So you all know about that new Ritual version of Summoned Skull? Well, the history behind him goes a bit deeper than you may have realized.
For those viewers at home just catching up, a new promo card was announced for the OCG: Advent Skull Archfiend, a Ritual version of everyone’s favorite name rulings nightmare. A quick recap from yesterday’s article:
デーモンの降臨 Daemon no Kourin / Advent Skull Archfiend
DARK Fiend / Ritual / Effect
You can Ritual Summon this card with “Contract with the Abyss”.
(1) This card’s name is treated as “Summoned Skull” while it is in the Monster Zone. (This card is still treated as an “Archfiend” card.)
(2) This card on the field cannot be destroyed by battle with non-Ritual Monsters, and cannot be destroyed by the monster effects of non-Ritual Monsters.
(3) If this Ritual Summoned card in its owner’s possession is sent to the GY by an opponent’s card (by battle or card effect, or by being destroyed): You can Special Summon 1 “Summoned Skull” from your hand, Deck, or GY.
Now some of you old fogeys like myself out there may have done a double take at “Contract with the Abyss”. Yes, you’re thinking of the right one. Even you! Oh wait, no, not that guy. Not you. But the rest of you!
It’s the generic DARK Ritual Spell!
Yes, they pulled the same trick here that they did with Sauravis, the Ancient and Ascended and Sprite’s Blessing – sticking a new Ritual Monster to an otherwise generic Ritual Spell.
Although it’s not entirely the same trick.
You see, it’s important to check the Japanese name of the card – which, in this case, is 奈落との契約 (Naraku to no Keiyaku, pretty much “Contract with the Abyss”.) As an aside, that word naraku also shows up in the Japanese name for Bottomless Trap Hole (Naraku no Otoshiana), but what we’re really interested in is how it also shows up in 奈落の王 (Naraku no Ou).
Or rather, as he’s known on this side of the pond, Lord of the Pit.
As it turns out, Summoned Skull appears to be based on this early Magic the Gathering card – which makes a bit more sense when you realize it debuted in the very first appearance of Duel Monsters in the manga, back when the idea was to showcase several different types of games. So having a card game called “Magic and Wizards” and making a monster that was much more of an overt reference to Magic was likely the point. In fact, the Anniversary art for Summoned Skull comes full circle, with art much more evocative of newer artwork for Lord of the Pit than of a skeletal demon.
Additionally, you can also see where Summoned Skull takes some further inspiration from his Magic counterpart: the old wording for creature typing in Magic was “Summon X”, with X being the type of the creature. In this case, it would be “Summon Demon”, or デーモンの召喚 (Deemon no Shoukan). Now compare that to the Japanese name for our skull boy up there. Look familiar?
On less of an obvious note, this may also explain why Summoned Skull is Level 7 in the manga – looking at Lord of the Pit’s converted mana cost gives us 7 as well.
…Now let’s switch gears back to Yugioh to explain the “Advent” part of Advent Skull Archfiend. (You thought you were free, didn’t you? Silly, I’m untying these ropes so I can redo the knots.)
So if you’ve been keeping track, or if you scrolled back up to the top of the article real quick, you may have noticed there’s not really much of a difference between the Japanese names for the two Skulls. Basically going from “Demon Summon” to “Demon Advent”. And yes, that’s true. But this is also a reference that probably goes over English speakers’ heads. This one won’t take as long, don’t worry.
“Advent” (降臨, Kourin) is the original word used on Ritual Monsters and Ritual Spells to describe the act of a Ritual Summon. In addition to saving space on the tiny text boxes on old OCG cards, it probably makes them sound like more of a big fancy deal that way, plus different kinds of Summons weren’t being scrutinized as much anyway.
In fact, even today, with text being more standardized and the concept of Ritual Summoning being a thing, “advent” is still used on OCG Ritual cards, though usually just to refer to what kinds of Ritual Spells they work with. Hell, look at the first line of effect text on our Ritual skull buddy – 「奈落との契約」により降臨 – it’s right there! Go scroll up though, I’m not posting the same image again down here.
In short, Advent Skull Archfiend takes several card concepts and terms from Yugioh and beyond, tying them together in a neat little package that TCG players otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to see. But now you have! And now you can look forward to explaining this nugget of card game history once it arrives on our shores. Or something.