TTRPG

Life of Toshiro Umezawa | MAGIC: THE GATHERING


By Daniel Holt

Daniel Holt is the senior UX designer for Magic: The Gathering tabletop. He designs cards and guides the creation of card icons and frames.

WARNING: If you don’t want to know about this Kamigawa story from nearly 20 years ago, this is your last chance to avoid reading about it now!

First and foremost, Toshiro was an outlaw.

The life of Toshiro Umezawa was a difficult one. His disinterested attitude and personal greed made him unliked and untrusted by those he met. Everywhere he went, he was confronted with life-threatening situations, which might explain why he had developed the strict philosophy of putting himself first.

If there wasn’t a prize or benefit for him, he wasn’t interested. And when he did get involved, he did his best to make sure it was never a fair fight and that he came out, if not the victor, at the very least with what he wanted. He was a skilled sword fighter, infamous for his use of a jitte, and a talented mage who cast spells by drawing characters.

On one notable occasion, his curiosity and greed led him to the Sokenzan mountains, where he encountered the demon-worshipping ogre Hidetsugu. He convinced Hidetsugu to join forces with him, thus founding the group that would come to be known as the Hyozan Reckoners. Core among the Reckoners’ tenets was the belief that if one were to cause harm to any member, it would be the responsibility of the others to avenge them. To enforce the bond, the members swore an unbreakable blood pact.

True to his character, Toshiro eventually found a way to wriggle out of the blood pact, betrayed the Reckoners for greater power, and abandoned them.

Toshiro gained his strongest ally by becoming an acolyte of Myojin of Night’s Reach, a powerful kami with control over darkness, granting him access to her abilities, including the power to travel through the shadows of Kamigawa.

Despite having a few “partners,” Toshiro had a lot of enemies that put him in some precarious situations, such as:

  • Interrupting moonfolk negotiations, resulting in them trying to find and kill him
  • Fighting a horde of goblins strengthened by a powerful kami
  • Refusing to be tricked by a mischievous spirit of the moon
  • Getting captured by orochi . . . only to break free, attack them, and send their powerful forest kami back to the spirit realm
  • Outsmarting a crime lord, defeating her thugs, and stealing a priceless treasure
  • Trapping a powerful ice kami and utilizing its powers for himself
  • Releasing a demon upon the wizarding school of Minamo
  • Stealing a giant moth from the imperial city of Eiganjo
  • Getting captured by orochi and escaping . . . again
  • Fighting off moonfolk invading his dreams
  • Evading capture by the imperial army and the most powerful kami on the Plane

However, the most important adventure of Toshiro’s life is arguably getting involved in The Kami War.

Historical records tend to paint Toshiro as a noble, self-sacrificing champion sworn to the princess Michiko. However, Toshiro allied with Michiko because he figured it never hurt to have a princess indebted to him. This selfishness ended up being the salvation of Kamigawa though: in his efforts to save Michiko, he stole that which was taken from Lord Konda and found a way for it and Michiko to communicate. Michiko was then able to free the trapped kami, who would go on to become Kyodai, future protector of Kamigawa.

This Plane-saving adventure was not a rewarding one for Toshiro, however. To save Michiko and Kyodai, he abused the powers he’d been granted as an acolyte of the Myojin of Night’s Reach, using them against the Myojin’s wishes. As punishment, she banished him from the Plane of Kamigawa, to which he would never return.

While over a thousand years have passed on Kamigawa, there are still those touched by the tales of Toshiro’s adventures. Perhaps some familiar faces still reside on the Plane, remembering him after all this time . . . or even carrying on his family name.

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