After going through my stash of old Magic novels and reading way more wiki pages than I care to count, I've made 100-word capsule biographies of 26 old-school Magic characters, from A to Z. Enjoy!
Ashnod was a bio-hacker during the Brothers' War whose cruel inventions twisted victims' flesh and bone. She served under Mishra and against Urza, augmenting and transforming the living into weapons. From Ashnod's Battle Gear to Ashnod's Transmogrant to Ashnod's Altar and beyond, it's pretty obvious Ashnod was a sick puppy, and even those on her side didn't like her. Yet even Ashnod had standards, and eventually Mishra turned so evil that Ashnod turned on him. She got killed for her trouble, but not before helping get the Golgothian Sylex to Urza, who used it to make a big Dominaria-devastating boom.
Barrin was an elite Wizard who was co-founder and head of the Tolarian Academy. Barrin worked with Urza to build a time probe that later became Karn, Silver Golem and, still later, the planeswalker known as Karn Liberated in Modern. He married Rayne, Academy Chancellor without realizing he got set up by Urza for Urza's Bloodline Project; their daughter, Hanna, Ship's Navigator, helped save Dominaria from the Phyrexian Invasion but perished in the effort. The grieving Barrin, after recovering his daughter's body, took it back to Tolaria. Finding Phyrexians there, he cast Obliterate, destroying the Phyrexians, the Academy...and himself.
Crovax was a Weatherlight crew member turned Phyrexian evincar. Born as part of Urza's Bloodline Project, he grew up isolated on Urborg and joined the Weatherlight to explore. Crovax's obsession with Selenia, his family's Guardian Angel, yielded the deaths of his family, crew member Rofellos, and finally Selenia, which cursed him. After the Phyrexians salvaged him following a fall from the Weatherlight's decks, Crovax rose to control Rath and Phyrexian Invasion forces. He tempted Gerrard to join Phyrexia by promising to return Hanna to life, but soon after a disillusioned, Phyrexian-boosted Gerrard returned to Crovax's throne room and slew him.
Dralnu died and was raised to be a mindless Zombie, but he kept his smarts through the transition. As an undead Wizard, he made himself a lich and took over the army of the one who had raised him. During the Phyrexian Invasion, he joined the metathran Agnate and Minotaur Grizzlegom in an uneasy alliance. But Dralnu betrayed Agnate, infecting him with a plague meant to turn him into a Zombie. Agnate, dreading that fate, gave command of his army to Grizzlegom and sought swift death. After Grizzlegom mercy-killed Agnate, Dralnu was the next to perish, this time for real.
Eladamri was a leader of the Elves of Skyshroud Forest on the plane of Rath. After Gerrard Capashen of the Skyship Weatherlight fell overboard, his search party was captured by the Skyshroud Elves. Eladamri chose to work with the Weatherlight crew to destroy Volrath's Stronghold, but the Weatherlight fled, Eladamri's daughter was assassinated and her corpse stolen to make the Phyrexian puppet Belbe, and Eladamri himself was captured and tortured. Once freed, Eladamri battled the Phyrexian Invasion alongside Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero. At their last battle, he and Lin Sivvi jumped into fire rather than succumb to Yawgmoth's death cloud.
Feldon was an archaeologist who turned to magic later in life. In his younger days he excavated a glacier, finding Feldon's Cane and the Golgothian Sylex among other artifacts. During the Brothers' War he tried to stay neutral, but the Third Path, meant to preserve what it could while Urza and Mishra raged, fell to the latter's army. The Third Path introduced Feldon to magic (he saw Hurkyl's Recall in action) and his wife Loran; Loran's death in the aftermath of the Brothers' War led Feldon to try to recreate her by artifice and then through various colors of magic.
Gerrard was the central character of the Weatherlight Saga. The culmination of Urza's Bloodline Project, Gerrard was meant to be the perfect Human to fight off Yawgmoth, a living part of the Legacy Weapon that would destroy the villain. Deliberately created to be a Joseph Campbell-style archetypal hero, Gerrard was hunted by the evil forces. He left the Weatherlight to stop his "destiny" from getting his friends and family killed, but the abduction of his friend Captain Sisay drew him back in. After love interest Hanna died, Gerrard's world-imperiling grief ended only with the cataclysmic completion of the Legacy Weapon.
Hanna was the navigator of the Weatherlight, daughter of the above-mentioned Barrin and Rayne, Academy Chancellor. Though Daddy wanted her to study magic, Hanna's passion was artifice. She left home on bad terms and went to study at New Argive, where she met future Weatherlight crew member Orim, Samite Healer. She fell in love with Gerrard Capashen, was hurt by his departure from the ship, and grew fond of him again on his return and through their adventures. In a notable example of "fridging," Hanna died from a Phyrexian plague early in the Invasion, presumably to make Gerrard's plot interesting.
Ixidor was a mage on Otaria, Dominaria during Onslaught block. An illusionist, he fought side-by-side with Nivea, the other half of his battle couple, in pit fights arranged by the malevolent Cabal. He counterfeited Cabal coins to wager on himself and Nivea in one last pit fight, but faced Phage the Untouchable, who slaughtered Nivea. Left to die in a desert, Ixidor resculpted reality to make an oasis. Later he created Akroma, Angel of Wrath in Nivea's image to take revenge on the Cabal. Akroma eventually became part of Karona, False God, who slew Ixidor during the events of Scourge.
Jhoira was an artificer and student at the Tolarian Academy. She rescued and fell in love with Kerrick, who was, unbeknownst to her, a Phyrexian sleeper agent. This accidental aid led to the disaster that destroyed the first Tolarian Academy. Jhoira survived this disaster and its aftermath in part by drinking water from a "slow time" rift that left her bordering on ageless. She helped Urza rebuild the Academy and destroy Kerrick's army from a "fast time" rift. Later she became the first captain of the Weatherlight; still later she assisted former classmate Teferi in healing Shiv's Multiverse-threatening time rift.
Kamahl was the central figure of the Odyssey and Onslaught blocks immediately following the Weatherlight Saga. A barbarian fighter in the Cabal's bloodsport, he helped defend Cabal City from an attack but found the Mirari artifact, which he had long coveted, claimed by another. Kamahl pursued the Mirari through several hands and witnessed its power to corrupt others. After wounding his sister Jeska, Kamahl atoned by becoming a druid. With his axe Soul Reaper, he slew Phage, Akroma, and another at a stroke, creating Karona, False God; Kamahl defeated and then lost to Karona, being spared only by Karn's intervention.
Laquatus was a Merfolk ambassador on Otaria. A cunning and often cruel memory mage, he manipulated others for the glory of the Cephalid Empire...and himself. Like others who beheld the Mirari, he coveted the wondrous desire-granting artifact, but saw it slip through his webbed fingers twice: once to Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor, who flooded part of Otaria before dying, and a second time to the Barbarian Kamahl. During an underground confrontation, Kamahl stabbed Laquatus through the chest with his Mirari-augmented sword, slaying him; later, Kamahl was forced to dispose of Laquatus's body, reanimated and rendered grotesquely monstrous by the troublesome Mirari.
Mangara was a mage and diplomat of Jamuraa, a continent on Dominaria. Drawn to Teferi's Isle when it phased out of existence, Mangara met the similarly powerful mages Kaervek the Merciless and Jolrael, Empress of Beasts. He brought peace between the three great nations of Jamuraa; in time, he came to rule the nation of Zhalfir. But the power-hungry Kaervek stirred up trouble and ambushed Mangara, trapping him in the Amber Prison. Mangara, magically monitoring Kaervek while imprisoned, was freed by Asmira, Holy Avenger and Rashida Scalebane. Mangara warred against Kaervek, defeated him, and cast him into the Amber Prison.
Nevinyrral was a necromancer from the City of Urborg on the more famous island of the same name. He is known chiefly as the author of the Necromancer's Handbook, quoted at length on Drudge Skeletons, and for the eponymous Nevinyrral's Disk, which he used to deny his Bogardan enemies the spoils of victory when they threatened to overrun him. Nevinyrral was named as a tribute to writer Larry Niven, whose short story "The Magic Goes Away" first implemented the term "mana" in its Western fantasy sense and featured the Disk-like Warlock's Wheel, used to prove mana was a nonrenewable resource.
Orim was a Samite Healer and the ship's doctor of the Weatherlight. A classmate of Hanna's at university in New Argive, Orim had a curious mind and an ever-expanding set of skills. On Mercadia, where she met and fell in love with the Rebel leader Cho-Manno, she learned the water magic of his people, the Cho-Arrim; during the events of Invasion block, it was Orim who found the cure for the Phyrexian plague. After the defeat of Yawgmoth, she traveled with the planeswalker Karn to Mercadia and reunited with Cho-Manno, a rare happy ending in the otherwise grim Weatherlight Saga.
Pianna was a military leader of "The Order," the uncreatively named and white-aligned law-and-order force on Otaria in Dominaria. Rescued after marauders raided her original home and slaughtered her family, Pianna grew up in the family of a high-ranking officer and received leadership of The Order's operations in the Daru Plains. When her subordinate Lieutenant Kirtar succumbed to the Mirari, Pianna realized that he and it were linked to recent wildlife attacks and ordered Kirtar back to headquarters. There, Kirtar demanded Pianna's title; when she refused, Kirtar used the Mirari's magic to make Pianna one of the artifact's first victims.
Qhattib was a vizier of Suq'Ata in Jamuraa. The Pasha's prime political advisor, he jockeyed with the military leader Telim'Tor for control of the merchant empire. He made an enemy of Kaervek the Merciless, who ordered a hit on Qhattib that was executed by the Breathstealer assassins in Amiqat, the capital. Qhattib's death paved the way for Telim'Tor to take control of Suq'Ata. The author would have chosen a character quoted on more than three pieces of flavor text for the letter "Q," but in light of how slim the pickings were, the author is grateful Qhattib exists at all.
Rofellos was an Elf of the Llanowar Forest. Dispatched as a diplomat to the Yavimaya Forest, he exchanged places with Multani, Maro-Sorcerer while the latter traveled. After Multani's return, Rofellos studied under Multani's tutelage alongside Gerrard Capashen and Mirri, Cat Warrior. Early in the trio's travel aboard the Skyship Weatherlight, they assisted Crovax in fighting off a pair of Phyrexian Horrors menacing Crovax's ancestral estate. Though the Phyrexian Horrors were defeated, Rofellos perished before battle's end. Gerrard, deeply affected by his friend's death, abandoned his quest for the artifacts of the Legacy Weapon and departed the Weatherlight for a time.
Squee was a Goblin cabin hand aboard the Skyship Weatherlight. The designated comic relief among its crew, Squee became the butt of jokes for his low intelligence and terrible cooking, though the numerous he suffered were interrupted by a shining moment on Mercadia, where the plane's ruling Goblins treated Squee as one of their own and Squee's interventions saved the crew from execution by garbage. After the corrupted Wizard Ertai made Squee immortal so he could torture Squee to extremes, Squee managed to kill Ertai, who had not granted himself the same immortality. Squee's Toy was part of the Legacy.
Tahngarth was a Minotaur Warrior who played a key role in the Weatherlight Saga. He began serving under Captain Sisay not long after she took command and eventually became her first mate. When the Weatherlight traveled to Rath, Tahngarth was captured and tortured by Volrath and the Phyrexians; parts of his brown fur turned white as a result, and Tahngarth loathed his subsequent appearance. During the Phyrexian Invasion, Tahngarth helped save the Hurloon Minotaurs, and his valiant fighting held off Yawgmoth long enough to ensure victory. Tahngarth survived to sail on further adventures with Captain Sisay aboard her new ship.
Urza was the key figure of the first decade of Magic's story. As student artificers, he and younger brother Mishra found two stones, halves of an ancient artifact; their covetousness and subsequent falling-out ended with Mishra corrupted by Phyrexians and then dead. The cataclysmic end of the Brothers' War ignited Urza's planeswalker spark, empowering him to take revenge against Phyrexia; the Skyship Weatherlight and the Bloodline Project were parts of his millennia-long plot. During the Phyrexian Invasion, a captured, depowered Urza was decapitated by Gerrard Capashen, but the two stones embedded in Urza's head completed the Legacy Weapon, defeating Yawgmoth.
Volrath was the main antagonist to Gerrard Capashen and son of Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa, who took in the young Gerrard. Volrath, then called Vuel, failed a rite of passage when the traitor Starke poisoned his body paint. Gerrard's saved Volrath's life, but Volrath became an outcast. Volrath, who found the plane of Rath through a portal and became a high-ranking Phyrexian evincar, kidnapped Captain Sisay and ambushed Gerrard there. When Gerrard escaped on the Weatherlight, Volrath shapeshifted and stowed away, manipulating the crew in Mercadia. His gambit failed; back on Rath, new evincar Crovax defeated Volrath and executed him.
Worzel never appeared on a card, yet she was a key figure in Magic's early lore. In the 1994 Limited Edition Alpha rulebook, a brief tale of Worzel being challenged by Thomil gave a flavorful introduction to the game, describing how she'd learned white magic but had given up her Glasses of Urza to do so. Worzel's adventures continued in the 1994 Pocket Player's Guide, where "Roreca's Tale," narrated by Worzel's familiar, describes the battle with Thomil and how Worzel's Circle of Protection: Black kept Thomil's Lord of the Pit at bay until the hungry Demon turned on its master.
Xantcha was a Phyrexian "newt" (early life form) who developed an independent personality. This drew unwelcome attention from her commanders, who wanted only unthinking newts for their sleeper agents. Urza rescued Xantcha from execution; in return, Xantcha revealed the location of Phyrexia to Urza. After an ill-considered raid on Phyrexia left Urza frantically planeswalking to escape, Xantcha spent years recuperating with him in Serra's Realm. Later, Xantcha freed a slave who resembled Urza's dead brother Mishra; they worked together to heal Urza's troubled mind. At the Caves of Koilos, Xantcha sacrificed herself to help Urza defeat the Phyrexian praetor Gix.
Yawgmoth was the Thran eugenicist who transformed Phyrexia into an infamous hell. While exiled, he set plagues on numerous populations. Allowed back to treat a Thran artificer's disease, Yawgmoth soon overthrew the Thran leadership and traveled to Phyrexia, making himself its divinity, but the artificer's wife sealed the portal back to Dominaria, trapping Yawgmoth for millennia. When Urza and Mishra disturbed the seal, Yawgmoth sent sleeper agents to infiltrate Dominaria; after that plan failed, Yawgmoth plotted the Phyrexian Invasion. His return to Dominaria as a monstrous tentacled death cloud covering half the plane was cut short by the Legacy Weapon.
Zur was one of the most powerful Wizards on Dominaria during the plane's Ice Age. Once a subject of Kjeld, he was cast out when his magical attempts to win eternal life turned sour; his sometime sobriquet "Zur the Mad" was, if anything, an understatement. Like so many exiles in Magic's history, he raised an army and marched on his former homeland; like so many exiles in Magic's history, he was thwarted in his efforts. Zur returned to exile and effectively vanished from history, though his followers were accepted in Kjeld as refugees after the end of the Ice Age.