Over the past year, the quality of Magic: The Gathering novels has severely declined, and with the release of the new set, Theros Beyond Death, fans expressed their disappointed with its lack of story since Wizards of the Coast only released a summary with no books or series of short stories as they've done with previous Magic sets in the past. However, the franchise team in charge of the card game's lore is about to make some change with the next set, according to WotC Franchise Creative Director, Jeremy Jarvis.
Following the launch of the new set, Magic head designer Mark Rosewater recently answered some questions from fans, and he passed the question to Jarvis, who explained what the franchise team is doing to develop the game's story in the near future.
"What you're seeing is Magic's Franchise team testing and learning," Jarvis wrote. "We want to best understand the tone that works for our audience as well as the specific content that resonates most successfully in any given narrative expression (short form vs. comics vs. long-form, for example). To do that we have to create opportunities to test and learn."
The two War of the Spark novels by Greg Wiesman were poorly received by fans, and the way the second book, War of the Spark: Forsaken, described Chandra Nalaar's sexuality offended many in the Magic community. Wizards of the Coast eventually addressed Forsaken's controversial depiction of Chandra's sexuality, and apologized for it. The author also shared a statement regarding the controversy.
Jarvis went on to assure fans that they're doing their best to avoid the issues regarding the lack of quality in Magic's stories.
"With Wildered Quest, we released our first new-era ePub through Penguin Random House. It was more successful than anticipated and was well received," Jarvis said. "The blowback from Forsaken illuminated that we needed a better validation strategy not only for issues of representation, but for narrative content in general; so we made the hard call to delay Theros Beyond Death fiction until we could create a new vetting process. That unfortunately meant that we would miss our intended release window. We did our best to leverage our preview plans and marketing support to deliver the broad strokes of the story so people weren't left completely in the lurch, but we know you are disappointed and we are too. We're doing everything we can to ensure this will be a one-time cost for a smoother future."
The franchise team plans to improve the situation, and revealed that the next MTG set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, will have an ebook. Jarvis went on to reveal that Theros: Beyond Death story isn't over, and may get released as a graphic novel or via other means, such as an anthology.
This reiterates Rosewater's confirmation that Ikoria will get a story, not just a summary. Hopefully, Magic's story will improve with the upcoming sets this year.