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L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
by Paul B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2012 13:47:15
I purchased the Dead tree version from ebay, I was more than a little disappointed by the quality compared to the 4th rules books which I rate highly.
The Adventure is ok, a little short but ok.
The screen on the other hand is very thin card, the Art work is ok and the table/info is useful, but when compared to the Screens for Dark heresy it is forced to hold its head in shame.
And the moral of this story is stick with the PDF.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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City of Lies Box Set
by Rob B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2012 12:37:02
Probably one of the best fantasy city supplements ever developed, City of Lies gives a GM all the tools necessary to run ongoing, long-term campaigns in Legend of the Five Rings. The player's guide to Ryoko Owari is one of the best handouts I've ever seen for city plot development and NPC character information - it tells your players who these guys are, what each part of the city is about, and the major plotlines and unusual practices of the city. It hints at the plots that could be run without giving anything away. I owned the print version of this supplement but I bought the PDF version solely so I could print out several copies of this document for my players as a handout.

The rest of the supplement is equally high-quality. There are handouts that are of use to the players, plots, pre-written adventures, adventure hooks, random rumor generators, ideas about how to create random encounters using the personalities and places in the game, a big map, and so very much more, all written with the high-quality that one can expect from an AEG - Rokugan based product.

I love this supplement, and I was thrilled to find it available online. I highly recommend it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Lies Box Set
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/07/2012 14:32:43
Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) [Fourth Edition] takes place in a setting heavily influenced by feudal Japan, liberally sprinkled with elements of other Asian cultures. It contains a variety of fantastic elements, including spell-casting, otherworldly creatures, several planes of existence, and, my favorite, kung fu monks with magical tattoos that let them breath fire. Players assume the role of members of the samurai class and take part in a variety of adventures, from ranging out beyond the Kaiu Wall in search of Oni to slay to maneuvering through royal courts full of honey lips hiding dagger tongues.

It continues to use the Roll and Keep system for action resolution. Whenever a roll is called for, a trait and a skill are selected and their values added together. That many d10s are rolled. The player then selects a number of them equal to the trait, discarding the rest. The faces of the selected dice are added together, giving you the total for your roll. It’s flexible because traits do not have specific skills associated with them; they can be mixed and matched as the situation calls. For example, you might roll Intelligence and Athletics to determine the best way to ascend the cliff and then Strength and Athletics to do the actual climbing.

OVERALL

I highly recommend Legend of the Five Rings, and not only for the fire-breathing monks, to anyone interested in exploring a less European and less Hack-n-Slash style of gameplay or storytelling. The setting is rich and stimulating while preserving room for player and game master invention, the mechanics are simple and cover a wide range of situations, and you get to kill things with a katana.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The L5R 4th edition core book marks the beginning of a new direction in cover presentation for Legend of the Five Rings. It is grey with minimal detail, in contrast to the third edition books, which were red and usually included a picture, apart from the core book. The art used within the book itself has shifted tones; it is still card art, but when combined with the whitish background it gives the book a much more ethereal feel than the previous edition. I found the fonts and spacing to be unremarkable, except those of the table of contents and index, which I found hard to read. The layout has remained largely the same and will be familiar to anyone who has looked at a previous L5R core book.

It is divided into five chapters each titled after one of the five rings from The Book of Five Rings, each corresponding to a different aspect of the game, setting, general mechanics, characters, advanced mechanics, and game mastering. One thing of particular note is the improvement in editing, especially over the L5R third edition revised book. My one major critique would have to be the character sheet. One of the objectives of fourth edition was to be able to play your character entirely from the character sheet, without consulting the rules. True, there is space to write everything mechanical down, and space for writing down information about NPCs, but the character sheet can run up to 6 pages. At that point I’d rather use a note pad for major stats and note cards for things like spells. Overall, I would say the book is well-made and laid out in a consistent fashion, allowing familiar players to easily transition to fourth edition and allowing new players to learn the game with minimal fuss.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
The core mechanics, as well as most of the other general mechanics, remain largely, if not entirely, unchanged. One of the most obvious changes is the lack of large static bonuses and free raises, which will probably be lauded by people who remember the Ikoma Spymaster/Voice/Courtier/etc. builds. The only major downside I was able to find to the rules tweaks was that they require an especially fine read by veteran players to find the few important changes that have been made.

Balance has been improved significantly over the previous edition; Mirumoto Bushi, I’m looking at you. Much has been said about Maho and the Spider Clan schools regarding their balance, mostly that they are too powerful. That said though, they are in the Book of Air separated from regular player character mechanics. Additionally, the theme of the edition is “L5R Your Way,” meaning each group should feel free to change things as they see fit as well as use or ignore whatever parts of the book they like. One potential mechanical pitfall that still remains is what to do with social skills. As in previous editions, there is a certain murkiness when it comes to deciding how to arbitrate social rolls. Overall, I would say again that the fourth edition of L5R is an improvement over the third edition; many balance issues have been fixed and a lot of excess bells and whistles have been trimmed out.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
L5R Fourth Edition gives people familiar with the brand more of the same gameplay they’ve had for years, but tighter. It gives new players the opportunity to experience a fantasy setting that is a departure from the traditional European medieval, and possibly Renaissance, world that is so common. The theme mechanics force players to make moral decisions that aren’t strictly black and white, which is a staple of Samurai Drama, and have great effect on how players are treated by the world around them. Additionally, the alternate rules allow groups to model the style of their Rokugan on things from their favorite Kurasawa movie to their favorite Anime.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I initially got into Legend of the Five Rings because of the fire-breathing kung fu monks, but it’s much more than running around and lighting things on fire, although there should definitely be some of that. A single campaign in Rokugan can cover so much ground; you might start out chasing bandits, discover they belong to a rival clan, argue in front of the emperor for the legitimacy of the war you want to start, learn that it’s all a conspiracy led by someone high on the food chain being controlled by an evil demon, and end up confronting them deep in the Shadowlands as the fate of the empire hangs in the balance. Legend of the Five Rings provides you with the opportunity to adventure in a world where Honor is a force greater than Steel and the highest achievement is not to doing great things, but being remembered for the great things you have done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Bearers of Jade: The Second Book of the Shadowlands
by Pierre-Olivier B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2012 10:04:31
I already own the L5R new 4th edition, and I was interested in more 'live' aspects from the Shadowlands ... so though it was from an older edition, I decided to buy this book.

I must say that the book is really what I was looking for ! I am really impressed by the material within it. The book gives you first-person perspectives, with multiple short stories and anecdotes on the shadowlands and its corruptive power, and also number stories on the courage, honor, successes and failures of those fighting it ...
In summary, the book gives what is promised in the summary.

Note that this is a scanned book, but the quality of the scan is average to good and no part of the text/image is fuzzy.

So if you look for more on the Shadowlands, this is your book.

Please excuse my approximate english (a french native speaker)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bearers of Jade: The Second Book of the Shadowlands
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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2012 07:17:35
Imperial Histories is another must-buy for the L5R gaming group. The plot hooks are awesome, and all the eras presented are intriguing and present ample opportunity to elevate player characters into heroes.

Those who are looking for new mechanics will find them here, and fans who have been so patiently waiting for details on the Thousand Years of Darkness storyline will finally have the detail they were craving for.

I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of the game. Along with Emerald Empire and Enemies of the Empire, Imperial Histories is a solid addition to the line and manages to enrich the L5R line without coming off as just another attempt to make a quick buck.

---

This is an excerpt of the full review on my blog. If you'd like to read the entire review, kindly visit:
http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/review-legend--
of-the-five-rings-imperial-histories/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories
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Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
by Austin C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2012 23:52:03
the process seemed good, however, I am having difficulty in the download process. I says that there is a URL error so I'm trying to figure that out. You may recieve a mail from me soon if I can not get it to work.

Other than that I liked the layout of the site and the purchasing screens where very easy to understand good job on that!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
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Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2012 16:36:09
The Enemies of the Empire are surprisingly numerous and the reference to them is nearly indispensable for any Legends of the Five Rings campaign that is not focused purely on courtly machinations (and there are even useful resources for that as well). It provides a wealth of information and along useful new game mechanics and character options.

Enemies of the Empire, a sourcebook for the Legends of the Five Rings RPG (3rd edition) is a 290-page PDF (288 pages if you remove the covers), written by Shawn Carman, Robert Hobart,
Brian Yoon; Kevin Blake, Mikael Brodu, Patrick Duke, Dave Laderoute, Maxime Lemaire,
Jacob Ross, Ray Rupp, Rich Wulf, and Ryan Reese and published by AEG.

The layout is a straightforward design taken directly from the print version of the book, with a 2-column layout (and occasional one column commentary). As is expected from AEG, Enemies of the Empire is lavishly illustrated with full color art throughout. The table of contents is complete and there is an index as well, so finding what you are looking for should be easy the PDF book-marking is useful as well if not always intuitive.

After an opening piece of fiction, it moves onto a page of advice on gauging the threat, which is always a challenge especially in a system as deadly as Legends of the Five Rings can be. The actual enemies list begins with animals, expanding the choices considerably for natural creatures. Some of the animals can be useful for the characters and not just obstacles.

There are human enemies: the vile Bloodspeakers, detailing their history, organization and provides additional tricks and magic for them as well as some of the most notable (and powerful) bloodspeakers. The sinister Kolat conspiracy, its machinations, plans, example agents of all tiers and new advantages, disadvantages and schools. The Lost, humans who have fallen to the taint of the Shadowlands and often gained great power but at a terrible price, they have new schools, new Shadowlands powers and examples of some of the more well known of the Lost. And the Ronin, who are given a plethora of new paths and the bands who teach them as well as three ronin shugenja schools (something lacking in the core rules). All of which provide new options for player characters as well as providing a wealth of villains for the GM. The new ronin bands, paths, and shugenja schools are especially welcome and make the option of playing a ronin much more feasible within the system.

Rokugan is also home to a variety of non-human cultures: The Naga, snake-people who are joined in a shared spiritual link. The Nezumi, ratfolk who know the secret magic of names. Both of which could, in the right campaign, be used as player characters. Spirits and shapechangers from the other realms and the other ancient races of Rokugan: the Kenku, Kitsu, Ningyo, Trolls, Zokujin and the Tsuno -corrupted Kitsu- are further detailed as well (though not available for players).

True evil is not neglected: The ninja and other servants of the Nothing, which seeks to unravel reality are detailed. The mighty Oni, direct manifestations of evil -complete with tools for making your own oni- and other creatures of the Shadowlands (along with advice on using the Shaodwlands in adventures). Completing the options for evil there are the Undead which is combined with advice for running horror in the Rokugan setting.

The work concludes with an appendix featuring a set of random encounter tables.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, I am friends with several of the authors, but I hope that has not shaded my opinion of the product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
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The Gauntlet
by Jazmin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2012 14:22:26
My players enjoyed this module, which was played the session immediately following the Honor Among Thieves Module. The party was made up of four level 6 players and one level 5 player; a mercenary group with good & neutral tendencies. They were trying to infiltrate the thieves guild and one of the fighters had dreams about it. They were also highly sympathetic to Sebastian, since they just helped him out.

Cons: It says that it is a sequel of Honor Among Thieves, or can be played as a standalone. However, it does not reference any NPCs from Honor Among Thieves (I worked Swift, the Minutemen, and Sebastian back in, however I did not use Desburg for the city in the 1st module and didn't use Desburg in this one). Again, the Module is laid out like a "pamphlet," which is a nuisance to assemble. I also switched the cleric's and the noble's house, it seemed like the cleric would have a more modest house than the noble.

Pros: I liked the fact that the DM can choose the last task (worked really well in my case), but perhaps 12 hours is too long for the PCs to get all the tasks done; using the Diplomat and some bluff/diplomacy skills (and one magic pipe performance, which made people dazed at the statue), they were able to get all or most of the tasks done within 4 1/2 hours.

I really enjoyed the how the players got around some of the tasks, for instance, since they were supposed to leave a bloody dagger in the noble's house (ie Sebastian), they weren't told how to do it or where to get the bloody dagger, so they drew one and left an apology note.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gauntlet
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Honor Among Thieves
by Jazmin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2011 13:06:48
I ran this over 2 sessions for my current Black Company game. The only differences I made that it was set in Beryl, the group got arms and armor instead of the Desburg magic item and I switched the shapeshifter's type from Terror fiend to Forvalka (wereleopard). In the tunnel section I switched out the water based monsters to alligators, although my party managed to avoid all of the alligators.

spoiler (some):

My group went the fastest route to Sebastian's house, and made a stop at the TTESSFFTT__ trap; it stumped them for a good 10 minutes or so, but I gave them several hints (ie "There are 10 spaces, 9 are filled and the last space is blank"). My suggestion to other DMs is to let the group roleplay it out, instead of using a Decipher Script roll. One of my players loved this trap so much, she is going to use the trap and part of the module in her home game.

I did up the HP of the terror fiend/forvalka some. My group was 5th level while playing this module, and are heavy hitters, so they would destroy a 50 hp creature within 2 player's turns. (However, I used the Terror Fiend's AC instead of the Forvalka's AC, and it took them a while to be able to hit it, before they dazed it and brought the AC down).


My top complaint is the layout of the module, where you had to assemble into a packet before you were able to read it completely through. The map was also very hard to read in the shades of grey (to see where the ledges where in relation to the rest of the tunnel was hard for the party), so I'd suggest at least making the map in color. If the DM's map is not possible to make in color (I copied the map included in the module and gave it as a hand out to the party), maybe make a Player's Map that is in color, as the party kept saying "oh, we're going towards room 10 or avoiding room 8" etc comments.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Honor Among Thieves
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L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2011 20:48:43
Firstly, the GM Screen is marvellous. The exterior artwork is just beautiful and really aids the GM in setting the mood and flavour of the game. There is plenty of inspiration just from these images. The data on the screen is highly relevant and usable, especially having the Honour table at a glance. Overall, it is a well-designed product that any GM would find useful.

On to the adventure, then. 'Descent into Darkness' weighs in at 20 pages, with 13 of those devoted to the module and the others for NPCs and the map. It supports its claims to be a 'plug-and-play', region non-specific module very well and the designers have done a good job of leaving enough blank areas for the GM to fill and customise it for their own campaign. IT is even open-ended enough that it could be used as the introduction to a much longer campaign arc.

After reading through the whole module, all I can say is 'wow'. This is an especially dark piece of work (for L5R) which is justifiable given the nature of the conundrum placed at the feet of the PCs. There is a huge emphasis on thinking before acting, socialising and investigation to uncover the true activity behind the module. When the PCs do figure it out, they are left with a horrifying choice. This should lead to a lot of really good roleplaying scenes and characters doing some soul-searching before they can reach a sense of closure.

The module is well laid-out, and there are scaling tips in some encounters to give some advice on not only making the encounters more challenging, but also dealing with evoking the adventure (the one entitled 'Not dark enough?' has some great tips).

I think that this could well be more than a night's play to complete, depending on how much characterisation and investigation the players want to undertake. In preparation, I would warn any GM to have a contingency plan (and this is dealt with in the module too) as there are some open scenes which can potentially change the entire gameplay. Whilst this is distinct possibility, it only detracts in a small way from the product.

I'm really looking forward to putting my group of players through this. As they are interested in L5R, but have a strong background in White Wolf games, this will be a perfect hook to get them into a campaign.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Rob B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2011 11:50:25
This may be the best edition of the L5R rules ever written. They are clear, well-laid out, and, as always, written in a way that both entertains and educates. I have been playing L5R since 1st edition, now some 15 years ago, I suppose. This is the definitive edition thus far. If you have ever played, or ever wanted to play in this rich, engaging Wuxia-style setting, then I strongly recommend that you buy this version and get started. If you've been away from the L5R scene for a while, get this and get back into the game. It is top quality, and I cannot recommend it enough. Happy Gaming!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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7th Sea: Players' Guide
by Mark E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2011 00:06:07
The main book of my favorite RPG. Certainly the organization is a bit wonky but the world is full of adventure and just reading this book will get you curious about how it all turns out. It's as though they took the best tidbits of history and mashed them all together at once. The French Revolution and the Three Musketeers (it's coming), King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table (oh they're there all right), Machiavelli and the Merchant Princes of Italy (oh heck yea), Vikings, the 30 Years War? It's all in there with pirates and a system that is not only forgiving if you try the impossible, but that also encourages it.

I only wish AEG had the foresight to continue this product or at least licence it out to folks who would do more with it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Players' Guide
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Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2011 08:55:38
The Great Clans is a book without an ounce of fat. Every bit of fluff serves to further insight to the clan, and the accompanying mechanics gives ways for players to further customize their characters without resorting to having to pick up stuff from other Clans just to be unique. The writing is clear, informative and displays the love and dedication of the authors to a setting that they are eager to share to the reader. As with all of L5R's 4th Edition books, The Great Clans is also a work of art, featuring beautiful artwork, clear layouts and font choices that aren't a pain to read. GMs and Players alike will find a ton of things that can enrich their campaigns, and Alderac continues their winning streak with the 4th Edition of Legend of the Five Rings as the best edition in the history of the L5R RPG.

----

This is an excerpt of my full review from my blog. If you'd like to read the entire review, kindly visit: http://wp.me/p5H0U-Rr

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
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Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/20/2011 08:03:31
I don't think I'm exaggerating at all when I say that Emerald Empire should be considered seminal reading for anyone who is looking to play in this setting. The writing is excellent, with each chapter focusing on one aspect of life in Rokugan, providing the kind of minutiae that lends depth and color to a game. It's the attention to small details that really shows off just how much the writing team loves the setting, and wants to communicate that enthusiasm and enjoyment to the reader.

---

This is an excerpt of my review on my blog. To read the entire review, kindly visit: http://wp.me/p5H0U-Rd

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
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Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
by Lyle H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2011 17:03:43
This is a very useful supplement for anyone running a Shadowlands or other combat-heavy scenario or campaign, as it provides numerous additional villains, opponents, and monsters (especially monsters). It will be less useful for more political (court based) campaigns, although there are a number of opponents that are designed to be used as infiltrators.
Like all of the AEG 4th Ed. L5R products published to date, this text has good production values and (color) illustrations, and is well-laid out and attractive to read.
Due to L5R using a non-standard system, the statistics and game mechanics given in this book will be difficult to translate for use in other settings, limiting its value for other game systems except as inspiration.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
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