Venturing into Rokugan
2021 / 10 / 14
Adventures in Rokugan is an adaptation of the world of The Legend of the Five Rings to the mechanics of the 5e SRD. Announced at Gen Con 2021, Adventures in Rokugan is an exciting foray by Edge Studio into supplements compatible with the world’s most famous roleplaying game. The Legend of the Five Rings does have an ongoing roleplaying game line under Edge Studios at the moment using a custom dice system and stand-alone rules, which might leave readers with additional questions. In this article, we’ll explain the origins and purpose of Adventures in Rokugan, the creative team behind it, and what it means for the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. Finally, stick around to the end for an exciting first look at several species featured in Adventures in Rokugan!
Make Your Own Legend
As a roleplaying game, The Legend of the Five Rings has typically expressed a very different set of themes from DnD through its mechanics. L5R has often emphasized choice and consequence, the conflict between desire and obligation, and the risks inherent in choosing to fight when diplomacy or intrigue could serve one’s purpose. By contrast, DnD’s mechanics tend to guide play toward the swashbuckling tropes of high adventure, tactical problem-solving, and the fantasy of being just a bit more than mortal. This raises a difficult question: how can the design make a game feel both like the world of Rokugan and like the experience of DnD?
When the proposal for Adventures in Rokugan first came together, we knew we’d need to address this question to move forward. And we found that the answer lay within the vast wealth of stories of Rokugan written over the past twenty years. Mythology has always played an incredibly central role within the L5R setting. The story of Lady Sun, Lord Moon, and their heroic children who fell to earth to found the Emerald Empire has been a pillar of L5R since its inception. The climactic culmination of the Living Card Game storyline saw Bayushi Shoju weave a grand fable (with himself as the villain) to save all of Rokugan from the forces of supernatural evil. Shades of gray may rule L5R RPG, but the setting of Rokugan is unquestionably one where stories of heroic courage, mythic monsters, and vile schemes hold special importance.
So instead of trying to adapt L5R RPG’s themes to 5e’s rules, the Adventures in Rokugan design team set out to create a game that allowed players to explore Rokugan’s legends for themselves. Adventures in Rokugan gives players access to a mythic Rokugan full of supernatural peril, adventure, and wonder. Players take on the role of heroes and villains who rise to the challenge, risking their lives to achieve superhuman martial prowess, arcane secrets of the cosmos, or a place among the legends of Rokugan. This sort of mythic storytelling is a perfect fit for the mechanics of 5e, and lets Adventures in Rokugan maximize the SRD’s strengths while providing an experience that evokes the feel of many beloved stories from L5R’s history.
For a project as thematically ambitious as Adventures in Rokugan, we knew we’d need people who understood both L5R’s history and 5e’s mechanics and feel. Veteran producer Sam Gregor-Stewart oversaw the operation and kept everything running smoothly. Max Brooke returned to take on the role of lead mechanics designer (a reprisal of his role on the current edition of Legend of the Five Rings RPG). Lydia Suen joined as lead story designer, bringing her exceptional creativity, extensive knowledge of both DnD and East Asian folklore to the task of realizing mythic Rokugan. And Welden Bringhurst rounded out the team as mechanics co-designer, helping to anchor the game in the feel of 5e DnD while pushing the class mechanics in exciting new directions that make them feel highly distinct from the offerings available in the SRD.
The Fantasy Flight Games L5R Story Team headed by Katrina Ostrander also gave tremendous feedback and guidance on the project, ensuring that the game would both feel mythic and include important touchstones from L5R’s past.
Adventures in Rokugan and L5R RPG
Can L5R RPG fans expect to get anything useful from Adventures in Rokugan? Absolutely. RPGs are games of imagination, and Adventures in Rokugan will highlight parts of Rokugan that L5R RPG often left out of its scope to better focus on human drama.
With all this exciting news about Adventures in Rokugan, where does that leave the current edition of L5R RPG? The good news is that Adventures in Rokugan does not exist to replace L5R RPG.
L5R RPG’s purpose is as a game of intrigue, inner turmoil and resolution, and choice and consequence, which is very different from what Adventures in Rokugan will deliver to players. The two games are complementary, and L5R RPG will continue to deliver its own experience with forthcoming books like Writ of the Wilds and other, yet-unannounced projects!
But can L5R RPG fans expect to get anything useful from Adventures in Rokugan? Absolutely. RPGs are games of imagination, and Adventures in Rokugan will highlight parts of Rokugan that L5R RPG often left out of its scope to better focus on human drama. GMs of L5R RPG will be able to draw upon Adventures in Rokugan to inspire folk tales to tell their players, or even run whole games set in the misty days of legend that tie into their ongoing stories! And reading over the new classes and archetypes, players might find concepts for characters that they want to emulate using the School Creation rules in the Path of Waves supplement.
While Adventures in Rokugan is not strictly necessary to play L5R RPG (and vice-versa), the two can be excellent resources for one another!
In the folklore that inspired L5R, it is common for non-human characters to play an important role, and DnD is a game where species selection is an important part of character creation. As such, it is only fitting that non-human species are a core feature. While some non-human characters are present in the L5R RPG line, human is very much the assumed default.
Not so for Adventures in Rokugan. As part of character creation, players will choose a species that informs their character’s physiology, but also a background that informs their character’s cultural upbringing. While many players will likely choose to be human, numerous other species options will exist, including one we are highlighting today: animal yо̄kai.
Yо̄kai from the Realm of Animals can be benevolent guides to mortals, dangerous tricksters, or bystanders amidst the strife of humanity. They have featured in many of L5R’s most iconic stories from past and current timelines, and are one of the setting’s most iconic non-human species. Shapeshifters by nature, these animal spirits are capable of weaving a disguise as to appear a member of another species or returning to their animal form to tap into the power of the wilds. Three animal yо̄kai options are available in Adventures in Rokugan: fox spirits, bat spirits, and otter spirits. Additionally, each type of animal spirit can also call upon one invocation based upon its animal nature, giving it access to a powerful tool in times of need.
Animal yо̄kai are just the first of several exciting new species options in Adventures in Rokugan. Some will be familiar to L5R veterans, while others are creatures of story that have never been officially playable in Rokugan before!
Adventures in Rokugan will be available in Q2 of 2022.
Writ of the Wilds, the next supplement for the ongoing L5R RPG, will be available in Q2 of 2022.
Be sure to keep an eye on www.edge-studio.net in coming weeks for additional previews.