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Magic the Gathering Lore and Storyline Explained

Hello, people of the internet. Welcome to “everything you need to know about the Magic: The Gathering lore and storyline.”

The Story of Magic: the Gathering

The story of Magic: The Gathering is told in a number of places, but the most important events and characters are often showcased on cards as spells, artifacts, planeswalkers, and creatures. If a card is labeled Legendary, be it a land creature, planeswalker, or anything, it is because the character or object or event on the card has some significance to that set’s storyline.

The World of Magic: The Gathering

The world of Magic: The Gathering is a multiverse set on different Planes, a bit like planets, separated by the Blind Eternities, a bit like space, which all play out at the same time, provided you developed an understanding of object permanence.

The Planes of MTG

Each of these planes is unique in terms of size, society, demographics, technology, etc. Most planes have humans. Some planes have dragons. There are an infinite number of these planes with infinite world-building potential, and so Wizards’ only limit is their imagination and the number of historical cultures they can easily condense into the world-building.

Wizards of the Coast Makes MTG

Wizards of the Coast is the company that makes Magic: The Gathering. That’s not relevant to the story, but I didn’t want to confuse anyone into thinking I’m talking about actual wizards when I say Wizards until I do mean wizards when I say wizards, in which case I would mean wizards. Wait, no, I’ve just confused everything. Let’s move on.

The Early Storyline of MTG

The first 10 years of Magic’s story predominantly focused on Urza, Gerrard, and their friends on the plane of Dominaria as they fought against continual Phyrexian invasions. Urza was a planeswalker. Gerrard was his selectively bred son.

Urza – MTG

Phyrexia was an “I have no mouth and I must scream” style plane, ruled over by the mad god, Yawgmoth. In our modern Magic timeline, all those people and places are canonically dead or destroyed hundreds of years ago. That said, their names and actions still hold relevancy to Magic to this very day.

Planeswalkers

The many planeswalkers in the multiverse are often the driving force of Magic’s storyline and lore. They are soldiers, sorcerers, and regular Joes who, after some great emotional event befalls them, have their planeswalker spark ignite, turning them into a being that can travel between the planes.

Gideon Jura was a soldier boy on the plane of Theros. But after his hubris led to the death of all of his friends, his spark ignited.

The antihero, Liliana Vess, was a noble daughter of an old Dominarian house. But when she accidentally turned her brother into a zombie after some guy in the woods told her to, her spark ignited.

Samut was a strong, independent skeptic of the gods of Amonkhet, and her spark ignited when she saved Hazoret from the Scorpion God and was overwhelmed with euphoria and joy after being thanked by her deity.

Not when she watched her childhood friend killed before her eyes by a desert horror.

Not when she barely saved her only other childhood friend from being brutally murdered by the God, Hazoret.

Wizards of the Coast writing isn’t always great.

Traversing the Blind Eternities

Much like how regular living beings can’t easily leave earth or traverse space, nothing can leave its plane of origin or traverse the Blind Eternities.

Unless they are a Planeswalker.

Or a special creature like Razaketh, the Foulblooded.

In other words, most things can’t leave their plane of origin.

The Mending

Planeswalkers were essentially interplanar gods until the Mending. The mending was when the central plane of the multiverse, Dominaria, had its plane-walking holes “healed.”

If we were talking about a video game, this would be a huge balance patch.

Many types of travel that were formerly possible were now prevented. It also permanently diminished the power of all current and future Planeswalkers in the multiverse.

New Phyrexia

Remember earlier when I said Phyrexia was destroyed hundreds of years ago?

I meant to say that it’s still alive and worse than ever.

New Phyrexia

Karn, the second saddest robot in all of Magic: The Gathering, forgot to wipe his feet after he killed Yawgmoth and traipsed a bunch of Phyrexian oil all over the carpet in his perfect machine world of Argentum, which then became Mirrodin.

This oil blurred the lines between flesh and machines and has since evolved the plane into New Phyrexia, an even more “I have no mouth and I’m a scream” style hellscape.

It seems as though everyone on Mirrodin is either dead, a cyberman, or trying to claw back a few scraps of what was Mirrodin.

Nicol Bolas

Let’s talk about the elder dragon, turned planeswalker, turned ghost dragon, turned alive again, turned planeswalker again, Nicol Bolas.

He’s one of Magic’s many villains and certainly one of the most iconic. He’s always on some harebrained scheme to get rich quick or to reclaim his lost omnipotence, even if it means sacrificing the life of every other living being in the multi-person… God help him.

Nicol Bolas

He’s, directly and indirectly, ruined a whole bunch of planes, including Amonkhet, Zendikar, and many more. He’s got his fingers in lots of pies and lots of planeswalkers owe him favors. The Gatewatch. Can they defeat him? I hope so. I’m bored of them.

Eldrazi Titans

Let’s keep talking villains. The Eldrazi Titans are three ineffable beings, presumably born from the Blind Eternities themselves, who travel the multiverse consuming entire planes for some unknowable and dastardly purpose.

Eldrazi Titans

Many years ago, Nicol Bolas’ brother, Ugin, Nahiri, and Sorin Markov (a weeb) trapped the Eldrazi on the plane of Zendikar.

But wouldn’t you know it, Nicol Bolas tricked a bunch of planeswalkers into releasing the Titans and they rampaged through Zendikar, killing countless people and irrevocably wounding the plane.

The planeswalker, Nissa Revane, had a chance to stop them, but she didn’t.

She just chose not to. Apparently.

The Gatewatch

It’s hero time.

The Gatewatch are an ever-changing group of planeswalkers that was first formed for the purpose of defeating the Eldrazi threat and protecting the multiverse.

After the four founding members beat up the demon planeswalker, Ob Nixilis, the group went on to grow and shrink in size, besting many villains. This includes Ulamog and Kozilek on Zendikar, Emrakul on Innistrad, and Tezzeret on Kaladesh.

However, when they faced Nicol Bolas on Amonkhet, he gangsted them so hard that Jace forgot he was a planeswalker and Nissa threw a tantrum and left the group.

God, Nissa sucks.

The Gatewatch lost another member when Liliana’s demonic contract fell to Bolas after she killed the four demons she originally made it with.

Read the fine print, kids. You only have one future.

But Gideon, Chandra, Ajani, Teferi, the newly un-amnesia-ed Jace, and a bunch of other planeswalkers are currently on their way to Ravnica for one final showdown with Bolas.

Can the Gatewatch do it? Again, I really hope so. I am bored of their storyline.

More Plots and Sub Plots to Magic the Gathering

Each set and block of Magic that’s released into the game is chock full of stories and lore, and I’ve only covered the major multiverse-spanning characters and events. And even then, I have had to leave some stuff out.

There’s lots of subplots, loose threads, and rumors about Magic’s storyline to talk about, and lots of speculation about what’s going to happen after the Gatewatch saga finally comes to a close next year.

Who is the Raven man? Where are the Eldrazi now that their physical forms are gone? Will Sidisi overflow Silumgar and make Tarkir interesting again? What will Elesh Norn do with her Phyrexian knowledge of other planes of existence? How will Elspeth come back from the dead? Will we ever go back to Lorwyn?

Lorwyn | MTG

Please, God, say we’re going back to Lorwyn. It’s so cute.

There are so many directions that the storyline could go and wizards are always reimagining, and time traveling through the narrative of this game.

It’s vast and silly, and there’s so much to talk about that someone could make an entire blog or channel about the narrative alone.

Your Role

My favorite bit of Magic: The Gathering’s story is that in the canon of the game, you, yes, you – are a planeswalker.

Whenever you sit down to play Magic, you’re not just playing cards with your pal. You are dueling another planeswalker, casting spells, using mana to summon creatures, and calling other planeswalkers to your aid.

So, go nuts. Wear a silly hat to your next event. Make fun noises when you cast spells. Magic is a complex, convoluted, two-part Silmarillion, eight parts Hollyoaks kind of story. There’s so much MTG lore to talk about, so much to explore.

At Proxy King, we’re trying to make Magic accessible to everyone, and I hope that we can make that exploration fun and interesting.

Still, it’s no substitute for diving into the story yourself. Look through some old cards. Pick up a busted old book at a charity shop. Have fun with the game.

And if you see someone engaging with a game of Magic, laughing or role-playing, or wearing a silly hat, let them have their fun. After all, they are technically a planeswalker. Just like you.

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