A Wizard Duel Minigame

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I saw Eli’s post about his entry into the 200 word RPG this year. It inspired me to create a variant.


This game is protected under the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License. This is based on the game Caltrops by Eli Kurtz, found here. I made changes to the theme of his game, the dice used (d6 instead of d4), expanded the rock-paper-scissors mechanic to seven items, and added rules for gaining items over time.


You are two wizards locked in a magic duel. Both wizards must choose whether or not the duel is to the death.

Requires: 2 players, 8d6, 20-60 minutes

Each Wizards starts with seven spells under their command:

  • Stone Fist: Earth Magic; Advantage vs Fire, Blade, and Arid Magic
  • Burning Bolt: Fire Magic; Advantage vs Blade, Wood, and Arid Magic
  • One Thousand Knives: Blade Magic; Advantage vs. Wind, Wood, and Arid Magic
  • Withering Blast: Arid Magic; Advantage vs. Wood, Wind, and Ice Magic
  • Choking Vines: Wood Magic; Advantage vs. Wind, Earth, and Ice Magic
  • Hurricane Wind: Wind Magic; Advantage vs. Fire, Earth, and Ice Magic
  • Shards of Ice: Ice Magic; Advantage vs. Earth, Fire, and Blade Magic

Each wizards secretly chooses a spell to attack their opponent. Both wizards reveal their spells at the same time and determine the number of dice to throw:

  • Standard Spell: 1d6
  • Name and describe a new spell: +1d6 (must be an existing form of magic)
  • Roleplay the duel before casting the spell: +1d6
  • Advantage over enemy spell: +1d6

Throw your dice to start the battle! Whoever rolls highest is the victor, and may describe the battle. The loser may describe their injury.

A wizard with three injuries is defeated or dead.


It strikes me that the game would be simpler with five schools of magic instead of seven. I think next post will offer a five magic base set of rules with two extra schools available as a variant.

What also strikes me is how easily this would be to made into a more detailed game:

  • Vary the power levels of the wizards by changing the number of spells available. Newer wizards would have fewer spells, older ones would have more (or all seven).
  • Provide an alternate wizard that will eliminate the advantage die. This wizard would have an eighth school of magic. It would important to name new spells for both combatants.
  • Provide an alternate wizard that starts with 2d6 for a standard spell at the cost of three additional schools of magic. In a standard game, this wizard would have access to three schools of magic at 1d6 and the specialist school at 2d6. In a game with varying power levels, it could be quite interesting.
  • Add different dice to represent a small advantage/disadvantage. These could be the instruction of a specific teacher, growing up poor, bonds with an extraplanar power, or a host of other things.
  • Provide an alternate combatant whose power is to nullify magic. This could be an anti-magic priest, or wizard hunter. The wizard hunter wins a battle, the wizard loses a spell. Yikes!

It almost feels like an Ars Magica game because the focus is entirely on wizards. Between duels, the grogs and companions help the wizard they serve. It could be fighting non-magical creatures, searching for magical artifacts or ingredients. It’s also possible to add non-magical combatants with different ways to add dice. I could imagine a barbarian that starts with a 1d10 and adds a 1d10 for describing his/her unique hatred for wizards.

I could also see this as a subsystem for a more traditional RPG. S&W could bolt it on fairly easily. I’d use all but necromancy from the d20 schools of magic for the seven forms of magic and use necromancy as the eighth as an alternative wizard. In the Black Hack, this could be the rules for a wizard duel. I’d probably give it a Dog Latin spell name and have characters search for new dueling spells to allow them to get a bonus 1d6 for a new spell.

If you use this game or tinker with it, let me know.

Sir Isaac Newton Fights Crime!

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My friend Scott posted something on facebook about Sir Isaac Newton's battle against a counterfieter. Apparently, he was in charge of the mint for a period of time and had to battle against a very skilled and intelligent counterfeiter. This lead to a brief discussion about using this a source material for stories. One of the suggestions was the possibility that his alchemy research actually bore results. A group of commenters posited a steampunk world where Sir Isaac Newton serves as a detective, or at least continues his role at the mint.

This led to the following ideas in my de-sugared brain:

  • The counterfeiter, William Chaloner, develops a semi-functioning philosopher's stone to make gold coins.
  • The philosopher's stone is essentially a battery with an insane amount of energy, thus providing the energy required to change lead to gold. (After all, you have to add protons to change lead to gold, so we're going nuclear!)
  • To produce the philosopher's stone, Chaloner develops a type of diamond anvil that compresses tiny sheets of tin or pewter into a super-material that converts mechanical energy into chemical energy.
  • This machine uses a massive hydraulic device to produce the force large enough to perform this change.
  • Chaloner walks on a platform that slowly descends three stories. The sheets of tin/pewter are placed on top of the diamond anvil on the other cylinder. Although the other cylinder is several feet in diameter, it only raises less than 1/4 of an inch. The diamond anvil itself is very small due to the price of diamonds, but the resulting supermaterial can be stacked together to create a powerful battery. It takes quite a bit of time to create one battery.
  • The battery is only good for one use, but that one use generates eight to twelve pounds of gold.
  • In theory, it can be recharged, but it would take quite a long time using waterwheels or various other techniques available at the time.
  • Sir Isaac Newton improves upon the battery, but find that it can power all manner of things for a very long time (years).

The linkdump approches. Sources are named.

Here are the links of supporting information. Yes, this is still not entirely possible according to the known laws of the universe, but it is at-least a bit more plausible to me:

Book about Sir Isaac Newton working at the Kings Mint.

A look at Alchemy, thanks to Khan Academy.

Wikipedia's thoughts on energy storage.

What is a diamond anvil actually? (My diamond anvil is loosely based on this.)

The source of my idea for the battery.

Resource for diamond cutting information.

And, of course, hydraulic machinery.

Chew on that for the weekend. Maybe I can work on it in December. 🙂

Reading Material Week of October 17th

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I read a lot of random things to help generate ideas. Here are the things I have been reading in the past week:

[contentcards url="http://monstersandmanuals.blogspot.com/2015/08/instantiations-from-other-worlds.html" target="_blank"]

You need something from other worlds that is different from typical D&D Outer Planes stuff? There are so many adventure seeds that come to mind from some of the creatures I've generated with this.

Steel Miner

The Steel Miner has been seen from time to time near the entrance to the mine. Encounters are rare as the mine has been closed for several years, but some foolish souls visit from time to time hoping to glean a bit more silver from the depleted cavern.

It is described as a ghostly metallic man with thick arms and legs trudging through the tunnels. It disappears by going through a cave wall. A few have attempted to attack the creature, but any non-magical implements pass through the shadowy figure.

It is believed to wield several powers, but the most notable is the beam of burning like that comes from its mouth. Using the beam, the lumbering man carves deep gouges into the cave walls. It is believed that the apparition is searching for another vein of silver.

Steel Miner: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk Beam of Light (2d6+2); Move 6; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 12/2,000; Special: Darkness 15' radius, Feeblemind, Magic Missile, Polymorph Other, Telekineses, Can only be harmed by magic weapons.

[contentcards url="http://www.unifon.org/pages/unifon-characters.html" target="_blank"]

Who doesn't want to make cool inscriptions? I am thinking about using this font for White Star or magical circles. One of the things I like about it is that this could be a system that the players could learn over time. For someone with a thief, I would pass along certain clues as they got closer to 9th level.

Snowflake Settings! (Couldn't create a content card for this, so go read hillcantons.blogspot.com for everything. Really. Go. Now.

Long live the Snowflake Settings! Holy cow, I come up with a new one every month or so, but only sketch out many one every two years or so.  I look forward to more settings like this. Maybe I will eventually finish one. 🙂

[contentcards url="http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/latinlanguage/qt/LatinMeter.htm" target="_blank"]

Latin meters strike me for all the vocabulary words in here. In a perfect world, I would write spell descriptions based on these meters (changing long/short vowel to stress/unstressed).

Anapest Animal Growth

Spell Level: Druid, 5th Level; Magic-User, 5th Level
Range: 120 feet
Duration: 2 hours

Up to six creatures grow to the size of a troll. While it lasts they hit hard, double dice of the norm.

I do not always hear the rhythms correctly, so feel free to correct any errors.

[contentcards url="http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com/2015/10/48-pages-to-glory.html" target="_blank"]

Forty-eight pages is a noble goal. I would love to make my game that uses six-siders and a deck of cards into only 48 pages.

[contentcards url="http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/37916/roleplaying-games/universal-npc-roleplaying-template" target="_blank"]

I think about stuff like this to help me organize all the time. I still have to chew on this. I love the idea, especially the note that an NPC really only needs one mannerism.

[contentcards url="http://rumorsofwarcomic.com/2015/10/revisiting-three-hundred-sixty/" target="_blank"]

Making 360 locations feels to me like an massive sandbox. Would I make that many locations into a railroad? Still so much to ponder on this one, too.

That's what I'm reading this week. This is an irregular type of post, so I may not make another one of these until November.