After what seemed to be an eternity, Alderac has finally released the PDF version of the sought after Legend of the Burning Sands RPG into the wild.
Released back in the days of 3rd Edition L5R, Legend of the Burning Sands (LBS) was a huge thing for me when it came out as it broadened the scope of L5R's setting of Rokugan, and introduced new cultures and factions that were all interesting and potentially fun to play.
LBS takes place in Rokugan's sister setting, the Burning Sands. Despite sharing the same "World" the Burning Sands was an entirely different setting with it's own cultural norms and societies that are a far cry from the asian-inspired nature of Rokugan.
The Burning Sands is a harsh desert that holds multiple cultures, whose lives revolve around Medinat al-Salaam, the massive city ruled by the Caliph. Nine factions exist in the city: The Khadi, Qolat, the Ashalan, the Assassins, the Ebonites, The Jackals, the Ra'Shari, the Senpet and the Yodotai.
The city of Medinaat Al-Saalam is the focus of the game, and constitutes the majority of the attention to the setting. Everything from demographics to economics is given attention, and there's enough material for a GM to spin off more than enough plot hooks for a lengthy campaign.
Of these factions, seven are given a chapter to themselves. These are the Ashalan, Assassins, Ra'Shari, Senpet, Yodotai, Jackals and Ebonites, and compose the playable factions in the game. Each of these are given a thorough treatment which include their histories, secrets, methods and techniques unique to each faction.
The system is pretty much the Roll and Keep system with minor tweaks aimed towards showing how magic here is very different from importuning Kami in Rokugan. Familiarity with L5R is nice, but the system is treated in full as to not require the L5R corebook to run a game.
There's also a bestiary of the local wildlife, and a Jinn creation system to simulate these mysterious (and dangerous) beings native to the Burning Sands.
Legend of the Burning Sands is stuffed with information, and sometimes it feels that the artwork had to be sacrificed to make space. There's art for each of the factions, but aside from that, there's very little else out there. I don't mind, but it might intimidate a few readers who aren't used to seeing walls of text.
Despite its age, I still recommend Legend of the Burning Sands. It works well as both a standalone product and as a supplement for the L5R games, and introduces an entirely different setting with its own interesting cultures. The setting is still every bit as interesting and compelling as it was the first time I picked it up as a CCG, and I'm more than happy to see that I can now run my own adventures in the Burning Sands in tabletop form.