Monthly Archives: July 2016

An exercise in Magic: the Gathering fanfiction

Before anything else, I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise for my/our silence recently. Loten is trying not to be overwhelmed by work and moving house, and I… well, I don’t have quite as good an excuse, except for being overcome by stress and depression brought on by political news (between the fucking Brexit and the insane popularity of a moronic narcissistic proto-fascist in the States, this year just continues to get worse) and not having much energy for anything. I may end up doing some rants about that in this space at some point, if I can muster the energy. I swear we’ll finish Philosopher’s Stone soon.

In the meantime, perhaps to distract myself, I did a thing. I’m not sure if our readers will necessarily be aware, but I am actually a longtime player/fan of Magic: the Gathering (I’ve played since around 2001, holy shit that’s fifteen years). And for what it’s worth, I’ve been slowly corrupting Loten also. (For the record, to get an idea of the kind of role Magic has played in my life, it was a huge part of my experience at school. We taught the teachers to play and huge segments of the school still hold tournaments and such. People from an official Magic show even visited my high school and did an episode there a couple of years ago, which was really surreal for me to see.)

We’ve both been enjoying a lot of the recent storytelling the game has been doing, through the cards and short fiction on the site; they’re honestly getting a lot better at this as the years go by (the older stuff is very much of mixed quality though there are definitely some gems if you look), and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

That said, there have been some things that irritated and frustrated me in the current story (when isn’t there something that irritates me in storytelling, nowadays?). To wit: in the service of larger plot, the story team seems to have decided the characterisation of two characters who happened to be favourites of mine would be an acceptable sacrifice. Which I find particularly unfortunate, because I understand exactly why they did it, and can’t completely fault them for it because the plot they did it in service of is actually pretty good. For a game that’s ostensibly about planeswalkers fighting each other, the story doesn’t focus on that sort of thing as often as it should, so to actually tell a story that’s explicitly about that happening and the huge environmental impacts it ends up having was honestly an inspired choice. But at the same time, they just had to ruin those characters to do it. (In fairness, not all of the new characterisation is terrible: what it really boils down to is that they were forced to act really stupidly on one or two occasions, such that the fallout from that could lead to the events the story team needed.)

So I decided I’d try to salvage something from it. I’ve actually been working on this thing for about two weeks now; I’d hoped to finish before last Wednesday, actually, because I wanted to preempt the next official story article before it could officially contradict me (I wanted my story to be consistent with the canon at the time of publication, even if I fully expect it to be contradicted soon). I didn’t quite manage that, but thankfully that episode didn’t change much and I was able to get it finished this week. I’m sure Loten is quite pleased I’ve finally finished it also, now that I’m no longer pestering her to look over drafts.

Here is the story.

I welcome any feedback, constructive or otherwise, as this is the first longish writing exercise I’ve attempted in a while (I’m hoping this gets my fiction writing juices flowing again after such a long hiatus but no promises). Likewise, I hope it doesn’t come across as too much of an apologetic for those who commit atrocities, as the characters I’m trying to redeem have been made to do some pretty horrendous and possibly unforgiveable things; I’m working with what I was given, and I do think these characters would likely have a somewhat detached perspective and I’m trying to be true to them.

If you’re interested but don’t know the necessary background, I’ll provide the necessary links (some of these are to articles I mentioned in the author’s notes that gave me the inspiration to do this, because I can’t link them on FFN; the rest are to the official short fiction connected to the story arc I’m working with).

Official Magic story column:

Main Magic story page (updates Wednesdays)

The Lithomancer
Stirring from Slumber
Sorin’s Restoration

Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) story index
Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) story index
Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) story index
Eldritch Moon (EMN) story index

Imprisoned in the Moon (not a story article, card preview that revealed story points)

I should also mention they have collected the stories in ebook format as well: BFZ OGW SOI

Articles by vorthosjay that I mentioned in the author’s notes:
Catching-up for Eldritch Moon
Narrative: Nahiri’s Motivation
Nahiri’s Disappointing Endgame

1 Comment

Posted by on July 26, 2016 in mitchell


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