Notes on a Ravnica Deckbuilding RPG
The official Ravnica D&D book is wonderful, and I hope we can get future volumes for planes like Innistrad and Dominaria. I've spent a while thinking about how to run a campaign within it, but first I'd have to learn a lot more about both playing and running D&D games.
I also love the idea of deckbuilding-based RPGs, and have sketched out ideas for my own system before realizing, “why not use a card system proven to be great?”
And from there, why not combine the two ideas?
The basic premise is this: You start off with a 20-card deck from the guild of your choice. You fight encounters of escalating difficulty, increase your deck size and starting health, find new loot and cards, and explore entwining plotlines.
My main hurdle so far is, how to handle everything outside of card-based combat? A string of Magic matchups might work as the main gameplay throughline, but half the fun of Ravnica is all the intrigue and politicking. D&D stats might work, but then there's not much of a way to elegantly merge it with the Magic half. Freeform roleplaying feels a bit too thin and ad-hoc, too.
All that aside, here's a first draft of the game's structure:
The player's starting decks: http://tappedout.net/mtg-deck-folders/player-decks/
The encounters: http://tappedout.net/mtg-deck-folders/encounter-decks-1/
Start with a 20-card deck size, a 5-card opening hand, and 10 life. Each of those stats will rise as you level up and explore.
After winning an encounter, the player takes up to three of the enemy's cards for their collection, five if it's a boss. (Maybe 2 and 4 if there's more than one player in a party.) They also get some amount of gold and XP.
Boss encounters are singleton decks at a higher power level, with the boss themself in the command zone.
Gold can be spent at various vendors, who sell thematically relevant cards. (eg Seller of Songbirds sells Healer's Hawk, Runewing, Judge's Familiar, and Birds of Paradise.) Vendors may also have sidequests with unique rewards.
Undesired cards can be converted into gold at a rate of 1 for a common, 2 for an uncommon, 5 for a rare, and 10 for a mythic.
Every card is either from a Ravnica set or is canonically from Ravnica (eg Krenko, Shattergang Brothers), except for cards used by planeswalker characters.
Some plotline ideas:
An Orzhov pontiff asks for your help in neutralizing The Cozen, a debt collector gone rogue.
Protests erupt over a proposed broad law against Simic biomancy.
A mysterious ancient cult is making waves in the undercity.
The Gruul clans have liberated a cyclops from an Izzet laboratory.