Wednesday, June 23, 2010

L5R Week - Legacy of Disaster Free RPG Day Scenario.

I mentioned in a previous post that my number one pick for Free RPG Day was Legends of the 5 Rings 4th Edition quick start and module Legacy of Disaster (LoD). I've gotten less time than I wanted to digest all the good stuff I got to pick up on FRPGD, but I have made my way through LoD. Although I was most excited to get some concrete rules for the fourth edition of L5R, I want to make some comments today on the module itself. Forgive me for my low-quality pictures, but the product itself is gorgeous with huge full-color illustrations on practically every other page.

L5R has an immense setting in Rokugan. It's a mideval/feudal Japan that is huge and dominated by different major clans named after animals. In LoD, we get to experience the likes of the Crab and Crane clans as their territory borders each other's. Other major clans are named like Lion, Dragon, Unicorn, and Scorpion.

I'm not going to give away the module's story itself other than to give a quick summary. The Crane Daimyo (noblemen) Doji Haruki was gifted with the weapons of a great Crane warrior. This gift was a great honor and would work to give the Daimyo some political prowess. Right off the bat the module confronts the new player with the fact that this game is not Dungeons & Dragons. Honor and political power are the two most sought-after concepts.

Anyway, very light and early spoiler here, but the ancient weapons go missing, likely stolen, and the player's task is to find out who took them and get them back as soon as possible since they're in town for the Daimyo's big power-grab party in which he was going to show of the artifacts.

The module is put together as a series of events that end up feeling a little bit like a classic Chose Your Own Adventure children's book. As a new player/GM to L5R, I'll be honest, all the non-english terms thrown around can get a little over whelming as you start reading it. I had trouble distinguishing the second location from the third location for example because several of the words setting the scenes didn't have inherit meaning to me. On the other hand, there were some locations that really popped for me and had a lot of character. I loved the village Wachimasu, for example. It's a Crab Clan village and the people and locale were very immersive in just a couple of paragraphs. The adventure itself looks fun and fulfilling.

So what about the player's point of view? 13 pre-generated characters. I don't often write incomplete sentences, but that fact deserves one. You have so many options as a new player to try out several different styles of character. Besides this, there was something else that really caught my attention. In L5R, characters have an honor stat. It ranges from 1 to 10 and players gain benefits from having a higher honor score. It's not exactly the inverse of Star Wars Saga Edition's dark side points either. even with my players who would be used to dark side points would probably have a hard time, at first, learning how to control their honor scores.

There are several points in the module where characters have a chance to gain or lose honor. Some are obvious, but many are less obvious and will probably shock new players to the game. One great example is when the players come across a blowhard Daimyo who berates the players and won't let them get a word in. If any player tries to interrupt or talk back, they lose a point of honor. Doesn't seem fair, right? That's too bad, because in the world of Rokugan we have a little something called station. The players have a much lower station in life than the Daimyo. Because Rokugan is ruled by a fairly rigid social structure, station is important and actually matters in the game. At first this concerned me - my players would be pissed for losing an honor point when they can't understand why. Then it dawned on me - that's the purpose of this module. There are 13 characters to choose from because they're all throw away one-shot characters. I believe LoD will be a great way to help immerse your players into the rules of etiquette of Rokugan and make them excited to create their own characters.


  1. Honor is a great mechanic to reinforces the differences between the usual fantasy game and l5r.

    You lose honor for touching dead things - can't loot bodies.
    You gain honor for enduring insults.

    You should also check out the Alderac forum for the stuff that's missing from the demo, like how to cast spells. Also when you roll a ten on a dice, you re-roll and add it.

    I ran the demo on Free RPG Day and really liked it.

  2. Honor does seem to be quite the awesome mechanic. Thank you for the heads-up as well on the casting spells. The rules have been a little difficult to digest, but considering I'm going to pick up the book anyway, I wasn't too concerned!

  3. We like to take the stance that in L5R, as much as being a hero is good, even better is to achieve a glorious death at the end of a campaign. Because after all, there is no greater honor than to serve the divine Emperor, and no greater glory than to die in his name.

  4. I am also currently playing L5R (the ccg that is :p) since some time ago, and also dabbled in the rpg of 3rd ed. I myself am planning to get the 4th ed book to see how the rules have changed and to maybe get another whole new group to RPG again with :)
    It's a good game where we get to play with a conscience :p
    This game is a place where morality, duty, honor plays an important role alongside your fighting skills - unless you're fighting in the courts :)

  5. My one concern is with the new edition's editing. Previous editions of the L5R RPG have been plagued with typos, missing sections, and incoherent passages. Ironically, the 3rd edition revised rerelease was almost worse about this than the initial version. Leaving out how to cast spells and the rule about exploding dice seems to be just another failure of editing in a long line of them that does not bode well for the end product.


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