Gather ‘round, tg. I want to talk to you today about Merlin, a card game I designed when I was in third grade. Last year, I found all of my remaining old cards in a box, and I wanted to share the story behind them, as well as maybe talk about games you may have designed yourself in your younger days.First off, a little background. I was raised in a flyover state in the US and, like many grognards, was surrounded by tg stuff from a young age. Trading cards always interested me, especially since my school was heavy into Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. All of my friends had tons of cards, but my parents wouldn’t buy me any. They weren’t fundies or anything, they just didn’t approve of spending money on printed cardboard. Not wanting to be left out of the crowd, I decided to go out and make my own cards. I didn’t have any clue how Pokemon was played (nor did anyone else at school) and I wasn’t a fan of the aesthetic, so, in my infinite wisdom, I based the game on my favorite book at the time, T. A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin.
Here we have some of the first cards I ever produced. I apologize for the scan quality, but these cards date from 2001 and the pencil lead is starting to wear away. That’s partially why I started this project; I wanted to save them before they disappeared entirely.Some notes on card anatomy:>The box on the top left is the casting cost and elemental allegiance of the card. There were originally 4 elements: Fire (the jagged line), Air (the tuft of grass), Earth (the leaf), and Magic (the spiral). Water (the bubble) was added soon after, with plans for adding ice and lightning later on, but I ended up sticking with the 4 classical elements plus Magic, the fifth element.>The top right box is the card’s health. Cards with D in that box are items, traps, or spells that are “D”iscarded after use.>At one point, I added a cost to use a creature’s attacks, a change I later regretted. However, since I had written them in pen, I couldn’t erase them, hence the large black blotches.Anecdotally, Balor was one of the best cards in the game for ages, and my sister (the only person who would play with me) once used Galator to crumple up a card she didn’t like (Skull King, I believe) giving the justification that “The card said I could do anything I wanted with it”.
Still in the early days here. I will note that Merlin was only one of several games I made at that age, but is the only one that survived. Another was an uninspired ripoff of YGO called Wizard, and a third based on the book The Phantom Tollbooth. Many of the Wizard cards were later repurposed as Merlin cards.>Jellyfish was originally an Air creature (don’t ask why), but was changed to Water when it was added to the game.>Ambush originally had different art (just an arm holding a spear sticking out of a bush), but in about 6th grade I went back and changed some of the weakest art. I regret doing so in retrospect.>Astute observers will notice the YGO cards Dragon Flute and Lord of D are poorly recreated here in Dragon Flute and Dragon Lord/Master.
Another note on card design: Apparently I must have loathed new players or something, because the art on the cards often had a bearing on the game. Does the creature have wings or is it flying in the art? Then only other creatures that are flying can interact with it. Unless that creature was holding a bow or pike, that is, in which case it also could. Naturally, this led to a whole lot of confusion and arguments.>Dwarf’s torso was redrawn to fit my oh-so-stringent 11 year old standards.
Even more early cards. I’ve divided them into sets that were produced in roughly the same time frame for ease of reference.
Time to talk rules a little. The most frequently played version of the game involved using character cards to represent yourself. They all had 150 health. To protect yourself, you played creatures. As long as you had 2 creatures (sometimes called defenders), you couldn’t be attacked. Each turn, you drew a card, then gave 1 creature an action: It could either attack another creature/player or use another ability printed on it. Damage was represented by Mancala tokens. Any time you killed an enemy creature, you drew a card as a reward. Players both drew from the same deck, and casting costs were ignored entirely, since who wants to pay to play a cool monster? Unsurprisingly, the game usually ended up as a steamroll once you got a powerful creature like Giant, Gwinnia #1, or Balor into play.
Moving on to the next set, referred to as Wings. This set was considerably smaller for no really good reason. Water and cards that cost more than 1 element (not that it really mattered, since costs were ignored in the name of fun) were added in this set.>To retrieve a card means to put it from the discard pile into your hand.>Jellibog had his time in the sun as an unofficial mascot for the game, due largely to how easy he was to draw. He shows up on a lot of cards, along with his friend Stick Knight.
>Unicorn and Boat both got the art “upgrade” treatment>Dragon Zombie originally had infinite health. If he got into play, it was essentially game over. This was later changed to the arbitrary maximum health for the game, 160.>Shell was supposed to be a pseudo-removal card, but most creatures had so many attacks that it rarely mattered much.
I am enjoying this
Here we have some of the much-maligned energy cards. They were supposed to be in their own deck that you drew 1 from each turn, but they saw approximately 0 play.>Glyn, or as my sister dubbed him, “Dancing Potato Cha-Cha”>Minotaur’s art went from “That’s a minotaur?” to “Frighteningly hench”
Cool stuff OP, do go on.
>>69191358Glad to hear it, friend!Next up is the Demon War set. I’m pretty sure I was in fourth grade at this point. Many cards here were inspired by the Terry Brooks book The Elfstones of Shannara, >EGG>The first reprint, Shell>Mermon’s art is noticeably better than the rest. That’s because it was done by my first guest artist (we’ll call him S). S would later go on to stab me in high school. Also, Mermon’s name was originally Mormon, before we knew what those were.>Zombie joined the infinite health club before being pushed down to 160.
Some Demon War cards are really losing their outlines. I blame the pencil I used, which was one of those “mechanical” pencils with the little nested “bullets” of lead inside.>Remember Giant Bat. He’ll show up again>Lure, the first true removal card.
More cards drawn by S.
Anyone ever heard of Dark Magician?
Here it is, the most damning evidence of cribbing from YGO. Behold, Gorg the Imprisoned!
I find te design of the wings interesting from an antropologic perspective. Do all small children draw wings and beaks the same way? It seems like a mixture of true pictures and ideograms, where the full drawing is made of set pieces, each one representing a body part.
Moving on, here’s a bunch of weird cards from one of the weirdest sets, Dreamlands. >Somehow, Zombie King got to keep his infinite health. I guess it’s good to be the king.>>69191615That's an interesting observation. On one hand, beaks are easy to understand: they're just 2 pointy bits on top of each other. Wings, on the other hand, are far more complex shapes. Most of my early stuff defaulted to the "scalloped angel wing" look, even when not really appropriate, especially when they get slapped on dragons.
Here comes the next guest artist, my sister! I paid her one cent a year for the service.>Color Blob was born of my sister scribbling out a failed drawing and me not wanting to waste paper.>Gwinnia #3 accidentally got into this set. It should be a Demon War card.
Pit of Bones says “Opponent can’t play any cards unless he has Ice type”. Considering that Ice never made it into the game, it essentially reads “Opponent can’t play.”Also, screw Captcha.
Strange fish might be familiar to some of you. Look up "The Future is Wild".
>Wanted to make foil-esque cards.>Just put a dollop of glitter glue coming out of heavenly Dragon's mouth.Close enough
This is precious and I love it.
>>69191066Fuck yeah! I remember when you first found these and posted this on /tg/ a couple weeks back. Cool to see that you were able to get the rest together
This is the kind of content I want to see more of on /tg/, honestly.
>>69191066This is petty awesome. How did you play creatures? Could you just do that when you got a creature?? As many as you liked?
Thank you anon. This thread is awesome.
>>69191944>>69191976There's a lot more where these came from. Several hundred at least, with very few reprints or doubles.>>69191975Ayy, glad to see someone remembers. I actually went out and bought a scanner just for the occasion. Not the highest quality, but I'm just glad they can be preserved.Ah yes, Hodag. A little local flavor for you all.
I used to draw terrible comics in elementary school. They're long, long gone.
>>69192005The rules changed a lot over the years. Typically, you could play one creature (casting costs were more flavor than anything) and any number of non-creature cards on your turn. You were limited to having only 2 creatures for a while, with some cards allowing you to break that symmetry. We'll see some of those later on.RABID DRAGON!!GREATER BASILISK!!just a hawk
Guess who read Dune that year.That's all for Dreamlands, one of the 2 sets I kind of dislike for the Pokemon nature of things.>Slap random monster on card>Give it unexciting stats and no abilities.>Done
We’re on to (I believe) 6th grade now with the set Frontier. It was at this time that some of the other kids in the class got interested in Merlin. My friends and I drew about 50 cards in my notebook. These were mostly joke cards and cards that had zero connection to the flavor of the game. Cards with names like “Dairy Nurse”, “Mr. Mr.”, “Rocket Dragon”, “Ahnold”, and “Kyle and the Termites” are now lost to time. A few of the ideas that we came up with did eventually end up in the game, such as cards with text on both sides and creatures that were represented by those slightly larger Mancala tokens you can buy for aquariums.
>>69191066Why did S stab you?
>>69192047It would be great to see you re-draw these cards today at [your current age] but keeping the style simplistic and child-like. Not gonna lie, I'd play the fuck out of this.
>>69192315S eventually turned into one of the burnout kids. One day, before English class had started, I sat in a desk that he declared was his. When I refused to move (no seating charts in that class), he grabbed a pencil and stabbed me in the shoulder 20-odd times.Kind of an overreaction, to be honest. I did get to keep my desk, however, so small victories.
>>69192323Some kind drawanon threw these together when I first posted some of these. I really love them.
Another guest artist shows up, who may or may not have been called Erik and inserted himself into the game. Also, the fancy holographic Knight is just aluminum foil and the logo from is what I believe was a package of insulation.
>EntThe powercreepiest card of all. Also, what's the deal with the trademark status on the word ent? Is ent really more copyright-proof than Tolkien's other three-letter OC race, Orc?
Swamp Goblin, Great Elf Archer, and Dwarf Warrior were definitely not once called Gollum, Legolas, or Gimli. No sir. And that’s not a Balrog, it’s the completely intellectually distinct Rabolog.
Mewlip (and Fastitocalon from the previous sheet) are both odd deep cuts into Tolkien's poetry. My mom had a whole book of it, if I recall correctly.
>>69192877I like that the tornado is literally whipping up the game cards. It's a nice touch.
>>69193043Yeah, there were a few of those art pieces. For those who were wondering, the backs of the cards were all just a landscaped "M".
With the advent of the next set, Fall of the Empire, I should mention that there was an underlying story to the game. Heck, I even got like 8 pages into writing a crappy book. To summarize:>Set on the pseudo-Celtic island of Moriddia,>Being ruled by a generic dark Empire>Good guys band together to save the day.>Turns out the real power behind the throne was the emperor’s vizier, an orc named Aranab.It’s not original, but I stuck with it and things ended up getting better. I’ll provide story beats as we go.
>>69191066This whole thread is really fascinating. Similar to >>69191976, this is the kind of /tg/ that I love and things like this are what keeps me here.It makes me somewhat nostalgic, as I used to have a notebook with tons of drawings of swords, armour, and all sorts of equipment for a homebrew tabletop RPG that I played with friends long time ago. We were very naive and nobody really played stuff like D&D before, but somehow we made a setting and a whole system for it, and when it came to writing scenarios, we sat together and wrote literal scenarios, as if it was a theatre play or a book. Eventually, we collected enough pocket money and bought a D&D PHB without a monster manual or DMG. I still wonder how we were able to make something coherent out of our games.Anyway, great thread OP.
It was at this point that I really started getting my sister to draw more cards. Way to earn that salary!
>>69193408How much was she paid?
>>69193501One shiny penny per annum.
Getting real Pokemonesque now.
>>69193563Bogey is awesome.
>>69193634The most dapper boner in all the land!
>Forest Lizard #1&2Who’s that Pokemon? It’s trademark infringement!
>>69191066Did you make any cheesy OP cards?
>>69193827As a matter of fact, yes. Meet the banned list!>Erik’s weapons could only be equipped to him, so they were mostly useless.>Kerendar is literally just Mort from Madagascar.>My sister also drew a bunch of elemental chickens. Don’t ask why. Inevitably b&.>The original Dragon King and Queen were in pen.>Combo cards allowed you to combine 2 creatures into 1, often less powerful, creature. They required too much to come together in the one-deck version of the game, so out they went.>Combo chickens and cards that referred specifically to chickens. >Best card in the game Great Chick of Legend.>Stone Ogre is the only surviving card from the other Merlinesque game, Wizard. Note that the stats are in thousands, just like YGO.
>>69191066Awesome! I also made a little card game when I was 12, I used to play Magic a lot then and got inspiration from that
>>69193896Hey OP, I love all this and will be doing my best to write up a few on them into monsters for upcoming campaigns, specifically that THICC axe mummy and the wood beast
>>69193896>Best card in the game Great Chick of Legend.Arise, Chicken, Arise!
Sorry for the post slowdown, puking my guts out intermittently here. Some sage advice: don't work with kids unless you have the time to be sick.>Raging YetiCan't into art?Just print off some art in the computer lab!
>>69192975The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a collection of poetry (written by Hobbits in JRRT's meta-narrative).
ard production slowed down for a while after this, what with high school and all. More cards would still be in the works, though, in around 8th grade.
More story for the next set, The Invasion.>Wizards accidentally open a portal to the alternate dimension of Varteria>It’s a hellscape of Borg/Frankenstein monsters (I remember getting the idea from the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing movie) that have been living in constant war with their fellow inhabitants, the Valkyries.>Some start coming into Moriddia to get new genetic stock, as they’ve been getting too mechanical.>Some explorers find ancient ruins that allow the goblins to build airships to help in the war effort.
New attempts at mechanical complexity show up, with mixed results. Really losing some of the text and outlines again. If you think this is bad, wait until the next set.
>What does mist do? Why, it kills everything in play. Plus, it's not even water.A real miss on flavor and function there.
Token minions started showing up at this point en masse. Since they were represented by large Mancala tokens and damage was represented by small ones, this created he first physical problem for the game: How to but damage tokens on other tokens. Also, the play area often turned into a major hazard for passersby and their feet.
>>69196035I remember you posting these up a while back. Aye, when I was a kid I used to draw my own card games and little adventures.I remember not caring so much what it looked like, and just enjoyed drawing. In my mind it made sense, even though when I look at those pictures now they look goofy.How time passes. Thank you OP.
>>69191066I remember doing soemthing very similar becuase i was't allowed to play yugioh. good post anon, thanks for memories
Sure, that's an albatross all right.
Two more Invasion cards plus some dudes from the next set, Winter. In this set, the weather got so cold the Varterian invaders froze for a while. Some ice elementals called the Priorn came down from the mountains, but were chased off pretty quickly.
This is the set with the worst fading issues. I don't know whether to fault the paper or the pencil I used, but something was up.
>>69196972>golem scriptures>summon a golem.So, did you like, cast that and then reveal cards from the top of the monster deck until a golem was put into play?
Last page I'm going to be able to post for now. Assuming the thread survives, I'll move on to the last few sets later tonight. Otherwise, a new thread will go up tomorrow. Thanks for putting up with the dump!
>>69198045Yep, exactly that. "Summon" later ended up meaning "Cast a card without paying its casting cost", but casting costs would be ignored for all cards until the set after next, where the rules morphed a bit.
>>69191099>GalatorBut what does it do? Also thank you. your crappy drawings make me feel better about my own crappy drawings at that age.
>>69192017The previous egg was just retrieve. Powercreep much?
>>69191683Would be cool if undead HAVE infinite health, but their action economy is messed by using their effects or light/fire attacks. In the turn(s) they are disabled they are a waste of a slot. Even worse if defender slots are limited to 3 or 4.Of course there could be removal cards and effects specifically against undead.
>>69192609>Aluminium for holo effectsAnon that is brilliant and great
>>69191099>Anecdotally, Balor was one of the best cards in the game for ages, and my sister (the only person who would play with me) once used Galator to crumple up a card she didn’t like (Skull King, I believe) giving the justification that “The card said I could do anything I wanted with it”.that's wicked funny lmao
>>69192047>midget dragonkekGreat thread, OP!
>>69193408What does the Aranab card say?
>>69203213Not op, but it looks like>Every turn, sacrifice creatures equal to Aranab's health or sacrifice Aranab.>Reverses all items>Blast = 320
This thread is great OP. Makes me nostalgic for when I would draw all kinds of random crap in class just for kicks, though I guess my little kid brain decided that none of it was worth keeping. Makes me wish someone had gotten me into /tg/ stuff before highschool, I probably would've been all over it
>>69205844other anon comitting to the cause
>>69192975These are some really great card concepts. I kinda want to try and redraw some of these in honour of Merlin.