Magic the Gathering Planeswalkers | Explore the Lore

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Magic the Gathering: Origins -What it Means to be a Planeswalker

For this post I want to delve back into the world of Magic the Gathering.  We are going to examine the planeswalkers.  We will look at a short back-story on how they got their spark and what colors of magic they wield.  We will end with where they currently are thought or known to be.

What it Means When a Planeswalker has Their Spark Ignited

In the game Magic the Gathering you are a planeswalker dueling against other planeswalkers.  You can summon creatures, cast spells, wield ancient artifacts, or summon allies in other planeswalkers to help you win the game.  You achieve all this by using the resource mana. There are five kinds of mana:

  • Red -represented by mountains. This is the magic of fire, rage and aggression.
  • Black -represented by swamps. This is the magic of death, decay and evil.
  • Green -represented by forests. This is the magic of nature
  • White -represented by plains. This is the magic of life, goodness and justice
  • Blue -represented by islands. This is the magic of the mind.

Most planeswalkers have an affinity with one or two colors of mana. There are a few exceptions that I will cover when going over all the planeswalkers.

Magic the Gathering PlaneswalkersMagic the Gathering Planeswalkers | Photo via: reddit

Not everyone can become a planeswalker. There are many magic wielders throughout the planes that cannot and will never planeswalk. There must be hidden spark inside them.  This is what allows them to travel from plane to plane. In order to ignite it they must be tested emotionally in some way to draw on all their mana and draw them out into the multiverse.  The first planeswalk can be a harrowing experience because they don’t know where their destination will be. Once a spark is ignited the planeswalker is free to travel throughout the many planes. There are few times a planeswalker has lost their spark and I will cover them later.

A planeswalkers affinity for mana may change throughout their life. They usually stay true to one color but the second may change based on their life events. An example is Nahiri. She was a white planeswalker and when her home plane of Zendikar was almost destroyed she was filled with a rage, making her tap into red mana and changing her affinity to red/white.

The Planeswalkers

Ajani Goldmane:
He is an albino leonin (lion like humanoid) whose spark ignited when his brother Jazal was assassinated.  He is a white planeswalker at his core that summons leonin to aid him.  He also tends to cast magic that will heal or increase the power of his allies. He has gained an affinity for a different color twice. When confronting Nicol Bolas, the rage he felt allowed him to tap into red. When he was on Theros looking for Elspeth he tapped into the green magic of the plane. His last known whereabouts are Theros, where he was dragged away from a dying Elspeth.
Arlinn Kord:
The first werewolf planeswalker we have met. Her affinity is to red/green.  When she was afflicted by the ways of lycanthropy she sought to control it. She even went to the church of Avacyn to find a way.  While training there she lost control and transformed, killing several lunarchs.  The guilt and pain she felt caused her spark to ignite and she was whisked away to another plane where she found she could control her wolf side and human side.  This gave her new insight into what it means to be a werewolf. She now seeks to protect the werewolves of Innistrad from extinction at the hands of the Church of Avacyn.
Ajani GoldmaneAjani Goldmane | Photo via: gamelore.wikia
Arlinn KordArlinn Kord | Photo via: traduzionimtg-ita.tumblr
There is not much known about this planeswalker.  Ashiok is a black/blue mage who can make your nightmares become reality.  Last known whereabouts are Theros where Ashiok sought to gain power from Nyx’s ability to manifest dreams.
Chandra Nalaar: 
This human planeswalker is red to the core. She has never strayed from this. Her spark was ignited when she was a young. She was being accused of a crime she did not commit by a corrupt government.  She was captured and sentenced to death. When the executioners came calling her spark ignited and she burned them with flames before planeswalking away.  She found herself with pyromancer monks who taught her to control her powers.  Last we saw her she was on the plane of Zendikar with the gate watch and had just destroyed two of the Eldrazi titans.
AshiokAshiok | Photo via: mtgsalvation
Chandra NalaarChandra Nalaar | Photo via: steveargyle.deviantart
Dack Fayden: 
Dack is a red/blue planeswalker from the plane of Fiora. His spark ignited when some men killed his best friend. Once he realized he could travel the planes he sought to test himself and fill his pockets at the same time. He tried to steel an artifact on the plane of Alkabah but got caught. He was tried and found guilty. They dyed his hand red to show everyone that he was a thief. When he finally came home to Fiora he found his village had been destroyed by another planeswalker, Sifa. He tracked her down to the plane of Ravnica and defeated her.  He now resides on the plane of Ravnica.
This goblin is a red planeswalker who ignited his spark when an experiment he was working on exploded, sending him planeswalking away. Unfortunately, this also destroyed his legs.  He has since built himself a device allowing him to get around. He currently resides on the plane of Fiora.
Dack FaydenDack Fayden | Photo via: gatheringmagic
DarettiDaretti | Photo via: mtgsalvation
Domri Rade:
He is a red/green planeswalker from the plane of Ravnica.  It is not known how he got his spark. He can summon beasts to aid him and enhance their abilities.  He is a member of the Gruul clan.  He is very reckless and impulsive, which leads him to summon even bigger and hard to control beasts since getting his spark.
Elspeth Tirel:
This white planeswalker is from an unnamed plane controlled by Phyrexians. Her spark ignited when Phyrexians attacked her. She fights for the noble cause leading armies of soldiers and casting spells to protect them. She was last seen on Theros where she slayed the planeswalker turned god Xenagos.  After which she was killed by Heliod. The last we know of her is that Ajani sees her being taken away by Erebos, God of the dead.
Domri RadeDomri Rade | Photo via:
Elspeth TirelElspeth Tirel | Photo via: magic.wizards
She is a half-elf green planeswalker from the plane of Dominaria. She was a protector of the elves there and helped Urza defend the plane from a Phyrexian invasion. Of the nine planeswalkers that helped defend Dominaria, she was one of 2 that survived. After the war she defended the elves till the fabric of time began to unravel opening a rift above the elves she protected. She gave her life to seal the rift.
Garruk Wildspeaker:
This green planeswalker learned his magic from his father. He learned to summon great beasts to do his battles and became a great hunter. One day a corrupt sheriff came to conscript Garruk into the king’s army. His dad sent him to hide. The sheriff killed his father.  Garruk sought revenge and summoned a great wurm to devour the sheriff, igniting his spark. The helm he wears is from the sheriff.  He then went in search of the greatest hunts of all, tracking beast on every plane. He is one of the planeswalkers whose colors have changed.  He was cursed by the planeswalker, Liliana, and is slowly being corrupted.  He has embraced this dark side; making him green/black and he now seeks other planeswalkers as his prey.
FreyaliseFreyalise | Photo via: mtgedh
GarrukGarruk | Photo via: gamelore.wikia
Gideon Jura:
Gideon is a mighty white planeswalker from the plane of Theros.  He came from a humble beginning, leading a gang of street kids till he was imprisoned.  While in prison he learned the art of hieromancy (law magic) and grew up to be a fine soldier in the city of Akros.  He gained much fame and Heliod made him his champion.  Gideon and his troops took on a champion of Erebos, an enormous titan.  They defeated it and Gideon could saw a pair of eyes appear in the sky above.  In his arrogance he hurled his spear at them and Erebos deflected it back at him.  It hit Gideon and exploded killing all his soldiers but leaving him whole.  This triggered his spark and he planeswalked away to Bant.  He would become a defender of the weak and a champion of justice to atone for his arrogance.  Last we saw him, he as on Zendikar helping destroy the Eldrazi titans.
Jace Beleren:
Jace is a blue planeswalker who uses mind magic and illusions to control and manipulate a situation.  He was trained on his home plane by a sphinx named Alhammarret who was using him for political reasons.  When he found this out, the two battled. The results being that Jace’s mind was shattered and wiped, but also that his spark ignited, sending him to Ravnica. Now he serves as the living guild pact on Ravnica and is currently on the plane of Innistrad trying to find Sorin to get more answers about the Eldrazi.
Gideon JuraGideon Jura | Photo via: cubetutor
Jace BelerenJace Beleren | Photo via: gamelore.wikia
Here is our first exception to the color scheme. He is a colorless planeswalker.  He was created by the planeswalker, Urza, to travel through time bubbles, but grew in sentience and became part of Urza’s legacy weapons to be used to destroy the Phyrexian menace.  Upon defeating them Urza’s sacrifice caused Karns spark to ignite.  Karn created his own plane, Mirrodin.  While he was away Phyrexians corrupted it.  He returned from the multi verse to be corrupted as well. He was driven insane and heralded as the Phyrexians new leader.  A group of planeswalkers rescued him and his friend Venser gave up his spark and life to cure Karn of the corruption. He now is off searching for the cause of the Phyrexian corruption.
Kiora is a blue/green planeswalker from Zendikar. She travels plane-to-plane searching for denizens of the deep to use against the Eldrazi that are invading her home.  She traveled to Theros looking for these creatures and stole a god weapon from Thassa, the god of the sea.  Last we saw of her she was aiding in the destruction of the Eldrazi titans on Zendikar.
KarnKarn | Photo via: gpportoalegre.wordpress
KioraKiora | Photo via: zeerbe.blogspot
Koth of the Hammer: 
He is a red planeswalker who wields geomancy.  His spark ignited when the members of the local tribes on his home plane of Mirrodin began warring for the first time in ages.  He is currently still on Mirrodin leading the resistance against the Phyrexians.
Liliana Vess:
She is black planeswalker who is adept at necromancy.  She was originally from the plane of Dominaria.  Liliana was a healer for her town and when her brother became sick she turned to dark magic to cure him.  Instead of curing him, she turned him into a zombie and this caused her spark to ignite. Liliana grew old and sought immortality.  To accomplish this, she signed a pact with 4 powerful demons. This pact is tattooed on her skin and gives her an extended life at the cost of her soul.  Now with the help of the Chained Veil, a powerful artifact, she seeks to destroy these four demons and regain her soul.  She currently is on the plane of Innistrad.
Koth of the HammerKoth of the Hammer | Photo via: artofmtg
Liliana VessLiliana Vess | Photo via: steveargyle.deviantart
Nahiri, The Lithomancer:
This white planeswalker is one of the three planeswalkers that originally trapped the Eldrazi titans.  With her ability to magically meld stone, she created the hedron network that held them.  Now she is red/white and seeks revenge on Sorin for not coming to help when the Eldrazi were released.  She is leading a war on Innistrad against Sorin currently.
Nicol Bolas:
An elder dragon, this planeswalker wields black, blue and red. One of the oldest living planeswalkers, Nicol Bolas is from a time when planeswalkers were god-like beings whose limitations were only their experience and imagination.  At one point, an event called The Mending happened. This cost several planeswalkers their spark and changed all planeswalkers forever by limiting their power. Now Nicol Bolas seeks to regain the power he once had.  He will go to any means to achieve this. He had a hand in releasing the Eldrazi Titans sending his pawn Sarkhan Vol to help facilitate that. It is unknown where he is currently scheming to gain more power.
Nahiri, the LithomancerNahiri, the Lithomancer | Photo via: artofmtg
Nicol BolasNicol Bolas | Photo via: mtgsalvation
Nissa Revane:
This elven green planeswalker is attuned to the elemental leylines and is able to communicate with the land of Zendikar itself.  She was a druid of the elves of Zendikar when the soul of Zendikar began teaching her how to commune with the land.  She delved deep and found the Eldrazi Titans imprisoned there and they nearly drove her mad.  She planeswalked away and this is how her spark was ignited.  She later returned to Zendikar where she used her powers over the leylines to trap two Eldrazi Titans.  She then channeled all of the mana left on Zendikar into Chandra who destroyed them. She is currently part of The Gatewatch and is on Zendikar helping heal the destruction caused by the Eldrazi.
Ob Nixilis: 
This black demon planeswalker was not always this way.  He was once a human who conquered a whole plane.  Finding no other goals there his spark ignited and he traveled the universe seeking more power till he came across a powerful artifact, The Chain Veil. Its power corrupted him and turned him into a demon.  Ob Nixilis began searching for a cure; this brought him to Zendikar.  He met its guardian, Nahiri, and she used her lithomancy to take away his spark and trap him on Zendikar by placing a hedron in his head.  After years of scheming he has finally used the escape of the Eldrazi Titans to remove the hedron and reignite his spark. His whereabouts are unknown but he is planning vengeance on all the planeswalkers that have wronged him.
Nissa RevaneNissa Revane | Photo via: gamelore.wikia
Ob NixilisOb Nixilis | Photo via: mtgsalvation
Ral Zarek:
This blue and red mage hales from Ravnica.  Under the tutelage of the Izzet guild he learned to become an adept mage.  When his spark ignited he still held his loyalties to the guild. This however changed when it came time to choose a champion to represent the guild in the maze run to become the living guild pact of Ravnica. The guild leader chose a newly created champion. Now Ral Zarek seeks to prove his worth at any cost.
Sarkhan Vol:
This is the most complicated of planes walkers we have encountered. Rhe only color he stays true to is red.  Sarkhan is a dragon-worshiping planeswalker from Tarkir.  He was an accomplished shaman and warrior of the Mardu clan.  During a battle with a rival clan, a dead dragons spirit whispered a spell into his mind and it summoned a molten dragon that incinerated both enemy and ally.  This caused a new found passion to grow in him and ignited his spark. At this point he was a red/green planeswalker. He then traveled the planes looking for a dragon to serve.  He found Nicol Bolas and pledged his loyalty to him.  This drove him mad and he became a red and black planeswalker.  After helping Nicol Bolas release the Eldrazi Titans he regained his sanity and was drawn back to his home plane of Tarkir, becoming just a red planeswalker.  He found that it was the spirit of the dragon planeswalker, Ugin, calling to him.  With the help of the clan leader of the Jeskai he traveled into the past and saved Ugin.  Upon returning to the future he finds Ugin alive and his plane ruled by dragonlords. At this point he is a red, blue and green planeswalker.
Ral ZerekRal Zerek | Photo via: cosplayhouse
SarkhanSarkhan | Photo via: daarken
Sorin Markov:
This vampire was originally a black planes walker but, since his original appearance, he is now black and white.  He became a planeswalker when his father made him into a vampire; this caused his spark to ignite. He sees himself as the protector of his home plane Innistrad.  He was one of the three planeswalkers who originally imprisoned the Eldrazi Titans.  Currently he is on his home plane of Innistrad engaging in a war with Nahiri who blames him for the near destruction of Zendikar.
This blue planewalker is a soratami (moonfolk) from the plane of Kamigawa.  She revels in knowledge and as far as we know she is on the plane of Innistrad researching with the astronomer Jenrik.  She seeks knowledge of the moon and how it affects the inhabitants of Innistrad. However, Jace has found her journal and this could mean she is no longer with us.
Sorin MarkovSorin Markov | Photo via: magic.wizards
TamiyoTamiyo | Photo via: magic.wizards
This blue planeswalker comes from the land of Zhalfir on the plane of Dominaria.  He started his training under the planeswalker Urza. As a young mage he was adept at temporal magic and helped Urza prepare for his war against Phyrexia, until a Phyrexian attack left him imprisoned in a slow time bubble for two decades. He emerged to find everyone else aged and himself still a young teenager. He continued his studies and continued to help Urza.  Eventually though he thought Urza’s desire for war was too much and left back to his homeland of Zhalfir.  His research continued and he realized he could phase his entire country out of time to save it from the Phyrexians.  The magic was unstable and everything including him disappeared for hundreds of years.  They did eventually come back and when it came time for Urza’s war he sought out Teferi.  Teferi did not want his homeland used as pawns and once again, using what he learned last time, phased his country out of time. Centuries later he returned to see if the threat of Phyrexia had passed to find that his spell had caused temporal rifts that threatened to destroy the multiverse. Seeking to repair his damage he teamed up with several other planeswalkers to attempt to seal the rifts.  In the end Zhalfir was lost outside of time and Teferi gave up his spark to seal the rifts.
This blue planeswalker comes from the esper (blue/white/black) shard of the plane of Alara.  He was a talented artificer and he used etherium to enhance his body. He joined a group, called the Seekers of Carmot, to find out their corrupt secrets and was nearly killed. This ignited his spark and he planeswalked to grixis on Alara. Lying near death he was rescued by the planeswalker Nicol Bolas in exchange for his servitude. He was then sent to Ravnica to gain control of the Infinite Consortium.  Once in control he sought to use a young planeswalker, Jace Beleran, as a pawn.  Jace found out about Tezzeret and defeated him, whipping his mind.  Once again Nicol Bolas saved him and repaired his body.  He then sent him to Mirrodin to see the rise of New Phyrexia.  Tezzeret was able to join the Phyrexians and is now blue and black.
TeferiTeferi | Photo via: tappedout
TezzeretTezzeret | Photo via: gamelore.wikia
This red planeswalker had his soul infused with a devil.  He grew up on Innistrad where he learned necromancy and enjoyed experimenting on how much pain a living being could endure.  Devils were attracted by his actions.  It wasn’t long before the Church of Avacyn came calling and he was forced to take action. Reciting a spell given to him by the devils he was able to escape but this caused him to feel all the pain he had inflicted.  This caused his spark to ignite and took him away from certain death.  He returned to Innistrad to cause trouble and inflict as much pain as possible till Sorin chased him off. It is unknown where he currently is.
Ugin, The Spirit Dragon: 
This dragon is a colorless planeswalker. This ancient planeswalker has studied the living universe for untold ages. He seeks to understand everything. He created his own type of magic that turns matter into energy. He was one of the three planeswalkers that imprisoned the Eldrazi Titans.  Nicol Bolas killed him for an unknown reason on his home plane of Tarkir.  Later his spirit would get Sarkhan Vol to travel back in time and save him.  He is currently on Tarkir and aiding the Gate Watch with info about the ELdrazi.
TibaltTibalt | Photo via: artofmtg
UginUgin | Photo via: mtgsalvation
This white and blue planeswalker is an expert at teleportation.  This is what ignited his spark.  He helped Teferi in closing the time rifts.  He was a friend of Karns and eventually gave his life and spark to Karn to cure him.
This gorgon is a green and black planeswalker.  She works as an assassin for the Golgari guild.  She once tried to kill Jace.  That is about all we know about her.
VenserVenser | Photo via: mtgsalvation
VraskaVraska | Photo via: mtgsalvation
This satyr is a red and green planeswalker from Theros.  When his spark ignited he went out in search of all the pleasure the multiverse had to hold, but found nothing to his liking.  He came back to Theros hoping to lose himself in the pleasures of the satyr-folks ways.  But he found none and felt lost.  He then hatched a plan to become a god. He tricked Elspeth into creating a great revelry and he used an ancient spell to gain god-hood in Nyx. The other gods were not happy and blamed Elspeth for this.  She went to Nyx and used Heliod’s spear to killed Xenagos, ending his short reign as a god.
XenagosXenagos | Photo via: lucasgraciano.blogspot
This is where I am going to leave off for now.  This is all the known planeswalkers with cards printed.  There are a few others who don’t have cards but that is a story for another time.  Till next time may you ever find the next plane has even more adventure then the last.

Ron, author of Explore the Lore
Meet the Author: Ron
Hello, I’m Ron. I’m a passionate nerd who loves a good
back story. I look forward to sharing that love with you.




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Showing 5 comments
  • Sadie Geerligs

    I LOVE this article. I learned MTG a couple years ago at GenCon because my friends were wrapped up in a tournament, and I had nothing else to do until they finished. They artwork has always inspired me, although I’ve never really gotten into the game that much. This was so cool. It makes the game a little bit more meaningful. I had no idea there was this kind of backstory to the card game. I think you’ve inspired a blog post out of me.

  • Talking Nerdy

    My hubby absolutely loved this post! He and his dad have been obsessed with Magic for over 20 years now. I am more of a dabbler lol

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)

      Awesome! Yeah, Ron is big into Magic. I’m more of a dabbler like you (don’t have the time right now to play regularly), but Friday Night Magic is actually how the 2 of us met

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