The Shattered States Era

Posted in Feature on January 18, 2022

By Grace Fong

Grace Fong is a worldbuilding designer for Magic: The Gathering tabletop.

The artisans of Kamigawa pride themselves on their ability to infuse storytelling into their craft. They felt the hilt of a masterwork sword would be the most appropriate place to immortalize the history of the devastating Shattered States Era.

The Shattered States Era
The Shattered States Era | Art by: David Gaillet

After the prosperous reign of Michiko Konda, her descendants worked tirelessly with the great kami Kyodai to maintain her legacy and uphold order and justice in Kamigawa. However, as generations passed, these noble pursuits gave way to dynastic in-fighting.

Eventually, an emperor died young without an heir, creating a crisis of succession. Some believed it should be her brother, others her husband. Eiganjo descended into all-out war, and it spread across the kingdom when local lords saw the opportunity to seize individual power. Many died, noble and peasant alike.

The Yamazaki clan had served the Konda military for decades and earned a reputation for their unshakeable sense of duty to their citizens. A young Yamazaki soldier felt the two warring successors were betraying and endangering the Kamigawan people. Inspired by his own ancestor's story of challenging a deadly imperial decree, he took it upon himself to end the contest for the throne. He successfully assassinated the late emperor's husband, but when he went for the brother, he found his target armed and ready for battle in the throne room.

Upon seeing such confrontation in her own chambers, Kyodai had enough. She stripped the Konda family of their hereditary duty as rulers. From then on, they would be ordinary citizens, and the emperor would never again be chosen by blood. Now, the kami would elect rulers for their noble qualities and commitment to the nation.

This sword was commissioned by the current administration as a warning to themselves. It depicts the moment when the Yamazaki soldier enters the throne room to confront the emperor's brother, when Kamigawa was on the precipice of self-destruction. The image is a reminder that despite the current emperor's mysterious absence, they must not repeat the sins of the past.

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