I stopped playing Magic: The Gathering a long time ago. Most of my time playing the game was in middle school. I picked it up again for a few months my sophomore year of college, when a dorm-mate of mine had such a monstrous collection of cards it was hard not to get into it. (And, admittedly, when I was in middle school, I was always wowed by gold cards, no matter how useless they might be. And my sophomore year happened to line up nicely with the Invasion release.)
Anyway, it’s been years since I played. But I still head over to the website, once a week, every week.
Mark Motherfrackin’ Rosewater.
His column “Making Magic,” which comes out once a week every Monday, is a treasure trove of useful ideas. His column is useful even if you’re unfamiliar with Magic, because, unlike the other columns posted on the site, many of Mark’s columns are only tangentially related to the card game. Many of his posts are about game theory and game design in general. And these are things that are useful for any DM.
While Mark may be referring to restrictions breeding creativity in regards to the five colors of mana in Magic, the general idea allows me to examine my own campaign, looking for ways to turn what had previously been restrictions into opportunities for exploration.
His reference to game space may actually refer to the library, the hand, the graveyard, but from it I infer a greater relevance to my campaign setting, looking for areas of the setting or the system or the Players own quirks that I haven’t diligently explored and ruthlessly exploited.
Virtually every article Rosewater writes gives me some inspiration for my current campaign. Even when he’s really, really in the thick of the Magic, and not so much in the middle of the game design theory, I can usually glean one or two tidbits for use. Sometimes, I get nothing more than the artwork for a card he references inspiring one or two truly epic encounters down the road. However, other times, I use an article of his as an outline for an entire series of adventures, a campaign within a campaign, if you will.
I haven’t figured out how to add these articles to my RSS feed. I don’t think I can – I think they want you to go over and read it and maybe click on some links to other things they sell. That’s okay. Do it. Go over there and read Making Magic – it’ll be one of the best free investments in your Dungeon Mastering creativity you’ll make this month.
Overall – 5 out of 5 mana! A must cast!