Friday, June 24, 2011

It's the Magic: The Great Gates

Better Know an Abandoned Project
As I may have mentioned a few hundred times, there was a Great Designer Search held by the folks over at Wizards to see who would be the newest Magic card designer. Some other guy won, but before they started weeding out participants for quality, I was involved.

The initial take on the GDS2 was to focus on the collaborative nature of card design. To this end, they put up a wiki specifically for these designs, plus whatever else. Hopefuls would put up their block ideas, complete with mechanics, settings, etc., and would work with one another to refine those ideas. I was on a boat for most of this is sucking bandwidth through a coffee stir, so my participation at best. To the credit of many of the other participants, they remained active after being eliminated and helped the remaining contenders compete for the final spot, marking themselves as merits to the community.

In the interest of cataloging everything I do ever, I thought I'd share my portion of this abandoned project with you. I'll link my wiki pages here, with notes, with the intent to eventually blog it all (with some improvements).

The Rundown
The knowledge that individual planes have about their place in the universe varies; some have no knowledge of magic. Others do, but remain oblivious to other planes and those who walk between them. Then, there are those worlds which understand that their existence is but one in a sea of many. The Great Gates is a block about three such world. One steps onto other worlds to explore, another to expand, and the last to escape.

Argral--Argral is a plane that consists largely of island chains and oceans. A peaceful seat of scientific inquiry and civilization, its few moments of excitement come from the slow dance of power struggles between leaders and the distant efforts to tame the wild lost islands at the edges of the known seas. Argral was the first of its neighbors to develop a planar gate.

Granismelthan--A plane of calm, cooperation and culture, Granismelthan has reached the limits of their Great Quest: the dragons are slain, the undead reburied, and the darkness of the world all but quelled. When the Deep Root Nobles brought up the re-civilzation of the T'ren-Tehn Towers as the next great cultural quest, the wizards at the other side of the Court of Noble Judges offered up their best defense; a chance to spread the greatest society to other realms, yet undreamed of. After years of searching, they reached out and found Argral.

Meyon--On Meyon, encroaching swamps have swallowed up everything but belching volcanoes, leaving only an ash-covered world of eternal, volcanic twilight. There is only one city left to speak of, with smaller settlements under constant threat of consumption covering the vast remainder of the plane.Meyon's last great metropolis, Gaedcel the Forge City, built the portal out of desperation. Just as blighted swamps turn their world into a place where not even demons would to rule, a plague rips through a population already on the verge of extinction. The great thinkers and forgers of Gaedcel made the gate and were quickly found by the Argral.

For more information on the history of the three planes, click here.

The Great Gates is primarily about concepts of a 'next stage' in common magic. Granismelthan represents ubiquity of magic, Argral represents spellcasters who've learned to turn the spells of others into a weapon, and Meyon represents--and foreshadows--the rise of a natural magic which trumps these increased levels of both high and low magic.It's also about civilization versus order. In Gates Asunder, the persecuted natural aspects of the three planes experiences a resurgence of power that allows it to fight for its rightful place in the balance of things(while the block has an equal division of each color, the individual planes do not). Sadly, even the excesses of order tend to have a better knack for 'balance' than chaos and the ever-changing, ever-growing forces of growth and nature.

It was only after trying to make this jive with the goals of the GDS that I realized that The Great Gates is long on flavor, but somewhat shorter on mechanics. Granted, the story and setting do inspire me to make some different cards for it. The Great Gates has a three block structure because that's the standard structure that works well with simple, three-act storytelling; establishment, conflict, and resolution. Granted, modern Magic sets seem to have establishment, conflict, and "we'll get back to this in another set."

1 comment:

SkilTao said...

Meyon is probably my favorite of those three.

"Explore, expand, escape" sounds like an interesting subversion of the stereotypical video game "explore, expand, exploit, exterminate" mantra.