Sunday, February 20, 2011

Card-Based Dungeons And Dragons

Though not precisely old-school, A Pack Of Gnolls is one of the blogs on my reading list, as Sully makes some interesting observations and seems to appreciate the old-school aesthetic.

He recently published this Magic Mouth spell-card, which was designed for D&D 4E. In that version of the game, non-combat spells seem to have been reclassified as "rituals", which can be used on those rare non-combat situations.

It seems like a year or more since I last blogged about my D&D resource cards project. That project was my attempt to create small, 1" x 1.5" cards that could be used for resource management at the game table. Those cards included magic items, equipment, spells, rumours, and spell components.

I have not spent much time on that project of late, but the recent developments with 4E have me thinking again about this.

Would I love to have a set of spell-cards for Dungeons and Dragons, similar to the one designed by Sully, and accompanied by old-school artwork and descriptions of the spells? Absolutely. It would be great fun for the players to actually play the cards when they want to cast the spell, flipping it face-down when that spell has been used.

I think 4E adherants misunderstand the objections of many old-schoolers to the recent 4E resource and ability cards distribution. It's not the idea of cards at the table that has many of us shaking our heads. It is the blind, collectible format, where players must spend significant amounts of cash to ensure they collect the ultra-rare cards. The inevitable rebuttal from that crowd is that the cards are optional. Today, perhaps. The same can probably be said of M:TG cards. After all, I suspect it is not too difficult to print a copy of a rare M:TG card and place it in your deck, if you're simply playing a friendly Magic game with your friends.

If someone designed a set of D&D spell cards, for old-school tabletop gaming, i'd be all over those. I'm just not interested in buying them in a blind, collectible format.

10 comments:

Sully said...

Hey, thanks for the linkage! That's always appreciated. As I look through me AD&D 2E books, it occurs to me that cards such as the one I made up there would be just as useful, if not more so, in that edition of the game. 4E has a LOT of categories of information and statistics for every aspect of the game, and keeping track of all of it can be a headache and a half, even with cards. There's so much focus on the complexity and tactics of combat that it can become an over-bloated chess match instead of an RPG. Finding the balance is quite the trick, but I'll continue blogging all about it!

Tim Shorts said...

Paladin this is interesting. I don't mind the spell cards at all and sometimes they are just hand to have for referral purposes.

Zzarchov said...

I use to make spell cards back in 2e, it was WAAAY more effective way to keep track of who had what spells and how many memorizations of each one left etc. They were mostly erased and penciled over magic cards.

Kiltedyaksman said...

Check out Oubliette for labyrinth Lord Spell cards.

Sully said...

You're definitely right about the collectible nature of the cards being what raises the hackles of all the grognards out there. I understand that a big part of that is the M:tG business model that WotC can't help but blindly follow (primarily because it has made them boatloads of money, and the people that collect all that M:tG stuff are the same OCD min-maxers that the 4E game is designed to cater to). After all, nobody got pissed off that there were 4E power cards published for fighters, clerics, etc., primarily because they didn't come in booster packs! I won't use the new Fortune Cards, but I understand why WotC is putting them out there. It appeals to their target audience, which is not all the grognards playing the retro-clones.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sully said...
Hey, thanks for the linkage! That's always appreciated.

A good idea's a good idea!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Tim Shorts said...
Paladin this is interesting. I don't mind the spell cards at all and sometimes they are just hand to have for referral purposes.

It never hurts to have props at the table, particularly with artwork. I'm unimpressed with the 4E powers cards, since they are just walls of text.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Zzarchov said...
I use to make spell cards back in 2e, it was WAAAY more effective way to keep track of who had what spells and how many memorizations of each one left etc. They were mostly erased and penciled over magic cards.

THat's where I started for my resource cards project, but there was no way to really create a complete set of DnD spells from the MTG cards.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Kiltedyaksman said...
Check out Oubliette for labyrinth Lord Spell cards.

Thanks for the tip!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sully said...
You're definitely right about the collectible nature of the cards being what raises the hackles of all the grognards out there. I understand that a big part of that is the M:tG business model that WotC can't help but blindly follow (primarily because it has made them boatloads of money, and the people that collect all that M:tG stuff are the same OCD min-maxers that the 4E game is designed to cater to). After all, nobody got pissed off that there were 4E power cards published for fighters, clerics, etc., primarily because they didn't come in booster packs! I won't use the new Fortune Cards, but I understand why WotC is putting them out there. It appeals to their target audience, which is not all the grognards playing the retro-clones.

The irony is i'd probably buy DnD resource cards (and at a premium price) if WOTC published system neutral cards with the quality of art presented on their MTG cards.