I try to draft weekly. Since I do this weekly, although I try to unload the dregs to other people (like giving them to new players), I still have plenty of excess cards in my cabinet in my office. Why not use them for something like, say, character creation?
Since this is an RPG-article, I should probably explain that a bit. Drafting is a form of Magic the Gathering where you open booster packs, pick a card from them and then pass the pack to the next player, while receiving another from the other direction. Then you pick a card again and so on until all the packs are done (very quick explanation).
Agent of Erebos
Humbler of Mortals
Font of Fertility
Pin to the Earth
Cast into Darkness
This is a pack from the latest expansion, Journey into Nyx (as produced by the Draft Simulator from TappedOut). Its a part of the Theros block, which revolves around their Ancient Greek influenced world. Its not Ancient Greece or Mythic Ancient Greece, but has a lot of analogues. However, its clearly their world.
Now, lets say you are about to make your character, and you are given those cards. Now, choose one. Its going to be a part of your character somehow, whether that card actually represents your character, or is part of his history, or perhaps just part of a story he knows. Next, the player on your right is going to give you another pack and you’ll one of those, and so on.
This is of course for a pretty specific world, but you don’t have to take these cards too literally. You could use any part of the card you wish. There’s the name of the card (which might often be unusable, if it refers to something not included in your world – in these cases the deities Erebos and Mogis – but that’s easy enough to console with your world if you know what these gods are about and choose another instead), the artwork and the flavor text (and of course, what the card actually does can be used as well). Just use them as inspiration.
Of course, there are plenty of different worlds and there are cards that have been specifically designed to be generic enough to drop into (pretty much) any world, so you can use any existing world, or build your own from the cards… or let the players build it, while you just give them a direction with your selection.
Or perhaps build stats with the cards. Lets say you make a pack yourself from all sorts of cards, which give you an idea about your character. A pack could look like this:
Aspect of Hydra
Rise to the Challenge
Valor Made Real
Those are from a number of sets, but Theros block is somewhat emphasized because it has the best card names for this purpose.
Now, I haven’t played the latest versions of D&D, but they are all basically the same statwise, so let’s suppose you want to have the players make fairly strong characters, who have an average of 13 in their stats (I know that’s not much in many contexts, but it should be). So, before starting, assign, say, a 7 for each stat for each character and then let them draft 12 cards.
Each card represents a total of 3 points of stats. [card]Titan’s Strength[/card] could be 3 Strength, while [card]Mortal’s Resolve[/card] would be 3 points of Constitution. The stats on a card could be divided too. Maybe [card]Moonlight Bargain[/card] could be +2 Charisma and +1 Dexterity, or [card]Holy Strength[/card] could be +1 Strength, +1 Wisdom and +1 Charisma.
Getting these well balanced would require some work, but you could let the players choose and then have them explain their choices. Of course, [card]Rise to the Challenge[/card] offers much more room to maneuver in this case than [card]Titan’s Strength[/card], so you should be careful. [card]Aspect of Hydra[/card] or cards like it should be used very carefully, because they can explain the world too much in a direction you might not want them to.
If you want to try this out, and live within a reasonable distance of Tampere, feel free to comment and I’ll get you cards. As I said, I do have piles of them just waiting for some use.