Design Notes

Table of Contents Regions Races Classes
Skills and Feats Equipment Dream Energy Spells
Dream Creatures Creature Lists Relics Game Mastering
Glossary Appendix: The Magi Designer's Notes Magi-Nation Sites

These pages are currently a work in progress, and are quite unofficial. I would love for Interactive Imagination to bless this work, but there has been little movement on the development of an official RPG, and Interactive Imagination is currently dormant. So I've devoted my time to providing this work for fellow Magi-Nation fans, as well as to introduce this fantastic world to other RPG gamers.

Note that these rules have NOT had a lot (or any) playtesting. Comments welcome - please!

Information Sources

Magi-Nation has a wealth of different sources of information. Unfortunately, a lot of it is contradictory. The Gameboy game does not follow the exact storyline of the CCG. Furthermore, because the regions are graduated in power, every Arderial creature starts off more powerful than every Naroom creature (or Underneath creature, etc.). Though the dream creatures could level up in the Gameboy game, this still meant work.

Furthermore, the timeline of the Magi-Nation fiction is tangled at times. Even the concept of the Moonlands changed over the few years the game was produced. Other discrepancies - such as information on the magi - changed as the game developed. The Order of Daylight (the originator magi) had their names changed for no apparent reason. What to use as an authoritative source?

Added to that mix, the animated television show adopts many familiar elements, yet twists many others. While many fans hoped for something a little closer to the CCG, the producers tried to tell their own story - with mixed success.

Therefore, I decided that I'd use the CCG cards as the primary source, followed by storyline fiction and supplemental information. I incorporated the gameboy game information when it didn't contradict.

Finally, after some consideration, I have started to incorporate some material from the animated TV show - nothing that contradicts the established CCG. I've adapted some of the dream creatures - Edyn's Ugger is renamed Root Ugger, for instance. Other elements of the TV show have been incorporated where appropriate.


The information on the races was assembled from material from the Book of Ages, other player's comments, and the need to keep the races balanced. Because of the increased emphasis on the non-physical traits (Int, Wis, Cha), I saw no need to have a bonus in Strength offset by a penalty in two different non-physical traits (as recommended in the D&D DMs Guide).

The format for the races - the idea of inherent and restricted skills in particular - was the idea of Ed Bolme (as well as which skills matched which races for several of the regions); a similar mechanic was used in Swashbuckling Adventures from AEG. A lot of the descriptive text was also from Ed Bolme's pen. Descriptive text from the Book of Ages was also added so that gamers who are unfamiliar with the Moonlanders may get a good idea of the various races.


The first iteration of the Dream Magi class was worked out by Shane "Bluntaxe" Reeves and myself. Check it out here. But while the Dream Magi class was useful as an adjunct class to a D&D game, it didn't lend itself to a nice variety of classes needed for an independent RPG. So the classes in this work were designed by looking at the various magi and determining what made sense. My goal was that around 80% of the magi in the CCG would have a clear class (or classes).

Originally, I looked at having the various classes have a wider range of hit dice, attack ability, and so forth. However, one thing about the Moonlands is that there really are not any hard-core warriors swinging swords. All characters are variations of spellcasters, and almost all of them have their creatures do their fighting for them - even the warlike Calders use magic rather than physically swinging an axe at opponents. I thought it would be wrong to have a Kybarite Barbarian favor beating on an opposing Dream Creature, rather than summoning his own dream creature.

Therefore, even the most combat-oriented class (the Warrior) is designed to be only as physically combat-effective as a Rogue. Once that was decided, I needed to balance the spell-casting with the other abilities. So I decided there should be two levels of magi-power; one that was a semi-magi (warriors, defenders, etc), and one that was a full-magi (adepts, artificers, summoners).

Originally, the magi classes were based on the sorceror. However, I found that a little lacking. In both the Gameboy game and the online game produced by CookieJar, magi learned spells slowly - about the same rate that they acquired new Dream Creatures. As the d20 system developed further, the Warlock (and Dragon Adept) emerged as classes which had a very limited selection of spells (incantations), but could use them at will. This, combined with the Dream Energy limitation, seemed to be the most appropriate basis for the magi classes. I am working on rebalancing the classes, and you should see them in the next while.

The Dream Energy function stymied me for a while. Typically D&D spellcasters use spell-slots, rather than energy or mana or any form of spell points. So I looked at the Psionics book, which was point-based. I also drew inspiration from the Doomtown spell system, which was pretty simple (and where I got the 3E/spell-level from). Since the Psionics powers used 2E/level, and Doomtown used 3E/level, I thought 3E/level would give more flexibility.

The Focus idea was simply inspiration. It also helped bring the power of the character classes down so they could work with other D&D classes (I hope). Playtesting here is needed.

Summoning creatures was placed on a 1-1 level with spells, with the DC of the creature being equivalent to casting a spell of the same level. This principal was designed with the various 3rd Edition monster-summoning spells.

Skills, Feats and Equipment

Most of the skills in the standard D&D game work well within the Moonlands (except for those noted in the Skills page). Most feats work fine too, although with the lack of emphasis on combat, most of the combat-intensive feats should be rare. The item-crafting feats are available to all classes, though Artificers get an obvious boost. The new feats were designed to represent certain magi in the CCG - Improved Undreaming came from Gruk, and Region Familiarity allows the existence of dual-region magi.

The equipment presented an unusual challenge. The illustrations of the various cards clearly show a variety of clothing, goods, tools and weapons. Yet very little of them actually are made of metal. Instead the materials are all components of the various regions. Therefore, it was obvious that the Moonlands only worked soft metals (gold, silver). Forging iron was definitely not a part of their culture (this also makes sense, since a moon wouldn't have as much heavier metals in its composition). But with the variety of materials, and the skill used in their creation, a wide variety of equipment was obviously available. So I got creative.


The creatures have changed several times over the course of this work. Originally they were all going to be magical beasts. Then they became all Outsiders (from the Dream Plane). Finally, I decided to split them across most of the D&D monster classifications. After all, there was a wide variety of creatures, and I wanted to give a highly flexible set of effects. Attacks, damage, and special abilities were developed from a combination of artwork, flavor text, and abilities. The CR rating was set to the creature's starting energy in the CCG.

As far as creature classifications, I decided that all creatures of a given type (Arbolls, Jiles, Xyxes) should be the same basic creature type (Elementals, Magical Beasts, etc). This enhanced the concept that the creatures were related. Furthermore, no creatures were Outsiders except Hyrens and their kin. This placed the Hyrens in a unique position, which they should be. I rejected the obvious choice of Dragon for their classification, because I wanted the Hyren to be unique - not just the Moonlands synonym for Dragons. Since they also seem to be tied to the regions pretty strongly, and the Baby Hyren could change to ANY of them, I made them strongly tied through the Dream Plane to the regions (thus also the reason they are always Dream Creatures).

The creatures of the Moonlands display semi-sentience in many cases, and many are fully sentient. No creatures are Animals, since those creatures are only of animal intelligence (and all beasts of the Moonlands should be magical anyway); Vermin was used in only rare cases, and they got an Int score anyway. Finally, I ruled out Undead entirely - no clerics to turn undead to balance them either. The idea of holiness and unholiness doesn't belong in the Moonlands (in my opinion), so that was removed.

The following guidelines were used for special abilities that were common in the CCG:

The ability for Dream Creatures to grow in ability is a feature from the GameBoy game which I am working on designing. It would certainly make sense that a given Dream Creature should grow in power as it adventures with its magi. Look for additional development here.


The biggest challenge for the Dream Creatures was their ecology, and how it fit into the overall Moonlands. There were several fundamental problems and questions:

  1. What do Dream Creatures eat? Clearly some are hungry (junjertrug, magma jile), so they would be eating something.
  2. What do Magi eat (aside from fruits and such)?
  3. How do Magi fashion equipment from Dream Creature parts (Moga Fang Necklace, etc.) if the Dream Creature vanishes back to the Dream Plane when defeated?
  4. Are there Dream and Real variants of the same creature?

Starting in reverse order: I rejected the idea that there were Dream and Real variants of the same creature. The reason for this is that Magi-Nation has a certain innocence to it. However, defeating Dream Creatures to gain animite and eventually forge a Dream Creature ring is a fundamental part of the setting. I didn't want to see characters hunting creatures, attacking and defeating them only to discover that they just killed a real creature rather than defeating a dream creature. Killing a creature needlessly is definitely the wrong direction to lead younger gamers. Also, I thought a Dream Creature - who is sentient after all - might find the hunting of its real-world brethren a little uncomfortable at best, and quite probably offensive.

Therefore, some means of fashioning items from creature parts had to be invented. This led to the Artificer's ability to Preserve and Salvage. The preserve and salvage abilities also made the artificer class a distinctive (and hopefully interesting) class. Also, several creatures were given the special ability of 'leaving parts behind' in some fashion. The agrilla for instance sheds chunks of fur, in a manner similar to molting. This allowed certain magi their animal-like accessories without having it be a major undertaking to create them.

For the magi diet, there were obviously some Dream Creatures on the menu. The Weebo of course is a standard food staple, while consuming other creatures is also mentioned in passing. This of course leads back to the Real vs. Dream problem, and even heightens it. As a dream creature (let's say a furok), how would you feel if your magi hunted a wild real-world furok to barbecue it? I'd feel a little - or a lot - disgusted. So, since we already have some creatures which leave parts behind, the weebo became an obvious choice for a creature that leaves its corpus behind as food. Perhaps they were engineered as a food supplement. This of course, doesn't give everyone a good rounded menu (Calders are particularly problematic), but we can assume there are other creatures which fill the gaps.

Finally, the dream creatures themselves still presented a problem. Since its obvious that some dream creatures are made to hunt and eat prey, we needed to come up with a mechanism to justify how a magma jile is a predator when its prey disappears when defeated. Furthermore, I thought it would be drastically unfair to allow a dream creature to eat another, particularly if the consumed creature belonged to a magi. Ulk would be quite upset if her favorite pack korrit Kyug were eaten by a brub, and she could never summon it again. So to resolve this problem, we came up with the idea that hunting creatures would feed off the released energy when they defeated another dream creature.

The other option was to allow real and dream versions of the same creature, but give magi the automatic ability to determine if a creature was real or dream. Unfortunately, this still didn't eliminate the ick-factor of a dream creature watching a magi eat its brethren. Furthermore, it would require that every magi have the automatic ability to sense magic (eg, the Magic Sense feat), and it would need to be near-automatic. But that would make the races quite powerful, and virtually impossible to integrate with other d20 games. I wanted to keep the monsters, races and classes on the same scale. Arderians were already problem enough with their flight at will; they don't need a free Detect Magic ability. Besides, by making Magic Sense a special feat, we can let it be something a character must learn.


I have a general idea how relics will work. Since they are region-specific, they can't simply be a magic item anyone can simply pick up and use. More on this soon.


I've tried to make the spells on the same power level as D&D spells. The D&D system provides a semi-consistent measuring stick for spell-power, which I've tried to adhere to. There were some spells which make no sense in an RPG - for instance why use an Updraft spell (which in the CCG returns a creature to your hand) when you can Undream it yourself? In the case of Updraft, I went to the Gameboy Game for the idea. In other cases, I tried to come up with alternate effects which resembled the idea of the spell, rather than duplicating the actual functioning of the spell in the CCG (eg., Flame Control).

Regions and History

The regions and background have changed over the course of the CCG. Magi-Nation was originally conceived by Phil Tavel, but it has mutated somewhat over time. Unfortunately, this created contradictions in official material. For instance, Qui Yeteh was originally the capital of Bograth (see the sepia colored map), and Vash Durwhee was the capital of the Weave. However, Qui Yeteh was later used as the central city for the Weavers, leaving Bograth without a city. I've coined a new name for the Bograthian capital (Qui Yolzik), which resembles the blurry text for Qui Yeteh. Similarly, the description of the Arderial Sky Ring as the path that Arderial follows over the continent is from Phil Tavel's original description; I have tried to reconcile the other information in a cohesive whole.

I have deliberately kept the information about the founding of the Moonlands somewhat vague. This was for two reasons. First, the Eliwan themselves remember little of it, and it rarely should come into play in a normal game. Secondly, some of the official storyline started resembling science fiction instead of fantasy, and I felt that including such information would confuse players new to the Moonlands.

Contributors and Contributions

This project has drawn on material primarily from Interactive Imagination. A lot of the race descriptions were taken from the Book of Ages, by Ed Bolme or Mike Liesik. Other material came from Phil Tavel, the original creator of Magi-Nation. Finally, there were elements drawn from various online comments, though I tried to derive most of the content from official sources.


Thanks to:

Help Needed

This d20 project is a fairly substantial one, and I can always use help. There are several areas which I can particularly use some additional input. I'm trying to work in a focused fashion, developing certain things at a particular time. So those areas are what I'll most be looking for help in. I have focused on trying to complete the creatures first, since they are both the most significant portion of the work, and also the easiest to drop into other games for playtesting purposes.

For creatures, I am willing to take contributions. I have already done a lot of work, some of which has not been posted yet. But there are common things that I can always use:

Be sure to read the Designers' Notes above for common interpretations. In some cases, a creature will have an ability which mimics a spell (such as Dark Ayebaw's Implosion). This should be true in the d20 rules as well.

If you send me stuff, please include your real name (for credit purposes). If I use the material, I'll be sure to credit you in the section above. Remember I may already have my own ideas about what you're submitting, and I may get multiple submissions. However, the MOST important thing I need is playtesting. I've been focusing on the creatures primarily because they are the easiest to playtest - just insert an Ayebaw into your next d20 game and tell me the results.

Finally, I am working on this project as a labor of love. I do not expect any monetary compensation. I will assume the same applies to anyone who submits material. If by chance, somehow Interactive Imagination (or some other game company) decides to publish this work or a derivation of this work, I will try to contact the submitters at that time.

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