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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time Spiral - Chapter 3

Where does a planeswalker go when he wants time to think? The Blind Eternities.

Time Spiral - Chapter 3

Teferi immerses himself in the void between the planes called the Blind Eternities. It's always been great place to clear his head.

Those Keldons were from a wrong time period, the rift itself seems to be a fracture in time. But time is Terferi's domain. No one has ever come closer to taming that untamable element. He was the prodigy among prodigies at the Tolarian Academy. And though it was he that had to be rescued by Jhoira when his time machine exploded, it was also he that phased two continents out of existence for a hundred years.

For those people safely tucked away on those continents, no time had passed, but there's a new wrikle to his plan. The world wasn't supposed to be like this. The strange rift above Keld is unexpected. If one of those rifts exists where Shiv is to return, the results may well be catastrophic for the entire multiverse.

But what did that really change? There are new developments but the plan is the same. He needs advice from Freyalise. However, Freyalise senses his plan, and within his mind she tells him that he may want to see her, but the feeling is not mutual.

I will not stay long. If you can grant me just a little of your time in order to save a world, that is all the time I will need.

I have already saved a world, Freyalise said. Several, in fact, and several times over.

Then you shouldn't mind helping me do it once more.

On the contrary. I am openly hostile to anything you might wish to accomplish and will resist you however I can. I have saved worlds before without your help - this word, in fact. You need me, Teferi. I do not need you.

Try as he might, the Freyalise refuses to budge. Planeswalkers guard their territory fiercely and leave each other alone as a rule of thumb. The one time she made an exception because of the Phyrexian Invasion, it didn't end well. Shyshroud is hers and she will protect it if the need arises, but everything else is none of her concern. An important fact strikes Teferi from her reply. Not that she's refusing to help but that his calculations were wrong. They haven't been gone for one century like he had planned. They've been gone for three. Teferi leaves the encounter warning Freyalise that will help him, whether she wants to or not.

...Back on the beach...

Five Keldons fall to the Shivans, then the rest turn and run. Without a warlord to truly lead them, they were more like a gang of thugs.

Teferi returns and asks what had happened, and with no small amount of sarcasm, they tell him they fought and won. They hope that was part of the plan of their great leader. If not, maybe he should actually be present to let them know otherwise. Teferi responds that they were brought along because they were the warriors, and they shouldn't need instructions on how to fight.

Jhoira interrupts and insists he tell them what he discovered. She knows him well enough to see the change in his disposition. He let's her know that Freyalise will not be helping them, but with such powerful magics as were used to transport the forest of Skyshroud to this world, there should still be a magical residue left for him to learn from. He just needs to take a look. With the chaos that they've already witnessed, he wants to keep his use of magic at a minimum, and so they'll have to march.

* * *

Cosmic Encounter

That was a bit surprising, although it probably should be expected that the planeswalkers can simply have their meeting in the space between worlds. Teferi's got his work cut out for him, and the whole conversation now just makes me very curious to learn what exactly happened during the Invasion. But that'll have to wait for another day.

Not So Omnipotent

Writing a story about omnipotent beings is hard. If a character can do anything, then there is no problem they can't overcome with ease, and all sense of suspense is gone. The style of story limited for that type of character is one that is truly epic in scale, like the invasion of one plane of existence to another or stopping the total collapse of time and space. (Or perhaps a personal story where the hero is his own obstacle that he must overcome.)

Much like how Mark Rosewater says "Restrictions breed creativity," when it comes to a story, "Limitations create suspense." Heroes need a chance to overcome an obstacle or villain. Without suspense, there is no story.

Let's take the X-men movies as an example. Professor X would have wiped the floor with every villain in each of the X-men movies, so he had to be removed from board early on for them to have a chance at working. (Whether or not X3 ended up working after meeting this requirement is a different story.)

Another example would be the TV show Heroes. It's a good example of how to do it wrong. They didn't reign in the power of the next to invincible characters after season one, and so an insane amount of power creep was required for the heroes to face and eventually all suspension and suspension of disbelief were broken.

But let's get to the point.

While the destruction of the entire multiverse is epic in scope, the planeswalkers still need to be reigned in a bit. There would be no story if Teferi just called a council of all planeswalkers, asked for a brainstorming session in the Blind Eternities, and then together they figure out the problem in the blink of an eye.

I love how right off the bat McGough sets limitations on our planeswalker. Something is wrong with his actual ability to planeswalk. The time rifts are able to radiate waves of energy that creates near crippling pain (for himself, but not the mere mortals with him), and he has a very valid concern about using magic unnecessarily.

With these restriction, now we have ourselves a hero that doesn't just have a math problem to solve, or an itch to scratch. He now has a real journey ahead of him and true obstacles to overcome.

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