Thursday, May 17, 2012


So. Been a while. Turns out updating a blog takes a lot out of you, and scheduling gaming events does the same. Who knew? But I got bored last night and decided to write out the rules for an RPG using Magic cards as the basis of the system that's been kicking around in my head since college or so, posted below. I've always kind of liked the idea of the Magic setting, if not the novels set there, and there's a lot of appeal to a system with thousands of character customization options that I don't have to write myself.


You start with 9 character points.  Go through the following steps.

Step 1: Determine Base Creature
Pick an existing Magic creature.  Baseline it must be non-legendary, no more than 1 CMC, and color identity in just one color.

RPG color identity is defined as:
-The colors of mana in your mana cost
-The colors of mana you can produce
-The colors of mana your abilities require
-Hybrid mana gives you the color identity of all of its colors

-Phyrexian mana has the color identity of the mana; it doesn’t count as colorless
-Phyrexian and hybrid mana count as normal colored mana for things like how much they cost to add (see below)

You can spend character points to make your base creature better.  Options:
-1 point to add a colorless mana
-1 point to template off a legendary creature (you must re-skin unless the GM approves of you playing that specific creature)
-1 point if your color identity has any colors outside your mana cost (for any number of colors.)  So Birds of Paradise costs 1 character point (1 CMC 1 color is free, but adding mana of all colors broadens the color identity to all 5 colors.)  Hybrid mana counts; if you’ve got any hybrid mana in your cost that isn’t shared by real mana, you have to pay this point.
-1 additional point to add a third mana (regardless of type)
-2 points to add an additional colored mana of a color you already are
-3 points to add an additional colored mana of a color you aren’t
-You can’t go above 3 CMC, so max points spent here are 9 for a legendary three color three drop with additional color identity (though there might not be a card like that at time of writing.)

Silverblade Paladin (1WW) = W free, +1 to add (1), +2 to add W, +1 for 3 CMC = 4 points
Rootwater Hunter (RU) = U free, +3 to add R = 3 points
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben = W free, +1 for Legendary, +1 to add (1) = 2 points
Wooly Thoctar = W free, +3 to add G, +3 to add R, +1 for 3 CMC = 7 points
Figure of Destiny = {R/W} free, +1 to add color identity = 1 point

After picking your base creature, you can re-skin it however you want, and obviously rename it and so forth.  If the GM approves, you can change creature types.  The GM shouldn’t approve of obviously power-gamey nonsense like picking creature types out of flavor and color just to try to gain advantages, like re-skinning your white creature as a goblin to try to benefit from friendly spells.  Unless it’s hilarious.

You might want to make a card for your character in MSE to let you change the art and so forth.  Your actual CMC isn’t relevant so put it on or not, up to you.  If you do the card in MSE, you might want to list the color identity.

You can’t upgrade your basic creature type during play (since that wouldn’t make any sense) so get one you’re happy with.  You can use unused points to buy lands and spells, so if you want to be a spellcaster type, pick a cheap creature.  You’ll be able to upgrade your special abilities if you like later on. If you can't spend quite all your points, you can save leftovers to use later after you've earned more.

Step 2: Lands and Spells

You can never gain mana of a color that isn’t in your color identity. (You treat that mana as colorless instead.)  You can’t ever learn spells that you can’t cast following these rules, though it’s fine if you can’t cast them to maximum effect.  (This varies from Commander color identity rules.)  So, for example, if your character is mono-white, you can learn Feeling of Dread, but won’t ever be able to use its flashback.  If your character is blue and white, you could get a Seaside Citadel, but instead of tapping for W, U, or G, it would tap for W, U, or (1).  You could even buy a Mountain if you wanted to for some reason, but it would tap for (1), not R.  These rules apply during character generation and during play.

You start with one basic land of your choice, and one 1 CMC spell of your choice.  Per the rules above, the spell must fit within your color identity.  It is probably a good idea to take the land that will let you cast the spell!

When you’re picking spells, you’ll want to check out the game rules to make sure you don’t take spells that don’t do anything.  For example, card drawing isn’t usually useful in the RPG rules until late in the game.

If you have leftover chargen points, you can use them to get more lands and/or spells, or upgrade your existing lands or spells, at the following costs:
-1 point to gain a basic land
-1 point to upgrade a basic land to a non-legendary nonbasic land
-1 additional point to upgrade a nonbasic land to a legendary nonbasic land
-You can’t get lands that are restricted in Vintage, banned in Legacy, or super dumb (eg Tabernacle)
-Buying a new spell costs 1 point.  A new spell must be 0 or 1 CMC.  You just pay 1 point even if the mana is colored, hybrid, Phyrexian, or whatever.  (You can then immediately upgrade the spell.)
-Adding 1 colorless mana to a spell costs X, where X is the new CMC of the spell, and has to be done 1 mana at a time.  So upgrading from a spell that costs U to  spell that costs 2U costs 2 + 3 = 5 points
-1 point to change a colorless mana to a colored mana
-You can change colored mana to mana of another color for free, but you always have to pay at least 1 point for a spell upgrade.  (So you can change U to G for free if you’re doing a complicated upgrade, or for 1 point if that’s the only change you make.)
-Keep in mind that all your spells have to be legal, so you can’t change a spell in your color identity to one that isn’t.
-Make sure you get enough land to cast your spells (and pay for any abilities you want to use, like equip costs or so forth.)

When you upgrade a spell or land, pay all the costs at once.  You don’t have to do silly things like pick out what spells are intermediate stages.  So if you want to go from Unsummon to Mystic Snake, you pay:
+2 for 2 CMC, +3 for 3 CMC, +4 for 4 CMC, +1 for (1) -> U, +1 for (1) -> G = 11
But you don’t have to say which spells it is “becoming” in between!  It’s just broken down into steps for easier tracking.

Use these same rules to buy or upgrade spells with character points you gain through adventuring.

3. Skills

On each of your basic lands, write down a broad (but not impossibly broad) skill or trait that you’d like your character to have.  You can write it in sharpie over the mana symbol part of the text box, or on a sleeve over the land, or whatever.  We call them “skills” in the game, but they can also be inborn talents or advantages, or even attitudes that might help you out - any beneficial adjective or short phrase is fine.  The skill should be related to the flavor of the color of mana the basic land produces.  Some examples are below.  (Some skills, and maybe even some of these examples, might fit in several colors depending on how you interpret them.  That’s fine!  Just make sure it makes sense, and try to interpret the skill or trait through the lens of that color.)

Plains: Tactics, Law, Agriculture, Art, Pious, War Leader
Island: Research, History, Arcana, Sleight of Hand, Convincing, Crafty
Swamp: Stealth, Fraud, Ambitious, Ruthless, Merchantilism
Mountain: Mining, Athletics, Acrobatics, Passionate, Alluring, Mighty
Forest: Survival, Tracking, Druidic Lore, Animal Husbandry, Serene, Hunter-Gatherer

You get more effective at your skills the more lands you have that can produce mana of their color.  So if you want to be really good at a set of related skills, get a bunch of basic lands of the same type.  If you want to dabble, get a few of several types.  And if you want to have only a few skills but be good at all of them, get a few basic lands and several nonbasics that make both colors.  (You can count things like fetch lands as making all the colors the lands they could fetch make, though they’re generally not very good for combat use in the RPG’s system.)

4. You’re Done!
Character generation is just picking your base creature, your lands, your spells, and your skills.  Before you make a character you probably want to look at the actual rules below so you know what you’re doing.

In general, though, if you want to be a fighter type, spend most of your points in a base creature that would be a good fighter in traditional Magic, and get a few cheap spells (and the lands to cast them) with your leftover points.  Good spells include things like combat tricks or equipment to make you more fearsome in a fight.  

If you want to be a spellcaster, take a creature with less impressive stats but nice tap abilities that either make mana, allow you to re-use spells, or provide useful support, like a ping ability.  You could also make a “theme” caster by picking a creature that provides a bonus to your other creatures and then taking a bunch of appropriate creature spells, like a Goblin King with some goblins.

If you want to defend and heal your friends, take a good blocker, perhaps combined with life gaining or damage prevention spells or abilities.


Keep in mind that Magic is an incredibly complicated game with huge comp rules because so many cards can interact in dumb ways.  The rules below should give you a good idea how to run a combat, and I’ll cover some common abilities and effects that work differently at the end, but with thousands and thousands of cards, it’s likely I’ve missed some, or even a lot.  Keep in mind that RPGs are not competitive in the same way the card game is - just sort things out as best you can, assuming things work like they do in the card game unless the result is dumb.  If you’d like, let me know about any issues and I’ll add a ruling to this document.

Legends and Chumps

Characters in the actual story of the game, regardless of their Legendary supertype, are called legends.  Legends include all PCs as well as named NPCs and most intelligent opponents.  They’re characters that are important enough to be taken seriously, both by the plot and as independent combatants.  For all card effects, legends count as having the Legendary card type, no matter what is printed on the base card.  (They’re all assumed to be unique individuals, so the actual Legend Rule won’t apply, but cards like Konda’s Banner will always work on them.  If you’re making characters in MSE, you might want to put Legendary on the type line to remind you of this.)

By contrast, chumps are nameless or otherwise insignificant characters that are threatening mostly by numbers.  They might be nameless guards of a king or sultan, hordes of indistinguishable goblin raiders, or what have you.  They’re still potentially dangerous, but individually much more vulnerable than legends.  In addition to characters set as chumps for plot reasons, any summoned creatures or generated creature tokens are automatically chumps.  In addition to the combat effects described below, chumps never have hands, lands, spells, or other cards, and can’t control cards or characters.  They work basically like creature cards in the card game, even if they aren’t summoned.

Every character in the game is either a legend or a chump, at least insofar as they’re involved in combat.  

Combat Participants

Each combat has two or more participants, or individual characters or groups of like characters.  Each legend is automatically his or her or its own participant, along with any chumps controlled by that legend (either due to being summoned creatures or a bodyguard or whatever.)  At the GM’s discretion, a group of identical chumps might be one participant, in order to speed play.

Combat Setup
Unlike in a traditional game of Magic, characters involved in a combat don’t draw opening hands; they have all their cards in their hands at all times.  At the start of any combat, all of a character’s spells and lands should be in hand; none should be on the battlefield except the actual character card.  (Maintaining things like summons and enchantments is exhausting.  In special circumstances, like a battle everyone is prepared for, the GM can let characters start with lands and other permanents in play, but normally they don’t.)

Initiative, Turns and Combat Rounds
At the start of combat, each participant rolls for initiative.  This involves rolling a d20.  If the participant has the Haste ability, it adds +3 to the roll.  (If a participant is more than one creature, either the legend leading the group must have Haste, or all members if it is a group of leaderless chumps.)  In case of a tie, both tied participants re-roll until no ties remain.  In some cases, like an ambush, the GM might instead assign initiative numbers or give bonuses or penalties.

Each participant keeps his or her die.  This will be that participant’s initiative for the rest of the combat, but it might change.  The participant with the highest roll performs takes his, her, or its turn (see below).  Then move on to the participant with the next highest initiative.  This sequence, with one action per participant, is called a combat round.  Once one finishes, move to the highest initiative again.  (Sometimes an initiative will change, changing the order of actions.)

Your Turn
A combat turn is the rough equivalent to a player turn in the card game.  “Turn” on the cards means a player turn.  So if a combat participant manages to take an extra turn, she gets to repeat this combat turn, if she skips a turn she skips a combat turn, and so forth.  (Much like in a 2HG game, if a participant is a group of creatures and gets an extra turn, every member of the group takes the extra turn.  Remember no more than one legend can be in each participant group, however.)

Legends and chumps can do different things on their turns.  As a legend, your character gets a full combat turn, described below.  (Enemy legends and other players get the same kind of turn.)
Untap Phase:
The legend untaps her own card
The legend untaps any nonland permanents he or she controls (including chumps in this group)
Unlike in the card game, your lands do not automatically untap in this phase
Like in the card game, no one gets priority in this phase
Upkeep Phase:
Like in the card game, card abilities can trigger in this phase
You or other characters can also use fast spells and abilities in this phase
Preparation Phase:
You may play one land card from your hand.
No one gets priority in this phase.
Main Phase:
You may perform one, and only one, main phase action in this phase.  (This includes attacking another character.)  See Main Phase Actions below.
This phase includes priority stops for both players like the main phase in the card game.
End Phase:
Effects that last until end of turn end, in the same way as in the card game.  (If you manage to get into a rules dispute, just assume this phase works exactly like everything after the second main phase in whatever the current comprehensive rules are.)

As noted, you can take one of several actions as the main part of your turn, in the main phase described above.  You may take exactly one of the options below.

You can declare an attack on another character.  This works like attacking in the card game.  Another character can decide to block assuming it would be legal in the card game, so the defender must be untapped, and be legally able to block you given any abilities you have.  Unlike in the card game, gang blocks aren’t possible, so if several characters want to block, they have to figure out which one does the honors.  Once you decide who you’re fighting (either the character you attacked or the one that decided to block), see the combat rules below.
Like attacking in the card game, declaring an attack in the RPG taps your card, so you won’t be able to use other abilities that require you to tap, or to block.  (Unless you have vigilance or something.)
Also like attacking in the card game, other players can use fast effects before attackers are declared and after they are.  Once blockers are declared, though, the separate combat system takes over, see below.
Unlike in the card game, even if you control chumps or a chump group is attacking, resolve attacks one at a time rather than all at once.  (Unless your GM decides to allow Banding and try to sort out some way to make it work.)
Instead of attacking, you can choose to cast one “slow” spell (creature, artifact, etc.)  You can’t play an additional land even if you choose this option.  Picking Spellcasting doesn’t force you to tap your character card.
You can untap a land, play an additional land, or set your initiative die to any number you want.  You don’t have to tap your character to do this.

Chumps don’t get full combat turns.  If you control chumps, for example if you cast a creature spell earlier in the combat, those chumps share your phases.  You can declare attacks with your chumps even if you don’t declare an attack yourself.

If a group of chumps is acting independently, they act like a legend except they don’t get a preparation phase and can’t do anything in their main phase except attack or decline to attack.


When two characters get in a fight, the situation works slightly differently than in the card game.  Because the RPG works at a much smaller scale, individual battles are less predictable and less lethal.  Once a blocker has been declared (or declined), go through the following steps.

1. Roll Power and Toughness Dice
Each character rolls two dice.  I suggest dice of two different colors.  One die adds to the character’s power this combat, the other adds to the character’s toughness.  Normally these dice will be d6’s.  If one character is a legend and the other is a chump, the legend rolls d8s.  In addition, if the GM decides that one character has an advantage in power, toughness, or both, that character rolls a d8 in the advantaged stat.  (See Advantage, below.)
2. Use Spells and Abilities
Characters (even those not involved in the combat) can now use instant speed spells and abilities to try to mess with the combat.
3. Deal Damage
Like in the card game, each combatant takes damage equal to her opponent’s power.  Additional damage might have been dealt by spells and abilities and so forth, and remember to take into account the power and toughness dice.
A legend that takes lethal damage gets a -1/-1 counter and might fall unconscious or die; see “damaging legends” below.  A chump that takes lethal damage is dead; if it was summoned, put the creature card in its owner’s graveyard, otherwise just get rid of it.  If a character has cards that can bring back creatures from another player’s graveyard, you can put dead non-summoned chumps in a neutral graveyard for necromantic fun.
Like in the card game, if one character has first strike, that character deals damage first.  (If the opponent is a legend, though, she might survive to strike back even if that damage is lethal, see below.)
As with the card game, it is possible that neither combatant gets much done and no one takes lethal damage.
4. Cleanup
Unlike in the card game, you should remove all damage from all combatants at the end of any combat.


Advantage is a generic term used when a character has some kind of edge in combat that isn’t based on her stats.  A character with a power advantage rolls d8 instead of d6 for her power die, ditto a toughness advantage.  You can have the advantage in both.

For example, if a character has the element of surprise in the first round of combat, that might give her a power advantage for her attack against the enemy.  The GM determines what does and doesn’t confer an advantage.  If both characters have competing advantages (one has power and one has toughness) they cancel out, but if one character has more, they get the advantage.  It’s possible for both characters to have advantages of the same type, like power or toughness, and each roll a d8 for that.

Legends always have an advantage over chumps in both power and toughness.  This counts as one advantage, so a chump could still cancel it out or even end up with overall advantage if they get in an extremely favorable position.

Out of Combat Damage

Sometimes someone launches a lightning bolt or something outside of a combat step.  If the damage is dealt to a legend, the attacker and defender each roll a die; the attacker adds her die to the spell or ability’s damage, and the defender adds her die to her toughness for the attack.  Deal damage as in step 3 above, and then immediately remove any non-lethal damage.  It’s possible the attacker or defender might have an advantage here and therefore roll a d8.

If damage is dealt to a chump outside of combat, don’t bother to roll any dice or anything, just resolve it like the card game, but remove any leftover damage as soon as everyone passes priority; it’s too difficult to track it for the whole turn.

Damaging Legends

A legend that takes lethal damage gets a -1/-1 counter rather than dying immediately.  Legends also don’t automatically die from having 0 toughness.  Instead, if a legend that has 0 toughness gets another -1/-1 counter, that character falls unconscious.  Turn the card upside down and remove all -1/-1 counters.  Though the character isn’t dead, all of her nonland permanents are immediately put in her graveyard.

An unconscious character can’t do anything, including fight or cast spells or so forth.  During his or her turn, an unconscious character rolls a d8, called a bleed die.  If she rolls an 8, the character recovers and wakes up.  Put enough -1/-1 counters on her to reduce her toughness to 1, and she acts normally this turn.  Otherwise, the character stays unconscious and gets a death counter.  Unconscious characters that take any damage also get one death counter, regardless of the damage dealt.  (Per source; a Lightning Bolt or a 20-point Fireball would both give one counter, but two Shocks would give two.)  If a character gets to four death counters before the combat ends, the character dies.  Otherwise friends can staunch the bleeding and the character recovers after a rest.

Healing and Damage Prevention

Damage prevention effects work as in the card game.

Life gaining effects remove -1/-1 counters from legends.  If the effect says “gain life”, you can only remove the counters from your own character; the spell or ability has to allow you to target another player to be able to heal someone else.  For the purposes of life gaining effects, you can target legends as “target player”.  Remove one -1/-1 counter for each 3 life, or fraction thereof, that would be gained.

Ending Combat and Resting

Combat ends when no one left standing wants to fight anymore.  Usually this will be because one group has defeated everyone else, but one side might surrender or flee.  Unless another battle is imminent or the situation otherwise remains tense, the survivors can patch up any unconscious comrades automatically, and can then take a breather and recover.  Doing so takes about fifteen minutes.

When you rest, you lose any -1/-1 counters you have.  You also put all your lands and spells back into your hand from your graveyard, the battlefield, and so forth.  If any of your cards ended up exiled, they’ll only come back when you get a full night’s sleep.  (If a card was exiled to something that will also end at the end of combat, like Oblivion Ring, you get that card back normally.)

If you want to keep your lands and permanents on the battlefield, you can, but you can’t do that and benefit from resting in other ways, so you won’t lose any -1/-1 counters or get anything back from your graveyard.  Maintaining focus on spellcasting for long periods is tiring and distracting; if you keep it up for more than an hour or so your skills and power will be disadvantaged.

Skills in Combat

If dramatically appropriate, the GM might allow a successful use of a skill in combat to give you a power or toughness advantage.  This follows the rules for skill use in the non-combat section below.  Use of skills in combat is always up to the GM’s discretion but GMs should allow awesome plans to make a check.

Resolving Strange Effects

Here are some things that work differently than in the card game.  In general, you can always target a legend with a “target creature” spell, but some components of that spell might not work normally or at all, as detailed below.

“Enters the Battlefield” “Dies” and “Leaves the Battlefield” effects: Legends never enter or leave the battlefield.  If a legend has an enters the battlefield ability, that character can use the ability once per combat.  This can only be done during the character’s main phase, but doesn’t count as her one major main phase action per turn.  If a legend has a “dies” or “leaves the battlefield” ability, that ability triggers the first time she is killed or knocked unconscious in a combat.  All these abilities work normally on chumps.  Chumps that have “enters the battlefield” abilities only use them when they’re summoned partway through, not if they’re present from the start of the battle.

Sacrifice Effects: Because legends can’t leave the battlefield, they can’t be sacrificed as part of a cost.  An effect that would force a legend to sacrifice a creature requires her to sacrifice a summoned creature if able; she can never sacrifice herself.  If a legend’s own ability requires her to sacrifice herself as a cost, she may use that ability the first time she dies or is knocked unconscious in a combat.  (She still has to pay any other costs like mana costs and so forth.)  Legends can never sacrifice themselves to abilities that require sacrifice of “a creature”, this clause only allows them to use abilities that require them to specifically sacrifice themselves.

Banding: Banding allows chumps to assist a legend in battle.  Any number of chumps with banding can band with a single attacking or blocking legend.  The legend gets a power advantage and toughness advantage for each chump banded with her.  Roll only the normal power and toughness die and add them to the legend’s power and toughness; the chumps don’t get any bonus dice.  The group distributes damage amongst itself like in the card game, but any chump that is assigned any damage has to be assigned lethal damage if enough is left over; the group can’t do 1 damage each to several chumps.  The legend can still be assigned damage just short of lethal, as normal.

Destroy effects: Legends are creatures, but work like players for the purposes of “destroy” effects, so things like Terror or Doom Blade don’t work against them.  Chumps are destroyed normally by such things.  The same thing applies to sacrifice effects, “exile target creature” and so forth.  “Lose the game” effects for players (Door to Nothingness, etc) automatically reduce legends to unconsciousness.

-X/-X and legends: Legends can only get -1/-1 counters from losing combats or otherwise taking lethal damage.  If an effect would put a -1/-1 counter on a legend, apply it for that combat only.  If a creature with Infect or Wither deals lethal damage to a legend, the legend gets an additional -1/-1 counter.  Legends subject to a “-X/-X until end of turn” or effect or -X/-X aura suffer the effects in combat, but count only their base toughness to see when they fall unconscious or so forth.
EXAMPLE: Sascha’s character is a Wolfir Avenger (3/3).  An enemy necromancer enchants her with Enfeeble for -2/-2.  She fights like a 1/1 until she can remove the aur, but still won’t fall unconscious until she gets her fourth -1/-1 counter, though she’ll be fighting as a -1/-1 if she has two, or a -2/-2 if she has three.
Chumps with 0 toughness die as a state-based effect just like in the card game.

Trample: If a creature with trample defeats a blocker, it immediately makes a second attack against the original target.  Remove all damage first.  In order to count as “defeating” a blocker, the creature must deal lethal damage to the blocker without taking lethal damage itself.  The blocker needn’t actually die; a legend getting a -1/-1 counter is enough.

Flicker, Phasing, Bounce, Etc: If a legend would leave the battlefield, instead it doesn’t.  These effects work normally on chumps.

Gaining Control: The only way to gain control of a legend is with a “turn control” effect like Mindslaver.  Spells and abilities that gain control of a creature only work on chumps.

Global Damage: Cards that deal damage to all creatures, like Pyroclasm, don’t do anything to legends.  Cards like Earthquake that hit players do work on legends.  In such cases, the controller of the spell or ability rolls one die for use against everyone, and each legend rolls one die to defend.  Individually targeted damage spells can target legends as creatures or as players.  (They won’t get hit twice though.)

Card Drawing/Filtering: Since characters don’t usually have a library, none of these cards do anything.  You can’t use card draw to “deck” a character; RPG characters lack a library at all, rather than having an empty one.

Auras: Auras on legends fall off during any rest, returning to their owner’s hands.  (Remember that if a character dies or falls unconscious, all their permanents immediately go away.)

Lifelink: Lifelink would be broken on legends as written, since you’d lose all your -1/-1 counters whenever you attacked or blocked.  Instead, a legend with lifelink removes one -1/-1 counter after any combat in which that character dealt but did not take lethal damage.

Control: For the purposes of effects that care about who controls what, each legend controls his or her own card and any chumps in her participant group.  Other legends can choose to be “controlled” by a friendly legend for the purposes of that legend’s card effects, but their chumps can’t.  For example, if your base card is Goblin Chieftain, any goblin creatures you summon will get +1/+1 and haste.  In addition, any friendly legends that are goblins can also choose to benefit.  But goblins they summon won’t.

Non-Combat Rules

You can cast spells and play lands outside of combat, but it takes a few seconds of concentration to play a land or spell, and anyone else with magical training can tell you’re doing it.  You can use spells for reasonable things, like using a spell that gives you flying to fly over a pit or so forth.  Check with the GM to make sure the spell use makes sense, but you can call on the name and flavor of the card, not just the mechanical effect, so you could use Giant Growth to make yourself so big you bust out of manacles and so forth.  Spells that last “until end of turn” should last a few seconds to a minute or so, long enough to take a couple of swings or be dramatically awesome.

Your skills are also used mostly in out-of-combat situations.  If you can make a reasonable case that your skill is relevant in a situation, the GM will likely let you make a skill check to do something with it, though the effect might not always be exactly what you wanted, especially if the skill application was a reach or risk.  For example, using your red skill “Alluring” to try to convince a political figure to do what you want might work well, but might also lead to comedic mishaps or so forth.  The skills exist to tie your character into the world, not necessarily to let you do exactly what you want all the time.  Again, this is more likely to be true the more risky or unorthodox the skill use is.  Using research to spout historical anecdotes as a distraction is much more likely to go off the rails than using it to look something up in one of Ravnica’s libraries.

For routine or easy tasks, you should succeed automatically if the GM agrees your skill is relevant.  For other tasks, the GM might make you perform a skill check.  When you do this, you roll a die and add the total amount of mana you can produce of that skill’s color.  For example, if you’ve written Warfare on one of your Plains and are making a Warfare skill roll, you add 1 to the roll for the actual Warfare plains, 1 for each additional Plains you have, 1 for each nonbasic land you have that can produce W, and so forth.  You can add things like mana you produce yourself, but you can only add mana produced by spells (like mana producing creatures, dark ritual, and so forth) if it seems appropriate.  In the case of creatures, you’d have to have time to summon them, and in the case of Dark Ritual you’d have to be using the skill in a situation where stopping for a few minutes to perform some kind of rite wouldn’t be disruptive.  Discuss with your GM if it’s unclear whether mana would apply in a weird case, like Radha, Heir to Keld’s red mana producing ability.  (It seems to make sense you could only use that while being a bombastic asshole, but your interpretation may vary!)

Like combat, you can get advantages or disadvantages to a skill roll based on the situation.  If you have more advantages than disadvantages, roll a d8.  If you have the same number (or 0) roll a d6.  If you have more disadvantages than advantages, subtract 2 from the roll.

In order to succeed, you need to equal or beat a number set by the GM based on the difficulty of the task.  Some guidelines:

Difficulty 4 - pretty simple
Difficulty 6 - moderate
Difficulty 8 - challenging
Difficulty 10 - long shot
Difficulty 12+ - epic

In general, you shouldn’t have to roll for anything easier than 4; if you have a relevant skill you should just be able to do it.

In some cases, instead of a set difficulty, you’ll be going up against another character.  In that case, both characters roll their skill, and whoever has the higher total roll succeeds.

Character Advancement

At the end of every game session, the GM will give you some character points.  If you’re GMing, I’d start with 2-3 and see how that goes.  You can spend them to buy new spells or lands, or upgrade your existing spells or lands, following the character creation rules.  You can’t change your base card after chargen.  Like at chargen, if you add a new basic land, you also add a skill.

You can increase your power or toughness by paying points equal to 1.5 times whatever value it’s going to, round down.  For example, increasing power from 2 to 3 would cost 4 points, and from 3 to 4 would cost 6 points.

You can add keyword abilities at 1-4 points; ask the GM.  I’d suggest 1 point for minor stuff that doesn’t do very much in the RPG like haste or first strike, 2 points vigilance and similar, 3 points for lifelink and evasion, and 4 for double strike.  You can have up to three keyword abilities.

If the GM allows it, you can replace a special ability with a new one.  If you don’t already have a non-keyword special ability you can add it instead of replacing.  The cost should be based on the cost of the creature that has the ability:
-X*2 base points, where X is the creature’s CMC
-+2 point for each colored mana symbol
-+2 point for each color beyond the first (don’t count hybrid as two - colors required to cast)
The GM can adjust this cost or veto if the ability seems broken as hell.
For example, if you wanted to take Inferno Titan’s ability, the cost would be
6 CMC * 2 = 12, +4 for 2 red mana symbols = 16 points
Remember that you are taking individual abilities, rather than the whole text box of a card.  So you don’t get any keyword abilities, and might get only part of an effect that normally seems like one ability in play.  For example, if your GM were to allow you to take Gisela, Blade of Goldnight’s damage doubling ability, you wouldn’t get her damage halving ability as well.  (Even at 22 points, either of her abilities is probably too good.)

The GM can and should veto any ability that looks like it won’t be fun.  You can only take abilities from cards that are within your color identity, unless you can make a really good case.

The End!

That’s it for now.  It’s a pretty quick sketch of a system but I hope you enjoyed.  Let me know how it works if you get a chance to try it out. I’d like to give it a run myself, but who knows when it’ll fit in my schedule.

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