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MTG: Lore of the Multiverse – The Mad Golem Memnarch

6 Minute Read
Jun 7 2024

Memnarch, Karn’s most trusted disciple, is MTG’s perfect example of when ambition overrides sense and genius gives way to madness.

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.

Before Mirrodin was the site of Phyrexia’s resurgence, it was the metallic plane of Argentum. Karn created this artificial plane as a test of his newly-acquired Planeswalking abilities and left the golem Memnarch in charge. However, Memnarch’s ambition far outstripped his intellect, and he became the very thing Karn was fighting against. If not for Karn’s hubris and the single drop of Phyrexian oil he left on his perfect realm, the Multiverse may have stayed free of Phrexian taint.

Warden of Karn’s Tower

Before he had a name, Memnarch was the Warden of Karn’s castle, Galdroon, on Argentum. Along with the other ur-golems, he was charged with the stewardship and maintenance of the artificial plane. Of all the golems, however, Karn loved the Warden best.

When he left the plane to train the newly sparked Planeswalker Jeska, he left the Warden with two gifts. The first was to make him protector of all Argentum, chief among the ur-golems. The second, and likely the source of the Warden’s downfall, was the wish-granting Mirari.

The Mirari greatly enhanced Memnarch’s mind and capabilities, and he spent the next several years wandering the planes of Argentum. He marveled at the mathematical perfection of the creation, but he lamented the emptiness. However, he did notice one imperfection: the Blinkmoths.

These small firefly-like creatures seemed to have come from nowhere, and they did not fit the barren plane. This began his process to populate Argentum with life, hoping to anticipate Karn’s desires. However, he saw a strange puddle of black fluid, reaching out to touch it. This simple act changed the course of the Multiverse forever.

From Argentum to Mirrodin

Memnarch renamed the plane Mirrodin after the Mirari at his core and set to work reshaping the plane. He instructed his fellow ur-golems to terraform the plane, making it more habitable for true life. After their work was done, Memnarch began to eliminate them one by one. After all, there would be no room for them in his new world. He constructed a series of mechanical “soul traps” and began abducting sentient life from across the Multiverse. This process went on for centuries until every corner of the plane was populated. However, as the black oil seeped into the core of Mirrodin, it gave birth to a new imperfection: Mycosynth.

This strange spore-like substance began to turn flesh to metal and vice versa, giving Mirrodin’s inhabitants their signature metallic enhancements. Memnarch tried to eliminate the Mycosynth wherever he saw it, but he noticed himself gaining fatigue, which was unfitting for a golem of his stature. His hard body became soft, and he realized he was becoming flesh. He began to go mad as his vision moved further from his grasp.

Memnarch turned to the blinkmoths, who could be drained of their glowing fluids, to provide vast insight. However, even this was not enough, and eventually, Memnarch altered his own body to house a massive reservoir for the blinkmoth fluid. Taking that much of the mind-altering fluid only exacerbated the madness, and his vision turned to darker pursuits. He realized that he didn’t want to perfect his creator’s world but rather see other worlds as his creator did. He wanted to be a Planeswalker.


Searching for a Spark

Memnarch began abducting and experimenting on the inhabitants of Mirrodin, hoping to find a trace of the Planeswalker spark. When he couldn’t induce the change himself, he sent Levelers to villages he believed could hide a viable candidate. By triggering the spark, he hoped to find and extract the nascent Planeswalker and transfer their spark to himself. While his Levelers destroyed countless villages, he set about with his greatest project. He would turn the entire metal world into a machine to steal the spark from an individual and implant it into himself.

After many failed attempts, he at last found a viable candidate in the elf Glissa Sunseeker. However, he found her harder to capture than he expected, as she eluded every attempt. As he continued his assault, her hatred for him grew until she was resolved to hunt him down and destroy him. She gathered a group of like-minded warriors, hunted down the legendary Kaldra artifacts, and took the fight to Memnarch in Mirrodin’s core.

Memnarch was prepared for this, however. When the three Kaldra artifacts were brought together, they summoned an artificial construct, and Memnarch was able to wrest control of it and turn it against the heroes. She likely would have been taken there if not for the intervention of her ally Bosh, one of the last surviving ur-golems (though he was not aware of this). He held the Kaldra construct off long enough for Glissa and the others to destabilize the machine’s core, causing a chain reaction that gave birth to Mirrodin’s Green Sun. In the ensuing chaos, Glissa escaped.


Failure after failure drove all the intellectual might from Memnarch. Driven mad with rage and the desire to return to his master, he began an all-out war on Mirrodin’s inhabitants. If they harbored Glissa, he would tear them out root and stem. Glissa retaliated with an alliance of leonin, goblins, and elves, attacking Mephidross, where the bulk of Memnarch’s army was stationed. However, Memnarch was able to trap her in a temporal bubble, where she remained in stasis for five years. In that time, Memnarch was able to capture the goblin Slobad, forcing him to retrofit his original device to run off the souls of Mirrodin’s inhabitants.

When Glissa awoke, she found her home ruined and Memnarch’s forces closing in to capture her. Rallying what support she could, she made a last desperate attack against Memnarch’s stronghold. Memnarch had planned for this, however, and activated the extraction device as soon as Glissa arrived. Seeing no alternative, Glissa flung herself at Memnarch, dragging them both into the mana core at Mirrodin’s heart. Not only did this destroy the soul traps, shunting those taken by them back to their home planes, but it inadvertently transferred Glissa’s latent spark to Slobad.


Madness Unmade

As Slobad was lamenting the loss of his friend, he was approached by an imposing silver golem. The golem introduced himself as Karn and told Slobad that he had made the plane but had been locked out by the soul traps. As a gift to Slobad for defeating Memnarch, he restored all the lives that had been lost to Memnarch’s forces, using the goblin’s stolen spark. That done, he recovered the body of Memnarch and destroyed it, retrieving the Mirari and entrusting it to Glissa, Slobad, and the necromancer Geth. With Memnarch dead, the plane returned to some sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, without a steward to prune it, the Mycosynth began to grow out of control. Before long, a new being…or rather a very old one, emerged on Mirrodin: the first New Phyrexians.

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Author: Clint Lienau
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