I don’t know why (probably because we had a short discussion on a planeswalkers-based AW hack in our Guild forums), but I’ve been thinking about various things regarding Planeswalkers. You know, stuff I probably shouldn’t think about too deeply, but I do.
Its possible that R&D (especially the creative) has put some thought into these subjects and probably has answers as well, but I didn’t do my research, so I don’t know. This is just a bunch of random thoughts like most of my posts.
For whatever reason, this never comes up. Of course it would be pretty awkward to not let our heroes (and villains) travel freely, because they always stumble into the language and cultural barriers. On the other hand, perhaps language was discovered in one plane and has been spread by ancient planeswalkers, so that everyone actually has the same or very similar language.
Or perhaps there’s some magic which lets planeswalkers use any language they encounter. This would feel right for blue, but not necessarily the other languages.
Or perhaps they are just quick learners and don’t even need that good understanding of a language. After all, most languages have certain basic things in common and once you have a handle on those, its just learning the vocabulary (of course, there are languages, that are very different). Also, if you look at history, people have always been able to interact without a common language. The idea of formal education of languages (besides Latin) is pretty new, but people have been trading for ages without a problem.
The Prevalence of Planeswalkers
Its clear that there aren’t many Planeswalkers around. If we take a plane and see how many planeswalkers we know from that specific plane, its usually only one or two. Considering that these planes do have plenty of inhabitants with the capability to spark, planeswalkers are perhaps one in a million or one in ten million. Very, very rare in any case.
On the other hand, perhaps not many of them survive their first planeswalk. When it happens, they are in a stressful situation, perhaps wounded, because being wounded is very stressful. They are often then put into another stressful situation, or perhaps into wilderness (actually, looking at earth and supposing the ‘walks always hit a planet, there’s 70% chance they end up in the ocean). Their chances are not good.
Navigation Through Planes
On the other hand, perhaps there are certain spots on each plane where you are likely to end, for whatever reason. For example, Gideon keeps moving between Ravnica and Zendikar, and if he doesn’t want to use all his time traveling from where he ends up to the place where he needs to be, he must know of a way to get where he wants to be.
But if you’ve never been on a plane, you can’t know where you are going, unless there’s some hint. Perhaps there are well-travelled paths that help planeswalkers find those safe (or safe enough) spots in the worlds.
This would explain a couple of other things. The smaller thing is that how Garruk can find his planeswalking prey. If there are signs left behind, that would explain it.
The bigger thing is this: How come we have a small (currently 31, of which only 13 have two or more versions) different planeswalkers in this supposedly endless multiverse? If moving from plane to plane is risky, it would be reasonable to follow these paths. It would also explain why our small cadre of heroes keep meeting each other despite the seemingly limitless possibilities. Their world isn’t actually that big, because they remain on these few places.
(Or perhaps they stay within this group of places because only those places share a language.)