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    H 
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Seen on some art, including Vengeance and Burn the Impure, depict people being cut in half — in Burn the Impure's case, vertically so.
  • Hammerspace: Sash and Waistcoat, the two un-men and Those Two Guys from the Onslaught storyline, were designed by Ixidor to be living embodiments of Hammerspace. They're essentially living portals. There's several gags where they store things like pianos inside themselves.
  • Happy Ending Override: Happens several times in different planes:
    • In the first Mirrodin block, Glissa and her team stops the tyrannical Memnarch and his devious machinations over Mirrodin. Come Scars Of Mirrodin block, turns out that Memnarch had also been suppressing New Phyrexia's influence in Mirrodin, and with him gone, Mirrodin became New Phyrexia.
    • In the first Innistrad block, humanity is under threat of extinction due to its guardian angel Avacyn gone missing, and all is well once she's freed. Come Shadows Over Innistrad, not only the forces of darkness returns to threaten humanity once more, even the angels go crazy and start slaughtering the humans they are supposed to protect.
  • I Have Your Wife: Volrath kidnaps Starke's daughter.
  • Headless Horseman:
  • Heel Realization: After Darigaaz awakens the other four Primeval dragons in Planeshift, he realizes that the five of them would destroy Dominaria themselves. His Redemption Equals Death Heroic Sacrifice to break their five-way bond is depicted on Terminate.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: The philosophy behind the conflict that pits Red/Green against White/Blue.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • White creatures that sacrifice themselves for an effect usually have this flavor.
    • One of the big story moments in War of the Spark was Gideon sacrificing himself to free Liliana from Bolas' control. Since Liliana was directing Bolas'army of invincible zombies, this turned the tide of the Battle.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Nissa and Chandra being romantic partners was implied for more than two years before being abruptedly and clumsily discarded in the novelization of War of Spark. There was significant backlash among the fandom, with Chandra's sudden preference for "decidedly male" lovers becoming a meme. For what it's worth, previous creatives no longer working at Wizards of the Coasts spoke on social media that Nissa and Chandra had been written as a couple, suggesting that Executive Meddling reversed the relationship at the last minute.
  • Hive Drone: There are the Slivers, a type of Hive Minded creatures where the vast majority of individuals were drones under the control of the Sliver Queen until she was killed, at which point they became drones of the Sliver Overlord, until that was killed, at which point control of the swarm shifted to the newly-conscious hive mind itself; meanwhile on another plane there's a hive controlled by a Hivelord.
  • Hollywood Cyborg:
    • Phyrexians, extra-dimensional, bio-mechanical nasties whose machine parts are grafted onto them upon birth.
    • The natives of Esper replace their bodies with parts sculpted from the metal etherium. It's less grotesque than the Phyrexians, and is basically a way to transcend nature.
    • All lifeforms on Mirrodin have some metallic parts naturally integrated in them. Melira is the only exception, which makes her immune to the Phyrexian oil.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: White has plenty of this. Loads of priests, religions, angels, miracles and so on that all focus on cutting a swath of destruction. Half the time, even the "nice" life-gain and protection spells are there to enable that planeswalker to do something terrible to you with the next card.
  • Hope Spot: Twice in the events of Hour Of Devastation.
    • The first time when Rhonas hits the Scorpion God and brings him to his knees, in apparent defeat. Rhonas then makes the mistake of turning his back on his opponent, who proceeds to get back up and stick his stinger into the back of Rhonas' head. The poison does the rest.
    • The second time Oketra and Kefnet are double-teaming the Scorpion God. Kefnet gets stung once or twice in the wings, but Oketra manages to hit the Scorpion God squarely in the head with an arrow and blows it to bits. They're just starting to congratulate one another on their victory over Rhonas' killer... when the Scorpion God simply reconstitutes himself and nails Kefnet straight in the face. Oketra gets stung straight in the gut shortly thereafter.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Phyrexia's greatest ambition is to convert all of the multiverse's sentient life into Phyrexians. The game's Myth Arc from Weatherlight to Apocalypse was about their gambit to overcome the plane of Dominaria. They failed, but Karn unknowingly infected countless world's afterward. Mirrodin—now New Phyrexia—is the best known, but Elspeth Tirel hails from another such world.
  • Horns of Barbarism: A number of barbarian cards, such as Balduvian Barbarians and Balduvian Warlord, depicted tribal warriors clad in pelts, patchwork armor, flowing beards and, of course, helmets and headdresses adorned with horns and immense tusks.
  • Horse of a Different Color:
  • Humanoid Abomination: Szadek, founder of the Dimir Guild is a ten-thousand plus year old and the last surviving member of his species, who are essentially psychic vampires. The name of his species? The Eldritch. Make of that what you will.
  • Humans Are Average: Enforced. Humans are presented a jack-of-all trades species evenly represented across all colors of mana and with no specific identifying trait, outlook or lifestyle. This is done to put a human face on each color, which makes them more appealing to consumers (Magic's market research shows that it has a lot of human beings among its consumers). The presence of humans in the same environments and colors as nonhuman races also gives those races a point of reference to be compared to, allowing players to more accurately judge how and to what degree they align with their color.
  • Human Resources: Ravnica's Golgari Guild is responsible for corpse disposal and food production throughout the city. These two tasks are not unrelated. Soylent Green/Black is made of people!
  • Humongous Mecha: Darksteel Colossus.
  • Hybrid Monster: The Simic Combine specialize in creating these. Beasties with creature types like crocodile frog, fish crab and human ooze are the result.
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    I 
  • An Ice Person: Heidar, Rimewind Master
  • The Igor: Seen in Innistrad with Oglor (a mad scientist's assistant represented on Stitcher's Apprentice and in the flavor text of Rooftop Storm) and Garl (the Deranged Assistant).
  • Incendiary Exponent: Things on fire are often stronger or faster than things not-on-fire. For example, Fiery Mantle.
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism: This is the key conflict between White and Black. White is characterized as prioritizing the society, while a Black character's main focus is him- or herself. Neither one is officially considered inherently good or evil: White at its best makes sure all are cared for, but at its worst loses sight of the individual and becomes draconian and xenophobic. Black has a much harder time getting a heroic portrayal as its extreme selfishness usually comes at the expense of others (and sometimes even of basic decency — Black is known for messing with death magic and necromancy), but the creators maintain that you do need to give consideration to your own wants and needs; and its self-serving arguments are sometimes treated as Hard Truth Aesops and times where the Jerkass Has a Point.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted during the Shadows over Innistrad/Eldritch Moon storyline. There are references to children dying to werewolf maulings, angel attacks, and being burned alive by the Church of Avacyn in an attempt to purify them, though this is actually the work of the demon-worshiping Skirsdag cult in an attempt to sow disorder and distrust in the church.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The elves from the Lorwyn set. Their caste system runs on how beautiful they are and they will often hunt other species that they deem uglier than they.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: The Changelings from Lorwyn block reflexively take the form of whatever else is nearby.
  • Island of Mystery: Invoked for the entire continent of Ixalan, within the set and plane of the same name. The vampiric Legion of Dusk searches for the lost city of Azcanta while protagonist Jace Beleren struggles to remember who is he and how got here. Fellow Planeswalkers Vraska and Angrath also search for the reason why no one can Planeswalk away from Ixalan, leaving them all marooned.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Invoked by name in the flavor text of Steady Progress, Feeling of Dread and Bump in the Night. Also referenced (if not by name) in Just the Wind.
    People only say "I'm sure it was nothing" when they're sure it was something.

    J-K 
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Civilized Scholar/Homicidal Brute, a Blue scientist who turns into a hulking Red mutant and back, is inspired directly by the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Kaiju: The major hat of the plane Ikoria, whose set was released with a Godzilla crossover, is being home to very big and very destructive beasts.
  • Kangaroo Court: The card Twisted Justice is styled after creating such a situation, and the flavor text is from the perspective of the judge as he's being manipulated to send an innocent man to his death.
  • Kill 'Em All: The Weatherlight saga had an extraordinarily high body count, especially among named protagonists.
    • Rofellos died fighting demons quite early on.
    • Mirri made a Heroic Sacrifice to save Gerrard from Crovax.
    • Belbe, despite ultimately turning good, was killed by Eladamri for being made of parts of his daughter.
    • Crovax and Ertai both fell to Phyrexia and died in its service.
    • Starke was killed by Volrath.
    • Hanna contracted the Phyrexian plague and died during the invasion proper.
    • Lin Sivvi and Eladamri both killed themselves rather than be consumed by Yawgmoth's death cloud.
    • Gerrard and Urza were both consumed in the completion of the Legacy weapon.
    • Squee was killed by the fallen Ertai. A lot. However, he kept getting better because Ertai had made Squee immortal so he could torture and kill him repeatedly.
    • In the same storyline, a similar thing happens with the Nine Titans, Urza's team of planeswalkers leading the attack on Phyrexia:
      • Daria and Kristina were killed by Tevesh Szat.
      • Tevesh Szat was killed when Urza made his soul into a bomb, as he had been included on the team for this purpose all along.
      • Taysir attempted to knock some sense into Urza after he joined Yawgmoth's side, only for Urza to kill him in self defense.
      • Bo Levar and Commodore Guff were absorbed by Yawgmoth.
      • Urza was consumed in the completion of the Legacy Weapon.
      • Freyalise and Lord Windgrace manage to survive the Phyrexian Invasion... only to later perform Heroic Sacrifices in order to seal the time rifts.
  • Kirin: Kirins are a rare creature type typically aligned with White Mana and found in worlds inspired by East Asian cultures and mythologies, such as Kamigawa (feudal Japan), Tarkir (central Asia, Tibet and India) and the Plane of Mountains and Seas (ancient China), where they tend to serve as replacements for angels as White's iconic creatures. All are capable of flight, despite having no wings. Tarkir's kirin appear as heralds of the arrival or death of an important figure — Alabaster Kirin and Misthoof Kirin both appeared as omens of the ascent, and then return, of the planeswalker Sarkhan Vol — while those of the Plane of Mountains and Seas are known as qilins instead.
  • Knight Errant: Elspeth, literally. Though Gideon Jura is the one with the messiah complex.
  • Knight in Shining Armor:
  • Knight Templar:
    • In Avacyn Restored, despite Avacyn casting a spell on the plane's werewolves that turn them into Wolfir, werewolves that keep their sanity and now fight on humanity's side, one Cathar officer leads a crusade against the "reformed werewolves" despite them undergoing a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Later on, Avacyn herself becomes this in Shadows over Innistrad after the influence of an Eldritch Abomination drove her mad. She eventually becomes so bad that her creator, the planeswalker Sorin Markov, is forced to end her forever.

    L 
  • Language Equals Thought: A recurrent theme in flavor text (usually in red, for some reason). Some examples:
    • Bloodrock Cyclops:
      "There are only fifty words in the cyclops language, and ten of them mean 'kill.'"
    • Goblin Striker:
      There's no word in the goblin language for "strategy." Then again, there's no word in the goblin language for "word."
    • Ogre Resister:
      He didn't have a word for "home," but he knew it was something to be defended.
  • Last Stand: The forces of the Coalition make a Last Stand in Apocalypse, as depicted on the card (of course) Last Stand.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • The in-game flavor of your deck is that of your memories, and a number of cards have the ability to search opponent's decks for cards and remove them from the game. [1]
    • Comes up twice in the Ixalan block. Jace Beleren wakes up on a beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there it turns out this was a failsafe installed on his person by Ugin, triggered by the Gatewatch's disastrous defeat on Amonkhet. Once he figures what happened and how it was done, he installs a similar memory block on the Planeswalker Vraska, so that she can be a mole and keep that hidden from even herself.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The expansion Oath of the Gatewatch has a group of cards of different colors, each depicting a planeswalker promising to keep watch, but no black version is present. Three expansions later, Eldritch Moon completes the theme with "Oath of Liliana", whose flavor text reads, "I'll keep watch. Happy now?"
  • Legions of Hell: The Invasion block storyline has Dominaria defending itself against the invading forces of Yawgmoth.
  • Lighthouse Point: The Arcane Lighthouse and Desolate Lighthouse land cards.
  • Light Is Not Good: While White has several protagonists, it has occasionally proved to be oppressive, tyrannical and horribly misguided:
    • Takeshi Konda is the primary example of a White Big Bad.
    • Also from Kamigawa is the Myojin of Cleansing Fire, another White villain. Although he doesn't get much "screen time", he is clearly fighting on the side of the kami, and is implied he destroyed his own mortal followers with his sacred flames.
    • Another evil White kami is Kataki, who, according to this side story, is pretty much insane.
    • In Dissension, Augustin IV of the Azorius (a guild of blue-white Obstructive Bureaucrats) is the bad guy.
    • As Phyrexia shows (more specifically, Elesh Norn and her servants), White can be quite scary too...
    • The point of the White cards in The Dark.
    • According to Mark Rosewater and Serra (as well as some of his guises and spells), Urza is White/Blue. He also caused countless cataclysms, devised an eugenics program (and was a general social darwinist), manipulated his own allies against themselves and ultimately joined Phyrexia.
    • In the Theros Block, Heliod provoked the conflicts in the pantheon and ultimately murdering Elspeth in cold blood.
    • Officially speaking, Nahiri is one of the villains in the Shadows over Innistrad block. Your mileage may vary on whether she qualifies more as an Anti-Villain, but attempting to wipe out an entire populated plane as revenge against one person is not a heroic act.
    • Kaladesh is ruled by the white/blue Consulate. This results in pristine cities, beautiful environments, and a fascist bureaucracy keeping most of the plane's citizen under its iron heel. The heroes of Kaladesh are rebels affiliated with red Mana, an unusually heroic take on red's desires for freedom.
    • In Ixalan the dinosaurs are sun-powered. While not any more evil than any regular animal, it can't be pleasant to have a mindless predator bursting you with vicious sunlight.
  • Lilliputians: The plane of Segovia, where everything is about 1/100 of the size of other planes. For example, it has whales the size of goldfish and its Leviathan, generally among the most massive creatures in M:TG, is about the size of an elephant.
  • Living Shadow: This is generally the flavor of the 'Shade' creature type.
  • Living Ship: The Weatherlight. Also, Living Airship.
  • Lizard Folk: The Viashino.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Literally thousands, made more confusing by the fact that many of them have the same or similar names.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: There are roughly a bajillion different known sapient species in the Multiverse. Aside from Humans there are Aetherborn, Ainok, Amphin, Angels, Archons, Aven, Beebles, Bird-Maidens, Centaurs, antelope Centaurs, deer Centaurs, Cephalids, Changelings, Cyclopes, Dauthi, Demons, Devils, Djinn, Dragons, Dwarves, Dryads, Efreet, sentient Elementals, Elves, Eumidians, Faeries, Flamekin, Giants, Goblins, sapient Golems, Gorgons, sapient Gorillas, Hags, Homarids, Iquati, Kami and other sentient Spirit races, Khenra, Kithkin, Kitsune, Kor, Krakens, Kraul, Lamias, Lammasu, Leonin, Liches, Loxodon, fishtailed Merfolk, Merfolk with legs, flying Elf-Merfolk, Metathran, Minotaurs, Mistfolk, Mycoids, Myr, Nagas, Nantuko, Nezumi, Nightstalkers, Noggles, Ogres, Orcs, Orochi, Ouphes, Phyrexians, Puca, Rhox, Sangrazuls, Satyrs, Scarecrows, Selkies, Serpent people, Slivers, Soltari, Soratami, Sphinxes, Surrakar, Thalakos, Thrulls, Treefolk, Trolls, Vampires, Vedalken, Viashino, Weirds, Werewolves, Wolfir, the talking Wolves of Tel-Jilad...

    And that's not even counting sub-races. Just among goblins there are common Dominarian Goblins (of at least three different breeds), Kobolds, Rathi Moggs, Mercadian Kyren, Mirran Krark-Clan, Kamigawan Akki, Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Boggarts, Redcaps, Hobgoblins, and Spriggans, ratlike Jund Dragon Fodder, Zendikari Guide-Thieves, and Phyrexian Squealstokes.
  • Long Game: Nicol Bolas works this way all the time.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The original Sengir Vampire art draws from this. The next depiction even more so, aside from the fact that he has hair.
  • Loose Canon: The game's original dozen spin-off novels were published by HarperPrism. When the Weatherlight saga began and Wizards of the Coast started its own novel line, the continuity was revised (this is commonly referred to as "The Revision"). Any material in the old novels is considered Canon unless new material directly contradicts it.
  • Losing Your Head: Urza in Apocalypse. His severed head was last seen relaxing in a hot tub with the missing creature from AWOL.
  • Lost Technology: Thran technology in the Brothers' War.
  • Love It or Hate It: Invoked with Schismotivate, which works by inciting strong positive and negative emotions in two target creatures. The happy creature gets powered up; the sad creature gets powered down.
  • Love Redeems: Belbe, in Nemesis, leading to Redemption Equals Death. Spoiled somewhat by the romance being with Ertai, who went over to the side Belbe abandoned...before her body had actually cooled.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Braids.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Volrath was Gerrard's adoptive brother, Vuel. This was never a huge secret, though.
  • Lunacy: All over the place in Innistrad block; both the church and the werewolves seem to draw power from Innistrad's silver Moon.

    M 
  • MacGuffin Turned Human: In Saviors of Kamigawa, That Which Was Taken (the MacGuffin that started the spirit war) takes the form of a girl.
    • Memnarch also counts as a relatively rare villainous example.
  • Machete Mayhem: Trusty Machete
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
  • Magically Binding Contract: The Guildpact in Ravnica block.
    • Liliana Vess made one with four demons and it's the source of her power and eternal youth. It's represented in the card Demonic Pact.
  • Magic Carpet: Magic Carpet. Also seen on Flying Men.
  • Magic Fire:
    • The card Ghostfire is flavored as transparent (and therefore invisible) fire.
    • The MTG novel The Purifying Fire has a white, cool fire that is actually a source of pure White Mana.
    • Eldraine is a rare plane where pyromancy is predominantly associated with White mana. The knights of Ardenvale pass through a circle of white flames similar to the purifying fire, burning away the impure but letting the righteous pass, while several of their order weaponise white and silver flames.
  • Magic Meteor: See Macross Missile Massacre above. Also this.
  • Make Some Noise: Mages can train in the Arcanum of Forces to manipulate sound and other forms of energy. At the most basic level, they can displace sounds from their source; more advanced Forces spells can selectively control all sound in an area or around specific targets.
  • Making a Splash: Stock blue ability, although it's occasionally appeared in other colors as well.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • Yawgmoth behind Volrath, and in general Phyrexia for Rath.
    • Phyrexia would be this to Memnarch as well, but it's a complicated case: Memnarch was curtailing the mycosynth, the first signs of Phyrexian infection. When he was removed, the mycosynth could grow unchecked.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Glissa Sunseeker discovered (as far as the surface races are concerned) not only Mirrodin's fifth sun, which she also named, but also the mana core at the heart of the plane, meaning she's essentially found two suns.
    • Nicol Bolas. See Names to Run Away from Really Fast.
    • Gideon Jura. Gideon translates to 'Powerful Warrior' and thus is he consistently portrayed, being one of the only planeswalkers who isn't a straight mage; he's more of a paladin instead. One of his card abilities also turns him into a 6/6 human soldier temporarily, making him quite powerful indeed.
    • Garruk Wildspeaker's speciality is that once he defeats a wild animal, he can commune with it and summon it to his aid at a moment's notice.
    • Ajani Goldmane was born with a rare genetic defect that gave him startlingly pale fur.
    • Rafiq means "friend" in Arabic. He is the most decorated paladin on his plane, and renders his services as a peacekeeper and mediator of sorts, trying to solve would be duels with both participating parties leaving satisfied.
    • Very literally on the plane of Lorwyn. The local giants live large in every conceivable way, including how they sleep, sometimes decades at a time. During this sleep, which they call the 'namesleep' they have any number of dreams where they imagine themselves in some sort of epic poem all most. They take this as a sign, and when they wake up they take on that persona and name themselves appropriately. Such as a wandering drifter named Rosheen Meanderer, or a peacekeeping arbiter named Galanda Feudkiller.
    • "Pyrexia" is a medical term for a fever. The Phyrexians, in addition to not being a very pleasant lot, use genetically engineered plagues. In fact, Yawgmoth started out making such plagues. Their name is also derived from the Greek letter Phi, which is commonly used to represent the "perfect" golden ratio (and is itself commonly used as their sigil), reflecting their collective superiority complex.
  • Meat Moss:
    • The ground itself is Meat Moss'd in Grixis.
    • The interior of the compleated Lumengrid in New Phyrexia is covered in organic tissue.
  • Mechanical Insects: The game has several these, mostly typed as artifact creatures and as insects; they're especially common in the biomechanical planes of Phyrexia and Mirrodin. There's some considerable variety, both in constitution (clockwork creatures, robots and magically-animated metal are all present) and in species (ants, beetles, gnats, mantises, millipedes and ticks are all represented).
  • Mechanical Horse: Bronze Horse, Clockwork Steed, Workhorse, and Chrome Steed. Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge can be seen riding Chrome Steeds as well.
  • Mechanical Evolution: Phyrexia. Kind of.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The greater part of Mirrodin block falls under this, as does the world of Esper from Shards of Alara, the metal demons of Phyrexia, and various artifact creatures.
  • Medieval Stasis: Happens on a regular basis. Probably one of the key reasons why few people actually take the stories seriously.
    • The city plane of Ravnica has apparently been ruled by the exact same ten guilds for freaking 10,000 years. This is handwaved to some extent by the existence of a powerful magical pact binding them all, and some change seems to have still happened. But some of the stuffs don't quite add up (e.g., it's hard to picture the fractious slum-dwelling Gruul Clans having been the way they are now from the beginning, for one thing). Still, seeing how much happened in the same time in Real Life (i.e., basically all of recorded history, plus as much time in late prehistory), it's probably a good example of game designers having no sense of scale.
      • Of those said ten guilds, four are still ruled by the same immortal magical creatures that signed the Guildpact, two are ruled by immortal councils, one is basically the physical manifestation of hidebound bureaucracy, and the other three are more or less insane and generally poor at long-term planning.
      • With the Return to Ravnica block, the Simic actually go back to melding with magic, rather than using the more scientific-sounding cytoplasts they favored in the classical Ravnica, because an unfortunate incident involving the Guild's leader and a giant blob monster Kaiju made them virtually unsellable.
    • The Tarkir block has the first (Khans of Tarkir) and third (Dragons of Tarkir) sets form the alternative versions of the plane's present, with the second set (Fate Reforged) taking place 1,200 years in the past. The differences between Khans and Dragons are far more pronounced than the differences between either and Fate Reforged, to the point that most of the clans even dress the same. This may be a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as the art of cards is meant to include the mechanical colors involved, so (for example) the block's red/white/blue clan will always be dressed primarily in red, white, and blue.
      • But that still doesn't excuse why the clothing styles remained so static: Even if colors are fixed, clothes could still vary in terms of, say, shapes, proportions, materials, etc.
      • The fact that the five clans have persisted for more than a millennium is also rather jarring. Look back at human history, and the vast majority of empires didn't last more than 500 years. Millennium-spanning empires did exist (e.g., the Roman Empire) but were an absolute minority. One of the clans has persisted for 1,200 years? That's... okay. All five persisted for 1,200 years? That's a little bit less believable.
    • Aaaand then there is Dominaria. Apparently according to the latest Dominaria set, it is a plane full of histories and stories. For some reason, historic periods and objects on this plane can easily last thousands of years without any significant change. Just... look at the architectural styles, clothing, etc., Dominaria is still far more static than our world. E.g., compare modern buildings with buildings of Ancient Egyptians, and the latter were just 5,000 to 3,000 years ago. Are we really supposed to think of Dominaria as a plane full of historic intrigues?
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Tocasia, Urza and Mishra's teacher in their youth, falls victim to this trope.
  • Me's a Crowd: Biovisionary, who you're expected to play with a bunch of cards that clone creatures.
  • Messianic Archetype: Though very far from an All-Loving Hero, Urza went through a whole lot of awful things to destroy Phyrexia.
  • Meta Guy: Commodore Guff. Didn't work out.
  • Mind-Control Device: The Mindslaver
  • Mind Rape: The flavor behind Discard spells suggests they do this to your opponent.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Inverted with Lich's Mirror, but played straight on Innistrad.
  • Mirror Universe:
    • Lorwyn becomes its own Mirror Universe in the Shadowmoor block.
    • And there is an actual card called Mirror Universe, which allows you to swap Hit Point totals with your opponent.
    • Mirrodin is being corrupted into its reflection.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • The Simic Combine of Ravnica creates these, and includes sentient species. So you'll see Shark-Octopus hybrids, but also Human Merfolk and Human Lizards. For bonus points, the leader of the Combine during the Guilds of Ravnica arc was Prime Speaker Vannifar, an Elf-Ooze hybrid.
    • These occur naturally on the Kaiju plane of Ikoria, shown off on cards like Porcuparrot and Exuberant Wolfbear. This is likely The Artifact from Ikoria's Mutate mechanic that lets players mash multiple creatures into one. Rumor has it that early versions of the mechanic required all parties in the mashup to share at least one creature type; by the time the mechanic had been simplified to work with any non-Human creatures, the art for the mishmashed creatures had already been commissioned.
  • Monster Lord: Zendikar vampires and their nulls.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: The card Hamletback Goliath is given to be this. The card art depicts a couple of goblins living on the Goliath's back, and plant growth that makes it look like a mountain.
  • Monster Whale: While they're not the most commonly-featured type of sea monster in the game, immense whales have appeared on a number of cards.
  • Mordor: Grixis.
  • Morphic Resonance: The werewolves of Innistrad all have distinctive visual cues to make it clear that the wolf and the human are the same creature. When this isn't done through a repetition of the settingnote , it's done with Morphic Resonance, copying a physical detail on both sides. For example, Reckless Waif's distinctive pink hair, or Mondronen Shaman's single glowing eye.
  • Mugging the Monster: Tormented Pariah.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: Seen occasionally on card-drawing spells like Mind Unbound. In some cases it crosses over to the game mechanics, forcing the affected player to discard cards or take damage.
  • Myth Arc: Several of them over the games 25+ years.
    • Weatherlight through Apocalypse marked the aptly named "Weatherlight Saga," which dealt with the Planeswalker Urza and his allies attempting to thwart Phyrexia's plan to invade and conquer Dominaria.
    • A mini arc started with Odyssey and ended with Scourge, though the MacGuffin of that particular arc became the initial antagonist of the next. The "Otarian Saga," told of the effects that the Artifact of Doom called the Mirari left in its wake as it was dragged across the titular continent.
    • Mirrodin began the arc of Mirrodin and its conversion into New Phyrexia. Of all the game's Myth Arcs, this is the longest running one that still incomplete. It was most recently teased in Theros Beyond Death, with the Planeswalker Ashiok learning of Phyrexians from Elspeth's nightmares and deciding to seek them out.
    • Shards of Alara reintroduced Nicol Bolas as a Big Bad. This particular arc has touched the most planes, with Alara, Kaladesh, Amonkhet, and Ravnica all being part of the show. It ended with Bolas' defeat at the end of War of the Spark.
    • Zendikar to Eldritch Moon told the story of the Eldrazi, which would eventually spill over into Innistrad. It is now theoretically resolved with two of three titans destroyed and the other imprisoned in Innistrad's moon, but ample foreshadowing was laid that Eldrazi titans don't simply die and the consequences of killing Kozilek and Ulamog may be long-term and far-reaching. On the bright side, Zendikar Rising shows that Zendikar is steadily healing from the damage inflicted by the last two blocks.
  • Mythology Gag: The description of Lotus Petal indirectly references Black Lotus, the single most expensive card in all of Magic's history.
  • Mystical City Planning: The city of Ravnica was designed by Niv-Mizzet to form a giant sigil powered by the movement of its citizens that would give him ultimate power. However, a goblin tribe involved in the construction spotted what he was doing and sabotaged the design. When Niv-Mizzet found out what they'd done, he was so impressed with how they did it that he bought the entire clan and made them the basis for his guild.

    N 
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
  • Nature Hero: Various green-aligned characters, but especially Kamahl post-transformation.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Lorwyn's Elves believe that anything that is ugly is an affront to nature. Naturally, they believe this gives them the right to systematically hunt down and murder ugly lesser races.
  • Nephilim: The Ravnican ones are gargantuan Beasts of the Apocalypse created by the gods just to put mortals in their place.
  • Negative Planar Wedgie: Either the cause of, or caused by, a large amount of the plot.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In the novel for the Nemesis set, the Phyrexian Belbe was deliberately sabotaging the plans for Rath to overlay Dominaria. Until Eladamri killed her because she was constructed from his daughter's body.
    • In the Ravnica series, the Dissension novel has the Azorius Guildmaster explaining that things have gotten a lot worse because the main characters arrested the first book's Big Bad, who was put on trial and killed. How is this a bad thing? The magically-enforced government of Ravnica demands that group/entity exist, for the sole purpose of doing Big Bad things. Because it could no longer act as an opposing force, the magic of the Guildpact was weakened and could no longer protect the city.
    • Another one happened in In The Teeth of Akoum, Zendikar's novel. Upon reaching the eponymous location, Sorin Markov, a vampire planeswalker, tries to activate a strange device. Nissa, his unwilling partner, is a Zendikar native elf who hates vampires. When Nissa notices the device reacting to Sorin's ritual, she promptly uses a spell to destroy it. Unfortunately for her, and Zendikar, that device is the final lock which holds the Eldrazi, and with no more lock to hold them, they break free. Sorin, annoyed, leaves afterwards.
    • Earlier, in another example, Jace's, Chandra's and Sarkhan's shenanigans some time prior weakens the rest of the locks keeping the Eldrazi imprisoned, just as Nicol Bolas wanted.
    • Memnarch might not have been a nice guy, but he was fighting back the mycosynth corruption in Mirrodin's Core and preventing Phyrexia from taking hold there. When Glissa and her friends defeated him, the mycosynth grew unchecked and Phyrexia could grow unimpeded, dooming the plane.
    • Ral was meaning to warn Jace about Vraska, who was an Ravinican assassin planeswalker, had gone to the void, but Lilliana intervened to force Jace about Tezzeret being in Kaladesh. What makes it bad was that Vraska was in talks with Nicol Bolas.
      • That one ended up working out in the end though. Jace following Liliana's lead ultimately led him to getting defeated and memory wiped in Amonkhet before ending up in Ixalan, where Vraska was. Instead of Vraska and Jace fighting to the death, Vraska seeing an amnesiac Jace ends up taking him into her pirate crew (It Makes Sense in Context) and they hit it off. Even after Jace reclaims his memories (of which Vraska ended up seeing very painful parts of his past), while Vraska feared his hatred he remained loyal to her. By the end of the Ixalan Block the two had concocted a plan to get at Nicol Bolas during the War of the Spark, which they enacted. Also the two made a date and are quite clearly an Official Couple by the end of the War. So in other words, Liliana's actions ended up driving Jace into the arms of another woman. Oops.
  • Night and Day Duo: The Mirage set has several cards which reference the Love Song of the Night and Day which definitely falls under this trope.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Mistform Ultimus which has every creature type, such as Ninja, Pirate, Zombie, Construct, Mutant, Ninja, and Turtle. Years later, Lorwyn block introduced nineteen more creatures like this, as well as several non-creature cards.
    • Every time a new set comes out, Wizards of the Coast publishes a Mistform Ultimus Watch article on the Daily MTG, that documents every single creature type that it becomes.
  • No Name Given: The Cabal Patriarch is only ever referred to as "Cabal Patriarch." This includes his Legendary card and the "Desire" cycle of cards having a black entry named, "Patriarch's Desire."
  • Not So Different: Urza and Mishra.
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    O 
  • Obake: Kamigawa has oni and kitsune; indeed, the entire Kamigawa block is one big Obake-fest, its setting heavily inspired by Japanese folklore and mythology.
  • Older Than They Look: Old generation planeswalkers are generally immortal; Urza, as an example, lived for at least 5000 years, while Nicol Bolas is even older. That's before counting some people who live long despite being otherwise mortal: Jodah aged slowly because he fell into a fountain of youth in his youth; Jhoira, unlike her planeswalker boyfriend Teferi, used slow-aging potions; Liliana Vess made a contract with demons (in her case, despite being a planeswalker, she is not normally immortal due to the Mending) and so on.
    • Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is old enough that Sorin (who is himself at least several thousand years old) refers to Ugin as being "as old as time".
    • Shen Yun, the Jeskai Khan of ancient Tarkir, looks about thirty but is among the oldest people on the plane.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: Phyrexian Oil is a black substance that infects and corrupts anything it touches, ultimately consuming the plane of Mirrodin and transforming it into New Phyrexia.
  • Ominous Owl:
    • On Alara, strixes are kept as pets in the bio-mechanical realm of Esper. As the name might suggest to any Latin scholars, they're venomous or parasitic evil clockwork owls.
    • Mindshrieker, an owl spirit from Innistrad, feeds on spells that it tears right out of its victims' minds.
  • One Steve Limit: Enforced for gameplay reasons — all planeswalkers which appear or may appear on cards are required to have different names.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: As part of his plan to seize control of Amonkhet before the Mending finished, Nicol Bolas descended upon Naktamun and, in a flash of white light, instantly vaporized all of the adults. This was so that he could indoctrinate the remaining children with the gods he mind-wiped into doing his bidding.
  • Organic Technology: Phyrexia. They invoke this trope, subvert it, divert it, avert it, deconstruct it, reconstruct it, and ask it out for dinner. Their entire purpose is to blur the line between 'organic' and 'technology' to the point of irrelevance. In the most nightmarish ways possible. Even more strongly pronounced in New Phyrexia, when the faction got an artistic revamp that made it much more ambiguous where the organic ended and the technology began, which is shown by their use of colored artifacts.
  • Orifice Evacuation: This is how Dark Hatchling kills its victims.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, a Planeswalker and Humanoid Abomination who specializes in bringing people's worst nightmares to life. Ashiok is confirmed by Word of God to be of Ambiguous Gender.
  • Our Angels Are Different: A staple White type, the most famous of which is the classic Serra Angel. Almost all of them (and definitely all the recent ones) are female, with the exception being, well, exceptional in some way (for example, the Mirror Universe Malach of the Dawn). While most are under the domain of White, there are other more atypical ones such as the Maelstrom Archangel and the Platinum Angel. A Mirror Universe version of Akroma, Angel of Wrath is mono-Red instead of White. Of course, Black also has its share of Fallen Angels, but in recent years a design philosophy has come down that all new angels must be at least partly White. The uniqueness of each plane's environs often leads to each plane's angels being further divergent from the standard mold.
    • Mirrodin has cyborg angels and even one robot angel (the above Platinum Angel). Alara's are more the "classical" Magic type of winged female humanoids, but some were cyberneticized during the Conflux.
    • All but the most powerful of Zendikar's angels were shackled by the Eldrazi, their haloes actually being blindfolds.
    • The standard Serra family of angels come from an artificial plane created by the planeswalker Serra that was invaded and scrapped by the Phyrexians, forcing them to relocate to Dominaria.
    • Ravnica's angels are either Red and White and aligned with the crusaders of the Boros Legion or Black and White and aligned with the Corrupt Church of the Orzhov Syndicate. The rebirth of Mirrodin into New Phyrexia features the angels being surgically rebuilt into near-mindless killing machines... that are still pure White — appropriate enough, given that Phyrexia is basically a freakin' horror refinery.
    • The angels of Innistrad are also more or less classical Magic angels, but Avacyn, their leader, is basically a goddess in her own right (albeit a created one, by the vampire Sorin Markov), lording not only over her church but also over the plane's White Magic, down to the fact that the other angels are much weaker without her. She's also a lunar deity (think Selene, only more protective), and because she was created by a vampire, a bit gothy in appearance. And while the rest of the angels in Innistrad are the traditional Winged Humanoid sort, Innistradi angels are further divided into three groups: Flight Alabaster (Barrier Maiden and occasional psychopomps), Flight Goldnight (Church Militant), and Flight of Herons (healing and scouting).
  • Our Archons Are Different: Archons are one of White's iconic races, usually showing up whenever angels would clash thematically. They usually take the form of mysterious humanoid figures riding winged steeds, most often either winged lions or winged stags, they represent White's more malevolent, traits, such as vicious justice and oppression, or at least embody the Lawful side over the Good side. Indeed, on Theros they are the last remnants of a tyrannical empire that spanned the entire plane. Archons are never seen without their winged mounts, and on at least some planes the two are one and the same creature.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: They are typically Black creatures with abilities that weaken other creatures or injure players without discrimination.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: A recurring creature type usually aligned with Green.
    • They're mostly fairly standard fantasy centaurs, but there are some unusual variations. Centaurs from the Gruul Clans of Ravnica, for instance, have large antlers, as did some Dominarian centaurs from the Ice Age, while other Dominarian centaurs have the heads and lower bodies of antelopes.
    • Given the plane's roots in Classical Mythology, centaurs are naturally also a major race in Theros. There, they’re divided between the civilized Lagonna Band (representing the traditionally wild but generally benevolent Magic centaurs) and the savage, aggressive Pheres Band (representing the dangerous and barbaric centaurs of Greek myth). Iroas, the god of victory, honor and war, also takes the form of a centaur with the lower body of a bull.
  • Our Demons Are Different:
    • Demons are generally somewhat expensive to summon, powerful, and potentially a hazard to their summoner. A classic example is the Lord of the Pit, which basically turns on its controller if not regularly fed other creatures. Most of them fall into the purview of Black on the game's color wheel.
      • There isn't that much fluff as to where they come from, except in the Kamigawa block, where Oni are a particularly evil type of demon that make deals with ogres. Kamigawa is one of the few blocks to have demons without a trace of black mana in them — there are two oni that are mono-red.
      • Outside Kamigawa, most demons are the bat-winged, clawed, fanged, gigantic monster kind. However, one early demon was the flightless, half-fungus Mold Demon.
      • On Innistrad, demons cannot be truly destroyed, only sealed away, and their inhuman desires and urges take physical form as little devils that spawn from them and wreak havoc. Griselbrand finds out that demons aren't so indestructible when up against a Planeswalker.
      • The e-novel Children of the Nameless throws female demons into the canon.
    • There's also the Red-aligned devils, which are essentially Internet trolls with far more means to do damage, and are the living embodiments of the Black-aligned demons' destructive urges.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Mainly Red, although they've appeared in every color to a lesser degree, and uniformly huge, ferocious terrors with a penchant for hoarding wealth and ravening through the countryside. They regularly show in places where you wouldn’t normally expect them but with some concessions to the set’s tone, such as the Gothic Horror plane of Innistrad, which gets dragons with wings like stained glass, or the crocodile-headed dragons of the Egyptian Mythology-inspired plane of Amonkhet.
    • While true dragons are chiefly Red-aligned, Blue (the color of the mind, air and water) gets the majority of the drakes, smaller and less powerful relatives of dragons with animalistic intellects and two legs and two wings rather than four and two. Wyverns are a rare subset of drakes, with the distinction seeming to be that wyverns walk on their hindlegs like birds, rather than walking batlike on all fours.
    • There are also the chiefly Green-aligned wurms, which resemble large serpents or legless dragons, although in more recent depictions they're more wormlike than anything.
    • Supposedly, all these creatures can trace their descent to the godlike Elder Dragons of the distant past, who fought a massive, multiverse-spanning war. The losers lost their power, limbs and intellect and became the first wurms (although the wurms of Innistrad at least are stated to be manifestations of the plane’s Green mana instead), while the winners became the ancestors of regular dragons, drakes and the Viashino Lizard Folk. Nicol Bolas and his twin brother Ugin are the last two Elder Dragons remaining. The Elder Dragons in turn descended from the Ur-Dragon, a primordial being that occasionally visits a plane and beats its wings, and from its wingbeats dragon eggs fall.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Magic at first used fairly fantasy-standard dwarves, but the developers realized that this just meant that they occupied the same space as the already-popular goblins, both being small, mono-Red creatures. For this reason, dwarves didn't show up in Magic for a very long time until the Kaladesh block, where they were completely reimagined as mono-White creatures, save the the occasional Red-White card, with a strong tie to craftsmanship and vehicles. As a consequence of Kaladesh's own native flavor, they also tend to be lightly inspired by South Asian cultural visuals.
    • Throne of Eldraine, being a combination of high fantasy, epic fantasy, and fairy tales features a return to more traditional dwarves, with them being mono-red creatures, usually depicted as warriors, miners, or craftsmen.
  • Our Elves Are Different: There are many different elf tribes in the setting, but the recent Lorwyn elves are a sharp departure from the previously base-green elves into green/black to show their arrogant destructiveness. (Shadowmoor flipped it so they became the plane's only protagonists, with even white turning paranoid, insular, and Hive Mind-ish.)
    • Lorwyn. In a nutshell, if you aren't as beautiful as them, you don't deserve to live. And nobody's as beautiful as them. And some of Lorwyn's inhabitants are just deliberately being ugly at them. They call these unfortunate souls "eyeblights," and they actively hunt them down and kill them.
    • In Magic's debut set, elves were portrayed as feral and vicious, in startling contrast to the conventional concept (although those showed up in most other sets).
    • Also, the Elves of Deep Shadow of the classic set The Dark, later reprinted as part of the Golgari guild in Ravnica: City of Guilds, were green but produced black mana instead of green when tapped, and dealt damage to their controller each time they did.
    • Mirrodin's elves are basically cyborg elves. Mind you, everything on Mirrodin has a high metal content one way or another.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Faeries appear in multiple sets and planes as diminutive winged humanoids; they're typically Blue, with a secondary trend towards Red. In Lorwyn, they're often particularly insect-like, with insectoid legs and antennas, and are cruel and mean-spirited tricksters. Unlike other depictions, they don't live particularly long, often just a few years, and send their lives pursuing amusement, often at the expense of others. They're particularly fascinated by the dreams of other races, which they frequently harvest. The faeries and their Queen, Oona, are also the only creatures not affected by the Great Aurora that periodically turns the idyllic Lorwyn into the dark and haunted Shadowmoor and back. There's also a variant of faeries named groundlings, which do not have wings.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: They are depicted as creatures made of animated stone, and often flavored as guardians of some sort; in general, they're also colorless artifact creatures.
  • Our Genies Are Different: Both Blue djinn and Red efreet appear as creature types. They tend to be fairly powerful for their cost, but often have some drawback or ability reflecting their general fickleness, like dealing damage to their controller, making enemy creatures stronger or harder to block, or only attacking or blocking when they feel like it according to a coin flip. They're also two of the few creature types that have cards specifically intended to neutralize them — King Suleiman and his legacy, respectively.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They're part of the "Spirit" creature type, a category that also contains things that may or may not have been living people once and things that most definitely never were. The rules ghosts operate under also change from world to world, so it's hard to pick out a pattern.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls were originally a separate creature type, but since the only ghouls for the longest time were the Scavenging Ghoul, which can regenerate damage by symbolically "eating" creatures sent to the graveyard, and Ashen Ghoul, which can return to play from the graveyard after three or more creatures have been placed there as well. Wizards of the Coast eventually decided to go the Zombie Derivative path and lump them under the zombie family — all ghouls after those two had been printed as zombies. Given that the zombie creature type covers everything from mindless dead to liches, it isn't that much of a stretch. However, numerous zombie cards since have still been named "ghouls".
    • The Black-aligned zombies of Innistrad are frequently referred to as ghouls in order to differentiate them from their more Frankensteinoid Blue counterparts, which are instead called skaabs, and Innistradi necromancers are typically referred to as "ghoulcallers".
    • Mercadians to poor to afford a proper funeral just have their bodies chucked into a swamp outside the city, referred to as the Ghoul's Larder after the undead that come there to feed on them.
    • It's relatively common for zombies to be called ghouls when they somehow relate to eating the dead or sometimes preying upon the living. Examples include Abattoir Ghoul, which rewards you for killing creatures with it; Barrow Ghoul, which requires you remove creatures from your graveyard to sustain it; Creakwood Ghoul and Gutless Ghoul, which reward you for sacrificing creatures; and Sutured Ghoul, which becomes stronger the more cards you remove from the graveyard.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Giants are an ubiquitous creature type, often aligned with Red mana. In the main setting of Dominaria, they're just generically big, tough bruisers, though other settings go into their culture a bit more. The largest giant of all is by definition the Hamletback Goliath, which is large enough to have a hamlet on its back to start with and magically grows to stay bigger than everything it encounters.
    • In Ravnica, giants are mostly soldiers for the Boros Legion, though some outcasts find a life as grunts in the Gruul Clans.
    • Giants in the fairy-tale world of Lorwyn are ancient and mystical, yet still can be clumsy and whimsically dim-witted. Giants sleep for years or decades at a time, dreaming deep dreams, and when they awake they take on new names and purposes in life based on what they dream. Some ride absurdly large goats with wings.
    • In Lorwyn's Dark World, Shadowmoor, giants sleep even longer, to the extent that trees and turf start to grow on their bodies and they become part of the landscape. They're pretty cranky when they wake up, rampaging throughout the countryside and smashing and devouring everything and everyone they come across.
    • Zendikar is home to two types of giant. One type, the more traditional one, lives in tribal societies in the plane's many trackless wildernesses. The second kind, the bestial hurda, is kept by other intelligent societies as enormous, somewhat humanoid pack animals.
    • The Greek mythology-inspired plane of Theros has giants as powerful, primal beings, and includes varieties from Greek myth like Hundred-Handed Ones and Titans. There are also Elder giants called Titans that represent concepts like the inevitability of death and natural disasters. They were sealed away by the gods.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Gnomes started out with the red card Quarum Trench Gnomes, but after the inclusion of Clockwork Gnomes in Homelands, a trend started of concepting them as Clockwork Creatures. Realizing that this made no sense at all, Wizards of the Coast eventually put a stop to this practice, and gnomes haven't been seen in the game since. The exception to this is the 2018 joke set Unstable, which included one new gnome as part of the Order of the Widget, a faction of Mad Scientist knights themed around absurd clockwork contraptions.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins, most often present as the standard fantasy breed of diminutive, destructive green-skinned and big-eared humanoids, are the characteristic creature — a creature type that shows up multiple times each set as several smaller common creature cards — of Red, the color of chaos, emotions and impulsive behavior. They're not evil, though, just rowdy and destructive, and serve as the game's comic relief race.
    • Most worlds' goblins fit this schema fairly closely, including those of Dominaria, the setting's main universe, as well as those of the City Planet Ravnica and the metallic world of Mirrodin... before it was destroyed by the Phyrexians, anyway.
    • Many other worlds, however, have rather more unusual goblins:
      • Rath has Moggs, a genetically engineered strain of goblin which is larger, stronger and has a distinctive ridge on its head. They're still not very intelligent, though.
      • The Kyren goblins of Mercadian Masques were inversions of the normal stupid headstrong goblin: They are the true rulers of Mercadia. They're actually more evil than most other MtG goblins.
      • The Akki of the Japanese mythology-influenced plane Kamigawa are based on the kappa of Japanese folklore. In fact, the concept has often been described as "fire kappa".
      • Lorwyn boggarts are more adventuresome and intelligent than most, but have a total lack of care for life—their own or others'. Shadowmoor boggarts are nearly mindless eating machines. Shadowmoor also has hobgoblins, who are basically angry hobbits with fangs; spriggans, sizeshifters who can turn from weedy runts into towering colossi; and stream hoppers, bizarre creatures with a single leg, arm, and eye. All are classified as goblins in the game.
      • Goblins on the Alaran shard of Jund are ratlike creatures who simply live to be eaten by the dragons that dominate the shard.
      • Ixalan's goblins, in keeping with the Age of Sail/New World theme of the set, more greatly resemble monkeys, are covered in fur, and have prehensile tails. They are still mischevious and are mostly pirates.
      • Tarkir's goblins are hairy, aggressive and dim little critters who are primarily associated with the Mardu Horde. There's a variant breed with white hair who dwell in the snowy areas that serve as home to the Temur, but the majority of goblins are either Mardu or neutral.
        The Mardu all enjoy war, but only the goblins make a game of it.Flavor Text for Mardu Scout.
      • Eldraine, a plane inspired by Arthurian myths and the tales of the brothers Grimm, is home to redcaps much like Shadowmoor is — in this case, they're vicious, barbaric wilderness-dwellers who were chased out of civilized lands long ago, dye their hats with the blood of their victims and ride giant weasels.
    • In terms of actual gameplay, most Magic goblins are small, cheap creatures that lend themselves well to Zerg Rush tactics or to use as convenient sacrificial fodder. Some even come with relevant abilities built right in.
  • Our Gods Are Different:
    • There are a handful of beings that are mentioned as being "gods", such as Karona and the Eldrazi, as well as avatars from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor and occasionally angels.
    • Yawgmoth, known as the Ineffable by his followers, was also known as the God of Phyrexia.
    • Old planeswalkers were nothing short of Physical Gods themselves. Some, such as Serra, were worshiped by their followers as such.
    • The Classical Mythology-inspired Theros expansion features a pantheon of fifteen gods; one major god for each color overseeing a broad field of power — such Erebos, God of the Dead and Thassa, God of the Sea — and one (comparatively) lesser god for each color pair, overseeing something more specialized — such as Keranos, God of Storms and Karametra, God of Harvests. They are noted for featuring Gods Need Prayer Badly as a game mechanic: they are enchantment creatures, meaning they are effectively living, sapient spells. If your devotion to their color (the number of mana symbols on your permanent cards) drops below a certain level, they stop being creatures and become enchantments only.
    • The Amonkhet expansion, inspired by Egyptian Mythology, also had gods. These ones are somewhat different from the Theros gods: besides each having an animal head, they are simply creatures instead of enchantment creatures, and live among and mingle freely with mortals in the city of Naktamun, unlike the distant gods of Theros. There is also the planes walker Nicol Bolas, worshipped in Amonkhet as the God-Pharaoh, who is believed to have created the plane.
    • The Gruul Clans of Ravnica believe in a deity called Ilharg, the Raze-Boar, who they believe will come one day to lead them in a plane-wide rampage against civilization. As it turns out, he's very much real as well.
    • Maro-Sorcerers, each the embodiment of a forest in Dominaria, are frequently worshipped as deities (Titania of Argoth being an early example), although they are subservient to Gaea, the world soul of Dominaria, who would be more fitting were she visibly present.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different:
    • Griffins are usually White flying creatures, stronger than pegasi and some spirits but weaker than angels.
      • Griffins are common in the plane of Theros, based off of Greek mythology. Athreos, the ferryman who brings the dead to the underworld, uses skeletal griffins to fetch the souls who try to avoid the crossing.
      • While most griffins use the traditional eagle and lion anatomy, exceptions include Teremko Griffin, which has the hindquarters of a leopard; Spotted Griffin, which is part cheetah and part kestrel; Peregrine Griffin, with the forequarters of a peregrine falcon; and Resplendent Griffin, from the Mayincatec plane of Ixalan, with the forequarters of a brightly colored parrot.
    • Scars of Mirrodin has Razor Hippogriff, currently the only true hippogriff in The Multiverse. Hippogriffs also appear in Innistrad, usually as allies to the Church of Avacyn, but they're typed and referred to as griffins alongside the regular kind. In sets set on Innistrad, the hippogriff creature type is instead used for gryffs, which are like hippogriffs, but with four horse legs and the tail, wings and head of a heron.
    • While Majestic Myriarch, from Hour of Devastation, is technically typed as a chimera rather than a griffin, its appearance — a lion with the head of a raptorial bird and a pair of translucent energy wings — still gives across the impression of a griffon. With a cobra for a tail.
  • Our Hippocamps Are Different: Hippocamps have appeared uncommonly in the game, either as steeds for merfolk, tritons and other aquatic characters or, more recently, as creatures in their own right. Hippocamps from Dominaria, the game's original central setting, have fairly standard horse bodies and fish tails, but Theros' possess large, showy fins and even crustacean plating on their mammalian portions.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Most homunculi are bloated humanoids with a single huge eye. A popular example is Riddlekeeper. All named homunculi, regardless of plane, have names that completely lack vowels. Fblthp, a recurring Ravnican Butt-Monkey is a prominent example, as is Zndrsplt, a homunculus gladiator living on Kylem.
  • Our Hydras Are Different: The iconic Green creatures. Their heads can number anywhere from four or five to a full dozen. Most are quadrupedal, but some have only two limbs. Many have mechanics themed around increasing their strength when they're dealt damage, symbolizing new heads growing from the stumps of severed ones.
    • The hydras native to Dominaria and Rath are Red- rather than Green-aligned, and live in mountains and volcanic badlands; as these were the first hydra cards printed in real life, this is an artifact from before the hydra creature type settled into its current identity.
    • Several hydras, such as those from Tarkir and those from Amonkhet, are snakelike to the point of explicitly having cobra hoods and heads, and are typed as both Snakes and Hydras.
    • Ravnica is home to phytohydras, serpentine carnivorous plants that only grow back more and more energetically the more they're cut back.
    • In the Theros block, the planeswalker Elspeth Tirel has to fight Polukranos, a hydra that is dubbed the World Eater with very little apparent hyperbole, which used to lair in the realm of the gods before literally falling to earth as a result of a battle between two deities.
    • The fairytale plane of Eldraine is home to turtle hydras modeled after the Tarasque, Steelbane Hydra and Thunderous Snapper, which resemble giant, multi-headed turtles. They inhabit the Wilds outside of the main realms and are frequent foes of wandering knights.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: Kobolds are small humanoid creatures, typically with red skin and pronounced, muzzle-like faces. They're a fairly rare creature type; while kobold cards were printed early in the game's history, there was little to differentiate them from goblins in terms of playstyle — they were both small, basic Red creatures, and as goblins were more common and iconic they were kept over the kobolds. In-Universe, kobolds are restricted to the plane of Dominaria, where they live in the Kher Ridges. They're extremely resilient creatures and managed to survive the various disasters and apocalypses that struck Dominaria over its history, enduring into the setting's present where they worship the dragon Prossh as a god.
  • Our Mages Are Different: Magic can work very differently across different planes. While the basis of magic (the five colors of mana, acquired from bonding with the land) is the same, how it's practiced varies immensely, from mages born with inherent powers to those that channel divine entities; even people specializing in the same color can employ wildly different techniques. Notably, one early work compares magicians to musicians, in that everyone can play a note, but only a few can create a song.
  • Our Manticores Are Spinier:
    • Manticores appear as an uncommon creature type, resembling winged lions with human faces, scorpion tails and mouths with far too many teeth. Their wings are normally batlike, but the manticores from the plane of Mercadia have feathered wings instead.
    • The manticores of the Egyptian Mythology-inspired plane of Amonkhet break from the pattern, instead resembling wingless tigers with scorpion tails and with their lower legs covered with black, spiked natural armor.
    • There are also masticores, mechanical wingless manticores. At least one is able to superheat its stinger in lieu of poison.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They range in appearance from deep-sea fish to fish-skinned humans, and have been a standard Blue tribe. There are a few subraces of particular note:
    • The Rootwater merfolk from the Rath Cycle are hideous, fish-faced monsters that kill members of any other race without hesitation. They apparently started out as normal humanlike merfolk but were altered via genetic engineering.
    • The merrows of the Lorwyn block are the usual attractive human-looking merfolk, though they have brightly colored skin and flamboyant fins; they're merchants and porters with good diplomatic skills. When Lorwyn is transformed into the dark world of Shadowmoor, though, the merrows become black-hearted monsters with much more piscine features (very similar to the Rootwater merfolk of Rath) who prey on other races as pirates. The comparison here: Lorwyn, a bit fishy but friendly-looking. Shadowmoor, looking like a cross between a catfish and Cthulhu.
    • Interestingly, because of their position as small blue creatures, combined with the fact that blue gets small flying creatures, there are a number of merfolk in Magic that can fly. The weirdest example would have to be Gaea's Skyfolk, a "Elf Merfolk" who flies. There has been no attempt to explain this, unlike the other 8 merfolk flyers.
    • Historically, merfolk have faced thematic issues revolving around their fully aquatic natures, which should logically prevent them from interacting with strictly land-bound species. A number of workarounds have arisen to deal with this problem:
      • The merfolk of Saprazzo in the Mercadian Masques set can switch between legs and fins. On land, they just look like lanky, hairless, blue-skinned humans, sometimes with head fins. They also have a vaguely Middle Eastern culture.
      • Zendikar's merfolk are also heavy on flyers, some — but not all — due to riding large birds or flying manta rays. They also had a rather well fleshed out tripartite religion centering on Leviathans and Angels which unfortunately turned out to be based on distant memories of the Eldrazi. They also have continuing extraplanar representation in the form of the Planeswalker Kiora.
      • The merfolk of the Classical Mythology-inspired Theros are distinguished by large, trailing headfins resembling the plumes of ancient Greek war helmets. They're partially amphibious — they can stay on dry land for several days, but must return to the water to keep their gills soft — and worship Thassa, the God of the Sea, above all other deities. Thassa herself is depicted as a traditional, fish-tailed merfolk with several tentacles growing from her back and shoulders.
      • The merfolk of Ixalan, called the River Heralds, are likewise finned humanoids, and very colorful, resembling tropical river fish. They are also nomadic in nature, use jade jewelry and armor and are aligned with Green mana as well as Blue.
    • The Odyssey and Onslaught blocks introduced Cephalids, a squid-based type of merfolk that were more squid than humanoid, with soft bodies and limited mobility out of water. In keeping with the "evil tentacles" motif, most of the cephalids were right bastards.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Very, very common, especially in later blocks. Part of this is due to the fact that a race on one plane doesn't necessarily have to follow the same rules as the same race on a different plane. It's actually a plot point in the first Zendikar block that a vampire from a different plane isn't recognized as such due to being different from the local vampires.
    • The Lorwyn block is a smorgasboard of this trope, featuring philosopher giants, Nazi elves, badass halflings, and wicked faeries.
    • The Shadowmoor block, a Bizarro Lorwyn, carries on with this trope, as the kithkin/halflings become paranoid castle-dwellers and merfolk become murderous fish-faced monsters.
    • Most of the races in Shadowmoor became personifications of their worst qualities: the giants become so lazy and mindless that they are mistaken for landmass, the goblins have degenerated from being impish tricksters to being wild animals, the treefolk have become utterly apathetic to the other races, and the cinders lost all of their passion and fire, and now want to make all the other races suffer like they do. The two exceptions are the elves, who have been humbled into nobility by being hunted and persecuted, and the faeries, who are protected by Oona's magic.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: Nymphs and dryads are separate creature types in-game.
    • Dryads are the most common of the two types and strongly aligned with Green. They're reclusive forest dwellers and wardens of nature, usually appearing as humanoid women with pointed ears and sometimes green skin and hair. Other times they're out-and-out Plant Persons. Some believe them to be the dreams of trees. On Ravnica they're strongly associated with the Selesnya Conclave, the guild responsible for maintaining the plane's green spaces. The founder of the Conclave, Mat'Selesnya, was formed from the fusion of multiple dryads, and the guild's current leader, Trostani, is a group of three conjoined dryads acting as Mat'Selesnya's "face".
    • Nymphs are a rarer type with no clear color identity, and are strongly associated with the Greek mythology-inspired plane of Theros, where they are divinely-created servants of the gods. All dryads found on Theros, notably, are typed as both nymphs and dryads and serve Nylea, the goddess of the hunt and the wilderness. Besides them, White nymphs are called alseids, inhabit meadows and are closer to the civilized races than other nymph types; Blue nymphs are called naiads and inhabit streams, grottos and isolated beaches; Black nymphs are called lampads, live in the Underworld and aid the god Athreos in guiding the dead; Red nymphs, called oreads, live in mountains and volcanoes and are more aggressive than other nymphs, and are creations of Purphoros, the god of the forge. There is also the unique Green/White/Blue nymph Kestia, who oversees agriculture and irrigation.
  • Ouroboros: Eternal Dragon and Evershrike are a dragon and winged snake, respectively, shown holding their tails in their mouths. Both can be returned to your hand from the graveyard for a price in mana, representing the ouroboros' association with immortality.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Ogres are a staple Red and Black creature type, a combination that tends to result in violent, chaotic hedonists with little regard for the lives of others. Those that have special abilities tend to be able to harm their controller or other friendly creatures. They're typically hulking, muscular brutes fond of fighting and anywhere between barbarians and animals, depending on the ogre in question and their world of origin, but exceptions exist.
    • The ogres of Kamigawa, also called the o-bakemono, are as violent and cruel as other ogres but far more intelligent and cunning, and often worship the plane's demonic oni.
    • In Mirrodin, ogres are barely sapient brutes often used by goblins as beasts of burden, and physically resemble barely humanoid hulks with faces dominated by gnashing bear-trap maws full of big sharp teeth. When Mirrodin became New Phyrexia, they were mostly transformed into servants of the red Phyrexians, serving as guardians and stokers for their ever-burning furnaces.
    • In Ravnica, ogres are often used as muscle by the various Red-aligned guilds, although the constant stench they exude forces many out of the guild system and onto the fringes of society. At least one ogre, the chieftain Ruric Thar of the Gruul Clans, has two heads.
    • The now-extinct Onakke ogres of Shandalar were far more intelligent than most and are known to have been skilled artificers and sorcerers, and were the creators of the Chain Veil.
    • The ogres of Tarkir are enormous, incredibly strong, aggressive and dim-witted brutes resembling giant, shaggy apes with huge horns. They're mostly kept by the Mardu Horde as war beasts and living siege engines that need to be kept chained up until they're unleashed on the enemy. Others live independently in the cold mountains of the Temur clans, and often come in conflict with them. After the timeline's alteration, they mostly live in the mountains of the Atarka dragons: their strength and ferocity make them very effective at gathering food for the ever-hungry dragons, but their size means that they're among the first to be hunted when the dragons go hungry.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Orcs had a presence in early sets, before growing out of focus due to goblins taking over the niche of small Red creatures, leaving little need to maintain orcs as a separate creature type. They made a reappearance in the Khans of Tarkir expansion after being absent for about fifteen years. While early orcs were exclusively aligned with Red mana, modern orcs are split fairly evenly between Red and Black.
    • Early orcs don't fit the Tolkienian archetype or the Warcraft archetype very well. Rather, they are sort of "goblins, but bigger (and somehow even dumber)". Their primary distinguishing characteristics are their supreme cowardice and complete incompetence; early orc cards were printed with abilities that made it difficult or impossible to force them into any combat that would kill the orc, while others had ridiculous drawbacks for minor effects that made them a bigger liability to their controller than the opponent outside of overly complicated combos.
    • The orcs of Dominaria were mainly found in the isolated island continent of Sarpadia, where they lived in tunnels within the continent's mountains alongside the local goblins. They warred extensively against Sarpadia's dwarven, elven and human nations — especially the humans — and alongside the thallids (fungi farmed by the elves as food sources that ended up developing sapience) and the thrulls (creatures bred as living sacrifices and meat shields by human necromancers) ended up destroying Sarpadia's nations. However, after the humans, dwarves and elves were gone, the thrulls' deep-seated paranoia led to them attacking the orcs and goblins once the other threats were gone, eventually wiping them out as well.
    • Orcs on Tarkir are often found as warriors in the Mardu hordes and the Abzan houses. In the reforged timeline they are found almost exclusively among the followers of the dragon Kolaghan, and like the rest of Kolaghan's clan are ferocious, warlike barbarians and often cannibalistic.
    • Ixalan's orcs, found in the Brazen Coalition, are Blood Knights who are known to raid their own ships if they go too long without plunder.
    • Orggs are a rare creature type created from the crossbreeding of orcs and ogres. They're characterized by their large and pointed ears, four arms and incredible stupidity.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: Sphinxes are the iconic large creatures for Blue, the color of knowledge and the mind, playing the same role for it that angels do for White or dragons for Red, and typically resemble giant winged lions with the heads of women or bearded human men. They often get mechanics related to knowing and guessing, usually rewarding players for guessing the nature of a card in their deck or in an opponent's hand. Culturally, they tend to be reclusive wizards and oracles and often highly skilled wielders of Blue schools of magic, such as prophecy and mentalism, and tend to sit at the top of hierarchies in Blue-aligned organizations. They're also said to be capable of telling lies from honesty and truth from falsity by the sound of one's speech alone.
    • On Alara, a world shattered into five shards aligned with each of the colors of mana, sphinxes are found exclusively on Esper, the Blue shard, where they're the leaders of the local technocratic civilization and are held in high esteem as embodiments of everything the Esperites seek to be — wise, magically skilled, enlightened and emotionless.
    • On Amonkhet, a plane inspired specifically by Egyptian Mythology, the sphinxes' impenetrable minds were the only things Nicol Bolas was unable to corrupt. He was however able to curse them to be unable to communicate with the plane's other natives, keeping them from warning them of his true intentions until it was too late. Amonkhet is also the only plane to be home to ram-headed criosphinxes, which tend to be more aggressive than the human-headed kind and to viciously attack servants of Bolas that they encounter on their silent wanderings.
    • On Ravnica, almost all sphinxes are part of the Azorius Senate, the local legislative body, and tend to be highly reclusive beings.
    • On Theros, inspired by Greek Mythology, sphinxes are ancient, primordial beings and possess ancient knowledge. Their thought patterns are highly abstract, rendering them enigmatic and difficult to understand regardless of whether they wish to be so or not.
    • Perhaps the most individually important sphinx of all is Azor the Lawgiver, a sphinx Planeswalker who traveled to many different planes and gave social structures and codes of law to many different civilizations. The cultural uniformity of the multiverse's sphinxes is believed to be due to Azorius' influence. Other notable sphinxes include Sharuum the Hegemon, leader of Esper's civilization, and Isperia the Inscrutable, the leader of the Azorius Senate.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: Spirits are a creature type representing essentially all disembodied creatures — from ghosts to Nature Spirits to some pretty weird things — that are't claimed by another creature type already, such as Elementals, Demons, Angels and Gods. With some exceptions, they aren't generally associated with any one color of mana. Their exact nature and importance varies from plane to plane:
    • In Kamigawa (which is based on Japanese Mythology), they are known as Kami, and warred against the mortal races. They are for all intents and purposes gods, and some are pretty unusual looking.
    • In Ravnica, they're primarily ghosts, due to the plane being trapped in its own little bubble in The Multiverse and not allowing the spirits of the dead to escape, forcing them to manifest on the physical plane. They are heavily associated with the Orzhov Syndicate, which uses them as guards and enforcers and is ruled by a ghost council, the Obzedat. That said, some spirits are known to be part of other guilds.
    • In the Gothic Horror-inspired Innistrad, geists — the spirits of the dead — form one of the set's five gameplay tribes (alongside humans, werewolves, vampires and corporeal undead) and are chiefly associated with White and Blue mana — Black, Red and Green geists also occur, but aren’t common. White geists are traditional ghosts returned to watch over their families or fulfill duties or obligations; Blue geists are poltergeists born from compulsive behaviors, cause mental afflictions in people they torment and are attracted to water, fog and storms; Black geists return as predatory haunts and are very dangerous; Red geists are obsessed with revenge and failures from their mortal lives and are the most aggressive spirits; and Green geists are especially attracted to nature, often becoming the spirits of landforms, copses and so on.
    • In the Classical Mythology-inspired Theros, the eidolon separate from their bodies upon death. While the corpses become the memory-less, shade-like zombies known as nostron, the eidolon also forget their past lives and wander around aimlessly, often drawn to the magic of the nymphs. They are generally represented by enchantment creature cards.
  • Our Titans Are Different: Many creatures are referred to as Titans, typically Giants or Beasts, including a five-creature cycle from Magic 2011 — Sun Titan Frost Titan, Grave Titan, Inferno Titan and Primeval Titan — introduced in Magic 2011; the Titan of Eternal Fire, a direct homage to Prometheus; and certain large Giant creatures from the plane of Theros.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Each setting that has vampires that are quite recognizable as vampires, as with other typical fantasy species, they tend to make subtle little differences between one plane's vampires from another plane's:
      • Ravnica has psychic vampires like Szadek, some of which look extremely feral.
      • Zendikar's vampires have a very strong "venomous" motif and had fang-like protrusions from most of their joints. They're also the product of a disease created by the extra-dimensional Eldrazi as a way to make a slave caste.
      • Rath's vampires are basically giant bats, and the villainous Evincar has a pack of vampire dogs as pets.
      • Mirrodin's vampires have their fangs in their fingers, which are basically foot long syringes, and their bowels are visible from the outside.
      • Innistrad's vampires come in both black and red. The red vampires tend to be more feral, but overall they mostly fit the Classical Movie Vampire trope.
      • Kaladesh has no human vampires, but does contain vampiric or "gifted" Aetherborn, who are capable of siphoning life out of others to prolong their own brief existence.
      • Ixalan flips the typical stereotypes on its head: they are fanatically religious vampires that are associated with white mana and are in search of the Immortal Sun, rather than being repelled by holy icons or sunlight.
    • A major plot point in the Zendikar block novel In the Teeth of Akoum. The elf protagonist, Nissa Revane, doesn't realize one of her traveling companions, Sorin Markov, is a vampire until very late in the novel. This is due to the fact that since he's from Innistrad and not Zendikar, he has none of the staple characteristics of her world's vampires. This is unintentionally hilarious, as when the character was first teased by Wizards of the Coast, quite literally the first thing the fan base learned about him was that he was a vampire.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Includes werebears, wererats, and werewolves.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
  • Our Wights Are Different: Wights occasionally appear as cards with the Zombie creature type, such as Dread Wight, which can "paralyze" enemy creatures by preventing their player from activating them, and Plague Wight, which deals damage through -1/-1 counters (that is, by lowering a creature's health and power; if the former is lowered to zero, it dies).
  • Our Wyverns Are Different:
    • Wyverns appear rarely under the drake creature type, which contains animalistic, two-winged and two-legged creatures related to true dragons. Wyverns in particular are distinguished by their bipedal gaits, whereas most other drakes used their wings as a second pair of walking limbs like bats do. Specific wyverns in the game include sabertoothed wyverns and thunder-making ones. Most are aligned with Blue or Red mana.
    • Though not dragons or drakes, the "pterosaurs" of Ixalan resemble feathered wyverns or really ugly birds.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Pretty much all of the major variations of zombie show up on one plane or another. Innistrad even combines two different kinds, as it has mad science monsters in blue coexisting with Romero-style hordes of the flesh eating dead in black.
  • Outscare the Enemy: The Exodus version of Raging Goblin has as its flavor text: "Volrath has bred them to fear only him. Are they charging to battle or merely fleeing his wrath?"
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • The Eldrazi. They're not even native to the planes, any plane; they dwell within the nothing-space between planes, called the Blind Eternities, and "project" themselves upon the physical realms to consume everything there.
    • Phyrexia in the Scars of Mirrodin storyline:
      "Their forces are unknown to us. The Moriok or the nim that emerge from the necrogen bogs — those we understand. These horrors which pour out of the canyons use weapons, tactics and magic that are alien to even our most capable generals and seasoned warriors. Our armies are scattered. We have no choice but to hide and survive."
      —Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, "A Planeswalker's Guide to New Phyrexia"
  • The Owl-Knowing One:
    • Owls are almost exclusively associated with Blue, the color of knowledge and its application. Even owls meant to be more creepy than wise are still Blue, and have card effects relating to drawing and looking at cards (in flavor, the card deck is meant to represent the player's mind) and to casting spells (generally by making it cheaper for you to do so, by rewarding you for doing so, or by impairing your opponent's ability to do so).
    • Aven, the game's Bird People, normally resemble generic humanoid raptors. Many Blue aven, however — and in particular ones associated with magic or wisdom in some form — resemble owls instead.

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