Plenty of folks have written about the gameplay implications already. My brain doesn’t work that way, though. It operates on a storytelling axis — flavor, Vorthos, and all that. So I got to thinking, “how could one explain banning cards in flavor terms?”
Well, that one’s pretty easy. Just imagine an interplanar gathering of top experts — your archmages, your druids, your generals — who get together and decide what should and should not be permitted in the laws of Magical war. Think the Geneva Protocol, the Hague Conventions, and so on.
[From there the scenario writes itself. There are the binding decisions, of course, but they come at the end. Before the bans there must be debates, and before the debates, the gathering and giving of evidence such as scholars’ data and eyewitness accounts.
The General’s Guidance
TITLE and NAME: Gen. Palti Coppersmith
ORGANIZATION: The Royal Shields
LOCALITY and PLANE: Mulcavit on Perculsa
Worthy members of this Convention, I thank you for the invitation to appear and present my findings.
It is a longstanding principle of interplanar law that a war too soon concluded suggests a war unjust. In the lowest-intensity classes of combat, Limited and Standard, it is well understood that conflicts can and should last for some duration. More advanced societies on planes with longer histories can wage and conclude wars far more swiftly, as soon as the opening salvos of an Eternal-class campaign if the opposing forces have left themselves willfully unprepared.
It is not Eternal-class warfare that this Convention considers, however, but the Modern class. Conflicts of such intensity need not be so short as the Anglo-Zanzibar War on Earth to draw the scrutiny of the just-minded.
The recent conduct of numerous combatants across the planes has called into question the wisdom of permitting certain techniques of magical warfare to continue. Already this Convention has heard the various evidences given for and against the Splinter Twin technology. Reasonable beings can and have disagreed on whether Splinter Twin should remain permitted. I cannot say the same, however, about the constellation of techniques united under the common name “Amulet Bloom.”
The words sound innocuous, even gentle. “Amulet,” a trinket worn around an elder’s neck. “Bloom,” a flower swaying in a breeze. Yet the histories of the Multiverse give us example after example of how instruments of destruction may hide behind a name. Amulet of Vigor and Summer Bloom, used in conjunction with Simic Growth Chambers, have allowed brutal warlords to loose ghastly horrors such as the Hive Mind upon unprepared civilians in plane after plane.
The “Amulet Bloom” techniques divide the Multiverse into two camps: their users and their decriers. For the sake of future life everywhere, the constellation must be dismantled. Amulet of Vigor. Summer Bloom. Worthy members of this Convention, I urge you to ban both spells in all contexts.
The Priest’s Plea
TITLE and NAME: The Rev. Vivian Rexburg
ORGANIZATION: The Temple on Its Knees
LOCALITY and PLANE: The Place Where She Alone Walked on Barringeria
Worthy members of this Convention, I thank you for letting me speak on behalf of my people.
We are not numerous, the faithful of the Temple on Its Knees. Those who hail from highly populated planes might argue that we never were. But we are fewer than we were a year ago, when the so-called “Amulet Bloom” descended upon us.
I was leading a worship service for my people, guiding them toward their reunion with Her, when the new land appeared before us. I saw their faces, heard their gasps. I turned to look with them. A new building had appeared just beyond the bounds of the Temple, all otherworldly construction and sickly blue and yellow glows. I caught just a glimpse of the sight before it vanished.
I kept order in the Temple, returned minds to their proper courses, and continued the service. Behind my people, another vision appeared, as if for me alone: gentle hills, small trees, green grass, purple flowers, all luxuries that my part of Barringeria will not be allowed until She walks through it again.
I continued the service, looking at my people and not the tempting beauty behind them. But their faces and their gasps matched the stories they told me later: the strange building appeared behind me again, once, twice, thrice. And then…
…then the monster came.
My people fled, of course. What else could they do, faced with such a creature? The monster crushed a third of the worshippers underfoot as I uttered a prayer. I stood where I was, ready to die with my old and my young, my sick and my weak, if She did not answer it.
But the monster stopped before me, and turned, and thundered away. Though the warriors and the wise have given me other explanations for its behavior, I know that She saved me, and now, as I speak before this Convention, I begin to understand why.
I would not see an amulet prohibited. Such small reminders of kindness, such small tokens of protection. What harm do they cause, that they should be forbidden to the powerless of the many planes? But that vision, that vile temptation that some deceiver dared to call “Summer Bloom”…
…ban it. Ban it forever.
The Activist’s Argument
TITLE and NAME: The Hon. Dr. Michaelle Jeanne Vanier
ORGANIZATION: Nourriture pour les Organismes de Penser / Food for Thinking Organisms (NOP/FTO)
LOCALITY and PLANE: Le Verger on Kebekos
Worthy members of this Convention, I thank you for the opportunity to express my charity’s concerns.
NOP takes no side in any conflict. We have come to understand the cruelties that both the victors and the defeated may inflict upon the land, leaving generations of innocent sapient life to suffer.
The druids, mages, scholars, and workers of NOP bring relief to those wounded and harmed. They return fish to rivers and oceans, make soil fit once more for crops, and bring forth fruit from withered trees.
Their efforts do not run on good will alone. They need supplies. They need magic. And one of our most consistently useful spells is Summer Bloom.
Do you know what it means to be hungry for days? Not that favorite petty complaint of the privileged, “I’m starving,” but true destroying hunger with not a scrap of food in sight?
I was born into plenty, but as a child I watched my village fall into strife and then famine. My parents starved themselves to feed me and my brothers as they could.
Then NOP arrived, and I learned what Summer Bloom could do.
I saw soil dead and gray restored to the rich black that promises life with time. I hugged my mother as she knelt before a field of green shoots and said in girlish ignorance, “Ne pleure pas, Maman,” Mother, don’t cry. Hours after NOP druids came, I tasted the maize my father feared might never grow again.
And when I was old enough to choose my life’s work, I remembered who had let me live, and how.
Today my crop innovations are planted on seventeen planes. In my home I have awards from leaders I will never meet, stamped in metals I will never see mined.
Without Summer Bloom, I and millions more thinking creatures would not exist. Many planes would be deprived of our triumphs, our discoveries, our progeny.
And Summer Bloom’s work is not done. It remains NOP’s single best tool for growing emergency crops where food is needed most. A ban on Summer Bloom on planes with Modern-class strife would not, cannot, distinguish between peaceful and warlike purposes.
As I waited to testify, I heard time and again the classic refrain of the professional worrier: “Something must be done!” I said it myself in my youth, when I was only beginning to understand the worth of activism alongside research. But take it from an old woman: doing “something” is far from enough. Talking is “something.” Making the problem worse is “something.” No, you must do the right thing.
Like many of you I am appalled by the “Amulet Bloom” techniques of combat. I am sickened by the twisted ends to which many warlords have applied what should be a spell of nourishment and healing. Summer Bloom alone is not responsible for the destruction. Amulet of Vigor serves no peaceful purpose, feeds no hungry child. It promises degeneracy, and the degenerate have found that promise fulfilled.
“Our love is like the river in the summer season of long rains.
For a little while it spilled its banks, flooding the crops in the fields.”