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A Wizard's DuelThe Duel Arcane


  • One chessboard, with its full complement of 32 pieces.
  • One marker for each wizard. This marker should be about the size of a chess piece and able to stand up about like a chess piece.

Basic Setup

The two duelists cooperate to cast the Praxis of Arcane Prowess, a very simple ritual that has no fatigue cost. Because of this ritual, domino bones are not necessary for any later portion of the dueling process.

The challenger plays black; the challenged, white. In competitive play, the higher-ranked player is treated as the challenged for all purposes. If the two duelists are even in ranking, choose randomly.
1a through 1d and 1f through 1h hold white pawns. 1e holds the white wizard marker.
8a through 8d and 8f through 8h hold black pawns. 8e holds the black wizard marker.

Within the scope and duration of the duel, both wizards act at their full reserve of bones, though they may only cast dueling summons. At the duel’s end, or during recesses from its course, they return to their normal amount of Fatigue. There is no way for normal Fatigue and dueling Fatigue to interact. Dueling Fatigue cannot ever be used to cast spells other than dueling spells.


Prior to play, each wizard may cast spells of summoning, granting his side additional pieces. Casting a summoning spell does not involve laying out further bones. Instead, duelists simply expend the amount of Fatigue listed on the summoning formula. Duelists traditionally come to agreement as to how many summoning spells each side will cast (and other stipulations, such as no summons of a certain type) as part of the terms of the duel. In most dueling traditions, it is incumbent upon the challenged to set these terms, for the simple reason that this discourages some challengers.

Wizards can activate as many of their summoning spells as they want prior to the start of play, though in no case may a wizard cast more than nine summoning spells. In the most hardline of traditional rules, as practiced in Ton Isiq, Endeiras, and Oresund, a wizard must use all summons at the start of play, and each side alternates in casting summons, beginning with black. In variants practiced in later ages, such as those practiced in present-day Western Trempa, players may place summons later in the game, including the replacement of captured pieces; this allows more than nine summons per wizard.

In either case it is permissible to cast more summoning spells into one’s focus than one intends to use, leaving room for a strategic change of plans.

Creatures summoned usually enter the battlefield on that wizard’s back rank, pushing other figures in that column forward. The wizard’s marker may not be pushed forward, and only a pawn may be summoned into that column. It appears in 2e for white and 7e for black. Wizards may summon more than one creature into the same column, but not more than three. Summons that are placed in any other way will be noted in the spell’s description.

Upon summoning a creature that uses one specific piece (in this example, summoning the Ice Dragon that uses the Rook piece), the wizard may not summon anything that uses the Rook piece other than the Ice Dragon, and may only summon one additional Ice Dragon. When summoning and placing two figures that use the Bishop figure, the wizard must place that piece on the opposite square color from the Bishop summon.

Each summoned creature has unique movement rules. That creature’s movement rules are contained in the summoning spell, and on a card that the player places next to the chessboard. If a card is not available, the wizard keeps his copy of the ritual open for reference during the match, or hand-copies those rules onto a reference sheet that both players can view.

Movement and Capture

Terms of movement and capture are defined below.

A rider is a piece that moves a number of squares in one direction, provided there are no pieces in the way. This may be limited in number of squares or in direction (orthogonal or diagonal).

A leaper is a piece that moves in a fixed way from its current square, and cannot be blocked. For example, a (1,2) leaper moves either one square horizontally and two squares vertically, or two squares horizontally and one square vertically.

A locust is a piece which captures by hopping over the piece it captures. It must have an empty square to go to, adjacent to but on the opposite side of the piece it is capturing (comparable to the way pieces capture in checkers). A 3-square locust leaps three squares, but the piece it captures must be adjacent to the locust’s ending square and must be in the vector of the locust’s movement.

A pawn in its opening position may move two squares rather than one. Pawns may perform en passant capture.

Each wizard’s marker plays as per the king piece of conventional chess (a 1-square rider), and the game is over is the wizard marker is placed in checkmate. Some pieces may carry additional victory or loss conditions.

Reaching the opponent’s back rank with a pawn promotes that pawn to any other piece already its owner has summoned, regardless of whether that summoned creature was placed.

Check and Checkmate

These rules are unchanged from conventional chess. Check occurs when the wizard’s marker is threatened with capture. Checkmate occurs when the wizard’s marker cannot make a move that will end the threat of capture. A duelist may not make a move that places his own marker in check.


It is incumbent upon the challenger to specify the effect that befalls the loser. It must be a negative effect, and its result is intrinsically Arcane. The challenger chooses from the following list: Inflict Fatigue (anywhere from 1 to 25), Disease, Grim Poison, or Afflict. This penalty is announced prior to the completion of the Rite of Arcane Prowess; the challenged can still back out of the duel between the announcement of the penalty and the completion of the Rite.

Competitive play is still strongly encouraged to include wagers of some sort - money, spell formulas, or favors owed.

Time Limits

Duels do not involve time limits. Competitive play is only very rarely timed, due to the imprecise technology of timing devices.

Mana-using Spellcasters

Spellcasters who rely on mana, including initiated ritualists who also possess mana, may temporarily convert their mana into dueling fatigue as part of the Rite of Arcane Prowess. Totemic casters convert mana to dueling fatigue at 2 mana to 1 dueling fatigue. Celestials convert mana to dueling fatigue at 3 mana to 1 dueling fatigue. Mana-using spellcasters are, of course, still limited to the summoning spells for which they possess the ritual formula. As with ritualist duelists, mana-using duelists act as if they have their full daily allotment of mana, and mana converted into dueling fatigue does not cost them actual mana.

There exist magic items that take the place of the Rite of Arcane Prowess, so that two mana-using duelists or two homunculi may still initiate a duel.

How To Get Started

Any character may request a “starter pack” of six identical, pre-determined duelist’s summons and a copy of the Praxis of Arcane Prowess, for free, at check-in. It is assumed that characters purchased these at trivial cost from a passing merchant, had them sent from home, discovered them among their possessions, or whatever else fits the player’s personal story. There are many more possible summons than those included in the “starter pack.”

Players must provide their own chess boards and chess pieces.

Possession of dueling rituals, including the Praxis of Arcane Prowess, is regarded in most places as evidence that one is a ritualist. Possession of dominoes, chess boards, or chess pieces is not regarded as evidence that one is a ritualist, at least in absence of other factors.