Art by Kev Walker
Something for the Commander/EDH players: a comprehensive list of all “Wrath” effects in Magic: the Gathering. This is more useful than it sounds: a lot of wraths, some of them very good, won’t show up in the obvious Gatherer searches.
Here are some details about the list that you can freely skip:
by mansarali on deviantart; it is impossible to find a picture of a *bad* elvish archer
Say you’re designing the character creation rules of a fantasy RPG (pen-and-paper or video game). Nothing fancy, just a few ability scores picked using a point-buy system and improved as the character gains levels. So far so good. But you also want to show off the amazing diversity of your fantasy setting, so you write something like this:
Elves are swift and gracious compared to clumsy humans. Elf characters get +2 Dexterity.
Seems reasonable on its face, and damn near universal in gaming. But what does it actually mean?
This article now only exists on an archive website. I’m puting it up as a pdf in case that too should vanish from the net. It’s a valuable piece of game design history.
It’s 1997. Magic: the Gathering is flying off the shelves. (I mean, it’s flying off the shelves even more today, but now we’re used to it). And this despite its seemingly customer-unfriendly practice of selling cards in randomized “boosters” with arbitrarily-assigned card “rarity”. Well a plate on a door affords pushing, and the thing to do with unsatisfied customers is to offer them a superior product. This is what Ryan Dancey (then of the Five Rings Publishing Group, later the driving force behind Dungeons & Dragons‘ unheard-of Open Gaming License) did, using the Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game and a few others as guinea pigs.
The whole saga is an entertaining read, but most important is its conclusion:
(This post is about the popular Commander/EDH variant for Magic: the Gathering.)
Commander has two rules that prevent players from using cards that aren’t of their commander’s colour(s): a deckbuilding rule and an in-game rule.
- Cards in a deck may not have any colours in their identity which are not shared with the commander of the deck. (The identity of each card in the deck must be a subset of the General’s.)
- A deck may not generate mana outside its colours. If an effect would generate mana of an illegal colour, it generates colourless mana instead.
In this post, I would like to discuss the possibility of removing the first rule, and relying entirely on the second rule to keep decks colour-segregated. I will merely list all consequences I could think of, and let the reader come to their own conclusion.
- 360 custom cards
- Over 40 /tg/ contributors
- Intended to be drafted (a.k.a. a cube)
- Each card has artwork with artist credit (and occasionally flavour text)
- Each card has designer credit (designers have a symbol used as watermark)
- The set symbol is made of three C’s (for Custom Cards Cube)
- Made in a month of hard work in summer 2013
- Probably a lot better than you expect
Where to find it
Direct link to the most recent version, as a Magic Set Editor file.
Every Cube-related file, including what you’ll need to see the watermarks.
A ton of Magic-compatible art for your own projects (warning: may not stay up forever)
The state of custom Magic cards design
I used to hang around in /tg/, the “traditional games” board on 4chan. /tg/ has a very active community of custom Magic cards designers. You can pretty much always find a dedicated thread floating around, despite 4chan’s fast thread rotation. Activity varies and there’s a lot of repeats, but this still amounts to something like two original custom cards an hour, all day, every day.
Most of them are terrible.
I’m hashing out ideas for a story-heavy video game, something like The Walking Dead, Façade, or one of the more interactive visual novels. I’m not going to spoil the plot too much; it’s basically grimdark magical girl stuff like Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Working title is The Sisterhood (a surprisingly underused title, especially compared to The Brotherhood). It’s going to be very low budget if it happens at all. But I hope to make up for it with dialogue and storytelling tricks I haven’t seen before in video games. (If you have seen them before, please tell me all about it.)
by clearkid on deviantart
I don’t know if there’s a video game of Calvin & Hobbes in which you control Hobbes, but if there isn’t, they’re missing an opportunity to seriously mindfuck some players.
Wrote 20 cards (out of 120 or so). Should have a playable prototype in a month at this rate.
A Once Upon A Time/Aye, Dark Overlord-like storytelling game with Harry Potter fanfics as its theme. Cards with all the tropes we know and love: “the real chosen one”, “muggle with a shotgun”, “storyteller’s self-insert”, “time travel”, “Twilight crossover”, “male pregnancy”… Players interrupt each other with crazy plot points to try to drive a very confused story towards their Ending card (“…and Harry and Voldemort were a family again”).
No content written, just a couple ideas I had after watching Catching Fire. It started out as a boardgame because I think about boardgames all the time these days, but computers have fewer practical issues.
Setting & Gameplay overview
Battle Royale, The Hunger Games and the like. A bunch of young adults are locked in a very large arena with various weapons. Only the last one standing will go free.
Key elements :
- NPCs. Many more contestants than players, so a large number of roaming NPCs. A smart NPC AI that can handle all the points below, with different personalities. If it’s a board game, then the AI should also be easy to use, else players will spend too much time moving all the NPCs every turn.
- Player elimination. NPCs open the possibility of a “reincarnation” mechanic, either as a genuine second chance to win or as an attempt to make the game a draw by killing every other PC.
- Skills. Contestants vary in physical fitness, intelligence, military training etc. PCs are median in most aspects with perhaps a special talent or two. Some NPCs are pathetic. Some NPCs are scary.
- Temporary collaboration, Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma-style. Coalitions beat loners, but are vulnerable to betrayal – and everyone knows there can only be one winner. This is the game’s selling point. This tension is what draws us to these stories. Though make sure it’s not friendship-destroying. Coalitions may include PCs and NPCs alike, so must be handled by the NPC AI.
- Cat-and-mouse. Every fight is risky. Better to attack only as an ambush or with overwhelming force. Better still to stay out of the way until everyone else is dead. As a video game, this can be implemented with fog-of-war.
- Wilderness survival. You can hide for a while, but eventually the lack of food, water or medicine will force you to make supply runs in the more heavily contested parts of the arena. Or perhaps it’ll be the angry snakes and poisonous gas. The arena may even shrink over time to force an ending. (If you’re brave, you could take over a supply area from the start, fortify, and stand your ground against desperate challengers.)
- The escape plan. There just might be a way for a coalition to “beat the game” by escaping the arena together. It’s very tempting because it’s a solution to the iterated prisoner’s dilemma that doesn’t require backstabbing allies. It’s uncertain and time-consuming though. Working on it (instead of gathering weapons and stalking enemies) will make you more vulnerable to other coalitions – and to betrayal.
The far future: time travel technology is now commonplace, as well as all sorts of future tech that lets humans move and think at supersonic speeds. Various factions use them all to fight a very confusing war across time and space. Eventually they figure out that the only way to win is to travel as far back in time as possible (which means the invention of time travel, since time machines work like time portals, not like time ships) and secure that first second.
July 1st, 20XX: Dr Brown has build the very first time machine. As a precautionary measure, a powerful explosive is strapped to the device and rigged to blow if any unexpected object comes out of it. Brown turns on the machine. In the single second between the opening of the time portal and the room’s utter annihilation, far future warriors jump out and fight each other, using future tech and time-travel tricks. There can be only one survivor.
Okay, this is about time travel so it’s going to get confusing. Here’s a (very very early work-in-progress) mockup of the board, maybe it’ll help: