Planeswalker's Guide to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Posted in Feature on February 3, 2022

By Grace Fong, Emily Teng, and Ari Zirulnik

Welcome to Kamigawa, a fascinating plane where new meets old! Magic and technology converge and collide in unexpected ways. But first, let's take a trip back 1,200 years ago to see how this plane evolved since we saw it last.

Discover even more details about this history, from The Kami War to the modern era, with the stories of Kamigawa's past shared as Saga cards in the set.

THE KAMI WAR

Fragment of Konda
Fragment of Konda | Art by: Andrew Mar

1,200 years ago, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, captured and imprisoned a part of O-Kagachi, the mightiest kami of Kamigawa. Enraged, O-Kagachi retaliated, plunging the mortal and spirit realms into a decades-long war. The imprisoned part of O-Kagachi broke free and became a new kami named Kyodai. Kyodai partnered with Konda's daughter, Michiko, to defeat both O-Kagachi and Konda. The death of O-Kagachi caused the barrier between the two realms to break down, thus precipitating the merging of the two realms.

MERGINGS

Touch the Spirit Realm
Touch the Spirit Realm | Art by: Marta Nael

Philosophers and scientists believe that both material and spirit realms will eventually merge into one, creating a plane with no barriers between kami and mortals, but no one knows what will really happen once the two realms are fully merged. Merge locations occur at random. They create hotspots of power where one can glimpse the underlying structure of reality, but they are also dangerous. Merge gates are structures erected around active merge sites to protect both sites and visitors.

TOWASHI

Boseiju, Who Endures
Boseiju, Who Endures | Art by: Chris Ostrowski

As time passed, a new metropolitan center developed surrounding the Jukai Forest. Now, kami and human alike live among its towering skyscrapers. The streets are always packed, no matter the time of day. Its prime location along the coast makes it a hub for commerce, and its proximity to the forest provides shelter from the elements. Hovering lanterns and neon lights brighten a lower city that would otherwise be drowned in shadows throughout the day, and those same lights transform the city at night into a beacon of dazzling colors.

For the most part, mortals and kami now live in harmony, but not everyone has adapted the same way to the changing plane . . .

THE IMPERIAL COURT

Imperial Subduer
Imperial Subduer | Art by: Zara Alfonso

The Imperials are the most widespread and powerful organization on Kamigawa, founded to help Kyodai manage the merging of the mortal and spirit realms. Over time, they expanded into government and rulership. Although peaceful management remains the heart of their organization, they are not afraid to bring their authority to bear on any activity that threatens their mission. The current regime takes an active, widespread role in restricting new technologies, which they insist is necessary to maintain social stability.

Kitsune Ace
Kitsune Ace | Art by: Joseph Weston

Those wishing to join the Imperials must undergo a grueling education. Trainees frequently go on to become samurai, kami intercessors, moth riders, and mech pilots. Some families have served the Imperials for generations, and their children begin training from the time they can hold a sword. But people from all walks of life are encouraged to join—loyalty, not social class, is what's important to the Imperials. Through dedication and hard work, one can rise to positions of wealth and power.

Light the Way
Light the Way | Art by: Benjamin Ee

The Imperial court interacts with the kami frequently, and many kami willingly work with the Imperials, lending their power to help them deal with merges and the possible side effects of merges. The title "Emperor of Kamigawa" is given to whomever Kyodai has chosen to bond with, thus connecting them to the body and soul of the plane. For the most part, citizens trust Kyodai. However, the current emperor vanished without a trace, and Kyodai has been dazed and incoherent since the disappearance.

EIGANJO

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire | Art by: Julian Kok Joon Wen

Built upon the bones of its ancient former castle self, Eiganjo is a place where ancient shrines and ancestral homes exist side by side with sleekly modern structures. Ancient architecture is painstakingly maintained and incorporated rather than torn down or built over, creating a sense of elegance and harmony between past and present. Eiganjo is home to the Imperial Palace where high-ranking members of the Imperial court live and work, and pilgrims come to seek audience with the emperor. The main shrine of Kyodai, the guardian spirit of Kamigawa, is located within the palace.

THE SAIBA FUTURISTS

Thousand-Faced Shadow
Thousand-Faced Shadow | Art by: Ekaterina Burmak

The driven, highly secretive Futurists are a technocratic elite at the forefront of technological innovation on Kamigawa. They believe strongly in innovation and pushing the boundaries of possibility, claiming impartiality to how the rest of the plane views their research. In theory, the Futurists obey Imperial restrictions on technological development, but in practice, they often dabble on the edges of the law—and in some cases step right over the line. Although many of their inventions have aided the entire plane, they often hoard the best knowledge for themselves to maintain power and status. Whispers say they've pushed the boundaries of technological development further than anyone can guess.

Saiba Trespassers
Saiba Trespassers | Art by: Evyn Fong

The Futurists are organized into divisions, each headed by a chief. All divisions have researchers and experimentalists, but some are secretive to the point of paranoia and employ agents of espionage. Projects are given cryptic code names and are surrounded in magical occlusion veils. The only person with complete insight into the entire organization is the head of the Futurists, whose identity is shrouded in mystery.

Mobilizer Mech
Mobilizer Mech | Art by: Jonathan Kuo

Most Futurists prefer not to rely on kami magic because they see it as putting themselves at the whim of the kami. They would rather be free to experiment and explore on their own terms. Occasionally, they'll consult with kami, but for the most part, they prefer to rely on their own ingenuity to figure things out. Nevertheless, some individual Futurists have chosen to experiment with kami magic and the very forces that govern reality.

OTAWARA

Otawara, Soaring City
Otawara, Soaring City | Art by: Alayna Danner

Formerly the exclusive domain of the moonfolk, the floating city of Otawara has opened its doors to intrepid researchers of all kinds. Nevertheless, it remains a place of beauty and mystery. Mist and clouds swirl between buildings. Pathways and entrances are hidden and deliberately confusing, meant to dissuade outsiders. The only place non-moonfolk are still forbidden is Oboro, the Ancient Palace, which is considered sacred ground to the moonfolk.

THE RECKONERS

You Are Already Dead
You Are Already Dead | Art by: Zoltan Boros

The Reckoners form a sprawling, loosely connected series of criminal gangs that trace their history to before The Kami War. Usually, they operate openly as legitimate businesses, but anyone who crosses them is quickly met with harsh violence according to a strict code. Alliances, betrayals, and turf wars between gangs are common, but those same gangs will unite against outsiders. Of Kamigawa's major organizations, the Reckoners are the most flexible and have no problem relying on both technology and kami powers—whatever gets the job done. They aren't very concerned with what the future should look like—so long as they can profit from it.

Enormous Energy Blade
Enormous Energy Blade | Art by: Campbell White

The Reckoners attract members who have grown disillusioned with society. Many an embittered, cynical Imperial samurai has joined the Reckoners' ranks, but they also recruit poisoners, kami channelers, and ninjas. The nezumi-led Okiba attracts bikers and mechanics. No matter a person's origin, there's a strong sense of family and fellowship within the Reckoners.

Assassin's Ink
Assassin's Ink | Art by: Heonhwa Choe

Tests of loyalty are demanded on a regular basis. Every member of the Reckoners is inked with magical tattoos that ensure loyalty and prevent betrayal. As a recruit climbs the ranks, they receive additional tattoos, each representing a new binding or connection forged within the gang. Bosses are often tattooed from neck to toe.

THE UNDERCITY

Dismal Backwater
Dismal Backwater | Art by: Chris Ostrowski

The Reckoners are spread throughout Kamigawa, but the Towashi Undercity has the largest concentration of gangs. The district is shrouded in the near-perpetual shadows cast by Boseiju and the towering, cramped skyscrapers above. Gangs rule the streets, enforcing their own codes that can vary from one city block to the next, depending on who runs that territory. But the Dragon's Well maintains its neutrality as a venerated, protected meeting site where the heads of different gangs meet to hash out disagreements and make formal treaties.

THE ASARI UPRISERS

Reinforced Ronin
Reinforced Ronin | Art by: Kekai Kotaki

The Asari Uprisers aim to overthrow what they see as oppressive, authoritarian Imperial rule. They believe power and technology should be shared rather than hoarded, and that the Imperials are outdated and regressive. Fealty and loyalty are honored. Disloyalty and betrayal are punished. Uprisers frequently clash with Imperial enforcers in the middle of the streets, especially in Sokenzanshi, a mountain city of artisans and artificers that has borne the full weight of the Imperials' restrictive edicts. After the emperor disappeared, the Uprisers began preparing a large-scale coup.

Risona, Asari Commander
Risona, Asari Commander | Art by: Ekaterina Burmak

The Uprisers are composed of flat, decentralized ranks of samurai, soldiers, and artillerists supported by their community artisans and inventors. They maintain no formal headquarters, preferring transient meeting rooms sprinkled throughout the city. They are led by Risona, a former Imperial who resigned to protest the current, leaderless regime. She is a charismatic commander who goes out of her way to form a personal connection with everyone who follows her.

Scrap Welder
Scrap Welder | Art by: Simon Dominic

The Uprisers focus on practical, physical solutions rather than abstract theories. Their limited resources mean they make do with whatever material they can scrounge together and take pride in caring for and repairing their own gear. Much of their equipment is pieced together from scraps, so no member's gear is the same as another's. Some artisans even pride themselves on never using "new" material.

SOKENZANSHI

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance
Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance | Art by: Lucas Staniec

The hardy, self-reliant city of Sokenzanshi is home to a thriving community of independent artisans and tinkerers. Foundries and ironworks are built right into the sides of the mountains to shelter from frequent snowstorms and tap straight into the fires at the mountain's heart. Life in the mountain city isn't the easiest, and those who call the city their home are stubborn, resourceful, and fiercely committed to their way of life. A system of natural mineral hot springs dot the slopes surrounding the city and are very popular all year round.

THE ORDER OF JUKAI

Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
Shigeki, Jukai Visionary | Art by: Anna Podedworna

The Order of Jukai believes that technology is damaging the fabric of nature. When its leader, the orochi Shigeki, bonded with a nature kami, he experienced a prophetic dream of the spirit realm shattering. He vowed to stop the vision from coming true and named his new Order after the moment when the Jukai forest expelled all mortals, including his own ancestors. The Order grew swiftly as others had similar visions of the spirit realm's destruction. They actively despise the Saiba Futurists and desire to destroy their floating headquarters.

Spring-Leaf Avenger
Spring-Leaf Avenger | Art by: Wisnu Tan

The Order is organized in decentralized cells scattered throughout the plane. Cells are small, typically comprised of a few stealth operatives and a kami channeler or two. They mobilize quickly and hide when needed, favoring decisive acts of swift destruction. Their preferred method is to infiltrate a technological center and then unleash destruction by either detonating a device imbued with kami magic or summoning an actual kami. These strikes are controlled and targeted: they wait until the area is as empty as possible and never attack residential zones. However, they won't hesitate to cut down anyone who gets in their way.

Favor of Jukai
Favor of Jukai | Art by: Howard Lyon

Kami take a very active role in shaping and guiding the Order of Jukai, providing power, friendship, and a shared sense of purpose. Some members and kami share such a deep, personal connection that the kami will grant the mortal permission to access the deepest recesses of their magic. These channelers can call upon powerful spirits and primal forces of nature.

BOSEIJU DISTRICT

Thornwood Falls
Thornwood Falls | Art by: Sam Burley

Boseiju is the oldest and largest living tree on Kamigawa and the only remnant of the Jukai Forest within Towashi city limits. Its branches dwarf the surrounding skyscrapers, casting a near-permanent shadow over the city beneath. When dwellings were constructed on the tree itself, the Boseiju District arose as a haven for those who sought to escape from frantic modern life and be in touch with nature.

THE LIVING HISTORIANS

Weaver of Harmony
Weaver of Harmony | Art by: Tuan Duong Chu

On a changing plane, the Living Historians fear that the past is in danger of being forgotten or quietly erased. Even if they don't have a complete picture of the past, they still endeavor to preserve it, recording events as faithfully as they can without bias or omission. They tattoo these stories onto their skin and bring them to life through dance, theater, and song. The tattoos magically rise into the air during their performances as moving illustrations of historical events. Although their training instructs them to erase their personal biases, some might argue that the very nature of their art means they inherently inject their perspectives into their work.

Likeness of the Seeker
Likeness of the Seeker | Art by: Lindsey Look

The Living Historians were founded in the wake of The Kami War by Reki, the History of Kamigawa and Azusa. They wanted to preserve the knowledge that was in danger of being lost amidst the chaos of their changing plane. Azusa's diary became a pivotal firsthand document in this reconstruction process and remains one of the Living Historians' most sacred texts.

CULTISTS

Reckoner's Bargain
Reckoner's Bargain | Art by: Justine Cruz

People from all walks of life are drawn to demon worship, seduced by the promise of power and destruction offered. Though they're collectively referred to as cultists, individual practitioners have little to do with each other. Many are openly hostile to each another, so they tend to live places where they can blend in or move frequently to avoid attracting unwarranted attention. Nevertheless, they all share a similar goal: feed their demon patron enough power to break the bindings that chain them to the spirit realm.

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos | Art by: Isis

Demons themselves are entities of chaos and destruction that were locked away in the spirit realm by Kyodai centuries ago. Cut off from the mortal realm, they are unable to feed freely, and their power dwindles. The cultists' most well-known figure is Hidetsugu, once an ogre who merged with the All-Devouring Oni of Chaos to become an entity of destruction and hunger incarnate. He is both revered among other demon cultists for having achieved the impossible and simultaneously the one they all want to devour to take his role.

IN CONCLUSION

Want to know more about Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty? Read the Saga history articles and web fiction available at MTGStory.com!

KAMIGAWA: NEON DYNASTY SET CREDITS

Check out the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set credits at the bottom of the product page.

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