|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 07:48 pm:|
Dear Brady Dommermuth,
This letter is concerning the recent direction that Creative has taken to alter the definition of Magic’s planeswalkers. As you well know and probably suspected beforehand, it was a pretty controversial move, and one that I personally strongly dislike. Well, to be honest, I hate it. I’ve been following Magic’s storylines for about 12 years now, since roughly Ice Age. Trust me, I know how sad that sounds. Also, I’m a pretty lousy Magic player. I have zero intuition for deck-building and combo-finding, and most of the people I’ve taught the game to end up beating me about 80% of the time. Still, what has always drawn me into it is the flavor, the backstory, and the continuity. And this latest development with “new planeswalkers” and the “Mending” feels very much like a betrayal of the premise of the flavor of Magic itself. I know that other people – most of those people I’m aware of (i.e. people at storyline forums) – feel the same.
By the way, please don’t think that I’m attacking you personally. I usually hang around the Phyrexia.com forums, and occasionally peek in at other storyline forums as well. I have absolutely NO intention of reducing myself to “X sucks!” or “Y is an idiot!” Least of all, filling in the Xs and Ys with “Brady Dommermuth.” Because I think you neither suck, nor are an idiot. I devoured the work done on the worlds of Kamigawa and Ravnica, and personally, I feel that they introduce a wonderful level of creative dedication that in some ways has not been seen since Mirage. I know that they must have been a lot of work, and as much as the next guy, I’d like to congratulate you (and everyone involved that you can pass it on to) on that work. The short stories on the WotC website that come out with each new set and a treat too, and a welcome return to dedication to flavor. I don’t think you’ve ruined Magic. I do, however, think that a very bad decision has been made.
Planewalkers have been part of Magic since the beginning. It is hard to talk about Magic flavor – much less explain it to a newcomer – without mentioning planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are no less a vital part of the basic premise of Magic than the idea that mana is an energy source that comes from lands (as opposed to “T: add G to your mana pool” to play your 1/1 elf that also has “T: add G to your mana pool”). I’m going to draw a parallel between Magic and Star Wars, because I think that Star Wars is something most people know a bit about. Removing planeswalkers from Magic is like removing the Jedi and the Sith from Star Wars. Sure, you can leave the Force (or mana) intact, and even go so far as to claim that even though the Jedi and Sith are gone, there are still people who are slightly in tune with it and therefore have some special abilities (or, in Magic, mortal mages as opposed to planeswalkers) that are nevertheless not as cool as those of the Light and Dark Sides. If Lucas pulled out the Jedi and the Sith from Star Wars, he would become very, very unpopular. On the off-chance you didn’t realize it already, THAT is what this feels like to fans of Magic: The Gathering. Of course, you would then raise issues of power levels. The Jedi and Sith are not as powerful as planeswalkers. I have a lot to say about power levels. Some of it, you’ve probably heard before.
It’s been argued that because of the idea that planeswalkers are omnipotent, immortal, shapeshifters with nearly infinite mana reserves, they are bad for the stories. I won’t go into why, because your position is pretty clear on that. But I challenge your argument, and I also challenge the assertion you made at the WotC forums that in “Mending” the planeswalkers, you’ve actually brought them closer to an earlier concept of what they are. I’ll begin with the second point.
Flashback to 1993: Dominia and Its Walkers. If you haven’t read this piece by Richard Garfield, I’ve reproduced it below. The teleporting powers of planeswalkers were basically outlined there. There isn’t much to contradict the powers of the “new” type, since nothing mentions shapeshifting abilities, or immortality. It DOES mention having access to infinite or near-infinite mana, enough to make lesser spellcasters cry with pitiful envy, which Venser, incidentally, quite clearly does not. But I’ll lay off poor Venser for now.
Flash forward to 1994, when the first novel based on the Magic: The Gathering franchise came out. Arena is the first piece of Magic fantasy fiction other than Dominia and Its Walkers and a couple of other short stories that appeared in the instruction booklets. Whether or not it’s still even capable of being canon is in debate between nerds like me, but everyone admits that it DID have the major impact of laying the ground for the description of a planeswalker’s powers. Among those powers were immortality, the command of amounts of mana and levels of magic that would make mortal mages stagger/drool/pursue power, and even a vague sense that they can change their forms. This is 1994, Year 2 of Magic. Magic itself was still news. I don’t think anyone back then was thinking “Oh, that William R. Forstchen, he’s gone and ruined Magic with his dumb ideas!” Don’t worry, I’m not going to take you on a grueling novel by novel trip.
But I will flash ahead one year. In 1995, they started making Magic comics. In these comics – also considered by most to be canon only to a point – we got our first look at the “modern planeswalker” (when I say modern, I mean pre-Mending). That is to say, many of the staple of Magic continuity, such as Freyalise, Leshrac, and Tevesh Szat, made their first appearances. First off, they were immortal. Second, they had magic-wielding abilities that would put mortals to shame. Third, and I’m considering this one important even though it might be a nitpicky little point to you, they could change their forms with ease. The example here is Tevesh Szat, who only started to look demonic after he got pissed off at Dominaria for killing his sis. Tevesh Szat, by the way, is as cool a villain as you could hope for in most stories.
Flash ahead again to 1998. The whole “Weatherlight Saga” has begun, and the story of Urza is well under way. The novel, Planeswalker, is published. Though not one of the most popular novels (I thought it was great, so do many others, but there are also lots of people who found it boring and long-winded), it’s important because as far as I know, it was the first to really tell us what a planeswalker’s powers are, probably based on the work that came before it. It was in some ways a list: planeswalkers are immortal, planeswalkers can change their shapes (one planeswalker in the novel chose to appear as a pavilion for crying out loud! That’s architecture! Personally, I find that awesome, in a Wizard of Oz appear-how-you-like sort of way), and they have access to enviable quantities of mana. They can also technically heal their physical wounds rapidly, because essentially what it takes for that to happen is a conscious reconfiguration of their body shapes. Did you know that in Mercadian Masques, it was said that Volrath, being a shapeshifter, could heal himself from otherwise-mortal wounds by realigning his shape? Just a tidbit of information. By the way, having a body that is shaped by your will allows you to survive at least three bites by a craw wurm (or one bite by each of 3 craw wurms). Venser and Radha would die on bite one. Thought I’d mention that. Ditto, dragons, lava axes, leviathans, etc. And it’s almost absurd to think of people like Venser or Radha summoning five or six dragons to throw at an enemy, or casting Wrath of God.
Anyway, that was 1998, approximately 5 years into a now 14-year-old game. (And technically only 4 years into the making of the backstory, which only started in 1994 with Arena.) So if you take it right back to the beginning, what kinds of planeswalkers do you find?
Planeswalkers are immortal: Check!
Planeswalkers can change shape: Check!
Planeswalkers have loads of mana (functionally omnipotent compared to mortals): Check!
Planeswalkers can planeswalk: Sure
Planeswalker set the list of planeswalker powers to what it became. Ironically, though, it wasn’t until the Time Spiral Cycle that an author took these powers to the limits of their descriptions! It’s true. Urza had his moments, and there were some good ones during the Invasion trilogy, but Scott McGough (and company) bought the best icing and candles in the shop for his Time Spiral cake (and produced a great read). Actually, when I read the novels, I wondered a bit about the infinite mana that planeswalkers supposedly have INSIDE them, as opposed to just having free and easy access to a plane’s mana, as well as that of nearby surrounding planes, though still possessing a bit of their own which would still not be inconsiderable compared to mortal mages (which is more or less how I’d always understood it). Maybe that’s just me.
I hope I’ve shown, though, that planeswalkers, with their heavy list of special abilities, have since their inception been a central part of Magic lore. Magic without planeswalkers is like Star Wars without Jedi and Sith, or Asimov’s novels without androids, or Lord of the Rings without magic rings! I might watch a Star Wars spin off if it starred Han Solo and Chewie saving the galaxy in the Millenium Falcon without Luke, but I would hate it if it was established that by the way suddenly the Jedi can’t use their powers anymore, end of movie, have a nice day, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I’m sure lots of people can sympathize with that point of view.
Planeswalkers are powerful, yes, and I fully appreciate the difficulty of including one in a story that involves more mortal beings. However, I get the (possibly incorrect) feeling that you don’t really appreciate how planeswalkers exist in the context of the stories we’ve had so far. You have to realize that Urza and Teferi have been the only planeswalkers so far to actually be the protagonists of any of the stories. There have been other planeswalkers – Freyalise, Leshrac, Tevesh Szat, Serra – who played important roles, yes. But think back to Ice Age and Mirage! Even Fallen Empires! Read the flavor text and card names. Leshrac has a quote or two in Ice Age. But to a person collecting Ice Age cards – and I was such a person when the set came out – the main villain of that story was always Lim-Dûl. Leshrac was some unseen awesome dark master he kind of answered to, but Lim-Dûl is probably by wide consensus considered to be the villain of the story. Leshrac is more powerful, yes, and conceivably more evil. So is the story of Ice Age about the struggle of snow-battered people against the frozen times and the even more frozen heart of a mighty necromancer who is probably the most iconic mortal villain we’ve had so far? Or is it about a small bunch of gods who are trying to escape a planar prison?
Of course, it’s both. One always has to remember that planeswalkers don’t care about politics, and that mortal concerns only interest them when they stand to gain. THAT is why planeswalkers don’t just pop in and solve everything with a thought! Why didn’t Leshrac just planeswalk to Kjeldor and slaughter everyone? If you can answer that question, then you can think like a planeswalker. Empires rise and fall. Leshrac was planning to last forever. So he sets up a powerful lieutenant to handle the situation while he deals with other, more pressing concerns.
In that way, Magic has always had two (or more) stories going on simultaneously. They are the stories of what the mortals do and what the planeswalkers do. The planeswalkers are largely unconcerned with mortals, except as summoning-fodder and worshippers/servitors. And mortals, by and large, don’t even know that planeswalkers exist (sure, some believe in gods, others in powerful wizards who can teleport). The stories intertwine like a DNA helix, because planeswalkers’ actions tend to have repercussions. Take Mirage, one of the richest stories Magic has come up with so far. Teferi caused the whole story to happen. But he’s a secondary character at best, because he’s mostly off in his own world studying phasing. Center stage are characters like Kaervek, Jolrael, Rashida Scalebane, and so on. And their actions, in the same way as a tornado-causing butterfly, have an impact on Teferi’s later decisions. And again, it’s divided between the actions of mortals and planeswalkers. With hindsight, you could call Teferi’s actions in Mirage a continuation of his experiences with the planeswalkerly time accidents of Urza.
This is the premise of stories in Magic: The Gathering. No one is saying that a story without our beloved planeswalkers isn’t worth telling. Like I said, Kamigawa and Ravnica needed no planeswalkers to be enjoyable. In subtle ways, like those storm-causing butterflies, though, planeswalkers have their way of affecting the multiverse that is Dominia. I understand that coming up with ways for Kamigawa and Ravnica and Mirrodin to be inaccessible to planeswalkers, one after the other, must have felt like contrived work. It didn’t feel too contrived to the readers (except maybe a tiny bit to those who pay too much close attention). But if you have difficulty working with planeswalkers, then there is no reason to torture yourself finding a reason that doesn’t seem contrived. Remember Ice Age and Mirage? Just because a planeswalker exists on a plane doesn’t mean he/she/it has any kind of investment in browbeating its people and messing with the politics. We, as players, are obviously visiting the plane and picking up some choice fighters for our interplanar battles. Given the number of cards printed, this probably happens all the time. And the planeswalker probably hasn’t bothered to do more than meet a few people (probably in disguise) and not make a huge impact on the local politics. Perhaps a planeswalker stopped by once and set him/her/itself up as a god figure like Freyalise. Most such characters would have little interest in carefully manipulating the world, and more in just establishing a personal power base to guard the local mana. And such a planeswalker might not even spend most of the time there, just pop back in every once in a while to pick up a tribute. Or perhaps the planeswalker was finally defeated centuries ago, and only a religion remains. If you don’t want planeswalkers to be appearing in the stories, these are easy ideas to work with. If you’re building a road and find out that something special like the Taj Mahal is in the way, you don’t reach for your mallet and smash it down. People tend not to like that.
Take the example of the Odyssey and Onslaught story block. It seemed for a while like there were no planeswalkers involved. It turned out that Karn was, but in an indirect way where he didn’t actually appear until the end. In the sets Weatherlight through Exodus, no one had any idea that planeswalkers were involved. In Homelands, the planeswalkers Serra, Feroz, Taysir, and Daria, are all present at some point or other, but when one thinks of the main conflict in the set, it’s between Baron Sengir’s dread army, and the not-at-all unified forces of Autumn Willow and the Serra followers in Aysen. In fact, in a few instances, planeswalkers (such as Taysir and Commodore Guff) have served not as dues ex machine devices, but as noninterventionist recorders and scholars of mortal history.
The planeswalkers’ ability to change shape seems to bother some people defending the change to the “new” planeswalkers. I ask this: what does it matter? A planeswalker who takes the shape of a flea, or a giant flying amoeba, is no less powerful than one who takes the shape of a dragon. Because when you come down to it, a duel is a question of mana resources, and the planeswalker’s skill at using it. Is it an issue that a planeswalker can choose to fly? So the Mons’s Goblin Raiders won’t get him/her/it. The Hurricane still can. In game terms, if you feel like being a Vorthos (that term gets flung around WotC articles a lot these days), you can bring a picture of what your imaginary dude looks like when you play. You still start the game with 20 life. Shapeshifting is almost irrelevant to the power level of planeswalkers. Essentially, in story terms it is at its best when used as a disguise when planeswalkers want not to be noticed by the general mortal populace.
I am sure that you have been bombarded nonstop with descriptions of the weaknesses of planeswalkers. Well, there are a few, but there is one that has to be appreciated above all others. You know the expression “Hell is other people,” right? A lone planeswalker would be more or less unstoppable. But even if one in ten billion people have the spark, and one in ten billion people with the spark actually become planeswalkers, the Multiverse is infinite and there are a fair deal of them around. You see, the greatest limitation on a planeswalker is the existence of other planeswalkers. It’s the key to their eternal struggles to get rid of each other, to all their paranoia and hunger for power. Because if there was only one planeswalker, he/she/it would have all the Multiverse. That’s why we play Magic: The Gathering- to grab what we can get from other planeswalkers, to chase them away, to gather their power, and the power of other worlds. It is thanks to the flavor of planeswalkers that “: The Gathering” makes any sense in a flavor context. Because that’s what they do. Wizards just learn spells.
As a last point, I just want to address a point made by John Delaney on the WotC forums. He said: “WotC largely ignored [planeswalkers] over the past few years because they were tired of having the world constantly ending. That was the only kind of story that could work for planeswalkers, because they're so powerful they needn't care about lesser consequences (something Jeska made abundantly clear).”
First of all, the world has been constantly ending in every block made since the beginning of Onslaught. In fact, while often enjoyable, the stories have seemed like an endless supply of “how many smithereens can we blow this place to in the time frame of three sets/books?” I have already answered the second part of that. I feel it lacks both an appreciation of how planeswalkers can be used in a story and, quite frankly, imagination.
If you’ve read this far, then thank you for your patience. Many of these points are echoed by numerous dedicated fans of the creative side of Magic: The Gathering who can be found at the various forums. I know you and others are making valiant efforts to defend your position, but it is widely felt that this is a betrayal of what makes Magic, well, Magic. Articles on the WotC website are constantly telling us about how Magic Creative is so proud of Magic’s unique identity in the fantasy genre. In the eyes of most messageboard posters whose posts I’ve read, one of the core and quintessential elements of Magic’s unique identity has just been thrown callously away. Please see things from this perspective. We like planeswalkers.
-A Phyrexia.com poster who goes by Squeeman
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 07:49 pm:|
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 07:54 pm:|
This letter has not been emailed or sent in any way.
I am posting it here for discussion purposes. It expresses many of my thoughts, and many of the thoughts that I perceive others have, on the idea of the "Mending" and the "new" planeswalkers. If anyone feels like passing it on, they may.
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 11:36 pm:|
I don't know if it's usefull to you, but you could research the connections between the whole weatherligth saga and a TSR cartoon series called something like "Pirates of the dark sea" When wotc bougth tsr they evidently bougth the copyrigths as well, the whole weatherligth saga is a conceptual rip-off from that series.
In essence you had "good" pirates on a vessel which could fly under certain conditions, they were hunting an amount of artifacts some which had the ability to find the others. The good pirates are chased by the bad pirates (Captain blood) which has a gigantic vessel and other fleets but is crewed with stupid ogrish henchmen.
The good pirate crew consists of:
A female captain. A young hero (the main character), A big solid barbarian type pirate, some other secondary characters, and a monkeybird, the comical sidekick of the serious, a cowardly creature with a misserable existance constantly bringing trouble to the crew.
The main plot is that some kind of "dark sea" that swallows up everything is taking over all sea's and the heroes are trying to stop this from happening.
I never saw the complete series but it doesnt take much logic to draw conclussions to the weatherligth saga and the tsr cartoon. RIP-OFF!!!
As said before, I don't know if it's usefull to you, but when it comes to plotlines wotc goes after the money!!! The series worked very well so they probably thought, why wouldnt it work just as well in a cardgame! Their motives for killing planeswalkers is probably because money is in the pockets of young players with wealthy tolerant parents, and the whole planeswalker thing is probably to mature-natured for the kiddies of these days, they probably feel more related to the character types of pokemon/yogioh with kiddies figthing to get their own ground and impressing adults. Planeswalkers are not impressed by kiddies so money kills the walkers!
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 11:53 pm:|
Very well written and covers ALOt of good points. You must also realize, if thier were not planeswalkers to start out with, then every book would go as follows. [unexperienced mage/warrior finds a weapon/sees village destroyed/looses loved one, and seeks revenge.] It would pretty much turn the Magic series into the Forgotten Realms series.
Also, if they did away with all the planeswalkers, they should figure out a way to bring Barrin back. If everyone's going to be a wimp, atleast bring back one badass.
Can someone explain to me exactly how the planeswalkers were killed off? Something about sealing all the planes from one another maybe? I honestly have no idea.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 12:48 am:|
That's The Pirates of Dark Water, Wicked. In English, anyway. I didn't know TSR owned it. I thought it was Hanna-Barbera (and therefore Warner Bros and all affiliated companies). It was a great show, too, though it was never concluded. It's food for thought, but I'll leave it for another day, as I don't really see a connection. Of course, that might just be because I was up until 4:00 AM, typing a giant letter.
Dooples, its a bit complicated. It turns out that time rifts (from the Time Spiral cycle, that allow for Timeshifted cards), are actually caused by events of massive repercussion- like Urza using his bowl in The Brothers' War, Urza blowing up Tolaria with his time accident, Teferi phasing out Shiv, and Freyalise making Skyshroud come to Keld (as opposed to it appearing wherever the Phyrexians wanted it to appear), etc. And apparently, the time rifts would grow and destroy the Multiverse unless something contrived - like a planeswalker sacrificing his or her life force/spark to heal it - happened. Long story short, the only way to stop the time rifts from ending everything was for Freyalise, Lord Windgrace, Jeska, and Leshrac to die, and for Teferi and Karn to lose their sparks.
Somehow, in the final process, the Multiverse decided rather miraculously to suck the sparks out of all the remaining planeswalkers. That way, everything ends rather hunky dory and doesn't seem like contrived deus ex machina at all. Cough.
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 02:21 am:|
I believe what WD is getting at with his statement about Pirates of the Dark Waters (great show btw) is the fact that Wizards shows themselves to love the popular. PotDW was a very popular tv show, and as WD pointed out alot of the weatherlight saga runs parallel to the cartoon, not only from plotline, but down to the characters.
All consuming evil- Check
Fastest ship around- Check
Quest for artifacts- Check
Female captain- Check
Strong Brute- Check
Dashing young hero- Check
Comic relief sidekick- Check
AntiHero chasing them- Check
It might be nothing, but it might be the fact that Wizards is all about marketting to their new audience. Magic's new audience is the middle schooler with rich parents and a computer to netdeck, no longer is it the 30 yr old who has read every book and started during Alhpa. Out with the old, in with the new. The new target audience doesnt know who Urza is, they don't know who Freyalise are, hell, they prolly don't even know Karn that well. (he used to be a pacifist? yeah right) But they do know Venser and Radha, and they will continue to know them. Out with the old, in with the New.
I liked the old.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 02:29 am:|
Good points were made Squeeman.
Also, let's gather all weaknesses of planeswalkers. Because I have a feeling that lately WotC concentrated too much only around their strong sides, leaving weaknesses unnoticed.
-although planeswalkers have that limitless mana, it requires extinguishing of their spark, in the normal circumstances planeswalkers are limited to the resources they tag on many planes. Those mana lines can fade if planeswalker is too far from them. Also, when planeswalkers use their powers a lot in the short time, they become exhausted, fading from reality (like when Urza tried to save students from Tolarian Academy after time machine explosion).
-planeswalkers have to sustain the body, which is actually quite fragile. Every damage done to thier beodies immobilze them. They have to commit some time and powers to regenerate them, before they can 'walk away or continue their fight. No one is invincible, planeswalkers included. Dyfed was killed by Yawgmoth, still mortal at the time. Bolas was killed by Tetsuo Umezawa. Urza was killed by both Radiant and K'rrick (if not the help of Multiani Urza wouldnt survive it).
-planeswalkers are immortal and powerful, but as Squeeman said already, they are limited by other planeswalkers and they usually don't affect worlds that much. Take as an example fight of Bolas and Leshrac. One of the most powerful planeswalkers were dueling and none lands were damaged, no people around were killed!
I don't know how many Magic books and other storyline sources Brady read, but I think that he forgot the real nature of planeswalkers, believing only in some biasis concerning them.
This whole Mending unnecessarily ends era of real planeswalkers, covering the niche already taken by beings that already exist - not having sparks but finding ways of travelling planes (in revisionist sources, Marit Lage or even Jodah who at the time of The Gathering Dark wasn't even very powerful, not to mention artificial portals).
Beisdes, neo-walkers have bad flavor base in the game. They are too easy too kill. Damage done by simple spells or creatures can be fatal for them. Real planeswalkers didn't have mortal body - which was projection of their thoughts, however they had to sustain it and regenerate their essence after each attack.
I realise that now it is too late to return to the old rules, but I hope that after some time real 'walkers return.
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 04:10 am:|
For more similarities:
Captain blood has bloody big ship.
Mr Il vec has predator.
Captain blood has strong but dumb army:
Mr Il vec has moggs.
The dark water is designed to take over the sea.
Flowstone is designed to take over the world.
They probably changed a few things just to make it less obvious, in the series only the heroes ship can fly, and only for a short time. In weatherligth every ship can fly.
Also the timing at which the release of weatherligth happened is after they had bougth tsr and they then went to proclaim that from now on magic would have a storyline for fans to follow. It was there very suddenly. From no storyline in magic we went to habing one. Just when did they find the time to cook up that storyline??? I rest my case!!!
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 04:14 am:|
Again I say, if anyone is coming back, make it Barrin. With him around I won't miss the planeswalkers as much.
I believe towards the end of the invasion, the "mana lines" kinda went out the window. I don't believe Rob King cared much for that idea. Also if planeswalkers are so freaking powerful, why did 9 of them fail to defeat Y@wgie? Not only did they not defeat him, they barely did any damage to phyrexia. Yeah, they blew a hole in it, but it's a planet, it takes a big explosion.
A few examples where (the most powerful planeswalker imho) Urza failed. The novel (i think it's this one) Planeswalker in which Urza goes into phyrexia in a raid and ends up getting mobbed by phyrexians eventually having ot retreat. He then spends the next months or so hiding from phyrexia assassins. If he was so awesome he coulda just killed them all.
In Serra's realm, the angel Radiant stole Urza's eyes. But Urza is a planeswalker, shouldn't he have been able to kill her with a thought? no.
Urza must not have been too badassed to have been tempted by Y@wgie into betraying the other planeswalkers. And he lost in a fight with Gerrard. (i know it was on purpose, but come on, Gerrard? you've got to be kidding me)
All in all, Yes, I think planeswalkers are badasses, but by NO means Gods and by NO means invulnerable.
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 04:16 am:|
Oh and regarding Rip-off...
I believe that Lorwyn is a more "Lord of the rings" based universe, which is a populare universe these days, (and so the money lies in that direction) I belive that they killed of planeswalkers because time has come for the epic era, where mankind and evildoers are locked in conflict once again but this time it's private! No longer the bussiness of gods (Or spirits as in kamigawa)...
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 09:56 am:|
All right, hang on, hang on, hang on. Hang on.
1) The name of the evil pirate captain was BLOTH. Not Blood. Captain Blood is the name of a damn good black and white pirate film starring Errol Flynn and featuring Basil Rathbone.
2) TSR had nothing to do with that show. At least, nothing that I can find. The show was made by Hanna-Barbera. I think the only cartoon show that TSR can lay any claim to is the Dungeons & Dragons one.
3) Tula, the woman, was not captain of the good guys' ship. She was just a crewmate. The closest thing they had to an official captain/leader was the prince.
4) Ioz, the roguish good guy pirate was not a barbarian. He was a PIRATE.
5) Magic actually had quite a few stories before the Weatherlight Saga. But the Weatherlight was the start of the second really big one (the first one, present in the comics, was the victim of an abortion). Suddenly having a story is not how I'd describe it.
|By Dark Lord (Apprentice) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 02:10 pm:|
Bravo Squeeman. Good to see you kicking.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 03:28 pm:|
Right now, kicking is very much required. Spread the message, people!
Mort, you frequent more storyline forums than, well, most of us. I don't suppose you could copy my letter to those? I'm not thinking of a petition, but I'd like others, not least of whom are the people it is written to, to get a good look at it. I've never pushed what weight I may have against WotC, but I think the time for it is now.
Plus, I think phyrexia.com could use the attention. Especially thanks to the renewed password-free access.
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 07:57 pm:|
SQUEEMAN: I quote myself:
"A big solid barbarian type pirate"
On all other accounts I stand corrected (I think) I never saw that many chapters and corrections set aside I still see the similarities to be peculiare! Perhaps one of the storyplotters at wotc subconciously slipped these things through, and evil marketing forcess are not to be blamed. (blame the koala's instead!!!)
Anyways I think we all want to see the response to your letter (If you get one!)
|By Dark Lord (Apprentice) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 07:59 pm:|
So what exactly are the abilities of planeswalkers now?
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 10:40 pm:|
Pretty much take Barrin, give him the ability to planeswalk, and take away everything else that made him cool and you have the new planeswalkers. They are just regular mages who can planeswalk. (Venser is an accomplished artificer if I'm not mistaken) He is weak and a mortal.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 01:23 am:|
They're not necessarily mages. Venser, for instance, can't use magic (unless you count being able to teleport across realities to be magical). He's just a guy who happens to be able to build neat machines. Except I think he only actually built one machine - an ambulator (remember the Phyrexian planeswalking machines from Planeswalker?) that could only teleport around Dominaria and not leave the plane until he accidentally planeswalked while in it. Immortality, changing form, and access to mana at the level of the old planeswalkers are now not part of the equation.
So not all planeswalkers can use magic now. Basically, in future Magic games, not all players have to show up with a deck.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 01:59 am:|
I see this has got some responses from people at the MTGS forum. I don't know if they're still reading, but I thought I might respond here so that locals (such as myself) can take part.
Poster by MTGS member, Jylichan:
I'm not sure where I contradicted myself (though I'd be happy to find out and be able to fix any contradictions). Nevertheless, "things could always change" is an awfully fatalist view to take. While I appreciate the view that fantasy fiction is open to many possibilities, it is just doesn't make sense to be content with anything that happens simply because anything CAN happen. As I pointed out in my Star Wars analogy, if you remove from the picture something so basic to the premise, like Jedi, then you're not making any friends. Some would undoubtedly argue that Star Wars without Jedi isn't Star Wars at all, but some completely different thing. Just because anything CAN happen does not mean that it's A-okay if some author turns every character into a beaver, then has brown ouphes rule the cosmos until they accidentally counter the activated abilities of their own teleportation devices.
I've just read Squeeman's essay. He presents his points wonderfully. However, some of them contradict--and for brevity's sake, I'll just simmer it all down to this: things could always change.
That may have been too brief. Okay, Squeeman correctly says that the multiverse is vast, and with it come infinities upon infinities of possibilities. The Time Spiral block has proven that. Alternate timelines and color/time/futureshifted cards and storylines are simply part of dogma. If Creative feels that indeed, the old planeswalkers deserve to return, they will. For the meantime, they're trying something new. If it doesn't work out, THINGS COULD ALWAYS CHANGE.
Actually, I was quoting John Delaney on this. He was saying that any plotline with a planeswalker in it is going to be about the end of the world. My point was that Mirrodin, Kamigawa, and Ravnica were all brought to the brink of destruction and anarchy. To suggest that an MtG apocalypse is inherently the result of planeswalkers and gods is not very accurate. In fact, if you do a little math, you'll find that 100% of the story cycles since Onslaught have been about the world being pretty much doomed, whereas pre-Onslaught, we have Mirage, Visions, The Dark, Fallen Empires, even Coldsnap (I'm counting it), where there is conflict, but the WORLD ITSELF is not in peril. Weatherlight through to Exodus, as well as Mercadian Masques, could be given the same treatment, because although they DO link up quite centrally to an apocalypse plotline, they are themselves simply tales of high adventure and heroic rescue.
There was mention in Squeeman's post that each Magic arc involving planeswalkers in a major way are becoming predictably apocalyptic. I distinctly remember something from Buffy regarding this: With you, I found myself wondering what the plural of apocalypse is (or something like that). The old planeswalkers functioned in the same way. Squeeman also stated that this need not be--that planeswalkers could just manipulate things from the sidelines or simply not care. This is also helped by the fact that Onslaught block needed little help from planeswalkers to put our favorite plane on the brink of catastrophe.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 02:32 am:|
Alliances and Prophecy are other examples of apocalypse-free sets. One could suggest that Nemesis, like Weatherlight, Stronghold, Exodus, and Mercadian Masques, is tied in with a larger story about the end of the world, but is in itself actually a story about dark souls, political maneuvering, and (though good survives) the triumph of evil.
In all those stories, planeswalkers play an absent-but-important role. Blowing up planeswalkers because you're not bothered to figure out how to handle them, to be quite honest, sounds like a lazy and unimaginative approach to the issue.
|By ApocalypsePrime (Jestergoblin) on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 03:08 pm:|
So by killing off all the planeswalkers.... then they're killing off all the players?
Where's my revised rulebook....
Excellent essay/letter, I definitely feel like the part of their physical forms being a mental projection is worth expanding, planeswalkers are beings of thought, not matter.
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 10:33 pm:|
So not all planeswalkers can use magic now. Basically, in future Magic games, not all players have to show up with a deck.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Friday, June 29, 2007 - 09:45 am:|
It should be pointed out that the planeswalkers who consistently appeared in the stories were among the most powerful of known ones. Planeswalkers get their power from the mana in the local and surrounding planes. If Freyalise is powerful among planeswalkers, it's because she found and maintained a stable power base with Dominaria's - especially Llanowar's - green mana that she could always rely on (and because of her age, she was an experienced veteran of many magical duels). A similar explanation goes for most of the Nine Titans, Leshrac, Bolas, and a few others. And Taysir, Urza, and Karn are exceptions to some of the rules because of their unique natures.
In my opinion, the Worzel/Roreca story is a perfectly acceptable story about a planeswalker duel. If Worzel doesn't seem infinitely powerful, it's because she's dueling at the same time as trying to get a link to the nearby white mana. I.e. not starting the game with all your lands on the table. Planeswalkers like Freyalise, Kristina, Windgrace, and Teferi all tend to stay close to their power bases. If you wanted to translate that into game terms, it would be like saying that whoever wins the first game gets to keep all their permanents out at the beginning of the second, as well as maybe their end-of-game life total. Plus, possibly, a nice new ante card in their deck.
Planeswalkers can actually become quite vulnerable over mana issues. Leshrac, Tevesh Szat, anf Faralyn were powerful planeswalkers, but they were rapidly defeated on Shandalar. It was because the mana flowed differently, and this created differences in use of magic, which stumped the trio until they were either vanquished or forced to flee.
On a sidenote, Leshrac's summoning of Dinne reconfirms tagging as a legitimate form of summoning, despite Creative's statements that all summoned things are pulled out of the Aether (and the Ice Age Cycle). Of course, this type of summoning had been hinted at in Prophecy and Onslaught.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Friday, June 29, 2007 - 04:32 pm:|
Yeah, I argued the same thing. Most of planeswalkers we met were ones most powerful. Planeswalkers' power-levels can differ, so if they needed to have some less powerful, they could just use unexperienced, new planeswalker. Even planeswalkers have to learn all they abilities, from changing shape and understanding messages without understanding actual words to finally using their spark as a for-one-use-only-almost-infinite-source-of-power.
Not all planeswalkers have to know everything of their nature. They need time, and mentors to know that much. Most of planeswalkers are limited to the resources they tag in the planes of Multiverse.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Friday, June 29, 2007 - 04:37 pm:|
Oh, and for people who don't know of Worzel and Roreca:
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Saturday, June 30, 2007 - 12:10 pm:|
I'm not sure how much of an argument it is that planeswalkers' duels don't necessarily harm bystanders. The duel between Leshrac and Bolas happened mostly in a ravaged part of a ravaged world.
Consider instead the battle between the wizards Towser and Dacian in Whispering Woods. That was pretty disruptive to civilian life. And it happened between beings that either Bolas or Leshrac could have taken on with much less trouble than one another.
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Saturday, June 30, 2007 - 02:19 pm:|
So if anything the planeswalkers should have been MORE involved! BAM! TAKE THAT!
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - 11:20 am:|
Squeeman, you are truely the people's champion.
I think I might actually send a letter myself. If a lot of people do start sending mail, they might change their minds. I agree though that "things can always change" is a tad bit too fatalistic. Obviously, not all of us [least of all me, the ultimate scrub player] have much effect on WotC policy. I have confidence in you, though.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - 02:30 pm:|
I don't think there is anyone who read the Time Spiral Cycle who didn't find the part with planeswalkers to be the most entertaining and gripping parts of the trilogy. The resurrection of Bolas, the manipulation by Leshrac, the anger of Freyalise...
Except maybe some of the parts with Radha, like her final battle in the first book.
Meanwhile, the parts with Venser were almost boring, in my opinion. Except for the part where he worked hand-in-glove with the Ghitu, but that was just thanks to the inclusion of the Ghitu. I felt Venser had very little to offer the plot as a whole, since most things were resolved without his help and all he REALLY did was defeat the Weaver King and survive until the end.
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - 03:59 pm:|
I have never laughed so much!!!
QUOTE: 1 "Oooh, lets kill THAT!"
QUOTE: 2 "No! don't kill that one!"
(Quotes may be distorted due to planar chaos)
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 04, 2007 - 01:52 am:|
Quotes from the books? Or what?
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, July 04, 2007 - 05:29 pm:|
Squeeman, what I meant is that it's not true that every time when planeswalkers fight or even appeare, the whole world has to end in the apocalyptic event. They just might not care, and sometimes someone will die, but generally enviroment can be letf mostly untouched. And sure they can make a lot of damage, but that's generally, when they are really concerned about something, like wanting to destroy or wanting to protect the land. This is when they care ;-) .
And btw, in Whishpering Woods only mortal wizards fought. They were much more bounded to the ground than planeswalkers. So they have to damage it more directly as well. One hides in shadow of trees, the second burn them to the ground. Second hides beside the vilage, so first cast rain of fire on it and uses its people as his new zombies.
In more storyline (less game) approach, duels between planeswalkers use much less creatures and attacks on lands, and more direct spell-attacks on the opponent.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 04, 2007 - 06:02 pm:|
Depends. A planeswalker duel against Serra would probably involve angels. And the suggestion that planeswalkers have all their duels in the sky suggests that being in the sky somehow makes them more powerful than being on the ground which is not, strictly speaking, the case. It's all up to the strategy of the individual planeswalker.
Take the Dueling Chasms, too. That place got pretty beat up in the comics. It's just lucky that the planeswalkers involved decided to have their fight far away from any inhabited place. Take the battle on Azoria between Freyalise and Szat. Classic fight, and they pretty much blew the place to smithereens.
I agree that in any planeswalker or wizard duel, the place CAN be left pretty much undamaged. But if you take the idea too far, you lose sight of the "bigger mammoth" problem and end up once again denying planeswalkers their relevant role in the stories. In Future Sight, there really wasn't anything left in Madara to destroy.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Thursday, July 05, 2007 - 01:04 pm:|
I guess I should add that the chance of total destruction of a place goes up when the planeswalkers really mean business. In the comics, Freyalise and Szat absolutely hated each other (with extra hatred on Freyalise's side and a bit more amusement on the part of Szat). Freyalise was therefore more willing to be goaded into casting somewhat more world-smashing spells, like Typhoon, at Szat. It's almost humorously ironic that it is in fact the green magic that devastates the world the most. Szat's black and blue spells (except acid rain) are targeted mostly at Freyalise.
That was a ****ing good comic. Probably the best of them all. Though the narration was a bit choppy, the spell duels were fantastic to read and had delightful art to back them up.
And it made absolutely no difference what forms the planeswalkers had. It has to be said again and again that a planeswalker's form isn't really relevant. They take forms that please them or that they had in life. They get used to that. At the end of the day, it makes no difference. The only planeswalker whose physical manifestation had any special functions was Bolas, who has that whole mind-blowing thing.
Freyalise, Szat, Taysir, and Leshrac were all awesome characters. Good thing their memory is being kept alive in Venser, right? Right?
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Friday, July 06, 2007 - 02:29 am:|
Could planeswalkers become the size of gnats during a duel to hide from thier enemy and perform surprise attacks?
|By Lord Priest (Xdritex) on Friday, July 06, 2007 - 05:16 am:|
Sure. They could even become a groping of rain clouds if they so chose.
|By Lord Priest (Xdritex) on Friday, July 06, 2007 - 05:17 am:|
that should be grouping. i couldn't edit the post.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Friday, July 06, 2007 - 08:10 am:|
It is much more interesting as it stands.
Planeswalkers can sense each other, so turning into a gnat wouldn't be the best idea for a surprise attack. A discrete planeswalker could turn into a gnat for other reasons, though, such as spying. Spying, of course, could also be done with spells. It could also simply be in order to be at the right place at the right time.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 12:25 pm:|
Shapeshifting to the form of gnat doesn't make a difference. As Squeeman said, they can sense each other (sparks mainly). It's possible though that when they power down themselves (as Urza on Blind Seer), they can be unnoticed by other 'walkers. But they are more vulnerable then.
As for planeswalkers' duels, again they are capable to make a lot of damage to the surrounding mainly when they really have some buissness to do. When they really want to kill their enemy, but rather rarely in normal duels between two strangers.
And I always believed that moving through space is a natural ability of planeswalker - not a matter of spells. So the place of the fight would depend on creatures used by opponent.
And yeah, that comic was great. The most fun thing was that Freyalise wanted to cut Szat from his blue mana supplies, but by killing all creatures on Azoria she gave him a lot of black one.
And I don't think that Bolas had to be a dragon to use his ability. He just used to this form - it was natural for him. Besides, he is just too proud of being dragon to assume any other form ^^
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 12:47 pm:|
What I meant about Bolas is not that his dragon form is special, but that he actually has to make physical contact with someone for his mind-blasting ability to work.
It just needs to be remembered that spells like Stone Rain, Wrath of God, Armageddon, Earthquake, Acid Rain, Hurricane, Pestilence, etc, do a lot of harm to everyone and everything in the area. Though Stone Rain doesn't kill creatures in the game, it killed a whole lot of people in Whispering Woods, since Clayton Emery used his narrative empowerment to take the effects literally. And though that fight was between mortal wizards, Stone Rain is a perfectly acceptable way for a planeswalker to try to cut an enemy duelist off from their mana source of choice.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 08:40 am:|
That's not the only way of cutting opponent from his source of mana. You can just cut the mana connection directly, without destroying the very land. I even think that it needs less effort.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:16 am:|
What, like punching someone in the face so that they can't tap their land cards? Nah, it is done via spells and psychic spell effects. But that's down to the personal taste of the planeswalker in question. I mean, they're obviously not ALL doing it, or none of them would ever have any mana.
But I'll concede that Boomerang costs less mana than Stone Rain.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:18 am:|
No, by attacking the mana connection itself - connection between planeswalker and land.
Oh, btw Dueling Chasms were created more because the Elder Dragon Piru died there than because planeswalkers were fighting, though both things are connected.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:28 am:|
Yes, but in Wayfarer 5, the place got totally trashed. By a planeswalker duel.
There are spells that could potentially attack a mana connection. But it would be done by spells. Planeswalkers don't have the power to simply sever another planeswalker's connection to mana by saying "because I want to, that's why." Otherwise that's the way all planeswalker duels would go. And one planeswalker would automatically win at the start of the contest. It's done with spells, artifacts, and spell effects. OR it happens after the duel, if one planeswalker is too weakened to resist.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:38 am:|
Yes, it is done both by spells during the duels, and after the duel by modyfing mana lines of lands themselves - cutting them off all 'walkers who tagged it earlier (and that's more natural ability of 'walkers).
So yes, spell cut that connection during the battle, but that's not different from spells used during the literal land-destruction. What I mean, is that attacking the very mana lines is rather more easy than moving thousands tons of rocks, making them burning hot and throwing at the land somewhere in multiverse while still fighting with opponent in previous place... Planeswalkers resources can be sparse on many different planes.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 10:15 am:|
Well, they could always Stone Rain a nearby mana source. A planeswalker dueling against Freyalise somewhere on Dominaria would not have any trouble making rocks fall on, say, Llanowar. If a mortal wizard can make rocks fall from the sky, so can planeswalkers.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 11:14 am:|
The question is hoe many rocks. I really doubt that they have to completely destroy the whole land.
I think that it's enough to damage only a part of the land, so the mana lines becomes unstable for a while and the connection is cut. Otherwise there would be no more lands in multiverse.
So when you Stone Rain a land, only a small part of it is destroyed. That's how I thought about it.
And sure, I realise that they can destroy them completely, but that's when they have some really important buissness to be done in a area.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 12:51 pm:|
Well, that again depends on what you call a "land." Llanowar itself probably can't be represented by one Forest card- it's probably something more like 50+ of them. The boundaries of the land represented on a basic land card are not clear, but they don't necessarily reflect political boundaries. Needless to say, casting Stone Rain on a random Forest presumably flattens the forest, destroying all the flora. Eventually, over many years (or less, thanks to druids), things could probably regrow there and provide green mana again. Otherwise, casting Stone Rain would be just like casting Twiddle. Stone Rain smashes. If it just destabilized things, then why bother having rocks in it at all? Special effects?
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 02:21 pm:|
I'd go so far as to submit that a direct attack at a planeswalker's mana links is somewhat trickier than blowing stuff up by means of flaming rocks falling out of the sky.
|By Ineffable's Son (Eidtelnvil) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 02:20 am:|
Excellent, excellent post. Another veteran joins the side of "What the hell were you guys thinking?". Of course, this is a battle that's being played out on all three storyline forums. I've seen about two people that've supported the decision, with dozens that despise it. But of course nothing will come of it.
Incidentally, this excellent letter has caused me to rise from my grave. Hello, Phyrexia! We is back!
|By The Almighty (Mr_Dooples) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 02:31 am:|
Wow. Didn't think it was possible. How the hell have you been?
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 03:45 am:|
Break out the grafted skullcaps, everybody!
Thanks to Mort, I've spied around the other forums and seen some of the debates. I tried to stay away from any "planeswalkers have weakeness so are therefore good characters" arguments. Partially because a) that obviously hasn't scored any points with Brady and others, and b) Venser is pretty much ALL weaknesses, and I don't think I've actually seen anyone mention that they like him as a character at all. Someone somewhere might at some point have said something to the effect of "I thought he was okay" or "I didn't think he was soooo bad."
I know this might not have a huge impact. But Brady Dommermuth and his colleagues get their feedback from both sales and messageboards. The important one isn't telling them that they've messed up bad, but I think they do realize that a lot (possibly most) of the people who buy the cards don't give a rat's ass about the Creative department anyway and content themselves with just expecting art and flavor text on their purchases.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 06:30 am:|
We is back!
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 07:13 am:|
I don't. Not unless there are so many hints in already-canon material that "theory" is more a way of saying "unconfirmed reality."
I have to wonder: Brady Dommermuth is constantly asking questions like "if a planeswalker is about to be hit by a fireball, why doesn't he/she/it just planeswalk out of the way?"
I'm not entirely sure how planeswalkers have changed in that respect.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 08:13 am:|
Sorry, Mort. What I meant regarding the weaknesses of planeswalkers is that the continuity people haven't been listening to such arguments. On one of the other forums, someone made the mistake of comparing planeswalkers to Superman, and Brady Dommermuth decided that Superman's inherent invincibility and weakness only to kryptonite was a good comparison. I think that since then, arguing the weaknesses of planeswalkers has been like talking to a brick wall. Of course, it's not just "since then." We may not like the change, but it seems to me that the Creative people just don't want to hear it.
And whoever made the Superman comparison was comletely at fault. It would only possibly work if the DC universe had thousands of different people with Superman powers, all of whom were at odds with each other, and all of whom were expendable by virtue of not being the only main character in the series. I liked Leshrac and Freyalise, but they were not the premise of the MtG series- only really enjoyable characters. If Freyalise had died the way she did for a better reason than WotC wanting to destroy all planeswalkers, it might have been acceptable. As it is, hindsight shows us that these popular characters only died because of an unpopular new direction that Creative has been taking. And I doubt Bolas survived for any reason other than he's Scott McGough's character (and guess who the author was).
I totally wanted to see Leshrac win that fight. Maybe not kill Bolas (I liked the elder dragon as much as anyone else with taste), but at least whip him like a cowering dog.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 09:50 am:|
I don't. Not unless there are so many hints in already-canon material that "theory" is more a way of saying "unconfirmed reality."
Because he doesn't read books? This is strategy planeswalkers use sometimes.
I have to wonder: Brady Dommermuth is constantly asking questions like "if a planeswalker is about to be hit by a fireball, why doesn't he/she/it just planeswalk out of the way?"
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 10:16 am:|
I don't like it when people start to think their theories are as important as canon material. Theories on their own are okay - as long as they're just a list of possibilities - but it gets annoying when someone really starts to insist that their theory is practically canon. Remember that whole theory about 1 mana being equal to a nuclear explosion, or whatever it was?
My point, though, is that Venser and his friends can do the same thing now. So Brady's whole argument on that issue is totally moot.
|By Drakk2 (Drakk2) on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - 07:33 am:|
So I've come into this discussion rather late it seems. Good letter, Squeeman, though have you sent it yet? (and not to be nitpicky, but there's 1-5 typos) If not, I was wondering if you could perhaps find a more concrete way to let Wizards know that this is not a well thought out idea, such as organizing multiple people sending letters, or having a petition form, or something of that sort.
And while I agree that creative left it somewhat open to allow a mistake correction, it doesn't look like anything more than a brick wall. They've got their winning point in that Magic survives almost any change. It survived the 8th ed formatting (though thousands of players quit, and Magic gaming hasn't been the same since), and it apparently will survive the loss of all true planeswalkers.
My question to you then, is, where do we as fans go from here? I know on the other forum, some really respected member, Werefrog, is threatening to quit Magic in general. Yet I doubt that will change much of the game we all enjoy. Will this letter to Brady do anything?
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - 08:15 am:|
Drakk, I'm sure Brady have been here. I linked this page in disscussion on another forum, and he visited that thread and responded in it many times. So I'm almost sure he read it.
And, of course Magic will survive. Many new people join the ranks of players and storyline fans. In few year most of them won't remember old things, won't see changes that happened.
Only old fans will sometimes complain, and there is less and less of them.
Besides, storyline fans are too small group of people to have any impact on Brady or Creative Team.
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - 11:27 am:|
But the storyline fans are the ones that the Creative Team most directly affects. Thats why they still make books, because we're still around. And many magic players are in some way fans of the storyline. I think we could definitely have an impact.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - 02:15 pm:|
Brady repeated several times, that the make books only because they sell with fat-packs still. Those printed for shops don't sell well and don't give any profit (that's why there are no more books outside from sets). People buy fat-packs usually for other things than book - like the very boxes, dice and mainly Player's Guide. I heard many times people saying they would prefere one more booster pack than a book.
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Saturday, August 04, 2007 - 01:35 pm:|
Thats a drag...
|By Drakk2 (Drakk2) on Sunday, August 05, 2007 - 08:29 am:|
Ah, but despite the lack of sales of books (Magic players have always historically been dedicated to spending their money ONLY on boosters and starters, not any other memorabilia), Magic always needs some flavor, storyline, world, and back-story. Otherwise, it would be much like that comparison of card games of just numbers and stats.
People play Magic because of the stories they can describe and write about of their own games, which always needs some cool flavor and background to the game, if only names and art, etc.
Unfortunately, I don't think the creative team part for story/flavor really cares what players think, and is just continuing on their path. Magic has never been a game affected much by what players think in terms of story.
Unfortunately, in this case: "change is the nature of magic" -Jodah.
I just wish they'd learn from their mistakes, as certain authors are absolutely terrible, while others are amazing. Bring back Jeff Grubb and Scott McGough is good. But Cory Herndon? I don't think there could have been a worse plot line for Ravnica, nor a worse end to Fifth Dawn. Who the heck jumps 5 years in the future without finishing a sentence in a chapter to the next?
|By Lord Priest (Xdritex) on Sunday, August 05, 2007 - 02:57 pm:|
Ironically, many would say that Cory saved the Mirodin Cycle from being somepletely worthless. And Ravinca is held up as showing of greater attention being payed to the stories and flavor of Magic. Ravnica isn't the greatest cycle, but it's overall rather nice, especially compared to previou ones, ie. Mirrodin.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 07:27 am:|
Mirrodin, though I wouldn't call it totally worthless, was a bit bland until Herndon threw a monket wrench in the works. And what exactly could one possibly expect for a plotline to Ravnica except the guilds secretly or overtly trying to destroy each other. That was the whole premise of the Ravnica block. At least Herndon kept his characters humorously entertaining through it and made the chaos more ridiculously chaotic than most other authors would have settled for.
Where will the fans go from here? I am about as disgusted as Werefrog. I am seriously wondering if I will bother to give a rat's ass anymore. Maybe one or two cycles, just to see where it's going.
But frankly, if they hate printing novels so much, then I'd much rather they stopped publishing them than just ruin it for us by turning MtG's premise upside down. Nobody printed novels during Ice Age, Mirage, Legends, Fallen Empires, etc... there was just world-building and name-dropping. And this let all that stuff turn over in our imaginations for five years or so. That was better than writing books that de-planeswalkered the multiverse.
I can't see how they thought getting rid of planeswalkers would have been a good idea. I mean, kicking out the old guard is such a sadly cliched move in the fantasy genre. And it always bothers more people than it impresses. The only place you can pull something like that without being supremely annoying to fans is at the end of a sequel-less movie where it means its the end anyway, and no one has to force themselves to care about characters less interesting than the ones that have been captivating them for the entire duration of the story thus far. Or at the end of a tv series or comic (except some irritating jackass would probably retcon the comics later on.)
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 11:56 am:|
Yeah. At least when King went on his killing spree during the Apocalypse it had a good reason, and managed to keep some characters around. It was important that not all of the Weatherlight crew died, and that many of the characters lived on as part of Karn [which makes it even more deplorable that they took away his powers!]. It helped also that they kept a few favorites like Feyalise around, and many of the deaths really helped the plot and in retrospect were necessary. [I still think Tevesh Szat's death was cool, personally, just because it showed Urza reaching a new pinacle of absolute lunacy.]
I'm beginning to agree that maybe they should just stop printing the books. But if they did that, and they continued their policy of not showing storyline information on the cards themselves, we wouldn't have any real grasp of what was going on. I suppose the alternative would be online anthologies and short stories, like they did for Kamigawa.
I liked what they did with Ravnica, too, because although major events occured within the stories, there was a lot more going on than just planar destruction all the time. There were all kinds of other levels. Certainly, Agrus Kos had to save the globe from domination and destruction several times, but on the cards and in additional stories [Thank you, Matt Cavotta!] there was a lot of depth to the world. I think that kind of depth could be established again, without there having to be a major cycle of stories about horrible screaming doom upon the entire plane.
Please don't completely give up, Squeeman. We need you here.
|By Ineffable's Son (Eidtelnvil) on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 02:20 am:|
I've said it a couple of times on the WotC boards: If Lorwyn doesn't blow me away, I'm gone. I'm not going to give more money to a company that's killed off my main reason for reading these usually-mediocre-to-bad books. And I mean I really have to be impressed. If it's not on par with the Artifacts Cycle or the Legends II Cycle, MtG can kiss my grumpy rump goodbye. After reading something as magnificent as A Song of Ice and Fire (thank you SO much, Nemesis), I really don't see how I can go back to peanut butter when I've had a taste of sweet, sweet caviar.
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 01:24 pm:|
It would certainly be nice if they tried to achieve the same quality of writing that they had in the origional books. It seems to me that they were written much more as fantasy stories set in a world that also has a card game than a cardgame that also has some novel dramatizations. Does that make any sense?
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 02:41 pm:|
Yes. But "that doesn't sell." Which, from a business perspective is an entirely valid point.
I do wonder, though. Back before WotC and TSR merged into WotC and were swallowed by Hasbro, the printed books were printed by a publishing company independent of WotC. Although they do things differently, I wonder if it would be skin off of anyone's nose if they resumed that practice and let independent writers (working loosely with the company so that they don't make any old crap up or violate copyrights) do their own work.
|By Drakk2 (Drakk2) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 07:51 am:|
I do like that idea, Squeeman, as it would allow authors also to take more time and not necessarily be required to finish books with each set coming out. And I need to slightly rephrase my statement, Cory Herndon's plot of 5th Dawn was terrible, and his use of plot/coincidence in the Ravnica novels was painful at best.
Argus Kos just happened to be in the precinct where his partner was killed by a lurker? (which don't even reflect on cards, mind you) And then he just happened to be retiring to the right area of an entire planet of city where Szadek was in Utvara? And how Savra was written in as a very compelling, interesting character, then killed off for the glee of Szadek in less than a sentence? Or how the Rakdos just happened to take the Golgari guildmaster's son captive to use in a blood ritual to summon the Defiler? Or how Utvara just happened to have the dragon egg? Herndon just loves to use coincidence after coincidence, and after a while I feel like plot is being shoved down my throat to make it move or things to happen.
Now don't get me wrong, the flavor of Ravnica's cards and side stories, art and flavor text were some of the most engaging and interesting in years. It was a well designed world, which, as you say quite well, was full of levels of plot, religion, law, rules, business, etc. Very well done. I didn't, however, like it how Herndon decided to go on the standard 'the world's going to pieces by huge monsters and rediculous fights' idea and (not using planeswalkers) then still have the world be saved, and THEN wizards also says that Planeswalkers cause too much destruction or have too much power in the story.
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 09:38 am:|
I found it wildly entertaining that the evil masterminds weren't in control of their own masterminding, simply because there were so many evil masterminds. Hasn't anyone ever wondered about comic book universes, where so many people/forces are constantly and simultaneously trying to conquer/destroy the world that it's odd that they don't ever bump into each other more often or try to thwart each other rather than make the heroes do all the work? The chaos was an appropriate result, and I welcomed it because I haven't seen a Godzilla film in far too long.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not denying there were too many coincidences. But I've read and viewed enough mystery and adventure fiction to have a high tolerance for that. My line is drawn just before the point where Jack Sparrow conveniently evades falling to his death by crashing into a pirate who is inexplicably swinging around in circles on a loose rope on his own ship. Jumping five years ahead in 5th Dawn was a bit odd and my least favorite part of that book, but it was an isolated incident and Cory Herdon turned the cycle into something other than just going to the same identical locations over and over again and battling more and more of the same metal monsters. In short, I've enjoyed his novels thus far.
Also, I thought Savra was a boring and annoying character and I was glad to see her go. Partially because I don't like elves, partially because gorgons are cooler, and partially because it was clear from the start that her only purpose was to be the "I worship the evil guy and don't realize that I'm just a pawn sacrifice" character. Kos was my favorite character, because he wasn't an incredibly capable Kamahl, but he was competent enough, and he was a heckled copper. Which is great.
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 11:19 am:|
Yeah. I thought the pure absurdity of the stories [granted, I've only read Guildpact] was fun. The over the top nature of it didn't bother me in the slightest. It was like a comic book with all the knobs turned up to 11.
My major issue with it was my issue with most of the recent books, really: overuse of jargon. It was written in a way that only a diehard fan could get into, because it was so completely tied to the sets. Whats really strange to my mind is the way that Magic has to do things like this, with the stories really closely constrained by the sets, but Dungeons and Dragons has all kinds of books that are fantastic in their own right, and popular in their own right, whether it be Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance or whatever. I think the major difference is that while MtG books are done on specific commision, the various D&D books are done in a sort of shared world environment. Thus my new basic mantra:
Magic craves a shared-world environment.
Matt Cavotta has already brought that idea up, sort of, in his admonisions that each Magic game is basically the story of a battle being acted out. What is that if not the biggest freaking shared world ever? There are all kinds of stories that could work for Ravnica, and that sort of process certainly worked well for Champions of Kamigawa, so why not keep doing it?
[sighs, deflates] but of course we still would have to deal with the loss of our beloved Planeswalkers...
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 12:31 pm:|
MtG is shared-world fiction, but it is much more constrained than FR or Dragonlance. Especially at its outset, back when the pre-revision books were being published. All the novels were based very directly on the card game, without (not counting an exception or two) being tied down to individual sets.
I, for one, would be all for it if they decided to do something like that. A problem a few of MtG's authors have confessed to regarding recent novels is that while they want to include flavor from the card set, writing a novel based on the latest set is difficult. Why? Because the card names, legends, flavor, creatures types, abilities, etc, haven't been finalized yet. So they kind of have to make things up as they go and hope that it either matches or that there's enough time left over before the release of either the book or the set to make the necessary changes. I have to wonder if Vance Moore knew anything about rhystic magic and Jamuraa's avatars before he started writing Prophecy. And similar with some other authors. I also wonder how much the authors have felt constrained by the roughly 320-page limit.
Whereas the most free writing has happened in the anthologies, especially the prerevision ones. And a lot of it has been enjoyable.
With the talk that's going on now, it's hard to believe that a few years ago they were actually considering making a Magic RPG. I would have loved that. And I'm sure it would have opened the doors to a lot of good reading. Then again, it probably would have cost us the Weatherlight Saga.
|By MORT (Ashtok) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 01:51 pm:|
If you look at MTG books, you'll see that most of the best ones were practically those craeted after the set came out. Brothers' War, Ice Age trilogy, Legends II. So the level of books would increse if they would be written after the set is completely created. On the other hand, it's not really possible if they want to sell books at the same time as the set. I'm wondering however if it would be possible to start and finish creation of the set much earlier before releasing it than they do it now. Yeah, I can dream...
Magic RPG, I'd love it as well. If not for the game itself, then for the tons of storyline info contained! And maps!
|By Wicked Darkman (Wickeddarkman) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 03:01 pm:|
I would love the novels to relate more to the flavortext of the cards, it bothers me immensely when the cards tell one story and the book tells another. And it is bollocks that such a thing cannot be done and bring money to the pocket! Just look at duelmaster as an example. That's a storyline so deep into the cards that we get the rules crammed down our necks! Not that I watch it!!! Too often that is!!! My friend forces me!!!
|By Squeeman (Squeeman) on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 04:32 pm:|
Well, that relates to what I was saying, WD. The books are written at about the same time as the set are being designed. Therefore, the authors don't always know what kinds of creature types to include, or who/what all the legends are, or know about all the groups and flavor, and the designers might not know about certain spell ideas or characters/places/other included in the books that might make good cards.
|By a1withnoname (A1withnoname) on Thursday, August 09, 2007 - 10:48 am:|
Like how the description in Invasion of Phyrexian Scuta is rather far removed from the actual illustration of the Scuta on the cards...
The Thran, one of my favorite mtg books, wasn't even particularly closely connected with the cards, but at the same time gave a strong idea of what Magic was about. Its sort of odd that they can't manage to do that with other books.
I still maintain that they should do anthologies, and release them online [although it looks like Jelly is going to be an anthology! Yay!]