Who Is: Tibalt

In this edition of "Who Is" on Magic Untapped, we take a look at Tibalt, a human-turned-devil planeswalker who has quite the sadistic side to him.

In this edition of "Who Is" on Magic Untapped, we take a look at Tibalt, a human-turned-devil planeswalker who has quite the sadistic side to him.\

Video Transcript:

Welcome back to Who Is on Magic Untapped as we explore the origins and backstories of various Magic: The Gathering characters.

I’m Barry White.

Today, we take a look at Tibalt – a one-time human from Innistrad whose life took a devilish turn.


In the coastal Innistrad province of Nephalia lives Tibalt, an apprentice to one of the area’s zombie-creating Skaberen.  In his master’s employment, however, he found that he had absolutely zero skill in stitching together parts of corpses and bringing them to life.

Failure after failure drove him into isolation where he nurtured a growing humiliation-fueled hatred.  Eventually, he snapped and decided that rather than working on the bodies of the dead, he should instead focus on the bodies of the living.

That’s when Tibalt began to experiment on the thresholds of mortals.  More specifically, he began to test the limits of pain that a living organism can withstand.

He began small, experimenting on common vermin and whatnot.  The further he dove into his work, however, the larger his experimental subjects would become as he moved away from rats and bats and on to larger animals before, finally, moving his experiments to the area’s humans as he would take vagrants and vagabonds into his company, only to turn them into unwilling experiment subjects.

As he tortured and slew more and more riffraff, his vile experiments began to attract the attention of various devils who would gather near Tibalt’s laboratory during the dead of night, spectating as if the mad scientist were a headlining act.  Eventually, they would even begin assisting him, offering him horrific insights into his obsession with causing pain on others.

Tibalt’s neighbors, too, began to take notice.  Speaking in whispers as to not alert Tibalt, they shared their concerns and suppositions of what was really going on in Tibalt’s lab.

It was only a matter of time, really, before one of Nephalia’s inquisitors kicked down the door of the laboratory.  Defenders of the church poured into the building, finding terrible torture devices throughout the workshop.  Tibalt has been caught red-handed.

His on-the-spot sentencing was quick and absolute: execution.

Tibalt, however, had expected this day would ultimately come.  He had an escape plan.

The mad scientist conjured a hateful spell he had discovered through the chattering of his demonic friends and his own experiments.

Fusing his own essence with that of the devils who have been assisting him, Tibalt is flooded with unspeakable power.  This power, however, came at a terrible cost as the pain of every person and beast he had tortured over the years came to him all at once.  The intense shock of the trauma ignited the planeswalker spark that lay hidden within him, unexpectedly flinging him through the Blind Eternities and away from his would-be executioners.

The curel, sadistic, mad pain scientist, Tibalt, was now (for better or for worse) a planeswalker.

Over time, Tibalt would continue to return to Innistrad despite the perils of him doing so, and continued his favorite pastime: tormenting the living.  And it was on one of these visits that he noticed the world had become much darker and more dangerous than ever before.

It delighted him.

During one of these latter trips, however, another planeswalker native to Innistrad: the vampire Sorin Markov, took notice of him.

Sorin had recently returned to the plane to find it in near-ruin and the humans who lived there on a trajectory towards extinction.  He was searching the ransacked capital city of Gavony seeking answers as to what had happened to not just the world, but also to the angel, Avacyn, whom he had created to defend the humans from threats.

Instead, he found Tibalt.

He knew that, if left unchecked, the mad, devilish planeswalker posed a serious threat to the plane’s remaining human population.

Temporarily breaking off from his mission, the vampire planeswalker confronted Tibalt and a fight ensues.  A fight that Tibalt loses.  He then fled the plane with is tail, as it were, between his legs.

A while later, Tibalt found himself being lured to the plane of Ravnica thanks to the activation of the interplanar beacon as the draconic guildmaster, Niv-Mizzet, was calling for planseswalker aid due to a planewide invasion by Nicol Bolas and his army of eternal warriors.  Immediately upon arrival, he (and all other planeswalkers who came to the plane) found themselves trapped there thanks to Bolas’ use of an artifact known as the Immortal Sun, which prohibits planeswalkers from planeswalking away from the plane.

While he assisted the other planeswalkers in the fight against Bolas and his massive army, Tibalt made time in between bouts to torment and inflict sadistic pain upon a number of Ravnica’s inhabitants.

The devilish planeswalker survived the battle and, upon the destruction of the Immortal Sun, planeswalked away.

Not too long after the events on Ravnica, though, Tibalt was ambushed by Vorinclex, one of the praetors of New Phyrexia.  The praetor infected the planeswalker with phyresis, a status that transforms living things into Phyrexian creatures, and held him as a hostage to be used as a distraction on the plane of Kaldheim while the praetor searched for the plane’s World Tree.

Once on Kaldheim, Tibalt encountered and deceived the plane’s mischevious god of lies, Valki.  He had the god imprisoned underneath the palace of a zombie wizard king named Narfi.  In exchange for holding he god in prison, he provided Tibalt (who has now assumed Valki’s identity) with the fabled Sword of the Realms as to seed even more chaos, which would allow Narfi’s forces to then plunder Kaldheim in Tibalt’s wake.

Acting as Valki, Tibalt used the sword to spread chaos across the plane’s realms as he sowed seeds of disorder and war amongst its people.  He even paid a visit to the elven King Harald to advise the king of an impending war against his kingdom.  Harald, however, was instantly suspicious of the faux god.

He sent Tyvar Kell, prince of Kaldheim, to track and spy on Valki.

In the realm of Gnottvold, Tibalt began to rally a contingent of trolls he had awoken to war.  The planeswalker assassin, Kaya Cassir, happened upon the scene and quickly saw through Tibalt’s disguise.

Realizing he’d been found out, Tibalt set the trolls upon her as he can’t afford her to spoil his schemes.  And, were it not for the timely appearance of Tyvar, whom (we learn) also happens to be a planeswalker, there’s a chance she may not have survived.

Tibalt, meanwhile, used the Sword of the Realms to open an omenpath, allowing him to escape to yet another of Kaldheim’s realms.

Landing on Immerstrum, Tibalt feels its time to put his ultimate scheme into motion.

Using the sword yet again, he invokes the Doomskar, which is a collision of all the realms of Kaldheim that results in earthquakes, destruction, and chaos.  As Tibalt works, Kaya and Tyvar arrive on scene, having successfully dealt with the trolls.  The pair are almost immediately accosted by a couple of demons and are, unfortunately, unable to stop Tibalt from completing the invocation.

After the spell’s completion, though, Kaya and Tyvar were able to liberate the sword from Tibalt’s possession.  This was just fine for the devilish planeswalker, though, as he had no further use for it, anyhow.

His tasks on Kaldheim completed, he then departs from the plane.  He couldn’t, however, escape the phyresis inflicted upon him by Vorinclex.

Not too long after, Tibalt became a fully compleated Phyrexian.  A nightmare of bony plates, raw, braided sinew, and a forked, metallic tail, he was an pawn in praetor Elesh Norn’s plans to assimilate the multiverse.

On an elevated walkway on the plane of New Phyrexia, he and another compleated planeswalker, Ajani Goldmane, duel Tyvar and Elspeth Tirel.  Using his pain magic, he traumatized Elspeth, then focused on Tyvar.

The elven planeswalker gets the better of Tibalt, however, by coating him in a phyresis-neutralizing substance known as hexgold to dampen his pain magic.  Tyvar then grabbed the compleated devilish planeswalker’s twin metallic tails and stabbed him in the heart with them.

Mortally wounded, Tibalt fell from the walkway and down into the depths below.


And that’s where we leave Tibalt: presumably dead.

And I say presumably because Wizards of the Coast seems to have a habit of bringing dead characters back for story reasons.

We’ll see if Tibalt eventually gets the same treatment.

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Thanks for watching.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.