Friday, July 22, 2016

Tesla Design Challenge 072216 — Hello World

Hi everybody! Over at the Multiverse, we're taking the final steps towards finalizing the commons in the skeleton, in preparation for imminent all-commons playtesting. This week, we're going to have a fun triple-fold challenge: filling in the rest of the commons, in addition to filling in flavor text and the rest of the world of Kaladesh.

Over at Magic Salvation earlier this week, Legend asked whether we had a world description for Tesla, and while we have our nice Storyline page over at the Multiverse, it doesn't actually go into much detail about Kaladesh itself! This week, in addition to a good old fashioned hole-filling challenge, I also would like us to do a world-filling challenge!

Mountain by Noah Bradley
First off, let's once again welcome you to Kaladesh. Here's what we know about Kaladesh:

Kaladesh has at least one major confirmed city, Ghirapur. The city features adaptive architecture, mobile mosaic courtyards, that moves freely to the needs of its people. Ghirapur, and possibly other cities, are ruled by the consuls. While not usually considered oppressive, their presence is everywhere, and they have control over the city's automatons, the supply of aether and canisters, and the 'whirlers', reconnaisance Thopters. The consuls decide which artificers are given aether, and how much; so they effectively control the industry of the city. Ghirapur is definitely blue/red - a city of artifice - but is ruled by a white government. In Tesla, the consul also has elements of black, due to its pragmatism and oppression that some people experience.

Art by Lius Lasahido
Natural mages are rare in Kaladesh. 'Long ago', vent packs shunted the excess energy of natural mages into steam (the tubing that Chandra always has), but now natural mages seem to be simply outcasts and outlaws. They are hunted down by the Consul, in order to clear the way for a new age, a more orderly and controlled future. Clearly, natural magic poses a threat to the Consul's control of automatons and canisters; but why? In Tesla, we've established that the canisters are made from the magic harvested from natural mages who refuse to comply with the consuls - those who do become like Baral, mage-hunters for the consuls.

Art by Dan Scott
In Kaladesh, we know there are wilds that contain villages that 'don't get along with the consuls' and that have 'no rules'. In Tesla, we've just been calling these places the Outskirts, or the Wilds; they are home to rebellious humans, alongside the Tigrala, tiger-people that resist the consuls' colonization with outright war, but are facing collapse of their society. The Naga and the Vanara (ape-people) remain overall neutral, but have radical members. The Garuda (bird-people) have allied with the Consul, in order to keep their people prosperous - but are sacrificing their culture and independence to do so.

Kaladesh Inspiration

However, this frontier is where our knowledge of Kaladesh ends, and even where our hypothesizing does; we know nothing about any other possible cities in the plane, or any other locales. We've seen the wild forests and mountains, and Ghirapur's canals and cliffside cityscape; but we've seen nothing else of the plane. Perhaps Ghirapur is more empire than city, and rather than other cities, we merely have 'zilas', districts of Ghirapur, each with their own specific color(s) and culture? Or, if there are other cities, could they be allies of Ghirapur? Rivals?

The artwork above captures some possibilites of Ghirapur; feel free to use it as inspiration for the challenges this week

So, let's try to do that, with a design (and creative) challenge!

Your challenge for this week is threefold: 

  • Propose some worldbuilding elements for Kaladesh. Kaladesh is in need of some depth beyond Ghirapur and an un-detailed Wilds; the more worldbuilding elements we have, the easier it is to find inspiration for cards! These worldbuilding elements can inspire you for challenge #2...
  • Design cards to fill the remaining holes in Kaladesh's commons. Currently, Kaladesh has only 14 remaining slots under contention - while each has some possibilities, we want as much feedback and as many proposals as we can get, in order to get the best possible card for each slot! Note that each color needs one vanilla (though black doesn't have a slot for it yet); these vanillas are your best chance to achieve challenge #3...
  • Get some more flavor text! For this challenge, either design simple cards for the above hole-filling that you can put flavor text on, or try to add some flavor text to cards with room for it in the Multiverse skeleton!
I look forward to seeing all of your ideas for Tesla and Kaladesh! Until next week, have a great weekend!


  1. The thing about oppressing a group for being talented is that they will use their talents to survive.

    The Consul is aware of a secret conclave of natural mages but all their attempts to find this city have met with failure. In truth, the Harijan exist invisibly within every major city, and are linked by altars, which they travel through via a flash of fire.

    1. A secrety city of natural mages does sound fun. Maybe Chandra has to go on a trek to find it, after hearing rumors of it, and that's how we could have a fun "Chandra vs. Scared Rebels" scene, where Chandra can't rely on her fire-fists to solve the problem?

      The idea of altars they travel through is interesting, but a bit off the wall and hard to represent through cards. A top-down altar design could be fun, though.

  2. The conflict of the set is not between nation-states, so any other cities are either neutral to or allied with Ghirapur. Better yet, Ghirapur is the heart of an empire that dominates the plane, and the other cities serve that empire, but resentfully. We double-down on oppression as our theme.

    Tanat is a peace-loving city of philosophers and naturalists. They eschew technology to a degree, in preference for a strong society. UGw

    Cintara is a passionate city of merchants, scientists, and warriors. Cintarans value enterprise, bold action, and blunt honesty. RBu

    1. I love the idea of begrudging, even coerced, cooperation. Ghirapur is a force to be reckoned with, since it controls the production of Canisters, and has technology far beyond other cities means of indepedently creating without Canisters; other cities must comply with Ghirapur, because of the implication of what Ghirapur will do to them if they don't...

  3. I designed a fun common that sheds some light on Kaladesh's history.

    Temple Rats {2}{B}
    Creature - Rat (C)
    Once, entire shrines were devoted to the worship of black rats, believed to be beloved ancestors reborn into humble stations. After centuries, their descendants have forgotten them – but the ruins are still their homes.