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Monday, December 7, 2009

Phyrexia: Past Present and Future

It has become fairly well accepted that the magic story line will be diverging back to the Phyrexian threat by way of Mirrodin. Wizard's recent trade marks have made that a certainty. I thought this would be a good time to walk the path of history of just how Phyrexia became connected to Mirrodin, and where that connection is likely to lead us.

Phyrexia is an artificial plane of entirely mechanical "life" created by an ancient planeswalker. Little is known of this planeswalker, aside from the fact that he preferred to assume the form of a dragon. There are many who believe that this dragon may be none other then Nicol Bolis himself, having created this plane for some purpose either abandoned, or yet to be utilized, or perhaps even forgotten by the monster during the crisis, and the reshaping. This would tie the two best established "evil" story lines in Magic into one unified set.


The plane consisted of nine nested spheres, each with its own purpose and, often, mechanical ecosystem. This world was not so different from Mirrodin (a single sphere artificial plane) until Yawgmoth arrived, brought there by the planeswalker Dyfed. Dyfed was also  convinced by Glacian to rescue the elders of the empire, whom Yawgmoth had imprisoned. She took them, along with a number of goblin servants, to the plane of Mercadia, where they would become the ancestors of the Mercadians, and the Kyren. The Plane of Mercadia later allied itself with Phyrexia, and was used as a staging area for the Invasion.

Yawgmoth, with the remnants and descendants of the phthisis-inflicted Thran humans whom he "saved" through the process he referred to as "Phyresis" (essentially the replacement of weak mortality with artifice) came here when they were forced out of the Thran Empire as traitors. The ensuing war destroyed the nation of the Thran.The Phyrexians' main purpose after their entrapment in the plane was to invade and destroy their old home of Dominaria. Many years were spent preparing for this invasion, with various plans, weapons, and soldiers being created throughout the ages. Also aware that their artificial home plane would collapse after some time, the survival of the Phyrexian way depended upon the successful entrance into Dominaria and the defeat of its life forms. The Phyrexians waited, plotted, and built up their forces for the time when their way would be clear into the old world.


The first stage of any Phyrexian's life is that of the Newt. These creatures are grown in vats of glistening oil, and appear as androgynous, hairless humans. They are grown to adulthood then prepared and released for life in the dark plane. Newts are later put through a process called completion. At this point, they are transformed into other forms of Phyrexians to serve any of a number of purposes for Yawgmoth. Sleeper agents are fully grown and sometimes genetically modified newts who have not been completed, appearing as regular human beings, sent to spy on other planes and perform clandestine operations outside of Phyrexia. Some are completely unaware of their status and task, simply dropped off on other planes to be used as hidden cameras.

On one of Urza's post awakening travels, he met Xantcha, a Phyrexian sleeper agent that had gone rogue and had been exiled from her home plane. He rescued Xantcha from her executioners and, in return, Xantcha helped Urza to invade Phyrexia. It was never clear if Xantache was truly an outcast of Phyrexia as she believed, or simply an unaware agent of doom.

During their invasion of Phyrexia, Xantcha had gone to the Fane of Flesh and gained her life matrix, a device she called her "heart". This was powerstone with in her at the time of her rending, which was removed during her first moments of life. It was a major part of Phyrexian scripture that Yawgmoth controlled the phyrexian through their heart. Xantacha was killed several mulenia later, when Urza destroyed Gix at the third battle of Koilos. Xantachs heart was retained by Urza after "her" death.


Roughly three centuries later, Urza utilized Xantachs heart as the Power Matrix he had designed as a probe to travel back through time, ultimatly to stop the Thran from becoming the Phyrexians. This matrix heart granted the probe true inteligence and sentiance, in many ways life. The probe eventually took the name Karn, meaning "mighty" in the old Thran language. Karn spent much of his esistance in a state of depresion, feeling that he had no purpose, after teh Time Machines destruction in the first deense of Tolaria. Karn gained new purpose as part of the Legacy, and a member of the weatherlight crew, fighting Phyrexia's plots on the plane for centuries.

To keep Karn from overburdening the human portions of Legacy, Karn's long memories were locked away, leaving him only a few decades of recollection. Karn took a vow of pacifism, swearing never again to take a life, after having ben tricked into killing an innocent bystander during his duties with the Legacy. Early in the Phyrexian Invasion, Karn realized his vow of pacifism kept him from protecting his friends and his homeworld. He spent much of his time in the Weatherlight's engine core, guiding the ship as it improved itself and further integrated the Legacy. Finally, as all hope of victory seemed lost, Karn united with Urza and Gerrard. When Gerrard placed Urza's powerstone eyes, the Mightstone and Weakstone (collectivly known as the Glacian stone), into Karn, the Legacy released a wave of white mana, destroying the Phyrexians and defeating Yawgmoth. Karn inherited the Planewalker spark, when Urza's lifeforce was consumed in the fighting of the Invasion. Karn eventually relized that Urza's spark made his "heart" power matrix redundant, and sought a new use for it.


Karn later created Argentum, a plane of mathematical perfection. He sent probes to monitor Dominaria, but one of them was flawed and became the Mirari. It was an artifact of unspeakable power that appeared on Otaria roughly a century after the Phyrexian Invasion. The word “mirari” was an ancient word for a fantastic wish-granting artifact and the Mirari certainly matched that description, tapping into its wielder's desires and making them real. However, the Mirari had been created from Karn's former heart stone, and leaked radiation, inevitably caused disaster to strike the bearer, usually leading to their death. Another effect it had was that it caused intense longing in those that saw it, causing many individuals to become obsessed with owning it. It initiated a devastating cycle of warfare and magical disasters across Otaria before it was retrieved by its creator, Karn, who had only intended for it to be a probe.


Karn took it to his artificial plane, Argentum, where he used it as the core of the golumn he created as the plane's guardian, Memnarch. Karn and left to wander the multiverse with Jeska. Mennarch was a sentient version of the Mirari driven mad by Phyrexian oil which had followed Karn and Jeska from Dominaria. As steward of Argentum while Karn was away, Memnarch wished to become a planeswalker like his creator. To that end, he transformed Argentum into Mirrodin, a planet-sized machine able to transfer a planeswalker's spark from one being into another. His attempts to find a planeswalker spark led him to populate Mirrodin with beings from other planes, and wait for a spark owner. There were five districts of Mirodin, one for each color.

The Mephidross (or Dross, for short) is a swamp of sludge, hazardous chemicals and waste, broken and cast off machines, and corroding metal on the world of Mirrodin. Necrogen, a vile mist-like chemical that transforms those exposed for too long, fills the air, belched from odd structures called "smokestacks." This area is very reminiscent of the fourth sphere of Phyrexia, were newts are distilled, but here zombies awake from the oily chemical much of the Dross. Nim, a race of zombies, occupied the Dross. They were very numerous and, along with the already horrible conditions of the environment, made this region inhospitable to most life.

The inner core of Mirrodin is very similiar to the ninth sphere, here the panoptican served much the same purpose as the ninth sphere. The Quicksilver Sea is large body of liquid mercury on Mirrodin, very similiar to the sea of oil found on the fifth sphere of Phyrixia. The Oxidda Chain is a series of large slopes and elevated plateaus of oxidized metals, probably rusted iron, the Great Furnace, lies on the inside of a gargantuan hollow mountain, not unlike the second and third spheres of Phyrexia itself.

The white area is the Razorfields, the "razorgrass" that grow there, plants that appear to be long metallic rods with blade-like edges. The green area of the plane is the Tangle, a huge expanse of copper structures rising out of the metal ground, encased in green verdigris and mold, with wires and metal extensions serving as leaves and vines, is the closest thing to a forest on Mirrodin. These area is strickingly similiar to the first sphere of Phyrexia. The tangle is were he ultimatly found a spark.

When he identified Glissa Sunseeker's spark, he became obsessed with capturing her and stealing it for himself. Even though he succeeded in extracting the spark, he couldn't take it for himself, and it was transfered to Slobad. Millennia later, Karn returned to Argentum, he turned Memnarch back into the Mirari and left it in the care of Glissa, Slobad, and Geth.

So there we have it Mirrodin, and artificial plane, formed of a single mostly hollow layer, orbited by 5 moons of pure mana. This single layer has areas strickingly similiar to the make up of Phyrexia.  Inhabited by a sentient, and somewhat insane powerstone of Phyrexian origin, an utold amount of scuttlers at the core, a Viridian elf of unknown origin, a goblin which was briefly a planeswalker, the disembodied head of Geth, and an unknown amount of Phyrexian oil. We know that a Phyrexian incursian can rise from a single Phyrexian, or the effects of the oil on a single creature. Who knows what sort of foothold could grow from this?

1 comment:

SpudMuffin said...

Decent article, although some spell-checking wouldn't hurt.

"There are many who believe that this dragon may be none other then Nicol Bolis himself"

Then there are many who are wrong. In the book The Thran (the same one detailing most of the events you describe here), when Yawgmoth finally visits the innermost sphere of what will become Phyrexia, he finds the rotting corpse of the dragon planeswalker who created the plane. It was not Nicol Bolas.