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Random Musing: Magic the Gathering FATE


Something a little different this time, we look at how one might implement Magic the Gathering using FATE.
This post is the first of many that I intend to write for the blog, more or less publishing any random ideas or concepts that I have so that other people may have a poke at them, and I actually have them somewhere I can come back to later, rather than the musty old notebooks I have lying around somewhere... I'm sure I'll find them at some point.

Anyway, as you may have noticed, these posts will be a lot more casual, which is more to do with the fact that the intention is to just type away in a conversational tone, rather than any sort of conscious choice or layout.

So, on to the actual content. My brother recently presented the idea of him running a game of FATE or Mage the awakening, he wasn't sure. Now, this got my attention, because he actually hasn't run a game by himself before, and the fact that he was doing so without any prodding by me. Now, at the same time he has recently re-developed an interest in the Magic the Gathering card game by Wizards of the Coast. This got me to thinking what you could do if you combined the two, thus this post.

Now, for those that aren't aware of how Magic works, it is a card game where each player builds decks using one or more of five colours, with each colour having different aspects to it. The colours are (direct from the Magic website):
  • White: White mana comes from sprawling plains, sunlit savannahs, and windswept meadows. In Magic, white is the color of law, order, and structure. White magic heals and protects and is often a force for justice and honor. When a white mage fights, legions of troops thunder across the battlefield with their banners held high. Enemy hordes are routed outside the gates of a castle. When white unleashes its wrath, the battlefield is cleansed of all life. Order, protection, light, law: These are white magic's values.
  • Blue: Islands provide blue mana—the magic of the deep sea and the endless sky. Blue magic is about deceit, logic, and illusion. To a blue mage, information and knowledge are paramount. Blue mages want to know everything, and they'll go to any lengths to do so. When a blue mage fights, tidal waves crash against rocky cliffs, the wind whips out of stormy skies, and an enemy's spells fail as their creatures vanish into thin air.Knowledge, manipulation, wind, and wave: These are the blue mage's tools.
  • Black: Black mana comes from dank swamps, where things fester and rot. Shadowy wastelands, haunted catacombs, and fetid bogs are all prime sources of black mana. Black is the color of death, fear, and amorality—these are the twisted values of the darkness. Black magic is powerful and easy to wield, but it comes with a high price. Black mages are self-centered and self-serving. They will do anything to get power—no matter what the cost. Death, ambition, and darkness are the stock and trade of black mages.
  • Red: Red mana flows from rugged mountain ranges, rocky crags, and the fiery heart of volcanoes. Red magic is about fury and passion. When a red mage fights, lightning arcs across the blood-red sky, lava erupts from the earth, and flash fires consume the land. Red mages can channel their wild emotions to raze a city or to harness flames into deadly weapons. Freedom, fire, and impulse are the lifeblood of every red mage.
  • Green: The teeming forests overflow with green mana, the pulse of nature. Green magic is about growth, life, and brute force. When a green mage fights, massive creatures crash through the undergrowth, animals enlarge to gargantuan size, and wounds close before blood spills onto the ground. Strength, ferocity, and life: These are the values that sustain the green mage.

So, for each of these five colors we can develop suitable aspects, which we can then go on to use in FATE. How might we use them though? There are various magic systems that have been developed for FATE Core since the kickstarter, such as the Stormcallers from the Fate System Toolkit, which is what my initial ideas were original built from. Here's my rough take on such a system for Magic:
  • Being a mage reduces a character's refresh by 1.
  • The character then picks a colour, and takes an aspect that aligns with it. For instance, a Black mage may have Selfish Necromancer.
  • Take the Discipline skill, which is used to Attack, Create an Advantage, Defend, and Overcome as normal so long as the description of the action includes some aspect of the colour you're using.
  • You can use the Aspects of an area to boost your magic by drawing mana from the environment. For example, drawing Green mana from a lush rainforest, or perhaps a greenhouse, if working in a modern setting. This acts as one Free Invoke form the environment in question, with further invokes available by spending FATE points, or using the Create an Advantage action to channel more energy.
  • You can add additional colours of mana to your repertoire by reducing your refresh by an addition 1 for every additional colour you take, which among other benefits, allows you to pull mana from different sources, and make some interesting combination spells that could be more powerful than single colour versions.

That's the quick and dirty version of the idea I had, but there is room to add things such as a drain mechanic, spell power levels, or even some kind of creature summoning mechanism. Let me know what you think in the comments below.