Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Pitch: Rewriting Magic The Gathering Lore As A TV Show

So for years I've wanted to make a Magic the Gathering television show. A show that would translate the flavor and mechanics of  Magic the Gathering into televsion form.

Because of the rights involved I am fully aware that chances are slim such an endeavor would happen and even slimmer that I would be at the head so I have no reservations about publicly sharing my pitch.

Basic Premise
The conceit of at least the first season would be that an event happens in our world or a world similar enough which ignites the spark of several planeswalkers who unwittedly walk to the same world. These aren't people who necessarily know each other though they might.

While we the audience may know that these people may be some of the most powerful wizards around they don't. All they know is that they aren't where they used to be. They are all of a sudden in a place that operates on fantasy rules, and have to learn how to survive in that world, So Hai to Gensou no Grimgar crossed The Twelve Kingdoms with a little Spellbinder  and Lost thrown in for good measure.

I really do have enough faith in the rules and potential conflict of these types of fish out of water stories that I think it is enough for the plot to be about explaining this new world and watching character's reactions to those explanations.  But if I did have to settle on a plot it would be the slow reveal of how Planeswalkers are different for normal average everyday wizards. In the later seasons you can walk to different planes perhaps even the established ones, the characters would be developed and established enough that complex fantasy stories could be told. But for the first season I would really like to focus on world building with a very essential element as the myth arc. What is a planeswalker?

Planeswalkers are rare enough in Magic the Gathering to by godlike mythological beings in their own right spoken of only in myth and legend. A regular wizard would not be able to recognize one let alone teach one. How these characters come into and own that revelation is the plot. Do they read the old scrolls? Do they come into it inductively? Do they meet other Planeswalkers? And once they do how does that realization affect their sense of self, goals and motivations in this new world?

It would essentially be an origin story of some Magic the Gathering's most powerful beings.

Having them be unaware of magic and the type of power they wield would allow for their character to be demonstrated before color pie assumptions are made before the audience can decide which character represents black and therefore will be a villain and so forth.

In this series color would be subtle mostly being referenced by the story context but it would also be visually referenced by the effects.

As for story context color would be conveyed by the personalities of the characters and the types of spells they choose to master and use. Also for the sake of our walkers where they first land when they walk.

I wouldn't necessarily stick to basic land types but certain types of settings have been associated with certain types of colors. So a red character might first walk into a gladiatorial arena, or a city's seedier parts while a green character might find themselves not in the wild but in a noble's gardens.

At some point in time I would also like use color to visualize and represent character growth. One of my favorite episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender was, "The Firebending Masters", which metaphysically acknowledged and explained the character development of its resident fire wielder.

I would like at least one or two similar events of the show where a character learns that their magic is acting, differently because of some shift in personality, that they have more ease or difficulty using certain spells than others as a result.

It would make a great moment for a world of cardboard speech.

When I was playing magic the gathering my Vorthos gave great thought to how summoning worked and in a way that question is what birthed these ideas. For me there are two ways to summon creatures.

The first is creating a construct from scratch which something that only the most skilled of wizards could accomplish and that eventually be the case for our Planeswalkers but not at first as they wouldn't know they have that type of power more easily accessible to them.

More simply they would form a kind of magical contract and pull that contractor creature from wherever it is they are to where the magus is.

I thought it would be an interesting rule that until mastering their abilities our mages could only summon creatures they had directly interacted with. This would be why green wizards are better able to summon creatures. They have a proclivity for interacting with animals and beasts.

Eventually most walkers would gain spells that allowed them to interact and contract with creatures from a distance granting them immense power but each of these would be dependent upon how these characters conceptualize the mind which is an aspect of color depicted by the game's tutors and "portal cards" but rarely discussed within the context of the color pie.

Our planeswalkers would generally be the only ones that could summon beings from across the multiverse because they are the only ones that can, "travel" foreshadowing exactly what they are even before they are aware of it.

In most Magic the Gathering settings Planeswalkers are rare and nearly mythological.  There are only a couple dozen of them running around through out the entirety of the multiverse. The walkers can have the basic rules of magic exposited to them but planeswalking they have to figure out for themselves.

One of the best clues for what they are is how I envision legends working.

For the purposes of the show and my Vorthos a legend is any creature iconic enough that it is irreplaceable. That instead of "a" one must use "the" when describing it.

For sapient creature summons I view this as when who these summoned characters are is more important than what that character is.  These are characters with personalities strong enough to pull a story, to inform a plot.

If my summoning logic holds the first few creatures the walkers will summon may be beings they interacted with on their home world. To introduce the concept early I might have one of them summon their pet (or good ole Grizzlies) in the pilot but eventually I think it would be interesting if one of them somehow managed to summon a person. It would create an interesting character dynamic.

Would that person have willingly come or be unaware of the implications of such a contract, why was that person summoned their skills, their knowledge, their personality, their relationship? How does that person interact in this new world where they may not have the acquired knowledge or powers of the walker in this point in the story? What role would they take on in the walker's party? Would they be able to adapt the skills of their unmagical profession into a traditional fantasy role?

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