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 design and development projects from Khans of Tarkir to the Dominaria card set. I am proud to bring you Tales of Arcana®: The Second Set - a labor of love that I've been designing ever since the successful funding of the first Tales of Arcana® campaign. This collection of 200 new cards will help augment and inspire your Tales of Arcana® or other tabletop Roleplaying Games by adding 30 Races, 25 Classes, and three new Elements - Candy, Tech, and Time. (The Second Set may be played with the Second Set independently or with the cards from the original set.)
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.
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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 200-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.
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Take a look at the young amazon woman in the Tales of Arcana® logo banner up above. She is the masked vigilante known as Facepalm and these cards represent her. She is an Amazon Sidekick who uses her powers of Solstice Lights, Astral Aggression and Double Jump to battle her foes. I play her like a super hero understudy ready to break into the big time on her own.
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 Kringle Marine that transforms into a raptor and wields a lasso? Why does a Jiangshi Sumo freeze time and possess butterfly breath? How would you roleplay a Grindylow Necromancer obsessed with human culture? These are your questions to ask and answer. The Basic version of the game comes with one (1) rulebook and two-hundred (200) 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.
For comprehensive, more "gamey" rules check out the full rules pdf. Note that these rules depict cards from the First Set.
*card images/text not final
(To see all original 200 cards from the First Set, feel free to download the high resolution pdf at www.TalesofArcana.com. Stay tuned to the update section of this project for reveals of the new cards from the Second Set.)
"I'm such a big fan of Arcana! [...] My favorite style is to use it as an improvisational RPG. It forces my players to stay on their toes, and challenges me as their game master to do the same. I especially enjoy making up NPCs on the spot by flipping over a new Race and Trait and just going for it. [...] More people need to play this fantastic game." - Robert Couch, Building the Game: A Documentary Podcast
"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
"This casual rpg card game looks like a lot of fun. Plus we love playable Gorgon characters." - Across the Board
"[T]he game looks cool." - John Harper
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 did it take you 3 years to make a Second Set for a relatively simple game? There are several answers to this question. The biggest is that I was not able to market/sell the first game as well as I had hoped. I needed to have a 9-5 job and I worked as much overtime as possible to help obtain artwork and designs for this Second Set. The trade off here was that I didn't have many weekends the year or so after the game was published to travel and show the game. I attended GenCon in 2016 and had a booth but I didn't have a very successful show. With GenCon expenses coupled with needing to borrow about $1500 to help cover the costs of international shipping, which I had miscalculated for the first campaign, I was set back with my timetables.
Why are you asking for $5,000 less than last time? Even though I struggled with money up to this campaign, every few weeks I'd have saved enough to commission new artwork. When I first launched the last campaign, I only had 12 illustrated Races and a handful of the Armaments. Starting this campaign I have 30 Races and 16 Armaments finished. Barring stretch goals for more Races, all the artwork for the game to print is finished. Additionally, as I'll explain below, I'll be using BackerKit to collect shipping AFTER the campaign ends, which will circumvent the shipping issues I had in the past.
Why are you using BackerKit? I really messed up shipping last campaign. The biggest complication was that I hadn't really anticipated getting funded the first launch and I ended up with a bit of a Producers situation where the more backers I got after funding, the more money I was losing to shipping. BackerKit will allow me to bypass the issues I had last campaign. After the campaign ends, if funding is successful, you'll be contacted by BackerKit to collect the shipping (the prices which are listed on the pledge tiers).
Why do you feel this game even needs a second set? Social card games have a playability problem with fatigue and repetition. I designed Tales of Arcana® with this in mind - during a play session the players will not see or use the majority of the cards. I wanted it to take at least a dozen or so sessions before players saw repeats when they made characters. So while some games like Cards Against Humanity and Dixit have about 2-3 play sessions before they need new content, I was hoping ToA would have more time before hitting the boredom threshold. That being said, I do recognize that after awhile for the system to survive it would need new content. The Second Set is designed to combat fatigue and introduce new cards to your games.
How come I've seen other indie card games on Kickstarter that only need $3,000 to $4,000 to be funded? Isn't yours still more expensive than it should be? I'm not sure how other companies produce their games to be honest. A lot of that might depend on card quality and print runs. I know the majority of my funds will go towards printing. I wanted to print in the USA where I would know that the workers making the game would be fairly compensated, but because I'm printing in the US the prices will be more (even though I'm driving to the printer to pick up the games in my van instead of importing from overseas).
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 Gargoyle casting Lightning Breath or a Dummy shooting Fireworks). 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 art of Bloobolt, you might think casting your hands forward with a blast of blood is the only way that spell could be narrated.
I've played fantasy games for years and there's no way a Cowboy could transform into a Sea Serpent. 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 sorts of games. I love tropes, but I do think subverting or challenging them is more fun from time to time. 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 Cowboy transforms into a Sea Serpent or a Lumberjack carries a Scythe.
Dummies aren't a fantasy race. Why are there dummies 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. This is why I added unique and sci-fi-like races 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 Dummy question, it seems like 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 game 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 Dummy gets slashed by a sword, but now the party needs to find a woodworker to repair her before it’s too late!).
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.
Why so long for funding? Wasn't the last campaign a few weeks? Why 39 days? I have a month off from my 9-5 that started today. This campaign was originally going to be one month, but the new World of Warcraft expansion comes out August 14th - I didn't want to have to worry about leveling my character to 120 AND have to handle the logistics of the campaign ending. As I get older and more mature I've been trying to learn how to prioritize and manage my time.
What would you do if you got Scythe or Kingdom Death levels of money during this campaign? First and foremost I would work on getting 2-3 more expansions made for Tales of Arcana® and focus on getting some more Story Guides made with artwork and maps. I would then like to make a 5E Race guide book using the artwork I already have for the game, possibly adding some lore content about Genesis and Arcana. My next focus would be to try to get some of the other games I'm designing made - tabletop co-op and pvp card games that would require a staff and company to design and develop. But honestly I'd just like to have this set funded. : )
Are you worried about starting the campaign on the same day of the release of Hotel Transylvania 3? This was probably the most controversial decision I'll have made about the campaign. Starting the campaign today worked out with my life/work schedule. I can't lie and say I'm nervous though. If the campaign fails it will most certainly be due to this competition. I consulted with a college friend who now works at a marketing firm and they told me that I should be worried, however most people will only see Hotel Transylvania five or six times opening weekend, leaving the rest of their hard earned money for other leisure purchases.
™ & © 2018 Arcanomicon, LLC
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. I have already created the first set of Tales of Arcana® and have more experience with the technical aspects of game production.
The Second Set is done and the first set is free for download at www.TalesofArcana.com, along with free campaign modules to try out the system. All of the artwork is finished. 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.
™ & © 2018 Arcanomicon, LLC
Risks and challenges
See the Risks & Challenges section above!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (39 days)