Article written by Adrian Burton
Ok lets talk The Coming Storm shall we? We wrapped this set up about 9 months ago and as I look at the previews now, it’s like seeing some old friends I’ve ignored due to the other newborns that showed up. On reflection, as I go through the set again, boy did I get spoiled as an art director on this one; I had a metric ton of talent working on this set. Though, admittedly, this set was a challenge. We had a LOT of Kotei results in it and it gets tricky when you have character X spares/kills/dishonors character Y in so many scenes. What I aimed for was trying not to get too repetitive, butour buddy Karachu shows up a lot in this set. He comes up so much that poor David Horne requested next set (having not known why I had him draw Karachu over and over and over again like some sort of insane torment) begged to not be assigned to draw him again. We had a good laugh once I explained to him specifically why Karachu had shown up so much.
There is a huge amount of character interactions as a result of the Kotei season and we had some truly odd pairings, though I have to say my personal favorite is Jason Behnke’s The Swell of the Storm, where we had a character in a spell, killing a copy of herself, he brought an awesome visual to it.
I also got to visually tie in an old prophecy on Rafu’s personality card in Visions of Darkness, done by the wonderful Franz Vohwinkel. The creepy prophecy just screamed to be seen and Franz does creepy very well.
One very odd but exciting new card is Discovering the Seeds of the Void, often we have cards that hint at prophecy and seeing the future, but rarely do we get to see actual glimpses into the distant future and in this piece we see a glimmer of a modern Rokugan. What I hope to convey with this is that Rokugan is a place that has a distant future as hinted at in a variety of places in various fictions of the last twenty or so years.
Lets give you the general breakdown of the set statistics.
I really enjoyed writing the Crab assignments this set. Anytime you have a drunkard keyword and a belligerent action is just an invitation for good times. Kuni Shinoda, however,was a great one. Hector has had such a great time illustrating him each time, he was very psyched to get to do another version of him so soon after the experienced one. Shinoda as one of the few people who get the Jade trait and just oozes purity and power. Hector’s attention to detail in his clothing adds a lot to his work, with the small coils of jade wafting off his person, which just makes this a cool piece. Jazz Siy brings in a beautiful piece with his Yasuki Shairei, adding another female Yasuki merchant to the body of work for that family. She has a casual disregard on her face that I think suits an all business attitude. If I had to sum up the Crab in this set – their lords told them to “deal with the problem as best suits them.”
Crane get some of their more surly characters this set. Daidoji Sutebo I imaged is a grizzled older veteran of the Destroyer War who doesn’t socialize well. Kakita Burei is an arrogant duelist and is a walking stereotype of what everyone thinks all Crane duelists are. Kakita Jikeru mocks her clan’s enemies relentlessly in court. Daidoji Ryushi was imagined as a man who’d have fit right in as a harrier in the older days. Ye, in the middle of all that we have sweet, gentle, cunning Natsuyo by Mario Wibisono, whom we imagined as that person who is so overwhelmingly kind and a joy to be around people have a hard time giving them bad news of any kind.
The Dragon, as always, remain eclectic. Storn Cook finally was able to draw Togashi Yayoi, who showed up in two prior strategy cards he illustrated. It is always fun to have a character evolve and appear that way. Adam Schumpert gives us just a wonderful Tamori Touya – graceful, powerful, beautiful, elegant – she’s really a gorgeous composition. Plus she is a common, so everyone will get to enjoy such a wonderful piece.
My favorite Lion card this set has to be Kitsu Leiko for the ancestor cameo. It’s been a goal of mine to no longer have generic Lion ancestor spirits, but specific ones from the game’s past. We have such a big selection to choose from that it just makes sense and this one just came together so well. I hope the Lion players get a kick out of it. A close second is Ikoma Shungo,cool face and scene, Matt Zeilinger had fun with it and it shows in the amount of character that comes through visually. Akodo Iketsu is an odd one and he’s one of those cards where we allowed some weirdness to stay in it for the purposes of possible interesting story use later. He’s just kinda creepy and I liked it. Finally Matsu Marii was possibly poor Davide Hornes only non-Karachu related illustration in the set. His mastery of details on animals really shines here. Plus, that lion cub is adorable.
The fight for my affection on top Mantis card this set is really a hard one and it’s really a tie between Yoritomo Yusuke and Tsurchi Yashiro Experienced. Yusuke is just so stylish and cool hanging out in the moonlight waiting for some seedy individual. That smoke and the shadows over his eyes, man it brings such a casualness to his sinister side, just another evening of Kolating it up. Yashiro, however, is bursting with details and grim determination. He’s got the grey starting in his beard. He’s still clearly a powerful warrior. Diego and Albert really knocked these ones out of the park. Deiter Miller’s Yoritomo Shotsuo is pretty amusing as well; striking a pose not all too unfamiliar to some.
Picking my favorite art for the Phoenix is remarkably hard. I think Shiba Kakei edges out Isawa Kido, just barely, as Kakei is more about the character and Kido is more about her fear effect. Kakei is bold and noble looking and he’s got scars to show he’s lived a life of combat in the service of his lord. Tony Foti’s experienced Isawa Kaname is a close contender – the fire with a backdrop of snow makes a wonderful contrast.
What a cast of characters the Scorpion got this round. My favorite is a duo, the profoundly alcoholic Bayushi Jinn-Ja and his long suffering loyal yojimbo Bayushi Kotomuri. These two just make me chuckle as they both cameo in each others cards in various stages of sobriety for Jinn-Ja. Bayushi Akagi, I think, takes the top spot for me personally. Florian Stiz built a great sense of overwhelming odds, which as we all know is exactly what the Bitter Lies school likes. Plus his mask is awesome. Hector Herrera also has a great yojimbo in action in Shosuro Kayo, diving in to save the day. I really wanted to show a yojimbo in the thick of defending their charge as often it’s them standing around looking cautious.
Now, as far as my favorite Spider, I have to go with Daigotsu Teruo, a creepy fantastic illustration by Franz Vohwinkel which really capturing the vibe of self destructive and consuming powers. We really wanted a sense that his power is a curse in nearly every imaginable way. Nao is a really cool one for a GenCon Costume contest winner that I was involved in judging. Matt Tyler had a really great costume among many great participants and it’s a first for me to have seen the costume in person and commissioned an illustration based on it’s design. It’s just one of those cool things that happens as part of the L5R community. Another one I’m fond of is Susumu Takuan. we imagined him as this nice guy that everyone likes, despite their best efforts, who really just does his job well without malice.
An official correction and apology is also due here. We had an error on two Spider Clan cards: Nao and Sora had their artists credits flipped. Sora is Dieter Miller and Nao is Albert Tavira. We’ve identified why it occurred and will take steps to avoid this type of error in the future.
Picking my favorite is pretty easy on this one, Moto Erdene. Jason Behnke brought her a haunting and elaborate mysticism. I really enjoy the Death Priest look, as it allows for a lot more freedom and quirkiness, which I think adds some spiced variety to the world. Another milestone I’m pleased with is getting a new Topaz Champio,n in the actual Topaz Armor! As best as I can recall, we’ve not done that yet, and Jonathan Moore did a great job of bring that to life. Among my many goals is trying to get people in the right armor of their station and show it off as part of the heritage that is such a big part of the game world. Another quick nod should go to Joshua Pinkas, for his Ide Kosaka, who has just some amazing looking clothing design and great details here and there.
So, there is a general overview of some of the fun work we received from our artists this set. I’ll be honest with you here – it was one of the more challenging sets to work on and complete for a handful of reasons, but we managed to come out with a pretty solid set inspite of that. I owe a thanks to a few artists such as Jason Behnke, Hector Herrera, David Horne, and Albert Tavira for stepping up to the plate for some odd situations that arose.
We hope you’re enjoying your new set, the Kotei season and Ivory Edition. We continue to enjoy paying people to draw magical samurai, courtiers, shugenja and monsters for you. See you on the forums!
View the full article