Mersalen Block Creative Discussion - Open To Anyone

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Sat, 2016-09-03 22:39
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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So, for those of you in the know, we've been working on the creative aspect of the next community set for a few months now. The set was going to be Arthurian Legends themed, Fallek was going to return as a corrupted version of himself and be the antagonist (in the background or foreground, didn't matter). HOWEVER, after two months of barely any activity, it was realized that a lot of us just... weren't that into it. I personally do not know a lot about Arthurian Legend. It didn't interest me that much. I was asked to be the creative head, and I accepted cause uh, YEAH. But pretty much only Horizons was overly into it. Everyone else did give suggestions, but it died down a LOT.

So today, Gweeps sent me this in my private messages:

>

Hey so been thinking about what you and Horizons said and it might be best to just shelf the Arthurian ideas and reset. It seems everyone is not that into it and I am foreseeing the same issue once design starts. I mean Ashura was easy cause things like devour and dominance just naturally flow from Dino's. This set would've have that. Another thing is that wotc now have announced a steampunk and Egyptian inspired set which were both on our short list so we might want to work the shortlist before they take another!

I am thinking that we tackle the water world. I also think we should do the sky one too so basically a wotkd with no land mass so they live in the water, on the water, or in the sky. But arrive can work all that out. What do you think?

PS - Penguins. Just saying....

So! As head creative, it is NOT my position to say that we are completely starting over. However, I believe it's a good idea. I'll go ahead and write my suggestions and ideas below, but if you disagree with the idea of starting over fresh from the start with a new idea (one I am very excited about honestly), then please let me know, so we can discuss it. Nothing is set in stone yet. I just made another thread so it'd be easier to organize and look back (I also know Horizon said if we start a new, he'd be making the old one himself on his own time).

So, again, if you don't like the idea of starting anew, say so. This ain't a dictatorship.

Again, these are your creative members. This is specifically for creative members, as a place to chat and discuss ideas. Anyone else can hang around, but only speak up if something is REALLY bothering you. Too many ideas in the pot, you know how it is.

Liz
Horizons
jacqui-pup
Neottolemo
Nazsmith

My ideas

These are my first ideas when given the subject. I had a set planned, some time in the future (prolly about three blocks down the road) that would be a water-plane. As such, I will suggest my ideas and plans for that plane. We can use those ideas for this set, easily I feel.

The plane is nearly all water. Land exists, but it is in floating islands above the clouds. Resources are scarce, and what little they have are running out, and the nations in the clouds/floating on the ocean decide to set out on grand voyages to try and discover a new life for themselves. As such, I believe this set could use an Explorers, Discoverers, and Cartographers theme. People are trying to find a new life and new goods for themselves!

My story goes as follows: Some of you may remember Atticus Gray. He was the protagonist behind the story of Observatory, my last set. He would return in this hypothetical set I had planned. He is looking for a Lost City far beneath the waves of this plane. Legend states that this city has a higher civilization, great knowledge and power, and a library built by an ancient Planeswalker, his knowledge forever inscribed in its pages. Atticus is trying to find an item that could help him rebuild his plane after it got destroyed years ago in a cataclysmic event. He's been told by his benefactor that the books of this Lost City could hold the secrets that he needs to where such technology could be found. So, he charters a group of explorers to sail the seas (and under them) to try and find the wonders of this city. Meanwhile, pirates are also after the lost city for its deep riches, and dark corrupted creatures lay in the depths of the ocean, waiting to be awoken.

Now, this was my plan for this set. I would LOVE if we worked on this. HOWEVER, my main issue (and I'm sure a lot of your's too) is that this is my story. I came up with it, most of the characters are mine (Atticus is at least), and we have not had someone's own personal character in a community set yet. Is that a precedent we're willing to start? As for it being entirely my story, well, I only came up with the framework of it. The world, the meat of the story, and all but one of the characters have yet to be created. That's where we'd come in. Thoughts? Opinions? Feel free to tell me to can my own personal ideas. I'd be fine working it on my own. Stick out your tongue

I like bears.

Sat, 2016-09-03 23:24
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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So I'm going to be the one to say it:

If we do water world, we need a mechanical reason for there to be colors other than Blue mana symbol.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-04 00:16
DGoldDragon28

Honestly, it could be Blue mana symbol focused, similarly to how Torment was Black mana symbol focused.

Sun, 2016-09-04 00:24
Horizons
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It's important that we do what we do right & with enthusiasm.

I'm alright with under-the-sea world. i don't think there should be any land on it though to keep the theme. i think there could be ships though...and pirates because pirates. maybe they're searching for some lost continent or something so they can quit their shipbound existence. or maybe they're transient because land doesn't stick around for very long. whole continents rise and then sink on this world and whole civilizations go under when they do etc.

kelp forests
benthic swamps
continental shelf plains
ocean ridge mountains
...uhhhh island islands?

Also there could be a gimmick with Blue mana symbol like in this set there is no Blue mana symbol mana or that everything is hybrid cost Blue mana symbol mana and Blue mana symbol lands count as nonbasic lands in packs.

anyway another idea for a world

Alice in Wonderland world.
big things are small and small things are big. Mothra anyone?
drug innuendo
math references
paradoxes and contradictions
madness?
general oddity
victorian fashion
card soldiers being actual card soldiers.
Lorwyn-esque colorfulness and saturation.

Sun, 2016-09-04 01:07
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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I'm going to throw this out there: Roswell world.

Every whacked out conspiracy theory is true.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-04 01:40
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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Guys.... guys, like

If someone requests opinions, they would like comments on the thing they wrote four paragraphs on :V. That's how ideas get built and expanded on. It's a little rude to just completely ignore four whole paragraphs of ideas. The sharing of ideas is important, and getting your ideas out is important too. But wow guys.

Disclaimer: I have problems with being ignored, so that's the main reason I'm getting pissy. Anyways.

"Mechanical reason why it's not all Blue mana symbol"

This isn't a problem. Technically Innistrad shoulda been nearly all black. They found ways to circumvent it. Mirrodin shoulda been skewed blue, they found ways to circumvent it. Yes, blue is important to the ocean. But you can stretch very easily and claim lots of other stuff are focused in a specific color, and focus on that. Like, pirates in black red, animals in red green, explorers and colonists in white/green, corrupted Fallek/eldritch creatures of the deep in blue black, it's simple stuff I feel.

I feel that if we throw around ideas, we'll be here all week. We already HAD a thread for that, and it ended with Arthurian Legends, and according to Gweeps, water world and sky world as back ups. I don't feel it's a good idea to try and go fishing for more ideas here, cause we'll only just bounce them off each other until the end of time. For now, let's focus on water/sky world.

I like bears.

Sun, 2016-09-04 01:58
Horizons
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I distinctly remember you writing something about not reading the things I wrote in the last thread

Anyway, ill address the things of substance
Explorers, cartographers: cool everybody likes zendikar
Floating islands: meh its alright. It explains humans and "islands" on an all water world.
Story: it's alright. Nation etc seems like contrivance for more ravnica guilds yawn.

Sun, 2016-09-04 04:14
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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You're right. I totally ignored water world. Here's why: water world sucks.

Like, looking at this plot blurb:

[Atticus] is looking for a Lost City far beneath the waves of this plane. Legend states that this city has a higher civilization, great knowledge and power, and a library built by an ancient Planeswalker, his knowledge forever inscribed in its pages. Atticus is trying to find an item that could help him rebuild his plane after it got destroyed years ago in a cataclysmic event. He's been told by his benefactor that the books of this Lost City could hold the secrets that he needs to where such technology could be found. So, he charters a group of explorers to sail the seas (and under them) to try and find the wonders of this city. Meanwhile, pirates are also after the lost city for its deep riches, and dark corrupted creatures lay in the depths of the ocean, waiting to be awoken.

There is absolutely nothing in this plot blurb unique to water world. I mean I guess the Lost City is supposed to be Atlantis but like, if I swapped out "sail the seas" with "raid the tombs" and "depths of the ocean" with "darkness of the caves" would this plot description be any different? Likewise-- does colonialism scream "water world?" The only defining trait of water world is that it's full of water.

Now, if you wanted to do Atlantis plane that could be interesting. You'd be working in the same wheelhouse as Ashura what with the ancient civilization, but mechanically it'd be the opposite, probably with heavy emphasis on artifacts and odd tribal (to account for everyone being underwater). Seaweed dryads? Merfolk in every color? Actually we could use this as an excuse to branch out the Amphin who already appeared in Ashura and thus have potential as tribal cross-block synergy.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-04 05:02
justnobody
Card of the Year 2015
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Sorry I've been gone all summer - I know I pushed for an Arthurian block and then dropped off the face of the planet. I'm also not that crazy about water world (although vehicles help a lot). If you're looking for a pirate/colonial block I remember designing a pretty good starting point for one based around 2-color factions in another thread. Right now I'm in the mood to make some angsty dystopian cyberpunk set, and if we want to set that in a flooded world we could, although it would make finding art a lot harder. Also down to continue with colonialism and intrigue on the high seas, now with boats.

Met the devil of card design and sacrificed my creativity for unparalleled templating skill.

Spoiler:

Sun, 2016-09-04 06:07
Guitarweeps
Friendly MSE Designer
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Alright so if we just say "hey there is nothing but water on this plane" then stop there it is a boring setting yes. But we are the creative team so we don't just stop there. We create. Let's not just give up before starting to brainstorm ideas. Note also that this is on wotc short list of planes so they plan to make it eventually. So again, let's not just stop there.

I actually started designing a waterworld set and scrapped it because I kinda decided to stop making sets by myself and do it with others. So I hoped one day to make it with a team. I have some ideas to bring forth although I like some of the other ones as well.

Before going forward though I would like to say we really need to ignore the story and build the world. At this point story is not really important. Yes some level of the story will weave into the setting but I feel we are judging to much based on whether we like the story when that shouldn't be our focus yet. If we come to where we can't make a world that makes sense then we could stop moving forward then. The story shouldn't really drive anything yet.

On a design note I am leaning towards the next set whatever it is being hybrid. not quite Shadowmoor level. Probably around 25%.

Anyways, here are my brainstorm ideas. First let me address jacqui's point which is that every color mana needs to make sense here since it feels very heavy towards blue.

White mana symbol - A few options here. Originally my plane feature skyplains which are scattered patches of land and water floating above the surface of the ocean. With patches of both land and small ponds all interconnected with streambeds. This sort of combines the "water" world with the "sky" world which I think is a good idea. I don't think either functions that well on its own so making a world with little or no land mass which forces its residents to take to the water or sky seems like a place to build on.

The other option that we can do which is where I am leaning towards now is a city in the sky either technologically driven or magic driven or some combination of both. I envision some level of steampunk to creep in but a little on the lighter side (not brighter side like Kaladesh which is a happy shiny take on steampunk). I actually think the closest comparison I can think of is Columbia from Bioshock Infinite. This would also bleed into other colors especially red.

Last option is a frozen glacial iceland where the colder tribes can thrive.

Technically all three could be done.

Blue mana symbol - I think a grand underwater Atlantis style city is a must. I think making it a lost civilization would be a waste of what we are building with.

Black mana symbol - Easily could use dark mysterious waters that do strange horrifying things to those who traverse through it (thinking like Bermuda Triangle type weirdness). Blind predators lure their prey into the dark waters.

Red mana symbol - No matter how much land mass we decide on I think having a series of volcanic peaks peeking above the water is cool. Having a tribe thriving in the host of underground tunnels maybe that are impervious to the increased temperature of the water in the area. Going back to the sky city idea, a volcanic peak could be providing some of the energy used to supply its resources. Could also make some tension from not knowing when it may blow!

Green mana symbol - I am actually most excited about this as it seems on the surface to be hardest to pull off (ok MAYBE white). I like the idea of a jungle marsh that is all still submerged in water but the plant life grows above water. Some of the creatures live in the treetops, some in the water, while some go between both. I think a lot could be done here.

As far as tribes we could really do any of them and reinvent them according to the setting. I like the idea of amphin, merfolk seem a must but I wouldn't mind trying it without them, sirens would be cool, pirates of course, kor, tunneling goblins, swimming viashino, pingu, treetop elves. But honestly what I really want to try is sentient turtles or frogs.

I really like Horizons idea of disappearing continents too. Whether it be by water level changes or some other craziness (makes me think of Lost shenanigans).

Check out my updated set hub.

Sun, 2016-09-04 06:13
Yoshi
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@someone: How does giving ideas without being part of creative work?

December 2017 - R32 - "We are more than just rank and file..."
February 2018 - DDH - "Remember that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer."

I stand with the specimen.

Sun, 2016-09-04 14:04
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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Disappearing continents is fascinating.

I like the idea of island continents sinking and reappearing in random places. That's something that would only really make sense if we were doing a water plane. Like, you have the awesome undersea Atlantis-style city below the waves where the merfolk dwell but you also have the hugely unstable islands above land where you have like terranean populations. I think it might be interesting to have the undersea merfolk be on top of the plane's social hierarchy since that would be the reverse of the usual imagery (the oppressors live in a castle on top of a hill) and then have nomadic sky tribes on the sky islands?

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-04 14:05
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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Also, dude, if we're doing predominately water plane, we need nuckelavees. Actual nuckelavees, not whatever the hell the thing from Shadowmoor was supposed to be

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-04 14:24
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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"water world sucks."

Yeah no. I highly disagree.

The ocean is my love. Most of you probably do not know this, but I was very close to becoming a Marine Biologist, and then decided to try my hand at videogame design instead. THAT failed, and I just dropped into Librarian. My life has gone strangely. Anyway, that's not important. What IS important, is that the ocean is my love, and I won't have it slandered with "it's just boring" "there's nothing to do" "it's empty" "it's all ONE thing!"

NOPE. Absolutely wrong. I'll drop my story idea for now and focus specifically on world building, cause you guys need to know how freaking RAD the ocean is. However, "there is nothing about this plot blurb that fits a water world specifically" is there because I made the plot blurb so specifically vague as possible, so that we can fit anything we want into it. But I'll just make that set on my own time. Prolly a better idea anyway.

"The ocean is boring"

So when you look at the ocean, what do you see? Not much, right? There's nothing on top, so there's nothing? ....What, do you not have object permanence? Shove your head down there, guys, there's a LOT on the ocean floor. As an example, let me show you a video game that's being produced right now, called Subnautica.

Subnautica Pictures

One of the only things above the surface of the water in Subnautica is your little escape pod, and a crashed ship that you came to this planet in. Everything else is underwater. Well, only one thing above the water is BORING, right? WRONG!




(All pictures posted here are by the Subnautica development team. Most of the pictures were made by Cory Strade, but some were also possibly made by Pat Presely. It's hard to tell who made which, cause it's not written down anywhere.)

The kind of creatures you can make, the kind of landscapes you can design, the kind of societies you can build under the water are limitless. There's a reason underwater adventuring and space travel are so linked together. It's exploring an unknown, a deep depth where anything can be possible! There's no limit! Except for the bottom of the ocean of course. But EVEN THEN

Look, I just love the ocean. There's so much unexplored, that we could come up with a lot of really cool stuff. Ancient corrupted creatures of the depths, eldritch horror style? Check. Kelp beds where merfolkish elves tend to them and create houses out of coral? Check. I'll give other ideas down below.

It's only going to be blue

I already commented on this earlier, but I will elaborate on my ideas. Gweeps also commented on his ideas, and I will expand on his as well or give my two cents.

White mana symbol: This and Green mana symbol are said to be the most difficult to pull off. Let's try and give a few examples of what we could do.

So, if there's no solid ground on this plane (or VERY little), where do the people live? How about on giant floating domiciles? Ever played Mass Effect? Do you guys remember the Quarians? They were a nomadic people, living on constantly falling apart space ships, moving from quadrant to quadrant cause they couldn't find anywhere to settle. We could do a similar idea: a nomadic people, living on a flotilla of ships. Giant ships, like miles in size, with farms on them, so as to provide shelter and sustainable resources. But life still sucks. There's a legend that they came from a great city under the waves (our Atlantis equivalent), and there is a dream that they will one day re-merge with their hidden brothers and sisters.

Some animals and things could be white. Coral communities, a tribe of sea creatures, we could stretch things a bit or just come up with something. Creatively. Like creative people. We could also have a frozen icebed up north, where icey tribes exist, like penguins and so on. Also, although we aren't coming up with design yet, I know something that would fit white's color pie AND the flavor of this world....

Yeah.

Blue mana symbol: This is the easy one. Atlantis can be easily blue, also easily blue white if they're the stereotypical utopian society. We could bounce it on its head and make them a blue/black society, and the nomadic people actually left centuries ago to escape the torment of living under their reign. Lots of ways we could go about that. Other blue ideas include: Designers aboard the nomadic ships, sea creatures, etc.

Black mana symbol: This is a neat one. Deep dark trenches, filled with eldritch horrors, maybe living in caves. Go up and look at the picture I sent earlier, with the skeleton in the cave. See all that green pond looking stuff? That's a real thing that happens. They're like swampy rivers and ponds that collect in the deep dark places of the ocean, the heavier elements and detritus combining together to make water underwater. Lots of creepy crawlies can exist down there. Other ideas include fish necromancy, the dystopian Atlantis as previously mentioned, pirates (which we need to do), maybe mindflayers!

Red mana symbol: Gweeeps mentioned making landmasses to fit red. I don't think that's necessary. Let's talk about Heat Vents.

Spoiler:

There are caverns and caves, and deep dark places underwater where magma and sulfur flows forth. These places THRIVE with creatures. We could make a race of people who live by these vents, ecking out an existence and society by sucking off the sulfur that pours from the vents, like real creatures actually do. I'm picturing the Gremlins from Kaladesh, but we can come up with something cool. Other ideas include: Cavernous mole people, pirates (Which NEED TO BE DONE), Sea dragons (SEA DRAGONS, GUYS), Vermin-like creatures that board ships and hijack them, or just make them hell.

Green mana symbol: Okay the other "big hard one" according to Gweeps. There are a lot of green places in the ocean. Let's, again, go to Subnautica for examples!

Spoiler:

[img]http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/subnautica/images/3/31/Blood_Kelp_Caves_(01).jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150914224753[img]

Even deep under the ocean, nature thrives, in wild foreign plant life! We could make our merfolk in this set green, or blue/green if people are that antsy about it. Basically, kelp tenders, who grow kelp forests and live in them, in cute tree-houses just under the ocean. Well, kelp-houses. They tend to the kelp, the coral, and shape it in a way that helps them, creating gorgeous landscapes, living one with nature. Other ideas include wild creatures (ocean creatures are traditionally blue, but I've asked MaRo ages ago why. He said it's cause green has enough animals, but they could very well be splashed to green as the need arises. Welp. The need arises. Green sea creatures it is!), the nomadic peoples themselves, cartographers and explorers, etc.

Tribes

We've already discussed the obvious. We need Amphin, Merfolk, Pirates without a doubt. I like the idea of swimming viashino, I'm ALWAYS down for penguins in the colder frozen norths, tunneling mole-people goblins is a cute idea. And I like the idea of sentient turtles and frogs. They'd fill out green very nicely. Let's add Mindflayers to that list, they'd fill out black well. If we don't feel like adding mindflayers, we could go with Cephalids instead, filling in blue/black. And finally, my suggestion is sentient flying whales, living in packs. I just love the idea of giant sentient whales. There's some fun stuff we could do with them.

Also, I'm sorry, but I DID mention that only the members of Creative could discuss here. Ask Gweeps if he'll lighten up on that, but from what I know, only creative team can really chat it up here, so that we don't get bogged down with ideas.

I like bears.

Sun, 2016-09-04 15:01
Horizons
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I already addressed all basic land variants besides blue and how they would work under the sea without having to do anything overly complex

Red mana symbol: mountain: undersea continental ridges and hotspots that buildup to be mountains. Black mana symbol: Swamp: benthic trench vents or whale corpses. Whatever spongebob swims in. White mana symbol: Plains: "shallow" light filled areas of the ocean like continental plates. Green mana symbol: forest: kelp forests. Islands would probably just have to be islands. U creatures would be the large or quick fish of the open ocean like swordfish whales and tunas to differentiate them from the others.

We could honestly make a gimmick here where we make "undersea mana" and say that undersea mana costs can be paid by tapping an undersea mana of its type or by paying UU or something (so no U on this world)

Also a world of pirates & explorers and ocean cartographers etc and their tension could be explained by my temporary/oscillating continents idea. This could be interesting because it fits the zendikar "new world" theme and exploring. Also fresh water and rain would be pretty important to collect on this world ironically. Just sayin.

Sun, 2016-09-04 15:00
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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Sorry I didn't comment on the shifting and oscillating continents. I actually do really like that idea. I just wanted to focus on how awesome/full ocean worlds could be, if they were JUST oceans. I was excited to share my love Stick out your tongue

I like bears.

Sun, 2016-09-04 15:05
Horizons
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You're good. Also I think storms and swells are going to be a big part of what goes on here. I think the plane should have at least one jupiter- styled maelstrom that either slowly moves around or stays in one place. May be caused by a charybdis style beast?

Sun, 2016-09-04 21:07
Guitarweeps
Friendly MSE Designer
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Yeah that is some cool stuff and some beautiful images. I am kinda feeling moving away from the city in the sky idea. Not sure I didn't think of it but you can easily do the same thing on or under the water.

@Marzen/Liz - Is this by chance a game you were working with?

Check out my updated set hub.

Sun, 2016-09-04 21:54
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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Naw I'm just a huge fan of it. I WISH I was part of the team of it. I wasn't saying "let's rip it off", of course, I was just using it as examples of the beauty and creativity that can go into making an alien ocean.

I like bears.

Mon, 2016-09-05 08:30
Neottolemo
Neottolemo's picture

I don't really get how we'd deal with the continents sinking and coming back up. Perhaps we could make some cards have a surface form and an undersea form? I mean, the obvious thing would be landfall, but pretty much every community set that went into MSE Standard is Zendikar-y in one way or another. Did IotE have landfall? If so, it's definitely too soon to return it. Also I'm in favour of the charibdis monster and of vents for Red mana symbol. Idk about sky cities yet...

Location

The Marietta Trench
The Marietta Trench extends in the depths of the ocean. Very little light reaches here, in some points none at all, and bioluminescence characterises the animals and algae that live here.
The most sentient creatures that live here are the Abyssal Mermaids and the Selaki Surrakar. However, it's impossible to he Mermaids usually take refuge in anemones they tend to, or under the skeletons of sea monsters that come to the Marietta Trench to die, making it a sort of underwater graveyard; the Selaki Surrakar, on the other hand, have adapted so they never stop swimming, like sharks: they are cunning and implacable people.
Both the Selaki and the Abyssal Mermaids lightly suffer when getting too near to sea level, because the temperatures become too high for them.
The Abyssal Mermaids, however, have a penchant for exploration, and as such sometimes wander up higher in the sea in search of new curiosities; they are very talkative, and it's through them that most of the information on the beings that live in this Trench is known to people outside it.
The Seraki are much more secretive, and usually only go nearer the surface to hunt if the food is scarce.
There are two main legends that surround the Marietta Trench. The first is that of the legendary Sword with No Name that is thought to have carved the Trench, held by a forgotten warrior. They say that pieces of the Sword can be found hidden all throughout the Trench.
The second one concerns the Soul Trade. Since, as mentioned before, some creatures instinctively use the Marietta Trench as a sort of underwater graveyard, it is thought to be the place where the souls of the dead gather; the Abyssal Mermaids swear that the Seraki bottle them up and partake in the Soul Trade with strangers bold enough to try and reach through to them.

EDIT-Also you can swap me out of this for yoshi if you want.

Mon, 2016-09-05 11:00
Guitarweeps
Friendly MSE Designer
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IotE did not have landfall; explore filled that role instead.

Check out my updated set hub.

Mon, 2016-09-05 14:20
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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I like the idea of submerge from Goliaths of Nangjiao as a mechanical representation of continents sinking and re-emerging. The cleanest mechanical representation of that would be blink.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Mon, 2016-09-05 15:59
Horizons
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It doesnt have to be dealt with mechanically imo. Thats not what our focus is on right now anyway.

Mon, 2016-09-05 16:42
Neottolemo
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Sure the focus isn't there right now. But at the point why would we even bother putting in sinking and re-emerging continents if it doesn't end up mattering in the mechanics and/or flavour of the cards... I was just trying to find out some way they could matter for the cards and for the set overall.

Mon, 2016-09-05 18:10
Guitarweeps
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Yeah while this isn't the place to discuss specifically the mechanical side of the set it is something we should have in mind to make sure we aren't making something that can't be executed (hence why we have to make every color make sense).

Anyways, if we don't do this now there will never be another chance:

Spoiler:

By Rowye @ Deviantart

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Wed, 2016-09-07 01:47
justnobody
Card of the Year 2015
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Is there a way that I can join this creative team? I'd love to be part of the project.

Met the devil of card design and sacrificed my creativity for unparalleled templating skill.

Spoiler:

Wed, 2016-09-07 02:28
Horizons
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Id support that. We need new blood. Plus some of us should be working more on other things (ehem me and jacqui with ashura)

Wed, 2016-09-07 13:37
Liz the Goddess
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The mechanical and the creative can be closely tied together. For example, what kinds of creature types are here, what type of permanents (if this were, say, an artifact centric world. Not suggesting that, just an example), maybe something a little more specific. So I'll suggest this:

Vehicles?

We've recently gotten the official vehicle template from Kaladesh. It feels weird to make designs on it without the set they're in even comes out, but I feel like they would be PERFECT for this world. If we decide so, we can have things like submarines, boats, skiffs, maybe flying machines. We could also have ones for the nomadic peoples who live in boats, as I mentioned before.

(After writing this I looked up and realized I had already suggested it earlier. Whoops, well, I'll just leave this here anyway)

Okay, on to ideas people have suggested. Specifically you, Neo:

@Neo: Your Marietta trench ideea is a great one. I think it'll need a new name, it's a little too close to Marianas for me right now? But who knows, we've done close naming like that before. Anyways I like all ideas there. The soul trade is a little different from every other theme or concept in the world, so MAYBE not that? But shark-Surrakar is an amazing idea!

@Gweeps: Turtle idea is perfect. We could have a single Legendary turtle, who's the last living Ancient, and people live on his back!

@Justnobody, I'd personally be fine with you joining. I dunno if I have power over changing around the team, but I'm down! I'm pretty sure Gweeps would let others swap out for you, so I'll tentatively give a go ahead. If he yells at you or me, I'll take the fall Stick out your tongue

I like bears.

Wed, 2016-09-07 15:22
Horizons
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Crew works fine as a mechanic though I think we can do other things with it because crewing on Kaladesh is going to be different than on our plane I'm sure. After all, Kaladesh is more about racecars and ours would be more about Pirate ships and Galleons etc. One difference is just that we'd possibly have pirates & sailors instead of pilots.

I mean are we on board with Pirates and privateering being at least a subtheme here? Because I think that world/theme opens up a lot of lore and things we can reference.

I'm also behind the island turtle. Some permanent tribal peoples in a symbiotic relationship with the turtles and worship them as land-carrying turtles etc as gods sounds interesting.

Also I propose we make homage to the eternal struggle between sperm whale vs giant squid but maybe exaggurate its scale to fantasy proportions. And maybe Like yin & yang the great whale battle the evil squid of the deep. If we did this then we could have some kind of tension in the plot because an Ahab like planeswalker takes it upon himself to kill the whale which throws everything into chaos because the Wrexial, the Risen Deep-like squid is allowed to spread havok unopposed.

Image

Wed, 2016-09-07 22:25
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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Boooooooooooooooooy if you think I'm not rearin' for a squid-whale fight YOU BET I AM READY FOR SQUID-WHALE FIGHT

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Thu, 2016-09-08 00:28
Horizons
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But yeah I'd say having a lost people styled world where humans live on the surface like quarians, squabble over what land is left poking out of the world, or form a relationship with living island turtles can identify the humans and their struggle pretty well.

The interesting and more relateable characters are the scavenger people to us that try to find a permanent, sustainable home and who live as best they can with the technology they have (old diving suits, sailing ships, harpoon guns...?) and contend with the pirates that try to amass as much tech/ships as possible to dominate islanders and the seas and the great creatures of the deep. Pirate, steampunk Atlantean (like that animated movie), Moby Dick, Kaiju world.

What's interesting to me is the relationship to men with the merfolk. Are the merfolk just as intelligent? Do they hoard the tech of the humans in their ancient civilizations to keep it to themselves? Or perhaps they are simply trying to keep the humans from repeating ancient mistakes with them? Do they seek to keep the world oceanic and want to prevent having a fixed continent?

Thu, 2016-09-08 00:54
Guitarweeps
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@Marzen - Team structure is up to you. Do what you want. I would suggest since we are changing the entire project though that we shoudl probably start fresh with the team since this isn't what we signed up for. I kinda agree with Horizons about jacqui and him as Ashura development needs to happen still...

Also on design notes this is going to be a hydrid and design will start shortly. I read MaRo's last article and design was half over before creative came along. I think a lot of mechanical will inspire creative as well so I plan on starting design in a few weeks even though we won't have the world built.

Loving the Moby Dick ideas lol. Whale blubber could be an important resource here too.

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Thu, 2016-09-08 06:24
Neottolemo
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Yo I love that Moby Dick Giant Squid chaos order symbolism stuff. Could end up a tiny bit similar to Goliaths of Nangjiao though. Motivations for the Ahab pw? Anybody want to write a blurb about that? I'm not familiar with the source material enough there.
Also, yeah, pirates and turtles that are also islands can be things here, sure.

@Horizons: Well, first thing first, we aren't only going to have merfolk here, are we? It seemed to me like we were going to have more extravagant races poncing about, too. Second thing: they really need an objective that's not "stop humans from being dumb" to be something interesting, imo, so, I'd scrap the "trying to keep the humans from repeating ancient mistakes" bit. I think we'd be better off deciding the various populations' goals by dividing them into subsets based on both race and location. What I mean is: we've got Abyssal Mermaids, and they want to explore and talk, but that doesn't prevent us from having, say, warm water mermaids that want to do other stuff.

@Liz: I'm glad you liked the Trench. I'm open to change the name, sure. I put the soul trade stuff in mainly so we could have interesting necromantic spells.
Crew seems like it might work here, although I'm not sure it's really necessary and perhaps we might be subconsciously pushing more for it because of the Kaladesh hype.
I have a sorta pirate-themed keyword, but I think giving both that and crew to pirates could get complicated. Then again, crew would also go to other people. Hmm... I think crew has way more design space and we should probably go with just that because my keyword could be a bit unnecessary, but I'll stick it here just for reference
Maraud (Whenever this creature attacks and isn't blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)

@all: So yeah, what I think we need to do is write for our Ahab guy and write descriptions for some more locations, rather than trying to define races in an abstract. A happy smile

Thu, 2016-09-08 13:21
Guitarweeps
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I am not sold on crew and vehicles yet, we will see when design starts. It would be a little strange to have a ship and then a bunch of creatures not on the ship. What are they swimming in the water until they crew for a turn? Vehicles seem more of where they live here then what they drive like in Kaladesh. Anyways, that is a design thing anyways.

One thing to keep in mind during world building is the resource system. It will be different than any other world. Where do they get food? What about raw materials for building their floating/underwater/flying city? I think resource management will be a huge factor for how the cultures operate. And that would also really push for the pirate type motivation. Resources are scarce and for some the ONLY way to get them is to take them.

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Thu, 2016-09-08 14:45
Neottolemo
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You do have a point on Vehicles there, Guitarweeps.

As for the food-building material stuff:

Harvest Reef
In Harvest Reef, people harvest chaffcoral, which is edible and can be used as a building material. However, given that chaffcoral is so useful, various civilisations have occupied different sectors of Harvest Reef, and flash conflicts often spark between them for the control of a sector or another. Peace treaties and trade treaties are signed in the few remaining neutral zones.

Thu, 2016-09-08 15:19
Guitarweeps
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Also, I do wonder if vehicles could be like equipment. They test it out and then make it evergreen. There are many settings in magic that could use a few vehicles. We often see them just as creatures. It seems like a better mechanic to have in small numbers since they don't really work well together.

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Fri, 2016-09-09 16:13
Liz the Goddess
Moderator
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I actually sent MaRo an ask, asking if vehicles had a chance to be evergreen, cause I had seen that too. He didn't respond, so WHO KNOWS?!

Also, Gweeps sent me a message. I dunno why it was to me personally, because this is a group thing, but I agree with his idea:

"On second though I am not entirely sure Fallek's involvement is best for this set and I might push him to the next one. The Blue mana symbol walker slot might be valuable resource here."

Prolly a good idea. This will mean the set probably does not have as much to do with the previous stories, but it can become intertwined. We haven't discussed what the story will actually be yet, but let's work on the world first. We can't draw a world map, but we've come up with a lot of stuff, so I'll coordinate that into a singular post.

The Nomads: Green/wite mana symbol. The Nomads live on giant ancient ships that float aimlessly on the sea. They want little more to do than survive and exist, subsiding off of the farms that grow in the bay of their ships, and harvesting coral and rock from the seabed below them.

The Lost City: Blue/black mana symbol? An ancient city deep underwater. I would suggest that it's not occupied by merfolk, but is instead one the nomads were from, maybe a city under a giant bubble. It has air, farms, gardens, forests, and whatnot, but is overcrowded and going dark from stagnation and corruption?

Pirates: Red mana symbolBlack mana symbolBlue mana symbol. Raiding for food and resources, the pirates have simple motivations, and are from any creed/race, much like real life pirates.

Abyssal Merfolk: Green mana symbolBlue mana symbol? Deep sea creatures, they are curious of the upper world and go to trade information and learn from one another. Cute and sweet, in my mind.

Surrakar: Red mana symbolBlue mana symbol? Shark people who live in the deep trenches, they must move forever to gain oxygen. They are implacable and clever. Maybe they're kind of like the fairies of this world, playing tricks on people?

The Followers of the Turtle: White mana symbolRed mana symbol. People who float on a giant turtle. They protect the turtle from harm and worship it as their God, keeping them safe from the great unknown.

The Mindflayers: Black mana symbolBlue mana symbol? We haven't discussed them much, could be the villains trying to mess something up.

If I missed anything, let me know.

I was gonna give a story pitch about villains who want to cause a cataclysm so that land will rise, and there will be places to live and eat, but I realized that was a bit too close to Frystaria.

I like bears.

Fri, 2016-09-09 22:10
Guitarweeps
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Uh, yeah you missed something...where is the frogs!? Just look at the make a tribe game and see how much untapped design space we have to explore!

Seriously though I think we can do different things with tribe colors. Pirates for instance are usually Blue mana symbol but that is really only because of their affinity for water/sailing. That isn't really any different than anyone else on this plane. If we look at their mentality there is not really a shred of blue. Pirates are pretty straight forward Black/red mana symbol. The turtle people I would peg Green/wite mana symbol.

I like featuring Selan here maybe even as hybrid walker. Maybe this could be Selans other home, Sirens would make sense here too.

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Fri, 2016-09-09 22:23
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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Just to be clear this isn't a faction set right? I'm kind of bummed out on those.

It would be pretty funny if somehow all the water disappeared via like genie magic or something and that was set 2, everyone dying of dehydration

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Fri, 2016-09-09 22:56
Guitarweeps
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No it's not.

Also a lot of these would be a collection of different races and not all unified. The nomads for instance I would see as various groups not united to other groups just trying to survive. The Pirates also would be kind of each ship for himself and competing for resources with other pirates.

Also, what level of technology should we have? I am starting to think low tech is best.

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Sat, 2016-09-10 10:33
Neottolemo
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Guitarweeps wrote:
Also a lot of these would be a collection of different races and not all unified. The nomads for instance I would see as various groups not united to other groups just trying to survive. The Pirates also would be kind of each ship for himself and competing for resources with other pirates.

+1 to that.

Guitarweeps wrote:
Also, what level of technology should we have? I am starting to think low tech is best.

I think we should try to make this diffent from Ashura and a higher level of technology might help. 1650-1730 was apparently the Golden Age of Piracy so we could try having that kind of technology for the pirates especially, while the Lost City is probably a Greco-Roman-but-futuristic kind of deal. The Nomad tribes and the other factions like the Turtle people and the underwater tribes could probably have a lower level of tech, though.

Sat, 2016-09-10 19:28
justnobody
Card of the Year 2015
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The open ocean has always been a place for adventure. The sheer size of it means you can travel for weeks without seeing anything but water along all horizons. The depths are unexplored and unknown. It may sound lonely to some, but it is a haven for explorers, for wanderers, for freedom and courage and self-sufficiency.

The ocean is also a place where the epic can unfold. Turtles the size of cities, storms the size of continents. The tsunami wall that stretches from horizon to horizon, the whirlpool that consumes whole fleets, the leviathan and the kraken locked together at the core of this deep blue droplet of a plane. Sunken ruins, floating jungles that flood at high tide, frozen polar wastes and vibrant coral reefs - the setting inspires a constant awe in the face of nature.

I think adventure and exploration should be major parts of the feel of the set. Crews of explorers traveling the open seas, searching for the cure that will help them reclaim their home. Legends of a city lost beneath the waves, prophecy passed down in oral tradition through the generations. Now the ships hold families and spend much of their time just trying to survive, but they still know where they came from and they dream of one day returning home.

Raiders from the frozen wastes, viking-pirate crews who survive by taking from other travelers. Toughened by frost and famine, fearless, deadly. Disciples of the kraken, god of the moon, calm seas, ice, and death, the tentacles that hold the world together. Ships made from old ribcages and jawbones from beasts beached on the ice floes. Powerful sorcery and moonlight sacrifices.

In parallel to the kraken, the leviathan is the god of the sun, storms, heat vents and birth, the creator spirit and bringer of life. Considering themselves caretakers for the world, the turtleback tribes try to serve the massive beasts that support them, and can call on many creatures from the depths of the ocean to their service.

Merfolk make their home in depths of the kelp forests, studying steam geysers that erupt from the sea floor and whispering about ancient wars and prophecies. They are secretive and tend to keep to themselves.

Surrakar prowl the coral reefs and lurk in the roots of floating forests. They are tricksters and pack hunters, cunning and bloodthirsty, and they ornament themselves in colorful shells and scales to blend in with the reefs. They make it a game to hunt the largest prey they can, trapping enormous whales and turtles in shallow water.

I would love to see a world where technology has taken a different turn than ours, and breeding and biotech are common while metal and fire are rare. Bioluminescent algae are used as lanterns, ships are patched up with fungi, weapons are made from spiny shell fragments and coated in stinging jellyfish toxins. Plants are used to filter saltwater, roots dangling over the edges of ships and dewpods of fresh water sprouting from the vines. Healing balms and herbal remedies abound, although some reagents are impossible to cultivate and dangerous to collect. Humans use phytomasks to breath underwater as long as there is sunlight. Surrakar tend vibrant anemone gardens to paralyze unsuspecting visitors. And merfolk grow massive alienlike structures around boiling vents deep in the abyss, deeper than sunlight can reach.

Also, I could see us basing the names and some of the mythology off pacific islander cultures. A quick wikepedia scan shows we have a lot of material to work with.

I had this idea and just had to render it

Met the devil of card design and sacrificed my creativity for unparalleled templating skill.

Spoiler:

Sat, 2016-09-10 22:17
Guitarweeps
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Yeah I kinda meant around that period technology Neo but I really like justnobody's ideas of technology being completely different and more biological. Thing is that resources like stone and wood are going to be really scarce so I can see them being forced down a totally different resource tree.

To elaborate more on the marsh jungle - An area where the land comes up close to the surface but is still completely waterlogged. It is close enough to the surface though for teaming plant life. Trees grow tall their roots buried deep to keep from being swept away. Algae and coral mix in with bushes and moss. Normally it would seem like a decent place to settle except that the beasts are incredibly dangerous. Only one race is able to survive by living in the trees and moving through foliage and water to escape predators. I would see that race as sentient frogs (you all thought I was joking) but it could easily be amphin or something. I see most of our life to be close to amphibious able to survive well in the water and out of it.

I love what we could do with the turtle island and the lost paradise that keeps disappearing. Although we would want to decide why? Water level? Or some magical anomaly? Maybe a sorcerer uses that to guard it from outsiders? Would be interesting if a planeswalker somehow used the same magic for planeswalking to somehow move an entire island...

I also like having a frozen north that some have settled to even though it is low on resources. I wouldn't mind having pingu their actually. Penguin pirates...

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Sun, 2016-09-11 15:03
Horizons
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Im with justnobody on this one. Also he used the word horizons like 3 times which means I'm going to have to sneak in another card with Horizons in the name. I also think JN is right to include the tidal jungles and shallows to the world because it helps explain where wood is from and makes the forest art have more diversity than just kelp. And those jungles give us room to add amphibians like frogs and salamanders into the world as well. Also mangroves could be very awe inspiring if they're magnified to awesome proportions.

@GW I think organic ships are a great idea but good luck finding enough art to pursure that entirely. We'll still need wooden ships in the lore because thats what most of our art will depict.

In any case I think figureheads (the woman or dragon on the prow of the ship) could play an important role, whether cultural or magical.

I think it would be a good idea to delegate some source material for research. We can assign someone ocean biology for each biome, someone can get age of sailing & pirates, someone can get cargo cults or something, etc. this is probably how at least a part of how creative work gets done professionally but this is obviously up to the design lead. I think we have enough of a general outline of the races & story elements etc we will include (what about cephalids?) to get started on the specifics.

Also JN vehicle sounds incongruous. We could just easily change it to Vessel though. And your land should probably read Turtle Vessel and have something about why its so dormant in the flavortext or name.

I was thinking something else we can do is have a Shadow of the Colossus type word where what islands there are are patrolled by giant Talos-like colossi that are hostile to humans. These guys could be explained by Atlantis-level tech and atlantis tech and finding it could be key to controlling/defeating them which is why treasure hunters go after it. Some treasure hunters just do it for the money but others, more youthful & optimistic enough to believe the od tales, are actually doing it to find answers that will help them possibly reclaim a home and a life they never knew except for in legend. This world with some land on it but just that land is incredibly dangerous, might help with the Zendikar feel and also have some poignant story moments like crews passing by close to the islands, so close and yet so far from home and then they see the colossus peering at them from above the treeline or something. Or a crew with a damaged ship is forced to dock it on an island for repairs and the suspense builds as they realize that there's a colossus that's aware of them and they can hear its earth-shaking approach. Islands would also give a home to rocs and seabirds like Welkin Tern as well Winking smiley

Sun, 2016-09-11 15:46
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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I'm curious if solar power would be a good idea for the tech here. Because not only does it give us flavor for Red mana symbol spells but plenty of photosynthetic organisms to exploit for technology.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Sun, 2016-09-11 17:16
Guitarweeps
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@Horizons

1. Don't sell yourself short. This is a great place to look into KEYWORDing horizon!

2. Based on our discussion I think we will be hard pressed to find art for a lot of it. I am ok with that though if we can get a decent world built to design. If there are any video games that kind of lend towards what we are creating we might be able to get decent screenshots. I had an amazing amount of images to use when I made the Skyrim block. Almost every single image was a screenshot and I had a ton more saved that didn't end up getting used. For example the images Liz posted alone were pretty inspiring IMO.

3. The "guarded" islands is interesting. I do wonder though how much land is appropriate before we start taking away from a "water plane".

@jacqui - Solar power could be interesting especially since you can go anywhere between science and magic with it. Also could be a way to draw some of the underwater tribes to be near the surface and interacting with the rest of the world.

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Sun, 2016-09-11 17:31
Neottolemo
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Yo I think this team may be getting a bit crowded so yeah I think it may be better if I get off it?

Sun, 2016-09-11 17:32
Horizons
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@jacqui maybe one card. Doesnt seem like quibbling about energy resources is that important on this plane. Im for low-tech world with maybe some lost tech thats more on the magic side (but that could be coming from that atlantis animated movie that i liked haha). Solar power in a world with sailing ships and pirates seems incongruous. I dont expect any colors to really have a dearth of things to fill them out.

@GW why would you think itd be hard to find art for this plane? The way im picturing it it should be pretty much everywhere. Also keywording horizons would be personally funny to me. Ill definitely try for it haha.

3. Well see i think the guarded islands idea makes a lot of sense because there are some things we need to explain for the water world like where ships come from and humans and also the existence of basic land islands. As long as we basically stay away from them when designing cards and keep them mysterious and the action entirely at sea then we can easily maintain the feel of a water world.

Sun, 2016-09-11 17:47
Guitarweeps
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@Neo - Well technically I am not even on the team so I should probably shut up. Just promise me frogs. Or else I will use my power as lead designer to make them anyways Stick out your tongue

Also, jacqui and horizons are still on the Ashura development team which still needs to finish so the three of us might be better candidates to leave lol.

@Horizons - I guess I was thinking more of some of the specific ideas not the plane in general. Either way, point was I don't want our ability to find art to direct our creative direction.

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Sun, 2016-09-11 18:58
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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I'm not actually interested, just popping in occasionally with mechanical stuff that might be relevant.

[center]"It's exciting to create something that demonstrates how clever you are, that you pushed in a direction that players didn't anticipate. The problem is that the point of game design isn't to be clever, it's to create a great game." --Mark Rosewater

Mon, 2016-09-12 21:32
justnobody
Card of the Year 2015
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I like phytosynthetic solar power as a red option in a world where there is not much to burn. Thermokinetic power from geysers on the sea floor as well. All captured and used via biotech rather that traditional technology. I imagine turtle-worshipers with thorny vines scarred into their skin, secreting adrenaline in the sunlight, oxygenating their bloodstream underwater, and occasionally blooming in vibrant displays of passion. Very red-aligned without needing fire or lightning.

I don't think we should let a lack of art hold us back. I would rather use imperfect art that contradicts the flavor of the plane than sacrifice the flavor to allow for a more consistent aesthetic.

I'm imagining this world as quite literally being a sphere of water surrounding a whale and a squid. So huge and encrusted in grime and kelp and barnacles that the sea floor appears to be the sea floor, even though it is the back of a leviathan. The whale's breath creates the tides, and its struggling creates storms and tsunamis. The kraken is the only thing holding the plane together, wrapping the leviathan in its tentacles so that it can't shake off the layer of civilization that has developed around it. The whale is warm-blooded, and if you cut it deep enough it creates the heat vents that bring vital energy and nutrients to the sea floor. The kraken is cold-blooded, and the area over its body has frozen over, an ice sheet covering one pole of the plane. Most denizens of the plane worship one of these two gods.

These creatures move so slowly that many assume they are just myths. The "lost city" was built somewhere on the tail of the leviathan during a time when it floated closer to the surface. In the past thousand years, however, the kraken has pulled that tail in closer to the core, and the city has been dragged down to the depths. A big part of the plot can be our lost nomads discovering that myths are really true. They attempt to free their city by attacking the kraken, even though the merfolk warn them that the two gods exist in a careful balance. Maybe they travel underneath the icecap to find a massive eye on the seafloor, miles across. There is an epic conflict between the kraken-worshipers (pirates, vikings, ice-settlers) and leviathan-worshipers (turtle people, nomads, stormchasers), and cultists on both sides try to wake the gods. Not sure how it would resolve, we can deal with that in set two of the block.

Now that's just a brainstorm that gets a little far from the initial concept of a water world, but if you all like it it could be a cool place to start.

As far as your "shadow of the colossus" idea goes, Horizons, I was imagining all islands would be either floating or growing on top of massive coral reefs - the sea floor never gets close to the surface. Some of them could definitely be guarded by very large creatures, though. Big amphibious monsters who defend their personal floating jungle food source from intruders. Some islands could be carnivorous plants themselves, looking like a source of food but preying on unsuspecting travelers. Others are the overgrown backs of huge, harmless creatures that will simply submerge with no warning. And the reefs are often home to deceptive surrakar who love to sink ships and trap large beasts in the colorful coral.

Met the devil of card design and sacrificed my creativity for unparalleled templating skill.

Spoiler: