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What’s this game all about?

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I am interested in checking this game out. But what should expect? What are the motivations of the PCs? To me it sort of looks like  a Japanese version of Game of Thrones. Is that somewhat accurate?  Are you fighting for glory, gold, or power.

So, what is this game about?

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You’re not far off with “Asian Game of Thrones”.  L5R can be a very political driven game, but it can also be very combat heavy.

Essentially you are a samurai trying to uphold your honor and the honor of your clan.  Perform your duties admirably and you will be rewarded with glory and prestige.  Perform them poorly, and you may not like the results.

The over all setting though is ripe for any play style.  Though it does lean heavy to political drama, clan do war against each other and there is always the Shadowlands (a place full of demons and things dedicated to evil)to contend with.

You can do investigation/mystery style games as Imperial Magistrates.

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I haven't played a version for a number of versions (I think 2nd?), so getting back into it now with the new Beginner's Box.  The game is basically whatever you, the party, and GM make it.  My group prefers a combination of political intrigue mixed with combat and with lots of role playing opportunities.  This game is well geared to that.

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If I play this with my sons and their friends they will want a lot of combat. What does this game give that play style that a D&D wouldn’t?  My middle son is very interested in Japan so the flavor would be to his liking. 

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Non-binary mechanics that focus on (and result in) deeper, more nuanced character and story narrative. Also, I’ve found that D&D players often prefer combat-heavy games because by the rules, its gameplay loop is one of combat and treasure. The rules are most robust when interacting with combat and have a heavier focus on it. That’s not bad at all, it’s simply its heritage. I mention it because if there’s mechanical heft and impetus for non-combat play, your group might find it more appealing than they normally would. I could very well be wrong, it’s simply something to keep in mind. 

Edited by Alderaan Crumbs

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1 hour ago, fjw70 said:

If I play this with my sons and their friends they will want a lot of combat. What does this game give that play style that a D&D wouldn’t?  My middle son is very interested in Japan so the flavor would be to his liking. 

Can't say much about the new L5R RPG since I haven't played it. However, the older editions (4th though 1st) had a very lethal combat system (feature not a bug). I don't know if new L5R RPG retains that as a feature. 

P.S. If you want a book that is a mix between D&D 5th and the old Oriental Adventures from 3.0, check out Heroes of the Oriental for D&D 5th on the DMsGuild 

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/187283/Heroes-of-the-Orient-Players-and-DMs-Companion

 

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17 hours ago, fjw70 said:

I am interested in checking this game out. But what should expect? What are the motivations of the PCs? To me it sort of looks like  a Japanese version of Game of Thrones. Is that somewhat accurate?  Are you fighting for glory, gold, or power.

So, what is this game about?

Legend of the Five Rings RPG is where you take on the role of the samurai of the Great Clans of Rokugan. As a samurai, you are born to nobility and privilege, but also the obligation of total service. Your life is not your own, but rather your liege's to spend as they see fit. As a member of the Great Clans, you have a thousand years of history and culture unique to your family, descended from one of the Kami, demigods who fell from the Celestial Heavens of Tengoku a thousand years ago. The Empire is a magical, dangerous, and wild place, however, as the Great Clans feud and war among each other, to grow in glory and honor while in service to the Child of Heaven, the glorious Emperor descended from Hantei, the demigod who founded the Emerald Empire. However, you are a human being called on to adhere to a truly divine code of complete virtue and subservience. You must balance both the demands of the society which surrounds you and the human soul of passion beating in your heart, two forces inextricably at war with each other.

L5R RPG is the game for you if you want a game of hot-blooded action, high stakes intrigue, and Eastern Asian themed supernatural fantasy. It is much less tactical and much more narrative than Dungeons and Dragons. "Kill the monster for loot, glory, and experience" is far less important that "defeat your liege's enemies for honor, glory, and status; while trying to balance those needs with your inner turmoil". If your middle son is interested in Japan, and especially samurai drama and shounen style anime / storytelling? Then the new L5R RPG is a major fit for them.

Your mileage with older versions of the RPG (which were a lot less "hot blooded anime action and drama!" than the current version) may vary.

Edited by sndwurks

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18 hours ago, fjw70 said:

I am interested in checking this game out. But what should expect? What are the motivations of the PCs? To me it sort of looks like  a Japanese version of Game of Thrones. Is that somewhat accurate?  Are you fighting for glory, gold, or power.

As of now it is closer to "MCU meets GoT meets WoW but with samurai". After dozen plus campaigns, I have yet to play a single session where the idealized L5R game mentioned by the others in this thread comes up and actually sticks. 

About what to expect, you will most likely have a fairly standard D&D game set in fantasy Japan, but the rewards will be more abstracted and there will be more angst. The latter is the more dangerous to handle, because L5R Standard Samurai Drama(tm) can be a very funky thing, especially if one or more players at the table took an unconventional spin on it. 

You might also get into the position where your Rokugan will end up nothing like the official setting for one reason or another. Don't worry, this is completely normal, to the point where it had its own meta-rule in the previous edition (Rokugan Your Way). 

5 hours ago, fjw70 said:

If I play this with my sons and their friends they will want a lot of combat. What does this game give that play style that a D&D wouldn’t?  My middle son is very interested in Japan so the flavor would be to his liking. 

5R5 can do lots of flashy action and never dries up like how D&D often does. You never just "strike with your sword" but always do something crazier via your chosen Approach and then spice it up with Opportunities. The rules are also very robust and can be modified very easily to your liking, so you can shape them for your game. 

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1 minute ago, fjw70 said:

Is the dice system like Genesys/Star Wars? 

It is not, however it is a proprietary system exclusive to the game. From what I have seen it’s going to mesh well with its themes. I recommend the previously released articles as well as the Beginner Game.

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5 minutes ago, fjw70 said:

Is the dice system like Genesys/Star Wars? 

Nah. You have special dice with symbols on it, but the similarity pretty much stops there. It is more like an improved/revamped version of the Roll&Keep system used in previous editions of L5R: you roll a bunch of dice but only resolve a set number of them depending on your choice.

IMO this system is leagues above Genesys. 

Edited by AtoMaki

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You can always get the Open Beta to get a preliminary feeling of the system, and read a bunch of L5R fictions (all of them, except the novels, were posted on FFG site) to get a feel of the setting (for this matter, you can also download L5R LCG rulebook, since it have a short story and several pages explaining the seven Great Clans). :)

Edited by Andre Bigler

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1 hour ago, fjw70 said:

Well it sounds like I should at least pick up the beginner game. 

I would recommend it.

Essentially, it's a lot better at the non-hitting-things-with-swords bits than D&D; if all you're planning on doing is going into the shadow cave/forbidden forest/evil fortress and hitting things with swords because they have (a) fangs and (b) treasure, you'll get pretty much the same pay-off from both systems.

L5R is better if you're likely to find yourself doing devious political intrigues and intensive 1v1 duels as well. Oriental Game Of Thrones is not a bad analogy - albeit noting that you're likely to be some way down the pecking order.

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Interested in stabbing monsters and finding long-lost treasure? Sit right down and let me tell you about the Hiruma Family of the Best Clan.

I mean, Crab Clan; haha autocorrect...

So, in the beginning of the Empire, the Dark Kami, Fu Leng, fell from heaven and punched a hole through reality into the literal depths of h-e-double-hockey-sticks. From this hole pours out the legions of demons and corruption.

The Crab Clan hold the line against these horrors. A few hundred years ago, one demon, known as The Maw, lead one of the most overwhelming assaults ever faced by the Clan. It was a near thing, as the strongest Shugenja (spellcaster/priest) in the Empire, Kuni Osaku, raised a wall of water for 73 days while the Clan constructed the Great Carpenter Wall just on the other side of the river. She aged a year for each day she held the line.

By Osaku's sacrifice, the Crab were able to stop the Maw and its Horde.

However, the lands of the Hiruma had already been overrun, and now lay on the wrong side of the Wall. These lands have been corrupted, and basically the entire history of the Hiruma has been lost. Within those lands lies the techniques of their school, weapons, armor, and all the things they developed over 700 years of fighting and surviving in the Shadowlands.

That could be the goal of a group of Crab legionnaires, to find and recover these lost items, if not reclaim the land itself.

Edited by Hida Jitenno

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On 9/23/2018 at 6:32 AM, fjw70 said:

I am interested in checking this game out. But what should expect? What are the motivations of the PCs? To me it sort of looks like  a Japanese version of Game of Thrones. Is that somewhat accurate?  Are you fighting for glory, gold, or power.

So, what is this game about?

there are several themes that worked really well in prior editions, and which 5th looks to support...

  1. The local politics narrative — Single clan, often single family, sometimes PVP — that is, you're doing samurai soap opera in a locally constrained area. §†‡
  2. The Clan vs Clan politics narrative — Often PVP and multi-clan — diplomacy between clans. Often called the Winter Court campaign. 
  3. Family vs Family Politics within a Great Clan — almost expected to be PVP, with a single clan — great for less vicious PVP. Can also make vassal families important.
  4. The fight the shadowlands campaign — justifies mixed parties — combat grinder along the wall.  §†
  5. Magistrates — mixed parties standard — pull the PC's out of the clan system and into the service of the Emerald or Jade Champions as Emerald or Jade magistrates §
  6. Clan War — usually mono-clan — commanding troops and fighting during one of the various civil wars within the Emerald Empire.
  7. Wandering Ronin — can easily be multi-clan — any mix of clan ronin, born ronin, and pilgrimage  samurai †
  8. Slice of the life — Usually mono-clan, but sometimes 2 or 3 clans — life in a specific location, but focusing on a wide range of experiences, not just the politics nor warfare. §† 

§ indicates ones I've done in the past
† good for minor clan and vassal family characters, as well
‡ tossing in one or two out-of-clan/family for PVP can work well; tossing in a non-PVP non-local as either ambassador, hostage, or refugee is also amusing.

 

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I would add to @AK_Aramis's list above:

9. The Tide of War - Mixed party - PCs could start as Imperial Legionnaires, or simply get swept by events out of immediately answering to their lords, as the Empire descends into a full scale civil war

I have done that in the past, and it was honestly my most successful campaign. PCs started as the contestants at the Topaz Championship when the Lion Clan attacked during the Hunting Competition, with the intent of capturing all the contestants as hostages while they went to war with the Crane Clan. PCs managed to escape, escorting the daughter of the Emperor who was there as a VIP. PCs then got swept up into a massive, decades long conspiracy which pulled the Empire into a massive civil war, with the PCs and their loyalty at the heart of it.

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4 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

I would add to @AK_Aramis's list above:

9. The Tide of War - Mixed party - PCs could start as Imperial Legionnaires, or simply get swept by events out of immediately answering to their lords, as the Empire descends into a full scale civil war

I have done that in the past, and it was honestly my most successful campaign. PCs started as the contestants at the Topaz Championship when the Lion Clan attacked during the Hunting Competition, with the intent of capturing all the contestants as hostages while they went to war with the Crane Clan. PCs managed to escape, escorting the daughter of the Emperor who was there as a VIP. PCs then got swept up into a massive, decades long conspiracy which pulled the Empire into a massive civil war, with the PCs and their loyalty at the heart of it.

Sir, I shall pass this to my GM while asking him nicely TO DO IT!!!! Sounds like a heck of a Campaign.

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39 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

The fight the shadowlands campaign — justifies mixed parties — combat grinder along the wall.  §†

§ indicates ones I've done in the past
† good for minor clan and vassal family characters, as well
 

 

These kind of campaigns are usually ones I love running, but I include so much, such as visits to other lands to bargain for resources, such as food and weapons and men. The politics of Court which make it harder for people to engage in the war, etc.

That way my players get a bit of everything.

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31 minutes ago, Nheko said:

Sir, I shall pass this to my GM while asking him nicely TO DO IT!!!! Sounds like a heck of a Campaign.

Interesting loophole I made use of: if you never complete the Topaz Championship, you do not technically receive your gempukku, and thus are obviated of the direct chain of command through acceptance of fealty, but if you become credited for saving a member of the Imperial family, people are willing to look the other way on that technicality, giving you a lot of freedom in society if you want it.

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4 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

Interesting loophole I made use of: if you never complete the Topaz Championship, you do not technically receive your gempukku, and thus are obviated of the direct chain of command through acceptance of fealty, but if you become credited for saving a member of the Imperial family, people are willing to look the other way on that technicality, giving you a lot of freedom in society if you want it.

Well played sir, well played...

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On 9/23/2018 at 10:09 PM, Alderaan Crumbs said:

Non-binary mechanics that focus on (and result in) deeper, more nuanced character and story narrative. Also, I’ve found that D&D players often prefer combat-heavy games because by the rules, its gameplay loop is one of combat and treasure. The rules are most robust when interacting with combat and have a heavier focus on it. That’s not bad at all, it’s simply its heritage. I mention it because if there’s mechanical heft and impetus for non-combat play, your group might find it more appealing than they normally would. I could very well be wrong, it’s simply something to keep in mind. 

Aye, at least one player of mine is obsessed with the loot. She's not happy if she doesn't get shiny stuff. She could go decades without fights, but loot...no skimping allowed. Oddly, she's only like this in D&D. She did just fine in Tribe 8 without any loot. hmm...

Also leveling. One of the players at my table only likes systems that include leveling. He's never been the biggest fan of L5R's system because to him, Insight Rank doesn't quite cut it. D&D is it for him. Savage Worlds is about as loosey-goosey with the leveling as he is okay with. He absolutely hates Fate and Cortex as a result.

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15 minutes ago, Wyrmdog said:

Aye, at least one player of mine is obsessed with the loot. She's not happy if she doesn't get shiny stuff. She could go decades without fights, but loot...no skimping allowed. Oddly, she's only like this in D&D. She did just fine in Tribe 8 without any loot. hmm...

Also leveling. One of the players at my table only likes systems that include leveling. He's never been the biggest fan of L5R's system because to him, Insight Rank doesn't quite cut it. D&D is it for him. Savage Worlds is about as loosey-goosey with the leveling as he is okay with. He absolutely hates Fate and Cortex as a result.

I'm just the opposite> I can't stand level based systems. Give me a Skill-based advancement system any day. 

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5 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

I'm just the opposite> I can't stand level based systems. Give me a Skill-based advancement system any day. 

But levels tho!!! New stuffs to DO!

I don't lean too far one way or the other, I think. As long as the story is good, I'll give any system a try.

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