About this project
My name is Matt Knicl, and I worked at Wizards of the Coast for one year as a Creative Writer and had the opportunity to work on Magic: the Gathering, assisting with some design and development projects.
Tales of Arcana™ is designed for one-time, single-session campaigns where players randomly generate their character from cards. I found that once I graduated college, despite my willingness as the game master or the willingness of other players, things always came up – overtime, babies, illness, etc. Talking with other gamers I've heard similar frustrations, where a month goes by between sessions or gamers impulse buy expensive reference books they've never been able to use. Tales of Arcana™ is designed to be set up in a matter of minutes, and it’s quick to pick up the basics. Of course, if desired, players can use the same character multiple times or use Tales of Arcana™ for a prolonged, multisession campaign. The game has been thoroughly tested by traditional roleplaying gamers and can be used as an alternative to other systems or as a pathing product into other, more complicated games.
Tales of Arcana™ takes place in the dimension of Elohim, on the planet of Genesis, where a grand Empire covers three-fourths of that world’s surface. Far from Millestra, the capital, the huge continent of Arcana lies at the edge of the empire’s territory. Arcana is a land of wild magic, harnessed and sold to those willing to buy. Now is your chance to quest in Arcana, or any other world of your or your friends’ creation, armed with powerful magics to defeat any obstacle. Build your characters, create their past, then enter the story to shape their future.
There already are dozens of awesome systems out there, but they derive primarily from Gary Gygax's original game. Managing numbers, referencing books and measuring unit movement are great for the people that use those systems. These elements have become synonymous with the act of roleplaying for gamers and non-gamers alike (which can sometimes be a bad thing). For those of us that use roleplaying for socializing and imagination, we know how awesome a tool it can be, but the intricacies of the other systems can turn off potential new players. Tales of Arcana™ is meant to be a casual, less rule-intensive roleplaying game that has enough structure and randomness to give players the tools to socialize and utilize their imaginations.
Each player will build a hand for their character consisting of six character cards. This can be done at random or by drafting from the original 112-card deck. These will consist of 1 Race card, 1 Class card, 1 Trait card, 1 Armament card and 2 Ability cards (or 3 Ability cards and no Armament cards). This is the character’s narrative DNA.
*card images/text not final
Take a look at the young gorgon woman in the main Tales of Arcana™ logo banner up above. Her name is Thea Necropolis™ and these cards represent her. She is an inexperienced Gorgon Cleric who uses her powers of Light, Lightning and Fire to heal, defibrillate and cauterize the sick and wounded. I play her like a princess from an animated movie who has left her home for the first time.
There are thousands of card combinations that can be used to recreate traditional RPG classes, or to create wacky and unique characters where you can determine their backstory and lore. You'll never play the same character twice (unless you want to). And any race can be any class.
Who is a Merfolk Barbarian that uses pyromancy and plays a lute? Why does a Puppet Ranger transform into a powerful demon and carry only a shield? What problems would a Devilkin Paladin face in the world? How you would you roleplay a Vampire Druid who is so afraid of germs she can't bare to suck blood from mortals? In what world would you see an Elven Monk that focuses their chi so he can transform into a swarm of angry bees? These are your questions to ask and answer.
The Basic version of the game comes with one (1) rulebook and one-hundred and twelve (112) color cards featuring art from some of the best artists in modern RPGs. One copy of the game is meant for use by 1 Story Master and three players, though more players can be added at the Story Master's comfort level if they desire.
(to see all 112 cards, feel free to download the high resolution pdf at www.TalesofArcana.com)
"I really like the idea of randomly generated characters playing in campaign, as it means you can approach the challenge again and again using different roles and powers. For those who always play a warrior or a thief, this seems to give gamers a chance to expand their horizons." - Stephen Schleicher @ Major Spoilers
"There are times when you can not get your full gaming group together, for some dungeon crawling. Or maybe you just want to do a quick "One Shot” run. Tales Of Arcana might just be what you are looking for." - Draculetta @ DDO Players
"I’m part of a D&D group that almost never meets. I forget when our last session actually was and know we won’t be meeting again until sometime next year. Trying to get everyone together is a real chore. The few of us that can sometimes get together could really use just a quick, one-off sort of game to play when we can’t get in “real” sessions. Oh, hey, look, there’s something just like that with Tales of Arcana." - Polar_Bear @ Tabletop Gaming News
"I'm biased, since I live inside the game's story, but the game has the same promise and perils of other RPG systems. I love the art and that the game is free to download and play." - Glytch, story nymph
If any other website has reviewed or wishes to review the game, please let me know so I can put links to and quotes from the review.
Why is your basic funding goal so high for a card game?
As I mentioned above, this is my first project. I started Arcanomicon, LLC so I could create the game, but after commissioning art for characters, weapons and the frames I don't have any money left for the project. I don't have the capital or resources other companies have for production and shipping. I found printers in other countries like China that would print the game for very cheap, but I was unable to verify the work conditions and wages for the employees, so I opted for an American printer even if it cost a little more.
Why are your stretch goals so expensive?
I only have the art for the first 112 cards. I would like to make more cards, but that would require commissioning more art, which for multiple pieces can be fairly expensive. I've worked with some phenomenal artists from around the world who have experience with RPG art and I want to make sure I can continue to pay them fairly for their time. Additionally, adding more cards brings up the cost of printing the game.
Why are you releasing the game and a campaign for free?
I want to get the system out there. I also want to follow the business practices of other games that allowed the public to play and download the game for free and then decide if they wanted to pay for it. It might end up biting me in the butt, but I think people will see the value in the game as a creative social game. Also, my goal is to continue to release free monster and campaign material at www.TalesofArcana.com.
Why are there only symbols on the Ability and Trait cards? Shouldn't those have unique pictures, too?
They certainly could, but this was my thought process: If each Ability and Trait had art, it would need to show a figure performing that action (a Sasquatch casting Fireball or a Puppet sneezing from her Allergies). The problem that I had with that would be predisposing players to thinking an Ability or Trait is synonymous with one race or class. More importantly, I didn't want players to think an Ability or Trait could only be narrated a certain way. The fun of Tales of Arcana™ is using your cards in unique, unintended ways based on the situation you and your friends have arrived at. If you stare at that art of Fireball, you might think casting your hands forward with a pillar of flame is the only way that spell could be narrated.
Do you think this game has longevity?
I do. I already have ideas for hundreds of races and classes, including over a dozen expansions with new card types and variant rule sets. I believe there is a shift in gaming because of games like Minecraft, where players are given tools to create their own experiences. Tales of Arcana™ has been designed to be a tool in the same way. I also plan to support the game with free monster and campaign content on the website www.TalesofArcana.com and hope that fans will utilize www.reddit.com/r/talesofarcana (of which I am not a mod) to share stories and ideas for the game and roleplaying with any system. Ultimately, as with most games, it will be the community that will decide if the game will last a long time.
I've played fantasy games for years and there's no way a Paladin would use Shadow magic.
Well, that's not a question, but I know where you're coming from. Many video games borrow from the Tolkien/Gygax tradition, but that has led to a lot of repetition when it comes to the implementation of fantasy races, classes and magic in those games. I love tropes, but I do think subverting or challenging them is more fun from time to time. And when it comes to imagination, the only real limiting factor is one's own lack of imagination. I think the cool thing to do is to create a backstory that explains why a Paladin would use Shadow magic, or why a Bard doesn't carry a Lute.
Puppets aren't a fantasy race. Why are there puppets in this game?
I wanted to bring something new to the table. Most of the time when people create fantasy or roleplaying games they only replicate the standard races – Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Orcs, etc. But I think fantasy can and should adapt to new races, or unique interpretations of older races. Of course, I still want the races to be resonate, so casual players can pick up the game without crazy backlore. It's also important to remember that before Tolkien reenvisioned Elves, they used to be fairy-sized shoe cobblers, not the regal forest dwellers that we see as the common interpretation today. I was really inspired by Numenera, as it brought a new system and a radical new world with it instead of repurposing the same old stuff we've seen before. This is why I added Sasquatch and Devilkin to the game – I wanted to bring some new ideas to the genre. And you always have the option of removing that card from the deck if you so choose.
Going along with the puppet question, it seems with cards like Snotshot and Snowbrawl you aren't taking fantasy seriously. I think fantasy should be more serious and darker than that, right?
I think fantasy can be different for different people. There is a huge difference between Tolkien or China Miéville and Terry Pratchett or Piers Anthony. What I like about the game is that the Story Master and the players can dictate the mood and setting. I admit, when/if I make more campaign material, you'll find that my scenarios and characters might be a little more on the Pratchett side of things, that doesn't mean I disregard all that fantasy can be. What I've seen when playing this game, playing other roleplaying games and reading other player's experiences, the most memorable moments that we like to share are the crazier, wackier moments. I would give the sillier stuff a shot. Honestly, if the world takes itself seriously, even though the players might not, you'll find that things that are bizarre will fall into place and new scenarios might open up (a Puppet gets slashed by a sword, but now the party needs to find a master seamstress to repair him before it’s too late!).
™ & © 2015 Arcanomicon, LLC
Risks and challenges
I have experience with card games and roleplaying games. I worked at Wizards of the Coast for a year as writer and creative designer for Magic: the Gathering and also contributed to Dungeons & Dragons.
The game is done and free for download at www.TalesofArcana.com, along with a free campaign module to try out the system. The art is finished and the text edited. The money raised from this crowdsource campaign will be applied to printing/shipping/fullfillment/Kickstater/tax costs, with the option of more art and cards from the stretch goal funding.
This means the most realistic obstacles that might arise are logistical issues, such as printing delays or shipping errors. I plan to stay in contact with the community as this project progresses. Should anyone have issues with the game I ask that you clearly communicate any problems if they arise so I can make sure all backers receive their appropriate rewards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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