Tutorial - Making a Custom Set - Part 1: Getting Started & World Building

edited March 2016 in Tutorials
So you’ve used Corwinnn’s amazing tutorial to make top notch cards? You’ve made lots of friends along the way? Are you ready to take the next step? And design, run, create and perfect an entire Set????

Welcome to the set tutorial!!! By Noobplayzgames. Before we start I would like to say thanks to:
@Tomigon for the idea
@Corwinnn for suggesting I do it (and helping me with all my sets.)

Getting Started
Making a set requires many different aspects including: Help, concept, setting, story, characters, adventures, species, creatures, factions (guilds, clans, broods), custom abilities and whatnot. Let’s begin.

First you have to come up with an idea. Usually no specifics are needed. Be it:
ForgottenDragons = Broods not in Dragons of Tarkir
Hellfall = Angels, Demons, Devils, Sirens, Fallen Angels, Humans < Planeswalkers
It is that simple. Since you need no details yet, this is the best way to describe it to friends.

Help & Friends
The way I’ve started all of my sets is by messaging (using the forums) a group of my MTG Cardsmith friends. Good, popular Cardsmiths. People like @Corwinnn who I’ve worked with for a while. Someone you trust to make good cards, who will listen and act upon your ideas, suggestions and “orders.” Remember you are the boss of this set. Make sure you are in control of everything. Whenever something happens, make immediate contact with the Cardsmith. See their intentions, ideas, facts and opinions. You can take on the endeavor by yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. People can be difficult, but if you find the rights ones, the set will be a lot easier.

The messages you send out should consist of an introduction to your set. Plans, ideas, timeframes, reasons why you want help, and reasons why you want to make this set so much. Once everyone responds, make a new chat with the people who have accepted. They will ask questions, pose ideas to the setting, name, lore and give other opinions. Once everything there is settled, make the account. Tell them the name and password in the chat, and tell them don’t make any cards until approved. (This is important)

Now that you have your crew of all first mates, it’s time for you guys to think of specifics. Let’s say you want to make a sci-fi set, like Shadows of Gyfiri 2.0. Talk about it, do you want to keep it in Gyfiri? Or change it to another place? Let’s say the 5 factions (usually have 5 factions, breaking this is ok, but it makes it much harder to make cycles and cards of more colors; if you want to have 10 for something like Ravnica, only do it if you already have a base.) are all Shards, think of names, locations, types of people, races, specialties, jobs, cities, society. Even if it isn’t written down, flesh out every detail of your world and each faction so that every card that everyone makes fits in and doesn’t need to be changed later. Set it up in the chat like this.
Set Name:
Plane Properties:
Name: Colors:
Name: Colors:
Name: Colors:
Name: Colors:
Name: Colors:

This is the tedious part. Take the world and give it a story. How did people start? Are there creators? Describe the beasts and animals and where they live. Say how the factions started, why they are separate, who or what gave them their rituals, their magic powers. It is easiest if these are already based off real life or other fictional things (Theros = Greek myths, Kamigawa = Japanese religion, Khans block = Ancient China; Gangs of Cryptar = Gyfiri, Forgotten Dragons = Dragons of Tarkir). Everything is inspired by something else. Base the celebrations, leaders, factions, armor, soldiers, monsters, lands, beasts all around this inspiration.
Then describe what went wrong. The reason these sets exist is because of some event that’s started a war, or an adventure for a hero or Planeswalker. Write out the event, its cause, immediate and past reproductions. The factions now act to each other how/what do monsters change/do differently? The world has evolved to the beginning of the set from its little egg on paper. Still do not make cards. Remember to copy everything you write into the comment sections of the account. People out of the set use it to understand. People in the set use it for reference.

This is where you create your heroes. Be it a Planeswalker or a Legendary creature, this is where you make them. Determine their colors, their faction, and based off that faction their abilities and influence in the world before the quest. Tune in to Part 2 for specifics on how to make a super fleshed out character you and your friends want to follow.


  • edited August 2015
    @Corwinnn I said it would take me a week to make, but I've already made 3/4 parts!
    I've been very bored today.
  • I see that!
  • edited August 2015
    These tutorials will help me! Thanks!
  • Alrighty, @Noobplayzgames
    Let us say, hypothetically, there is already a story in place, with a fully detailed adventure in the works, the world itself is fully defined... and there are only 3 factions. How could I possibly make this work? (This is the simple version- If I told you why there are only three factions, you might yell at me. XD)
  • I mean, you could easily do what you want, this is just a set starting guide. However, if you really need more help, I would appreciate the why. :D
  • Alright, alright. The why screws everything up.

    The world is mainly green mana, because everything is covered in jungles, and red mana is essentially unheard of. There is a REALLY tall mountain on a continent seperate to that of the main story, and a whole lot of underwater volcanoes (Monored merfolk FTW!)... but not really anything else. The story is mainly the face off between two siblings.. both of which use black and green... which creates some problems with the idea of factions. (One uses white, the other blue).
    The third faction is in opposition to neither of the others, but tends to PO the natives because of red mana. He's a visiting planeswalker that intends to use Geomancy to raise a volcanic island out of the ocean, which'll create all kinds of problems with the local ecology, but give the world a true source of red magic.

    All this ultimately means it'll be pretty weird if I balance all five colors, and if I don't the set will be completely wacko, but I don't want to scrap the story. DX
  • Well, when it gets that crazy, do what you want! I just want you to think: Would this set be fun to play (premade decks, duel decks, drafts) because of the colors? It doesn't need to be, but that's always a thing to keep in mind.
  • @CrucivleOfHate

    That's a pretty interesting motivation for the Red planeswalker.
    I'm interested in hearing what the cause of the sibling's feud is / what their ideologies are and why they're in conflict. Do they disagree about whether they should allow the Red planeswalker to do what he's doing?

    (I'm not a huge fan of the idea of Red Merfolk, but you could totally have blue Merfolk with Red costs to activate their abilities, or that care about mountains in addition to Islands)
  • As a person currently working on a set, I can really appreciate this! Another little piece of advice that I'd like to add is that pretty early on in development, it's good to get a general idea of what the story progression is going to be, or at least some big twist that will set the parts of the block (assuming you're doing multiple sets) apart from each other.

    BTW @Memnarchitect, I've been a little more active recently, and plan on resuming work on the NOC Block! Here's an announcement I made: http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/750/noc-block-announcement#latest
  • @Memnarchitect You spelled my name wrong. That's all I've come to say, really. :/
  • edited October 2015
    I don't know how many times I've had to tell Spell-check 'no, that's not a word; shad'up and let me type'. _._
  • @Memnarchitect lol. Ultimately the siblings are at eachothers throats when he shows up. I could send you a breakdown of the story if you're really that interested, but I don't want to clog up @Noobplayzgames 's notifications posting it here.
  • Ever noticed this was the oldest thread that wasn't closed? Well, not anymore!
  • @TrippleBoggey3 Next time you resurrect a thread, pay {2}{w}{w} or reconsider.
  • @TezzeretofCarmot21
    Thread reviving has been errata'd to include commander tax if it is done multiple times. {4}{w}{w} is the current cost.
  • @Lujikul
    *throws six Plains at you* Take your filthy Plains and leave!
  • I understand how to make my first set but how do I make more?
  • @Grimlock134 Log in, then press your username in the top right corner. Then press the "Set" button (it should be in a row along with "Home", "Cards", "My Favorites" and "Profile") to access the sets (or set, in this case) that you've created so far. There should be a big blue "Create set" button on the right. Press that and I think that's it.

    Some of the precise locations may differ if you're using a phone or something, but the general process should work.

    Commander tax has now reached {6}{W}{W}.
  • Plz no rez the thread plz
  • I will rez the thread. I tap all my lands.
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