Monday, March 28, 2016

Final Fantasy + Magic The Gathering: A Coalescence of Nerditude

I subscribe to a subreddit called "/r/custommagic," a group that focuses on amateurs generating their own Magic cards, mechanics, ideas, and even entire sets. I have a lot of fun doing some of their regular activities, such as trying to create a card just from artwork, or creating a mechanic to reflect some aspect of a movie, TV show, or video game.

Anyways, I made a passing comment in one thread about Final Fantasy X, and suggested that one of my fellow Redditors could make a whole set using that game world as a basis. He said something along the lines of, "If you think it's such a good idea, why don't you make it?"

And so, here we are.

I'm embarking on an effort to capture the essence of Final Fantasy X in a Magic set. This means developing 3-6 mechanics, a few tribal features, and one or more over-arching themes, all through the creation of about 240 Magic cards. It's a pretty substantial undertaking, but it's not altogether new for me. You may remember that I assembled a Magic set based on the worlds and characters in the first two Mega Man games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was a massive effort, but it was incredibly fun and rewarding, so I'm excited to try my hand at it again.

Assuming that anyone who's gotten this deep into the post has some level of interest and/or understanding of Final Fantasy X and/or Magic, let's get into the specifics. Here are the aspects of Final Fantasy X that I want to try to capture in some manner, and, if I have any, some of my initial thoughts on how to convey them.


Summoners & Aeons

At the heart of the story in Final Fantasy X is the battle between Spira's summoners and Sin. In a general sense, I want to make sure that summoners and aeons are broadly represented in the set; I plan on including Yuna and Yunalesca, of course, but also Belgemine, Dona, and Isaru, though probably in non-specific forms, so that I don't have to represent them with Legendary status.

As far as aeons go, there are a couple of aspects that I wonder about. First, aeons don't ever exist in the game without being summoned. So should aeons only be available if you control a summoner? Additionally, if your opponent has summoned an aeon, you cannot summon the same aeon. I'm not sure how to handle that; Magic's updated Legendary rules allow for two instances of the same singular character, so I don't think I'll try to re-complicate things by bringing that confusion back.

Sending Fiends

That's fiends, not friends. The creation of enemies throughout Spira relies on regular folks being "unsent"; that is, not being provided with a postmortem ceremony to control the magical essence that is release when a person dies. Within the realm of Magic, I'm thinking that this could be captured by having creatures with death triggers.

The two possibilities I can think of are:
  1. grant a Fiend token or tokens to an opponent when your creature dies, or
  2. do the same thing, but allow the prevention of it if you pay some amount of mana when your creature dies, to "send" it.

The main character progression feature of Final Fantasy X was the sphere grid. Using the grid, you could give any character any set of spells or abilities, with enough time and energy. Kimahri was the main beneficiary of this, in that you chose very early in his progression which of four directions he would progress.

The initial way I've been thinking that I might capture this facet of the game is by using hybrid mana in this set. For those unfamiliar, when a card has a hybrid mana symbol, you can use one of two different kinds of mana in order to cast spells or summon creatures. There's also three-color hybrid mana and colored/double colorless hybrid mana, but I have very little personal experience with those features. I'm not necessarily married to this idea, but it does incorporate the concept of flexibility, which is one of my goals for this set.

There are other things I want to figure out. The Al Bhed's contraptions (or "machina") should have a presence, as should the four main magic elements from the game (fire, blizzard, water, thunder). The standard races will be replaced by Ronso, Guado, Al Bhed, etc. I'd like to find a way to mention blitzball if I can. And of course, capturing the essence of Sin is going to be a considerable challenge.

Your feedback is great, and any comments will go straight into the brain bank for processing. In the meantime, I'll be watching some cutscenes and working on getting all the screenshots I'll need to get it done.

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