Open source rules for collectible card games?
March 4, 2023 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Are there any open source rules that could be used for creating a short run, collectible card game style custom deck?

I'm looking to create a dozen or so custom cards that would utilize original artwork, primarily to collect during a scavenger hunt, but hope to add in an extra level of interactivity so that players could ultimately play a game against each other with the cards they've collected.

I'm looking for a couple options:

1. An open source style game where I could design new cards to be played with existing cards.
or ideally
2. A simple system where cards would work as a standalone game, with the caveats that therw would likely be a limited number of cards (12 or so), and not everyone playing would necessarily have a complete or matching deck.

Having a magic, wizard v wizard (spells v spells) type game would be ideal.
posted by Unsomnambulist to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think you could get a lot of mileage rooting around RPGs that use standard French suited decks as their main mechanic. I followed up on one called 52 fates for instance and they had a free basic distilled version of the rules. That's not open source, per se, but it would give you a foundation for some mechanics that you could come up with your own stuff around.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:25 PM on March 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

As hateful as they are, Wizards of the Coast is surprisingly chill about fan usage of their game and art. If this is for fun and no profit, you could use something like MTGCardsmith or Artificer to make some cards of whatever you like.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:52 PM on March 4, 2023

Best answer: There is, imo, a really cool project from the University of British Columbia called Phylo. It is an opensource and crowdsourced trading card game about building ecosystems (and sabotaging your opponents). Rules, downloads, and instructions for creating your own stuff are here.

Another interesting, if less structured, game I know about is Dvorak. This is played with index cards and the game evolves and changes based on what people add and remove from it over time.

Arcmage is creative commons and a robust MTG-inspired game. It has improved a lot over the years! I remember when it first started out and many cards didn't have art.

There are definitely more. I've seen a few attempts at making crowdsourced living card games over the years. I think Arcmage is the most successful one that I know of. A few out of print/abandoned CCGs also have small fan communities that create and share new content.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 12:09 AM on March 5, 2023 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've puzzled over something very similar. I needed a game involving a very small number of cards, simple enough for children 7-9 years old to learn in minutes, and play as the reward for an activity that rewarded cards. Unfortunately the age range I'm targeting might make it unsuitable for your purposes, but I came up with two options:

1: super simple
Cards have a size number and one of two colours. Both players secretly pick a card and reveal it. If they're the same colour, the bigger (stronger) card wins. If they're different colours, the smaller (faster) card wins.
I know children 7-9 can handle surprisingly complex games, but this needed to be taught in minutes and only last an hour or two. This offers something where cards can all feel different, without actually being better than any other (to avoid bad feelings from having a "bad" card. For a short activity for my target age group, the art/collectible aspect will be the big thing so the game's more of a distraction.

2: ripping off Button Men
Cards have a number. Choose 5 cards and lay them in front of you. Player with the lowest single card goes first. Take turns capturing enemy cards. You can make strength or speed captures. To make a strength capture, use one of your cards to capture an enemy card with equal or lower size, then flip your card face-down. To make a speed capture, use any number of your cards that add up to exactly one of your opponent's cards then flip one of those cards over. Flipped cards can't be used any more. Game ends when there's no more moves to be made. Highest total value of captured cards wins.
This is a more involved game that they might have trouble getting straight within the time limit of the activity and requires more cards too.

Caveat: I'm still drawing art and haven't actually run the activity yet so I can't say whether it worked out yet.
posted by Lorc at 12:39 AM on March 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Top Trumps would be an easy thing to emulate, although the simple rules don't allow for much strategy.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:36 AM on March 5, 2023

Best answer: Note that technically rules cannot be copyrighted. The exact expression of the rules can be, but you can make a clone of mtg, using different names and art for the same concepts.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:56 AM on March 5, 2023

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