What you need to know about Strixhaven, the newest D&D setting that came from Magic: The Gathering
The Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos sourcebook brings D&D fans to the magical university of Strixhaven for the first time — but it’s not the first time we’ve seen Strixhaven, which hails from the world of Magic: The Gathering TCG. If you’re familiar with the game, it probably brings up memories of dueling Planeswalkers throwing color-coded magics at each other, but the fact that the game has a narrative is often overlooked. Magic has been out since 1993, and there’s always been a story behind the cards.
Each set of cards released over the years continues, adds to, or reinforces the story. There are even cards within each set that are called out as “Story Spotlights:” when read in order, they convey the broad strokes of the story. And now the Strixhaven story is coming to D&D as a full-fledged adventure setting. So what exactly is Strixhaven?
Without getting two far into the deep lore of a 30-year-old game, Magic centers around the idea that there is a multiverse filled with different planes of existence and the five colours of magic, White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Each plane is filled with its own stories and characters, but Planeswalkers, extremely powerful beings in the multiverse, exist amongst all of them and can freely move between planes. Strixhaven is the most elite university in the multiverse and resides on the plane of Arcavios, and many Planeswalkers visit seeking out knowledge, power, or maybe just tenure as professors. Strixhaven is constantly in contention with the Oriq, a group of mages that couldn’t pass the entrance exam to the college and are doing everything they can to destroy Strixhaven, believing that it is keeping people from practicing magic.
The university consists of five primary colleges, each founded by an elder dragon and bearing its name:
- Silverquill, the college of eloquence, is represented by the magic color pairing of white and black. Founded by the Elder Dragon Shadrix Silverquill, the college focuses on the magic of words ranging from inspiring battle poetry to arcane insults. Its magic is often heralded as the fastest as words can be spoken extremely quickly, and its mages often also have the literal power to turn words into weapons. The school mascot is the Inkling, which — as the name suggests — is animated ink! Their main building is the Grandloft Hall, a giant magical train station-like space filled with balconies, loges, and booths perfect for Orators to perform their craft. This is absolutely the college of choice for communications majors.
- Prismari is the college of elemental arts, founded by the elder dragon Galazeth Prismari. These mages use elementals as their mascots and are represented by the color pairing of red and blue. This is a college with a flair for the dramatic, centering on art, theater, and music, with magic based on raw creativity and artistic expression. They view the entire multiverse as a stage and the goal is to leave a lasting impression. Often referred to as hot-headed, channeling the Prismari’s magic require passion. Bigger than life displays bursting with energy await those that call this college home. If you were a theater kid, this likely would have been where you wanted to go.
- Witherbloom is the college of essence studies. Founded by the elder dragon Beledros Witherbloom, it’s represented by the colors black and green. As the natural sciences college of Strixhaven, this school focuses on both life and death: its mages may draw power from living beings to enhance or exploit, or even raise zombies as lab assistants. Students of Witherbloom can often be found picking herbs, brewing potions, or hanging out in swamps, where they often use their powers to defend ecosystems from harmful forces. If you fancied yourself a green-thumb, you’d likely end up here.
- Lorehold is the college of Archaeomancy, the power of history and lore. It was founded by Velomachus Lorehold and is represented by the pairing of red and white, with spirits as mascots. This where you’ll find Strixhaven’s researchers and archeologists, daring adventurers and passionate scholars — all of them obsessed with history. This school is all about human nature: the relationships we build, and the stories and history we leave behind. You’ll find its students studying ancient tomes, summoning long dead historical figures, and traveling to long-forgotten tombs in search of knowledge. If you ever fancied yourself a magical Indiana Jones, this is where you would go.
- Quandrix is the college of Numeromancy — or math magic — and was founded by Tanazir Quandrix. Represented by the color pairing of green and blue, the school uses fractals, geometric creatures of living math and theorem, as its mascot. These students are all about studying patterns, fractals, and symmetries that lay underneath reality and using them to command the fundamental forces of nature. Filled with puzzle-solvers and people who do long division for fun, this college pairs the love of mathematics with the study of nature to summon great fractal creatures, copy spells, and even manipulate an individual’s physical appearance to increase their size and power. This is literally the embodiment of “Math is Magic.”
Strixhaven was one of the first sets I came back to MTG with, and I really enjoyed its take on the whole magical school scenario. The entire set was so full of personality, and was so much different than what I was used to with the earlier fantasy settings.
That’s also ultimately why I’m overly excited that Strixhaven came to the world of D&D. While it’s not the first setting from Magic to join the TTRPG space, it’s less Guilds of Ravnica, which was more an alternative telling of classic fantasy, and more like Mythic Odysseys of Theros, which leans heavily on Greek mythology to bring something new and exciting to D&D. A multiverse collegiate setting seems perfect for almost any D&D game, and it’s sure to offer some wild new spells and abilities to incorporate into games. Adding Strixhaven to the D&D universe also hints at a larger reach into the muti-planar roots of D&D that we’re seeing hints about. If you want to know more about that, be sure to check out episode 5 of Tavern Watch where we interviewed Greg Tito from Wizards of the Coast and talked a bit about the history of D&D, and what’s coming up with the newest Strixhaven release.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is out now, so you can send your characters off on multiplanar learning adventures anytime you want.
Originally published 11/22/2021. Updated 12/10/2021.
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