Extraplanar by Nolan Locke

The aesthetics of Magic the Gathering have always been important, and I’m an art guy. Given that I write books, I’m a bit of a story guy as well. 

And I have to say that some of the coolest stuff comes out of the worldbuilding and visuals of the various different planes of MtG existence. The story stuff is like the candied cherry on top. 

Take Zendikar, the land of floaty islands, gigantic mountains, and intricately carved d8 statues that hover, keeping the three trans-plane Cthulhu stand-ins locked in stasis for untold generations. We’re talking Emrakul (the hovering sort of vagina thing that’s sprouting a mess of tentacles bigger than skyscrapers), Ulamog (the ceaseless hunger, whose limbs bifurcate and who has no face), and Kozilek (with its ball for a face, hovering plate doodads, and extra sword extremities). 

These titanic BAMFs literally eat planes of existence. Ulamog leeches all the everything out, like that relative who insists steaks should be cooked to ‘perfection’ (AKA super well done). WIth all the flavor of the worlds in its… no idea how it eats actually, but whatever… they spawn armies of tentacle thingies who will come and eat your face off. 

Kozilek warps reality around you, turning clouds into multi-faceted maze whozawhatsits, and melting your body into sludgy stuff that crystallizes into even more unreality. It’s fucked up. 

Yes I know it’s an inverter of truth. I just love what it’s done to those clouds. 

And Emrakul, the Womb of the Cosmos? Emrakul gets inside ya, Emrakul morphs you into something new. We’re talking on a mass level, too. Emrakul just has to be chilling up there in the sky in order to give your whole town an unknowable Cyclopean makeover. 

That thing used to be a werewolf. 

Anyway these assholes were imprisoned here on Zendikar ages ago by a trio of planeswalkers: a spirit dragon, a vampire, and a kor (think human but with ashy white skin and hair, the males with bonus tiny chin tentacles). 

Fast forward ten thousand years or so, and the planet containing these sleeping titans is sick. Zendikar can’t handle having three Cthulhus stuffed inside it. The whole ecosystem and the magic that normally makes it function… just can’t anymore. There are spontaneous eruptions, ginormous waterspouts or whirlpools, vengeful forests. It’s a hard knock life for literally everyone on Zendikar.

And this is the backdrop for just one storyline, and one plane. 

There’s an entire plane where the bad guy megadragon has been grooming the gods. Like an internet stalker with the body of a dragon, he’s set himself up as the chosen one of the prophesied future, who will come on the day of Armaggeddon to judge the living and the dead (and actually just kill everyone who’s not already dead). He’s setting these guys up (the gods) to have their followers kill one another, mummify the remains, and convert them into an undead army to attack his foes. 

The mummification process has some… side effects.

What’s cool too is the setup of the colors of magic, and how they manifest in different planes. Each color has a series of facets (blue is for water/islands, and flight, faeries and djinn, sea monsters, but also experimentation, telepathy, and time). Or black: decay, the fast and dangerous path to power, demons, zombies, undeath, from swamps. These manifest in the gods of Amonkhet, those brainwashed gods. 

Spoiler alert: By the end of the story, these dudes will be dead and transformed into zombie gods…

Your cat god of justice (white), your serpent-headed god of strength (green), crocodile-headed god of ambition (black), jackal-headed god of passion (red), and ibis-headed god of knowledge (blue). 

I’m invested for various different reasons: I love the flavor of each plane, and how (while the developers aren’t, say, super original with their ideas) MtG brings concepts together. Obviously Amonkhet is inspired from ancient Egypt, and enhanced with magic. I like the art, of course, the art is wonderful, but the story that goes along here can be traced back decades. It is the precursor to the MCU, and while not all the stories have been amazing, I could also argue that some of the Marvel films kinda sucked. **Cough** Thor 2 **Cough**

The variety allows MtG to be silly and serious, deadly and fluffy. It can be adorable one second, and rip faces off the next. 

It’s also fun to take the card art and titles, and begin to piece bits of the worldbuilding and story together. 

All in all, I love traveling the planes.

This is the second segment in a series of articles about MtG:PQ. Come back weekly for more of whatever this ends up being.

Also buy my books. –Nolan

Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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