Nature of Dominia
by John Tynes
©1995 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Dominia is a multiverse of constant change and unorthodox challenges. Worlds spin, planes shift, and realities collide more often than you or I blink our eyes. In an infinite multiverse of unguessable possibility and unending change, what is the most precious commodity to those who understand the nature of Dominia?
Dominia has gods, though it was not created by gods. These gods roam from world to world, plane to plane, reaping the energies of each in the form of mana -- magical energy. They know each other by the common name of Planeswalkers. They are not omnipotent, or omnisicent, but they are worlds beyond the vast majority of Dominia's inhabitants in both power and intellect. Planeswalkers alone know what mana is, and know the forms it takes. There are many wizards in Dominia who are not Planeswalkers, and who therefore know nothing of the five forms of mana. Nor do they know the secrets of planar travel, or of summoning creatures to your side in battle. These secrets, like all the spells seen in the game, are the exclusive provenance of the planeswalkers. Yet even these mighty beings, who can call to their service creatures from across space and time, fear change... and seek stability.
A planeswalker can not travel with complete freedom -- like all of nature, they are subject to the shifting planes. A sudden (but naturally-occuring) wrench in the fabric of one plane's reality can leave a planeswalker cut off from the routes of travel they know best. To a planeswalker, the multiverse is a labyrinth of roads, gates, and mystical passages that is partially understood at best. Most planeswalkers can navigate fairly well as long as they stay on planes that are known to them. But if they should find themselves on an unknown plane, they must find a new way, a new passage, back to the planes they do know. Some planes, however, are moving so fast and so far that it could be years before a passage is again available. Planeswalkers do not routinely fear death, but they do fear loss of freedom and mobility. Many planeswalkers have been lost on strange planes so long that when they finally could return not only were they long-forgotten, but their knowledge of the paths between planes and the power sources they used to tap was hopelessly out of date.
To counter this fear, planeswalkers seek stability. They seek planes that have reliable, well-worn passages among them. They also seek diversity in both magical energy and natural life: energy to power their magics, and life to bend to their will. All of these things have been found, surrounding and enveloping a world known to the planeswalkers as Dominaria (DAH-min-ARR-ee-uh)-- "the song of Dominia." It is on Dominaria and the planes it routinely touches that many Planeswalkers have come to reside.
Dominaria is a massive world, supporting a staggering variety of beings and cultures. The surface of Dominaria is divided into dozens of small continents, each of which developed more or less indepenently up to the point at which extended ocean travel and trade became common. The result is a nexus of small civilizations with very different beliefs, customs, and life forms.
But the influence of Dominaria extends beyond the surface of the world. For reasons even the planeswalkers do not comprehend, Dominaria has become the focus point for a variety of other planes which maintain either constant or frequent connections with it. These other planes are other universes, which touch Dominaria in a variety of locations and through a variety of methods. Some planes are always "in phase" with Dominaria, and many inhabitants don't even realize that they have passed from one plane to another -- the journey is routine and seamless. Other planes come and go, sometimes touching at the same point, sometimes not. Many of these plane-gates are understood by those who live in the area, and the times at which the planes touch are celebrated with festivals and excitement. Still other planes are drawn to Dominaria's stable presence, caress it briefly, and move on.
The stability of Dominaria and its sister planes have drawn the planeswalkers there. Dominaria is vast, and its sources of mana are large and easy to tap. The great variety of creatures present means that the planeswalkers have many, many beings to call on in their great magical duels. The ease with which a planeswalker can slip between Dominaria and its sister planes is very attractive to them. Given that the loser of a magical duel must leave the current plane, the variety and stability of intersecting planes is even more attractive. On other worlds, having to flee to the closest plane means not always knowing where you're going to end up. In the realms of Dominaria, however, the degree of safety in interplanar travel is a known quantity, and a comforting one.
Imagine a large globe, hanging in space, covered in gossamer webs. As it spins, single strands of fine silk unspool and extend from the globe like slender arms. Another smaller globe is drawn to the larger one and as it grows near it is caressed by a single thread. This thread melds with the smaller globe, forming a connection, and the two globes spin together. Other globes approach, and each in turn is caressed and caught by a thread til there are several firmly attached. Still others approach, are caressed and kissed, but then move on. Among those that stay, the threads occasionally break, but momentum keeps them in place until another thread can lay claim to it once more.
The large globe is the plane on which Dominaria resides. The smaller globes are not other worlds, but other planes. Those that are caught and held are the planes with which Dominaria has either constant or very frequent connections. Those that are touched but move on are those planes which form a connection only briefly, and might well never return again.
The stability provided by Dominaria is the reason why so many planeswalkers call it home. There are other planes, to be sure -- such as Shandalar, where mana flows like water; Rabiah, where desert kingdoms battle powerful djinns; and others -- but for planeswalkers, Dominaria is the place to be.
The sages of Minorad have a saying: "To know a thing, change that thing." Dominia may, to some degree, be understood from the perspective of a human, or even from that of a planeswalker. Its constant shifts and shimmies may, to some degree, be understood and anticipated. But ultimately, none may truly know Dominia for none may truly change it -- Dominia changes itself, and knows itself, and that is the nature of Dominia.
A Timeline of Dominaria
Dominaria, the world at which dozens of planes intersect, has a long and exciting history. From the long-lived perspective of planeswalkers, however, there are several major defining events that stand out.
Because Dominaria is a world with many cultures, there is no single calendar or way of telling the year. Different lands have their own ways of marking the passage of time. As a result, the timeline below is uncertain at best, but has been assembled with the aid of the planeswalker Taysir.
About four thousand years ago, the Brothers' War occured on the continent of Terisiare. This terrible conflict between the artificer twins Urza and Mishra resulted in great advances in the creation and usage of magical artifacts, but the massive magical devastation of their conflict resulted in climactic shifts and changes in weather patterns. The tale of this conflict is seen in the Antiquities expansion, and in some cards in Fourth Edition.
A few decades later on the southern continent of Sarpadia, the changes in weather (which herald the onset of the Ice Age) make resources scarce, and eventually the empires of Sarpadia go to war. The outcome is disaster for just about everyone. This tale is told in the Fallen Empires expansion. Also, the events of The Dark expansion occur elsewhere in Dominaria.
As the decades pass by, the magical disaster of the Brothers' War continues to have a massive effect on Dominaria and a terrible time known as The Dark begins. Knowledge of this period is sketchy at best, but it is remembered as a time of treachery and intrigue when the rich and powerful grappled to seize control of as much magic as possible at the cost of the peoples they ruled. Massive destruction and despair enshrouded Dominaria for several hundred years.
The Dark time comes to a close as the Ice Age begins, and glaciers begin creeping outwards from the poles. Weather gets colder worldwide, and many civilizations fall. The struggles of The Dark are a distant memory; now the struggle for simple survival is supreme.
Two thousand years into this terrible Ice Age, things get interesting. On the continent of Terisiare, civilizations have risen and fallen as the glaciers have advanced. Now, the lone civilized land of Kjeldor is menaced by the forces of a necromancer, Lim-Dûl, as seen in the Ice Age expansion. Late in the fighting, the forest goddess Freyalise (actually a planeswalker) magically reverses the course of the Ice Age and the glaciers begin to recede far ahead of the natural schedule.
It is now the present day on Dominaria. The Ice Age is a distant memory, and the peoples and places of Magic Fourth Edition are present on a large continent known commonly as the Domains. The people and places of the Arabian Nights expansion is also present in this time period, as is the action of the novels. On the continent of Stonehaven, the action of the comic books is transpiring, too.
Dominaria's history is long and full of conflict. In the cards of the game, you will see bits and pieces of the history of this world (among others). They are not a complete history. Such a history does not, in fact, exist: it resides instead in the minds and hearts of the multitudes--planeswalkers and mere mortals alike--who have called Dominaria home.
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