Trials of the Magi – Sean’s Pick, 032918

There really aren’t that many games that fit the bill for It’s In the Cards Week, but here’s another Tarot-driven one that can also be played with standard (poker) playing cards. Trials of the Magi falls firmly in the 21st-century realms of player narrative and innovation, though there are firm mechanics in place. Intended to help bring players new to the concept of roleplaying into the hobby, the game focuses on allowing players to essentially “be themselves” while the explore the concepts of RP and shared fiction.

Trials of the Magi is a tabletop role-playing game centered around the idea that arcane spell casters known as Magi exist within our world and have kept their existence hidden for thousands of years. Those with the potential to learn magic are scouted out and must prove themselves worthy by undergoing a specialized exam.

Inside each session of this narrative card game a group of Candidates attempt to overcome the surreal and magical challenges put before them by the Arcane Scout. Where each success bringing them one step closer to becoming fledgling Magi.


Who is this game for:

While any group of players can pick up and play the game, Trials of the Magi was developed as a tool to introduce new players to the hobby of role-playing games. This goal is achieved through the game’s quick to learn, tactile mechanics and the ease of roleplaying within the game’s fiction.

In contrast with most role-playing games, the characters that the players control in Trials of the Magi are direct representations of themselves known as Personas. These imagined characters look, act and talk just as the player would, making it easy for some one new to the hobby to step into their first game.


How the game is played:

The Candidates construct their personas by choosing 3 cards from the four possible Tarot suits of Swords, Wands, Cups or Coins. Then by answering a suit specific question they determine the source of the cards power, and write it on the card. This written word shapes the narrative capabilities of each card, as it represents what form of magic the Persona has access to within the mental landscapes of the trials.

Each Tarot suit represents a type of playstyle, and by picking a combination of 3 cards, you tailor your gameplaying interactions effectively create your own custom “character class”.

This hand of cards comprises the entirety of each player’s Persona, and gameplay revolves around each player’s ability to effectively manage how their cards cycle between the three positions of, in their hand, on the table, or discarded. This is crucial because if all of the players are forced to discard all of their cards, they fail the trial.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

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