My stolen setting

I’ve not written many scenarios, and I’ve written even less world building stuff. There’s two main reasons for that. One, I get obsessed about formatting. So much so that it stops me generating actual content. Two, I naturally want to be original, and I have trouble thinking up stuff that isn’t more than a twist on someone else’s idea. Three (just thought of another), I can’t stop at notes, I have to stat everything out as if ready for publication, which is proper hard work.

Time to face facts. If I’m ever going to have a homegrown setting, I’m going to have to steal it.

This comes from a peculiar set of circumstances. Just before I went away with my family for our summer holiday I was clearing out some old gaming stuff from the garage. I came across a couple of old Magic: the Gathering decks from back in the 90s. On a whim, I chucked them in my luggage. Over a week in Portugal I reacquainted myself with the daddy of CCGs. I was never a big time Magic player (couldn’t afford it, and I’m no good with competitive games) but I enjoyed it immensely at a casual level. I invested more heavily in Netrunner and On the Edge for my CCGS thrills.

But it all came flooding back. Not the rules particularly, but the flavour. Serra Angel. Lanowar Elves. Disenchant. Prodigal Sorcerer. Man, we had good times with those bad boys back in the day. Even better, I found an unopened booster pack, dated 1998. Me and Mrs Baz cracked it open and I taught her how to play.

Two weeks later I’m scouring the Internet to see what the old game looked like these days. Very different, but very much the same! Spend a few quid online and some saucy new boxes hit the doormat. (incidentally, WotC websites really are very very poor for the complete newbie, and I’m not even strictly that new to it. Still tricky to find a good jumping on point. Tish.)

This pretty much mirrors my born again DnDer experience. Well done WotC, that’s twice now.

Which brings me back to my original reason for posting. The setting for Magic is brilliant. It’s all rather implied, and written directly into the game rather than laid out in sourcebooks. The art being easy on the eye doesn’t hurt either. Why WotC haven’t taken the plunge and linked this up with DnD I’ll never know, but that doesn’t stop me doing it.

So that’s step one. Nick all the best bits from Magic, and make them my new DnD setting. To make it work I’m going to try to not get it exactly right, instead I’m going to plunder the cards as inspiration, and directly steal some things as NPCs or as lore.

For instance, all I know about Lanowar elves is that they defend their forests aggressively and they have a weird kind of leather strapped look about them. That’s enough for me. That’s one line of lore, and a point of interest on a map straight away.

And then there’s Talos, which appears to be an island nation of engineers that have airships and ornithopters. Again, I won’t spoil it by reading up much more than that. It’s enough. We’re off and running.

And that’s just the classic cards. With the 2013 core set I’m in multiple new worlds, entire planes of cool.

And I even like the idea of five colours. The implied setting strikes me as quite a hot, almost tropical place. If I turn the forest into jungle, and the plains into savannah, I’ve got a world I quite like, and the beginnings of a world map.

But that’s not enough. Everyone’s had that thought, I’m very late to it. It needs more theft. And that’s where Stan Lee comes in…

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “My stolen setting

  1. I too, have often wondered why the very natural pairing of D&D and Magic has not been done before, or why the MtG people haven’t farmed the setting out to someone to do as an RPG. I seem to remember hearing rumours that it was some sort of political nonsense at Hasbro. Still seems like madness and the ultimate cross-pollination project (with ideas and art already produced!)

    I bet there is an online card database with text and art. There must be – that would be an inspirational goldmine. Good call.

  2. I’m totally nicking a setting in my next game. Not so much fantasy, but still. taking inspiration from the writing of Warren Ellis comic book Transmetropolitan and applying it to CP2020. Sometimes, you just don’t have the time, inclination, and in my case talent, to do the hard work from scratch…

  3. Mr. M.

    Baz, a suggestion. Over the last few years, WotC have worked hard to support the casual multiplayer format (another way for you to get back into the game ;) ). Archenemy and Commander formats bring the game in several different ways. The third format, Planechase, might tick your boats and float your boxes. Released in 2009 and 2012, it comes with 4 precon decks, each flashing their own 10 Planes. The planes (and in 2012 Phenomena) will provide you with no end of inspiration. Great art, cool names and nifty mechanics should give you some world-view…:
    - http://www.wizards.com/magic/tcg/productarticle.aspx?x=mtg/tcg/planechase/productinfo takes you to the product pages
    - http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?output=spoiler&method=visual&action=advanced&special=true&type=%7c%5b%22Plane%22%5d%7c%5b%22Phenomenon%22%5d+!%5bplaneswalker%5d takes you to the Gatherer pages for the Planes and Phenomena.

    • I have the plane chase app on the iPad. It’s pretty cool, especially for nowt. I’m getting the hang of the four player plane deck thing, but it changes pretty rapidly. In any case, it’s chock full of inspiration.

  4. Mr. M.

    Next time we have a LemurCon, we’ll have to get some multiplayer action going then…

    G2

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