Well, after reflecting on the suggestions in my Rivals of Ixalan Magic story recap, I made a plan to go through the history of the upcoming set Dominaria and reintroduce all of the old characters and settings we might see in our return to the plane as the details slowly trickle out over the next couple of weeks. Then we were hit with a surprise deluge of information following the Dominaria leak, which released almost two-thirds of the card names and rules text way ahead of schedule, so now I must adjust my plans.
Now I am going to break the History of Dominaria up into several parts over the next few weeks to get you to return to the website to read each installment make the deep and dense history of Dominaria more digestible. In this first part, I’ll discuss the history of the legendary characters and planeswalkers such as Karn and Jhoira that are making their triumphant return to Standard-legal sets (and hopefully taking a break from being a scourge on Modern). Future editions of this series will focus on the old settings, such as Shiv and Tolaria, and the history associated with each location over the more than 23 sets that have taken place on Dominaria. I’ll also dive into the Dominarian lore where I’ll quickly recap some of the major plot points that shaped the history of the plane such as the Times of Dragons, the Brothers’ War, the Phyrexian Invasion, the Time Rifts, and everything in between. The most exciting part will be the New Legends, and I will focus on the characters that are joining us for the first time such as Demonlord Belzenlok and Tetsuko Umezawa. Hopefully, by the time I reach the New Legends I will have some more information on these new characters released via the official Magic Story or additional spoilers.
As a disclaimer, I only started following the game in the last few years, so it’s entirely possible that I will get some details incorrect. Be sure to check the comments where I’m sure someone who knows more than me will have set the record straight.
Although Urza is unlikely to appear personally in the Dominaria story since he’s now a disembodied head relegated to joke sets, he is a central part of the history of the plane. In fact, several cards in the leak reference him in just the card names such as Karn, Scion of Urza, Urza’s Tome, and Urza’s Ruinous Blast, and there will undoubtedly be more references in the flavor texts and the official Magic Story.
A native of Argive on Dominaria, Urza and his younger brother Mishra were sent away as children to become students of archeology. The brothers had a natural affinity for ancient artifacts of the Thran and learned to reverse engineer their technology. In the Caves of Koilos, they inadvertently unsealed a portal to Phyrexia by removing the Mightstone and the Meekstone, which they divided between them. Each stone granted different powers and each secretly coveted the other’s, which led to a feud between the brothers. This resulted in the death of the brothers’ friend and mentor, Tocasia. Leaving the archaeology job in the dust, Urza won a contest to marry the ruler’s daughter so that he could gain access to the Thran Tome in her dowry and, unbeknownst to him, be named Chief Artificer.
Urza’s new home fought in the Brother’s War against his brother, Mishra, who allied himself with the Phyrexians and a band of nomads. The battle ended with the detonation of an ancient magical object that affected the entire plane, caused the Ice Age, killed Mishra, and ignited Urza’s planeswalker spark. Urza vowed vengeance on Phyrexia and its ruler, Yawgmoth, for corrupting his brother.
Overcome with survivor’s guilt and feeling responsible for not being able to save his brother, Urza fell into a deep depression and resorted to attempting to resurrect his brother until his assistant found an individual that looked like Mishra, and together they helped to give him closure. Fearing the Phyrexians would return, Urza created a series of academies on Tolaria and summoned the most powerful mages in the realm, including Teferi. Around this time, Urza also used the Heartstone from his deceased former assistant and infused it with a silver golem. There was an explosion on Tolaria, destroying the academy and causing time rifts. Karn and Urza survived.
Eventually, he rebuilt the academy and used the time rifts to catch up in the arms race against the Phyrexians. He also allied many of the races of Dominaria, including Multani of Yavimaya. He then built the Skyship Weatherlight, which allowed him to planeswalk with others and go on the offensive against Phyrexia. He started building a weapon and devised a genetics program he dubbed the Bloodline Project to design the Gerrard Capashen to wield it.
Urza betrayed Dominaria when the time came to destroy all of Phyrexia. He could not bring himself to do it, since it was an entirely artificial plane and he was still an artificer and a curious scholar. Surrendering to Yawgmoth, Urza wanted to join the Phyrexians, but Yawgmoth made him battle Gerrard Capashen in a Phyrexian Arena to prove his loyalty. Gerrard beheaded him, but Urza was so powerful that he could still talk as a disembodied head, and told Gerrard that the Mightstone and the Meekstone, which now were Urza’s eyes, could be fused with Karn, the Legacy Weapon, and Gerrard’s life-force to defeat Yawgmoth. Karn became infused with Urza’s planeswalker spark as Urza, Gerrard, and Yawgmoth died in the ensuing blast.
Up next is Teferi of Zhalfir. As a child, he possessed considerable magical talent and often used his skills to pull pranks and make jokes. Urza brought him to study at Tolaria to hone his abilities with many of the other talented mages on Dominaria in order to establish of defense against the impending Phyrexian invasion. Eventually, a skirmish broke out with the Phyrexians and both Teferi and Jhoira were killed. Possessing time-traveling technology, Urza sent Karn back in time to prevent the attacks. Although the mission was successful, the time machine overheated, a large explosion occurred, and the timeline surrounding Tolaria was permanently distorted. Teferi was trapped in a bubble of slow time for years until Jhoira devised a plan to save him. Inorganic matter could safely travel through time so it is lucky they had an animated inorganic friend on the scene and an immensely powerful wizard who could pull him back to the present.
Teferi became a royal mage on his home continent of Zhalfir and eventually the protector of the region. Teferi later sparked into a planeswalker and decided to travel the planes and create guilds to aid the country while he was absent. When he returned, chaos had fallen, and most of the factions were in conflict. Teferi grew tired of trying to solve everyone’s problems and decided to go make his own on the Chaza Isles where he began to manipulate time. His experiments were disastrous, and everything on the island began to phase out of existence. Teferi and everything on the isle vanished for many years, eventually returning, and the island was thrust into the middle of a battle to harness the energy behind his time magic. Feeling very guilty for all of the time meddling and that the entire island suffered because of his experiments, Teferi ignored outside conflict and attempted to repair the time rifts. Not learning from his past mistakes and despite protests from Urza, Teferi phased out the entire continent of Shiv to protect it from a Phyrexian invasion.
Three hundred years later, Teferi and Jhoira returned to Dominaria to phase in their homelands of Shiv and Zhalfir. After losing a battle to Nicol Bolas in Planar Chaos, Teferi gave up his planeswalker spark to permanently close the time distortions that he helped to spread around Dominaria.
From the Dominaria leak we can see that Teferi has somehow regained his spark and decides to join the Gatewatch. Teferi is one of my favorite characters, so I am excited to see him become a regular cast member.
Karn was created from silver in the Tolarian Academy because Urza’s experimentation revealed that only silver could pass through time unharmed. To make him more anthropomorphic, Urza gave his creation his assistant’s Heartstone, which gave him a personality and intelligence. Originally placed under the care of Teferi, Karn learned about his surroundings. Teferi bullied him, even going as far as naming him Arty Shovelhead. Jhoira eventually took over Karn’s teachings from Teferi because she felt he was too immature. She is the one that named him Karn, meaning “mighty” in Thran. A Phyrexian sleeper agent infiltrated the school and killed Jhoira, causing Karn to convince Urza to let him go back in time to prevent it. The mission was successful, but the time machine malfunctioned while he was away, which caused an explosion that destroyed the academy, and the fabric of time around Tolaria was destroyed.
Years later, Karn and Urza returned to Tolaria to rebuild the academy and discovered that Jhoira and Teferi were still alive, with the latter trapped in a slowed time bubble. After rescuing them, Karn wandered aimlessly through Dominaria and beyond with the help of the Weatherlight, never understanding his purpose. Karn spiraled into depression as Urza and Jhoira moved on with their lives and he was lonely.
A noted pacifist, Karn often resorted to negotiations and appealing to logic, even on one occasion in Stronghold convincing the Sliver Queen to return the Legacy artifacts to him. During the Phyrexian invasion Karn was instrumental in fighting after he suspended his pacifist ways. Karn became infused with the Legacy weapon and Urza’s planeswalker spark, and became the only known artificial planeswalker.
Karn used his new abilities to create an artificial plane, Argentum, and created Memnarch from the Mirari, but still felt like he lacked a purpose in life. He began to wander the planes, unknowingly spreading Phyrexian glistening oil wherever he went. Thousands of years later Karn returned to Argentum to discover that Memnarch had become corrupted by the oil and turned the plane into Mirrodin. Turning Memnarch back into the Mirari, Karn returned to Dominaria to seal the time rifts with Jhoira to prevent them from tearing the multiverse apart. Karn accidentally became corrupted with the Phyrexian oil. Venser later sacrificed his life and planeswalker spark to liberate Karn from Phyrexian control.
Jhoira was a student at the Tolarian Academy along with Teferi and Karn, known for her skills as an artificer and pyromancy. She inadvertently gave a Phyrexian sleeper agent access to the academy after they fell in love. The ensuing attack destroyed the academy and Jhoira was stranded there for many years until Karn and Urza found her. She discovered time water, which was collected from the time rifts and prevented aging, allowing her to live for centuries. She became the captain of the Weatherlight and later partnered with Teferi to bring back phased out continents, such as her home of Shiv.
She returns in Dominaria as captain of the Weatherlight and is still a skilled artificer. Since she is featured in the advertising material prominently, I would assume that she will be more of a central character in this visit to the plane.
Squee was a goblin crewmember of the Weatherlight. He had above average intelligence and loyalty—for Dominarian goblins at least—and proved himself useful on the ship and in battle. He was given immortality so that a corrupted Ertai and cursed Crovax could torment him for eternity, but Squee accidentally killed Ertai and escaped.
He returns in Dominaria as Squee, the Immortal with a name and ability that references the abilities granted to him by Yawgmoth.
Jodah was a powerful wizard who was a central character during Dominaria’s Dark Age and Ice Age. Born into wealth several generations after the Brothers’ War that was fought by his direct ancestors Urza and Mishra, Jodah decided to travel the world when he was a young adult. During his adventures he unknowingly submerged himself in time water, which drastically slowed his aging. He activated an enchanted mirror designed to trigger planeswalker sparks when he was near death. Although he was not a planeswalker, it healed him, and he used the mirror to trigger Jaya Ballard’s spark and save her from mind control from a powerful wizard’s horcrux that was already possessing a necromancer.
Jodah later partnered with Jhoira to close the time rifts during Planar Chaos and there was chemistry between the two immortal humans. He is shown still alive in Dominaria as an Eternal Archmage.
Because Jaya was not introduced to the storyline until Ice Age not much is known about her childhood other than that she was a former thief until she attempted to steal something from Jodah unsuccessfully. Jodah recognized her potential and invited her to study wizardry. She quickly dropped out and decided to travel instead as a task-mage, or a mercenary spellcaster. She later rescued Jodah from the necromancer Lim-Dul, and saved Jodah from his insanity with the help of Freyalise. Many years later Jodah returned the favor after saving her from mind control and triggering her planeswalker spark.
At the end of the Rivals of Ixalan story, Jaya is on the Weatherlight with Gideon.
In the war against the Phyrexians, the inhabitants of Dominaria tried just about everything in their desperation. This included Darigaaz, a dragon of Dominaria, who attempted to resurrect the five mythical Primeval Dragons. The corpse of the red Primeval in Shiv was the first found, but he was unable to resurrect it since it had already been defeated by the Phyrexians. He sought out the green Primeval in Yavimaya, and was successful in freeing Rith from dormancy using the corpse of a usurper. Rith commanded Darigaaz and his dragons to find the other Primevals and they were compelled to listen. In Argive they found the body of the white Primeval, and Rith allowed four Dragonlords to inadvertently sacrifice their lives to free Treva. The party traveled into the ocean to find Dromar’s cavern, and the blue Primeval was protected by Zombie Merfolk. Dromar was admiring his treasure, and Rith convinced him to leave by destroying much of his treasure. Darigaaz finds out that he is actually the red Primeval since apparently that title travels to a new vessel when the previous Primeval is killed. The four Primevals must sacrifice themselves in Urborg so that Crosis, the black Primeval will awaken and then use his powers to resurrect them.
Having finally reunited the whole dragon gang, Darigaaz and the other Primevals ascended to Super Saiyan-like status and began to conquer Dominaria. Darigaaz attacked the Weatherlight in rage until Karn spoke to his mind. Darigaaz was temporarily returned to his senses and observed the destruction the dragons were causing. He decided to sacrifice himself in a volcano to reduce the power of all the other dragons so that they could be defeated.
Multani is a tree spirit that protects the forests of Yavimaya and eventually agreed to assist Urza in the fight against the Phyrexians. In preparations for war, the forest replaced him with a new protector of the forest, but Multani later regained the title when Rofellos decided that he did not want to do it anymore and returned home. When the Phyrexians invaded, Yavimaya was the only place on the plane that was not yet ravaged by the war. Recognizing that the plane was facing an apocalypse, he transplanted part of his forests to Urborg to join the battle. The sheer effort of this task used up much of his power and he disappeared.
That’s all of the legendary creatures that I know about from the leak that have history on the plane. Later editions of my History of Dominaria will focus on the setting and stories that shape the plane, and the new historic spells with callbacks to previous lore, such as Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy and Song of Freyalise. Can’t wait to dive deeper into the story with you!
What did I miss? Whose return are you most anticipating? What other characters do you hope appear in the set? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments!