Review: “Legend of the 5 Rings” 4th Edition RPG

I discovered Legend of the Five Rings several years ago, but in the past I have never had a chance to play the RPG system itself and instead have ended up playing Oriental Adventures version of D&D or other systems with strong Asian influences. That’s why I’m very thankful that Alderac Entertainment Group has provided us with the 4th Edition of the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game core book, which is right off the bat one of the most beautiful RPG books I’ve ever seen. I’m an artist and a designer, so that’s always the first thing I notice and from front to back this book is exceedingly well designed and produced compared to everything else that’s out there on the market. The writing for both flavor and mechanics is well done and exudes the setting of Rokugan (the world that L5R is set in) at every turn of the page. I have been waiting to write this review until we were able to actually sit down and play the game, and thankfully two weeks ago we finally managed to get a group together to do just that.

Contest: Win the L5R Core Book!

Contest is closed and results are posted over at our Roll! tumblog, but if you didn’t win the contest you can still go there before January 5th, 2011 to get 20% off the PDF from DriveThruRPG!

First and foremost, however, I am happy to say that Alderac has provided us with a copy of the L5R core book to give away as part of a contest! The book itself is hardcover and 400 pages long, and you can pick it up at your local gaming store for $59.99 – or you can win one right now! All you have to do for a chance to win the core book is leave a comment on this post and tell me you’d like to be entered into the contest (please make sure you give a valid e-mail address as that is how I will be contacting the winner). The contest will run until the end of next Friday, December 3rd (Midnight EST) at which point I will roll a die or use some form of random number generator to determine who the winner is, then we’ll ship the L5R Core Book to that person so they can begin their adventures in Rokugan for the holidays. While you’re leaving a comment I’d love to hear your thoughts about L5R and this review!

Five Samurai Walk Into a Bar

We gathered around the table for some gaming and all decided that we really wanted to try out the new L5R, though I had read and prepared with the Free RPG Day adventure our friend Josh really wanted to run the game on the fly and so I decided that it would be interesting to see how the system and setting held up to a table of new players, a new GM, and an impromptu adventure all put together.

We sped things up by each picking one of the pre-gen characters from the Free RPG Day adventure, and though I’d already read through most of the rules I sat with the core book close at hand (passing it to Josh when he needed it for a GM question) for reference. I’m not sure how character generation goes because we didn’t get to create our own, but I will say that the system itself stood up very well to new players grabbing pre-genereated characters and jumping right in.

The basic mechanic of the game is the Roll & Keep System, which means that whenever you are attempting something that needs to be tested against your character’s or an enemy’s abilities, you roll a certain number of d10′s and then keep some of them to determine your degree of success. Every character has the titular 5 rings (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Void) and two traits are associated with each ring other than Void – Awareness and Reflexes for Air, Willpower and Stamina for Earth, Intelligence and Agility for Fire, and Perception and Strength for Water. Void instead acts as a more universal (and mysterious) resource that gives you a certain number of Void Points per day that can be spent for a wide variety of bonuses. Next your character has a good number of skills that they are trained or practiced in, and when you attempt to do something that falls within the range of one of your skills you roll a number of dice equal to your skill rank plus your trait rank, but you can only keep a number of dice equal to your trait (for example: 5k3 = roll 5 d10′s, keep 3 of them).

The skills range from normal actions such as Athletics, Defense, and Stealth to the very flavorful Etiquette, Iaijutsu, and Kyujutsu that help define the characters abilities within the L5R setting. Possibly the most important and defining aspect of your character is which clan they belong to, which determines the specific benefits of the different schools and training your character has but also flavors your backstory, upbringing, attitude towards other clans, and general outlook on life and events.

Beyond that your character can also take a number of advantages and disadvantages that flesh out your personality even more so, such as my pre-gen character that had the disadvantage Touched by the Void, which led me to playing him as a bit unreliable mentally and always seeming slightly off and really came to a head when I used it to gain specific knowledge about the bizarre creatures we were facing and nearly fell from my horse.

Though the game does not feature classes like many other RPGs, you can choose to play a Bushi (the typical warrior and soldier samurai), a Shugenja (a priest and scholar, also the spell caster of the game), or a Courtier (the diplomat and politician). For simplicity sake we all chose Bushi pre-gens, but after completing the session I was immediately interested in playing a Shugenja to see how different spellcasting is in the system and because our Bushi were limited in many ways that a single Shugenja could have easily offset. If you create your own character you have a wide variety of selections available to you even within each clan, as you can choose a specific family in that clan and also choose different schools depending on if you are playing a Bushi, Shugenja, or Courtier. There are also some schools that allow you to play a monk (or even a tattooed monk) for a slight twist to the normal samurai, and also there are some minor rules that allude to playing a ninja like character but in general it is downplayed as the core tenants of the game go against the concept of playing a veiled assassin. That said, the rules are there and it would not be a stretch at all to run a game of L5R with the players as a group of ninjas performing covert operations against nobles of the land and their samurai protectors.

Interesting Locales and Fast-Paced Action

The adventure that we played lasted for 3-4 hours, was entirely improvised by Josh much to his credit, and ended up being incredibly fun. Overall the system ran extremely well considering we were all learning it for the first time and with a GM that had never run it before. Certainly a large factor of that success was that Josh has studied a fair amount of Asian history and culture and this definitely aided his ability to improvise, but the system also presented us with several interesting options no matter what we were attempting as players.

A large part of the L5R game and the setting of Rokugan is the way your samurai interact with each other, commoners, and the nobles in the cities and towns that they end up journeying through. Honor, duty, and social status are some of the biggest factors in L5R roleplaying and it is well within bounds for a GM to have characters arrested or otherwise hindered if they do not show the proper amount of respect to many of the NPCs in the game. Both the clan and family that your character comes from also provide a lot of ground work for roleplaying, and when they are combined with intriguing interactions with NPCs and a sprinkling of otherworldly elements such as Oni, Zombies, and Demons the game really comes to life in a way that many other RPGs only rarely accomplish.

For our part, we set out from a town and found ourselves passing a merchant’s caravan going in the opposite direction. As we passed, one of the samurai noticed a suspicious symbol on the carts and I seized the opportunity to take action. After confirming with the GM that the merchants and their guards were in fact lower status, I swung my horse around and stopped in the road ahead of the caravan so that we could properly investigate the situation. What followed was a very exciting and tense interaction with the merchants, their guards, and the caravan itself as our group split up and attempted to get to the root of things that probably lasted for 30 to 45 minutes. By the end of it we were fairly certain they were smuggling something, and in the fit that I described above my character had a unique view from the void and realized that the guards were in fact some sort of goblin wearing human skins to disguise themselves. A fight broke out with the four of us quickly learning that taking even just one hit in L5R can seriously injure your character, but the same is true for landing a good katana strike on your enemies.

A Matter of Honor and Obligation (or Ji-e-toh if you prefer)

Dave’s Phoenix clan Bushi was injured the worst but still managed to hold his own in the fight, while the rest of us dispatched the guards and some strange hound creatures they had released from one of the wagons. By the end of it the merchants had managed to awaken a large brutish demon creature from a coffin hidden in the middle wagon, despite my efforts to drive the wagon away with the creature still aboard, and my wife Becky’s samurai was beaten and eventually devoured by the creature in what she was happy to call a very honorable death. It was down to Dave’s bushi being unconscious, with just me and Andrew’s bushis left standing, we decided (and were reassured by the GM) that now our duty demanded we return to the city and warn the nobles there of the impending threat of crazy-scary demon monsters. As we fled we managed to retrieve the body of Dave’s Bushi and the Daisho of Becky’s bushi in order to return it to her family.

After this quick adventure, which again was improvised and not a particularly meaty adventure but still well beyond what I would have expected Josh to come up with, we all pretty much decided that we need to play L5R more and even hopefully get a semblance of an ongoing campaign started. The system itself handled social interactions, both complex and mundane, pretty well and combat was interesting and very clearly a dangerous act to engage in when you can be dropped by just one or two good hits. Since we were new to the system and still learning we didn’t delve too far into many of the complex maneuvers liked called shots or extreme defensive/offiensive tactics but they are there and I think once we play more with the system we will make great use of them.

It should be fairly simple to know if you’ll like Legend of the 5 Rings, if you have even the faintest interest in playing an RPG in an asian setting with samurai, daimyos, ronin, spirits, oni, zombies, and demons then this is definitely a game that you have to check out right away. If you’re not a fan of that kind of setting, then this may not be the RPG for you, then again I’ve already brainstormed combining it with Dark Sun D&D and Mouse Guard and run it as Legend of the Dark Mouse Sun Five Rings Guard RPG which has come even closer to reality thanks to the first supplement book for L5R, Enemies of the Empire, which you can read my review of here. Also just now I’m brainstorming running a Wheel of Time game using this system, which is feeling more and more like a good fit (especially for an Aiel-centric game.)

Comments

  1. I am certainly interested in being entered in the contest for the book. I have rather fond memories of playing a Scorpion Courtier using the d20 rules for Rokugan back in the 3.0 days, and would like to try out the new system.

  2. Would love have this book please add me to the contest. The last time i played Oriental Adventures was when it was new.

    also here is a great random generator

    http://www.random.org/

  3. In Know, i think im in the wrong time zone to be entered into this contest, but hey il write a comment anyway.
    These books look amazing, i to have yet to play this game but its a book, an rpg that all other rpg’s should aspire to.
    Now when i look through my Dungeons & Dragon books and i just see stock text and a picture put squarley on the page it makes me think that any first year could have done it. its layout is boring.
    Lo5R just blows all other rpg books out of the water.
    I would praise any othe RpG that could do such an amazing job..

    Back to L5R. the setting is unique, yet still has that real world feeling (Japan) giving that instent feeling of understanding. The monsters and especially their Zombies have a stroke of horror.
    A brilliant and fine game.

  4. I had an older addition of the game many years ago, and would love to check out the new version. count me in!!

  5. I must say, it’s an excellent review for a game that looks incredibly fun to play. I’m a huge fan of samurais so I’d like to enter the contest.

    Thanks for doing this.

  6. Clayton M. says:

    I would love to try this game. I’ve always been very curious, and I know that it is a beautiful volume.
    Please enter me as well.
    Thanks.
    - Clayton

  7. Game looks great! Please enter me in the contest.

    Thanks!

  8. Frankly, I’d love to have this book just to get my hands on that art. I just doubt I can enter the contest since I ain’t from the US or wherever.

    I only saw L5R as part of 3E, but never played it besides occasionally slipping some material from there into other 3E games. From this review, however, even the mechanics seem worth a full L5R run and I am seriously contemplating getting the book, contest or no.

  9. I miss playing in ol’ Rokugan. Please consider this an entry for the contest.

  10. I would love to try a copy of the new edition.

    Thanks much

  11. I’d love a chance to win this game. It sounds fantastic!

  12. Guinnessbot says:

    Please sign me up for the contest! Thanks

  13. Wow, awesome review. I may have to buy this if I don’t win the rulebook!

  14. Good review. Please enter me in the contest.

  15. Sign me up! I loved playing in Rokugan for D&D. Those Shugenjas can by wily!

  16. Thanks for the review, I played the first edition of the game and had some good times.
    Please enter me in the contest.

  17. Your review has enticed me. Please enter me in the contest.

  18. My ancestors have told me you are holding this contest. I, therefore, would enter on behalf of them, and bring them much honor.

  19. I have not played L5R, though the people I know who have all love it. Is a book won in a contest a good way to get started? Yes, I think it is. Sign me up, please. :)

  20. Sounds interesting. My gaming group has been looking for different things to try, so I may end up getting the book and giving it a go whether or not I win the contest. Thanks for the review.

  21. Sign me up for the contest.

  22. I had some friends at college who said good things about older versions, I’d love to round up some people for the new one. Contest please!

  23. I would love to be entered into the contest to win the copy of the rule book.

  24. i’d likewise want to enter the contest. my gaming group has played l5r during the 1st and 2nd editions but wasn’t able to make it to the later editions due to inaccessibility of the books. getting a copy of the 4th ed book would be great for us to be able to visit rokugan once more.

  25. Great write up..Sign me up for the contest!

  26. The art in the book is really great.

    Jim

  27. Hey, hey. If that isn’t nice! Of course I’d like to participate, but as I’m in the middle of Europe (Austria) I probably have no chance to get it shipped, right?

    Anyway. Great thing they published a 4th edition. I always wanted to get my hands on the original editions (so far I also was stuck to playing Oriental Adventures).

    http://www.grimogre.at/pics/illustration/characters/soshi_seiji.png

    ^^

  28. Nice review! I had the 2nd edition of L5R but sadly never got a chance to play it. I’d love to give it another shot, so by all means count me in on the contest!

  29. I would like to enter the contest.

  30. Jess Morris says:

    I’d love a chance to win the L5R core book. Thanks.

  31. As a fan of the L5R world, I’d like to be entered into the contest!

  32. Angela Rose says:

    I would like to win this book too :)

  33. I want to be entered in the contest.

    Played L5R CCG for quite a few years. Just now getting back into RPGs and would love to try L5R RPG.

    Nice write up, BTW

  34. I’d like to be counted into the contest.

    While I’m rather fond of Legend of the Five Rings, I’m not sure the people I generally played with would be able to uphold their honor and carry themselves as defined by the setting as they’re not really into Asian stuff as I am. Once I get a better hang of the setting and system I will be trying to run something though. It’s a very interesting game.

  35. I’m currently playing in a 3rd ed. campaign. I’d very much like a chance to win this book, so we can compare the new version to the one we’re using.

  36. Great Review, I saw the book last week, and the art is amazing :D
    I want to enter the contest!!!
    I´m playing the L5R roleplaying game since Shoju was the Champ, and the evolution in the game is impressive!
    In Chile the book isn´t yet in the stores, so It´ll be great to get one to play 4th edition.
    thanks!

  37. please enter me in the contest.

    I’d like to have a copy of that book :)

    L5R is always a great game! be it CCG or RPG!

  38. Shiba Khan says:

    As a humble servant of the glorious Phoenix, I ask thee for the book.

    Seriously, this edition seems to be astonishing. I need it.

  39. A chance to add this to my L5R collection, and give it a place of pride next to some of my original art?

    Yes, I would like to be entered into the contest.

  40. Malefic Polyhedron says:

    Excellent review. L5R has always been a game I’ve enjoyed reading but always wanted to actually play and never quite been able to get a group into it. This latest edition seems to continue that trend of sounding like a lot of fun and now I actually have a group for it! So far only the price has kept me away. I would like to be entered into the contest. Great contest and good timing!

  41. As a devoted servant of the Mantis Clan I would love to be entered into the contest.

    Surely Yoritomo is more deserving of free RPG’s than anyone else.

  42. Heck yes, I’d like to be entered in the giveaway! I saw this book at a bookstore and thought it looked awesome. I just couldn’t justify buying an RPG book without knowing if I could convince my group to try it… and I couldn’t really convince them to try it without getting a chance to read it more in-depth than a Borders visit would allow.

  43. I would certainly enter that contest!

  44. Johnny Bash says:

    Sign me up! I love Rokugan!

  45. Matthew P Mc says:

    I’m a formerly avid fan of all things L5R. My brother and I started playing the CCG when it was brand new as well as the 1st-Edition RPG (of which we still play a semi-weekly game). The CCG grew out of hand once they were bought out but the RPG remains. The 2nd Edition of the RPG was not to our liking but the 3rd Edition and the D20 stuff was really nice (Oriental Adventures has some nice additions to it as well).

    Ultimately, we’re fans of the culture and the D10 system is so simple to grasp and use that making up characters for me is often a 10-minute process. Just give me a character theme and I’m off-and-running. I’m very interested in entering the contest as we are constantly using later edition materials to clarify rules or to supply us with more in-depth information. I still have leather-bound Clan books from the 1st-Edition RPG. In fact, I have a first print of the 1st-Edition Player’s Guide. Such huge fans of the genre…

    In fact, I often carry around “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi (still reading it and taking notes), along with copies of the Hagakure, the Tao, sayings of Confucius, Art of War, and other oriental materials. There is a site with “Sayings of Shinsei” which we use in our game. It’s exciting stuff… I love this game.

  46. Hantei Rikch says:

    Hi. I’m a huge l5r fans. My group plays L5R since 2001, and now i’m GMing a post-hidden emperor campaign using an almost-L5R 3ER rules. i’d like a lot to see what improvements 4ed has, for the good of Rokugan!

    Riccardo.

  47. Rod Spellman says:

    I’d love to be entered in this contest. I’m quite curious about this new edition of L5R.

  48. Randy Nichols says:

    Great review. Please enter me in for the contest.

  49. Time to dust off my Crab bushi. I’d love to be entered into the contest.

  50. Ben Ferguson says:

    Hi Danny

    thanks for the review.

    Please also add me to your list for the raffle!!

    L5R is a fab game. I played the 3rd edition about 3 years ago in a mini-campaign. Thought it was a superbly realised setting and ruleset that brought the setting to life. Great stuff!

    Ben

  51. I’d like to be entered into the contest please… :)

    Been a while since we’ve played a good RPG around here, it’d be nice to try it out… Hope the fact that I’m in the Philippines doesn’t stop me from being counted in the contest… :) Thanks!

  52. I have been waiting for a well crafted RPG that expanded the Asian culture and mythos. I thought AD&D’s 1st Ed OA was a good stab at it and recently have been wanting to revisit those days. Looking forward to some great games with L5R 4th Ed. Would happily take a copy off of your hands to help apostatize more folks to L5R!

    Please enter me in the contest!

    Many thanks.

  53. The new global campaign for the Legend of the Five Rings campaign has just started, and our Website is now live! For information on Heroes of Rokugan 3: Spirit of Bushido, please head over to http://www.heroes-of-rokugan.com .

    We will be running table-top and possibly LARP events at Origins, Gencon, and other upcoming gaming conventions, so feel free to join us!

    (Please don’t enter me into the contest.)
    See you at the table,
    Mike

  54. My group is currently trying to run a campaign and only one person has a copy (and it’s in .pdf form at that!) so I’d very much like to be entered into the contest :)

    Duty, above all else!

  55. PlaguedOne says:

    I would love to be entered into this little contest.

    I’ve been a long time L5R player (mostly the CCG) and really enjoy the setting and story. I have yet to pick up 4th edition, but I’ve heard a lot of good things!

  56. I surely want this book ! Please, count me in …

  57. Hugh 'ZeroskillZ' Melrose says:

    Consider this my entry! I would love to try a copy of the new edition, the old one was great!

    Thank you very much.

  58. Coralskipper says:

    I’d love to be able to win a copy of it.

  59. Daniel Taylor says:

    I would love to be entered in the contest.

    Two of the best campaigns I’ve ever been in used L5R. I played a Scorpion Courtier in one and a Scorpion bushi in the other. I love the setting.

  60. L5R is on the list of games that I’m tempted to buy, but haven’t managed to pick up yet. Winning a copy of it would be great, so please enter me in the contest.

  61. I played the 1st and 2nd Editions briefly – always liked the setting, and even then the production value of the books was stellar. I’d love to win that copy of the latest.

  62. Very cool review – you have definitely awoken an interest in me to play in a fantasy oriental setting again … it has been many years since Oriental Adventures graced our gaming table.

    Thanks :)

  63. I would love to be in this contest! looks like a great game!

  64. A friend of mine has picked up both this book and Enemies of the Empire, and both books are fantastic looking in a coffee-table worthy way. Having read through his copy of the book when I was supposed to be playing its sister CCG, I can completely agree with the review. This book is on my Christmas list, and I’m hoping to get a chance to play in this new edition after playing all the other ones at some time in the past.

    I would love to be entered in the contest, although a part of me wants to let someone who hasn’t played the CCG for 15 years while having two kids with middle names of characters in the setting to win it. :)

  65. Good review! Enter me in the contest plez. kthnxbai

  66. I, too, would like a contest entry.

    If you keep playing, try and find an old copy of the DM’s Survival Guide. It’s one of the best storytelling resources ever written. Trifles like what kind of rice is given as a gift in each season sidles alongside some serious discussion of plot, escalation, and the passion play of a bushido-driven culture. I still read it every now and again just to remind myself of how to make a setting really come to life.

  67. Good contest, thanks!

    I started back with 1st edition and the card game soon after. Had a hiatus from Rokugan for a while, but last year played in an epic 3rd edition campaign with friends. We plan to give 4th a try pretty soon, so if I can score a free rulebook, all the better.

  68. i’d like to enter the contest!

    Squigot

  69. I would love to be entered in this contest. I was just looking over the 3.0 and 3.5 books yesterday. A lot of great stuff there, so I am sure that this one will have just as much awesome material as the last. I would love to pillage this setting to build up my little homebrew world which is more like the Steampunk Meji Revolution era Japan if it was invaded by cyberpunk aliens… good times.

  70. Nice review for a good game. I liked hearing about the game you and your group did, sounds like you had a blast. The thought of using another setting with the system is interesting, I’ve always written off the idea with the older version of the game a friend of mine has because of the school system and not wanting to write up a bunch of new schools for a new setting.

    I’d love to have the chance to win a copy of the 4th edition L5R book. I’ve been thinking about getting one any but I can’t till I actually find a job again :-(

  71. Hi, i would like to be apart of this “test of stone”. Some of my most fond memories of gaming are from an earlier iteration of this game (*2E). I have been relocated with the military so much it’s hard to keep a solid group, but L5R is pretty universal with gamers, especially ones tired of the rigid 3-3.5E/4E WoW knockoff systems D&D has been slapdashing together as of late. Character creation is so deliberate, and the heritage tables are always fun as they tweek even the most min/max’d character. Love it!

  72. Wow that is a lot of comments. So yes I would like a copy of that awesome sounding game.

  73. Long time fan of L5R lore and would love to get this RPG.

  74. Please enter me in the contest. I’ve never played L5R before, but am very intrigued by the setting. Thanks for your helpful review.

  75. Tim Wallace says:

    I would most definitely like to be entered in the contest. =)

  76. Good review. I’ve been a big fan of the card game for a decade now, and still haven’t gotten to give the RPG a shot. It’s interesting to hear the ups and downs, but it seems it’s definitely worth giving a try.

    Please enter me into the contest!

  77. Great review! I have played this game in the first edition rules. I found the book in a library here in Sydney a couple of months and got very interested on it. Please add me to the contest!

    Thanks!

  78. I would love to be entered to win. I’ve played GURPS Japan and Sengoku and always wanted to try this one too.

  79. I am definitely interested in joining the contest.

    This is a great review. Not many will post some of their game experiences withthe game rules in actual game situations.

  80. I got to enjoy the L5R setting back during the early editions of the CCG and RPG, and even the Clan War miniatures game. I haven’t been back to Rokugan in years; it is good to see the setting is still going strong :)

    Thank you for your review, and please enter me into the contest.

  81. Nathaniel Robinson says:

    I would love to be entered into the contest. This sounds like just the game for me!

  82. I’m in!

    I’m itching to run this game.

  83. Hi, I would like to be entered into your contest. I’ve seen the book and it looks amazing. Happy Thanksgiving.

  84. This wretched ronin humbly asks that he be entered into the contest for the book, oh honorable Danny-sama.

    I have so many fond memories of L5R, duels to the death over love and honor, capturing a battle standard at the battle of Bieden Pass, Romancing a Crane Courtier (who turned out to be a Scorpion Assassin). It’s such a great setting that you’ll reach a point at the end of a session, instead of asking the DM how much experience you get, you discuss how honorable (or dishonorable) you were.

  85. I remember fondly the days of D&D’d Oriental Adventures. I have not cracked this book yet but wish too thanks to your review. Please enter me in your contest. The setting holds so much potential.

  86. And ANOTHER positive word about this game! I’ve been planning to buy it, but heck, enter me in the contest! I wasn’t gonna get it until later in December, anyway. Sign me up!

    Also, I love the Aiel reference in your review. Ji-e-toh indeed! (And Legend of the Dark Mouse Sun Five Rings Guard RPG sounds amazing….)

    P.S. I do have a question. Mechanics-wise, do shugenja outshine the other classes, because of their magic? Or are shugenja, bushi, and courtiers roughly “balanced” against one another? I do ask this with the understanding that setting is ridiculously important in L5R.

  87. This sounds like an excellent game. Please add me to the contest!

    phil@philipstephen.com

  88. Had to scroll for ten minutes to get to the little text box. Please enter me for the contest. This looks legit.

  89. Jacob Lewis says:

    Ever since reading the previews of the new edition of the L5R game, I’ve been really interested in hearing some first-hand experiences from other players that didn’t focus entirely on the game mechanics or the appearance of the book itself. Does it play well? What kind of adventures does it facilitate? How did the group respond to the experience, and more importantly, how did they feel about the prospect of continuing with the system? This review answered those questions for me and gave me a stronger incentive for looking into this book. With any luck, I could win this contest and adjust that $60 towards supplement materials.

  90. I always wanted to get a good look at this; Oriental Adventures in 3e had some interesting bits but largely just felt ‘skinned’. A totally different approach should be fun :)

  91. And just for clarity I’m definitely interested in the contest hehe.

  92. Lydian Coda says:

    This sounds fascinating. I would love to give this a go, especially if I could for free :) Enter me in the contest please!

  93. I created some primitive Ninja and Samurai classes for 1st ed AD&D before OA came out, When OA hit the market, I was so stoked! This review seems to indicate that the best of the atmosphere of running a fantasy Asian setting are preserved in L5R 4th ed, The social mechanics of L5R really appeal to the rich role-playing style I tend to favor. This sounds like a must!

  94. Holy crap, first – thank you to everyone who has entered so far, I’m floored by the number of entries!

    Andy – to answer your question, we only played with Bushi but with all of the rules I’ve read Shugenja and Bushi seem roughly balanced – the Bushi have access to a large range of stances and kata, while the Shugenja have access to a large range of different spells. Courtiers I’m not sure of yet but they definitely seem to be rich with RP opportunities and many different types of schools such as Bard, Investigator, etc.

  95. Thanks everyone for your interest!

    To answer the question about bushi, shugenja, etc. Balance is somewhat hard to define. For instance…

    In a fight, a bushi will do most of the work. A courtier will mostly try to stay out of the way and let his/her yojimbo (a bushi) do the fighting. But thats ok as the courtiers place isnt in the fight, its in the court. But of course he shines there while the bushi would probably cause more harm than good when opening his mouth. Not to say courtier are worthless in fights, but its not their arena of battle.

    The shugenja does get all the cool magic and such, and he’s often socially protected (you dont kill shugenja in battle if you can help it, they are priests after all). But honorless baddie and monsters rarely stick to the rules. And behind the spells, shugenja are very squishy.

  96. @AEG-Todd: Cool! That makes a lot of sense to me, and it’s great to know that the balance is based strongly in the setting and the reality of who these characters are in the world, and not just on paper.

  97. As an imminent game designer, I’m buying and playing all the different systems I can find. If I win this contest I could save some money.
    Well, the first time I had a L5R rulebook in my hands, I thought it was a D&D copy with a few of soy sauce. I thought that Rokugan was full of samurai dwarfs, ninja elfs, and shinto priest half-orcs.
    And, years later, I saw that Rokugan is an unique and interesting setting, totally different of what I was thinking about.
    It seem that this 4º Edition is a real good product, and deserves to be in every roleplayer’s shelve.
    So, count me in the contest, please.

  98. I would like to be entered into the contest. Thanks

    I was a fanatic 1st Edition L5R gamer, but stopped playing shortly after the 2nd edition was published. I followed the 4th Edition Design Articles over on EN World, and really like what I read. And this review makes me even more excited to play.

  99. I would like to enter the contest

  100. I would love to be entered in the contest

  101. While I haven’t played L5R yet, I will be in a LARP based on the 3rd edition rules soon. I have taken a shine to Scorpion Clan, owning a starter deck and running a courtier in the aforementioned LARP. Thanks for the review of the 4th edition rules.

    I am also interested in entering the contest.

  102. I am interested in winning the L5R core rule book.

    I’ve always loved Japanese culture and I’m interested in Asian role-playing. I’ve been trying to break my D&D groove for a while now, and L5R may just be the thing to help me do it.

  103. I’d love to win a copy!

    I played the 3rd edition as well when it came out and always felt it was a fantastic product. I could never get many of my gaming group to play. (though we had many games to play try and play back then.) Hopefully this time a round I can get a more regular game together.

  104. Good review. I’d very much like to win a copy of L5R.

  105. I would be honored to have a chance to win this book. Me and my fiance enjoy this game very much.

  106. I’d like to enter the contest. I’ve never played l5r, but have heard only good things about it. It sounds really interesting.

  107. I am interested in the contest as well, please enter me Bartoneous-san. I have played every version up until 4th or should say GM’ed them and run the card game tournaments for a number of years. The depth and completeness of the setting and the innovative rules have always been a pleasure to deal with. I also agree I have seen the 4th edition book and it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful books ever produced. I am glad you enjoyed your game and highly recommend you play more. We all have stories that continue to be a source of enjoyment from this game.

  108. I’ve always been interested in this system. Heard very good things and glad to see it’s still going strong.

    gilvanblightAThotmailDOTcom

  109. This looks cool. Would love to win it.

    moeanddeATmnsiDOTnet

  110. Sign me up for a chance to win this L5R core rulebook! Enter me into the contest!

  111. Enjoyed the review, well thought out and informative. I would like to be entered in the contest, thank you.

  112. word on the street is that there’s some sort of contest going on

  113. I’d like to enter the contest. Great review!

  114. I would like to be entered into the contest. Thanks for the review, it really piqued my interest in a game I might not have otherwise looked at!

  115. Thanks for the review of both the book and the game session. Our group has been considering this one and I think it’s built enough momentum to actually get some games going.

    Obviously, winning the book contest would help in that department, so I’ll take my shot, thanks!
    -VIC

  116. I’m interested in the contest. I’ve taken a skim through the book, but it was good to hear about how it actually plays.

  117. I used to play L5R, and the setting is gorgeous. Of course, they’re up to edition 4 now, but I am sure it’s still a very workable, and most importantly, atmospheric system.

    Wouild’t mind getting the new rulebook, either – it’ll be good to get back into it.

  118. We’re playing L5R at the moment and having a great time!

    Oh, and would love to be in the contest if I’m not too late :)

  119. I played an earlier addition years ago (as a Wasp), and am hoping to give it another go. I’d love a copy of the new rulebook.

  120. Your review has convinced me. Please enter me in the contest.

  121. This sounds so cool! I had the D&D version of L5R, though never played. But these prices are getting high for games I may never play. Here’s to winning a copy!

  122. Frank A Vielbaum says:

    Great Review!
    That really got me excited to try the L5R game. I saw some sample pages of the book, and I agree the artwork and layout are fabulous. I love incorporating OA/Rokugan elements into my DND games, so having the new edition would allow me to play it as L5R as well as mine it for crossover ideas. Please enter me in the contest as well!

  123. Please enter me in the contest! I’ve been a huge L5R fan for years, and I’ve been told 4th ed is a must-buy. Great review, too.

  124. I have loved the setting since playing the card game when it first came out. I would love to try the new edition of the RPG. Please enter me into the contest. Thanks.

  125. I’ve just started a campaign and love this system! The world is richer than most RPGs and more than a few of my players are getting really heavily invested in their backgrounds and relationships with NPCs, which is something thatt’s harder to accomplish with most off-the-shelf settings out there.
    Sign me up. Love to be able to give a copy to one of my players who haven’t gotten one yet.

  126. Joe Schenck says:

    Great review. Please enter me in the contest!

  127. smokingmonkee says:

    I’d love a copy of this book. I haven’t played L5R since the first edition days.

  128. Wow, this review has me more than curious about L5R 4th edition! I’d like to be entered into the contest!

  129. I’ve played L5R 2nd edition (the one before WotC got it) and it’s pretty fun. It has some problems, but for the most part it’s a solid, fun game. The setting has a pretty steep learning curve, but the mechanics, for the most part, are well done and intuitive. I’ve only heard good things about this new edition. Nice review, btw, sounds like you had a nice time.

    Also, enter me in the contest, plz :).

  130. David Sullivan says:

    I would have liked a little more on the book and a little less on your adventure but the review was ok overall. Left me wanting to learn more about the game so I hope I win!

  131. AJCArrington says:

    Great review (as well as the one you did for Enemies of the Empire); would love to be added to the contest. On a side note, very happy to see that AEG have also released this in PDF format.

  132. Austin Smith says:

    I also have really liked what I’ve seen of the fourth edition book. The artwork is great and a lot of the mechanical and organizational problems the previous editions had have been cleared up.

    I would love to be entered into the contest to win a copy

  133. Robert W. Calfee says:

    I’d like to be entered in the contest.

    I’m in a play-by post game of Lot5R 3rd, but I followed the designer’s journal on ENWorld with eagerness.

    Good review!

  134. I would like to be entered into the contest, please.

    The setting sounds very flavorful, and I really like the “keep” mechanic as you described it.

  135. I’d like to be entered in this contest. I’ve got two brothers that I think would like this more than the stillborn D&D campaign I tried to start with them. The setting sounds very rich, and it’d be a good opportunity for me to break out of my D&D-only game experience.

  136. Please enter me into the contest. I have been a fan of Samurai RPG’s for some time.

  137. Macadosche says:

    Whew! Just in the nick of time. Please enter me in the contest!

  138. Because you asked so nice:
    Please Include me in the Contest! (If Possible, you know what I mean)

    Seriously, I saw the announcement today while brainstorming how to increase my Gamer Diversity (Last Year Monsterpocalypse won out) something I try to not find myself in a rut. Twas Ruts like that that kept D&D off the table for like…EVER for instance. So if the Dice like me, let the rings be Legendary. Thanks for hosting this bit of promotional madness.

    While trying to think of what games I’ve played with this flavor, the list was a sad pile of Ninjas+Superspies & a Kindred of the East thing. One way or another, I need to fix this. Save me before Phil tricks me into playing something else.
    -Jared

  139. The contest has closed and you can see the results over at our Roll! tumblog – http://roll.critical-hits.com/2010/12/06/legend-of-the-5-rings-contest-wrap-up/

    Congratulations to the winners, but if you didn’t win you can go to the results post to get a 20% discount code for the L5R core book PDF if you didn’t win the contest!

    I can’t thank everyone enough for entering the contest, this has been the biggest response for a Critical Hits contest to date, and the more responses we get the more often we can give things away and hopefully keep giving away bigger and better things as we go!

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