Why Spell Card Rules?

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Why does Gensokyo use the Spell Card Rules? Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spellcards

This article can assist in the thought process of why the Spell Card system exists. In short, the Spell Card System was devised to keep law and order in Gensokyo. Without such cooperation towards what is the equivalent of the Constitution of Gensokyo, the realm would cease to exist.

Please review the Draft of the Spell Card Rules as the context from Perfect Momento in Strict Sense is important.

The Touhou Confessions Post

This entire thread was spurred from the original post at Confessions of Gensokyo on September 2, 2014

This section deals with the discussion of the reason for the spellcard rules. This was spurred from Confession 651].

smeghenegham said

Post: http://smeghenegham.tumblr.com/post/96465001217/

But then some characters wouldn’t be allowed to fight at all.

  • Yuyuko could just kill you, no warning or anything;
  • Yukari could dump you somewhere else;
  • Remilia could manipulate fate so your fight never happens (or maybe just fucken bite you I dunno);
  • Flandre could make you go *pop*;
  • Sakuya could stop time and shank you, then watch you bleed out;
  • Mystia could blind you and then eat you;
  • Keine could destroy any trace of your history, essentially removing you from existence;
  • Youmu could slice you so hard you reach enlightenment (ie die);
  • Tewi could manipulate luck so that every attack you make misses her, and every attack she makes hits you critically;
  • Suika could disperse into mist to avoid any attack, and then increase her size so she could squash you;
  • Reisen could drive you insane with a glance;
  • Komachi could dump you in the Sanzu, or manipulate distance so you and her are no longer close;
  • Hina could force upon you such misfortune that you trip off of a cliff;
  • Nitori could do unquestionable things that would kill you right away;
  • Yamame there could hit you with fucken Ebola, or essentially paralyze you;
  • Yuugi could flick your head clean off;
  • Satori could make you relive your worst nightmares and make you want to kill yourself;
  • Orin claims corpses as her own, so if she killed you there’d be no funeral;
  • Utsuho would turn you into a nuclear shadow so fast you wouldn’t be able to make a move;
  • Koishi could kill you and make it look like an accident (you wouldn’t even know it had happened);
  • Kyouko would deafen you, or potentially make your head burst;
  • Yoshika could eat you;
  • Seiga… I’m not too sure what she could do, but she could also claim your corpse as her own;
  • Wakasagihime could drown you if you got close enough;
  • Seija Kijin could manipulate you rather easily, turning the fight against you - or she could flip you upside down? Forever? And then you get the dreaded shrinks???;
  • Sukuna could increase your size so you couldn’t move, or increase her own size and stomp you;
  • Raiko could play your head like a fucken bongo…

Wow, now that I think about it, dat’s a laaaht a characters! And let’s not forget the deadly duo themselves, the main protagonists!

Reimu could fly out of reality and avoid the fight; otherwise she’s very handy with the amulets, the yin-yang orbs and that gohei, and she ain’t afraid to kick someone in the head if push comes to shove;

Marisa is to the Touhou series what a blue mage is to Final Fantasy; stealing enemy attacks with wild abandon, training herself to be better than anyone she can meet, being able to fire huge lasers and star clusters

They’re both pretty powerful in their own rights… but compare it to the powers of some of their foes, and you’ve got two dead protags before they enter stage fucken two.

Which is why the Spell Card Rules exists! They make it possible for people who have prepared spells before-hand to have a fair duel with someone who’d aggrieving them. They exist specifically as a handicap - if the Touhou characters were given free reign on how to use their powers, Gensokyo would be empty within a week.

kyaksa said


You don’t understand how much I fucking love this post in particular


(Link Missing)




Mmmn. Gensokyo has been around for a lot longer than the Spell Card Rules, you know? Not even a single human generation has passed since their institution. A blink of an eye, especially when many residents have ages that span centuries. Gensokyo wouldn’t implode simply because they’re not there.

Now, when discussing the power of humans and youkai, I feel that the two are at the same time both grossly overestimated and underestimated. So, let me say this, instead.

Even before the erection of the Hakurei Barrier, when youkai were free to do as they pleased, the humans of Gensokyo had persisted. The youkai they faced were no less powerful than any you see today. It was an age when the 4 Devas still walked the mountains with the Tengu and the Kappa as their footstools, a time when even the most hated youkai of the underground freely roamed the surface. The most terrifying and powerful youkai of the time were free to use their abilities with little fear of any consequences, and yet Gensokyo’s humans were able to fend them off. Even during her childhood without the Spell Card Rules, Reimu was able to exterminate multitudes of youkai; youkai that had enough confidence in their strength and numbers to attempt to start an incident in the first place. Humans have more strength then you give them credit for, and despite their strength, youkai have a definite limit in their ability to express their powers.

After the erection of the Barrier, youkai were unable to do as they pleased; the integrity of the barrier is now the priority. Whether human, youkai, or god, actions that threaten the barrier and the shrine maidens who maintain it are now taboo. The situation is no longer as simple as humans versus youkai, and a youkai wreaking havoc would quickly find itself surrounded by angry peers. For example, shortly before the Spell Card Rules were implemented, the Vampire Incident was resolved when a group of powerful youkai defeated the vampire and their subordinates, and the situation was self-contained. Now, if Nue were to try and unleash hell, how long do you think she could keep that up?

With the Barrier but no Spell Card Rules, Gensokyo is left teetering on an unspoken ceasefire agreement, occasionally broken by various things like the Vampire Incident. Casualties will happen on all sides when they happen, but there is nothing suggesting the collapse of Gensokyo. And Gensokyo did persist in this manner for well over a century. So, if there’s already so little reason to fight, why the Spell Card Rules?

Unable to freely attack humans as a result of the ceasefire and a direct ban on killing native Gensokyo humans , the youkai grew increasingly dissatisfied, leading them to seek negotiations with Reimu. With nothing to do, Reimu grew increasingly bored, ensuring the success of those negotiations. Now, with a system for youkai to easily cause incidents and humans to easily resolve them, everyone has an outlet for their emotions. The deadliness of battles wasn’t the issue so much as there was too much restriction on them happening at all. The Spell Card Rules were actually to increase the amount of fighting in Gensokyo. I would say that the handicaps and non-lethal aspects were more the means than the ends, to allow the fights to take place freely under these limited circumstances.

The Spell Card Rules were not for the safety of humans or for the protection of Gensokyo, but to quell political unrest.

Articles of Interest

  • PMiSS, Reimu - Esp. Intro, Spell Card Rules, and The Vampire Incident
  • THWiki, Gensokyo - Esp. General Information and Timeline

pitchinthefandomist said


I’d like to think the reason why humans have made it before the rules and partly why they still do is that the stronger youkai know not to tip the balance between human and youkai too much; if too many people were eaten/killed there’d be less for the youkai to eat (assuming that youkai need humans in their diet) and definitely less people to fear them, to belive in them, to give them their existance.

There lies a huge responsibility and restraint on those with power to take things down and it’s for a good reson. The SP rules were crated to confirm the already unsaid rule of restraint on the stronger party and give the a fair stand to the weaker ones to make the duels less leathal. To be exact applies to all duels, whether human vs. youkai, youkai vs. youkai or human vs. human.

But of course it’s easy to slip from the rules and try to act against them. Indeed, danmaku is not used to kill, but thinking about the fight against Mokou in IN, the playable pairs must have shot to kill to take her down.

To put it shortly, the natural balance that is between hunters and their prey applies also to humans and youkai and the Spell Card rules were made to give all a fair stand, whether human or youkai.

Wolfmaw said


that’s the point of spellcard rules: handicap the participants so that the shrine maiden isn’t in actual danger so that the balance of Gensokyo isn’t fucked up completely.

redarcanecustom said


While I agree with a lot of things said, I’m disagreeing with you about the last part. Spell Card Rules is in direct response to the Hakurei Barrier, yes, and this is the most important part.

Erection of Hakurei Barrier changed the game.

They are no longer in the open world, where spiritual energies can be flung around. The spiritual fragility of the barrier, especially given the supposed advanced magic put into it (so much that Yukari can’t maintain it by herself and requires Reimu to be the “barrier maiden”) is the reason that Youkai were not able to fight in the first place and your post addresses all of this, but this is important.

Gensokyo has little to no way of letting out pent-up spiritual energy that might build up from an actual fight ( as far as canon goes) and this means that even with a barrier in place, it can be assumed (unless stated by ZUN to be otherwise) that Gensokyo is like a barrel, slowly building up pressure. There might be a slow, passive, rate of such energies being let out, seeing as how new youkais come in at a somewhat regular interval, but that does not mean that the barrier can hold the energy of intense fighting.

Powerful youkais knew this and realized that their (probably) last haven will collapse on itself (using the wording in English translation as well as my Korean copy of PMiSS) if they keep fighting as if the barrier was not there and put on restrictions on what youkais could or could not do, starting from the Vampire Incident. This was the catalyst for youkais coming to Reimu in the first place.

This fact, coupled with the fact that protection of Reimu is a must if the barrier that blocks off “reality” from “illusion” were to be maintained means that Spell Card rules are for the maintenance and existence of Gensokyo itself since (A) Regulation of spiritual energy is needed now that the “reality” has changed and (B) Protection of the “barrier maiden” is a priority if Gensokyo were to even exist in the first place. The biggest motivation, from the way I read the canon, is definitely rested within the need to defend the land itself rather than politics.

The actual draft of SCR, especially the first part, should be perused.

lori-hime said


… spellcard rules were created so that youkai could “fight” without actually fighting, as too much actual fighting would end up making Gensokyou implode. Since no one wants this, everyone abides to the rules ...

Keeper--of--Knowledge's Post

Title: I just realized something..

URL: http://keeper--of--knowledge.tumblr.com/post/87961162952/ (Tumblr username no longer exists)

Initial post

How the fuck do all these like power things even work with Touhou? Like, for fuck sakes, Remilia can manipulate fate. Doesn’t that mean she can basically bend fate to her will? She could go ahead and be all like, “Hey, your fate is to die a horrible death, like, right now.” Why the fuck didn’t she just do that to stop Marisa and Reimu? Plus, what about Yuyuko? Who the fuck would win in a fight between Remi and Yuyuko? One can manipulate fate, the other can just straight up kill bitches like nothing.


unconsciouscharm said



Well, Patchouli-Mun, I’m glad you asked, because this is one thing a bunch of Touhou fans don’t know, but really should! Now, with everyone’s absolutely insane abilities, such as Flandre’s ability to destroy literally anything, and Yuyuko’s ability to ‘invite death into someone’, things would get really terrible if people fought at full strength, or use their abilities like that! That is why the spellcard rules were put into place! These rules force people to settle their disputes, not with full-on battles, but rather with the friendly game of Danmaku, and yes, Danmaku is just that, a game.

It’s a game of not only strength, but beauty and grace, as a game without any rules, would be utter nonsense. The opponent must always have a way to win, otherwise it wouldn’t be a game, and things would just go back to full-on fights again, with no reason for Danmaku, if you could just create a wall of impossible danmaku (unless you’re seija, I guess).

(InterWiki TouhouWiki Article Supplied on the top of article)

keeper--of--knowledge said

http://keeper--of--knowledge.tumblr.com/post/87962162462/ (Tumblr username no longer exists)

Ah. thank you very much, Koishi-mun! While I do know that they have to abide by these rules, I still wonder what would happen if they simply chose to ignore them. I mean, what’s going to happen if they break the rules? I mean, they straight up throw the rules out of the window with ISC. They did do it because Seija was a wanted criminal, but still. I mean, lets say you started a war and were trying to take over the world. While you can (and should) abide by the rules of the Geneva Conventions, you don’t necessarily have to. I mean, if you don’t, everyone will just frown upon you, but that doesn’t matter too much when you conquer the world.

unconsciouscharm said



Well, if you’d like to read a nice little comic about two particular Youkai girls fighting each other at full strength, you can read that here! It really goes to show you just how terrifying it is for two people to fight full strength in Gensokyo! (plus it has my little Koishi in it so it gets bonus points from me.)