Imagine you could take any aspect of any historical time period of any place on earth, or invent something completely out of whole cloth. That, whatever you were just imagining, definitely exists in the Multiverse of Magic: the Gathering. There’s a plane that’s dying in one of the Urza books (the artifact cycle). There’s a plane of just angels created (out of balance) by a single powerful planeswalker. There’s a plane of shapeshifting goo, a plane where it all began, and there’s a plane of evolving devouring alien machine thingies bent on multiversal domination.
What’s fun is that you add magic to whatever historical time period or place you choose. The gods can walk among the mortals. Elves are a thing. The monsters are real, the categories are made up and the points don’t matter.
Exhibit A: Ixalan. Okay, you have your eastern old-world continent, it’s been completely overrun by vampires. They rule everything. Europe is in the hands of Vlad Tepesz (or however you want to spell it) and his millions of vampire childrens. But there’s a New World, and because it’s fantasy, there’s orcs and humans and merfolk (the land walking tribes who live near rivers, and the ones who live principally in the water of the oceans and seas)… there are sirens (the kind that fly around and screech, and in this plane here, the goblins are like blue-skinned monkeys.
Meanwhile, on the other planes, goblins have a different aesthetic. You’ve got your green-skinned goblins in Ravnica, with their huge noses. This adorable little guy is part of the Boros legion! So cute, right?
Last example… the goblins on Zendikar come in a couple of different varieties, but my favorites have chins longer than their noses.
Back to Ixalan…
So, because the world’s mostly a bunch of tropical islands, and there’s a lot of political instability, you’ve got pirates. Tons of pirates. And for shits and giggles, there’s an entire civilization of Aztec-like humans who, naturally, ride dinosaurs.
They use the Dinos to build their cool civilization as well.
If you do the math, you put:
- Merfolk as blue and green (forest and sea dwelling kind)
- Vampires as black and white (undeath, but a conquering undeath to enforce order, not unlike your Vader and your Stormtroopers)
- Pirates as blue, red and black (seafarers who delight in chaos, cannonfire, and also force you to walk the plank)
- Dinos/Native Americans as red, white, and green (a civilization of order, control, but well within the jungle, and these are folks who capitalize on the chaotic nature of dinos)
You’ll actually see that each color of magic is represented twice. This is not a coincidence.
Let’s head to Strixhaven (or rather Arcavios), the Hogwarts of the multiverse. Apparently Arcavios (according to the wiki) boasts the seat of all learning or somesuch. A mystical archive… arcavios. Not a coincidence.
You know what else is not a coincidence? There are five schools of magic you can join after you go through your first year at Strixhaven:
- Silverquill (black and white poetry spellcasters?)
- Quandrix (blue and green math spellcasters?)
- Lorehold (red and white Indiana Jones wannabes who bring statues to life, no matter how broken)
- Witherbloom (green and black, your basic Herbology, but with extra extra mandrake)
- Prismari (red and blue art spellcasters, who put fire and water together for fireworks displays that would make Gandalf drop his pipe)
Again, all the colors are represented twice. No coincidences here.
The prevalence of the five colors of magic throughout the varying planes is an interesting restriction MtG have put on themselves, and it forces them to get creative. There are 10 guilds on Ravnica, for all ten of the two color combos, and there are 15 major gods on Theros, for each of the two color combos and a god for each of the single colors. There are five single color gods on Amonkhet as well, each with their own domain: justice for white, knowledge for blue, strength for green, ambition for black, and zeal for red.
Wizards of the Coast owns MtG obviously, these images are theirs. Join me next week for more of this. Oh, and buy my books.