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Lost Magic: A Spell Contest

Lost Magic: A Spell Contest

Lost Magic LogoAre You a Crafter of Magic?

Long have the hallowed halls of the clergy and the research libraries of arcane lore seen spells both divine and arcane in design shimmer with power and might. But are all the spells known?

We think not.

In fact, we believe many more await discovery, and that’s where you come in. Yes, you.

Lost Magic is a contest brought to you by Kobold Press, and it promises to enrich campaigns with more magic—magic designed by some of those who choose to enter. If you wish to show the world your mighty arcane or divine spellcrafting abilities by using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or 13th Age system, write and submit a spell that has no more than 500 words.

A panel of industry professionals will pick five finalists from these submissions, and the voting public will choose the winner from among those five. That person will receive a prize designated beyond the jump.

Who can enter?

This contest is an open call contest! The two rules systems we will take pitches for are 13th Age and Pathfinder RPG. You can flavor your spell to suit the Midgard Campaign Setting if you wish, but it’s not required.

Now, you have the basics, right? What do you need to do next? First, read all the stuff below, then start writing your spell!

Here’s how it works:

To enter the contest, your submission MUST…

  • Be 500 words or less. All longer submissions are automatically disqualified.
  • Be sent to the Lost Magic Contest at miranda(at)koboldquarterly(dot)com no later than March 29, 2013, by noon PST.
  • Be submitted as a doc, docx, or rtf attachment.
  • Have Lost Magic Submission [insert spell name] in the email’s subject line.
  • Include your full name and contact information in the body of the email (not in your attachment!).
  • Is a spell—no incantations or runes or other spell-like game mechanic.
  • Be designed for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the 13th Age system.
  • NOT include any references to Golarion, Thedas, or other settings not published by Kobold Press. Any such entries will be immediately disqualified. You may refer to elements from the Midgard Campaign Setting.

So, are you ready to reveal lost magic to the waiting world?


All submissions that meet the criteria will be entered in the contest and be judged by us, the Kobolds, and our guest judges on originality, effective writing, and fun. The five best submissions will be published on koboldquarterly.com in April and will be voted on by the public. Of those five submissions, the one with the winning votes will earn bragging rights for having brought to the world a powerful, interesting, or useful piece of lost magic. The winner will be announced in April.

So who’s judging? As ever, we have a trio of extremely talented and terrific judges: Wolfgang Baur, Amanda Hamon, and Wade Rockett. Please take a moment to learn more about those who will judge whether your spells are puissant enough to make the cut!

Wolfgang Baur is the founder of Kobold Press, its publisher, and general go-to kobold. He enjoys the Gothic style in architecture, the Venetian style of rampant mercantilism, and the Dutch style in gardens and hydroengineering. For adventures, he’s an omnivore. Wolfgang is the author of the Midgard Campaign Setting, the Dark*Matter setting, the Kobold Guides to Game Design, and a smattering of other RPG titles dating from the days when TSR walked the earth. He has served as a judge for the RPG Superstar contest run by Paizo Publishing (three times), but doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson yet! Wolfgang lives in an impenetrable set of warrens near Kirkland, Washington.

Amanda Hamon is a freelance game designer for Paizo Publishing and a freelance designer, developer, and editor for Kobold Press. Her work has appeared in several Adventure Path installments, the Pathfinder Society scenario Fortress of the Nail, Animal Archive, Midgard Legends, and New Paths 3: The Expanded Elven Archer, among other publications. Her upcoming work includes contributions to Dungeoneer’s Handbook, Fey Revisited, Dragons Unleashed, Quests & Campaigns, and several others. She spends her days as a writer/editor for a Big Ten university and her nights immersed in worlds that are both weird and wonderful. Amanda lives in Indiana with her husband and their many (nonmagical) pets.

Wade Rockett is a writer, editor, and public relations professional in the game and technology industries. If you’re reading this you have definitely seen his work: for more than four years he’s written and edited countless Kobold Press ads, flyers, blog posts, store copy, announcements, back cover copy, news releases, Courier articles, and more. His writing has also appeared under his byline in Kobold Quarterly, Tales of the Old Margreve, and Midgard Preview. Wade is an occasional freelance editor for Dungeons & Dragons and does promotional work for Pelgrane Press and Fire Opal Media’s new game 13th Age. He lives in Tacoma, WA, with his wife and 2.75 cats and is currently working on Secret of Warlock Mountain, a campaign setting for Robin D. Laws’ Hillfolk DramaSystem game.

Prizes for the Lost Magic contest

The winning spell designer will receive a copy of the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design and a $20 gift certificate to the Kobold Store, and the winning spell will be printed in an upcoming Kobold Press release. All five finalists will receive a copy of the Player’s Guide to the Wasted West (loaded with magic and the lost notes of mages who dared too much!).

Additional Rules

1. The contest is open to all.

2. One entry per person. The entry must be your own work, which has not been published previously, is not being considered for publication by any other publisher, and is original and does not infringe upon any copyrighted material.

3. All entries become property of Open Design LLC.

4. By entering this contest, you authorize the use of your name and likeness without additional compensation for promotion and advertising purposes in all media.

5. This contest is subject to federal, state, and local laws where applicable.

6. Open Design reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this contest at any time without prior notice.

7. All decisions of Open Design LLC and the contest judges are final.

So, now you have all the relevant information to enter this contest. What lost magic will you bring into this world of ours?

12 thoughts on “Lost Magic: A Spell Contest”

  1. Is there a limit to the number of entries? It seems implied, but there does not appear to be any specific rules against it.

  2. James, you might not want to enter this contest. Because it allows use of the Midgard setting material, rights have to go to Kobold Press for all entries.

    We’re looking forward to the entries!

  3. So, after thinkng about it for one minute, can the spell be something more complex and not too simplistic as most spells have read in the past. I am thinking of something that has multipule effects, or choices, or triggers. All in 500 words.

    So, my question boils down to this: is complexity frowned on or will be judged without a bias… I as, because everyone seems to want simplicity these days in certain Inc. circles.

  4. Different judges have different preferences, and it’s up to you as a designer to shape the spell to be appealing to both the judges and (if you are a finalist) the voting public. My advice would be write it the way you want it to go, pass it around to some friends who play, and see what reactions you get. There is such a thing as too complicated, but complexity itself can be fun if well done (see: cacodaemon, heat metal, magic jar, etc).

    So……….. Your call. No one is going to tell you how to design it: that’s entirely in your hands. Playing to the “hot trend” is only helpful if you know for sure that the judges follow those fashions.

    If you want to research spells written by some of the judges to get a sense of their preferences, no one will stop you.

  5. Charles Carrier

    @George Elrod: Speaking for myself only… I like complexity, as long as it is easy-to-understand complexity. Y’know, like the classic Color Spray spell.

  6. Charles Carrier

    Are we allowed to reference other spells in our spell’s description? For example, a spell like “Set Eyeballs on Fire” which states “acts like a normal *blindness* spell if the victim makes a successful save”.

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