The Modern Age

Posted in Feature on January 21, 2022

By Emily Teng

Emily Teng is a worldbuilding game designer for Magic: The Gathering.

For much of Kamigawa's history, power was concentrated in the hands of the elite: the Imperials who ran the plane with Kyodai's blessings, various warlords, and those who could channel the power of the kami. More recently, however, Kamigawa has found itself facing significant disruption to this status quo as new innovations have made access to power more widely and cheaply available to all. Key among these innovations were two: enhancers invented by the akki artisans of Sokenzanshi, and the method invented by the Saiba Futurists of drawing power directly from the spirit realm.

The Modern Age
The Modern Age | Art by: Anastasia Ovchinnikova

The akki artisans had a long tradition of invention and ingenuity, as well as effectively using their scarce resources to great effect—including kami-granted powers. Thanks to the enhancer, even though few people had as deep relationships with the kami as some Imperials and the Order of Jukai, they were now able to apply more efficiently whatever powers they had been granted.

At the same time, the Saiba Futurists were conducting experiments with merges to test the nature of the spirit realm. As an unintended side effect, they discovered a way to draw on magic directly, without needing to form a bond with kami. Though the Sokenzanshi artisans and the Futurists weren't directly working together, these two technologies soon combined to form the basis of the boom in new technology that exploded across the plane.

However, all this modernization isn't without its detractors. The Imperials have been trying to control the flow of new technology, attempting to maintain the stability that they see being pulled out from under their feet. And the boom of all this technology has seen the rise of a new group that calls itself the Order of Jukai, who believe that this unrestrained use of technology is drawing on power in a reckless, dangerous manner that threatens to irreparably damage the fabric of the two realms.

Among the kami, opinions are mixed. Some kami are resistant, while others are more eager to see how things will change. Whatever their opinions, though, many see the appearance of new kami aligned with technology as a sign that the soul of Kamigawa itself has been irrevocably altered by this changing landscape of technological and social upheaval.

And the stage is set for the present day . . .

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