Monday, 11 June 2018

Legends of Dominaria & Magic Story Podcasts


The story may have ended, but I'm going to do two more posts on Dominaria. In this first one I will cover two sources released in the past few weeks: the descriptions of the new legendary creatures released on Twitter and the five Magic Story Podcasts about Dominaria. The next post will come out at least a month from now, by which time a) The Art of Magic the Gathering: Dominaria will be out, and b) I will have celebrated my birthday, so hopefully someone will have gifted me the book. Oh, and I assumed that by then my copy of the Dominaria Player's Guide will have come in the mail AND that the Dominaria D&D supplement will be out. So if you're still not sick off Dominaria (I know I'm not!) you still have that review to look forward to. For now, let's look at some legends and listed to some podcasts!

LEGENDS OF DOMINARIA
They may be short, but I love these little snippets of text. They may be short, but they give enough information to form a good image of even the new legends that didn't get any other info on them in the story or elsewhere. If there is anything Kamigawa was missing it was something like this, for it is such a shame that the "flavor block" had so many legendary creatures with no story whatsoever. I really hope that this will become the norm and that we will never see a legendary card without lore for them ever again.


The only thing I'm not wild about is the fact that they were shared through Twitter and then collected in Facebook album. That does not seem like the most future proof way of caring for this information. Maybe that's just a personal hang up though. Worrying about future proofing information is literally what I do for a living after all.

I wont go over ever individual blurb, as many of them only add a small bit to what we already learned in the story (Danitha being the heir to House Capashen, not just a random clan member, Arvad being turned into a vampire by Kazarov) or give a quick introduction to which I really don't have anything to add (Adeliz, Grunn), but I'll go over a few things that really stood out to me.

  • Blackblade Reforged - I'm still somewhat stunned that we actually got Piru named in the story. A few months ago I would've called the Dakkon Blackblade comic a textbook example of an obscure source Vorthosi love but which WotC will probably never ever mention again... But that's not what I want to talk about here actually. No, I just want to point out that this blurb tells us that the otherwise lore-less Korlash is no longer in an undefined possible future, but in the current story's past. It's not much, but at least the poor guy finally got something about him revealed. Here's hoping that now Gideon has taken the sword we'll learn more of its past, like how Dakkon lost it and how Korlash then ended up with it.
  • Darigaaz Reincarnated - The rebirth of the Primevals was a huge deal the last time around, so I'm somewhat surprised to see Darigaaz got so little attention in this set. Does he know about his previous lives this time around? Are the others also coming back soon? This is another threat I would love to see a future set follow up on. Here's hoping the Numena stay dead though.
  • Demonlord Belzenlok - the text here doesn't actually say a lot, but I would quickly like to talk about the fact that Kelly Digges, in an Acces Magic video, says he fought in something called The War in the Abyss, and that he's been stuck in the Abyss ever since. This is absolutely fascinating to me, especially when Ethan Fleischer asked Kelly on Twitter if the War in the Abyss had something to do with the origin of the angels from the Angel of Vengeance story in The Colors of Magic. This is a story I've always felt should be much more important to continuity (see my review for more on that), so I'm still a bit miffed Kelly never answered Ethan, and a bit worried by the fact that this War was never mentioned elsewhere. Here's hoping we'll learn more about it in the art book!
  • Evra, Halcyon Witness - Two silly comments from me here. One: Where has she been the last 10.000 years? Second: Anyone else remember when some people thought Ravinca might have Thran origins because of the card Halcyon Glaze? Apparently the fact that Halcyon is an actual word can be more obscure than the name of the Thran capital... One slightly less silly comment: I'm not moving the Thran on my timeline because of this "10.000 years ago" reference. Rounded off that still amounts to ~5000 AR, which is good enough for me.
  • Grand Warlord Radha & Garna, the Bloodflame - This is precisely what I want from these info blurbs. These two bits together tell us a lot about what is going on in Keld in a way that fits much better than trying to shoehorn a Weatherlight visit to it in the actual story. I also love that WotC is willing to move Keld forward rather than sticking to its original depiction.
  • Kwende, Pride of Femeref - If I was really petty I would point out that this source says he is descended from followers of Mageta the Lion, while in the story itself he says he is a descendant of Mageta himself. But eh, maybe he was trying to make himself look better, or maybe he was talking conceptually. So I wont bring it up.
  • Naban, Dead of Iteration - Holy moly. An Almaaz reference! That is a place only seen in the novel Song of Time and mentioned in the backstory of Epityr. One of the more obscure references in the set.
  • Lyra Dawnbringer - I mentioned in one of the annotations that we didn't really know anything about Reya Dawnbringer. Well, now we know she died in the invasion protecting Benalia. Poor angel :(
  • Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar - Hey, another source that says he was born after the World Spell. Making the claim in the story that the Sylex Blast hurt him dearly even odder. But we've already talked about that.
  • Naru Meha, Master Wizard - Oh, another obscure one! Naru is a descendant of Kolo Meha, a fan favorite character from the Legends II trilogy. He was a pyromancer from Bogardan who aided Tetsuo Umezawa in defeating Ramses Overdark. Interesting to see him referenced on a blue card that has nothing to do with fire.
  • Squee, the Immortal - Jhoira was so focused on getting a Sisay and a Capashen on board, but here is an original Weatherlight crew member that could've joined up! I did miss Squee a bit in the story and I want to know how he coped with immortality for the last three and a half centuries. Jhoira, Teferi et all did fine, but they were surrounded by other immortals. Jodah, a lone immortal among ordinary people would've gone mad of grief without his mirror. This makes me really worry about everyone's favorite cabin boy...
  • Shanna, Sisay's Legacy - Apparently Shanna has an eye on the captain's chair! That didn't really come across in the story. Then again, Shanna didn't really do anything after her recruitment. I'm looking forward to seeing her pursue this ambition in Return to Dominaria 2!
  • Tetsuko Umezawa - Another character who I was surprised didn't turn up in the story, considering her link to Nicol Bolas. Also, I want to know more about her. Who raised her? Are her doorways linked to Jodah's teleportation caves? ...Wait. Did Jodah raise her?!
  • Whisper, Blood Liturgist - Estark! The setting of Arena, the first Magic novel ever! Good to see it is still around. I figured it was destroyed after reading the flavor text of Magus of the Arena, but I guess the arena mentioned there doesn't have to be that specific one.

MAGIC STORY PODCAST
I can't seem to link to a list directly, but if you go to the Podcast page of Magicthegathering.com and search for "Magic Story Podcast" you'll get the full list. Just be sure to click the "apply" button rather than just hitting enter, as doing that will only make the page reload. If you do get the full list, the five most recent ones (at least, when this post goes up) are Dominaria related. (grumble grumble, future proof grumble grumble archivists grumble)

These podcasts were clearly released with one idea in mind: making me blush by praising my blog multiple times. I must say it's quite odd to hear the people making the game and story you love compliment your own little blogging project. I'm not complaining of course. Let's just say I'm happy that I only review stories and that for supplemental stuff like this I only talk about the references and continuity issues, because obviously I would not have been able to give an unbiased opinion about these absolutely amazing lovely great epic podcasts.

Well, there is one thing I wanted to mention; I found it kind off funny how much Kelly and Ethan were trying to stop people reading too much into their words or taking speculation or theories as gospel. They say things like "it is only a theory" or "in my personal opinion" very often. At one point they even literally ask us (or rather, me!) not to call something a ret-con if a published source ever contradicts their theory! It seems clear that during their research for Dominaria they were struck by how much fan theories and outright nonsense was spread as canonical fact on the message boards of old. I wonder if all their qualifying words will be enough though. All it takes is one careless Wiki edit or one person telling a new Vorthos something they themselves only half remember for things to go awry. I guess we'll see in another 20 years!

Pictured: how Vorthosi used to share information.
On to specific parts of interest:
  • In episode 1 Ethan talks about Magic moving away from resonant fantasy to something more abstract between Alpha and Odyssey, and describes the Otaria period as being about "cards changing zones". That got a good laugh out of me!
  • Ethan suggests the tunnels under Otaria and Sukurvia (first seen in Odyssey and Johan respectively) may be a hint that Dominaria is hollow, a possible explanation for the fact that the planet is 2.5 times the size of earth but has the same level of gravity. It's utterly amazing to hear the mystery of Dominarian gravity, first introduced in The Duelist #16, finally get resolved! (Yes, yes, just a theory, don't call it a ret-con, I get it, I get it. Still cool.)
  • In the deepest of deep cuts, Ethan mentions one of the other planets in Dominaria's solar system is Jinuoe. It was first referenced in the story Foulmere in the Disant Planes anthology. I'll be honest: I had no idea where that name came from until Ethan explained it on Twitter.
  • In episode 2 Ethan says the Primevals were overthrown -16.000 AR, then corrects himself and says "I'm sorry, 17.000". Kelly then clarifies they are "more or less" using the dates from the Legions novel. In Legions the numena say they were reborn after 20.000 years. Legions happens in 4306, so that is... *grabs calculator* ...-15.694 AR, rounded off that makes -16.000 AR. In that novel they also say they ruled for a thousand years, so that would put them defeating the Primevals at... *grabs calculator again* ...-17.000 AR! Holy moly, those are the exact dates that Ethan mentioned! I guess I'll go update my timeline!
  • (No, but seriously Ethan, did you do that "I'm sorry" line on purpose?)
  • In their history of Terisiare they say the Thran migrated in, probably from the east, and that their empire covered two-thirds of Terisiare, though they also had colonies on other places (Like Caliman and Shiv). It is also said their patriarchs all "founded a city, or took over a city that was already there perhaps." That last bit about taking over a city is probably a reference to Losanon already existing in the days of the Primevals, which we learned in The Dragons of Magic.
  • Kelly says the culture of Zhalfir is almost as old as the Thran, and that it mastered magic long before the Thran did. This makes Zhalfir way older than previously known. Up to now we only had references to Zhalfir mastering magic before the Brothers' War. This adds a good 5000 years to their history!
  • Ethan has a theory about the origin of the Golgothian Sylex: that it was created by people to the west of the Thran to destroy the empire, but that Yawgmoth got to them before they could use it. If this is true it would also make the Fallaji very ancient, as their runes were also found on the Sylex.
  • We learn that Storgard took in Sarpadian refugees, which might explain why Tevesh Szat took special interest in it and why he called it "the last of the Fallen Empires" in the Ice Age comic.
  • We also learn that people from Northland moved into Terisiare during the Ice Age, bringing with them names like Bjorn.
  • Sadly we didn't get a Carthalion card due to there being too many J-names in the set already.
  • I've talked about this in one of my annotation articles, but it is mentioned that Yavimaya became sentient in the wake of the World Spell. Then in episode 3 they go into the connection between Yavimaya and Argoth a bit further, and suggest several ways to explain why the Argoth rift seemed to be at Yavimaya in Future Sight. Maybe the World Spell moved it? Maybe it was just a big rift? Maybe it was actually physically at Argoth but healed from Yavimaya through Multani's connection to it? All good explanations. Just a bit odd that Return to Dominaria then seemed to make the same mistake, but luckily we can just build on one of these explanations to explain why the Sylex ended up where it did.
  • We also learn of the expansion of Yavimaya's magnigoth trees over the seas. There are now gigantic mangrove forests stretching from its island to the mainland. This was also shown on the new map of Terisiare from the Dominarian Cartography article.
  • For all of those we want me to do an annotated version of this map as I did with the world map... I'm just going to point you to this tweet by @Araarataihen. Tracking down all that info would be an enormous task for me, so I really don't feel like taking on that work when somebody else has already done so ;)
  • Then we get to my question that made it onto the show! I asked what the link between the Elder Dragons and the Primeval Dragons was, and when their wars happened. Clearly this wasn't one of the things they had worked out for this new set, as this was where they asked us all to not call it a ret-con if their theories were ever disproved by a published source.
  • The best date they can give for the Elder Dragon War is "between when Bolas says he was born" (-20.000 AR) and "when other stuff happened around -18.000/-17.000 AR." Very vague, but I'll take it!
  • They also say the Elder Dragons are linked to the Ur-Dragon, and Kelly's theory on the Primevals is that they are the second generation (from the Ur-Dragon?) after the Elders. Not the clearest explanation, but better than anything we've had before, so... yay!
  • Ethan talks about a weird city appearing on a map of Terisiare in the Magic Tactics game, and deciding that it is where the Kor Haven ended up after the Rathi overlay.
  • In episode 3 they talk about what being the Nexus of the Multiverse actually means, which has always been very vague. It no longer really matters though, as after the Mending the Multiverse (probably) no longer has a Nexus.
  • There is this really weird bit from an old internal document that says Rabiah is its own "galaxy", sitting at a 90 degree angle of the Dominian "galaxy", with Dominaria in the middle of both. It's bizarre, it was never published, and as Ethan and Kelly say, it really doesn't matter for any story you'd want to tell in Magic. Still, its the kind of strange tidbit that I love.
  • I'm surprised they are not 100% explicit about the Mending causing the Great Aether Boom on Kaladesh. They just note that it happened at the same time. Is there more to be learned here?
  • The podcasts on the Serran Church is just great overall, doing a wonderful job at tying all the lose bits about Serra that had been released over the years together in one neat bundle. They only miss out one source: Fallen Angel, but Ethan later acknowledged it on Twitter. That source does put a bit of a dent in the "Serra came to Terisiare"theory, as its the oldest source and happened in Corondor.
  • They say Serra's visit to Sursi at the end of the Homelands comic happens around 3800 AR, citing Time Spiral block's references to Homelands as being crucial in placing it. This is also the date the old official timeline gives for the beginning of Homelands, suggesting that we should take its dates of "~3800 to 4130" as the dates for the set, with the comic taking place directly before it. Currently I have the Homelands stuff much later, as after my look at the Homelands Document I assumed the "present day" part of the set had to be much shorter. It has already moved on my timeline a few times because it was always unclear to me what those 3800-4130 dates meant (and I obviously haven't gotten to the Time Spiral review yet). So when people working at WotC give me a date as clear as this, I'm taking it with both hands! Serra's visit to Sursi goes on 3800 AR. We can then use the timeline from the Homelands comic to work out that the prologue (with Ravi ringing the Apocalypse Chime) happened in 3200 AR, and that the main comic starts in 3560 AR (with Feroz arriving on Ulgrotha).
  • Probably the greatest thing in the entire podcast series is Kelly's rehabilitation of Serra. He suggests we shouldn't read her demise as her choosing death or giving in to grief. Instead he suggests she infuses Sursi with her power, like Greensleeves did to Lat-Nam in Final Sacrifice, giving up her spark, and by extension her life, to help the refugees she was traveling with. This also explains why there are still Serra Angels appearing there to this day, as we saw in Tiana's origin story. I don't really buy that this was the intention of the people writing the Homelands comic, but it's a fantastic way to rehabilitate a character that was kind of ruined by all the subsequent publications about her (as I also talked about in the Homelands review).
She "lets her white mane glide back into the land" because she's unsummoning a Serra Angel, but I guess we could expand that to mean she's pouring her entire planeswalkers spark into the land.
  • We learn of Brother Angus's Lament, the cantos of the Song of All after number 1000, which were added by the monk who cared for Serra in her last days.
  • Kelly was inspired to make the Order part of the Serran Church after seeing the cycle of Spheres in Odyssey use the same names as the Voices from Urza's and Masques blocks. I would add to that that we already had Order angels talking about Serra in Chainer's Torment, and that we had Order clerics thinking Karona was a reincarnation of Serra in Scourge.
  • Serranism is now the state religion in Benalia, but House Croger are still Angelfire traditionalists. 
  • There is also an Order of Akroma, as people mistakenly believe she was a Serra Angel.
  • The Legends II books are said to "definitely" take place about 300 years later than the Legends I books, again based on stuff mentioned in Time Spiral. This is great, I'm learning that for all these hard to place stories I just had to look back to Time Spiral! This does mean we just have to assume there are multiple Xira Ariens and Tor Wauki's though, as there is no way the characters with those names can be the same in both Legends I and Legends II if they are 300 years apart.
  • South eastern Jamuraa is finally filled in, mostly with the Tivan Desert, which was created by the cyclone planar portals leading to Rabiah dumping out sand. On it we also find Karakas, the Mayar Mountains, and a bit of jungle where you find Eumidians and Nekoru (as featured in the story Who Is Queen from The Monsters of Magic.)
  • We already talked about the Tamingazin/Otaria match when we discussed the new map of Dominaria, but it is still great to hear Ethan talking about all the work he did figuring out the placement of the continent. It takes up over half the last podcast!
  • To make the match fit, The Prodigal Sorcerer is has been made part of the Otaria backstory, with the rise of the Cabal happening in the wake of the collapse of Suderbod. This is said to take place about 200 years before the Otaria Saga, so I'm going to put the novel at around ~4100 AR, which is slightly more specific that where it is now (between 4000 and 4200).
  • When we saw Elspeth fighting in an Urborgan pit fighting ring in the webcomic Gathering Forces, that place was run by the Cabal!
  • We also learn that the Cabal, desperate for leadership after the end of Scourge, did a ritual to summon Kuberr, but accidentally freed Belzenlok from the Abyss.
  • Finally, Ethan gives some quick geography explanations. Amrou Haven is in western Jamuraa, north of Arboria, by the sea. Vesuva is off the western coast of Walasa. Shimia is in western Jamuraa: east of the Great Desert lie the Thunder Islands, to their south "lies the haunted coast of Shimia." Liliana's homeland of Caligo is midway across the coast of Benalia. Vosak is a large frozen island north of Stahaan. (This is the one where I don't know where it is from. Ashes of the Sun I guess?) Upper Videnth is an old name for the islands of Terisiare, as mentioned in the first The Duelist Supplement. The Daru Plains are on the southern end of Otaria. Verdenth is a large island between Jamuraa and Otaria. It was mentioned on the map of Corondor from The Shadow Mage #4. The Efrava oasis was in the Sukurvian desert, and was featured in the Jedit Ojanen comic and later in the Johan, Jedit and Hazezon novels. Scathe not a place.

TIMELINE
A quick roundup of all the timeline references I'm taking from the podcasts, so I can easily find them if I ever need them:
  • The Primevals were defeated by the numena -17.000 AR, the numena themselves fell -16.000 AR.
  • The Elder Dragon War happened between -20.000 AR and -17.000 AR.
  • The Homelands comic mainly stretches from 3560 to 3800 AR, with its prologue happening in 3200 AR.
  • Legends II "definitely" happens 300 years after Legends I (I´m not going to be putting that on the timeline until I have reviewed the books)
  • The Prodigal Sorcerer happens ~4100 AR.
All these dates can of course change due to future publications, and I promise I wont call it a ret-con if that ever happens!

And that wraps up our Dominaria coverage! Stick around on the blog for more Otaria stuff, or come back next month(ish) for the Art Book review!


1 comment:

  1. Man, you do a wonderful job with this stuff. Keep it up! I love reading about old stories that I'm unfamiliar with, but I especially love reading your takes on the stories that I have read myself, because you always add things to it with your vast array of obscure references and brilliant insights.

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