The setting is inspired by dystopian novels such as 1984, Brave New World, A Handmaid’s Tale.
The (color-)phylosophical inspiration is trying to show the evil side of white, or, to say it in another way, to show "white gone bad", or "white pushed to the extreme". MaRo often said that fascism is white, and we'd like to highlight that particular side of white in this block. Obviously that doesn't mean we're doing here with white what has been done with black in Torment: all colors are represented as equally as possible in Ormos. This is just the flavor twist for the block.
One of the block’s major themes is lack of privacy and government intrusiveness and restriction. We want people to feel like they need to go to great lengths to hide anything from the Brotherhood. The Rebels need a pretty intricate way to keep themselves hidden from the Brotherhood. There won't be a lot of out and out battles in the first set, rather covert actions and symbolic acts of defiance. The first set is more about planning and recruiting for the Rebels, and then they will strike in the second set.
---INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST SET---
Dahl is a human artificer planeswalker from an unknown plane. When he was still a young man on his homeplane, he served in the government, when he was caught developing a device that he planned to use to take the plane from the ruling party. For this, he is sentenced to death. During his execution, his spark ignites and he escapes with his life. The government of his homeplane sends out a few planeswalkers who are on that plane at that moment (not necessarily native to that plane) to find him and bring him back so that justice can be served. Among those planerwalkers who are chasing Dahl through the planes on behalf of the government, there is a female mad-looking and very young woman called Freigh. She is a red/green character mechanically focused on artifact destruction. Knowing her passion for smashing things just for the fun of it, the government hired her thinking "who best to send after an artificer?".
After a bit of time on the run, Dahl eventually finds Ormos. Ormos is a young and fairly undeveloped plane on the outskirts of the multiverse, remote and somewhat inconsequential, therefore it is not visited by planeswalkers very much. The citizens of Ormos are somewhat primitive when compared to citizens from other planes, and have been locked in a planewide holy war for times untold. The sides of this holy war are divided as such:
- Clerics, who believe in a single god that is the absolute ruler of all things.
- Atheists, who believe in no "superstitions". They consider themselves to be scientific people, and would prefer the "religious zealots" not stand in the way of progress.
- Worshippers of death. They believe that only in death can one be set free, and that the body is just a vessel to be used.
- Shamans believing in a mysticism that is dependent upon personal growth through individual experience.
- Druids that believe in the ultimate power of nature.
Each of these sects believes that their philosophy is the only correct philosophy, which causes the five sects to be at constant war. Each sect has its own main races, which are the races of the majority of its members, but there is not a biunique correspondence between sects and races. Each sect includes some members of other races as well. The plane is divided along philosophical lines more so than racial ones.
List of main races:
- primary: Humans - secondary: Leonin, Aven
- primary: Vedalken - secondary: Merfolk (legged)
- primary: Ratillions (creature type Rat) (this is a new race similar to the Nezumi from Kamigawa) - secondary: Zombies (of the mindless variety and maybe just a few, necromancy isn't supposed to be a big things on Ormos)
- primary: Viashino - secondary: Goblins
- primary: Elves - secondary: Ainok (creature type Hound)
In each color, one race extends to an ally color and the other(s) stays exclusively in that color:
Humans in all colors but the majority in white.
Aven - White
Leonin - White secondary green
Merfolk - Blue (Which have legs and are able to live out of the water. This could also be a factor for the Merfolk when they start to join the rebellion.)
Vedalken - Blue secondary white
Zombies - Black
Ratillions - Black secondary blue
Goblins - Red
Viashino - Red secondary black (we could switch Goblins to secondary black since there's already precedent there, but I think I like Viashino better for this.)
Elves - Green
Ainok - Green secondary red
Upon coming to Ormos, Dahl soon comes to believe it to be the best place to hide from the planeswalkers seeking him. He also immediately realizes the opportunity such a plane gives him to gain power for himself, so he sets about exploiting the religious chaos that is the plane of Ormos. He aligns himself with the Cleric faction of the war, and claims to be a messenger from their god. The Clerics don’t have a hard time buying that because of Dahl's charisma and power, as they haven’t seen a lot of planeswalkers. Also, they clearly see that the powerful Dahl may be just the advantage they need to win the war. With Dahl on their side, the Clerics quickly gain an advantage over the rest of the factions on the plane, and eventually establish their own religion as the one true religion, with Dahl as its leader.
Once this happens, Dahl begins to preach unity and brotherhood for all of the Ormosian citizens, up to calling the religion itself "the Brotherhood". His preachings are imposed as a law, and soon Dahl builds structures to punish those that he calls the "guilty", meaning everyone who committed even a slight infraction, despite how little it may be. After all, the law is useless if you don't enforce it. He builds two types of camps, sparse throughout Ormos with guards watching over them. Those are:
• The Workcamps, where prisoners are forced to work too many hours a day as a punishment for what they did.
• The Correction Camps, where the most difficult prisoners are punished. Correction Camps execute all kinds of sentences and punishments, always involving a heavy prison regime, often involving torture and brainwashing, and including death sentences in the worst cases.
Normally, the first infraction brings you to a Workcamp, while the second one, or another infraction while you're in a Workcamp, gets you to a Correction Camp. But if you commit a particular serious crime, you may also be sent directly to a Correction Camp. Obviously all camps have a lot of guards keeping things under control.
Anyway, the Brotherhood wants people to see that people can be reformed, even the ones that actually can't. With so many people disappearing to the camps or "reaching final enlightenment" (aka "being sentenced to death"), the Brotherhood wants people to hold out hope that their loved ones may yet be "saved" (aka "rendered harmless", sometimes including chip implants) and then return to them. The Brotherhood tries to never take people away in broad daylight, and they never inform any of their survivors as to where they've gone, people are just left wondering.
In order to appease the remaining factions, Dahl appoints each faction its own division within the governing body. Such divisions are called "Ministries". The previous sects end up being transformed into the various Ministries that have been set up by the Brotherhood, although any adherence to their old teachings is strictly forbidden as blasphemy. The Brotherhood also makes it difficult to adhere to the old ways by erasing all history of them from media and textbooks. The Ministries are as follows:
- Ministry of Order: it deals with making laws, maintaining public order, managing all the camps except for Correction Camps, and propaganda.
- Ministry of Truth: it deals with information and education, constantly making sure that all the schools and the analogue of the media spread the "right" information.
- Ministry of Guilt: it deals with torture and brainwashing, using them to punish the "guilty", which actually are anyone who committed even a slight infraction, no matter how small it can be. It manages the Correction Camps, using those means at full extent to "re-educate" the prisoners.
- Ministry of Industry: it deals with actually producing the devices Dahl designs, like chips (represented by the new Implant subtype), drones, and such. It's actually made up by Viashino and Goblin slaves working in factory assembly lines.
- Ministry of Agriculture: it deals with managing the food and waste systems for camps, schools, public offices and all population really.
Although Dahl has built a system of strict laws, surveillance and punishment, he still mostly controls his people through religion and re-education. When someone is caught doing wrong on Ormos, most of the citizens think this person should be punished. This often includes the person being punished. People are generally afraid to express their feelings of discontent because they are never sure if the person they are talking to will blow them in for what they are saying, whether the person is a Brotherhood agent or just an average citizen. It takes a long time to trust anybody on Ormos under Dahl's regime, even your own family might turn you in to the authorities in order to "save" you.
After Dahl is firmly entrenched as the ruler of Ormos, he quickly puts the Ministry of Truth to work, rewriting history and "teaching" (aka brainwashing) the population the orthodoxy of the newfound Brotherhood. While doing so, he eventually transforms himself from a disciple of the Cleric's god, to a god himself, acquiring the name of "Father Dahl".
To protect himself from the planeswalkers chasing him, he soon creates a network of devices called the "Isolation Network" to isolate Ormos from the rest of the Multiverse, allowing no other planeswalker to enter or leave the plane, while also reinforcing his power as self-imposed god. This traps Freigh, who had finally tracked Dahl to Ormos in the meantime. Realizing she can’t defeat Dahl by herself, as he now has the entire plane under his command, she sets about recruiting help. This is the beginning of the Rebellion, which begins quite slowly at first due to Dahl’s complete influence over the minds of the Ormosians. In fact, it takes a few years for the Rebellion to start gaining enough momentum.
During those years, in Workcamp 78 an unfortunate event happens: a woman prisoner gets pregnant. As usual in these cases (a few other ones have happened before), the father is immediately sent to a Correction Camp, while the mother stays in the Workcamp until the end of her pregnancy. When the baby is born, she is sent to a Correction Camp too (a different one of course), and the baby is given a number and stays in the Workcamp, passing there all their life. This baby is a female and has been assigned the number 137-F, where the F stands for "female". She grows in Workcamp 78 while being exposed to different prisoners that come and go from the camp. Some of those prisoners tell her of the starting Rebellion against the Brotherhood, and as she always wondered how it was like to live on the outside with freedom in your hands, she becomes fascinated by those tales and starts developing a desire to possibly join the Rebellion one day.
---END OF INTRODUCTION---
---FIRST SET STARTS HERE--- (These are the ones I propose as the five pivotal moments in the first set to represent on cards)
The first set starts here, with the Brotherhood already firmly entrenched, the Isolation Network already in place, and the Rebellion starting to enter its middle stages.
After some years from 137-F's birth, in addition to keeping on looking for help, Freigh is finding and destroying the devices making up the Isolation Network. While attempting to destroy the last one, she is caught and sent directly to a Correction Camp ("Camp 83") waiting for a sentence. Her case is of unprecedented gravity, so it will take a long time to judge.
When she comes of age, 137-F finally decides to attempt to escape Workcamp 78 but she's caught and sent to a Correction Camp for a "re-education retreat" (aka "brainwashing"). That Correction Camp happens to be Camp 83, the same one where Freigh has been imprisoned all this time. Freigh has been sentenced to "find final enlightenment" (aka "be executed") in the meantime. They meet in Camp 83, quickly becoming friends and deciding to try to escape. Freigh has never felt like trying that alone, and 137-F has the experience of her previous failed attempt. Together, they start planning an escape, and eventually their plan works and they escape Camp 83.
Together they also decide to attempt again to destroy the final device of the Isolation Network. Freigh knows where it is located, so she takes 137-F there with her. Freigh takes her sword, empowered with Rebel magic, and hits the Network device, destroying it. It was the last one: it had within itself all the magical energy of the whole Network. That energy bursts out in a huge explosion that kills Freigh and blinds 137-F, almost killing her too. She just has the time to take Freigh's magical sword in her hand before feeling like passing out.
---FIRST SET ENDS HERE---
---BRIDGE STARTS HERE---
She finds herself somewhere unknown. This is her first planeswalk, and her spark just ignited with no Isolation Network anymore to keep her on Ormos, but she doesn't know all of that yet. She looks around herself and finds some people. She tries to tell them what just happened to her, but they seem to not understand. One of them proposes to bring her to one of their mages, maybe he would understand her. They bring her to her village, where she's brought to XYZ (insert male returning planeswalker here, possibly white). She explains to him what happened and he immediately understands. He tells her about the spark, the Multiverse, and introduces her to what planeswalking means. Her mind is blown away by all of this, she wanted to experience what freedom was like, but this was even more than all she could ever have hoped for! XYZ invites her to stay with him at least for a few days, as long as she needs to recover. She agrees. In those days, she tells him all about Ormos, the Brotherhood, the camps, the Rebellion, and asks him for his help. He gladly agrees. During those days, they also start feeling something for each other. One day, she tells him that she has no name except for a number. XYZ is horrified at the thought of people being just numbers and offers to give her himself a name. She loves the idea, and actually loves him too. He names her Ziarn, which means "seed", as in both this being just the "seed" of her journey as a planeswalker, and her being hopefully the "seed" of the Rebellion on Ormos. As soon as she recovers her strength, she asks him to come with her back to Ormos and help the Rebellion. He agrees, and they both planeswalk to Ormos.
---END OF BRIDGE---
---SECOND SET STARTS HERE---
As they arrive on Ormos, Ziarn's attention is caught by a small group of Rebels talking to each other and wondering what happened to Freigh, who has disappeared since a few days ago. She walks to them and explains them what happened and that Freigh is dead and she was there. They immediately bring her in a hideout, where all the highest ranked Rebels are meeting to decide what to do after Freigh's sudden disappearance. They stop the meeting, asking them to listen to what this woman has to say. She tells everything to them too, bringing Freigh's sword, which she still has with herself, as proof. They believe her and they tell her that Freigh was actually their leader, and as she helped her and was there during the heroic (from their point of view) act that caused Freigh's death, they ask her to become the new leader of the Rebellion. She enthusiastically accepts and leads the Rebellion to victory. How that victory is exactly achieved will be the focus of the second set.
(Insert story of how the Rebellion wins here. We'll make it when we arrive to the second set.)
In the end, the Rebellion is victorious, the Brotherhood falls, and Dahl planeswalks away choosing that over certain death by Rebel hands. Freigh, who was the one looking after Dahl on Ormos on behalf of Dahl's homeplane government, is dead without having captured him, so one thing is for sure: Dahl is still free and still chased by a few other planeswalkers sent by the government throughout the planes. This leaves us the possibility to make another block with Dahl in the future.
---END OF SECOND SET---
---END OF THE BLOCK---
(Time zero is the start of the first set.)
---INTRODUCTION STARTS HERE---
- 20 years: A young Dahl is sentenced to death on his unknown homeplane when his spark ignites. The government sends various planeswalkers, among which a very young Freigh, looking after him through the planes in a multi-planar chase.
- 19 years: Dahl comes to Ormos, where the "holy" war between the sects is going on.
- 18.5 years: Dahl becomes the leader of the Cleric's religion. Under his lead, they quickly win the war.
- 18 years: Dahl builds the camps and creates the Ministries out of the former sects.
- 17 years: The Ministry of Truth starts rewriting history. Dahl establishes himself as a god under the name of "Father Dahl".
- 16 years: Dahl creates the Isolation Network, trapping Freigh on Ormos. Freigh starts recruiting help. This is the start of the Rebellion.
- 15 years: In Workcamp 78, 137-F is born.
- 2 years: Freigh discovers about the Isolation Network and starts breaking its devices throughout the plane of Ormos
---INTRODUCTION ENDS HERE---
---FIRST SET STARTS HERE---
At time zero:
• The Brotherhood is already firmly entrenched, the Isolation Network is already in place, and the Rebellion is starting to enter its middle stages.
• Freigh is caught while trying to break the last device of the Isolating Network and sent to Camp 83, waiting for a sentence. Her case is of unprecedented gravity, so it will take a long time to judge.
+ 2.5 years: Freigh is sentenced to "find final enlightenment" (aka "be executed").
+ 3 years: 137-F tries to escape Workcamp 78 but is caught She is sent to Camp 83 too, for a "re-education retreat" (aka "brainwashing"). She meets Freigh there and the two quickly become friends, and plan their escape.
+ 3.5 years: Their plan works and they escape the Camp 83. They reach the last device of the Isolating Network and destroy it. The explosion kills Freigh and ignites 137-F's spark.
---FIRST SET ENDS HERE---
137-F meets XYZ on her first planeswalk plane. XYZ names her Ziarn. After a few days, they come back to Ormos.
---SECOND SET STARTS HERE---
Ziarn is anointed leader of the Rebellion.
+ 4 years: Ziarn thinks their time has come, and leads the Rebellion's revolt against the Brotherhood (details to be established later when we come to designing the second set).
+ 5 years: The Rebellion wins. The Brotherhood falls, and Dahl planeswalks away, still free but chased by other planeswalkers sent by his homeplane's government.
---SECOND SET ENDS HERE---
---BLOCK ENDS HERE---
First set (Brotherhood of Ormos):
• Father Dahl (WUB, focusing on law and artifice)
• Freigh (RG, focusing on artifact destruction)
• 137-F, Camp Worker as a monowhite mythic rare Human Rebel legendary creature.
• Ziarn (ex 137-F) (RW, focusing on building an army of small creatures and then pumping them, which I envision being her leading the Rebels to battle)
• XYZ (at least W, maybe mono W, as we've not yet included a monocolored planeswalker. Again, Gideon would probably fit perfectly, but we'll have to see BFZ's storyline)
• A returning "minor" planeswalker (possibly not white) who happens to be on Ormos. He/she doesn't have to tie into the main storyline, he/she can just have his/her own side storyline here. Me and Flatline would like this to be Tamiyo, if we're able to fit her in. It's been suggested that her attention might be caught by a plane that first was isolated and then suddenly is no more isolated (we know that's because of the Isolation Network but she does not). Her innate curiosity might stimulate her to come to Ormos and study the case.
• Two males (Dahl and XYZ), two females (Freigh and 137-F/Ziarn), and one unknown. Whichever gender the returning minor planeswalker is, we have the best balance (a 2/3 split).
• A double large block with a 2/3 planeswalker split, that is actually more of a 2.5/3 split because of 137-F's legendary creature card in the first set.
• The two main characters of the Rebellion (Freigh and Ziarn) are female, which feels appropriate and ironic for the Brotherhood treating them as second class citizens. Even those who might feel bad at first about that representation should like the fact that in the end it's exactly a female who leads the Rebellion to victory. There is a nice kind of redemption story hidden there.
• The second set doesn't only have planeswalkers on the Rebellion side, but also the minor returning one who should not care about the Brotherhood/Rebellion fight.
FACTIONS AND MAIN CHARACTERS
The plane or Ormos is controlled by an oppressive, theocratic, totalitarian regime that calls itself "The Brotherhood", founded and also currently headed by Father Dahl. He uses the Brotherhood to rule the plane of Ormos with his strict religious laws, and by using his artifact creations (drones, implanted chips, etc...) to keep a close eye on his people. The Brotherhood controls the whole plane. It is an oppressive presence that's felt everywhere on Ormos.
To the Brotherhood, names are worthless. Everything is identified with a number: prisoners, workers, camps... (examples from the story above: 137-F, Workcamp 78, Camp 83) and everything should be uniform and equal, as mass-produced. No diversity is allowed. If there was a person that's different from the mass, that person could even... gasp! ...think! And if they think, they might understand what the reality is like. And if they understand it, they might even... gasp! ...rebel to it! So the underlying philosophy is that a society with no individualism, free will, diversity, privacy, etc... is easier to control. And if you are able to control people, you are able to keep or even increase your own power, while at the same time avoiding that someone takes it away from you. That's what the Brotherhood wants. The means to obtain that are control and propaganda.
The Brotherhood uses both magical and technological means (the latter invented by Father Dahl who is also an artificer) to keep control over the ordinary people. For example, some chips are being planted in people secretly, and used as a way for the Brotherhood to spy on people, and maybe even control their thoughts remotely. The Rebels use dogs (could this be the Ainok's role?) as a way to detect these chips. Anyway, the Brotherhood’s main way of controlling its citizens is through religious propaganda, and manipulation of history through re-education (basically brainwashing). The artifacts are just meant to be a part of the Brotherhood. They are there to help make sure people are obeying the law. We want them to be there but not be too pervasive in the block.
The Ministries idea was originally by Tilwin.
The Brotherhood is in all colors, but centered in white, blue, and black.
We've know since the beginning that he's a planeswalker. He's not native to Ormos though, rather he's from an unknown plane. He claims himself the god of the Brotherhood religion, and that's why he calls himself "Father" rather than "Brother". It's easy doing that for him given his power as a planeswalker. He uses that as one of his means to keep control over Ormosian citizens. To sum it up, he's a secret planeswalking artificer from another plane that has taken over an already existing Ormosian religion to manipulate the citizens of Ormos and gain power. To prevent this facade from being discovered for what it is, he had to do two things:
• He established a revisionist history removing all records, traces and memories of other planeswalkers that might have visited Ormos in the past, making the citizens of Ormos completely unaware of the existence of planeswalkers, and also rewriting the history of how he rose to power.
• He built a set of devices, called "Isolation Network", that traps other planeswalkers on Ormos while also preventing the arrive of new ones and still allowing him to fully use his own powers instead. They can't get in or get out of Ormos, while he can get in and get out as he wishes. That allows him to present planeswalking powers as only his own, which gives him credibility as a god to the eyes of the average Ormosian citizen. The real main purpose of the Isolation Network was to protect himself from the planeswalkers chasing him though. The Network will be broken at the end of the first set, and its breaking is connected to 137-F's spark igniting. After that, if the people of Ormos don't know about planeswalkers, someone (137-F renamed to Ziarn coming back to Ormos) that suddenly appears that seems to have as much power as Father Dahl will be a great way to expose his shame. It would prove that he is no god, but just an ordinary planeswalker. This will happen in the second set though.
The religious war before the rise of the Brotherhood is Indighost's idea.
Father Dahl is Esper colored: his means are white (pseudo-fascist government), his motivation is black (wanting power for himself and to keep it), while he's also blue as an artificer.
137-F / Ziarn
Who she is and her story is explained above. She is a legendary creature in the first set whose spark ignites during the events of the block, turning her into a planeswalker in the second set. She won't planeswalk away until her brothers and sisters are free, she's been brought up in such a white environment she can't imagine not saving them. Of course, she's also red because he values freedom and emotions. She will be a monowhite Human Rebel mythic rare legendary creature in the first set and a red/white gold planeswalker in the second set. This transformation is well detailed in the above story.
She has been a very righteous and motivated person right from the beginning. She has been training to join the Rebellion since very early in her life as soon as she first learned of it (as much as one can in a Workcamp). Although she has never experienced freedom, she still yearns for it. Basically, she has always intended to free the people of Ormos, even if she wasn’t really ever sure how he could do that. As a result of the Isolation Network being broken, her spark ignites.
After she leads the Rebellion to victory, she can either stay on Ormos to make sure something like that never happens again, or decide that now that her fellow citizens are free she's also free to explore the multiverse.
She actually started as a male, but we later realized she could be female. We lacked female protagonists in Ormos and she being female also plays very nicely with women being treated as sort of second-class citizens by the Brotherhood. This is a delicate point, that could potentially be slightly offensive to some of the audience, so we should be careful with this. But having the leader of the Rebellion being female and so having a female being successful at destroying the oppressive regime, giving back to women the respect they deserve, can be a wonderful story of redemption and can teach the audience that the Brotherhood had it wrong and women do deserve the same respect, dignity, consideration, whatever than men. There is also a nice irony there: after completely disregarding women as second class citizens, the Brotherhood is eventually overthrown by a rebellion led by one!
Freigh and the Rebellion
The Rebels will be victorius at the end of the block. Flatline proposed that in the first set the Rebellion is headed by a planeswalker that has been stuck on Ormos due to Dahl's device. That is Freigh in the latest version of the story (see above). She has managed to get some citizens of Ormos to believe her when she tells them the true story of Dahl (she knows Dahl is a planeswalker and isn't who he says he is), and this is the start of the Rebellion. At the end of the first set, she manages to destroy the Isolation Network, but is killed in the process. 137-F is involved in this exchange, and her spark ignites at that moment.
The Rebels are in all colors, but centered in red, green, and white. There can be factions involved which are either racial or geographically split, or even both.
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