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Magic: the Gathering is getting a cartoon - I want to write and produce one for Pathfinder

News broke this morning that the Russo Brothers -- directors of Winter Soldier, Avengers: Infinity War, and Endgame, and fans of Magic: the Gathering -- will be making a cartoon based on the Magic intellectual property for Netflix. I’m excited. Magic has cool worldbuilding, a suite of well-received stories, some excellent character designs, and the potential for memorable visuals involving spellcasting and monsters. Plus the Russos so far are geese that lay golden eggs.


A week ago an automobile ad aired in Brazil drawing upon the visuals of the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, which while moderately popular in the US was wildly beloved in Brazil. The commercial was produced with the approval of Wizards of the Coast.


One of the guys in my gaming group works as a producer at Adult Swim, and thirteen years ago we pitched a D&D cartoon to Wizards, but it was wishful thinking on our parts. They liked our idea reasonably well, but we didn’t have the funding on our side, and WotC wasn’t interested in bankrolling a pair of no-name nerds.

Since then I’ve published a couple adventure paths (War of the Burning Sky and ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution) and run a trio of Kickstarters, and we’ve developed a business plan for us to bootstrap ourselves from script to teaser to pilot episode.

I think Pathfinder should have a cartoon.

Pathfinder’s world of Golarion has a deep well of setting, storylines, and history, and has enough familiar fantasy tropes that mainstream audiences would be comfortable with it. Moreover, while tabletop roleplaying has been entertaining geeks for 44 years, it feels a bit like comic books did in the 90s. There have been a few middling movies and shows based on them, but gamers haven’t yet had their Iron Man. There is a huge audience waiting to see a great representation of the thing they love, and I aim to be the one to give it to them.

I’ve been planning for a while, collaborating with my producer friend and a couple other writers to come up with a good pilot script and series storyline, and we were intending over the next few months to commission character designs and storyboards for a teaser scene. We’d then go to Kickstarter to seek ten thousand dollars or so to fully produce that, which we’d use as the highlight of a show bible.

If Paizo is not interested, we’ll go a different way with the story so as not to infringe on their IP. But we think we have a good story that people would enjoy. And with luck Paizo will love it and we can turn it into a complete series.

The news about the Russos’ show has come out before we were ready to launch our Kickstarter, but I think it’s a fair conversation starter. Would you watch fantasy cartoons – one based on Magic or one based on Pathfinder? What sorts of stories would you like to see in a show based in the Pathfinder setting? And if a story caught your interest, would you be up for pledging to a Kickstarter to help fund a full pitch to get it in front of the right eyes?

Oh yeah, and if you work for Paizo, has the company made plans of its own for a show?

In any case, I can’t wait to see how the Magic cartoon turns out.

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I can bet Paizo would love a cartoon of Starfinder, but this is not so easy. A franchise isn't enough to sell a blockbuster. Marvel had got a lot of failures until Blade the vampire-hunter was the first real success in the cinemas. Warner Bros hadn't found yet the right formule for DC superheroes, and you can find "Batman & Robin" and "The Dark Night".

The 80's D&D cartoon is a classic, but today it wouldn't work. My stepsister says now this new generation of children would rather a different type of cartoon.
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This would be a series, not a film.

Anime has tons of fantasy stories. Avatar had two successful cartoon series. Samurai Jack is basically fantasy.

I think it's eminently doable.


If I had any money I would give you some. I am really thrilled to hear you are serious about this though, RangerWickett.

I am not sure about stories per se, but I think I would like to see less of a focus on the faux-European areas of the Inner Sea. That would fit the cultural moment for inclusiveness we are in. And a subject matter that lends itself to interesting fight choreography would be good too. Obviously fighting is not everything, but shows that pay attention to the quality of the fighting turn out to be better shows in general I think.


I know the IP management would be infernal, but "simply" animating the comic books would give a pretty great series IMO.

In any case, I'd be thrilled to see a fantasy series based around a group of protagonists! If I were in charge, I'd aim for a "Whedon" tone - which I feel the D&D comics (among others) captures fairly well : witty dialog, heart-wrenching loses, situational (but not slap-stick) comedy, while maintaining an optic where the story itself is "serious". My 2cp.

Don't forget 80's cartoon was popular in its time, but the remake had got only a season. Now they are more like comedy, for example Teen Titans Go!

Well, there were 70 comments over at reddit's /r/pathfinder_rpg when I posted the same idea. Folks seem enthused.

I'm working out a budget now for commissioning concept art and storyboards for our pilot episode, and once I have something worth showing off, I'm going to reach out officially to Paizo.


I do not know if you guys have a plan for the opening theme too, but it can be important. Western shows typically have music written for them, but when you look at Avatar: The Last Airbender it had the advantage of being able to describe the premise of the entire world, not just the series (the D&D cartoon did as well to a lesser extent). Golarion is far bigger than any one story on the other hand, with the possible exception of the binding of Rovagug.

So I do not know if you will consider going for the more anime route of licensing a real song that can be adapted to the opening animation. That is something of an off brand D&D tradition as well, given Record of Lodoss War's Kiseki no Umi, which is to my mind one of the finest pieces of music to grace an anime. Samurai Champloo, which of course had amazing choreography, also had the high quality Shiki no Uta as its theme.


Sooo... will this be the animated version of SMITE EVIL you've been talking about a few days ago?

Anyways, call me excited. I'd totally support you should you decide to pull through the obviously crazy process on making something akin to Mike & Bryan with their animated series. I'm sure you can write a good storyline and memorable characters and I really hope that - should you get the okay from paizo - they'll leave you enough creative freedom to not chain you with, say, the depiction of accurate rules representation.

What I'd like to experience as well is a sense of depth and complexity, but I know ZEITGEIST and WotBS and they are both. Usually, I'm a bit skeptical when it comes to fantasy as many film adaptations tend to follow simplistic and obvious formulae (or maybe I've been watching too much Terrible Writing Advice), but not this time :)

PS: Actually, I'm more excited for this than for the Magic series despite its really shiny and polished look. But I've never been into Magic lore, so M:tG is basically just the same as Settlers of Catan for me (and yeah I know that there are Catan novels...).

I have a pilot script, storyboards for a scene, character designs, and an outline for a season. My collaborator is reaching out to industry contacts of his, to see what sort of help we can get at the start. Before Gen Con I intend to reach out to Paizo and ask to show them our pitch after they get back from the convention and decompress.


That is in just a week, : ) . I am glad to hear it is coming along. I hope you are successful, because I would really like to see what can be done with this idea.

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters