Magic Storyline & Environment FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Illus by Dan FrazierAn ongoing list of frequently asked questions answered by the Magic Storyline Team.

If you have a question you'd like to see considered for the FAQ, submit it to:

Question: Why did you make cards for all the heroes from the books like Captain Sisay and Karn, Silver Golem but never an Urza card?

Well, we have, in a way. Vanguard cards were oversized cards which started in play and gave you additional abilities, as well as hand size and starting life adjustments. These cards were used as part of the Arena League a few years ago. They were represented by a wide variety of characters, including Urza and Mishra. But the main reason why there were no actual Magic cards depicting Urza is that Urza was a planeswalker. Since players themselves have historically represented planeswalkers in this game, any Urza card in Magic would be way too powerful; it would basically have to represent another player. Of course, there was Blind Seer, who was Urza in disguise, but he powered himself way down in this form so no one would recognize him.

Question: Will the Odyssey story run through several blocks like Gerrard and the Weatherlight did?

Our current plans are to continue the story of Kamahl and the Mirari for the Odyssey block and the block after it. If the story becomes well-liked by players, we'll consider extending it. If not, we'll move on to a different story for the block that begins in October 2003.

Question: I've noticed that Legend cards don't always 'fit' into the story… Their power/toughness, abilities, and creature types don't always mesh from the novels to the cards. Why is that?"

Bet you're thinking of the fact that the Tsabo Tavoc card could beat the Gerrard Capashen card in combat any day, while the opposite is true in the story, right? That's probably the most stark example of the sort of discontinuity that you're talking about, but those who work in Magic R&D and Continuity believe that we've done a fairly good job overall in keeping the link between cards and characters.

There are a few factors that come into play. The first is that R&D's involvement with (and knowledge of the finer points of) the Magic backstory has fluctuated over the years. This was especially true with the Urza block, when Wizards' book publishing department began contracting novelists to creat Magic plots and characters. So that from that point on, R&D has depended on the story writers to communicate plot points. For example, Vhati il-Dal, a legend from Tempest, was reduced in power and toughness because Greven il-Vec kills him in the story. The aforementioned Tsabo Tavoc and Gerrard issue might have turned out differently if the outcome of the Tsabo/Gerrard battle had been communicated to the developers in time - which it wasn't, due to the very different schedules R&D and novel writers have.

Another fairly obvious factor is that gameplay has to come first. If a story point makes a legend too powerful to be an accurate card, the card's abilities have to be toned down, even if the character it represents is godlike. Finally, remember that R&D might just have different points of view than the players. Some players expected Gerrard to be a Soldier Legend, but many members of R&D just didn't think of him as a Soldier, which is why he is just a Legend

Question: What is up with Tahngarth's double pictures? On some cards, like Sleeping Potion and others, he's brown with long horns, but on Tahngarth, Talruum Hero and others, he has white and red patches of fur and wacky curved horns! Will the real Tahngarth please stand up?

Actually, there are two answers to your question! First of all, not all minotaurs are made equal. Some of them, like the one on Sleeping Potion, are not Tahngarth, but other members of his Talruum minotaur tribe (see Talruum Minotaur, Talruum Piper, and Talruum Champion for other examples). Secondly, as you probably already know, during the Tempest storyline, Tahngarth was captured and exposed to Phyrexian mutation rays that turned him into the form you see on his card (check out Tahngarth's Rage for what he looked like before, and Torment - the card, not the expansion - to see his reaction). Volrath was planning to put a spinal graft on him, in order to control him and make him Greven il-Vec's new first mate, but fortunately, Gerrard rescued Tahngarth before this plan could be put into effect.

Question: Where do the different sets take place?

Antiquities, Ice Age, Alliances, and most of The Dark take place on the continent of Terisiare; Fallen Empires takes place on the continent of Sarpadia, a few thousand miles south of Terisiare; Mirage and Visions take place on the northwest edge of the tropical supercontinent of Jamuraa; Arabian Nights originates from the nearby plane of Rabiah, but has a huge influence on Dominaria due to several gates linking the worlds; Homelands takes place on the distant plane of Ulgrotha; the characters and spells from Legends come from all over Dominia; and Weatherlight is a journey exploring many of the familiar sites of the plane of Dominaria.

(Sidenote: We are working om some maps for the near future to give you a better visual representation)

Question: Are the planes Dominaria and Dominia one and the same? Are they related at all? How many different planes exist?

Dominia is a multiverse, an infinite set of planes that are tenuously linked. Dominaria, one of the planes in Dominia, is where most of the action we've been seeing takes place. Some of the other planes we've explored are Ulgrotha in Homelands; Rath in Tempest, Stronghold and Exodus; and Serra's realm and Phyrexia in Urza's Saga. Dominaria is closely linked to roughly a dozen other planes, together known as the Shard, which had been severed from the rest of the planes for nearly 3,000 years during Fallen Empires, The Dark and Ice Age.

Question: What is the difference between a planeswalker and a wizard? Is it possible for a normal wizard such as Ertai to become a planeswalker?

Basically, the difference between a planeswalker and a wizard is the same as the difference between the noonday sun and a 60-watt lightbulb. Planeswalkers have an exponentially greater affinity for magic than wizards do, without being defined by the magic they use, as wizards are. Urza, for example, is primarily an artificer, so he doesn't cast spells as often as Barrin and Ertai do, but he can and does cast spells when the situation calls for it. It is not possible for ordinary wizards to become planeswalkers; one must be born with the "planeswalker spark." But no one realizes his or her planeswalking potential until the day the spark flares, usually under stressful circumstances. Planeswalkers are nigh-immortal. Wizards, while longer-lived than the rest of humanity, can expect only a few centuries of life.

Question: I noticed that Urza was on one of the Exodus cards, but if the events of the Antiquities expansion take place roughly 4,200 years ago, and the events of the Weatherlight expansion take place in more recent years, how old is Urza and how has he survived so long? Why does Urza look like he's getting younger?

Back during Antiquities, Urza was not a planeswalker, but an artificer in his 60's. As a planeswalker, he gained the ability to alter his appearance and so he appears - thousands of years later - as a much younger man.

Question: Could a wizard defeat a planeswalker in battle?

Planeswalkers, in general, are much more powerful than wizards. One-on-one, a wizard has little chance of defeating a planeswalker, but with enough help, military force, and/or other resources, it is certainly possible (say, by just sneaking up on a soundly slumbering Urza).

Question: What exactly is a task mage?

Task mages are hired guns, mages-for-hire. Often less-experienced wizards, they are hired to do a specific task. Task mages owe no allegiance to any specific family, king, or guild.

Question: Gallowbird and Morinfen - are they demons or gargoyles? What is their purpose, and if they are true brothers, what demon spawned them?

Gallowbraid and Morinfen are not demons; they are Phyrexian agents. Born and bred together, they are brothers in concept, much like Gerrard and Vuel.

Question: What's the story about the Mightstone and the Weakstone? Can you give a brief overview of their histories?

They are two halves of a single powerstone - the only recorded instance of a broken powerstone retaining any power. For more details, see Jeff Grubb's novel, The Brothers' War.

Question: What's the deal with Ihsan? The text on the Serra Paladin card says he wishes to become a paladin again, but the Ihsan's Shade card says he betrayed the paladins.

Check the Homelands expansion and the Homelands comic book for the full story. Ihsan was a valued member of a quasi-military order dedicated to ending the threat of the powerful vampire, Baron Sengir. Ihsan let his hunger for glory cloud his oath to defend this people, and foolishly offered himself as a willing convert to the Baron's vampiric horde. He intended to use his newly acquired dark powers against the Baron. Amused, Baron Sengir correctly guessed Ihsan's motivation and, instead of converting him into a vampire, Sengir killed Ihsan outright and brought him back as a shade - a powerful spirit completely subservient to the Baron's totemic ring. The hapless Ihsan thus became the Baron's unwilling but reliable enforcer - and a disgraced outcast from the order of paladins to which he had dedicated his life.

Question: Who is Yawgmoth? I want to know details about him and how he became so important. Was Yawgmoth a Thran who became a planeswalker or some type of elemental force of evil that corrupted the renegade Thran who eventually became the Phyrexians?

J. Robert King's Novel The Thran explains all of the above.

Question: In the earlier released books (Planeswalker and Rath and Storm) the titles page listed Rath and Storm as Weatherlight Cycle book I, and Mercadian Masques as book II. Then when I bought the newer book, Mercadian Masques is in now listed as Masquerade Cycle book I. (I then noticed going back that Rath and Storm isn't subtitled as Weatherlight Cycle, only as an anthology). The apparent next book Nemesis, is written by the same author, Paul Thompson, as the originally proposed book III of the Weatherlight Cycle: Dark Fortress. Does this mean the Weatherlight Cycle has been completely dropped? And is Nemesis simply the replacement book for Dark Fortress?

Well, you caught us. The answer to your question is that yes, the Weatherlight cycle does no longer exist. However, the books did not go away. We have simply pulled Rath and Storm out of the cycle, added a book entitled Prophecy, changed the title of Dark Fortress to Nemesis (same book, same author just a new title), and changed the name of the cycle to the Mercadian Masquerade cycle. Did you get all that? We simply did some reorganization and added a new book. The anthologies are no longer going to be considered part of a cycle, since they don't usually carry the story any farther than the novels do. All future card sets are going to have an accompanying novel with the same name. So as the Nemesis card set comes out, the Nemesis novel will then tell the in-depth story behind those cards.

Question: On some black cards (the bad), Kjeldor is being praised. I thought that Kjeldor was good(white). Does/did Stromgald exist? I think it did, and I also believe that it had a queen, am I correct? I always thought that Varchild (who is a woman, correct?) was a rogue warlord, now I am to believe that she is for Kjeldor. How is this so, when all her warriors are red? Where is Tresserhorn?

These and many more of your Ice Age questions will be answered in Jeff Grubb's upcoming (May 2000) novel The Eternal Ice.

Question: Who was Lat-Nam?

Lat-Nam is an island (and a school) off the west coast of Terisiare.

Question: Is Dominaria also a place in the plane, by the same name (because there is Legendary Land of that name)?

Dominaria is both the name of the major plane of the Nexus and the major planet within. However, there is no Legendary Land card named "Dominaria".

Question: Whatever happed to Ertai after Exodus? I read that he fell to the deck of the Predator immediately after the Weatherlight passed through the erratic portal.

Ertai's fate is explored in Paul Thompson's novel Nemesis.

Question: The card "Unmask" in Mercadian Masques shows what appears to be Volrath (Vuel) coming out of what appears to be a false image or what I call a shell. I thought Vuel was a man. In the card it shows him as a woman. Is this one of the costumes people wear in Mercadia or is this really him. If this is a costume in Mercadia then how would they know what this person looks like or even have the splitting image of what is Volrath? Supposedly none in Mercadia has been to Rath since they can not planeshift. Can you give me some background on this?

Volrath is a man, but also a shapeshifter... A very GOOD shapeshifter. The woman is the other prisoner the Weatherlight crew rescued from Rath: Starke's daughter, Takara. Here's a few more clues as to the true identity of the individual on this card: The art and flavor text of Liability, The art and flavor text of Vendetta. If that's not enough, the Mercadian Masques novel by Francis Lebaron explains it all, while the Mercadian Masques story summary tells a little more about who this person is.

Question: Why does Karn not know Urza created him?

In Loren Coleman's book Bloodlines, we discover that Urza had Karn's memory capped. Karn simply cannot remember back any farther than 20 years.

Question: How exactly was Starke blinded?

The story is told in Rath and Storm. In a nutshell: Starke's daughter Takara was under Volrath's control and was battling Starke and the Weatherlight crew. She struck him across the eyes with her blade.

Question: How did Urza build (or rebuild) the Weatherlight?

The creation of the Weatherlight is covered in J. Robert King's novel Time Streams.

Question: Why did Urza and Mishra fight each other?

Urza and Mishra's rivalry is infamous on Dominaria. Jeff Grubb relates the tale to us in his novel Brother's War.

Question: I have been reading the Artifacts Cycle, which is very good by the way, yet I feel like I am always getting lost. This is because I don't have any idea of the physical locations of the events in the book. I was hoping you could tell me where I could find a map of Dominaria during its Antiquity, Ice Age, and Modern eras.

There are two published maps of Ancient Terisiare. The first was in the May 1994 Duelist Supplement (also referred to as Duelist 1 1/2). The most recent was the centerfold for the 1999 Magic: The Gathering Urza's Saga Calendar. (note: we are also working on getting these maps posted to this website)

Question: I'd like to know if there are any plans for a Mirage cycle of books. It's a great story, but not many details are given. It's great that Jeff Grubb was given the project for the Ice Age cycle and that was a great idea. I'd like to see more stories published.

Rest assured, there will be more stories published. Wizard of the Coast's Magic book line is doing well, and a good read as you have, no doubt, discovered from Jeff Grubb's books. We have discussed many options for future stories to publish. Right now we're still just discussing them. We've thought about Mirage War. We've also thought about Legends, Fallen Empires, Alliances, Homelands, and Arabian Nights. I don't know at this point what will be our next cycle, so I can't give you a concrete answer. There are hundreds of good stories out there, and if they give us enough time, we'll tell all the best ones. Keep reading.

Return to Magic Storyline Home Page

  • Planeswalker Points
  • Facebook Twitter
  • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
  • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
  • Magic Locator