This method for learning wizard spells is inspired by the recent popularity of Wordle, a variation on the popular Mastermind guessing game. A word is selected from a random word list and players attempt to guess what the word is. This works best with freeform magic systems like that in bastards., where all that is needed is the name of the spell.
Initially all they know about the word are the number of letters (usually five). After making their guess, the other player (in our case the GM) places coloured pegs in a board to indicate the accuracy of each letter guessed:
- A black peg indicates that the letter guessed does not appear in the word at all.
- A yellow peg indicates that the letter guessed appears in the word but in a different position.
- A green peg indicates that the guessed letter is in the correct position in the word.
In lieu of a pegboard and pegs, players and GMs can instead use different colours of dice to represent guesses.
The player has 5 attempts to make a correct guess, with the following outcomes:
- Correct guess: the character learns the spell (see below).
- Failure to guess the word after five attempts: character Makes a Save or suffers a consequence. This could be damage to Intelligence or Wisdom, loss of max HP, or something else that suits your game.
Players and GMs should decide how many spells characters know at first level. My suggestion is three, simply because this feels good.
When you correctly guess the word, you learn that spell. If your game uses spell levels, the level of the spell is inversely correlated to the number of attempts it took to learn it i.e.
- First guess correct = 5th level spell
- Second guess correct = 4th level spell
- Third guess correct = 3rd level spell
- Fourth guess correct = 2nd level spell
- Fifth guess correct = 1st level spell
The Spell List
The GM should roll on this list (or another that they prefer) to randomly select the spell that the character is attempting to learn.
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