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Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls
by Gary I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2014 07:32:51

I purcahsed Ark of Lost Souls for use in a Black Crusade campaign, rather than Deathwatch, and expect to have to adapt heavily when it comes to the detail of stats etc, but then I tend to run combats and campaigns in quite a narrative style so this isn't much of an issue.


As a stimulating environment for adventure the content hits home quite well, with opportunities presented for much diplomacy and influencing as well as for ass-kicking. The content straddles both a single adventure-like exploration and the much wider material for generating 'random' future escapades aboard this (or with adaptation, any) space hulk.


There are some nice options, with a new and terrifying alien race (well, new to me at least...) and some familiar but no less scary opponents. I particularly liked the way that the text makes the Tyrannid threat sound really frightening.


The main adventure encourages you to make a selection between exploring different major factions / enemies on board, and these are all suitable for adaptation to any party. Instead of trying to stop an Orc Waaagh! I can see my Black Crusade chaos marines trying hard to ally with or control it. Similarly, major alien threats can be a source of new tek, evil alliances or simply outright destruction. In Black Crusade, at least, it doesn't take long for characters to rise to the heights of world- or sector-altering actions, and there is plenty in the Ark of Lost Souls to provide that sort of 'grand' opportunity.


I really liked it and the flexibility it gives. The layout is sensible and accessible for me, and the random generation system is actually quite fleshed-out, generating ideas that have depth and subtlety. As has been said, the whole thing is very much amenable to a complete campaign setting, offering challenges on all scales and for all parties. I am seriously thinking of having my players spend quite some time here, with the aim of somehow turning the resources and factions aboard toward their dark ends.


One particularly good feature of a space hulk is the opportunity to expose your party to xenos they might rarely meeet elsewhere, and this is well exploited by the material with plausible backgrounds. Finally, the chance to justify a Harlequin combat !


Good value, with loads of material and lots to stimulate your thinking. Even if you never plan to spend any time on a space hulk, there is so much here to give them more depth and flavour in your games.


Pleased I bought it, and am going back to read it again now !


5 stars would've been for slightly more surprises or twists, or moments of revelation, as my players like those a lot. Shouldn't stop you buying it though - a great resource, especially for anyone that loves the 40k setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls
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Fireborn: The Fire Within
by Geert-Jan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 07:48:41

This is like a great mini-campaign to introduce the characters into Fireborn.
Though it is all BUT subtle, letting the player's really dive in directly into the setting.


For player's this might be a good introduction, but for the GM it isn't...
This requires quite a bit of preperation before hand, and a good read through of the adventure before you start.
Make sure you know the rules, and your player's ready to literally jump right into the action.


The adventure starts with peace negotiations in the mythic age as part of a flashback/dream of the player characters.
This is quite confusing, as they only get little bits of info, and know little other then that it's important to stop the war (but not know why it's so incredibly important).
It's played as a vague dream, and it can be a bit hard to get the player's into it and resolve the negotiations in a fluid and flowing manner.


After the dream however, the rest of the campaign gets a bit mroe interesting.
There is a bit of a lower pace moment where some investigative detective work comes around, but they can be sped up or spiced up if your group doesn't like to get into such situations.
My group actually loved this change of pace in between the action scenes.


I think in general, this adventure tries to show and explore all kinds of different perspectives and styles of what Fireborn can provide in adventures for good or ill.
It is very inspiring, and even though not everything will work for your group, going through it at least once does give you a better idea what Fireborn can be, and gives enough ideas to continue the adventures afterwards.


But again, it's rather ambitious for a "introduction", and requires a lot of carefull reading and preperation to get the msot out of this.
I highly recommend going for an easier and shorter pre-adventure or two to get into the system first, so when it comes to combat not everything has to be explained or covered all over again.
It's how I did it, and it worked out well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fireborn: The Fire Within
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Fireborn: Player's Handbook
by Geert-Jan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 07:34:43

A great game, but not for everyone.


I really enjoyed the rpg, and still do in an active rpg group.
I would highly recommend it, even if the rules may not be for everyone, as the setting in itself is awesome enough to steal from in case you feel other rules systems work better for you.
As the setting should be clear to most (Dragons reincarnating, now coming back in the modern age), the mechanical side is what I'll focus on.


The game uses a system called the "dynamic D6" system.
Generally this means you have 4 seperate dice pools representing 1 for active physical actions (attacking, climbing, jumping etc), 1 pool for active mental actions (looking for something, casting magic, trying to focus your mind, use a mental skill etc), and then 2 more defensive "reactive" pools; reactive physical (defending, dodging away, etc.) and reactive mental (resisting influences, noticing an ambush etc).


Now the truly interesting part (that makes it dynamic) is that you can shift these dice pools around based on your skill in an action, and the amount of focus you put into it.
In example, when attacking using your fists to punch someone in the face, it is a Fire melee action.
Your skill in melee is 2, and Fire score is 2.
This normally means you roll 2 dice (Fire 2), but using your skill you can fcus more on your action, and gain 2 extra dice, so to roll 4 instead.
However, those dice need to come from somewhere.. so you lower one of the other dicepools by 2 due to you more aggresive stance performing this action. (which may make you vulnerable to defense or other actions).


That is what I think, makes the system pretty awesome, but it gets better.
During combat it makes things look a bit more like a Matrix style action scene every time an attack is performed.
For each point in for example your Fire score, you can build a sequence.
So Fire 4 would be 4 "small" actions in the sequence, which can allow you to jump through a window, shoot both you guns in your hand (dual wielding pistols), and roll to cover.
(Jump - shoot gun left - shoot gun right - roll for cover)


This does however can make things a bit more complicated/hard to understand in how it works with defending etc. This could have benefited greatly from a better and more clear explanation, but it helps when you have someone who understands the rules to learn from.
(You learn best from experience)


What makes the game a bit more metagamey is the Karma bid, which allows your player to push for a success in any action by spending Karma.
Karma can be spend for 1 extra success each after the dice are rolled, and can allow an action to completely succeed if not enough successes are rolled. The defender also gets to use Karma however, so it becomes a bid...whichever one gets the biggest total of successes will be the winner, but it might still come back to a partial success if not enough excess successes are obtained.
(defender successes and attacker's cancel each other out)


It is rather required however, as Karma will be the thing keeping you alive early in game when you do not have access to draconic powers (which also use Karma).
Combat is lethal!


But there are ofcourse downsides to all this;




  • Combat is nice and fast when you get into it, but it takes a while tog et your head around it. Making combat and defence sequences can be hard to envision at first. And if poorly understood..makes for a complicated mess at the table with everyone looking confused.
    It is advised to really learn the system before seriously going into large scale complicated combat scenes. Take it easy with just 1 or two player's to slowly introduce.
    You will also want the Lost Lore booklet/pdf, it is recomended to answer some questions and give better explanations on soem bits of the game. You can find it still on the G+ community page for Fireborn, along with just about everythign else Fireborn that could still be saved.
    (why they did not make everythign available here or on the official FFG pages anymore is beyond me)




  • Combat styles are nice, and they add specific sequences you can do based on your "martial arts style", in practice however most seem overpowered due to the payoff effects they can give if they succeed the entire chain.
    As well as cumbersome at times, so..I generally moved towards making it more freeform with your own designs of action sequences that fit your style and providing cinematic action dice instead. (they also gain less powerful payoffs, based on the actions they take). It can work as written, but sometimes just feels more restrictive then it probably was intended to be.




  • Lethal combat v.s. cinematic combat.
    Combat feels like an action movie due to the cinematic "effect", but combat nevertheless is highly lethal as written.
    Especially the problem of guns being a bit too overpowered, made me down the damage of guns a little to not shoot everyone dead in their tracks every time one uses them.
    Still, guns are illegal in the game, and should be VERY hard to get. Even if you own one, the GM should be carefull to limit them, and give some drawbacks on carrying one to prevent abuse.
    But even without guns, combat can be over very quickly, as you have a good chance of wound penalties as well.
    I decided to remove the dice penalties, and first have the minor wounds completely fill up before wound penalties develop for every minor wound they would otherwise gain in subsequent attacks.



  • You have 2 characters to work through..
    First a Scion character, and need to make a whole new character for your dragon self in the mythic age.
    There is theoption to sort of "mirror" your Scion to the mythic Age dragon version, but it severely limits your dragon in flexibility and is not recomended.
    It's not THAT hard to make a character in Fireborn, so it's recomended to first play an adventure or two with just the Scion character without draconic powers.
    Let them learn the system, then make their dragon selves and dive in for reall.
    There are many adventures out there that work well for this purpose.
    My first intro adventure was "three souls and a smoking gun", a Gencon adventure, which is found as pdf online.


This is also a game that benefits greatly from a few "helpful" bits and pieces to help speed things up.
I used poker chips for Karma, using the colours to make them personal to each player, making it easy to refresh whenever after combat etc.


Having character sheets printed double sided and color coded (look for the costum collour sheets of Scion and dragon characters) is a great help. Whenever a flashback comes around, just flip over the character sheet to the other side.


It helps having stones or (even better) colloured dice for the 4 dice pools.
I use stones, so if they get switched around due to stance changes, theya re easily brought back to the original situation at the start of the next round.


Making it easy for your player's (and yourself) makes this game work even faster :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fireborn: Player's Handbook
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Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption
by Christian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 07:11:08

it's a great book, with an epic quest for your group of heretics.


The PDF is crap, it takes 2-20 Seconds to turn a page even on a high end System.
Perhaps a Problem with the encoding of the PDF.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption
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Secrets of the Empire
by Jeremy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2013 12:45:55

Recently purchaced this and was not disapointed. The history of the minor clans realy needed to be told and this did it nicely. Was not expecting to much in game mechanics but I was pleasently suprised with the Ronin/Bushi School and the Minor Clan Heritage Table (This was needed). With the new school the Minor Clans that have no listed Bushi School, like the Moshi, can have clan Samurai without having to take different school.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of the Empire
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Secrets of the Empire
by Jack B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2013 12:25:14

Love this book. Like all of AEG's books it is beautiful and PDFs are so nice to read on a tablet or large phone. The art, layout, and even filler fiction is as always excellent.


This book fills in so many holes in the material relased thus far. It makes playing Minor Clans, Ronin, and Monks a much more rewarding experience.


The whole section at the end about the Realms opens up alot avenues to creative GMs. If you are playing/GMing a Kitsune or a Kitsu this section is a must.


Given the poor binding quality of Alderac's physical books, these PDFs have been a life saver. I hope the publisher continues to release the PDF books so quickly after the physical book release.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by louis-olivier f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2013 13:04:22

Beaucoup plus proche des autre jdr de 40k, très semblable à only war
Les armes semble maintenant plus proche de leur fluff et les point d'action des combat sont parties ce qui rend les combat plus simple.


Dommage d'avoir ramener les Wounds, le système des blessures était intéressant
aussi dommage d'avoir retirer les ultilisation de stat alternative pour les compétences



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
by John Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2013 11:38:25

An excellent source of information to help those GM's who need information to set the background of their stories. This source book was a big very help to me in understanding how different clans run their unique cities and holds within them. The most useful was the write up on Toshi Ranbo itself along with complete stat layouts of several of the most notable NPCs there. The icing on the book itself was the additional game mechanics included at the end of each chapter and the layout of each city as an individual chapter. The only bad thing I can say about this book are the misprinted game mechanics in some sections. Excellent read and a must for GM's and Players alike!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
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Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2013 23:26:50

I’m really THIS close to declaring Legend of the Five Rings, 4th edition to be the RPG that is most supportive to GMs in my entire experience in the hobby.


The recently released Naishou Province supplement is just more proof of it.


I know that many of those who’v read my previous reviews of L5R books have heard it before, but getting the hang of a setting as exotic and different as Rokugan is difficult for new GMs. The Naishou Province presents an entire province of Rokugan, from locations, to NPCs and plot hooks, all ready for a GM to use in their games.


The Naishou Province is not tied to a specific location in Rokugan, allowing GMs to place it wherever they feel most comfortably in.


The book itself is divided into several sections detailing the Provincial Capital, Settlements inside the province, the Geography of Naishou and a sample adventure which the GM can run or mine for ideas.


The Naishou Province book also allows for different kinds of adventures, from political conspiracies to combat and magic. There’s plenty to see and do in the Naishou province, and the book can easily fuel a long-term campaign as the GM can just keep inserting new complications and the interest of the other Great Clans over the unaligned province.


Mechanics-wise, Naishou Province is a little bit underwhelming, but given that it was meant to be more of a setting book I don’t feel that it is at fault. Lion Clan fans will be happy with the inclusion of a new Basic School in the form of the Lion Elite Spearmen, as well as the mechanics of the Magari-Yari, signature weapon of Matsu Gohei, the Butcher.


One thing of note however is that Naishou Province feels rather short, being a companion volume to another upcoming L5R book: Secrets of the Empire, a book that will detail the Ronin, Minor Clans, Imperial Families and the Brotherhood of Shinsei. I have no complaints about it however, and if I was to get a new GM to start an L5R campaign, I’d easily refer The Naishou Province supplement as one of their first books outside of the core.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2013 18:30:46

Among the many excellent books for the 4th Edition of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, the Imperial Histories series is perhaps the one that I would recommend for busy GMs. Imperial Histories presents several alternative eras for an L5R campaign, each being a very game-able setup with enough hooks and twists to keep things fresh and interesting.


Imperial Histories 2 is divided into the following settings:


The Togashi Dynasty – An alternate Rokugan wherein Togashi defeats Hantei in the tournament to decide who should become Emperor in the dawn of the Empire. The resulting setting is one full of interesting supernatural wonders and a stronger presence of nonhuman races as opposed to the default setting.


The Reign of the Shining Prince – Taking place in the reign of the second Emperor, this setting is an introspective one for the Empire. Having fought the first Day of Thunder, the second Emperor finds himself saddled with the duty of making the Empire worthy of the sacrifices of the Kami. It’s less bombastic than the other settings, but I find that it is the one with more options to explore the foundations that made the Rokugan what it is in the present.


The Iron Empire – Again another intriguing setting, this one discusses Rokugan if samurai were slowly being displaced by technological progress? By adopting foreign technologies, Rokugan finds itself evolving differently, and along interesting branches of development. Steam engines, guns, and other technologies transform Rokugan into something similar but also teeming with tension as traditionalists try to cling to old glories in the face of innovation.


Heresy of the Five Rings – This setting offers a different angle, as it deals with what happens when change in Rokugan happens from a Religious angle. This is especially useful for games centered around the more spiritual clans such as the Dragon and the Phoenix.


The Reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum – One of the most hated villains in Rokugan’s canon history is the Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum. A cruel and vicious tyrant, his reign was considered to be one of the darkest in Rokugani history, which is saying something in a setting that is constantly beset by assaults from Ancient Evil Gods. That said this is great for the rebels and freedom fighter types.


The Eighth Century Crises – Perhaps one of the settings in the book that amuses me due to how closely it resembles standard RPG campaigns, this setting is a gauntlet of existential threats thrown at Rokugan one after the other. From the Maw to the Dark Oracles and the Bloodspeakers it’s a veritable buffet of evil for the heroes of Rokugan to confront (and hopefully defeat.)


The Return of the Unicorn – Perhaps it’s because I’ve been running a Unicorn Campaign, but this setting deals with a major turning point in the history of the Empire. It surprises me that it took this long for it to actually get the spotlight. The return of the former Ki-Rin Clan is a wake up call of sorts to the Empire to understand that the world does not revolve solely around them and that there are other places exotic and dangerous outside their borders.


The Shattered Empire – An alternate setting meant to take place after the Second Day of Thunder. This setting assumes that it was Togashi Hitomi to survive the confict against Fu Leng, and does not assume the throne, as Toturi did. This power vaccuum leaves the Clans working on recovering fast enough to put their candidate upon the empty throne.


The Four Winds Era – Detailing the age where the Four Winds were making their various bids for the throne, this is considered to be one of the better eras of the canon storyline. Interesting characters, plenty of opportunities for glory in both combat and in court and a spiritual hook in the form of Toturi Sezaru makes for well-rounded opportunities for any group of samurai.


The Shadowed Throne – In an interesting counterpoint to the Four Winds Era, the Shadowed Throne assumes that Toturi Tsudao survives to become Empress. With all Four Winds taking their places in the empire, Rokugan still proves to be a fragile setting as the various Clans react to what turns out to be Tsudao’s insufficient skill at keeping the Clans placated.


The Destroyer War – Another canon setting, The Destroyer War discusses the time when Kali-Ma marches towards Rokugan with the intent of claiming it for her own. Fans of the more recent events in the setting will find good use of this setting as it presents important details of that era as well as the necessary NPCs and mechanics of the era


Age of Exploration – This setting works very well with the Second City Boxed set, as it presents the time when the Empire goes forth to explore (and claim) the lands of the Ivory Kingdoms as it’s own.


Empire of Emerald Stars – Of all the settings in the book, this one is perhaps the most divergent. Empire of Emerald Stars takes the L5R setting and spins it off as a Space Opera, set in the far future, with interesting takes on what spacefaring and technology would look like if filtered through Rokugan’s unique lens. I have to admit that I’m very amused with this particular setting and a part of me wishes that it had a bigger page count. For those wondering about how different an L5R game can get, this is well worth checking out.



Imperial Histories 2 is full of interesting worlds, both canon and alternate, and has the mechanics to back it up. Fans of the setting will find nothing to complain about in the book as it lives up to the incredible reputation of being another excellent supplement to the 4th Edition line.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Frazier M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2013 13:37:38

Imperial Histories was one of the best constructed and most useful books in the Legend of the Five Rings line and its successor does not disappoint. Like the first, each chapter details a different era of Rokugani history, some which have been detailed before, while some are entirely new.


It dedicates a bit more space to alternate history variant Rokugans than the first, but they are all quite imaginative. The Togashi Dynasty is the highlight here, which explores what Rokugan might have looked like under the Dragon Emperor.


Of the canonical chapters, the Reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum stands out. Hantei XVI, the Seel Chrysanthemum, is known to have been one of Rokugan's most ruthless tyrants, but now his reign of terror is explored and detailed in great depths. I honestly cannot wait to run a game about a shadow war between the Scorpion Clan and the Steel Chrysanthemum's mistress of spies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by Marius F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00

If you are new to the Warhammer 40K this book in it's current state gives you a limited view of the setting. All the setting stuff is taken out, but there is a lot of fluff text in the system sections that teaches you something about the setting. From this limited view I like the setting.


This book is mostly about the rules. The rules are presented in a dare I say American way, that is it is super verbose. It spends a lot of pages explaining the rules. Having example for a lot of the rules taking up even more lines, some of the examples have flaws in the math making them more confusing then helpful, but I guess that will be fixed in the final version.


The system hold promise, but I'm disappointed with the amount of choices. I made six characters in order to run the scenario in the back of the book, and I really felt that it was difficult to make all six unique. Some of them ended up a bit too similar for my taste. This might be that the character creation process leaves very little room for customization. You get only a small amount of points to spend as you want.


The system really need more equipment options for all categories, en especially for non-weapons. In addition it needs more elite advantages. The three that are in the book is way to few.


One final note I like the system for influence and subtelty, but I'm very sceptical of the economy system. In all my campaigns as player and gm money has been a important factor. Getting enough of them to afford to get or do something. In this system all you need to do is roll the aquisition dice. And I wonder how the players will feel about it. Is it going to be that they all want the best aquisition character to get them stuff, or will all of them try to get some knowledge of it?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by samuel a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/15/2013 12:25:33

It was fun and easy to use, though there are still some bugs in this system I look forward to the final version



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2013 05:53:12

Ein Geständ­nis vor­weg: Legend of the Five Rings ist für mich mehr als nur irgend­ein Rol­len­spiel. In den letz­ten acht Jah­ren habe ich an der Seite von tap­fe­ren Samu­rai und Shu­genja dut­zende Aben­teuer im fan­tas­ti­schen Land Roku­gan ver­bracht. Gemein­sam haben wir den Auf­stieg und Fall von Fürs­ten und Kai­sern mit­er­lebt, Intri­gen auf­ge­deckt und am Kaiu-Wall gegen die Hor­den der Schat­ten­lande gekämpft. Des­halb erwar­tete ich beson­ders gespannt (und kri­tisch) das neu­este Rollenspiel-Produkt der Alderac Enter­tain­ment Group. Aber was sollte der Titel Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 bedeu­ten? Ein gan­zes Buch füll­ten die neu­es­ten Ereig­nisse roku­ga­ni­scher Geschichte seit dem ers­ten Impe­rial His­to­ries nun wirk­lich nicht und die Nach­wir­kun­gen des Des­troyer War wur­den bereits im Second City Boxed Set abge­han­delt. Die Ant­wort lau­tet ein­fach wie genial: Alter­na­tive Settings.


Erschei­nungs­bild


L5R Imperial Histories II CoverLegend of the Five Rings: Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 kommt gewohnt im Look der vier­ten Edi­tion des Rol­len­spiels daher: Hard­co­ver, dun­kel­grauer Ein­band, des­sen Cover eine roku­ga­ni­sche Schrift­rolle ziert, die den pseudo-asiatischen Flair des Set­tings stil­si­cher ein­fängt. Denn pas­sen­der­weise wer­den in Roku­gan geschicht­li­che Ereig­nisse auf eben sol­chen Schrift­rol­len festgehalten.


Auch im Inne­ren ist das Buch eine Augen­weide, vol­ler Zeich­nun­gen in Farbe. Kaum eine Seite ver­geht, ohne dass ein Art­work den Text­fluss auf­lo­ckert. Dazu beginnt jedes der drei­zehn Kapi­tel mit einem ganz­sei­ti­gen Ein­lei­tungs­bild – mal mehr, mal weni­ger pas­send zum Inhalt. Info­käs­ten bie­ten wei­ter­füh­rende Infor­ma­tio­nen und ein soli­der Index sorgt für die schnelle Ori­en­tie­rung. Dass im Buch teil­weise alte Legend of the Five Rings–Bil­der ganz oder in Aus­schnit­ten wie­der­ver­wen­det wer­den, ist nicht wei­ter tra­gisch und fällt nur einem Ken­ner der Rol­len­spiel­se­rie auf. Äußer­lich wird für den stol­zen Preis von fast vier­zig Euro, wie von Alderac Enter­tain­ment gewohnt, ein soli­des Hard­co­ver­buch gebo­ten, das sich gut in jedem Samm­ler­re­gal macht.


Die har­ten Fakten:


Ver­lag: Alderac Enter­tain­ment Group
Autor(en): Kevin Blake, Marie Brennan, Daniel Bris­coe, Shawn Car­man, Rovert Den­ton, Robert Hobart, Kim Hos­mer, Maxime Lemaire, Seth Mason, Eric Menge, Ryan Reese, Jason Shafer und Alex­andre Simard
Erschei­nungs­jahr: 2013
Spra­che: Eng­lisch
For­mat: Hard­co­ver
Sei­ten­an­zahl: 310
ISBN: 9781594720673
Preis: 33,95 EUR bis 38,95 EUR
Bezugs­quelle: Ama­zon (Klick), Sphä­ren­meis­ters Spiele (Klick)


Inhalt — His­to­ri­sche Rückblenden


Emerald Throne
Legend of the Five Rings ist ein Set­ting, das sich wei­ter­ent­wi­ckelt. Beein­flusst vom gleich­na­mi­gen Kar­ten­spiel ver­än­dern die jähr­li­chen offi­zi­el­len Kam­pa­gnen gesell­schaft­li­che und teil­weise mys­ti­sche Details der Welt Roku­gan. Dabei begann das Rol­len­spiel mit der ers­ten Edi­tion nicht im Jahre Null, dem Fall der Kami, son­dern etwa tau­send Jahre spä­ter am Ende der Herr­schaft der Hantei-Kaiser. Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 setzt genau da ein und bie­tet mehr als ‚nur‘ einen his­to­ri­schen Rück­blick für Spiel­lei­ter: Es lässt Spie­ler prä­gende Epo­chen aus der Geschichte selbst erleben.


Wäh­rend das erste Impe­rial His­to­ries sich aber auf aus ande­ren Publi­ka­tio­nen wohl­be­kannte Zeit­epo­chen wie etwa die Klankriege oder die Herr­schaft der Gozoku beschränkte, beleuch­tet Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 die weni­ger bekannte Ver­gan­gen­heit roku­ga­ni­scher Geschichte. So etwa die zwei­hun­dert Jahre wäh­rende Herr­schaft des zwei­ten Han­tei Kai­sers zu einer Zeit, als das Hof­le­ben in star­kem Kon­trast zu den noch wil­den Tra­di­tio­nen der jun­gen Klans stand. Oder aber die grau­same Ter­ror­herr­schaft von Han­tei XVI, des­sen Para­noia tau­sende unschul­dige Roku­gani das Leben kos­tete. Beide Epi­so­den der Geschichte wur­den von den Fans nach dem ers­ten Band stark nach­ge­fragt und nun für Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 voll­stän­dig ausgestaltet.


Der in den ein­zel­nen Kapi­teln ent­hal­tene kurze Über­blick über die hin­füh­ren­den his­to­ri­schen Ereig­nisse ist aus­rei­chend und doch so knapp gehal­ten, dass Spiel­run­den genug Frei­raum für eigene Kam­pa­gnen haben. Das Buch geht beson­ders auf Unklar­hei­ten der kano­ni­schen Geschichts­schrei­bung Roku­gans und dadurch ent­ste­hende Optio­nen ein, über­lässt die letzte Ent­schei­dung über die tat­säch­li­che Wahr­heit der Ereig­nisse jedoch dem Spiel­lei­ter. Das mag für Leser, die einen strik­ten Hin­ter­grund mögen, unbe­frie­di­gend sein, gibt ande­rer­seits aber die ein­zig­ar­tige Mög­lich­keit Details an den Ver­lauf einer Gegenwarts-Kampagne anzu­pas­sen. Wie bei jedem Aus­flug in die Ver­gan­gen­heit eines beste­hen­den Set­tings sto­ßen Spiel­lei­ter aber schnell auf Pro­bleme, wenn Spie­ler ver­su­chen die gro­ßen kano­ni­schen Ereig­nisse zu ver­än­dern. Hier ist gerade bei mäch­ti­ge­ren Cha­rak­te­ren Fin­ger­spit­zen­ge­fühl gefragt.


Alter­na­tive Rokugans


Die his­to­ri­schen Rück­blen­den machen aber nur sie­ben der drei­zehn Kapi­tel von Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 aus. Der Rest ist eine Samm­lung von alter­na­ti­ven „Was wäre wenn“-Szenarien, die in der Ver­gan­gen­heit (und Zukunft) von Roku­gan spie­len. Dies wurde bereits im Vor­gän­ger­buch Impe­rial His­to­ries mit dem Kapi­tel The Thousand Years of Dar­k­ness vor­ge­dacht, ist hier aber deut­lich umfang­rei­cher gestal­tet. Die ein­zel­nen Sze­na­rien sind genauso detail­liert beschrie­ben, wie die his­to­ri­schen Epo­chen, samt Hin­wei­sen für Spiel­lei­ter und einer Über­sicht der zu die­ser Zeit akti­ven Klans.


Beson­ders inter­es­sant sind diese alter­na­ti­ven Ver­sio­nen Roku­gans des­halb, wenn sie mehr als nur poli­ti­sche oder his­to­ri­sche Gege­ben­hei­ten, näm­lich das Grund­ge­fühl des Rol­len­spiels selbst ver­än­dern. Spiel­lei­ter müs­sen zwar noch etwas Arbeit in die Aus­ge­stal­tung einer Kam­pa­gne ste­cken, erhal­ten aber in jedem Kapi­tel einen Über­blick über Mecha­ni­ken, wich­tige Cha­rak­tere, Ant­ago­nis­ten, Zau­ber und Kampf­schu­len für den neuen Hin­ter­grund. Der eigent­li­che Clou ist jedoch: Viele alter­na­tive Set­tings ent­stam­men nicht der Feder der Alderac Enter­tain­ment–Schrei­ber, son­dern Ein­sen­dun­gen von Spie­lern des Rol­len­spiels. Qua­li­ta­tiv merkt man aber kei­nen Unter­schied; offen­bar hat hier das Design­team selbst mit– und nachgeholfen.


Fan­tasy Rokugan


Gleich das erste Kapi­tel, The Toga­shi Dynas­tie, ist das durch­dach­teste alter­na­tive Set­ting und stößt dabei einen der Grund­pfei­ler von Legend of the Five Rings um: Nicht Kami Han­tei, son­dern sein Bru­der Toga­shi wird in die­sem alter­na­ti­ven Roku­gan als Sie­ger des Tur­niers der Kami gekürt und der Dra­chen­klan damit zum ers­ten Kai­ser­haus. Das Ergeb­nis ist ein deut­lich fan­tas­ti­sche­res Roku­gan, in wel­chem die über­na­tür­li­chen Völ­ker wie Kenku, Naga oder Nezumi Seite an Seite mit den Men­schen leben. Han­tei ist hier Grün­der des Eulen­klans, der sich um die Belange der „Frem­den“ küm­mert, wäh­rend Kai­ser Toga­shi tat­säch­lich unsterb­lich die Jahr­hun­derte über­dau­ert und das Mönchs­we­sen fördert.


Rea­lis­ti­sches Rokugan


Den ent­ge­gen­ge­setz­ten Weg geht das Kapi­tel The Shat­te­red Empire. Hier endet die Hantei-Dynastie mit dem Tod der zwei­ten Cham­pi­ons des Don­ners, ohne dass Toturi den Thron ergreift. Folge und Set­ting sind ein Roku­gan im Klankrieg um den Kai­ser­ti­tel, das Spie­lern ent­ge­gen­kom­men dürfte, die gerne ein rea­lis­ti­sche­res Roku­gan hät­ten, das der japa­ni­schen Sengoku-Jidai Epo­che ähnelt. Der Hin­ter­grund nimmt hier einen deut­lich düs­te­re­ren Ton an und ist gut für Mili­tär­kam­pa­gnen geeignet.


Steam­punk Rokugan


Das Kapi­tel Iron Roku­gan ver­mischt das asia­ti­sche Set­ting mit west­li­chen Ele­men­ten. Nach dem Angriff der Gai­jin über­nimmt Roku­gan einen Groß­teil ihrer Tech­no­lo­gie. Flin­ten­schloss­pis­to­len und Eisen­bah­nen erge­ben in Ver­bin­dung mit Samu­rai und Kai­ser­hof einen Hin­ter­grund, der Spie­lern viel zumu­tet, aber ein­fach Spaß macht – vor allem, wenn die Kami sich unzu­frie­den mit den neuen Wegen des Rei­ches zei­gen und die Bau­ern die Kas­ten­ge­sell­schaft in Frage stel­len. Damit erin­nert das Set­ting in mehr als nur einer Hin­sicht an die Meiji-Restauration des spä­ten 19. Jahr­hun­derts. Ein Über­blick über mög­li­che Feu­er­waf­fen und eine Abhand­lung über tech­no­lo­gi­sche Aus­wir­kun­gen auf die Gesell­schaft der Samu­rai wer­den mitgeliefert.


Roku­gan im Weltraum?


Etwas alleine steht das letzte Kapi­tel und gewag­teste alter­na­tive Roku­gan von Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 da: The Eme­rald Stars. Tat­säch­lich han­delt es sich um eine in die ferne Zukunft wei­ter­ge­dachte Welt­raum­oper mit Sied­lungs­pla­ne­ten der ein­zel­nen Klans und Raum­schif­fen der Katana-Klasse. Hier hilft auch nicht der Hin­weis auf ein „radi­ka­les Expe­ri­ment“, denn so ganz will Zukunfts-L5R nicht funk­tio­nie­ren. Die gege­bene Hin­ter­grund­ge­schichte ist zu knapp, um den Auf­bruch in den Welt­raum zu erklä­ren und das über­tra­gene Kas­ten­sys­tem samt nach­träg­lich erober­tem Hei­mat­pla­ne­ten eher unglaub­wür­dig. Dazu schaf­fen es Beschrei­bung und Art­work nicht, ein Gefühl für das befremd­li­che Set­ting auf­zu­bauen. Bei den Regeln fehlt mit nur vier moder­nen Waf­fen und einer Hand­voll neuer Skills zu viel um Roku­gan im Welt­raum ohne viel Zusatz­ar­beit spiel­bar zu machen. Wer die Idee von Kat­a­n­a­kämp­fen auf den Mon­den fer­ner Pla­ne­ten den­noch inter­es­sant fin­det, hat immer­hin einen Aus­gangs­punkt um das Set­ting aus­zu­ge­stal­ten; alle ande­ren kön­nen das Kapi­tel getrost auslassen.


Fazit


Zuge­ge­ben, zu Beginn war ich kri­tisch, da Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 noch einen Schritt wei­ter geht, als der his­to­risch aus­ge­rich­tete Vor­gän­ger­band. Aber die lie­be­voll gestal­te­ten, alter­na­ti­ven Set­tings haben mich über­zeugt und als Ken­ner der roku­ga­ni­schen Geschichte über man­che iro­ni­sche Anspie­lung schmun­zeln las­sen. Für Aben­teuer jen­seits einer regu­lä­ren L5R-Kampagne sind alle Set­tings gut geeig­net und las­sen Zeit­pa­ra­doxa beim Spiel in der kano­ni­schen Ver­gan­gen­heit gar nicht erst aufkommen.


Für Spiel­lei­ter wie mich, die das Buch als Ide­en­fund­grube nut­zen, gibt es genug Ele­mente, die sich auch in lau­fende Kam­pa­gnen ein­bauen las­sen – etwa der eigen­wil­lige Eulen­klan oder alter­na­tive Cha­rak­ter­pfade. Das Weltraum-Setting des letz­ten Kapi­tels muss ja nicht jedem gefal­len, aber der Schritt, auch unge­wöhn­li­che Expe­ri­mente zu wagen, ist immer­hin mutig. Dazu finde ich Alderac Enter­tain­ments Methode gut, qua­li­ta­tiv hoch­wer­tige Ein­sen­dun­gen im Buch zu ver­wen­den – so sieht 2013 Fan­ser­vice aus!


Nur für Ein­stei­ger ist das Buch eher nicht geeig­net – man braucht schon eini­ges Wis­sen zum Sta­tus Quo in Legend oft the Five Rings, um damit als Spiel­lei­ter arbei­ten zu können.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
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Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2013 11:02:06

Beautifully presented and with a wealth of detail this is much more than an adventure - it is a complete and detailed account of Naishou Province that provides scope for your own adventures, as well as containing plenty of material to get you started.


Starting with a map - beautiful brush-style - and a short piece of fiction, the Introduction explains what you have got hold of: basically a complete setting in which to run your adventures. Naishou Province is a single unaligned province of the Empire with plenty of scope for you and your players to stamp their own mark upon it. The history of the province is outlined - naturally it is right now a bit up in the air as it under temporary direct control of the Imperial family, but it has a long history rich in culture and strife. It is a prosperous area, somewhere - purposely not well-defined - outside areas under the direct control of the Great Clans and somewhat isolated by its geography, but its potential means that it has been squabbled over for generations.


After a brief word on a new fighting group - elite spearmen in the service of the Lion clan - and the characteristics of Naishou citizens, the next chapter is a detailed introduction to the main city of the province, Toshi no Naishou. It is the political and economic capital as well as the largest settlement by far, nestled beside a river. It is divided, in a somewhat haphazard manner, into different districts clustered around the Governor's palace. There's a samurai quarter, a merchant district and one for the heimin population - craftsmen, fisherfolk, farmers and the like. The eta live on the far side of the river in the main, an area regarded as inauspicious. Locals are surprisingly assiduous record-keepers and have a strong sense of their own history and ancestry. They are also very pious.


Important locations are listed, with stories and rumours to bring them to life. This portion reads like a good travel guide and quite makes you want to pay a visit. Then notable locals are listed, to serve as background figures or indeed to be woven into your stories. They include members of nearly all the Great Clans, jockeying for position. Fans of intrigue-based games should find plenty of interest here.


The next chapter looks at the settlements of Naishou Province. There are many fascinating towns and villages well worth a visit, often just for cultural delights even if the party's business does not take them there. For each there are notes on the appearance, culture, notables and whatever might be going on there... you will find plenty of material to help them spring into life. This section includes monasteries, ronin encampments and other locations as well as actual townships.


This is followed by a chapter on the geography of the Province. It's quite a diverse area and, as always, the landscape has shaped both peoples and events. The central fertile river valley is bounded by mountains on two sides, with a swamp to the northwest and forests to south and east. Several options are presented for what precisely is to be found in the forests, giving you plenty of leeway to set things up the way you wish. Within the valley, most travel is by river and there is a single main road. The swamp contains some ancient ruins, hinting at earlier inhabitation than even the citizens' meticulous records show. Finally, local wildlife is also discussed.


The final section, A Plague of Crimes, provides a starting adventure based around a cluster of ten small villages in the eastern part of the Province near a large and renowned monastery. There's been a bit of a crime wave, and the first couple of samurai who investigated met their deaths here. The default suggestion is that the Governor directs the party to take over the investigation, but you may have other ways of getting the characters involved, or may prefer one of the other suggestions given here. Once there, the party has a wealth of clues to investigate and many locations to visit as they do so. Discrete events are scattered throughout, but the investigation itself is quite freeform, allowing the characters to wander as they will, interacting with those that they meet. Once the characters find out what is behind the crimewave, they'll find others taking an interest in them and it all has the potential to turn quite nasty, whilst there are also options for you to force the action if they prove slow to grasp what is going on. A satisfactory brawl should result.


Pre-generated characters are provided for those who want to jump straight into the action. They are well detailed with plenty of background information as well as their stat blocks, but presentation is such that they will need to be transcribed onto character sheets - they're not laid out in such a way that you can hand out pages from this product to different players.


The whole thing is a delight to look at, with apposite and atmospheric art, as well as a joy to read, the places and people seeming to leap off the page into the alternate reality of your game world. Think I'll grab my swords and go visit!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
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