Dave Clark from Full Moon Storytelling is hosting May’s RPG Blog Carnival, and has invited everyone to run our own Festival, Holiday or Birthday into our own campaigns. Last time we created a festival we did so for the setting of Ravnica, the City of Guilds, almost two years ago. By the time we were in the middle of our “Ten Weeks of Ravnica” special, getting deep into each of the ten guilds as we saw the first official MtG-D&D crossover published as a sourcebook.
But now we have a new opportunity and the most recent set in Magic has brought us to the plane of Arcavios, where we can find Strixhaven, the most elite University in the Multiverse. It features five colleges founded by the elder dragon whose name each college bears: Silverquill, Prismari, Witherbloom, Lorehold, and Quandrix, all of them battling it out with their own takes on magic. Of course, when we say “battling out”, we mean a healthy competition in the form of a match of Mage Tower, a competitive team sport in which each of the five colleges fields its own team and brings a mascot creature that also plays into the scoring rules. Mage Tower is the main spectator sport at Strixhaven, drawing huge crowds of fans for every match.
Two opposing teams meet in Strixhaven Stadium. Each team is composed of five mages, plus one small mascot creature. Each team has a tall tower at their end of the stadium with their mascot creature at the top.
- The goal is to score a point by stealing the opposing team’s mascot and transporting it back to your own tower.
- All magic that would harm a player, mascot, or spectator, or that would damage the stadium or basic rules of the game in any way, is nullified. Otherwise, all magic is legal, subject to the review of the Mage Tower Referee Council.
- The game lasts for three phases. Each phase lasts as long as it takes for the Mage Tower hourglass to empty, which is approximately 20 minutes. (Sometimes the last few grains of sand in the hourglass take their sweet time to roll around and drop to the bottom.)
- When time is called at the end of the third phase, the team with the most points wins.
And that’s everything we know according to canon, as far as the Planeswalker’s Guide to Strixhaven goes.
Tournament season starts with a Revival Match that resembles the final from the previous year. As there are five teams, this also allows an eight-match double-elimination bracket to schedule the whole season. The Annual Championship is a huge festival all around the university and beyond.
A raucous roar of hundreds contrasts from the silence of the Biblioplex and emanates from a structure across the lawn. Here, countless students, faculty and staff huddle and packed stadium bleachers to cheer on their teams and watch the sport of mage tower unfold on the field in front of them. As it is legal in Mage Tower, most teams use magic to snare or stop opponents, but damaging spells are nullified by referees and wards around the field, so it’s usual to see flamboyant eye-catching fire-work producing spells to quicken the pulse and rouse excitement in the crowd so it roars in response to deft feats of skill.
The day of the Annual Championship starts with the graduation of the Class for the respective year. A big parade featuring each one of the colleges’ mascots is the first activity of the day. Prismari elementals, Lorehold spirits, Silverquill inklings, Quandriz fractals and Witherbloom pests walk from the Biblioplex to the welcoming archway of the campus showing off their features and characteristics while senior and junior students cheer their fellows. Then, Valedictorian teams from each college use their skill to awe the attendants with their final projects: the Silverquill Statement (an inspiring speech granting boons to whoever listens to it), the Prismari Performance (a full of gestures and body movement artistic presentation with lots of fireworks), the Witherbloom Witchcraft (usually introducing a new pest and giving away samples of potions) the Lorehold Legacy (a sort of a mock-up of an obstacle race and presentation of the most recently recovered relic from some ruins) and the Quandrix Quantum (the creation of an enormous fractal and a new spell).
And finally, the game starts.
I am planning this as the end of a very particular campaign for a spellcaster party, more focused on solving a mystery as a group and personal achievement than combat and treasure, so if you want to have your own party involved at a game of Mage Tower, you can have parallel minigames for non-student public attending the festival. You can also have the parade getting out of control and your party trying to get everyone to safety as they fight some dire elementals of toxic pest insects that are particularly resistant to magic. And of course, if you are aware of the Strixhaven storyline, you can also have them recruited by some mentors and deans from the school to keep an eye on those Oriq agents trying to get their way into the Biblioplex.
In the end, this festival is, paraphrasing Journey, “anyway you want it, that’s the way you need it”. Have fun!