Even after we settled on “the team celebrates Axemas in continuity” as our basic plot, there was still a lot of back and forth, most of which I concede was necessary now. My on-the-job stress was making some of my ideas too angry to serve this story. Rachel’s characterization of Passing Day was initially more bitter–“For one day out of the year, the rich can be BOTHERED.”

We also got a more direct look at Syr’Nj’s dark frame of mind than we get here (her nice talk with the fam did put her on the road to recovery, but that road is long, stumbly, and seeded with occasional outbursts). Phil’s response to that was “Are you TRYING to make people hate Syr’Nj?” and yeah, I might’ve taken it a bit far. We’d get to see her at her emotional worst in Chapters 36-37 anyway.

On the other hand, he unironically loved panel 1, especially John’s rendition of that dwarf staring down the scorpion. And hey, nice accidental segue there into panel 2 and Scipio’s gift.

That gift was a last-minute revision: Rachel was originally going to give him some new armor, but Phil pointed out that if he got better armor, he’d start using it. That would mean a design change for him at a time we were trying to keep the characters’ look consistent for promotional reasons. So Rachel had to give him something else that showed some thoughtfulness, and he may not talk much, but his shield advertises at least one of his likes.