Q:I've been seeing a lot of debate on a specific line in the Khans of Tarkir trailer, when Sarkhan says "I was never born at all." Is this a metaphorical statement of how he has always felt empty and without purpose, or is it supposed to be taken more literally? Say, from a lightning storm?
Seattle, WA, September 2014
Q:does the fact that you need to communicate a lot of story through cards mean you have to write simpler stories than you would otherwise?
We try to make the structure as simple as possible, so that the tip of the iceberg of the story can be grasped quickly by a broad audience and, as you mention, more easily communicated via the cards. For those who want to dig deeper, the rest of the iceberg will always be full of detail, available in other venues. It’s sort of the creative version of lenticular design — different audiences can get access to different levels of detail.
There are times when we have a story idea that we try to hammer into a simpler form. (“Instead of having these two people want two different things in parallel stories, could they both be after the same thing?” “Do we have to introduce a whole other character to do this thing, or could the same thing be accomplished with already-existing characters?” That kind of thing.) But I’m not sure that’s entirely because of trying to express story in a trading card game — some of that is just good storycraft. More complex doesn’t always mean better. Maybe we should all try to tell stories in a shuffled medium — it can really help you hone what you’re trying to say.
Q:They make for a great rivalry in Maro's Funko comics, but have Chandra and Ajani ever interacted in canon?
I don’t think so, no. I kinda think they’d be buds. Ajani is pretty solidly white-plus-a-bit-of-green these days, but he remembers what it was like to be a passion-driven young firebrand.
Q:Be real with me Doug. You're a creative. You've gone on record supporting the Mardu Horde on Tarkir. You're a (beautiful) Red Mage aren't you?
WHY DO YOU WANT TO TRY TO RESTRICT ME WITH YOUR LABELS?!?
Oh. Uh, maybe a lil’ bit.
Q:Hey, Doug! Could you please high five Kimberly for me? Her story about the Chensal Twins really moved me. It was so emotional! ♥
I’ll be sure to let her know, thanks!
"The Chensal Twins" is a tale of justice, cunning, and the Jeskai clan:
Q:Why haven't we seen any female orcs on tarkir (or if that's wrong, could you point me to where we see them?) ? Do they reproduce asexually? Do males and females look exactly the same?
Off the top of my head, Bellowing Saddlebrute and Mardu Roughrider both depict female orcs. There might be more tucked into other illustrations in Khans that I don’t remember. They’re not super-different from male orcs morphologically, but we do have reference for both in the world guide.
Q:Doug, who is your favorite Planeswalker. I figure if they're your favorite, they will be safe from Maro syndrome.
Oh, this is interesting. What effect does my love have on a planeswalker? Let’s run the experiment: I love Chandra.
*starts clock* *begins tabulating data*
Q:With the recent naming of the the wedges, we now have names for all two- and three-color combos, and by extension, ideologies. But Jeskai isn't the only way of being UWR (wedges are inherently asymmetrical, and so there's at least three "versions" of each), and Azorious isn't the only way of being U/W, mechanically or creatively. Does that limit options? Does that mean any future blocks with all ten two-color pairings has to take place on Ravnica?
We have printed and will continue to print multicolor cards that fall outside the flavor of the named factions. Khans of Tarkir itself has a cycle of ten two-color lands (Tranquil Cove et al) that have nothing to do with the guilds. Ghave, Guru of Spores has nothing to do with the Abzan clan, and would have been fine to print as-is after Khans.
I mean, if we wanted to set a white-black card on a cosmopolitan city world organized into ten two-color factions, then yeah, we’d feel a strong pull to categorize that into Orzhov. But I don’t think the shards, clans, or guilds have eaten up all the ways we can do multicolor, no way.
Q:You've worked on development teams before (including KTK!), so I'm going to ask you a quasi-development-y question. How important is it do you think that cards depicting central characters or moments in the story be powerful? Do you think it's important to Magic (and is it important to the Creative team) that key moments and characters in the story get the extra face-time that comes from being tournament-level?
We talk about this a lot. I think if you argued that Sarkhan and Sorin being in tournament decks and in Pro Tour coverage was good for awareness of the story, I would totally agree with you. The set just having cards that represent those characters or moments is huge, but them being powerful gives them the extra “bump” that puts them in the spotlight more and puts more eyeballs on the story.
Art by Daarken - http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/wallpapers
Art by Cynthia Sheppard - http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/wallpapers
On the other hand, I don’t think it’s right to require that every story-crucial element be represented by a powerful card. That puts development in a weird position, shifting their priorities in a potentially dangerous way — and besides, we aren’t always right about what’s going to end up in the most powerful decks. So card power can be a tricky tool to use. But we do think about this, yes.
Q:Isn't it weird that dragons are *Red's* iconic creature, and yet on Tarkir all the other colors/clans have made admiration / exaltation of aspects of dragons central to their philosophies? Why are White and Blue and Black and Green admiring the traits of Red's iconic so much?
Tarkir is kind of a unique plane that way. Throughout its history, it sort of has only had one iconic, one agreed-upon MOST AWESOME CREATURE (and it kind of never got over their extinction). Tarkir has demons and even the occasional hydra, but they’re more like background monsters here compared to the mark the dragons left on the clans’ culture.