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View Full Version : Talking About Faux Samurai in Not Japan (The L5R Thread)


Becksworth
12-20-2010, 07:49 PM
Hey, there's a Shadowrun thread, why not a Legend of the Five Rings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_the_Five_Rings) one.

You probably know Legend of the Five Rings (or L5R as the fan-boys call it) best as "Campaign setting B in the 3rd ed. D&D Oriental Adventures book," but it was originally a trading card game. The card game gained a following over the years because of its strategy of allowing the players to determine the meta-plot of the game through tournaments and over player events (this also makes the plot hover around ridiculous a lot of the time, but I'll rant about that later). This has allowed a relatively obscure trading card game to continue to exist to this day where so many others have faded away.

This game eventually spawned RPGs, both the above mentioned D20 version as well as an original one using its own rules set (currently up to 4th edition), and a LARP even. There was also a short lived war-game, novels, graphic-novels, magazines, the whole fantasy gamer geek package, with the game's cult fan base of course gobbling most of this stuff up.

The basic premise of the game is a fantasy fuedal Japan-like setting (called Rokugan), with a few elements from other Asian cultures added in as well as less historical things like magic, mythical creatures, and more gender equality. The main story revolves around how Rokugan has been in perpetual state of non stop war for over half a century. Seriously, there has been like three attempted coups, five civil wars, two or three incursions of foreigners, and around Five "Dark God to bring about the end of the world with his/her/its monster horde" scenarios, not including standard issue Fuedal Japan-esque border disputes between various rival clans. The trading card game's story really needs to slow it down a bit, as it keeps having to one up itself to the point of silly (last I heard, the empire just finished another coup/civil war only to be besieged by foreign dark deity hell bent on destroying all things, a complete quadra-fecta).

At least the RPG though encourages more politcs/in-fighting between various families/clans of samurai over just all out non-stop warring. It also gives more setting info so you can set it in a less hectic time frame than the card game if you want.

Now, I've never played the card game, but I do love me the RPG. I've ran more than one 3rd edition (not D20) campaign of L5R. It's one the few RPGs I can GM well (I'm bad at planning out dungeons and the like, but I can apparently bullshit fuedal japan-esque political intrigue like no ones business). Both 3rd and the new 4th editions are excellent. 3rd was a bit over-the-top and imbalanced at points, but as long as everyone was from schools of the same power tier, there wasn't much to worry about. 4th edition balances it more, so you can pick any school and not feel like a total chump because someone else decided to be a Crab Bushi. Also it streamlines several things like duels and mass battles (which should help in having them pop up more). I've been reading up on the main 4th ed. rulebook lately, and I just ordered the Enemies of the Empire sourcebook for it. I'm thinking of trying to get another game going.

TL;DR: Awesome Fuedal-Japan-like RPG.

So, does anyone else play the card-game, RPG, war-game, ...?

Edit: Because the Shadowrun thread has one, TVTropes links (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LegendOfTheFiveRings).

shivam
12-20-2010, 08:00 PM
Lion clan for life, buddy. I read the novels, and i used to play the ccg, and i've dabbled in the RPG.

big fan of the setting.

Lucas
12-20-2010, 09:15 PM
I always wanted to try the CCG, but was intimidated by the seemingly high cost of entry for a game with ninety factions to choose from and five decks to make per player.

I did recently play the first session of D20 Rokugan game though! My friend and I are playing two Crane clan bushi, an aspiring iaijutsu master and a courtier respectively, who have been sent into the near-wilderness to oversee the development of a new village. In this introductory session I managed to talk a group of brigands into releasing the ditzy shugenja who was sent to our village separately, whom they were either holding up for or planning to ransom for food. No blood was spilled* but I scared the shit out of them so badly that when the shugenja offered them her rice balls out of the goodness of her heart they checked with me first to see if it was alright.

And I didn't even have to threaten them with my elephant.

*Well, no blood beside that of a few peasants who were dead before we showed up on the scene, but whatever.

Sanagi
12-20-2010, 11:27 PM
I only know about L5R from CCG samples from old games magazines. It seemed kinda neat. Except tapping was called "bowing."

Googleshng
12-21-2010, 01:19 AM
L5R is one of those games that REALLY inspires factional loyalty, which is always something I like in a game (psst, Crab is best), AND it did a pretty good job of combining Magic's reasonable approach to resource management with Illuminati's everything-tends-to-come-down-to-one-big-huge-winner-take-all-fight angle... actually that last bit might not necessarily be all that great, but it did lend some epic grandure when most games I played with friends boiled down to me amassing a MASSIVE freaking army and them farming up honor, until the point someone realizes they're slipping behind, goes for an all-out assault, and there's suddenly a huge flood of power activations and duel challenges and such to whittle things down.

And I rather dig the whole plot-focused bit where characters got replaced with awesomer veteran versions, which could upgrade from their older wimpier cheaper versions more or less for free. Especially Hida Wossname there who just kept being the focus of progressively more awesome things every tourney until they just said #@%$ it and promoted him to godhood.

Becksworth
12-27-2010, 08:57 PM
Alright, I got Enemies of the Empire, and I feel like talking about it. Overall, it is better than the comparable 3rd edition book (Creatures of Rokugan), but I still got some complaints.

Negatives

* The Naga section was kind of weak from a Player Character perspective. School-wise they aren't that good (they weren't in previous editions either), and they also muted a lot of the racial trait that made them cool to play (less physical benefits, fewer mutations, etc.). Also, the past life advantage didn't include any actual past lives to work (I guess you can use the human ancestors advantages as templates, but it is still lame they aren't any specific ones).

* Hengeyokai aren't playable anymore. There's a halfway option for animal spirit-blooded humans, but not full on shape-shifters.

* The Ronin stuff really should have been all in the main book rather than a teaser bit in the main book and the rest here.

On the plus side

* The Nezumi section rocks (Though it does make the Naga section seem even worse). The sections on the Bloodspeakers, the Lost, the Lying Darkness, and the Ancient Races were good too.

* Better organized than previous editions books. Different chapters for each enemy type make it easier to find specific enemies.

* Kolat mechanics!

Eddie
12-28-2010, 03:21 PM
Scorpion Clan bitches.

Lot5R is certainly one of the coolest settings, but sadly I've never been able to play in an actual campaign :(

- Eddie

Becksworth
12-28-2010, 06:42 PM
Scorpion Clan bitches.

RESPECT KNUCKLES

The one time I actually got to play instead of run, it was as part of a trio of Scorpion Clan samurai. I was a Bayushi Bushi and was the face character, and I was accompanied by a sociopathic Shosuro "Bushi" (read: Shinobi) and a paranoid Yogo Shugenja who warded everything. We pretty much ended up convertly taking over the entire Dragon Clan (I'm not sure how we managed to pull that off). Good times...

McDohl
01-02-2011, 06:43 PM
Every time an L5R game starts up, I tell the DM my character is "Doji Toji". They have, without fail, always gone, "No".

Anyway, love L5R. I've got a 4e book and nobody to play it with. :(

Classic Scorpion ftw. None of this mamby-pamby shit they are these days.

Lucas
01-02-2011, 07:20 PM
Now I wish I'd named my character Doji Toji (he is already a member of the Doji family and everything!).

And with all this Scorpion clan love going on, I need to admit that's what clan my buddy and I were originally going to use when planning that campaign I mentioned upthread. But then I took the talky manipulative role and left him as the bruiser (again), and if he was going to be the fighter he wanted to be an iaijutsu master, and those are Crane clan only as far as we could tell, so our options were kind of limited.

Oh well, maybe I can attract some Scorpion clan immigrants when I can get followers in a few levels. If the GM ever runs a second session, that is....

McDohl
01-03-2011, 10:53 AM
And with all this Scorpion clan love going on, I need to admit that's what clan my buddy and I were originally going to use when planning that campaign I mentioned upthread. But then I took the talky manipulative role and left him as the bruiser (again), and if he was going to be the fighter he wanted to be an iaijutsu master, and those are Crane clan only as far as we could tell, so our options were kind of limited.

The Scorpion are one of the more interesting clans, so I imagine that's why everyone likes them, though I haven't like a Scorpion daimyo since Kachiko.

My first character was a Crane.

Becksworth
01-03-2011, 06:34 PM
The Scorpion are one of the more interesting clans, so I imagine that's why everyone likes them, though I haven't like a Scorpion daimyo since Kachiko.

Honestly though, if you are talking about the coolness factor of recent clan champions, I don't think any of any of them can really compete with the Lying Darkness-era ones (Kachiko being one). If I remember correctly, the Crab and Dragon champions of that time frame both ascended to god-hood, and not as some piddly minor fortunes, but the two main gods (and meanwhile, Kachiko was off in the Burning Sands, pretending she was the manifestation of a gaijin goddess).

It's hard to top shit like that.

McDohl
01-03-2011, 09:25 PM
Honestly though, if you are talking about the coolness factor of recent clan champions, I don't think any of any of them can really compete with the Lying Darkness-era ones (Kachiko being one). If I remember correctly, the Crab and Dragon champions of that time frame both ascended to god-hood, and not as some piddly minor fortunes, but the two main gods (and meanwhile, Kachiko was off in the Burning Sands, pretending she was the manifestation of a gaijin goddess).

It's hard to top shit like that.

You're absolutely right. The Four Winds stuff was never very compelling; all of the most interesting characters were from the Scorpion Coup up to and including The Lying Darkness.

I've always wanted to run/be in a campaign that takes place in Dawn of the Empire. Having the kami running around as NPCs would be pretty awesome, not to mention the first Thunders.

Becksworth
01-03-2011, 10:48 PM
Not everything was bad about the Four Winds era. I thought the Four Winds themselves seemed interesting, and Daigotsu is one of the better lords of the Shadowlands.

I think they are making a big campaign setting book for various time periods not detailed in the card game (Ikoma's History is what I think they are going to call it). You might want to check it out later this year. Dawn of the Empire was supposedly one of the periods detailed. I think White Stag era (the period with the attempt to have diplomatic relations with some European style gaijin that ended disastrously) is also going to be detailed in that book, which could be interesting.

Pigu
01-17-2011, 07:35 AM
This is one of my favorite settings and even though I have never had people around to play the card game with I own some of the older cards. I ended up reading all of the novels and really wish I had a tabletop group to play the RPG with but alas... another Scorpion lover here as well.

Googleshng
01-17-2011, 02:52 PM
Honestly though, if you are talking about the coolness factor of recent clan champions, I don't think any of any of them can really compete with the Lying Darkness-era ones (Kachiko being one). If I remember correctly, the Crab and Dragon champions of that time frame both ascended to god-hood, and not as some piddly minor fortunes, but the two main gods (and meanwhile, Kachiko was off in the Burning Sands, pretending she was the manifestation of a gaijin goddess).

It's hard to top shit like that.

One day I got all nostalgic for L5R (card game here) and started poking around a wiki. "Hmm... I should see what happened with some of the characters I always use in the card sets that came out after I stopped buying them. Like what ever happened with the guy who had the freaky demonic crab claw going on? ... ... Wow." Replacing Amaterasu is about as cool as it gets, but it's even better when you see all the crazy stuff he did before that. Especially since the crab clan in general was in pretty sorry shape when I first started playing.

Becksworth
01-17-2011, 10:39 PM
Hey, I'm starting a 4th ed. campaign hopefully in the next few weeks. Currently I got three players (maybe four). Character concepts so far are:

A lecherous Ronin Bandit who specializes in smashing stuff with a giant hammer. This character is the grandson of a character in a previous campaign of mine who has gone down in infamy for the mass carnage he caused (one of the more memorable stories being the time he tried hacking a whole forest down to flush a single ninja out of it).

A tetsubo-wielding, female Crab Bushi with both the Large and Dangerous Beauty advantages. Will probably get along swimmingly with the above character.

The 3rd player is trying to decide between either an emotionally-detached Phoenix Shugenja, and a Brotherhood of Shinsei Monk which is still being worked on.

Given the party will likely be heavily focused on more combative, militant characters, I'm thinking of starting by throwing them in the middle of a large scale military conflict between clans. None of my players post on this forum (that I'm aware of...), so I might end up using this thread as a Pimp My Campaign: L5R Edition if people are interested in hearing about it.

hafrogman
01-24-2011, 04:34 PM
I played the CCG back in my highschool days (we won't discuss exactly how long ago that was). Lion clan. I actually did quite decently at the one and only tournament I attended, utilizing my cunning strategy of being 75% of the way to an honor victory before my oponents realized I wasn't trying for a military victory.

"Wait, how much honor did you say you had?"

Then I got handily trounced by the first shadowlands deck I came up against. Alas.

I found myself flipping through the RPG book recently when a group of friends was looking for a new game to play. We ended up going with Shadowrun, but the book impressed me by being one of the more beautiful RPGs I'd ever seen.