Et in Arcadia Ego
It wasn't always this way, of course, although Kralis has never been the most stable plane in the Multiverse. Once upon a time, though, Kralis functioned; the many layers of dream, illusion and multiple realities in the plane all had a firm anchor around the Real, the largest and most 'central' part of Kralis's existence. Depending on how one wanted to travel, one could slip into dreams, nightmares, fantasies and parallel realms and still find one's way back. The Real was relatively stable, and the rest of the planes - the Realms Unreal - stayed to their own business.
Now, though, the entire system is starting to fray around the edges as Kralis is pulled this way and that by powerful magics. The spirits of the dead find themselves ejected from a broken afterlife, forced to survive in the Realms Unreal as beings that are shunned and reviled by everything they encounter. The shattered remnants of a once-great empire stir out of the stasis of centuries, seeking to weave the Realms Unreal into the Real itself, but face opposition from their heirs within the Real, who want to keep the two realms separate. Dreams prey upon their human creators, seeking to steal their life and soul for themselves, and among it all the humans of the Real gird themselves for battle, sensing greater conflict ahead.
The situation is perilous, but more than anyone knows - foreign planeswalkers have arrived on Kralis, seeking resources and weapons to turn against their enemies on distant worlds, and their arrival stirs the master of the plane from his slumber, and his fractured dreams reach out into the histories of other worlds, drawing artifacts of incomprehenisble power through the Aeons with which to rule his realm and deal with the interlopers.
Welcome to Kralis.
Humanity : Humans are the dominant denizens of the Real, and call its realms their home. Humans on Kralis have an astonishing effect on the Realms Unreal; their dreams, hopes, wishes, nightmares and ideas take form and intellect in the Realms, and their technology is an awkward mix of technology from the Real and armaments drawn directly from their own whims and wishes. Humans favor aggressive, group-oriented solutions to their problems. Now, with the plane unraveling, Humanity finds itself feeling increasingly like it's under siege and can't figure out why; young men are handed blades and told to watch the growing rifts into the Realms Unreal as the teeming masses of the hopeful prepare for war.
The Laughing Ones : They're called the Laughing Ones because they mock themselves at every opportunity, and they mock their enemies just as fiercely. Once upon a time, these elves were the sons and daughters of the great Kolari empire, which spanned both the Real and the Realms Unreal. Now a savage shadow of their former greatness, the Laughing Ones have taken the separation (but not disconnection) of the Real from the Realms Unreal as their personal mandate in order to ensure that a tragedy like the one that befell them never happens again. The Laughing Ones use nightmare beasts bred from human fears in battle, supporting them with sorcery that banishes the denizens of the Realms Unreal and stips away their enemies' emotional centers, leaving them incapable of drawing upon Unreal tactics. Having no other allies to turn to, they now cautiously approach Humanity, wondering exactly how much to tell these short-lived upstarts.
Illusions : The collected scraps of Humanity's imagination, the Illusions were once more benign beings, content to live their lives in the Realms Unreal - but that was before the Hunger. Within the last century a gnawing need for reality has built up amongst the denizens of the Realms Unreal, and it's thrown everything into chaos. Now, though, order has been found under the rule of Kalla, King of Falsehoods. From his court in the Realms Unreal, he stages assaults on the realm of the Real, dragging humans back to his realm in order to vivisect them and discover what makes them stable when he and his subjects are not. With even the most benign of dreams rapidly becoming a soul-devouring predator, Illusions fight fast and furious, using a fleet of deceptive, hard-to-catch creatures supported by magic that smashes their opposition aside or drives them stark-raving insane - and with every mind his subjects break, Kalla's court swells with the products of their delusions.
The Kolari Elves : Long ago, before the rise of Humanity, the Kolari ruled an empire that spanned both the Real and the Unreal. Their ambition was their undoing, however; with their citizens living directly within the Realms Unreal, their nightmares manifested with enough rapidity that they simply could not catch them all. In the end, the Kolari were overwhelmed, and only a few escaped by weaving themselves into myths, hiding from their destroyers by becoming living stories. Their spell has finally unraveled, and the Kolari return to a plane much changed since they ruled it - but they hunger to rule again. Now they turn their great magics to infusing aspects of the Real with the essence of the Realms Unreal, using a mixture of geomancy and mind magics to create illusionary vistas real and solid enough for their people to colonize. With the conflict on Kralis turning to war, they manipulate the illusions they create in order to create monsters to fight for them, rousing the land from its slumber in order to wage war on their behalf.
The Neverborn : The Neverborn were never intended to exist. Once, Kralis had a complex afterlife designed to usher a soul through various trials and lessons before allowing it to be reincarnated or begin a brand-new life in the Realms Unreal. Now that afterlife has been shattered and the dead can no longer enter within it or even approach its hollow husk, and they have been expelled into the Realms Unreal. Driven mad with loss and warped by their exposure to the Unreal, these spirits have become something different, something alien and, in many senses of the word, wrong. The denizens of the Realms Unreal shun them and the masses of Humanity fear them, and so they have banded together for a common cause; if no place shall be made for them, then they consider their hand forced and prepare to storm both the Real and the Realms Unreal alike with the intention of subjugating their tormentors and claiming a place in a world that has none for them. The Neverborn use their own half-reality as a weapon, slipping and sliding along pathways no one else can follow, and visit the ultimate humiliation on their victims by ripping the souls from their bodies and transforming them into another half-real spirit like themselves.
Dream is a new super-type of card that resolves directly into exile. Dreams are similar to enchantments in that they provide a near-constant benefit for their owners, whether it's access to activated abilities or a benefit on spells or creatures they control. Dreams can be hard to counter, but once they hit the graveyard there's no getting them back - a dead Dream stays dead forever.
Enchantment and Land Creatures: The Neverborn, half-real already, are composed entirely of creatures that are also enchantments, while the Kolari empire transforms lands into creatures or even summons temporary tokens that are both land and creature to fight on their behalf. Both sides just love being able to pull more of their 'kindred', turning ordinary lands and enchantments into creatures or stripping the reality from more ordinary creatures, leaving them as incomprehensible vista-prisons or tattered ghosts of once-people that have been re-woven into auras.
The Faction Threads
The Planeswalker Threads
Even in Arcadia, there am I