Here at AddAltMode, we have a reasonably-sized collection of Magic The Gathering cards. For those who don’t know what Magic is, it’s the archetypal trading card game, the ur-CCG. It’s a game involving decks of cards which represent lands (which generate resources), creatures (which fight the players enemies) and spells (which can do just about anything). Players take the role of reality-hopping über-wizards called Planeswalkers, and battle opponents across a setting which encompasses a vast Multiverse.
Each card features art, which is created specifically for the cards, and is often very good indeed, often nominated for Spectrum awards. Some cards are rather creepy, with creepy art, creepy flavour text or both. This article is where I’ll show some love for some of the creepiest — not necessarily the strongest or best cards — just the creepiest and most wrong.
The world of Innistrad is a scary place, riddled with zombies, ghosts, werewolves and vampires. You wouldn’t think Innistradi people would really need a bogeyman with which to frighten their children. They’ve got one anyway: the Kindercatch is a thing which hungers for the flesh of human children, and the best defence parents have got is to feed their littl’uns bitter wormwood in the hope that they’ll taste so bad that the monsters will choose to leave them alone.
Kindercatch isn’t a great card, and it’s not even particularly good for its cost, since six mana in a green deck could summon any one of these titanic monsters, but its bear-trap jaws and the sack of squirming victims it’s carrying off into the Forest make it easily one of the most horrible things that a Green mage can summon.
Creepy Doll is a creepy doll. Just like Johnathan Coulton sung about:
The first thing I noticed about the art and flavour of this card was that it’s horrifying, the second thing I noticed was that the doll has mutilated a puppet with the shears. Look back up at the Kindercatch: it has been using a puppet as a lure to trap human children for dinner, and the mutilated puppet is clearly the Kindercatch’s puppet. Is the doll an ally of the humans? Or does it regard the humans as its own prey and playthings, and wish to keep them from other sources of harm so that that it can torment them all itself? Or is not even the Kindercatch safe from the Doll?
Forest (Shadowmoor 300/301, Art by Chippy)
The plane of Shadowmoor isn’t a place you’d want to be at night. It’s a shame, then, that the nights on Shadowmoor last for thousands of years, and the days last only a few hours.
The Kithkin, Magic’s hobbits, are a diverse people: across the Multiverse they have cultures ranging from stereotypical hobbits, to grim survivalists, to xenophobic hive-minders. The hive-mind using Kithkin have developed a spell designed specifically to ensure that they never have to interact with anyone different to themselves.
Rather than admit that some people are different from them, the users of this spell can turn all creatures into duplicates of a chosen creature. Tactically, I can see the advantage of making all creatures the same if you have a horde of tiny hobbits and your opponent has one gigantic dragon. You can either cut the dragon down to size, or make your horde into dragons! However, conceptually, this card gives me the creeps. Imagine being turned into a duplicate of some totally horrid individual — for example, someone horrible enough to use such a spell…
Being claustrophobic sucks. Being buried alive probably sucks (thankfully, I can’t say that from experience). Being buried alive when you already have a phobia of enclosed spaces, is double-potency nightmare fuel, and not the kind that pushes Warworlds into hyperspace.
Planechase was an expansion based on the idea of a running battle between Planeswalkers — leaping from one reality to the next using the advantages that the local laws of physics and magic afforded them to stay one step ahead of their opponent.
Some places in the Multiverse are so dangerous that only Planeswalkers can escape, and any creatures brought there by Planeswalkers are in severe danger of being stuck there. Go to Norn’s Dominion on the polluted hell-plane of New Phyrexia, and you probably aren’t getting out. The monster who runs the place is probably going to use you for weird surgical experiments, unless you look particularly tasty.
One does not simply planeswalk into New Phyrexia, but if one cannot planeswalk, there is literally no way out.
There are a lot more scary things in Magic’s vast Multiverse, but these are the ones that freak me out the most. I’m sure that there are a few Magic players in our readership, so if anyone has any suggestions regarding other horrors of the Multiverse they feel I’ve neglected, please tell me all about them in the comments.