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MTG: Lore of the Multiverse – The Eldrazi

7 Minute Read
Jun 14 2024

MTG is a realm of monsters, villains, and occasionally fear, but no nightmare compares to the titanic beasts that live beyond the veil.

Welcome, Praetors and Planeswalkers, to our ongoing series about the people and places that help make MTG incredible. From great heroes and deadly villains to gorgeous locales and important events, the Multiverse constantly evolves to keep the game fresh. Even if you don’t know anything about the story, all the background drives your favorite cards from place to place. You can check out all the previous MTG goodness over here.

The MTG Multiverse has its fair share of horrors. The is even a plane devoted to the dark and macabre creatures that populate it. However, no terror, no matter how great, compares to the faceless entities that sleep in the Blind Eternities. Similar to Lovecraft’s Elder Gods, the Eldrazi are beings of ceaseless hunger and unfathomable size. Even to gaze upon them is to see only a fraction of their true horror.

Now that Modern Horizons 3 has rolled in, the Eldrazi are seeing a bit of a renaissance. New horrors are crawling out of the shadowy places and old familiar faces are back with new costumes. But what are these formless monstrosities? Where did they come from?

What Are the Eldrazi?

The Eldrazi are cosmic beings that exist in the Blind Eternities, the Realm between Realms. When they grow hungry, they extend a portion of their vast existence into the plane to feed. As they move through the plane, it warps and twists beneath their touch. Once the Eldrazi have consumed all they can of a plane, they retreat. The empty plane collapses in a cataclysmic burst of light.

While there are innumerable incarnations of the Eldrazi, there are only three greater titans: Emrakul, Kozilek, and Ulamog. Each of these titans interacts with the worlds they invade in a different way. Kozilek and the creatures he creates warp reality and leave colorful bismuth-like rocks in their wake. Ulamog and his creations alter the physical properties of the land and creatures they encounter. They leave bony coral as they walk. Emrakul, the strangest and (potentially) strongest of the Eldrazi alters the very biology of the worlds she invades. Her passage turns the earth into flesh, and tentacles sprout from the ground.

When the Eldrazi invade a world, the inhabitants become altered based on the titan that finds them. Limbs split, and eyes appear in places they do not belong as the creature’s form is rewritten to suit the mad geometry of the passing titans. So great is the power of these creatures that mortal beings cannot truly fathom them. Even the powerful telepath Jace Beleren, who linked with the manifestation of Emrakul on Zendikar, was only able to perceive a vague manifestation.

Hedron Imprisonment

Long before the Modern MTG era, the spirit dragon Ugin and the Planeswalkers Nahiri and Sorin Markov decided that the Eldrazi threat was too great to ignore. Though Sorin and Nahiri sought to destroy the creatures, Ugin advised that destroying them could have cataclysmic effects on the Multiverse. Instead, the Three, as they came to be called, decided to choose a plane to sacrifice in order to trap the Eldrazi. After much deliberation, Nahiri’s home plane of Zendikar was selected for its diverse and rich supply of mana.

Sorin set a lure and drove the Eldrazi toward Zendikar, using a powerful mana flux to draw their eye. Once they manifested on the plane, Ugin attacked. Using his invisible flame breath and his unique colorless magic, he kept the Eldrazi distracted while Nahiri enacted their plan. Using her unique lithomantic abilities, she bound the Eldrazi in a series of magical hedrons. Ugin aligned them to Zendikar’s leylines to prevent the Eldrazi’s escape.

Their work done, the Three hid the key to their created prison deep in the heart of Zendikar, in a cave called the Eye of Ugin. They put a magical lock in place that could only be disrupted by the presence of three Planeswalker sparks and the mystical ghostfire of Ugin himself. Their mission done, the three went their separate ways, with Nahiri opting to stay behind to guard the prison. The Eldrazi slipped into dormancy, and the treat seemed to be at an end.


Breaking of the Bonds

After a few thousand years of relative peace, the titans’ insatiable hunger, particularly that of Ulamog, began to leak into the plane. Those who lived in the mountains of Akoum, where the Eye of Ugin rested, became infected. They formed a cult-like society, believing that taking the life force of others would give them strength, as it had for the “Forgotten Gods.” Over the next few generations, they succeeded in weakening the bonds of the Eldrazi prison.

The break was not enough for the Eldrazi to free themselves entirely. However, a fraction of their power began to seep out, forming into drones. Zhulodok, one of the strongest of the spontaneous creations, was heralded by the cultists of Akoum as the prophet of the Forgotten Ones, and they worshipped him as a god. However, when they tried to welcome their new savior, they were devoured and subsumed by the waves of Spawn. Only twelve of the cultists escaped, becoming the first bloodchiefs, the Zendikar vampire elite.

Nahiri felt the bonds weakening and saw the destruction left in Zhulodok’s wake. Driven mad by her isolation and fearing for her Plane, she sent out a desperate plea for help from Soin and Ugin, but her call went unanswered. Taking matters into her own hands, Nahiri sought out the tear in the Eldrazi prison and repaired it. Turning her attention to those who had escaped, she slew Zhulodok and the rest of the spawn. Even as they witnessed Zhulodok’s defeat, however, the vampires stayed loyal. In their madness, they whispered that Zendikar’s end would one day return to free the Forgotten Ones.

A New Alliance

Several more millennia passed until the Eldrazi awoke again. This time, it was the chance meeting of Sarkhan Vol, Chandra, and Jace in the Eye of Ugin. The presence of three Planewalker sparks roused the Eldrazi from their slumber. Though they were not freed entirely, they were free enough to begin consuming the plane once more. Three distinct broods arose in grotesque mimicry of their sires. The very Plane itself began to change as the hedrons shifted the ground into bizarre new formations.

Sorin arrived on the plane as he felt the weakened bonds, but Ugin and Nahiri were nowhere to be found. Instead, he allied himself with the elvish Planeswalker Nissa. However, when she and Sorin encountered the Eldrazi prison, Nissa shattered the primary hedron. She hoped the Eldrazi would flee and leave her plane in peace, and Emrakul vanished. However, Ulamog and Kozilek remained to feast on the plane, and Sorin abandoned Nissa to deal with her mistake.


Chains of Fire

Trying to right the wrong she’d committed, Nissa sought help from the other Planeswalkers on the plane. She met up with Chandra, as well as Gideon Jura and Jace, who agreed to help her. They battled Ulamog’s brood and learned the extent of the Eldrazi’s power. The group knew they could not stand against the Eldrazi alone, but together they were unstoppable. They swore an oath to protect the Multiverse, and the first Gatewatch was formed.

They planned to use Zendikar’s leylines to draw the bulk of the Eldrazis’ forms into the plane. Once they had them, Nissa, who could control the leylines, would destroy them. At first, the plan was working until the full force of the Eldrazi threatened to draw Zendikar into themselves. In a desperate move, Chandra poured her incendiary magic through Nissa, igniting the leylines. Ulamog and Kozilek were incinerated and reduced to ash.

Vengeance on Innistrad

Emrakul appeared many years later on the plane of Innistrad, Sorin’s home plane. She had been summoned by Nahiri to enact vengeance on Sorin. He had locked her in the Helvault, and during her imprisonment, the Eldrazi had ravaged her plane. Driven mad by grief and her stay in the Helvault, she planned to unleash the same horror on Sorin’s home. Emrakul wasn’t able to fully manifest while Avacyn lived, but her influence warped the plane nonetheless.

Even Avacyn wasn’t spared, and when Sorin was forced to destroy her, Emrakul arrived. She corrupted the plane with horrible monstrosities and fed on the latent fear and energy. However, when the Planeswalker Tamiyo arrived, Emrakul allowed herself to be imprisoned in the moon. The threat of the Eldrazi was, it seemed, finally at an end.

What Lore would you like to see next?

Author: Clint Lienau
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