- The Objective
- The Deck of Cards
- How to play
- Winning the Game
- License OGL
- Rule book in PDF
Northland: A vast continent with lush forests bordered by mighty hills and mountains. On the plains of Thärin, eight magicians battle for power. Only one will emerge victorious and become ruler of the land.
You must survive! Only one magician can prevail. The player that can reduce their opponents’ hit points to zero (0) wins.
To maximize enjoyment, there are two ways to play Dark Mages:
Solo Mode: The last magician alive wins the game!
Alliance Mode: Team up with other magicians and the last team alive wins the game!
The Deck of Cards
Dark Mages has 120 play cards divided into 12 categories:
- Magic Items
- Potions & Healing
- Black cards
Drawn randomly at the beginning of the game, these play cards represent the magicians. There are eight classes in total:
- The Enchanter
- Fire Conjurer
- Water Conjurer
- Earth Conjurer
- Air Conjurer
The four corners of a character card
You will notice each that character card has four colored corners, including a letter. Each of the colors and letters is connected to the name of an item that increases the attributes of your magician.
- The red corner (letter S) is for wielding a staff.
- The blue corner (letter R) is for wearing a robe.
- The green corner (letter R) is for wearing a ring.
- The purple corner (letter A) is for putting on an amulet.
Only one specific item per corner may be placed at any given time. See the Magic Items and Artifacts cards sections for more details.
Each character has strengths determined by their magical sphere. These strengths increase the scope of the attack, arcane levels, and damage points as well as the armor class when the attack is from a card of its own magical sphere (see: Magic).
Spells are cast during the magician’s attack phase.
Each card is represented by a magical sphere and has a number on the inside (1, 2, or 3). This number represents the character’s arcane level and can be modified based on the magical sphere (see: Arcane Level).
You cannot play a spell card once your turn is over. The damage done by spells depends on the arcane level of the magician and their specialty.
Companions are animals or monsters that become an ally for your magician. Your companion’s attributes are described on its card. A player may have only one companion at any given time. You may replace a companion if you find a more suitable one.
Two play options are possible for companions, and players must pick which version will be used.
Shield option: The companion shields you from attacks. If your character is hit, deduct the damage from your companion’s hit points first until it dies. The companion cannot attack.
Ally option: The companion attacks either enemy magicians or their companions. Players decide the target, which may vary from one round to the next. The companion cannot be used as a shield.
Animals and monsters cannot use magic items.
Skills cards allow players to use special powers that will give them an advantage, such as stealing magic objects from adversaries, and more. Depending on their descriptions, they can be added to your attack or played during your attack.
If you’re being attacked, Defense cards have the power to defend you and/or counterattack. They can be directly put down when you’re being attacked. Depending on their attributes, they can evade or block an attack, send a magic spell back to adversaries, and more.
Magic Items cards (staffs, robes, rings, and amulets) increase the attack or defense attributes of your character.
- Amulets have miscellaneous effects
- Rings increase the Arcane Level
- Staffs add an attack bonus
- Robes provide different types of protection
They have only one colored corner and letter. Magic objects are placed in a precise order around your character card.
For example, the red corner accompanied by the letter S of a staff card joins the red corner also with the letter S of the character card.
Please note that only one specific object can be placed per colored corner for a maximum of four, but new ones may replace them during a battle. Unused items are removed and placed in the discard pile.
Potions & Healing
The Potions cards represent magic concoctions that kick in when they’re consumed and have the power to increase the magician’s strength for attack or defense depending on the description. The effects they produce are fleeting and depend on the type of potion. The player can attack after using a Potion card.
The Healing cards are represented as potions. A Healing card allows the player to win back the number of hit points listed on the card. You cannot exceed a player’s maximum number of hit points (60). Only one Healing card can be played per round. The player can attack following the use of a Healing card.
Artifacts are legendary relics that increase the magician’s attributes in a spectacular way. When discovered, artifacts highly influence the outcome of a battle.
Some of these play cards also have only one corner with a color and letter. They may replace a magic object by occupying its space around the character card. A maximum of four artifacts may be used at all times.
If an enemy card is picked, it must be immediately placed in the play pile. Players cannot act and must make a saving throw.
If the save fails, players take full damage of the enemy’s attack. If the save succeeds, only half damage is applied.
Magicians that are invisible when an enemy arrives are immune from any effects.
Hexes cards allow you to curse another player. By putting this card down in front of an adversary during the attack phase, that person can make a saving throw but if unsuccessful, the player is hit with the effects of the curse listed on the card. Playing a Hex card is considered an attack.
Scroll cards are considered spells written down on paper. Each scroll card can be used only once according to its description. Playing a Scroll card is considered an attack.
Black cards are extremely rare. Found randomly in certain packages, you might be the lucky player to have one! Black cards can be characters, spells, magic items, scrolls, potions, healings, hexes, defenses, skills, enemies, companions or artifacts.
How to play Dark Mages
- 1. To begin, each player draws a random character card and places it on the table in front of them.
- 2. Each magician starts with 60 hit points, an Arcane Level of one (1), and an armor class of 10. (A character is dead when hit points are reduced to zero (0). Use a sheet of paper to keep track of hit points.)
- 3. To determine who starts the game, each player rolls one d20 for the initiative test, and the one with the highest score gets to go first. Players who have the same highest result must reroll the die between them until a victor emerges.
- 4. The starting player shuffles the main deck and distributes 5 cards per player. They may now begin. After completing their battle round, going clockwise, the next player gets their turn.
- 5. The game begins.
A turn has four phases, in this order:
- 1. The Deposit Phase
- 2. The Attack Phase
- 3. The Companion Phase (Ally Option)
- 4. The End Phase
The Deposit Phase
A player can put down or replace a maximum of four magic objects during the deposit phase.
A player can use only one Healing card to increase their number of hit points during the deposit phase.
A player can put down or replace one companion.
The Attack Phase
A player can play only one Attack card per round except for certain cards that require additional cards. When your magician casts a spell, you roll 1d20, and if that exceeds your adversary’s armor class, the hit goes through and inflicts damage.
The Companion Attack Phase
A companion, in ally option, can attack a target player once per turn. When your companion attacks, you roll 1d20, and if that exceeds your adversary’s armor class, the hit goes through and inflicts damage.
The End Phase
One card from your remaining hand may be discarded. Take up to 5 new cards from the play deck. Your turn ends.
Note: If an enemy card is picked during this phase, it must be immediately placed in the play pile. You cannot pick an extra card.
This game is played with the following dice:
- d4 (4-sided die)
- d6 (6-sided die)
- d8 (8-sided die)
- d10 (10-sided die)
- d12 (12-sided die)
- d20 (20-sided die)
- d00 (10-sided die)
The rules use many abbreviations in reference to the dice, for example, “1d6 plus the arcane level” (which means “the sum of a 6-sided die plus the arcane level”). The first letter refers to the number of dice to roll. The second (right after the “d”) refers to the type of dice to use.
Percentile dice: Generate a number between 1 and 100 by rolling the d00 for the tens digit and a d10 for the ones digit. For example, if you roll a 50 and a 9, the number is 59.
Hit points are related to a magician’s life. When attacked, a certain number of hit points are lost. When healed, hit points are added back on. Hit points will vary during a game. Each magician starts with 60 points, and this total cannot be exceeded for the duration of the game. A character is dead when hit points are reduced to zero (0).
All successful attacks inflict damage corresponding to the die listed on the card, for example, “1d6 plus the arcane caster level.” Bonus damage points can be added by rolling additional dice depending on the arcane level.
Damage is subtracted from their current hit points.
Sometimes, damages have to be multiplied by a given number, for example, when a hit is automatically successful (or a critical hit). In that case, the total is calculated by rolling the damage points die and multiplying it by a factor of 2.
Before starting the round, every player undergoes an initiative test to determine who goes first. To do that, every player rolls 1d20, and the one with the highest score starts the game.
If there’s a tie during the initiative test, the two tied players roll 1d20 again, and the one with the highest score starts the game. If there’s still a tie, the two players should do heads or tails for the initiative test.
The players go clockwise until there’s a victory.
An attack roll is when a character tries to hit their adversary on their turn. To complete an attack roll, you roll 1d20 and add the character’s attack bonus (staff) and/or based on the magical sphere (specialty). If the total exceeds your adversary’s armor class, the hit goes through and inflicts damage.
Automatic Misses and Hits
A natural 20 on an attack roll is a critical hit. You automatically hit your opponent regardless of their armor class. Your damage is multiplied by a factor of 2.
Vice versa, a natural 1 on an attack roll is a fumble. Your attack automatically fails regardless of your attack bonus. Damage from your attack is applied to your character.
An attack roll is modified by the staff and/or the magical sphere. The game has two possible staffs (staff +1 and staff +2).
Example 1: If you have the staff +1, your attack will be calculated as follows: 1d20 + staff modifier. You roll 1d20 and if your adversary has an armor class of 10, you have to have rolled a 10 + the staff modifier, which gives you 11.
Example 2: You cast a spell within your magical sphere. Your attack will be calculated as follows: 1d20 + magical sphere modifier (+1). You roll 1d20 and if your adversary has an armor class of 10, you have to have rolled a 10 + the magical sphere modifier, which gives you 11.
The armor class represents how much difficulty adversaries will have inflicting damage on your character. It represents the final number your enemy has to achieve to inflict damage. The base armor class is 10 and is calculated as follows: 10 + bonus from a defense cloak and/or magical sphere (specialty).
Some cards can alter a magician’s armor class (spells, scrolls, and others). These factors can temporarily increase or decrease the armor’s effectiveness depending on their descriptions.
In certain cases, damage made by attacks may be evaded or reduced if a saving throw is made.
The player must throw a d20 and add their staff bonus. If the score is equal to or lower than their armor class, they succeed. If the score is higher, the save fails, and the character must suffer the consequences.
Magic spells are categorized into groups called magical spheres. All magicians are able to cast magic spells from the different magical spheres, but every magician has a specialty magical sphere that gives them extra bonuses.
For example: A fire elementalist with an arcane level of two (2) is a specialist in magic spells from the fire sphere. They decide to throw a fireball at their adversary. The total number of damage points is 3d6 (2d6 from their arcane level and one additional d6 because of their specialty).
A specialty magician also has an attack roll bonus of +1 with the magic spells from their magical sphere and an armor class bonus of +3 if an adversary casts a spell from their own magical sphere.
The strength of a spell often depends on the arcane level of the player casting it, which is generally modified by their magical sphere and their characteristic modifier (ring). All spell cards correspond to a sphere and include a number in the top left-hand corner. This number represents the minimum arcane level needed to cast this spell.
All players have a base arcane level of one (1), which allows them to cast all sorts of magic spells with the number one (1). To increase your arcane level, you have to possess a ring of arcane. The game has two available rings of arcane (ring of arcane +1 and ring of arcane +2).
With the ring of arcane +1, your character will have an arcane level of two (2), which allows them to cast all sorts of magic spells with the number two (2). With the ring of arcane +2, your character will have an arcane level of three (3), which allows them to cast all sorts of magic spells with the number three (3).
Example: An Enchanter without a ring has a base level of one (1). They cast a spell, freeze arrow (1), and the damage points inflicted on their adversary will be 1d6.
This same Enchanter, now in possession of a ring of arcane +1, will have an arcane level of 2. Besides being able to cast all sorts of magic spells with the number two (2), their damage points will now be increased by +1d. In the freeze arrow example, the player will now inflict 2d6 damage points on their adversary.
List of spheres and associated spells
Specialist class: None
No additional damage die may be applied regardless of your class.
- Black Tentacles
- Shadow Trap
- Magic Explosion
- Dead Warp
- Acid Ball
- Drowning Sphere
- Spontaneous Combustion
- Boiling Blood
Specialist class: Enchanter
The battle sphere is the Enchanter’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Magic Missile
Specialist class: Cleric
The life sphere is the Cleric’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Cure Serious Wounds
- Hammer Strike
Specialist class: Necromancer
The death sphere is the Necromancer’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Summon Skeleton
- Vampire Hunger
- Dark Soul
Specialist class: Druid
The nature sphere is the Druid’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Forest Army
- Savage Roots
- A Murder of Crows
Specialist class: Fire Conjurer
The fire sphere is the Fire Conjurer’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Flame Strike
- Flame Blade
Specialist class: Air Conjurer
The air sphere is the Air Conjurer’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Lightning Bolt
- Cone of Cold
Specialist class: Water Conjurer
The water sphere is the Water Conjurer’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Freeze Arrow
- Ice Blast
- Tidal Wave
Specialist class: Earth Conjurer
The earth sphere is the Earth Conjurer’s specialty. This sphere endows them with an additional arcane level, a +1 bonus on their attack roll, and a +3 protection on their armor class when they’re being attacked by their own sphere.
- Magic Stone
- Earth Golem
Winning the Game
The winner is the magician or team that manages to defeat all the other players by reducing their number of hit points to zero (0).
When a player is defeated, they have to discard their magic cards but leave their character and magic objects in front of them except for players defeated with magic spells that say the opposite.
Open Game License
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System Reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Paizo Publishing, LLC.
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