The Villains of Wizard101
Today by blog reader request, we have a little bit more background on the villains of Wizard101! Alhazred and King Artorius, our Wizard101 writers, have shared some insight into the makings of Malistaire and Morganthe.
In the earliest story development of Wizard101, it was important that the villain be memorable. The name was easy: “malice” + “stare” = “evil eye.” If you notice, Malistaire’s robe is covered with evil eyes. Visually, he’s a dead-ringer for his brother Cyrus, emphasizing his evil-ness, but he also evokes classic villainy, with his dark robe, black eyes and fingernails, and sinister facial hair. His personality is similar to his brother’s, but even less friendly.
However, looks aren’t everything!
Making a memorable villain meant that Malistaire could not be completely unsympathetic or evil. He had to have a tragic aspect, and a motive that made sense. So Malistaire has tragedy to spare. He lost his wife Sylvia to a horrible disease. Their marriage was the combination of life and death, a perfect cycle, but with her gone, all he had was his sorrow, which drove him mad.
Unlike most stereotypical villains, Malistaire’s plan doesn’t involve getting revenge on those who did him wrong or causing mayhem to spread the pain around. Instead, he is single-handedly focused on recovering a magical book and awakening a power that will aid him in restoring his wife to the world of the living once more. The other professors at Ravenwood, Sherlock Bones, the Emperor of MooShu, and the player Wizard are all just obstacles to Malistaire’s end-goal. If he could get what he wants without dealing with any of them, he would.
Ultimately, if Malistaire could have anything in the Spiral, it would be to reunite with his wife again, as if nothing had happened.
That’s not such a terrible thing to ask for, is it?
If you agree, then we did our job right.
Morganthe, on the other hand, came from a desire to shake things up a bit. We wanted a new villain for our next big story arc. She had to be more ruthless, with a bigger goal in mind, but just as memorable as Malistaire. But since the stakes had to be higher than just incidentally risking destroying the Spiral to bring someone back from the dead, this time Morganthe’s threat had to be more deliberate.
However, she comes from a similar place as Malistaire, someone who has lost and feels wronged. Once she was a promising student of Merle Ambrose’s back in Avalon, and she followed Ambrose to be his first student in Ravenwood. However, she was never content to learn at the slow pace he dictated. She knew she was smart enough and clever enough to handle the most dangerous types of magic, despite Merle Ambrose’s warnings and restrictions. But she was wrong—she made a tragic mistake and nearly destroyed Wizard City, and thus Merle Ambrose and the other professors were forced to take away her magic and expel her from Ravenwood.
Like Faust, Morganthe sought knowledge that was denied to her, and went over the line when she was thwarted. From there, her ambitions have grown so vast she wishes to force the whole Spiral to bend to her whims, to prove that she was right all along.
Her name, Morganthe, comes from a few places. It has its roots in Welsh and Old English, evoking King Arthur’s half-sister Morgan le Fay. A “morganatic” marriage is a marriage of political convenience in which the child inherits nothing, which also seemed to make thematic sense, as Morganthe feels like she is denied her true heritage… that is deserved to her.
From the beginning, even before finalizing her name, we wanted her to be the queen of the Shadow Web, and with that, it only made sense to give her a shadow/spider theme. On a more real-world note, Morganthe is a dead-ringer for the actress who voices her, which always helps when writing dialogue.
So that’s a look behind the Wizard101 curtain.
Speaking of curtains, Morganthe’s storyline will sometime draw to a close and the Spiral will survive her diabolical plan (we hope!). After that, the player Wizard will encounter new worlds and even new realms of magic.
Somewhere, though… will be a villain.
Who will it be?
Alhazred and King Artorius
Wizard101 Creative Designers