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|Tue, 2012-02-14 21:01|
Creative Direction Award
A while back, I decided to start an article series on set design, but I have not heard back from my editor since posting the first article. I have decided to post up the articles myself as a normal post, and hope to continue the series on a weekly basis. If you missed it, here is the first article
Tricks of the Trade: The Insides of The Design Skeleton
248, 306, 165, 180, 145, 301, 249, 175, 350. What do all of these number share in common? They are all the size of at least one magic set (specifically Rize of the Eldrazi, Ravnica: City of Guilds, Saviors of Kamigawa, Future Sight, Legions, Lorwyn, Shards of Alara, New Phrexia, and 8th edition). One of most influential decisions you have to make for your set is the number or cards you will include. Traditionally, I like to start off with the first part of a 3 part block (which is what Arknia will be), which used to always be 350 cards, though more recently, we have seen numbers like 306, 249 and 264 become popular. It will be a matter of personal preference what number you choose. Personally, I really like to make the most realistic set possible, so I use what seems to be the norm in recent sets (right now that's 249). However, you might really hate being restricted to a smaller number of cards and move into the 306, or even 350 range if you wish. For those who are very new to design and aren't used to designing tons of cards in one world, a great option is to use a mini set. Mini sets are usually around 70 to 80 cards, and can be great first projects for those who are still testing the design waters, or aren't sure they can make a full 249 card set just yet. check out killigir's Spirits of Giravost for a great example of this. You could also consider making a small set for your first project, like you would for the second or third part of an expansion. Right now small sets tend to have somewhere between 145 and 175 cards. Once you choose the size that is preferable for you, you're ready to begin coding.
Navigating card codes
So what exactly is coding? Mark Rosewater has an excellent article series that explains the basics of this concept. Today, I want to give you a summary of the information from all three articles with a little expansion on it's application. Esentially, when we use card codes, we are referring to slots inside a set. We begin by indicating rarity using C,U,R,MR, and B for basic. Next we mark color using W,U,B,R,G,M,A,L. Finally comes the slot number in that rarity and color.
Building a Skeleton
So you understand what a card code is and how to write and recognize them, what's the next step? You're going to want to create a design skeleton ( see the Rosewater article
From here, it's time to decide what you will be looking for in each slot. I start off by deciding my creature density (how much of the set will be creatures) which in most cases ought to be about half of your set. For Arknia, a key point will be the struggles between different inhabitants over possesions, so i will try something slightly different and go to 55 percent creatures at common.
This gives me room for 58 creatures at common. Next, I decide how I will split up my color distribution of creatures.
The order of creature density is White, Green, Black, Red, Blue, so I will use 13,12,11,10 and 9 creatures respectively amongst those colors, leaving 3 creatures to be artifacts (the way I chose these numbers was by diving 64 by 5, rounding that down, applying it as blacks number, then adding/subtracting one between colors, leaving the remainder of creatures to be artifacts).
Next, you will want to determine the relative size of each creature card, as well as potential keywords it will need, including how many cards in your set will carry new keywords, as well as evergreen ones (the criteria for this is in the rosewater article). Your final step is mapping out your noncreatures, usually including at least one of each card type (instant, sorcery enchantment) in each color. I personally check with both the rosewater article, and this page
when determing what kind of effects I need to include on my cards, ensuring I also choose things that fit my topic and message, (for example, I don't want as many artifact/enchantment removal spells in arknia as I would in a core set, because I want these "possessions" to stick around so they can be fought over).
CW01 - creauture, small, flying, new keyword 1
This should give you all the basic information on what a card code is, how to create a design skeleon, and how to fill it out. I would love to keep giving you information, but I am already over 1700 words.
Join me next time, when I give you go over how to utilize a design skeleton as you begin creating your set, and actually cover turning your topic and message into a world.
Until then, enjoy Valentines Day!
While I have a general idea of where I want to go with these articles, I think it would be really valuable to get some Ideas for articles from you guys. This week, I am going to give 4 potential articles, and you guys can pm me (I can't use the poll system right now) which one you would like to see.
EDIT : Fixed a few formatting errors