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With two seasons of The Dragon Prince under their belts and a third one coming soon, co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond sat down for a conversation with The Beat at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss their creation process, their world building, and the thought process behind some of their characters.
The Netflix series has captivated a large and passionate fan community and has received critical success as well. The series is produced by Ehasz and Richmond’s company Wonderstorm. Ehasz has credits as the head writer for Avatar: The Last Airbender series, and Richmond was the game director of Uncharted 3.
Therese Lacson: How do the two of you collaborate when you’re doing world-building for a show like The Dragon Prince? Every episode I watch lets me discover more of this vast world and I’m curious to know how you guys work together.
Aaron Ehasz: We meet most mornings actually, like, to have coffee. We have reserved creative time. We do some work separately, but we literally just like have an awesome coffee, creative conversation? Several mornings a week. It’s fun.
Justin Richmond: Or we’ll text each other like, yeah, oh, yeah. All the time. I’ll get a random text out of the blue, like at nine o’clock at night, from Aaron like, “What about this crazy thing we never thought about before?”
Ehasz: Like, what if this was the birthday song in Xadia?
Richmond: Exactly. We just kind of bounce ideas. And with our writing team, it’s the same thing. Every once in a while someone will text us or talk to us offline, or like jump in the room and be like, I had this crazy thought! Or one of the game team guys will come in and be like, I know it doesn’t quite work like this, but what if we change this thing slightly so it was better for a gameplay thing? We have a very open relationship between us. And then our team sort of is always willing to jump in and do stuff, too.
Lacson: That’s awesome! So, something that I love about the series is the magic system. You have slowly introduced it, we know a lot about dark magic, but not much about the natural forms of magic yet. Can you elaborate a little bit about how you created the magic system and the ideas that sprung from it?
Richmond: One of the early ideas Aaron came up with was, what if there was a magic system where there’s one way to do magic, which is difficult, takes a lot of study, takes a lot of hard work, and not everybody can do it, but if you can do it, you’re very powerful? But what if there’s a shortcut, and that shortcut ended up using basically magic creatures, right? How ticked off would everybody else be, especially the magical side, if that was the case? And that was one of the first conversations we had about The Dragon Prince, just in general. And then from there it sort of spun off into what it is today with the primal stones and all that kind of stuff. But, that was literally the second or third conversation we had about the show. That idea of what if there was this magic system that inherently has this crazy conflict to it?
Ehasz: I would say this is also a case where Wonderstorm is a company that’s making a TV series and we’re also making video games. One of the great benefits is that we have great minds on our team who think about systems, how our system is going to work in that game, and in that world. Our CTO, Dan Liebgold, was in early story meetings. [His team has] a rigorous standard for these systems needing to have some balance and some sense to them. So, they’ve kept us honest and have pitched their own parts of the system. Having a team of those kinds of minds has allowed us to do stronger world-building than we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.