One of the greatest and most interesting aspects of Magic: The Gathering is the lore. The game’s creator, Richard Garfield, built such a complex world that any gamer, from seasoned player to beginner, can get lost in its details forever. While many play for the amazing gameplay, knowing the lore can only help with the overall MtG experience.
Whether you’re just starting to learn how the game works or in need of a refresher, this series of articles about MtG Lore is going to be perfect for knowing the basics. That said, what better way to kick off these articles than to start with the players of Magic: The Gathering themselves? Essentially, players of the game become part of the lore as Planeswalkers themselves.
What are Planeswalkers?
Planeswalkers are known in the MtG multiverse as extremely powerful beings. Unlike the vast majority of people in the Multiverse, Planeswalkers are aware that other worlds—or planes—exist besides their own, and they have the ability to travel between these different worlds. With enough time and skill, they can transfer things like clothing, artifacts, and creatures while they planeswalk.
Planeswalkers are part of a rare few sentient beings—specifically a “one-in-a-million” kind of rare—who possess the planeswalker’s spark. Now, possessing a planeswalker’s spark is rare enough, but having it ignite is even rarer. A person could be born with the planeswalker’s spark and live their entire lives without having any obvious signs of their latent power. The main cause of the spark’s trigger is when that person is put under extreme stress. In most cases, this is death. When the spark ignites, that person ascends and becomes a Planeswalker.
The Act of Planeswalking
Planeswalking, in itself, is an act of magic. It’s a spell, and every Planeswalker does it differently. Some can do it quickly, others slowly. Some need a great deal of energy to do it, while others don’t. Some can carry organic or inorganic material with them—with restrictions—while others don’t. It’s as varied and individual to a person as other talents are. And as with other talents, it takes a great amount of effort and practice.
The Two Types of Planeswalkers
In the lore, there are what we call the traditional Planeswalkers and the current Planeswalkers—players of MtG fall under the latter. In order to explain the difference between these two and why there’s a difference at all, we first have to go through a brief MtG history lesson.
Dominaria, one of the planes, is known as the Nexus of the Multiverse—a plane at the very center of the multiverse, with great influence on all the other planes. Before the time of the current Planeswalkers, there was a temporal crisis in Dominaria. Time rifts were causing fractures in its planar fabric that affected the balance between the primal forces of the Multiverse and the power of planeswalkers. Because it happened in Dominaria, this effect trickled down to the other planes as well.
During this time and before it, there were the traditional Planeswalkers. These Planeswalkers had incredible magical capabilities and all but surpassed the most powerful mortal wizards. In some cases, with intense effort, they could even create their own artificial planes.
They lived indefinitely, and their physical forms were merely matters of the will because they were essentially energy projections of a center of consciousness. They were worshipped as gods, but eventually, some ended up losing their sanity. Others barely had any regard for mortal lives at all.
Current Planeswalkers were born after the Great Mending, which was initiated when Jeska, a powerful Planeswalker, sacrificed herself and her spark to heal all the temporal rifts in the Multiverse. This Mending triggered a change in the very rules of the Multiverse and in the nature of the planeswalker sparks.
This change in the spark was first seen in Planeswalker Venser of Urborg, a Dominarian artificer who also participated in the Great Mending. Since then, all succeeding planeswalkers were considered current Planeswalkers. Now, they no longer display nearly as much god-like power as their predecessors. Although they were powerful, they remained limited to needing the same sustenance as other mortals. They could age normally and be harmed as well.
They stopped being able to transport other people during a planeswalk and could only bring their clothes and some small items. Over time, some managed to avoid these limitations by magical means, but it is no longer the same as before. Such acts are now specific to each Planeswalker.
The lore of Magic: the Gathering is rich and nearly endless. With every set adding and compounding and changing the universe, planeswalkers might only be the tip of the iceberg. With every new mechanic comes new implications—and new stories—in the multiverse of MtG.
For more information about the lore of Magic: the Gathering, stay tuned to our website. More articles about the lore of magic cards are coming soon. Check out our store as well for the latest sets.
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Veronika Caraos is a writer with a love of animals and quiet moments. She has a mild love affair with decaf coffee and a toxic relationship with dairy. These days, you might find her clacking away at a keyboard, creating content for her capitalist overlords.