MTG Mondays: Gaea

“Gaea sings with the voice of nature rampant: a thousand howls, chitters and cries, and none of them can be ignored.” – Gaea’s Herald

Gaea’s Herald

Hello everybody, today I will be talking about Gaea, the mysterious nature goddess from the realm of Dominaria in the Magic the Gathering universe. Gaea was around from the beginning but as the game and the universe grew so did her impact. Originally Gaea was a term that the designers put on the MTG cards to denote something that was extremely natural, but over time they grew the term into an actual character and made her a goddess of the plane.

As the lore grew, Gaea was made out to be not only Dominaria’s protector but the creator of the entire plane. She personally has never showed herself in the MTG universe but there are fifteen cards that have her name in them and there are another fifteen cards that reference her in some way. She is a goddess to a lot of the fey folk in Dominaria so the likes of Elves and Druids pay respects and worship her in their own ways. It is said that the Elves and Druids of the plane can actually hear their goddess and that Gaea directly created the Elves of the plane. During the Phyrexian Invasion, it is believed by many that Gaea had a hand in protecting the plane of Dominaria from the invading Phyrexian forces that sought to ruin her plane.

Not much is known about the goddess, Gaea but she has been in the game in her own way from 1993 and still has cards made about her in the modern era with cards such as Gaea’s Blessing released in the Dominaria set in 2018. I believe there is a lot more to see of Gaea yet and I hope one day we get to see the actual goddess, as MTG have been releasing God cards since the Theros block in 2013-2014.

A short lore this week, but none the less important to the universe of Magic the Gathering. It is interesting to see how characters, planes and stories developed over time and in Gaea’s case it went from something that sounded cool and natural to a fully fledged goddess.

I hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks for reading!

MTG Mondays: Benalia

“My people swore to protect Benalia to the end. It is battered, but yet stands, as do we.”Benalish Calvary

Benalia

Hello everybody, today I am talking about the nation state of Benalia on the continent of Aerona on the plane of Dominaria. Benalia is a major location in the world of Magic the Gathering and has shown up all throughout MTG’s history on a whole lot of cards, but where did the state come from and what is it all about? Well I am here to explain all of that.

Dominaria as a whole

Before we speak about Benalia, we must talk about what came before it, the mighty Sheoltun Empire. At the end of the Brother’s war between planeswalkers, Urza and Mishra, who I will be talking about in a later blog, the world was plunged into an Ice Age that lasted for almost two and a half thousand years. After the Ice Age, the Sheoltun Empire was formed with it’s capital being Benfosa. The Sheoltun Empire was a military state that ruled with an iron fist and before long it conquered a lot of central Aerona. One of the most famous Sheoltun residents was an advisor named Tobias Andrion. Tobias was instrumental is wiping out the pirates that surrounded the shores of Sheoltun, but while he was successful in driving them out of Aerona, he got caught up in a thirty year war against the pirates of the Spice Isles. The Spice Isles was a location where sailors could rest before continuing on a long journey, the only problem was it was ruled by pirates. Tobias eventually won, but died by what is widely reported a magical lightning bolt. They say that Tobias is still under the water and dancing on the crew of his fleet for the rest of time. With Tobias’s death, the Sheoltun Empire started to decline. The final nail in the coffin was a revolt by a region called Epityr. Epityr was a region that was flourishing for about three hundred years until the Sheoltun Empire conquered it. The Sheoltun Empire imposed it’s will on the people of Epityr and for forty years they had to adapt their culture to that of the Sheoltun’s. The people of Epityr had enough and revolted and a mage by the name of Thabit of Almaaz summoned Serra Angels, mighty warrior angels to help the Epityr cause. The Sheoltun Empire was beaten and with that came the collapse of the once powerful empire.

The next chapter in the Benalish story begins in a region to the Northeast of the Hurloon mountains called, Wrenna. Not much is known about Wrenna other than it had an order called the Knights of Jenges. An evil sorcerer came to Wrenna and seized it’s throne and corrupted the knights, but one fled south named, Torsten Von Urses. Von Urses came upon the ruins of Benfosa and from here he decided to create a new empire called, Benalia. Von Urses chose the name Benalia as it means ‘Aspiration’.

“Some aspire to climb the mountains of honor. The Benalish are born upon it’s peak, and from there ascend among the stars” – Benalish Marshall

Torsten Von Urses

Benalia was ruled by Von Urses, but he had seven lieutenants from seven great and noble houses which were the ruling families in Benalia. The seven houses are as follows:

  • House Capashen – The wealthiest and strongest houses of the seven. The Capashens rule the north of Benalia. Their leader is Aron Capashen. Their house sigil is a tower with seven windows.
  • House Avenant – The Avenant are a matriarchal house that rule the Isle of Avenant. Their leaders name is Cerise D’Avenant and their house sigil is a pattern of seven arrows.
  • House Croger – A house that is full of expansionists and individualists. They rule Eastern Benalia and they still very much worship the church of the Angelfire. Their leader is Eadith Croger and their sigil is a wolf’s head with seven teeth.
  • House Rosecot – A militaristic house that protects all the grain fields of Benalia to the south east of the country. Their leader is Alvan Rosecot and their sigil is a rose with seven thorns.
  • House Tarmula – A house of wizards and scholars, they rule in and around central Benalia. Their leader is Rache Tarmula and their sigil is a seven pointed star.
  • House Deniz – The house of the great traders, merchants and naval traders of Benalia. They rule along the west coast of Benalia and their leader is Jerek Deniz. Their sigil is a conical shell with seven twists.
  • House Joryev – And finally, not much is known about this house only that it might have possible ties to an organisation called the Cabal. Their leader is Aveya Joryev and their sigil is a ring with seven keys attached.

The mentioning of the seven houses leads on to the Lost Edict. Von Urses wanted to dominate his realm before he died and he did do most of what he wanted in terms of that. At the age of seventy two, Von Urses passed away leaving the leadership of Benalia in question. Von Urses left behind instructions detailing the fact that he didn’t want any of the houses becoming the soul leader of Benalia, but the seven of them ruling together, each taking on a different part of the running of Benalia as a whole.

Benalia became a military state with a lot of religious backing from Gabriel Angelfire and the churches of Serra. Gabriel Angelfire was an extraordinary warrior angel who was worshipped through the churches of the Angelfire. A strange thing that is not primarily seen in the MTG universe is that, Gabriel was a male angel, where most other angels are female.

Then came a dark time in Domiaria’s world, The Phyrexian Invasion. I won’t speak too much on the Phyrexian invasion today as it is a MASSIVE storyline in the MTG universe, but basically the Phyrexian invasion is the invasion of the plane of Dominaria from the artificially created plane of Phyrexia that brought a lot of death, destruction and chaos in it’s wake and a lot of heroes fell trying to stem the tides of the invasion. How does Benalia fit into all this? Benalia was the first region on Dominaria that was attacked and it was utterly destroyed. The goal of the Phyrexians was they wanted to destroy the Capashen house bloodline as it was prophesied that they would be the downfall of Phyrexia.

Phyrexian invasion

After the collapse of Benalia and the disaster that was the Phyrexian Invasion, Benalia’s woes were not finished yet. Next came the Years of Salt. What was left of Benalia devolved into warring states. Time rifts started open around which is part of another massive MTG arc which I won’t be discussing today. Benalia was riddled with natural disasters and then came the Slivers, horrible creatures with claws and tentacles that operate under a hive mind working towards a singular purpose, whatever their brood leader wants.

Lastly came the Mending, which was when the time rifts closed and the plane started to truly heal again. The descendants of the houses established the seven great houses again and rebuilt Benalia. The capital was rebuilt as New Benalia and a new way of governing Benalia was created called the Compact of the Seven Pillars which brought in The Ranking in which every year the leader of the council of seven would drop to the lowest ranking and the second highest ranking would be the leader and the rest would move up a rank. It gave each house a chance to rule. There were stained glass images and statues built to the fallen heroes and a new race joined Benalia, the Aven, flying humanoid creatures. Benalia also adopted the church of Serra as its official religion.

Stain glass honouring the heroes of Benalia

Benalia has a very interesting story in the MTG universe and one that is far from finished. It has been a part of the MTG universe since the beginning and I can definitely see it being there in terms of the game and the lore right up until the end. I hope you enjoyed my write up of the history and lore of Benalia and I will continue next week.

New Benalia

I hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks for reading!

MTG Mondays: What are planes of Magic?

Welcome to a new feature of my blog called MTG Mondays, where I will be discussing the lore surrounding the immensily popular and best selling card game of all time, Magic the Gathering. Magic the Gathering or MTG for short, is rich in lore, but for a game that’s being going for 28 years that is not really a surprise. I will discussing the heroes and villains of the Magic universe, plus the locations, factions, storylines and some special characters that turn up here and there, just to give people a little more background on what is going on in the MTG universe.

But where does it all begin? Well we will start with the physical worlds of MTG and where the weird and wonderful spells and creatures come from. The MTG universe is actually a multiverse as there are multiple different worlds that are seperate from one another called Planes. A plane is its own universe that has its own nature, creatues, people and magic. Most of the planes are spherical, so in a way they are almost like planets, though those spheres could be infinite and have their own space, laws of physics, moons, suns, stars, planets and whatever else you may have. Planes can vary from nothing inside to a vast universe, there is no common law to govern each plane as they are their own seperate entities.

So, how many planes are there in the MTG universe? Well the answer is that there are infinte planes. The thing is, most people do not know of other planes and they think that their universe is the only one that exists or has ever existed. The only people who know any better are called Planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are individuals who have the power to travel to different planes by moving through a void in space called the Blind Eternities. The Blind Eternities is an area that is full of chaotic energy, aether and mana, which is where the planeswalkers draw their power from to cast their spells and deadly creatures.

To really boil it down, planes can be considered as dimensions that exist in their own right, seperate from each other and the only ones who can visit the different dimensions are planeswalkers. There are two types of planes that exist: Natural and Artifical. Natural planes are planes that came into existance naturally over time and from them, planets, people, creatues and everything that comes with a universe in formed. Artifical planes are planes that are created by immensily powerful planeswalkers that I will be covering later on in my blog. These planes usually serves the planeswalkers will but they are unstable due to the fact that they have to be constantly sustained. Eventually an artifical plane cannot or simply isn’t sustained anymore and is eventually destroyed by the Blind Entities.

So that is a bit of background for the worlds and planes of Magic the Gathering. I hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait to talk about more of the lore and stories of this vast universe.

I hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks for reading!