What's the Story with Magic Origins?

Posted in Feature on February 27, 2015

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/

What is it about Gideon's past that makes him so eager to fight for justice? Why can't Jace remember his home world, and how does that relate to the symbol on the back of his cloak? What traumatic experience triggered Nissa's spark to ignite, and how did that turn her attentions to the Eldrazi? These questions tie to the backstories of Planeswalker characters, and all of them will be answered in Magic Origins.

Since we announced Magic Origins we've heard questions about what this set is about. What does it mean for a set to be about origin stories? Why did we choose these particular five Planeswalkers to focus on? What does this mean for sets and stories in Magic's future? Today, we answer some of these. Then we'll dive deeper into more details later, including at the Magic panel at PAX East next week.

What Is Magic Origins?

Magic Origins is a set that explores what it means to start out on a magical journey, and how we change as we progress through our lives. It focuses on five of Magic's most prominent characters, letting you explore their backstories and transformations as they became Planeswalkers. You'll get to see their home worlds, learn about the joys and crises of their early lives, and discover how they became the Multiverse-traveling Planeswalkers we know today. Magic Origins is designed to be accessible to introductory players, like a core set, but with new mechanics that express these themes of growing over time. Magic Origins also plants the seed for Magic's future storylines, allowing you an insider's glimpse of what's to come. Magic Origins serves as the prologue for some epic stories, and it's your chance to be there at the start.

Why These Five?

Magic Origins focuses on five Planeswalker characters: Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar, and Nissa Revane. We chose these five Planeswalkers because they will all take a central role in Magic's story in the near future. We felt it was important to go back and explore their origins, to see the tales of what made them who they are, so their motivations and life histories will be known before launching into the next phase of the storyline.

Why Not [This Other Person]?

Magic Origins focuses on five characters, but it has not made any other Planeswalker character obsolete. The storyline will continue to focus on a diverse array of Magic's Planeswalkers, legendary heroes, ambitious villains, self-serving iconoclasts, fantastic creatures, and other weirdoes aside from these five. We'd love to explore the backstories, spark moments, and home planes of more characters someday. For now, these five have some especially epic stories in front of them, and it was important to see the life events and the ten worlds that made them who they are.

…Did You Say Ten Worlds?

Yes. Magic Origins showcases ten different planes in its cards. Each Planeswalker's origin story involves two planes: his or her home plane—the world of that Planeswalker's birth—and his or her "first planeswalk" world—the first plane to which each one planeswalked just after his or her spark ignited. Five different Planeswalkers, ten different worlds.

Most of these ten worlds will be planes we've already seen in past Magic sets. For example, it's already been established that Nissa's home plane is Zendikar. Zendikar will be one of the planes showcased in Magic Origins, because it's relevant to Nissa's origin story.

Planeswalker Home Plane First-Planeswalk Plane


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Some of the ten will be glimpses of worlds that so far have been unknown or only barely mentioned. Chandra's home plane, for example, will be entirely new to you.

Magic Origins will showcase these ten planes to help tell the Planeswalkers' origin stories. But note that you don't need to be an expert in these worlds to play Magic Origins. When you build decks at the Prerelease, you'll be able to combine cards and strategies from across any of the worlds depicted in the set.

So How Will These Origin Stories Be Told?

Each of the five Planeswalkers featured in Magic Origins has an accompanying backstory, and that backstory will be told in a variety of ways.

  • Stories on the web: Around the release of Magic Origins, we'll publish the five official origin stories on DailyMTG.com, each one telling the tale of how those characters came to be Planeswalkers. These narratives were written by members of Magic R&D's creative team.
  • Magic Origins cards: You'll see cards in Magic Origins that tie to crucial moments in each Planeswalker's origin story. In addition to planeswalker cards, Planeswalker-associated spells, and legendary creatures, some cards will show glimpses of the Planeswalkers' home planes and first-planeswalk planes.
  • Magic Origins Prerelease boxes: There will also be quick-to-read summaries of the Planeswalkers' stories, hitting the highlights of each character's story using important Magic Origins cards, in the booklets included in your box at Magic Origins Prereleases.

No matter how you prefer to experience these stories, you'll have a method suited to you. We want you to enjoy finding out what happened with Jace's memory, see the fateful moment in Gideon's youth that made him who he is today, and be with Nissa when she unsheathes her sword for a new purpose. Whether you want to delve deep into the lore or simply skim the highlights will be up to you.

What Does Magic Origins Mean For Future Stories?

I can't reveal too many specifics about our future story plans yet. But broadly speaking, we're entering a new era of storytelling in Magic. You'll see more arced, interconnected stories that span over multiple sets and multiple worlds, with characters that persist over time. Magic Origins sets the stage for this new era by exploring motivations, settings, and characters that will play into the upcoming Magic storyline.

When Will We Learn More?

We're excited to go into more detail as we get closer to the release of Magic Origins. In particular, be sure to tune into the Magic: The Gathering panel at PAX East, and keep checking DailyMTG.com.

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