|(Subtype for creature/tribal cards)|
25 cardsas of Strixhaven: School of Mages
76% 16% 4% 4%
Most specters are seen riding atop undead flying monsters such as dragons, giant skulls with bat-wings, and other beasts, and often wield polearms. They seem to be mirror-images of the white Archons, hooded beings that also ride flying mounts, though unlike them they don't appear to be mana manifestations (in the same manner as angels and demons), nor is it clear if, like with some archons, both "rider" and "steed" are the same being. Instead, most specters seen thus far are truly undead beings, usually the result of mind magic that went wrong.
Specters on Ravnica are magical creations of House Dimir. They are formed when the mind magic of House Dimir erases a person's identity, leaving a mind so broken it can no longer live. As a result, they hunger for memories and are easily used by the Dimir as agents. Their work can include driving off people who accidentally wander too close to a secret rooftop meeting, killing those who knowingly infiltrate Dimir property, and tracking those who have stolen guild secrets, then wiping those secrets from their victims' minds to ensure that they are never shared.
They ride mounts called gloamwings. Specters create these gloamwings as a part of their magical nature. Should the mount be killed, the specter can reform it over the course of a month.
- The archetypal depiction of Specters was first introduced with Abyssal Specter in Ice Age. This current image of the specter in Magic, that of a hooded rider with a drake or bat-like flying steed, is an homage to Tolkien's Nazgûl.
- Blazing Specter added red to the casting cost.
- Thief of Sanity, Blizzard Specter and Doomsday Specter added blue to their casting costs. Nightveil Specter is also blue, but with triple hybrid mana it can also be played in monoblack.
- Sedraxis Specter is the only tri-colored Specter.
- Specter's Shroud is an equipment giving a card Specter-abilities.
- Specter's Shriek and Specter's Wail are sorceries with discard-effects.
- Liliana Vess brings her own: Liliana's Specter.
- Most Specters cause discard effects through combat. There are some exceptions:
- Tainted Specter, Reaper of Night, Fell Specter, and Liliana's Specter cause discard through other abilities.
- Nightveil Specter and its successor Thief of Sanity represent mental damage through stealing from the library.
- The strangest one is Dread Specter, which has a proto-deathtouch ability instead. Being the third specter ever printed it had likely not consolidated the mechanical theme. That said, Specter of the Fens does not either. Instead, it has a draining ability and was released in 2021.
- Wizards of the Coast (July 31, 2007). "Specters, Mind-Draining Undead". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer (November 10, 2010). "How to Design a Specter and More!". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Monty Ashley (June 22, 2011). "What It Rides Is Up to You". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. (April 21, 2018.) "The Cabal is back in full force in Dominaria!", The Official Magic: The Gathering Tumblr, Tumblr.
- Kate Elliott (2019), Throne of Eldraine: The Wildered Quest, Penguin Random House