Custom Card Game Design
Khemia is a top-down design that has been in the making, off and on, for a few years. As I move deeper into the set and begin to focus on it as my current custom MtG project, I find myself more focused on world-building which, in turn (I hope), will help with design. I’m no writer, certainly no fiction writer, so be gentle. Below is the first in a series of posts that should flesh out the plane of Khemia, and provide some insight into the conflict between the Pharaohs, who believe they are anointed by the gods to rule over the ‘lesser folk’, and the Freesand’s Rebellion, who believe all Khemians should be equal and free. Specifically, this post is a bedtime story told by the Pharaoh Khura to his daughter, Princess Raelia, who will one day grow to be the leader of the Freesands Rebellion, who seek to usurp the Pharaohs. (Art credit to Lee Reex, El Grimlock at Deviantart.com, Saad Irfan, Hector Herrera, and Julian Peria.)
“Tell me a story, Father” the princess said. The Pharaoh, of course already knowing the answer, asked “A story of what, my lotus flower?”. The girl flashed her father an impish grin. “A story of the gods!”, she replied as she drew her blankets closer, the night breeze from the river, an-Nil the Great, cooling the young princess’s open-air bedchamber. The Pharaoh smiled down at his daughter, and heir, and begin to recite the tale. “Long ago, the people of Khemia were all the same. Petty and corrupt, they bickered for cattle, bickered for honey, bickered for water. A Khemian could kill another and there would be no justice, for there was no law. Then May’et, goddess of truth and judgment, came to them and showed them a better way. The greatest were elevated to their rightful place, and these were the first Pharaohs. They brought law to the lawless, justice to the lesser folk, and proclaimed May’et’s truth to all of Khemia, for they were the Pharaohs.”
“Long ago, the people of Khemia were all the same. Dull and slow-minded, they knew not the secrets of Sphinxes, knew not of the secrets of Mana. The riddles and tricks of the dunes were cruel enigmas that bested them all. Then Sehtar, the trickster, came to them and showed them a better way. The greatest were reminded of their great intellect and wit, and these were the first Pharaohs. They tricked the Sphinx into sharing its secrets of mana, and the desert bloomed. They tricked the lesser folk, who became their slaves, and the great Pyramids were built for their great glory, for they were the Pharaohs.”
“Long ago, the people of Khemia were all the same. Frail and mortal, life was merely a short breath before they returned to the sand in death. Short were their lives, and final was the grave. Then Ossurian, sovereign of life and death, came to them and showed them a better way. The greatest were shown that they have power over both life and the afterlife, and these were the first Pharaohs. Death was merely another step in their existence, a place where they would bring the lesser folk to attend them as they supped in Ossurian’s halls, for they were the Pharaohs.”
“Long ago, the people of Khemia were all the same. Cowardly and weak, they were the prey of the crocodile, meat of the harpy. A Khemian knew not the ways of the spear, or the power of the flame. Then Amunaht, the sun’s fire, came to them and showed them a better way. The greatest remembered their strength, and conquered the dunes with fire and iron, and these were the first Pharaohs. The lesser folk trembled at their might, and hid their eyes from the radiance, for they were the Pharaohs.”
“Long ago, the people of Khemia were all the same. Hungry and sick, the hot winds parched their lips and the sands choked them. The dunes were all they knew, save for the mirages sent by the Sphinxes to toy with them. Then Tefeneta, mother of Great an-Nil, came to them and showed them a better way. The greatest remembered the river, remembered the rains, and found a fertile delta. The lesser folk sang their glories, and erected great temples upon the water in acknowledgment of their glory, for they were the Pharaohs.”
“So sleep well, my princess,” Pharaoh said to his daughter, “for you are one of the greatest. The gods have chosen you to rule over the lesser folk, to show them the justice of May’et, the cunning of Sehtar, the life of Ossurian, the boldness of Amunaht, and the abundance of Tefeneta. You are my lotus flower, my Raelia.” Khura, Pharaoh of Khemia, bent down and kissed his daughter’s forehead. The young princess, however, was already fast asleep.