A Lattice of Roots

A Lattice of Roots

August 3, 2018 Off By Chase

Disney will pay the GDP of Myanmar or Oman to gain a majority stake in Hulu and own approximately 40% of the Hollywood box office. As a side benefit, the Mouse will buy back the film rights to something it already owns: Marvel superhero properties the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.


In a timeline where Avengers: Infinity War earned over $2 billion globally as ‘the most ambitious crossover event in history,’ it’s a nice perk. Leveraging the X-Men to supplement the Avengers would only serve to increase that bounty. Marvel Cosmic, a door opened by the surprise popularity of Guardians of the Galaxy, will add Galactus, Annihilus, and the High Evolutionary to its pantheon. With their ongoing agreement with Sony for the character of Spider-Man, Marvel’s cinematic experiment only continues to grow, like mixed plantings in an ever-expanding garden.

Marvel and Disney have reaped the benefits of interconnected properties for over a decade. As the children of Kirby and Lee become actualized on the silver screen, another company has experimented with cross-pollination of their own, and prepares to take a new step in tending such a garden.


Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR in 1997 and the question became when, not if, elements of Magic: The Gathering would make their way to Dungeons & Dragons. Campaign settings like Dark Sun and Planescape radically changed the rules and flavor of D&D, and several novels, comics, and expansion sets had been released for Magic by then. However, WotC would release no official material for nearly 20 years.

In 2016, WotC released Plane Shift: Zendikar, a free online supplement that provided rules and background information to use the plane of Zendikar in D&D 5th Edition. Combined with The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Zendikar and the fiction repository on the Magic website, dungeon masters could run a campaign set in Zendikar even if the supplement itself was not comprehensive. In addition to traditional races like humans and elves, players could create agile kor, amphibious merfolk, rock-eating goblins, even living vampires.

Nearly half of the supplement includes rules for reflavoring creatures from the stock Monster Manual to better reflect the fiends found in Zendikar. Simple replacement does well for most of them – lizardfolk to represent surrakar, triceratops for baloths, ogres for… ogres – while creatures like the gomazoa might be flying ropers, and felidars could be feline-flavored unicorns. The Eldrazi, eldritch planes-eaters that contain some of the most disturbing artwork of this or any other Magic setting, start with the base statistics of many unconventional and aberrant monsters, with a host of optional modifications to torment players.


Wizards released more Plane Shift supplements alongside the artbooks for other planes of Magic, including Innistrad, Kaladesh, Amonkhet, and Ixalan. In July they released Plane Shift: Dominaria, covering the most visited and former “default” plane of Magic. For Magic’s 25th anniversary and the game’s next expansion set, this November will see the release of Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica, the first full campaign sourcebook printed in hardcover for a Magic setting.

The Plane Shift series showcases the inventiveness and variability of D&D through the light touch of Magic’s unique flavor. Imagination and ingenuity are the greatest tools for DMs, and a deck list and phenomenal art can go a long way to inspiring that creativity. The cuttings of these properties have taken root, and while they may seem small and slow to grow, its products may be ready to bloom.