Why Haven’t Planeswalkers Visited the Forgotten Realms?

Sometimes, there's a fine line between broken and useless.

Sometimes, there's a fine line between broken and useless.

Ever since Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR, I’ve been waiting for a Magic: the Gathering set based on one of the D&D campaign worlds. That’s 12 long years of waiting so far. It seems like the most natural idea in the world, and one that would create such a rare fusion of gamer lust that Wizards would end up swimming in money. Why hasn’t it happened yet?

The backstory of Magic: the Gathering revolves around powerful spellcasters called Planeswalkers who travel various dimensional worlds, where they engage in epic magical conflicts. Each Magic set introduces a whole new plane, with new people, creatures and places described on the cards (they do occasionally revisit older planes as well).

In the D&D cosmology, the various campaign worlds are linked by a somewhat complicated planar topology, which varies from edition to edition. The specifics don’t matter though – planar travel is something that exists in both games. It doesn’t require any stretching of the theme to make such a combination plausible. It practically boggles the mind that Wizards hasn’t done this.

How would it work? You could place a Magic set in the Forgotten Realms world of Faerûn. For the rank and file creatures, you’d have staples from the Monstrous Compendium like hobgoblins, zombies, elves and minotaurs. Plus Drow! Special land cards would depict key locations from the Realms (like Waterdeep, for instance, or Myth Drannor). Legendary creatures might include Drizzt or Danilo Thann. And who would be more perfect for a Planeswalker card than Elminster?

Each Magic set is also accompanied by a series of novels that explain what happens in a particular plane as the Planeswalkers battle it out. This usually culminates in some kind of sweeping change to the plane, from an epic victory by the good guys to a cataclysm that alters reality itself. So this set could be tied to a series of Forgotten Realms novels that alter the political balance, the nature of magic or the heirarchy of deities. All of these massive changes have happened to D&D worlds in the past (and, seriously, is anyone going to be sad if the 4E Forgotten Realms are changed drastically from whatever they are right now?).

I happen to be a Forgotten Realms fan, but Magic sets based on Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, or even a gothic set based on Ravenloft would be equally amazing. And it could work both ways – a D&D sourcebook with stats for Urza and Nicol Bolas, plus encounters based on the lair of a Thoctar or a trip to Yawgmoth’s hellish citadel.

I have a theory as to why this hasn’t been done. I think it’s the ace up Wizards of the Coast’s sleeve. They know it will sell a kajillion cards and books, as D&D fans flock to collect cards with their favorite characters, and Magic players explore the idea of playing an RPG based on their favorite card game. It’s basically a license to print money, and they’re saving it for when they really need it. If sales of Magic fade, they can pull this idea out and supercharge interest in the godfather of all collectible card games. And that just hasn’t happened yet. Based on attendance at my local Friday Night Magic and prerelease tournaments, the game is very strong at the moment.

Or maybe they’re still hoping Spellfire takes off. Either way, I want this to happen. On the awesomeness scale, it would rank right up there with Voltron appearing in Monsterpocalypse. Maybe, somehow, no one at WotC has thought of it yet? Well, if they see this and like the idea, all I ask in return is two cases of the cards. Defintiely gonna need a play set of Elminsters.

7 Responses to Why Haven’t Planeswalkers Visited the Forgotten Realms?

  1. Count me an ardent NO. Campaign & genre crossing is a TRICKY situation, especially since “canon” is something a lot of DMs adhere to. I mean, if I was ticking along, playing in my, lets say Living Realms campaign, enjoying a little High Fantasy Drow-on-Drow violence? & Suddenly the whole campaign was disrupted by…well, by a marketing event? I’d be pretty annoyed, especially since I’m not a Magic player!

    That being said, I could see a lot of interest in, lets say, Campaign Setting themed boosters & a book on the subject? A sourcebook for “What happens when Planeswalkers mess with Krynn/Ebberon/Ravenloft/wherever.” Of course we all know the REAL answer of what happens– The Lady of Pain dumps Nick Bolas & the rest of them in a Maze.

    Wait. If your idea can be capitalized on to revitalize Planescape & 100% withdraw my complaint.

  2. See, the DMs I’ve played with just take the rulesand general setting info and build their own world, if any of them had been magic players, odds are we would’ve fought Nico Bolas by now. We wouldn’t have won, simply because Bolas does not lose, but we would’ve gone out in a blaze of glory. I wouldn’t mind the crossover at all, especially now that Planeswalkers are a bit less godly. You could sneak them in here and there without having Urza pull mecha out of his ass. WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA!? Mechs that require the power of a god to function. WHAT PURPOSE COULD THEY POSSIBLY SERVE!? YOU’RE ALREADY CAPABLE OF GIVING JESUS A FIGHT, HOW DOES STRAPPING ON A ROBOT THAT DISTRACTS YOU FROM DOING GOD STUFF HELP YOU FIGHT ANYTHING!?

    Also, Mr. Bolas doesn’t run mazes unless he wants to run mazes.

    and I second Mordicai, bring back Planescape.

  3. Grr, sorry about the bad typing, Urza’s mech suit things get me a bit pissed off.

  4. I don’t even play magic, but I can already hear the internets exploding over how overpowered Drizzt’s card is.

  5. Licensing. If they mix properties, then there might be a problem in the future if they ever decide to sell a property. It’s nothing that can’t be worked out, but it’s another issue.

  6. They haven’t done it because it’s brand dilution. They don’t want the brand identities to cross over. It’s that simple.

Comments are closed.