Literature / Spells R Us

Spells R Us is a Shared Universe Web Original created by Bill Hart in the 1990s. Spells R Us has a pretty decent fan base and many stories have been created, not just from Bill Hart.

The series revolves around The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday called Spells R Us. The shop is run by the nameless Robe and Hat Wizard known only as "The Old Man". Each story usually starts with The Old Man selling some sort of magical product to a disbelieving customer. As the story progresses, the customer will have either a Gender Bender, Animorphism, age progression, age regression, or some other sort of transformation. The customer is usually left this way for the rest of his/her life.

Take from that what you will.

The series began when two college students, Chris and Terry, needed to get girls for the frat party, or the will be kicked out of the fraternity. Desperate, the boys go to a mysterious shop called Spells R Us. The Old Man gives them the spell and "forgets" to tell the boys that for one night, they (and the other frathouse students) will become girls in body and mind.

So, of course, they mess up the spell.

Now anyone in the house after 7 will turn into the opposite sex. While "Crissy" and "Terri" retain their guy memories, anyone else will act, think, and look like a girl until 2 a.m. (when the spell wears off). This plot was written by Bill Hart, and takes up the storyline of Bill Hart's stories.

However,many fans now write their own stories. Theses stories focus less on the events with Terry and Chris and more with the other vic-*cough*- uh, customers of The Old Man's shop. All of those stories have built some sort of canon while ignoring Bill Hart's saga, this unofficial canon led to many sub-universes, among them Bikini Beach, about a magical women-only genderbending water park somewhere in the US owned by an old gipsy witch (known most commonly as "Grandmother"), who is a good friend of the Old Man.

Stories can be found all over the web. Most of them (if not all) can be found at fictionmania.A small collection can be found at this angelfire page and this archive of TF stories. All three contain Bill Hart's first story: "A Strangeness at The Frat House."

This series contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The Old Man in several stories; he's polite and even friendly but will still think nothing of screwing people over for his own amusement.
  • All Guys Want Sorority Women: Invoked often.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: When the stories are in a high school setting, this trope comes into play, rather than All Guys Want Sorority Women.
  • An Aesop: If there is one, it's that a magical fix to your problems can end up biting you in the backside later
  • And I Must Scream: The more... morally dubious costumers can find themselves in truly unpleasant situations.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Anya, I Might be your Grandfather: It's suggested throughout the Bikini Beach stories that the SRU Wizard is Anya's grandfather, and confirmed in The Temptation of Anya.
  • The Apprentice: Many early stories attempted to give the Old Man an apprentice/assistant without much success, until "Possibilities" introduced Danni. Anya is this to the Grandmother, as well as her granddaughter — hence the name `Grandmother'.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: No one in these stories ends up looking like anything less than either a supermodel or worse'
    • Averted in "Strangeness At The Sorority House." Until the end at least.
  • Be Care Ful What You Wish For: To those unfortunate souls who don't follow the instuctions, they get "exactly" what they want.
  • Breakout Character: Danni, the snarky Wizard's apprentice.
  • Breast Expansion: Spells R Us: Dream Girl has the shop visited by an overweight girl looking for something to land her the school's quarterback. The owner gives her a potion that will turn her into the young man's perfect woman. Unfortunately she finds out the boy's perfect woman is not one she want's to be.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Dee Dee to Terry. The reasons why are a long story, but the short version is Love Potion. Luckily, by the end of "A Strangeness Returns," her memories of Terry are erased.
  • Depending on the Writer: Whatever The Old Man acts like in each story. Sometimes he's a nice guy who will help with your problem after selling you the damn thing (only if you ask though). Sometimes he's a Jerkass who changes people for the hell of it and just changes their memories so he doesn't get in trouble.
    • What the girls are like pretty much depends on what the author's into.
    • The Old Man's age, in some stories he is young enough to have a teenaged nephew, in some others he over a century old and some others have him as old as time itself.
  • Different for Girls
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Witch to the Wizard, Anqualicara in the early stories.
  • Exact Words:
    • If the customer or the old man is a jerkass at the time he will give you what you want in the most literal sense possible.
    • If the object sold to the customer has instructions, the customer had better follow them exactly as stated.
  • Fate Worse than Death
  • First Law of Gender-Bending: The transformations are almost always male to female, and always one-way. Invoked, in the the Wizard could change his costumers back. He just doesn't.
  • Foreshadowing: Whenever the Old Man warns a customer.
  • Gender Bender: The central plot point of most stories.
  • Ironic Hell
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A few stories have Wizard as this, in which a customer falls into his trap, only for the trap to save a loved one's life.
  • Jumping the Gender Barrier: A common plot involves a man becoming a girl and hooking up with his former best friend who may be either a straight man or a lesbian girlfriend.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sometimes the change will also involve the victims or victim's associates' memories of their former life being erased, or the changes becoming retroactive as though they were always that way.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: If you're a jerk, then chances are you will lose your Y chromosome by the end of the story. (And become less of a jerk, too.)
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday : A victim will sometimes find find the store again and sometimes not
  • Love Triangle: After Terry is forced to be Terri for 9 months (hint, hint), and Chris has to be her boyfriend during that time, the triangle becomes Danni-Chris- Terri.
  • No Name Given: The Wizard, The Bikini Beach Old Woman (referred to usually as 'the old woman' or 'Grandmother'.
    • some early stories name him Anselm.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Certain "effects" of each story's product will start up this trope. Which will lead to the First, Second, and Third Law of Gender Bending.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The Old Man. Sometimes it's only the robe; other times, the wizard hat is included. The robe is nothing impressive; he's often referred to as an "old man in a bathrobe".
  • Shapeshifting: Of both the voluntary and involuntary varieties. Some stories have both.
  • Shared Universe: With the Bikini Beach stories by ElrodW.
  • Second Law of Gender Bending: On those occasions where a costumer doesn't have their memories outright rewritten, they'll end up enjoying their new gender more than their old one.
  • Shout-Out: The story 'Jessica' which features the protagonist after watching the movie turning into... well, Jessica Rabbit.
  • "Sorcerer's Apprentice" Plot
  • Strictly Formula
  • Third Law of Gender Bending: On changing gender, most people end up taking on that gender's societally expected mannerisms, usually because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. Usually, this results in guys becoming stereotypical Valley Girls.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: And a weird one at that! In the very first story (after the "curse" is placed over the house) Dennis falls for Chris' girl form "Crissy" and thinks Terry is trying to steal her away. Then later, Dennis is under the spell and "Denise" falls for Terry and thinks Crissy is trying to steal her away. No one is into Dennis or Denise. Of course, things get worse when Terry takes a Love Potion in front of Crissy.
  • Valley Girl: A common result of the many Gender Benders.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Many of the later stories depict costumers that have heard about the shop who think they know better, but they screw things up anyway.