Welcome back to Archive Trap, the unofficial guide to Magic: the Gathering. Today we turn to Kaladesh, the world of invention! Kaladesh is our third ‘artifacts matter’ world. Throughout the block, Kaladesh establishes itself as very different from its predecessors Mirrodin and Esper. On the face of things, Kaladesh is a world of invention and optimism, all powered by refined aether. The aether supply is strictly controlled by the Consulate, a relatively benign organization, but a planeswalker with dark designs has infiltrated the Consulate for his own nefarious purposes. To understand Tezzeret’s conflict with the Gatewatch, read Jace, Tezzeret, and the Infinite Consortium. The story of Kaladesh relies on lot on their history, so if you have not read up, you might be confused about a few things. The story of Kaladesh begins with the seemingly innocuous Inventors' Fair, an opportunity for Kaladesh's best and brightest to compete for Consulate support and funding. One inventor in particular has made a breakthrough that could change the multiverse.
Saheeli is my favorite new character in a long time. I wish she was featured more.
Kaladesh Key Art by Chase Stone
Setting the Stage
- Planeswalker’s Guide to Kaladesh
- Kaladesh Plane Profile
- The Inventors’ Fair
- Messages from the Consulate
- The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Kaladesh
- The Making of Kaladesh
Aether is plentiful on Kaladesh, and the discovery of how to refine it to be a stable power source transformed Kaladesh 50 years ago. Everything is run by aether, and Kaladesh is by far the most technologically advanced world we have seen. Whereas the artifice on Mirrodin and Esper is powered largely by magic, constructs on Kaladesh are carefully engineered, the likes of which we have not witnessed since the Thran Empire.
While Kaladesh has taken loose aesthetics from Indian culture, it is not an Indian set, to the disappointment of many, including myself. Some aspects, like Kaladeshi angels, veer too close to real Hindu iconography, while elsewhere the set struggles to be anything but costuming. Despite that, after two blocks of bleak Eldrazi destruction, Kaladesh was an infectious change of pace. Do not get me wrong here, Kaladesh is still the set I am most excited for in a long time, and it does a great job being true to previous artifact blocks without repeating them.
Honestly, the Consulate is a pretty good government compared to most of the multiverse.
Inventors' Fair by Jonas De Ro
The Aethersphere is the name of Kaladesh’s unique interaction with the aether of the Blind Eternities. It is vastly more abundant on Kaladesh than on any other plane and life has developed alongside its flow (possibly in the place of Leylines, although that is not clear.). In geographic terms, the Aethersphere is part of Kaladesh's atmosphere where Aether flows most freely, and many creatures live.
Ghirapur, City of Wonders is Kaladesh’s capital, built along the sea and three major rivers. At the seaside lies the port district, called Bomat. Bomat is host to Gonti’s Night Market, and the secret consulate prison known as the Dhund. Also inside Ghirapur lies Greenwheel, a series of elaborate biodomes used to study different environments. The Greenwheel is tended by Lifecrafters and their animal constructs. In the center, a zoo featuring these animal constructs is open to the public. Freejam is an upper level where the public can tour and view skyships and other aeronautical devices while crossing between plazas and buildings. The League of Aeronauts is headquartered here. Rumors are that Dragons roost at the top of this area. Kujar is a wealthy neighborhood home to many of the consuls. The Eleven Bridges, built in honor of the eleven founders of Ghirapur, cross the Dukhara Canal into and out of the city from Aradara Station, Ghirapur’s central train terminal. The bridges double as the market distract, and in the center of the area is Consulate Enforcer headquarters, The Bastion of the Honorable. Weldfast is the metalworker’s district, where everything is unique and where inventors do their work. Giant’s Walk is an artist’s commune in the city, following the paths where Giants migrate through the city. Artani Hall is the center of the Inventors’ Fair, while Ovalchase is a stadium designed for racing vehicles. Also located within the city is the Industrial Zone of Embraal.
Outside of Ghirapur, there are three main locations on Kaladesh. Lathnu, City at the Top of the World, is located in the mountain range known as the Devra Cliffs. The city’s primary trade is in mining and ore refining, and the city itself is only accessible by climbing or taking a long rail track. Peema, Touched by Aether, is a massive forest in Kaladesh populated by elves and woodland creatures. A natural aether stream pours down from the aethersphere, infusing the plant and animal life there with vibrancy. Vahd, the Golden Steps, was once extensive farmland, but was since repurposed into a hub for Kaladesh’s aerowright industry. Panka, Cambi, and Maranjapur were villages replaced with hangers and runways. Bunarat is the village where Chandra’s family was cornered by Baral.
The Consulate is ostensibly a socialist meritocracy.
Padeem, Consul of Innovation by Matt Steward
The plane of Kaladesh is governed by an organization known as the consulate. It is comprised of eleven consuls, stemming from the eleven court inventors who ended the constant warfare between the nobles who once ruled what is now Ghirapur. When those court inventors created the lasting peace, Ghirapur was founded in the central region to all eleven provinces. Fifty years prior to the current story, an inventor by the name of Avaati Vya discovered a means of refining aether so that it would be useful as a fuel source for artifice. This revolutionized the plane, resulting in a period of prosperity known as the Great Aether Boom. A side effect to this new refinement process was the creation of aetherborn as a by-product, a new race of short-lived humanoids. While aether is a seemingly unlimited resource, the collection and refinement of aether means that supply is relatively limited at any given time. The Consulate grew quickly in this time.
The Consulate is the socialist meritocracy that rules Kaladesh. It is a society in which no one wants for anything… except maybe greater freedom. They regulate most segments of Kaladeshi society while being careful to not quell creative freedoms. Like any governing body, it is vulnerable to abuse and corruption, but as a whole it is a decent organization. The consuls are collectively known as the Enlightened Keepers, and each is responsible for an area of policy, including Innovation, Ports, Commerce, Regulation and Enforcement, Taxation and Treasury, Allocation, and five others not currently named. A consul is a lifelong appointment, and when there is an opening a process called the Petition occurs, where each candidate must go through public hearings and prove their expertise. Opposing the Consulate are the renegades, a group of malcontents who do not like the quotas and perceived restrictions of freedom put in place by the Consulate. In the current time period, they are led by Oviya Pashiri and Pia Nalaar.
Recently, the Consulate has hosted a month long festival known as the Inventors’ Fair. The Inventors’ Fair offers tinkerers and inventors all free access to aether for their inventions, and gives them all the opportunity to show off what they can create. Benefactors are also in competition to secure the best and the brightest. Judges appointed by the Consulate (and even the Enlightened Keepers themselves) will be monitoring the competition and selecting the finest inventions for honors. Of special focus is Aether Science, which the Enlightened Keepers seem to be banking on to find new and better ways to harvest aether. However, Tezzeret has secret schemes to supplant the Consulate, planning to use the Inventors’ Fair to find the best the plane has to offer and take it for himself.
While all the races of Kaladesh are under the Consulate, each has their own individual traditions. Elvish society revolves around their connection to the Great Conduit, which is their concept of the spirit of Kaladesh and a guiding principle by which they are governed. Some elves are more attuned with the aether than others, and are able to see the motions of the Great Conduit. Elves are divided into three camps, one of which lives among the other races in the cities, one of which prefers to remain in their native forest, and one small group that wish to live cut-off from all outside contact. Vedalken appear to live most side-by-side with humanity. They have a sixth digit, but otherwise are like Vedalken most elsewhere in the multiverse, following iterative solutions to problems through careful science. They organize into social groups called Clades, which are a sort of extended family unit. Dwarves are consummate artisans, known for the high quality of their work and their work ethic. Aetherborn have developed their own society over the last 50 years. Due to their short lifespans, they tend to live hedonistically to enjoy every moment of their lives, and they are well aware of when they will die naturally. Because of this lifestyle, and because aetherborn are not biologically born, they form lineages by adopting new, young aetherborn, who will inherit the wealth of their predecessor.
While some of Kaladesh’s wildlife is relatively standard fare, it is all touched in some way by the aether. Giants follow aether streams seasonally, and many creatures and plantlife will follow swirling designs and patterns thanks to the aether’s influence. A unique biology exists high above Kaladesh in the Aethersphere. There, skywhales and other creatures have adapted to the unique environment, staying aloft through magic fueled by aether. Skywhales are hunted by the Kaladeshi, but for what purpose is unknown.
The most prominent new creature on Kaladesh is the Gremlin. Gremlins are aether-devouring lizard-rats on Kaladesh with blue snouts, red bodies, and six legs. They are often found in cities, destroying infrastructure and artifacts to get at the delicious aether fuel inside. Though originally adapted to feed on aethergeodes below ground, the Aether Boom also resulted in a population boom of these pests. Many Kaladeshi creatures seem to be part cat. Dragons on Kaladesh take the form of winged lions, and while regular monkeys exist, Bandar (the Hindi word for monkey) are a kind of cat-monkey.
Ajani is roaring because Gideon just whipped him in the back on accident.
Dramatic Reversal by Eric Deschamps
Ajani Goldmane is a Nacatl planeswalker from the fomer shard on Naya on Alara. He was intimately involved with the Conflux, even facing down Nicol Bolas by himself. He survived that battle by using a sliver of the Conflux's leftover power (that not taken by Bolas) to summon a soul duplicate of Bolas and ultimately save his plane. He befriended Elspeth Tirel prior to the Conflux, and through Elspeth learned of the villainous planeswalker Tezzeret. After Elspeth's murder by Heliod on Theros, he wears her cloak to honor his fallen friend. He met with his friend Tamiyo after spreading the word of Heliod's misdeed on Theros, where he learned Tezzeret to be an Agent of Bolas, his first clue to the Elder Dragon in years. He followed this clue to Kaladesh, where he allied himself with the renegade Oviya Pashiri in order to investigate Tezzeret's purpose on the plane.
Chandra Nalaar is a pyromancer native to Kaladesh. As a girl, her powers manifested while she was making an illegal aether delivery, which brought her to the consuls’ attention - specifically to the malicious Captain Baral. When Dovin Baan arrives and reminds her of her home, Liliana convinces her that it is time to return home.
Dovin Baan is a Vedalken planeswalker native to Kaladesh. He has a special talent that allows him to see the weaknesses in all things. This has served him well on a plane so rife with artifice, and he rose quickly through the ranks of the Consulate to Minister of Inspections. It is his responsibility to sign off on all new devices being produced by the Consulate. As a part of his duties, he is assigned to the Inventors’ Fair, but is plagued by renegades. He hears about the Gatewatch through a planeswalker network (spread by Tamiyo) and goes to request their help. Dovin is not a particularly pleasant person; he is blunt to a degree that most would find rude.
Liliana Vess is a two-hundred-year-old necromancer from Dominaria. As a young woman, she was manipulated by the Raven Man into poisoning her brother, consigning his soul to the void. Following the mending and terrified of the same fate for herself, she allowed Nicol Bolas to broker deals with four demons for her in exchange for retaining her youth and regaining much of her power. With her deals coming due, she stole the legendary Chain Veil and has used it to kill two of her demons. She realized the Veil comes with a great cost to herself, though, and is looking for ways to get rid of it. She joined the Gatewatch in order to use her new allies to help rid herself of the veil, and her remaining two demons while she is at it. The discovery of Tezzeret with the Consulate has made the conflict on Kaladesh personal for her.
Gideon Jura is a hieromancer from Theros, who believes himself to be the leader of the fledgling Gatewatch. While he does not have much of a personal stake in the Kaladesh conflict, his history with Chandra has led him to be protective of her. While he initially does not believe that the Gatewatch should interfere on Kaladesh, Tezzeret’s presence makes for a threat to the multiverse worth checking out.
Jace Beleren is a mind mage from Vryn (although he does not know it), who also believes himself to be the leader of the fledgling Gatewatch, which I am totally sure is not going to be a problem going forward… Tezzeret’s presence on Kaladesh has made the conflict personal for him, and he is committed to finding out what his former mentor turned bitter enemy is scheming.
Nissa Revane is an elementalist from Zendikar, and is not sure of her place in the Gatewatch, but a deep connection has developed since they linked together their powers to destroy the Eldrazi Titans on Zendikar. Since then, she was a good sport about the metropolitan plane of Ravnica, and her adventures on Kaladesh have taught her that nature is everywhere, even if it does not appear to be at first.
Saheeli Rai is an artificer native to Kaladesh, reknown for her metalsmithing abilities creating simulcra of living creatures. In truth, she is a planeswalker who has a natural affinity for metal, using magic to build and fuel her constructs. She is close friends with the inventor Rashmi, and inadvertently helps Tezzeret get his hands on Rashmi’s Planar Bridge.
Tezzeret is an artificer native to the Alaran shard of Esper. While once bold enough to challenge the Elder Dragon Planeswalker Nicol Bolas by usurping control of the Infinite Consortium, Liliana Vess’ manipulations brought him and his young protege, Jace, into conflict on Ravnica. This conflict ended with Tezzeret left for dead with a Nezumi tribe on Kamigawa, Liliana left empty handed, and Bolas swooping in to recover all he had lost… including his former thrall, Tezzeret. With Tezzeret now under Bolas’ thumb, he is on Kaladesh for an unknown purpose, successfully infiltrating the Consortium and masterminding the Inventors’ Fair.
Kiran Nalaar was a terrible father, sending a reckless 11-year-old on a illegal smuggling mission.
Lost Legacy by Greg Opalinski
Dhiren Baral is the Consulate’s Chief of Compliance, the head of the Consulate’s secret prison, the Dhund. He is responsible for the death of Kiran Nalaar, father to Chandra and husband of Pia. He hunted down the Nalaars after he discovered Chandra was a pyromancer in his single-minded crusade against mages on Kaladesh. This crusade is rather hypocritical, as Baral is a mage himself, as he demonstrates against young Chandra by suppressing her powers at her execution.
Oviya Pashiri is a elderly human woman who took up Lifecrafting after the death of her wife. She previously worked with the Nalaars to get smuggled aether. Since the death of Kiran and the presumed death of Chandra, she works with Pia Nalaar and the renegades, taking the role of a major lieutenant in the organization. Her kindly grandmother exterior belies fierce devotion to her cause.
Pia Nalaar is a human artificer and mother to the planeswalker Chandra Nalaar. As a young woman, she was an aether smuggler who saw her husband and child murdered by the Consulate (or so she believed) as she was captured and imprisoned for years. In her captivity, she was tormented for years by Baral, the man who murdered her husband and who she believed executed her daughter as well. Since she was freed from prison, she led the renegades (known as Renegade Prime) against the Consulate’s injustices, and plans to oppose Head Judge Tezzeret and his Inventors’ Fair.
Rashmi is an elf artificer who inadvertently built the first planar portal since the mending. She stumbled across it when attempting to build a teleporter, and succeeded in entering it into the Inventors’ Fair. She won in the fair, only to have the device seized by the consulate. She was put to work completing a grander version of her portal — the Planar Bridge — but it became apparent to her that Tezzeret would kill her once she was finished, so she escaped.
Yahenni is an Aetherborn Socialite that harbors a dark secret; they are able to steal the life essence from others to extend their own life. This is a rare ability among aetherborn, but it disgusts Yahenni and they never want to use it. But then again, their time is slowly running out...
The engineered look of everything on Kaladesh is great design work.
Kaladesh Art Book cover by Adam Paquette
- Avaati Vya - The inventor who discovered how to use Aether in artifice.
- Depala - An ace pilot with the Derby Crows, friends with Yahenni.
- Gonti - an Aetherborn crime lord of great reknown.
- Kambal - The Consul of Allocation, a corrupt man who uses his authority to get involved in a number of illegal dealings.
- Kari Zev - A pirate prodigy who at 15 years of age commands her own skyship, the Dragon’s Smile.
- Kiran Nalaar - Chandra’s father, deceased.
- Mitul - Rashmi’s Vedalken assistant.
- Padeem - A Vedalken and Enlightened Keeper, in charge of funding promising inventors.
- Ranaj - Chief-Enforcer of the Bastion of the Honorable.
- Rishkar - An elf of Peema opposed to the Consulate.
- Sram - Chief Edificer of the Consulate, designer of the Aether Hub.
- Heart of Kiran - A renegade skyship designed by the late Kiran Nalaar.
- Hope of Ghirapur - A modified thopter deployed from Heart of Kiran.
- Skysovereign - The enormous flagship of the Consulate fleet.
- The Dragon's Smile - The skyship belonging to the pirate captain Kari Zev.
What happened to this awesome tiger-beast and why did we get drab brown/green ones instead?
Art by Victor Adame Minguez
The Story of Kaladesh
Chandra Nalaar is the daughter of two inventors: Pia and Kiran Nalaar. Pia and Kiran belong to the renegade faction on Kaladesh, trading illegally in the artifact fuel known as Aether. Aether is strictly regulated on Kaladesh by the Consulate. Chandra is caught by consul enforcers while on a smuggling run for her parents, and her latent pyromancer powers help her escape… but also ensure that the consul soldier Captain Baral wants to hunt her down. Chandra and her parents escape to the countryside (where they first come up with the symbol for the renegades, a tilted spire with the aether flowing back out), and Baral is ordered to stand down. Baral ignores that order, and pursues the Nalaars to Bunarat, the village where they are hiding. He kills Chandra’s father and burns down the village, pinning the blame on Chandra, and bringing her in for execution. At her execution, he reveals why he was so dead-set on Chandra: he is a mage himself, a rarity on Kaladesh and he could not afford to let Chandra roam free. Before Baral can execute her, however, Chandra’s latent spark ignites, transporting her to the plane of Regatha. There, she appears outside of Keral Keep, a monastery filled with pyromancers like Chandra, all of whom follow the teachings of another master pyromancer: Jaya Ballard.
Baral is furious, and he takes out his anger on Pia Nalaar, whom he captured in Bunarat. He taunts her every day with the death of her husband and daughter, though as he grows bored, he starts to only come weekly. Pia asks him why he continues to torment her, and he reveals his psychopathic hatred for those who go against the consulate’s structure. He continues to return to taunt her, until finally she gets fed up and throws the Aether lamp in her cell at his face. He removes his mask to reveal his horribly burnt face, courtesy of Chandra. Proud of her daughter, Pia realizes that she does have something to live for: defiance.
Quicksmithing battles are a remnant of Kaladesh's past, when nobles made court inventors compete.
Art by Victor Adame Minguez
The Inventors’ Fair
Back in the present, Homesick catches us up with the Gatewatch three months after the events of Eldritch Moon. The entire Gatewatch took up residence in Jace’s Sanctum on Ravnica, and each are reacting to the confined space and lack of things to do differently. Jace is piled up with paperwork, and Lavinia (who now knows of planeswalkers and is magically sworn to secrecy) ensures he fulfills his duties as the Living Guildpact. Leadership of the Gatewatch is… unclear. Jace and Gideon both think that they are in charge, but in different manners. Liliana is content to wait for opportunities to manipulate the rest. Nissa is in pain on Ravnica, and seems to be trying to connect with Ravnica’s soul like she did on Zendikar. Chandra is just… Chandra.
Before parting ways with Tamiyo, Jace asked her to spread the word about the Gatewatch. That finally paid off with the arrival of Dovin Baan, a Kaladeshi Vedalken. He is the Minister of Inspections for Ghirapur’s Consulate. He heard through the rough planeswalker network (more a collection of gossip from ‘walkers that pass each other by) that the Gatewatch might be able to help with his problem. He is in charge of security for the Inventors’ Fair, and he worries about a renegade plot. As he speaks, Chandra becomes furious and eventually leaves before the Gatewatch’s meeting with Dovin is over.
Chandra is fuming. Dovin represents everything she hates about the Consulate, and given that her parents were renegades, she cannot stand the idea that the Consulate will hunt the renegades down. After trying to get advice from Nissa, to whom Chandra grew attached since their minds were linked, she sets off more flustered than ever into the city. Liliana catches up with her, and makes some suggestions...
Gideon, Nissa, and Jace meet with Dovin once more, and quickly learn Liliana and Chandra went out together. Dovin hears Chandra’s last name, and makes the connection to the Nalaars of Kaladesh. He recounts the Consulate version of events, and the rest of the Gatewatch quickly realize that Chandra must have returned home after their first meeting with Dovin. With Jace buried in Guildpact work and the threat of Vraska returning to Ravnica requiring Gideon’s attention, Nissa volunteers to go after Chandra. She accompanies Dovin back to his home.
On Kaladesh, Rashmi and her vedalken assistant Mitul are hard at work in her lab, the inquirium, a giant research facility built like a giant mechanical spider. They have researched alternate methods for matter transportation for a long time, and by accident, they finally have a success. While the plants they attempt to send through always die, they successfully teleport the pot one of their plants was planted in. With their success, they are suddenly acutely aware of the time. They have just enough time to get to the fair and have their entry judged! Unfortunately, Mitul realizes they just used their last filament. Because of the fair, every vendor they go to is out. Rashmi only has one hope: her friend Saheeli Rai.
Saheeli has kept her planeswalking a secret, so when Rashmi reveals her invention, Saheeli has a moment of panic. Rashmi has no idea how dangerous the multiverse is, or what she could be unwittingly unleashing. She refuses to help create a new filament, and Rashi throws her out. Saheeli goes to clear her mind and realizes that innovation is at the heart of everything she believes in. Even if Rashmi’s device is dangerous, it is thrilling and full of potential. She goes back to apologize, and secures a private judging from Padeem.
Dovin really, really regrets ever talking to the Gatewatch.
Art by Tyler Jacobson
Chandra arrives on Kaladesh during the fair, determined to find and protect the renegade artificers. She climbs up a building to get a look at her home, Ghirapur, and at the top she finds Liliana waiting for her. In a conspiratorial whisper, Liliana suggest they have some fun while at it. The two spend the day ingratiating themselves with renegade sympathizers until they find themselves at a dance. There, Liliana infuriates a Consulate security officer, and Chandra punches him in the face. The two bolt, but when Liliana suggests they simply kill their pursuit, Chandra refuses and throws up a wall of flame instead. The pair escape onto a train out of the district.
Elsewhere, a mysterious hooded man moves through the fair. He is on the trail of the renegade leader, someone he calls Renegade Prime. He infiltrates a Renegade gathering as it is dispersing, and shows the symbol of the Leaking Spire to their leader, and pretends to talk about some sort of plan to distract her. While they chat, he magically removes a device from the woman’s bag. Once he has it, he sneaks away with information to find his Renegade Prime.
In the time since her imprisonment, Pia Nalaar has built up a network of renegades. As an act of defiance during the fair, the renegades orchestrate a thopter display, making the whirlers display the renegade symbol… and then release an Aether Pulse, shorting out the power.
Chandra and Liliana’s train comes to a sudden stop, and they realize a good chunk of the city has lost power. Assuming it is the renegade she is looking for, they hop off the train and begin searching for the source. Liliana spots the mysterious hooded man, who runs when she calls him. They catch up to him accosting a middle-aged woman, and both Liliana and Chandra are shocked by the man and woman’s identities: Tezzeret, Liliana’s old enemy, and Pia Nalaar, Chandra’s mother who she thought dead. Dovin and Nissa arrive, and get split up in the ensuing chaos.
The situation escalates quickly, as Consul forces that was waiting for Tezzeret’s signal appear to apprehend Pia. Chandra begins to fight towards her mother, and Dovin orders the gearhulks forward to avoid any injuries or loss of life. Pia turns herself in to avoid seeing Chandra hurt, and Nissa, Liliana, and Chandra flee the area. They stumble upon Oviya Pashiri — the kindly old woman from Chandra's childhood — who leads them to safety.
Thanks for Reading! I know we cut the story of Kaladesh short here, but next time we will finish it along with Aether Revolt.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we will address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you want to see? Let us know, and we may address it in a future column. You can also follow me on twitter @Jay13x or Archive Trap Mini on Tumblr.