Pattern Recognition #174 - The First Planeswalker
5 November 2020
5 November 2020
Hello everyone! This is Pattern Recognition, TappedOut.Net's longest running article series as written by myself, berryjon. I am something of an Old Fogey who has been around the block quite a few times where Magic is concerned, as as such, I use this series to talk about the various aspects of this game, be it deck design, card construction, mechanics chat, in-universe characters and history. Or whatever happens to cross my mind this week. Please, feel free to dissent in the comments below the article, add suggestions or just plain correct me! I am something of a Smart Ass , so I can take it.
Most of you don't know who Taysir is, or rather was. I don't blame you, as he was a major, yet equally minor piece of Magic Lore for most of his existence. I can say that he was probably the first named Planeswalker in the game - along with Fatima, though he was gone long before Planeswalkers got their cards.
The story begins on Rabiah, the plane on which the set Arabian Nights was centered, giving us such cards as City of Brass , though on the most part, the set kinda sucked as it was printed right after Unlimited. In the deep history of Rabiah, an event occurred with no known origin, but whose effects are well documented.
The Thousandfold Refraction of Rabiah was this event, and it caused the Plane of Rabiah to become reflected and fold in and over on itself, the source plane and all its reflections differing in minor ways. Out of universe, here in the real world, this was an attempt to explain how each player could summon their own copy of a Legendary creature. That being, they summoned them from a different one of these 1001 planes.
Now, Rabiah wasn't really 1001 different planes. It was a singular plane, reflected in on itself, and this reflection wasn't perfect. For you see, there was a certain individual born and living on Rabiah at the time who wasn't perfectly reflected.
Taysir was a man whose Spark ignited at the same time as the Thousandfold Refraction, though from what little lore we have, it seems to have been as a result of the occurrence rather than the cause, which is fine by me. But I have to point out that one of the consistent themes among old, Pre-Mending Planeswalkers was that the force and power behind the event that caused their Spark to ignite directly correlated to their power as a Planeswalker. Commander Gruff and Urza both Sparked as a result of Urza's Ruinous Blast , but Urza, being at the epicenter of the blast, and Gruff on the edge, were very different in power and capacity.
Taysir, instead of being copied a thousand times, was only copied four times. His original self, and each of his copies embodied a different colour of mana. The Taysir became a Dervish, a swordsman of some renown. The version was described as a child, one full of innocence and wonder, able to learn anything. gave us our majority-viewpoint version, an apprentice under the Evil Queen Nailah. The Taysir was a nomad, traveling free and clear across Rabiah, while lastly, the Taysir settled down as a herder of animals.
For you see, Taysir's existence didn't go unnoticed, and a document called The Lore of the Ancients described a prophecy of The One Made Five, a man divided into five parts, not 1000, and when they were reunited and made whole, the resulting man would be the most powerful Sorcerer not only of Rabiah, but beyond as well.
You know, when the days of interplanar travel was measured as casual and not story relevant only.
Anyway, Nailah found, taught and seduced the Taysir, and once she was sure he was the one spoken of, convinced him to locate and kill one of the other Taysir's in order to absorb his power and become greater! And wouldn't you know it, there was this Taysir just minding his own business. No one would mind if he was gone, right?
If you're reminded of the plot of a Jet Li movie, you're right. It is.
Anyway, Taysir killed Taysir and absorbed his essence. Becoming as a result, Taysir realized that what he was doing was wrong, not only morally but in practicality as well. He was throwing the balance the five of them had out of balance across Rabiah. And now? The only way out was forward. But he also recognized that there were still issues to deal with, so the first thing he did away from Nailah, was to find and warn the Taysir of the threat, and give him a magical artifact to help him locate and warn the other two Taysir's.
At this point, the Taysir located the one, and the two of them merged after some discussions, recognizing that if the one decided, he could overpower either one by themselves, but together, they stood a chance.
Then they decided that while two was good, three would be better, and the Taysir located and absorbed the Taysir.
The Taysir then went after Nailah, recognizing that she was the real threat, having set all this in motion. He confronted her and overpowered her, allowing him and the Taysir, who was biding his time and waiting for the natural progression of events to bring them to this point.
Taysir walked out of that confrontation, Spark restored, and the most powerful person in existence. At least until Wizards retconned Urza into that position.
Desperate to salvage something out of all this, Nailah attempted to seduce Taysir one last time, pleading to the side of him.
She failed, and he left, Planeswalking away and leaving her with nothing. Well, not nothing as she was able to scrounge up the power to isolate Rabiah from the Multiverse, preventing Taysir from ever returning home.
And so Taysir wandered the Multiverse for a while, his own origin giving him some restraint when dealing with other Planeswalkers and the natives of the Planes he visited. He knew first hand how much damage someone could do deliberately or by accident. He visited Dominaria shortly before the plane was trapped in The Shard, and was trapped inside the twelve worlds when it happened.
On Dominaria, he met Kristina of the Woods, a Planeswalker, and the two of them worked to help the people of the Shard when and wherever they could. The two of them became lovers, and were called to the Summit of the Null Moon by Faralyn to discuss how to resolve the situation with the Shard. However, the Summit was a trap laid by Faralyn, Leshrac, and Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools . They manipulated the attending Planeswalkers into a fight, hoping that one would die, and the resulting death of the Spark could be used to puncture the Shard, releasing the three of them before the hole could be repaired.
The plan failed, and they fled, though several non-Planeswalkers in attendance were killed, including Chromium, the Mutable and Faralyn's spellsquire - a form of apprentice - named Ravidel. Taysir and Kristina were able to resurrect Ravidel, but not the Dragon. Angry at this turn of events, Ravidel left.
In the immediate aftermath, the two of them aided Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury in the final breaking of the Shard, casting the World Spell to end the Ice Age and everything else that went with it.
In joy, Taysir proposed to Kristina, offering her the Reflecting Mirror (whether or not this was the same Reflecting Mirror that was smashed into Jaya Ballard, Task Mage 's face to awaken her spark isn't confirmed or denied) as a proposal gift.
She said no, as his offer was to return to Rabiah with him to live in peace. But doing so would trap them there, and she could not bear to leave the Multiverse behind. They parted ways, and in a Chance Encounter , Taysir found the abandoned Ravidel and took him on as an apprentice.
Ravidel was quick to point out that his former master and his accomplices had a point that the power of a dead Planeswalker could and should be able to punch through a planar barrier, such as the one around Rabiah. This would enable him to go home, and more importantly for Ravidel, would be vengeance against his former master.
Tevesh Szat was nowhere to be found, as he was running and hiding. However, Leshrac was found by the two of them, and was quickly hunted down and defeated by Taysir. But Taysir could not bring himself to kill Leshrac, and instead imprisoned him in the most vile and inescapable place he could think of.
Ravidel, however, wanted Leshrac dead, and while he was accepting that Szat was hiding, Taysir's failure to kill Leshrac caused him to start to plan his own vengeance and his own betrayal of Taysir. To that end, he manipulated Taysir into overreacting to finding out that Kristina had fallen in love with another Planeswalker, Sandruu, an Anaba Minotaur from Ulgrotha. Taysir attacked Sandruu on his home plane, and banished him to the farthest reaches of the Multiverse, where it would take him centuries, if not millenium to return home.
Having his home plane being used as a battleground enraged Feroz, husband of Serra and friend of Sandruu, and so angered, he attacked Taysir and apparently killed him by cleaving his head in with a broadsword.
However, Planeswalkers are not so easy to die, and Taysir survived his mortal wound as a spirit which was taken in and offered redemption by the Anaba Shaman s and Anaba Spirit Crafter s of that realm. Over the course of two centuries, he was healed of his own hatred and the manipulations of Ravidel, eventually reforming a physical body as that of an old man to remind himself to be humble and not full of youthful pride.
As part of his restitution, he took another new Planeswalker, Daria, under his wing. Eventually, he came to view her as a daughter, and treated her as such. But be never forgot about Kristina, or his promise to hunt down Tevesh Szat and punish him.
When Phyrexia invaded, Taysir was second on Urza's short list of people to join the Nine Titans, the group that Urza would want to break into Phyrexia and destroy it. At first, Taysir was reluctant, but relented as he realized that he could not stand by. Besides, he remembered stuffing Leshrac into Phyrexia, so at least this way, he could make sure that Leshrac was dead. Daria volunteered to help over Urza and Taysir's objections, but as Urza's first pick, Teferi, had basically told Urza some very rude things, packed his bags and Phased Out, he was short a Planeswalker, and agreed to bring Daria along.
They were joined by Kristina, who answered Urza's call at Freyalise's behest. Her and Taysir had patched up their relationship over time, being friends and nothing more. But more importantly, Tevesh Szat arrived to help the Titans over the objections of literally everyone else present. But Urza was adamant that they needed Szat, and so Taysir was willing to stay his vengeance until after Phyrexia was destroyed. He did have priorities.
Tevesh Szat killed Kristina early in the attack, claiming it was an 'accident' with the Titan that Urza had provided him and his unfamiliarity with the design, then he deliberately targeted and killed Daria, making it clear that he was attacking Taysir indirectly.
Urza planned for this betrayal, his Dark Suspicions being correct, only to Confound Szat when he revealed that he needed a Planeswalker's Spark to prime the Phyrexia-destroying Soul Bombs, and that Szat would make the choice both moral and convenient for him.
Taysir, grieving at the loss of his love and his daughter, took Urza to task, but made it clear that the destruction of Phyrexia came first, and anything between the two of them would wait until after that. The text makes it clear to me that Taysir was going to wait about 0.001 seconds after Phyrexia died to deal with Urza, but he would wait.
Urza betrayed Dominaria, instead finally giving in to Yawgmoth's Will , and disabled the weapons that Daria and Kristina died to allow Urza to activate with a clear conscious. Taysir, enraged, started to attack Urza, but the Artificer activated the same kill switch in the Titan that killed Szat, and with it, slew Taysir permanently.
After the war, Lord Windgrace retrieved Taysir's body, and made certain that no necromancer would be able to use it, or Taysir's soul, taking his heart into himself to seal the ritual.
Taysir was a complicated person for whom most of his existence was in the Magic Comics of the 90's, and that made it hard for me to get a full read on him. In fact, the only stuff I have with his name in it are the Invasion block novels, and had to dig into more secondary sources to even get this far.
Taysir is a Planeswalker that is truly in all colours. While Wizards and Mark Rosewater laid out how Urza, Lord High Artificer gained his colours over the course of his life to become all five colours at the time of his death, but that missed the point that Urza was always to the core. Taysir, on the other hand, due to his origin, actually existed in all colours equally. Even though his side may have been dominant for a long while, and his before his first death, the other colours were always a factor in who he was and what he did.
It's just a shame that he got killed off, pretty much off-handedly in Invasion. Yes, I read the passages again where he dies, but it's framed in more the context of Urza's actions, and his perspective, rather than those of Taysir himself or of the surviving Titans. He died to close out Urza's past, and advance his character into the end-game.
In the end, Taysir left no mark on Magic's history. He has no stories, no cards to carry him forward. People don't talk about him, and I doubt he will ever see any sort of remembrance in the future. Not in a Commander PreCon or in Time Spiral 2. Just... forgotten.
Well, I haven't forgotten him. I haven't forgotten Rabiah. And as long as someone knows about this man and his history, there is always a chance he can finally get a card.
I wouldn't even mind if it was as a simple mono- Planeswalker to represent him before he began to merge with his other selves, his most pro-active version.
But that's simply a hope. A hope that I won't forget.
Join me next week when I talk about something. What? I don't know yet. Until then please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job, but more income is always better. I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!
...did you seriously just write "Nichol Bolas" in the summary? We all knew he had a sister, but I didn't know her high school nickname, ha ha.
November 5, 2020 3:11 p.m.
November 5, 2020 9:38 p.m.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I would love to see a Taysir cycle, with 5 mono-colored planeswalker cards that form an infinite combo with one another if you manage to field all 5 at once.
Alas, I doubt that is going to happen.