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HomeRPGWhat Do I Know About First Impressions? Adventures in Rokugan (5e OGL)

What Do I Know About First Impressions? Adventures in Rokugan (5e OGL)

Picture2The historical past of Asian-themed roleplaying video games is crammed with pitfalls. Much of this may be encapsulated by realizing that Asian-themed RPGs confirmed up pretty early within the lifecycle of the roleplaying passion, and at a time when a whole lot of the content material of the passion was produced by white male wargamers who wished to symbolize what they noticed within the historical past books that they’d learn. This didn’t precisely result in a whole lot of cultural sensitivity or nuance.


I acquired a overview PDF of Adventures in Rokugan from Edge Studios. I personal the L5R core rulebook, and the L5R starter set, each of which I bought myself. I’m aware of the L5R setting from fiction, sitting in on just a few card video games, and from studying elements of the core e-book and the starter set. I’ve not had the chance to run Adventures in Rokugan myself, however I’m aware of D&D 5e as each a participant and a DM.

Adventures in Rokugan

MECHANICS DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT Max Brooke with Welden Bringhurst
PROOFREADING Kate Cunningham and Tova Seltzer
SENSITIVITY REVIEW Johathan Altig and Raiden Montero
RPG MANAGER Sam Gregor-Stewart
COVER ART Andrey Pervukyn
CARTOGRAPHY Francesca Baerald
INTERIOR ART Piotr Arendzikowski, Asep Ariyanto, Imad Awan, Francesca Baerald, Helge C. Balzer, Lukas Banas, Max Bedulenko, Cassandre Bolan, Marius Bota, Chris Burdett, Shiba Byodumai, Manuel Calderón, Sergio Camarena, Mike Capprotti, Joshua Carlos, Billy Christian,Calvin Chua, Brent Chumley, Conceptopolis, Mauro Dal Bo, John Anthony Di Giovanni, Nele Diel, Stanislav Dikolenko, John Donahue, Derek Edgell, Shen Fei, Tony Foti, Anthony Francisco, Felipe Gaona, Diego Gisbert Llorens, Kevin Goeke, Gong Studios, Brock Grossman, Matt Hansen, Lin Hsiang, Aurlien Hubert, Amelie Hutt, Giby Joseph, Shen Kei, Daria Khlebnikova, MuYoung Kim, Mathias Kollros, Pavel Kolomeyets, Olly Lawson, Damien Mammoliti, Antonio José Manzanedo, Francisco Martin, Diana Martinez, Jorge Matar, Marcel Mercado, Tomas Muir, Reiko Murakami, Ursula Murray Husted, Luis NCT, Chris Ostrowski, Carlos Palma Cruchaga, Immar Palomera, Ben Peck, Borja Pindado, Peter Polach, Polar Engine, Jeff Porter, Eli Ring, Axel Sauerwald, Fajareka Setiawan, Rudy Siswanto, Filip Storch, Shawn Ignatius Tan, Andreia Ugrai, Halil Ural, Charles Urbach, Magali Villeneuve, Le Vuong, Haibin Wu, and the Fantasy Flight Games artwork archives.
ART DIRECTOR Antonio Mainez
HEAD OF STUDIO Gilles Garnier

A Brief Rumination on Asian-Themed RPGs

TSR’s Kara-Tur setting may be very instructive in monitoring a large number of missteps. While attempting to current a fantasy Asian setting and together with a number of variations of China and Japan, in addition to fantasy variations of Korea, Tibet, and even India, among the core courses had been impressed virtually solely from Japanese stereotypes, which means it was “close enough” to make use of samurai, ninja, sohei, shukenja, and yakuza in any of the Asian analog cultures introduced.

There are sections of rulebooks devoted to monitoring household inheritance for functions of titles and authority, in addition to strict guidelines for monitoring honor that made alignment really feel like a pure and versatile character trait. In maybe essentially the most brutal of all the foundations tied to honor, in case your honor rating dropped to a unfavorable quantity, your loved ones members would routinely hunt you down and kill you should you didn’t handle “the problem” your self. It’s additionally telling that in a sport the place many designers assumed that the fantasy world of D&D would behave precisely just like the medieval societies they examine of their favourite sources, none of this stage of monitoring household or repute was wanted for “regular” D&D. There had been no automated triggers for society and your loved ones to show towards your character all the time.

Going into the 90s, there was a little bit of a shift in mindset towards Asian-themed settings and video games. Instead of simply creating guidelines to rigidly quantify how varied members of societies “must” act, there was a shift in focus, as some, nonetheless majority white male, designers idealized and romanticized the settings they developed. Instead of pondering that these European settings the place designers didn’t add in strict guidelines about honor and succession had been the baseline, these designers went a bit additional, assuming that these settings had been all about hypocrites that by no means believed what they mentioned, however that the fantasy Asian worlds they created had been populated by true believers. If solely everybody might adhere to those notions of honor and perfection, all people can be higher off. Which more and more led not solely to stereotypes but additionally to fetishization.

When Worlds Collide

One side of the acquisition of TSR by Wizards of the Coast that’s typically missed is that as a result of third-party brokering of Five Rings Publishing, that firm additionally fell below WotC’s umbrella for some time. This led to WotC publishing a third version rulebook that shifted D&D’s “Asian” setting focus from Kara-Tur to Rokugan, the setting of the Legend of the Five Rings properties, which by now consisted of the unique collectible card sport and a roleplaying sport.

There are nonetheless a whole lot of issues within the third version implementation of the foundations, though with Rokugan’s extra targeted setting being a pastiche of Japanese tropes, at the least the issue of creating Japanese-inspired courses “primary” in fantasy China or India fell away. Rokugan on this period nonetheless carried with it a whole lot of fetishized components. It additionally had many points with utilizing names and terminology that lacked accuracy, claiming components of Chinese, Korean, and South Asian folklore as a part of Rokugan whereas nonetheless presenting the setting as being based mostly on Japan, specializing in very inflexible definitions of honor and proper motion, and actually leaning into the seductive, duplicitous Asian girl trope.

Worlds Asunder

Eventually, the Legend of the Five Rings property was now not below WotC’s umbrella. The IP was bought by Fantasy Flight lately, which led to the event of a brand new card sport.

Fantasy Flight tried to repair among the previous points within the setting. There had been extra girls in roles apart from as provocateurs or seductresses. There had been queer romances. Where Rokugan confirmed influences from different cultures past Japan, extra element was given on the encircling nations and the place that affect got here into the Rokugan correct.

The setting was rebooted in order that the foremost occasions of the earlier card sport weren’t presupposed, and a few characters could possibly be changed with re-envisioned variations. It created a recognizable setting with the identical factions and most of the similar personalities, however with room to rewrite the previous.

Roles to Play

Eventually, Fantasy Flight produced their very own model of the L5R RPG. Mechanically, the symbol-based cube decision targeted on characters selecting between succeeding, however doubtlessly having some sort of slip of the masks or outburst or having a lesser likelihood at succeeding at varied duties. From a mechanical standpoint, it created fascinating selections within the sport.

Mechanically, characters would monitor their honor, glory, and standing. They would additionally monitor their ninjo (want) and giri (responsibility). Effectively, this meant that generally a personality may do one thing that conflicts with their responsibility, as a result of they’ve chosen a want to pursue, and failing to stability want and responsibility may lead to a lack of honor, glory, or standing, relying on the context of the scenario. It in-built a purpose for characters to have internal battle as they pursued their targets and executed their duties.

This did make characters really feel extra like individuals, moderately than props which can be battered by the inflexible expectations of a stereotypically bordered setting, however it nonetheless performed with ideas that felt like they had been made to be deliberately inscrutable. Honor is one thing Asian settings typically throw round, with out inspecting what the phrase means, or realizing that it means various things in several contexts. Even utilizing ninjo and giri as an alternative of simply want and responsibility felt prefer it was “othering” the ideas that went into humanizing characters within the setting.

The L5R sport is designed for gamers to be samurai from one of many established clans. This signifies that they’re a part of the ruling class, however can have every kind of roles, from warriors, to courtiers, to practitioners of magic. One of the very best components to come back out of this e-book was the readability that samurai was a social assemble, moderately than a category or archetype of warrior.

Given the sport’s assumptions, your character’s stats are sometimes based mostly on selecting a clan, a household, and a particular college inside that household that’s identified for coaching individuals for a selected position. What every clan and household is nice at, and what they management within the Empire, is essential. As a lot because the setting itself incorporates sorcerers and blood magicians and evil creatures from the Shadowlands, a lot of the battle of the cardboard sport, and by translation, the RPG, comes from clans opposing each other, attempting to take over lands or duties and lift their very own status.

While that is an action-oriented sport, motion is commonly resolved shortly. The focus is on how particular person characters are going to juggle the wants of the Empire, their clan, their household, and their very own wishes. Are they going to have an outburst that lets them do what they wished to perform however creates problems down the street?

I’ve associates which can be deeply into the cardboard sport, and I’ve sat in on just a few video games. I’ve the core L5R roleplaying sport rulebook, and I even learn by the starter set, with the intention of working it for these associates. I used to be somewhat intimidated and uncomfortable. I felt just like the setting prevented a whole lot of the pitfalls I remembered from my a lot youthful days, however by I additionally felt prefer it was presenting a society that had so many expectations that it will be simple for somebody that was a fan of the setting to imagine you had been deciphering Rokugani society “the wrong way.”

But What About THIS Game, Now?

This overview is predicated on the PDF of Adventures in Rokugan, which is 426 pages lengthy. This features a credit web page, a desk of contents, a three-page index, and a full-page advert for the Legend of the Five Rings fiction line.

For these not conscious, some time after Asmodee bought Fantasy Flight, there was some reorganization, and the RPG traces had been in limbo for some time. Eventually, Edge Studio was created to deal with the RPG traces for Asmodee properties, however it took some time for the corporate to stand up and working.

If you might have ever seen any of the RPG books put out by Fantasy Flight, you already know they had been art-filled and had engaging and thematic formatting and structure. This continues with Edge Studio releases. I haven’t had sufficient publicity to select which items have been reused within the e-book, however Fantasy Flight has a large quantity of L5R paintings to make use of on this, and it has been used to good impact.

What’s In The Book?

The e-book is organized into the next sections:

  • Introduction
  • Book 1: Player Resources
    • Species of Rokugan
    • Classes
    • Backgrounds
    • Equipment
    • Customization & Feats
    • Motivations
    • Techniques
  • Book 2: Setting Resources
    • Adventuring in Rokugan
    • History of Rokugan
    • Atlas of Rokugan
    • A Grim Inheritance
    • NPC Appendix

While this e-book presents sufficient in the best way of species, class materials, tools, supernatural powers, NPCs, and monsters to face by itself, you’ll at the least must reference the essential guidelines of D&D 5e, which aren’t reprinted on this quantity.

Setting Thesis

This e-book has a transparent aim, and that’s to current a Rokugan that can be utilized for epic adventuring. This is supposed to current tales of heroes that save the village, the town, the clan, and the world from impending hazard. This isn’t meant to be the 5e adaptation of the L5R sport, the place characters are compelled to make tough selections and handle the strain between their responsibility and their wishes. This is supposed to inform distinct sorts of tales in the identical setting, the place PCs have much less inner battle and extra exterior battle with demons and sorcerers threatening harmless lives.

That signifies that even should you stumble throughout a scenario that might be widespread in an L5R sport, your function received’t fairly be the identical. In an L5R sport, the place you may meet Lion and Crane clan representatives about to come back to blows, you may intervene to see who ought to win, based mostly on what’s finest in your clan and the nice of the Empire. In an Adventures in Rokugan sport, you’ll doubtless be chiding them for combating whereas a hoard of undead is ravaging the countryside.

This presents a extra “zoomed out” model of Rokugan. You study concerning the clans and the broad strokes of historical past, however there aren’t many particular, well-known clan NPCs detailed. In reality, one of many assumptions of this sport is that you simply may set your sport in several historic eras, listed as “Flashpoints.” Times the place adventurers will stand out as people that may act and save the day.

The “H” Word

There isn’t any honor statistic or sport mechanic on this sport. The phrase “honor” solely seems round a dozen occasions in your entire e-book. In most circumstances, it’s used as an adjective, resembling when discussing clan honor guards, or when discussing how spirits, the useless, or the gods are “honored.” The one “traditional” use of the phrase honor is definitely within the advert behind the e-book for the L5R fiction line.

Content Notices and Inspiration

The introduction addresses among the ongoing points with adapting a fictional model of an Asian setting to video games. As I discussed above, the L5R setting at its inception pulled in another Asian influences past Japan, however introduced itself as a fictionalized, fantasy Japan. This can simply come throughout as dismissive of different cultures by intimating that these distinctions don’t matter. In this case, the inspirations part clearly explains that different cultures contributed to the appear and feel of Rokugan.

In addition to those inspirations, there’s a listing of issues that DMs ought to do to run the sport rigorously:

  • Humanize your characters and keep away from perpetuating dangerous Asian stereotypes
  • Don’t make up “Asian-sounding” phrases
  • Don’t use suicide as a sport component
  • Be cautious when utilizing non secular content material mirroring real-world religions
  • Be conscious of what to introduce and ask different gamers their opinions
  • Don’t clarify somebody’s tradition to them
  • Understand that you could be mess up, and actively analysis whenever you make errors
  • Commit to development

At the top of the part on committing to development, there may be an acknowledgment that Edge Studio should make errors in presenting materials and that they need people who discover objectionable materials of their merchandise to contact them.

As a white individual that has spent most of my life within the Midwest, and none of my life outdoors of the United States, I can’t absolve anybody of any errors they’ve made previously. It’s not inside my purview to do that. I’ll say as somebody that’s all for the subject material, could want to run the sport, and has been uncomfortable with related materials previously, this has a special, extra intentional really feel to it.

Player Facing Material

The first merchandise on the agenda in our player-facing materials is species, and this may spotlight the totally different focus that Adventures in Rokugan has in comparison with the L5R RPG. In addition to human characters, you possibly can decide to play Naga, Nezumi, Mazoku, Specter, Tengu, Yokai, and Unique Existence characters.

Each certainly one of these different species has some built-in hooks for why they’d be adventuring. The Naga (snake individuals) may be within the awakening of historical magic, whereas the Nezumi (rat individuals) are sometimes allied to people combating towards creatures from the Shadowlands. The Mazoku (demons) are sometimes despatched after spirits or monsters which have escaped the afterlife, and Specters may be the factor escaping the afterlife to complete a process. Tengu (fowl individuals) typically function messengers of upper powers, and Animal Yokai (animal shapeshifters) typically get caught up with people resulting from curiosity or pranks. The Unique Existence species is simply that, a custom-built being that’s distinctive, resembling a dragon reincarnated as a human to finish a process.

All the non-human species can seem human, with lots of them having particular skills that reset both on a brief or lengthy relaxation, or on an extended relaxation. All the species use the post-Tasha’s skill rating assumption of freely assigning skill rating bonuses. Another fascinating trait that many of those species have is that they rely as humanoid when showing as human, however their creature kind shifts to one thing extra logical (resembling fiend for the Mazoku) after they rework into their pure varieties. Another fascinating shift from the newer D&D ancestry design is that the issue of assorted skills is ready at 12 + proficiency bonus, as an alternative of 8 + skill rating bonus + proficiency bonus.

The DM is inspired to not body shock at these unusual creatures as racism, however extra awe or curiosity. I additionally recognize that each one of them have been designed in a option to work round the concept that it will be uncommon to see a celebration of non-human creatures wandering Rokugan. All their species’ backstory works for together with them in additional epic tales of supernatural threats and correcting cosmic imbalances.

The subsequent factor we see within the player-facing materials is courses. These embody the next:

  • Bushi (all-around warrior)
  • Duelist (warrior targeted on one-on-one fights)
  • Courtier (suppose bard, however with out spells)
  • Shinobi (suppose rogue)
  • Ritualist (common spellcaster)
  • Pilgrim (suppose monk, with some reworked methods of accessing skills)
  • Acolyte (I assume consider what a monk/warlock would appear to be)

Each class has a piece on how that class suits into the established traditions of Rokugan. For instance, most of the Great Clans have particular households that keep faculties for coaching specialised expertise, and this part typically explains which courses and subclasses match up with these clan faculties. That mentioned, all these courses work outdoors of the clan/household/college construction as effectively.


Bushi get the additional assault development you’d assume from a devoted warrior class. They additionally get stances, which provide you with a bonus in a selected scenario in fight and provide you with a method of producing focus. Focus can then be spent on triggering martial methods. Martial methods can scale with the quantity of focus spent on the approach when it’s triggered, however the extra spectacular upgrades received’t occur till larger ranges, as a result of there’s a most quantity of focus a personality can have at one time, which works up with stage.

Martial methods may mean you can do issues like attacking an space as an alternative of a person opponent, and upgrading that approach may change your vary from attain to 10 ft. and even 15 ft. when you possibly can spend extra deal with it.


The duelist class interacts with the dueling guidelines within the setting. When dealing with a personality in a duel, a personality positive aspects a variety of hazard cube based mostly on totally different components, which their opponent can roll and add to their harm after they assault. The duelist positive aspects totally different skills to problem characters to a duel (even within the context of a wider battle), and extra alternatives so as to add hazard cube to their opponents. In addition to those skills, they’re designed to be cell fighters, not carrying armor, and combating one opponent at a time.

Like bushi, they acquire focus and might study martial methods, though typically these methods are extra targeted on particular person targets or defence as an alternative of a number of targets. For instance, one of many methods duelists get permits them to immediately spend focus so as to add to their weapon harm on a foe.


Courtiers symbolize that factor that’s typically difficult in RPGs, particularly d20 video games, the place a category is introduced as being “good at talking,” and that will not translate effectively to the fight tier of video games. See a lot of the courses which were known as “nobles” over time. Bards are the very best instance of doing this effectively, as a result of the bard can enhance allies in fight and forged spells. There are some facets of the courtier that appears just like the bard on this respect.

The courtier’s important characteristic are intrigue cube. Both the quantity and the scale of the die go up because the character ranges. The character additionally positive aspects entry to prospers, that are extra methods wherein their intrigue die may be spent. Depending on the prospers a personality picks up, they may be capable to use a response so as to add to an ally’s armor class, cross a secret message to a variety of characters, add non permanent hit factors, set off an opposed character to take a disadvantageous motion, take away situations, or different impacts to bolster your allies or hinder your enemies. There are additionally prospers that can be utilized to find out hidden secrets and techniques, decided by the very best rolling intrigue cube, which performs right into a extra investigative side of this class.


While it will be simple to port over a lot of the rogue’s skills as a baseline for a ninja-style class, the Shinobi fills an analogous position, however with totally different mechanics. For instance, the Shinobi doesn’t get sneak assault cube, however it will get Merciless Strike, which does extra harm to opponents who’re affected by a situation.

In addition, Shinobi get a useful resource known as Ninja Tools. In sure circumstances, a personality can activate one of many skills that they’ve that’s powered by Ninja Tools. These skills can range from utilizing a smoke display to vanish, throwing a number of sharp objects at a number of opponents directly, or declaring that an space a foe is transferring by has been seeded with caltrops. Because many of those tips could cause a creature to take a situation, this performs into the Merciless Strike skill of the category as effectively.


Ritualists are the spellcasters of this rulebook, however they don’t use spell slots the best way the core D&D courses do. Instead, they acquire a variety of Invocations. These are divided into Tier 1, 2, or 3 Invocations, and the character positive aspects entry to extra invocations at every stage, in addition to getting access to extra highly effective Invocations.

Ritualists even have a useful resource known as Favor. Favor is how effectively the spirits regard the ritualist, to permit the ritualist to name upon them to invoke a supernatural skill. While you possibly can regain favor with an extended relaxation, not in contrast to spell slots, you may also spend 4 hours at a shrine to realize favor as you carry out sure rites. Much like focus, you possibly can improve an Invocation by spending extra favor on it than the bottom quantity wanted to set off the flexibility. In the case of Invocations, this additionally means altering casting occasions, as some Invocations at their base stage take for much longer than a fight spherical to forged. Some Invocations grant extra favor to the Ritualist when forged below sure circumstances, like elemental Invocations being triggered at a web site favorable to that component, however these further factors of favor can solely be used to reinforce the results of the Invocation being triggered.


Pilgrims are considerably much like the core D&D monk, in that they’re characters that may harness inner non secular power by unarmed strikes and the manifestation of assorted powers, however the pilgrim does so in a a lot totally different approach than the monk. The pilgrim has extra hit cube granted to them past what different courses get, which go up in quantity as they acquire ranges.

The character spends hit cube to set off totally different Externalizations, skills fueled by the internal power of the pilgrim. In addition to spending hit cube to set off Externalizations, the pilgrim additionally tracks the place they’re aligned on a chart of Yin versus Yang. The Yin excessive will increase therapeutic skills, whereas the Yang excessive will increase harm potential. Remaining balanced can profit your saves and notion. Taking totally different subclasses inside the pilgrim class can grant a personality entry to totally different spells discovered within the 5e SRD. By spending hit cube, they could set off spells from totally different spell lists which will hook up with nature, study charms and the flexibility to lift the newly useless, or see-through lies, maintain opponents, or counterspell magic.


The Acolyte is described because the mortal agent of immortal causes. They are characters that channel power from highly effective beings past the mortal world. This performs with inspiration in distinctive methods, in {that a} lengthy relaxation restores inspiration, and inspiration may be spent to do issues like regaining using class skills.

Depending on what subclass you’re taking, you acquire tattoos or manufacturers, which each operate in a comparable method. The tattoo or model offers you a restricted skill, though tattoos even have expanded skills which you could take as gildings moderately than gaining a brand new tattoo. Shadow Brands are much less vast open in the case of studying them, however in addition they may be upgraded in favor of gaining a model you didn’t beforehand have.

Other Player Facing Material

There are extra customizations that may be achieved by each backgrounds and feats. For instance, there are backgrounds which can be particular to the Crab Clan, and there are Crab Clan feats. There is a background for Naga characters and an extra feat that may modify their skills.

Awakened armor and weapons in addition to charms make up among the distinctive tools in Rokugan. Instead of discovering new magic weapons or armor, there are charts that element particular occasions below which a weapon or armor may awaken, reworking it into an merchandise with non secular energy. Charms are objects which can be damaged up into three ranks of accelerating energy. Characters can typically discover lower-powered charms at varied shrines, however essentially the most highly effective are solely given out as narrative awards.

Backgrounds don’t embody the usual Traits, Bonds, Flaws, and Ideals. Instead, that’s coated within the Motivations part, the place a personality picks two motivations from the broader classes of Bonds, Desires, Duties, Fears, Ideals, and Regrets. While this part offers examples of all these classes, the examples are broad sufficient to depart room to tailor the motivation to the character however pointed sufficient to present a participant path. There can also be a chart explaining how a GM may convey two motivations into battle so as to add that as a facet of the marketing campaign’s story.

Techniques is the broad class that particulars martial methods and invocations, each powered by scalable sources. This part additionally introduces new areas of impact (slam, sweep, and wave), and new situations (bleeding, disoriented, distracted, maimed, marked for loss of life, provoked, and weakened). Most of the brand new areas of impact are like current ones, however they’re solely thought of to be 5 ft excessive. The new situations are a bit extra fiddly than the present situations. For instance, bleeding causes a personality to take ongoing harm till they regain hit factors, distracted causes a personality to have a -2 penalty to armor class, and maimed causes a personality to have drawback on dexterity saves and -10 ft to motion. Marked for Death sounds extraordinarily dramatic, however it’s basically changing one thing like a warlock’s hex or a ranger’s hunter’s mark right into a situation.

DM Facing Resources

A giant a part of this entails explaining what Rokugan is, its historical past, and its areas. The historical past part is about twelve pages lengthy, and whereas it gives some date ranges, it doesn’t present a extremely detailed timeline. It summarizes issues in broad strokes, and for every main epoch it describes, it particulars an Adventure Flashpoint, which is a suggestion for what adventurers can be doing on this time.

The Atlas of Rokugan takes a tour of the assorted lands of the setting. For most of this part, this implies breaking apart Rokugan alongside the lands held by the totally different Great Clans. Most of the areas introduced have some stable journey hooks, a few of that are expressly known as out in sidebars within the textual content.

Not solely does this current varied lands in Rokugan and locations the place plot hooks could come up, however there are additionally quite a few locations the place neighboring cultures are talked about, together with the place their affect may be felt and the place members of the tradition may be present in Rokugan.

To summarize for anybody that isn’t aware of the setting, in a unusually Greek-inspired creation fantasy, the God of the Moon ate all of his kids besides one, who was protected by his spouse, the Goddess of the Sun. Eventually, that son freed his siblings, however all fell to Rokugan as highly effective beings now tied to mortal life. One sibling fell by the earth into the Underworld.

Each sibling had a selected expertise, and every sibling based one of many Great Clans. The strengths of the Great Clans are often tied to the strengths of the unique founder. Because he was upset that his siblings didn’t search for him within the underworld, the sibling that fell there led a military of monsters to the mortal realm, creating a spot now often called the Shadowlands, the place undead and fiends continually try to flee from as a way to trigger havoc in Rokugan.

The instance journey, A Grim Inheritance, is an adaptation of the L5R journey Mask of the Oni, however its theme works very effectively inside the paradigm wherein Adventures in Rokugan needs to function. The Crab Clan is the clan that watches on the wall main into the Shadowland, guarding the remainder of Rokugan towards incursion. In this journey, a younger samurai who was scouting into the Shadowlands has gone lacking, and his mom hires adventurers to seek out him. Not solely is that this an efficient approach of framing Rokugan from the standpoint of adventurers, however it’s additionally an ideal introduction to some thematic components of the setting within the type of the Crab Clan and venturing into the Shadowlands on a mission.

I particularly just like the NPC Appendix. It mentions utilizing among the stat blocks from the 5e SRD, however it additionally presents some new stat blocks. What is noteworthy about this appendix, nevertheless, is that there are a selection of easy templates that may be utilized to tailor a stat block right into a extra particular kind of NPC. For instance, there are templates for the assorted non-human PC species, templates for various clans, and templates for distinct roles, like investigator or socialite. Most of those grant a single particular skill so as to add to the stat block, though you possibly can simply tack a number of templates onto a personality, should you wished to make a Crane Clan Investigator, for instance.

Another side of this appendix that I like is that the brand new NPC stat blocks that they current have a chart with motivations that make sense for that kind of NPC. This additionally incorporates my favourite joke within the e-book, i.e., the motivations for the undead NPC stat block introduced.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been all for Rokugan since I first encountered it, however I’ve had a number of hurdles to my enjoyment of the setting. There had been some restrictive concepts that constrained individuality and felt like they lent themselves to a slim interpretation of the way to current the setting the suitable approach. That means I spent a whole lot of time being each fascinated and somewhat cautious of participating with the setting.

This e-book is a lot extra approachable than any model of Rokugan I’ve seen. The core components that make the setting distinctive are all current, however the paradigm of what gamers are doing has been shifted in a fashion that makes it simpler to interact the setting with out among the unfavorable facets. It additionally does one thing I believe is especially essential whereas changing the setting to D&D 5e. It doesn’t make this e-book the 5e OGL model of Legend of the Five Rings, it creates a sport setting that exists within the Rokugan setting that’s extra correctly aligned with the heroic adventuring of D&D.

I’m glad that the e-book begins off with a dialogue of security and respect, and I can’t say in the event that they received the whole lot proper, however I can say that it feels extra considerate to me than many different RPGs that cope with related topics.

One of the methods I usually gauge if a writer will get the 5e OGL is that if they will crawl within it and twist it round in a fashion that makes it do one thing totally different than it does for core D&D, whereas nonetheless understanding the present design zeitgeist of the sport. While this makes use of much less of the present design tech of “per proficiency bonus” skills, species design and sophistication design doesn’t really feel rigidly locked to what 2014’s choices seemed like. The shifting creature varieties on species and the flowing class currencies of the assorted courses really feel contemporary and fascinating.

I do suppose these contemporary choices could be a little little bit of a blessing and a curse. Unlike the core 5e guidelines, I don’t suppose you might have as many “simple” courses. The ebb and move of currencies and states of being are going to take somewhat bit extra guidelines data than simply monitoring hit factors and methods to hit issues tougher (although a few of these skills are, certainly, methods to hit issues tougher).

Future Wishes

I’d like to see an extended campaign-style journey on this setting. I believe the pattern journey does a high quality job of exhibiting what an journey seems to be like, however I need to see a marketing campaign that strikes by a number of tiers of play, and the way to sweep the characters up from saving individuals to saving Rokugan or the world.

The monster part is somewhat sparse, and I don’t know that Rokugan, canonically, has much more supernatural creatures than already appeared on this e-book, however I’m at all times up for brand new monsters, and I’d like to see extra of these NPC stat blocks with motivations hooked up to them. Those can work nice not solely to work together with the NPC within the second, however for constructing adventures that includes these NPCs.

Because this e-book took the time to handle among the potential pitfalls of Asian-inspired fantasy, I’d like to see sidebars and discussions in future merchandise that contact on tropes to keep away from and the way folklore has been misconstrued over time.

Beyond simply the idea of Adventures in Rokugan, I’d like to see somewhat extra of the dialogue we received about Asian stereotypes and respectful enjoying within the core L5R books, doubtlessly with some sidebars on the way to cope with issues like want and responsibility in a fashion that feels ripe for participant battle, with out robbing characters of some extent of freedom and character. I’d additionally like to see the core sport workaround utilizing phrases which may be extra nuanced than the sport affords them to be, and away from the long-term catch-all “honor” stereotypes.

I’m actually trying ahead to seeing extra from this line and seeing the place Rokugan goes sooner or later.



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