Thursday, May 8, 2014

Inspiring Magic Cards: Loyal/Unhallowed Cathar and Thalia

The things that make Magic: The Gathering cards great is the artwork (which we love for both good and bad) and the flavor text. Even for those who do not read the expansive library spawned from Magic lore, these glimpses into the Magic multiverse can bring wonders to the imagination.

Many, if not all, of these cards can give direct influence into your role-playing games. Take Loyal Cathar for instance. For those who do not know what a Cathar is, he/she is a holy warrior of the   Avacynian Church, trained on the Elgaud Grounds in Nephalia. Nephalia itself being prime real estate for the setting of any Gothic fantasy/Victorian age game.

Looking at the Loyal Cathar, he does not strike you as the archetypal paladin. Yet that does not make him any less fanatical than his armor clad peers; matching their vigilance, loyalty, and duty-til-death credos. The concept of the Loyal Cathar would be a fantastic as a alternative to a PC's paladin and/or a persistent presence in a campaign's plot. The card not only gives you a religious order to drop into your campaign, but two named characters and their dynamic. Constable Visil (who is only mentioned in this card), presumably a leader of a variably sized number of Cathars, and his mentor, Thalia.

The flip side of the Loyal Cathar is the Unhallowed Cathar, which happens whenever Loyal Cathar dies. You could take a The Walking Dead type zombie infestation, where anyone who dies turns into a zombie even if they were not previously bitten by a zombie, your campaign becomes suddenly more deadly and far less safe.

Though keeping in the mind the functionality of the card, where if your Cathar dies, he returns as a zombie under YOUR control, would the religious order have a way of controlling you even after you enter unlife? A sort of van Helsing type of "use their powers against them" type of operation?

Thalia herself has some great quotes besides those featured in the Loyal/Unhallowed Cathar flavor text:

"Grab an axe and defend the gate! Your despair is an extravagance we can ill afford."

"No one chooses to be stitched together into a skaab. If it could speak, it would beg for its own destruction."

"As long as we can utter a prayer or lift a weapon, we have the power to fight back."

"Holy places are no longer sanctuary from death, and death is no longer sanctuary from anything."

"Our world is vast, but Thraben is its heart. The cathedral must stand even if the hinterlands are lost."

Those are just some of her quotes featured on cards throughout this set. The devotion and haste to her words really bring the plight of the humans to life. Besieged on all sides by monsters of all sort, with only the Avacynian Church and the Loyal Cathars holding the flickering flame to the darkness.

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