Thursday, 20 January 2011

Legend of The Five Rings Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire- Book of Void

We now reach the last chapter of the first L5R core book, the book of Void.

Again we begin with a small fiction, now with the twist that partway the POV changes to that of an ongoing game session.

There is a short campaign construction discussion. It is interesting that from the start it is assumed that the GM will limit the campaign compared to the stance taken in the 4th Edition.

Then comes the advice on actually running the campaign which is actually pretty good for the most part, and clearly aimed at the beginner.

However, John Wick has the stance of punishing a player in-game, for out of game actions. See page 170 for example. The irony is that the GM in that first example doesn't even need to cheat for the player to suffer the exact same consequences, and by cheating it's probably making sure what we are told in pages 167-168 (having fun is the most important) doesn't happen.

A disruptive player is disruptive regardless of the in-game consequences you dump on their character(s).

After the campaign and game mastering advice there are a few non-stated out NPCs, a few magical items, and information on the ninja.

Frankly the ninja section seems a badly though out bolt-on, if not an outright comercial to the Way of Shadow supplement (nevermind that the Way of Shadow didn't exactly include what they tell us would be included herr). Way of the Crab and Way of the Lion also get the same treatment.

Oh, yeah, the insistence that Rokugani characters are absolutely convinced without the shred of doubt that ninja don't exist is also boring as well.

And unnecessary.

And not helped by insisting on making a ninja section, firmly putting an elephant in the china shop when he wasn't there before...

After the much to big ninja detour we have a small bestiary.

This section aslo includes several adventure seeds in the Challenge-Focus-Strike format, and a complete adventure.

I found the CFS seed fine, but the adventure while interesting has some flaws.

For one, it forces players to play pre-gempukku characters.
It also puts a Fortune immediately as a patron of the players.
Considering it is an introductory adventure and the characters are supposed to be children it also is very heavy-handed in the consequences for some failures.

If you fix these aspects it is a very fine introductory adventure for both the system and the setting.

After Ceremony of samurai we are treated with something I've come to realize we are sorely missing from 3rd Ed. onwards.


Castle maps, geisha houses, temples, villages, you name it it exists.

Finally there is the actual map of Rokugan and a travelogue of locations.
One thing I liked here, and that returned in 4th Edtion, was how the great clans had borders that left large gaps of unaligned lands.

There are also some roads marked, which is a nice touch, as well as sea lanes, which we probably could live without.

There are a few mistakes, some key numbers are repeated, others are missing (or migh be in the creases of the pages), but nothing otherwise obvious.

My main impression here was how mind-numbingly long and baroque the toponyms are you won't find any Osaka here. Hell, you be lucky to find an Okinotorishima....

And with this I ended reading the first L5R rpg book ever. There were a few tables adds, reading suggestions, and the usual author notes, but nothing noteworthy (pun not really intended), but there is no point going over that.

I will do a small post-read analysis of somet hings that came up while I was reading but didn't fel right to post just yet, and then I'm going to start on the 1st gamemaster pack.

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