[MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

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[MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:42 pm

I honestly wish I could put my entire fandom for Magic the Gathering behind me once and for all, but it has its hooks too deep into my brain, and I can't escape. So since I have been thoroughly Mind Flayed, I thought perhaps I should enter the Illithid Expert prestige class (okay, this metaphor is getting too stretched even for me).

Who wants to see me do a deep dive into the Planeswalker characters that MTG has revolved around for the past 13 years? I'm kind of obsessed, and there's a lot of information that will take much work to collate. The main reason that I'm not immediately volunteering to do all this work, in order to satisfy this obsession of mine, is that I don't know if anyone would care, or consider the Piazza an appropriate forum for this feature (and I have no other fora where it could happen, other than my blog that hasn't been updated in three years and which had a readership of four at its absolute peak). Notably, even if you were planning on playing D&D in the Magic setting, I don't know that knowing the intimate details of the planeswalkers would be terribly useful to you, much as you don't especially need to know Mordenkainen's life story to play a D&D game that probably isn't even set on Greyhawk.

So, should I do this you guys? It would involve one or two articles a week for several months, and there's no guarantee I'd ever be able to finish, given how tenuous my survival is at this point. It's a waste of my energy, and while I have nothing else to waste my energy on, I'm still reluctant to do it. It'll be up to you guys to decide whether to open this new chapter in my life.

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by Havard » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:47 pm

That sounds like it could be interesting :)

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:40 pm

That's one vote in favor. I'll need more.

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by Sturm » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:00 pm

Interesting but maybe you could start small with brief descriptions?

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:09 pm

Sturm wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:00 pm
Interesting but maybe you could start small with brief descriptions?
If that's all you want, you can get it on the official site. The links may not work, at least on IE, but you can find the article if you go into the URL and add the name after the final slash (eg https://magic.wizards.com/en/story/planeswalkers/ashiok or https://magic.wizards.com/en/story/plan ... i-goldmane).

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by Sturm » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:58 am

Interesting link, thanks. Personally I doubt I would ever use Magic as a rpg setting, but should I need some planeswalkers for a Planescape setting I could use them, maybe. Now that Wizards has published rpg conversions of the Magic worlds maybe people are starting playing in them? If someone has started such a campaign informations on Planeswalkers will be useful.
In general I think you should do it only if it interests and amuses you, but you should not rely on the interest of other people. Consider that for any rpg creation tipically the people reading it at first will be very few, but the material could be useful for many others for years to come, if it stays stored on the internet.

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:08 pm

Seems like there isn't sufficient interest in this.

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm

willpell wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:08 pm
Seems like there isn't sufficient interest in this.
I don't actually know what you are talking about, to be honest.

I only played Magic: The Gathering for a short amount of time, before finding that other people where spending a ton of cash to make hard to beat decks. That kind of put me off of M:tG.

But I have been following the PlaneShift conversions of Magic: The Gathering realms. I think it is possible that we might get a full-blown commercial Magic: The Gathering D&D hardback, at some point.

And I think it's possible that The Piazza will eventually have enough Magic topics to justify a forum.

These articles you are talking about, might be useful to some players. But you really should be writing for yourself, rather than for other people.

So what would you be writing that would not be in the Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Ajani, Valiant Protector articles that you linked to?

Would you be creating D&D stats for them?
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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
I don't actually know what you are talking about, to be honest.
Do you know what the word "planeswalker" means in a MTG context? It's not nearly the same as what it means for Planescape. There's a lot of history to it; my plan included writing an intro article on the term's meaning in past and present incarnations, and also a general-purpose intro to the MTG setting, for people who think a Red Mage is someone who casts both White and Black magic but only up to Level 3. ^_^
I only played Magic: The Gathering for a short amount of time, before finding that other people where spending a ton of cash to make hard to beat decks. That kind of put me off of M:tG.
It hasn't gotten better. There are "mythic rares" now. And they pretty much just win. For an illustrative example, see Serra Angel, printed as an Uncommon in the latest set, as compared to Lyra Dawnbringer, one of that set's mythic rares. It's not quite 1-to-1; you can only have one copy of Lyra on the table at a time, and she doesn't have Vigilance, so she can't block after attacking - but she's bigger, and she gives you life equal to the damage you deal with her, so instead of dealing 4 damage and still having a blocker who can absorb 3 damage without dying, you deal 5 damage and gain 5 life. On top of that, Lyra makes all your Serras and other Angels bigger and makes them lifelinkers too, so a player with three Serras and a Lyra is much better off than one with four Serras, and she's got first strike just as a cherry on top. So yeah, anybody who says money doesn't win Magic games is lying to you. They mitigate the problem somewhat - removal is mostly at common, so if your opponent has better creatures, you can often still kill them - but the problem still unquestionably exists.
But I have been following the PlaneShift conversions of Magic: The Gathering realms. I think it is possible that we might get a full-blown commercial Magic: The Gathering D&D hardback, at some point.
Would you pay $50 for the kind of crap that's in Plane Shift: Zendikar? "Eldrazi can be represented by using stats for a Mind Flayer" and that kind of insulting table scraps, instead of actual statblocks? If they're not going to make a proper effort, I'd rather they didn't bother.
These articles you are talking about, might be useful to some players. But you really should be writing for yourself, rather than for other people.
Myself wants to write them, obviously. But what you want to do is very different from what's actually worth your time; I should probably not be squandering my energy on a purely masturbatory self-indulgence at this point in my life, given how badly I need to get my act together and start actually supporting myself in a financial sense within the next five years or so, or else possibly end up on the street at that point.
So what would you be writing that would not be in the Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Ajani, Valiant Protector articles that you linked to?
For Ashiok I wouldn't have much, since it's only appeared once and there's very little info on it (beyond the fact that it identifies as genderless), but Ajani has about ten different cards over multiple expansion sets, including a Planeswalker Deck variant that was published at the same time as a normal booster-pack version, so I'd be looking at how he's changed over time and trying to get at what this tells us about his personality, the magic he has access to, and his planar activities and so forth. In particular I'm interested in looking at color identities, since I have a concept in mind for exploring that in more detail; a relevant example is the recently added planeswalker Samut, who was printed as a creature in the Amonkhet set and as a planeswalker in its sequel, Hour of Devastation. Her creature card is both red and green, though it's not especially clear why since all of her abilities would fit in mono-red; she also has a white-mana activated ability in her initial form, which is absent from her planeswalker card, and the abilities of that card, again, are nearly all specifically red. So the article I'd write for her would be a digging in to all the info I can find about her - quotes from cards, articles and stories on the website (if I can find them, given the godawful layout), and so forth - to try and determine whether she "really" ought to be green rather than white. The nature of the way the card game is designed and sold is such that, even if it was universally agreed that her personality isn't green at all, she might be printed in green just because red-green decks are underperforming in league competition compared to mono-red decks, and they need to be souped up by altering the mana cost of their "chase" card. It would be those kinds of questions I would be exploring, from a perspective that gives exactly zero shits about the "metagame" of professional players. There are numerous other red-green planeswalkers, but Ajani is the only one who's been printed in both red-green and red-white, and there still hasn't been one who is all of red, green, and white at the same time; for this reason I'm very interested in deciding whether the "real" Samut is all of those colors, and in what proportion, as compared to Ajani and to the various RG or RW walkers (there hasn't been a GW one other than Ajani).
Would you be creating D&D stats for them?
No, that's FAR beyond my capabilities. I'm not sure it would even be useful. The planeswalkers are "one in a million" individuals who are probably less likely to show up in a D&D campaign than the literal gods worshipped by clerics are to make a physical appearance. I'd be more interested in discussing them as examples of the kind of thing that's possible, so they can be mined for concepts that can be applied elsewhere. Reading about Ajani might tell you something about the Leonin people, or about the worlds of Naya and Theros and Kaladesh where he's been involved, and you might use that information, but you probably wouldn't use Ajani himself, for the same reason you don't use Mordenkainen.

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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:12 pm

willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
I don't actually know what you are talking about, to be honest.
Do you know what the word "planeswalker" means in a MTG context? It's not nearly the same as what it means for Planescape. There's a lot of history to it; my plan included writing an intro article on the term's meaning in past and present incarnations, and also a general-purpose intro to the MTG setting, for people who think a Red Mage is someone who casts both White and Black magic but only up to Level 3. ^_^
Well I know that the Magic: The Gathering universe was not designed to be compatible with the Planescape universe (as it was designed by another company). So I know that a Planeswalker in M:tG can not be the same thing as a PC in the Planescape campaign setting.

I'm sure that the general concept of passing from one plane to another must mean that some things are similar (and might even work under identical D&D rules) but it's a different fantasy universe, so sure, it's got to be different.

I've not read any of the M:tG novels...yet. If I did read some (and that's a subject for another topic) maybe I would get more context for this.

I think someone told me that players in M:tG were supposed to be something like wizards gathering forces from different planes, so that they could duel with each other. Perhaps the concept of Planewalkers is fluff built up to sell a backstory that makes M:tG cards seem like more than the "tap to do X to your opponent" written on them.
willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
I only played Magic: The Gathering for a short amount of time, before finding that other people where spending a ton of cash to make hard to beat decks. That kind of put me off of M:tG.
It hasn't gotten better. There are "mythic rares" now. And they pretty much just win. For an illustrative example, see Serra Angel, printed as an Uncommon in the latest set, as compared to Lyra Dawnbringer, one of that set's mythic rares. It's not quite 1-to-1; you can only have one copy of Lyra on the table at a time, and she doesn't have Vigilance, so she can't block after attacking - but she's bigger, and she gives you life equal to the damage you deal with her, so instead of dealing 4 damage and still having a blocker who can absorb 3 damage without dying, you deal 5 damage and gain 5 life. On top of that, Lyra makes all your Serras and other Angels bigger and makes them lifelinkers too, so a player with three Serras and a Lyra is much better off than one with four Serras, and she's got first strike just as a cherry on top. So yeah, anybody who says money doesn't win Magic games is lying to you. They mitigate the problem somewhat - removal is mostly at common, so if your opponent has better creatures, you can often still kill them - but the problem still unquestionably exists.
This is a major turn off for me. So I'd be interested in roleplaying discussions, but not CCG discussions. (I'd only really care to look at CCG to D&D conversions.)
willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
But I have been following the PlaneShift conversions of Magic: The Gathering realms. I think it is possible that we might get a full-blown commercial Magic: The Gathering D&D hardback, at some point.
Would you pay $50 for the kind of crap that's in Plane Shift: Zendikar? "Eldrazi can be represented by using stats for a Mind Flayer" and that kind of insulting table scraps, instead of actual statblocks? If they're not going to make a proper effort, I'd rather they didn't bother.
That sort of attitude is a bit of a turn off too, to be honest.

Those PlaneShift documents that James Wyatt made in his spare time were never stated to be anything more than a quick-and-dirty hack to allow people to use D&D rules to roleplay in the M:tG universe. He states that they have not been playtested, and he only makes them if/when they make art books that he can raid to beautify them.

A full blown 5e PlaneShift hardback would have to go much further than that.

And, to be honest, I'd be less inclined to buy it, because it's 5e and because my preferred ruleset is 3e. But I think there would be a market for it out there.

In the meantime, I'd be happy to see constructive discussion about how to use Magic: The Gathering with 5e or any other ruleset that someone wants to give fan support to.

So if your proposal was going to support some fans that play tabletop RPGs, maybe it's worth seeing. But if it's going to be a bunch of rants about how bad a job James Wyatt did, you can put me in the "no thanks" camp, right now.
willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
These articles you are talking about, might be useful to some players. But you really should be writing for yourself, rather than for other people.
Myself wants to write them, obviously. But what you want to do is very different from what's actually worth your time; I should probably not be squandering my energy on a purely masturbatory self-indulgence at this point in my life, given how badly I need to get my act together and start actually supporting myself in a financial sense within the next five years or so, or else possibly end up on the street at that point.
I've also got to focus on some things, to help them move forward.

Perhaps you should create some sort of scoring system for yourself, assign personal projects points based on how useful to you they are and use that as a guide for what to mothball.

You are unlikely to be able to make any money out of PlaneShift/Magic: The Gathering, until it gets published by WotC and released to DMs Guild. So, if you are thinking of money, I'd suggest you drop it.

But if you are thinking of fun in your spare time, then that might have a greater value to you than money.
willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
So what would you be writing that would not be in the Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Ajani, Valiant Protector articles that you linked to?
For Ashiok I wouldn't have much, since it's only appeared once and there's very little info on it (beyond the fact that it identifies as genderless), but Ajani has about ten different cards over multiple expansion sets, including a Planeswalker Deck variant that was published at the same time as a normal booster-pack version, so I'd be looking at how he's changed over time and trying to get at what this tells us about his personality, the magic he has access to, and his planar activities and so forth. In particular I'm interested in looking at color identities, since I have a concept in mind for exploring that in more detail; a relevant example is the recently added planeswalker Samut, who was printed as a creature in the Amonkhet set and as a planeswalker in its sequel, Hour of Devastation. Her creature card is both red and green, though it's not especially clear why since all of her abilities would fit in mono-red; she also has a white-mana activated ability in her initial form, which is absent from her planeswalker card, and the abilities of that card, again, are nearly all specifically red. So the article I'd write for her would be a digging in to all the info I can find about her - quotes from cards, articles and stories on the website (if I can find them, given the godawful layout), and so forth - to try and determine whether she "really" ought to be green rather than white. The nature of the way the card game is designed and sold is such that, even if it was universally agreed that her personality isn't green at all, she might be printed in green just because red-green decks are underperforming in league competition compared to mono-red decks, and they need to be souped up by altering the mana cost of their "chase" card. It would be those kinds of questions I would be exploring, from a perspective that gives exactly zero shits about the "metagame" of professional players. There are numerous other red-green planeswalkers, but Ajani is the only one who's been printed in both red-green and red-white, and there still hasn't been one who is all of red, green, and white at the same time; for this reason I'm very interested in deciding whether the "real" Samut is all of those colors, and in what proportion, as compared to Ajani and to the various RG or RW walkers (there hasn't been a GW one other than Ajani).
It's a bit hard to follow that paragraph, what with all the moaning that is in between the useful information. I still don't know exactly what you would potentially be making and how it might help someone use one or more Planeswalkers in a tabletop game.
willpell wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:41 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:55 pm
Would you be creating D&D stats for them?
No, that's FAR beyond my capabilities. I'm not sure it would even be useful. The planeswalkers are "one in a million" individuals who are probably less likely to show up in a D&D campaign than the literal gods worshipped by clerics are to make a physical appearance. I'd be more interested in discussing them as examples of the kind of thing that's possible, so they can be mined for concepts that can be applied elsewhere. Reading about Ajani might tell you something about the Leonin people, or about the worlds of Naya and Theros and Kaladesh where he's been involved, and you might use that information, but you probably wouldn't use Ajani himself, for the same reason you don't use Mordenkainen.
Hmm. I thought I was starting to follow what you were trying to do, but now it seems like you are saying it would be a time sink for you and wouldn't even help anyone use the Planeswalkers as NPCs in a tabletop game.

Perhaps you might want to just scale back on this and have a general discussion about one Planeswalker (which ever one you fancy talking about) and seeing how far an actual topic about them goes. If it's not a "feature" then you won't have an actual promise that you have to live up to and could start off with a simple discussion and do the more complicated stuff if the topic takes off.

If other people want to use the Planeswalkers as NPCs, they might even help write up D&D stats for them.

How does that sound?
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Re: [MTG] Feature Proposal: "Who are the Planeswalkers?"

Post by willpell » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:52 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:12 pm
Well I know that the Magic: The Gathering universe was not designed to be compatible with the Planescape universe (as it was designed by another company). So I know that a Planeswalker in M:tG can not be the same thing as a PC in the Planescape campaign setting.

I'm sure that the general concept of passing from one plane to another must mean that some things are similar (and might even work under identical D&D rules) but it's a different fantasy universe, so sure, it's got to be different.
There are some pretty huge differences. Planeswalkers used to be godlike energy-beings who could assume any shape and lived forever; a storyline event reduced their power level to a more human degree, but they're still incredibly powerful compared to plane-bound mages. When you build a deck of MTG cards, some of those cards are creatures, and some of those creatures are wizards, but YOU are the Planeswalker who commands those ordinary mages like chess pieces. They did eventually start making cards which represent NPC planeswalkers that you can summon to assist you, but the metaphor that planeswalkers are players still partially holds even in that case, as creatures can attack a planeswalker card the same way they would attack a player.
I've not read any of the M:tG novels...yet. If I did read some (and that's a subject for another topic) maybe I would get more context for this.
Many of the novels are "ground scale" and don't really feature planeswalkers, except as godlike background characters. The best resources for reading about them would be the novel "Shattered Chains" (which is the penultimate book of a tetralogy, so you might be a little lost in story terms without having read the other three books, but this one has the most planeswalker characters in it), for the original view of the Walkers, and "Agents of Artifice" for their modern form. There are other Magic novels that are better books - my favorites are "The Brothers' War" and "Ashes of the Sun" - but they don't revolve around Walkers, in fact I don't think they even feature any.
Perhaps the concept of Planewalkers is fluff built up to sell a backstory that makes M:tG cards seem like more than the "tap to do X to your opponent" written on them.
That's it exactly. But then, comic books were supposed to be something children read once and then threw away, not the foundation of a multi-billion dollar movie franchise. Things can easily start out as irrelevant bullshit which exists only to make a guy in a suit money, and become something amazing when the public invests their passion and creativity in the work.
This is a major turn off for me. So I'd be interested in roleplaying discussions, but not CCG discussions. (I'd only really care to look at CCG to D&D conversions.)
Fair enough. I don't love the card game, but much of my discussion would focus on it, not because I care about the cards themselves, but because they provide the most direct source of "stats" on the represented entities.
That sort of attitude is a bit of a turn off too, to be honest.
We're agreed.
Those PlaneShift documents that James Wyatt made in his spare time were never stated to be anything more than a quick-and-dirty hack to allow people to use D&D rules to roleplay in the M:tG universe. He states that they have not been playtested, and he only makes them if/when they make art books that he can raid to beautify them.
Well, they'd make a bit more of an effort for something they planned to sell, but only a bit.
And, to be honest, I'd be less inclined to buy it, because it's 5e and because my preferred ruleset is 3e. But I think there would be a market for it out there.
There definitely is a market; the question is whether Hasborg believes there's enough of a market to justify the cost of making the thing.
So if your proposal was going to support some fans that play tabletop RPGs, maybe it's worth seeing. But if it's going to be a bunch of rants about how bad a job James Wyatt did, you can put me in the "no thanks" camp, right now.
It wouldn't quite be that, but it might have more discussion of cards and less discussion of RPG rules than you would prefer. So I am currently leaning away from making the effort.
Perhaps you should create some sort of scoring system for yourself, assign personal projects points based on how useful to you they are and use that as a guide for what to mothball.
I would get lost in nitpicking the minutiae of such a system. :oops: :roll: :lol:
You are unlikely to be able to make any money out of PlaneShift/Magic: The Gathering, until it gets published by WotC and released to DMs Guild. So, if you are thinking of money, I'd suggest you drop it.
I certainly don't ever expect to make a dime from any of my geeky hobbies. The fact that I managed to do it once was sheer accident, and I burned that bridge rather thoroughly years ago; it's beyond unlikely it will ever happen again.
But if you are thinking of fun in your spare time, then that might have a greater value to you than money.
My spare time is worthless, but I have it, so I need ways to use it. Watching YouTube videos for six hours a day can only get one so far; I need something to do with my hands.
It's a bit hard to follow that paragraph, what with all the moaning that is in between the useful information. I still don't know exactly what you would potentially be making and how it might help someone use one or more Planeswalkers in a tabletop game.
The TL;DR version: "Samut is primarily a Red mage, and Ajani is primarily a White mage, and both are secondarily Green. The question is, to what extent is Samut tertiarily a White mage, and Ajani a Red one? The cards give us one answer, but if we look at some additional sources, do we find evidence to support a different conclusion? Can either one accurately be called a Red-Green-White planeswalker, or does such a thing still not exist? And why should these colors not be represented, when we have a Green-White-Blue and a Blue-Black-Red, and even a Green-Blue-Red who was Black at one time in the past?"
wrote:Hmm. I thought I was starting to follow what you were trying to do, but now it seems like you are saying it would be a time sink for you and wouldn't even help anyone use the Planeswalkers as NPCs in a tabletop game.
Use them as background, maybe. Have a personal appearance, less likely. Have a battle against them, almost certainly not.
Perhaps you might want to just scale back on this and have a general discussion about one Planeswalker (which ever one you fancy talking about) and seeing how far an actual topic about them goes. If it's not a "feature" then you won't have an actual promise that you have to live up to and could start off with a simple discussion and do the more complicated stuff if the topic takes off.
I'm a completionist. I wouldn't want to do one unless I could do all of them. Granted, only about ten of them would be very long articles - most of the Walkers are one-off or two-off characters, you've already heard at least half of what there is to know about Samut for instance - but the ten or so that represent frequently reused characters would be a LOT of work, and I would hate to start that series if I wasn't at least semi-likely to finish it.

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