significance
the strength of an immeasurable, external source. of information. More than anything, it’s a method
to approach situations and can be almost univer-
Characters with this Impulse draw strength sally applicable. Reason alone can never grant the
from a force beyond themselves. Whatever knowledge or expertise of a subject of Focus nor
outside avenue this strength comes from will be does it grant information the character would
unique and personal to the character. Hope can have no way of knowing or solving on their own.
grow from a loving support group, a religious Sometimes figuring out a solution for a problem
belief, the beauty of science, dumb luck, or doesn’t mean being able to enact the plan and in
a vague notion that everything will turn out many circumstances, there’s simply not the time
all right. Hope comes with a certain humility, or data available to deliberate on a problem.
knowing that something greater than you is
helping out, but can also cause the character to
shirk responsibility if they place the burden of Renown
accomplishment outside themself too frequently.
Driven with the goal of social standing, earned
Hope is used in situations that call for a respect, and acknowledgment.
strength beyond what the character thinks
they’re personally capable of or when aspects of Characters with this Impulse value reputation
the character’s source of Hope become relevant. and the intricate web of social interactions that
In a way, Hope can be used when all else fails, but fill the world. Acting from a character’s Renown
often suffers penalties when specific technique always takes into consideration the spoken and
is required. Successful Hope rolls rarely come unspoken hierarchies, relationships, and protocol

13
of anyone involved — or even of those who might those missing pieces, and acting on those plans. It
find out. Renown comes with the appreciation can be used for basic observations to gather data
that the character doesn’t exist in a void and that points and for connecting all those points in a
awareness means they pay keen attention to how convoluted net of red strings, literal or otherwise.
social structures work and are actually able to Scheme is a tool for problem solving, but also for
make sense of messy bureaucracies and politics. problem creating if that’s what’s necessary. Letting
The awareness can also be a burden, leading to others in on the big picture can be handled with
cutthroat conniving or a need for popularity. Scheme, as well as keeping one’s machinations
obscured from others.
Renown is used within a social arena or when
the ladders of such a thing are relevant. Renown
is not locked to social engagements however, Style
being perfectly viable for giving or acting on
orders, suggestions, or even in the context of the Driven towards recognition and in a fashion
character’s own standing. If the character has totally unique and impressive, regardless
built a reputation for themself — and, let’s be of witnesses.
honest, they probably have — they can use that
to their advantage. Aside from fame and name Characters with this Impulse don’t just stand
recognition, knowing what’s impressive to whom out, they find it difficult not to. These characters
and acting accordingly is also valuable. They can value everything from over-the-top exuberance
use Renown to notice and interact with others’ to the subtle revolution of being true to only
journeys through hierarchies and social circles. themselves. Style is all about individual expres-
sion and pride therein, but left unchecked can
lead to a feeling of superiority over those they
Scheme consider boring. Struggles with vanity or self-
esteem are common and
Driven by strategy and planning, taking into ending up too gaudy or
account a multitude of factors beyond the burning out is a con-
present context. stant risk. Either way,
others tend to find
Characters with this Impulse interact with these individuals
all the factors around them to gain a holistic and their man-
understanding of a situation. Scheme is a certain nerisms iconic
gift of being able to see the forest, the trees, the and noteworthy.
animals therein, what those animals need, and
then making a map of the area so others treat it Style is used to
respectfully. They’re not just big picture people, make lasting
they’re the biggest picture all the way down to impressions, to
the smallest piece people. Scheme can lead to project a powerful
powerful idealism or can cause a character presence, or to
to become hopelessly lost in superfluous perform a task in
minutiae or irrelevantly broad strokes. a stylish, signature
fashion. Many social
Scheme is used to perceive what’s missing from interactions can be
the world, to devise plans on how to discover handled with Style,

14
but that amount of energy can be exhausting Personal Experience
for either party. Honestly, almost any action
can be performed with Style, if the character’s Each of the above Impulses represents a certain
intention is to look like they know what they’re drive to accomplish a goal and is associated
doing — and look good doing it — more than with a method of doing so. Impulses can also
actually accomplishing their task effectively. cover an expertise from a character’s personal
Style doesn’t require an audience and may be experience related to that Impulse. While Focus
performed for the character’s own sake alone. is specifically specialized knowledge of a topic,
other Impulses may more generally represent
specific topics. For example, if a character hones
Trust their Calm with meditation, they can use Calm
to not only meditate, but to know facts about
Acting in reliance on other individuals or meditation, breathing practices, or associated
encouraging others to rely on them. philosophies. A character who uses Trust on
their sports team will know all about the rules
Characters with this Impulse value highly the of the sport and someone who draws Hope
bonds of honesty and loyalty that’s vital for from a religion may know its teachings and
any team, family, or social organization. Trust have skills related to its practice.
is represented by the capacity to depend and
rely on others in a way that works to everyone’s
strengths and, in turn, to be someone who others Flaws
can rely on for the same. Working with others
so well can become a crutch for the character There are no mechanical “flaws” designed
who does so too often and being left alone can for Spell: The RPG. Impulses represent a
be devastating. By default, the character may character’s motivation, so no disability will
become too trusting or reliant on others who make them less capable of adventure. The
might abuse that trust, but they have among respectful inclusion of physical and mental
the keenest insight when applied. disabilities as roleplaying cues or context for
actions is certainly encouraged, but there are
Trust is used to work in tandem with willing no one-size-fits-all modifiers to apply.
individuals, to inspire trust in others, and in
other cooperative situations. Acting on Trust
may also mean acting on the wisdom of an Common Actions
absent mentor or for the sake of reaching a
distant friend. Organizing complex actions There are certain basic actions that characters
between multiple characters often requires a will regularly perform, such as checking out a
good amount of Trust if everything is to go situation, climbing over an obstacle, or solving
smoothly. The darker side of Trust shows a puzzle. There is no exhaustive list of actions
through in the ability to manipulate or take available to players to choose from, so these
advantage of it in others. The character will be examples. Similarly, the
becomes intrinsically aware of the bonds listed Impulses are
between individuals; what the character only suggestions
does with the awareness is ultimately up and are also not
to them. the only options
available.

15
Observing a Situation similar to a goal for an Impulse action, but can be
If a player is getting their bearings, they may broader. The Impulse represents the theme of the
choose Calm to take their time and assess goal; it is the part of a character they are pulling
everything around them. Focus could help their intention from.
them look for specific details related to the
subject of their interest. Reason could be used With a goal in place, the character rolls a
if the character wanted to analyze the bits and number of dice equal to the chosen Impulse’s
pieces of what’s around them and Scheme level, adds together the value of each die, and
could be used to build a holistic picture of then draws a number of letter tiles equal to the
their circumstance and its significance. sum. The player spells whatever they can with
the letters and describes how that Spell works
Opening a Door within the context of the associated Impulse
A character with Daring could kick in a door and stated goal. The player may include multiple
without thinking about how securely it’s shut or, words in the Spell, but they must make sense
similarly, use Feeling to break it down in a fury. cohesively — they do not form separate spells.
Force is a less aggressive, but more direct option Unused letters have no effect.
for removing the door as an obstacle. Grit is
used when what’s on the other side is something The final effect and scope of the Spell is based
great and terrible and the door is just incidental. on the player’s justification and the situation. So
Reason calculates the weak points in the door long as at least one word is formed that can be
for its easy removal; Scheme maps out the other applied to the original goal and doesn’t contradict
possible access points. Style, well, certainly the theme of the associated Impulse, the Spell
knows how to make an entrance. is successful enough to accomplish the stated
goal. A valid Spell may be an acronym with an
Clearing an Obstacle established meaning, a proper noun of something
If something daunting lies before the character, that exists within the setting, or other creative
their Calm and cool nerves could be what gets solutions; there is no penalty for these options.
them over and through. Daring is a risky headfirst After a Spell is used, all tiles are returned to the
plunge, whereas Force is a determined headfirst main pool.
march. Hope grants strength the character didn’t
think they had to carry them across — but not Spells represent infinite possibilities and can
literally, of course, they still have to use their be intimidating to create. Spells do not have to
own limbs to climb. Renown can ask for help be complex or long to be good; no letters are
in crossing and Trust can work together so more or less valuable than others. Sometimes
that the group can cross together. the most effective Spell is a single generic word.
Not every Spell will be a keeper either — just

Spells
good enough to serve its single purpose and
then forgotten. Spells can be forced by being
deliberately misspelled, rotating letters so they
A character cannot accomplish everything look different, breaking grammatical rules, or
with basic actions alone. Characters are capable using one letter in two different words like a
of using Spells, which have magical or world- crossword. Forced Spells will get the job done,
altering effects. To use a Spell, the character first but come with significant negative consequences
states what they wish to accomplish with the Spell (more on this in the Game Moderator’s Guide).
and then chooses a related Impulse. This goal is

16
If an adequate Spell can’t be made, the character a new Spell with the same Impulse, but the goal
may try again when they next get the opportunity may change. The player rolls to generate letters
to act. The player keeps a number of tiles equal per usual and then adds the saved tiles. There is
to the Impulse they rolled and discards the rest. no limit to the number of times a character may
The next new action they take must be creating forfeit and retain components of a Spell, but only
tiles up to their Impulse level may be saved from
any casting.

FOR EXAMPLE For Keeps


Archimedes is face to face with a mon-
strous Unspeakable. Archie wants to Once a character has performed a Spell, the
resolve the conflict peacefully, so they player may permanently purchase it during that
use Calm to subdue the monster. The session by spending 1 Potential point. The Spell
monster, however, uses Feeling to channel starts at level 1 and may later be purchased up to
its terrible rage into a flurry of attacks. 6 at 1 Potential point per level. A permanent Spell
Archimedes’ calming action and the may be used instead of an Impulse, following
monster’s attack happen at the same the Impulse rules instead of new Spell rules. A
time, but it’s good practice to resolve permanent Spell is always associated with the
player actions first. same Impulse as its first use and must continue
to be used for a similar effect. Increasing a
The GM rolls the monster’s Feeling (4) permanent Spell’s level allows for the Spell to
to defend against Archimedes’ soothing accomplish mightier and more difficult tasks
words and gets 5 as the highest value. than before. There is no limit to the number
Archimedes rolls Calm (6) and gets two of permanent Spells a character can have and
dice that are at least 5, dealing 2 Spirit there is no cost to casting a permanent Spell.
damage as they calm the monster down.
Archimedes uses a permanent Reason A Spell may be used to directly alter a character.
Spell “See Guides” (5) to defend against Any attempts to directly affect another character
the monster by seeing its intended path against their will is resolved as a contested action
and gets two 6s. The monster still has 4 with the rules in the Spirit section. A character
for Feeling (Spirit damage is counted in can freely alter themself with a Spell: Subtly,
the following round) at a difficulty of 6 becoming more charismatic or forgettable, or
and at a penalty of -1 (from Archimedes’ significantly, changing size or growing extra
extra 6). The GM rolls three dice for the limbs. The changes last for long enough for the
monster and doesn’t hit. Spell to accomplish the character’s goal and revert
with no side effects. If the character chooses to
Once the dice are rolled, the scene buy that Spell permanently, however, the changes
is described in an exciting way: The leave a mark. For example, if a character uses
monster lumbers at Archimedes, who a Spell to triple their height, they’ll return to
calmly sidesteps and gently talks the normal when it’s over; if they keep the Spell,
monster down from the height of its rage. they’ll end up with stretch marks and get slightly
Rounds continue until one character is elongated. The growth Spell still works per usual,
Down or if all acting parties relent. but permanent Spells come with permanent
changes. This can be a fun way to continue

17
customizing a character’s look; some effects have Spirit and no specific Impulses; consider the
could be a strange eye color, tattoos suddenly force to have one catch-all Impulse called “Spirit.”
appearing, little nub horns, or fingertips that
glow with firelight. If a character or force intends to act against
another character or force, regardless of whether
Characters begin play with two Spells generated the action is a charismatic speech, an informative
with special rules. The first Spell is representative lecture, or a solid punch, the acting character (the
of the first Spell the character ever casted. The actor) states their intended goal. The defender
second Spell represents the character’s go-to or then uses an Impulse or permanent Spell of their
signature Spell. Both are assigned to Impulses per choice to resist, explaining how they make use
usual, but when determining how many letters of it in the situation. The defender rolls first; the
to draw one die is placed at six and the rest are highest die value rolled is the difficulty of the
rolled; all the faces, including the preset six, are actor’s roll. Additionally, each 6 the defender
added up to create the Spell. The player may rolls after the first inflicts a -1 penalty to the
choose the same Impulse twice or two different actor’s roll, but the actor’s roll cannot be reduced
Impulses. The Spell levels are increased so they below 1 die. Each die the actor rolls that equals
add up to 4: either 2 and 2 or 3 and 1. or exceeds the difficulty reduces one point from
the defender’s Spirit. These points are called Spirit

Spirit
damage and are temporarily subtracted from the
Impulse the defender used; if a permanent Spell
was used, the points are subtracted from the
All characters and acting forces have Spirit, associated Impulse, but not the Spell. Impulses
a representation of their overall mental and cannot be reduced to below zero and surplus
physical well-being. A character’s Spirit is their Spirit damage does not carry over.
will and capacity to act and therefore folds
together their health and injuries, emotional When multiple characters are acting, each
state, and willingness to act in any way. A action is considered simultaneous in a round;
successful action made against an individual each character gets one action per round.
with the intention to weaken them Defending does not count as a character’s
lowers their Spirit. Since Spirit ties action for a round. Each single action
together countless tangible and is considered to take an equivalent
intangible factors, Spirit is lowered amount of time. There are no surprise
in the same way regardless of the rounds, since noticing an action is
source or cause of the action. included in the process of defending
against it, so long as the Impulse or
A character’s Spirit is Spell makes sense contextually. Spirit
the sum total of all their damage dealt during the round does
Impulses and is tracked not apply until the beginning
as such; Impulses are of the next round.
temporarily reduced when
Spirit is lowered. When a Permanent Spells operate
character’s Impulses are identically to Impulses when
increased with Potential used offensively. When new
points, so too does their Spells are used offensively, the
maximum Spirit increase. associated Impulse is rolled
Generic acting forces may after the Spell is determined

18
and described; this is called the Impact Roll. The even the Impact of a Spell. Each point of Effect
GM may add to or subtract from this roll up to 2 gives the target a bonus to a single roll of the dice.
dice based on the content and context of the Spell.
Nonsensical or ill-fitting Spells receive a penalty, The opposite effect a Spell can have is a Curse.
generic Spells receive no modifier, and creative A Curse functions the same as a Boon, but each
Spells that match the situation receive a bonus. point of Effect inflicts a penalty on a single dice
Modifiers of 2 are applied infrequently, but 1s roll the target makes. Usually the roll affected will
can be added or subtracted commonly. Any be the next roll, unless otherwise specified. Curses
extra 6s the defender rolls penalizes both the are most useful against powerful adversaries since
casting roll and the Impact roll. they cannot defend against a Curse’s Effect, even
though casting it may still be hard.
Permanent Spells do not reduce their level as
the associated Impulse is reduced, however a Spells with a Recovery effect can restore Spirit
Spell cannot be used if the associated Impulse damage. If a character is attempting a Recovery
level is reduced to zero. This means a character during rounds of a conflict, the difficulty will
may continue to use a permanent Spell at its full always be hard. The points of effect can recov-
value so long as they have at least 1 level in the er Spirit damage from any Impulse and can be
associated Impulse. If a character has received divided among multiple Impulses. Under normal
their maximum amount of Spirit damage, that conditions, Spirit damage is recovered completely
means all their Impulse levels are zero and they without magic after a whole day and night cycle
are Down. Characters who are Down cannot of taking it easy.
act beyond the most basic of functions.
Spells with these special effects or others approved
by the GM can be purchased permanently like
Special Effects any other Spell. Spells are not defined by the type
of effect they have and, once made permanent,
Spells can have any variety of special effects, can be used in any contextually appropriate way.
particularly as boons or curses. In each situation, For example, the single Spell “Light Beam” could
the Spell’s goal is stated as such before casting be used as a magical flashlight, an attack against
and then the Impact roll is applied to the Effect a shadow monster, recovery for a plant, a curse
instead of Spirit or an uncontested goal. There are for a vampire, defense against any sight-based
three primary ways characters can use their Spells action by blinding, or a boon for a friend who
to interact with stats other than Spirit: Boons, loves the spotlight.
Curses, and Recovery. In each case, a new Spell
is cast with the Impact roll or a permanent Spell
is rolled per usual. Effects have either Average Impulse Limiters
or Hard difficulty, determined by the casting
character’s ability to interact with their target. If a character gains a lasting injury, like a
Helping a willing nearby ally is average; cursing broken limb or psychological trauma, it’s
a protected foe from hiding is hard. Each die that called an Impulse Limiter. A specific Impulse
meets or exceeds the goal equals 1 point of Effect. related to the cause of the Limiter is made
the focus and all rolls the character makes
A Spell casted on a friendly target in order to help with it have an epic difficulty (requiring two
them accomplish a task is a Boon. A character 6s). A level zero Impulse cannot receive an
can aid another in a single use of an Impulse, Impulse Limiter. Once the character has either
including for defense, the casting of a Spell, or made a full recovery or adapted their lifestyle

19
to accommodate the change, the penalty is increase it immediately with Potential regardless
lifted. They have suffered a demoralizing blow, of the context. The character discovers their
physically or emotionally, that limits their ability Potential, spends their points, boosts their stats,
to call upon their inner strength. and then rolls the new value.

Impulse Limiters can be helped with Impulse To recap, Impulses cost 3 Potential points per
rolls or appropriate Spells as a contested action level and Spells cost 1 per level. To make a new
with the following rules: The GM decides if the Spell permanent, the character buys the first
Limiter is bad (4), severe (8), or traumatic (12); level for 1 Potential point. Impulses can only be
the GM rolls the corresponding number of dice purchased by one level per Impulse per session;
as defense against the recovery; the severity of the Spells can be increased up as quickly as the player
Limiter is reduced per usual Spirit damage rules; likes, so long as they have the Potential to do so.
if the recovery fails, no progress is made. Only
one such recovery roll may be made per session,
starting after the session the Limiter was received. Tokens
Impulses alone may be used to help recover from
an Impulse Limiter; Recovery Spells may receive The GM may also award tokens to players,
a bonus, making them a little more efficient. represented by a single letter tile kept face
down. Tokens may be awarded under the
Limiters come about as the consequences of following circumstances:
dire actions or in rare and dramatic occasions.
Limiters are opportunities for a player to explore • Characters work exceptionally well together.
their character in new ways and can encourage
personal growth. Recovering from an Impulse • A problem is solved in a creative way.
Limiter will be at least as much self-discovery
as it is dice rolls. • A particularly clever Spell is cast.

Potential
• Helpful, supportive roleplaying.

• Any time a player productively and


The world of Spell is full of unexpected constructively aids the other players
consequences and unforeseen circumstances. and the flow of the game, which is
As such, a character’s experience can only be widely open for interpretation.
so helpful, and thus characters rely on their
Potential. Potential points are given at the start While tokens may be awarded generously, one
of each session and represent a character’s ability player may only have one token at a time. A player
to grow; 3 per session is recommended. Up to may spend their token, discarding it after, at any
5 points can be given at the start of particularly time to:
epic journeys or exciting new stories (including
the first session) and sessions not intended to be • Add the letter to any Spell being cast.
continued can start characters with 10 — new
possibilities are full of potential. • Cause a reroll of any roll, their own or an
allies (to get better results) or an antagonist’s
Potential points are spent in game, right at the (in the hope of getting worse results). The
moment they’re needed. If a player is about to player’s preferred result stays.
make a roll that they’d like to increase, they can

20
• Ask for a hint or a clue from the GM levels have been reduced to zero), they can no
(clarifications or reasonable detail are longer act. Spell: The RPG is not a fatal game by
not clues and can always be provided). default, so this state is called Down. A character
who is Down is still alive — and may very well be
Tokens represent the tiny specs of reality that free of any physical harm — but they’ve become
characters can affect, often without even realizing so exhausted or demotivated that they can no
it. Their good will and generous spirit attracts longer act. “Act” here specifically refers to taking
these positive elements to them which karmically actions by rolling dice; the character may still be
apply to moments of need for them or their allies. able to speak, move, or perform basic functions
that wouldn’t require a dice roll.

Conflict If the players would like to have a fatal setting,


one where characters could potentially die, then
Scenes with conflict take on more structure than this Down state becomes much more dangerous.
other portions of play. It’s always encouraged for Down is still as described above, but with no way
each player to get a turn in the action, regardless to defend themselves, a character struck with a
of the situation, but Conflict provides a specific blow is at the mercy of that blow’s intent, whether
turn-taking format. During each round, each it’s to paralyze or kill. Furthermore, the GM may
acting character, including those controlled by apply an environmental effect as that final blow,
the GM, describes and resolves one action; once representing the character falling a great distance,
all the actions are resolved, then all the results the persistent effects of a hazard or wound, or a
are compared and the consequences are applied change in the character’s condition.
to the next round.
A character who is Down only has their most
There is no significance to the order the turns are basic faculties — and their allies — to rely on,
taken since all the results are applied together and but are not otherwise “dying.” There is no timer
at the end of the round. It’s good practice to allow or element of chance and a character who is
the players to state and resolve their actions first, Down will remain in that state until they either
but they may also choose to wait to find out what recover or are put into additional harm.
other characters are doing.
Always establish before play begins how fatal
If a character wishes to act particularly quickly a campaign might be. Losing a character can be
or as a surprise against the characters they are a difficult feeling, so make sure the group wants
acting against, they still act in the same first those stakes present. In addition to whether
round as everyone else, but their action may character death is possible, discuss how likely
receive modifiers to make it more difficult to the GM is to seize that opportunity. It may be
defend against. Cinematically, even though the decided that random accidents cannot kill a
character took the rest by surprise, the other character, but big narrative challenges can. It
characters’ immediately responses are also all comes down to agreeing upon what kind
included in that same first round of action. of game everyone’s willing to play.

Down for Good


When a character receives their maximum
amount of Spirit damage (all of their Impulse

21
22
The first session of any campaign will include character creation: Players
need characters before they can play. The character sheet is a page with all the
reference information for a character to be played. There’s a brief summary
on the sheet itself for reference, but details and explanations are listed below.
Before writing anything on the sheet, think about who the character is
and how they go about solving their problems, in an abstract way. Personality
quirks, how they talk, the first thing they think when they walk into a room:
these kind of things help form the concept of the character before they’re
given stats. A small example of the character sheet is included on page 25 for
quick reference in this section. The last page of this book has a full page sheet
and printable sheets can be downloaded from WhimsyMachine.Media.

Details Interests: This is the character’s occupation,


vocation, hobby, trade, or activities they like
This is the top section and has two columns for filling their time with. This usually corresponds
basic information. These lines are small, so they with a character’s Focus, Style, and accessories.
only need brief notes in them.
Looks: This describes the character’s basic
Character: This is the character’s name, title, physiology; are they bulky, lanky, or curvy?
and / or designator. Particularly tall or short? This is important to
remember while crossing a rickety bridge, fitting
Player: This is you! through a small opening, or hiding in disguise
amongst an orcish army.
Campaign: This is the specific game the character
is playing in; a player or GM might be involved in Philosophy: This is how the character thinks,
multiple games at once. generally, about the universal language’s role in
culture. Options described in the World of Spell
Potential Points: This is the current total of chapter can be used (Academic, Folklorist, Purist,
Potential Points; use non-overlapping tick marks Freeform) or the player may label it with their
to easily add and remove points without things own thoughts.
getting too messy.

Motto: This represents, very generally, how the Impulses


character goes about solving their problems; it
serves as a roleplay cue in case the player isn’t There are a total of 12 Impulses; a character starts
sure what to do next. with 12 points to distribute amongst them. A
player could have level 1 in each Impulse, but
Age: This is the character’s age, either in years, it’s not recommended. An Impulse without any
grades, or monsters battled. It can be literal or points can’t be used for any purpose, but just

23
figurative, like “too old for this nonsense.” because a character has a zero in, say, Scheme
or Reason, it doesn’t mean that they can’t think they can be from two different Impulses or both
about things. A character can still be discerning from the same. The first Spell is representative
or clever, but those Impulses aren’t driving of the first Spell the character ever casted. The
motivators for them as an individual. second Spell represents the character’s go-to or
signature Spell. Both are assigned to Impulses per
Characters with any level in an Impulse have a usual, but one die is placed at six and the rest are
decent chance of succeeding an Average check rolled; all the faces, including the preset six, are
with it. Level 3 or 4 will generate about a dozen added up for the total number of tiles to draw to
letters for a Spell, which is a very optimal amount create the Spell. The Spell levels are increased so
for most uses. Impulses with a maximum level they add up to 4: either 2 and 2 or 3 and 1.
of 6 can be handy for Hard challenges, but are
also big investments. Having several moderate These Spells can be challenging to decide on
Impulses allows a character to have many Spells since there are a lot of letters to choose from
that are linked to a variety of Impulses; if an and the character is just starting out. Encourage
Impulse is taken out with Spirit damage, the players to go with what feels right and not get
character loses access to all the Spells associated bogged down by the possibilities. Hundreds of
with it too. words can be generated with any big set of letters
and trying to find them all can eat into your time
A character’s Spirit is tracked in the slots for play. Don’t forget, characters will have ample
below the Impulses. When a character takes oppurtunities to get new Spells later too.
Spirit damage, notches are marked beneath the
boxes to represent how much of their Impulse On the list of Spells, the first column — the
level is now inaccessible. Spirit doesn’t have parentheses underneath (Impulse) — are for
a separate track, so it’s recorded directly noting which
alongside the affected Impulses. Impulse the Spell
is associated with.

Notes
If that Impulse is
reduced to zero,
the Spell can’t
This section is for recording any sort of be used until
immediately relevant information necessary that Impulse is
for the character, including special items they recovered. The
carry, specific friends they’ve made, or an overall rest of the line is
goal they’re striving for. Some players may choose for writing out the
to keep a notebook (physical or digital) for all the Spell and the six
details of the character’s adventures; this section boxes on each line
is for quick reference. It’s also a great spot to are for keeping
include the subject of the character’s Feeling track of its level.
and Focus. The Spell’s level
is the amount of

Spells
dice rolled when
casting it.

This big list is for all the permanent Spells a


character will gain throughout their adventures.
A character starts with two permanent Spells;

24
Impulse Success Rate: Success Rate: Average Letters
Level Average Hard Drawn

1 50% 17% 4

2 75% 31% 7

3 88% 42% 11

4 94% 52% 14

5 97% 60% 18

6 98% 67% 21

Character: Character details for roleplaying reference. Start with 5 Potential Points for campaigns or 10 for single session games.
Impulses: Start with 12 points to spend on levels. Spend 3 Potential Points to raise an Impulse’s level; only one level can be raised at a time.
Notes: Keep track of any items, story hooks, or other interesting things along the way here.
Spells: Start with two permanent Spells. Set one die to six and roll the rest to generate. Start with 4 points to split between the two Spells; these cost
1 Potential Point each to raise and can be increased without limit.

Impulses
Character
Calm Hope
Name
Player Daring Reason
Campaign
Feeling Renown
Potential Points
Motto Focus Scheme

Age Force Style


Interests
Grit Trust

Looks
Philosophy (Impulse)
Spells
( ) ( )
Notes ( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )

25
26
Spell: The RPG is designed to be lightweight and open to interpretation.
The rules thus far will cover most situations the players will encounter
and the rest can be filled in with a splash of creativity. However, there are
always cool new ways for players to beef up their gameplay experience.
This chapter has optional rules and suggestions a group may add to the
game as written, in part, or reinterpreted in a way that works for the
players. As always, discuss ahead of time what will, won’t, or can be
included. Unplanned additions may spice up a long term campaign.

Expanded Spells to keep: instead of one Potential point per level,


linked Spells cost two.
Spells as presented have a significant scope, but
are still limited by their specific context. The If the GM allows multiple layers deep of linked
following options expand and shape Spells into Spells — that is, linked Spells with base Spells that
different and more significant abilities, but also are linked Spells — additional Spells cost an extra
come with new consequences. potential point. A Spell linked to a linked Spell
costs three potential points per level, a linked
Spell linked to that Spell costs four, and so on.
Linked Spells The number of dice for these layered linked
Spells continue to be cumulative.
Characters can chain together impressive feats
of magic by linking Spells. These combo Spells Linked Spells come with a drawback. Since the
are created in a similar way to regular Spells, character is changing a lot more of the language
except that they are generated from an existing at once, the side effects and consequences can be
permanent Spell — their “base” Spell — instead greater. Maybe the character pulls off an awesome
on an Impulse. This means the linked Spell is not super attack, but in so doing, they fundamen-
only limited by the theme of the original Impulse, tally alter the description of their surroundings.
but also by the base Spell that generates it. It can’t The more dice a player rolls, the greater these
be cast as its own Spell, only as an expansion to consequences will be; see the Unintended Conse-
its base. The advantage is that these Spells, made quences section of the Game Moderator’s Guide
permanent, use the sum of their rating and the for details.
rating of the base Spell when rolling.
A character could craft a signature phrase of
When casting a new linked Spell, the player significant power with linked Spells, but it’ll
uses the level of the base Spell for the Impact be very cost prohibitive to have such a massive
roll instead of the Impulse. If made permanent, Spell. These super Spells will surely be incredibly
the linked Spell has its own rating from 1 to 6, specific and almost always cause as much trouble
but the player rolls its rating plus the rating of the for the caster as they solve, but may be the only

27
base Spell when casting. Linked Spells are costlier option in a dire circumstance.
Co-op Spells need to match levels. To use the co-op Spell
again, all original casters must be present and
An integral part of any game that uses letter roll their Spells together, each at their own levels.
tiles is the crossword mechanic. In the base Either way, a lot of dice are getting rolled, so
rules, making crossword Spells — that is, using it’s best to be saved for challenges with an Epic
one letter in different two words — counts as difficulty rating.
a deliberate misspelling and would trigger an
Unintended Consequence. When characters
work together, these overlaps bind their Ongoing Spells
individual Spells together into one
magnificent manifestation. Spells last long enough to accomplish their
goal and then effectively end. If a Spell is
Each player looking to participate in a co-op Spell transformative or creates a lasting effect, the
takes all the same steps as casting a new Spell, actual casting of it is just a moment and not
but players will combine their words. One player persistent. Ongoing Spells provide characters
begins by placing a word centrally and players with an opportunity to create a sustained
take turns adding words in a crossword fashion. effect that continues acting as a force within
Players may not combine or swap letters, only add the situation.
whole words onto already laid out words. Each
new word may connect to any previously laid A new Spell or a permanent Spell can be made
word; a player may end up connecting multiple ongoing just by declaring it so. The Spell gains
words before the overall Spell is complete. Spirit equal to either its level or Impact and
acts either once per round during Conflict or
Each character may use a different Impulse at the character’s command outside of Conflict.
and their contribution and intent is taken into The character cannot cast any Spells, new or
consideration for the final effect. However, just
like any Spell, the intended goal needs to be
specified before any rolls are made.

As with linked Spells, the bigger the Spell, the


bigger the splash. Each letter used in a Spell
is a letter translated from the language of the
surroundings; the more letters used, the greater
the chance that those surroundings will be
affected by the translation somehow. When
characters work together though, the reality-
altering backlash can be mitigated more easily
than one Speaker casting massive Spells alone.
Again, see the Game Moderator Guide chapter
for details.

When a co-op Spell is cast for the first time,


the Impact roll is calculated as the sum of all
contributing players’ Impact rolls. To keep a
co-op Spell permanently, each player spends
one potential point per level; players do not

28
permanent, while a Spell is ongoing, only having
access to their Impulses, but they can instantly
end the ongoing Spell at any point.

Ongoing Spells will lose their Spirit in


a number of different ways. Another
Speaker may cast a Spell against the
ongoing Spell and reduce its Spirit
per standard Conflict rules — the
ongoing Spell defends with its
Spirit. If a Spell has an effect, such as
a boon, a curse, recovery, or dealing
Spirit damage, every success reduces its
Spirit by an equal amount. For example,
if an ongoing healing Spell has a Spirit of 5
and heals an ally for two levels of damage,
the ongoing Spell’s Spirit will be reduced to 3.
An ongoing Spell will last until its Spirit reaches
zero or the caster chooses to end it.

Character Levels • Practiced: 14 points in Impulses; 9 points


for 3 permanent Spells.
Character advancement in Spell: The RPG uses
Potential points as a currency to increase Spells or • Experienced: 16 points in Impulses; 16
Impulses as the player chooses. Potential points points for 4 permanent Spells.
are valuable as they allow a character to grow on
the spot, especially when it comes to choosing • Legendary: 18 points in Impulses; 25
whether to keep a newly generated Spell. points for 5 permanent Spells.

Not all characters are the same and not every For anything beyond, simply add 2 points in
campaign will be on the same level. The current Impulses, 10 points for Spells, and 2 additional
character creation rules are meant for Average permanent Spells. In terms of Potential Point
campaigns featuring Speakers early on in their value alone, an Average character will gain the
journey. An older character could’ve been a equivalent of Practiced after 4 game sessions,
Speaker their whole life, but they never put Experienced after 8, and Legendary after about
their abilities to the test until the campaign 12. However, the Spells generated at character
starts. Some campaigns will call for more or creation will likely be more potent, since they
less powerful characters starting out, so here’s get a die preset at 6.
a quick way to level up characters.
When deciding how powerful characters will
• Newbie: 10 points in Impulses; 1 point for 1 be at the start of the campaign, it’s important to
permanent Spell. consider their history. Generally, it’s assumed that
the coolest thing the character will do in their
• Average: 12 points in Impulses; 4 points life will happen during the campaign. Characters
for 2 permanent Spells. can certainly have rich and full backstories, but

29
the campaign will still be an opportunity for
them to unlock their potential and grow. It’s also
encouraged that all characters start at the same
level to keep the group balanced and allow them
to grow together.

Restrictions
Spell: The RPG presents a very open-ended
approach to gaming and, specifically, spellcraft.
If the group is looking to redefine what Spells are
and can do in their specific setting or would just
like to mix up how spellcasting works for a game,
consider incorporating some Restrictions. They
can be predetermined for a campaign or added • Generating Spells takes time and characters
for a session, perhaps as an environmental effect may not always have it to spare. Players
for a certain location. create Spells in real time and dangers aren’t
interested in waiting for them to finish. The
• When a Spell is made permanent, character’s allies can help stall or create a
it’s completely locked to its original distraction by whatever means necessary to
interpretation. Permanent Spells can provide more time for an adequate Spell.
only ever be used exactly as they were
originally cast and towards the same • The universal language is more like a
effect as their initial intention. For song with an infinite melody that ties
example, a sun-based Recovery Spell into all of existence. Spells must be sung
is only ever a Recovery Spell and and only last for so long as they’re being
cannot be used to melt ice. sung. Characters can add or remove lines
of lyrics to embellish or contextualize the
• Characters have to actually record Spells in Spell, but the Spell itself is still based on the
order to make them permanent. They may letters drawn. Permanent Spells are songs
write them down or capture audio — and the character has memorized and can sing
they can make copies — but can only cast whenever they want.
the Spell again if they have a recorded
version with them to read or listen to. • Magic exists within certain defined schools
that a character must practice under and
• Spells must always be spoken aloud — and follow. These can be any categories: Four
not quietly either. The character must Elements, Seven Sins, Nine Muses, Twelve
command reality to bend to their whim Zodiac Constellations, or even literal
and this requires volume and intention. subjects of study, such as math, science and
Any other actions, like flourishes of the language. A character’s Spells are always
hands or dramatic posing, are optional but and can only be interpreted through the
encouraged. Spell use is obvious and has context of their school of magic. The school
developed a culture of signature styles and may provide extra detail and effects to an
schools of engagement, much like martial otherwise generic Spell, but may exclude
arts, dance techniques, or sign language. specific Spells outside the school’s theme.

30
31
Equipment difficulty of a situation is always accounted for
first in the goal of the task at hand and then
Challenges in Spell are relative to their context, the modifier for equipment may be applied
the characters undertaking them, and any num- if appropriate.
ber of other circumstantial factors. As such, items
and equipment do not provide static modifiers A character can only carry as much equipment on
to actions and instead provide conditional mod- their person as logic — that is, personal strength,
ifiers depending on the situation. If the situation pockets, bags, etc — would allow. Fortunately
doesn’t require an item, but the player has one Speakers have Spells that allow them to create
that helps, they’ll receive a bonus. If the situation an infinite variety of storage and summoning
requires something better than what the player options, even for mundane items.
has, then there’ll be a penalty.

Equipment is able to modify a single roll Enchanted Items


between -2 and +2. If the character has a
helpful item, they receive +1; if they have the Enchanted items are a special kind of
perfect high quality item for the situation, they magical item with a unique ability, called
receive +2. If a character is adequately prepared an Enchantment. While a Spell may be able
for a task, they receive no modifier. It’s far more to instantly conjure a magical item, it still
common to have no modifier as the difficulty of functions like normal equipment with a few
the roll already takes circumstantial factors into twists, such as a hammer that glows or a self-
consideration. Negative values are applied when propelling set of wings. Generic magical items
the character attempts to accomplish a task with accomplish goals like any other tools, even if
an item ill-fitted for the situation. If the character those goals are fantastical. An Enchantment is
has nothing and something is required, the task a certain special effect that is rare and powerful;
may not be possible at all. some Enchanted items may also retain the ability
to be used as a tool as well. Below are several
Equipment modifiers are comparative between abilities an Enchanted item can have.
all actors involved in a task. If multiple characters
are attempting the same action, either cooper- Enchanted items have the potential to be
atively, competitively, or in conflict with each game changing in scope, depending on their
other, the modifiers will represent the difference effect. Most Enchanted items are created at a
in their gear. If one character has significantly certain power level and never change, but the
better equipment than another character, they’ll GM may allow them to increase in effect at the
receive a bonus. However, if two characters have cost of Potential Points.
equally fantastic equipment, neither receives a
modifier; the challenge becomes “accomplish task
with fantastic equipment” and therefore they are Alteration
both adequately equipped.
The item is able to affect the form or meaning of
Since equipment is conditional and relative, a word within any Spell. Simple versions of this
one item may not convey any modifier in the ability include pluralizing a word or changing
right situation, grant a bonus when used against word forms between adjectives, nouns, verbs,
a lesser version of the item, or incur a penalty etc. An advanced application is changing words
when used against something better suited. The to their antonym. If the character wielding the

32
magic item intends to affect someone else’s Education
Spell, the caster has the opportunity to make
an argument for how the new version of the This item is most frequently a book, scroll, or
Spell may work. While changing “light” to tablet of some sort, but other forms have been
“dark” would ruin a flashlight Spell, changing known to exist. This item comes with at least one
an attack from “fire” to “ice” might still be as permanent Spell that the character may purchase
effective. This Enchantment only changes the as their own with Potential Points as if they had
content of the Spell, not the intent; “fire” can be just created it as a new Spell. More legendary
changed to “ice,” but not from “fire” justified as versions of this item can contain a vast wealth
an attack to “fire” which heals. of Spells to purchase. The stored Spells are often
more powerful, specific, or refined than the
average Spell.
Catalyzation
This item has a unique Spell bound to it that Foundation
serves as an extra Impulse for the character. The
item’s Spell has a value between 1 and 6 and the This item has a one-word Spell associated with
character may use that Spell exactly as if it were it that cannot be activated on its own, but can
a normal Impulse, including using it to generate be considered to be a part of any other Spell the
new Spells and when calculating Spirit. The item character casts. A magnifying glass may always
is equally vulnerable to Impulse Limiters, which have “find” associated with it, so the character can
render the item unusable until the Limiter is more easily create Spells for locating and identify
recovered from. If the character doesn’t have the objectives. A sword might simply have “sword,”
item in their immediate possession, they lose allowing the character to quickly customize it
access to all of its benefits, including associated with simple adjective Spells.
Spells, until it’s returned.

A character may only benefit from one such Impulsion


item at a time — that is, of course, unless the
GM decides otherwise. Additional Catalyzation This item is thematically locked to one standard
features would significantly tax any character, Impulse and grants a bonus to that Impulse for
but some may be mighty enough to handle it. The all purposes so long as the character is carrying
GM may also choose to have the item replace one the item. The item grants a +2 bonus any time the
Impulse with the item, so the character still only Impulse is rolled and adds Spirit accordingly. The
has twelve. Lastly, it’s up to the GM whether or character may benefit from the item even if they
not the value of the item may be increased with normally have a 0 in the associated Impulse.
Potential Points; if so, the cost is
at least as much as Impulses (3) An alternate version of the item may grant +6
and not Spells. Spirit, but no bonus to any Impulse. The bonus
Spirit is reduced first and at no detriment to
the character no matter what Impulse is used
defensively. Once the Spirit is used up, the item
is either broken or expended. In order to benefit
from the item again a full Recovery, as per usual
Spirit damage rules, is required.

33
Manifestation Substitution
This item has the ability to This item gathers small bits of the universal
summon a being into existence language like static electricity and can be
to be the character’s friend discharged once every so often (once per
and companion — or, at least, session, per day, etc). Immediately upon
begrudging ally for an action and receipt of the item and when it is activated,
then disappear again. The manifestation the player rolls one die and draws that
has Impulses and Spirit and can act under many letters and sets them aside.
the player’s control. The player selects one Whenever the character creates
Impulse from their character and that a new Spell, they may swap drawn
Impulse is shared between the character letters out for letters stored in the
and the manifestation: When it’s reduced for item, always keeping the same amount of letters
one, it’s reduced for the other. The player rolls stored. The character may discharge the item per
that Impulse and each die is assigned as the its time limit by discarding all stored letters and
level of other Impulses of the player’s choice the activating the item again; the act of discharging
manifestation has access to. Manifestations are always creates an Unintended Consequence
difficult to maintain however; each action or without the effect of a Spell.
round of conflict the manifestation is present,
the GM reduces one Impulse by 1, saving the
shared Impulse for last. The character may always Transformation
dismiss the manifestation early, otherwise it
dematerializes back into the item once its Spirit This item allows the character to access a new
is depleted. physical form with a certain keyword that defines
the nature of the form (e.g., elemental, monster,
shadow, turbo, etc). While transformed, the
Provocation character may use Impulses to a magical effect in
the context of their transformation keyword. For
This item comes with a Spell stored inside, example, if the transformation involves “fire,” the
just waiting to be cast. This gathered Spell has character could use Force to cast a fireball or cre-
a specific condition in which it’s automatically ate a flashy fireworks show with Style. They may
activated, such as a cape that will fly if falling or also choose to contextualize any new Spells to fit
a stone that glows warm and bright in darkness the keyword of the new form. The character may
or cold. The character cannot activate the Spell transform at will; the GM may decide on limits,
outside of its trigger. The stored Spell is automat- such as required rolls, how long transformation
ically successful when cast unopposed, otherwise takes or lasts, or how often it may be done.
it has an Impact of 6.

An advanced version of this item can have Lesser Magical


Items
new Spells cast onto it with assigned triggers.
The character either casts a new Spell or suc-
cessfully rolls a permanent Spell and, instead of
immediately activating, the Spell is stored in the Aside from the utility of equipment and majesty
item until the preassigned condition. This ad- of Enchantment, Spell: The RPG is full of other
vanced version comes with one default Spell and weird bits of magic that may benefit, harm,
the rest must be gained with Potential points. or otherwise interact with a character. The

34
following are just a couple options of how to Glyphs
include standalone or unique magical objects in a
campaign. These items are uncommon, but not as A single glyph is etched into the description of
rare as Enchanted items; they can be found, lost, an object and can be translated for use in a single
collected, and traded throughout a campaign as Spell. The Glyph represents a letter, a group of
a valuable and interesting currency. These items letters (such as all vowels), a sound or syllable,
are only meant for a single use; adapting them a number, punctuation, a pictograph, or some
to be multiple use or requiring a recharge or other grammatical unit. The glyph can be added
cooldown time increases their power and value. into the generation of new Spells in the same way
These effects made permanent would make for as the drawn letters.
additional Enchantment options, and vice versa.

Creating Items
Charges
Creating mundane items is a simple enough
Charges look like glowing balls of condensed, process for a character. A well-worded Spell can
brightly colored light and contain an electrifying summon an item into existence and, if made
charge of magic. Charges come in types, often permanent, can keep the item indefinitely or
color-coded, that correspond to Spell effect types: allow it to be conjured on command by using the
Boon, Curse, Damage, and Recovery. When Spell again. Using Impulses alone to create an
activated, the player rolls a single die and its item is under the purview of regular actions. So
value is the level of the charge’s effect: the value long as the character has the materials, time, and
of a Boon’s bonus or Curse’s penalty, how much expertise, the GM sets an appropriate difficulty
Spirit damage is dealt (to one Impulse of the and the thing gets made. Long term projects may
GM’s choice with no defense, surplus damage need to be divided into individual actions, such
is ignored), or how much Spirit is recovered. as gathering materials, asking for help, planning,
building, refining, and so on.

Facets
These small gemstone-like objects have unique
descriptions that defy earthly sciences. Their
crystalline structure is able to split and divide
Spells, typically into two individual Spells. This
can be valuable to a character as it allows them
to cast two distinct Spells at once, but pulling
from the same pool of letters. A facet can also
be used to disrupt an opponent’s Spell, dividing
between whatever letters the user wishes, though
the caster may still attempt to justify how the
new pieces work.

35
Enchanting the character and the character’s roll was the
defense against it. If this option is enforced, feel
Crafting Enchanted items is a little more com- free to lift the timing requirement, as the danger
plicated and much more difficult. Enchanted is self-policing.
items are found more often than constructed,
usually being up to the GM when and how they’re
introduced and what they do. Enchanted items Forging
are intended to be rare and character-defining.
Any given character might only obtain a couple Forging is the process of creating lesser magical
through the course of an entire campaign. A char- items, which have the properties described above
acter may forge an Enchanted item of their own if or can be invented based on other properties,
the group would like to include such an option in such as single use Enchantments, or other game
their game. Note that magical, unusual, or impos- mechanics, such as adding Potential points or
sible items can be created using Spells per usual; tokens. Enchanting requires the harnessing of
the following rules only apply to items which have massive magical energy into the vessel of an
a specific aforementioned Enchantment. item. Forging takes a smaller amount of magical
energy and balls it up into a mass.
Enchanted items have a certain magical Spirit that
must be captured and translated into a physical Forging is completed with the same rules as
form; the Spirit has a value of twelve. A character Enchanting. Two Spells need to be used at least
can only use an appropriately themed Spell, such once each in creating a lesser magical item: one
as “craft,” “alchemy,” or something similar, to representing the theme or intended effect of the
create an Enchanted item. The GM rolls the Spirit item and one representing the actual process of
of the item (which starts at 12); per usual defense making it. Instead of working against a Spirit
rules, the highest value die is the difficulty for the of twelve, the artisan is working to overcome
player’s roll and each 6 after the first subtracts one a Spirit of 6. Otherwise the rules are identical
die from the number the player rolls. Each die to Enchanting
that meets or exceeds the difficulty die represents
a point of Spirit being converted from the
intangible into the tangible, reducing the Spirit
of the item accordingly. Once the item’s Spirit
reaches zero, it’s been successfully crafted into
an Enchanted item.

Enchanting rolls are significant endeavors and


must occur infrequently, only being made once
per day, per session, per piece of magical material
recovered, and/or requiring a new Spell every 3
or 4 Spirit to represent different phases of crafting.
On average, a character using a level 6 Spell will
take nine rolls to complete an Enchanted item; a
level of 5 will take about twelve rolls. If Enchanted
items are able to be crafted, but are intended to
be more difficult or dangerous, consider having
failed rolls cause Spirit damage to the character,
as if the defensive roll was an action made against

36
37
There are six categories of creature: Summon, Companion, Mount,
Playable, Hazard, and Behemoth. Companions are smaller creatures who
are helpful to characters, like familiars. Summons are great and powerful
creatures that can be called for a brief interaction before they leave
again. Mounts are creatures a character can ride on to improve modes of
transportation. Playable creatures represent options players can use for
the characters they play as. Hazards are simple creatures — sometimes
they’re not even creatures — that represent a simple danger to the
characters. Lastly, Behemoths are powerful, if not always physically
large, creatures with multiple layers of difficulty.
This chapter has a cast of twelve creatures who appear as examples.
Creatures can sometimes fit in a couple different categories, like a familiar
you can ride or a big boss who can later be summoned. Creature concepts
can also be adapted from one category to another, such as taking the idea
behind a hazard creature and making it a playable creature type.

Summons as a Boon, Curse, Recovery, or Attack; their


power may also be unique, like the functions of
A Summon is a — often very powerful — creature Enchantments, or even narratively important, like
that lives far away, perhaps even in a completely transporting characters to a new realm, traveling
different realm, whom the player may call upon through time, or otherwise acting in a way
for a single helpful action. When a Summon generally outside the scope of other mechanics.
arrives, they make a single massive action and Any action that is contested or has a magnitude of
then disappear. A player conjures a Summon by possible success uses the Summon’s Spirit for the
casting their name as a Spell, but they cannot roll. For all other actions, the Summon does not
be purchased permanently; their name must need to roll; their Spirit instead acts as defense
be spelled out each time in order to use them. if any attempt is made to stop the action or as a
Enchanted items or other magics that allow variable in the action’s effect. Summons do not
players to manipulate the letters used to cast trigger Unintended Consequences, regardless of
Spells can be very useful for summoning. the number of dice rolled for them.

Summons are essentially living spells, so they A Summon must be met or researched before
get their strength from their names. The more a character can call upon them. The character
complex or rare their name, the more powerful needs a working knowledge of the Summon they
they are. Their Spirit is the sum of the rarity of all are attempting to call. Since there are potentially
component letters of their name. See the chart countless creatures who could be Summons,
on the facing page to determine the Spirit of a the GM may allow a character to “accidentally”
Summon based on the letters in its name. call upon one by creating a unique name from
any given Spell generation; it’s possible that this
Summons are capable of massive, but specific haphazard summoning will have consequences.

38
feats. These feats function as Spells, acting The lore of the world will also determine viable
Summons, such as pantheons from human It can take a little bit of math to come up with
mythology or characters from favorite fandoms. a Summon’s Spirit; however, since they need to
be preexisting in order to call upon, this math
Summons can be called from any Impulse. can be worked out ahead of time so as not to
Their power is such that it is not shaped by the interrupt the flow of play.
character’s spellcasting. Multiple players may
work together to help call a particular Summon.
Since it can be particularly difficult to conjure Example Summons
a Summon, there are options to beat the odds.
A player may represent their relationship with The following creatures can be used as Summons
the Summon by spending Potential points as if in any game. Their Spirit is calculated from the
on a permanent Spell; this is marked by writing names and each has a unique power. Summons
“Summon” in the Impulse section and the appear in a grand display of magic and leave just
Summon’s name for the Spell. The player circles as quickly after performing their action.
a number of letters in the name equal to level
purchased, up to a maximum of half (round up)
the length of the Summon’s name. These letters
are free and the player does not need to include
them when conjuring the Summon. GUS | Spirit: 8
A kind little winged serpent
who protects his friends.
Calculating A Action: Serpent
Shield. Creates a
Summon’s Spirit magical barrier
that protects a
target or group.
Each letter of a Summon’s name has a value For each die
based on its rarity. The sum of the values of all at 4+, ignore
one point of Spirit
the letters in the Summon’s name is the Summon’s Damage; lasts until
Spirit. In practice, the length of the Summon’s depleted.
name, regardless of its letters, will also affect
how difficult it will be to summon this creature,
though the length of the name is not explicitly
represented in its Spirit.

Value Letter

1 A, E, T AXOL | Spirit: 9
A flying wagon wheel, spouting gouts of flame
2 D, H, I, O, L, N, R, S from each of her spokes.
Action: Brand of Retribution. Each time the
target inflicts Spirit damage, they also receive
3 B, C, F, G, M, P, U, W, Y one point of Spirit damage to the Impulse used
to act. Lasts until the target relents.

4 J, K, Q, V, X, Z

39
SEAFRA | Spirit: 10
A massive glowing jellyfish floating in their
OPDAHL | Spirit: 12
own bubble of water. A weathered old statue of a soldier with moss
growing on his stone skin.
Action: Flowing Crystal Blessing. Sprinkles
down glittering, healing water. For each 4+, Action: The Dance of the Hundred Halberdiers.
each ally may individually recover Spirit A swarm of spectral warriors attack their target,
damage from any Impulse. Can affect up inflicting both Spirit damage and an Impulse
to a dozen targets; multiple targets do not Limiter equal to successes rolled against defense.
dilute Seafra’s healing power.

FREYR | Spirit: 11 DANIOQ | Spirit: 13


A fierce warrior goddess of braided hair and
A large, silvery fish with an eye on each of
wool within armor of leather and fur.
his scales.
Action: Goddess’ Strength. Up to three charac-
Action: Feel the Current. One target is cursed
ters gain a mythic morning star — an iron orb at
for the scene or about an hour. The difficulty
the end of a woven braid; they receive +3 to all
of all the target’s actions, even contested, are
actions involving force, violence, or destruction.
Hard; additional 6s rolled for defense can still
Lasts until the threat is subdued, up to about an
decrease the number of dice the target rolls.
hour or scene of gameplay.

RUIZ | Spirit: 11 MASAMBI | Spirit: 15


A kingly giant, in crown and robe and upon a
A gargantuan humanoid baobab who’s love
throne, who cares deeply for all loyal to her.
for the earth is surpassed only by her rage.
Action: Breaker of Limits. With hands
Action: Overgrowth. Coarse roots rise and
outstretched, Ruiz heals all Impulse Limiters,
strike their foes. Up to three targets roll to
wounds, diseases, or other afflictions; long-term
defend per usual, but the surplus successes
disorders become stable and manageable in her
of Masambi’s attack may be distributed
presence. Magical afflictions may resist; can
across their other Impulses.
affect up to six targets.

KARIM | Spirit: 12 KUJOV | Spirit: 17


A disembodied sensation of stillness in
An ornate pattern of tile and stone that
an infinite void of space; he’s felt in the
crawls over every surface, she communicates
heart and mind.
with colors.
Action: The Long Moment. Time is frozen for
Action: Reverent Bounty. Twelve Charges, the
all targets chosen by the summoner and remains
magical items, are discovered in the beauty of
so long enough for the active targets to recover
the stonework. Roll Spirit and assign three dice
comfortably. The targets, however, cannot
to each type: Boon, Curse, Attack, and Recovery.
directly act upon any individual frozen in time
These Charges can be used at any time.
and cannot travel outside their immediate area.

40
combination of friendship, obligation, and loyalty.
Companions must be earned and bonded with
EIKENBOOM | Spirit: 19
through roleplay; it is highly uncommon (and
A large golden elk with oak branches growing
is only at the GM’s discretion) for a character
wide from their antlers.
to have more than one Companion.
Action: Enchanted Acorn. Eikenboom pins
their target to the ground and allows a single
acorn to grow from their antlers and fall into Companions begin play with Spirit equal to half
their target’s heart, converting the target’s body (round down) their partner’s, distributed between
into a wooden object and sealing the target’s Impulses, and one Trait which is generated like a
Spirit within. This creates an Enchanted Item,
Spell from a pool of ten letters, but doesn’t have
as defined by the GM, based on the target sealed.
The target remains alive, but incorporeal within a value. A Trait describes the passive magical
the object; this could be a way to seal away an nature of the Companion; they cannot cast Spells,
enemy, who may attempt escape, or to keep but may use their Impulses for magical effects
an individual alive forever, perhaps as the last
within the context of their Trait. Traits can be
resort for a friend at the end of their journey.
relatively loose and interpretive to represent
the general theme of the Companion.

Each time a character gains Potential points,


the companion gains one half (round down)
that amount. Impulses cost the same 3 points
per level; a new Trait costs 6 points.

Companions
as Summons
BARTHOLOMEW | Spirit: 21
A brown bear with the proportionally sized head A Companion may have a special move it can
of an owl; their predatory build often obscures activate when their partner casts their name as
their friendly demeanor.
a Spell, effectively converting them to a Summon
Action: May the Gates Welcome. Bartholomew
for a single purpose. If this option is added later
opens a gateway to another realm — usually, it’s
the resting place of those who have passed on to a Companion with a low-Spirit name, consider
— and guarantees safe passage to and from for adding a “true name,” like Leo (5) being short
the party of characters. They can even provide
direction to return one of the denizens of this
realm back to the world of the living.

Companions
Companions are smaller, less powerful creatures
who are bonded to a character and are physically
present with them. A character has a special rela-
tionship with their Companion, which can be any

41
for Leontyne (14), or a title, like Blue Fang (18). powerful magic of a Summon, their loyalty and
If one Companion is to have multiple Summon love make them dependable allies.
forms, the names of those forms could be bought
as Traits.

Companions GUS
Gus’ small wings are good for short flights, so he
as Mounts prefers to perch on his companion’s shoulder.
Impulses: Feeling 3 | Trust 3
A Companion may have a Trait that allows it Trait: Aura
to be used as a Mount.

Companions
as Playable SEAFRA
Seafra floats in a large orb of water and needs
If a Companion grows to the level of a character that water to survive; they can only control so
and, much more importantly, a narrative inde- much at a time and will need to restock from
pendence from their partner, another player may time to time.
choose to take the role of the Companion. This Impulses: Calm 2 | Feeling 4
may be a good option for a player who joins late Trait: Heal
or if a character leaves the party.

Companions
as Behemoths AXOL
Axol’s booming voice may be intimidating, but
A Companion may not, by default, be a she uses her flames for more nuanced expression.
Behemoth. While they may be large, even Impulses: Force 2 | Grit 4
exceptionally so, they do not have multiple
Trait: Blaze
forms. The GM may allow for a Companion
to, through hard narrative work, gain another
level and evolve to another form; if they are
defeated, they return to their smaller, original
form. Alternatively, if a player’s Companion falls
in battle, the GM choose to may reveal that their DANIOQ
Companion had a final Behemoth form which
Danioq glides through the air as if it were water,
springs forth to aid the party. however the eyes on his scales are too sensitive
to be in actual water for very long.

Example Companions
Impulses: Focus (Curses) 3 | Scheme 3
Trait: Fear

These creatures are similar to their above descrip-

42
tions, but generally smaller. While they lack the
Mounts
Mounts are simpler beasts — or perhaps
complex beasts only offering a simple ser-
vice — who primarily only provide enhanced
modes of transportation. A Mount provides
access to areas otherwise impossible to reach, Mounts cannot act on their
haste when necessary, and a little extra support. own, but may enhance an action
Mounts can be status symbols depending on their Rider is taking. For example,
the culture they’re in; they can be good friends, the Rider could roll Force to break
though with the intelligence of an animal; they down a wall and gain a bonus to their
can be functional necessities when passing roll from their Mount’s “hard-headed”
through a certain area. Trait. Since the Mount is the one doing the
heavy hitting, the same bonus could apply
Mounts do not have their own Impulses, but to a Scheme roll to target the wall. Bonuses are
instead have Traits to describe how they work. +2 if the action is clearly and directly aided by
A Mount has three Traits, which describe how the Trait; bonuses of +1 may apply when the
they move (flight, over water, through fire, very Trait is only partially applicable. Additionally,
fast, etc) and helpful attributes (hard-headed, some actions performed on a Mount may suffer
sneaky, luminous, etc). Traits are chosen and do penalties, such as sneaking on a “giant” Mount or
not need to be created with letter tiles. A Trait calming someone down from the back of a “fire-
only describes one aspect of the Mount. For breathing” dragon.
example, “fireproof ” and “fire breathing” would
be two separate Traits; “fire” alone is too generic. Mounts may be purchased, met, found, tamed,
There is no definitive list of Traits for Mounts, so or otherwise bonded with through roleplay. If the
the GM and players can use their best judgment. character intends to have a long term relationship
with their Mount, they may spend 3 of their own
Potential points to give the Mount the “loyal”
Trait — which a new Mount cannot have. A loyal
Mount will travel into danger with the character
and always return to their side.

Mounts as Summons
A Mount may be summoned from far off or an-
other realm of existence, but it’s not necessarily a
Summon. To call a Mount in this way, a charac-
ter may just need to make a simple call or Spell
activation — spelling out their whole name is
unnecessary. In the same way Companions may
have a Summon form that’s activated by spelling
their name, Mounts may also have a Summon
form; after performing their Summon action,
they revert back to their Mount form.

43
Example Mounts Playable
These creatures may be pack animals or magical A player may choose to take the role of a
friends offering a ride. character who is monstrous or weird in a
specific way. By playing as a creature, the player
still creates a character with normal character
creation rules, but adds two monster Traits:
a generally beneficial Trait (super strength,
SEAFRA heightened senses) and a generally detrimental
In her natural element, Seafra can create pockets Trait (frightening, cumbersome). The two Traits
of air for her passengers to breath. She guides
may also be both neutral, in that they each have
the way with her bioluminescence and her
stinging tendrils will keep danger at bay. benefits and detriments (horns, nocturnal).
Trait: Underwater, luminous, protective
The player and the GM may call upon the Traits
in situations in which they’re helpful — and even
“detrimental” Traits may be helpful once in a
while — to receive up to a +2 bonus to a roll. The
player and the GM will also call upon a roughly
DANIOQ equivalent amount of situations where the Traits
Danioq is a curious creature: though looking
cause up to a -2 penalty. This equivalence is only
like a fish, he speeds quickly through the air. His a guideline; a penalty to one crucial roll, success
many eyes warn him of any danger as they’re or fail, may be all that’s needed to balance out a
able to see beyond what is always apparent. scene of bonuses. The GM may also choose to
Trait: Flying, very fast, all-seeing introduce a narrative complication related to
one of the Traits as an alternative to a penalty;
for example, a hunter looking to harvest the
character’s horns may offset any number of
bonuses to minor rolls.
EIKENBOOM
Playable creatures, when they’re not under
Eikenboom is usually a gentle beast, more
interested in moving groups of travelers quickly
the control of a player, are the ideal template
through the forest with minimum impact. Their for important allies and villains who are on
antlers, however, are able to make quite an the same scale as the players’ characters. These
impact if necessary. Playables may also have Traits, Companions,
Trait: Massive, through nature, antlered Summons, or other options also available
to players.

Permanent Spells
BARTHOLOMEW
Bartholomew is unique in that they are able as Traits
to walk through the doors of different realms,
particularly between the realms of the living and
the dead. They are kind and will offer guidance
When a character gains a permanent Spell, some
to those who are similarly kind and respectful. of the magic and weirdness of the Spell stays with
Trait: Transdimensional, intelligent, noble them in some way. With the default rules, these
changes are only cosmetic. Optionally, the GM

44
may allow permanent Spells at level six to also OPDAHL
become Traits. As the character’s library of magic An army of stone warriors, their origin
expands, they become stranger and more magical completely unknown, abandoned in a field,
in their own right. The Trait may either be the the opdahl now live and walk among others
same as the Spell and therefore open to more whom they don’t quite understand. They
carry with them always a halberd of fine
interpretation or a specific result of the Spell. make, though are often cautious to draw it.
Trait: Ancient, always armed

Example Playables
Creature names have so far referred to a specific
creature; while this can still be the case with Hazards
Playable creatures, the names may also become a
creature type, with many individuals of a similar Hazards aren’t always creatures, but some-
appearance and traits. times it’s simpler to represent some creatures as
Hazards. Hazards do not have Impulses, but do
have a Spirit. They are capable of acting, but may
not have any sentience; a trap being sprung or
FREYR a snake striking and then quickly recoiling are
A freyr character is human shaped and sized, both Hazards. Most Hazards also have a single
but made of thickly woven and braided hair and
Trait to define them, either as hidden, poisoning,
wool. Though mistaken as soft, freyrs are known
for their fierce warrior spirits — however they or elemental, as examples. A Hazard’s Trait can
may apply it in their life. add or subtract from the Hazard’s effective Spirit
Trait: Woven body, warrior spirit when being rolled offensively or defensively. They
may act only once or remain until their Spirit is
reduced to zero.

To calculate the Spirit of a Hazard, roll two dice


KARIM and pick the higher of the two results to be the
Spirit. A more challenging Hazard will add the
While the creature known as Karim is
more of a phenomenon, karim characters two results together instead.
are roughly humanoid, if very geometric,
individuals made of intricate patterns of
ornamental stone and tiles. Hazards as
Trait: Treasure sense, blocky
Companions
Hazards, when creatures, are often simple beasts.
A particularly cunning character may subdue
MASAMBI and tame this beast and choose to make it their
The masambi are good natured and are known Companion. If the GM allows, a character sheet
to love the land they grew from. Appearing as will be created for the creature with the same
humanoid baobab trees with short, rooty legs Spirit, but now distributed over Impulses. Any
and big arms, the masambi tower over humans
by several feet. Traits associated with the Hazard remain in this
Companion form. This Companion will now gain
Trait: Very large, plant elemental
Potential alongside their partner.

45
Example Hazards KARIM
When a character enters a Karim chamber,
When these creatures function as Hazards,
they immediately become disoriented. The
their personality and complexity is mostly ornate tile patterns rearrange themselves, the
glossed over — though this doesn’t have to very ground shifts subtly to change a person’s
be the case — and they represent a specific direction midstep.
challenge for the players to overcome. This Spirit: 8
usually equates to an action they perform Action: Confound; successful attacks inflict
and Spirit they use to do that action, as well Spirit damage by confusing the mind and this
as to defend. area is inescapable until the Karim is defeated.
There may be other dangers inside the chamber.
Trait: Psychic
GUS
The mischievous flying serpent is really more
of a distraction than a menace, but he can still
provide an obstacle — especially in flocks with
his friends.
Spirit: 4
Action: Distract; each 4+ rolled conveys a -1
Behemoths
penalty to their target.
Some creatures extend beyond the scale of those
Trait: Flying represented by Hazards, Companions, or Mounts,
like Summons who stick around. Behemoths
are either physically massive or hold a massively
significant narrative weight and aren’t ones to
be trifled with. Behemoths have Impulses and
AXOL Spirit like other creatures — and may or may not
A flaming, floating wheel of vengeance is
cast Spells — but these stats scale differently. A
terrifying thing to behold, but her curses Behemoth’s Spirit has multiple layers.
are really what do the burning.
Spirit: 5 A Behemoth is represented by, essentially,
Action: Attack character sheets stacked on top of each other.
Each layer corresponds to a different form the
Trait: Flying
Behemoth takes, a stage of their plan, or physical
parts of its body. When one set of Impulses are
reduced to zero, that form is defeated and the
new form is revealed, with a new set of Impulses.
As a Behemoth gets near the end of one form
FREYR and is less effective, with only a small amount
Spirit remaining, they may choose to advance
This warrior is hardly more than a sentry doll,
but will strike mercilessly any who cross the to their next form. Any Impulses, Spirit, or
threshold she protects. abilities in the previous form are lost and do
Spirit: 6 not carry over.
Action: Attack; successful attacks also push
targets back and away from threshold. Each form can have similar or different Impulses,
abilities, and Traits. A giant monster might be los-
Trait: Stationary
ing limbs or radically evolving to adapt. A more

46
Behemoths
and Hazards
To increase the danger and complexity of
a Behemoth, they may be accompanied by
or capable of creating Hazards which aid in
their goals.

Example Behemoths
These creatures, if met in Conflict, are truly boss
human opponent may be changing strategies monsters. They represent a significant challenge
in radically reaffirming ways or unlocking new to the characters, but don’t necessarily need to
power levels. Conflict with a Behemoth can be a be reduced to zero Spirit before admitting defeat.
great struggle, as it’s the equivalent to struggling If the Behemoth is not a mindless monster, they
against a sequence of powerful creatures. may instead attempt a deal or compromise instead
of continuing intense Conflict. Of course, given
the power of words, some of that dealmaking may
Behemoths also be represented by Spirit damage.

as Summons RUIZ
The great regent Ruiz is capable of bountiful
If a Behemoth is bested, the characters may generosity, but becomes terribly stern when
then be able to learn its name and call it later crossed. She sits from her throne and commands
as a Summon. The nature of the defeat would those loyal to her; that is, until she needs to get
greatly affect this arrangement, whether the her hands dirty.
characters imprison the creature and conjure
its power, constantly risking its escape, or if Layer One
the characters earned the creature’s respect Ruiz sits upon her throne, appealing from
and it is now honored to help in their goals. authority first, but meeting combat in kind.

Impulses: Calm 4 | Focus (Command) 4


Behemoths Renown 6 | Scheme 2 | Style 2

as Companions Abilities: Create Minion. For each 4+ rolled on


a Focus action, introduce one Minion Hazard
Behemoths at their default power scale are with 4 Spirit and the ability to attack.
too far beyond the scope of Companions, but
a defeated Behemoth may revert to a smaller, Layer Two
weaker form. The diminutive creature could Ruiz is forced to rise from her throne and
then be befriended and become a Companion acts directly with showy displays of surprising
to one of the characters, perhaps still capable martial prowess.
of accessing something like their original
power as a Summon. Impulses: Force 4 | Grit 6 | Renown 4 | Style 4

47
OPDAHL MASAMBI
The lone statue Opdahl offers only steadfast The characters begin by entering a forest and
refusal to the players attempting to enter his then quickly learn that its heart, Masambi the
valley. He does not say why, but will adamantly great baobab, wants them out.
defend as long as possible. As Opdahl is worn
down, he calls upon the aid of his brethren. At Layer One
last, the magic is released from the statue and The local flora become immediately aggressive
the mystery unravels. before Masambi herself is even visible.

Layer One Impulses: Daring 2 | Feeling 2 | Force 2 | Grit 2


Opdahl places himself in the Hope 2 | Scheme 2
characters’ paths and stoically
demands their removal with Abilities: Many Arms. Masambi attacks each
no explanation. character present per round.

Impulses: Calm 6 | Grit 6 Layer Two


Masambi reveals herself and furiously storms
Abilities: Obstacle. No matter where Opdahl is, the characters with mighty blows.
he can move seemingly without movement into
the path of a targeted character. Impulses: Daring 6 | Feeling 6 | Force 6 | Grit 6

Layer Two Abilities: Aggro. If Masambi’s defense lowers the


Glowing cracks travel across Opdahl’s stone skin attacker’s roll with any amount of extra 6s, the
and he becomes more animated and emotional. attacker takes one point of Spirit damage to the
Half-formed statues rise from the earth and act Impulse in use, applied at the end of the round.
alongside him.
Layer Three
Impulses: Feeling 6 | Force 6 | Trust 6 Masambi slows down and becomes calm, but
still focused on removing the characters and
Abilities: Fallen Soldiers. If Opdahl successfully still willing to use violence.
defends an attack, a nearby statue counters the
attacker with 4 Spirit then immediately crumbles. Impulses: Calm 4 | Force 4 | Grit 4 | Scheme 4

Layer Three Abilities: Snapping Branch. If Masambi misses


Opdahl’s stone body explodes in a burst of an attack, she can make another attack against
bright light. A spectral soldier, shimmering a different target.
blue and translucent, now stands where the
statue was. Though mostly unintelligible in Layer Four
speech, he references imprisonment. Upon Masambi is impressed by the characters’ might
defeat, he thanks the characters and dissipates, and tenacity and now offers them challenges of
leaving the remaining statues inert. cleverness and skill to test their worthiness — no
less dangerous, of course.
Impulses: Daring 6 | Force 6 | Grit 6 | Hope 6
Impulses: Calm 2 | Focus (Forest) 6 | Reason 4
Abilities: Incorporeal. Opdahl can no longer Renown 2 | Scheme 6
be affected by physical, solid interaction.

48
Abilities: Special Challenges. Masambi Impulses: Calm 5 | Feeling 5 | Grit 5 | Trust 5
will presents challenges intended to
be completed with specific magic. Abilities: Starvation. The characters act
against Kuvoj by healing each other; Kuvoj
KUVOJ defends to set the difficulty and receives Spirit
Disembodied frozen time makes for an damage equal to the target ally’s Spirit recovery.
exceptionally difficult opponent. When Kuvoj will still act by attempting to desiccate
Kuvoj arrives, everything becomes infinitely and starve the characters.
distant and the new vacuous space is full of
stretch lines of color and light from the edges Layer Four
of reality. To oppose Kuvoj is to undo his Kuvoj represents mental stress as time slows,
influence on the world. shifts, and speeds out of the characters’ control.
His influence is uprooted by seizing control of
Layer One reality and focusing on chronological existence.
Kuvoj represents physical stress as reality pulls
apart. Characters need to leap between the Impulses: Calm 5 | Force 5 | Reason 5
expanding and separating objects around them, Renown 5 | Scheme 5
acting to pull everything back into place while
resisting the same effects on their own bodies. Abilities: Fugue. Kuvoj acts twice per round. He
first scrambles the timeline, causing mental stress
Impulses: Daring 5 | Focus (Physics) 5 | Force 5 as Spirit damage. Secondly, in scrambling the
Reason 5 | Scheme 5 timeline, Kuvoj undoes a character’s action and
forces them to roll again with a different Impulse.
Abilities: Exertion. When characters attempt to The character may either use this new Impulse
rearrange objects and the chamber itself back into roll to reenact their original action with a new
order, Kuvoj will defend. Kuvoj acts by creating flavor or try something completely different
voids between characters and throwing objects.
Layer Five
Layer Two Kuvoj represents emotional stress as he begins to
Kuvoj represents toxic stress as he now interacts manifest, not in shape but as a palpable presence
inside the characters’ own bodies, poisoning them alongside the characters. The characters may now
from within. The characters must safely target the finally target Kuvoj directly to dislodge his last
sickness and inebriants within each other. clutches on local reality.

Impulses: Daring 5 | Focus (Chemicals) 5 | Grit 5 Impulses: Feeling 5 | Hope 5 | Renown 5


Hope 5 | Style 5 Style 5 | Trust 5

Abilities: Intoxication. If a character fails an Abilities: Distortion. Kuvoj appears as a rippling


action against Kuvoj, they instead harm an ally. effect out of the corner of the characters’ eyes,
A character affected by Kuvoj’s Focus becomes accompanied by an uneasy pressure
inebriated and acts with a random Impulse. from shifting directions. He strikes
twice per round, stirring intense
Layer Three emotional reactions from within
Kuvoj represents nutritional stress as the chara- the characters.
cters are taxed and exhausted. Struggling against
Kuvoj means self-care and supporting each

49
other’s health.
50
The preceding chapters explain the rules of the game. Spell: The RPG
is written with the understanding that rules of play sometimes differ
from the rules of the game. This section will help the GM and the players
resolve the more subjective sections of the rules and serve as a guide to
bending, breaking, and making new rules.
The Game Moderator, or GM, has an extra responsibility as the host of
the game and facilitator of the story. By default, each player takes the role
of just one character, so the GM plays everyone and everything else in the
whole world. It can sound intimidating, but with some preparation and
the willingness to wing it from time to time, it can be totally manageable
and very rewarding.

Conflict
Resolution 3. Whatever the GM says. Speakers have
a lot of power, but ultimately the GM
There are a lot of loose rules and almost is the most powerful. This power must
everything is up to interpretation. This always be exercised responsibly and in
might lead to disagreements from time to the best interest of the players. It’s not
time, which is to be expected, but they can the GM’s job to “win” or tell the players
be addressed before they become arguments what to do, but it’s important to have a
that harm players or result in table flipping. final authority for arbitration.
There are three rules for how to resolve these
situations, ranked by priority: Playing a roleplaying game together is an
act of imagination and creativity that requires
1. Whatever makes sense. If everyone consent between players. Before play begins,
mutually agrees (or admits) that an discuss boundaries for content, themes, and the
action or interpretation makes sense in tone of the game. The terms “lines” and “veils”
the context, then go with it. Just because refer to addressing difficult content in games:
something worked once, doesn’t mean some things are crossing a line, excluded entirely
it’ll always work, so consider each from the table; other things are behind a veil,
case individually. existing in the narrative of the game, but not
at all described. Each group will use lines and
2. Whatever is the most fun. Ultimately, veils differently for violence, sexual content,
play takes priority over the game itself language, or other mature themes. Establishing
and so long as players aren’t specifically these boundaries before the game starts prevents
disadvantaged, then whatever option any upsetting surprises, though it may still be
results in the most fun for everyone necessary to keep checking in throughout the

51
involved is the way to go. course of play.
Spell: The RPG encourages the use of the Script there will be situations where busting down
Change set of rules by Brie Sheldon. The three doors would be exceptionally difficult or even
primary tools Script Change provides are “pause,” counter-productive. On the other hand, even if
“rewind,” and “fast forward.” If play is going in a the character goes on to madly bust down all the
direction anyone at the table finds uncomfortable, doors, the consequences for doing so offer the
due to content, too comedic or too dramatic of a potential for interesting story, conflict, and
tone, or any other reason, that player (including maybe a little personal growth.
the GM) may call for a Script Change. Pause

Balancing
asks for the game to stop long enough to talk
about the issue and decide how or if to move

Confrontation
forward. Rewind asks for the game to jump
backwards and either undo or redo something
objectionable. Fast forward asks for the game to
jump ahead, skipping over something that can A major consideration for design in most
still occur within the narrative of the game, but roleplaying games is the issue of how character
not described — like veils, above. The full text options compare to one another and the setting.
and more information on Brie Sheldon’s Script This issue is usually referred to as “game balance.”
Change can be found at briecs.com. It’s important for the mage to be balanced against
the warrior and both against the rogue; they

Choosing
don’t all have to be equal or be able to do the
same things, but they need to be equally viable.

Impulses
If certain abilities are too powerful or far too
weak, they can feel unfair and the game — or,
at least, those abilities — becomes unbalanced.
Impulses are vague and wide in their applicable The question is, then, when the characters
scope and deliberately so. Deciding which can literally spell out whatever they want
Impulse is most applicable may sometimes be and it changes reality, how can that possibly
challenging because of this. The intention is be balanced?
that any character build could hypothetically
accomplish anything, just in a different way. For basic, non-contested actions, this is simple
The trick, then, is to not overthink it. enough. Before a Spell is cast, the player must
explain what they hope to accomplish, but not
For any given action, it’s more important to how they’ll accomplish it — that’s what the Spell’s
consider the ultimate goal of what’s being for. The player must make their end goal clear:
accomplished and then figure out how it’s “I want to get to the other side of this door,” “I
done. In the example of Vesuvius, Corialus, want this monster to stop attacking us,” or “I want
and the lock, the actual action in question this person to agree with me.” Once the goal is
wasn’t picking the lock, but getting through clear, the difficulty of the action is all based on
the door. The Impulse used determines how a numbers. If the goal is exceptionally difficult,
goal is accomplished and, therefore, certain penalties and difficulties exist to make sure
Impulses would be better suited for that it’s hard. When a Spell is formed, it really
different situations. A character only describes how the character accomplished
could rely exclusively on the goal; the dice decide whether or not it was
Force to muscle their way accomplished. For Spells, if the player is able to
through all of their spell and justify a certain word after their roll,
problems, but the character completes the action.

52
In contested actions, when Spirit is at stake, Spells more enjoyable for everyone. If everyone
the same principle holds true. If two characters working together still doesn’t yield results, then
are fighting with Spells and one uses “NUKE” one of two things can happen: no word is formed
and the other uses “FISH,” the results will seem and the player tries again later or the rules get
wildly different. The former may launch a mini bent a little. There’s nothing wrong with not
rocket from their hand that explodes into a tiny being able to come up with the right word and
mushroom cloud; the latter slaps the former sometimes no word is better than an ill-fitting
with a fish. The actual Spirit damage dealt — the word. That said, it can be a little disappointing
efficacy of the action — is defined by the dice to turn up with nothing, so there are some ways
rolled. It may turn out that the nuclear explosion to get creative.
was less effective than the fish-slap.
If the character (not just the player) is multilin-
The GM has to describe how the Spell gual, Spells can be made in whatever languages
manifests according to its efficacy, while the character (and hopefully the player too)
still making it sound as awesome as possible. knows. It makes total sense in the context of
The player who spelled “NUKE” might expect the world: Speakers recognize the letters from
an atom bomb’s worth of force, but not only the descriptions of reality around them and are
would that be utterly ridiculous, it also wouldn’t able to translate them into the language(s) that
be very appropriate for how they rolled or their they understand. This can always be allowed.
intended goal. Through the course of a campaign,
weird words are guaranteed to come up that may Language is a highly subjective, cultural,
seem game-breakingly unbalanced; it’s up to the and amorphous thing. Though dictionaries
GM to embrace the theme of the Spell, but keep it can become like grimoires for grammatically
clearly within the context of the actual numbers inclined Speakers, there are many perfectly
being rolled around. This way, you get the best viable “words” that translate well enough into
of both worlds: awesome, ridiculous powers, Spells. Proper nouns, like names of established
but sustained and reasonable stats. individuals, can be powerful ways to channel
that individual’s power. Common acronyms,

Spelling It Out
like ASAP or LOL, are considered valid, as well
as generally understood slang. Onomatopoeia,
such as BANG or WHOOSH, are also descriptive
Sometimes it’ll be really hard for a player to enough to work. Even character-based emojis,
come up with a word, especially at the start of like XD (laughing face) or TAT (crying eyes, sad
the game. Maybe they got a lousy selection of mouth), can adequately inflict emotions. If this
letters or not enough; maybe they can spell rule is exploited, the GM may decide the Spell
plenty of words, but none of them make sense; counts as a deliberate misspelling.
they might be one letter off from the perfect
Spell and can’t wrap their head around any Reality doesn’t come with a spell check for Spells.
other options. These things will all happen If a character deliberately spells a Spell wrong,
from time to time and there’s a number of then it might still work, but with some unforeseen
things the GM can do. consequences. If it’s accidental, politely inform
the player of the correct spelling and then let
First, it’s usually okay to let players help each them choose if they want to break reality. It’s a
other out with Spells. Unless there’s some kind Spell that’s had the corners cut and been forced
of dramatic conflict of interest, allowing players to work, so it’ll work... well enough. Sometimes,
to work together makes the moments of forming the dangerous effects of altering reality might

53
just be worth it. Deliberate misspelling can also quickly generate a small repertoire. If that will
include rotating letters, turning an M into a W take too much time, the NPC can always just rely
or a sideways C into a U. on making new Spells for the first encounter. The
GM might want to spend some time between
As a last resort, the GM can use a word finder sessions coming up with random generic Spells
online and offer hints. Players aren’t allowed using letter sets to keep as a reference for later.
to do this because that’d be cheating. GM’s are

Unintended
encouraged to only provide helpful hints and
teasing suggestions to help the player consider

Consequences
new options, not dictate the best options. This
is the absolute final resort, for when no word can
be hilariously and catastrophically misspelled and
having no word at all would just be too heart- Spells can have certain drawbacks or strange
breaking. Ultimately, per the rules above, what’s side effects. For the most part, these are minor,
most fun and fair wins out. A good resource is mostly amusing, and obvious. Two easy questions
Wordsmith.org’s advanced Internet Anagram to consider for these low-impact consequences
Server with the “Show candidate word list only” are: 1) what else does the Spell do, beyond the
option set to “Yes.” original goal? and 2) what was taken away in
order to make the Spell?

NPC Spells Successful Spells always accomplish their goals


in a way that makes sense and is definitely a net
The players will inevitably encounter other positive. However, if the Spell is too vague or
characters with powers similar to their own. specific in the wrong way, it can still have some
The characters played by the GM are referred minor side effects. If a disguise Spell is something
to as non-player characters, or NPCs. Since like “CONFUSE” or “MIX UP,” the character will
the powers that a character stockpiles over time be successfully disguised, but it might make their
come up organically and randomly, coming up face look like a Picasso while the Spell is active.
with characters on the fly can be awkward. It’s Again, these consequences are more about adding
always recommended to randomly generate fun to the game, not punishing characters. New
letters for Spells ahead of time, even if there’s Spells cast and then not kept will have no lasting
a specific theme or powerset the character is effect once their magic ends, but permanent
supposed to have. If an NPC is supposed have Spells may leave their marks; players absolutely
fire-based powers, instead of giving them “FIRE,” get a say in how their character changes
try cycling through a few letter sets first to see over time.
what comes up. Maybe the character ends up
with “BLAST” or “IGNITE” or some other Once expanded and misspelled Spells come into
related word that still fits the theme, but maybe play, however, the drawbacks have to really mean
wouldn’t have been thought of otherwise. This something. The magnitude of Spell drawbacks
keeps the NPCs feeling a bit more fair to the are in increments of 6: if the dice pool (before
players as well, since they had to go through penalties) for a Spell is 1–6, use the above; if
the same process of generating Spells. 7–12, the Spell is epic; if 13–18, the Spell is of
a magnificently rare power; if 19+, someone’s
If an NPC is simply forced into existence and probably cheating. Each increment can be
their exact Spells become unavoidably relevant, referred to in tiers: 1–6 is Tier 1, 7–12 is Tier
then the GM can use the online tools above to 2, and so on. Deliberately misspelled Spells, or

54
“forced” Spells, are considered one tier higher
for calculating drawbacks; co-op Spells, no matter
the number of participants, are considered one
tier lower. These tiers can also be used within the
setting to describe Spell strength, though it’d be
much less exact, since characters aren’t aware
of dice. Ideally, the Spell used
is still worth whatever
Tier 1 is safe: the consequences are only consequence it incurs;
cosmetic and narrative, as described above. even if there’s a high cost,
At Tier 2, Spells have an immediate and notice- the Speaker gets a net positive from it.
able backlash. Choose from the list or roll a single
die to determine the effect. Consequences may Tier 3 Spells are rare and only used when
also be invented using the chart as a reference. the Speaker really needs that many dice to
work with — which is valuable in overcom-
ing the significant penalties and massive diffi-
Result Effect
culty they’ll likely have. The cost is about equal
to or perhaps greater than whatever the Spell is
An Unspeakable
looking to accomplish. The goal simply needs to
1 comes into being and it
is ferociously unhappy. be met, so no cost is too high; perhaps the fate of
the world is at stake or the character’s running
late for a very important date. The above chart
An Unspeakable comes
can be used as a guide, but increase the magni-
2 into being and it’s kind of
tude of each option: instead of one Unspeakable,
a hassle for everyone.
it’s many; the “surroundings” that are affected
include a whole city or county; the kickback on
The Spell draws too much from the Spell affects more than just the caster and/or
3 the surroundings and now in a way far more permanent.
something important is missing.
For Tier 4+, have fun. Seriously. To even get this
The Spell draws too much far, there have to be some incredible thematic
4 from the surroundings and elements at play and the scenario is likely already
changed them irreparably. fairly well structured. This is universe/reality/
time-altering levels of magic, so go nuts.
The Spell has mighty

Unspeakably
kickback, causing unblockable
5 Spirit damage (roll one die)
as a result.

The Spell has some kickback,


Weird
causing unblockable Spirit One of the largest areas of customization on the
6 damage (roll one die and halve GM’s part will be the treatment and inclusion of
the value, round up). non-human individuals in the world. Collectively
and colloquially referred to as “Unspeakables,”
The above are far from the only options possible these characters cover a massive range from
and won’t always be the best fit for a situation. violently feral monsters to mostly average folks

55
with unusual variations. Below are a few different
ways to approach the variety of options.

Special Interests
Those who retain their humanity, sentience,
conscience, or some combination thereof are
likely going to have a unique experience in the
world. They may face hardships due to their
anomalies or celebrity due to their uniqueness.
No matter what, society will address these
individuals somehow. There may be
social groups that advocate for their
rights, research teams endlessly
studying everything about them,
or bullies that hate them just
because they’re different. How the world treats
them — likely including varying ratios of all of
the above — depends on the campaign and the
themes of each specific game. permanent way. There are certainly ways to
undo these changes, but it’s incredibly difficult.
Consider including special study programs at An individual would have to be versed in the
schools and labs focusing on Spells and their anatomy of whatever they were dealing with, as
effects on the world, special legislation that might well as Speaker magic. Additionally, repeated
deal with fringe cases, or various other mundane uses of transformative Spells could just make the
facets to clearly supernatural elements. It’ll help whole issue worse. Usually, tools for adapting and
the setting feel fuller and more immersive. coping are more effective than trying to change all
the way back.

Chimeras & Chimeras are when two distinct things are


combined together. This may seem like a good
Transformations idea, but it rarely is. Mixing something inanimate
with the living is usually a bit easier, but there’s a
There are a few ways one can end up in the cate- big difference between using the Spell “ROCK”
gory of “unusual.” Some are simply born that way, on oneself to get rocky armor and “MESH” on
either from a genetic inheritance from an altered a pile of rocks to add it onto a body. The former
parent or due to the unforeseen consequences of has a certain logic to it, letting it work the way
powerful wishes. Others will become that way it was intended; the latter is messy, since the
later on in life through some specific Spell or rocks aren’t inherently part of the Spell. When
constant exposure to them. two consciousnesses are at play, rarely will they
blend seamlessly. Even when they do — and don’t
Transformations are the most common of end up as a creature with two different-thinking
this latter category. These are individuals who heads — that’s a very jarring and difficult thing
have either changed themselves or have been for those two things, now one, to go through.
changed by another in some significant and Additionally, it’s even more difficult to undo.

56
Such permanent transformations are only the is unique. On the flip side, introducing bizarre
result of rare and powerful Spells, likely at least elements to otherwise mundane environments,
Tier 2. By default, Spell effects will revert once like a centaur police officer or a corporate
their goal has been accomplished, even if the skyscraper with silly rocket elevators, allows
Spell is kept permanently. Irreparably changing unique ways to spice up the rest of the world.
someone against their will is a massive taboo and

Alternate
is considered foul magic if done intentionally.

Ferals Histories
Monsters brought into existence by Spells Not only will a modern world of Spell: The RPG
are entirely alien creatures. These are things be a different version of present day, it will also
conjured into being for a specific purpose (the have had a parallel history that includes magic
goal of the Spell) that sometimes stick around and monsters. Of course, if the game setting is
afterwards. Establish and make clear whether fantasy, futuristic, or otherwise original — as
or not these creatures are sentient, unless the in, not based on the real world — these sorts of
campaign specifically wants to explore themes things will be built into the history by default. By
of what it means to be alive. Feral monsters can having a campaign where the only difference is
serve the same role as robots do in ‘80s cartoons: the inclusion of Spells and the universal language,
remorseless battle fodder. Fight scenes are fun there’s a lot of opportunity to explore how
and can be enjoyed guilt-free if the players know familiar historical events would change.
the things they’re killing aren’t technically alive.
It’s important to set the expectations of whether Consider the Industrial Revolution: a Speaker
baddies and beasties are free to be beat up on could hypothetically conjure into existence a
until they poof into nothingness or if the hyper-complex and super-efficient machine.
players can save and find homes for them. With enough time, they could make infinite
copies of it. However, no Spell is infallible. The
Industrial Revolution, then, may have been
Fitting In sparked by one such super machine, but was
quickly commandeered by non-Speakers seeking
A world with monsters and chimeras, purposeful to build comparable — or better — machines
and accidental, is going to have some measures to that they could fully understand, continue to
address them. In addition to the aforementioned improve, and fix when broken. The revolution
research and study programs, there might be
monster collectors, both of the animal control
and bounty hunter variety, and rehab facilities,
ranging from plush assisted living ranches to
terrifying “conditioning” centers. Some zoos
will have dragons and manticores as special
attractions; some folks will have horns or tails.

When these manifestations of weirdness are


called out, like when characters have to infiltrate
a research facility or work with a team of hunters,
the GM gets to explain how this particular setting

57
still happened, in a way, but it also helps define
magic’s role in the world. Most folks don’t want to
rely on it exclusively. As an inverse to “sufficiently
advanced technology is indistinguishable from
magic,” a Speaker would have to be a brilliant
engineer to build, refine, adjust, and develop
complex machines with magic alone. At that
point, magic is only a tool in the process of
development, not the end result.

Other periods in history can be reinterpreted in


a similar fashion. Magic is a spark, a component,
in the overall course of humanity. Play can begin
in any setting or at any point throughout history.
Events such as wars, explorations, or pastoral life
can all serve as backdrops, adjusted slightly with
the addition of magic. Entirely original worlds
can be built, complete with pantheons and their
mythologies, and played in. GM’s may even
choose to adapt their favorite books, movies,
cartoons, or other media into a campaign
with some tweaking of how Spells work.

Now Go Play!
There are endless factors and variables that go
into building a unique and engaging setting,
campaign, and story. In fact, if a GM tried
to plan for everything ahead of time, they’d
never get the chance to actually start the
game. Not unlike using Spells, focus on the
goal and theme of a campaign and don’t
sweat how to get there. Player input and
decisions will take stories wildly off track
and that’s great! If a hole pops up in the
narrative, fill it in as you go or chock it
up to magical nonsense. There are folks
out there who can alter reality, after all.

If everyone is having fun by the end of


session, you’re doing alright — and there are
many valid ways to have fun, whether that’s
laughing through silliness or crying together
over heart-wrenching storytelling. How to play
is up to you, so remember the final rule: enjoy!

58
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