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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:55 pm 
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Cato wrote:
You know, that blurb sounded kinda old school and like Magic's "classic" IP in a really satisfying way at first, but they lost me at "Gatewatch". If this is still what Magic is going to be all about going forward, I'm glad I stepped away from their lore and most of their new sets.

According to Ethan, the Gatewatch arc was the highest engagement has ever gotten with the magic story. I'm personally not a fan, but other people seem to like it, so WotC is probably going to keep doing it.
I think several people at WotC have said that, and I'm not saying it's not true, but I don't really trust Wizards as a company to always analyse cause and effect correctly. I'd attribute the increase in engagement to the efforts WotC has made to promote the storyline in general, not to something inherent in the Gatewatch in particular. The way I see it, the post-Mending storyline had really found its footing several blocks before the Gatewatch was even introduced. They'd introduced weekly short stories on the website, and those had become the medium for the main storyline with Tarkir block. They'd successfully intertwined different characters and their stories so that familiar faces would pop up more regularly (Elspeth, Ajani, Sarkhan, Bolas, Tezzeret...). I think it merely took a while for the level of engagement to catch up with the improvements that had been made prior to the Gatewatch era, and Wotc's efforts to promote the storyline certainly had something to do with it as well. Sure, there probably were people who enjoyed the Gatewatch exactly for what it was, but then again, WotC is calculating with an average "player lifespan" of about two years, or so rumour has it. Even if those alleged two years are exaggerated, I'm pretty sure it can't be much more than that. So what I'm saying is, they don't really care about sustainability, they try to get new players into the game and milk them for a while until they lose interest and leave. And I've met people like that in real life. I'd say you can always enjoy the Gatewatch for a while if you're new to Magic until you get bored or frustrated with the game and move on to something else, in which case you also wouldn't notce the myriad retcons and inconsistencies that keep cropping up. So I don't think all the people who engaged with the Gatewatch storyline were necessarily the same people the whole time. You really only have to look at the state of most formats or all of the bad PR that Wizards keeps piling up to see that sustainability isn't their goal anymore.

Cato wrote:
I guess when most people only have a passing familiarity with your storyline, the best way to get people into it is to boil it down to a couple of visible, recognizable characters so that even people who don't read any of the lore can get something out of it.
You are not wrong, and on the whole it probably worked as intended. On the other hand, thinking about visible, recognisable characters made me notice the discrepancy between their planeswalker-centric storytelling and the increasing popularity of Commander. It's almost like there are two different forces at work within Magic that keep pulling in opposite directions. The visible characters of what is arguably their most popular format are legends (or "legendary creatures"). The visible characters of their marketing and storytelling are planeswalkers in general and the Gatewatch in particular. It's really no wonder a lot of people are clamouring for the legendary characters to get a more prominent role in the storyline. After all, it's their plane that's on the line most of the time.

In fact, I think there are other forces that are also pulling in opposite directions in similar ways (digression incoming):

Spoiler

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 9:51 pm 
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There's 2 big problems with giving legendary characters bigger roles:
1: Canonically, planeswalkers are a lot more powerful than nonplaneswalkers. It's hard to get players invested in characters that aren't the coolest and most powerful things in your universe.
2: Legendary creatures can't be in every set because they're planebound, so they can't become the iconic, recurring faces of your brand. This was less of a problem during the Dominaria era when most of the sets took place on the same plane anyways, but it's not really feasible now.

Re: your digressions:
Planehopping: it's unsustainable. Oversaturation of planes makes each individual plane feel less meaningful. It also gets harder and harder to find new ground without stepping on other planes' toes. We've had artifact world and other artifact world, dinosaur world and behemoth world, wedge plane and other wedge plane.
Brand identity: I think one big problem is that, while we've had multiple planes almost since magic's beginning, the planes always felt like part of a cohesive shared universe. They shared a general tone and aesthetic. You can't tell a heavy, serious story and have pirate dinosaur world because pirates and dinosaurs are cool.
Diversity: I don't see what the problem is. Like how is having black people in a setting more "unrealistic" than having elves? I don't see how that stuff is immersion-breaking, especially seeing as how the humans in the only plane that we've seen in real life (earth) have all kinds of skin colors.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:59 pm 
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Planar identity is something of a problem for the franchise.
Every set seems to have to be a plane in of itself. That plane must wholly conform to a singular theme. Different planes can't have themes that are too similar. Revisiting that theme requires revisiting the plane. The plane's likely already been established in its tiny entirety so you can't add to much. Changes to a plane can't easily be reset.
It's a recipe for disaster.

My solution?
1. The new setting doesn't always have to be a plane. Just say you're heading to a new region of a plane if you want a minor change of setting.
2. Don't present new settings as the entirety of their planes.

Cato wrote:
...
You can't tell a heavy, serious story and have pirate dinosaur world because pirates and dinosaurs are cool.

I resent that notion. It's like saying you can't have an epic story in a setting with laser sword-wielding space wizards, or a meaningfully creepy Randian dystopia set in an underwater 1930's setting with futuristic genetic engineering elements.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:38 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
Planar identity is something of a problem for the franchise.
Every set seems to have to be a plane in of itself. That plane must wholly conform to a singular theme. Different planes can't have themes that are too similar. Revisiting that theme requires revisiting the plane. The plane's likely already been established in its tiny entirety so you can't add to much. Changes to a plane can't easily be reset.
It's a recipe for disaster.

My solution?
1. The new setting doesn't always have to be a plane. Just say you're heading to a new region of a plane if you want a minor change of setting.
2. Don't present new settings as the entirety of their planes.

Cato wrote:
...
You can't tell a heavy, serious story and have pirate dinosaur world because pirates and dinosaurs are cool.

I resent that notion. It's like saying you can't have an epic story in a setting with laser sword-wielding space wizards, or a meaningfully creepy Randian dystopia set in an underwater 1930's setting with futuristic genetic engineering elements.


I mean they tend to add on whenever they return to a world. They knew they would explore the underworld more so in the return to Theros so they didn't delve much into it on the first trip. They put in Ravnica once had oceans and merfolk. Maro has talked about how Innistrad possible could see other types of horror that comes from the lands over the seas. And both Kaladesh and Amonkhet focused mostly just on one city, while saying there is more off camera.

People point at Dominaria at being diverse and big but how many sets and storylines has it gotten to flesh out its world building?

The only times they don't seem to add stuff was for Innistrad and Mirrodin which where instead being transformed and Zendiakr 2 where the point was the plane was being destroyed/reduced.

That said Ikoria felt kinda bare and not sure if it got one set or bottom up since Eldraine felt pretty fleshed out, but I guess Kaldheim (likely top down norse/viking word) and Strixhaven (likely bottom up casting spells theme with the magic school flavor added on top) will show.


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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:28 am 
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TPmanW wrote:
Planar identity is something of a problem for the franchise.
Every set seems to have to be a plane in of itself. That plane must wholly conform to a singular theme. Different planes can't have themes that are too similar. Revisiting that theme requires revisiting the plane. The plane's likely already been established in its tiny entirety so you can't add to much. Changes to a plane can't easily be reset.
It's a recipe for disaster.

My solution?
1. The new setting doesn't always have to be a plane. Just say you're heading to a new region of a plane if you want a minor change of setting.
2. Don't present new settings as the entirety of their planes.

Cato wrote:
...
You can't tell a heavy, serious story and have pirate dinosaur world because pirates and dinosaurs are cool.

I resent that notion. It's like saying you can't have an epic story in a setting with laser sword-wielding space wizards, or a meaningfully creepy Randian dystopia set in an underwater 1930's setting with futuristic genetic engineering elements.

It's not that you can't tell these stories in X setting, it's that you can't just randomly bring in elements that clash with the style and aesthetic because not having a world that feels internally consistent shatters immersion, and you can't tell a serious story without immersion. You could do a serious story on a pirate dinosaur setting, but you can't do a serious story in a setting that has hitherto had no dinosaurs, add dinosaurs because dinosaur are cool, and expect players to keep taking it seriously.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:43 pm 
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Cato wrote:
There's 2 big problems with giving legendary characters bigger roles:
1: Canonically, planeswalkers are a lot more powerful than nonplaneswalkers. It's hard to get players invested in characters that aren't the coolest and most powerful things in your universe.
2: Legendary creatures can't be in every set because they're planebound, so they can't become the iconic, recurring faces of your brand. This was less of a problem during the Dominaria era when most of the sets took place on the same plane anyways, but it's not really feasible now.
Sure, that's all perfectly true, especially the second point, but the discrepancy is certainly there, precisely because it's so hard to resolve within their current approach. I've definitely seen people express a desire for legends to be more relevant again (or complain that they are overshadowed by planeswalkers), and I mostly agree with that. Though I guess better stories about more interesting planeswalkers and planes would help, too, if they're going to stick to that model.


Cato wrote:
Re: your digressions:
Planehopping: it's unsustainable. Oversaturation of planes makes each individual plane feel less meaningful. It also gets harder and harder to find new ground without stepping on other planes' toes. We've had artifact world and other artifact world, dinosaur world and behemoth world, wedge plane and other wedge plane.
Brand identity: I think one big problem is that, while we've had multiple planes almost since magic's beginning, the planes always felt like part of a cohesive shared universe. They shared a general tone and aesthetic. You can't tell a heavy, serious story and have pirate dinosaur world because pirates and dinosaurs are cool.
's what I'm sayin', although I think Ixalan isn't a good example, because I'd argue the setting with its piracy and its colonial and religious themes actually would have demanded a more serious story than the farce we actually got.

Cato wrote:
Diversity: I don't see what the problem is. Like how is having black people in a setting more "unrealistic" than having elves? I don't see how that stuff is immersion-breaking, especially seeing as how the humans in the only plane that we've seen in real life (earth) have all kinds of skin colors.
There is an important difference between the real world and the Magic settings we usually get:
Most planes in Magic are tiny, or at least the part of them that we get to explore tends to be a pretty hermetic and culturally homogenous one, especially since many planes are top-down planes (or "planes of hats" if you want to annoy Maro). [...] If your setting is tiny and has no known connections to anything outside of it, you can't sprinkle in random token minorities without compromising the internal logic of your setting.
The second Innistrad block is the clearest example of blatant tokenism, with minority characters whose presence seems highly implausible. The setting was originally presented as very geographically isolated, with sea travel being extremely limited by the Nebelghast and with people not knowing what lies beyond the Stensian mountains. That premise never changed, but that didn't stop them from inserting a significant number of black people and one or two other minority characters into the set, so you can kinda tell they didn't plan for them to be there the first time around and just included them for diversity points when they returned to Innistrad. Granted, the original Innistrad set had Grizzled Outcasts, but I'm pretty sure I recall the artist stating he included a black character in the art because he wanted to reinforce the sense of a group of people who wouldn't fit in, so that should tell you everything about how Wizards looked at the setting originally. Or take the idiocy of Chandra's parents supposedly being a black-haired white man and an Indian woman. The plane where the Earth comparison works best is Dominaria, because that one is actually big, diverse and pretty interconnected, which makes the inclusion of characters from different ethnic backgrounds even cooler because you have a sense of where they or their ancestors are (or might be) from. Jodah, Naban, Naru and Adeliz as well as many unnamed characters are all hanging out at the Tolarian Academies for instance, each of them with a different ethnic background, and it makes perfect sense and even gives the setting more depth.


At the end of the day, all those conflicting forces in Magic are the result of not having Dominaria as the central plane anymore ("central plane" in the sense of getting an even split between Dominaria, new planes and returning planes). Which is really a shame, because the new 'historic' approach and its focus on legendary cards would make it easy to balance a central cast of planebound heroes with planeswalkers hopping from world to world, especially with the Weatherlight being around again.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:51 pm 
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Though I guess better stories about more interesting planeswalkers and planes would help, too, if they're going to stick to that model.

I don't know that this is possible though. Remember, the whole reason for the gatewatch in the first place is that it's iconic, easy to pick up on for players who don't read any of the lore, and works with a 2 year turnover rate. I think the characters are one-dimensional on purpose. I think this model also limits their options for character development. None of the gatewatch can seriously change as people, because then they'd no longer be the same face of the brand. They have to remain both simple and static.

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The second Innistrad block is the clearest example of blatant tokenism, with minority characters whose presence seems highly implausible. The setting was originally presented as very geographically isolated, with sea travel being extremely limited by the Nebelghast and with people not knowing what lies beyond the Stensian mountains. That premise never changed, but that didn't stop them from inserting a significant number of black people and one or two other minority characters into the set, so you can kinda tell they didn't plan for them to be there the first time around and just included them for diversity points when they returned to Innistrad.

But why does this mean that they should have kept it mono-ethnic instead of just including black characters in the first place? Yeah, melanin levels in humans evolved over tens of thousands of years based on the degree of sunlight those places receive so in theory small planes shouldn't have much divergence, but by that logic it's also ridiculously unlikely that highly complex organisms like humans evolved independently on dozens of different planes, and that they all speak the same language. At the end of the day, these things are in place because we expect our fantasy world to work like our real world. Having Therosian or Zendikari humans randomly evolve 6 fingers instead of 5 like on other planes would just be weird and unfamiliar, even though the likelihood of the exact same being evolving independently on 2 different planes is basically nil. Nobody complains that that's immersion-breaking. So what's so immersion-breaking about people in a small geographic area having different skin colors, when that's completely normal in our world?

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:52 am 
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Reptiles breathing fire and cyborg zombies are fine but Black people in Innistrad is the thing stretching suspension of disbelief?

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:09 pm 
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Cato wrote:
I don't know that this is possible though. Remember, the whole reason for the gatewatch in the first place is that it's iconic, easy to pick up on for players who don't read any of the lore, and works with a 2 year turnover rate. I think the characters are one-dimensional on purpose. I think this model also limits their options for character development. None of the gatewatch can seriously change as people, because then they'd no longer be the same face of the brand. They have to remain both simple and static.
Yup, I think that sums it up nicely.

Cato wrote:
But why does this mean that they should have kept it mono-ethnic instead of just including black characters in the first place?
That's not what I'm arguing for, though. I'm merely arguing for consistency, both within each individual block and between different blocks. In retrospect they probably should have teased other parts of Innistrad more explicitly and at least allowed for regular sea travel from Nephalia instead of being all "Nope, nothing to see here, please don't think about anything outside of the four Provinces". That would have given them a better hook to explore other parts of the plane in the future, or at least bring in stuff from across the seas like Maro suggested, and it certainly would have been sufficient to justify a more diverse population. I'd say it's almost always better to set up new planes that way because it makes them feel deeper, provides more hooks for future visits (which is also important for keeping their plane hopping somewhat sustainable) and allows for actual, organic diversity in culture, mentality and skin colour, not the lazy tokenised version that's only there for virtue points but doesn't mean anything within the setting. Frankly, I think WotC isn't anywhere near as serious about diversity as all the virtue signalling on Twitter makes it appear to be. And I don't want to discuss every single plane in Magic and look at how well it handled diversity, but I think Eldraine is another example of a setting that's just a single kingdom surrounded by spooky wilderness and unconnected to the wider world, and yet they couldn't help themselves and included minorities. At least that's the impression I get from looking at the cards, though I'll admit I didn't care enough about Eldraine to read the novel and get the full picture. Other cultures have fairytales, too, so they really could have seeded more of an outside world on the fringes there.

I get that WotC has a certain desire to transport the kind of demographics we see in our modern, globalised world into their Magic settings, not least to make their potential customer base feel represented. And that's a legitimate goal, but I'd argue they are simply bad at implementing it and often don't do enough to take it into account in their worldbuilding. Looking at the minority characters in, say, Innistrad and Eldraine, is it 100% impossible by any stretch of the imagination that they could somehow have ended up there? No, probably not. Is it glaringly obvious that they were included simply as diversity for diversity's sake, and that the internal consistency of the setting as it is had to take a backseat to make it happen? Yes, yes it is. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to make this a bigger deal than it actually is, and Innistrad in particular still is and always has been my second favourite plane after Dominaria (or maybe competing for second place with Kamigawa). But I think it's a legitimate form of criticism to point it out, and it's sad that this has become such a touchy subject that instantly makes people freak out in many parts of the internet (and to be clear, I don't think you did that).

Cato wrote:
So what's so immersion-breaking about people in a small geographic area having different skin colors, when that's completely normal in our world?
I think I probably sufficiently explained it above, but just to be sure... The thing is, this isn't completely normal in our world in small geographic areas that have remained isolated from the rest of the world, like certain uncontacted tribes in the Amazon rainforest or on certain islands. There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either. And the Magic settings I criticised above for having implausible diversity come across as very isolated or "uncontacted" slices of their respective planes, so it doesn't make sense to apply the same standards that the people at WotC might be used to from their HQ in Washington.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:34 am 
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There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.

There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:24 am 
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Cato wrote:
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There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.

There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.

You've clearly never been to Australia.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:26 am 
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Cato wrote:
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There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.

There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.


Reading this through, I'm starting to come more into Pavor's camp.

Innistrad had dragons from the start. The presence of dragons is internally consistent. But diversity in the human population was presented as something extremely rare the first time around, but not so much the second. No explanation was given for this new diversity. Thus, on Innistrad, dragons make more sense than human diversity. This could easily have been fixed by a casual mention of a newfound trade route to another landmass, or anything like that. But we got nothing.

Changing the demographics is not bad. Doing so without any kind of narrative reason is at best inconsistent and slightly lazy, at worst careless pandering. Considering the fact that WotC has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to actual diversity within the company, I'm less likely to be forgiving over lazy approximations of diversity in their stories.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:18 am 
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It's because Emrakul twisted white people into other races, it becomes obvious when you read a bit between the lines.

Anyway, cato's sentiment, as I understand it, is that the fantastical elements of magic doesn't follow real life conventions, so there shouldn't be an expectation that mundane elements should either (e.g. language, race, gravity). Effectively, the net positive of inclusion outweighs any handwaving you have to make. As someone who dabbles with making an rpg where language barriers is an actual problem, I naturally disagree, as I think it's important to have those touchstones to ground your story and give it a higher sense of versimilitude, I think it makes your settings richer. When I see a human person in fantasy, I assume that it operates like the humans I am familiar with until explicitly shown otherwise, and Magic hasn't presented the case where the people of Innistrad are white because they have their melanin scared out of them on a daily basis, and only after the return of Avacyn did their skin color turn black again.

If all your settings start to look like modern day America, they might be individually diverse, but they feel a lot less so collectively.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:35 pm 
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Cato wrote:
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There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.

[quote]There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.[/]

Comparing the presence of Europeans in Indigenous territories with the inexplicable presence of fantastic creatures isn’t really the kind of diversity you want to be promoting.

Even more so if you’re comparing the existence of racialized people with, say, the existence of elves, or goblins. That’s a big yikes.

Diversity isn’t just a matter of shallow representation of skin colour. It is about representing different cultures, viewpoints, and experiences. Medieval Europe had diversity because of trade, the influence of different empires, migration, scholarship, etc.. Suddenly having racialized people show up in Innistrad without having them have any actual impact on the plane’s culture actually *erases* any cultural diversity and reduces them to decorations.

Diversity without substance also has other problems—representing every plane as having the same ethnic makeup as the U.S. imposes the American idea of the ‘melting pot’ on the multiverse—that all of the Black people in Innistrad, for example, are just assumed to be culturally Eastern European for some reason. All of the racialized people in Eldraine live in a world of European fairy tales and Arthurian romances. There’s no problem with assimilating other cultures into a Eurocentric world, because they just *are* without explanation.

And 90% of the planes are Euro/Amerocentric planes in their makeup.

There are other problems too—why have Native Americans never shown up in card art? The only time Indigenous people of any of the hundreds of ethnicities in existence have shown up in Magic was in Ixalan, where they were put in their own (problematic) cultural context. Even though they are part of the American ethnic makeup, my people can’t just appear in Innistrad, because that’s somehow more jarring than Black or South Asian people doing so. Why?

And mono-ethnic planes erase histories of colonialism and cultural/religious syncresis. There are no Ainu in Kamigawa—the Kamigawans were just always there! There are no other human ethnicities on the plane! And yet the non-Japanese Ainu predated Japan, and had a major influence on the development of Shinto and Kami-worship:
https://thekojiki.wordpress.com/2015/09 ... u-culture/

Compare planes like Kamigawa and Innistrad with planes like Tarkir or Dominaria, where diversity actually has a substantive meaning, and there is ethnic and cultural exchange.

The issues with diversity and planes as ethnic enclaves with diversity as window dressing was made worse by the decision to erase all inter-planar travel by non-planeswalkers. No longer do we have the excuse of inter-planar migration or refugees to help explain diversity and multiculturalism. Dominaria wasn’t just innately diverse—it had Kamigawan dynasties, Serran refugees, Rabiahn influences....

So there it is. True diversity isn’t just suddenly having Black Kojeks that speak Czech. It’s Teferi. It’s Tetsuko Umezawa. It’s having a continent on some planes where Indigenous people actually exist, and not in a Lost World where they ride dinosaurs.


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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:48 pm 
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There are other problems too—why have Native Americans never shown up in card art? The only time Indigenous people of any of the hundreds of ethnicities in existence have shown up in Magic was in Ixalan, where they were put in their own (problematic) cultural context. Even though they are part of the American ethnic makeup, my people can’t just appear in Innistrad, because that’s somehow more jarring than Black or South Asian people doing so. Why?


Yeah this kinda bugs me too. You'd think they'd show up at least in Dominaria where there are actual wiitigos but nope.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:04 pm 
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There are other problems too—why have Native Americans never shown up in card art? The only time Indigenous people of any of the hundreds of ethnicities in existence have shown up in Magic was in Ixalan, where they were put in their own (problematic) cultural context. Even though they are part of the American ethnic makeup, my people can’t just appear in Innistrad, because that’s somehow more jarring than Black or South Asian people doing so. Why?


Yeah this kinda bugs me too. You'd think they'd show up at least in Dominaria where there are actual wiitigos but nope.


wiitigos/witikos are derived from my language and culture, and yeah, it’s a bit weird that there are no nehiyaw in Terisaire, but there are... sentient gorillas, I guess?

Magic has wiitigos, caribou, bayous, moose, totems, condors, pumas, savannas, iguanas, and hurricanes, but nothing resembling the people or cultures that are the origins of those words and what they describe.


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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:43 pm 
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Apparently the leonin of Mirrodin have their spirituality and culture based on Native American cultures: http://web.archive.org/web/200710172230 ... eature/260

Which ones? Who knows, but Creative certainly went to the Balto school of generic new ager crap posing as "Native American".

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:53 pm 
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For the reccord I do have a fantasy setting based on North America's (including Mesoamerica and Caribbeans) indigenous cultures, Aqalax, but I haven't decided on whereas it should be mtg related or its own thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:47 pm 
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Aaarrrgh wrote:
Cato wrote:
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There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.

There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.


Reading this through, I'm starting to come more into Pavor's camp.

Innistrad had dragons from the start. The presence of dragons is internally consistent. But diversity in the human population was presented as something extremely rare the first time around, but not so much the second.

There were the same number of black people in the original Innistrad expansion as there were dragons. There was no specific lore given as to what percentage of the population they made up. All we knew was that they existed and where (probably) a minority. There was no change to canon, just a change to percentage of cards showing Innistrad's black residents.

Mown wrote:
As someone who dabbles with making an rpg where language barriers is an actual problem, I naturally disagree, as I think it's important to have those touchstones to ground your story and give it a higher sense of versimilitude, I think it makes your settings richer. When I see a human person in fantasy, I assume that it operates like the humans I am familiar with until explicitly shown otherwise, and Magic hasn't presented the case where the people of Innistrad are white because they have their melanin scared out of them on a daily basis, and only after the return of Avacyn did their skin color turn black again.

That's funny because magic specifically chose to make language barriers /not/ a problem and let Dominarian planeswalkers speak the same language as everyone from Ravnica to Ikoria to Kaladesh to Tarkir. Which is imo much less believable than "people having varied skin colors".

Comparing the presence of Europeans in Indigenous territories with the inexplicable presence of fantastic creatures isn’t really the kind of diversity you want to be promoting.

Even more so if you’re comparing the existence of racialized people with, say, the existence of elves, or goblins. That’s a big yikes.


My point wasn't that "nonwhite people are dragons" (and the comparison here wasn't with "racialized people" anyways, it was with white people in Australia), my point was that magic's goal as a setting has never been being "realistic".

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Diversity isn’t just a matter of shallow representation of skin colour. It is about representing different cultures, viewpoints, and experiences. Medieval Europe had diversity because of trade, the influence of different empires, migration, scholarship, etc.. Suddenly having racialized people show up in Innistrad without having them have any actual impact on the plane’s culture actually *erases* any cultural diversity and reduces them to decorations.

Diversity without substance also has other problems—representing every plane as having the same ethnic makeup as the U.S. imposes the American idea of the ‘melting pot’ on the multiverse—that all of the Black people in Innistrad, for example, are just assumed to be culturally Eastern European for some reason. All of the racialized people in Eldraine live in a world of European fairy tales and Arthurian romances. There’s no problem with assimilating other cultures into a Eurocentric world, because they just *are* without explanation.

And 90% of the planes are Euro/Amerocentric planes in their makeup.

There are other problems too—why have Native Americans never shown up in card art? The only time Indigenous people of any of the hundreds of ethnicities in existence have shown up in Magic was in Ixalan, where they were put in their own (problematic) cultural context. Even though they are part of the American ethnic makeup, my people can’t just appear in Innistrad, because that’s somehow more jarring than Black or South Asian people doing so. Why?

And mono-ethnic planes erase histories of colonialism and cultural/religious syncresis. There are no Ainu in Kamigawa—the Kamigawans were just always there! There are no other human ethnicities on the plane! And yet the non-Japanese Ainu predated Japan, and had a major influence on the development of Shinto and Kami-worship:
https://thekojiki.wordpress.com/2015/09 ... u-culture/

Compare planes like Kamigawa and Innistrad with planes like Tarkir or Dominaria, where diversity actually has a substantive meaning, and there is ethnic and cultural exchange.

The issues with diversity and planes as ethnic enclaves with diversity as window dressing was made worse by the decision to erase all inter-planar travel by non-planeswalkers. No longer do we have the excuse of inter-planar migration or refugees to help explain diversity and multiculturalism. Dominaria wasn’t just innately diverse—it had Kamigawan dynasties, Serran refugees, Rabiahn influences....

So there it is. True diversity isn’t just suddenly having Black Kojeks that speak Czech. It’s Teferi. It’s Tetsuko Umezawa. It’s having a continent on some planes where Indigenous people actually exist, and not in a Lost World where they ride dinosaurs.

I think these are mostly good points about how what wotc should represent different cultures as well, but I'd also like to point out that "nonwhite people who are part of a majority-white society that they share a language, nationality, and religion with" describes a lot of people in the United States. That's not to excuse the fact that these are the only people who get represented, but I don't think it's completely without value for everyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Kasmina lore
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:15 pm 
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Wow, I don't have the energy right now to go into all the cans of worms that have been opened here left and right, but maybe the two most pressing things:

Cato wrote:
Quote:
There were no white people in, say, Australia or the Americas until the first Europeans arrived there either.
There weren't any dragons in those places either, you know.
The fact that you even have to draw this comparison should tell you everything about how "serious" WotC are about their approach to diversity.


Cato wrote:
Mown wrote:
As someone who dabbles with making an rpg where language barriers is an actual problem, I naturally disagree, as I think it's important to have those touchstones to ground your story and give it a higher sense of versimilitude, I think it makes your settings richer. When I see a human person in fantasy, I assume that it operates like the humans I am familiar with until explicitly shown otherwise, and Magic hasn't presented the case where the people of Innistrad are white because they have their melanin scared out of them on a daily basis, and only after the return of Avacyn did their skin color turn black again.

That's funny because magic specifically chose to make language barriers /not/ a problem and let Dominarian planeswalkers speak the same language as everyone from Ravnica to Ikoria to Kaladesh to Tarkir. Which is imo much less believable than "people having varied skin colors".
In a nutshell, I agree with Mown, and I very specifically want to point out that what you are saying about languages in Magic isn't really true. For starters, here's a link to a thread about stuff that is usually handwaved in Magic's stories, and I even broke down some of the different languages that are spoken on Dominaria alone and the ways in which that comes up in the stories: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=22634

There are also a few instances of planeswalkers using magic to be able to communicate in different languages on other planes (and about non-'walkers like Xantcha not being able to do so), e.g. in Planeswalker and Agents of Artifice, although it doesn't come up most of the time because it's simply implied that that's how it works. Heck, when Sarkhan is talking to Yasova in Fate Reforged, he even realises mid-sentence that the language spoken on Tarkir doesn't have a word for "ocean", so clearly they aren't speaking the same language as on, say, Shandalar or Ikoria. Or take the fact that Davriel can shock people on Innistrad by painting creepy looking script on the walls, when that's actually just a recipe for buttered scones written in Old Ulgrothan (which people on Innistrad clearly can't read). The only instance I can recall of there not being a language barrier when there clearly should have been one was on Ixalan when the natives were able to talk to the people from Torrezon just fine (and I also remember complaining about that fact).

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