Welcome to Archive Trap, the unofficial story column for all things Magic: The Gathering! In this installment, we talk about the greatest thief in the multiverse: Dack Fayden! Dack is a relatively obscure character in the Magic story, as he was created for an IDW comic book series that was cancelled after 17 issues and left on a cliffhanger.
We encourage you to read the source material for whatever we mention here. The comics and collections are out of print, however you can still find copies on Amazon or digitally on Comixology. Matt Forbeck and Martin Coccolo do a great job with the comic, and like most IDW titles the visuals are pure eye candy. Support them!
Be advised that Creative has mentioned their new status quo is to essentially retcon anything that doesn’t line up with where they want to go with a character. As far as we can tell, Magic’s story will be a little flexible when it comes to canon for the foreseeable future. Because of this, and the way the title ends on a cliffhanger, it's unclear where Dack's story will pick up next.
As much as possible we will avoid using the names of minor characters that only appear in a single story, as most side characters tend to be disposable and we don’t want to overload you with unimportant names to remember. As always, as much as possible our own commentary will be presented slightly different from the main summary, so you can tell what is us musing, versus what is part of the actual plot.
Magic the Gathering #1 cover art by Eric Deschamps
Personality and Characteristics
Dack is the "rogue" of Magic. He’s sly, charming and a slick thief… most of the time. He’s almost as well defined by how often he’s caught attempting to steal something as actually stealing it. Although he doesn’t like to admit it to himself, he’s got a strong sense of loyalty and his personal tragedy means he often throws himself in situations to protect people when he could just as easily get away.
In terms of raw power, Dack is not a particularly strong planeswalker. His own powers tend to take the form of balls of bluish light, which he can use to help him track magic, create blinding flashes of light or even concussive blasts. He can manipulate water and flame to varying degrees, and summons a few different fire elementals when needed. He is also a skilled illusionist, able to make himself invisible and create illusory duplicates.
The rest of his magical skill set tends to be eclectic, as his true power lies in Psychometry. This power allows him have visions of an object after touching it, through which he to discerns how magical objects work and learns important pieces of the history of those who’ve touched something. He uses this ability to aid in tracking down objects and people of interest, but more importantly to learn the spells behind powerful magical artifacts. This ability means that when he steals an object, he rarely needs to keep it, he’s only stealing it to learn it’s secrets. Because of this ability, he’s learned the spells from a lot of magical artifacts over the years, so although his magic tends to stay in his own colors of red/blue, he does know spells from many other schools of magic. Later in his story, Dack acquires an ancient gauntlet of great power that significantly increases his power.
Dack keeps a generally scruffy appearance along with a small goatee and long hair. He’s got an olive complexion, most likely from the pseudo-Italian nature of his home plane. Dack’s defining feature is that he has a red stain on his right hand that extends from his fingertips to his elbow. This stain is the result of a punishment he endured while thieving on another plane early in his career. He keeps this stain as a reminder to himself of what his selfishness and sloppiness cost him.
Dack Fayden art by Eric Deschamps
Dack Fayden was born on the plane of Fiora and spent his early life in his hometown of Drakeston. He was enrolled in a magical academy in a larger city nearby, where he excelled but also grew arrogant. It’s unclear whether or not this is the High City of Paliano or the Academy, as Paliano hadn’t been created by the time of the comics. One night, Dack and his friend Marsh were out celebrating after acing an exam. They were casting all sorts of mild spells to show off around town, when one of Marsh’s spells hit a trio of thugs. They grew angry with Dack and Marsh, and when Marsh shoved the leader, their cockiness cost them. The thugs attack, and the leader reveals himself to be a mage as he pours a fire blast at Dack, who defended himself with a magic shield. Marsh faced off against the other two, the first of which he turned into a frog, but in his cockiness the second snuck around him and ran him through with a sword. Dack’s grief caused him to drop his guard, and the leader struck him with lightning, almost killing him and igniting his spark.
During his first planeswalk, Dack ended up on the plane of Alkabah. Unsure how to get home, he attempts to steal what appears to be a Doubling Cube, which he thought might be capable of helping him get home. He is caught by a djinn set to guard the artifact, and although he returns it, the djinn beats him unconscious and Dack is taken prisoner. He is sentenced to have his forearm dipped in boiling red dye, forever staining his right hand and causing immense pain. This pain allowed Dack to unconsciously planeswalk again.
After Marsh’s death, Dack turned to thieving, and eventually he and his childhood best friend Mariel got caught by some thugs who wanted their cut of what he had stolen. Dack managed to escape through some clever use of his glowing balls of magic, but Mariel became so scared that she demanded Dack take her home.
Later, when Dack returns home after time spent offworld, he found his entire hometown of Drakeston slaughtered. With nothing left for him on Fiora, Dack adopts Ravnica as his new home and turns full time to thieving. After stealing a Quicksilver Amulet, he’s approached by Vaclav Nosek, who offers to be Dack’s fence. Dack had only been stealing to learn the magic behind the artifacts he takes, usually returning them afterwards, but Vaclav offers that not everyone needs their items back. Vaclav leaves it to Dack’s discretion what to sell and what to return, and thus their partnership is born.
During his adventures, he develops a rivalry with fellow thief Maytov. He first met Maytov when investigating a book owned by the Selesnya Conclave. On touching it, Dack’s psychometry activates and he sees a vision of someone else watching him come in a window and hide. He comes out of the vision just in time for Maytov to bash him in the head. The two quip back and forth, and Dack uses a spell he learned from the book to get the upper hand. Maytov grins and leaves Dack to face the small army of Dryads and Elementals he alerted on his way in, and Dack flees just in time.
Treasure Hunt promo art by Aleksi Briclot
Greatest Thief in the Multiverse
Magic the Gathering (IDW Comics) (#1-4)
The story opens on Ravnica, some time prior to the events of Return to Ravnica. Dack is on the run after being caught stealing an artifact from the Cult of Rakdos. A group of Thrill-Killers, accompanied by an extra-large nameless demon we’ll nickname "Hammer," are chasing him down to recover it. Unfortunately for Dack, he runs straight into a dead end and is forced to planeswalk away. He disappears just before Hammer destroys the house he’s been trapped in.
Dack lands in Fiora to lay low for a little while. He heads to Lito’s tavern, believing the residents to have forgotten him by now, but realizes his mistake when he finds a wanted poster of himself lying around the bar. Lito, the barkeep, recognizes him and begins to shout, so Dack apologizes to everyone before creating a ball of light that he tosses up toward the ceiling. The ball explodes in a flash of light, blinding everyone in the bar while he runs upstairs. The reason for the barkeep’s anger quickly becomes clear when Dack bolts the door to an upstairs bedrooms to find Lito’s wife, Alessa. He had slept with Alessa some time before, for which he claims he didn’t know she was married, and now Alessa wants to leave her husband and her children for Dack. Dack kisses her on the forehead before using a grapple to escape the room and find a place to planeswalk back to Ravnica.
On Ravnica, Dack dodges what appears to be an Orzhov Patrolman by using a simple spell to make himself invisible and avoid more bloodshed. He meets up with a friend, seamstress, and healer, Fadka, who appears to be Orzhov herself, although it’s never quite clear, who treats his wounds. They’re interrupted by his fence, Vaclav Nosek, who wants Dack to sell him the artifact he just stole. Dack tells Vaclav that he isn’t finished with it yet, and Vaclav warns him in return not to hold on to it for too long. That evening, Dack returns to one of his Ravnican safe houses to examine the artifact, a magical dagger called the Ancient Fang. Dack uses his Psychometry to see the history of the Ancient Fang, and is surprised when he sees a vision of his hometown of Drakeston. In this vision, the forces of a vampire named Yarl have rounded up the townspeople at the bidding of an elderly planeswalker named Sifa Grent, likely a Blood Cultist based on her design. Yarl’s forces begin slaughtering the residents of Drakeston, and Mariel manages to push past the slaughter only to have her throat slit by Sifa. Sifa regains her youth by draining Mariel’s life force and Dack throws away the dagger in disgust. After years spent searching, this is finally the clue Dack was looking for. Dack leaves for Innistrad based on a clue in his vision to hunt down Sifa and get his revenge.
Faithless Looting promo art by Karl Kopinski
On Innistrad, two Cathar, Ingrid and Stefan, have been outnumbered by vampires in a tavern while trying to protect a woman and her child. Dack busts into the tavern in dramatic fashion through a window, but Stefan is killed anyway. Dack unleashes a ball of light, which explodes with enough force to send the vampires flying in every direction… including into the lit fireplace. A burning vampire emerges and manages to ignite the rest of the tavern, forcing Dack, Ingrid, and the two survivors to flee. Unfortuntately, the vampires Dack just helped drive off are waiting for them outside, so Dack creates a duplicate to distract them. Ingrid and the others escape to a waiting carriage, but Dack is captured by the leader of this group of vampires, Baron Eckhart von Falkenrath. Ingrid, seeing his trouble, attempts to run down Von Falkenrath with the carriage. Dack is freed and they attempt to escape with the carriage, but are followed closely by Von Falkenrath. Dack fights Von Falkenrath on the roof of the carriage and is saved when he reveals the Ancient Fang, Von Falkenrath recoils from the dagger and flees.
Comments by the woman and her child indicate that these events take place prior to Avacyn’s release from the Helvault.
Dack and Ingrid recover at the home of her father, Hermann. He’s furious with his daughter for joining the Cathars, and reveals that the Ancient Fang has the power to control vampires. With this knowledge, Dack again uses his power to see the history of the dagger and learns more from the vision he receives. Sifa didn’t pick Drakeston at random for her ritual - she was there looking for someone of great power - Dack himself.
Von Falkenrath returns to his manor to confront Sifa about the dagger. She assures him that the dagger is safe and couldn’t possibly be on Innistrad, and when he tries to lash out at her she reveals that she doesn’t need the Ancient Fang anymore. She has the power to control vampires herself now. She binds Von Falkenrath with magic and reminds him what happened when his brother annoyed her, which further cows him. He mentions that Ingrid had Reichert blood in her, and Sifa uses this information to divine her location.
Back at Hermann’s home, the argument between father and daughter rages on and Dack takes the opportunity to leave. Ingrid catches up with him, however, and demands to go with him. Dack refuses. He begins to track Von Falkenrath but finds that Ingrid has been tracking him, so he backs down and lets her accompany him. They reach Baron Von Falkenrath’s manor, but Von Falkenrath confronts them at the door. The Baron knocks the Ancient Fang out of Dack’s hand before he can use it, and Dack ducks away to grab a sword. The Baron laughs at his feeble swordsmanship, until Dack uses the spell behind the Ancient Fang, which he learned using his power on the dagger, to make Von Falkenrath’s minions turn on him. Dack questions the Baron about Sifa Grent, to which Von Falkenrath laughs. Sifa has already left for Ingrid and Hermann’s village to find him. Dack leaves for the village while Ingrid holds off the remaining vampires.
Electrolyze promo art by Karl Kopinski
Back at the village, vampires burst in on Hermann in his home, taking him captive and bringing him to the center of the town with the rest, guarded by an army of ghouls she has summoned. Sifa picks out Hermann to torture for information, but gets nowhere. Dack sneaks his way to a nearby rooftop. Knowing he’s run out of time, Dack desperately puts everything he has remaining into an enormous red and blue spiral of flame that hits Sifa head on… but Sifa only laughs, taunting Dack that she expected it to hurt worse.
Sifa returns the favor with a green and black blast of liquid, which destroys most of the building Dack was on. Dack nimbly escapes and reaches the ground, but he realizes he’s overmatched. He’s no battlemage and he’s all out of power. He tries to bluff Sifa into surrender, which goes about as well as you’d expect. The ghouls set upon the townsfolk and Sifa gets the upper hand against Dack. Sifa summons reddish lightning to finish Dack off, but Ingrid returns with a squad of Cathar to even the odds. This distraction gives Dack the time he needs, and while expecting to summon a single ghost he instead summons a Sturmgeist. The geist keeps Sifa occupied, but the Cathar and townsfolk are losing the battle against the ghouls. Dack makes the choice to delay his revenge and turns the geist to the ghouls, saving the town. Unfortunately, their celebrations are cut short as they realize Sifa got away. Dack uses his tracking magic to follow her path and leaves a grateful Ingrid and Hermann behind.
That’s it for this week, thanks for reading! We hope this article whet your appetite for more Dack, because there is plenty more coming! Tune in next time for the wrap-up of Dack’s story! Part II Available Here
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we’ll address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you’d like to see? Let us know, and we could address it in a future column. As always, you can check out our Wiki to learn more.