"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
-Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5, lines 167-168
The above line often comes to mind when I consider the lore of Splinterlands, a universe on whose creation I have been hard at work for over two years with most of my time. It is the blessing and the curse of the lore writer to know secrets, to have a whole world in their head, scattered through hundreds of documents, thousands of ideas and millions of words. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to literally live in a fantasy world, but it is a curse that players may never understand it as deeply as I do. It is a blessing to create things and ideas in this world, but it is a curse to know that anyone has the ability to think fantastically, that it's not a special ability that belongs to me alone.
With Splinterlands, we have been creating a world for creators. It is a universe that will always expand and never shrink. It will allow others to realize their own creative potential, even to teach their children to think creatively and carry on the fantasy that we have begun. It is our hope and vision that Splinterlands will thrive and grow for many years, and perhaps many generations. So far this vision is going quite well.
In the beginning, the task of creating the world was extremely tedious, involving a lot of (some would say) boring creation. We established the maps and names, the places and people, the cultures and characters, the concepts and conflicts of this world. You'll find much of this information at Splinterlore as you peruse the Encyclopedia of the Splinterlands, which was created over a year ago through great collaborative toil. Suffice it to say that the conflicts are plentiful, with each one opening multiple doors to new conflicts in the future. Wherever something became comfortable, the grand balance of storytelling has shifted the scales with a sensation of divine justice, the kind of profoundly satisfying justice that rarely (if ever) exists in the real world.
Through descriptions and profiles of the monsters, summoners and various important characters of the Splinterlands, many stories have begun to be told, but they are only beginnings, because as I have always said, this story is to be written together by all of us. It is a larger story than can be told around a fire or even written into a lengthy book. In my estimation, future players will be able to completely absorb themselves into the hobby of Splinterlands lore and still fall short of knowing it all.
Now, as we prepare for vast expansions to the game, world concepts must be delved into on a deeper level. It is in this spirit that I present the following short story, which will give readers a snapshot of an actual Moxian battle in the great Arena. The great tournaments of Mount Mox, run by the Gloridax Masters are certainly one of the most important keys to understanding the larger story, and they also represent the Splinterlands Battles with which all our loyal players are very familiar.
When you as a player click or tap the button for BATTLE, you are stepping into your own personal in-game character, playing the role of a Battle Mage who is appearing on the Tournament Grounds to summon in the Moxian tournaments. You exist in this world, safely behind your screen or in front of your PC, but you also exist in the Splinterlands. If you have purchased the Summoner's Spellbook upgrade, you have been approved by the tournament administration and been given the resources necessary to summon teams within the glorified art of essence combat.
Without further ado, I present The Nosebleed Section.
“What’s happening now, Daddy?”
The small child was tugging at his father’s tunic, in a weak effort to pull himself up to where he could see the action far away on the floor of the great arena. The smell of candied truffle roast was thick in the air, but it was laced with hints of spilled beer, incense and the body odor of thousands of spectators representing a dozen different races.
The patient father bent down and hoisted the boy with ease onto his muscular shoulder, just as his father had done some thirty years ago on his first visit to the tournament grounds. The boy gasped as he realized that he was now on top of the whole world. In these moments, the nosebleed section of the great arena turned children into giants in this way. The boy could see everything. He attempted to repeat his question, but all that came out was a hoarse and uneasy croak. His father laughed.
“We are waiting for the day’s first battle to begin, my son,” the father belted proudly and perhaps louder than was necessary. He could not help himself. For years he had waited for this day, diligently saved his seed coins and worked tirelessly to earn the permission of the boy’s Lyverian mother, who had never been fond of the idea.
The boy was astounded by the number of people who were crowded into the arena stands, even as massive as they were. Across the arena, he saw what looked like an ocean of people, not unlike the Splinter Sea across which they had voyaged to visit Mount Mox for this day of combat. Suddenly to the child’s surprise, an entire section of the crowd began to stand in unison and raise their arms while a great roar filled the air. His father laughed loudly once again.
“Ah-ha! The wave is coming! Are you ready, boy?” The boy was not ready, for he knew nothing about the wave. He began to breathe quickly and heavily, suddenly hoping that his father would put him down. The man became instantly aware of the boy’s fear, and reassured him by saying “Do not worry, it’s a game! When the wave comes, we’ll throw our hands up and shout. Get ready.”
The wave was moving so quickly around the arena, getting ever louder as it approached, but because the boy’s father had told him not to fear, the boy wore a wide grin. Finally the wave reached them, and in a grand moment of unity that was over much too quickly, everyone around them jumped up from their seats and shouted. Then as the wave continued around a second time, that area of the nosebleed section relaxed into jovial conversation with one another, alive with excitement and anticipation.
“How will we know when the battle is ready to start, Daddy?” The boy was incredibly curious now, still on the right shoulder of his father. The father had expected this, and was prepared with responses to any question the boy could ask.
“There will be a great beating of drums, and everyone will quiet down as the Dragonsguard prepares the way. They will march in with flags, and if we are lucky, we may see a real life Dragon.”
“But I thought there were always Dragons in the battles!” the boy whined with sudden hopelessness, drawing the amused attention of many of the surrounding spectators.
“There are always Dragons in the battles, the father replied. “But essence combat is different than to have a real-life Dragon standing before you. You shall see what I mean soon enough.”
“What do you mean by essence combat, Daddy?”
“Now that you are finally old enough to understand, I shall explain it to you,” the father answered.
“Great. I love having things explained.” The boy was strikingly skilled at sarcasm.
“Ha! You trust your instincts, like your mother,” the man chuckled while his son bounced on his shoulder. “In real combat, there is pain and death, like that in the war that took your great grandfather many years ago. Essence combat is different. You will see monsters attacking and even killing one another on this battlefield, but the monsters you see will only be illusions, magical projections created by the protected sanctuary of the tournaments.”
The child’s eyes grew very wide. “You mean no one gets hurt?”
“That’s right,” replied the father. They will fight to their greatest powers and abilities once they are called forth by the summoners, but the fighting is only make believe. You shall see that after the battle, the bodies of the fallen will quickly vanish in a strange fog. That fog is called a mana cloud.”
“But who does the summoning, Daddy?” The boy was so invested in his curiosity that he no longer noticed the crowd’s noise, which had grown to a deafening roar over which his father had to shout to be heard.
“Summoners are as real as you or me,” said the father. “After years of study, they come from all over the world to summon in these great tournaments. And the tournaments ensure that there is lasting peace among all types of people. Through this system of civilized combat, the United Gloridax have designed a haven from the chaos of war, which once plagued the world. War used to cause unimaginable death and suffering throughout the Splinterlands, and these tournaments have put a stop to it all. This is why we have come here, to celebrate peace.”
“What about the cards? Tell me about the cards!”
"Ah yes, the Splinterlands cards… They each represent monsters from the Splinterlands, monsters that can be summoned to essence combat. Some of these cards are rarer than others. The rarer the card, the more powerful the monster essence contained within. Summoners can only call upon monsters for whom they hold the card.”
“My friend Berry always tells me that his mommy is training to be a Battle Mage. What is a Battle Mage, Daddy?”
“Battle Mage is another name for summoner. The summoner who walks into the arena is called a Battle Mage. While anyone can own a Splinterlands card, only the Battle Mages have the ability to summon from them in the tournaments. Battle Mages must hold whole collections of cards at the ready in order to compete in the Moxian tournaments, collections of both monsters and summoners.”
The child suddenly whipped his face back toward his father. “But I thought the Battle Mage was the summoner!”
The father laughed loudly once again. “You’re very quick! Again, like your mother! There are Summoner cards as well, you see. The summoner cards must also be held by the Battle Mage in order to summon the monsters of essence combat. This is where it gets most interesting, my son. The greatest Battle Mages who ever summoned are immortalized into Splinterlands cards, in a great magical ceremony called The Elevated. Once a summoner has been elevated to a card, they play a different role in the battle. I’ll explain using the example of your friend’s mother.”
“Berry’s mother (if accepted) would be a new Battle Mage. She would need to hold at least a moderate collection of Splinterlands cards, both monsters and summoners, in order to participate. Suppose she has a deck of Earth element cards. This means she would be summoning monsters that are mostly from our homeland, the land of Anumun.”
“Like Rexxie?!” the boy interjected.
“Yes, exactly like Rexxie! You must have been studying your Seedling Rhymes. Well done! To summon these monsters, Berry’s mom would need to enlist the help of one of the elevated summoners for whom she holds a card. Her choices would be Lyanna Natura, Prince Rennyn, Mylor Crowling, Xander Foxwood, the Scarred Llama Mage or the Wizard of Eastwood.”
“I have never heard of those people before!”
“That’s right, but I have been doing my homework as well. There are a great many Splinterlands cards, and it is part of my duty to know the elevated summoners of my home.” The boy was very impressed at the father’s talk of duty.
“Before the battle starts, the two Battle Mages face off and bow to each other, all alone and small in the great arena. But once they begin by calling the elevated summoner from one of their cards, the real action begins. You see, only the cards have the power to summon monster essences in their illusion forms. If Berry’s mother calls Lyanna to summon, the personage of Lyanna Natura surrounds her, working through her and lending the magic needed to perform the summoning of the team. From here it will look like the little person becomes larger and transforms into a different person entirely, who then begins the ritual and ancient summoning process that comes from their own tradition. So while the Battle Mage (Berry’s mother) is still holding the cards, the battle that ensues is out of her hands. It is carried out by the giant form of Lyanna Natura that will be clearly visible from where we stand here in the nosebleed section.”
There was finally a thoughtful pause from the young boy as the roar of the crowd grew louder and the banging of ceremonial drums began to sound. Finally he asked another question with skepticism beyond his years. “But will there be real life Dragons?”
The father roared with laughter, incredibly proud of the attentive young man who was about to witness his first bout of civilized combat. “I don’t know, child. I never know.” As the drums grew louder still and drowned out all the noise, the father could swear that he heard his son utter the words that every Splinterlands father longs to hear: I want to be a Battle Mage someday.
Stay sharp, Splinterlanders, and as always...
See you on the battlefields!