Q: Has the popularity of Commander affected how Creative approaches named characters, or how many they make? How often, if ever, do you create a character knowing they'll become a Legendary creature?
A: Doug Beyer, Voice for Vorthos
Legendary creatures represent a collaboration between the design, development, and creative teams. The design of legends has more to do with the world or story or block theme rather than the needs of Commander, especially from creative’s end — but the fact that a new legend can provide more options for the Commander format is usually seen as a bonus. The exception is legends that were created specifically to go into the Commander decks — those definitely had the Commander format in mind!
In many cases, legendary creatures begin life as character descriptions in the setting’s world guide. When we’re doing the worldbuilding for a plane, we come up with several descriptions of unique characters who fill important roles on that plane. Some characters are so important to the plane’s story that we’re basically 100% sure they’ll end up as legends. The archangel Avacyn, for example, or the Azorius guildmaster Isperia, are characters that are crucial for the block story, so we make sure to work with design and development to make space for them.
For other characters, we usually write too many descriptions for them all to become cards in the card sets, so it’s hard to know exactly which of those characters will see life as cards. Some make it, and some don’t. But as we’re conjuring up these characters, we always know there’s a chance they’ll come alive.