Thanks to Wizards of the Coast’s Narrative Team, we all get a glimpse into the Multiverse every Wednesday. But have you ever wondered what the Multiverse sounds like? Have you ever imagined what it sounds like when a planeswalker casts a spell or journeys through the Blind Eternities? What do Jace and Liliana’s voices even sound like, anyway?
Blaise Leleux has been bringing Magic’s characters and worlds to life with the Voice of All podcast. Each week, they record an audio version of the latest installment of Magic Story, complete with a full cast of voice actors, and even some sound effects! We chatted with Blaise over email about their formative experiences with Magic and found out how Voice of All came to be.
Card Kingdom: How long have you been playing Magic? What attracted you to the game?
Blaise Leleux: I started playing in summer of 2005, around Saviors of Kamigawa and Ninth Edition. I was playing Yu-Gi-Oh! at the time and starting to not enjoy myself. I went to hang out with a friend one night and he taught me how to play – even let me make and keep a deck! It was a pile of common goblins and a playset of Skullclamps as I recall. The gameplay was fun, the art was cool, and there was a story behind the whole thing? Sign me up!
CK: What was the first Magic story you read that hooked you?
BL: I like to think I started playing at the perfect time to get into lore. Because right after I started, you know what we got? Ravnica. A procedural cop drama set in one of the coolest fantasy worlds I’ve yet seen. And then to follow it, Time Spiral. Now that I had the basics of the game down and some experience with a story, it was time to do a deep dive into everything, and Time Spiral was just that, forcing me to scour the local libraries to find all the old stories and understand what was happening.
CK: What do you love most about Magic lore?
BL: Honestly? The variety. In my first three years we went from magic cops, to preventing the latest in a series of apocalypses, to the relaxed and Celtic inspired mysteries of Lorwyn. The modern story continues this trend with a variety of worlds and tales to tell, all with a consistent through line that brings it all together. Fantasy is a brush to paint stories in and the nature of Magic‘s planes means there are any number of canvases to paint on.
CK: What inspired you to start the Voice of All podcast?
BL: I’d been in a bit of a creative slump at the time. I had spent several years making tutorials for the game League of Legends which had gotten fairly popular, but I was getting burnt out. I’d been hearing for a little while people wishing that there was an audio version of the Magic Story, so when Shadows Over Innistrad started, I thought “Well, I have a microphone and four hours. Why not?” So I sat down and recorded the entirety of Under the Sliver Moon in one sitting. Bad plan, by the way. Take breaks, folks. It got a small but positive response! In that first story I tried to do voices for each of the characters, but the second? It had even more! I’d run out of voices quickly and I didn’t think I could do half of them justice. So I asked around to see if anyone might want to help out. Some were friends. Some were folks I found on Tumblr. Once I started putting them together it was immediately better, and I knew it was an idea I had to explore further!
CK: How do you choose voice actors?
BL: It depends on the role! For most roles I want to let the Magic community participate as much as possible. So if it’s a named character with more than a couple lines, I’ll make a public casting call. Other times, especially since we have nearly 200 actors now, I will ask the team who would like to take a small role. Because as much as like having new actors, very few people want to audition for “Soldier A” or “Old Priest” when they have one sentence to read ever. And very rarely, I’ll ask someone if they’d like a role. For example, for the Unstable story World Class, I got a bunch of special guests in the form of other podcasters, cosplayers, and even one of Magic‘s authors!
CK: What creative liberties, if any, have you taken with the source material?
BL: We try to remain as true to the source material as we can, but over the years we’ve taken more liberties. As the simplest example, I omit things like “he said/she said” or the text saying that Karn’s voice was “deep and reverberated just a little, like someone speaking inside a metal room.” The audience doesn’t need me to tell them these things when they can hear the character for themselves! We add music and sound effects and sometimes replace text if it can just be sound, like dragons roaring or crowds cheering. We’ve also been working on finding the best sound effects and being consistent with it. What does death magic sound like? What do you hear when something hits Gideon’s shield? How does Ravnica sound different from Kaladesh? That sort of thing. We’ve even been working with some artists to make original music for the series, including theme songs for each member of the Gatewatch!
CK: What are some of your goals for the show?
BL: I have a few things in mind. First, I want to complete every past story that’s available online. Once that is done, I hope that we will be able to work with Wizards to do some of the old novels. It’s one thing to read freely posted text, but quite another to read something they sold and could sell again. In fact, working with Wizards in general is a huge goal for us. Early notice and support would mean more time to work and of course higher quality stories!
While I’ve been told a lot that the podcast is an easy and accessible way to keep up with the story, I’d also like for us to be an easy gateway into it. To this end, in the near future I hope to create a “How to Listen” page on our site with several jumping on points so that there’s different places people can start from depending on how much time they want to spend. We’ll even record extra mini-podcasts to catch people up to speed!
CK: Any news you’d like us to share with our community?
BL: Absolutely! While we always work hard to keep up with the current story, we’re also reaching back to cover older tales. We’re just about to start our run of Oath of the Gatewatch, which will complete our stories from Magic Origins onward. And later this year to accompany the game’s return to Ravnica, we’re going to begin sharing all of the old Ravnica stories. All thirty-something of them!
CK: Where can people find you online or learn more about VOA?
BL: You can find links to everything at voiceofallmtg.com. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts, be it iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or even YouTube! You can contact or follow us on Twitter or Tumblr at @voiceofallmtg. And finally, if you’d care to support us, please check out our Patreon!
“Voice of All” logo image used with permission.