Magic Primer

  • Originally posted on MagicRealm.Net: “A Primer on Magic; MR veteran Steve McKnight puts the magic system into simple terms. A great guide for new players, and a great reference for game play.”

By Steve McKnight

Combat Overview

Spells are cast only during rounds of combat during the combat phase of the day. Spell Phases that are recorded during the day are used to enchant hex tiles (turning them over) or Magic chits (converting them into color magic chits). Spell Phases cannot be used to cast spells. Each round of combat consists of the following steps:

Encounter Step

(The following activities are completed in order. Starting with the first player to move that day and going around the board in order, each player in the clearing takes their turn.)

  1. Luring
  2. Random assignment of unhired natives and monsters to unhidden characters and hired natives.
  3. Deployment of hired natives and Charging
  4. Actions: If player did not Charge, he can play a Move chit to run away OR a Fight chit to alert a weapon OR a Magic chit to cast a spell. Spells are cast here.
  5. If a character did not Charge or perform an action, he can activate and/or inactivate one item or weapon, or abandon/drop items

Melee Step

(Pick attention counters in the clearing to get random order for picking targets; the other activities are simultaneous.)

  1. Target specified. Spells go into effect.
  2. Select attack and maneuver directions. You can maneuver but not attack with a weapon if you successfully cast a spell.
  3. Resolve attacks (including attack spells).
  4. Apply harm

Fatigue Step

Fatigue Fight or Move chits if two Fight or Move effort asterisks were played. Note: Magic chits do not fatigue in the Fatigue Step. Color magic chits fatigue when they are played, and Magic chits fatigue when the spell expires. Magic chits that were “prepared” in an Alert phase during the Day fatigue at the end of combat even if they were not used to cast a spell.
Casting a spell is a two-step process: you cast the spell in the Encounter Step, and you specify a target in the Melee Step. The spell goes into effect after the target is specified in the Melee Step, before attacks and maneuvers are placed. Special: Attack spells (Fiery Blast, Stones Fly, Lightning Bolt) go into effect by being launched at the target(s), but they still have to hit the target (by matching direction or undercutting speed) and roll on the missile table if they hit, exactly like a missile weapon.

Casting a Spell in the Encounter Step

Spells are cast only in the Encounter Step when it’s the spellcaster’s turn to do an action, and casting a spell counts as an action-you can’t do another action. So, it’s either cast a spell OR alert a weapon OR run away. You also can’t cast a spell (or do any other action) if you charge, so you can’t prevent another character from running out of the clearing to avoid having a spell cast on him. (But if he takes his turn before you in the Encounter Step and neglects to run away before he realizes that you are casting a spell…!).

Casting a spell requires both 1) a Magic ritual and 2) color magic. The player has to play a Magic chit or Artifact/Spell Book of the right type for the spell (I-VIII) in the presence of the right color magic (white, grey, gold, purple, or black). Artifacts and Spell Books can only be used to cast one spell per day. Note that in some cases spell books cannot be used to play all of their spells! The Good Book, for example, is a Type I Spell Book and cannot be used to cast its Type VII spells.

Color magic can come from the day of the month, from the enchanted tile, from items with color magic, or from color magic that the characters create from their own magic chits. A character can use a color magic chit to cast one of his own spells. Unlike an item with color, color associated with the tile, or color due to the day, a character’s color magic counter doesn’t affect all the spells in the clearing and can’t be use to cast another spellcaster’s spell. (Note: you can use your color chits to activate another character’s Permanent Spell as described below). Color magic chits revert back to ordinary magic chits and fatigue as soon as they are played.

You can only cast the spell in the Encounter Step if the speed of the Magic chit played is lower than or equal to the speed of any Move chit (from a Charging character) and the move time of any monster or native assigned to your Melee Sheet. (Lower numbers are faster speeds.) Note that you can cast a spell even if your Magic chit has the same speed as a move time on your sheet, whereas to play a Move chit to run away or a Fight chit to alert a weapon, it has to be faster than the fastest move time on your sheet. Magic chits (but not color magic) counts toward effort limit during round. (Normally only two asterisks total can be played in any round of combat.)

Even if you successfully cast a spell in the Encounter Step, it doesn’t have any effect until you specify a target in the Melee Step.

Specifying a Target in the Melee Step

If you cast a spell in the Encounter Step, you select a target for your spell when your attention counter is selected in the Melee phase. If your target is an individual, he has to be in the clearing when you select a target. If your intended target is a character and he has run out of the clearing, you’re out of luck, you can’t pick that individual as a target. If you pick an inappropriate target (the clearing if the spell is supposed to be cast on a character, for example) the spell is broken and the Magic chit fatigues immediately. (If you used a color magic chit, it fatigued in the Encounter Step.)

You can cast spells while hidden, and if your target is not an individual (the clearing or some magic chits, for example) you remain hidden. When you select another individual or yourself as a target for a spell, you are immediately unhidden unless the Ambush advanced rule is in use. If the Ambush rule is used you can target yourself or one other individual with a spell while hidden and, if you pass a hide roll, remain hidden. You cannot target more than one character, native, or monster from ambush; you always become unhidden if you select two or more individuals as targets.

After all characters have selected their targets, spells go into effect, one by one, in the order of their speed. Prepared spells and Artifact/Spell Book spells have speed=0, and the speed of other spells=the speed of the Magic chit used to cast them. Important: If a character casting a spell is himself the target of a spell with a faster time, his spell is canceled before it goes into effect.

When a spell goes into effect, it remains committed to its target until it expires or is broken. Neither the spell itself nor the magic chit or Artifact/Spell Book used to cast it can be used again until after the spell expires. When the spell expires, the Magic chit used to cast it fatigues.

Types of Spells

Each spell has a type (I through VIII) of magic chit or Artifact/Spell Book that must be used to cast it, a color magic that needs to be present to cast it, a target type (individual, clearing, hex, action chit, etc), and a duration (instant, attack, combat, move, phase, day, or permanent).

An Instant Spell takes effect and expires as soon as players assign targets for spells in the Melee Step.

An Attack Spell creates one magical attack which expires when attacks and maneuvers are resolved in the Melee Phase after it is cast. The spellcaster secretly specifies the direction of the attack when attacks and maneuvers are placed (multiple targets are all attacked in the same direction) and resolves the effect when other attacks are resolved. An Attack Spell hits if it matches directions or undercuts the speed of its target. The speed of the magical attack is equal to speed of the Magic chit used to cast it. The speed of prepared spells and spells cast by an Artifact or Spell Book is 0; they automatically hit their target(s)! The spellcaster must roll separately on the Missile Table to modify the effect on each target that the Attack Spell hits.

A Combat Spell expires at the end of combat in the clearing on the day that the spell is cast.

Move and Phase Spells create special chits that can be saved and used at a future time, either whenever a move chit is played or whenever players can activate items at the beginning of any phase during the day or in the Encounter Step in combat. When the chit is played, the spell expires at the end of the phase or movement.

A Day Spell expires at Sunset of the following day, before combat begins. Permanent Spells never expire unless the spell is broken with a spell-breaking spell or unless the spellcaster or target is killed. They do not continuously affect their target, however. At midnight on the day they are cast, they fall inert and stop affecting their target until they are energized by color magic again.

Permanent Spells are activated any time they are in the presence of the right kind of color magic, at which time they begin affecting their target again until midnight. The color magic that activates the permanent spell can come from the day of the month, from color magic in the hex tile, from magical items with color, or from color magic chits played by the spell-caster or other players. A character can play a color magic chit to activate one permanent spell if the spell’s target is in his clearing 1) during the day anytime the character or any other player starts a phase of their turn in his clearing or 2) during combat in the Encounter Step when it is his turn to perform an action. Playing a color magic chit in combat does not count as an action; a player can play a color magic chit and also charge or perform another action. Playing color chits to activate permanent spells cannot be stopped by Charging or by having monsters on your sheet.

Spell Effects

Spell effects are described in the List of Spells and in Section 43-47 of the Second Edition Rules. Review carefully the effects of each spell that you choose to be sure you understand their type, color, duration, and effect.

Good luck and happy spellcasting!