Custom Card Game Design
Note: This post is about my card game Conquest of Orion. Find some additional infos here:
In Conquest of Orion, we follow the path of humanity as they explore and colonize the Orion sector, a wonderful, and mysterious corner of the galaxy. During their journey, they come across life forms so bizarre they challenge the notion of what exactly life is. But nothing could have prepared them for their encounter with the Torian race.
The storyline of the game is segmented into three sagas. Each saga consists of three sets and features two races, of which one are always the Humans (during deck building, you must limit yourself to one race).
The first saga features several nonsentient species capable of interstellar travel. Although seemingly different species, ranging from insects and space whales to fungal life forms, they all seem to share common ancestry, and were grouped under the simple term “Alien.”
A century later, several full-blown colonies have been established in the sector and the humans come in contact with the Torians for the first time, the race featured in the second saga.
Now, space whales, that’s easy stuff. They’re a part of mainstream culture just as much as zombies or angels. Space insectoids? That’s like the Zerg, right? But what is a Torian, you ask? Is that some kind of Surrakar? Not exactly, so here’s a rundown of what the Torians are, and how they are represented in the game.
Torians are a sentient, humanoid species resembling humans in most of their basic body structure, but they are taller and slimmer, often with underdeveloped extremities due to severe underuse. They have a blue to purple complexion resulting from pigments in their skin used for photosynthesis. Although their stature appears to be that of a female to the human eye, Torians are in fact genderless.
The Torians would have evolved very similar to humans, wasn’t it for the fact they possess the ability to exert control over the forces of the universe with their mind. This ability allows them to easily achieve what humans can achieve only through the use of technology, including interstellar travel. Although extremely powerful, Torians are no gods. Far from it, they have finite lifespans and can be killed if their fragile bodies are damaged. However, doing so requires to pierce the barriers that Torians surround themselves with to prevent hostile environments (such as outer space) from harming them.
Torians range in character just as wide as humans do. They don’t possess a hive mind, or a leadership that makes decisions for the entire race. Each Torian acts individually, and while some are sympathetic towards humanity, others are not. Most Torians are solitary, traveling the stars to explore the universe and find their calling. Some spend their lifetimes building planets, each a unique expression of art. These are the architects, and they are accompanied by the designers, who create life forms to inhabit those planets. The voyagers do not engage in craftsmanship, but instead admire the works of the universe and their kin. Regularly, they hold contests where the architects’ creations are rated as works of art.
Voyagers seek out and find inspiration in cosmic events, such as supernovae or rare planetary alignments. These are represented by Abilities, so the voyager keyword cares about those. Attunement gives the unit +1 damage and +1 shield until end of turn whenever you play an Ability, and is therefore the Conquest of Orion version of Prowess.
The architects build planets, so their eponymous keyword is very straight-forward. An architect enters play accompanied by its own planet. You begin the game with three basic planets, and you can conquer additional unique planets throughout the game, for example Toria. Architects are the only way of getting new basic planets, so there will likely be synergy cards that are based around basic planets.
Designers constantly invent and nurture new life forms. In the game, exoplanet wildlife is already represented as neutral “Critter” cards, and are expanded upon in the sets that feature the Torians. In those sets, you may see creatures that mother nature could never come up with. The designer keyword should encourage you to play with those neutral cards, and thus cares about Critters. When a Designer enters play, you flip cards from the top of your deck, much like Cascade in Magic, until you flip a Critter that you could play on your current Tier (“researched”) and that you don’t control already. So, designers demand that you play a variety of Critters, and not just invent the same species over and over again.
Interaction with Humans
The Torians did not suddenly arrive in the Orion sector out of nowhere. During the first saga, while the humans established their colonies, they were there. They simply chose not to reveal themselves.
Embedded into the Torian’s genetic code is a warning about an ancient race bent on undoing the work of their creators and destroying all life in the universe. Not much else is known about these destroyers, but that they would find them in the Milky Way eventually. When the humans entered the sector, many Torians believed them to be the race they were warned about. They witnessed the human’s ruthlessness, their willingness to destroy other life in their path of conquest, and figured that they fit the description. But most Torians were skeptical and prefered to simply observe the intruding race for now.
Torians is the human term for the race, as they were encountered first on the world Toria, whose name and location was transcribed from the records in an ancient alien archive. When the human explorers reached the Distant Realm, where the Torian homeworld is located, a small group decided to act against the majority and attacked and murdered the expedition teams that were exploring their world. Soon, more hostilities ensued and people of both races were killed. This caused the hostile-minded Torians to gain more and more support. Meanwhile, those who were more on the side of diplomacy established contact and tried to prevent further aggressions, but that proved to be very difficult. The exchanges were complicated by the human’s fear of the Torians, a race which they didn’t understand. In particular, they blamed the entire race for the actions of a few.
But eventually, the two races began to understand each other and the hostile Torians lost the support among their kin entirely. In the following sets of the saga, the two races work together to learn more of their origins. Do they both share common ancestry? How is it that every alien and its grandmother can bend the universe with its mind, but the humans lack that ability?
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.
Overworld is a set that I’m trying to finish for far too long now. I was never quite satisfied with how it turned out. But I have a few new ideas now, and I hope that I can finally finish the set. I will talk about those ideas in the next post. Here, I want to share most of the Iamur storyline, told through the cards of Overworld.
Only here for the cards? That’s fine too. Tell me in comments if you think one needs a few changes. Otherwise, enjoy the silly story of Iamur. And if you think there is something I can improve upon, please tell me as well.
Kiora journeyed to Iamur, having heard stories of its vast, primordial ocean covering the entirety of the plane. She hoped to gather the creatures of the sea and harness their powers for the battle against the Eldrazi on Zendikar. But what she found was not the world she was hoping for, but a world ruled by humans and other land-dwelling lowlife. She would have continued her search in the depths of the sea, but someone or something was preventing her from diving into the deep.
While traveling the plane, Kiora met Kayisha, a mermaid native to the underwater realm. They briefly traveled the Overworld together, Kiora learning more about its lore from the native planeswalker. Shortly after, they came upon a desolate lighthouse and were attacked by its guardians. Inside the lighthouse, she found the answers she was looking for.
Millennia ago, the angelic planeswalker Auria defeated the gods of the deep and imprisoned them beneath the sea, separating the two worlds with an ethereal barrier. The barrier was maintained by an array of power stones scattered across the endless sea. With the intention of releasing the creatures of the deep, Kiora summoned a gigantic tsunami to destroy the lighthouse and the power stone inside. The barrier endured, although weakened, and Kiora set off to find more stones to destroy. Eventually, the barrier was sufficiently weakened that the old god Nolgul could enter the Overworld. Nolgul obliterated the remainder of the power stones, collapsing the barrier. Meanwhile, Kayisha, horrified by Kiora’s reckless act, descended back into her world, to warn her kin of the events to come.
Kalimaras is the god of the deep, the progenitor of all creatures of the sea. Known as the Ur-Kraken, he is as old as Iamur itself. During the first age, he ruled the seas with his mate, Atqu. The humans were living isolated on small islands, too afraid to venture out into the sea. Then Auria came to Iamur, and liberated the humans. The angel slew Atqu, and banished the remainder of the gods to the depths. Kalimaras withdrew himself to the bottom of the sea, mourning the loss of his mate, while leaving the underwater realm to be ruled by his sons, Nolgul and Ctaleth.
Slowly, hate corrupted the two brothers, and they spent every day attempting to break the barrier and exact vengeance on humanity. Kalimaras was only awakened again millennia later, when Kayisha, the deepkin shaman Tidesprite, and the merfolk explorer Aquiti reached his lair at the bottom of the sea.
Tidesprite beseeched Kalimaras to stop the invasion of the Overworld. In exchange, she would agree to become his new mate. The old god did not care to care to help the humans, those who had slain his companion, but after seeing what had become of his children, he accepted Tidesprite’s offer. He struck down his sons and consumed their essences. Without the old gods to lead the naga, the denizens of the Overworld could easily vanquish the invaders.
Naandr is a demigod, and the progenitor of a new lineage of sea creatures. She is the offspring of the union between Kalimaras and Tidesprite. Whereas her half-brothers were embodiments of destruction, Naandr embodies life and creation. Within her, Iamur found balance. Now, the denizens of the Overworld and the denizens of the deep lived together in… well, harmony would be a stretch. There was a balance. We will leave it at that.
Kavira was a Tel Atarian captain in command of a small galleon. While tracking down a group of smugglers, his ship was attacked by a kraken at Crimson Coast. Most of his men were able to escape, but Kavira stayed on the sinking ship. Facing certain death, Kavira’s spark ignited and he was pulled away from Iamur. Kavira was excited about the possibilities of exploring new worlds, but he also knew that his own world needed him now more than ever. He planeswalked back to Iamur and when he returned to Tel Atar, he quickly became a legend. He was declared dead, but now a story was passed among sailors that Kavira was devoured by a kraken, only to cut through its stomach and slay the beast single-handedly. A tale Kavira did not care to dispute. He was promoted to Commodore and now commands a fleet from his new flagship, the “Ocean’s Cry.”
Szavos is the son of a royal vampire family from an unknown plane. His family was exploiting the human population of the plane, driving them to near exctinction. During her journey across the multiverse, the angelic planeswalker Auria also visited his world. An ally of humanity wherever she goes, Auria wiped out the vampires of the plane, including Szavos’s family. When the angel ran her sword through Szavos’s mother, his spark ignited. He escaped the massacre.
Now Szavos travels across the planes with the sole purpose of tracking down Auria and exacting revenge for butchering his family. When it came to his attention that the seal of Auria was broken on Iamur, he traveled to the plane, expecting that the guardian of Iamur would return to defend humanity once again. But to his surprise, Auria was nowhere to be found.
Amras, King of Autumn Isle
Amras is the king of the elves since time immemorial. He is nearly as old as Kalimaras himself, ruling the elves from the mystical Autumn Isle ever since. Many human adventurers attempted to find the Autumn Isle, but all failed as it cannot be found by following a conventional map. Amras himself, like most elves, is no adventurer. He left his home only once in his entire life. At the dawn of the second age, when the gods of the deep were defeated and the humans laid claim to the sea, he met with other leaders on Khamora to discuss the order of the world. When the invasion of the Overworld began, Khamora invited him to join another meeting, but he declined, and decreed that this war was not the elves’ affair.
Iamur is home to the most majestic turtles in the multiverse. Each island you set foot on might not even be an island, but the shell of a giant turtle swimming across the sea. And even ordinary islands were at one time grown on a turtle’s back. Every few centuries, a giant turtle discards its shell and plants a new island in the endless sea.
Turtles are ancient beings and many have lived since the first age. They sleep for most of their lives, and only awaken when events of great import are about to occur. When Nolgul was seen walking the Overworld, the turtles congregated to discuss what their role should be in the upcoming conflict. Unfortunately, turtles deal in vastly different time scales than most mortals.
The island of Myria trains the most proficient breed of hydromancers on Iamur. They are employed by Myria’s navy, their tasks ranging from divination, to navigation, to serving as a ship’s “armament.” But some of these wizards choose a different path after their training, and become explorers and adventurers.
The most skilled hydromancers are able to move across the sea without the need of a vessel, and are able to conjure elementals from the tidal waves on which they surf. Myrians are pacifists, though, and seek knowledge above all else. Myrian hydromancers are forbidden from using their powers in battle, except in self-defense.
Over the past week, the magic community has gotten a ton of information about where the game is going in the near future. The first real spoilers for Khans of Tarkir have been shown at Pax (and as of this writing, spoiler season has begun), and MaRo dropped a bombshell on all of us by announcing the advent of a new block structure – the three-set block has gone the way of the dodo, as has the core set, and we are about to enter the era of two-set blocks twice per year. I couldn’t be more excited!
The Third Set Problem
The biggest reason for the change in block structure is something MaRo refers to as the ‘third set problem’. Basically, by the time you get to the third set of a block, many of the mechanical ideas have already introduced and iterated upon, and the third set tends to be difficult to design – easily becoming underwhelming or overpowered as the pendulum swings too far to one side. The MtG designers have tried this by varying up the third set of a block – Rise of the Eldrazi and Avacyn Restored were both self contained formats within their own blocks. New Phyrexia saw the victory of the Phyrexians and a host of new themes and mechanics to go along with it. And the most recent third set, Journey into Nyx, was solid only because the middle set, Born of the Gods, was intentionally held back so that the final set would have some potency.
This is something I experienced myself when trying to design Annihilation, the third set of my first custom block. Although I had a definitive three-act story, by the time I began work in earnest on the third set, many of my mechanical themes had already been exhausted. I had a lot of problems with Annihilation, and I’m still not 100% happy with it. My current custom project was headed towards the same problem, so much that I had already decided to vary it up a bit (more on that later). Future story was daunting to me because of the established three-set block structure. This new block structure fixes all that.
On Telling a Story
I (obviously) really enjoy custom MtG design, even if I’m not always that great at it. As my first block began to take shape, I began to consider where I wanted to go and have had a roadmap of sorts that spans the entire story I want to tell. Caiea, my first block, began design work around the time that Innistrad came out, and so at that point I decided that my custom multiverse and the MtG multiverse were separate – after the events of new Phyrexia the universe literally split and my custom sets exist within an alternate multiverse. At the time, my stories and MtG’s stories didn’t conflict, so there wasn’t much needed to go into detail about this. Khans is changing all of that.
When Khans of Tarkir was announced, we learned that it would be a time-travel story. The story I have planned out is also a time-travel story. Recently, it’s been determined that Ugin is a prominent story-point in Khans of Tarkir. Ugin is a prominent character in Caeia. There will soon be story elements within MtG that contradict my own, and so I’m taking this opportunity to lay out my ultimate plan (which may or may not come to fruition, given how my opportunities for custom design come in focused bursts with several months of inactivity in between). I want to finish this story at some point, but I’d like to just put my outline out there now so that it can be seen where I’m going. What follows is an outline, per block/set, of the story that started with Caeia that I eventually plan to tell. Adjustments have been made to the plans post-Dareth, to accommodate the 2-set block structure.
Caeia Block (events occur in an alternate multiverse, following the events of New Phyrexia)
Zendikar Unsullied Block
So… it’s a lot. And it’s not the most original story, it’s a standard time travel story in a lot of aspects. But it’s the story I want to tell, and hopefully years from now I’ll be able to look back on this post as I put the final touches on Hedrons and be able to realize I finished what I set out to do. We’ll see.
Thanks for reading!
Earlier today, an article by Doug Beyer was posted that server as a ‘the story so far’ primer for each planeswalker in the MtG multiverse, giving a bit of a blurb about each one, where they are, and what they’re doing. There were some fairly obvious hints spread throughout the article about where we’re going next (There’ll be another Eldrazi block within the next 3 years – mark my words), and in general it was just a neat article that gave some personality to the cards. Lore is something that gets overlooked a lot, and I’ll admit that I’m not the best at it, but this article (which, after the MtG website’s updates today is no longer viewable) inspired me to do the same with my own characters.
So here is a bit about each planeswalker that has appeared in my own sets up to this point, along with what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. There are some fairly strong hints here as to where I’m headed if I do multiple blocks, but mostly this is just an exercise in creativity from a lore perspective. Feel free to leave feedback!
Seeking knowledge to save her home.
Avienne is still emotionally reeling from the annihilation of her home plane at the hands of the Eldrazi. Although she tried to unite the races of Caeia against the Eldrazi threat, thousands of years of hatred and mistrust stood in her path, and Caeia was destroyed. Since the destruction of her home plane, Avienne has made it a point to branch out into other colors of mana, trying to expand her knowledge and ability, hoping that she can find some way to bring her people and her home into being. Avienne is currently on the plane of Dareth, where it is said an ancient artifact lies hidden, an artifact that grants its finder the ability to change one moment in the past.
Savoring pain and power.
The Annihilation of Caeia did little to phase Elaara. It was easy enough to simply planeswalk away when it became clear the plane was doomed. The plane of Khemia has held her interest since leaving Caeia, though for how long she is unsure. For now, she has set herself up as a despot, subjugating the weak, brainwashing them through pain until they are her willing thralls. Deep down, she yearns for more – more power for herself, more pain for the weak.
For a second time, Gideon Jura has witnessed a plane being ravaged by the Eldrazi. Both times, the beasts seemed unstoppable and the second time led to the very destruction of the plane they were ravaging. Undeterred, and in fact more determined than ever, Gideon directly seeks the aid of the Infinite Consortium now, attempting to sway the interplanar group towards taking action against the Eldrazi.
Leader of the Resistance
Although the fall of Caeia weighs heavily on Koth, his eyes have turned back to his home plane of Mirrodin. Refusing to accept that the plane is now New Phyrexia, Koth has returned to lead the Mirran resistance. Their backs to the wall, Koth and the Mirrans have found hope unlooked for as the Phyrexians begin to fight and scheme amongst eachother, different sects of Phyrexians looking at the world with slightly different means to the same end. Koth now plans with Mirran Generals on how best to exploit this Phyrexian weakness.
Annihilated by the Eldrazi
The Planeswalker Aran did not escape the calamity that befell Caiea. While preparing to Planeswalk away from Caeia to inform his mast, Nicol Bolas, of what was occuring, Aran became tethered to the plane by an unknown force. Along with the rest of Caeia, Aran has seemingly been completed annihilated, and whatever remains now drifts in the Blind Eternities.
Ugin, convinced that the annihilation of Caeia was the work of the planeswalker Nicol Bolas, is now on a quest of vengeance, traveling the planes in search of the Elder Dragon. In the back of Ugin’s mind, however, is Zendikar. Can the prison of the Eldrazi be rebuilt? What, if anything, can lure the beasts back?
Seeking to usurp the gods.
Consortium Member Amaryllis is currently on her home plane of Khemia, a desert world ruled by beings that have set themselves up as gods. These ‘gods’ care little for the common people of Khemia, and the ruling Pharaohs care even less, subjugating the weak and the poor to uphold their own opulence. Amaryllis seeks to end the oppressive rule of the Pharaohs and end the worship of ‘gods’ of Khemia, beings who Amaryllis feels could simply be other planeswalkers using their abilities to deify themselves. Recently, Amaryllis has learned of another being subjugated the weak – a vampiric planeswalker who enslaves the weak through pain.
General of the Consortium
Aurinn is currently located on the plane of Aranzhur, in the Iron Tower of the Infinite Consortium. With much of the Consortium lost, the Aranzhur cell has attempted to pick up the pieces, reconnecting with cells across the multiverse. Though the Consortium began as an interplanar mercantile organization, it evolved into a sort of interplanar intelligence-gathering operation. Wary of outside threats, especially with information about the Eldrazi as shared by Gideon, Aurinn has been named General of the Consortium, and is building up a small host to protect their interests.
Although her social skills are decidedly more acute than many green mages, Halina has always preferred the untamed wilds to the chaos of ‘civilization’. She currently is located on the plane of Muraganda, enjoying the solitude of the untamed wilds while she can. Although she has not been directly given news of the destruction of Caeia, she can feel its effects on a primal level even on different planes, and she wonders how many planes can be destroyed before shaking the natural order of the Multiverse itself.
Ruling from the Iron Tower
Jorad currently rules the Infinite Consortium from the Iron Tower of Aranzhur. Order being Paramount in his mind, Jorad is trying to steer the Consortium into becoming an almost legislative body of Planeswalkers, with himself at the head. Gideon Jura’s recent arrival, and his subsequent lobbying for support against the Eldrazi, troubles Jorad, who foresees that action against the Eldrazi will lead to more chaos.
Searching for purpose
Although the only planeswalker among them, Kera Ashwin has always felt inferior to her sisters, Evina and Ashari. Evina and Ashari Ashwin work together commanding an army on Dareth, commanding respect from thousands of soldiers yet Kera, with all her planeswalking ability, has yet to find greater purpose. A low ranking member of the Infinite Consortium, Kera currently seeks tutelage from the shaman of Kaldheim in the hopes that she can find purpose in cyomancy and shamanism.
“It is the 24th century. The humans made great progress in space travel and many planets in the solar system, such as Mars and Europa, have been colonized. Humanity evolved to a civilization able to use the resources of an entire solar system. But despite that great progress, no spaceships other than small unmanned vessels, sent to proximal stars like Alpha Centauri, ever left the boundaries of the solar system. And even with the most powerful telescopes, they never detected any signs of alien life in the universe. However, that changed when the astronomer Thomas Feynard aimed the largest earthbound telescope in the direction of the orion constellation and made an astounding discovery. In the light spectrum of a planet orbiting a sun-like star a molecular oxygen line appeared as clear as day. This was clear evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life. New, even larger telescopes were constructed to search for other “second earths”, but none were found – the great orion nebula made such subtle observations in that region very difficult.
It wasn’t until 200 years later that humanity’s desire to travel to the stars became reality. The FTL drive was invented and soon the first science vessels were sent to Feynard’s Planet to clear away all doubt. What the “New Horizons” discovered, was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Feynard’s Planet was inhabited, but it was a very boring planet – at least compared to many other planets in its proximity. In a volume with only a few lightyears diameter, countless worlds inhabited alien life of all possible appearances. Even completely dry or frozen planets, planets exobiologists previously thought could not possibly bear any life, were populated by lower organisms. All these planets were shrouded from sight by the great orion nebula the entire time.
Only a few decades later, a large colonization fleet set off from earth in the direction of the orion constellation. The fleet consisted of science vessels, huge transporters and military ships. Expeditions were sent to many planets, studying the native lifeforms and establishing the first outposts in this sector of the galaxy. Mining bases were constructed on asteroids and on rock and lava planets to support the massive need for resources.
During the expeditions, they encountered many different species, and though they were all unique, none of them challenged the human’s conception of what an extraterrestrial lifeform should look like – until they encountered a species that was later named the Iamurans. These colossal beings could travel through the vacuum of the galaxy by bending space and time at their will. They resembled marine creatures from earth, so it was theorized that they evolved in water and later in their evolution learned to travel through space. This theory was confirmed, when the planet of their origin was discovered and with it lower-evolved species, yet to ascend from their aquatic nature.
Human spaceships often encountered Iamurans on their journeys and each encounter with these colossi was a memorable event. They aren’t a sentient race and rather act based on instict and may see that unidentified object in front of them as a threat – or as a snack on their way to the next planet.
These gargantuans were often accompanied by a swarm of smaller creatures, which due to their resemblence with earthen insects, were called insectoids. They appeared to live in a symbiosis with the Iamuran, traveling through space as hitchhikers and thus spreading to many different planets in the inner realm. Their planet of origin could be determined, a world completely covered by an alien jungle and embedded in a weird cosmic ether: Paiura.
Though this insectoid breed was composed of many different varieties, they all seemed to act as a single hive. They became the dominant species on Paiura somewhere in the past and wiped out all other species on the planet. They were extremely adaptable, being able to survive in space, and on ice planets and lava planets alike.
At the center of the inner realm, a small group of explorers discovered a planet that appeared ordinary at first – a simple ice planet, orbiting a young sun-like star. But when the scientist team landed on the planet, they discovered what was later described by the popular media as greatest mystery ever to be encountered by mankind. Though this was stated countless times within the last few decades, this would be the last time: Inscribed hedrons scattered over the surface, and ancient technology hidden in caverns pointed towards the existence of a civilization that predated all life in the galaxy. But except for the writings and the machineries, nothing seemed to have remained of that civilization. Soon, the icy planet became the focus of all scientific attention and countless expedition teams explored the many caverns scattered over the surface. Geological studies were made which showed that the planet was old – very old in fact, much older than its parent star. Electronical databases were found within the main complex on the planet’s south pole, containing thousands of pages of text and holograms depicting the milky way and the orion arm in particular. The interface of the database was the holographic avatar of an AI. In time, despite initial problems, the scientists were able to acquire a basic understanding of the AI’s language and logic. The holograms depicted this planet, the AI named it Kaskala, at the center of a celestial map and showed how life spread from Kaskala to other planets, whose names were taken from the database as well:
Paiura, Iamur and Esparand were already known to the humans, but the holograms pointed towards the existence of even more inhabited planets in the outer realms.
While determined pioneers begin to build the first human colonies outside the solar system and biologists explore the planets of the inner realm like children a candy shop, the greatest mystery remains unsolved. Who are these ancient people and did life on earth descend from their creation as well? Explorers are already on their way to the outer realm to find new pieces of the puzzle.”
Today’s bonus card is Astral Unity. For one turn, this Ability brings two planets so close to each other that units can move between those two planets without being exhausted. This is a keyword-ability called orbit. Note that you can play this card while you’re the defending player and after your opponent already declared his attacks on your planets. A handy trick – he didn’t expect that your units could fire back as you move them to defend the planet he attacked (remember that exhausted units can’t attack)!
“Two allied planets” means two planets controlled by the same player.
Hope you enjoyed this short story. Until next time!