Art by Sina Kasra
My has the time blown by! A year and a half ago I started detailing this project where I was adapting a fictional story I was writing into a small Magic: The Gathering card set, and it has sure grown since then. I’m talking 9 sets. 1500 cards. I decided that it was ultimately too early to discuss back then so I cancelled the blog series, and toiled away at a better version. While it’s still not done, I’m on the final revisions so I can start sharing pieces of this project as they come to completion.
Showcasing a universe through a Magic set might be a rather strange way to introduce you to this story, but this process proved to have many advantages. Just having a completely blank canvas in front of me proved a bit overwhelming to develop the smaller aspects of this fantasy world. By focusing on literally one aspect (one card) at a time, it let me stretch my creative fingers across the finer details that initially seemed impossible to get to with relative ease. On top of that, it was incredibly addicting. By scouring artwork of the many fantastic artists out there, I was able to find a decent representation of the world I’m aiming to create.
Obviously, I wish I could have the time and talent to make all the artwork myself, but just using the artwork I found as inspiration, and piecing them together to fit my lore has already been an amazing way to explore this world. Allow me to introduce the world of Kuo and Corsia to you. A world where emotions become magic and logic becomes power.
Table of Contents
Prologue & Announcement (YOU ARE HERE)
Act I – Lotus’ Exile
Act II – The Exploration of Kuo
Act III – Return to Corsia
Act IV – The Dejavu War
Civilizations of Kuo:
The 5 Ally-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Enemy-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Shard-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Wedge-Colored Kuon Civilizations
Empires of Corsia:
The 5 Mono-Colored Corsian Empires
The 5 Ally-Colored Corsian Empires
The 5 Enemy-Colored Corsian Empires
The All-Colored and Colorless Empires and Civilizations
Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 1
Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 2
Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 1
Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 2
Planeswalkers, Part 1
Planeswalkers, Part 2
Planeswalkers, Part 3
Planeswalkers, Part 4
Locales and Legends
Basic Land Locations of Kuo
Basic Land Locations of Corsia
Citadels, Wonders, and Legendary Lands
Renown Artifacts and Magic
Mechanics and Abilities:
Kuo Keywords, Part 1
Kuo Keywords, Part 2
Corsia Keywords, Part 1
Corsia Keywords, Part 2
Design and Philosophy:
Visual Design and Artwork Selection
Card Balancing and Draft Emphasis
Kuo Blocks Full Spoiler:
Kuo: Overworld of Mana (Set 1 of 3)
Guided by Passion (Set 2 of 3)
Colors of Oneself (Set 3 of 3)
Advances of the Kuon (Set 1 of 2)
Secrets of Mana (Set 2 of 2)
Corsia Block Full Spoiler:
Corsia: The Empire of Progress (Set 1 of 3)
Governed by Logic (Set 2 of 3)
Vale’s Vision (Set 3 of 3)
The Dejavu War (Set 1 of 1)
MTG Variant – Walking the Planes (Coming Last)
So before we dive into the story and lore that introduces this world, what is this project? What does it consist of? Like I said, with 1,500 cards being divided into 9 sets, there’s a whole lot that these cards can represent. There are five sets representing Kuo and three sets representing Corsia. The final ninth set has a split focus on Kuo and Corsia. These sets are designed with a lore-first, balance-second approach. So what matters most is that the artwork, abilities, and flavor text really bring the cards to life. They are balanced enough to be drafted but not tweaked enough for full on constructed play. The first eight sets are all like normal magic sets with some slight variations, but the ninth set is definitely the odd one out. Rather than being an independent set that you draft with, the ninth set is more like a steroid shot to the power level of the drafting format. You don’t draft the ninth set alone. Instead, you throw in a pack of the ninth set to a normal draft because the ninth set is pretty much all rares and mythic rares. Powerful ones, too. But the ninth set is a long ways off, so let’s talk about the story at hand.
Kuo is both the name of the collective magical denizens of the planet, and the name of the planet itself. It’s a pure fantasy world fueled by magic, and is presently in a state of massive advancement. The magic on Kuo is based on the heart and soul of it’s user. Emotions and passion are the strongest catalysts to powerful magic. This emotionally tied magic has caused the people to divide into civilizations based on ideals that tend to correlate with certain emotions. Because of this, it’s not race nor wealth that really unifies a civilization, but the general personality of its people. The tribes you come across range from natural habitats with very little architecture to sprawling cityscapes etched into the geography.
The people of Kuo currently live in a state of harmony as well as a state of rapid evolution. Magic has been advancing at an incredible rate, and when magic develops, so too does the emotional depth of it’s people. Powerful mages are being born with abilities that rival Planeswalkers. (For the sake of this adaptation, they are represented with planeswalker cards.) These planeswalkers roam the world and forge their own destiny which is different from a normal Kuon citizen. The standard route of life is to be born into your civilization, grow with your civilization, contribute to it, and die within it. If anything, they might interact with their neighboring civilizations. Travel is only encouraged from any civilization for two reasons. If you are a planeswalker, meaning you are capable of handling the natural predators of other regions, then they want you to be the pioneers that returns with information to allow the civilization to expand even more. The second reason is if you are having an identity crisis with your people. If you somehow can’t relate or find faith in the ideals of your civilization, then most of them will urge you to try to find a better place. Some civilizations are more hostile to these types of people, and others just ignore them completely because nature will make quick work of those who don’t find strength in their virtues.
Each civilization is ruled by a human as they are considered the dominant species, but most civilizations allow magical races of all sorts into their ranks. Sometimes a half-human reaches the rank of a king of queen which is a rare, but loudly celebrated affair by the non-human folk. Each civilization commands a massive expanse of land surrounding their region. It’s common for an entire ocean or mountain range to be completely under the ownership of a particular civilization. While walkers are the ones who travel the world, leaders of civilizations often meet with other leaders in other civilizations, though they only meet for diplomacy and trade. Other civilizations try to isolate themselves focusing on defense and self-sufficiency because they believe themselves superior to the other havens on Kuo.
The Kuon people believe in gods, but actively worship more corporeal entities like dragons, angels, elementals, etc. Religion has taken a massive step backwards due to the birth of the walkers. They are living, breathing, prophets that render the purpose of gods futile. There are dozens of well-known creatures that roam between and within each civilization, but most of them have only been recently discovered thanks to the walkers’ exploration. The god shrines have been all but abandoned but some walkers have taken to worshipping gods because they generally don’t believe themselves to be as all-powerful as the Kuons think they are. The origin of the gods, and several other mysterious tomes and ruins hint at a possibly much larger history at work.
Corsia is the world beneath all of that. They reside underneath the surface of all of the Kuon civilizations reaching as deep as the center of the planet. Most notably, the Corsian Empire is completely unknown to the general Kuon people. The few rare Kuons who have seen a Corsian call them abominations or demons. The Corsian way of magic is the complete opposite of Kuon magic. There is no emotion, or gut feelings. It’s all cold, heartless logic. The mind and the body are the two pillars of Corsian magic and this means “body” quite literally. The Corsian race isn’t human, nor are they even pure in their biology. Corsians splice, mix, and adjust their DNA to rapidly evolve themselves, thus making them all a form of mutant. Their magic involves Corsite, a mana-rich source that’s embedded into the very land that they live in. They morph it into parts of their anatomy changing their appearance, and heightening their capabilities dramatically.
The Corsian people are much more symbiotic and unified than the Kuon people. They are over a dozen distinct empires, but they don’t all operate independently. Rather, they are all very specific functions for the Corsian Empire as a whole. One empire is the power plant while the other empire researches biology. This causes a completely bulletproof form of peace between all of the Corsian people. They all exist to better themselves and to research for the sake of research. Science and power are all any given Corsian thinks about. In fact, the idea of independent thought and conflicting emotions is such an atrocity that all newly bred Corsians are essentially brainwashed and modified to adhere to their society. While every citizen is basically a slave to their ideal, they all reap the benefits. And yes, Corsians are bred, not born. There is no maternal nature. All Corsians are created at a fixed rate to maintain the ideal population using genetic splicing and basic synthetic nurturing.
The Corsian empire itself is an odd bit of construction. It’s basically an extremely long tunnel that starts from the surface of Kuo and meanders throughout the interior of the planet finally ending at the core. The magma flow and the core itself serve as the two primary engines that power all the facilities of the Corsian Empire. While that tunnel encompasses most of the Corsian Empire, there are a couple massive pseudo-surfaces that serve as checkpoints between the core and the surface. This allows them enough space to craft a synthetic atmosphere and harbors very exotic forms of wildlife. There’s enough distinction in the ecosystem to have a comparable range of locales to Kuo, but the lack of an open sky in most of the Corsian landscape keeps it more intimate and confined.
The Corsian people are all currently hellbent on one project. The Planeswalker Spark. Whenever Corsians witness any type of power, they seek ways to artificially recreate it and merge it into their race’s being. The recent surge of Walkers on the surface of Kuo, has came to the attention of Ovien, Corsia’s emperor. He seeks that power and has begun massive experimentation to harness it. He believes this will help Corsians overcome their greatest weakness. Corsians cannot survive on the surface of Kuo. It’s not that they prefer the inside of the planet. It’s that they must live inside of the planet. The air rapidly oxidizes their mutated skin and causes them to die within mere minutes of being exposed to oxygen. With the walker spark, Ovien believes he can finally tread the surface of Kuo, and due to Corsia’s militaristic nature, this could also mean waging war with the Kuons. There’s one Corsian who seems to be thinking just a little differently, however…
And that Corsian’s name is Lotus, and he is the main character of this story. Lotus is a noble-born Corsian who was raised in the palace empire of Rhun, where only the most renown and illustrious Corsian’s congregate. Because of this, Lotus is close to Ovien, and is training to become part of his elite guard. However, Lotus is not particularly favored by many, even Ovien himself. This is mainly because Lotus doesn’t seem to be affected much by the Corsian’s mentality altering agenda that every other Corsian goes through. He has always had a knack for acting out of ordinary, speaking his mind, and reacting rashly. Normally Corsians like him are banished to the outer sectors to do lowly maintenance work for the rest of their lives, but Ovien seems to want Lotus close by. He has always been scared of how far is too far with his strange personality, and how close he has been to reaching the point of angering Ovien irreparably. It’s not until one fateful night when Lotus is put in charge of watching over a new project that he finally does something that definitely, most absolutely crosses that line.
And that’s how the story about Lotus is set in motion. What follows is an adventure that treks through all of Kuo as well as Corsia, brought to life by 1,500 magic cards. Within that vast number is all sorts of epic goodies and revamps of popular cycles in magic. There are roughly 100 planeswalkers, a new pantheon of 15 gods, a random wandering Eldrazi, a new variation of the Black Lotus, and much more. The rest of my posts will aim to fill that table of contents with…content. Please stay tuned for more, Magic fans!