by redned, Dec 15,2011

Creedence (Set Codename)

Here I will start the discussion for the story of our world. Once we have a definite idea and plan, all the discussion here will be moved to a different page and a concrete story will replace all the discussion. I have given a codename to our set which can eventually be replaced with the real name. I've chosen Creedence, and if we ever get the hankering to actually design this into a full block we can codename the following sets Clearwater and Revival.

Why not Bachman, Turner, and Overdrive? Or Electric, Light, Orchestra? :-)
Seriously, though, I am excited that we chose this theme. Can we come to terms with verisimilitude? How much are we going to borrow from "real" ancient Egypt, is it our goal to make a history-themed set, or are we going to make a totally fantasy world with Egyptian flavoring?

I chose Creedence Clearwater Revival cause Greg is a master CCR karaoke performer.
Although this is the egyptian set, it is actually more the egyptian inspired set. To address Troy's question, I think this should definitely be a fantasy world with egyptian flavoring and elements. We will probably still have dragons, goblins, etc.
For Egypt the best place to start is with the gods. They have many many different gods for the different aspects of life. I think we need to take these gods and put them at the forefront of the story. The Egyptians believed that some men were actually gods born to the earth and would still rein in the afterlife. I think to set up the conflict of this world there needs to be a representation of each important god by a planeswalker that the people of this world worship. These planeswalkers could be using the civilization here for their own purposes. Maybe they are trying to use the people as a labor force to uncover a powerful artifact? Or maybe they are trying to raise a fanatical army to invade other planes and enslave them? We could definitely design a cycle of 5 walkers to represent these gods, or we could allude to some within other cards and only design a few.
If there are multiple different planeswalkers in a position of power on this plane, I think the obvious direction to go for the conflict is treachery within the ruling gods. They rule together as a group, but each has their own real agenda and have started to betray one another to eventually be the last one on top. Maybe this erupts into a "religious" war of a kind with the devoted of each god fighting one another?

I had a really weird night last night, couldn't sleep, and came up with a bunch of flavor ideas for this set, so I'm just going to start spitballing:
1. Planeswalkers As Transformed Creatures ("Ascend" mechanic mentioned somewhere):
I was thinking about the discussion Jeff and I had on the most recent episode where I talked about how Planeswalkers in the set should be mythics compared to the rest of the sets rares. It started me thinking about ways to "cheat" on this a little and I thought about creatures that could "ascend" into planeswalkers. So instead of having planeswalker cards in the set, we'd have creatures that would have to meet some conditions to become planeswalkers. I'm imagining a rare cycle of legendary creatures (one for each color) and either another rare cycle or an uncommon cycle of "lesser" gods/planeswalkers. I like the story potential of these legends scheming against each other and racing to become planeswalkers. I'm imagining these cards being slightly less powerful than typical planeswalkers.
Example card:
Ausar, Lord of Crypts
Legendary Creature - Human Cleric
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with X loyalty counters, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard.
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from anywhere, put a loyalty counter on CARDNAME
1B,T: Each player discards a card.
2BB,T: Destroy target creature.
Ascend 6 (When CARDNAME has 6 or more loyalty counters, transform it)
Ausar, Lord of Silence
Planeswalker - Ausar
<+1>: Put the top 3 cards of your library into your graveyard.
<-3>: Each player sacrifices a creature.
<-5>: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
2. Dust Counters:
This was a flavor idea that could also explain some of the conflict in the set. Basically, the idea is that the desert is starting to overtake the civilized areas and artifacts of the world. Lands and Artifacts would accumulate dust counters, making them more difficult to utilize.
Example Cards:
Shrinking Oasis
Dust (Whenever this becomes tapped, put a dust counter on it. All instances of "X" on this card are equal to the number of dust counters on it)
T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
X,T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
(This card starts as a Tendo Ice Bridge, then becomes a Shimmering Grotto, then becomes a poor-man's Shimmering Grotto, then becomes a homeless-man's Shimmering Grotto, and so on...)
Sphinx of the Mind's Eye
Dust (Whenever this becomes tapped, put a dust counter on it. All instances of "X" on this card are equal to the number of dust counters on it)
T: Look at target opponent's hand.
1,X: Sphinx of the Mind's Eye becomes a 4/4 Construct artifact creature with flying until end of turn.
2,X,T: Draw a card.
Sand Temple Golem
Artifact Creature - Golem
Dust (Whenever this becomes tapped, put a dust counter on it. All instances of "X" on this card are equal to the number of dust counters on it)
Sand Temple Golem gets -X/-X.
3. Color Identities & Alliances:
I had some ideas about each color's identity and agenda and how those interact with the other colors in the set. Here's what I came up with:
- White: White is the color of the "civilized" culture in our world and is very much a part of the ruling class. Primary creature types include human (soldiers & clerics), spirits, and the occasional sphinx. White allies with black as they are the colors of the pharaohs' government and the most interested in life after death. White also allies with blue because its civilizations depend upon large water sources like the Nile.
- Blue: Blue is the color of our world's scholars and water. Creature types include: Scholar/Wizard, Beast, and most of the Sphinxes. Blue allies with White to sustain large cities and promote knowledge. Blue also allies with Green to sustain the untamed wildlife of the world, who also depend on water sources.
- Black: Black is the color of sacrifice, corruption, and death. Creature types include: Human (Clerics), Scarab, Undead, and Spirit. Black allies with White in the corrupt cities and clerics bent on life after death. Black also allies with Red for causing death in a hot, dry, dusty wasteland.
- Red: Red is the color of the desert and its mammoth dunes encroaching on "civilized" life. Primary creature types include: Beast, Insect, Human (nomads/raiders), a Reptilan race (similar to Viashino), and Dragon. Red allies with Black as the driving force of death in our world. Red also allies with Green for chaotic, wild natural selection in an unforgiving world.
- Green: Green is the color of natural wildlife and knowledge in our world. Creature types include: Beast, Insect, Human (Scholar/Farmer), a race of Cats (Dryad/Warrior), and some Reptiles/Amphibians/Trolls. Green allies with Red for wild life even in the adverse climate. Green also allies with Blue because water sustains all life.
So to recap, the primary "shards" are Wbu, Uwg, Bwr, Rbg, & Gur.
4. Primary Color Conflicts:
- Red vs. Blue: Fire & Water
- Black vs. Green: Life & Death

Wow. There is a load of awesome stuff in your post (Greg?). I love the Dust idea (though why not call it "Sand") and the concept that the desert is taking over the plane.

I think that the Dust idea could be developed into more of a villain. Perhaps one of the pharoh/gods awakened or summoned or otherwise created the Dusting? That way you could build both cards that fight the Dusting and some that help or benefit from it. Otherwise Dust might just end up being a R/G mechanic that leads to mostly R/G Dust decks and everything else being anti-Dust, and that could get a bit stale.
- Xtian

I like the idea of Dust as a mostly natural force. And I think we will want to use it only on about 5-10% of the cards in the set. Overuse will definitely make it feel a bit tired.
We do need this card, though, or a variant:
Purifying Wind (U)
Remove all Dust counters from up to three target permanents.

On the Sand Golem. I think it should be a :2m: for 3/3 or :3m: for 4/4 because it will get a -1/-1 the first time it attacks and steadily get worse after. (The :2m: 3/3 seems more interesting to me, especially if it could get Unearth.)

More world-building:
Our world (we really need to come up with a name for it, by the way) exists on a huge river called the Nahil. White and black civilizations have sprouted up along the Nahil's western banks. The eastern bank is a rich green wilderness ruled by beasts and a race of cats called the Beshae. Beyond the cities in the west and the forests in the east, only the desert and its mountainous dunes exist -- and the great red desert is expanding! It encroaches slowly on the life-giving Nahil and all the river's settlers.
I've created a masterpiece of a map to illustrate the loose concept described above:
[[Image:http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/gregsauce/c9b15faf2333029facdfd6e22ddec10b.png?v=135900|Rough Custom Set Map]]

That map is pretty great!

A storyline idea...
Greg mentioned an idea that one of the primary conflicts could come from :R: vs :U: / Fire vs Water / the Desert vs the River. This is a very primal, easily understood concept, and seems to work perfectly in this setting.
I took the liberty of assigning the role of primary :R: races to the Viashino and Dragons, and primary :U: races to Aven (picture falcon-headed bird-people... very Egyptian!) and Sphinxes.
The Viashino lived for centuries as dragon 'shepherds'. Each tribe followed a small brood of dragons, whether that brood wandered nomadically across the desert, or had a permanent home amongst the mountain peaks. The Viashino provided cattle and sheep as fodder, and performed grooming and cleaning services for the dragons, much like a horse farmer of our world. In return, they would be largely unmolested as they harvested valuable scales and eggshells for armor, weapons and tools. Some of the Viashino tribes even went so far as to become dragon-riders. The tribes were warlike and, besides fighting amongst themselves, they never hesitated to make war on the Aven tribes in the mountains.
Then came the ultra-powerful, sphinx-mage Tefshu. Uninterested in the typical sphinx life of a lonely, deep pursuit of knowledge and magic, he lusted for power and experience. He struck bargains with the fierce Aven tribes. Tired of an existence living with the unending Viashino raiding parties and their airborne attacks from dragons, the Aven tribal elders banded together with Tefshu and mounted a counter-assault.
The unorganized Viashino tribes were no match for such a mighty force. Joined by many excitable younger sphinxes, Tefshu led the Aven forces on a vast sweep across the mountains and desert, annihilating and enslaving the Viashino. Many of their dragons were slain, while some escaped into the wild.
Now, generations later, the Viashino largely exist only as a slave community. They work for the sphinx rulers of the river lands, watched over by their Aven military. Building great temples and pyramids, paving roads, working as farm labor, much of the Viashino's warrior ferocity has been lost to decades in chains.
So, there's the fierce, wild :R: peoples being enslaved by the more organized, controlling :U: peoples. This gives the setting a slave race for the mechanics being developed (i.e. Tribute), and a scene of potential conflict if we go for a slave uprising? Plus, a marquee character like Tefshu could still be around, and could influence other cards built around him and his presence (i.e. Ajani + Ajani's Pridemate + Ajani's Mantra).
[edit: I just had the realization that a race of bird-people and a bunch of sphinxes most likely wouldn't have much use for paved roads... LOL. Maybe they've got the poor, angry lizard-folk constructing birdbaths the size of arenas? :) And, more logically, Aven are pretty sweet with the concept of pyramids, as instead of being used just as tombs the pyramidal structures could be like enormous birdhouses - full of large passageways and many entrances up and down their surfaces...]

So, I've been trying to wrap my head around the pseudo-shards and their particular identities. Being that they are asymmetrical, not following any particular pattern, it has been a bit difficult for me.
Building on the color identity stuff that both Greg and Jeff have posted, and then adding in as much of the mechanical stuff as I've been able to assimilate, I came up with this...
(note: this is not meant to be a rewrite or a rehash, it's just me trying to get all the things everybody has contributed to coalesce into a ‘real’ setting...)


The Upper City
This is the place where the upper class humans (ruling class, wealthy merchants, military officers) live. Being that the society is so focused on life-after-death, religion holds a very high place - the high priests wield as much power as the pharaohs, and demand their daily tribute.
NONHUMAN CREATURES: spirits, the occasional sphinx
HUMANS: clerics, priests, soldiers, merchants
The priests and pharaohs alike gain power by standing on the shoulders of lesser beings.


The River Nahil and the big, bright heavens above
Source of life, and thus wealth and power, the Nahil runs through the center of Creedence, influencing every part of daily life. The sky is where the gods dwell. The gods are the most important thing the people of Creedence think about on a regular basis.
NONHUMAN CREATURES: aven, sphinxes
HUMANS: scribes, religious scholars, riverfolk
The learned wise-people have long since cracked the codes of life after death. (note: maybe the Netherform mechanic could be reworked to allow dead creatures to do other things besides just attack? i.e. exile from graveyard for an effect that applies to the living creatures – pump, grant keyword ability, etc.)


The Lower City
The Lower City is everything the Upper City is not - black marketeers, ruffians of every stripe, all of society’s underbelly, and especially slavers. The Lower City is where the slaves are kept - the slaves that build everything the Upper City needs, the slaves that work the farmlands, and comprise the bulk of the army.
NONHUMAN CREATURES: spirits, horrors(?)
HUMANS: slavers, cultists, rogues, assassins
MAJOR MECHANIC: Tribal – Slaves / token makers
Besides the expected tribal interactions, and because slaves would be relatively powerless weenie creatures, what if this mechanic leaned heavily toward token-making in general? This is something usually seen in :G: or :W:, but has bled into :B: (zombies). If focusing on token-making, there would be no need to design actual slave cards, as they could always be tokens, and we could use weenie-friendly effects like mass pumping.


The Desert and Mountains
Once the primary culture in the world, the warlike, dragon-herding Viashino tribes were conquered and enslaved. As if seeking its lost children, the desert spreads across the world, encroaching on the civilized areas, beginning to choke the cities and even the life-giving river itself.
NONHUMAN CREATURES: viashino, dragons, insects
HUMANS: nomads, raiders
MAJOR MECHANIC: Dust (did anybody like the name Subsume?)
I think the Dust (Subsume) mechanic is my favorite so far. It can really make resource management something you need to master, which appeals to the Spikes. But then the other potential mechanics seem to appeal to other facets of game play.


The jungles that line the river comprise a vastly different ecosystem as compared to the desert. Not so much giant canopies of trees, they are wetlands full of slithering reptilian-beasts.
NONHUMAN CREATURES: beasts, insects, crocodino (I propose a new race of wetland, crocodilian, reptile-people. They and the Viashino descended from a common ancestor, but they are much closer to base animals. They are very smart, but have a much cruder ‘culture’, and ruder communication. I guess you could compare Viashino/Crocodino to Human/Ape?)
HUMANS: none
MAJOR MECHANIC: Tribal – Beasts
As juxtaposed against the weenie tribe of Slave token-makers, the bigger Beast tribe could use effects like trample, unblockability, etc, which make big, dumb creatures effective against weenie hordes.


W: and :U:
The Upper City’s river port is the enabler of much of its wealth. The worship of the sky gods is the central unifying factor in the society’s life.
W: and :B:
The Upper City’s power comes from the Lower City’s slave trade. The Lower City is largely parasitic to the Upper City, as it has no access to its own resources – no food production, no building materials, no military.
B: and :R:
The source of the Lower City’s slave population is the Viashino. In some ways, Black has absorbed Red. The only major Red power left in this world is the inexorable Desert.
R: and :G:
While the wetland jungles certainly wouldn’t be friendly to the spreading desert, the link between the Viashino and Crocodino provides an ally situation. Also, the primal, survival-of-the-fittest nature of Green would certainly cheer on the Red desert’s subsumation of the White/Black pieces of the world!
G: and :U:
The wetland jungles don’t exist without the river. As a subtheme amongst these two colors, we could have weather effects – ancient Egyptian culture was very heavily influenced by weather occurrences.


W: and :R:
Obvious - Desert encroaching on city.
G: and :W:
Feral jungle vs. Urban city.
U: and :B:
The intelligentsia of Blue and the rough-and-tumble people of Black despise each other equally.
R: and :U:
Fire vs Water. ‘Nuff said.
G: and :B:
Life vs Death, Freedom vs Slavery.

@Rik I think the best thing to do is to not worry so much about the shards. My thoughts on them is that they mostly exist as building blocks for placing archetypes and mechanics. So only black, white and red get slaves and slavers, so if you want a slave deck it will most likely be BW slaves, BR slaves, or WR slaves. There are flavor reasons for this as well, but they were not the driving force behind me liking the shards. I just wanted a quick outline of where the synergistic archetypes will find a home. I'm not trying to discourage you from working on the flavor here, just maybe don't try to pigeon hole mechanics in with the different colors quite yet while we are still feeling things out.

Roger that... I get way more into the flavor/creative side of Magic than the mechanical side. When Mark Rosewater talks about top-down design, he is talking directly to me!

Maybe it is too early but I crafted a word that might make a good set name...



It's a combination of two Arabic-origin words referencing sand storms:
samiel - a strong, suffocating, sand-laden wind, and
khamsin - a hot, southerly wind that blows across Northern Africa every year for approximately two months in the Spring.

I like the name Khamiel and would be happy to make it our world name. I would prefer to separate our world name from our set name, but I think Khamiel fits well for our plane(I spent some time myself trying to come up with something, and this is much better than anything I got).

Some cool ideas here guys (digging the map!)
I think it might be cool to have black use skeletons and maybe medusas/gorgons. Those are some underused creature types that have resonance like innistrad has with werewolves and vampires, so players will have a good idea of what they are like.
Maybe they could be lead by an undead pharoah – a long dead mummy that is worshipped by black human clerics. He could believe that he is the true ruler of the world and be summoning an army of undead to overwhelm the kingdoms of the blue/white civilisation.
A story arc will porbably be important to balance the set and give it a strong identity, You probably need a 'Big Baddy' for the players to hate/side with. Then maybe this guy could ascend to planeswalker-hood in the second set. An undead mummy unleashed. Heh, sounds a bit like Mum-Ra or Skeletor.
The crocodile guys sound good (though I might make the name not have 'croc' in it.). Its good to give each side a humanoid race – like the aven and cat guys. That makes it easy for players to associate with them. Also you can imagine big crocodile warriors being rather brutish, maybe operating in loose tribes. They could have a leader who all the tribes swear fealty too – maybe a big swingy (maybe mythic) rare?
One thing that might be cool is if in the second set, the undead Pharoah kills this guy and reanimates him and some of the crocodile guys become aligned with black. Then you can have cool references to cards from the base set in the expanson – like a guy that gives you life in the base set is undead in the expansion and makes your opponent lose life.
I'm not too sure what the 'beasts' faction is. Beasts are by their very description pretty bland (they were the least cool of the onslaught tribes IMO). I'm sure you could go with much more exciting magic universe creature.

[[Magic: East West Draft Cast Custom Set | Main Page]]