Naming the Nameless with Brandon Sanderson

Posted in Feature on December 12, 2018

By Wizards of the Coast

It's here, Magic Story fans. Brandon Sanderson, creator of the Cosmere universe and steward of The Wheel of Time, has made his first entry in the Magic: The Gathering Multiverse. Set on Innistrad, Children of the Nameless introduces Davriel, a new Planeswalker designed by Sanderson, in a story that—well, we don't want to spoil anything, so you'll just have to download the free novella yourself and find out.

We spoke with Brandon Sanderson about his love of Magic, the process of designing a character together with the Magic Creative team, his recommendation for the best tea pairing for Children of the Nameless, and more.

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New York Times Bestselling Author Brandon Sanderson

Wizards of the Coast: Brandon, many of your fans already know your love for Magic. How did you feel when the opportunity to contribute to Magic Story came across your desk?

Brandon Sanderson: It was something I had been hoping for years I'd get a chance to do—so I was enthusiastic when I got the email. It was also really good timing for me, since I had a small hole in my schedule. I'd actually had a story brewing in the back of my mind for years that I felt would be a good match for Innistrad, and so it felt nice to finally sit down and write it.

Do you have a favorite color? A favorite guild?

I first experienced Magic in 1994, when my brother came home with a starter deck. He got a Force of Nature in it, and I was initially disappointed that the deck I bought had a Royal Assassin. I got a little 1/1 as my rare, when he had this enormous 8/8? Well, that emotion lasted until the first time my Assassin killed his creature—and I started down the dark path of playing control decks. These days, you'll find me often playing some blue or black deck—and I wear my Dimir shirt frequently enough that my allegiances are pretty well known.

How does your experience working on a Magic story compare to crafting some of your other work, like the Cosmere universe, or The Wheel of Time series?

Well, it was actually quite nice to work in a setting with so much artwork and worldbuilding materials to draw upon. That said, I was very careful to suggest a story where I went off and did my own thing, rather than working on the main-line Gatewatch stories. As I said, I already had an idea of what I wanted to do, and the Creative team was on board for me just kind of going with the story I wanted to tell. They made certain to keep me in continuity, and I appreciate their work there—but in the end, my focus was mostly on sectioning off my own little corner of the playground, then going wild with my style of storytelling.

Children of the Nameless takes place on Innistrad, a fan-favorite plane. Was that the plan from the beginning? What drove you to set this novella on Innistrad?

So, I'm quite a big fan of Innistrad. I really like the feel of the lore and the visual design of the setting, and have drafted both the original block and the new one many, many times. Years ago, I started asking myself what I'd do if given the chance to play in a Magic setting, and the story that started to build was always set on Innistrad.

Tell us a bit about Davriel, the newest Planeswalker. Where is he from, and what's he all about at the start of the story?

To be honest, I'd rather not spoil this for the readers—the story intentionally doesn't start with him but introduces him a few chapters in. I'd rather leave him as a mystery for now, as is (I think) appropriate for the story and the setting.

You designed this character hand in hand with the folks at Wizards. What went into that process?

It was a blast. When I explained my idea for a story, I wasn't expecting everyone to jump on board so quickly with the idea of me helping design a character. I did several conference calls, where we went over concept art and ideas I'd had—with others giving suggestions on how to design the visual feel of the character so that he would be evocative in the art styles used by Magic. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the collaborative aspect of it. A lot of the time, I design characters in a very solitary way. But here, bouncing ideas off the rest of the Creative team really helped the character grow and flourish in unexpected ways.

We can see from the cover image that Davriel has an affection for tea. Is this a trait of yours as well? Any recommendations for a good tea pairing while reading Children of the Nameless?

My favorite teas are a Korean yujacha (which I don't think works here) or a good English Mint—which would make an excellent pairing for the story. Reading it in front of the hearth on a cold winter night with a cup of something warm and relaxing seems very appropriate.

Children of the Nameless is your first Magic novella. Do you hope you'll be able to return and play in the Magic Multiverse again?

Absolutely! I have to do a careful balancing act to be certain not to take on too many projects, but I hope to be able to do this again some day.

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