Branching Paths: a public domain, fan-made OS set
Updated: Feb 15
So, we made a public domain, entirely custom set in the spirit of Old school MTG. The project’s aim was to create new fan-made content for OS MTG players to enjoy, while making a deliberate effort to remain within 1993-1994 MTG flavor, even if we used modern tools. It’s a “What if” WotC had taken a different path in 1995.
We began by analyzing the first four OS MTG expansions (Arabian Nights, Antiquities, The Dark, Legends). Wizard’s original design plan was for each expansion to operate as a standalone set, and as such, we decided to aim for similar ratios for number of cards per color, card type (instants, sorceries, enchantments, creatures – so many creatures lol – etc) per color, and mana curve per card type. Thus, we came up a set of 126 original cards.
Regarding individual card design, we tried to make the power level of most cards a bit higher (sorry, no Glyph of Delusion this time around) while foregoing truly broken cards, aiming for a more balanced play experience. Within those parameters, we used many design strategies: starting most times from a gameplay standpoint, looking for interesting interactions, oftentimes from a set design standpoint, and a few times from a flavor standpoint. Every card concept would then be tweaked to fit along all standpoints; for standalone “Branching Paths” play, and then of course reviewed for if/when it was to be included to the broader OS pool. Finally it was tested for many hours using Cockatrice – it’s open-source nature allowing us to import our custom images database and playtest the set (and quite frankly, have a blast in the process)!
While the visual on the back of the cards was created by Canadian artist David Lee [@Derfington], the images we used for the card art were all generated feeding very detailed prompts into an Artificial Intelligence tool (AI). As it seems a little bit groundbreaking within our small community, we must speak a word on the use of AI. Indeed, it seems important to put forth a disclaimer. While we acknowledge the social issues Al creates in potentially conflicting with traditional work as an artist (artists that we love), our stance is that this project would *never* have taken place had it relied on paid artist work. It is something else.
We argue that rather than replacing artist work, Al tools used in this specific way empower fans to create content and play. We strongly encourage traditional art production, artists’ recognition & remuneration in all spaces where it is possible. So, it is paramount to clarify that with this AI-based project, we are *strictly* excluding any notion of profit. Some concrete measures that we’re taking to insure this: following the release event, the full set will be made available for anyone to download from our website; entry fees at the release event only cover the cost of the printing the cards. And the more, the merrier! In the event of a high turnout, entry fees will even be revised downward at the venue. Otherwise, the overstock from the limited print run for said release event will also be made available at cost. It is a given to us: no one monetarily profits off of this; it is a fun-driven endeavor! And we sincerely hope that you will enjoy it.
During the upcoming weeks, we will be rolling out spoilers through different Oldschooler friendos (@Terrain Basique, @Oldschoolmtg, @Rich Bourque, and more!). A link in the bottom section of this page will lead you to the complete spoilers gallery where you can find those sources & see what they have to say, leading up to the official set release held as a side event at the now classic Tundra Wolves Challenge 6 (TWC6)! So keep an eye out. Concluding TWC6, on Saturday March 25th, we’ll make a glorious reveal of the set in its entirety using the big screen from the venue. Attendees at the release event the following day, Sunday March 26th, will be the first lucky players to crack actual packs of Branching Paths, before engaging in the first ever Branching Paths constructed (casual) tournament.
If this is of any interest to you, check out the respective Facebook events for the [Branching Paths Release] and [Tundra Wolves Challenge 6] for more details. Preregistration takes place on this [UNIFIED FORM].
And now that you’ve read this far, we think that you deserve a treat. Don’t you think? So here are the first batch of Branching Paths spoilers:
[LINK TO OFFICIAL BRANCHING PATHS SPOILERS GALLERY & SOURCES]
[FURTHER READING: GOING PUBLIC (DOMAIN) WITH BRANCHING PATHS]
– The New Old School Team