Mutaren, Accursed of Transformation

Other Titles: He Who Shifts, the Changeling, Father Chaos, Master of Change

Alignment: CN

Weapon: Spiked Chain ( Howling Death)

Major Domains: Transformation, Change, Rage,

Minor Domains:  Chaos, Lycanthyropy, Shapeshifting. Adapting

Totem Animal: Any/All /none – As the Master of Change and transformation, Mutaren has all animals and none. He seems to show is favor and present omens with chimeric creatures: Owlbears, Bulettes, Chimeras and other hybrids.

Holy Symbol: The Changing Man: A man spread eagle with the head of a Wolf, one arm a serpent, the other a wing, and each leg different as well, one of a feline the other a stag.

Favored Appearances: Though Mutaren enjoys many forms, and even changing between them, he does have a semi-permanent form the seems to shift to and from. In both his male and female forms he takes similarly grotesque appearances. His male form, though, is dominated by the deformities of a massive club foot, a shriveled right arm, and a nearly missing nose. His hair is patchy and wiry both on his head and around his body. He speaks with a barely whispered voice that can easily be missed if one isn’t paying attention.

His female form is dominated by the a massive left arm, a right leg that is almost 3 inches shorter than the left, and both ears missing from the side of her head. Hair, some fine and some coarse, covers most of her visible skin, contrasted by long, silky locks of blond hair that flows from her head and down her back.

In combat or when needed, though, Mutaren will drastically change his form to suite what is needed and is a consummate combatant, shifting his body shape, hardness and weight to his best advantage

Warform: The Warform of Mutaren is that of an ever shifting maelstrom of claws,fangs and tentacles formed of all four elements. Truly a child of the elements, he combines all four in a roiling mass of death, with Talons of Ice changing into a Psudopod of Fire and Jaws of lightning shifting into heavy wings of granite and marble

Personality: While Mutaren is a chaotic person of immutable forms and infinite rage, he is a very stable person otherwise. His strong rage is contained and let loose when needed but otherwise kept firmly under control. Surprisingly, he is extremely learned and educational to talk to, being a sage in the fields of the elements, of wild beasts and the application of Transmutational Magics. Though many would think his chaotic and ever changing nature would prevent him from learning, it is almost completely the opposite. He quickly tires of many things, but only after achieving mastery of them: How else can one correctly assess a situation and adapt to its needs?

All of this, however, cannot conceal his every changing physical aspects, his quick temper and his unabated embrace of both freedom and rage.  Once he is tipped over the edge and into his furious anger, there is little that can stop him short of the complete destruction of the target of his ire. he will constantly adapt and change his both mental state, short of ending his rage, and his physical form to best confront this enemy of his, and will often times destroy many innocent people in his blinded state, and though he acknowledges his acts, he has never once shown remorse for his actions.

Teachings: Above all, Mutaren teaches to embrace change, either in your body or your mind. The very apex of adaptation is embracing change without hardship. Secondary to that is the complete acceptance and acceptance of your rage, and that that rage can be used to transform you completely. Sometimes its a wild and uncontrolled rage, and sometimes its a cold, focused fury. These transformations are the key to understanding who and what you are and where you belong. The more you can change yourself, the more you can belong in the world around you. The chaos of keeping your mind and body constantly aware of and receptive to change will harden you and transform you even more. Never accept what you are, always strive to become better, become more than what you are, even at the cost of others. If they cannot change they must be thrown aside, and the same is true for society, government, family and friends. If it does not adapt, if it does not change, it must be discarded.

Abode: Mutaren lives in an ever changing labyrinth called the Stones of Chaos. This hideout deep in the heart of Accursed territory is where he will wander around contemplating the order of chaos, the sounds of silence and the darkest recesses of light itself. Here he will, alone, test the very limits of how and what he can mutate in himself, often loosing himself completely in a new form or body for days or weeks at a time.

Cultists: Cultists who follow Mutaren are strong willed individuals who have come to see transformation and change as the foundations of the world. They reach out to those afflicted with physical or mental problems and tempt them into their world of rage and change. From here they seek to change themselves through mystical rituals, potions of dubious and untested nature and physical tests of endurance and pain. Mutarens cults are not tolerated well, as they are seen as agents of discord and dissonance by the powers that be, and rightly so.

Clerical Attire/colors: Mutaren favors dull oranges and light grays, with followers often wearing robes, tunics and broaches of those colors. His Changing man is often tattooed over the heart to denote complete devotion to the Accursed of Chaos. and is often, strangely, the one thing they will not mutate on their body through their strange and mystical ways. The head cultists will often have beast-head helms and masks that they wear, and change often, during rituals and sacraments, with the best and most powerful of them being able to transform their actual heads.

Followers: Mutaren is worshiped by many lycanthropes and shapechangers, as well as a number of warriors, Transmuters and even a few conjurers who tap deep into the well of reality to pull out completely new forms of existence.

Since I last talked about the cube back in September, my brother and I have been hard at work trying to improve it. It has been an extremely enlightening experience into the world of both game development and MTG set design.

Due to the way my brothers cube is built, it exudes much more of a limited set draft flavor than it otherwise would if it was constructed in the standard method of a singleton set. The interactions of the conspiracies with multiple copies of a card have really defined the way the draft is played, and its been a main focus of the cube since the start. I was extremely interested in how building a cube worked, and was thrilled when he wanted my input here and there. It is always going to be his cube, but I was glad to be of help wherever I could.

After our first few drafts, including a Saturday where my brother and I tried out a number of two player draft formats, it became clear that there were some problems with the cube. There were some cards that were consistently being left behind in favor of others, and there were cards that were completely dominating the set.

My brother had built the cube around some pretty solid archetypes, but even that wasn’t enough to topple a set of very good decks that were dominating the format:  Allies and  Graveyard Goodstuff. Both of those decks were nasty to play against because red had a ton of burn and white had awesome value in addition to the fantastic tribal and on the other side black had some really good graveyard manipulation and some big, giant, value fatties in green.

In addition to the two really good decks, the rest of the set seemed to develop into stalemates. early game would see one or two people break get some early damage in with aggro creatures, but after that it devolved into a massive wall of creatures set to lay into each other, but with few ways to break the deadlock, and most of them were in the two strong decks to begin with. had both Typhoid Rats and Deadly Recluse. This would lead to people avoiding going after the player because the trades were unfavorable, giving the deck time to pull out nasty big dudes and pull away. In contrast, had enough cheap, solid dudes that with its allies bonus and its body count it could eventually overwhelm an opponent. This was (is) further buffered by the Ondu Cleric, which, if played right, could net tons of life. Vigilance, which white has in abundance, is also extremely good when it comes to creature showdowns, as it allows you to have both offense and defense.

We could have tried to tone down the power of the two big powerhouses, but my brother felt it was a better path to go down increasing the synergy and power of the other decks, and I agreed heartily. I love crazy, insane, absurd games. There also was a decision to focus on building themes among the cube, archetypes that would be fairly obvious, build around type of decks.

Thankfully, Mark Rosewater is a very lucid, clear and explanatory MTG designer and has put out tons of fantastic articles on design, development and color concept. These principles gave us a starting point to kinda kick off from.

One of the things that he explained was the concept of “as fan” which is the amount of cards with certain features that will, on average, appear in a pack. its a simple formula that is based on the quantity of type of theme and rarity of that theme within a set. The article is here if you need/want more information, its very interesting to me.

We looked at a number of different themes, but quickly settled on enemy color pairs. This was a fairly easy choice because it allowed us to keep both of the powerful decks and gave us only three themes to build from the ground up.

We wanted fun, powerful cards that allowed us to have the same type of insanity that both Allies and Graveyard pulled off, but also fit the flavor of the card colors. Being an Izzet fan, I gravitated immediately to . From here it gets a little sketchy because we tried a multitude of different concepts. Suspend, Flashback and Slivers made brief appearances but were eventually rejected for a fun, simple and very Izzet theme: Spells Matter. In the mix with the good, solid spells that were offered in the spectrum, we added creatures like Jeskai Windscout, Goblin Electromancer and Guttersnipe. Not only were you going to be able to play awesome limited spells like Lightning Bolt, Think Twice and Assault Strobe, but you were going to get rewarded for it.

False Orders

While Strange, I think this card is great. Can’t wait to play it.

While we rejected Slivers for Izzet, I really liked the concept in . It really felt like the type of synergistic, evolving, growing beast that would be represented by the Simic colors. The original problem that I’d posed with the slivers was that they have inherently low toughness. Both colors supporsed some fantastic slivers, but they were easy to kill and never would be able to break through the wall of creatures the other side would definitely be building up. Don’t get me wrong, Red has some Slivers that are just massive, but only on the power side. Green, though, was the Sliver beef machine, and I argued that it better fit the design. Thus, we tackled the Sliver deck. In addition to the slivers in the primary green and blue colors, there were also going to be Slivers of other colors, and even a 5 color sliver hiding in there for good measure. This did mean that Slivers were going to be highly prolific, but it felt right, and I couldn’t argue with it. As that guy who loved playing M14 slivers, I just had to back the concept. The big problem that we are facing now is that the blue slivers just seem like too much. They have some fantastic abilities and are game changers, but are they going to blow out the games, we don’t know. Its definitely a place for playtesting.

Dude....

Dude….

Finally, we come to , the colors we struggled with for the longest time and simply ignored. While the other two color combinations took a ton of time to has out what cards were desired, what direction the theme should go, and what cards should be at what rarity, Orzhov took the longest so simply come up with a theme. It would have been easy to try and use extort or outlast, but we really wanted to come up with something that was a slightly different take on the standard bent of the color pair. What my brother ended up striking on was an enchantment matters theme, which allowed for us to branch out in a number of different ways, much like spells mattering. Interestingly, it also allowed us to seep tendrils of overlap into as well, with cards like Nighthowler and Sadistic Glee. Constellation looked like it would be a natural fit, but there were only a pair of cards that looked good at the end of the day, and they easily slid into the cube: Underworld Coinsmith and Grim Guardian. One thing I really wanted to press into the mold here that my brother had come up with was the prevention of the 2 for 1 in the vast majority of cases. Cards like Necromancer’s Magemark were high on my list to posit for consideration.

Vigilance!

Vigilance!

Now, with all the color pairs we were considering up and built, all we had to do was re-vamp the cube and get playing. Last night was the first time we were able to sit down and start card swapping, and we even got a pair of rounds in. 2 player drafting is a little strange, but we’ve started to get used to it. Each draft felt different, and we each won a round. He took the cake with a mean stuff deck, and I took the round with a 5 color Worldknit

What was different this time around was that we felt that we were concerned about the cards the other person was getting, and that every choice felt valid. Instead of just getting what you wanted and passing whatever else you didn’t like, it was a massive undertaking to pass up some of those cards.

I will say, I am looking forward to getting more games in with this cube and testing it out. It feels shockingly fun.

 

If you feel like giving it a go, draft it on Cubetutor and leave me any suggestions about the setup, execution and design. I don’t promise to heed them, but I will read them!

 

NAME: Dagor, God of Death

Other Titles:  Warden of Fall, He in Wrappings, the Thresher King

Alignment:  LN

Weapon: Great Axe (Last Breath)

Major Domains: Death, The Dead, Autumn,

Minor Domains:  Protecting the Dead, Spiders, Embalming, Rituals, Martyrs

Totem Animal: Spider

Holy Symbol: A white skull surrounded with black flames

Favored Appearances: Dagor, unlike many gods, has a three favored appearances. The first is by far his most preferred, that of an non-gendered gray being covered in scales, with bat wings and clawed hands and feet. Completely outside of any of the species on Kasan, Dagor chooses this form to show that death is not any one race or culture, but affects all of them.  When he wishes to be known that his presence is near, he adopts this form to prevent any denial of his involvement.

When taking his male and female forms, he adopts the look of the race he is interacting with directly. Both forms, male and female, are middle aged but with long, gray hair tied back in a ponytail. His limbs and mind are strong, and he is generally loquacious when encountered. Though he is grim, there is no sign of depression or resignation. He simply does his job.

Warform: The warform of the god of Death is that of a spider made of stone and bones. His long, hairless legs are pure obsidian, ending in razor sharp tips, as are his mandibles, which drip a toxic poison. His body is made of polished marble and granite, run through with blue and black veins that seem to pulse with his every move. His eight eyes are all topaz, seeing deep into both the being in front of him and their souls history.

Personality: While Grim and determined, Dagor is a god who knows his position and domain. He is pragmatic, seeing things in their most direct light and trying to puzzle out their inner workings. He sees things as very black and white, acknowledging very few of life’s great puzzles as legitimate, instead viewing them as misguided methods of detracting from the truth. Dagor and his brother Taralin are the guardians of the proper ways of life and death in the world. Dagor seeks not to end life before its time, or to shed blood, and he does not rule over the land of the dead. Instead, he seeks to both enforce the rules of death and to protect those that are dead from tampering. Among his most hated enemies are the undead created by the Demon Queen or to extend life beyond its normal conclusion. There are some undead, guardians of sacred burials or shrines and even those returning after a life cut short who are tolerable in the eyes of Dagor. However, each are treated differently. In the first case, they are revered companions who have been chosen to be kept from the Iron Marches and guard the dead. In the second they are poor spirits who must be helped so that they can move on, and should not be wantonly destroyed.

Teachings: Chief among the tenants of Dagor is that death comes to all things. It is the cycle and expectation that every living thing and every being on the planet must, at some time, die. To defy that primal structure is to defy the entirety of the cosmos. Dagor, and his priests, are the great enforcers of this system, working with the priests of Life to ensure that the cycle continues forever. He also teaches that the dead must be protected and properly interred, however they came to rest. Often it is his priests that wander the battlefield afterward, seeing to the dead, ensuring their consecration and preventing their Resurrection to serve the Demon Queen.

Finally, he teaches that at the end of the day, there is no greater honor than to die in service to your cause. Death comes to all of us, why not make it mean something.

Abode: Dagor lives in the Citadel of Rest, where he presides over the incoming souls of the fallen on Kasan and assigns them their place in the Iron Marches. He knows each soul, who’s claimed it, and where they can best serve their master. Though he is often a front line fighter in the war, his Citadel, being so vital to the continued war effort, is among the farthest back in the Paltonarchs lands.

Clergy: Dagors clergy, known as  Keepers, are one of the largest and most revered institutions in the entire world. They provide burial services, keep the graveyards and crematoriums, and all the while make sure that the dead stay dead. They have churches in nearly every town and every locale that almost any sentient race abides. They are, by almost every law and unspoken accord, treated as non-combatants after a battle and are allowed to work unmolested.

Knightly Orders: The Sepulcher Knights are staunch order of Dagors clergy. They consist of three branches, the Gray Slayers, the Revokers and the Silencers, formed by a coalition of brothers who each had their own method of slaying undead. The Gray Slayers are master huntsmen and trackers, well versed in the many forms of undead, their habits and their lairs. The Revokers are holy warriors, blessed by Dagor to exterminate the most foul of undead with strength of arms and the force of might. The Silencers are devout wizards and priests who have studied the vast ways to exterminate the vile spellcasting and cursed undead, while also being well versed in how to protect their compatriots from the great harm they can cause. The Seplucher Knights often form Triumvirates of close knit brothers in arms that seek out and destroy undead, using the Silencers knowledge, the Revokers strength of arms and the Slayers wiles.

Clerical Attire/colors: The Attire of the clergy of Dagor is simple grey robes with a black leather belt. When performing the functions of their priesthood, they also wear an ivory skull-mask. Their attire is simple and unadorned. The Sepulcher Knights, however, wear a deep gray for the Slayers, brilliant white for the Silencers and flat black for the Revokers. While they may not always wear that attire completely, they always have a token of their respective sect. Oftentimes the Revokers are the most ostentatious and the Silencers the least.

Followers: Dagor has many followers, though those among the warrior and rogue professions tend to gravitate to him more often. Elves and dwarves, for different reasons tend also to respect and worship Dagor: Elves for the end that he represents to all and dwarves for the stoic devotion he shows toward his assigned task.