Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CCDD 071712—Dragonstone

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/17/2012 - Trying something a little different today. Let me know if you love it or hate it.

My brother used to tell me about life before the war. Of summer nights spent chasing fireflies and winter nights huddled around the village fire. Of tugging pigtails in the school house and the struggle to keep quiet in church. Of Mom's hugs and Dad's laugh. Jared never quite adjusted to hauling logs for the outer wall, endless hours of sparring, or Captain Tavek's fondness for punishment. But he suffered through it all to make sure no one ever hurt me. The only task he didn't dread was lookout duty.

The others learned not to insult the way he stood at the base of a tree staring up while we all started climbing. At first they thought he was afraid, but he wasn't envisioning his own plummeting death, he was tracing a route. He'd start climbing when the rest of us could see the holes in the stable's thatched roof, but Jared always made it to the perch first. Up in those trees, we couldn't get a word from him except "shhh." He enjoyed the quiet and it seemed like he was searching for something besides the Shamblers.

I remember the night before they took him, I was lying in my cot with him below and we'd been whispering about the girls calling us names over the garden walls and how nice it was to get beef in our stew for once. I asked him to tell me the story of Orinden, the Dragon Slayer again. He did, but it was different this time. The verses came slow, and there was a gravity I'd never heard in his voice. He got to the end and I was nearly asleep, until I realized he was still speaking.
Yet Orinden, his body weary, his stomach full
of pork and mead, swelled with pride—could not lull.

Ancient gold glinted and royal gems danced beneath the moon.
The dragon's hoard beckoned, "Claim your prize and soon."

With cloak and candle, he kneeled and sat and sifted
through runic sword and jeweled chalice until he lifted

a golden orb that pulsed within him, a dragon's egg
that cracked, and freed a mewling sound; a baby begged.

As Orinden fed Orinfang, he came to know what he had done:
slayed his mentor, Redward, to follow on as dragon-son.

He spread great fresh wings and leapt to mighty flight.
Breathed in as a man, then breathed out dragon's fire.
I'd never heard this part before. I was confused. Jared explained a history of dragons and dragon slayers that I was too tired to remember, but he also told me about the Dragon Stone—which had been hidden when the Last Dragon Slayer was killed during his victory celebration. I remember distinctly, he also said, "I wish I could fly like a dragon."

When the Shamblers came, it was chaos. Those massive logs we'd broken our backs hauling, just shattered. I remember screaming, fire, mothers crying and soldiers on their knees. When Tavek fled, our ranks broke. Jared told me to hide. I pleaded for him to come, but he insisted, so I went. I climbed the rafters in the main hall and hid there until morning. There weren't many survivors. They couldn't even account for everyone. We never found Jared.

I can't be sure what those things do with their victims, but I know which way they went. The blood and pieces trail for a mile in the direction of the Howling Crags. I also know where the Dragon Stone is, because I followed Jared that night he slipped out after curfew a couple weeks back. I'm sure the shrine he led me to is the place—because he never climbed another tree. He'd found what he'd been searching for. I don't know why he didn't go get it, but I intend to see how the Shamblers fare against a Dragon.


  1. This is not just one of the best things I've seen here on Goblin Artisans, it's among the best card introductions through short fiction that I've seen, period. You should definitely do this again sometime.

    I think one of the more subtle effects of the card is that it doesn't change the creature's color. Usually effects that turn things into dragons make them Red, and the image and Supertype on the card sort of imply that the creature would be colorless, but not so. I like that, it captures the flavor of transformation in an extremely subtle way, while simultaneously simplifying the card text.

    1. Thanks, Devin. I really wasn't sure how it would go over, so your support is quite appreciated.

  2. Replies
    1. In flavor terms, it's symmetric because after a new dragon terrorizes a village, a hero comes and slays it. Then that hero becomes the next dragon.

      That said, the story came entirely after the card design, so I'll tell you the mechanical reason: Dragon Stone does two things for the game. First, it accelerates it. By creating an inevitable attrition, players are forced to act and by giving you a massive evasive creature, you are all but guaranteed something useful to do with your otherwise wasted creatures.

      Secondly, this is a massively breakable symmetry. You can use it to decimate your opponent's team while upgrading your own. Play Baneslayer Angel or the inevitable Dragonslayer (be it an equipment or a creature). Play Royal Assassin to kill their Dragon as soon as it attacks. Play Awakening Zone for limitless dragons, or any other token generator just to win the attrition battle.

      It's possible the symmetry is too abuseable, but at 6 mana, I doubt it.

  3. I'm a big fan of the story intro as well. As for the card, I can see wanting it to act as both a way to speed up the game and as attrition, but I don't think there's going to be enough room for the latter most of the time at this size. 5/5 or even 4/4 Dragons might be better at creating that gameplay, though the further you go that way the less this will please power gamer Timmies.

  4. Fascinating design. I could definitely see this getting printed.