Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Magic Realm of the Talisman

You know how some gaming blogs post long entries about game rules that only maybe THREE people in the world care about? Well, this is one of those...

Some from column A ...
New Year's Eve the Lovely B and I held a gaming open house. Friends came over, ate pizza, talked, and played some old favorite games with a new twist - Ticket to Ride with the Asian Boards, Alhambra with the first expansion, Citadels with the alternate characters. And my friend from the early days of gaming Steve Shafer brought over a true vintage classic - Talisman on a Magic Realm board.

Talisman was a board game from Games Workshop where you marched a unique character around a board, collecting life, craft, and strength to eventually get a Talisman and challenge the demon in the center of the board (there have been a number of editions, but we're talking the 1986 Second Edition, which is the classic one). Magic Realm was a hex-based game from Avalon Hill where you marched a unique character around various paths, gathering stuff until you ... well, I forget the ultimate goal. The short version of this is that back when I was just out of college ... oh, 25 years ago ...(and Steve and other friends were in Grad school for computing), we played a lot of BOTH games.

...some from column B.
Steve believes the mash-up of the two came from a gaming weekend in the mid-nineties of himself, Bob Chancellor, and David Lamb. The challenge was - Talisman had a wide variety of characters, a set goal, but the game length was interminable and the board was extremely repeatable (outer ring, then inner ring, then an inner sanctum). Magic Realm, on the other hand, had a great board (first use of hexes as the board, long before Settlers of Catan), but the rules were ponderous and clunky and set-up time interminable.

So they put them both together, and I am transferring the rules to this venue [and I am using bracketed text to handle stuff we learned as a result of the game on New Years' Eve or to clarify rules for people beyond our little universe]. I have sought to maintain the original language and formatting where I can. Here goes:

The Magic Realm of the Talisman

At Start:

[Divide the Talisman Character cards into Tough and Wimp characters] Tough characters are: the four Specials [(from the City expansion)] + Amazon, Astronaut, Astropath, Centaur, Chainsaw Warrior, Cyborg, Dark Elf, Elf, Gipsy, Gladiator, Highlander, Knight, Leprechaun, Monk, Ninja, Philosopher, Prophetess, Soldier, Sprite, Swashbuckler, Swordsman, Troll, Valkyrie, Warrior, Warrior of Chaos, Wizard, Woodsman, Zulu.  [All others are Wimp characters - Hey, that's the terminology we used].

Deal 3 Tough character to each player. Player may choose one of these, or any Wimp character.

"Always Have Spell" status is evaluated at the start and end of the Player's turn. On each occasion, the player may first discard zero or more Spells, then, draws new Spells up to the indicated number.

The game is Talisman, but uses the Magic Realm board, a new set of hex feature counters, and slightly modified rules to accommodate the board. With these rules, on all the auxiliary boards (City, Dungeon, and Timescape), players who end their normal Turn on such a board immediately take one more Turn. [Maximum of one additional turn in this fashion per normal Turn].

[So what you need for this is: the hexes from Magic Realm;, the cards, characters, items, and spells from Talisman, along with any auxiliary boards you are using.  You will also need 20 counters in four colors (we use blank wargame counters). There are:

4 Cave Counters, marked "C" on the back. The front of these counters are marked as follows;
   6 Crypt
   6 Mines
   6 Oasis in Desert
   6 Warlock's Cave
6 Woods Counters, marked "W" on the back The front of these counters are marked;
   Black Knight on 1
   Cursed Glades
   4 Ruins
   5 Ruins
   Two counters (2) are marked "Forest on 1".
5 Mountain Counters, marked "M" on the back The front of these counters are marked:
   1 Castle
   Chasm on 1
   Crags on 1
   2 Hidden Valley
   6 Temple.
5 Valley Counters, marked "V" on the back. The front of these counters is marked;
   5 Chapel
   5 City
   5 Graveyard
   5 Tavern
   5 Village


To win the game, you get a Talisman, take it either to the Temple or Castle to have is "attuned" to you, and then take it to either the Mines or the Crypt and succeed at the die roll to cast it into the Abyss [Roll equal to or under your Craft or Strength on 3d6, depending on your location].

A Talisman can only be attuned to one character at any moment. It can be attuned to a different character at the Temple or Castle. attuning takes the place of encountering the Temple or Castle location. A character may have any number of Talismans, attuned or not, at any moment.

If you fail the die roll at the Mines or Crypt by 1, 2, or 3, you get teleported to a randomly selected hex adjacent to the hex you are in, and to a randomly selected clearing in that hex.


Movement is [on the Magic Realm board and is] from clearing to clearing along paths.

Cost is 1 movement point to enter a clearing, 2 to enter a Mountain clearing, 3 to enter a Cave clearing. You must use your full movement, unless you get stuck trying to enter a Mountain or Cave clearing [or are forced to move off the board]. Note that you might not be able to move at all, in which case you stay in your clearing and encounter it normally.

Horse, Mules, Etc. will go into Cave clearings at a cost of +1 Movement point [for a total of 4 Movement Points]. Unicorns will go OK [From the original manuscript: This rule is under discussion.]

If you Teleport using a Special Ability of your character, you choose the destination hex but must roll randomly to select the clearing you land in.

If you or a card are instructed to "move away" by d6 spaces (etc.), instead you roll to randomly select an adjacent hex, and then roll to randomly select your destination clearing in that hex.

A raft can be used to take you to any hex containing a dwelling; roll randomly to determine the clearing you end up in.

As you are moving, you can roll d6 ≤ Craft to discover a Hidden Path (brown) that connect to your clearing. If you succeed, you can move along it as though it were a normal path for the remainder of  this Turn. Similarly, you can discover a Secret Passage (black) by rolling 2d6 ≤ Craft.

You may end your move in a clearing containing a Dwelling [even if your move would take you past it].

Board Features

"Woods" spaces are all clearing in Woods hexes. "Hills", "Fields", and "Plains" spaces refer to all non-Mountain, non-Cave clearings in Mountain and Cave hexes.

Normally, all clearings are "Draw 1 Card" except for clearings with special interpretations, which have that interpretation instead.

Enchanted Hexes

At the start of the game, all the Valley hexes are Enchanted to the Gray side; other hexes are on the unenchanted (Green) side.

After movement but before encounters, the moving character may enchant the occupied hex by rolling 2d6 ≤ Strength + Craft.

Each color defines a Region (for game purposes): Green (unenchanted, Gray, Gold, and Purple. Clearing in enchanted Border Lands are in one or another region; clearing in enchanted Crag are in the Gray, Gold, and Purple regions all at once. The entire City is in the Gray region; the Dungeon is in the Purple region.

All "Draw n cards" clearings become "Draw n+1 cards in the Gold and Purple regions; and become "Draw 0 Cards in the Gray region (excluding Crags).


When movement ends, all face-up cards in the hex are considered to be in the clearing of the moving character, and are encountered according to the normal Talisman rules. When the character's Turn ends, any remaining face-up cards are placed in the hex.
Recall the Talisman rules" Face-up cards must be encountered if they are Enemy cards of its the clearing is "Draw n Cards"; otherwise they may be encountered instead of encountering the location itself.
In Mountain and Cave clearings, draw from the Tough deck, in other clearings, draw from the Wimpy deck. [Yes, we divided the Talisman Encounters Deck into Tough and Wimpy versions as well. If I ever print the house rules for that, I'll give you how we divided it. For this game it does not matter.]

[All face-up cards on the hex are discarded when a hex is enchanted or unenchanted. This does not apply to the Warp Gate (entrance to the Timescape board) or the Dungeon Doorway (entrance to the Dungeon).]

To get rid of the Poltergeist, you must cross any bridge (over or under). For other Followers that you cling to, you get rid of them at any dwelling.

There can be only one Dungeon Doorway on the board. If there is one, discard any others that are drawn and draw again.

The Archer, Bolt Gun, Etc. shoot in the current hex or an adjacent hex.

At Start

First, select characters.

Next, deal out the board tiles, and set them up according to the Magic Realm rules (start with the Border Lands; roads and blank hex sides must match; High Pass and Ledge [hexes] must have roads connection to both paths).

Place a Hex Feature Counter of the appropriate type, face down, on each hex (Note: High Pass [hex] is a Cave.).

Flip the Valley hexes to the Enchanted (gray) side, and reveal their Feature counters. The indicated clearing on these counters are the "dwellings". Other Feature counters will be revealed only when a character ends movement in that hex, or when needed to resolve a Teleportation.

Characters who start at a dwelling or on an auxiliary board are placed there; all other characters roll randomly for their start location (1: Chapel, 2; City, 3: Graveyard, 4: Tavern, 5: Village, 6 roll again)

Hex Features

Valleys: (These are the Dwellings.)

5 Chapel: Clearing 5 (or highest numbered connected clearing) contains the Chapel. At the Chapel, Good character may either be Healed free of charge back up to starting quota, or may Pray by rolling 1 die:1-4= Ignored, 5 = Gain 1 Life, 6 = Gain 1 Spell. Neutral Characters may be healed back up to their original quota at a cost of 1G per Life. Evil Characters lose 1 Life.

5 City: Clearing 5 (or highest numbered connected clearing) is the entrance to the City. [If you don't have the City expansion, if functions like the City square in the game]

5 Graveyard: Clearing 5 (or highest numbered connected clearing) contains the Tavern. At the Tavern, you must roll 1 die; 1= Miss 1 Turn, 2 = Fight a farmer (Strength 3), 3 Lose 1G, 4 Gain 1G, 5=May Teleport to any hex in this region on your next Move, 6= May Teleport to the hex containing the Temple on our next Move.

5 Village: Clearing 5 (or highest numbered connected clearing) contains the Village. At the Village, you may visit one of the following: Healer will Heal Lives for 1G each. Blacksmith sells Helmet 2G, Sword 2G, Axe 3G, Shield 3G, Armour 4G. Mystic, roll 1 die: 1-3=ignored, 4=If Evil or Neutral you become Good, 5=Gain 1 Craft, 6 = Gain 1 Spell.


Black Knight on 1: In any clearing of this hex, roll 1 die; the Black Knight appears on a roll of 1. When the Black Knight appears, you must either give up 1G or lose 1 Life. On any other roll, treat the clearing as "Draw 1 Card" (with the usual modification if Enchanted).

Cursed Glades: All clearings in his Hex are "Draw 1 Card", but you cannot count any Strength or Craft points derived from any Object or Magic Objects, nor may you use any Magic Objects nor cast any spells.

Forest on 1: On a roll of 1 on 1 die, you encounter the F0rest (I.e. appears the same way as the Black Knight does in his hex). In the Forest, roll 1 die: 1=Attacked by brigand Strength 4; 2-3= Lose 1 Turn, 4-5= Safe, 6= Ranger give you 1 Craft. If you don't encounter the Forest, treat clearing as "Draw 1 Card". (Note: There are two Forest on 1 hexes).

4 Ruins: Clearing 4 (or highest number connected clearing) is Ruins: Draw 2 Cards.

5 Runes: Clearing 5 (or highest numbered connected clearing is Runes: Draw 2 Cards.

Mountains: (includes High Pass)

1 Castle: Clearing 1 contains the Castle, where the Royal Doctor will Heal you up to your starting quota at a cost of 1G per Life. Alternatively, if you have one more Talismans there, you may have them attuned to you. [despite all the notes above, this should say Clearing 1 (or lowest number connected clearing is Castle].

Chasm on 1: On a roll of 1 on 1 die, you encounter the Chasm. In the Chasm, roll 1 dies for yourself: on a 1 or 2, you lose a Life, and roll 1 die for each follower: on a 1 or 2, the follower is killed. If you don't encounter the Chasm, treat as "Draw 1 Card".

Crags on 1: On a roll of 1 on 1 die, you encounter the Crags. In the Crags, roll 1 dies: 1 = Attacked by Spirit of Craft 4; 2-3=Lose 1 Turn; 4-5 Safe; 6= Barbarian gives you 1 Strength. If not Crags, treat clearing as "Draw 1 Card".

2 Hidden Valley: Clearing 2 is the Hidden Valley, where you Draw 2 Cards.

6 Temple: Clearing 6 is the Temple, where you may Pray by rolling 2 dice: 2= Lose 2 Lives, 3=Lost 1 Life, 4=Lose 1 Life or 1 Follower, 5=Enslaved until you roll 4-6 for movement, 6=Gain 1 Strength, 7=Gain 1 Craft, 8-9= Gain 1 Spell, 10=Gain a Talisman, 11=Gain 1 Life, 12=Gain 2 Lives. Alternatively, if you have one or more Talismans, you may have them attuned to you.


6 Crypt: Clearing 6 contains the Crypt. At the Crypt, if you have a Talisman attuned to you,  you may roll 3 dice and subtract your Strength: ≤0 YOU WIN; 1-3=teleported to adjacent hex, 4-5=teleported to Warlock's Cave hex [if revealed, otherwise to City hex], 6= teleported to City hex.

6 Mines: Clearing 6 contains the Mines. At the Mines, if you have a Talisman attuned to you, you may roll 3 dice and subtract your Craft; ≤0 YOU WIN; 1-3=teleported to adjacent hex, 4-5=teleported to Warlock's Cave hex [if revealed, otherwise to Tavern hex], 6= teleported to Tavern hex.

6 Oasis in Desert: Clearing 6 contains the Oasis, which is "Draw 2 Cards." All other clearing in this hes are not Caves, but are actually Desert, which cost 1 movement point to enter and have the encounter "Lost 1 Life and Draw 1 Card."

6 Warlock's Cave: Clearing 6 contains the Warlock's Cave, where you may choose to go on a quest by rolling 1 die: 1=Kill (take 1 Life) another player; 2 = Kill 1 Enemy; 3= Deliver (discard) 1 Follower; 4 = Deliver 1 Magic Object; 5 = Deliver 3G, 6 = Deliver 2 G [What it fails to mention is that the reward for succeeding in the quest is get a Talisman]

David Lamb Rule:

In David Lamb's set, the 5 Chapel Feature is on a Woods hex, and there is only one Forest on 1 [I have no idea why this rule is here, other than maybe David Lamb's set is missing a Valley.]

© - Steve Shafer, David Lamb, Bob Chancellor, 1994 or so.

More later,