After ten years, Magic: The Gathering finally returns to the plane where it started, Dominaria! Dominaria has had many, many characters over the years, but outside of a brief glimpse of Urborg in Gathering Forces to get Venser, the Sojourner, we haven’t seen what the plane has become in the sixty years following Time Spiral. Surprisingly, there are a lot of people that could still potentially be around. If you’re wondering why Jaya Ballard, Task Mage looks old now but Jhoira of the Ghitu doesn’t seem to have aged a day, I’ve got you covered. In this article, I’m going to tackle both the confirmed returning characters and the ones most likely to still be around on modern Dominaria.
Old-school Dominaria was just lousy with ways to become ageless or very long-lived, often by accident. Immortal godlike planeswalkers needed immortal human sidekicks! #WOTCstaff— Kelly Digges (@kellydigges) December 25, 2017
And no, Urza and Yawgmoth are not among them. Everything that was Urza fused with Karn, Silver Golem, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes it pretty clear the old leader of Phyrexia is dead. I’m also leaving Nicol Bolas out, just because he is so prevalent in the story right now I doubt anyone needs a refresher, and also because I wrote a big piece on Elder Dragons earlier this year. With those cases out of the way, let’s look at the likely stars of Dominaria.
Jodah, Archmage Eternal
Despite starring in four novels, Jodah has never seen print outside of cover art.
The Eternal Ice cover art by Gary Ruddell
Homeland: Giva Provence, Terisiare (New Argive)
Approximate Age: 4,153 years
Reason for Longevity: Fountain of Youth
Appearances: The Gathering Dark, The Eternal Ice, The Shattered Alliance, Planar Chaos, Future Sight
The oldest character to make this list is Jodah, who was born in 413 AR (check out my timeline for what AR means). As a teenager he stumbled across the Fountain of Youth, which dramatically slowed his aging. He also became known for the magic Reflecting Mirror gifted to him by his mentor. As a young man, he stopped the machinations of the nefarious Mairsil, the Pretender. Unknown to Jodah, however, Mairsil’s spirit lingered inside a ruby ring. Being nearly ageless allowed Jodah to rise in the ranks of what would become known as the School of the Unseen, earning the title Archmage Eternal when he became the school’s leader. Millennia after his confrontation with Mairsil, he and his young protege Jaya Ballard, Task Mage fought Lim-Dûl the Necromancer in his bid for conquest over Terisiare. They united the feuding Kjeldoran Kingdom and Balduvian Barbarians into a force able to take on Lim-Dûl’s horde. After saving his friend Jaya from the corrupting influence of Mairsil’s spirit by igniting her spark, he would fade into obscurity until Planar Chaos.
Jodah was known for his magical skill in all the colors of mana and being one of the few mortal beings willing to stand up to the arrogance of planeswalkers. He didn’t earn very many friends among them, but Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury would be an occasional grudging ally despite Jodah’s repudiations. When we last saw Jodah, he believed Jaya had died and was on a mission to save Freyalise (he did not succeed and left his new allies soon after). Jodah and Jhoira of the Ghitu formed a close bond as ageless mortals among the god-like planeswalkers of the day, although whether their budding relationship continues to the modern day is unclear.
Lim-Dûl, the Necromancer
Lim-Dûl is one of Magic’s greatest loose ends.
Lim-Dûl's Vault by Wayne England
Homeland: Kjeldor, Terisiare (New Argive)
Approximate Age: ~1,700 years
Reason for Longevity: Undead Spirit
Appearances: The Eternal Ice, Ice Age #2-4, Shandalar #1-2, Magic: the Gathering (Microprose) Game Manual, Magic: the Gathering (Microprose)
Lim-Dûl was a Kjeldoran dester from the army of Márton Stromgald. During a blizzard, he stumbled across the ruins of the Conclave of Mages where he found Mairsil’s ruby ring. The ancient wizard’s spirit corrupted Lim-Dûl, and he became a necromancer of great power. Eventually, it wasn’t clear where Lim-Dûl ended and Mairsil began. The Great Necromancer continued to amass power, pledging himself to the planeswalker Leshrac. Leshrac granted Lim-Dûl power (and cursed him with horns), which he used to raise an undead army the likes of which Dominaria had never seen. His petty grudge against Kjeldor, however, caused him to focus on vengeance rather than his patron’s plans for escaping the Shard through Shandalar. Lim-Dûl raised Stromgald from the dead and set him to building an army of living servants called the Stromgald Cabal. The Stromgald Cabal appealed to the hardline nationalists in Kjeldor’s military, those that wished to return the kingdom to its so-called glory days. His ranks were further swelled by the slaughter of outlying villages in the Kingdom, which further stoked tensions with the Balduvians.
Lim-Dûl’s defeat by the united Kjeldor and Balduvia enraged his patron. Leshrac takes Lim-Dûl with him to Shandalar, but leaves behind Mairsil’s ring (and the hand it was on). On Shandalar, Lim-Dûl uses the plane’s rich mana and his own guile to pit Leshrac against Tevesh Szat, both of whom leave the plane soon after. He outwits the plane’s protectors, swapping bodies and tricking them into believe he’s dead while he gathers power. He conquers the plane piece by piece over twelve years, until finally only a single city remains free. He’s confronted with a desperate gambit by a young apprentice, and a sealing spell backfires, sealing them both in the same body. The spell also powers a magical barrier that prevents planeswalkers from entering the plane. Lim-Dûl wins control of their shared body, but by then Shandalar’s defenders have prepared for him, and they trap his spirit in a mysterious artifact, hiding it away to protect the barrier. Despite his defeats, Lim-Dûl was powerful and cunning, and it took the combined magic forces of an entire plane to finally seal him away at the end.
You might be wondering, if Lim-Dûl is trapped in an artifact on Shandalar, why do I think he will be back? Well, what if that artifact was The Chain Veil? I make detailed case for it in ‘Who is the Raven Man?, but I have a TL;DR version and even a Twitter Moment about it, too.
Has Jaya been spending her time as Mother Luti on Regatha?
Art by Yongjae Choi
Homeland: Kjeldor, Terisiare (New Argive)
Approximate Age: ~1,650 years
Reason for Longevity: Planeswalker
Appearances: The Eternal Ice, The Shattered Alliance
Jaya often gets brought up in discussions of Chandra, but I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. Jaya is subtle. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a Red mage through and through, and her flavor text is often the opposite of the actual character we’re presented with in the Ice Age novels. Before she was the pyromancer known by her explosive flavor text quotes, she was a task mage. Task mages are kind of like mercenary wizards, who know only a few specific spells. To complement her limited magical abilities, Jaya was also an expert thief, specializing in ripping off overconfident wizards using mundane means. Jaya first met Jodah when he caught her breaking into his office, deep in the heart of the most secretive island wizard enclave on Dominaria. Jodah was so impressed he offered her a place at the school on the spot. She took him up on it, but ultimately scholarship wasn’t for her.
When Jodah was kidnapped by Lim-Dûl, she rescued him and recovered his mirror to restore his memories. As I’ve already mentioned, she also helped put a stop to Lim-Dûl’s plans for Terisiare. But after Leshrac whisked Lim-Dûl away, she picked up Mairsil’s ring. Over the course of twenty years, Mairsil infected Jaya’s mind until he was ready to spring a trap on Jodah. Jaya’s old friend saves her life by smashing his mirror into her forehead to ignite her spark (long story). In the Blind Eternities, she purged Mairsil’s essence and then returned to bid Jodah farewell. Millennia later Jodah believed her dead, but we now know he was wrong. I suspect we may have seen her since, as Chandra’s mentor Mother Luti (check out Jaya Ballard Returns).
Karn, Silver Golem
Phyrexia is dead. Long live New Phyrexia!
Art by Igor Kieryluk
Homeland: Tolaria (Obliterate’d)
Approximate Age: 1,259
Reason for Longevity: Made of Metal
Appearances: Time Streams, Bloodlines, Rath and Storm, Mercadian Masques, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Scourge, The Moons of Mirrodin, The Fifth Dawn, Planar Chaos, The Quest for Karn
Karn, Silver Golem has appeared in more novels than any other character in Magic, even Urza. Karn was built on the Tolarian Academy, an island university that doubled as the research and development wing for Urza’s war against Phyrexia. Urza built Karn with a Phyrexian Heartstone to be a self-conscious probe in his time travel experiments, but Karn would turn out to be so much more. He broke time itself saving his young friend Jhoira from death at the hands of Phyrexian invaders, and his story only gets crazier from there. While Urza ignored the golem’s humanity, Karn quietly became the heart and soul of the war effort. He and Jhoira saved refugees from Serra’s Realm aboard the brand new Weatherlight, he safeguarded descendants of the Capashen bloodline, and he continued onward despite a memory limiter causing him to forget his past . . . All except for Jhoira, his first friend, who he said a mantra about every night to not forget. He made a vow of pacifism before returning to the crew of the Weatherlight decades after saving young Gerrard Capashen from Phyrexians, although with no memory of his previous time aboard. The limiter placed on his memories broke when he fought again to save the lives of his crew during the Phyrexian Invasion. When all hope seemed lost, he used the Thran Tome and the pieces of the Legacy to form the weapon that finally destroyed Yawgmoth.
Karn himself ascended as a planeswalker in the blast. A century later, his probe, the Mirari, created havoc on Otaria when it came into the possession of the Cabal. Karn recovered the Mirari and gained a planeswalker apprentice in Jeska, Warrior Adept. He transformed the Mirari into a golem, and left it to stand watch over his artificial world, eventually named Mirrodin. Karn didn’t realize, however, that he had tainted the world with glistening oil, and that New Phyrexia was slowly taking root on his metal plane. Karn returned to Dominaria to aid his friends Jhoira, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and newcomer Venser, Shaper Savant in sealing the time rifts that threatened the multiverse, but to do so his was forced to sacrifice his spark. As his power waned, Phyrexian corruption took hold, and Karn fled the plane with the last of his power.
We learned that, decades later, he was captured by New Phyrexia and made their new father of machines. The Phyrexian taint was only purged when his spark was restored by Venser, the Sojourner’s sacrifice. Karn would join the fight against New Phyrexia with Venser’s allies, Koth of the Hammer and Elspeth Tirel, but he left at some point for unknown reasons. The key art for Dominaria is the first time we’ve seen him since then, and shows that he has repaired his warped exterior. Has he returned home looking for allies?
Jhoira of the Ghitu
Hopefully we get Jhoira as an actual artificer this time around.
Jhoira of the Ghitu by Magali Villeneuve
Approximate Age: 1,275 years old
Reason for Longevity: Slow Time Water
Appearances: Time Streams, Invasion, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight
Jhoira is a skilled artificer from the tribe of artisans and warriors on Shiv called the Ghitu. She was Karn’s first friend, the first person to treat him as a person instead of a machine. Karn travelled through time to save her, causing a time machine explosion that trapped her on Tolaria for a decade. She spend the decade mapping the time distortions on Tolaria and discovering that drinking water from the slow-time distortions decelerated her aging. When the Academy was rebuilt, her Thran metal keepsake alerted Urza to the source of the material, the Mana Rig on Shiv. Jhoira, along with Karn and Teferi, were left there to oversee the production of Thran metal and powerstones. When Urza unveiled Weatherlight, she was its first Captain, leading the rescue mission to Serra’s Realm. During the Phyrexian Invasion, she agreed to let Teferi phase out their homelands rather than continue to be pawns in Urza’s machinations.
The plan didn’t go as intended. When they returned to Dominaria three hundred years later, they found a plane wracked by time rifts, two of which they caused. Jhoira acted as a sort of field commander for their small party investigating the rifts, and protected Teferi after the planeswalker sacrificed his spark to seal the Shivan time rift, returning Jhoira’s home to Dominaria. During her journey she met Jodah, who she felt an immediate kinship toward. When we last saw her, she had left Teferi and Venser behind to go find Jodah, and talk to him about his grief for Jaya Ballard.
It’s hard to understate how great Jhoira is. The short story Preparation is a great primer for those unfamiliar with her character. She’s confident, cunning, and charismatic. She brings the savage Radha, Heir to Keld to heel and earns the warrior’s respect when the god-like Teferi could not. And thanks to a millennia of drinking slow-time water, her aging has been permanently slowed to the point where she still appears young.
Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Squad goals. Teferi has aged well.
Dominaria Key Art by Tyler Jacobson
Homeland: Zhalfir, Jamuraa (Phased Out)
Approximate Age: 1,273 years old
Reason for Longevity: Planeswalker
Teferi was brought to Tolaria as a wizard prodigy, but when Urza’s time machine exploded, he became trapped, while on fire, in a bubble of slow time, with only seconds passing in the decades. His spark ignited during that slow burn, which eventually led Teferi to studying time magic. After his stint at the Mana Rig with Karn and Jhoira, he returned home to Zhalfir. Teferi attempted to play the Merlin archetype there, meddling in kingdom affairs, but while his plans were brilliant he was no diplomat. He retreated to his own island and began experimenting with removing things from the time stream, resulting in the entire island disappearing for two hundred years.
When he returned, he found war had broken out among mages who came to investigate the magic unleashed by his experiments. Unable to help before he repaired the damage he had done to the time stream, he sent visions to heroes across Jamuraa, including Captain Sisay of Weatherlight, who ended the war. With his newfound abilities, he had a solution to preserve his home from the coming Phyrexian Invasion. When portals to Phyrexia appeared in Zhalfir’s skies, he and Urza closed them, but Teferi used the resulting power to phase out Zhalfir. He refused the manipulative and duplicitous Urza’s offer to join his Nine Titans (something that probably saved his life when Urza turned on his allies), and phased out a large chunk of Shiv as well. He miscalculated how long they would be gone, as he didn’t anticipate Karona’s effect on the plane and the time rifts formed by massively destructive magics. Along with Jhoira, he investigated Radha and Venser for their connection to the rifts, learning to attune to the rifts and pour all of his power into healing them.
After returning Shiv to its rightful place, he discovered he’d lost his spark. When he eventually came to grips with no longer possessing god-like power, he searched for allies who would help seal the remaining rifts. Jeska, under the influence of Leshrac, sealed the Zhalfiran rift before Zhalfir had returned, and Teferi believed it lost forever. Now a mortal, he returned to Jamuraa and decided to become a loreweaver for a while, traveling Temeref and Suq’Ata. It’s hard to say what Teferi’s personality will be like when we return. He’s aged over the years and had a family. I would imagine his former arrogance, wit, and guile will now be tempered by wisdom and perspective he lacked as an immortal.
*Pops out of a tree* Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about Gaea?
Multani, Maro-Sorcerer by Darren Baker
Homeland: Yavimaya, Terisiare
Approximate Age: Less than 4,566 years
Reason for Longevity: Forest Spirit
Appearances: Time Streams, Bloodlines, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Future Sight
Multani is the forest spirit of Yavimaya, a sentient forest born after the destruction of Argoth at the end of the Brothers’ War. He will typically form a body for himself out of whatever plant life is nearby, which is why he has such drastically different looks in different pieces of art. Yavimaya (and by extension, Multani), grew from the remnants of Argoth. When Urza came for assistance against Phyrexia, Multani imprisoned him with visions, forcing him to relieve the destruction of Argoth over and over. When Urza convinced Multani of the threat posed by Phyrexia, he became one of Urza’s closest allies. He provided the Weatherseed, mentored Gerrard Capashen, and helped the Weatherlight crew during the Phyrexian Invasion. Centuries later, he kept the Yavimayan rift at bay but became trapped by it until Venser, Shaper Savant freed him. He reconnected Radha, Heir to Keld with Green mana, but was destroyed. Thankfully, Multani did not truly die, but it would take years for him to rebuild himself.
These are the voyages of the Skyship Weatherlight. Its four-year mission...
Skyship Weatherlight by Mark Tedin
Approximate Age: 1,206 years old
Reason for Longevity: Living Ship
Appearances: Time Streams, Bloodlines, Rath and Storm, Mercadian Masques, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse
Skyship Weatherlight is a fusion of life in artifice, but she stands in stark contrast to Phyrexia. Weatherlight was built from the Weatherseed, the seed of the oldest tree in the ancient Yavimaya forest, and Thran Metal. Both the metal and wood elements grew together, and by the end of the Weatherlight’s journey, she began to achieve a sort of sentience, hence why she made this list. She had a symbiotic relationship with Karn, who operated its engines, and was a key piece of Urza’s Legacy Weapon, although it crashed into the sea after Karn unleashed the blast that killed Yawgmoth. One of Weatherlight’s key features was her planeshifting engines, made possible by a massive powerstone housing all the mana of the collapsed Serra’s Realm. The planeshifting engines allowed her to teleport instantaneously across a plane or to other planes in the Multiverse. It’s not clear if this functionality is still possible following the Mending, but the ship is still impressively fast, able to reach speeds approximate to a real-world jet aircraft. While the
Squee, Goblin Nabob
It’s my deepest, darkest hope that Jace squished Squee in Wool Over the Eyes.
Squee, Goblin Nabob by Greg Staples
Homeland: Kher Ridges, Terisiare
Approximate Age: 370 years old
Reason for Longevity: Cursed with Immortality by Yawgmoth
Appearances: Rath and Storm, Mercadian Masques, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse
Squee was a mere cabin boy on Weatherlight but would become one of the most valuable crew members. After their adventure on Mercadia, when Squee was believed to be one of the Kyren elite, he became one of Weatherlight’s best gunners on her stolen Phyrexian ray cannons. When the Predator attacked Weatherlight near the end of the Invasion, Squee grabbed on to Gerrard and was transported to the Stronghold where he was brutally murdered. To show Gerrard that Yawgmoth had the power over life and death, Crovax revived Squee . . . but it took a little too well. No attempt to kill Squee after that ever stuck, and as far as we know he’s still alive today. Squee is smart for a goblin but nowhere near as intelligent as he believes he is. The fact that he was the comic relief of the Weatherlight belies the fact that he’s as heroic as any member of the crew, often more so for being small and weak in such dangerous adventures.
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
Not-Worf and his Not-Bat’leth.
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero by Kev Walker
Homeland: Talruum Mountains, Jamuraa
Approximate Age: 380 years old
Reason for Longevity: Phyrexian-induced Mutation
Appearances: Rath and Storm, Mercadian Masques, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse
Tahngarth is a minotaur from the Talruum Mountains on Jamuraa, and one of the first members of the Weatherlight crew. On Rath, he was captured and transformed by the Phyrexians, but rescued before they could finish the job. The aftereffects left him somewhat misshapen and hairless. When Weatherlight went searching for reinforcements, he found his homeland phased out with Zhalfir. They went instead to the Hurloon minotaurs of Aerona, whom Tahngarth saved from a similar fate to his own. He was worried their new allies would reject him for his appearance, but they accepted him as the hero who saved them all. Tahngarth was quick to anger and had a fierce pride, but also staunchly loyal and noble.
Radha of Keld
Why yes, that IS a severed head in her hand, thanks for asking.
Radha, Heir to Keld by Jim Murray
Homeland: Skyshroud, Keld
Approximate Age: 140 years old
Reason for Longevity: Part Elf
Appearances: Time Spiral, Future Sight
Radha is the half-elf granddaughter of the Keldon Warlord Astor. She was born among the elves of Skyshroud and Freyalise wanted her for an heir, but Radha’s heart belonged to Keld. She was a savage warrior and quick to fits of violent rage, mostly directed at her enemies. She killed the leader of the invading Keldons and forged her own connection to the mountains of Keld. She and Venser were the first of a new breed of planeswalkers, but the stress of her latent spark being used by Jeska to close many rifts permanently extinguished it. When last we saw her, she was war chief to her own war host attempting to restore Keld’s former glory.
As a weird undead being, Josu seems like a good fit for the new Cabal.
Art by Izzy
Approximate Age: ~200 years old
Reason for Longevity: Undead Monstrosity
Josu was the heir to the Vess family, when he was wounded by an enemy mage-blade and came down with a sickness. The only cure was Esis Root, but when his sister Liliana arrived at the grove where it grew, the enemy skin-witches had burned it. Liliana used her budding necromantic powers to revive the root, but this modified cure damned Josu’s soul to the Void, turning him into some kind of undead monster.
And that’s it for today! I’m sure there are a lot of corner cases I’m not thinking of, but these seem to be the core characters more likely to make a return in Dominaria, both in the story and on a card. I am, of course, not including modern characters who we know are alive, like Chandra or Gideon.