Q:As the cast of planeswalkers grows but the number of slots for them in sets remains constant, it's inevitable that some of them will get less and less face time. Would you ever put a planeswalker in the art or flavor text of a card if they didn't appear in the block as an actual planeswalker card?
Great question. And a great time to seek feedback from you all. We’ve occasionally seen appearances of planeswalker characters in art or flavor text — let’s call them “cameos” — in blocks where that character did not appear as an actual planeswalker card. (Dack Fayden in the art of Bred for the Hunt, for example, or Sorin Markov being quoted on M14’s Mark of the Vampire.)
1. What are your thoughts on such art/flavor cameos? Awesome? Tolerable? Actively disruptive? Necessary? Harmless? All of the above, depending on your Vorthos proclivities and/or story knowledge?
2. What if the character has a more active role in the block story? Would you ever want to see a character playing a part in the story who only appeared in art or flavor text of that block, or should characters with planeswalker cards be the only ones active in the story?
Q:Did Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund and Naya exist as cultural and/or political entities before Alara was split into five shards, or did it just happen that after millenia cut off from blue and black mana civilisation kind of doesn't happen anymore? More specifically, were shard-specific creatures originally trapped on a hostile shard (and killed by the lack of color-appropriate mana)?
Before Alara split into shards, there were other Alaran kingdoms, regions, and civilizations that weren’t the five shard-cultures we know today. The identities of the shards (including their cultures, ecosystems, and style of magic) came about because of the thousands of years of mana isolation they endured. Here’s an old article of mine that goes into the history of Vithia, the place that became Grixis after Alara separated:
There were angels there at one point, but they didn’t survive long on a world cut off from white mana.
Q:Which Planechase plane do you think would be the most fun to do a block on?
There are a few candidates I’d like to see expanded out someday. Anything more specific than that and we’re in sunset territory, though, I’m afraid.
Q:Forgive me, my Latin's a little rusty. What is the translation for 'Quod Erat Dragons'?
It’s a play on “quod erat demonstrandum,” which is the Latin phrase that “Q.E.D.” stands for, used at the end of an argument or proof. The phrase means “which had to be demonstrated”… so “which had to be DRAGONS,” I guess, but I mean, night blogging, iffy Latin, I dunno.
Q:What is the cultural import of Alara Reborn? Based on the syncretism we saw in it, is it fair to say the Shards of Alara are gone as distinct entities? I.e. the distinct cultural/artistic flavors of each of the 5 shards may still have echoes, but they are all blended together and ceased to exist as distinct entities? That's what I get from AR, and it makes me sad because I really love Bant (and Esper to a lesser degree). Am I correct?
Alara Reborn focused on the incursion zones, the overlap areas where the shards intersected, and showed off how the shards’ cultures mixed in those areas. But I think there are still major areas where the shards’ original identities remain largely intact.
Q:Is a steampunk world too modern for mtg?
I think there are probably ways of doing steampunk that could make sense in Magic. Some of the costuming designs of Izzet mages and gear of Innistrad skaberen (blue-aligned zombie-stitchers) incorporate some steampunk elements without straying too far out of fantasy. On the other hand, some hallmarks of the steampunk look are so explicitly modern or industrial that they might clash with Magic's ethos. Furthermore, we'd want to make it our own somehow, not just transfer everything from the genre literally. IMO it'd be a balancing act, but it's an idea that has definitely come up for someday.
Q:Happy Holidays Doug and all of you crafty crew! And on that note, what is Creative input on the Holidays Promo cards? Is it only regarding of the art (which is always awesome) or do you get to conceptualize it aswell?
The way it usually goes is that Creative comes up with the name (often from a list of amusing suggestions from various people) and devises the concept for the art that will go with it. Then a small team of designers takes that concept and designs some silver-bordered rules text to match it. Happy holidays!
Q:I know Maro has stated many times that his color alignment is red/blue, but I don't recall seeing you answer that question. So: what's your color alignment/guild affiliation/Alara shard? PS Your blog makes me smile! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
Go Team Grixiselesnya! Er… Jundzorius! Gruulsper?
I dunno. It’s my job to see the awesome in all the colors. I’ve written world-building material for Golgari, Lorwyn merfolk, white-aligned Phyrexia, Grixis, Kamigawa mountain cultures, Meletis, Orzhov, Innistrad werewolves—among others. I’ve developed storylines and dialogue for characters of every color and color combination Magic has had, and I’ve tried to represent their values and philosophies each as thoroughly and as faithfully as I could. So it feels weird to pick favorites. I get excited about certain elements of certain settings, but overall I enjoy the flexibility and richness of the color wheel more than I enjoy identifying with one piece of it.