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For over a decade, I have been playing Magic: the Gathering on and off. I enjoy the game, but it can be costly to keep up with the new releases and I don't personally know many people who play. Anyway, the game is made up of five colors, each with their own philosophy and mechanical ramfications. (Head designer Mark Rosewater has written a lot about color philosophies - should you want to check it out, you're advised to start at the bottom.) As such, a favorite passtime of MtG players is to make cards out of their favorite fictional characters.

Anyway... in an effort to get those ponies out of my head, I've started designing some pony cards, and I would like to share them with the world. We'll start off with Twilight Sparkle, whose design came pretty easily. Her thirst for knowledge puts her squarely in blue and is represented by a card-drawing ability. The second ability represents her teleporting ability, also commonly found in blue. (Click the image to enlarge it.)


If all goes well, I might tackle more characters in the future, maybe even everyone's favorite royal bastard...

NOTE: The cards are made with the excellent program Magic Set Editor. I could never make them look this good all by myself.
And here's Rainbow Dash. She's impulsive, headstrong and doesn't always thinks before she acts. This puts her squarely in red. Haste was chosen to reflect her speed and split second is the sonic rainboom. I'm not 100% happy with that choice, but I had no other idea how to represent it.

Clapping Nice job, Albertosaurus Rex!
looks decent... (these beings have played that game twice or so, loosing both times)

These beings prefer less serious card RPGs, like Munchkin. The morality of "kill the monsters, steal the treasure, stab your buddy" is the basis for munchkin.
I am somwhat familiar with Munchkin cards, although I've never actually sat down to play.

I'm working on more ponies right now... Pinkie Pie is red and should do something fun and chaotic, Fluttershy green and should do something reflecting her skill with animals, while I've got Applejack pegged as green/white. It's just Rarity that I am unable to figure out where she fits on the color wheel.

By the way, does anyone know what Robin Hobb's stand on MtG cards based on her characters would be? The relevant questions from the FAQ seem to be:

Quote:Question: May I create a game based on one of your books?

Answer: Please discuss purchase of these rights with my agent.If you are interested in subrights, including film, television or other ancillary rights, please contact:

vince gerardis
424 250 0465

Quote:Question: Can I make a Role-playing game based on your world or books? It’s only just for fun, not profit, for this role-playing group on the Internet. Or, Can I make a little film from your books? It’s only for a contest, or just to share with my friends or only to put on my website. I don’t plan to make any money from it. Or, may I self-publish a little graphic novel I made from a scene in your book? I’ll make sure to say that I don’t own any of the rights.

Answer: Rights are a rather tricky thing for a writer. You simply want to set up an RP or make a little movie and have some fun. You are not expecting to market a game or to profit from a movie.

It probably seems like it would be fun and simple if I simply said, “Sure, go ahead.”

But if the writer gives official permission, it can have unintended consequences in the future. If a game developer approaches the writer and wants to purchase the rights to make a game based on the books, the writer has to say, “I already gave someone else permission to do an RP of that.” Then the game developer may simply end the negotiation.

Or if the game developer purchases the rights and markets the game, the game developer may later take issue with someone else doing for free what he has paid for. The game developer may see it as a copyright infringement on the rights he has purchased. Or the person who has made the RP may look at the game developer and say, “You took a lot of the ideas that I first came up with for my RP and used them in your game that you sold for money. That’s not fair!”

Often, when an author sells a publisher the right to publish a book, the contract will specify that the publisher can sell ’sub rights’ as in movie rights or merchandise rights or gaming rights. If the publisher does sell those rights, then the author and the publisher share in the income from those rights. The publisher might not be happy to discover that the author had already given someone those rights for free.

This is why all rights permissions have to go through my agent. The agent keeps track of what rights have been purchased and by whom. If a writer gives someone permission to make a comic or an audio book version and at the same time the agent is negotiating a sale of those rights, things can get very messy for everyone, with possible law suits.

This is a long answer to what was probably seen as a fairly simple question. But often a writer is seen as stingy or selfish if he or she simply says, “No, you can’t do that, even if you are not planning on making money from it.”

Seeing as how MtG doesn't do licensed worlds (they always come up with their own settings), there's no real risk for it to be confused for something real. On the other hand, I would have to consider how things from the books could work in a cardgame, and that might cut a little too close to the bone.
In the meantime, have some Fluttershy.

Online gamer I am not but I'll be the first to admit that even I would enjoy playing a card game like that if it featured Joker and Slurp, and even Crown etc and, as soon as I opened Rainbow Dash, I thought how such cards could apply to the characters' 'skills' and traits within the Realm of the Elderlings! P

In saying that, I would err on the side of caution and give it a miss, especially seeing as it is an online thing? You may not be creating a whole world but you would still be using RotE characters within the game (cards are really just a different depiction of a character?) and, as you say, things "might cut a little too close to the bone" when you begin applying certain magics, elements of the characters as well.

You'd also have to think about any copyright issues with the artwork, unless you created your own, as well as the characters?

Copyright, and all that goes with it, is such a tricky thing (isn't it?!) as, really, making any of the cards based on any established characters is probably dubious and able to be labelled as a copyright breach. Things just seem to be more magnified and complicated these days due to the online element, the ability to 'share' on such a massive scale and the indisputable evidence of a possible breach when it appears online eg it can be witnessed, recorded and stored by another, external source but if I, say, make a game of cards at home, I can hide it and/or throw it out quite easily to prevent detection and discovery. Innocent Whistling

No doubt this knowing how easily our actions can be tracked and our accountability highlighted is what makes (most of) us stop more often and ask, "Is this acceptable?" I cringe every time I so much as add a link to something!

While you could say that there are grey areas with most character creators, there's not in Robin's case (as far as I can see?) because she has let her feelings on the matter be well known. In this, while it may or may not be 'illegal', I would respect her wishes and refrain from making any online game cards directly based on her characters. Angel

EDIT: Though there is nothing (??) to prevent anyone from using aspects of them to create new characters with different names, especially as many of the elements, eg a prophet who fiddles with the present to determne a certain future, are universal as far as fantasy goes?
Of course the legality of fan fiction and the like is a very murky area. My question is all about respecting Robin's wishes. The whole card-making thing is, for me, first and foremost an excersise in understanding the characters. Each color (and also each combination of colors) has its own value system. Knowing where on the color wheel to stick a character is understanding what makes that character tick. Making the cards is just an extra, because it seems so bland to just type out a list saying "character such-and-such is this color, character this-and-that is that color..."
I only had a brief scan of the link the other day but it looks like a complex system that would have taken a lot of thought and organisation and, yes, I see what you mean now and can understand that it would be heaps of fun trying to position already-established characters within the wheel rather than making them up and then just assigning them a place.

Complex characters would be extremely difficult, trying to place them within various combinations, and I expect it would be an easier task to place literary characters, rather than those on movies/TV etc, as you'd know more about them through the text? I'm not sure. Are you having trouble with Rarity becasue she's complex, or you don't know enough about her?

Knowing me, I would get so involved that I'd start categorising people in my everyday life into a colour...! Have you found yourself doing that, Albertosaurus Rex, or hasn't the game hooked you that much yet? Big Grin

Actually, it's (at a stretch?) kind of like an expansion of the de Bono Hats system but more about all attributes of a person than just 'thinking'. I remember the first time a complete stranger told me that I was "a wonderfully green-hatted person". About a week later someone told me to take off my black hat and try to be more white! Uhhuh
I so do love those models of personality / thinking, although I hadn't heard of the de Bono hats before. Used right, these kind of systems can really help us understand we why people act in certain ways. I do remember another system that I learned in high school, but it basically revolved around each person having three parts (child, adult, parent), which were themselves made up of different parts and persons could so interact on various levels.

As for Rarity, I couldn't at first figure out what drives her. I have now come to the conclusion that she's a very ambitious businesswoman who has a tendency to be self centered. Those are very black qualities (and black in MtG is not synonymous with evil), yet her stated element of harmony is generosity - which doesn't fit in black at all.

An article by another fan that I found basically made the same analysis of Rarity. Yeah, we Friendship is Magic fans spend waaaaaay too much time on these things... maybe it's to justify watching a childrens' cartoon.
another system of classification these beings have come across a few times is the system from Dungeons & Dragons:
Lawful Good Neutral Good Chaotic Good
Lawful Neutral Neutral Chaotic Neutral
Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil

Pretty much any character can be fit into one of those nine categories...
For more details:

These beings have never played Dungeons & Dragons, so they have minimal knowledge how it is applied there...