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Ludus Magus

by L. Lynn Smith

The playing field is an 8x8 pattern of cells overlayed with an 9x9 pattern of points. The first field is the Corporeal Plane, and the second is the Astral Plane. Orthogonal movement will be considered from one cell to another cell which shares a side or from one point to another point which shares a line, and 'octagonal' movement is from a cell to an adjacent point or from a point to an adjacent cell.

All pieces step one orthogonal upon their particular Plane.

No piece is permitted to capture an opposing piece of similar value.

A game set can be constructed using several Checker sets. A standard 8x8 field will suffice, simply consider the corner of its cells as the points. Write, or print out, the names of the pieces and affix them to the face of the checkers(being sure to include extra Elements).




The Elements, in addition to the orthogonal step, have particular movement under specific conditions. All Elements may stop their movement on the first step, vacant or enemy-occupied. Or may exercise one of the following if the conditions permit.

	ÆR - the Element of Air

If the position of its first step is vacant, it may perform another orthogonal step to a vacant position, without returning to its starting position.

	AQUA - the Element of Water

If the position of its first step is occupied by friendly piece, it may perform another orthogonal step to an enemy-occupied position.

	IGNIS - the Element of Fire

If its first step is vacant, it may make another orthogonal step to an enemy-occupied position.

	TERRA - the Element of Earth

If its first step is enemy-occupied, it may make the capture and another orthogonal step to a vacant position without returning to its starting position.

	ÆTHER - The Fifth Element

No additional movement power.

If an Element has a friendly Element of the same value 'octagonal'ly adjacent, it is invulnerable to capture. If an Element has a friendly Element of another value  'octagonal'ly adjacent, it may use that Element's movement. If an enemy Element is 'octagonal'ly adjacent, it will negate the effect of all friendly Elements of same value which are also 'octagonal'ly adjacent. The Element of Æther negates the effects of all enemy Elements when 'octagonal'ly adjacent.

Though the Elements can gain the special ability of a fellow Element, they do not combine them. For example, if an Ignis gains the power of Terra it is not allowed to both capture the first and second position. It must perform one type of move or the other.

For each Element captured the player receives one Mana point. These points are used when the player's Magus exercises its Conjure privilege.


	CODEX - the Lore of the Magus

Steps one orthogonal to a vacant position adjacent its Magus.

	FAMULUS - the Servant of the Magus

Steps one orthogonal to a vacant position adjacent its Magus. May swap positions with adjacent friendly Magus as a turn.


Steps one orthogonal. May swap positions with adjacent friendly Famulus as a turn.

A Magus may also Conjure or Summon an Element as a turn.

Conjure requires the adjacent presence of its Codex, whether the Magus is on a point or cell, and a vacant orthogonally adjacent position to the Magus. Each Element captured earns the player one Mana point, which can be spent to introduce one of four Elements of choice; Ær, Aqua, Ignis or Terra. The Element of Æther is not eligible for this form of movement.

Summon requires the presence of its Æther and the target Element 'octogonal'ly adjacent to the Magus. An Element may as a turn move from an 'octagonal'ly adjacent point to a vacant cell orthogonally adjacent the Magus, or from an 'octagonal'ly adjacent cell to a vacant point orthogonally adjacent the Magus. The Element of Æther is not eligible for this form of movement.


Winning the Game

Capture the opposing Magus.

Or Bind the opposing Magus by surrounding it in a cell by occupying its four adjacent points, or if on a point by occupying its adjacent cells with the following pattern of friendly Elements:

		One of each; Ær, Aqua, Ignis and Terra
		All of one; Ær, Aqua, Ignis or Terra

The Element of Æther may be used as a wild card in either pattern.


First a little history.

Shortly after D&D was first published, the idea for a chess game played by wizards was developed. (Yes, I know, in the Harry Potter series they showed a form of Wizard's Chess which was simply an animated form of the Mad Queen variant. I will mention this series influence at the end of Notes.)

At the time, I was using a Checker set(with extra Checkers) to play the game of Go, using the corners of the cells of the 8x8 Checker field to create a simple 9x9 Go field. Seeing those pattern of cells and points I visualized them as seperate levels on a single field. And so this game was born.

And forgotten.

Recently I was going through some boxes of old paperwork and I found a bunch of 3x5 cards with notes for this game on them. It had been so long since I had jotted them down it took me a bit to work out some of my scratchings. Needless to say, they were not complete. I had begun this game but had run into some problems with the play. Basicly the rules were just too convoluted for most people to retain without reference to notes.

So I began by trimming the rules to their bare essentials. And from this, I made only a few minor adjustments.

The Spells became simply Elements. And their movement was modified to reflect their nature. This movement was kept as simple as possible while giving each a unique ability.

The other pieces, which I like to term the Artifacts, were each given special powers in the game while maintaining their movement at its simplest form.

Tying the Artifacts to the Elements through the Magus encourages the player to protect and defend each during the game in order to maintain full power. For example, the Magus needs its Codex to Summon. Without the Codex, the Magus is unable to shift Elements from Plane to Plane. And without the Famulus, the Magus becomes stranded on a Plane. Also, without the Element of Æther the Magus can no longer Conjure.

The Element of Æther was also considered to be different from the other four since it is that within which all the others exist. So it was not given any special movement but was given the power to negate all other Element powers and to assist in Summon.

There was also an adjustment to the Bind rule for the endgame. Let me explain. If you notice on the 9x9 pattern of points, there are several position where the Magus could avoid the Bind, along the outer edge and corners. The original rules to affect a Bind on a Magus in this position were so confusing that recalling all its particulars is really not productive. Let's say, that it really isn't necessary to try to Bind the Magus on these positions. First, a Bind can be laid in such a way that a Magus can be chased into it. And a player whose Magus remains too long on either of the Planes will find themselves in a negative position.

Another thing, I adjusted the wording of movement from one Plane to another. Rather than using the word 'diagonal' which can be visually confusing on this particular field, it was decided to use the word 'octagonal'.

Also, before anyone ask, the Harry Potter series did have a little influence. This was the decision to use Latin for both the name of the game and its pieces, since this was the language which the Hogwarts students used to cast spells(though their grammar was a little iffy, which is okay since it is an enjoyable fantasy). So I hope that anyone who has complaints about the mis-use of any particular Latin word will be as forgiving.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Larry L. Smith.
Web page created: 2009-02-18. Web page last updated: 2009-02-18