Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Legend of the 5 Rings: Overview

So yesterday I talked about Legend of the 5 Rings, and I figured I could stand to tell you more about it, since it's partially responsible for my "Taste of Things to Come" post last month.

Last month? Eris on a pogo stick, I'm seriously slacking here. *sigh*

Before I continue, I want to get this out in the open right now: I hate writing book reports. I will never ever be a good journalist because talking about facts is boring; I'd rather inflict my opinions on you instead. So if this review is a little light on data, either deal with it or investigate the game on your own, because I'm going to spend more time telling you why this game is awesome.

L5R in a Nutshell
Quoting Chris Hepler:
"Let me get this straight," I thought. "You want me to play a fantasy RPG in which your characters bathe daily, are literate, polite to one another, and work in a team. You will be given a badge in the form of a pair of very sharp swords. Magic is considered a respectable, skilled profession among the upper classes, so five spellcasters in a group doesn't stretch plausibility. The warriors will be professionals with licenses to kill, but the second they overstep the bounds of their lord, they will be reined in, because the social order will be more powerful than any one man. There will be no mixing of incompatible characters such as thieves and ninja that inevitably lead to intra-party homicide.
"You want courtly love, moral dilemmas, and loyalty to your lord to play an inherent part of the game system. You will define the role of women among each of the clans, creating a stereotype intended to be broken. You will have a responsibility to those you guard both above and below you, and you will have a license to kill.

"In other words, I as a GM will have a plausible reason why a mixed batch of armed psychos will get into trouble every week from now until eternity.
"Twist my frickin' arm."

In other words, this setting can handle just about anything you could want from a game:
  • Do you like killing? Then join the Crab Clan's thousand-year war against the creatures of the Shadowlands and their insane god-king Fu Leng who, when he fell from heaven, left a crater so deep that it literally tore a hole into hell.
  • If you'd prefer a more socially refined setting, you can be a courtier and engage in political maneuvering between the Great Clans and the Imperial Families, where insults and marriages can start and end entire wars.
  • Want angst and depression and to have your character suffer daily in an attempt to survive? You can be a ronin, who while technically still samurai in caste are considered to be criminals pretty much by default and can be slain without repercussion by "true" samurai.
Seriously, if that doesn't make you want to run out and either GM or play L5R, there's something wrong with you. In my experience, this game has appeal across the spectrum of RPGers, whether they're combat wombats, drama queens, or character-depth plumbers.

Coming tomorrow Thursday: either setting or mechanics, I haven't yet decided.


  1. Not overstepping one's boundaries is for freakin' suckers.

  2. Oh! Oh! Pick Me! Pick Me! =)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm a Gamer Geek and proud of it =)

  3. Setting please!

    We've played it on and off since it first came out and are still stuck in the pre-Scorpion Clan Coup era. Curious how the later settings play out (have read the material for it but haven't run it).

  4. So, I get to be a samurai that has a license to kill orcs mounted on dinosaurs?

    The last time I played a roleplaying game was in high school, but damn if that isn't enticing.


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