M:tG RPG: Revised
In Magic: the Gathering, there are certain objects known as creatures. Each creature has power, toughness, and possibly one or more abilities.
In M:tG RPG, certain creatures fall into the category of “archmage”, and serve the role that players would in M:tG. An archmage may be a conventional robed wizard, some manner of planeswalker, or perhaps even a martial champion whose library may include “spells” such as Captain’s Maneuver, Gallantry, Guided Strike, Behemoth Sledge, etc.
Besides power and toughness, each archmage has the following additional attributes:
- Life – An archmage is defeated when its life total is 0 or lower. Damage done to an archmage only causes it to lose life if it already has lethal damage marked on it. That is, instead of having damage marked in excess of its toughness, the archmage loses that much life; such damage is treated as dealing damage to players for the purpose of effects like Ferropede or infect. If an archmage would leave the battlefield for any reason, they instead have all counters, Auras, and Equipment removed from them. Also, if they would have been moved from the battlefield to exile, graveyard, or library, the amount of damage marked on them is set equal to their toughness. (Archmages are not destroyed by lethal damage.) Archmages cannot be sacrificed.
- Focus – round-to-round, an archmage may maintain a number of nontoken permanents under their control equal to their Focus score, as well as the same number of tokens.
- Memory – the maximum and starting hand size of an archmage is equal to their Memory score. Memory also determines initial spells known.
- Mastery – the maximum amount of mana an archmage can spend to cast a spell or activate an ability is equal to their Mastery score.
- Channeling – at the beginning of an archmage’s upkeep, they add mana to their mana pool equal to their Channeling score. This mana may be colorless or any color allowed by their color strength (see below).
- Color Strength – an archmage has a color strength composed of several color sources, and may hold one mana of each color in their mana pool for each time that color appears in their color strength. If colored mana would be added to the mana pool beyond this limit, it is instead added as colorless mana.
A player archmage begins with the following attributes:
- 0 Power
- 1 Toughness
- 1 Life
- 0 Focus
- 0 Memory
- 0 Mastery
- 0 Channeling
- 3 sources in their color identity (UBG, RRR, etc.)
Each source in a character's color strength corresponds to an important facet of their backstory or personality. Typically, a new source will be added to a character’s color identity every few sessions, based on a personally significant event that changed or reinforced their prior inclinations. Other opportunities may arise to change existing color identities, depending on the pace of the game.
To supplement the starting statistics, each player receives 15 build points to spend on attributes or abilities as desired.
- For -1 build point players may purchase Defender.
- For ½ build point players may purchase one point of Power or Toughness, or two points of Life.
- For 1 build point players may purchase Reach, Changeling, or one point in any of (Focus, Memory, Mastery, or Channeling)
- For 2 build points players may purchase Vigilance, Trample, or Flying.
- For 3 build points players may purchase First Strike, Wither, or Poisonous
- For 4 build points players may purchase Intimidate or Landwalk
- For 5 build points players may purchase Absorb 1, Battle cry, Exalted, Lifelink, or Regenerate
- For 6 build points players may purchase Deathtouch, Doublestrike, or Protection from a Color.
Furthermore, each character effectively has the ability “T: Use a skill.” The nature of skills is discussed below, in the Skills section.
Finally, each character has a list of distinct spells known which constitutes their library. Characters begin with [10+Memory*½] spells known, rounded up. The card pool from which these spells are drawn will vary by campaign (e.g. "Modern", "the block corresponding to your character's plane of origin", etc); it is advised that no character begin with more than one rare spell.
After a rest of moderate length, players can restore their spells, i.e. shuffle their graveyard into their library, rearrange their library as desired, and draw their starting hand of [Memory] cards. Exiled cards do not return to their owner’s library without waiting for at least a day.
Archmages only draw cards or shuffle their library if they wish to. Opportunities to draw cards or shuffle libraries arise only at the times they normally would.
Whenever a character attempts to perform an action where success is uncertain, a skill check is performed. Each color pair corresponds to a skill, although a given task may correspond to several skills, depending on circumstances.
- White/Blue - Diplomacy and Bargaining
- White/Black - Thievery and Appraisal
- White/Red - Inspiration and Leadership
- White/Green - First Aid and Healing
- Blue/Black - Subtlety and Deception
- Blue/Red - Creativity and Crafting
- Blue/Green - Innovation and Understanding
- Black/Red - Intimidate and Overpowering
- Black/Green - Resourcefulness and Survival
- Red/Green - Athletics and Animal Handling
To determine skill success, the character rolls Nd6, where N is 1 plus the number of sources in their color strength that correspond to the skill in question. For instance, if a character with a color identity of WBBG were to attempt to find shelter in the wilderness, they would roll 4d6 (due to BBG) and see if their number exceeds the target number for that task. The same character attempting to assemble a doorknob would roll only 1d6, due to lack of blue or red sources. Note that spells can be used outside of combat and may greatly ease certain tasks.
By tapping, characters can attempt to perform skill actions during combat – pinning a Darksteel Myr, collapsing a structural support, running away afterwards, etc. This may be easier or harder based on circumstances – in response to a counterspell, during your postcombat main phase, etc. Alternatively, untapped creatures without summoning sickness can be instructed to perform skill actions.
At the beginning of an encounter, all counters are removed from all permanents, all life totals return to their base values, and effects of indefinite duration such as “target creature gains horsemanship” end.
Each archmage entering an encounter will begin with [Channeling] mana in their mana pool and up to [Memory] cards in hand. They may also control [Focus] permanents or have cards in graveyard and exile. Each creature group entering an encounter will have no cards in hand, and a certain degree of access to mana depending on the terrain (plains, frost marsh, phyrexia’s core, etc).
Turn order will be determined by the particulars of a given situation – surprise, suspicion, distraction, etc. Each archmage counts as a player for the purpose of taking turns, as does each distinct grouping of creatures (as determined by the DM). If a creature not owned by an archmage is placed on top of its owner’s library or returned to its owner's hand, results will vary depending on local mana flows. Phases and steps within a turn are largely the same as those within a normal M:tG turn, with the following exceptions:
- Untap Step: Active player chooses any number of tokens they control up to their Focus score, as well as any number of nontoken permanents they control up to their Focus score. Active player sacrifices all other permanents they control and then untaps the chosen permanents. Active player adds [Channeling] mana to their mana pool.
- Combat Phase: There are no defending players. Creatures (including archmages) are attacked directly by other creatures. Any nearby creatures can block normally, declaring blocks in APNAP order as usual. Note that encounters generally take place in physical locations, and as such it is possible to have terrain features that prevent certain creatures from being easily attacked or blocked.
- Cleanup Step: If active player has more than [Channeling] mana in their mana pool, mana of their choice empties from their mana pool until they have [Channeling] mana in their mana pool. This is the only time that mana pools empty unless a card specifies otherwise.
Archmages cannot win the game due to effects such as Biorhythm. They either remain active or lose the game due to going to 0 life, having a number of poison counters greater than or equal to half their base life, or suffering a “lose the game” card effect. An archmage who has lost exiles all cards and objects they own and cannot take actions. Their life or death is in the hands of whomever is left standing at combat’s end.