I think I might have a working idea for a story.
Looking back, I think this was actually an earlier idea that someone else suggested to me. I kind of discarded it because I liked the epic city defense idea better, but now that that's off the table, I'm considering this one. Or rather, my train of thought brought me back to this one.
So, my chain of ideas went roughly something like this:
What do I know? What ideas are fixed, and what is mutable?
The mechanics of the game involve managing resources, building an economy, and accumulating victory points, for the ultimate goal of being the player that comes out on top.
In-game, the players are wizards. Dice provide mana. Cards represent spells.
Despite the previous story not holding, I'm still rather attached to the game's "Manaforge" name. It has a vaguely powerful, serious feel to it.
Manaforge. Mana... the magical energy that wizards use. Forge... the activity of creating something, or a place where objects are created. So, the players are using magic to create things. The previous story had that, but the concept still holds here.
So, what exactly are the wizards creating? Crystals? Walls? Illusions? Traps? Enchantments? The weather? Bad jokes?
How about equipment?
Equipment, as in the RPG sense. Weapons. Armor. Staves. Wands. Any number of mundane or magical tools that adventurers use to accomplish their goals.
So... the players are wizards that create magical gear that adventurers typically use.
In an RPG campaign, how do adventurers typically get this gear? Well, a little bit of it they make themselves. More often, they find it as the spoils of victory over evil.
But, at the end of the day, if adventurers absolutely, positively need some specific piece of equipment that they can't otherwise find, they go shopping. Magic item shopping.
*click* ( <--- That is the sound of an idea coming together. )
What if, the players are wizards that own magic shops? These wizards make their own magic items, then put them on display in their very own magic shops for rich adventurers to come in, browse, and buy.
So what are they competing for? Customers, of course. :)
Bartender in a tavern to a group of adventurers: "Well, th' closest shop is Pettiwell's, next street over. And if ya want a good blade, the dwarf Bronzebeard has his forge a couple blocks down. But... b'tween you and me, what yer really lookin' for is Barthomew's Boomsticks, other side of the town square from here. His shop ain't much to look at, inside and out. But he's got some stuff in there that can blast the head clean off of a dragon, or so I'm told. Give them a try first."
So, the players are competing to have the most famous shop. Win! My concept of "prestige" being the victory points still holds. And the best way to get the most attention is to have the most awesome stuff for sale. So the cards that grant the most points should be the most impressive-sounding magic items.
And so the tagline: "Where do magic items come from? These guys, of course!"
I think we might have a winner. Maybe not as epic as holding off a horde of invading monsters, but still sounds like it could be a lot of fun. :)