Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Negiri the Alchemist and Vigdis the Warbringer

Negiri was born dirt poor. Poorer than you can imagine. He had nothing of his own save his name and his magic. He learned early on that he was a skilled alchemist: he could turn things into other things.

He dabbled with this for a time, until he thought of something; he turned a rock into gold. He used the gold to buy some food. For the first time since he could remember, he ate.

He tried this again, and again, and again. It kept working. But he did not thinks things through; he had started to gain a reputation. Rumors were circulating in the ghetto about a kid who had gotten his hands on some gold. Some local gangsters found out who he was and abducted him, demanding to know how he came about so much gold.

Attempting to threaten it out of him he panicked and turned one of their weapons into a bomb. It had a much bigger kick than he anticipated. Though it would have killed anyone else, it ignited his spark, and flung him to (relative) safety.

Afraid and angry and bitter. He's come to the conclusion that money makes the world go round, and he never wants to be on the bottom rung of that later again.

He wanders for a time, doing odd jobs to stay above the poverty line wherever he is. Using his skills to impress people. One day he hears about a job offering a substantial reward. A bounty hunt for a horrible monster that was terrorizing the locals. He decides to try his hand at it.

Vigdis was born into war.

That's all there was on Valla ; war.

Little else mattered on the plane but strength, and the greatest accomplishment you could obtain to her clan was a glorious death atop the mountain of deadmen that killed you.

Vigdis hoped for such a death.

She honed her skills for many years.

She met her foes on the battlefield and slaughtered them all. After a particularly grueling battle, she was caught by surprise and a lowly goblin gave her a fatal blow. She fell to the ground; bleeding out. Her consciousness faded, and her body was lifted away from the battlefield. She looked down and saw the world below, the everlasting war beneath her. She had earned her death.

But alas, things are rarely so simple. She landed unceremoniously in an unfamiliar realm. This was not the afterlife she had been promised. This was something else. This was purgatory. This was surely a punishment by the gods! They had seen her felled by a single lowly goblin and were displeased. She had been denied her place in the afterlife for she had sinned.

She was beside herself with rage. She wandered the planes, finding the most spectacular foes, and killing them. Hoping desperately to one day again earn her spot in the heavens.

One day, she heard of a great and terrible beast that had been terrorizing the countryside for many a year, that had slaughtered the dozens of champions that had been sent to face it.
She would try her hand at this beast.

Negiri came upon the beast, and was horrified. This was far beyond his capabilities. He was skilled and clever, but war was not his expertise. What was he thinking?! As he sat and tried to come up with a plan, he withheld a woman approach the monster. Her hair like braided straw, an axe in one hand, and lightning in the other. She waged war with the beast, and over many minutes, managed to destroy the monster. He was thoroughly impressed. He had never before seen such raw power wielded so well.

Just then he had a most wonderful idea.

Vigdis was disappointed. Though the monster put up a fight, it did not put up a challenge. She had expected more of the creature from the stories told to her by the peasants. Though to be fair, her definition of tough was, well, tougher than theirs. Once again she was denied her glorious deathbattle.

She heard clapping.

She turned and saw a man approach her. He was clean shaven with skin as dark as her leather boots. Adorned with resplendent clothes and gaudy jewelry. She was unimpressed, but wary; what was such a soft squishy man doing monster hunting?

He introduced himself. He said his name was Negiri, and that he was an alchemist.
He picked up a rock and threw it into air and it burst into a firecracker.
Cute trick.
Nothing before her lightning however.
He said that he had a proposition for her.

Negiri proposed to the lightning woman that they team up.
He was well traveled and had heard of many similar tales of high bounties for monsters slain. He could find suitable prey for her and she could destroy it. And they could split the profits even.

The woman told Negiri that her name was Vigdis, and she did not seek battles for the money, but the glory.

"You can have all the money, I have no need for it."

Negiri's eyes bulged. This was too good to be true.

Here before him stood a goddess of war, completely content on the idea of fighting his battles for him, for the sake of something as intangible as 'glory'? He couldn't have dreamed of a more ideal scenario.

He reached out his hand.

"I believe this is the start of a beautiful friendship."

Negiri is a man of average build. Short, well-kept facial hair and a hair shaved short with intricate patterns in it. His skin is very dark. His eyes are a dark brownish-goldish color.

He adorns himself with the finest clothes and jewelry money can buy on whatever plane he is traveled upon, whatever they may be.

His body itself is covered in tattoos and runes, as to help augment his alchemy. He has numerous pouches at his waist full of weird fluids and powders and stones that he uses in his alchemy.There is a large sabre to his side. He's not particularly well trained in it, be often alchemically transforms it into menacing shapes in front of would be foes to intimidate them. It usually works.

Vigdis is a woman of slightly greater than average height. Well muscled. Lithe and sinewy. Straw-colored hair in chest length dreads. Grey eyes. She has a number of scars across her body from some of the battles she has fought.

She is accustomed to simple leather and armor like that of her homeworld, but since traveling with Negiri, he insists that she is to look more impressive if she is to keep his company, she insists on wearing things more functional.

They have met a compromise, and now she wears some of the most impressive and artistic leather and armor you might see on the field of battle.

About the only thing that stays the same is her axe, a family heirloom.

Negiri is a selfish and shallow man, far too concerned with how others perceive him for his own good. To that end, he always tries to wear the most extravagant fashions. Vigdis says he looks like a twit when he does so, so he tones it down sometimes.

He abhors being looked down on, or being told he is not good enough at something or has no talent at a particular task. Even if it's true. He holds a grudge for a very long time, and holds fantasies of revenge against those that have slighted him from decades before.

Vigdis is a Vallan through and through. She loves a good fight, and does not fear death. She is rather unconcerned with what other people think of her (unless they think she's weak) and doesn't particularly care about her appearance (save for looking intimidating).

She doesn't boast about about her strengths and talents, preferring to let her actions and reputation speak for her.

She's rather withdrawn. Her clan's entire social lifestyle revolves around battle, but most planes aren't as warprone as Valla, so she has difficulty adjusting to that and relating to other people, though she doesn't take offense to those who aren't as bloodthirsty as herself. Her travels have taught her that talent for battle can come from unexpected places, so she tries to keep that in mind wherever she goes.

She finds that she gets anxious and uncomfortable the longer it's been since she's gotten into a fight. Since Valla culture revolves so heavily around battle, she's never really garnered any other skills, and she hates it when she notices that. Recently she's trying to be more responsive to other talents, because she's not used to being bad at something and doesn't like the feeling.

Negiri is a powerful alchemist. He is skilled at turning one thing into another. The transmute mechanic is right up his alley, as are most forms of looting or digging .

In battle, he will often summon alchemically formed servants to fight at his behest. Weirds and homunculi and the like. He can repel opponents by undoing the bonds that hold their summons in the material world.

His studies in alchemy have made him quite versed in meta-magic. As such, if he knows what sort of foe he is soon to face, he can prepare adequate counter measures to render them useless .

Vigdis wields lightning magic. She can use it to in the traditional bolt-slinging way, or to strengthen her physical attacks .

That's pretty much all there is to it.

Another entry in the character contest:

This round was for a pair of walkers that travel together.

It took me forever to find a pair that I liked.

First I tried a Bonnie and Clyde kind of pair, but the characters never really came together in a way I found compelling. Then I tried a cop and criminal handcuffed together shtick, but I couldn't think of a pair of magic specialties that felt right.

Then I tried something I liked, something like a Han Solo and Chewbacca dynamic. A pair of bounty hunters loyal to each other. It kind of worked from there. Vigdis was the first Magic character I came up with, and I'd been dying to find a place to use her. It came together perfectly.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Berg, the Hot-Blooded

The circumstances of Berg's origin and upbringing are fairly unremarkable. He was born into a tribe of leonin, a warrior culture; they were well versed in the art of battle. However they were a well-sated people and did not go to war for glory or land or spoils. They were nomads by philosophy, and did not seek these material attachments that would hold them back. They fought for the sake of fighting, for in battle you were truly alive. Your sense at their peak, your body pushed to its very edge, every synapse in your head firing at full speed. When your very existence is on the line, you appreciate it all the more the believed. To which, they rendered their services to their less cultured neighbors. Those that still clinged desperately to such trivialities.

The day finally came when Berg would be accepted as a man. You see, his tribe's coming of age ritual was for a young warrior to be chosen as a champion by one of their 'clients' and be successful. And Berg was finally chosen. He was elated. He had trained for years, honing his skill with every weapon he could get his hands upon, and even practicing Magic from those that could teach him.

The opponent was worthy, the fight was glorious. Berg pushed his opponents well beyond their limits, and they pushed back. He could feel every cut and blow they threw at him, but still he fought on. He felt light-headed. He was losing a lot of blood. "This is fine," he thought "there can be no dishonor in a fight well fought." As his consciousness faded, he slipped away. Through the veil between worlds. Tumbling, falling, changing. Something was different. Burning, churning, igniting. He felt empowered, his thoughts returning despite the madness he could never hope to fully appreciate surrounding him. He felt amazing! He was something more than a mere fighter now; he was a Planeswalker!

He came to on an unfamiliar mountaintop. A new man. A changed man. Battle would never be the same to him. His previous efforts; finger-paints. Now he was an artist! His strength grew exponentially. His power, his magic, his tenacity. Everything! Anything a foe could throw at him, he could throw back tenfold! His mind drifted from reasonable expectations and rose to those of a god of war. He wandered the planes, taking on any foe that he considered interesting. He fought all kinds, chosen champions and wretched despots, brigands and noblemen, machines and monsters; it did not matter. What they believed in? What they fought for? These did not matter. All there was was battle; to be alive!

Eventually, he came upon a plane. A grey murky plane that seemed blighted somehow; there was a dankness in the air. The spirits were unsettled, and the clouds never seemed to part. He found the plane rife with monsters. Demons and devils and haints and the undead. He destroyed them without a second thought, but more came. And more. And more. And more. His battle drifted. From mountains, to forests, and to the plains. Towns were caught in his wake, but he did not care. They were in the way of his expressions of life. It was their own fault. This continued for a time until one fateful day.

A great and powerful angel appeared before him. She was clad in black which stood in sharp contrast to her stark white form. She carried a spear and her face bore no expression. She informed him that he was a blight upon her flock, that his mere presence wrought destruction, and that it was here eternal duty to stop him.
She could try.

Their fight was the stuff of legend. Lasting for days. Blows were traded. Magics exchanged. Any foothold gained was quickly taken away. The angel had had enough. She lead him towards a citadel. He followed; how could he not, this was the most exhilarating moment of his entire existence. She turned to face him and lunged. Her spear plunged into him and he was flung away. She pressed him against an enormous chunk of silver.

"What cannot be destroyed will be bound."

Something happened. He was losing himself. Like when he walked, but different somehow. This time it felt wrong. He couldn't control it, couldn't feel it, couldn't perceive it. His body was lost, it was everywhere and it was nowhere. He was surrounded on all sides by pitch black mana. It was angry and bitter and vengeful. There were cursed towards a woman's name and vows of revenge. He was trapped in some horrible prison.

And so it was for many years. He maintained some semblance of self by fighting off the blackness. But he did not enjoy it. It was different than before. Before he fought as an expression of self, now he fought to maintain it. Before there were whole worlds to fight, but now it was one giant inky black mess that never ended. Without boundaries it had no meaning. Without pause, there was no room for growth. This continued on longer than Berg could ever imagine.

Crack. A light shone through the darkness. Crack. It grew bigger. Crack. It spider-webbed, spreading all over; permeating the void that he knew. An explosion. There was a sharp tugging at his chest and he was jerked towards the light. He was flung back into the world, landing on his hands and feet. It hurt. It wasn't like before he was trapped, there was a sharpness to the pain that he thought he would never feel again. The darkness around him was reforming. Demons. Hundreds of them. Fleeing every which way. There was a battle before him. Hundreds of soldiers and zombies, knee deep in gore. Angels overhead, hacking flimsily at the escaping demons. A light shone behind him; the witch that had trapped him rose up out of the smoking crater in which he lay.

"Never again" and he fled away into the wilderness to make some sense of all that had happened.

For the third time in his life, everything was different. His power, it felt so far away. His body felt hollow somehow, like it had been voided of something impossibly large. When he stretched, he could feel every ligament and bone ache. The spells he attempted to cast, shadows of their former glory.

For the first time in his entire life, Berg was afraid.

Berg is a smilodon leonin standing almost 12 feet tall. His fur is rust colored and kept short except for tufts located at most of the major joints (shoulders, knees, elbows, etc), where there are tinges of grey. He is covered head to foot in scars of varying sizes and severity, prizes of the battles he has fought. There is a bite sized chunk missing of his right ear. His right fang is about 8 inches long, his left is size, the bottom two inches appear to have been broken off. He's afraid that it affects his speech.

He wears simple bracers on his wrists, shoulders and shins, and wears a simple loincloth. His fur keeps him warm enough on most planes, that he chooses not to wear additional clothes unless it is necessary.

He carries a particularly large war-hammer, the back end of which is sharpened to a point, resembling an over-sized pickaxe. The underside of the point is bladed.

Berg was raised in a culture that worshipped the fine art of battle. To his people, you were the most alive when you were so close to death. To that end, he has spent most of his existence seeking out greater and greater challenges; an easy feet considering his planeswalking abilities. When he would come upon foes worthy of his self-expression, he could gauge them based on the power level and hold back accordingly, he's almost never fought at his full capacity as a Planeswalker.

But now that the mending has occurred, and he's been brought back down to normal, he has to cope with a few mighty significant challenges to his worldview. His immortality never really excited him. His people taught him not to fear death, it was merely the high cost of living. To live as a warrior you had to learn to accept death and be ready for it at any time. It is the sudden change in power that worries him.

He only had the one battle before his ascension for a point of reference, so every other battle he has been in was fueled by the power of a pre-mending spark. He was a big fish and every world was a small pond. Now the pond has gotten so much smaller, and he is truly afraid. The idea that he cannot hold is own in battles that he once could terrifies him to his very core.

Also related to the first and only 'normal' battle he had; he had never considered the possibility that not everyone actually enjoys fighting. On his world, it was such an enormous part of the culture, it was expected that one knew how to fight properly or would have someone who could on your behalf. While he was a God, any objections to his presence fell on deaf ears. It is hard to hear people so far below you. Now he is back on their level, and the idea that his battles might not be appreciated by others is starting to dawn on him. Now that he can think as a man again and not a God, he is coming around to the idea that his actions have consequences. And it scares him.

Berg is a warrior through and through, so most of his talent lies in the fine art of hitting things. He has learned to channel that into spell craft however, and he has become quite good at the fine art of breaking everything in spell form. Any spell that results in the destruction of things is right up his alley, so things like Stone Rain and Shatter are second nature to him.

He's never really gotten on-board with the idea of "teamwork", so many of his spells are highly indiscriminant. Things like Wildfire , Chain Reaction , Rite of Ruin , Meltdown etc.

His powers are fueled by his passion; the more into a fight he is, the more powerful his magic. To that end, spells that escalate well, or better yet, out of control are also well-suited to him.

This is my entry of the fifth of the Planeswalker Creation contest. Round 5's theme was "oldwalkers". I wanted to find a way to preserve a walker from the mending til now, and getting sealed in the Helvault seemed like the best way to do it.

I've always wanted to do a scaling Wildfire/Destructive Force on a card, and making it as a Planeswalker ultimate seemed like a great way to do it. Though Berg damages players and other walkers as well.

I'd love to hear your opinions and get your vote!

Also, Aria is in a runoff vote for first place in the Round 3 contest!

A vote for Hairless Thoctar is a vote for great justice!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Mire

The Mire

It was a young plane, freshly formed from the swirling madness that is the Blind Eternities. The Mire does not remember much from the beginning. Not how it came to be, or when, or where, or why. It does not remember how long it wandered this congealed ball of grease that was a plane. Aimless, purposeless, alone.

Until one fateful day. Something moved. "What is that?" It thought. It took count of all of its pseudopods. This thing that was moving was not part of itself. This was something else. It's mind was flooded with thoughts the likes of which it had never had before, it had never encountered another living thing of such substance before. It had so many curiosities it wanted to fulfil. But this thing, this other thing began to attack the Mire. It tried to crawl away, but this other thing was relentless. Desperate, the Mire sprawled out as far as it could, looking for a way out. It felt a large rock, and with all its fortitude smashed the other thing. Over and over and over again, continuing to smash long after it had stopped moving.

The Mire studied the thing. Where had it come from? How long had it been there? Why had it attacked me? Where there others?

The curiosity turned to fear.

What if there were no others?
What if that was the only other thing out there?

What if

I'm all alone.

The Mire was terrified!
It spasmed and flitted about, horrified that it may have destroyed the one other thing there was. It screamed out a voiceless scream, and then the world became that much emptier.

Something ignited, and the Mire was pulled beyond the veil into the blind eternities.

What is this horrible place?
How did I get here?

It began to lose itself in this sea of madness. Then it began to see things amongs the technicolor void. It began to hear things. It saw another place, full of things!
Big things, little things, things with hands and feet and voices and magics!
The Mire crawled towards this place, hoping to get away from this godless void.
Desperate never to be alone ever again, no matter what.

+2: Untap target land. It becomes a 3/3 black Ooze creature that is a swap in addition to its other types and colors.
-3: Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of Swamps you control.
-9: Each player sacrifices another non-Swamp permanent for each Swamp you control.

The Mire is an ooze. A mix of grey and a sickly green color mixing internally like a lava lamp. A number of softly glowing organelles are visible from within.

The Mire's default size is that of particularly large dog, though the size can vary considerably. More mass can be gained by eating, and the Mire can become utterly MASSIVE by consuming matter.

It tends to eat things it doesn't register as "alive"; plant matter and moss and the like, or drinking mana from the landscape; rather than consuming other sapient organisms.

The Mire can split into multiple bodies and later remerge those bodies if it so chooses. Naturally, the spark does not split, and will remain with only one of the bodies.

The Mire is a being motivated almost entirely by fear. The sudden attack and subsequent loneliness that triggered its ascension has given it a deep-set fear of being alone, whether physically or metaphorically.

Because it lived most of its life alone, it is incredibly unaware of pretty much all social conventions such as privacy, personal space, class, gender boundaries, race and species, etc.

It is incredibly curious and quick to examine most anyone or anything that piques its curiosity, though these interactions tend to end badly. Its first interaction has made it fearful of aggressive retribution from other living things, and the Mire is quick to resort to violence if it fears it is in danger or is being rejected by a would be "friend".

The Mire is genderless and has not aligned itself with either sex being entirely unaware of the concept.

This is my entry to round four of the Planeswalker creation contest on the gleemax forums. This time, the restriction was "non-humanoid walker". I rather like what I came up with.

I'd surely love to et your vote!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why Wouldn't You Design That? Volume 1, Part 3

Disclaimer: This article contains custom card designs. If you are a Wizards of the Coast employee you have my full permission to use any designs or ideas within this article without my explicit written consent or prior knowledge, or without giving me any sort of credit. I love this game and I want to help it in any way I can.

Part three, and probably the last one for Innistrad block.
Let me know what you think!

 Seems like a fairly obvious design choice to me. Though honestly, this very well may be way too good at 3 cmc.
 Full on friendship!
It tells a story! Yeah!!!
 This was originally a mirror image of Wretched Banquet, but it seemed way too good at 1 mana.

 Ghoultree is a neat card. While I don't think it's a particularly deep design space, I do think its worth more than two cards.
I love sliths. So much. So naturally, Innistrad block was a fun place for me. Falkenrath Maruaders and Markov Blademaster are nice expansions on the typical Slith formula, but I want to see them take it to its logical conclusion.