OSR: The Most Famous Spell

Written to cheer up Patrick Stuart.

Ever since Thactophalanic the Arch-Lich proved, in 778, that royalty not only has mass but volume and texture, the search for other "universal radiative effusions" has consumed the illusionist wizard community. Light, Darkness, Evil, and Goodness are famous effusions, but Illusionists have subsequently discovered and spectrumated a host of others, although using less brutal and regicidal methods.

Magonus Coroticus, a young Illusionist of no great renown, developed the "Most Famous Spell" and established a true-breeding lineage among his assistants before vanishing. Initially treated as a curiosity or novelty spell, similar to "Melfort's Unacceptable Invitation" and "The Gemswick Haddock Compass", the spell of Magonus was rediscovered and popularized in the great rush to understand fame.

According to Magonus' surviving writing, fame radiates from all object or people. It also radiates from the miniature thought-models carried in memories. Your memory of a church radiates a portion of that church's fame. The more people hold thought-models of a subject, the more fame is radiated. All the spell does is fly through all of Creation in a day (no great feat for a spell) and measure the tints and hues of fame, as directed by the caster.

Meeting of Thity-Five Heads of Expression, Honore Daumier

The Most Famous Spell

R: Creation T: as below D: 1 day  
When you cast this spell, specify a condition. The spell returns to a blank piece of parchment, vellum, or slate within a day and writes a list of the 10 most famous creatures or objects that meet your condition. For example, you could request "the [10] [most famous] [women]" and receive a list containing their names.

For each [dice] you invest past the first, you may add a new filter or condition to the spell, or you may increase the targets listed by 10. For example, with 3 [dice], you could request "the [10] [most famous] [living] [trees]" or "the [30] [most famous] [goats]".

You cannot select subjective conditions, such as "beautiful" or "valuable" or "trustworthy". The conditions must be objectively measurable, such as "heaviest" or "dead."

The spell lists the names on one side of the parchment. On the other side, it draws a map to the targets. The map mixes geographical, social, historical, and figurative terms. A person might be described as "three days and one nation to the north of green Huxley". The map is mostly useless.

If less than 10 targets meet the criteria listed, or if the criteria listed are too contradictory, the spell fails. The minimum threshold for fame seems to be "100 people who aren't blood relatives".

The spell seems to take some other direction from the caster. Lists prepared by two different casters at the same time vary slightly in spelling or order. No one is entirely sure why. 

The spell makes no distinction between the living and the dead unless told otherwise. It ignores fictional people unless they are widely believe to be real. It might ignore a character in a famous comic ballad but return a saint who never really existed.

Needless to say, this spell is very popular among tyrants, artists, poets, assassins, and other fame-seekers. Some die surrounded by hundreds of parchment scrolls listing their rivals.


  1. Soon I will gather all the world's most famous goats to myself, and gain their famous goat powers!

    1. You'll probably need to fight +Paolo Greco for them. Should be a good time. I'd buy tickets.

  2. My players were once rewarded with a magic goat (name unknown, alas---would that make a difference to the spell?). The peasants were sure it was magic, as it had never been sick.