Mirrodin Plane Study
Before its total corruption at the hands of the Phyrexians the Plane was known as Mirrodin and Argentum before that. It was the perfect mathematical creation of the Planewalker Karn. Once a place for Karn to escape the chaos of the multiverse it soon became the experimental grounds for its steward Memnarch, who in turn adapted it to its own will and design. When we think of the corruption of Mirrodim we think of the Phyrexians but the truth is that its corruption began with Memnarch's meddling. Turning simple perfection into chaos and suffering. Memnarch in his madness due to the affects of the Phyrexian oil, or that of his loneliness, populated the Plane with many races from across the multiverse and terraformed it to accommodate its new guests.
This home was not one of comfort and peace though, it was one where each race struggled to carve out its own Place under the endless day of the five suns. One where danger and death were around every corner. In this video we will be taking a snapshot of this time period in Mirrodins history and view it through the lens of the color pie, with the cards themselves as our guide. From this perspective we will gain a unique understanding of how the races of this Plane brought forth their own ideals from their home worlds and how they changed due to their environment. Let us now start our analysis of the Plane with the top of the color pie, with White.
“I may be kha, but without my soldier, my people, I am nothing”
For White we must travel to the razor fields, an inhospitable place of heat and open danger, where even the grass will cut at your legs. The primary races of the fields are that of the Leonin, Loxodon and the human variation known as the Auriok. Each maintaining a tentative alliance with one another out of necessity. As without some semblance of order no one would survive in such inhospitable conditions, as it's not just the land itself which wishes to expel the denizens of the field, they must also contend with raids by the nim, terrible monsters and Memnarch own evil design, the Leveler. To the Loxodon order is held in two ways, judgment and peace both held in an unwavering hand, just as we see on the card Loxodon Punisher which reads,
“The Loxodon believe punishment comes in two steps: pain and atonement. They have a weapon for each”
Every culture has casual sayings which are bread from truth and experience. In the case of the Loxodon and this simple yet effective saying we learn that the Loxodon give no quarter to those who cross its laws or ways of life. Another facet of Loxodon culture on Mirrodin is the upholding of religious doctrine, which might be surprising to some on such a hellish world and yet this aspects is what makes it the most believable. What you will come to find is that religion is common amongst the colors of this Plane, as if living in such a hopeless world hope must be created through gods and worship. The Loxodon are stalwart absolutists. They are standing stones among chaos and a beacon of religious order and civil action.
Along side them carving their own place on the Plane is the Leonin, and much like their presence across the multiverse the Leonin are able to create some form of structure and peace through devotion to one another and a resolve aided by its culture bread through Whites influence.
“The Wisdom of the Elders is just as much a weapon as a sword or spear. We must learn to wield it”
from the card Leonin Elder. While Leonin culture is never as rigid as other White mana ones, it never the less tends to be one where each member looks out for one another. I believe it's this side of the Leonin and its ties to white which grant it the ability to survive in harsh conditions. It's a true unity, they act as part of a pack, knowing that they are better as one than alone in the fields.
Now like every Plane in the multiverse you will find humanity spread across Mirrodin, each version of which doing what humans do best, adapting. The humans of the Razor fields are called the Auriok. To me the Auriok denote pure resourcefulness and shrewd resolution. They scavenge, they fight, and they pass down what works to the next generation hoping to give the next wave of their kin a leg up. For me the card Auriok Salvagers let's us know this in simple terms.
“Memnarch or the vedalken salvage most of the large machines, leaving us only scraps. Scraps are enough”
It's the perseverance and resilience of White, the ability to carve out a society among a land that does not want them. To hold on to each other through the tough times. If I were to make a concise observation of White on Mirrodin it would be this. Structure through necessity and order through religion. To survive on open fields of razor and blood it requires holding up one another, but in the same way laws have to be set and followed through on otherwise what sets them apart from the other savages of the Plane, of the goblins or the Nim. White on Mirrodin holds on to any illusion of the world its races once came from, that of the structures of a society which are held in lost memories....
“Vedalken eyes don't see the beauty in things. They see only what those things can teach.”
Off the shores of the quicksilver sea we have the perfect marriage of color and environment with Blue. On a plane where there is mystery around every corner and mathematical perfection begs to be studied Blue can get comfortable in a place like this. The core races in this color are the vedalkin and the humans called the Neurok, the former having built something of an amicable relationship with Memnarch. Do not mistake it for a partnership out of respect or friendship, no Memnarch only sees tools and extensions and the Vedalkin are no different. This relationship is shown on the card Synod Artificer
“Memnarch shared a touch of his power with the vedalken in return for their service. It is a debt he intends to collect.”
On a Plane that does little to accommodate its new guests the Vedalkin are the closest thing to a native population if you don't count the golems and myr. They are beings of pure function who only live to gather knowledge and iterate on function. They pride themselves in the gathering of knowledge at an almost greedy level. There is nothing else that is worth a Vedalken's time, especially of those found on Mirrodin because what else is there on this Plane but Mystery and danger. In a lot of ways it would seem that the Vedalkan are the one race who could have been native to the Plane. They seem to fit perfectly into it, whereas many other races must work hard to adapt and find their place.
As I said above the Vedalkin aren't the only ones in Blue who make Mirrodin home, as always humans have crept into this side of the Plane as well and go by the moniker of Neurok. As the Vedalkin have an uneasy alliance with Memnark the Neurok are the same with the Vedalkin. While their minds are sharp and they have moulded themselves to their environment, as humans tend to do, they lack the ever expansive minds of the Vedalkin and in turn take a position as aids in their research, and even work as couriers to them. For instance we can get an insight into this relationship on the card Thought Courier.
“It is telling of the Vedalkens' culture that they trust human couriers more than their own comrades”
The humans here serve a purpose and are granted freedom from experimentation, so long as they continue to serve this purpose. The culture of Blue on Mirrodin is one of hyper fixation on understanding the unknown and when everything is new and the mysteries of Mirrodin are many, the job is never done. I believe that Blue is the one color designed for life on this Plane and would be happy with being the only color represented here. For them this is as close to a paradise as one could get, if it weren't for the meddling of others.
“I would never have believed that on a world with four suns there could exist a place so dark”
I always like to say that Black isn't inherently evil, it feels like a phrase I almost harp on about but for once I won't as Black on Mirrodin is nothing but evil and darkness. On this Plane Black is the epitome of all that is vile and corrupt, of death decay and horror. This of course could be a case of old magic design but I don't think so. I believe for each color to survive on Mirrodin it almost has to boil down to its most simple form. White survives through structure, order and teamwork. Blue makes itself useful through its ingenuity and thirst for knowledge while Black in the case of Mirrodin is pure far reaching consumption, as if it were foreshadowing of the fate of this Plane.
Just go to where the low hum can be heard in the distance and you will arrive in mephadros, a part of Mirrodin which is nothing but a toxic wasteland of hate and rot. Smoke stacks choke the air with Necrogen pouring fourth. The primary inhabitants of Mephidros are the Nim, zombie like creatures and the Moriok the humans of this land. The Nim like most Zombies across the multiverse are concerned with little else but consumption and murder. Their skin a rotting husk of metal and flesh, their minds droning agents of evil. The card pulse of the dross put us into this mindset with its flavor text which reads
“Before tyrants or torturers, there was evil”
The Moriok while able to cling on to some form of mental acuity aren't much better. The Necorgen which fills the land has turned them into primal beings of nothing more than Hate and Greed, as seen on the card FleshGrafter.
“Necrogen inflames certain emotional centres in the Moriok's brains: hate, aggression, and especially Greed.”
It may seem like every once of humanity has been shed my the Moriok and yet they reflect the darker corners ever present in Black and present in humanity. You may feel like this is a step to far and one you would not succumb to, and yet it can be easy to default to such ways of being when all empathy is stripped away and all that is left is darkness...
“Because fighting is easier than figuring out what else to do”
The Great furnace is the burning heart of the mountains of Mirrodin. Home to both the Goblins and the Vulshok. Red on Mirrodin is Rage and religion. While the goblins make offerings to the Steel mother the Vulshok craft and trade weapons of war. The life of the Goblins on Mirrodin, like many Planes across the multiverse is one of chaos and yet there is some structure found in its religious ties. It may seem odd at first to hear of a Red based society shaping itself around a god, even if its one they made up, as I often say White is the color of religion. The truth is that it can be found in any color as we see best displayed on Planes like Theros, Amonkhet and here on Mirrodin. We have seen already and will come to see that religion is ever present on Mirrodin, its a way of explaining our place even if we are out of place.
The fanaticism that red brings to religion is an interesting one at that, the Goblins may have little structure and yet they heed the words of the priesthood and make it their mission to bring offerings to the Steel Mother. This motivation is what drives them to raid settlements in order to bring back offerings of metal, but it isn't just the metal which they toss into the fire, it is their friends and allies. Upon death it is an honor to have your body returned to the Great Furnace. This sentiment is told to us on the card Krak-Clan Stoker
“Fallen enemies are fed to the scavengers. Fallen friends are thrown into the Great Furnace, their soul returned to the Great Mother”
Humanity always finds a way on Mirrodin and each version of it adapts to their home, the human variation found on this Plane, the Vulshok, echo the mountain ranges of Steel they call home. They are rough, jagged and resilient. Surprisingly though they seem to have the most amicable relations with other races then most others on this Plane. Through trade of their coveted weapons they hold on to peace with the other races, save for the Auriok. Its interesting because I did say Mirrodin's colors were represented in a very straight forward way and yet I find Red to be unique. Yes the rage and chaos are present, and yet there is also craftsmanship, religion and trade. Don't come to think that the mountain ranges of Mirrodin are a peaceful place though, life is tough and violence is often the only answer. The truth is that Red is felt here to its extreme and every emotion is heightened. Things like obsessions, fanaticism and passion are key features none the less.
“He experiences every emotion with passion and repays every slight with vengeance”
“In bringing life to Mirrodin, Memnarch was more successful than he knew – for Mirrodin began to take on life of its own.”
Life always finds a way even in the copper forests of the tangle on the metallic Plane of Moirrodin and that life is fostered and allowed to grow. Green is a very protective color in regards to its environment, and the elves of Mirrodin fall into a similar role here as they do on other Planes. It's an interesting idea because in most cases this is because they are as old as the land they call home and feel a deep connection to it, this just isn't the case here. They are not native to this Plane and yet they will protect it and be its stewards at all costs. This shows how connected to Green the elf is. No matter where you place them they will find their home and do what they can to abide by its rules. Combat is key to survival on Mirrodin, as its a place that does not welcome its guests and so the elves of Mirrodin are aggressive in their protection of it. We see this on the card Battlegrowth which states.
“I would gladly die for this forest, but I'm much better at killing for it.”
Much like with each bio-me of Mirrodin there are humans here too, humans who reflect the mana they find themselves in. These humans are called the Sylvok and while they are not many they too reflect Greens influence on Mirrodin. Much of this racial group follow a druidic faith, believing in the tangles ability to provide for them. It is a mutual respect through a fostering of care and reverence. They hunt for what they need and use every bit, much of their diet comprising of the gelfruit which the tangle provides. Humanity adapts everywhere on Mirrodin and yet there is something more primal and true to humanities routes in the Sylvok. Let's close out Green with this quote from Sylvok Explorer
“Any creature on a druid's shoulder is his family, any land under his feet his home. ”
We can't leave Mirrodin without discussing colorless and how it is represented here. It may seem odd but colorless does have its own ideals or flavors of its own, if you haven't done so yet watch my video on colorless to learn more about this subject, but for now let's discuss colorless and its role on Mirrodin. In many ways Colorless is the true face of this Plane which makes it unique in the multiverse which we have discovered so far. It's creator Karn, colorless itself, fashioned this place as his ideal vision, that of Argentum. His creations the golems were in a way a reflection of his vision of himself. While the new races made this place their home the golems are the Plane said perfectly on the golem cycle, I want to read the flavor text on the card Cobalt Golem.
“Centuries before the first tide of the Quicksilver Sea rose to meet each new sun, Mirrodin's light shone on the golems alone”
What always drives me to be fascinated with colorless is its timelessness, its eternal watch over a world in which they do not impose themselves and are instead a piece of it left to wander. Not pondering its existence, but rather simply marching forward acting out its eternal design. In another way we see the colors of mana spilling forth unto the Plane shaping it around them. Colorless is in a way a mirror which reflects the deeds and ideals of its for-bearers. Such as the towers who loom overhead projecting the mana forth from themselves, or the Myr who act as Memnarchs eyes, viewing the creation in all its forms, becoming watchers over the mana they are tasked to behold.
Mirrodin is a Plane like no other, a truly unique place where any conventions we consider the norm in the multiverse are thrown away. Long ago it was Argentum a plane of peace and perfection, then it was transformed into Mirrodin, an extension of a mad golems wish to twist the Plane into its own vision. Finally it would become new Phyrexia and fall fully into madness and despair. Mirrodin is a Plane we all hold dearly as we see how it has been treated. In a way my heart aches for Mirrodin and yet a spark of hope remains that one day perhaps it can be the perfect vision that Karn had once had.
I hope you enjoyed this discussion on Mirrodin. If you like this sort of thing then consider becoming a site member that way you will be notified when my next article goes live. If you want more dicetry then check out the links below. With that friend, I'll catch you in the mutliverse bye!
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