Phyrexia is an artificial plane that was built by an unknown planeswalker who liked to take the form of a dragon. Phyrexia was uninhabited until Yawgmoth arrived with his followers from the Thran Empire.
The plane consisted of nine nested spheres, each with its own purpose and, often, mechanical ecosystem.
The First Sphere of Phyrexia is a mechanical parody of life. It is covered by artificial jungle bedewed by oily rain. Streams of oil also run through the first sphere's landscape. It is home to a few forms of dragon engines and many others mechanical animals simulating true life. Rusting artifact debris lay around long plains filled with metallic dust and soot. Huge furnaces spew ash into the air. Newts are brought to this Sphere, likely for the purpose of selecting those worthy for completion.
Scraps and ruins from the first sphere are contained in the Second Sphere. Metal beams, pipes, and other structures make up the roof. Smokestacks from lower levels also appear in this level of Phyrexia. These are all that offer any source of light. Gargantuan ammunition dumps as large as entire communities are located here.
The Third Sphere is filled with metal pipes, which create space distortions that prevent planeswalking to lower spheres. Horrors of Phyrexia stalk this place.
The Forth Sphere is where the bulk of Phyrexia's population exists. Here are more smokestacks, as well as the vat facilities where newts are grown and completed. Vat priests work here, monitoring the Phyrexian newborn and performing the operations of transforming them into Phyrexian machines and warriors. Phyrexian warriors are trained in this place as well.
Phyrexian portals, reinvented versions of old Thran portals, were built here and opened to new planes that would be conquered for Yawgmoth. They were opened only through sacrificing artifacts or the use of a great amount of energy.
The Fifth Sphere is an ocean of glistening oil used by Vat Priests of Fourth to breed newts, called the Boiling Sea. Massive steam creatures also live here.
The Phyrexian Inner Circle is housed in the Sixth Sphere. It is a realm for the Phyrexian governmental body; here are the most prestigious of Yawgmoth's servants, such as demons, the Praetors, and other officials.
The Seventh Sphere of Phyrexia is an eternal furnace of flames used both to power the plane and punish those who have failed Yawgmoth. Gix is the only Phyrexian known to have survived the Seventh Sphere. It is a hellish place known as the "Punishment Sphere." Prisoners, artificers, and failures of any sort are brought here for torture. Gremlins live on this Sphere.
The Eighth Sphere is a place of pure energy. Little else is known of it.
The Ninth Sphere is the control center for all of Phyrexia. Up until the Invasion, it was where Yawgmoth resided, plotting his eventual takeover of Dominaria. Yawgmoth also stayed here, dormant within his sanctum for some time, while his minions acted in his will and saw to it that his plans were executed.
The Phyrexians' main purpose after their entrapment in the plane was to invade and destroy their old home of Dominaria. Many years were spent preparing for this invasion, with various plans, weapons, and soldiers being created throughout the ages. Also aware that their artificial home plane would collapse after some time, the survival of the Phyrexian way depended upon the successful entrance into Dominaria and the defeat of its life forms. However, this transfer was made impossible for five millennia because of the closing of the portal between Dominaria and Phyrexia in the Caves of Koilos, where the planeswalker Glacian transfused his being into two halves of a powerstone that was used by his wife, Rebbec, to seal off the connection. During this time, the Phyrexians waited, plotted, and built up their forces for the time when their way would be clear into the old world.
After some five thousand years had passed, the nation of Argive was founded, the brothers Urza and Mishra were born. The two were sent off to a camp to study artifice with the archaeologist, Tocasia, after some time. During an outing to survey a new dig site, the two brothers found the powerstone on a pedestal in a cave, and inadvertently opened the portal to Phyrexia when they took the stone and it split again into it's two halves. This event would ultimately be the undoing of Dominaria. Seeing his opportunity, Yawgmoth sent through the Phyrexian demon, Gix, to scout. Eventually, the Brothers became involved in the conflict of the Brothers' War, and Mishra eventually made contact with the Phyrexians. Gix had built up a religious following of machine worshipers, and he used his influence to manipulate the two sides. He offered aid and Phyrexian equipment to Mishra, even compleating him. The plans to destroy Urza were foiled when the Golgothian Sylex was activated and Argoth, the site of the war's final battle, was obliterated and split into island chains. After the time of this blast, the Shard of the Twelve Worlds was formed, and the Phyrexians were once again unable to travel to Dominaria.
For some time, Phyrexia was again forced to wait until it could resume its attack. It had also unknowingly encountered its greatest enemy, Urza, who had ascended to become a planeswalker. He had become obsessed with the destruction of those he blamed for his brother's sickening transformation. However, Urza was also locked out of Dominaria for a time, and spent his next years wandering the planes. On one of his travels, he met Xantcha, a Phyrexian sleeper agent that had gone rogue and had been exiled from her home plane. The two were chased for a long time through the Multiverse by Phyrexians, who moved by way of Phyrexian Portals. After a time the two returned to Terisiare, at the end of the Ice Age, when Freyalise cast the World Spell and shattered the Shard. Not long thereafter, Gix returned to Dominaria and created another secretive cult. Phyrexians had also begun moving into Dominaria through new portals. Urza learned of Gix through Xantcha and traveled to Koilos to meet and battle him, with his allies, Xantcha and Ratepe. A final battle between Urza and Gix broke out in the ancient caves, and Urza defeated the Phyrexian demon with the help of his friends. However, to do this, both Xantcha and Ratepe where killed. Urza then proceeded to build up a global response to the threat of Phyrexia.
The Phyrexians began another plot to gain them re-entrance. Yawgmoth ordered the construction of the artificial plane of Rath, through the use of a newly created substance called flowstone. A giant refinery was constructed in the center of a pocket universe attached to Dominaria, so well-hidden that no planeswalker would find it. The flowstone helped the Phyrexians to construct an artificial world for use as a staging point for their troops. Eventually, the mass of this plane would grow beyond its own ability to contain, and Rath would overlay onto Dominaria. The violent dimensional barriers of the plane caused creatures and things from other planes to be pulled in, and peoples from Dominaria came to populate Rath along with forests and other creatures, as well. To rule Rath, an evincar was elected. The first known evincar was a man named Davvol, but the most famous of their number was the mighty Volrath, onetime blood-brother of Gerrard.
Later on, the Phyrexians were finally prepared for their climactic siege of Dominaria. Portal ships, large flying machines with expansive Phyrexian portal technology attached, made their way into Dominaria from the skies of Rath, and opened up an entrance for the Phyrexian war fleets. The ships entered Dominaria over the sky of Benalia, the first target of the invasion led by the Phyrexian general Tsabo Tavoc. Later, Tsabo led battles at Koilos and Yavimaya, losing those to Coalition forces after days of bloody strife. Tolaria was overtaken by Phyrexians and wiped out by the self-destructive wizard Barrin with his most powerful spell. New Argive was besieged and crushed, and the Burning Isles were overtaken, Steel entirely filled with Phyrexian troops and Urborg secured. The Phyrexians' plans in the oceans, however, were stymied by the merfolk of Etlan Shiis. With the destruction of the portals, the first wave of the invasion was finished. Tsabo Tavoc had been beaten and badly wounded by Gerrard and Karn, and retreated back to Phyrexia.
There was time for only a brief repast, then the invasion resumed. The Rathi Overlay signaled the beginning of the second wave of the Phyrexian armies. As Rath placed itself on the surface of Dominaria, battles broke out all across the planet as Coalition forces intercepted more invaders. Meanwhile, Tsabo Tavoc was punished for her failures and repaired with undergrade scrap parts, ultimately being eaten by Crovax.
Phyrexia received its own share of devastation when Urza assembled the collection of planeswalkers he called the Nine Titans and armed them with massive suits of power armor known as titan engines, planning a counter-attack on the Nine Hells. Once inside the plane, the planeswalkers unleashed havoc, hoping to destroy the chamber of. They were interrupted by the betrayal of Tevesh Szat, who killed his fellow planeswalker, Daria. Urza had a device implanted in each of the suits, a "kill rubric," which could be tapped into by him, killing the occupant. Upon the expected treachery of Tevesh Szat, Urza activated the rubric and killed Szat, sealing him in a Soul Bomb, a powerful weapon that used the power of the soul inside to cause mass destruction. This would have been used to destroy Phyrexia, but Urza was convinced by angel-like Phyrexians to kill another of his companions, Taysir, using the same method he had on Szat. After this, he was taken to the Seventh Sphere to observe what was apparently his brother Mishra at the command of The Lord of The Wastes, who had been tortured for thousands of years in the hellish place. Next, he went to the Ninth Sphere to worship Yawgmoth himself, along with Gerrard.
The pair were forced to fight each other to the death. Yawgmoth stripped Urza of his planeswalker powers, leaving him a mere man. Gerrard had chosen to serve Yawgmoth in the hopes that the dark god could give him back his slain love, Hanna, while Urza had slowly become affectionate of his foes, admiring them as powerful beings even while fighting them for ages past, being promised by Yawgmoth himself that he would have unfathomable knowledge if he bested Gerrard.
The fight that followed lasted for quite a while, until Gerrard managed to land a strike that beheaded Urza. It was then that Yawgmoth himself returned to Dominaria, for the first time in thousands of years. He was a being entirely changed from his previous existence on the plane; he appeared now as a cloud of death that killed all in its path and brought them back as undead to fight for Phyrexia. Yawgmoth himself was the final stage of the invasion. After the Weatherlight shot down the Null Moon to release its abundance of white mana on the dark god, Yawgmoth attacked the Weatherlight directly. It was then that the Legacy Weapon was completed and a fatal burst of energy ended the war, finally destroying the Lord of the Wastes himself. Phyrexian forces lost all will to live with the death of their god. Phyrexia had been defeated.
It is unknown exactly what happened to Phyrexia after this. It was left in shambles after the Nine Titans launched their offensive, but whether or not any Phyrexians survived and stayed back is unknown. Approximately a century later, when Karona the False God was birthed, she traveled the multiverse through magical portals, seeking a plane for each color of mana. She was said to have met a variety of individuals from Serra to Teferi, and when she came in contact with a plane of black mana, it was revealed to be Phyrexia. Yawgmoth, appearing as a gigantic spirit, was said to be sleeping under a volcano in the ruined place. Later, however, the encounter with Teferi was proven false when the planeswalker returned to Dominaria, and it is thought that Karona had been delusional. Thus apparently Yawgmoth is truly dead, in Lord Windgrace's own words; indeed, among Dominarians, Urborg is referred to as the Tomb of Yawgmoth. Phyrexia itself has not been returned to since the invasion. Its exact status is unknown, though it is perhaps destroyed or in an advanced state of decay.
Religion & CultureEdit
Phyrexian religion is largely based upon the "religious" adherence to their scriptures and perspective. They believe that mortal flesh is a sin, imperfect and prone to weakness and decay. They worship the perfection of machines; however, only those made by Yawgmoth and his order of priests are considered sacred. Artifacts made by mortal, natural hands are considered as abominations, unfit for Phyrexia and not birthed for its cause. Even more despised are the artificers themselves, making a sacrilegious imitation of the work the Father of Machines has done. The Grand Evolution, the search for evolutionary superiority and improvement, and the process of phyresis, Yawgmoth's word denoting his battle against disease, death, and weakness, are objectives on which the Phyrexians focus themselves devoutly.
Phyrexia has at its core a very gritty and mentally enticing philosophy. The ideas themselves are collectively called 'Phyresis', a phrase coined by Yawgmoth himself. This system is largely based upon the will to survive and the concept of controlled evolution. The key idea of the Phyrexians is comparable to Social Darwinism; evolution by removal of all the foes of the favorable species, the Phyrexians. This is applied socially, by way of eugenics.
Yawgmoth acts as the director of this process. Eliminating all foes and striving for efficiency, no matter the cost, is the goal of Phyrexia. This plan is, without a doubt, very effective, however it is sentimentally hollow and void of 'human' characteristics. Yawgmoth and his Grand Evolution are without art, emotion, morals, and personal thought or freedom. In this, Phyrexia is the polar opposite of Dominaria, with its virtues and culture.
The plane of Phyrexia had many weapons at its disposal. Aside from the Phyrexians themselves, there were artifacts, bio-hazardous spores and plagues, and mutational organic implements such as venom sacs.
Typical Phyrexian soldiers made use of nasty blades and saws, though they often were equipped with plenty of claws, fangs, and brute force. Many had venomous fangs implanted in their faces, and others had poisonous stingers. They were stronger and more resilient to pain than the average human being. Power armor, improved upon for centuries from the original suits of the Halcyon Guard, was almost always fitted onto Phyrexians in various ways and appearances, possibly fueled by Phyrexian powerstones. Some Phyrexians had firearms, such as those used by the nightstalkers of Caliman, or the armament of the Reaper. These may have been beam weapons, like the ray cannons used in the flying ships of the Thran-Phyrexian War, or perhaps fired projectiles of some sort.
Phyrexians that were entirely completed were mainly metallic, some of which took entirely different shapes than the newt, becoming huge behemoths of steel, wire, and gears. The Gargantua is one example, using its sheer size to outmatch any opponents it would meet on the battlefield. Its huge claws were large enough to fit as much material and debris as an earthmover, and were capable of crushing down virtually anything in that space. Mechanical devices were one of the potent forces in Phyrexia's armies. Many of Phyrexia's constructs were semi-magical, while others were complex combinations of purely mechanical processes.
One of Phyrexia's greatest weapons was the engineered plague. Nano-technologically improved spores took out entire populations on Dominaria, these plagues were a major threat during the invasion. They were unleashed by Phyrexian carriers, such as the Plaguelord and the Defiler. There were different pathogens created by Phyrexia, but a few may have also been contained or enhanced specimens of the phthisis that inflicted the Thran before their fall. Some plagues were tested on Dominaria around the time of Urza's adventures, as well. These were part of an odd concoction, as described in Phyrexian progress notes; according to the text of other carriers, a disease is described that causes rashes, nausea, fever, cough, muscle aches, then delirium, convulsions, and death. This may have been a generic plague outbreak.
It's been noted that glistening oil was to be used as a weapon late in the invasion, possibly after Yawgmoth's entrance into Dominaria, for reasons that have been lost to time. Hundreds of year later, some of the substance ended up on the artificial plane of Mirrodin through Xantha's heartstone, embedded in Karn, Mirrodin's creator, corrupting its guardian Memnarch and setting off that plane's own age of troubles.
People & RacesEdit
Biomechanical constructs used to spread Phyrexian-engineered plagues. They can all be utilized as suicide strikers, destroying themselves to release their pathogenic load upon the battlefield. These include the Denouncer, Debaser, Defiler, and Plaguelord.
The most powerful and loyal servants of Phyrexia were the Demons, beings of immeasurable evil. These terrible entities made up the greater part of Yawgmoth's Inner Circle, and included the Ineffable's most trusted minion, Gix. Other, lesser Phyrexian demons existed as well, fleshy, mindless things whose only purpose was to scour other worlds for resources to be used on Phyrexia.
Among the lowliest of lifeforms, the Gremlins are small, bat-eared creatures (apparently related to ouphes on other worlds) that torment artificers and pull apart unwanted artifacts. They also serve as menial labor.
Horrors are frightening monstrosities, sometimes combinations of creatures listed above. Many of them are free-willed and may live apart from the other Phyrexians, not taking part in the efforts of the rest of the plane.
These are the agents and specialized creations of Yawgmoth, created as versatile instruments in his mad war against all biological life. Minions serve a number of purposes, such as assassins, spies, or shock troops.
The first stage of any Phyrexian's life is that of the Newt. These creatures are grown in vats of glistening oil, and appear as androgynous, hairless humans. They are grown to adulthood then prepared and released for life in the dark plane. Newts are later put through a process called completion. At this point, they are transformed into other forms of Phyrexians to serve any of a number of purposes for Yawgmoth.
Sleeper agents are fully grown and sometimes genetically modified newts who have not been completed, appearing as regular human beings, sent to spy on other planes and perform clandestine operations outside of Phyrexia. Some are completely unaware of their status and task, simply dropped off on other planes to be used as hidden cameras.
Phyrexia employs zombies, skeletons, and other forms of walking dead in its fight against the Multiverse. Some are made to function through the adding of artificial improvements. Some of them are noxious and harmful to life even through a touch. It is also notable that some of the Phyrexians printed as zombies were intended to be minions, but were changed to zombies for set design reasons.