Lorwyn Survival Guide

Posted in Feature on October 31, 2007

By Doug Beyer

Senior creative designer on Magic's creative team and lover of writing and worldbuilding. Doug blogs about Magic flavor and story at http://dougbeyermtg.tumblr.com/

Welcome to the Lorwyn Survival Guide *, part of the award-winning Survival Guide series of interplanar travel books. Lorwyn seems out of the way to most planeswalkers, but is definitely well worth the trip. If you're willing to do your research, prepare adequately, and tread carefully, an excursion to idyllic Lorwyn can be one of the most rewarding and enlightening experiences of your plane-traveling career. This Guide will take you through all the sights, sounds, and spellcraft you'll encounter on your trip to Lorwyn.

Travel Routes

Dolmen_GatePlaneswalking to Lorwyn is thought to be difficult, but that reputation need not dissuade the dedicated traveler. Lorwyn is remote from many large, established planar hubs and is poorly documented in the parageographical literature. Furthermore, Lorwyn does not stand out in the void; it resides in a region of dream and æther that obscures it from most travelers. However, some planeswalkers have had success traveling there by first preparing spells that attune the mind to patterns of nature. With this groundwork done, many planeswalkers find their spark naturally drawn through the Blind Eternities to the edges of the plane.

Lack of Humanity

Lorwyn is one of the few known places in the multiverse where humanity has not flourished. Humans were not indigenous to Lorwyn, and awareness of the plane among human cultures across the multiverse has historically been low. Furthermore, the perceived difficulty of finding the plane has kept travel there limited. Lorwyn has much to offer in the way of social interaction, just not with humans. Many planeswalkers consider this respite from humanity to be part of Lorwyn's charm.

Spark Awareness Status and your Travel Disguise

Lorwyn is a so-called sparkblind world; the sentient populace of the plane is largely unaware of planeswalkers or of other planes. So far, Lorwyn has been preserved as an unspoiled sanctuary, and has kept its rustic charm thanks to careful visitation to the plane. Therefore, if you are human, or simply could not pass for one of the races indigenous to Lorwyn, then it's best to disguise your identity when traveling there.

Luckily the mana of Lorwyn is naturally tailored for the creation of glamers (illusion spells), which are sufficient to mask your identity for the length of your stay. You will probably have the easiest time traveling across Lorwyn in the guise of an elf—however, please note the anatomical differences between Lorwyn elves and those of other planes. Weaving a disguise of a hornless, offworld elf could be just as disruptive to your trip as retaining your natural demeanor.

If you do not possess the skills sufficient to generate an identity-masking illusion, then planeswalking to Lorwyn is not recommended. See other books in the Survival Guide series for other planar destinations that would better suit your needs.

Races of Lorwyn

Nath's EliteThe indigenous wildlife of Lorwyn is dominated by eight sentient races: elves, kithkin, merrows, flamekin, boggarts, treefolk, giants, and faeries. In addition, Lorwyn supports a menagerie of animal and supernatural life, including wisents, springjacks, cervins, a semisentient race of mimics known as changelings, and the majestic greater elementals. All of them thrive in Lorwyn's temperate environment and unending growing season, preserving the plane's character as an unspoiled natural wilderness.

Elves, Kithkin, Flamekin, and Boggarts

Lorwyn's imperious elves, superstitious kithkin, passionate flamekin, and sensation-seeking boggarts all hold promise for rewarding interactions with travelers. For more on these races, be sure to check out these excellent Survival Guide series supplements, wherever exosociological treatises are sold: Beautiful Predators: A Survival Guide to the Elves of Lorwyn, Woven Minds: A Survival Guide to the Kithkin of Lorwyn, Elements of Nature: A Survival Guide to the Elementals of Lorwyn, and Stolen Sensations: A Survival Guide to the Boggarts of Lorwyn. This book now continues with the other major races.


The fish-tailed merfolk of Lorwyn are called merrows. They are the couriers, intermediaries, and merchants of the plane. Given the fishlike anatomy of their lower half, they can't move effectively on land without strong magic. However, they control and maintain the so-called Merrow Lanes, the system of rivers that crisscrosses Lorwyn and connects its furthest-flung points. The Lanes extend over land via rivers and streams, underground via subterranean tunnels, and even up into the town centers of other races via wells.

The Dark Meanders

The deepest parts of the subterranean rivers of the Lanes are called the Dark Meanders. Most merrows steer clear of the Meanders due to the lack of light and the ease with which one can get lost. Experienced merrow "rudders" can guide you through these murky areas, but be aware that some have lost their possessions and even lives while traversing these inky depths.

Merrow Schools and Roles

Lorwyn Lexiconree∙jer∙ey (ree-jur-AY)
The leader of a school of merrows (from Manx meaning "king" or "cavalier").
Merrow society is organized into schools, and each school is led by a reejerey. The schools known at this writing include the Silvergill, the Stonybrook, the Paperfin, the Weirwinder, and the Inkfathom Schools. Of these, the Inkfathom School is the most interested in plumbing the Dark Meanders—seek out a member of this school if you wish to go exploring those areas of the Lanes.

Merrows have many different occupations and avocations, and the system of terminology is very important to them, so it's best to study up before your visit. A rudder is a merrow guide who knows the Lanes like the back of his scaly hand. Tideshapers and aquitects are merrow mages adept in water magic, who use their abilities to reinforce riverbanks, guide currents, or even alter the course of the Lanes altogether. Troutherds and crawherds manage schools of river trout and beds of crawfish, respectively. A landspanner is a merrow able to leap from one waterway to another one nearby; expert landspanners can hunt large land game this way—or patrol merrow territory for intruders—with spears and spiked nets. A fallowsage is a wise elder merrow, many of whom find comfort in the dappled shade of riverside willow trees. A wellgabber is an envoy who uses a well to communicate with members of other races.

Silver-Tongued Merrows

Wellgabber Apothecary

Talkative and quick-witted, merrows can dominate conversation. The voices of merrows are steady, mellifluous, and rich with harmonics, and merrows are so well-traveled that any is sure to have excellent tales to tell. Be careful that you don't listen too long to a wellgabber, however—merrows are known to weave glamers into their speech, which can prove quite influential to the unsuspecting listener. Some travelers have lost fortunes just by stopping to gossip with the clever merrows.


No race on Lorwyn is more ubiquitous or mysterious than its faeries. The fae lead short, flitting lives in pursuit of gossip, diversions, and amusing intrigues. Petty and vain, faeries are like petulant children at play. They love to have fun, to revel in Lorwyn's eternal midsummer, and to follow their whims. But faeries can also be carelessly cruel, capricious, and vindictive. The study of faeries can be gratifying for extraplanar travelers, but also frustrating and even dangerous.

Oona's ProwlerFaeries travel in small groups of three to six called cliques. Where faeries originate is unknown, but they claim to serve Oona, the enigmatic Queen of the Fae. Oona has never been seen, and is believed by many of the races of Lorwyn to be strictly mythical.

Dream Harvesting

It is thought that faeries do not dream, which would explain why they spend so much time harvesting the dreams of others. Faeries can distill these stolen dreams into a sparkling energy that they carry around with them, like a bee carries pollen. The sight of a faerie reaping dream energy from a sleeping giant is one of the most unique experiences a traveler can have on Lorwyn. Giants are the faeries' favorite prey, for giants dream giant dreams—a faerie laden with the dream-stuff of a giant has a characteristic lurching flight pattern. Whether the faeries transport, store, or consume the dream-stuff for their own enjoyment is unknown, but at least one traveler has reported that the amount of dream-stuff harvested could represent a significant amount of magical power if collected over time.


The treefolk of Lorwyn have the longest lives and longest memories of any of its denizens. Treefolk are born from seeds like any other tree, but they gain sentience and mobility during a process called the Rising. In their youths, treefolk stay in their birth-groves, absorbing the wisdom and oral history of their elders. When they mature, they wander the world alone, seeking those worthy of their knowledge or shelter.

Treefolk character and roles are largely determined by their plant species. Ash, birch, oak, rowan, and black poplar all have different roles in treefolk society. Treefolk risen from poisonous yew trees have all but vanished on Lorwyn, but at this writing, there is still one yew treefolk remaining on the plane: an immensely ancient and knowledgeable treefolk named Colfenor.

Battlewand_OakInterestingly, treefolk do not consider the use of wood taboo. While they would consider it wrong to kill a living tree, they have no qualms about crafting and using tools made from trees that died. Furthermore, many species of tree are perfectly capable of regenerating from careful harvesting of branches, and treefolk use such wood extensively. Treefolk warriors can often be seen using armor and cudgels made from tough wood, sometimes even crafted from their own bodies.

Planar travelers would do well to seek out the mighty treefolk. With few exceptions, their philosophy and mystic knowledge is given freely—but their wisdom comes in the form of deceptively simple aphorisms. Unwrapping a kernel of treefolk wisdom can take even a devoted thinker decades, but it's usually well worth the patience required. Treefolk have simply seen more of Lorwyn, and for a longer time, than the humanoid races, and treasure their centuries of experience as much as boggarts treasure their hoards. Just as Lorwyn's natural resources have not been touched, the wisdom of its treefolk has also, so far, gone largely unmined.


Giants are a race of hermits, arbiters, explorers, and oracles. Some huddle in mountain caves; you can spot a giant's lair by the enormous, rugged dolmen stones built up around the entrance. Others range over Lorwyn with long, loping steps. You can tell a giant's travel route by the man-sized, earth-compressed footprints and lack of vegetation.

Sunrise Sovereign

Giant Dangers

Give giants a wide berth; they are by far the strongest individual warriors on Lorwyn. Since giants require so much terrain to move around in, they can also be fiercely territorial. Note that giants tend to have one-track minds—when they are friendly, they are magnanimously friendly to all beings, but when they are angry, their rage shakes the earth for weeks. If you're forced to interact with a giant, try to maintain its eye contact to hold its attention, lest you be ignored and stomped. Take a page from the kithkin, who converse eye-to-eye with giants by speaking to them from a high cliff. Above all, do not question the dominion of a giant; do not try to wrest control of a treasure, valley, or pet flamekin away from her. Your remains will be found in a Crush Underfoot.

Arbiters and Oracles

Giants are blessed with a lofty perspective—literally—and many are trusted by the smaller races as arbiters of difficult interpersonal conflicts. Even when a giant's verdict might sound illogical, his broad perception is trusted. If a giant pronounces a judgment on you, even a negative one, it's best to play along until you can escape the plane.

Some giants are renowned as oracles, trusted soothsayers who see the broadest view of all. They generally only lair at the very top of mountain peaks, reachable only by days or weeks of arduous climbing. Their answers can be among the most valuable experiences a planar traveler could receive while on Lorwyn.

Cloudgoats and Thunderstorms

Especially wide-ranging giant travelers keep enormous winged goats as pets and steeds. These trusty mounts allow them to fly to Lorwyn's most distant mountain ranges, and perhaps even beyond the mountains to regions unknown. Giants who range to the farthest points of Lorwyn sometimes bring Thundercloud Shaman trailing along behind them.

Cloudgoat Ranger

Planar Attractions

If this is your first trip to Lorwyn, be sure to hit these essential locations. There are many more places to see than these, but these sites represent the must-see attractions of the plane.

Gilt-Leaf Palace

Dawn's Light Palace

Gilt-Leaf Wood is the forest deemed most beautiful by the elves, and Lys Alana is the greatest elvish city in Gilt-Leaf. The centerpiece of this stronghold of elvish power is Dawn's Light Palace, a magnificent tiered structure buttressed by elvish woodworking and magic. The palace rivals any artificial structure on the plane, but few non-elves have seen much past the outer gates. Those looking to delve deeper will need strong subterfuge magic, lest they face the wrath of the palace guards.

Wren's Run

This mazelike stretch of forest is considered to be the finest hunting ground on Lorwyn. Elvish packmasters stock Wren's Run with exotic prey from around the plane, and use it to ring in the coming-of-age hunts of young exquisites and perfects.

Wanderwine River

Wanderwine_HubAll of the Merrow Lanes are worth exploring. But if you must only see one river, visit the Wanderwine. It is the most merrow-trafficked of Lorwyn's rivers, and as such is always teeming with conversation and aquatic commerce. Some tunnels to the Dark Meanders begin in the bed of the Wanderwine.


The largest of kithkin clachans, Kinsbaile is the center of Lorwyn's tightly-knit kithkin community. Visit during the Lammastide to see the complex, thoughtweft-infused reels (dances) such as the "three-toad" or the "cotfolder," or attend the celebration of the periodic light show known as the Aurora.

Lorwyn's Mountain Ranges

The inhabited portions of Lorwyn are ringed by meandering, seemingly ever-distant mountain slopes. These are rough, trailless slopes, so it is not recommended that you hike them without proper magics. This is the realm of giants, some wanderlust-stricken flamekin, and hostile greater elementals, so exercise caution.

Glen Elendra

Secluded_GlenIt's said that in the heart of Lorwyn's mountains lies a mystical valley known as Glen Elendra, and that vast treasures of magic are hidden there. Several attempts have been made to locate Glen Elendra, and although many deep valleys have been found and charted in the mountains, none match the descriptions from the legend. The suspicion is that powerful glamers protect the Glen from prying eyes; in fact, it could be that one of the empty valleys charted thus far actually is the Glen. Although many theories have been proposed about what lies there, and what force might be working to conceal it, Glen Elendra's true significance is unknown.

The Murmuring Bosk

Deep in the heart of Lorwyn's single largest contiguous forest lies the Murmuring Bosk, a truly ancient grove of trees. The trees are not treefolk (they haven't undergone "the Rising," as the treefolk call it), but treefolk can empathically understand them as though they were speaking. The Bosk is of particular interest to planar travelers seeking wisdom and information on the history of Lorwyn, as it holds thousands of years of forest life. If you go seeking the Bosk, beware the archdruids, of both treefolk and elfkind, who tend to the trees; they are immensely powerful mages, in their nature-focused way, and they do not take kindly to strangers.

Amphitheater of Galanda Feudkiller

Ancient_AmphitheaterForemost among giant arbiters, Galanda Feudkiller holds court in an enormous bowl-shaped amphitheater in Lorwyn's mountains. This is the last court some conflicting parties ever see. If Galanda decides to hear the testimony of the two sides, her judgment is swift and absolute—the case winner is allowed to leave peacefully, and the guilty party is often killed for wasting the arbiter's time. Look for gigantic dolmen stones that form a bowl shape, and keep your eyes open.

Velis Vel

Data is scarce about the grotto of Velis Vel, a subterranean cavern said to be the origin of Lorwyn's race of chameleon-like shapeshifters, the changelings. The walls of Velis Vel are encrusted with quartz crystal, and the floor is an underground stream. Once a year, the sun passes over a hole at the top of the grotto, which causes an explosion of rays of light reflecting throughout the cavern. It is unknown what this event signifies, but changeling behavior changes drastically during this time. Seek a merrow guide for directions to Velis Vel—if you're lucky, he or she might even know whether it's the right time for viewing the refractory event.

Happy Travels!

The authors and researchers who developed this Guide wish you all the best in your travels to Lorwyn. Be sure to check out the other books in the Survival Guide series for all your planeswalking needs!

Note: A few of the Lorwyn races are getting their own theme weeks coming up, so if you didn't hear enough about your favorite tribe, stay tuned. – Doug

* Special thanks to Orim's Thunder / Crypt Rat for the idea for this article.

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