Jeffrey Schecter

Dark Spell Diceless

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Dark Spell Diceless is a collaborative fantasy role-playing game that puts authority into the hands of the players. Features an unpredictable diceless resolution system with almost no resource management, no bidding, and absolutely no GM fiat. Simple rules to create any sort of fantasy monster or hero. Flexible and powerful but well defined magic. Can be played with a traditional GM, distribution of traditional game master roles, or no GM whatsoever.

About Dark Spell
Dark Spell is a dice-less, cooperative fantasy role-playing game. By dice-less, I mean that the game involves no randomizers. By cooperative, I mean that authority over the game is decentralized. Every player will share some of the responsibilities of a traditional GM, including framing scenes and playing multiple roles.

Playing Dark Spell is hard to play if everyone isn’t on the same page. Everybody has a lot of authority to change and introduce new elements into the game setting. Everybody is assumed to be at the game to have fun, build an interesting story, and challenge one another. The players may frequently be sporting and competitive, and the characters under their control will often be in direct opposition, but everyone’s at the game table for he same overarching purpose.

Differences in vision and other issues are bound to come up now and again. At the first opportune moment (say, between scenes, or during a pause in the action) take a brief pause in the game to deal with them out of game. Everyone doesn’t have to want the game to go in the same direction, but everyone must respect the vision of the other players. Make compromises.

The inspiration behind Dark Spell is the excellent story hour on ENWorld, “The Tales of Wyre,” by the
poster SepulchraveII. A game of Dark Spell should feature powerful characters conflicting over big issues. There should be might, magic, and drama. The main characters should have strong goals and strong convictions, and change the world as they pursue their course. Read the ENWorld thread if you need a bit of inspiration.

Dark Spell is not an immersive game. Players will be frequently called upon to operate at the meta-game level, and will need to portray multiple separate characters. Even though there may be many things that an individual does not know, there are no secrets between players in a game of Dark Spell. Don’t hide things from the other players. Try to keep your out-of-game knowledge separate from the in-game knowledge of each of your characters. Don’t be afraid to state actions for characters that land them in trouble. Trouble creates tension, excitement, and drama. These are good things. Want these things. Want trouble.

Read. Enjoy.

Go Play!


Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Exemplar is a fast paced martial arts action role-playing game set in the distant future. As the noble houses of the Intersystem Government and Clergy squabble over ancient feuds, the shadowy Guild of Navigators bends an empire to its whim, and the Free Order struggles to throw off the yoke of IGAC oppression, how will your hero secure their place in history? This version of Exemplar — the game’s fifth incarnation — is compressed down into only two pages, including a full character sheet. Features d6 based opposed roll mechanics, unified conflict resolution, a pacing system that puts the plot into the hands of the players, and more information density than you can shake a stick at.

Exemplar is a role-playing game of martial arts fantasy set in the far future. Corrupt noble houses use an oppressive state religion, drugged diets, constant propaganda and the military might of the Marines Templar and Marines Justicar to keep the citizens of the Intersystem Government and Clergy (IGAC) under their control. Space travel is monopolized by the shadowy Navigator?s Guild, for their prescient psychics are the only human beings capable of guiding Warpships from one solar system?s Jump Point to another — the few independent worlds and planetary federations, and even the IGAC itself, have no choice but to submit to the Guild?s will. Conflict exists everywhere: free planets struggle to gain control of resources, IGAC nobles jockey for power, and the Free Order attempts to shrug off the yoke of IGAC oppression.

Players portray the Exemplar: those who, through natural talent or iron will and rigorous training, have obtained a measure of psychic proficiency. Exemplar are trained by the Guild, by the twin Marine Orders of the IGAC, and by sundry other traditions — the Exalted Knights of Sha, who use needles to manipulate the flow of life energy; the Brotherhood of Infiltrators, who mask their presences with psychic shields; and more.


Sunday, September 5th, 2004

Sunrise by Jeffrey Schecter

Once Upon a Time and Long Ago

Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

Once Upon a Time and Long Ago is a role-playing game inspired by the dark fairy tales collected by Jacob and Willhelm Grim, the enchanting, carefree children?s epic Peter Pan, and a wonderful novel by Neal Stephenson known as The Diamond Age, or, A Young Lady?s Illustrated Primer. It is not just a role-playing game, though: it is a lens with which the participants in the game look back at their childhoods, and transmogrifier that turns the day to day routine and tumultuous events alike of early childhood up through puberty into a fantastical adventure.

Dark Spell

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

Dark Spell is a complete rules system based around sorcery, spell-casting, and combat. It contains rules for character creation, game mechanics, and a spell listing.


A sorcerer may cast any spell that they know without assistance, as long as two criteria are meet: that the magician pay the spell’s Cost, or requisite levies from the Sorcery, Willpower, and Vitality pools; and that they meet any other Requirements that the spell might have. Requirements include such things as incantations, arcane gestures, components used up by the spell, focuses that must be on hand, and other conditions that must be met. The sorcerer must also take some specified amount of time in the casting of the spell.

It is possible for multiple wizards to cast a spell in consort. All sorcerers involved in the casting of the spell must stand within a circle, with neighbors no more than a few feet away. When spells are cast in this manner, the Cost may be split between them in any way desired. However, each participant in the casting must pay at least 1 point from each pool that is levied, even if this would increase the total number of points payed above the spell’s Cost. Also, only one sorcerer in the group must know the spell at hand, but each that doesn’t must succeed at a check (Occult applies); difficult 7 for Novice spells, 1 for Adept, and 13 for Master; or prevent the spell from being cast. Before the spell is cast the circle must decide on a leader, who will direct the spell; an actor, who will meet the spell’s Requirements; and a provider, who will make any rolls associated with the spell and upon whose statistics the spell’s parameters will be based. Any of these positions may be assigned to the same person, but all position holders must be members of the circle and know the spell at hand.

Note that paying the Cost is the last thing that the sorcerer does–if they are interrupted halfway through the casting time, or do not have a focus on hand, their pools are not levied. A wizard may not cast a spell if it requires more points from their Sorcery pool than the magician’s current Vitality. Spent points from the Sorcery pool return at the rate of one point per five minutes of sleep or meditation, or ten minutes of light activity and rest.

Some spells require concentration to maintain or direct. A sorcerer may take action other than casting a new spell while concentrating on a current one. Multiple spells may not be concentrated upon at once.

There are five different types of Spells, each with their own characteristics, outlined below.

Power Words

These spells require but the pronunciation of a single syllable to activate, but are often costly in terms of the caster’s personal energy. Additionally, most Power Words have severely limited ranges, last for an instant, and effect only a single target. Power Words are quick enough that they may be used in combat, but may not be cast by a circle.


Spells of this sort may be raised quickly and have few Requirements, but fade quickly when the caster’s concentration is lifted. Weaves, like Power Words, may be cast quickly enough to be used in combat.


Able to travel any distance when an empathic link is provided, Sendings are brief spells that target a specific living creature. Sendings may take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two to cast, and have Requirements that almost always include a spoken incantation, arcane gestures, and a focus of some sort or another.


Cantrips are the most common type of spell, almost always requiring a few seconds to ten minutes and incantations, gestures, and a focus or material component of some sort or other. They tend to affect either the caster or a nearby target or area, and have widely disparate uses.


Powerful magic that takes anywhere from an hour to many days to invoke, Rituals have incredibly high Costs and expensive Requirements but effects on an epic scale.

Legends of Middle Earth

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

Legends of Middle Earth is a role-playing game (or RPG) set in the world of the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, and other works of professor JRR Tolkien. Because this document does not go into detail about Middle Earth, it is a good idea to have read the books (or at the very least seen the movies) before playing a game using this rule set. Note that this is a completely unofficial work, the author is not affiliated with the Tolkien estate in any way, and the company Decipher puts out a legitimate Lord of the Rings Role-Playing Game.


Thursday, January 1st, 2004

Think of Dragonfly’s setting as a cross between cockfighting seizure monster anime children’s series like Pokemon and science fiction military bug hunts such as Starship Troopers. Players take on the role of Hunters, Riders, Entomologists, and other brave men and women who routinely interact with the gigantic and often psychically potent bugs of the star system Arthra.