Random Ideas

Magic: The RPG

The other day, I started thinking about how an RPG could make use of Magic cards.  I’m not really sure why the idea popped into my head, but I ended up with a rough outline of mechanics on a page in my notebook.  Players would create spell casters and use a deck of cards as their known spells and similarly to the card game have only a limited hand available for casting at any time.   For character stats, I ended up with the following quick list:

  • Power:  Effectiveness in physical combat.
  • Toughness:  Survivability.
  • Channel:  The maximum amount of mana that the character can spend in one round.
  • Pool:  The amount of mana that the character can store for later use.
  • Library:  The maximum number of spell cards the character can possess.

I decided that power & toughness were integral to using the cards in the game, but thought that fixed damage would keep combat from being interesting enough.  To remedy that, I decided that attacks would be resolved using pools of six-sided dice.  The attacking player rolls 1d6 for each point of damage that would normally be dealt, and the defending player rolls 1d6 for each point of toughness.  Each die with a result of 4+ counts as a success.  If the defender has more successes than the attacker, then no damage is dealt.  If the attacker has more successes, then the defender loses toughness equal to the difference.

Mana would be an integral part of the game.  Characters would be able to channel mana from the surrounding terrain, but this would be limited to the color(s) that best matched their surroundings.  In order to make up for that limitation, I gave characters the ability to store a small pool of mana that had previously been channeled by them.  This would allow characters to prepare for quests by channeling and storing mana of their favored colors (assuming they have time to prepare in an appropriate locale).

On a player’s turn, their character would be able to do one of the following:

  • Engage in physical combat
  • Cast a spell (sorcery, enchantment, or creature card)
  • Channel mana from the surrounding area

In addition, summoned creatures would be able to act each round, and characters could cast instants during other player’s rounds.  Because Magic cards don’t include details like range, movement and distance would need to be abstract.

I’ll need to try to find some more time to expand on the idea and try it out some time.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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