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 Post subject: Magic: The Gathering RPG
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:33 am 
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A tabletop RPG set in the universe (or a plane) of Magic: The Gathering is something people have always wanted. Because Wizards is very much against "crossing the streams" we won't ever get it in an official capacity, but fans have often tried to make it work (as far as I know, no-one every truly succeeded).

So let's try again. We're all smart creative people here. We can probably make it work.

The main challenges seem to be:

Planeswalkers or Creatures: Are the PCs planeswalkers or are they creatures. I've always preferred the creature-route, since it offers a lot more flexibility and it just doesn't really make sense to have an adventuring party of 3+ planeswalkers. Also, planeswalkers all seem capable of magic and I want non-magic characters as well.

Incorporating the color wheel: Without color-wheel, it just isn't Magic.

(If you pick creatures) How are you representing power/toughness and dealing with the fact that creatures tend to die a lot? The defining attributes of creatures are their power and toughness, so this needs to be in there somewhere. And creatures die a lot, generally speaking. A one or two-mana spell is enough to deal with most creatures, so if the PCs are going to be creatures, how is this represented?

Summoning: The mechanics and morality of summoning are a gray area in the flavor of Magic. Of course, if your PCs are creatures themselves, it's not something you have to deal with.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:40 am 
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Planeswalkers seem like they would function best as deities. We already have quite a few with their philosophies pretty well outlined, so assigning them alignments and the like shouldn't be too tough.

As far as the color wheel goes, I'd make it the basis of the spellcasting. I have no idea how, but yeah, it's a baseline requirement to be part of Magic.

Creatures only really die if a Planeswalker pulls them out of their plane to do battle, I don't think we need to worry about it that much.

For summoning, I'd make "Summoners" something of a prestige class. Not all Planeswalkers have much of a spark, in fact, after the events of Time Spiral, very few wildly powerful ones remain. Perhaps at midlevel (10th?) players can acquire a spark of some sort allowing them some Planeswalker abilities? I dunno...

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:28 am 
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I'm very much against making it Planeswalker centric, because creature management is probably going to be a hell to pull off.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:54 am 
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What Mown said.

squinty_eyes wrote:
Planeswalkers seem like they would function best as deities. We already have quite a few with their philosophies pretty well outlined, so assigning them alignments and the like shouldn't be too tough.

I would stay away from Alignments, to be honest. One of the functions of the color wheel can be replacing Alignment.

squinty_eyes wrote:
For summoning, I'd make "Summoners" something of a prestige class. Not all Planeswalkers have much of a spark, in fact, after the events of Time Spiral, very few wildly powerful ones remain. Perhaps at midlevel (10th?) players can acquire a spark of some sort allowing them some Planeswalker abilities? I dunno...

~SE++

All planeswalkers have a spark. There's also no difference in power between those sparks. If you're a planeswalker, you can planeswalk from the get-go. That's one of the reasons I'd stay away from having the PCs being planeswalkers. If you're playing as creatures, you could have "dormant spark" or something as a feat.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:23 pm 
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You could do it similar to Talisman or Battlestar Galactica with Planeswalkers being the characters you play with, and each one has different abilities, plus a once a game ability (an Ultimate) that has a powerful effect.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:27 pm 
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Dudibus wrote:
You could do it similar to Talisman or Battlestar Galactica with Planeswalkers being the characters you play with, and each one has different abilities, plus a once a game ability (an Ultimate) that has a powerful effect.

The problem I see with playing as a Planeswalker is if you get into a tight situation you just look around at everyone and go "Nah, I'm out" and Planeswalk to the Blind Eternities to lick your wounds.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:41 pm 
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squinty_eyes wrote:
The problem I see with playing as a Planeswalker is if you get into a tight situation you just look around at everyone and go "Nah, I'm out" and Planeswalk to the Blind Eternities to lick your wounds.

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I'm pretty sure that you can actually build a game around that philosophy. If you make the game a sort of resource management RPG where the players are trying to expand their influence and power across multiple Planes, then they can visit any plane they wish to adventure on and if they leave when presented with a challenge instead of staying, they loose out on influence or power from that Plane. Having certain influence/power rating from certain Planes could get you (or make available for purchase) new and interesting powers of summons.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:43 pm 
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If you're going to head down this path, one of the first things you need to do is figure out the system. Are you going to use a d20 engine and modify as needed? Or is there another system that handles most of what you want? Or do you need to build a whole new game from the ground up. Stuff like alignment system and prestige classes and such really only matter if you plan on doing a d20-ish implementation.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:52 pm 
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A variation of White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension would be a good shell for this. I'm not sure why people keep trying to shove Magic into a D20 shell. D20 was never designed for what Magic does.

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You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in an thread with GM_Champion" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against AzureShade when card design is on the line!"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:55 pm 
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AzureShade wrote:
A variation of White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension would be a good shell for this. I'm not sure why people keep trying to shove Magic into a D20 shell. D20 was never designed for what Magic does.

Well, I'm most familiar with d20, so I was gonna go that route. Had a few ideas about how to do it while driving around back and forth from work today. Hmm... I should go type them up...

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:57 pm 
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squinty_eyes wrote:
AzureShade wrote:
A variation of White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension would be a good shell for this. I'm not sure why people keep trying to shove Magic into a D20 shell. D20 was never designed for what Magic does.

Well, I'm most familiar with d20, so I was gonna go that route. Had a few ideas about how to do it while driving around back and forth from work today. Hmm... I should go type them up...

~SE++
I'm just saying, one of the main reasons stuff like this fails is because people seem beholden to d20 when there are much better systems out there that do 80-90% of the work for you already.

EDIT: As an example, Mage already has Spheres of magic that can easily be bent towards the five colors of Magic. It also has rules for traveling to other realms, and a clean and easy mostly-free-form system for how magic effects work based on your Sphere ratings. We turn Spheres into Colors of Mana and work out a way to make them a resource that can be gained, lost, and such, and we're mostly done.

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You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in an thread with GM_Champion" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against AzureShade when card design is on the line!"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:11 pm 
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Hmm, well, I was gonna see about building it from the ground up in a d20 style. I have no idea what to do about races for now, but I was trying to think up how to make Planeswalkers work as player characters, how to implement the color wheel and give varying classes. I was thinking something of a Chinese menu. I mean, a lot of RPGs eventually give you that kind of structure for selecting your character.

Step 1: Choose Race (Human, Elf, Goblin, etc.)

Step 2: Choose Class

Battle Mage -- Warrior with minor casting abilities (through spellbook)
(pros: you know, warrior stuffs; cons: very limited on spells)
Adept -- "Normal" before the spark, learns spells through a spellbook
(pros: can learn extra spells and inscribe them; cons: has to study their book to prep spells per day)
Magi -- Was a mage before gaining spark, casts without a spellbook
(pros: can cast any spell they have from memory; cons: limited number of spells able to learn)

Step 3: Choose Color

Each of the five colors will have their own levels of spells and specific abilities. At any level, a player can choose a new color to begin learning, much like multi-classing, they can only choose one color per level to gain spells / abilities of.

Step 4: Choose Spells / Abilities

Something like that. From where I'm sitting, that gives quite a few options on how a player can customize their Planeswalker, and even has the ability to make them multi-color, while still sticking to color identity. Each color will have offensive, utility and passive abilities to balance it out, but they could each do it in their own unique way. What do you think of doing something like that?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:21 pm 
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In comparison, here are the steps to creating a Plansewalker as a Mage:

Step One: Choose Tradition (Color Identity)

Step Two: Choose Spheres (Level of power within a certain color; Mage happens to have nine Spheres already, we only need five.)

Step Three: Pick out some stats and skills for when you're not slinging magic at people.

Done. Your race/class is largely irrelevant, just like it is for any other 'Walker. You are a whole order of magnitude above that level of concern. You can walk the Planes and learn things nobody else could ever dream of.

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magicpablo666 wrote:
You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in an thread with GM_Champion" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against AzureShade when card design is on the line!"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:23 pm 
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If you believe race/class don't matter and that all you need are you spells and some stats, then we probably won't agree on this at all. The only reason I say that is because things like race/class are incredibly important for roleplay, which should be the focus. The way you seemed to describe it really looks like it'll just focus on the power-stats and how many spells you can sling in someone's face.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:28 pm 
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What statistical need is there for race and class? When you walk the Planes as a 'Walker, you may be the only one of your kind on the whole world. Same with class. That you took training in Shamanism on Innistrad from a witch means jack crap on the Shard of Esper. You are a 'Walker and you are above class definitions. What defines you is the magic that you wield and the things you do with it. The rest of it is really just RP fluff. You should really consider breaking out of the class mold. It will only drag you down in this.

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magicpablo666 wrote:
You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in an thread with GM_Champion" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against AzureShade when card design is on the line!"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:30 pm 
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So here's what's interesting. I don't have a whole lot of experience in Mage, but Azure has character creation down. So that's all well and good.

As for race/class being important for roleplay: this is my own personal experience, so small sample size, anecdotal, yadda yadda...

In my experience, World of Darkness games have more roleplaying than d20 games. Even when playing with the same people. World of Darkness doesn't treat races differently like d20 (remember, WoD is set in the real world, so "races" there are Caucasian, asian, african, etc). If you port that over to your M:tG system, if you want your planeswalker to be a 700 year old human who was a warrior before ascending, then that's what he is. If you want her to be a 23 year old elven child, then that's what she is. Those attributes have no game affect, but they can still certainly have a big impact on roleplay.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:41 pm 
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AzureShade wrote:
What statistical need is there for race and class?


I was saying that it wasn't about stats but about the roleplay that accompanies those minor and fairly insignificant choices.

GobO_Fire wrote:
In my experience, World of Darkness games have more roleplaying than d20 games. Even when playing with the same people. World of Darkness doesn't treat races differently like d20 (remember, WoD is set in the real world, so "races" there are Caucasian, asian, african, etc). If you port that over to your M:tG system, if you want your planeswalker to be a 700 year old human who was a warrior before ascending, then that's what he is. If you want her to be a 23 year old elven child, then that's what she is. Those attributes have no game affect, but they can still certainly have a big impact on roleplay.


I've never known people who wanted to really skip that far ahead and skip experiences in the past to start out with a 700 year old character. I guess I get hung up on it because I always want to start my characters at level 1 or 2 where those small choices make a significant difference starting out. Sure, those choices fade into background noise eventually, but for me, that's after I've invested myself into the character.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:49 pm 
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squinty_eyes wrote:
I've never known people who wanted to really skip that far ahead and skip experiences in the past to start out with a 700 year old character. I guess I get hung up on it because I always want to start my characters at level 1 or 2 where those small choices make a significant difference starting out. Sure, those choices fade into background noise eventually, but for me, that's after I've invested myself into the character.

~SE++
You should also really let the idea of levels go too. They are more of a hindrance than a help.

But in all seriousness; you don't read stories about level 1 character in Magic, especially where 'Walkers are concerned. When a person's Spark ignites, they've usually already lived a life. Elspeth as already a great knight, Venser was already an artificer, Teferi was already basically a Time Lord, Urza had ruled a city-state and fought a intercontinental war with his brother......the list goes on. While some of that can easily show up in skill choices or color identity, what happened before that Spark flared up is largely irrelevant where definitions are concerned. That's just RP fluff.

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You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in an thread with GM_Champion" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against AzureShade when card design is on the line!"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:53 pm 
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My original thoughts:

squinty_eyes wrote:
Planeswalkers seem like they would function best as deities.


But then it seemed you thought Planeswalkers should be the PCs. I dunno, guess I've never done a campaign of what essentially amount to deities all roaming together. I'll leave it to you to guide this then, because I'm really very far outside my element. I never really liked the idea of starting out with a character who has lived several lifetimes and whose past is just RP fluff. That's not my philosophy on RPGs, so I'll just bow to your experience and try and follow along.

~SE++

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:56 pm 
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Isn't that what Exalted is? I've never played, so I could be misremembering...

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