My name is Ant Tessitore. I am a freelance names and flavor text writer for Wizards of the Coast. Magic Origins is the first set that I wrote names and flavor text for, and with its release I have started a tumblr. It's called Magic Morsels, and on it I post different cards on which I was credited for the name or flavor text, along with short stories about my overall thought process and experiences that influenced what I wrote.
Possessed Skaab is a card from Magic Origins for which I wrote the flavor text. I was a huge fan of the Skaabs back when they were introduced in Innistrad block, so I was happy to see one had made it into the file for Magic Origins. Whenever I look at these cobbled-together Zombies, I am reminded of my eleventh-grade English class with Mrs. Smithers. Mrs. Smithers was the only English teacher I ever had who emphasized reading between the lines. Instead of racing through Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and testing us on its contents, Mrs. Smithers challenged us to take our time and identify the themes lurking between each line of the horrific story. One of the many ideas we discussed dealt with the soul, and why a bunch of body parts all sewn together and walking upright might not be enough to consider Frankenstein's monster to be "alive."
The Skaabs in Magic and the stitchers creating them are inspired by Frankenstein's monster, and they have a darkly humorous tone.
Want to create a creature whose stare will cause your enemies to lose their mind? Sew a whole bunch of extra eyes on its body and you'll have a Mindcrusher.
Do you want your skaab to be all brawn and no brain? Sew in extra muscles and remove the head.
Want to make your already-formidable undead monster even scarier? Sew on some extra . . . everything.
When coming up with ideas for Possessed Skaab's flavor text, my goal was to accomplish two things. I wanted to write something that would give you chills, forcing you to "read between the lines" as you consider whether or not the stitcher responsible had gone too far. I also wanted to write something that would cause the reader to laugh at the absurdity that is an undead creature with a glass jar containing a grumpy ghost for a head.
Thinking back to Mrs. Smithers' class, I immediately knew I wanted to tie into the idea of a mad scientist attempting to give this lifeless undead being a soul. The trick was writing it in a way that would initially make the reader laugh before they began to consider the dark ramifications involved in this stitcher's heinous act.
"A stitcher's attempt at a skaab with a soul."