Magic: The Gathering Planeswalkers: Who Are They Really? Their Lives Behind The Cards
So, with the Gatewatch suddenly being thrust into the spotlight as the main cast of our current journey through the multiverse, it occurs to me that many people may not know much about them or their stories, other than what’s on the cards themselves. This, to me, is a tragedy, for in a world that has as much rich and complex lore as Magic: the Gathering, it’s a sin that so few people know about the characters they’re following.
Then, I considered all the other ‘walkers we’ve come across in the lore, from plane to plane; some we’ve repeatedly visited, others we encountered only once, and some just show up wherever we are from time to time. Each is an individual person with a story, and many have been cast by the wayside and forgotten about because their card isn’t playable, or they haven’t yet been revisited.
I’m going to illuminate what we know about the Multiverse’s planeswalkers; who they are, where they come from, why they do the things they do, and what their contribution to the overall story was or will be. Note, this is just the walkers we have had cards for, i.e. the main characters in our tale; this is by no means a comprehensive list of every walker that has ever existed or been mentioned.
You might also be interested in the following articles below. I’ll list them again at the end of this article too, for when you’re finished.
- 10 Interesting Facts You May Not Know About In Magic: The Gathering Lore, by Kerry Meyerhoff
- A Comprehensive Reference Guide To Every Magic: The Gathering Set (Inc. Lore, Mechanics, Etc), by Kerry Meyerhoff
I hope you will find this as interesting as I do. OK, lets go!
All You Need to Know About Every Planeswalker in Magic: the Gathering
Ajani is a leonin warrior from the shard of Naya. Born an albino, he was avoided and treated with disdain for much of his life, as the pride believed he was bad luck. He was protected by his older brother Jazal, the pride chief. Ajani’s spark ignited when he discovered his brother had been assassinated, and he was thrust onto Bant where he met Elspeth. There, he learned of Bolas’s plans for Alara’s Conflux and with the help of Elspeth and the warriors of the shards, thwarted them. His pride begged him to stay and become their chief, finally giving him the respect he had yearned for all his life, but he refused, knowing that now he had a greater purpose. He then followed Elspeth, and after a series of events they wound up on Theros together. He was involved in her journey into Nyx where she slew Xenagos; when she was killed by Heliod, he mourned the loss of his best friend, keeping her cloak as a memory. He journeyed to his friend Tamiyo’s house on Kamigawa to heal and grieve, and while there, learned of Tezzeret and the atrocities he had committed. Once more with a purpose, he set out to Kaladesh to bring Tezzeret to justice, and there he met the Gatewatch, and joined their cause. Though Tezzeret escaped, Ajani swore to help protect the multiverse, but he was unwilling to face Bolas again after the fight at the Conflux, and so he has gone to seek help or information elsewhere while the others confront the dragon on Amonkhet, with a promise to meet up after they return.
A lycanthrope from the plane of Innistrad, Arlinn was completely devoted to Avacyn’s church. She refused her own fate for a long time, using all manner of wards and trinkets to try to escape it. She studied magic and became an Archmage of Goldnight, one of the highest ranked members of the church in Avabruck. She couldn’t ward it off forever, though, and one day her curse struck her unexpectedly and she slaughtered a dozen mages. Horrified, her spark ignited and she planeswalked away. When she returned to Innistrad, she found she could control both her human and wolf forms, a unique gift among werewolves who usually lose themselves and become savages. She resolved to become an ambassador for ‘the pack’, as the hunt from believers in Avacyn’s church and the dangers posed by Emrakul’s presence on Innistrad threatened the lycanthropes’ very existence. It is not currently known if she survived the events of Eldritch Moon, or what her current plans are now that Avacyn is dead.
Ashiok is an enigmatic mage planeswalker. It is not known which plane it came from, what gender or even what species it is; only that Ashiok’s magic is incredibly powerful, and feeds on fear. Ashiok believes that since all sentient beings have the capacity to be afraid, that fear makes everyone equal, and can bring those fears to life with its magic. It travelled to Theros, where dreams are more vibrant than elsewhere due to the way belief interacts with the gods of the plane. Ashiok began to feed on the nightmares it found, growing stronger and gaining twisted dream-minions born of the citizens’ dreams, with the eventual intent of casting a plane-wide spell to cause all the inhabitants of Theros to enter a never-ending sleep, so Ashiok could harvest nightmares forever. Ashiok’s mission was not yet complete when we left Theros, so it could be that we find out more about the mysterious mage and its grandiose plans when we return to the plane in the future.
One of the Gatewatch and born on the plane of Kaladesh, Chandra is a passionate young woman with a quick temper. Pyromancy is illegal on Kaladesh, so when she was discovered at a young age, the enforcers killed her whole village, as they couldn’t be sure who was casting the magic. Chandra saw her family die in front of her, and when it was her turn, her spark ignited and took her to Regatha. There, she grew up and trained under the monks of Keral Keep, learning to control her fire magic. When the Dragon Scroll was stolen, she was sent to retrieve it and ended up with it on Zendikar, and that’s where she met Jace Beleren for the first time. Their fight outside the Eye of Ugin with Sarkhan Vol caused the lock on the Eldrazi’s prison to break, though neither knew it at the time.
Later, Gideon Jura and Jace tried to convince Chandra to help them on Zendikar; she initially refused, but later regretted it, and joined the fight at Sea Gate at the last minute, showing up in time to save her fellow planeswalkers from the demon Ob Nixilis. She was one of the founders of the Gatewatch. During the events of Kaladesh, she discovered that her mother Pia still lived. She, along with her allies, thwarted the plans of Tezzeret (and through him, Bolas), and after discovering who was behind it all, they set off for Amonkhet to destroy him. Chandra was one of the advocates of this plan, confident they could take on the dragon head-on. During Hour of Devastation, she was defeated by Bolas and planeswalked away to an as-yet-unknown location.
Dack is the self-proclaimed ‘greatest thief in the multiverse’. Originally from the plane of Fiora, he grew up on the streets with his friend Marsh. One night the two picked a fight they couldn’t win, and Marsh died, which resulted in Dack’s spark igniting. Upon discovering his newfound power, Dack began to learn psychometry and rogue magic, and travelled the multiverse stealing objects and artifacts of great power. He was caught when he stole a cursed artifact on Albakah, and paid the price by having his hand permanently stained red to mark him as a thief.
When he returned to his hometown on Fiora, he found it had been destroyed by Sifa, another planeswalker, and all his loved ones had been killed. He tracked her across many planes using his magic and eventually defeated her on Ravnica (a story chronicled in the IDW comic series). He remains on Ravnica now, practising his trade in the great city-plane, having taken revenge for his village but never able to forget. Dack was printed only in the Conspiracy set, and is unlikely to make an appearance again due to his role as the main character in the comics, but it could be possible that we see or interact with him when we make our second return to Ravnica.
The only goblin planeswalker printed to date, Daretti was born on Fiora. He is uncommonly intelligent for one of his kind and despite much prejudice from the other races in Paliano, he managed to rise to the top of the Academy as an artificer. One day, an experiment went wrong and he was presumed dead in the blast; however in reality his spark had ignited and he had planeswalked away. He lost both legs, but was clever enough to create a machine that restored his ability to walk. After travelling the multiverse for some time to gain more knowledge of artifice, he returned to Fiora intent on toppling the power structures that had laughed at him as he rose through the ranks. He was directly responsible for the fall of the Academy of Paliano during the events of Conspiracy 2, and a main instigator in the goblin riots as he encouraged his kind to stand up and get out of the gutters. With Paliano in turmoil following the crowning of the new queen and the undercurrents of resistance, Daretti is now perfectly placed to take revenge on those who spurned him and alter the power structures of the city to put himself in a very advantageous political position.
Domri grew up as an abandoned orphan on the streets of Ravnica. He longed to join the Gruul Clans, but as a small and defenceless child they were not interested in claiming him. He exiled himself to the Rubblebelt, the ruined outskirts of the city, and there found an affinity with the wild beasts of Ravnica. He returned to Gruul territory and single handedly wiped out an Orzhov patrol with his creature-summoning magic; after that, Borborygmos made him an honorary member of the clan. His spark ignited when he underwent the rite of passage to formally join – he had to be buried alive, and during the process he panicked and accidentally planeswalked. He appeared on Naya, and though he was fascinated by the wild jungles, he soon returned home. Now, he serves the Gruul on Ravnica, aware that there are other worlds, and willing to test the very limits of his abilities until he is strong enough to visit them.
Dovin is a vedalken native to the plane of Kaladesh. His people believe in striving for perfection, even when it can never be achieved, and his species’ talent for discovering and correcting flaws is heightened by his own innate Planeswalker magic. He could look at a machine for just a few moments and analyse everything about it, up to and including when it might eventually fail. Though we do not know much about Dovin’s childhood, as a young adult he was noticed by the Consulate and quickly fast tracked to become the Senior Inspector, as his talent was undeniable. He was put in charge of the [c]Inventors’ Fair[/c], and when the renegade threat surfaced, he was the initial lead that brought the Gatewatch to Kaladesh, hoping they would help him. However, as it turned out, Chandra’s personal vendetta against the Consulate won out, reinforced when they discovered that Tezzeret was at its head, and they turned on Dovin and helped the rebels. We do not know what happened to him after the chaos of the Fair, but as a well-known and senior member of the government, it seems likely that we will encounter him again if we ever return to Kaladesh.
We don’t know the origin of Elspeth, as her home is a ruined plane devoured by Phyrexians. She was captured at the age of 13, and when her life was threatened in a Phyrexian dungeon, her spark ignited, and she planeswalked to Theros and never returned. She spent the next few years travelling until she encountered Bant. She settled there for a long time, and then met Ajani after his first planeswalk and healed him. After the Conflux, when Bant was destroyed and merged with the other shards, Elspeth felt despair for her lost home and ran. She found herself on Dominaria, where she met Koth and Venser, and returned with them to Mirrodin to fight against the Phyrexians she so despised. She aided them during the events of New Phyrexia, but planeswalked away after Koth tried to sacrifice himself, believing her friend was dead and the plane lost.
She returned to Theros, and there she became a hero, protecting the people and using her military might and magic for good, however, she drew the unwanted attention of the gods. When Ajani found her, she had been blamed by them for the ascension of Xenagos, and she had sworn to destroy him as he killed her only love, Daxos. Together they went to Nyx and brought down the God of Revels, but in doing so she frightened Heliod, who couldn’t conceive of a power that could kill a god; he struck her down while she was distracted. Elspeth is now trapped in Nyx, her soul bound to the Therosian realm of death, waiting for someone to come and rescue her.
Freyalise was an ancient Old Walker from Dominaria. She was born an orphan during the Ice Age, and raised in the courts of Storgard as a mage, where at a young age her spark ignited. Since she existed before the Mending, her ascension meant she became immortal and had godlike powers. She used her newfound strength to protect the elves of Skyshroud Forest from the effects of the Ice Age, and they grew to revere her as a god and sacred protector. She was one of those involved in casting the World Spell which brought an end to the Ice Age for good.
When the Phyrexians invaded, Freyalise was one of the Nine Titans, planeswalkers persuaded by Urza to aid his plan for destroying them. During Apocalypse, she travelled with her allies to Phyrexia to destroy it as per Urza’s plan, and was one of only two out of the nine who made it back out alive. After the invasion was defeated, Freyalise began to pour her own essence into Skyshroud to keep it alive, even as the Phyrexian’s poison seeped into the plane. During the events of Time Spiral, Freyalise sacrificed her life and her spark to seal the time rift above Skyshroud, hoping that this would bring an end to the suffering of her adopted people.
Garruk was raised by his father on an unknown plane. The son of a farmer, he learned to commune with nature, and was being taught green magic by his father. At the age of ten, the soldiers came to conscript him, and his father told him to run into the woods and hide. He lived seven years in the forest, surviving off nature and honing his affinity for creature magic, and during this time his spark ignited, and he planeswalked away to hunt even bigger beasts. During an excursion on Shandalar, Liliana Vess accidentally killed one of Garruk’s friendly beasts, and he confronted her, but she cursed him with the Chain Veil. He felt blackness taking him over, and followed her from plane to plane, desperate to have it removed. During the events of Avacyn Restored, he was on Innistrad, his madness was about to consume him, when he had his curse temporarily eased by the Cursemute.
Restored briefly to his senses, he chose to pursue its source, Avacyn, who may be able to heal him. However, he was caught up with Odric and some soldiers, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and the madness returned while he was being taken for judgment; he killed many and escaped. Since then, despite Jace Beleren’s best efforts to cure him, he has fallen further and further to the effects of the curse, losing all his affinity for nature and beasts. He now seeks only to slaughter every other planeswalker he meets. His location is currently unknown.
Born as Kytheon Iora on Theros, Gideon is the epitome of everything that is just and fair, though it wasn’t always that way. He grew up on the streets with his ‘irregulars’, a Robin-Hood type gang who stole from the rich, and was caught and thrown in prison. There he grew up, developing leadership, combat and discipline, along with powerful hieromancy magic which made him completely invulnerable. When the prison was attacked, he defended the city and was pardoned. He joined the army and rose through its ranks, but in his first big battle, he made a major error out of hubris and lost all his men. Crippled by guilt, his spark ignited and he planeswalked away, landing on Bant. The natives there couldn’t properly pronounce his name, so he took on the mantle of Gideon Jura and swore to start anew, and never fail to protect anyone again.
After the Conflux, Gideon became aware of a scroll that had been stolen, and pursued Chandra Nalaar. After some disastrous events on Kephalai where he found her, she warned him to stay away from her, but he followed her to Zendikar anyway, where he beheld the Eldrazi Titans for the first time. He then planeswalked immediately to Ravnica to find help from a man he had heard of, Jace Beleren. The two persuaded their mutual acquaintance Chandra to help, and with Nissa, a native of the plane, they defeated two of the Titans on Zendikar and founded the Gatewatch, an order dedicated to protecting the multiverse. After the events of Kaladesh, Gideon and the others arrived on Amonkhet to face Bolas, the greatest threat to the multiverse, and Gideon was exposed to gods once again, reminding him of his past life and the guilt he still carries. Bolas easily pierced his invulnerability, and nearly killed him, and in his shock and regret Gideon planeswalked away somewhere currently unknown.
Huatli is the first planeswalker we are introduced to from the plane of Ixalan. She was raised in the Sun Empire as a warrior, and during one battle with the famed minotaur pirate Angrath, she was about to be killed when her spark ignited and she saw a glimpse of a far-off golden city that sparkled with light. She was actually seeing Ghirapur on Kaladesh, but due to the binding on Ixalan, no planeswalker is permitted to leave; so she found herself back a moment later. Convinced that she had seen a glimpse of the Golden City, the famed and forever-lost jewel of Ixalan, she reported it to the Emperor, and he bid her to go and travel the plane in search of the lost city, in her new station as Warrior-Poet of the Sun Empire.
Jace was born on Vryn, and from a very young age was a child prodigy. His mental abilities were off the scale, and he was soon showing telepathic powers. He was tutored by a sphinx named Alhammaret, but when as a young man he discovered that Alhammaret had kept the fact that he was a planeswalker from him, he wiped out his tutor’s memory in a fit of rage, and scarred by what he’d done, his spark ignited and took him to Ravnica. He erased his own memories of the event, and lived on Ravnica for a while, working for Tezzeret’s Consortium and meeting many other planeswalkers who passed through (including Liliana, with whom he had a romantic relationship); consequently, he made a name for himself. He met Bolas once under Tezzeret’s command, and his telepathy was crushed by the dragon’s powerful mind. Later, he was implicated in the events at the Eye of Ugin while chasing Chandra on the Consortium’s behalf.
During Dragon’s Maze, he worked with Niv-Mizzet to solve the maze and then stopped war between the guilds, becoming the Living Guildpact. Soon afterwards, he was approached by Gideon asking for his help on Zendikar. After founding the Gatewatch and defeating two of the Titans, Jace took them to Innistrad based on a hunch, and there they found both Liliana and Emrakul. He was the one who solved the trail of clues and helped keep the Gatewatch safe from the madness during Emrakul’s imprisonment by Tamiyo. During the fight with Bolas on Amonkhet, the dragon was disappointed that Jace hadn’t improved since their last meeting, and nearly broke his mind, forcing Jace to planeswalk away. He arrived on Ixalan, where he has met up with an old foe from Ravnica, Vraska of the Golgari, in the search for an ancient artifact. However, he lost all his memories in the process, so he has no idea who he is or where he comes from.
Karn was created as a dummy for Urza’s time travel experiments at the Tolarian Academy. His humanoid build and silver body enabled him to travel through the Blind Eternities without being damaged. After the Academy fell, Karn joined the crew of the Weatherlight, and it was later revealed that Urza had stored the Legacy weapon within him. During Apocalypse, Karn harnessed the power of the weapon, and destroyed Yawgmoth and all the Phyrexians; with it, a planeswalker spark ignited in him, Urza’s last gift. Traumatised by the events, he decided to create his own plane – a metal plane called Argentum. He left a drone there to look after it while he travelled, but the Phyrexian oil Karn carried on him had twisted and corrupted it, and it began to call itself Memnarch and renamed the plane Mirrodin, while erecting a barrier that kept Karn out.
A group of the inhabitants defeated Memnarch, even while the oil spread, and Karn finally returned. However, he had been corrupted by the oil as well, and welcomed the Phyrexian menace. After a long war, the Mirran factions crumbled and Mirrodin became New Phyrexia. Venser, Koth and Elspeth, a trio of planeswalkers, fought their way to Karn in the depths of the plane, and Venser, who had known Karn in the past, gave up his life and his spark to save his friend. Karn’s mind cleared, and with the power of two planeswalker sparks inside him, he is now determined to take back his plane.
Kaya was born and raised on an unknown plane, but has made a name for herself across the multiverse as a contract ghost hunter. She has the ability to make herself incorporeal and interact with the spirits of the dead. Her values are slim to none, and she makes her living from job to job, taking contracts on many different planes. Most recently, she was hired by Marchesa during the events of Conspiracy 2 to assassinate the previous king, Brago, who had remained in power even after his death. With Brago gone, the whole city fell into chaos, and though Marchesa was crowned, there are now many political enemies emerging who seek the throne. As far as we know, Kaya has remained on Fiora for now, but she could very well appear again wherever there are spirits that need to be dealt with.
Kiora is a merfolk Planeswalker from the plane of Zendikar. Her spark ignited when she was nearly eaten by a leviathan. When she first saw the Eldrazi titans, she planeswalked away in order to find denizens of the sea from distant planes which could tackle the threat. She came to Theros and caught the attention of the local Triton merfolk, who believed she was a harbinger of Thassa. She went along with the rumours, much to the god’s ire, and became entangled in Ajani and Elspeth’s journey to Nyx. Thassa met them en route, and after seeing the pair safely to Nyx, confronted Kiora. They fought and Kiora planeswalked away after having stolen Thassa’s powerful bident. She returned to Zendikar and fought the Eldrazi at Sea Gate alongside the Gatewatch. However, her leviathans were no match for the Titans, and she was wounded in the fight. She was recovered by Jori En and used the bident to help the Gatewatch bind the Titans. However, she was opposed to killing them, and after Jace made the call to burn them up instead of allowing them to leave the plane, she departed. As far as we know, Kiora is still on Zendikar, trying to rebuild what is left of her tribe and her plane.
Koth is a vulshok born on Mirrodin. He has powerful earth magic enhanced by his spark. When the metal that the vulshok rely upon became corrupted with oil, and war broke out between the desperate tribes, his spark ignited and he used his magic to restore the ore and bring peace to his people. After the Phyrexian invasion truly began, he planeswalked away to find help, and found Venser, an artificer living in Urborg, and Elspeth. He brought them both back to Mirrodin only to find that the resistance was crumbling. They rallied what was left of the Mirrans and forced their way into the heart of New Phyrexia to save Karn; after Venser gave up his life to save him, Koth vowed not to give up on Mirrodin. While Karn left to do his own work, Koth and Elspeth fought their way to the centre of Elesh Norn’s domain, and Koth set off a powerful spellbomb, forcing Elspeth to planeswalk away, as he refused to let her die for him or their cause. Koth and Melira, one of the other resistance leaders, then disappeared with the rest of his resistance into the bowels of the plane and from there they protect the few remaining Mirrans, hoping they can one day save their world.
Liliana is the embodiment of beauty and danger. She was born hundreds of years ago on Dominaria, and her spark ignited after a voice calling itself the Raven Man told her to give a medicine to her brother, which instead of curing him, drove him mad. She planeswalked to Innistrad. Sorin, the lord of the plane, found her and told her she could stay if she didn’t make trouble. After the Mending, Liliana was desperate to keep her youth intact, so she made a pact with four demons – Griselbrand, Kothophed, Razaketh and Belzenlok – to stay young forever. Her power stems from an artifact she discovered on Shandalar called the Chain Veil (again orchestrated by the Raven Man), which amplifies her abilities, but is slowly corrupting her. While dealing with her demons, she hopes to discover a way to destroy it and free herself of its grasp, as well as remove the Raven Man’s presence in her life.
She killed Kothophed long ago, and Griselbrand more recently during the events of Avacyn Restored when she forced Thalia to break open the Helvault. Recently, Jace found her during Shadows over Innistrad and requested she come along with the Gatewatch. She has a complicated relationship with Jace, who is aware of her pacts and her past, having had an affair with her on Ravnica when she was trying to obtain Bolas’s help to kill her demons. She agreed to go, hoping they would aid her, and sure enough when they encountered Razaketh on Amonkhet, Jace defended her to the others and the four of them helped her slay him. When Bolas arrived, he appealed to Liliana’s common sense and survival instinct, and she planeswalked away without a fight, aware of how hopeless the situation was. Bolas told her he will come for her later, but for now, we do not know where she is or what her intentions are.
Nahiri is a Kor from the plane of Zendikar. She is also an Old Walker, born over five thousand years ago. She loves her home more than anything else, so when the Eldrazi first appeared, she was reluctant to trap them there; however, convinced by Ugin and her mentor Sorin that this was the only way, she agreed on the terms that if they ever broke out, the two would come to help her. They made a deal, and Nahiri was left to watch over Zendikar. A few centuries later, the Eldrazi tried to break free, and Nahiri called out for help but was left unanswered. She didn’t trust Ugin in the first place, but she was disappointed in Sorin who had been her friend. After the threat was dealt with, she planeswalked to Innistrad to find out what had become of him.
She found him with the finished Helvault and Avacyn and confronted him, and he explained he hadn’t heard her signal because he had been trying to protect his own plane. She flew into a rage that he considered his plane more important and fought him; Sorin won due to Avacyn’s intervention, and Nahiri was locked away in the Helvault. During Avacyn Restored, Nahiri was freed along with Griselbrand and Avacyn, and she went back to Zendikar only to see the ruins of Bala Ged with Ulamog’s brood loose. She didn’t see that the plane was recovering, and believing it dead, went back to Innistrad intent on ruining Sorin’s home in revenge. She lured Emrakul to Innistrad using a ring of hedrons, turning all his beloved angels mad, and destroyed Sorin’s ancestral mansion with all his family in it. When Sorin confronted her, she defeated him and sealed him in stone, so he couldn’t planeswalk away. She then left, and her destination and purpose is as yet unknown.
Born on the plane of Tarkir, in the original timeline Narset was the khan of the Jeskai. She always remained on the cusp of enlightenment but never ignited her spark. She aided Sarkhan in his journey to the Sanctum of Ugin, and died keeping Zurgo, the crazed chief of the Mardu, at bay while Sarkhan went back in time. When Sarkhan’s intervention changed the timeline, her life was rewritten. In the new Tarkir, she was raised under the tutelage of Ojutai and his skywise, as an incredibly bright individual with limitless capacity for learning. When she attained the status of master, she began to conduct her own research and discovered the truth of Tarkir’s past, about the khans and the strange spirit dragon Ugin. Her spark ignited at this knowledge, and though she was ousted from her clan for seeking forbidden research, she chose to remain on Tarkir, devoted to discovering all she could about her plane’s past. She met Sarkhan in the new timeline on her way to Ugin’s lair, and he chose to travel with her. The pair remain on Tarkir, trying to learn more about how the timeline changed, and finding what knowledge they can glean from a forgotten way of life. Occasionally, Narset visits Tamiyo on Kamigawa, as part of her ‘Story Circle’ like Elspeth and Ajani.
Since the very beginning, there has been Nicol Bolas. He is one of the oldest, if not the oldest being in the multiverse, and certainly the most ambitious. He was like a god during the time of the Old Walkers, with the entire multiverse under his thumb (claw?). He fought and killed Ugin in the original timeline, the only other Dragon planeswalker powerful enough to oppose him. He was briefly tricked and defeated by Tetsuo Umezawa, bound to Dominaria as a spirit, but unwittingly freed by Venser during the events of Time Spiral.
Post-Mending, he has sought only to reclaim his original power, and will stop at nothing to do so. He is the true master of the interplanar Consortium, controlling Tezzeret and all his underlings, and through that network he receives information on every known planeswalker, and has met many of them personally, either because he knew them before the Mending like Teferi, they have sought him out for information or bargaining like Liliana Vess, or because they are, or were, part of his network, like Jace Beleren. Bolas was also the one who, through manipulating Jace, Chandra and Sarkhan, orchestrated the Eldrazi’s freedom, though for what purpose we do not yet know. After failing to absorb the mana from the Conflux of Alara, his scheme thwarted by Ajani, he set up the entire plane of Amonkhet to his liking, erasing history and rewriting the gods, awaiting the moment when he could reap the reward.
His planar bridge was destroyed on Kaladesh, and when the Gatewatch went to Amonkhet to stop him, he arrived at the predetermined Hour and destroyed all of Naktamun and all its citizens with it; why he did so is as yet unknown. The Gatewatch attempted to stop him, but he beat each of them down personally and mercilessly, with the exception of Liliana for whom he holds some amount of respect, given that she was also an Old Walker, and she controls the Chain Veil. He scattered the Gatewatch and immediately afterwards, Tezzeret arrived on the plane, and Bolas told him to go to Ral Zarek, a planeswalker of Ravnica’s Izzet guild, and tell him the plan was almost complete. What Bolas intends to do on Amonkhet or with the planar bridge he so desperately wanted is as yet a mystery, but we can be sure that there is some deep, interplanar, grandiose plan in motion to seize the power he believes should be rightfully his.
An elf born of the Joraga tribe on Zendikar, Nissa was raised among her own people in the forest. She was taught the magic of an animist, and forged a special connection with her plane. She sensed a deep pain coming from the leylines, and realised that the Roil was her land crying for help. She attempted to confront the horror of the Eldrazi, but couldn’t, and in her failure her spark ignited and she found herself on Lorwyn. She was connected to that plane too, and could sense the upcoming Great Aurora. Though she was eager to find out more about Shadowmoor after the Aurora occurred, she went travelling elsewhere, hoping to find some clue as to how to help her land. After seeing Ravnica and Mirrodin, planes made of brick and metal, she was terrified, and resolved to stay on Zendikar, hoping the answers she sought lay on her home plane.
During the events of Rise of the Eldrazi, she journeyed with Sorin, who had decided to remember his responsibility, to the Eye of Ugin to inspect the prison. She ignored Sorin’s instructions and freed the Titans, hoping they would leave the plane and her world would be healed; she was wrong, though, and Sorin left in disgust. When the Gatewatch arrived, she eagerly accepted their help and used the leylines to bind the Titans to Zendikar so Chandra could destroy them. Afterwards, she agreed to go with them, knowing she had done all she could on her world. She has been afraid throughout most of the following events, not understanding worlds such as Ravnica and Kaladesh; however, on Amonkhet she sensed the menace in the leylines and in the gods before anyone else knew something was wrong, and was the first to discover the plane’s true history. She, too, was defeated by Bolas, and last we saw her, she had planeswalked away in agony to an unknown destination.
A centuries-old walker, Nixilis comes from an unnamed plane that was locked in an eternal war. In order to secure his ambitions as a conqueror, after being defeated by the other warlords, Nixilis summoned demons who obliterated every living thing on the plane other than him. Walking his dead world, he realised the futility of his ambitions, but then his spark ignited. He found the Chain Veil, but was unable to wield it and fell victim to its curse, becoming a demon. He then went to Zendikar, a land full of rich and unpredictable mana, hoping to find a way to cure himself. Nahiri was guarding the plane against interference and intercepted him, planting a hedron in his skull so he couldn’t planeswalk. He had lost his spark.
Trapped on Zendikar for thousands of years, Nixilis learned more about the hedrons than anyone, and eventually successfully lured Jace into removing the hedron in his skull; he wanted it in order to try to use it to save Garruk from the Veil’s curse. With his power finally freed, Nixilis now needed to regain his spark; during Battle for Zendikar he interrupted the binding ritual that Jace, Nissa and Gideon were attempting on Ulamog and stole the power for himself, which reignited him. He fought against the three, determined to destroy Zendikar, the plane he hated, but was defeated when Chandra showed up at the last minute, regretting her earlier decision not to come, and he retreated, finally planeswalking away from Zendikar, but swearing revenge. We do not know where he went, or when he will reappear.
Ral is a planeswalker native to Ravnica, of the Izzet guild. He is a brilliant young mage who controls the power of lightning, and though he has planeswalked to many places, has always returned to Ravnica, feeling a strong loyalty to to his guild. He worked closely under Niv-Mizzet on the Implicit Maze during the events of Return to Ravnica, and after figuring out its secrets with the help of Jace Beleren, he was angered when the dragon chose another as the Izzet’s runner. He murdered Melek, the rightful runner, and took his place. He waited for Jace at the Izzet Guildgate, and blamed him for Niv-Mizzet turning on him, claiming the mind mage was trying to usurp his position. They fought, but Jace was able to escape Ral’s wrath using illusions. At the end of the maze, when Jace became the Living Guildpact, Ral made his peace with it.
Since then, they have worked together to keep Niv-Mizzet and the rest of the guild leaders from learning of the existence of planeswalkers, and Ral has set up a system by which he can tell who enters and leaves Ravnica; he knows that Vraska has now left. As he and Jace were about to act, Liliana arrived and informed Jace of Tezzeret’s presence on Kaladesh, and Jace left against Ral’s wishes. We later learn, after the events of Hour of Devastation, that Ral is in fact working under Bolas, at least on the surface, and it seems that the lightning mage has a lot more secrets than anyone realised.
Saheeli is a talented inventor born on Kaladesh. Not much is known about her past, but when the Gatewatch arrived on Kaladesh, she was well-known as the best lifecrafter on the plane. She has the ability to transmute metals and craft them into anything she pleases, as well as instruct the life forms she creates to do her bidding. She was concerned when her friend Rashmi informed her that Tezzeret had confiscated the planar bridge, terrified of what would happen if such an invention were made public knowledge. She aided the Gatewatch in their attempt to stop Tezzeret, but refused to join them when they asked, stating there was too much still to do in the wake of the chaos. She remains on Kaladesh, helping the renegades to form a new government following the Consulate’s downfall.
Samut is a planeswalker native to Amonkhet. As a young child, she and two of her friends ventured outside of Naktamun and discovered secrets they should not have, and one of them died as a result. Her remaining friend Djeru shut himself off, saying it was retribution from the gods, but Samut vowed not to let it stop her. She grew up studying the ancient texts and learned the truth of Bolas’s betrayal, but could not convince anyone else to believe her, and was branded a heretic. She was to be made an example of as part of Djeru’s final trial, but instead she prevented Hazoret killing him at the final moment, ruining his ‘afterlife’ but pleading with him to believe her, that she had done what was best. During Hour of Devastation, Samut’s spark ignited, but she returned to Amonkhet knowing she had to save her people. She and Djeru, along with Hazoret who is the only remaining god, led their tribe into the desert after Bolas’s betrayal, hoping to forge a new community from the remnants of the old, and restore the plane to its true path.
In Tarkir’s original timeline, Sarkhan Vol was born to the Mardu clan as a warrior. He has always been obsessed with dragons and their majesty since he was a boy, but grew up in a Tarkir where they were extinct. During one battle as a general, a strange spirit that appeared as a dragon whispered a spell to him, and upon reciting it, all the men on the battlefield including his own were burnt to cinders. Sarkhan’s spark ignited and he planeswalked away in disgrace, landing on the shard of Jund. He saw many dragons there and was determined to find one he could pledge his service to; he found Nicol Bolas. Bolas bade him travel to Zendikar and guard the Eye of Ugin, where he came into contact with Jace and Chandra.
At this stage, continual contact with Bolas had driven Sarkhan to madness, and he attacked them in a rage, but was knocked out by Chandra’s scroll. When he came to, he was back to his senses and realised what kind of dragon he had been serving. He was led back to Tarkir by the voice of Ugin, and with the help of Ugin’s spirit and the khan of the Jeskai, Narset, he was able to travel back in time to when Ugin was killed by Bolas, and using a hedron he brought from Zendikar, he preserved the dragon’s life. Ugin’s existence directly affected the dragons on Tarkir, and so when he returned to his time, the plane had been forever changed, with dragonlords ruling the clans. Sarkhan was enthralled by this new world, and finally freed of all influence from Bolas and Ugin, since in this timeline he never existed. He could choose his own destiny. He sought out his friend Narset in the new timeline, and agreed to help her find out more about Tarkir’s past.
The oldest planeswalker after Nicol Bolas and Ugin, Sorin Markov is an immortal vampire of Innistrad. His grandfather Edgar created the vampiric race and Sorin was the first one he turned. The trauma of the experience ignited Sorin’s spark. For a long time, he chose to simply travel the multiverse, uncaring about anyone or anything. He was involved with trapping the Eldrazi on Zendikar, but refused to answer Nahiri’s call to help, instead absorbed with Innistrad. The human population was dwindling, so he used his authority to ban hunting for sport among his kind, and created Avacyn with a part of himself, an angel to watch over the humans and prevent them becoming extinct. He also created the Helvault, and trapped Nahiri in it when she confronted him.
He eventually returned to Zendikar to fulfil his duty, but when Nissa freed the Eldrazi, he left, annoyed that she had disobeyed him. He returned to Innistrad and found Avacyn missing. He searched for answers but found none; after dealing with Tibalt, a young planeswalker who refused to follow his rules, Avacyn had reappeared, and so he left once more. He found Ugin in the new Tarkir timeline and woke him up, informing him of the situation. Ugin told him to find Nahiri and meet him on Zendikar. Sorin returned to Innistrad, but found the Helvault open and Nahiri missing. Unbeknownst to him, she had escaped with Avacyn and had seen the destruction the Eldrazi caused to her plane. She summoned Emrakul to Innistrad, and caused the angels to go mad, forcing Sorin to undo his creation of Avacyn. She also destroyed Markov Manor; when Sorin found her, enraged but weakened by having to unmake his angel, she defeated him and trapped him in stone. Olivia Voldaren came across Sorin and laughed, saying she was now the most powerful vampire.
This is Nahiri’s ultimate revenge – with Avacyn gone and Olivia beginning a destructive reign in the wake of Emrakul’s madness, it will not be long before humans are extinct on Innistrad, and the vampires are left without food – and Sorin will be forced to sit silently and watch, unable to move or planeswalk, as his plane destroys itself.
A member of the secretive and isolated moonfolk or soratami of Kamigawa, Tamiyo has always been curious about other realms. We know nothing of her childhood, only that she has a happy family life, with two natural children, one adopted nezumi son and a loving husband, Genku. Her magic is contained in story scrolls which she reads aloud to cast her spells. She spends most of her time between Kamigawa and Innistrad, as she is fascinated with the properties of Innistrad’s moon. When she is at home, she hosts Story-Circle gatherings for planeswalkers, notably Narset, Elspeth and Ajani, to share experiences from the multiverse. After the breaking of the Helvault, Tamiyo returned home and wrote about all her research conducted on Innistrad, and during this time was visited by Ajani, who was grieving for Elspeth. When he left for Kaladesh, she returned to Innistrad, only to find it beset by Emrakul’s madness. She met Jace Beleren on his trail of clues, and prevented him from being affected by the madness with her magic. She helped him uncover the truth of the affliction, and was possessed by Emrakul who used Tamiyo’s power to imprison herself in the moon. Tamiyo informed Jace that it was Emrakul’s own free will that sealed her away, and left to return to Kamigawa, refusing his invitation to join the Gatewatch, too rattled by the experience to want to repeat it.
Another Old Walker, Teferi was born in the nation of Zhalfir on Dominaria. A bright young man from a noble family, he trained in Urza’s Tolarian Academy and was accidentally trapped in a slow-time bubble during an experiment. After he was freed, his spark ignited. Urza took special interest in Teferi and tutored him in temporal magic. When the Phyrexian invasion came, Teferi agreed to help, but didn’t trust Urza’s judgement. He went back to his homeland of Zhalfir and established a new and stable government, uniting factions that were previously at war, and conducted his own research into time magic.
When the Phyrexian invasion finally came, Teferi had been preparing for centuries, and had figured out a way to phase the entirety of Zhalfir out of the plane, in order to protect it should the worst happen. He disappeared along with it, much to Urza’s ire, and three centuries later decided to see if it was safe to return. Upon arriving back on Dominaria, though, he discovered several temporal rifts that were tearing the multiverse apart. He enlisted the help of all the planeswalkers he knew – Karn, Freyalise, Windgrace, and Jeska – and even Bolas, whom he met after a freak occurrence caused his apprentice Venser to release him from Tetsuo Umezawa’s seal. Between them, they sealed the rifts, although many of the planeswalkers died in the process. Karn survived but his mind was corrupted, and Teferi had to give up his spark. Zhalfir was also lost to time in the process, though it is not gone, simply phased outside the time stream. Teferi now lives on Dominaria as a powerful, but mortal, mage. Perhaps we will encounter him again when we return to Dominaria?
Tezzeret was born on the shard of Esper. His father was abusive and his mother a prostitute, and neither of them cared enough to even name him. He was given his name, which is Tidehollow slang for ‘shiv’, by his peers when he stabbed an older boy. His natural talents came to light when he began helping his father salvage metal, and he began to steal etherium from under his father’s nose. When he had enough, he ran away to become apprenticed to the mages in the city, mastering all they had to show him of artifice in a relatively short time. At the age of nineteen, he used the etherium he had stolen and some of what he had earned to replace his entire right arm with one made of the metal, and was immediately promoted to the rank of master.
He left to join the Academy of the Seekers in the big city, but while there, sought more knowledge than he was allowed, and was caught and beaten. His spark ignited and he fell onto Grixis, where he was discovered by Bolas who promised him the power he sought. Tezzeret seized it, and was given control of the Ravnica cell of the Consortium; however, he betrayed Bolas and replaced all the agents with his own people, including Jace Beleren. He took Jace to a meeting with Bolas to attempt to iron out differences, but Jace was no match for the dragon and he was severely beaten for his failure. Jace, with the help of Liliana, then overwhelmed Tezzeret and destroyed his mind, before taking over control of the cell. Tezzeret was found and restored by Bolas, more of a puppet than ever before. He was instrumental to the invasion on Mirrodin, detaining Elspeth, Koth and Venser as they attempted to rescue Karn, and was subsequently placed in charge of the Consulate on Kaladesh in order to secure the planar bridge, and though he was interrupted by the Gatewatch, he managed to escape with the most important components. After the events of Amonkhet, he remains Bolas’s servant, and will likely be lurking in the dragon’s shadow for a long time to come.
Tibalt was raised in Nephalia on Innistrad, an apprentice to one of the Skaberen stitchers. He was a terrible apprentice and lacked any real skill, and eventually his constant failure saw him driven out. He wandered Innistrad for a while, nursing a hatred of all the living, whom he saw as the people that had rejected him. He began to delight in the pain of others, and took to using the skills he had been taught on live subjects instead. Summoned by the cruel nature of his experiments, devils began to appear at his window to watch him work. Eventually his crimes were noticed by the local law enforcement, but before the inquisitor’s blades could touch him, Tibalt uttered a spell to fuse himself with the devils. He lost the last of his humanity, but his planeswalker spark ignited in the same moment and he was flung away from the laboratory to another plane. He returned to Innistrad, finding more delight inflicting pain on the people of his home world; however, Sorin soon caught on to what he was doing and confronted him directly as a threat to the human population. They fought, and Sorin won; Tibalt’s fate following the fight is currently unknown.
Ugin is among the oldest living beings in the multiverse alongside Bolas and Emrakul. He was one of the three who originally sealed the Eldrazi’s prison, and has a unique form of spirit magic. He was, in the original timeline, killed by Bolas for interfering with his plans and locking away the Eldrazi. They fought, and Bolas cheated by calling dragons and turning their minds against Ugin. Throughout the centuries that followed, without Ugin’s presence the Eldrazi broke free (orchestrated by Bolas) and Tarkir’s dragons died out, their existence linked to his. Ugin’s spirit managed to contact a man called Sarkhan Vol, whom he guided to the Sanctum of Ugin, and who came back in time to the point where Ugin died and changed history by saving him by cocooning him in a hedron. In the new timeline, dragons fill the skies on Tarkir, but more importantly, Sorin found Ugin alive and awoke him after the Eldrazi broke free the second time. After sending Sorin to find Nahiri, Ugin went to check on the state of Zendikar. He warned the Gatewatch not to kill them, as they don’t yet know what their purpose is, however they didn’t heed his instructions and he returned, furious with them, and berated them for their thoughtless actions. He left Zendikar to find out more about why these beings exist and what the consequences of their deaths might be for the multiverse.
Venser was a young man born in Urborg, on Dominaria. His mother died before he could remember and his father was lost to the swamps at a young age, so Venser raised himself in his workshop, tinkering with Phyrexian artifacts left over from the invasion. He had a lot of skill as an artificer, and could create fantastic inventions from the scrap. He especially had skill with teleportation artifacts, which soon drew Teferi’s attention. During the events of Time Spiral block, Teferi found Venser in the swamps and mentored him for a while, using his latent spark and inventions as fuel for helping to seal the rifts. It was during this period that Venser met Karn, and aided him in closing the Tolaria rift, and also when he unwittingly freed Bolas from his prison. When all the rifts were sealed and the Mending had occurred, Venser’s spark ignited fully, and he went to travel the planes.
However, soon after, he returned to Urborg, filled with new knowledge and a determination to finish the inventions he started. He noticed worryingly increasing symptoms of phthisis, a fatal disease caused by exposure to powerstones, which he used to fuel his work. Not long after, he was found by Koth and Elspeth. Koth was initially furious with him for meddling with Phyrexian artifacts, and dragged him to Mirrodin. Upon learning the fate of his friend Karn, Venser agreed to help, and they journeyed to the centre of what had become New Phyrexia to save Karn’s mind. After some run-ins with Bolas’s agent Tezzeret, they reached Karn, but it was too late – knowing that he would soon die from his phthisis, Venser used all his mana to give his spark to Karn, cleansing the golem’s heart fully, and sacrificing himself in the process.
A shadowy criminal with a dark and unknown past, Vraska was first brought to light during riots connected to the Golgari Swarm on Ravnica. She was among those apprehended by the Azorius and thrown in prison with abusive guards. Eventually there were too many captives and not enough guards, and they were overwhelmed, but Vraska had been so badly beaten she couldn’t escape. Her spark ignited and she found herself elsewhere, confused and battered.
Two years later, she returned to Ravnica and made a name for herself as an assassin. She stayed away from guild politics and would only do jobs she found interesting, though she was most well-known to the Golgari. In the background, she exacted revenge on all the Azorius who had been involved with the riots in which she had nearly died, and frequently planeswalked away to unknown locations. She tried to force Jace to become her servant after learning of his existence on Ravnica, but he overpowered her and brought her existence to the attention of the law enforcement and the wider public, essentially undoing her entire career on Ravnica. Vraska rallied the Kraul, the fringe members of the Golgari, to rebel against Jarad in secret, and seems to be working on a grand plan to overthrow the hierarchy. She is now on Ixalan, searching for the same artifact as her old enemy Jace, under nominal control of Nicol Bolas but intending to betray him. Jace has lost his memories, and Vraska has taken the opportunity to take Jace under her wing as her ally, as she had hoped to do in the past, without informing him of their previous acquaintance or who she is really working for.
Born in the Skola Valley on Theros, Xenagos lived his life in pursuit of pleasure. From a young age he was destined for greatness, and soon he became the leader of the satyr revels, known colloquially as King Stranger. During one revel, his spark ignited, and he was delighted to be able to bring Therosian revels to other planes. However, during his journey all he found was disillusionment – he had thought that the gods were the ultimate beings, but on other planes, they didn’t even exist. When he returned, he felt as though he could no longer partake and enjoy the parties he once had, as he knew that the gods were a farce. He began to dream of ascending to godhood himself with his newfound powers.
He organised systematic attacks on the gods’ Oracles, knowing that that was how they kept an eye on the world below. After he had blinded them to his actions, he held an enormous revel and gathered all the Nyxborn creatures to him, ultimately achieving ascension, but earning the ire of Elspeth in the process by killing Daxos during the ceremony. Heliod was terrified by the appearance of a new god, himself believing that it was impossible, and afraid of the otherworldly powers the satyr possessed. He asked Elspeth to dispose of Xenagos, and she agreed as she also wanted her personal revenge. She fought and killed him, and he fell from Nyx. Whether he is still alive in the Underworld like Elspeth, or whether he truly died is still, at this point, unknown.
So there you have it – a summary of every planeswalker ever printed, and their back stories up to the release of Ixalan. I hope you have enjoyed reading it!
Is there anything else you would like to know about a particular planeswalker? Or did you find out an interesting fact you didn’t know before? Let us know in the comments!
You might also be interested in the following articles:
- 10 Interesting Facts You May Not Know About In Magic: The Gathering Lore, by Kerry Meyerhoff
- A Comprehensive Reference Guide To Every Magic: The Gathering Set (Inc. Lore, Mechanics, Etc), by Kerry Meyerhoff
Thanks for reading,