|By eidtelnvil on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 06:29 pm:|
Here's something that was recently posted on the WotC boards. Mr. Venters was good enough to bring it to my attention, for which I am very grateful. In his message to me he also said it hinted at things to come.
Dominian Chronicles - Duelist #16
Dominia is a place of infinite wonder -- myriad planes moving in an elaborate dance, each bearing countless worlds. And at their heart -- and the heart of Magic: the Gathering -- is Dominaria. There are whole cultures and nations here, and legendary wizards, warriors, and wonders, who have struggled to change their world. And there are stories here-- great sagas of the rise and fall of empires, and smaller tales, of individuals who have changed their lives, and in time, history. These cultures, characters, and stories are hinted at in the cards we play with -- but there is so much more to Dominia than can be captured in a handful of words or a single image.
Where is Phyrexia? What is the story of Mirage and Visions? What makes a Fallen Angel? Who are Urza and Mishra? Who’s Teeka, and why does she have a dragon? How many fingers does a Minotaur's hand have? (Be warned — that last one is a trick question!) The Continuity department here at Wizards of the Coast knows the answers to all these questions, and, starting with this issue, we’ll be passing on the large and the small stories to you, in a series of columns and articles.
Dominia/Dominaria. What's the deal?
Dominia is the multiverse, an endless series of dimensional planes that travel independently of one another in a chaotic and unchartable dance. Because the links between planes are all too often temporary and fragile, it’s nearly impossible to travel between planes. Only a few individuals in all the multiverse have the power and the gift for such travel. These beings are known by many names, but are most accurately labeled 'planeswalkers.’
Dominaria is a rare phenomenon in the multiverse -- a plane with relatively permanent connections to more than a dozen other planes, each with its own cultures and connecting planes as well. It’s within this extended family of planes that the action in many Magic: The Gathering expansion sets take place. When you think about the opportunities available to planeswalkers in such a place -- augmented with Dominaria’s rich mana resources and its many creatures, ripe for the summoning -- you begin to see why Dominaria is a favorite haunt of the planeswalkers.
So, is Dominaria a planet or a plane? Actually, it’s both. Planeswalkers label a plane by the most important planet there. Some planes may actually share the same physical universe, but planeswalkers don’t rely on the laws of physics for their ‘walking;’ it’s the relative ease of ‘walking’ from plane to plane that determines proximity, not the physical relationship of respective planets.
A Quick Tour of Dominaria
Dominaria has been the setting for every Magic expansion except Arabian Nights (set in the planes of Rabiah) and Homelands (set in the backwater plane of Ulgrotha). Most of our attention has been centered on Terisiare, Jamuraa, and the Domains.
Troubled Terisiare was the setting for the cataclysmic Brothers War chronicled in Antiquities. The war brought about a series of social and climatic changes across the world that were detailed in The Dark, Fallen Empires, Ice Age, and Alliances. Modern-day Terisiare is very different from the ancient continent where Urza and Mishra battled. With the myriad strip mines left by the brothers, and the damage wrought by the glaciers of the Ice Age, the land has divided into four distinct land masses. Most notable of these is New Argive, a post-Ice Age civilization born from the alliance of Kjeldor and Balduvia. New Argive is a major seat of learning and its universities and museums are unrivaled within its corner of the world.
Six thousand miles east of Terisiare lie the Domains. The Domains are actually a handful of continents surrounded by hundreds of islands, large and small. Here you’ll find nations and places with names as familiar to players as the name MTG itself: Benalia; neighboring Avenant, where archers and warriors hold the border against Benalia’s dreams of conquest; the forests of Llanowar, Savea and Shanodin; the mountains and nation of Hurloon; Kush, home of the festival city Estark; Foriys, home to monstrous giants; Mirtiin and Stahaan, radical xenophobic nations of Minotaurs; Verdura, home of the mysterious enchantresses; the Orvada Empire, a merchant empire rivalling Benalia; Keld and the neighboring Kingdom of Parma, home of the Keldon Warlords and the Northern Paladins. The Domains have been featured throughout Harper Collins’ novels and the Magic:The Gathering's main edition. You can find more tidbits about this region in the flavortext of 5th Edition.
A few thousand miles to the east of the Domains lies the continent of Corondor, scene of most of Acclaim's comic books, and the site of a recent war between a handful of planeswalkers. Corondor has fallen on hard times in the wake of the war and it may be centuries before it fully recovers from this disaster.
About two thousand miles to the south of Corondor lies Jamuraa. We visited the northwest of this continent in Mirage and Visions and witnessed the predations of Kaervek, a mage from the nearby Burning Isles. Jamuraa extends for several thousand miles, much of it controlled by the Suq’Ata Empire and the bipedal lizards known as the Viashino, before the continent butts against another giant landmass which meets another, and another... This forms a colossal super-continent, much of it controlled by a number of empires whose ancestors migrated to Dominaria through gates connected to Rabiah. Rabiah is a series of planes linked by a shared culture reminiscent to us of the mythical lands, creatures, and people of Earth’s own Arabian Nights. Each of these planes is a distorted reflection upon the last. This family of planes shift constantly across Dominia making it impossible to track any specific plane, only a few stable gates are known of, most of them upon Dominaria.
Far to the northeast of this super-continent lies Shiv. The home of the Shivan Dragons (and their cousins, the Viashivan), Shiv is an inhospitable volcanic landmass. Shiv sits within a deep ocean 'ring of fire' that fuels the coastal waters to near-boiling point. Only the Viashino know the secrets of how to navigate these inhospitable waters, and they control the land, much to the ire of the Shivan.
Then there is the continent of Sarpadia -- once home to the thrulls, the thallids, and the other Fallen Empires. Scholars disagree, but it is believed that the lost continent lies somewhere far to the south of Terisiare. A few claim to have visited the land, and they talk of monstrosities ruling over inhuman kingdoms. Little else is known at this time, and the sages of New Argive have yet to pluck up the courage to mount a full expedition.
And what of Phyrexia? Phyrexia is a terrible plane some distance from Dominaria. However, the planar predations of the Phyrexians have ensured their notoriety throughout much of known Dominia. Even on Dominaria, their artifact horrors roam the dark nights, awaiting the call of their master's will. There’s a lot of information about Phyrexia available right now, in the Duelist Online.
We'll be starting a regular column where we’ll tell you more about the stories and places of Dominia; let you know more about the settings of upcoming card sets and expansions; clue you in to the secrets of planeswalkers and legends; and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
Oh, and by the way -- the answer to 'How many fingers does a Minotaur's hand have?' is a trick question - it depends on the race. Hurloon and Anaba Minotaurs have four fingers and a thumb, like humans, while all other known Minotaurs - Talruum, Mirtiin, Stahaan, to name but a few - have two fingers, and two thumbs set across the palm from each other. Why? Well, that involves an ancient and narrow-minded planeswalker, a duel gone wrong, and the 'Heresy of Hurloon'. But that, as they say, is another story....
Dominaria is similar to Earth, with temperature ranges and seasons close to our own. It is almost fifty percent larger at the equator, which gives Dominaria almost two and a half times the surface area of Earth. However, the gravity isn't substantially stronger than ours (the answers to that riddle lie deep within the planet...). Dominaria's year is 420 days long organized into twelve months, each of 35 days duration.
Dominaria's oceans are enormous, separating its continents with many thousands of miles of water. The oceans tend to be shallower than Earth's, and scattered volcanic activity has raised immense strings of habitable islands that trail like stepping stones across the leagues. Skipping along these island chains is the only realistic way to cross most of the oceans, and only the bravest sailors are willing to leave the sea-lanes and challenge the vast uncharted oceans. There may well be hard-to-reach continents that have never been visited by known Dominarian cultures.
The planet has two moons. One, the Mist Moon, is large and constantly shrouded in the mists of its murky atmosphere; its smaller sibling, the Glimmer Moon, appears as a tiny glittering ball hurtling across the sky. The Glimmer Moon(or Null Moon, as the planeswalkers call it) is actually an artificial satellite, crackling with occasional huge electrical bursts that arc across its chaotic surface. No one knows who built the moon or what purpose it might have served, but it‘s believed to have existed long before the ancient Brothers War between Urza and Mishra.
Walkers of the Planes
Within Magic:The Gathering you take the role of a planeswalker. Planeswalkers can traverse the planes of the multiverse and they can draw mana and summon creatures from one plane while they are in another. Throughout the multiverse they are regarded as gods. But what separates a planeswalker from the other wizards that live throughout Dominia?
One person in several million is born with what is known as 'the planeswalker spark,’ a direct link that allows them to draw on mana throughout the multiverse. Many such people learn the tricks and spells that come easily to those with the spark, eventually becoming accomplished and powerful wizards -- but not planeswalkers. However, if they’re discovered young enough by another 'walker,' they can be trained until the day their spark flares, turning the apprentice into a true planeswalker. Some individuals have become planeswalkers without such guidance, usually because of a moment of crisis, but these walkers don’t have the training to control their newfound powers, and are dangerous to everyone around them. One such example would be the Battlemage Ravidel.
The existence of this spark is a closely held secret among the planeswalkers. It is easily detectable by other walkers but undiscernable to non-walkers, a fact that has led many smaller wizards to believe that accumulation of power is all they need to win planeswalking skills.
Few have ever harnessed planeswalking artificially, through artifacts or spells -- not since the ancient and mysterious Thran Empire developed gates between planes: one such Thran Gate was discovered by Urza and Mishra at the cave of Koilos several thousand years ago. Not even the Thran could control the power they had developed; it resulted in their extinction, just as it helped destroy the Brothers, five millenia later.
A warped version of these portals still exist in Phyrexia, built using stolen secrets. Very little is known about the portals’ abilities; as with any information about Phyrexia, the truth is veiled in lies and madness, for those who search for such knowledge rarely return unchanged from their quests -- if they return at all.
Mr. Venters also included this message:
Two other things worth mentioning: Soon I'll let you in on one of the alternate Rabiahs which we though would be cool to set a set or block in...
And here's a biggie; for those of you that are major fans of Jamuraa, I have unearthed the document that explains the meaning of many of the names used in Mirage and Visions. I frankly believed this document had been lost years ago.
Here's a taster... Sisay is derived from the word meaning 'good omen'.
You story fiends are about to get a second Christmas...
|By genius (Hannag) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 07:04 pm:|
Omigod that's awesome!!!!
|By Squeeman on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 08:02 pm:|
And Easter, Hannukah, Holi, Diwali, Eid, and god knows what else. Thats so fantastic. And it proves that the prerevisionist novels are worth reading after all.
And I thought the globe alone was excellent.
|By Jared_Carthalion (Cheesemaster) on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 02:10 am:|
I pray to all walkers that they make it fine and don't screw it.
still i fear that the hasbro demon has clutched his claws in them, but still there might be hope. and maybe one day i will buy my first book.
|By Nemesis (Nemesis) on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 08:42 am:|
What, is Pete Venters posting all his old storyline stuff online? I guess he's given up hope that they'll ever use it again.
I'm saving all this stuff. Meanwhile, let's let the new continuity department get to work.
|By Core Magi (Xdritex) on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 10:20 am:|
WOW! That's some truly amazing an great stuff. So was anyoen else shcoekd and/or bother a little bit by the statement, " and/or bother a little bit"??
|By Squeeman on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 09:32 am:|
As much as I hate being cynical, you guys do realize that this falls in rather nicely with bad novels to make it seem like this is appeasement, right?
Okay, I love being cynical. But perhaps I'm being far too critical now. And anyway, this is too awesome to be critical about.
|By Squeeman on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 09:35 am:|
This should help a lot in my Dominaria entry, which, though I have pages on it, is barely even begun.