How to Use Magic the Gathering to Build Dungeons & Dragons Encounters

As a Dungeon Master, planning out future sessions can be difficult and time-consuming. For instance, there may be times when you forget to create an encounter altogether or have no ideas at all. It happens to the new game masters and some of the best world builders around. We’re here to provide some quick tips and tricks to building an encounter in no time.

One of our more recent ideas involves Magic the Gathering. With the announcement of the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms card set we have been getting back into the card game. After spending hours looking at new cards and playing Magic the Gathering: Arena we got the idea of how to build an encounter using Magic cards.

If you’re in a pinch and need to create an encounter just grab a stack of Magic cards.

Physical Card Deck

If you, like us, collected Magic the Gathering cards then there are hundreds if not thousands of them lying around. All you need to do is shuffly the cards into two different piles: Lands and creatures and effects. However, you can go one step further and divide creatures and effects into two seperate piles to create three piles of cards.

Land. The Land acts as the location for the encounter.

Effect/Creature. These cards act as the encounter scenario and can be social or a fight.

Shuffle the cards and select one land and two cards from the creature/effects deck. The chosen cards will act as your encounter.

Digital Randomizer

The second way to make a random encounter is to go to Magic’s website. Through it you can search through any card released for the game. You can either search for specific cards by typing in a name or effect or use the random card option.

Example. We went with the digital randomizer while writing this article and this is what we put together in a few seconds.

We were given Dimir Aqueduct, Hunting Pack, and Rishadan Dockhand. Dimir Aqueduct will be the location where the encounter takes place. From the picture, we can gather that it is someplace underground perhaps outside of a city or along the path of the aqueduct itself. The card is a blue and black mana so it can be pure and clean water or water that is tainted by undeath or necromancy.

The other two cards help flesh out the encounter itself. Hunting Pack could represent a pack of hyenas who have made their home inside the aqueduct. Rishadan Dockhand could be the NPC who presents the quest to the party and they need the hyenas cleared out so people can drink the water again.


This is one of many ways you can interpret the cards chosen. By using the picture, text, or mana color you can quickly build encounters on the fly for your next Dungeons & Dragons session.


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