When Worlds Collide: Introducing Plane Shift: Zendikar

Wizards of the Coast have a number of very successful properties and, as a member of the Hasbro family, are part of a corporation with many, many more.  The biggest property that Wizards of the Coast owns is Magic: The Gathering (MtG).  Magic is huge, and is often credited as the engine that keeps many hobby stores afloat.  The second biggest property Wizards manage is probably Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), which Wizards acquired when they bought out TSR.

Given the fantasy themes of MtG, it’s actually quite surprising that it’s taken over a decade to merge the worlds of MtG and D&D.  You’d have thought this would have been done just now, but it had not.  It had not, until now.  This week, Wizards of the Coast released a free 38 page PDF, entitled Plane Shift: Zendikar.

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It makes sense.  The introduction to the PDF points out that recent artbooks have felt like D&D campaign settings, and MtG has 23 years of incredible artwork to draw on in order to inspire players and GMs playing in the world of Zendikar.

The PDF is broken into three sections.  Namely, these are “The Worlds of Zendikar”, “Races of Zendikar” and “A Zendikar Bestiary”.

The World of Zendikar

This section gives you an overview of Zendikar, explaining the dangerous nature of the world and how infused it is with mana.  It also introduces the Planeswalkers, the character of MtG who traverse this land.

This section is relatively short, consisting of just three pages of text, mainly looking at the sort of ruins you could explore and some ideas for adventures and settings.

Races of Zendikar

This section outlines the races you can play as and gives our first taste of actual rules as it sets out the various stats and bonuses for each race.  The included races are:

  • Humans
  • Kor
  • Merfolk
  • Vampires
  • Goblins
  • Elves

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This section is really interesting, fleshing out some information about the various races from MtG and looking at how they translate into D&D.

A Zendikar Bestiary

The longest section of the book, this bestiary operates similarly to any other D&D bestiary, providing a list of beasts that would be encountered in Zendikar and their various stats and abilities.  The beast covered in this section include:

  • Angels
  • Griffins
  • Archons
  • Felidars
  • Sphinxes
  • Drakes
  • Krakens
  • Surrakar
  • Gomazoa
  • Vampire Nulls
  • Dragons
  • Hurdas
  • Ogres
  • Minotaurs
  • Hydras
  • Wurms
  • Hellions
  • Trolls
  • Baloths
  • Basilisks
  • Gnarlids
  • Avatars

Angel of Renewal

There are many others also mentioned, including a long section at the end on the Eldrazi.  Where a creature is unique to MtG, stats are given, as with the Felidar.  Where an equivalent already exists within the existing D&D books, the player is redirected to find the information there.  In some cases, a ‘counts as’ option is suggested, such as using D&D‘s Devas to represent MtG‘s Angels.

The Future

Wizards of the coast have made it clear that they are looking for feedback on this, which suggests that they will later be looking to make changes, gauge popularity and possibly playtest properly.  Could Zendikar soon join Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Planescape, Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Eberron and others as an official campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons line?

If it did happen, it would make sense financially.  The audience for Magic: The Gathering is huge and heavily invested.  I don’t know that a large proportion really play for the background and lore, but there has to be a decent number who would be interested in exploring Zendikar in this different way.  It would also be a comparatively small investment, as much of the development work on the background has already been done over many years, through the Magic: The Gathering line.  Similarly, the costly task of commissioning artwork could be largely ignored, with over two decades worth of art in the archive.

I really do see this happening in the next few years, and although I don’t really follow the goings-on in Zendikar, I will look on with interest.

The free PDF is available on the Wizards of the Coast website.  You can click here to head on over.

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