Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Designing Suvnica, Week 6: The Exiled (Worldbuilding)

Listen, child.
This wasn't always home. A few seasons ago, we didn't even know this place existed. If we had, we wouldn't have cared.

The place where we lived, it was incredible. I can’t even explain it to you. You don’t have the context to even understand what it would be I was describing. Buildings that were ten times the size of our shelters were commonplace. The gardens, beautifully manicured and flourishing with blooms that humble the imagination. And the cathedrals… I was never particularly invested in the Syndicate, neither figuratively nor literally, but standing in the shadow of one of the cathedrals never failed to halt my breath for a moment.

I was no one of importance there. A simple clerk, really. I worked in a property records office. My life was simple, and I was very content. I had a few friends, and no family with whom I was close. Perhaps it sounds like I had little to lose, but it was my home, my life.

One night I went home, read a book, and drifted off to sleep. And when I woke up, my home, my life, my city was gone, and I was here.

It wasn’t only me. Thousands of us had disappeared, and then here we were. No explanation as to why we were abducted, no kidnapper to identify, no way of knowing if it was even possible to get back home.

Those early days were anarchy. Our desperate search for answers and a way back home was exacerbated by the indigenous people to this place, who apparently had no more understanding of our situation than we did. We fought with them, we fought amongst ourselves, and we fought to survive.

After a time, still well before you were born, those of us who came here began to revert to the societal and hierarchical structures of our home. We formed alliances with those who shared our philosophies and creeds. We incorporated the locals into our guilds or else dominated them.

Many of us were desperate to find a way back home. Others resigned themselves to fate, begrudgingly trying to find a place for themselves in this new world. Some even saw this as a unique opportunity to escape from their previous lives.

For my part, I don’t believe that our exile is permanent, nor do I believe that we were banished here by accident or by a capricious whim. Someone is treating us as pawns. I will find out why, and I will find a way to return to my home.

Now hush child. Unlike myself and my followers, you truly are resigned to fate. Crying will not help you. I only tell you this as a courtesy. You were born of a native to this world and an exile from mine, and somewhere within you is one more clue to the mystery that haunts my every waking hour. I will find that clue. I regret that I will have to keep you alive as long as I can while I search, lest the information I seek be lost due to an untimely demise.

Listen, child. Cease your whimpering and tell me the secrets of this world.


First of all, I want to apologize for the delay. I’ve been very swamped with my bar review studying, and I haven’t been able to finish the design reviews from last week yet. Hopefully I should have them up sometime soon.

Now that we’ve taken a first crack at redefining the guilds from the ground up, I wanted to take a look at the larger picture to answer the fundamental question: What kind of world is Suvnica? At the outset, at least for my own revision of each guild, I didn’t want to adhere to the conceit of a city-plane, since a lot of the Ravnica guilds’ identities were tied up in filling certain municipal functions. But now that we’ve seen a number of creative and philosophical visions for our color pairings, let’s create a world for them to inhabit. What kind of world do we want this to be? What is the nature of the guilds, and what role do they play collectively and individually in this world?

The vision I’m currently playing with is one where thousands of inhabitants of an unnamed plane are whisked away in their sleep and brought to Suvnica. In the aftermath, guilds were formed based on their reactions and beliefs about the meaning and permanence of this event. Some indigenous Suvnicans have been adopted or conscripted into guilds, while others (most of the mono color humanoids in the set) are fending for themselves.

The Dimir I’m envisioning for this plane, for instance, are obsessed with gaining knowledge of how and why they were brought here, as well as any means of getting back home. They will get this knowledge at absolutely any cost. This reflects a number of the Dimir visions that we discussed.

So here’s the creative challenge this week:

  • Choose or describe a creative vision for a plane where it makes sense to have ten unique groups vying for dominance in some way.
    • This doesn’t need to be in short story format. A brief description will be fine as well.
    • You can choose Ravnica’s city-plane motif if you want
  • Choose at least one guild and describe its role in this world
    • You can look to the Suvnica design reviews for summaries of creative visions already described
    • Feel free to work within or modify any of those, or to create a new one from scratch
  • Design some cards that reflect the creative decisions that you make.

Bonus Challenge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As long as we’re doing big-picture stuff, let’s do some Planeswalkers. 

  • Design a Planeswalker card
    • It can be a new version of a planeswalker, or a brand new one
  • Give some background on the PW. Is she from Suvnica, or is she visiting? What is keeping her on Suvnica for the time being? 
    • If the PW is affiliated with a guild, he should be those guilds colors. If not, he should be monocolor.
  • PW Design tips
    • Don’t worry about the numbers too much. PWs are tinkered with so much in development that their numbers (and abilities) rarely even closely resemble what design handed off. Focus instead on abilities that tell us a story about that PW. 
    • Also, some PWs have developed distinct mechanical identities (Jace and Gideon, for instance) so if you’re making a new version of one that does, make sure to riff off of the mechanical identity.

For my world vision, I thought it would be interesting to bring Karn into the picture. Aside from being potentially playable in any guild, the whole kidnapping people from other planes is tied into Mirrodin’s history with Memnarch’s use of the soul traps and the Phyrexians limitations on being unable to planeswalk. He’s looking for the same information that Otmar is: what brought these people here, what allowed them to travel between planes, why were they brought there. He also wants to know if the Phyrexians are involved in any way, and even if not, he wants to ensure that they won’t be able to figure out the trick that allowed for the interplanar travel.


Finally, I wanted to let you all know where we’ll be going from here. This world building project will continue through next week. After we settle on a definitive creative vision for Suvnica, we’re going to lock in the final creative visions for the guilds. Once that’s done, I’ll split the guilds up by set, and we’ll start developing the guilds mechanical identities much more.

Good luck guys. I’m really eager to see the kinds of worlds you all come up with.



  1. I actually really like your vision here. Let's go with a narrative out of another guild, the Boros.

    "The most important event of my life happened long before I was born. Few people remain, now, who were alive back then, and each of them seems to have their own version and explanation for what happened. So, too, did the man who raised me."

    Rift-Swept Orphan 1R
    Creature - Human (C)
    CARDNAME can only attack or block as long as you control another creature.
    "These people have truly lost their homes. Even my fate seems lucky in comparison" -Elspeth

    "He was one of the Displaced, a young boy who suddenly found himself in a time and place that he could not recognize and which could not recognize him. Had a complete stranger, a native of this place, not taken him in, he would surely have perished."

    Unwavering Compassion 2WW
    Enchantment - Aura (U)
    Enchant Creature
    If damage would be dealt to you or another creature you control, it is dealt to enchanted creature instead.

    "Instead, he flourished in this new world and learned what I believe to be the fundamental truth of life. A truth more important than the answer to where the Displaced were from or why they were sent here. It is a simple truth, yet some cannot see it, or choose not to see it. It is our mission as the descendants of Sorob to protect and spread his vision."

    Protector of the People 2RW
    Creature - Knight (R)
    First Strike, Vigilance.
    CARDNAME can block any number of creatures.

    "And that most important truth, and my dedication to it, is why I stand before you today. The truth is this: that nothing is more important than the care which must be taken of any one, man or woman, Displaced or native, rich or poor, orphan or widow, beggar or bride. It was the vision of Sorob, the man who has been a father to me, and, I suspect, to every one of you in some way. As we bury him today, I thank you for the trust you have put in my ability to continue his effort. I will need your help, as the world will need ours."

    Kirin, The Servant 2WWRR
    Legendary Creature - Human Advisor (MR)
    Other permanents you control are indestructible.
    Exile CARDNAME: Until end of turn, all damage that would be dealt to you or creatures you control is dealt to target creature or player instead.


    Elspeth, Protector 3WW
    Planeswalker - Elspeth (MR)
    +1: Put two white 1/1 Soldier tokens onto the battlefield.
    +1: During target player's next turn, CARDNAME is a 6/6 knight creature in addition to its other types.
    -7: You get an emblem with, "prevent all damage that would be dealt to creatures you control."

    Notice how she can take damage in Knight form - unless you've popped her ultimate.

    1. Planeswalkers taking damage while creatures is a problem. Players won't know whether toughness or loyalty determines how much damage they can take. That's why both Gideons have that ability.

    2. Agreed. Also, if we have a mono-{W} PW turning into a creature, why not have it be Gideon, as that's his shtick anyway? Elspeth is much more about building and bolstering an army than joining in the fight herself. Maybe that middle ability could be different kinds of tokens :

      -2: At the beginning of target players next upkeep, put three white 2/2 Knight creatures onto the battlefield with first strike and "sacrifice this creature at the end of turn."

    3. As far as I understand the history of Elspeth, she fits a lot better with the motiff of the Boros vision lined out here, but perhaps we need to not use the animation ability as it is Gideon's shtick.

    4. That's what I'm getting at. Even if philosophically Elspeth makes more sense, she shouldn't be stealing Gideon's primary identifying feature besides from a weird arm-mounted scourge.

  2. Suvnica could be a plane dominated by ten schools, each of which holds and promotes its own world view and teaches its adherents one particular skill they believe to be crucial to prosper in the world. I'm imagining a far-eastern mindset in terms of dedication to a school of thought and to mastery of a skill, but the flavor of the world could be anything.

    Middle Earth has Dwarves who specialize in craftsmanship and mining, Humans who specialize in horsemanship and agriculture, Elves who specialize in study and craftsmanship. I'd rather stay away from race-heavy alignments, but I can imagine a world where there are ten groups who each provide an important skill to the world.

    Maybe: WU Teachers, UB Merchants, BR Mercenaries, RG Animal Handlers, GW Farmers, WB Police, BG Leaders, GU Exploreres, UR Philosophers & RW Craftsmen.

    Regardless, each guild believes it provides the most valuable service to the world and they compete even as they trade and work together.

    My planeswalker is a visitor (unless we go with Kamigawa Reunited):

    Azusa Found GG
    Planeswalker—Azusa (mythic)
    +2: You may play an additional land this turn.
    0: Lands you control are 2/2 creatures in addition to their other types this turn.
    -6: Draw a card for each land you control.


    Azusa Reborn 1GG
    Planeswalker—Azusa (mythic)
    +1: Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a land card, you may put it onto the battlefield tapped.
    -2: Untap each land you control.
    -6: Gain 100 life.

  3. Doug Bayer just linked to this Savor the Flavor article (http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/stf/184) on his blog describing the feedback loop between theme, worldbuilding, and card design that I thought might be pertinent to this week's challenge. Definitely worth a read.

  4. http://markrosewater.tumblr.com/image/42504205253

    Anybody want to run with this for an idea?

  5. I really liked the idea of the natives of Suvnica being sucked over into another plane. I think it could be a really cool plot line but I took it a little bit differently.

    Instead of simply having the natives of Suvnica all transplanted onto this new plane, maybe something is going on on the new plane that is sucking in denizens from across the multiverse.

    Maybe this is my love for Planar Chaos block finding it's way into my designs or maybe it's an influence from Modern Masters but I like the thought of people from all over the multiverse being brought together. There, they band into the new guilds as we described them and vie for power.

    In my vision, the entire set (all 10 guilds) are made up of a conglomeration of creature types. Vampires from Innistrad, Kitsune from Kamigawa, Vedalken from Mirrodin (assuming any survived), Kavu from Dominaria, and Kor from whatever is left of Zendikar are just some of the creature types getting sucked into this new world. I can't decide whether the new world should have native denizens or not but the guilds are definitely comprised of mixes of people from everywhere. This may lead to some strange encounters, such as Merfolk in the Sodkar guild or Goblins in the Aynseles but I think the end result could be really cool.

    The designs I came up with were out of the Cimis guild from last week. I liked Zef's idea about a guild that was very in tune with artifacts and wanted to imitate and preserve life. All of my non-artifact creatures are artificers, going with the guild design. Here goes:

    Rattling Basilisk 1GG
    Artifact Creature - Basilisk (common)

    Surveillance Technician 2GU
    Creature - Vampire Artificer (uncommon)
    1GU: Whenever target artifact creature deals combat damage to a player this turn, you may draw a card.

    Test Subject GU
    Creature - Goblin Artificer (uncommon)
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may draw a card.
    Whenever another artifact enters the battlefield under your control, you may return CARDNAME to it's owners hand.

    Kitsune Scrap Artisan 3U
    Creature - Fox Artificer (rare)
    Sacrifice an artifact: put X 1/1 flying Thopter artifact creature tokens onto the battlefield where X was the sacrificed artifact's converted mana cost.

    Also, going along with this vision: I think a good reprint would be.

    Myr Propagator 3
    Artifact Creature - Myr (rare)
    3T: Put a token that's a copy of Myr Propagator onto the battlefield.

    Not sure how I feel about taking up a rare slot with a reprint though, unless it's going to make a splash in standard. (I just thought it fit well with Zef's vision of the Cimis)

    Lastly, a planeswalker. I know, I'm submitting a lot of cards. (I'm making up for so many times of reading but not submitting)

    I kind of liked the idea of Ob Nixilis getting sucked over to this new world and, in the process, having his spark reignited. As a demon, I didn't like having him align with any guilds. He's definitely got selfish motives and wants revenge on the Eldrazi (for being involved in him losing his spark) So, I wanted to make a planeswalker that had it's own interests in mind and who's end goal is the extermination of a boatload of creatures.

    Ob Nixilis, Risen 1BBB
    Planeswalker - Ob (mythic)
    +4: Ob Nixilis deals 2 damage to you.
    -4 Put two -1/-1 counters on target creature.
    -13: Destroy all creatures you don't control. Each opponent loses life equal to twice the number of creatures destroyed this way.

    Thanks for reading my submissions. I'd love some feedback!

  6. A lot of the guild concepts I've seen so far make me think of ancient/medieval India (and/or Southeast Asia). It's an interesting and diverse setting that Magic hasn't really visited, and one that's known for having a lot of groups with fixed and defined social roles (e.g. the caste system). In this Suvnica, guilds (or maybe they could be called 'clans' or something) are still based on what role they play in society, but they are also at least partially hereditary, so each family has an incentive to support their own guild as the best/most valuable.

    For example, Azorius might be monks that form their own isolated community in order to learn and teach some form of transcendent knowledge.

    Such a plane would need a green-blue planeswalker who embodies the dangerous and important natural forces of the monsoon. How about:

    Misci, Rider of the Winds
    [Starting loyalty: 2]
    Creatures with flying can't block creatures without flying.
    +2: Target creature gains or loses flying until end of turn.
    -1: Target creature blocks this turn if able.
    -X: Tap or untap X target lands.