Spirits are the protagonists of Spirit Island, serving as player characters. They are powerful Spirits of the natural world, existing on an isolated island. Invaders from beyond the known sea have recently begun their colonization of their island, killing the native islanders - a people called the Dahan - and upsetting the natural balance. The Spirits of the island must grow in power and throw back the Invaders before the island is blighted beyond hope of recovery!
Each Spirit plays differently, but all have:
- A Spirit Panel with Growth, Presence Tracks, and Innate Powers
- Unique Power Cards (generally 4) - their starting hand
Anatomy of a Spirit Panel
- Spirit Name
- Art: An image of this Spirit.
- Backstory: The story and history of the Spirit.
- Setup: Initial Presence placement, and any special instructions.
- Play Style/Complexity: A brief description of the Spirit’s strategy and comparison of its strengths and weaknesses, as well as a summary of Powers.
- Special Rules: Any rules that work differently for this Spirit.
- Growth Options: The Spirit’s options for regathering of strength, reaching out to new lands, and learning new Powers. When a Spirit chooses a Growth option, they will select one section and take all of the actions indicated in it, unless specified otherwise. (See the sidebar for common Growth options, and page 8 for the Growth step of the Spirit Phase.)
- Presence Tracks: Each Spirit Panel contains two Presence Tracks. The top one is Energy Gained per turn and the bottom one is Card Plays. To start, all but the leftmost space on each track is covered by Presence. When placing Presence on the Island, you can choose which track to take it from, but always take it from left to right. As you remove Presence from each track you reveal progressively greater benefits. Removing Presence from the top track grants you more Energy while removing Presence from the bottom track allows you to play more Power Cards. Spirits use only the highest revealed number on the tracks for their Energy or Card Plays (these benefits are not additive). Note: Destroyed Presence is removed from play, not returned to the Panel!
- Some Spirits have a “Reclaim One” space. While this space is revealed, the Spirit may return one Power Card to their hand any time during the Spirit Phase (so the ability can be used the turn it is revealed), letting them go longer before having to take a “Reclaim All” Growth option.
- Some Spirits have bonus Elements on their Presence Tracks. These constantly provide one of the shown Elements for as long as the space is revealed (see Elements Gained). A space marked with “Any” grants one Element each turn: the Spirit may choose which Element they get at any time, but then cannot change it until the next turn.
- Innate Powers: Free Powers that can be triggered using Elements. (see Powers). Unless explicitly specified, Innate Powers never cost Energy or use Card Plays. Like all Powers, they target a single land or Spirit unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Every turn, all Spirits act simultaneously and cooperatively, employing Powers to push the Invaders back, bolster the island, and aid the Dahan.
Each Spirit does three things, in the following order:
- Grow: Choose one option (unless stated otherwise) next to “Growth” at the upper-right of the Spirit Panel. Each section is a single choice. You must do everything shown, but may choose the order. (For more on Growth options, see page 14.)
- Gain Energy: Gain an amount of Energy equal to the highest uncovered number on your Energy Presence Track. Place any gained Energy on or near your Spirit Panel.
- Play and Pay for Power Cards: Select the Power Cards (Fast and Slow) that you will use this turn. The maximum number of Power Cards you can play each turn is the highest uncovered number on the Card Plays Presence Track (even if you have enough Energy to pay for more). You must immediately pay Energy for all Power Cards played, even Slow ones. Likewise, you immediately gain all Elements from played Power Cards, even if the Powers’ effects are Slow. Do not resolve the effects of the Power Cards yet.
Common Growth Options
|Add Presence||Add one Presence to the board at Range X (up to X lands away from your existing Presence)|
|Gain Energy||Gain X Energy (in addition to this turn’s normal Energy income)|
|Gain Power Card||Gain a Power Card|
|Reclaim Cards||Reclaim all played Power Cards (or X shown) from your personal discard pile, returning them to your hand.|
Pick Two Growth (BC)
Spirits with “Growth (Pick Two)” may choose any two options, in either order. However, they cannot choose the same option twice in a single turn.
Growth that Costs Energy (BC)
Spirits in expansions may have a Growth option that costs Energy to pick. If the Spirit does not have the required amount of Energy, they can’t choose that option. (If a Spirit has multiple Growth choices, they could potentially use their first Growth choice to gain Energy to help pay for the second one.)
It is rarely relevant, but whenever you would add Presence, you may choose to instead move on of your Presence already on the board. So, if you manage to get all your Presence into play, you can still reposition it.
Innate Powers have Elemental Thresholds, meaning they can only be used on Turns you have all the required Elements. Elements are never spent, only checked.
Elements from Power Cards do not persist from Turn to Turn. You have them only as long as the Power Card is in play.
(See Elemental Thresholds)
Element Markers were introduced in the Jagged Earth expansion. These markers are primarily a player convenience, for tracking Elements from non-usual sources.
However, three Spirits (Shifting Memory of Ages, Starlight Seeks Its Form, and Wounded Waters Bleeding) and one Scenario (Elemental Invocation) do make use of them in other ways. Each one provides its own rules for how to use the Element Markers. They are not limited by available components.
Aspect Cards provide new ways to play familiar Spirits, portraying some facet of that Spirit’s nature more strongly or in a different fashion. Currently Aspects only exist for the four low-complexity Spirits from the base game. They were first introduced in the Jagged Earth expansion and later supplemented in Promo 2.
The back of an Aspect Card shows which Spirit it is for and the front shows how to use it, providing a new Special Rule or Innate Power. To keep the Spirit balanced, an Aspect may replace an existing Special Rule or Innate Power or require other changes during Setup; these changes are indicated at the top of the card.
The use of Aspects is entirely optional; decide whether to use one and which to use when choosing Spirits. Use at most one Aspect per Spirit. Aspects may change a Spirit’s play style or complexity; if playing a Spirit for the first time, either don’t use an Aspect, or use one that decreases complexity
List of Spirits
These are the various Spirits one can play in Spirit Island.