Make It So: D&D/M:TG Crossover by Jerry Whitworth
Wizards of the Coast is a company founded in 1990 by Peter Adkison largely known for their collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Developed by Richard Garfield and hitting the market in 1993, Magic was one of the first collectible card games ever created featuring a module around players taking on the role of sorcerers with their deck of cards acting as a library of spells used in a duel against opposing players. The concept proved very successful, setting the stage for future such games developed for Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, OverPower (modules developed for Marvel, DC, and Image Comics), Spellfire: Master the Magic (Dungeons and Dragons), and Star Wars. In 1997, Wizards purchased Tactical Studies Rules Inc (TSR, Inc), developer of the Dungeons and Dragons series of role-playing games. TSR was founded in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye as a vehicle for Gygax and Dave Arneson’s concept Dungeons and Dragons as the pair couldn’t find a company willing to publish their game. Despite early success, spawning two subsequent editions, over a dozen campaign settings, a popular animated television series, toyline, a vast library of novels, and many several video games, popularity in the company would wane and eventually go bankrupt, setting the stage for its acquisition and another edition shortly thereafter under Wizards. Despite obvious similarities, Wizards has not released any kind of direct cross promotion between their Magic and D&D properties. With hits Wizards has taken between the success of other CCGs over Magic and massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Warcraft leaving D&D as some forgotten artifact, there’s no time like the present for a push for both franchises.
Magic generally releases their cards in expansions, starting with their first releases Alpha and Beta into waves like Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends. As described by novels produced alongside these sets, often these expansions tell the stories of different worlds. Dungeons and Dragons is similar, but in place of expansions are campaign settings, with such popular worlds like Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, and Eberron where every campaign setting can open the door to a new expansion. Magic cards are broken up into card types: Artifact, Creature, Enchantment, Instant, Land, Planeswalker, and Sorcery. D&D offers forty years of content to funnel into these card types. Artifacts could include the 333 Gems of Tharizdun, Bag of Holding, Boots of Elvenkind, Codex of the Infinite Planes, Crown of Horns, Eye of Vecna, Guenhwyvar, Machine of Lum the Mad, Sword of Kas, and Twinkle and Icingdeath. Creatures could include beasts unique to D&D such as the Beholder, Displacer Beast, Hook Horror, Illithid, Rust Monster, and Tarrasque but also unique, legendary characters like Artemis Entreri, Caramon and the Heroes of the Lance, Dalamar Argent, Drizzt and his allies in Mithral Hall (and enemies from the Underdark), and Warduke. Legendary lands could include Baldur’s Gate, Barovia, Greyhawk, Icewind Dale, Mithril Hall, Myth Drannor, Neverwinter, Spelljammer, Undermountain, and Waterdeep (or saved for a unique experience like a Planechase expansion). Likely more involved than any other card type, D&D offers a mountain of spells with such unique ones as Acererak’s Blackstone, Bigby’s Crushing Hand, Iggwilv’s Lightning Cage, Magic Missile, Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere, and Power Word: Kill. As far as Planeswalkers, a number of D&D characters could qualify including Azalin Rex, Demogorgon, Elminster, Graz’zt, Iggwilv, Iuz, Lord Soth, Orcus, Raistlin, and Strahd von Zarovich.
This crossover could go both ways. As Magic enters the world of D&D, campaign settings could be developed on expansions like Mirage and the Urza Trilogy. Players could fly on the Weatherlight, battle the forces of Phyrexia, be a member of one of the five tribes of Mirrodin, and magic-based characters can work towards becoming Planeswalkers. Integration of Magic could lead to entirely new Monster Manuals (an entire tome could be done for the Phyrexians), new playable classes and races, a veritable cornucopia of miniatures, the introduction of Magic’s artifice concepts into the game, and spells such as summoning new creatures or even unique non-playable characters (NPCs) that can battle on the player’s behalf. And while there’s been games based on Magic, taking its worlds and applying the mechanics of successful D&D games like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights while shying away from actual Magic card game play could greatly benefit the brand. With its success, this could easily lead to a MMORPG to compete against the likes of World of Warcraft.
Perhaps the ultimate allure to this arrangement could be a fusion of both games. Imagine a magic-based class that allows you to employ your Magic deck while playing Dungeons and Dragons? The number of cards you would be permitted for the game would be based on your level in the class (perhaps converted mana cost of each as well) and a chart could be established as to how power and toughness could be translated. For example, with a power of one, it could mean a single four-sided die, a power of two mean 1d6, a power of three is 1d10, and so on. Regarding toughness, it could translate to hit points and armor class where HP could be ten times toughness and AC with a toughness of one as ten, toughness of two as fifteen AC, toughness of three as twenty AC, etc. And while a Dungeon Master could employ a deck as producing challenges to players via an NPC or directly, imagine instead incorporating Magic’s Archenemy game module with a rulebook for transitioning Scheme cards as a tool for the DM. The tactic could be a boon for both franchises, compelling consumers to buy new rulebooks and invest in tracking down Magic cards for their decks but, even more, offers players new alternatives to what could be considered outdated gameplay in opposition to MMORPG play.