Wizards of the Coast won’t be censoring Magic: the Gathering’s story going forward, even if that means the story won’t be accessible in all countries.

“We will tell the stories we want to tell, featuring the characters and relationships that best serve the story and our audience,” Wizards said. “Our focus will be crafting engaging and relatable stories. These stories will have diverse casts of characters with varied experiences, challenges, and adventures.”

“We will not change these stories to accommodate local markets,” they continued. But “some regions prohibit subject matter we think is valuable to our storytelling” and, “[w]hile we do not agree with these laws, we are required to follow them.”

“Unfortunately,” Wizards concluded, “this means that some of our content will not be available in those markets.”

The decision to block the publication of certain stories in specific regions, rather than restrict those stories to content that could be published in those regions, “empowers us to freely weave stories reflective of our community values,” Wizards said.

Nissa and Chandra

Wizards’ statement comes a year after the controversy surrounding how they ended the relationship between two of Magic’s main female characters, Chandar Nalaar and Nissa Revane.

That romance seemed to be building over the course of Magic’s story leading up to the War of the Spark: Ravnica novel by Greg Weisman in April 2019, where it finally seemed to bud. After that book’s publication, fans excitedly asked Head of Story Nic Kelman if Chandra and Nissa’s were officially in an relationship, to which he responded: “Read the next book.”

But those fans were in for a rude shock when that next book, War of the Spark: Forsaken, was released in November 2019. Instead of a budding relationship between two of Magic’s lead characters, Wizards and Weisman broke them apart—and said that the romance that everyone thought they saw had never existed in the first place.

Chandra had never been into girls. Her crushes—and she’d had her fair share—were mostly the brawny (and decidedly male) types like Gids. But there had always been something about Nissa Revane specifically, something the two of them shared in that great chemical mix—arcing between them like one of Ral Zarek’s lightning bolts—that had thrilled her. From the moment they first met.

Now everything’s different.

It was over. Before it had ever had a chance to begin. Maybe, maybe they had missed their moment.

(Excerpted from War of the Spark: Forsaken)

The Magic community’s reaction was swift and angry, forcing both Wizards and Weisman to issue apologies for their treatment of Chandra and Nissa’s relationship.

“Over the past week, we have seen and heard strong reactions from fans about how we handled the resolution of the Nissa-Chandra romantic relationship in the recent Forsaken novel, and we apologize,” Wizards said. “We didn’t live up to the expectations we created for Chandra and what she means to our fans.”

Weisman, on the other hand, said that he was told that the romance between Chandra and Nissa “was not a relationship that [Wizards] planned to pursue.” As a result, he tried “to write something that honored Chandra’s feelings for Nissa and Nissa’s feelings for Chandra, something that would give closure to their relationship in a sad but satisfying and understandable way.” However, “final product […] clearly didn’t meet anyone’s expectations or deliver on my intentions. And for that, I am truly sorry.”

The Future of a Magic Story in Flux

The furor over how Wizards and Weisman ended that relationship led to the cancellation of the Theros: Beyond Death ebook that had been scheduled for early 2020.

“The blowback from Forsaken illuminated that we needed a better validation strategy not only for issues of representation, but for narrative content in general,” Franchise Creative Director Jeremy Jarvis said at the time. “[S]o we made the hard call to delay Theros Beyond Death fiction until we could create a new vetting process.”

Since then, Wizards has focused on smaller-scale storytelling, even returning to the weekly web fiction that they had abandoned in favor of novels and ebooks.

But it appears that Wizards has finally settled on a creative philosophy that could lead to a better vetting process and the return of long form Magic fiction. We’ll see what kind of story and characters Wizards has created with their new philosophy next week, when we will meet “next cast of characters as we adventure into Kaldheim and beyond.”

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