spellcast - a game of duelling wizards
spellcast remotedisplay [ remotedisplay ... ]
One game window will appear on the default display (determined by the
contents of the DISPLAY environment variable.) The second will appear
on remotedisplay, which should be either an internet host name or a
complete X display identifier (host:0.0, for example.) (If just a host
name is given, display 0 and screen 0 are assumed.) If more
remotedisplay arguments are supplied, additional windows will appear on
those screens, and you will have a game with three or more players.
All other machines must add your machine to their X access lists, using
xhost + <machine_name>. Please be careful with this since using xhost
+ you open a really big hole in the security of your system. You should
only allow access to trusted machines.
There is a maximum of seven remotedisplay arguments -- ie, an eight-
The game makes use of two X resources:
Sets the name used for your wizard. If you do not set this resource,
the game assigns the names "White", "Black", "Red", and so forth.
By default, each character is male. You can specify a gender by giving
a namestring of the form
name:f for a female character,
name:m for a male,
name:n for a character whose gender is ambiguous or not well-defined in
human terms, and
name:x for a genderless character.
The font used for all text and labels in the game window. This should
not be larger than about 12-point, or things will start to overflow
This is a game concerning the imaginary conflict between two or more
powerful wizards in a duel of sorcery. The opponents perform magical
gestures with their hands to create their supernatural weapons --
spells. Some are so potent as to be able to blind a man, call forth
terrifying creatures, or even kill the unfortunate victim instantly.
Consequently each wizard must rely on his own cunning to be able to
time enough defensive spells to avoid the brunt of his adversary’s
attack, yet force in sufficient offensive spells of his own to crack
the magical armour of his opponent, and kill the wizard outright. The
inventor wishes to state that he has never been involved in a magical
duel but would be interested to discover how realistic the game is for
those who have...
In a turn, each wizard can either gesture with his hands for part of a
spell, stab with his knife, or do nothing. They use both hands, and the
hands can act either independently or in concert. Monsters cannot make
magical gestures but will obey their masters’ commands exactly --
although the identity of the master could change as a result of
enchantment. Since wizards are trained intelligent humans, they are
able to gesture and attack, using both hands independently or in
conjunction. Each monster, being an untrained, unintelligent biped,
attacks the same way every time and picks whichever victim its master
decides. As a result, only wizards can gesture and cast spells.
Players personally acquainted with monsters who wish to vouch for their
ability to cast spells are requested to keep quiet.
After choosing his or her gestures, each wizard must make a certain
number of decisions -- choosing targets for his spells, ordering his
monsters to attack particular targets, deciding the effects of certain
spells, and so forth. After all players have chosen their gestures and
made any necessary decisions, the effects of all spells and attacks are
resolved simultaneously. The next turn then begins.
THE GAME WINDOW
The spellcast window is divided into seven sections.
The text window
This is a large rectangle in the upper left side of the window. It
describes what happens in the duel, blow by blow. There is a scroll bar
on the left side of the text window.
The gesture history list
This is several columns of small squares in the upper right side of the
window -- one pair of columns for each player. The player’s names are
listed at the tops of the columns.
Each column lists the recent gestures made by each player’s left and
right hands. The most recent gestures are at the bottom; as more turns
pass, the columns scroll upwards. Each square may show a spell-gesture,
a knife stab, or no gesture (an empty square). There may also be a
’disruption’ icon, indicating that an ’anti-spell’ has interrupted that
wizard’s gestures at that point, or a ’fog’ icon, indicating that you
could not see that gesture (because of blindness, for example.)
Note that everyone’s columns in the history list do not necessarily
scroll at the same rate. If one player makes extra gestures (because of
a ’time-stop’ or ’haste’), his column will scroll up extra spaces. Do
not assume that gestures that appear to be lined up actually were
performed at the same time.
You also use the gesture history list to enter your gestures. At the
beginning of each turn, the bottom (most recent) gestures in your
column will be empty. (The bottom gestures in your opponent’s column
will be fogged, since you cannot see his gestures until you both finish
choosing.) If you move the mouse into one of your bottom gesture
squares, and hold down the left mouse button, a pop-up menu will
appear, listing the possible gestures with that hand. When you have
chosen gestures for both hands, press the "End Move" button.
The status window
This is the small window just below the gesture columns. It lists the
name and status of every living being in the arena. Your name is at the
top; your opponent’s names are on successive lines. Names of monsters
are indented, and listed below the wizards who control them. (Monsters
who are uncontrolled are indented and listed at the top of the status
window -- this occurs mostly in three-player game where a wizard has
summoned a monster and then died.) There is a scroll bar on the window,
in case you manage to have more beings than will fit.
After each name is the number of hit points that being has left. After
that, there may be some letters indicating that certain spells are in
H: resistant to heat
C: resistant to cold
P: protection from evil
This is a narrow window, one line tall, below the status window.
Anything you type will appear here (the cursor need not be in the
speech window.) When you hit Return, the message you have typed will
appear in each player’s text window.
The common Emacs editing keys will work: ctrl-F, ctrl-B, Delete, ctrl-
A, ctrl-E, ctrl-K.
Spell List button
This is a button labelled "Spell List", underneath the text window. If
you press and hold the mouse button on this button, a pop-up window
will appear, listing all the spells and the gestures that produce them.
If you use the left mouse button, the spell list will be sorted by
gesture. If you use the middle mouse button, the list will be sorted
alphabetically by spell name. If you use the right mouse button, the
list will be sorted by the reversed gesture sequence -- all the spells
that end with a clap, then all the spells that end with a digit, and so
forth. This is useful for looking up your opponent’s gestures to see
what he might be producing.
End Move / End Answers button
This is a button labelled "End Move", underneath the text window. You
should click it when you are finished entering your gestures at the
start of the turn. If the button changes to read "Move ENDED", then you
should wait for your opponent to finish entering his gestures.
When the last player presses the "End Move" button, the game will
determine which players need to make decisions (about spell targets or
other matters.) The decisions you need to make will be listed in the
questions window below, and the "End Move" button will change to read
"End Answers". When you are finished answering, press the button, and
it will change to "Answers ENDED".
If at any time the button reads "please wait...", then you have nothing
to do but wait. (This may be because there are no decisions you have to
make this turn, or because your opponent is taking an extra turn
because of a ’time stop’ or something similar.) When your opponent is
finished, he will click his "End" button and the game will proceed.
When the duel is over, this button will change to say "Quit". When all
players have pressed it, the windows will be removed and the program
This is the wide rectangle at the bottom of the screen. Whenever the
game has decisions for you to make, it will put them in this window,
one per line. (There is a scroll bar, in case there are more questions
than lines.) Move the cursor onto a question and hold down the mouse
button to get a pop-up menu listing the possible answers.
You must have answers to all the questions before you click the "End
Answers" button. In some cases, there will be default answers already
listed. You may change the answer or leave it alone.
At the end of the game, in addition to his "Quit" button, the player
who started the game will see the question "Do you want to save a
transcript of this game?" If he answers "yes" before hitting "Quit",
the program will store a text transcript of the game in a temporary
directory (usually /tmp, unless your environment is configured
otherwise.) This transcript will show all gestures made by each player,
as well as all the text of the game, as seen by an outside observer.
Everything said by any of the players will also be in the transcript,
including comments made after the end of the game. The filename of the
transcript will be printed on the standard output when all players have
Spells are created by sequences of gestures made with the hands. There
are five single-handed gestures: the fingers spread "F", the palm
facing forward, "P", the snap "S", the wave "W" and the pointing digit
"D". Some spells use two-handed gestures, which must be done
simultaneously with both hands to be valid. The most common two-handed
gesture is the clap "(c", but the double digit "(d", double wave "(w",
and double snap "(s" are also used. The other things which can be done
with the hand are the non-gestures: the knife stab "k" and nothing " ".
(In the game, the gestures are represented by images of the hands in
the various positions. The single-letter and parenthesis-letter
abbreviations are used only to make this man page readable.)
To cast a spell, gestures are put in an order characteristic of a
spell. A list of spells (including the gestures needed for them) is
given later. For example, 3 finger gestures on consecutive turns (F-F-
F) initiates a ’paralysis’ spell. The uniqueness of the game, however,
is that gestures can be made to operate in more than one spell,
a) the gestures have been made in the correct sequence without
b) not more than one spell is created per gesture;
c) all gestures for one spell are made with the same hand.
For instance, the left hand could cast the F-F-F above and could be
followed by S-S-D-D in the next 4 turns to finish off a ’fireball’
spell (F-S-S-D-D) as the last 5 gestures are those associated with that
spell. Another alternative is to simply perform another F for a second
paralysis spell, as the last 3 gestures are still F-F-F. Thus, it is
apparent that if spells are used in a wise manner and overlap a lot,
the overall number of gestures needed to cast them can be cut quite
If a gesture can be construed to create two or more spells then the
caster must choose which one he wants to use. For example, the last two
gestures of a ’finger of death’ are the same as ’missile’, yet only on
odd occasions would the latter be used. Another example of the one-
spell-per-gesture concept is the following:
Right hand: P P W S Last 4 gestures form ’invisibility’
Left hand: W W W S Last 3 gestures form ’counter-spell’
The trouble here is the ’invisibility’ spell needs both hands to
perform certain gestures. However, since the final S of the left hand
cannot complete two spells it is clear that a choice must be made
between the W-W-S of the ’counter-spell’ and the P-P-(w-(s of the
invisibility. The caster must choose one spell if the gestures are
completed in the correct sequence. Most spells can be shot off to
nowhere if not required, but some cannot be; for example, ’fire storm’,
which gets you no matter where it is released. Some of the larger
spells have smaller ones incorporated within.
Spells can be aborted any way along their development simply by
performing a gesture with the hand doing the spell which is not one
needed for that spell. There is no penalty, save having wasted some
time. Note that no spells contain "stab", "nothing", or "C" (half of a
clap) and consequently after pursuing one of these alternatives, any
spell must start from scratch. Note also that wizards only have one
dagger each, so they cannot stab with both hands at the same time
(although they can change hands for stabbing without wasting time.)
Such are the disadvantages of physical violence...
Certain spells cancel each other if they take effect simultaneously. An
obvious example is ’finger of death’ and ’raise dead’. Cancellation
occurs when the subject for the spells concerned is the same person,
although there are some of the heat versus cold variety which don’t
care who is the subject. Other spells which cancel harmlessly are
mostly the enchantments, which direct that something be done which may
be impossible to obey due to some contradiction (e.g. you cannot both
repeat last turn’s gestures and give a random gesture with one hand, as
you would if the subject of the spells ’amnesia’ and ’confusion’ at
Since spells detonate simultaneously, there is occasionally confusion
over spells which don’t cancel, yet which seem to depend on which
happened first. The best example is when a monster is created and, on
the same turn, hit by a ’fireball’, or something else sufficient to
kill it. Since both are simultaneous, the monster will attack that turn
whilst being destroyed. (There are some exceptions explicitly
mentioned, for example ice elementals in ’ice storm’, or ’counter-
spell’ / ’dispel magic’ against all other spells.)
Another example of a seeming conflict is when someone who is resistant
to fire is the subject of both a ’remove enchantment’ and ’fireball’;
the enchantment is removed as the fireball explodes (since they are
simultaneous) hence the poor victim is fried. If, instead, he were not
resistant to fire and was hit by a ’resist fire’ and ’fireball’ at
once, then he would start to resist fire as the fireball exploded and
thus be saved.
Before the battle commences, the referee casts a ’dispel magic’
followed by an ’anti-spell’ at each of the wizards. This is so that
they cannot commence gesturing prematurely. Thus being resistant to
fire in your last battle doesn’t do you any good in the next.
Each wizard can sustain 14 points of damage, but on the 15th or above
he dies and the surviving wizard is declared the winner. Simultaneous
death is a posthumous draw. Damage given to wizards and monsters is
cumulative (so you don’t have to do it all in one go!) Dead monsters
take no further part in the game.
There is another alternative to being killed, namely the ’surrender’.
This is not a spell, but a pair of P gestures made by both hands at the
same time. If any wizard does this (accidentally or deliberately), he
has surrendered, and will be eliminated from the game at the end of
that turn. See the end of the spell list for details.
There now follows, in four sections, a list of the spells which may be
This spell protects the subject from all attacks from monsters (that
is, creatures created by a summoning spell), from ’missile’ spells, and
from stabs by wizards. The shield lasts for that turn only, but one
shield will cover all such attacks made against the subject that turn.
Remove enchantment: P-D-W-P
If the subject of this spell is currently being affected by any of the
spells in the "enchantments" section, or if spells from that section
are cast at him at the same time as the remove enchantment, then all
such spells terminate immediately (although their effect for that turn
might already have passed.) For example, the victim of a ’blindness’
spell would not be able to see what his opponent’s gestures were on the
turn that his sight is restored by a ’remove enchantment’. Note that
the ’remove enchantment’ affects all enchantments whether the caster
wants them to all go or not. A second effect of the spell is to destroy
any monster upon which it is cast, although the monster can attack in
Magic mirror: (c-(w
Any spell cast at the subject of this spell is reflected back at the
caster of that spell for that turn only. This includes spells like
’missile’ and ’lightning bolt’ but does not include attacks by monsters
already in existence, or stabs from wizards. Note that certain spells
are cast by wizards usually upon themselves (e.g. spells from this
section and the "Summons" section); the mirror has no effect on these
spells. It is countered totally, with no effect whatsoever, if the
subject is the simultaneous subject of either a ’counter-spell’ or
’dispel magic’. It has no effect on spells which affect more than one
person, such as ’fire storm’. Two mirrors cast at someone
simultaneously combine to form a single mirror. If a spell is
reflected from a mirror back at a wizard who also has a mirror, the
spell bounces back and forth until it falls apart.
Counter-spell: W-P-P or W-W-S
Any other spell cast upon the subject in the same turn has no effect
whatever. In the case of blanket-type spells, which affect more than
one person, the subject of the ’counter-spell’ alone is protected. For
example, a ’fire storm’ spell would not affect a wizard if that wizard
was simultaneously the subject of a ’counter-spell’, but everyone else
would be affected as usual (unless they had their own protection.) The
’counter-spell’ will cancel all the spells cast at the subject for that
turn, including ’remove enchantment’ and ’magic mirror’, but not
’dispel magic’ or ’finger of death’. It will combine with another spell
of its own type for the same effect as if it were alone. The ’counter-
spell’ will also act as a ’shield’ on its subject, in addition to its
other properties. The spell has two alternative gesture sequences,
either of which may be used at any time.
Dispel magic: (c-D-P-W
This spell acts as a combination of ’counter-spell’ and ’remove
enchantment’, but its effects are universal rather than limited to the
subject of the spell. It will stop any spell cast in the same turn from
working (apart from another ’dispel magic’ spell which combines with it
for the same result), and will remove all enchantments from all beings
before they have effect. In addition, all monsters are destroyed,
although they can attack that turn. ’Counter-spells’ and ’magic
mirrors’ have no effect. Like the ’counter-spell’, it also acts as a
’shield’ for its subject. ’Dispel magic’ will not dispel stabs or
surrenders, since they are not spells (although the ’shield’ effect may
block a stab.)
Raise dead: D-W-W-F-W-(c
The subject of this spell is usually a recently dead human or monster
corpse (it will not work on elementals, which dissipate when
destroyed.) When the spell is cast, life is instilled back into the
corpse and any damage which it has sustained is cured until the owner
is back to his usual state of health. A ’remove enchantment’ effect is
also manifest so any ’diseases’ or ’poisons’ will be neutralized (plus
any other enchantments). The subject will be able to act as normal
immediately, so that next turn he can gesture, fight, etc. If the
subject is a monster, it will be under the control of the wizard who
raised it, and it will be able to attack that turn.
If the spell is cast on a live individual, the effect is that of a
’cure wounds’ recovering 5 points of damage, or as many as have been
sustained if less than 5. In this case, ’diseases’, ’poisons’, and
other enchantments are not removed.
This is the only spell which affects corpses properly; therefore, it
cannot be stopped by a ’counter-spell’, since ’counter-spell’ can only
be cast on living beings. A ’dispel magic’ spell will stop it, since
that affects all spells no matter what their subject. Once alive the
subject is treated as normal.
Cure light wounds: D-F-W
If the subject has received damage then he is cured by 1 point as if
that point had not been inflicted. (Recall that all spells are resolved
simultanously; if a wizard is suffers his 15th point of damage at the
same time as he is affected by ’cure light wounds’, he will remain
alive with 14 points of damage at the end of the turn.) The effect is
not removed by a ’dispel magic’ or ’remove enchantment’.
Cure heavy wounds: D-F-P-W
This spell is the same as ’cure light wounds’ for its effect, but 2
points of damage are cured instead of 1, or only 1 if only 1 had been
sustained. A side effect is that the spell will also cure a disease.
(Note that ’raise dead’ on a live individual won’t).
Summon Goblin: S-F-W
This spell creates a goblin under the control of the wizard upon whom
the spell is cast. The goblin can attack immediately and its victim can
be any any wizard or other monster the controller desires. The goblin
does 1 point of damage to its victim per turn and is destroyed after 1
point of damage is inflicted upon it.
Summon Ogre: P-S-F-W
This spell is the same as ’summon goblin’, but the ogre created
inflicts and is destroyed by 2 points of damage rather than 1.
Summon Troll: F-P-S-F-W
This spell is the same as ’summon goblin’, but the troll created
inflicts and is destroyed by 3 points of damage rather than 1.
Summon Giant: W-F-P-S-F-W
This spell is the same as ’summon goblin’, but the giant created
inflicts and is destroyed by 4 points of damage rather than 1.
Summon Elemental: (c-S-W-W-S
This spell creates either a fire elemental or an ice elemental, at the
discretion of the wizard upon whom the spell is cast (after he has seen
all the gestures made that turn.)
Elementals must be cast at someone and cannot be "shot off" harmlessly
at some inanimate object. The elemental will, for that turn and until
destroyed, attack everyone (including its owner, and other monsters),
causing 3 points of damage per turn. Only wizards and monsters who are
resistant to the elemental’s element (heat or cold), or who have a
’shield’ or a spell with a ’shield’ effect, are safe. The elemental
takes 3 points of damage to be killed but may be destroyed by spells of
the opposite type (e.g. ’fire storm’, ’resist cold’ or ’fireball’ will
kill an ice elemental), and will also neutralize the cancelling spell.
Elementals will not attack on the turn they are destroyed by such a
spell. An elemental will also be engulfed and destroyed by a storm of
its own type but, in such an event, the storm is not neutralized
although the elemental still does not attack in that turn. Two
elementals of the opposite type will also destroy each other before
attacking, and two of the same type will join together to form a single
elemental of normal strength. If there are two opposite storms and an
elemental, or two opposite elementals and one or two storms, all storms
and elementals cancel each other out.
This spell creates a material object of hard substance which is hurled
towards the subject of the spell and causes him 1 point of damage. The
spell is thwarted by a ’shield’ in addition to the usual ’counter-
spell’, ’dispel magic’ and ’magic mirror’ (the latter causing it to hit
whoever cast it instead).
Finger of Death: P-W-P-F-S-S-S-D
Kills the subject stone dead. This spell is so powerful that it is
unaffected by a ’counter-spell’, although a ’dispel magic’ spell cast
upon the final gesture will stop it. The usual way to prevent being
harmed by this spell is to disrupt it during casting -- using an ’anti-
spell’, for example.
Lightning Bolt: D-F-F-D-D or W-D-D-(c
The subject of this spell is hit by a bolt of lightning and sustains 5
points of damage. Resistance to heat or cold is irrelevant. There are
two gesture combinations for the spell, but the shorter one may be used
only once per battle by any wizard. The longer one may be used without
restriction. A ’shield’ spell offers no defence.
Cause Light Wounds: W-F-P
The subject of this spell is inflicted with 2 points of damage.
Resistance to heat or cold offers no defence. A simultaneous ’cure
light wounds’ does not cancel the spell; it only heals one of the
points of damage. A ’shield’ has no effect.
Cause Heavy Wounds: W-P-F-D
This has the same effect as ’cause light wounds’ but inflicts 3 points
of damage instead of 2.
The subject of this spell is hit by a ball of fire, and sustains 5
points of damage unless he is resistant to fire. If at the same time an
’ice storm’ prevails, the subject of the ’fireball’ is instead not
harmed by either spell, although the storm will affect others as
normal. If directed at an ice elemental, the fireball will destroy it
before it can attack.
Fire storm: S-W-W-(c
Everything not resistant to heat sustains 5 points of damage that turn.
The spell cancels wholly, causing no damage, with either an ’ice storm’
or an ice elemental. It will destroy but not be destroyed by a fire
elemental. Two ’fire storms’ act as one.
Ice storm: W-S-S-(c
Everything not resistant to cold sustains 5 points of damage that turn.
The spell cancels wholly, causing no damage, with either a ’fire storm’
or a fire elemental; it will cancel locally with a ’fireball’, sparing
the subject of the ’fireball’ but nobody else. It will destroy but not
be destroyed by an ice elemental. Two ’ice storms’ act as one.
If the subject of this spell is a wizard, next turn he must repeat
identically the gestures he made in the current turn, including
"nothing" and "stab" gestures. If the subject is a monster it will
attack whoever it attacked this turn. If the subject is simultaneously
the subject of any of ’confusion’, ’charm person’, ’charm monster’,
’paralysis’ or ’fear’ then none of the spells work.
If the subject of this spell is a wizard, next turn one of his gestures
will be changed randomly. Either his left or his right hand (50% chance
of either) will perform a half-clap, palm, digit, fingers, snap, or
wave (chosen at random). (Recall that a one-handed clap is useless
unless the other hand also attempts to clap.) If the subject of the
spell is a monster, it attacks at random that turn. If the subject is
also the subject of any of ’amnesia’, ’charm person’, ’charm monster’,
’paralysis’ or ’fear’, none of the spells work.
Charm Person: P-S-D-F
Except for cancellation with other enchantments, this spell only
affects wizards. When the spell is cast, the caster tells the subject
which of his hands will be controlled; in the following turn, the
caster chooses the gesture he wants the subject’s chosen hand to
perform. This could be a stab or nothing. If the ’charm person’ spell
reflects from a ’magic mirror’ back at its caster, the subject of the
mirror assumes the role of caster and controls down his opponent’s
gesture. If the subject is also the subject of any of ’amnesia’,
’confusion’, ’charm monster’, ’paralysis’ or ’fear’, none of the spells
Charm Monster: P-S-D-D
Except for cancellation with other enchantments, this spell only
affects monsters (including elementals, though it’s not very usefel on
them!). Control of the monster is transferred to the caster of the
spell (or retained by him) as of this turn; i.e., the monster will
attack whosoever its new controller dictates from that turn onwards
including that turn. Further charms are, of course, possible,
transferring as before. If the subject of the charm is also the subject
of any of: ’amnesia’, ’confusion’, ’charm person’, ’fear’ or
’paralysis’, none of the spells work.
If the subject of the spell is a wizard, then on the turn the spell is
cast, after gestures have been revealed, the caster selects one of the
wizard’s hands; on the next turn that hand is paralyzed into the
position it is in this turn. If the wizard already had a paralyzed
hand, it must be the same hand which is paralyzed again. Most gestures
remain the same (including "stab" and "nothing"), but if the hand being
paralyzed is performing a C, S, or W it is instead paralyzed into F, D,
or P respectively. A favourite ploy is to continually paralyze a hand
(F-F-F-F-F-F etc.) into a non-P gesture and then set a monster on the
subject so that he has to use his other hand to protect himself, but
then has no defence against other magical attacks. If the subject of
the spell is a monster, it simply does not attack in the turn following
the one in which the spell was cast. Elementals are unaffected. If the
subject of the spell is also the subject of any of ’amnesia’,
’confusion’, ’charm person’, ’charm monster’ or ’fear’, none of the
In the turn following the casting of this spell, the subject cannot
perform a C, D, F or S gesture with either hand. (He can stab,
however.) This obviously has no effect on monsters. If the subject is
also the subject of ’amnesia’, ’confusion’, ’charm person’, ’charm
monster’ or ’paralysis’, then none of the spells work.
On the turn following the casting of this spell, the subject cannot
include any gestures made on or before this turn in a spell sequence
and must restart a new spell from the beginning of that spell sequence.
(This is marked by a special ’disruption’ icon interrupting the
subject’s gesture history.) The spell does not affect spells which are
cast on the same turn; nor does it affect monsters.
Protection from Evil: W-W-P
For this turn and the following three turns, the subject of this spell
is protected as if using a ’shield’ spell, thus leaving both hands
free. Concurrent ’shield’ spells offer no further protection, and
compound ’protection from evil’ spells merely overlap offering no extra
Resist Heat: W-W-F-P
The subject of this spell becomes permanently resistant to all forms of
heat attack (’fireball’, ’fire storm’ and fire elementals). Only
’dispel magic’ or ’remove enchantment’ will terminate this resistance
once started (although a ’counter-spell’ will prevent it from working
if cast at the subject at the same time as this spell). A ’resist heat’
cast directly on a fire elemental will destroy it before it can attack
that turn, but there is no effect on ice elementals.
Resist Cold: S-S-F-P
The effects of this spell are identical to ’resist heat’ but resistance
is to cold (’ice storm’ and ice elementals). It destroys ice elementals
if they are the subject of the spell, but doesn’t affect fire
The subject of this spell immediately contracts a deadly (non-
contagious) disease which will kill him at the end of 6 turns counting
from the one upon which the spell is cast. The malady is cured by
’remove enchantment’, ’cure heavy wounds’ or ’dispel magic’ in the
This is similar to the ’disease’ spell, except that ’cure heavy wounds’
does not stop its effects.
For the next three turns (not including the one in which the spell was
cast), the subject is unable to see. If he is a wizard, he cannot tell
what his opponent’s gestures are, although he will sense what spells
are cast. If he tries to cast spells (or stab) at other beings, he will
miss. Blinded monsters are instantly destroyed and cannot attack in
This spell is similar to ’blindness’; the subject of the spell becomes
invisible to his opponent and his monsters. His gestures cannot be
seen, although his spells can. No other being can attack or cast spells
at him, with the exception of elementals. Any monster made invisible
is destroyed due to the unstable nature of such magically created
For the next three turns, the subject is speeded up; wizards can make
an extra set of gestures, and monsters can make an extra attack. For
wizards, the effects of both sets of gestures are taken simultaneously
at the end of the turn. Thus a single ’counter-spell’ from his
adversary could cancel two spells cast by the hastened wizard on two
half-turns if the phasing is right. Non-hastened wizards and monsters
can see everything the hastened individual is doing. Hastened monsters
can change target in the extra turns if desired.
Time stop: S-P-P-(c
The subject of this spell immediately takes an extra turn, on which no-
one can see or know about unless they are harmed. All non-affected
beings have no resistance to any form of attack, e.g. a wizard halfway
through the duration of a ’protection from evil’ spell can be harmed by
a monster which has had its time stopped. Time-stopped monsters attack
whoever their controller instructs, and time-stopped elementals affect
everyone, resistance to heat or cold being immaterial in that turn.
Delayed effect: D-W-S-S-S-P
This spell must be cast upon a wizard. The next spell the subject
completes, provided it is in one of the next three turns, is "banked"
until needed -- i.e. it fails to work until its caster desires. (If
you have a spell banked, you will be asked each turn if you want to
release it.) Note that spells banked are those cast by the subject, not
those cast at him. If he casts more than one spell at the same time, he
chooses which is to be banked. Remember that P is a ’shield’ spell, and
surrender is not a spell. A wizard may only have one spell banked at
any one time.
This spell must be upon a wizard. The next spell he completes, provided
it is in the next three turns, and which falls into the category of
"Enchantments" will have its effect made permanent. (Exeptions: ’anti-
spell’, ’disease’, ’poison’, ’time-stop’, ’delayed effect’, and
’permanency’ cannot be made permanent. Note that ’resist heat’ and
’resist cold’ are inherently permanent enchantments.) This means that
the effect of the extended spell on the first turn of its duration is
repeated eternally. For example, a ’confusion’ spell will produce the
same gesture on the same hand rather than changing randomly each turn;
a ’charm person’ will mean repetition of the chosen gesture, etc. If
the subject of the ’permanency’ casts more than one spell at the same
time eligible for permanency, he chooses which has its duration
extended. Note that the person who has his spell made permanent does
not necessarily have to make himself the subject of the spell. If both
a ’permanency’ and ’delayed effect’ are eligible for the same spell to
be banked or extended, a choice must be made; whichever is not chosen
will affect the next eligible spell instead.
This is not a spell; consequently, it cannot be cast at anyone, nor can
it be dispelled, counter-spelled, reflected off a mirror, or banked. A
wizard who makes two simultaneous P gestures, irrespective of whether
they terminate spells or not, surrenders and the contest is over. The
surrendering wizard is deemed to have lost unless his gestures complete
spells which kill his opponent. Two simultaneous surrenders count as a
draw. It is a necessary skill for wizards to work their spells so that
they never accidentally perform two P gestures simultaneously. Wizards
can be killed as they surrender (if hit with appropriate spells or
attacks) but the "referees" will cure any diseases, poisons, etc.
immediately after the surrender for them.
This is not a spell, but an attack which can be directed at any
individual monster or wizard. Unless protected in that turn by a
’shield’ spell or another spell with the same effect, the target
stabbed suffers 1 point of damage. The wizard only has one knife, so
can only stab with one hand in any turn, although which hand doesn’t
matter. The stab cannot be reflected, counter-spelled, dispelled, or
Does not conform exactly to the original Spellcaster rules. Tough. Some
points of divergence:
The choosing of targets for monsters is handled much too late in the
round, and monster attacks are not perfectly simultaneous with spell
attacks. This results in a number of minor effects which are
inconsistent with the original rules. Since I don’t plan to do a major
rewrite anytime soon, you just get to live with it.
If ’remove enchantment’ is cast on a wizard who is also the subject of
a summoning spell, the summoned monster should be destroyed after
If a mind-control spell (paralysis, confusion, amnesia) is cast on a
monster by a time-stopped wizard, the spell should take effect on the
next turn, rather than (as currently happens) the turn after next.
The ’delayed effect’ and ’permanency’ spells should be able to bank or
extend spells cast during the same turn, as well as those cast during
the next three turns.
The original paper-and-pencil version of this game, entitled
Spellbinder, was created by Richard Bartle; it was printed in his zine
Sauce of the Nile. He attempted to have it commercially produced, but
apparently didn’t get very far.
It was reprinted (with some changes) as Spellcaster in the fanzine Duel
Purpose, written by Mike Lean. From there, it was scanned and posted to
the Net by Andrew Buchanan (firstname.lastname@example.org). I grabbed it
and wrote this X version.
Richard Bartle <email@example.com> would like to point out that
he is not at all dead. He has nicely given his permission to distribute
this program, as long as it remains free.
Andrew Plotkin <firstname.lastname@example.org>