This is a collection of all the setting-related material for Zendikar. There's obviously much more visual than textual material, but it also has sufficient lore to make for a wonderful D&D campaign setting, which is the reason for which i started the project.
A Planeswalker's Guide To Zendikar (Introduction) (Ruins of a lost civilization, The Roil, Exploring the wilds, The world of Zendikar, Races of Zendikar)
The Look Of Zendikar (Mainly visuals, D&D is cited as a source)
Zendikar, The Lethal Landscape (Concepts and visuals)
Deadly Perils, Priceless Treasures (Mainly visuals)
The Secrets Of Zendikar (Mainly visuals)
The Look Of An Awakening World (Visuals of "worldwake Zendikar")
Worldwake, A Plane In Revolt (more on "worldwake Zendikar")
Ally Cuisine ("Allies": adventurers, famous characters)
Angry Lands, Brave Adventurers (More on lands, more on adventurers, vampires)
The Moment Of Discovery ("Getting there is a large percentage of the fun")
The Season For Costumes (Outfits and gear of Zendikarian adventurers)
The Eldrazi Arisen (On the Eldrazi, aberrant near-gods trapped inside Zendikar)
Writing The Eldrazi (Good for visuals)
[Comic] Journey To The Eye (1st part of the Zendikar series - Akoum: Affa, Spike Fields, League of Anowon, Akoum Hedron Field)
[Comic] Awakenings (2nd part of the Zendikar series - Teeth of Akoum, Eye of Ugin)
[Comic] Enter The Eldrazi (3rd part of the Zendikar series - Eye of Ugin, Halimar: Seagate)
GEOGRAPHY (only named geographycal elements in parentheses, more inside the articles. Quoted text from intro.)
Click the region names to go to their specific guides.
- Akoum (Teeth of Akoum, Leage of Anowon, Affa, The Goma Fada Caravan, Tal Terig, Ora Onda, The Khlani Stone, Igneous Glens, Waterscouts, Glasspool, Ior)
"Akoum is a mountainous continent where magma glows from crevasses in the earth. Crystalline fields shimmer beneath the sun, but the sharp edges of most surfaces will slice through skin and bone. In some areas, the temperatures are extreme—burning an explorer's skin during the day and causing frostbite during the night. Gases occasionally spew from the ground, and around these vents, bizarre trees and plant life have arisen in pockets of weird biome. The region is plagued by geological instability, causing magma geysers to erupt unexpectedly and shards of rock to rain down unexpectedly."
- Bala Ged [sub-continent of Guul Draz] (Guum Wilds, Surrakar Caves, Bujuka Bay, Umung River, The Tangled Vales, Bloodbriar, Cut Fungus, ELVES )
"Humid rainforests cover this low-lying continent. A humid haze blankets the landscape, which is riddled with poisonous molds, fungi, and strangely colored algae. Deep within the network of limestone caves and tunnels, catacombs, sacrificial altars, and rune-inscribed chambers hide countless treasures. These are the domain of the ferocious, reptilian Surrakar and countless primordial monsters. Bala Ged is home to two tribes of elves: the warlike Joraga tribe as well as the secretive Mul Daya. Mul Daya elves can be recognized by their tattooing, and have a connection with the spirits of their elvish ancestors that sets them apart from the rest of the elves."
- Guul Draz (Malakir, The Free City Of Nimana, Pelakka Karst, The Hanging Swamp, VAMPIRES)
"This is a humid region of teeming lagoons, and tangled, fetid swamps—this is the homeland of the vampires. Predators stalk the wilds, and traps are hidden in mangrove jungles and around settlements. The rancid waterways that twist into the vast marshes and swamps conceal predators and plagues. There are more ruin sites here than elsewhere, including the Hagra Cistern, a huge complex of ruins that's gradually sinking into the muck and water."
- Murasa (Sunder Bay, Cliffs of Kazuul, Thunder Gap, Glint Pass, Skyfang Mountains, Shatterskull Pass, Na Plateau, Singing City, Vazi River, Pillar Plains, Visimal The Hidden City, The Cipher In Flames, Raimunza Hive, Kazandu)
"Surrounded by towering cliffs, Murasa is a continent of jaddi-tree forests, deep valleys, and steep ridges. Vines and other vegetation wind through deep valleys, up cliff walls, and down into dank, half-lit caverns in the earth. The Kazuul Road provides the easiest access into Murasa. But Kazuul, an ogre slavemaster, controls the route and demands tribute from any explorer who tries to enter the continent."
- Tazeem (Emeria The Sky Ruin, Pathway Stones, Halimar The Inland Sea, The Lighthouse At Seagate, Oran-Rief Forest, Pit Caves, Umara River Gorge, Magosi Waterfall And Portage, MERFOLK)
"Tazeem is a perilous combination of the Oran-Rief, a gigantic, twisted forest; Halimar, a deep inland sea; and the Umara, and a great rushing river that bisects the continent. Some ancient ruins have been co-opted by denizens, who make their homes in the remains of the massive hedrons. Other ruins remain hidden underground, but are sought after by both merfolk loremasters and power-hungry expeditionary leaders.
Colossal hedrons float in the sky above Tazeem. This rubble field stretches across the entire continent, obscuring direct sunlight and blocking natural rainfall patterns. The massive stones perpetually turn and tumble across the heavens. Amid the ruins, there are the shattered remains of a sky-castle. Merfolk call this Emeria, the Sky Ruin. They believe it was once the home of Emeria, the goddess of the sky."
- Ondu (Islands Of Ondu, Turntimber The Serpentine Forest, Greypelt, The Makind Trenches, Teetering Peaks, Prison Of Omnath, Binding Circle, Soul Stair, Jwar Isle Of Secrets, Fadun, Strand Of Jwar, Beyeen The Crown Of Talib, "Piston" Mountains, Zulaport, The Boilbasin, Hedron Fields of Agadeem, Kabira, The Crypt Of Agadeem)
"The geography of Ondu is dominated by a sense of sweeping verticality. The precarious Makindi Trenches, the skyscraping trees of the Turntimber, and the depths of the Crypt of Agadeem all contribute to the strange sensation that travel in Ondu occurs up and down rather than east and west. Jwar, the Isle of Secrets lies near the southern coast. Huge granite heads loom half-buried in the earth, and a beam of pure blue light can be seen shooting straight up out of the island. But no explorer has yet uncovered the source of the light."
Also about Ondu: The Journal Of Javad Nasrin
- Sejiri (Midnight Pass, The Tundra Perilous, Ikiral, Benthidrix)
"This polar region is like an enormous mesa with permafrost steppes, wind-blasted mountains, and impossibly tall cliffs that encircle the continent. Despite its inhospitable terrain, creatures such as felidars, griffins, and sphinxes make their home in the snow-covered wastes. There are many ruins sites, and explorers brave the cold to see what treasures lie deep beneath the snowy surface."
RACES (Quoted text from Intro)
"Vampires live openly in Guul Draz and are famed for the decadence and perversion of their lifestyle. Bloodchiefs, the progenitors of their race, control the opulent city of Malakir. Vampire society is divided by "family" allegiances, each family beholden to its Bloodchief. Each family controls a small amount of territory and routes through the swamp, although the main currency of any family is in its connections and relationships. The tastes and passions of the Bloodchief tend to be imprinted on the vampires he or she creates.
There are five greater families in Guul Draz: Nirkana, Kalastria, Emevera, Urnaav, and Ghet. Dozens of other lesser families are scattered across Guul Draz, each with a contingent of undead nulls appropriate to their place in vampire society. Whenever a vampire fully drains the blood of a living creature without destroying the husk, a vampire null is created from the body. If nulls are left without orders, they will hunt and kill living things that they can find."
One could think that using the Dhampyr bloodline or using the Revenant race could be enough to represent Zendikar Vampires, but I think they need a full race write up. They need to have the following elements:
- Charisma is surely their specialty, with Dexterity comign as a close second. It is difficult to understand (from the various vampire creature cards) if the last ability bonus could be Constituition or Intelligence. They could be Con + Cha/Dex or Cha + Dex/Int or maybe even Con/Dex + Int/Cha, which could be a new standard for Zendikar races, or a specialty of Vampires to represent their varied origins or the differences between the bloodlines.
- A blood drain ability, which could be a power or a feature activating each time they bloody an enemy or each time they use Second Wind adjacent to bloodied enemies.
- Bonuses to "cultural" skills, like Hisotry and Arcana, and also to Acrobatics.
- Kor (The Ondu and the Master At Arms articles are the best sources)
"The kor live a spare and nomadic existence. They travel mercilessly light, carrying with them only the essentials, valuing the portability of individual skill and strength of character over more "static" virtues. "We were not meant to put down roots," they say. "The heart is a moving organ." Despite their constant motion, the kor revere locations in a deep sense. They travel in small bands along one of several pilgrimage routes, visiting dozens of sacred sites across Zendikar. Each pilgrimage circuit takes decades, and many are lost to Zendikar's dangers along the way
The kor are masters of ropes and hooks, using them to travel and to hunt, and incorporating them into their spirituality. They rarely use unreliable devices such as crossbows to propel their grappling hooks onto cliff faces or into flying game, relying instead on simple, sturdy rope and the skill of the arm. A hooked line is also a social and sacred symbol for the kor, representing their connection to each other and to the world around them."
The kor also need a race of their own. It would be a flavorful race, with a focus on movement, terrain and weaponry related features and powers.
- Bonuses to Dexterity and then probably Wisdom or Strength. They appear to be adept at divine magic and also good warriors, although their phisiques wouldn't seem strong. Instead of Strength, Constituition may also eb appropriate, not sure. For now I'd say the most likely would be Dex + Wis/Str.
- Proficiency with hooks and chains, probably setting and race-specific.
- Ability to ignore some kinds of difficult terrain.
- A power with various effects, depending on the weapon-tool they use. It would be nice to make it an at-will power.
- Bonuses to Athletics and Acrobatics.
"More merfolk live in Tazeem than elsewhere, but they can be found on every continent in Zendikar. Although the merfolk are born in the water, they have adapted to life on land. Curious, thoughtful, and analytical, the merfolk are natural explorers. Merfolk tend to be more solitary than other races and don't cultivate large communities. But even merfolk who spend most of their time exploring will establish a home base, a place they return to before setting out again.
Run by merfolk scholars, the Lighthouse at Sea Gate is the center of learning for explorers of all races. A library filled with scrolls, and maps, and writings about the lost civilization, this is a storehouse of all the collected knowledge about Zendikar."
Merfolk are another completely new race, and they should fill the niche of the magical/intellectual/spiritual race, without forgetting their agility.
- Wisdom and Intelligence are obvious. I'd say a Wis + Int/Dex is the most fitting, with Wis + Int/Cha coming second.
- Complete aquatic adaption.
- A racial power useful for ranged classes.
- Bonuses to Religion and Arcana.
"Goblins thrive in Akoum, Murasa, and Ondu as well as in most settlements and outposts. Although there are numerous tribes, the Tuktuk and Grotag tribes boast the largest warrens. Much of a goblin's life is devoted to finding and plundering ruin sites. The goblins choose their tribal leaders by their perceived industriousness. The goblin that leads is the one who has managed to retrieve the most interesting or powerful object from a ruin. In Affa, the main settlement in Akoum, many goblins hire themselves out as guides or trapfinders. Of course, the normal plan is to help find something of value, trigger a trap intentionally, steal the object, and run away."
Goblins are among the few that already have a racial write-up, but being it completely underdeveloped and thought for NPCs, they also need a nearly full remake.
- There's a considerable overlap with other races, because again Dexterity, Charisma and even Constitution seem the more appropriate.
- I don't know about the racial power, could leave the shift as minor action, or could make something skill-related.
- Bonuses to Thievery, Bluff and any other skill.
"Bala Ged is the homeland of the Joraga elves and the planeswalker Nissa Revane. The Joraga elves have little respect for any other race or even other elves. They see the survival of their nation as most important, and jealously guard their traditions. Many outsiders view their nomadic clans as roving bands of murderers, but there is a complex culture behind their aggressive exterior.
After splitting from the Joraga Nation, the Tajuru elves settled in Murasa and Tazeem. Large numbers of Joraga have made homes in the towering trees of the Oran-Rief forest, where they inhabit villages suspended from the treetops. The Tajuru are rumored to be the best guides in Zendikar. Using zip-lines and expert climbing techniques, the elves fearlessly span the gaps between branches or cliff faces."
Elves probably wouldn't need a write-up, racial feats would be enough.
QUESTS AND EXPEDITIONS (These can be viewed as fabled destinations, adventures to undertake)
- Khalni Heart Expedition (Akoum: Ora Onda, primal/green)
The effect in the MtG game was to draw land cards. It could mean discovering new places, new routes, or something more primal like having access to healing energy or good consumables. Plot-wise, it could mean finding a way to contrast threats to nature.
- Ior Ruin Expedition (Akoum: Glasspool, arcane/blue)
The effect of the card was to draw cards. It surely means something as gaining forgotten knowledge, usually arcane. Exploration-wise, it needs some kind of underwater adventuring, after having reached Glasspool. Plot-wise, there could be a race to obtain Ior's secrets, and the implications could be dangerous
- Soul Stair Expedition (Ondu, necromancy-shadow/black)
Picking cards from the graveyard can be very well interpreted as resurrecting dead beings or communicating with the dead. Plot-wise, the location could also be used for some really nasty necromancy ritual that the characters should try to stop, or some rituals could only be performed here and the characters would need to reach the place.
- Zektar Shrine Expedition (Akoum? Murasa? elemental/red)
It was an elemental summoning effect. It could be interpreted as a regional-scale weapon. Plot-wise, evil-doers controlling the Zektar Shrine could pose a threat to civilization, but there should be a limit to its use, it's not like it should have wide-spread political importance, maybe there's nothing to destroy in the vicinities, maybe the elemental is difficult to control once summoned.
- Sunspring Expedition (Murasa? divine-primal/white)
It provided healing, but it could be more than that, a place where the worst afflictions may be removed. Plot-wise, a character might need to be cured from a rare disease and thus need to be brought to the Sunspring.
MANA COLORS AND POWER SOURCES
One of the most obvious parallels between Magic and D&D, is between mana colors and power sources. They seem to be perfectly matched:
RED = ELEMENTAL
BLUE = ARCANE
BLACK = SHADOW
WHITE = DIVINE
GREEN = PRIMAL
However, this shouldn't be player characters-related as much as environment-related. After all, we don't have an Elemental power source for player characters (yet), and we have a Psionic power source, that doesn't completely fit any color (although Blue is close), but really fits Zendikar for the whole "answer to aberrant threat" theme, which is strong in Zendikar's Rise Of The Eldrazi.
Discussing within the community, it appears clear that Zendikar has a deep connection with the Elemental Chaos. So deep that it may in fact be treated as a particularly big Elemental Realm. In my opinion, it could have an inverted world axis, with Elemental and Astral being the closest planes and being somewhat parallel and easily accessible, while Feywild and Shadowfell could be more like far-flung dominions.
Another option would be to leave Feywild and Shadowfell as echo planes, but playing with Zendiakr's planar instability, making them not so much separate places as simple conditions that can affect Zendikar locally. Some places could "turn into" Feywild or Shadowfell.
Whatn should be the core of the Zendikar experience however is the mutability of the landscape, and for that, the influencable nature of the Elemental Chaos is the best option, although if interpreting Zendikar as a planet inside the Elemental Chaos, being indeed a planet and thus an enormous potion of stabilized chaos, it would be more difficult to influence it, requiring more than the skills of Heroic Tier characters.
The Astral Sea is another problematic place, after all. There are no true gods mentioned for Zendikar, since the gods that most venerate are just a memory of the Eldrazi distorted by the millennia. I'd say divine classes can exist, but they would receive power directly from the Astral Sea, without having to pray to a particular god.
The position of the Astral Sea in the cosmology is difficult if Zendikar is to be interpreted as an elemental realm. It could be a far place, or it could be exceptionally near, making Zendikar a world just between the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea.