The Story

The possession of the Emperor Hantei XXXIX by the dark god Fu Leng was an event that almost destroyed an Empire that had thrived for more than a thousand years after the Lost Kami’s first defeat on the Day of Thunder.

That another Day of Thunder would one day take place was a thought that the Great Clans never considered, but such circumstances arose. After a lengthy period of inter-clan conflict, the armies of the Great Clans, bolstered by the forces of the Minor Clan Alliance and the recently awakened Naga race, stood on the plains of battle outside the Imperial City of Otosan Uchi and made war against the assembled hordes of the Shadowlands, as well as those misguided souls whose loyalty to the Emperor could not allow them to fight against him.

While the war raged outside, the seven reincarnated Thunders stole into the Imperial Palace and fought against the possessed Emperor. Several of them died, but the dark god was destroyed by Toturi – the Black Lion, and a new dynasty was endorsed by the Celestial Heavens.

The Art (by Drew Baker)

We knew this illustration would be a challenge for a few reasons.

For one it was a scene with about ten characters in it (The Seven Thunders, The Hooded Ronin, Fu Leng and Togashi). It was such a huge moment and had so much detail that needed  to be crammed in a few inches of space when down to card size. We needed Toturi striking the killing blow, we needed to see Hoturi’s moment of fatal wounding, Kachiko being strangled, Fu Lengs eyes gouged out, Hitomi standing by holding the 12th scroll, Yakamo struggling to get back into the fight, The Hooded Ronin helping Kamoko back to her feet, Tadaka in agony as the Jade spell reflected back at him, Togashi’s lifeless body. So much was going on in this scene it seemed like a nearly impossible task to get all of that in and have it make sense. Which is why it went to the legendary Drew Baker whose style and compositional abilities make the impossible possible. We gave him a nearly impossible task of creating artwork for a scene that has been in my head and I am sure many of yours for years, and then gave him pages of descriptions, past art, story and ideas and asked him to do magic and expected it to be amazing. He delivered.

The layout you see in the final is relatively unchanged from his initial draft, the only change was to help Tadaka pop a little more amidst the chaos so he was moved out more to the right. Really much of the art direction was in regards to minor costuming details. Small details like the blood under Fu Lengs eyes, Kachiko’s hair down because her hairpins have been shifted to weapons and such. The Emerald Throne is even in the foreground ever so slightly. Magic waifs off of the 12th black scroll. Hoturi’s sword is buried in his foes chest and Fu Leng’s violent counter to his chest provides Torturi the split second he needs for the killing blow.

We wanted to add small moments to flesh out such an epic climax in a visual medium finally, as it has long been screaming to be created. Drew Baker brought it to life for all of us.

The Event

It goes without saying that the Second Day of Thunder is arguably the single most important event in the Legend of the Five Rings story. It represented the culmination of The Clan War, and how the Fallen Kami Fu Leng almost sat on the throne as Emperor of Rokugan. The event has become legendary, both within the story of the L5R universe and amongst the gaming community.

It was GenCon 1997. The finals came down to Chris Bergstrom, representing the Lion and Toturi, and Rob Kramer representing the Crane and Doji Hoturi. This was for it all. After years of struggle, conflict from within the Empire and the Shadowlands, the victor would stand tall as the Emperor of Rokugan.

Chris was stymied early in his assaults against Rob with a well timed Doom of the Lion, but the peaceful nature of Rob’s approach to winning through honor would prove to cripple him too much in order to hold off the Lion’s assaults, as two Shinsei’s Shrines had given Rob an advantage in gaining honor, but also severely impacted his ability to generate personalities needed to defend against Chris. The return of the Fallen Kami was not without its own consequences – Chris also resolved The Return of Fu Leng, which forced Rob to destroy one of his only two active provinces. Chris was able to fight through the stalwart defenses Rob was able to create, but in the end, emerged victorious as the winner, and Toturi assumed the throne following the Second Day of Thunder as Toturi I.

It is also worth noting that taking second place at this tournament had consequences as well – in the epic struggle against Fu Leng, brought fully into the mortal world by the opening of the 12th Black Scroll by Hitomi, Doji Hoturi was able to deal a critical blow against the Fallen Kami, but it cost him his life. So is how the Second Day of Thunder was decided…

Get your copy!

This copy of the 10,000th card will be made available as part of the Level 1 and Level 5 Stronghold Stores tournaments held  throughout the world starting September 2012. Attend on of such tournaments (list forthcoming soon!) and claim your copy of this card featuring on of the most iconic moments in the history of L5R!

You can also get a chance to win a copy of this card through Facebook! Like the article on the official L5R Facebook page and share it before August 13th. One lucky winner among the “likes” will be contacted and will receive a copy of the card for free after its initial release!

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