Elven Spell Songs

For the first time in nearly 10 years of playing Burning Wheel I’m playing my first elf and of course I made him as cheaty as possible.

My question is about failing spell songs.

I was poking around the forums about some other elf-related stuff and I saw a bit of discussion about spell songs and it sounded like spell songs, like spells, shouldn’t necessarily have failure stakes. That is, either the spell works or it doesn’t.

I wanted to make sure I’d understood correctly or find out if I’m just totally off-base. Especially since based on my dice luck in my first play session with my elf I’m probably going to be having a lot of failures (I’m 4 for 4 on failures so far).

I’m pretty sure what is meant by that is that spell songs don’t have any of the ‘extra’ magical failure stakes.

No Wheel of magic, no tax, that sort of thing.

But I am pretty sure normal intent/task/consequences of failure rules still apply to the roll.

Because spell songs are more limited in what they can do, which limits the scope of intent, the scope of failure should also be limited. If you augment your Stealthy roll with Threne of the Chameleon, you don’t become extra obvious if Threne fails. In fact, I’d say that’s a case where there shouldn’t be a separate failure at all; you can be successfully Stealthy even if you fail your Threne roll. If you fail Song of the Sword you simply don’t get extra benefits.

Some others are more open to interesting failure. Failing Air of Gates or Song of Arbors, for example, might get you misinformation or hostility. But I think a lot of spell songs should have pretty banal consequences because the consequences of success are also often incidental to other things. This very much applies to all the mostly wonderment songs.