There are plenty of interesting characters in the multiverse of Magic the Gathering. My only problem is that they always get killed off far too quickly and easily. However, there are a lot of interesting characters which can be used in gamebooks. I will look at two from the Ice Age, Alliances and Coldsnap sets.
They are the friendly enemy double act of Arcum Dagsson and Sorine Relicbane.
The world they live in is now covered in a permanent winter bought on by a huge explosion caused by Urza at the end of the Brother's war.
The war had been fought between Urza and his brother Mishra with artifacts inspired by the designs of a lost race known as the Thran. Urza caused a huge explosion (the equivalent of several nuclear warheads) in a battle between his army and his brother's army. Just before he caused it, he discovered that the Mishra he was fighting was not actually Mishra, but a robot replacement from the evil machine hell known as Phyrexia.
Some of these Phyrexian relics have been found in the Ice age and Arcum Dagsson, an artificer of the country of Soldev really wants to use them to make his own artefacts in order to help his land, which, like most civilisations is beset from the harsh weather and cruel monsters. However, Relicbane a Soldevi heretic (because he hates machines), fearful of the disaster of the Brother's war and the horrors from Phyrexia want all of these artefacts to be destroyed. They both have valid points of view. For example, Dagsson has several useful items:
But Relicbane is fearful of another war with machines which may have even worse consequences than a plane wide ice age.
"I implore you not to forget the horrors of the past. You would have us start the Brothers' War anew!"
He thinks that there is a cult which wants to open a portal to Phyrexia and let its horrors loose on their plane, destroying all life.
"Rumors persist of dark deeds performed in the depths of Soldev. When will Dagsson heed the danger therein?"
At one point, Dagsson has to defend himself in a tribunal and the debate between the two is written in the flavour text on many Magic cards. Dagsson demonstrates several artefacts that can be helpful towards the people of Soldev.
However, Relicbane counters by pointing out some of the more dangerous and twisted artefacts.
"Let any who doubt the evil of using the ancient devices look at this infernal machine. What manner of fiend would design such a sadistic device?"
However, Dagsson can't stop focusing on all the secrets and wonders that his artefacts have uncovered.
The trouble is that both men refuse to compromise. Dagsson loves machines to the point where he has forgotten that the ice age that he is living in was caused by them.
In the end, it is revealed that there is a secret cult which wants to open a portal to Phyrexia and they use Dagsson's steam beasts as part of their plan. Dagsson is mortified.
They cause widespread devestation, but Relicbane gets no joy from seeing this happen. They are both on the same side after all and they both wanted the best for their people.
Dagsson, however, refused to see that Phyrexian machines are evil and want to destroy all life. He still wanted to replicate them despite living in an ice age caused by a
war between artefacts, half of them Phyrexian.
|I like the way the artist used the
victim's perspective on this card..
This conflict is different to most of the conflicts in gamebooks and in Magic the Gathering in that both of the opponents want the best for Soldev, but they have different opinions on what is best. No blood is spilt between them and I feel that Relicbane takes no joy in taking this stance. He would love Soldev to thrive but he thinks that any machines would lead to its destruction. His mistake is taking a too extreme stance against artefacts. It is clear that those not of Phyrexian origin are purely beneficial and so by demanding that all artefacts should be destroyed, he alienates any sign of credibility and deserves having his claims being called hysterical.
Dagssson can see that improper use of machines is dangerous but he goes too far and he is blinded by his passion for artifice and so he goes too far. His mistake is delving into Phyrexian lore. If he had stuck with making things himself, then he would have made some great harmless artefacts. Steambeasts, however, were able to be controlled by the Phyrexian cult and so they were turned upon Soldev.
Its a complicated story that goes beyond the prevalent and simple 'kill the sorcerer' plot and using an antagonist with the same goals but a different approach would add more depth to a gamebook and more possibilities with the hero's response.