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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:38 am 
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One and a half years ago, I made a thread in which I tried to compile relevant information about Ulgrotha in order to make sense of seemingly contradictory pieces of lore and to shed some light (pun intended) on the possible status of the plane today. Since then, a new snippet of information has been released, and an older snippet has come to my awareness. I didn't get around to tackling it last year, because my life was a living hell back then, but being the obsessive conscientious scholar squirrel that I am, I like seeing all the information updated and compiled in one place. I would even argue that the old Sengir lore suddenly became more relevant again with the return to Dominaria and the introduction of Arvad the Cursed and Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood. Heck, if I'm being completely honest with myself, all I want is for someone at WotC to come across this stuff and at least acknowledge and consider it just in case Ulgrotha ever becomes relevant again. I think we all want to see it done right if that ever happens, so it can't harm to get some of the heavy lifting out of the way...

Since I don't want to necro the old thread, I'll just drop a link to it here (and maybe edit a link to this new one into the old one to connect the two for maximum obsessiveness completeness): viewtopic.php?f=18&t=21707

With the long-winded introductions out of the way, what is all the fuss about now? Well, for starters, remember when I unearthed that article by Matt Cavotta from 2006 (at least nod politely and pretend that you do)? In it, he made it sound like Ravi never was a planeswalker and had always been an ordinary wizard who got dragged around the multiverse by her planeswalker master, leading me to the following conclusion: "But regardless of that, the parts about Ravi being 'a wizard' and the parallels that are drawn to the Baron's arrival on Ulgrotha and hers makes me wonder whether they intended to retcon Ravi's backstory behind the scenes at the time to take away her planeswalkerhood."

Now, as if that wasn't weird enough in and of itself, I've since been made aware of an interview that Pete Venters gave in 1996 - ten years before Cavotta wrote his article (big shout out to Squirle for digging it up on his blog): http://multiverseinreview.blogspot.com/ ... ecial.html
In the interview, Venters revealed another layer of inofficial shadow continuity that doesn't involve any retcons but also suggest that Ravi isn't a 'walker (anymore). I'll quote Squirle's summary of that piece of information (emphasis mine):

"Pete Venters says that Grandmother Sengir is no longer a planeswalker due to the Apocalypse Chime, and her powers are waning further. The Homelands Document kept referring to her as a planeswalker though. We appear to have some dueling shadow continuities here!"

Next to Cavotta's article, that would make three contradictory pieces of shadow continuity!

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Now, on to the Ulgrotha reference that is actually from a newer story, namely Brandon Sanderson's novella Children of the Nameless (which I enjoyed a lot btw). We learn that the creepy-looking symbols Davriel paints on the walls with an ink spell actually spell out a harmless recipe for buttered scones... in Old Ulgrothan! Now, this might seem trivial at first, just a random throwaway line like that reference to Cabralin that Davriel makes elsewhere. But think about it for a moment. We can calculate from the story that Davriel is 49 years old (16 years away from his 65th birthday when Crunchgnar would get his soul), meaning he was born after the Mending. But wouldn't him knowing that recipe - and presumably the language it was written in - suggest that he probably picked it up on Ulgrotha, which must have happened in the last few decades or even years? What I'm getting at is that this makes it seem rather unlikely that modern day Ulgrotha is either a) a lifeless wasteland, or b) overrun by vampires and on the brink of collapse.

If that implies what I take it to imply, then the most likely scenario would be that the Baron and most if not all of his army made it through the portal, invading another world and leaving Ulgotha to itself. If we also assume that it isn't a liveless wasteland, that can only mean that Serra and Feroz were successful in their cultivating efforts and the plane's mana has recovered from the effects of the Apocalypse Chime. Granted, if WotC doesn't want that reference in Children of the Nameless to mean anything or if it contradicts any plans they might have for Ulgrotha, they could wiggle their way out of it in a number of ways. But I think the status quo I just outlined always was the ideal case: It would allow for a resolution of the vampire invasion plot and also leave Ulgrotha intact as a setting. Technically that still leaves whatever magical darkness/night/twilight the plane might have been covered in, but that could easily have dissipated after the vampires left and stopped maintaining it...

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So what do you think about the status of Grandmother Sengir aka Ravi? If they ever bring her back, would you like her to be a planeswalker or not? How would you handle her character?

And do you think I'm reading too much into Davriel's reference to Ulgrotha or are you on board with my reasoning?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:46 am 
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I'm surprised that they wanted to strip Ravi of her walker powers, seeing as she already couldn't use them. From a storyteller's perspective they were already in an advantageous position where they could have her use or not use her powers as they saw fit.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:42 pm 
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Ulgrotha may possibly be a wasteland but with some planeswalker/s that remember it and keep its culture alive.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:58 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
I'm surprised that they wanted to strip Ravi of her walker powers, seeing as she already couldn't use them. From a storyteller's perspective they were already in an advantageous position where they could have her use or not use her powers as they saw fit.
From Matt Cavotta's perspective in 2006? No idea. From Pete Venters' perspective in 1996, though, my guess is that perhaps he was trying to justify the existence of Grandmother Sengir's card. Keep in mind that this was several years before Blind Seer, so at the time there was no precedence for active planeswalkers being creature cards (Dakkon Blackblade had this loophole in the comic where Geyadrone Dihada suppressed his powers to be able to enslave him with an amulet and summon him to battle). It would also explain why Feroz and Serra don't realise she's a planeswalker when they are around her in the comic (from the top of my head, at least I'm pretty sure they don't). Then again, the Homelands comic feels like one of the more nerfed depictions of Oldwalkers in general, so some details are bound to be a little bit off... Heck, maybe they just wanted her to become a vampire, which would clash with her being a 'walker either way because Sengir vampires are undead.

When/if we see Ravi again, I'd prefer her to still be a planeswalker (at least in most conceivable scenarios), but I will admit that Pete Venter's version makes at least some degree of sense. It might as well mean that she is "no longer a planeswalker" in the way Ob Nixilis was "no longer a planeswalker" during his time on Zendikar, meaning that maybe she could still have her spark and it just needs to be reignited. That might make for an interesting plot point if it's done right, though it would probably be too similar to previous stories involving Bolas or Ob Nixilis... What isn't an option in my book is retconning her backstory from the comic and pretending she never was a 'walker to begin with, if that's what Cavotta's article is trying to suggest. Though I have to say I'm glad he's ignoring that ludicrous, self-contradictory anthology story, because that would certainly be my way of handling the Homelands continuity.

I guess the Mending made the issue of what to do with her character even more complicated, though the fact that planeswalkers' age didn't actually catch up with them after the Mending (except for that one time when the plot dictated that it should :wha: ) removes one of those complications. I can't help but feel that they brought in Elixir of Immortality for a reason...


Ulgrotha may possibly be a wasteland but with some planeswalker/s that remember it and keep its culture alive.
You mean their buttered scones might have a bit of a cult following? ;)

I mean, yeah, something like that could be the case, though I think it's not that high on the list of likely scenarios. Most of the 'walkers that are currently active would be too young to remember it before it died (if indeed it did), and why would they care about some dead old plane anyway? Granted, maybe Grampa Sandruu is going around being all sentimental and handing out pastries, but I certainly think someone like Davriel couldn't care less. Though now that I think about it, one thing about Ulgrotha that someone like Davriel might be interested in even if it's a wasteland... is the reason why it's a wasteland.

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Tell why Truth must fight with Falsehood, and why Truth will always win."
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