Hello fellow Game Masters and Dungeon Masters!
Do you have any old or new Magic the Gathering cards just lying around collecting dust? Wanna get some use out of those creatures or artifacts that will never see the light of a battlefield in your decks? Why not use them to create some epic adventures in your next D&D, Pathfinder, or other High Fantasy Session? Below are some tips on how you can randomly generate some fun adventures on the fly or with as much prep as you normally might put forth when planning your current campaign.
Step 1: Organize your cards
Separate all of your cards that you plan to use by following these categories:
- Basic Lands- group ALL of these together
- Non-Basic Lands/Dual Lands- separate these out by Color and/or theme you are going for
- Artifacts- do not include Artifact Creatures
- Creatures- separate these by Color, also you can separate these by your setting. (Don’t have dinos in your campaign? Don’t put them in the pile.)
Step 2) Draw from the Land Deck
Draw 1 Land Card: This will be the setting that your heroes will be adventuring in. This is obviously subjective to your current campaign setting. I wouldn’t assume that all worlds have a large grassy plain or island nearby needing help if our heroes are completely land locked. Alternatively, you can look at land cards as more than a setting but as a faction influencing things around the heroes in your current area.
If you are using the land colors as factions, you are free to pull more than 1 card to see if another faction will be in the same area. Maybe they are in a rivalry.
Ex. Drawing a Swamp and then a Forest. Your characters might not be close to either of these types of locations, but looking at these as Factions, maybe the Undead are attacking Elves and our heroes need to save them.
Step 3) Draw Non-Basic Land Cards
(If you are not using Land as a Setting, skip this section)
Draw as many Non-Basic Land Cards as you like. These can be important places in the adventure setting you are putting your heroes in. You can rename these places and re-skin them to fit however you like.
Ex: If the party is going into a Swamp. I would have all Non-Basic/Dual Swamp lands in a deck to draw from. I drew Forsaken Sanctuary as depicted by the picture above. In my adventure, maybe the heroes have to travel to this swamp to an old town in ruins and explore the old church for an ancient holy relic (see where artifacts are able to come into play?).
Step 4) Deciding on Plot Hooks or Loot with Artifacts
Grab your Artifact Deck that you created. You can randomly draw as many cards from this deck as you like to generate ideas or you can look for something that fits your current setting. These artifacts can be used to generate ideas for potential weapons or loot that players find or be searchimg for in the adventure. You can stat these items out as well by using the sourced material for the RPG you are playing or by “homebrewing” your own. (But we all know, artifacts and loot are never left unguarded.)
Step 5) Draw Creature Cards
Take your pile of Creatures that match the color of the land you drew in Step 1 and start drawing cards from it. There is no set limit of the number of creatures you draw unless you want there to be. These creatures will be used to start generating encounter ideas and what lies in store for our heroes. Obviously if you draw a bunch of small creatures, those might be well grouped together, or if you draw a huge creature, those might make for a good boss fight.
Step 6) Match the creatures with Stats and Appropriate Encounters
Now that you have an idea of the creatures your players might face. Now try and match up these with some stats for use in the game. You can do this by homebrewing your own stats or simply by using any of the resources available in the RPG you are playing such as the D&D Monster Manual or Pathfinder Beastiary. You will just be re-skinning the description of the creature over the sourced material. Also, keep these cards on hand for your session so that you can provide a nice picture with the description of the creatures your party is facing off with.
If you choose to “Homebrew”, alternatively you can look to give these creatures abilities that might match what their card abilities say or come up with a formula for Attack/Defense values.
Ex: If a creature has Haste, you could easily have a mechanic in place that has those creatures always at the top of the Initiative order regardless of what the players roll.
Step 7) Tie up loose ends and connections
Some of the loose ends you might want to consider tying up before running your adventurers through this next chapter of their campaign are things like naming locations, having NPC quest givers lined up to deliver the plot hooks, making sure your creatures/artifacts/plot hooks make sense, and remembering to look again to make sure your monster encounters are balanced to your party.
And that is it! Using these steps you should be able to put some things you probably either haven’t found a use for in years (or months since cards moved out of Standard for you hardcore MTG fans). Again, there is no perfect formula for any of this and I encourage you to switch some things around to make your Brainstorming session work the best way it can for you.
You could even be really brave and throw in the Sorcery/Enchantment/Instants in your planning somewhere! As always, enjoy and thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your tips in the comments below.