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One Color Makes all the Difference | Hypothetical Magic: the Gathering Plane

In a recent video of mine I spoke to how a set based around four color combinations wouldn't work, and furthermore that such a combination is not defined enough to be interesting. But from the depths of the comment section a common sentiment rang out over and over. Four color is defined by the color it lacks, it was something I briefly mentioned in that video and so I shrugged it off at first, as it didn't really change my opinion, but then slowly a spark of an idea began to grow, one built upon the back of the Shards of Alaraa. In this sets each shard was designed in a way that looked to the repercussions of lacking mana, and you know what, such an idea could be replicated to accomplish this four color concept. So let's do just that, in this article I will craft 5 mini Planes, each defined by the mana that is missing. With that join me on this creative thought experiment, to uncover worlds where only four colors of mana are present.

No White – Dracorium

Dracorium is a Plane of turmoil and violence, it has been for thousands years and will be for thousands of years to come. Because of the near constant turbulence that sweeps the land, it is a Plane with no major factions, but instead is littered with many minor ones. Each of these factions are tumultuous, breaking apart and reforming into new ones as continual war grips the Plane, each faction vying for power, or just simply lashing out due to old grudges. Some say this continual war is a product of the Plane itself, of its lack of White mana, which has always fostered this undercurrent of anarchy and brutality. like a fire that is born in the belly of every inhabitant.

No other creature or race exemplifies this more than the dragon kin. Their bodies scaled like armor, their claws like swords, always ready to engage in combat, and enthusiastic to do so. War does have one benefit though, and that is the cultivation of technology aimed at crafting war machines. As such Dracorium is a Plane with an acute eye for artifice and augmentation, but only of that which sheds blood. Artificers and warriors are inseparable aspects of this Planes identity, with the warriors made up of Red and Black mana, their fierceness knowing no bound. And the artificers, that of Blue and Green, who experiment with forging death machines and bio mechanical enhancements of war.

No clan can hope to prosper without either the warriors flame or the artificers hammer. With a lack of White mana, there are no open an idealic spaces to rest, as if land itself was meant to be an uncomfortable. Thus wars are fought on sharp mountains and deep jungles, rough seas and bubbling swamps. No lasting structures can be found anywhere, and borders are always changing, due to constant war and the struggles between the many clans, thus the inhabitants of Plane are nomadic by necessity. As such caravans of varying sizes snake across the Plane, with large machines lumbering along beside them, the rumble of war always present.

No Blue – Aracelis

Aracelis is a plane devoid of Blue mana and as such the Plane has remained relatively primitive compared to the others, as there is little desire for an expansion of knowledge present in any of its inhabitants. Instead the people of this Plane prefer to live off of what has sustained them since time forgotten. By utilizing wild magic they have been able to supplement their lack of science with a greater connection to the natural world. In this way the Plane has remained relatively unchanged for countless years, with no real advancements or technological leaps.

This has resulted in a world where each faction within values the old ways and the traditions of their people, as these ways of life have sustained them for generations; why move forward when what has always worked for us continues to do so. This continual application of traditions over the course of countless generations have had the effect of slowly evolving each faction to reflect them. The White aligned faction, having relied on traditions based on cooperation, have valued their rituals of reproduction, and so their numbers are vast yet their stature is small in order to maintain resources.

The Black faction, having valued traditions that favors individual strength is tested through annual tournaments, which has resulted in them growing larger and stronger than any other inhabitant. The Red faction holding fast to traditions that value expression, ones facilitated by large parties held during their many festivals, have rendered them lithe and wild.

Finally those of Green act upon the oldest traditions of solidarity with the earth, and so they lay sleeping in her care only waking once every ten years, as such their bodies are thick and covered in moss which seems to grow from their skin. This is how Aracelis has remained for centuries forgotten and may stand for many centuries more, for why progress when everything we need is right here.

No Black – Luminesca

Luminesca is a beacon of light among the five planes, for the darkness of Black has never held it sway over the land. The Plane itself is one sprawling interconnected cityscape, with the Obelisk of the Old father at its center, an artifact that has been here for longer than any person can recall. This Obelisk radiates light which streams out across the Plane like rivers of golden mana. This radiant energy coats the Plane in a warm luminescence which grants a sense of calmness to all.

Because of the interconnected nature of this Plane and the influence of the Obelisk, cooperation is a way of life. Each person within this Plane holds no position over one another, and each fulfills only their specific task. The only ones who could be said to hold greater influence are the four keepers. These Keepers are appointed by the people and tested by the old father, and if deemed worthy take their seat as the four aspects of the Planes ideologies.

These aspects are, the keeper of order, the keeper of knowledge, the keeper of compassion, and the keeper of tradition. Each of these keepers exemplify the core tenants that hold this society together, and are said to be the only ones who can commune with the old father. Within each of the keeper's domains are assigned districts and primary responsibilities.

In the Serenity Enclave, elected officials study and refine laws, within the Quillspire, librarians and scientists cultivate vast knowledge, over at the Heartwell, empath mages remove the ailments of ones soul and mind, and finally in the Heritage Haven, the words of the old father are reflected upon and is a place where traditional ceremonies are held. Each citizen among these districts then works tasks that help the society function in different ways, all culminating in a shared ecosystem of cooperation and responsibility to one another.

No Red – Mythora

Mythoria is a grey world where function trumps expression and Red mana is no where to be found. One where no act may be carried out without much bureaucracy, with regulations upon regulation. You see in Mythoria there is a great repulsion towards chaos, and as such anything that could lead to it is stifled. This results in a shared rejection of emotions in any way. For emotion leads to expression, and expression leads to impulsive action, and impulsive action leads to chaos. Because of this everything moves slow and in a singular and forward direction. For the whims of an individual creates unpredictability within society.

Thus there is no room for anything that can lead to personal expression. Meaning that art, music and performance are banned in any form, though without any Red present such demands aren't required. All this leaves the inhabitants of this Plane with is their work, leading to a Plane where ones job, and rank become their entire identity. This heavily structured system is one where forward mobility is the end goal of each citizen, for what other way is there to prove ones value than to achieve a greater job or role?

This mentality among the people is exemplified by the vast network of cooperate sounding titles, with each person in this society taking orders from or giving orders to several others. This ensures that no one person may act in a way that is not cosigned by another. It is a place where every act is based on logical outcomes, and never emotional outbursts.

In this way war between rival factions doesn't happen on the battlefield but rather in one of the great halls, one where the best resolution is debated in a calm and collected manor. Often times these debates can last generations, the longest of these wars has been going on for 150 years. Welcome to Mythoria, home of bureaucratic perfection.

No Green – Aethex Prime

Aethex Prime is our final Plane, one where Green mana has never been present in the composition of this world. Without the essence of nature flowing through everything the land has deteriorated into a wretched place. Great deserts choke the land, jagged and sharp mountains cut at the sky, putrid swamps bubble with toxic waste, and the ocean is acidic. It is a seemingly inhospitable Plane, and yet the inhabitants have evolved to sustain themselves in such a world.

The stonekin's resilient bodies and adaptable nature have allowed them to thrive where no other humanoid could hope to. Some say the Plane once held the lushness of Green mana but the people who lived here before destroyed everything, and now they are gone and only the stonekin remain. In the vile swamps the stonekin clans with obsidian skin plan their expansions into other realms. Those who live off the coast, their skin made of turquoise, have learned to refine the acidic ocean using alchemy.

The stonekin of the harsh mountain ranges, their skin like that of volcanic rock, erupt from their enclaves to raid settlements. The stonekin of the desert, with layers of Sedimentary rock on their back, are slow moving and prefer to build permanent cities within the vast desert. Survival here is predicated on sapping what little resources exist from the Plane and controlling the rest. From each domain the stonekin expand, some more aggressive than others. It is said that none can coexists and it is this mentality that has further ravaged everything around them.

Lessons Learned?

While each Plane holds the potential for deeper world building, with what I have crafted so far, we do begin to see what effect the removal of a color from a Plane has, and as such get a tertiary idea of what sort of philosophies could be fostered. You may have noticed though that there are no 4 color factions within any of these Planes, only mono or dual, and that was intentional. I believe if we were to create such a set, it would be best to have a light touch when it came to 4 colored cards, and instead create small factions who are still shaped by the color missing in some way. What I mean is that even though a faction is Black aligned, you can feel, for instance, the effect of the missing Green mana upon the color.

This lack of mana present on a Plane has this odd rippling effect that sort of unbalances the pie, leading to skewed versions of each color, and I think within this space something interesting is born. This is because the color pie has a reliance on the dance between one another, the push and pull of its two allies and two enemies, but when there is only 4 colors present this balance is disrupted. Instead this void left behind by one of the colors missing, almost acts like a black hole, twisting the remaining colors.

What does it mean to have a world without Green for a color like White, who takes some influence from Green and its reliance on balance. What happens to Red on a Plane with no White mana, does it then act far out of control without that friction in place? Honestly the options are endless here, and this is but one way, and one version, of tackling the four color problem.

Of course on such a Plane as this you would still want some four colored character who exemplify the Plane's core concept but I do think the beauty of such a Plane, is in uncovering the ways the other colors are effected when there is that core shift in how the color pie is supposed to function. Sometimes destruction breeds creativity, so feel free to take the Planes I have created here and build upon them, or make your own, because at the end of the day, the only limit is your imagination.

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