Ask Brady

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I'll answer questions here provided I can do so briefly and without establishing yucky forums-only canon.
And thus the Dommermuth parted the clouds and descended from Valhalla, alert to the pleas of the nation of Vorthos.

Satisfied with his duty now complete, the Hairless Thoctar returned to the whitecover to hibernate forever more.

Also, is the ruined landscape of the new Tinker art meant to depict anywhere in particular, or is just a nice quiet place Tezz found to improve himself.
First, great work on Innistrad, you set out to create a horror block, and by god you've pulled it off. I especially love what you did with the DFCs, they are some of the most flavorful cards in existance.

My question is, Maro has seven(?) year plan on where he wants magic design to go. I was wondering if you had a similar plan for the storyline, what planes you wanted to visit or revisit, or what major character archs you want to touch on.
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I feel like we won't get an answer but it's worth a shot:

What is the nature of summoning magic? Are they the real thing, some magical copy, or does it depend? 
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And I shall continue to ask the question for the sake of my Sorin deck:
Has Sorin sired vampires on Innistrad? Has he tried to continue his own personal lineage even after he made Avacyn? Would there be vampires willing to back him if he needed their help?

And how did the deal with Liliana go down? We know she made a deal with four demons, but was it four different deals or all the deals at once with four demons involved? It's been sort of poked at before, but never really made clear. We just know there are four demons in on it.
We know Ludevic is still out there, as are Olivia Voladren and Edgar Markov.  We know Gisa is imprisoned.  What about Geralf?  Is his absence from Avacyn Restored intended to indicate that he died?

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We know Ludevic is still out there, as are Olivia Voladren and Edgar Markov.  What about Geralf?  Is his absence from Avacyn Restored intended to indicate that he died?


Are there going to be at least one last article that caps off bits and pieces of what happened in Avacyn Restored? Or was that it? Move on to Return to Ravnica?
What about Geralf? Is his absence from Avacyn Restored intended to indicate that he died?


No. At first they were just fun flavor-text PoV characters, and Jenna took a shine to them and wrote about them more (and would have written more still if given the chance!). They became more prominent only after the card sets had long been in the can. That's a weird thing about Magic -- fans expect story and character elements to be reflected in card form, and often it doesn't work that cleanly on our end. It's more organic than that.

Has Sorin sired vampires on Innistrad? Has he tried to continue his own personal lineage even after he made Avacyn? Would there be vampires willing to back him if he needed their help?

And how did the deal with Liliana go down? We know she made a deal with four demons, but was it four different deals or all the deals at once with four demons involved? It's been sort of poked at before, but never really made clear. We just know there are four demons in on it.


(1) Almost certainly but very few. (2) No; he's unconcerned with that. (3) Unlikely -- they would be ostracized if they did. (4) She made four deals with four demons, but used results from one deal to broker another, etc.  

What is the nature of summoning magic? Are they the real thing, some magical copy, or does it depend? 


I have no good response for this. We've published both "answers" you suggest at various times. I think we need to continue to hand-wave it, because if they're aether-proxies or whatever, then combat seems like a kind of pantomime, and if they're the real thing, summoning could be seen as evil by nature.

Maro has seven(?) year plan on where he wants magic design to go. I was wondering if you had a similar plan for the storyline, what planes you wanted to visit or revisit, or what major character archs you want to touch on.


I had as much or more to do with the current long-term plan as Rosewater did. Many of the years have both mechanical and creative blueprints, some just one or the other. No, not tellin'.

is the ruined landscape of the new Tinker art meant to depict anywhere in particular, or is just a nice quiet place Tezz found to improve himself.


Nonspecific, but in my head it might be the plane where Tezzeret's tower was located in Agents of Artifice.

Are there going to be at least one last article that caps off bits and pieces of what happened in Avacyn Restored? Or was that it? Move on to Return to Ravnica?


I don't know, honestly. There will definitely be some more flavor content, but we're still working out what it means to "resolve" The Plot of a given block. Even when we've done our best to resolve it in a novel, the storyline fanbase considers it unresolved. Tying every loose thread isn't really possible (without ruining the story), and we wouldn't want to anyway. We always need stuff to come back to.

It's cool that Jenna got so attached. Just great to know you have as much fun as we do enjoying it.

Great to finally have the info about Liliana's deal. It's been a hotly contested topic between fans.
And curses! My semi-canon sorin deck continues to have such trouble finding a creature base. Any suggestions (besides Avacyn) for me Brady? (I'm weird about building decks.)

Don't blame you for wanting to keep summoning vague. Totally understandable.

I am unsure if you answered this or not but is the  planeswalker guide for Avacyn Restored finished? I ask because it seems to be left in the middle of things. There being just more to divulge on the new nature of the demons springing for the hellmouth Ashmouth. 



Thank you for your time I very much enjoy the work you guys give us  and hope we have many happy returns.

Hi Brady, thank you for taking the time to do this...I know it is much appreciated by all of our storyline fans!  Just a couple of questions: Currently, and for the future, what is going to be the main medium for telling the great stories of Magic?  I think it's safe to say that we all LOVED the Planeswalker novels, but I guess they weren't selling well?  Are the new IDW comics going to be that medium?  I know we're all eagerly looking forward to Return to Ravnica and I know I would love to see a real detailed story play out with some major character development...do you see that being possible through online articles and monthly comics?  And finally, Sorin came to Innistrad to find Avacyn but had nothing to do with her release and has been nowhere to be seen.  Will he have more involvement on Innistrad or is that it?

Thanks again Brady!! 
Hey.

Have you guys considered translating any of your major storylines to the big screen, potentially creating an awesome cinematic experience for New Phyrexia or Rise of the Eldrazi? If done right, I'm thinking it could be really cool.

Thanks.

Thank you for giving us your time.


Did Avacyn have a reason to have never tried the "soul combination" Spell on a Werewolf before Avacyn Restored?


It seems like hundreds, if not thousands of lives, could have been saved had Avacyn used the Cursemute centuries ago.

And finally, Sorin came to Innistrad to find Avacyn but had nothing to do with her release and has been nowhere to be seen.  Will he have more involvement on Innistrad or is that it?

Thanks again Brady!! 


We do have a cover from the 7th issue of the comic featuring Sorin strangling the crap out of Dack.
Mind, this is Issue 3 of volume 2 so... weird numbering ahoy.

That being said, I actually feel like Sorin actually being in the set was less poignant than if we had just learned that Sorin made Avacyn and saw nothing of him.

And finally, Sorin came to Innistrad to find Avacyn but had nothing to do with her release and has been nowhere to be seen.  Will he have more involvement on Innistrad or is that it?

Thanks again Brady!! 


We do have a cover from the 7th issue of the comic featuring Sorin strangling the crap out of Dack.
Mind, this is Issue 3 of volume 2 so... weird numbering ahoy.

That being said, I actually feel like Sorin actually being in the set was less poignant than if we had just learned that Sorin made Avacyn and saw nothing of him.



Yes I did see that.....I'm just not connecting it.  So he comes back to Innistrad, sits on his thumbs, until Liliana has the wits to figure out where Griselbrand (and in turn Avacyn) is and releases them, and then suddenly is interested in Dack's little artifact?  I agree with you....I hope to see a real point to Sorin actually returning the the plane and not just being explained as Avacyn's creator.  Also, are Tibalt and Tamiyo going to have any storyline significance or are they our first placeholder Planeswalkers?
Oh didn't see this, thanks for making a thread for it ^^. Anyway, reposting what I said on the nonstickied thread bar Sorin who was covered:

- We got the distinct impression that villages were getting wiped every hour and all, in which respect I'd also like to mention a letter in one of the flavour articles that had a Cathar asking for aid after a formerly 700 people village had about a 100 living souls left. Where did all the holy armies of AVR come from? The arts and flavours of Cathar's crusade, Banner's raised, Zealous Conscripts and other cards, the Cathar planeswalker guide, and the overall explosion of humans (and tokens) makes me wonder if they lay eggs or anything just to keep up. It feels like the flavour is off, but perhaps there are good reasons for that? Banner's raised flavour text seems like a solution too cheap for me.

- What's the timeline between the major events in the 'strad block? Sometimes it feels like days pass between them, sometimes it feels like half a year.

Just the questions that popped into my mind initially :$ It's no biggy if the answers are all locked up in a secret wallsafe, but here's to me hoping they aren't just oversights :/
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Dear Brady, 


(Thanks for taking the time to provide us answers.)


During the Scars of Mirrodin block we learned that the Phyrexians had their own language. We were told that you guys brought in a linguist to develop that language, somewhat implying we would learn some of it. Are there any plans to do anything with this language? Will we ever see "A Planeswalker's Guide to Phyrexian"?

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Thanks Brady. I figured I wouldn't get a real answer, but I got a good reason so that's awesome.

 
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And curses! My semi-canon sorin deck continues to have such trouble finding a creature base. Any suggestions (besides Avacyn) for me Brady? (I'm weird about building decks.)



I know exactly what you mean.

I've been trying to make a Duel Decks: Nissa vs. Sorin for like the last six months, and knowing that Sorin didn't particularly care for most vampires always made it hard for me to make a creature base that didn't drown me in fridge logic. Him being black-white didn't really help :P
I'll toss in my questions:

Traditionally, we've been told that Planeswalkers are more deeply rooted in flavor than most cards.  This makes sense, there are fewer of them and they largely are major players in storylines, similar to legendaries.  Do you feel this is still the case?  Given that sets in general have been given a much more flavorful foundation and we've seen more 'throw it in' type 'walkers, the most obvious being the two in AVR, I feel at this point planeswalkers are just as much a mechanical creation as a flavor one.

Note: I am not being critical, just genuinely curious.  I love the mechanical and business workings almost as much as I love the flavor.


Also, as everyone else has mentioned, Thanks!
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What are some of the processes for coming up with new Planeswalker characters?

How aware, if at all, are Liliana's demon masters of one another?

Just as an aside: I hope we're not overwhelming you (Brady) with all these questions. 

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If vampires would not follow Sorin because they would be ostracised for supporting him, and he would not make many himself, how come the Sorin, Lord of Innistrad card has him creating vampire tokens?
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Just as an aside: I hope we're not overwhelming you (Brady) with all these questions. 



Yeah, that's why I'm sticking to one question at a time for the moment.
Hm, it seemed like you had a lot of the storyline for this block planned out in great detail, but you also mentioned that Gisa and Geralf were late additions to the block's story. How much of the storyline for the block had you planned out? And, sort of going off of that, how was that planning changed by the novel line getting cancelled?


Thanks so much for answering these questions. This is interesting stuff.

Barinellos, I think I'm going to archive this stuff for easy reference. That sound good to you? This can accompany Eid's list of Ask Wizards storyline answers (when I, you know, get that imported into our archives)
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Mr. Dommermuth, as others have said, thanks for taking your time to answer our questions.

I have to ask, as I've been wondering: which planeswalker is your favourite, as a character? Are you more sympathetic to some than to others? 

What is the nature of summoning magic? Are they the real thing, some magical copy, or does it depend? 


I have no good response for this. We've published both "answers" you suggest at various times. I think we need to continue to hand-wave it, because if they're aether-proxies or whatever, then combat seems like a kind of pantomime, and if they're the real thing, summoning could be seen as evil by nature.



Wasn't this a major development point in Agents of Artifice? Tezzeret made the argument to Jace that summoning is no better or worse than his mind-manipulation, because it compels a sentient being to do what you command?

That being said, I don't think summoning is necessarily evil; if Garruk summons a Beast to combat, it's unlikely to be because he's enslaving it. It might just be that he uses magic to communicate and the existing relationship between them means they fight loyally for him.
Wasn't this a major development point in Agents of Artifice? Tezzeret made the argument to Jace that summoning is no better or worse than his mind-manipulation, because it compels a sentient being to do what you command?

That being said, I don't think summoning is necessarily evil; if Garruk summons a Beast to combat, it's unlikely to be because he's enslaving it. It might just be that he uses magic to communicate and the existing relationship between them means they fight loyally for him.



It also set up the fact that Jace wasn't compelling anybody to do anything. He made a friendly pact between what he was summoning so that they'd come when he called (well, so far as they were sapient. I don't think Frost Raptors can make that kind of decision.)

Dear Brady Dommermuth,

I know that the tattoo engraved to Lili's whole body is a reminder of her pact with demons. Well, what are Garruk's and Jace's for? Trival tatoo or just for style? Some sort of magical reason?
I'm curious.
Sorin?
Dear Brady Dommermuth,

I know that the tattoo engraved to Lili's whole body is a reminder of her pact with demons. Well, what are Garruk's and Jace's for? Trival tatoo or just for style? Some sort of magical reason?
I'm curious.



If so those stories haven't been told yet.
This might sound like a design question, but I intended it to be a flavor question;
Does R&D ever give a card a very color-heavy mana cost not to balance it, but to drive the point across that it is so very archetypal of that color?

I'm looking at the quad black in Griselbrand's cost.

Where the Kor brought back in Zendikar as a test run to see if they could become white's token race?
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Thanks for your information!
Sorin?

Sorin! Sorin, Sor Sorin rin rin. Sorin orin Sorin rin.

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Any suggestions (besides Avacyn) for me Brady? (I'm weird about building decks.)


He has no qualms at all about subjugating other vampires when it suits his purposes. Just think of poor Anowon.
is the  planeswalker guide for Avacyn Restored finished?


I think so but I'm not 100% sure. If there's another segment (and there's probably not), it'll be the last. We like to leave ourselves opportunities to explore things later.
what is going to be the main medium for telling the great stories of Magic? Are the new IDW comics going to be that medium? [...] I would love to see a real detailed [Return to Ravnica] story play out with some major character development...do you see that being possible through online articles and monthly comics?  And finally, Sorin came to Innistrad to find Avacyn but had nothing to do with her release and has been nowhere to be seen.  Will he have more involvement on Innistrad or is that it?


(1) The main media now are the cards themselves, the promotional videos for each release, dailymtg.com content, and miscellaneous other things like the fat pack players' guides. The IDW comics will continue to tell Magic stories, of course, but they're tangential to the card sets to allow the author as much creative control as possible. (2) "Real detailed, with major character development"? Sounds like a novel. Probably not. But if that changes -- and things can always change -- I'll let you know as soon as I can. (3) You've correctly identified that Liliana unwittingly solves Sorin's main problem on Innistrad. Now that Avacyn has been reinstated, he can tend to his other obligations.
Have you guys considered translating any of your major storylines to the big screen, potentially creating an awesome cinematic experience for New Phyrexia or Rise of the Eldrazi?


I can't answer this question fully without (a) taking thousands of words and (b) violating nondisclosure policies. Short answer: Hasbro has its own entertainment division in Hollywood and I've talked with them plenty. I've also pitched Magic to some producers and directors whose names you'd know. But fantasy movies are expensive and therefore are a tough sell. Aside from Potter and LotR, two of the bestselling book series of all time, regardless of genre, most have not been successful. (Generally speaking a movie needs to earn twice its production budget to be considered a success.) boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=livea...
Did Avacyn have a reason to have never tried the "soul combination" Spell on a Werewolf before Avacyn Restored?


There are some metaphysical subtleties about Avacyn's existence that we didn't publish/explore. She was created to keep the balance on Innistrad. Therefore the more dire things are for humanity, the more powerful she becomes. The cursemute wasn't possible when the balance was intact. It's also true that imprisonment in the Helvault likely altered her, but we haven't gone into the details about that.
are Tibalt and Tamiyo going to have any storyline significance or are they our first placeholder Planeswalkers?


Cards and short videos require straightforward plots in order to come across to the average player. That means not every character can be integral or essential to the plot, because more characters means much more complexity. In terms of Planeswalkers, the Innistrad story is mainly about Liliana and secondarily about Garruk, with Sorin having a stake but minimal involvement. Tibalt and Tamiyo aren't very involved in this particular plot, but they might be central to other plots.
Where did all the holy armies of AVR come from? What's the timeline between the major events in the 'strad block?


(1) They spread out from the safer areas of northern Gavony (Thraben and its surrounding villages) as well as from the isolated villages of Kessig (once they were relatively safe from the howlpacks). (2) Depends on what you mean by "major events." From Liliana's arrival to the destruction of the Helvault, I'd say less than a few months.
Are there any plans to do anything with this language? Will we ever see "A Planeswalker's Guide to Phyrexian"?


Yes, eventually, and no.
we've been told that Planeswalkers are more deeply rooted in flavor than most cards.  This makes sense, there are fewer of them and they largely are major players in storylines, similar to legendaries.  Do you feel this is still the case?


Mechanics and flavor are hand-in-hand to the greatest extent possible. Early on we wanted Planeswalkers to be "flavor first," but we found that the cards shape the metagame so greatly that mechanical concerns, as well as color distribution over a 2 - 3 year period, must be weighed. For example, if the story demanded a whole bunch of green Planeswalkers and no red ones, well, I'd have to change the story.
What are some of the processes for coming up with new Planeswalker characters? How aware, if at all, are Liliana's demon masters of one another?


The processes for creating new PW characters are messy, chaotic, and can't be described briefly. Liliana's demons are dimly aware that they're involved in the affairs of other demons, but Liliana was uncharacteristically careful in ensuring their ignorance of each other's identities and locations.
If vampires would not follow Sorin because they would be ostracised for supporting him, and he would not make many himself, how come the Sorin, Lord of Innistrad card has him creating vampire tokens?


Because mechanics need to be both more blunt and more elegant than story subtleties would demand. Also, Sorin's ability doesn't necessarily represent only siring, and certainly doesn't work only on Innistrad.
There are wurms in almost every set. Will we ever see an Elder Land Wurm again?


Very unlikely.
How much of the storyline for the [ISD] block had you planned out? And, sort of going off of that, how was that planning changed by the novel line getting cancelled?


The fate of the novels was in Limbo during Innistrad's development; we never created a plot detailed enough to support a novel-length story. I can't figure out how to answer the first question briefly. A lot, but with fewer subplots than normal?
which planeswalker is your favourite, as a character? Are you more sympathetic to some than to others? 


Tough one, because lots of stories have happened in my head that we either haven't published yet, or didn't get a chance to publish as fully as I would have liked. Liliana is my favorite because she's so damn short-sighted and so selfish, but just clever enough -- barely -- to play both ends against the middle. She might be random femme fatale to a passerby, but to me she's one of the most conflicted and interesting characters we've done. It's just a matter of time before she runs out of options, and she doesn't even realize that. And sure, I have an easier time writing for some than for others.
Wasn't [summoning] a major development point in Agents of Artifice? Tezzeret made the argument to Jace that summoning is no better or worse than his mind-manipulation, because it compels a sentient being to do what you command?


Yes. Like I said, we've represented it "definitively" in more than one way over the course of the game's history. Although Tezzeret might have been misrepresenting things to manipulate Jace. /handwave

Thanks again Brady.

The only thing that springs up from the latest round of answers has to do with Lili's demons.
Kothophed quite clearly had some knowledge of other planes, and while Lili kept her secrets, is the existence of other planes a revelation for her debtors?

Aside from that, I do have to question something I noticed. In The Wild Son, the Gorgon did some name drops. The thing is, the online and printed versions have different names now. Was "Belzenlok" part of the cancelled book? If you can't answer, I understand... and I'll also assume that you'll probably find a way to salvage that bit as well.
Thx for the answers Brady!


(3) You've correctly identified that Liliana unwittingly solves Sorin's main problem on Innistrad. Now that Avacyn has been reinstated, he can tend to his other obligations.


So was there a point - plotwise - to even put him into the block?
"I'm here, but I'm doing nothing" - feels much like Ob Nixilis, only it's a bit worse this time, cuz it happened to cardwalker from previous stories. Would it really add too much complexity to have him do something more?

There are some metaphysical subtleties about Avacyn's existence that we didn't publish/explore. She was created to keep the balance on Innistrad. Therefore the more dire things are for humanity, the more powerful she becomes. The cursemute wasn't possible when the balance was intact. It's also true that imprisonment in the Helvault likely altered her, but we haven't gone into the details about that.


So there is an explanation. And a working one.
Heh. Why didn't I think of it before? It's so much like in the Night Watch series by Lukianienko...


Are there any plans to do anything with this language? Will we ever see "A Planeswalker's Guide to Phyrexian"?


Yes, eventually, and no.


and

Why not? Do you think it's too obscure, too difficult? Or would it require to hire that linguist full time? ;)

Liliana's demons are dimly aware that they're involved in the affairs of other demons, but Liliana was uncharacteristically careful in ensuring their ignorance of each other's identities and locations.


Yeah, wasn't she supposed to be still "young and stupid"?
It doesn't add up into 'careful', not without much difficulty.
Maybe she was just lucky to get the idea, or was following a gut feeling, to make deal with demons on different planes so they can't scheme together? Without that "careful in ensuring..." part... ;)


How much of the storyline for the [ISD] block had you planned out? And, sort of going off of that, how was that planning changed by the novel line getting cancelled?


The fate of the novels was in Limbo during Innistrad's development; we never created a plot detailed enough to support a novel-length story. I can't figure out how to answer the first question briefly. A lot, but with fewer subplots than normal?


That reminds me - The Curse of the Chain Veil. You even used its cover art in the promotional video, I believe. Can you tell us more about it now? And why it was cancelled? Weren't there some ideas you could enhance at least the Liliana vs. Garruk subplot with? Somehow I feel all cardwalkers' stories were kinda undeveloped in this set. Present, but barely... Is that their new future without novels... or you just had much more work on the upcoming Return to Ravnica...?
I can't answer this question fully without (a) taking thousands of words and (b) violating nondisclosure policies. Short answer: Hasbro has its own entertainment division in Hollywood and I've talked with them plenty. I've also pitched Magic to some producers and directors whose names you'd know. But fantasy movies are expensive and therefore are a tough sell. Aside from Potter and LotR, two of the bestselling book series of all time, regardless of genre, most have not been successful. (Generally speaking a movie needs to earn twice its production budget to be considered a success.) boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=livea...



Thanks Brady.

It's too bad that additional questioning along these lines would create problems due to non-disclosure policies. I'd love to know more specifics in order to potentially give suggestions on how you could shrink your production budget (or alternatively increase your production value) but I'm sure that you guys have already talked about it and already enumerated most (if not all) the options.

I'm wondering if you guys were exploring both live action and animation as potential avenues? Do you have a preference of film style if there ever was a MTG Film?



Thanks for the answers, Brady. I love the Avecyn power explanation... it's incredibly elegant. Really brilliant.
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