Rezatta, the Renaissance plane — World Building Part 2

edited September 2018 in Custom Card Sets

Hello everyone! =D

In parallel of the main thread where we design the set of Rezatta, we decided a while ago to separate the world building into a separate conversation to help both discussions breathe a little ^^ First, you can find the old creative thread here:

Renaissance Set - Creative Team

The goal for this conversation is less to make a set of cards, and more to make a world guide, like the Planeshift files. Obviously, the two threads are very connected and what we do here will impact the cards on the other thread, just as we're limited in the world building by what we can actually show on cards ^^

I'm going to summarize a little where we're at in different areas ^^


- The main theme for the set is Renaissance, especially Italian Renaissance. Some of the themes and characters below are actually subthemes of this main theme.
- A secondary theme to complement the set and make it more than an MTG intepretation of real life Renaissance is Emotions. Think of it as how the Bolas theme complements the Egyptian theme of Amonkhet. In particular, this plane has the Muses of Emotions, a cycle of five legendary creatures that inspire the people of Rezatta.
- Art is a strong trope for the set. A defining feature of Rezatta is that the magic of the plane spontaneously gives life to beautiful art pieces.
- Other Renaissance tropes we need to interpret in our own way and give a unique spin to them would be scientific progress, humanism, and religion.
- To emphasize the idea of Renaissance as in "rebirth", we have a theme of cycling. More specifically, the plane lives a cycle of long winters (= Dark Ages) and long Springs (= Renaissance). Tropes evoking Springs and Summer, like warm sun, butterflies, flowers, singing birds,... are all welcome in this set.
- Overall, the feel of the set should be optimistic, bubbly, and give a sense of warmth. This also means we have to discuss how to depict negativity and death. We can decrease its occurrences, or give it a romantic feel (think the Aetherborn of Kaladesh), or even lean on dark humour (they do this a bit in Battlebond).


We discussed a lot of things but couldn't get past the exploratory phase so far. What we need is to decide a type of plot. Coincidentally, I just bought a book for a completely different reason, and it just happens to talk about how to write a story (it's called The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne). This may help us define the structure of our story and the elements we need in it. I'll talk about this aspect a bit later in a dedicated post ^^


As we don't have a story plot yet we don't really have characters locked in, but we discussed many characters that could be interesting. Some of them being direct Renaissance tropes. Here's a short list of potential characters we talked about a bit:

- One of the most interesting characters we have is a young girl that is mute but can express herself through music. It's a very poetic character who shows you can express yourself through emotions withtout needing words, which ties the art theme and emotion theme together perfectly. There's an artist called WLOP that drew the same characters a bunch of time in various situations (which could be useful for us to create a story around one character, since we're very limited by the Art we find.) Here's a picture of this character:


- Da Vinci is THE Man of Renaissance and an absolute must-have in a Renaissance set. So far, the version we discussed would be a planeswalker that likes to visit other planes in search of inspiration for his crazy inventions.


- Mona Lisa is the most famous painting of Da Vinci. Since Art is alive on this plane, we may as well have her join the party ^^


- Niccolo Machiavelli is a very iconic figure of Renaissance that could make an excellent legendary creature.
- Artist wise, basically all the "ninja turtles" artists should resonate with the wide public: Leonardo Da Vinci was already on our list, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. Note that if we find a fith one it could be a cool horizontal cycle.


Finally, we'll get to fill the Creature Grid of the set: A grid of creature types living on this plane giving to make sure we have consistent races in every colour for small, medium and large creatures, both flying and non-flying (note red doesn't get small flyiers, and green doesn't get flyiers at all.) This kind of details will be locked later, but we've still started to discuss a few possibilities:

- As Living Art is a thing on this plane, we know it's going to be a creature type, probably of all types and colours since it's a very central feature of the plane, but this will depend on the mechanical aspect as well.
- We know we have five Muses of Emotions.
- We talked about Gorgons as they tie in the art theme, because they make statues (this also add a little bit of dark humour to the set.)
- Sirens are good at singing, a form of art, so they could make an interesting creature type.
- Golems and Constructs could also fit well because of animated statues and such.
- We mentioned Faeries as an optimistic, playful tribe because they have that "sparkly" feel to them. (Not the blue/black ones.)
- Finally, anthropomorphized animals seem to be a popular theme, which happens to emphasise the humanism theme of Renaissance in a quirky way.


We discussed what kind of religion(s) could be on Rezatta. There's actually a religion already existing in MTG that perfectly fits the theme of the set, the Church of Serra. Briefly, Serra is a planeswalker that visited multiple planes where she was often revered as a Goddess (as a lot of planeswalkers before the Mending) which makes it totally possible that she spread her religion on Rezatta a long time ago. More importantly, the Church of Serra has a lot of qualities that perfectly fit into the Renaissance feel of the set: the four Virtues of the Church of Serra are Discourse, Freedom, Peace and **ART**, they sing the words of Serra in "the Song of All" which has over a thousand "Canti" (an **ITALIAN** word for songs), and Serra represents Rebirth ("Renaissance" means Rebirth). The latest apparition of the Church of Serra in Magic is in the Dominaria set, and you can learn more here:
For these reasons, we could actually have a version of the Church of Serra appear on Rezatta (they already counted five strands of this religion in the official story so...)




  • I like this set idea and will try to help out
  • I am also quite interested in helping out in the lore. It's a sadly underrated part of custom MTG.
  • I will gladly help with lore...I can work on it on the side
  • I haven't found the time to do my little summary of the different types of plots we can choose from, but a good story idea is definitely number one on the list of things we need right now, for those interested ^^
  • Also, this is a bit greedy, but, @ningyounk , when the tine comes can I design Eco’s card (if it hasn’t already been designed)?
  • Anyway, for the storyline, the one thing I need to know is how much ties you want it to have to the official lore. Like, will there be references to/inclusions of characters from the official storyline or will this be its own, isolated, one-set story?

    You guys might like this episode. I think about it every now and then with Rezatta. I would recommend looking at how long the average mtg storyline is, thinking about how to subvert that enough to be unique while still feeling mtg, and then working on the muse problem.
  • @Arceus8523
    For Eko's card, we don't really give one person one card to design, everyone interested gives their own version, we select the best idea from everyone and we mix them up to make the final card.

    For the storyline, we just need to make sure we don't create a divergence from the official story, so we either make an integrated story that happened in the past (this way we don't kill someone from the Gatewatch for instance since we know they'll live in the future) but will have little impact on the characters, or we make a separated story line where we could sprinkle some official MTG elements (like potentially having the Church of Serra for instance.)
  • Personally I'm in favor of the latter
  • Ningyounk, Is it fine if I give your plane a cameo in one of my Magic Stories?
  • @ningyouk
    So I’ve been thinking it over and I really don’t feel Liza has a planeswalker. I’d much rather see her as legendary Art in the set to free up space for a different walker (who, though, I’m not sure). I don’t really have much justification other than that it kinda feels like she’s a sort of shallow idea and there’s probably more potential for a different walker, but maybe I’m wrong.
  • @TheGamingBolasChannel
    Of course! Don't forget to send us a link when you're done ;)

    Yeah, I used the planeswalker frame for every character because it's prettier this way, but it doesn't mean they have to be planeswalkers. We'll have to think our mix of planewalkers (returning/new, good/evil, male/female, etc.) carefully and all colours must be represented ^^
  • @Ningyouk
    As for the set story, I feel that the main villain/conflict should not be planeswalker-caused/planeswalker-centric. That helps more easily keep the set story self-contained. I don’t mind protagonists being planeswalkers as much, though.
  • @ningyounk, it'll be awhile before I get to that story, but I will.
  • Internal Screaming
    Sorry but this just, I LOVE this set idea and everything! I'm trying to find more challenges that give promo just so I can use the set symbol whenever I think up cards on the plane.

    A little tid-bit I've sent to you before is, tying in with gorgons (of whom should totally be on the plane) would be Vraska. I recall reading about her a while back and how she would often jump plane to plane in order to collect things, just for the sake of doing so. Whether she's on the plane or not, I feel some tie-ins to her could be nice hither and tither. Maybe this is a plane she visits often as she knows she'll be able to grab something of value on each visit, so she's hated by some artist and loved by others. Oh! Fancy artist hate her for stealing her things, however some black market-esk artist make art specifically to grab her attention and have her steal it. I'm half ranting here, but I mean, ideas are ideas eh?

    She could also have a very minimal sub-cult/group that worships her and sells off art they steal on a black market. It wouldn't be common or very apparent, though it would exist here. In the midst of such beauty, there are bound to be a few sore spots and people who ruin it.
  • edited September 2018
    And ey, maybe for a small chunk of darker backstory (referencing maybe something that happened as they were trying to build the luscious city everyone lives in) they were 'forced to wipe out a species to near extinction. Maybe have VERY subliminal bits of darkness, but nothing blatantly apparent. Just enough to say 'hey... somethings going on here.'

    For example -

    Also! An fyi about me. I'm not the best at narrowing down what mechanics and such to use but, once there's a set 'this is it' for how the cards all work, colors, everything, I could probably help in making some cards. Just lemme know and give me the rules of cards on le plane.
  • edited September 2018
    I'm interested in the idea of a thief version of Vraska ^^ Showing a different aspect of an official planeswalker could be fun. It depends a bit on colour balance and things like that though. But Vraska seems like she could fit well, we could have a UR Da Vinci + W Character (potentially the Mute Musician) + BG Vraska for instance.

    Do we have a good illustration for her somwhere?
  • edited September 2018
    That'd do nicely, @ningyounk , I'd say. After all it fits her near perfectly, heh. If we can't, oh well, we can reference her maybe. Some aspect of her on the plane would be lovely I'd say. I love world and character building, so this may be my favorite way to help out honestly.

    Found this. Seems to work I'd say. (By Aldin on Deviantart)
  • edited September 2018

    I got bored and, though I'm not really good at making walkers, I made one for her. Here she is, somewhat how I imagine her.
  • I just randomly found an Artist (ryky) that draws glowy landscapes this morning. I thought it could make a cool basic land cycle to set a "bubbly" mood:

    image image image image image

  • I also support adding Vraska to the set. Not big on the +1 in the concept, though, seems a bit strong for a 4 mana walker. The rest seems solid.
  • Danke schoen @Arceus8523 . As I said, I'm not the best at walkers, bu ey, it's a good shot. Sadly even Promo's cant edit walkers they make so eh, I cant do much about it.
  • Hey! Since this week-end is Guilds of Ravnica Pre-Release week-end, I figured there would be a little less people on the forum than usual, so I thought I'd start talking a bit about the story structure instead of something heavier like mechanics.

    Basically, I'm going to base myself on a book (The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne) to try to define the structure we need for the story, creating holes that we just have to fill.

    I — What kind of story are we writing?

    Let's start with the basics, here are five points that define what kind of story we want to write. Some of them are obvious in our case and some of us will require choices:

    A — TIME
    How long will this story be? If we refer to Magic Official Story, for an Arc they do a little more than 10 stories (Dominaria is 12, Ixalan 7+6 = 13, Kaladesh is 9 + 9 etc.) of approximately 5500 words. Generally speaking, a scene in any kind of story should be between 1000 words and 5000 words - preferably around 2,000 words - which means they have enough space in each chapter for a couple scenes. Added together, that's about the length of a short book, which puts MTG stories in the MEDIUM range.

    I don't think it's realistic to imagine we'll write 10 chapters, though I'm not sure how much we can do? Basing myself on various fanfiction contests on different websites, I believe we should shoot for a SHORT story of 4 to 8 chapters of about 5500 words if we want to be able to tell something properly.


    That one is easy. It's asking if we're telling something that really happens, something that could happen, something that follows no rules at all, or something that follows a slightly different set of rules that our reality. Obviously, we're doing MAGICAL FANTASY, at this is the reality of the MTG world.

    C — STYLE

    This one also is pretty easy, it's easier to understand if I just give you the list of all options. Note that we can mix-and-match things but our story will have a main tone to it: Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Musical, Dance, Literary, Theatrical, Cinematic, Epistolary or Cartoons.

    Most MTG stories are, I believe, in the Cinematic genre, and I think our story should definitely be CINEMATIC as well. It just means that we tell the story a bit like we would tell a film to a friend. We can have comedic or dramatic effects in our cinematic story of course.


    This is an interesting one, and we actually talked about it before when we discussed once if we couldn't make a story that's closer to the characters and less about the world being endangered. There are three types of plots for any story, but we'll be interested in just two:

    Arch-Plot: The common structure about a hero whose world changes, so they have to adapt and vanquish adversity. They face a linear stream of conflicts and then resolve them — or not.

    Mini-Plot: This one is about the inner journey. About fighting your inner demons. It's not about moving things in the world, but inside the character's head.

    Anti-Plot: The last one is just plain weird, it's about characters that just passively live through internal and external conflicts without changing, like a plant. It doesn't require a consistent reality or linear time or any kind of causality.

    Like all MTG stories, we mainly want to write an ARCH-PLOT, though any good Arch-plot story should have MINI-PLOTS for their characters to evolve. For instance, a James Bond movie usually is 100% about Arch-Plot, the hero is the same character at the beginning and at the end of the movie, he just did his job without questioning. Now Marvel's Captain America has a Mini-Plot that leaves him a different character at the beginning of his first movie than at the end of Civil War for instance.


    Finally, the most important, the content genre. There are two types of story contents (inner and external), which can be classified into categories you all know. Once again, you can mix and match them a little:

    External: Action, horror, crime, western, war, thriller, society, performance and love stories.

    Internal: Status, worldview and morality.

    Most MTG stories are action stories, and I think we should stick to the ACTION genre unless you really want to write something completely different like a MTG love story, detective story or performance story (like winning an artistic contest, etc.)

    Now, the ACTION genre itself is divided in different plot devices and that's where we start to make real not-so-obvious choices. Note that they can be mixed, though we're looking for a main plot device to hold the structure of our story:

    1. Action Adventure — Use natural world or specific settings as villains.
    - Labyrinth Plot: The hero must save the victim and get out. (Die Hard)
    - Monster Plot: The villain is an animal. (Jaws)
    - Environment plot: The villain is a global setting. (Gravity)
    - Doomsday plot: The environment must be saved from disaster. (Independence Day)

    2. Action Epic — Use societal institutions or tyrants as villains.
    - Rebellion Plot: Hero against visible tyrant (Darth Vader in Star Wars)
    - Conspiracy Plot: Hero against invisible tyrant (The Bourne Identity)
    - Vigilante Plot: Hero against criminal organization (Above the Law)
    - Savior Plot: Hero against someone who wants to destroy society (The Dark Knight)

    3. Action Duel — Use another human as villain.
    - Revenge Plot: Hero chases the villain.
    - Hunted Plot: Villain chases the hero.
    - Machiavellian Plot: Hero sets two villains against each other.
    - Collision Plot: Villain set two heroes against each other.

    4. Action Clock — Based on a deadline.
    - Ransom Plot: Deadline imposed by the villain.
    - Countdown Plot: Deadline superimposed by circumstances.
    - Holdout Plot: Must holdout until others can rally. (The 300)
    - Fate Plot: Time is the villain. (Back to the Future)


    That should give us enough material to define the conflict, what happens in the story. We're looking for a plot, what would go well with the elements we already have?

    For instance, do we want a villain we want to take down? Is it a single person? An organization? A tyrant? Or do we want something terrible that's about to happen and we want to stop? Etc.

    Here's one example based (mostly) on Art by WLOP: The Queen is dead, and her daughter must now be crowned in her place. But she gets kidnapped and taken far away, on the orders of her evil sister. She manages to escape, but she must go back to the castle on time before the ceremony or her sister will take the throne. It's made especially difficult by the fact that she's mute and never learnt to do anything by herself in the castle, except music.

    This plot is mostly a Revenge Plot but there are elements of rebellion and countdown mixed in.



  • i like this!
  • First off, this is an amazing idea! I love this setand wish it was real:
    Second off, Thinking of an actual MTG-ish plot will take a while, so ill spit out some ideas:

    1. If Vraska is on the plane, and the Church of Serra becomes the main religion, there could e some Vraska vs. Serra action.

    2. There could be some Serra extremists at some point, people who wish either to wipe out those who do not worship Serra, or who they deem "Unworthy".

    3. On the topic of paintings coming to life, there could be some dark secret/ curse/ treasure that the paintings are hiding or protecting. Similarly, the paintings could require special magics that few possess, and some are willing to kill to get it.

    4. Avinzi could accidently create something with a source from New Phyrexia or other evil/destroyed plane, unleashing a terrifying invention/curse/monster onto the plane.

    5. Maybe the winter season/ the dark ages could have a special property to them, like special, hard to collect plants and animals, or terrifying monsters that awake from hibernation to roam the wilderness. The bubbly landscaping and feel of the Renaissance could be overshadowed by the dark winters, making the plane lose it's splendor and become colder and more hostile. This could also open up a set of new land art/land cycle.
  • edited March 22
    Going to put my 2-cents in following your latest post:
    I like the Action Clock using this as an idea:

    The muses do evil things as winter comes, and Eco and co. (as I don't know any other characters in this) must figure out what they do before winter sets in and the dark ages set in again. The muses could be setting up something that would rip a hole in the fundamental magic of the world to command the residents, but this is actually a test to see how far people will bend their reality to see the truth and they'll see this was made by Bolas for some evil propose, probably rendering a stronger dominaria weak so he could do whatever he wants.

    This could be the last winter before the test is "failed" and the magic weakening this "Uber-Dominaria" is sealed forever. Then we could have a story going:

    Act 1: Racing to beat the clock to get to the muses and stop them (Secondary character goes missing/split from party)
    Act 2: Failing, winter sets in, and they get trapped (That character becomes the main character, picking up where act 1 MC left)
    Act 3: Current MC takes full stage, filling the hole in the world, and passing the "Test", this starts a revolt now that everyone can see what has actually been going on.
  • @Ningyoungk I think this set would be perfect for Tamiyo and her research. It seems like a place that Tamiyo would be lured to.
  • @MEGAElixer
    1) That will mostly be dependent on how dead Serra is XD Her religion(s) can persist after her death like it's the case on Dominaria, but having her be an actual character will mostly depend on when we want the events of Rezatta to happen (i.e. should we take into consideration what happens in War of the Spark & co. or do we make a contained story that could work whatever happens in the real storyline).

    2) We'll definitely explore the "righteous" (e.g. Church of Serra on Dominaria) vs "corrupted" (e.g. Orzhov Syndicate, Amonkhet followers) church options, I could see arguments for both. If we're doing the Church of Serra with the art aspect amped to, we might actually want the church to not err too much on the fascism trope.

    3) I really like the trope of having Art hiding secrets, I think it's unsettling. I'm not sure I like the idea of all living art being part of the same big conspiracy though, nor I am super fan of the idea of having a rare special magic necessary to make living art. That's because I prefer the version where it's a natural process tied to the plane. On Amonkhet, the dead automatically rise up, it's how the plane itself works. Well, I like the idea that On Rezatta, Art itself is just imbued with aether to give it life. Literally, a little kid could draw stick figures and it could move a little like wave back at you before it immediatly dies or something. I find it cute xD

    4) If we do some kind of horror unleashed on the plane, I'd definitely like to have the phyrexians involved, just because of how psylian life is a parallel to phyrexian mana x) Having something like phyrexians/eldrazi unleashed on the plane would really shift the tone of the set though. But it could be implied, like "plot twist at the end: the Muse are actually Praetors" or something.

    5) It's difficult to show the Dark age phase though as we can't present the cards in sequential order to tell a story. So if we want a bright plane in its Renaissance phase, we can't put cards about the full dead of winter in the set. But we can show winter being replaced by spring, or relics of winter for instance.

    Setting the set when winter is almost coming instead of spring just starting is an interesting twist on the original idea, it does create more tension. I also like the idea of a last phase of the cycle before everything ends, it's quite dramatic. I'm not a fan of the Muses being "evil" per se. I could see them being the cause of an imbalance, or something bad that happens because of them, but they are the embodiment of different emotions, that much we're sure of, so I don't really picture them as having reason, I see them more elemental-like personally. The three acts would be a bit confusing as part of the same set because we don't control the order in which players see the cards. As such, I think it's more an idea for a block development.

    Oh yeah, it's true she's a scientist! It does fit the theme pretty well. All we really need to bring her is a weird moon ^^ I bet she'd be friend with Avinzi. They might have the same core colour though so they might not be able to be in the same set unless we're ready to have Tamiyo appear in the story without a planeswalker card.
  • I think the phyrexians/Eldrazi would work on this plane. they corrupt other things, and change them into their own image. (You could do the first arrivals are germs/scions that mutate art by drawing on it.)
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