This is part of my ongoing Plane Shifted series.
Many D&D players are also fans of Magic: The Gathering.
It’s a natural synergy that WotC wants to take advantage of, with James Wyatt’s Plane Shift articles. They are a nice way of giving you a quick Gazetteer style of the setting of many of the recent Magic: The Gathering planes. These have come out with little fanfare, and from my circles little discussion.
I think that this is a fun resource to set your game in a world that is already richly defined with lore, but also able for the individual DM to make their own. Many DMs and future world builders got their start with one of D&D iconic settings. Mine was the World of Greyhawk. These Plans Shift articles individually come across as watered down versions of these settings.
The thing that clicked with me recently is that these are not individual worlds that you can use separately, but part of a cohesive world that your players take the part of Planeswalkers that jump between these different Prime Material Planes. Each plane of Magic’s history is a highly generalized near stereotype of many different gaming tropes, but with an interesting blend or twist to it.
WotC has even gone as far as writing my elevator pitch for me!
Many D&D fans often laugh at D&D’s Known World, Mystara’s, awkward neighbors. Using Magic’s planes allows a better suspension of disbelief of this mix and mash-up genre bending setting. Fantasy Vikings are not just over the next hill from fantasy Egypt, but on a different plane!
For lack of a better term, I’ll start by calling this a Plane Shift campaign. This would be an epic setting with amped up action and abilities. The PCs are world shakers on each of these planes they visit, often present as society is going thru a major upheaval. This also helps with the suspension of disbelief of 5e’s Forgotten Realms’ apocalypse du jour. The world is not ending again, it’s ending on a different plane!
I’ve looked around. I’ve found several different attempts at mashing together D&D and M:TG, and all seem kind of awkward to me. You’re playing D&D and a game of Magic breaks out in the middle of it as a subsystem of some sort. I don’t want to do this. I want to play D&D, but with lore, creatures, spells, magic items from Magic.
Many long time readers of this blog know I lean more towards presenting usable crunch. That’s what I’ll be doing with this series. I’ve already started working on some of this crunch, such as the River Heralds of Ixalan, and will soon have a variety of Monster Manual style pages detailing different creatures and races of Ixalan.
The issue I’ve run into is that Homebrewery has been glitchy for me, so I’ve been looking for a workable option. I use a Google Chromebook, so this limits my options for programs I can use. I am in the process of getting comfortable with some templates usable in Google Docs and Google Slides. If anyone out there has some good options to recommend, I’m all ears!
I also an imagining a new variant spellcasting system, or at least wizard subclasses, with five “colorful” magic schools. Artifacts will be represented by magic items, and new spells will be written with the flavor of Magic sorceries, enchantments and instants. Will the PCs be summoning monsters to fight for them? No, but the various creature cards will be represented as monster stat blocks and factions that the PCs can join or utilize. Remember, this is not a Magic game in the middle of D&D, this in D&D flavored by Magic.
I will be starting with the current block of Ixalan. The Plane Shift series gives me a good jumping off point to build on. From Ixalan, I will be working both forward and backwards from that point. I’ll start work on Dominaria when it is released, and moving backwards thru other Plane Shift articles, and even older worlds as time permits.
While the PCs will be Planeswalkers, they don’t have to all be spellcasters. Gideon, for example, comes off as more of a warrior type than a spellcaster. I’m not sure how I’ll designate a character as a Planeswalker. A bonus feat? An Epic Boon? The party happens to find gates, ala Sigil? A malfunctioning magic item that lets them jump between planes as they search for their way home?
Some things I have figured out in my head, and I’ll be starting with those. Others I’ll figure out as I go along.