The Kitchen Table #242 – Unearthed Arcana II

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Thursday, July 17th – Today’s article is the third installment of The Magic Role-Playing Game. The last article was published back in January, so I felt it was time for another supplement. The Magic RPG is my most popular work. I suspect that it will endure for a long time, and it’s my favorite contribution to the game. I have had people tell me that playing The Magic RPG has changed their Magic gaming experience forever, and I am humbled by this.

Hello! I hope you are having a pleasant Thursday. Today’s article is the third installment of The Magic Role-Playing Game. The last article was published back in January, so I felt it was time for another supplement.

If you are wondering what the Magic RPG is, then you’ll need to read these articles before proceeding:

This is the original article.

This is the second article, chock full of optional rules, clarifications on the first article, and more fun.

The Magic RPG is my most popular work. I suspect that it will endure for a long time, and it’s my favorite contribution to the game. I have had people tell me that playing The Magic RPG has changed their Magic gaming experience forever, and I am humbled by this.

If you have been playing around with The Magic RPG for a few months, then it is about time for a new injection of material. Like the original Unearthed Arcana article, every skill, trait, and errata in this article is optional.

One player noted that, with the two combined articles, there were too many skills and traits to follow, so he wanted to cut it down for initial players. That’s fine by me! Use this and abuse this; so long as your group is having fun, that’s what matters! I am just a scribe, and it is incumbent upon you to take this and modify it if needed.

A quick refresher for those who read The Magic RPG articles a while ago…

In this game, you begin with two stats (up to five if you use Unearthed Arcana) that define your starting life total and hand size. Then there are also a large number of skills and traits in which you can invest. Over time, you gain experience as you duel against other planeswalkers. You level up, and gain more points to spend in stats, skills, and traits.

A stat is a statistic that tracks you as a planeswalker. The three in Unearthed Arcana track your minimum deck size, number of each card you can play, and what sets’ commons you have access to.

A skill is an ability that you can purchase multiple times, usually with increasing effects. A trait is a one-time purchase.

In order to build your deck, you must have access to the card in question. You only begin with access to commons, and have to purchase more. There are various skills and traits that increase your access, plus an optional stat from Unearthed Arcana that increases your access.

Today’s update brings three new things to the table. First of all, there are some new skills for your game. No skill is as complex as Veto, from Unearthed Arcana (which is unfortunate, since I am rather fond of Veto).

The next things are a bunch of traits, many of which do brand new things for the environment. There are even new access options.

The final thing is a new set of corrections, clarifications, and errata for both of the previous articles. As the format is played, I discover some areas of the game that need tweaking, and I include a section there. I also include the new abilities from Shadowmoor on a skill and in the errata section.


Just as in the first Unearthed Arcana, in this one, I have added nine skills for your consideration.

Growth – During your upkeep, you may place a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control for each point of Growth you have. This is a common Green effect in Magic, and it seemed like a natural fit for a skill.

Fundamentals – For each point placed into Fundamentals, choose a base set. Gain access to all uncommons from that base set. It was asked in the forums if I wanted to grant blanket access to uncommons from core sets, so I decided to do that.

Insubstantial – For each point placed into Insubstantial, once per game you may phase out all creatures you control. Mark this with a die or tokens in order to let everyone know what you are doing.

Restraint – Whenever you play a spell with X in its cost, you may add a number to that spell up to or equal to double the number of points you have put in this ability. Suppose you have three points of Restraint. Whenever you play Stream of Life, Guardian Angel, Howl from Beyond or Fireball, you can add up to six colorless mana for that spell. You may not use this ability when playing Braingeyser, Mind Spring, or Stroke of Genius. I felt that this was a fun ability, but broken with the card drawing spells. Otherwise, it seems fine. Note that Mind Twist is banned in Legacy, and thus banned in The Magic RPG.

Animator – For each point you put into this skill, you may, once per game, put the top creature card in your graveyard into play with haste. Remove it from the game at the end of the turn. You may not use Animator more than once per turn. With Wrath of Tormod in the environment, I felt I could push the graveyard abilities a little bit more. This card inspired by Shallow Grave.

Meditation – For each point you put into this skill, you may, once per game, prevent yourself from losing the game until the end of the turn. Created as a pseudo-Angel’s Grace or way to make Final Fortune playable, it seems fun, but not uber broken. It only lasts until the end of the turn, so it will not save you from lethal damage for long.

Without Blinking – Each time you select this skill, choose a card to which you have access. Each copy of that card you own gains flash in all zones. A little something for the Spikes at the table.

Recycle – For each point you put into Recycle, you may, once per game, return all creatures with suspend and transmute from players’ graveyards into play. And then something for the Johnnies.

Plot Against Them – All of your sorceries that cost X or less gain conspire, where X is equal to the number of points put into Plot Against Them. I wanted to use conspire, and this seemed like a clever way to get it into the format without just granting it to all spells, which would be way too powerful.


I have twenty-seven new traits for your perusal, and I did not fall onto my old habits of having a few traits or skills that have you begin the game with something in play. Instead, I racked my brain for what was missing from the environment, and then added a few traits to help it out.

Reverse Engineering – At the beginning of each game, during the Veto Phase, choose a creature type. All opposing creatures gain that type in addition to their normal type while in play or in the graveyard. You can use this along with cards that have protection from goblins, Tividar’s Crusade, and so forth, but beware, because your opponent can prepare with cards like Patriarch’s Bidding, getting all of his cards back and leaving you with nothing. You can also be Reverse Engineered yourself, turning your own Suleiman’s Legacy against you.

Gambler – Add two to the converted mana cost of cards you reveal while clashing. If you would flip a coin, instead flip two and ignore one. If you lose a flip or a clash, you lose three life. Note that some coin flipping cards (such as Goblin Assassin or Mana Clash) do not have win/lose language, so you would not lose three life for either result.

Slippery – The first time each turn that an enchantment you control is targeted by a spell or ability, counter that spell or ability. At first, I gave enchantments blanket shroud, but then I remembered that I was charging three Mage Points to give creatures shroud, and I feared this would fuel combo decks too much, so I dialed it back to Kira, Glass Spinner territory.

Ante Matter – When you take this trait, any player in the group may protest, in which case no one may take this trait. Gain your Mage Point back and use it somewhere else. If someone has Ante Matter, then all games against that player are played for ante, using traditional ante rules. All ante cards are removed from the banned list except for Contract from Below. Gain access to one ante card of your choice, other than Contract.

Reticence – At the beginning of your upkeep, untap all of your lands. This works great with effects like Winter Orb or Stasis, but you’d have to spend a lot of points in Recall and Sage to get those cards reliably. Most likely, it will be used to tap your lands for activated abilities of your permanents and then untap them.

Aura of Holiness – All of your natural angels (those that have angel on their type line) gain White fear, such as a Seeker might provide (this creature can only be blocked by White or artifact creatures.)

At Any Cost – All of your creatures require two less colorless mana to play and gain, “When this creature comes into play, discard a card from your hand at random, or sacrifice this.”

Levy – Creatures can’t attack you unless their controller discards a card. I wanted a Propaganda like effect for the game, and thought this might be most effective.

Aether Whip – All of your creatures gain, “0: Return this to your hand. You may not play this creature this turn.” I wanted to give players a Blinking Spirit ability, but I feared the combo-ness of allowing constant self-blink, using cards like Priest of Gix, so instead I added the extra clause to the ability to prevent this abuse but still allow the blinkingness.

Randomization – At the beginning of your upkeep, you may force target player to shuffle their library.

Liquefy – Gain access to all creatures with Ooze in their name. You do not have to pay mana to upkeep Primordial Ooze; instead, it is paid automatically.

Harvest – Reveal the first card you draw each turn. If it is a land, draw a card. If it is not a land, lose two life. This trait is inspired by the card Rowen. I though the unenchantable Rowen effect was too powerful on its own, so I gave it a disadvantage too.

Bottle Mage – All djinns and efreets get +1/+1. Suleiman’s Legacy cannot be played by anyone. Gain access to Bottle of Suleiman.

Rings, Staffs, and Wands – When you take this trait, select one artifact with Ring in the title, another with Wand in the title, and a third with Staff in the title. Gain access to these three cards. Note that the card title must have the actual word, and not part of a word, so you can gain access to Staff of Zegon, but not Nine-Ringed Bo or Wanderer‘s Twig. Plural is acceptable, so you could take Rings of Brighthearth. Remember that Sol Ring is banned.

Quasi-Reality Experiment – Choose this trait only if your group normally allows silver bordered cards. Gain access to all Unglued and Unhinged commons and uncommons.

Unity – If you control creatures that are all five colors naturally (not changed through other traits or cards), then all of your creatures get +1/+1. This bonus goes away immediately if the condition is no longer met. Yes, the Reaper King likes this. Yes, you can start with three colors using Santamancer and Familiar. Good luck with it!

Frugal – All of your tribal cards gain Splice onto Tribal for their tribal sub-type. Therefore, you could splice Tarfire onto Fodder Launch, as an example. The Splice cost is equal to the play cost of the spell. This works well with Transmuter, a trait that can turn all of your tribal cards into one creature type.

Lordship – All creatures that give an ability or power/toughness boost to in-play creatures of a certain creature type gain +1/+1, offering for those types, convoke, and champion for those types. For example, Goblin King gives goblins +1/+1, so he would get bigger and gain these three abilities. As would Eladamri, who gives other elves an ability – shroud.

Virtue – All creatures you control with bushido naturally get double their bushido bonus. Since the first article, I’ve had traits that I describe as ramp up abilities, that take existing creature abilities and make them stronger. This is another ramp up ability.

Interchangeable Parts – All creatures that come into play with +1/+1 counters on them gain modular and graft. All creatures you control with modular can give their counters to non-artifact creatures when they die. As an example, if you have this, and play Fertilid, it has modular and graft, and when it dies, if it has any +1/+1 counters, you can move those to any other creature. This is another ramp up ability.

Incognito – Face down creatures you control get +1/+1.

Spiritwrath – All spirits from Kamigawa block gain Bands with Other Spirits. You gain access to three spirit creatures of your choice from the block.

Wash Into Unreality – All spells with the arcane subtype gain tribal – spirit. They cannot be further modified by Transmuter. Note that soulshift will bring them back, since it says bring back a spirit card with the soulshift cost or less, not spirit creature card.

Kobold Rage – All natural kobolds (with kobold in their type line, Oracle counts, but not creatures with changeling or Metamorphed or Mistform Ultimus) gain frenzy: 3. Gain access to Kobolds of Kher Keep, Crimson Kobolds, and Crookshank Kobolds.

Baron’s Blood – Gain access to Baron Sengir and three vampires of your choice.

Discrimination – Before each game, choose an expansion set during the Veto Phase. This selection is made after player’s choose decks, but before they are revealed. During the game, all creatures with that expansion symbol get -1/-1 and all spells with that expansion symbol cost one more colorless to play. This includes yours. This choice may not be changed during the game. Core sets and Portal sets are not expansion sets. Choosing Time Spiral will also hit the Timeshifted cards that have the purple expansion symbol.

Fleetness of Hoof – Your creatures may block as if they had horsemanship and may block attacking creatures with landwalk abilities as if they did not have those abilities.

Additional Clarifications, Changes and Errata:

Veto Phase – Note that two new traits use the Veto Phase created with the trait Veto in the last article. During the Veto Phase, resolve any Vetoes first, before moving to Discrimination or Reverse Engineering. Note that if a player has Veto, then other players have a chance to audible out of their deck into another deck for a price of three mental/physical fortitude. This choice now takes place at the end of the Veto Phase, when all abilities are chosen, but you can now audible out without anyone having Veto. If someone chooses Lorwyn for Discrimination, and you have chosen a Lorwyn elf deck, then you can audible out the same as if someone Vetoed you. You must spend three points in Mental and/or Physical Fortitude and the subsequent loss of cards and life for that game only. To show this physically:

Veto Phase:

1. Players choose their deck to play
2. Resolve any Vetoes, using the Veto rules from the previous article.
3. Resolve any Discrimination, Reverse Engineering, Filterscope, Haughty, or other abilities that may be introduced that fire during the Veto Phase.
4. Players may audible to another deck for 3 MF/PF
5. The Veto Phase ends

Memory – In Unearthed Arcana, Memory allows access to Lorwyn Block, Tenth, Time Spiral Block, and Coldsnap. Shadowmoor and its sequel, Eventide, are considered part of Lorwyn Block for purposes of Memory, which means you have access to their commons without putting any points into Memory. You gain access to the commons immediately, as soon as you have the cards in hand, which may be before the release date if you go to a pre-release.

As new blocks get released from Memory, things get a little confusing. If you are continuing the RPG, then as new sets, even new blocks get released, they are automatically available to players without the expenditure of Memory. If you start the RPG after a new block is released, then all sets that are Standard legal are playable without increasing your memory, and when you add a point in Memory, you add all of the sets that rotated out, plus Ravnica and so forth, like the chart says. So, for example, if you start playing after Shards of Alara is released, then you have access to Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Blocks, 10th, and Shards. When you add a point, in addition to getting access to Ravnica and Kamigawa, you would gain access to commons from the rotated Coldsnap and Time Spiral Block.

Metamorph, Totemic Shaman, Transmuter – Note that you can only choose creature types that exist in the game; you may not choose marmoset with these abilities. This is a clarification.

Filterscope, Haughty – When these abilities were written, the Veto Phase was not conceived. It is now clarified that Filterscope and Haughty choices are made during the Veto Phase.

Metamorph – Now metamorph only impacts non-token creatures. This is a change.

Simplification – Creatures do gain flashback, and are not removed from the game after resolving. This is a clarification.

Skinshift – This ability should read, “… choose a creature type that creature has naturally on its type line.” This is an errata.

Raider – You only gain abilities from Tactician or Master Tactician when attacking, not otherwise. This is a clarification.

Tactician – Add wither, bushido: 1, fateseal: 1, and absorb: 1 to the list of abilities that Tactician can select.

Master Tactician – Add persist and bloodthirst: 2 to the list of abilities that Master Tactician can select.

Phantasm Into Reality – This ability now reads, “All of your creatures with soulshift can now retrieve non-spirit creature cards from your graveyard in addition to spirit cards.” This is an errata to prevent the bringing back of tribal cards like Tarfire straight up without using more traits. You can still do it with Phantasm Into Reality and Transmuter: Spirit, just like before, only you need to purchase the extra trait.

Restrictions — Note that any card restricted in an offline format is banned here. As you may have noticed, the DCI restricted five cards in Vintage, and that may affect your Magic RPG decks. Cards that are now banned include Ponder and Brainstorm. I suspect a lot of decks are running Ponder if they have Blue. Remember to use the Cheater ability from the first Unearthed Arcana if you really want to use some of these cards. I’d certainly let you use Cheater on Brainstorm or Ponder.

And that brings us to the conclusion of another article. I hope you enjoyed today‘s piece, and that you have found a few things in here to use in your Magic RPGs. Thanks for reading!

Until later…

Abe Sargent