Ronin, a new OGL product by Jeremy Puckett and released by Highmoon Media Productions, is exactly what you’ve been looking for if you’re interested in running a 3e game set in Feudal Japan, specifically during the Tokugawa Era.
The first large portion of the book doesn’t even contain rules. It goes over the history of Japan (including the mythical beliefs of the origin of the island nation), life in Tokugawa Japan (including food, religion, languages and locations) and the way of the Samurai. In this respect, the book is very much like the Usagi Yojimbo RPG, which spends a lot of time on giving background information of feudal Japan.
It isn’t until page 42 when mechanics are even mentioned. This isn’t a bad thing, just very unusual in most RPGs. There are rules for Tea Ceremonies (of all things) which I think is very cool, giving you a bonus to fear and other emotion-dependent effects, but you must pass a skill check to avoid losing Honor.
Honor mechanics are presented here, something argued about as often as rules for Sanity and Firearms in RPGs. The rules here look fairly well balanced, leaving a lot of room for the DM and players to interpret the code of honor as they see fit.
The PHB classes are mentioned, talking about the changes that need to be made to them to play as samurai in a historical setting. A new class is presented (the courtier), and looks interesting, though I despise courtiers after the one I dealt with in an L5R game years ago, who was sneaky and conniving as all getout. This courtier is nothing like that, being much more like the Noble from Star Wars.
Two new prestige classes are introduced, before moving into more fluff about peasants, presenting more about the PHB classes as members of the peasant class. The Shudoshi is introduced as Zen Buddhist-type characters.
There is a chapter of information on Social Class and Culture, suggesting using social class as a substitution for race, a great idea if you’re playing in historical Japan.
The book wraps up with information on skills and feats, equipment, and a bestiary, all things you’d find in any other campaign setting book. Nothing is bad, but nothing there stands out to me, either.
Overall, the Ronin supplement is a great addition to your collection if you’re looking at either playing in Feudal Japan or the fantasy equivalent. I give it 4 out of 5 dice.
[4 of 5 Stars!]