Cards, Organized Play

A Butterfly Effect

Featured image for a post about organized play. It reads "organized play" in the font of the Emerald Legacy.

Last year, I wrote about the Nature of Story Prizes. This year, I want to focus on a specific story prize due to its very interesting butterfly effect. A butterfly effect is a minor localized event that leads to unpredictable results. The butterfly flaps its wings, inadvertently causing a tornado halfway across the world. Let us talk about one such butterfly: the Dragon vs. Phoenix Clan Rivals.

This blog post will contain spoilers for the story Betrayal of Truth. I will minimize them to focus solely on the story prize itself.

At time of publication, we had four Clan Rivals tournaments. Three of them were border skirmishes – Crab vs. Unicorn, Lion vs. Scorpion, Crane vs. Phoenix. Players pledge their loyalty to one of the clans, and the tournament winner’s supported clan wins the border skirmish.

The Dragon vs. Phoenix Clan Rivals tournament was different. Mirumoto Rei (of the Dragon clan) duels Shiba Yohana (of the Phoenix clan) over a matter of honor. Players pledge their loyalty to one of the clans, and the tournament winner’s supported clan wins the duel. But the winner also has one additional choice: “a short descriptor to determine the manner of victory”. This is a freeform choice, though the tournament winner is limited to a single word and the story team has the right of veto.

MegurineLuka (supporting the Dragon clan) won the Dragon vs. Phoenix Clan Rivals tournament, so the story team came up with an idea for how Mirumoto Rei would win her duel. Then, MegurineLuka sent in the “short descriptor” – Bloodthirsty. It was up to the story team to interpret that word. While we still kept our basic idea, we significantly reworked it in light of the “short descriptor” provided to us.

We took the word Bloodthirsty in two ways.

  1. The duel would have to involve the spilling of blood. As Mirumoto Rei would win the duel, this would mean the death of Shiba Yohana.
  2. Death is not the end.

Many people who die reincarnate as Onryo (vengeful ghosts) in Toshigoku / the Realm of Slaughter – where they fight endlessly with each other. Some of these ghosts are able to leave the Realm of Slaughter and enter into other realms, like the Realm of Mortals. This card above, from Ancient Secrets, represents a Crab warrior dying, becoming a vengeful ghost, and then returning back to the Realm of Mortals, with a thirst for blood.

Core 2 will contain another vengeful ghost – Shiba Yohana.

When the Dragon vs. Phoenix tournament was announced, several example one-word descriptors were provided – Bloodthirsty being one of them. But to actually see MegurineLuka pick that word and have us run with that word is a sight to behold. Had MegurineLuka chosen a different word, the duel would have proceeded very differently – Rei would have still won, but the manner of her victory would have changed. Shiba Yohana’s card would have been completely different, and while her personality in “Betrayal of Truth” may have stayed the same (more or less), her actions would differ dramatically.

Never underestimate the power of a butterfly.

This butterfly also influenced the arms race between the clans. No clan can ever be dominant for long. New weaknesses will be found. New weapons will be created. The system tends towards balance, however elusive it may be. Such is the case here. The Crab has fought vengeful ghosts before, and they can use their talents to take on Yohana.

Had Yohana survived the duel, would the Crab still deploy the Arrows? Or would they build different weapons? I don’t know, but that is the fun of butterfly effects. We see the consequences of our actions, and wonder what will come next.

Sanctuary was meant to be a place of refuge for those fleeing the Dark Brother and the Shadowlands. So far, there has been no sign of Jigkou’s influence. But Lady Doji only built protections against one supernatural force. There are other forces out there, such as forces from Tōshigoku. We wanted a keyword that can be used to reflect all supernatural dangers – Jigkou, Tōshigoku, and others. During Ancient Secrets, we introduced the trait Haunted, but it wasn’t a good fit. After some deliberation, we decided that the word Corrupt would be more meaningful. Therefore, in the upcoming Emerald Core Set, we’re renaming the Shadowlands trait to Corrupt. Similar to how was done previously with the change from Gaijin to Foreign, all cards that previously referenced the Shadowlands trait will be compatible with the new trait Corrupt. We will also no longer use the Haunted trait, replacing it with the Corrupt trait instead.