Posted by: markfender | July 6, 2011

Legend of the Five Rings

So, apparently I’m running Legend of the Five Rings in two days.

It started from watching HBO’s Game of Thrones. This created two things in me: the desire for a political game (which, for me, occurs about as frequently as normal people experience hunger pangs), and a desire to bust out the ol’ Game of Thrones LCG cards. The latter was pretty easy to arrange, but the former took more work. I just ran a traditional fantasy political game that’s about as gritty as Game of Thrones (that’d be Midnight, for those not paying attention) and I didn’t have any desire to do that again. Plus, I’m sorta burned out on fantasy right now. A couple of days were spent trying to figure out a science fiction political game, but that didn’t pan out quite right (yet!). In the meantime, I watched A Lion in Winter, which just exemplified the desire for politics. And somewhere in there, L5R popped into my head. And I realized, hey, I’ve never actually run this game. So, after coming up with a campaign idea, I “foolishly” ran it by some people. Those people became excited, so apparently this thing is happening.

L5R is not necessarily built for politics, but it does have a lot of things going for it. For one, there are dedicated courtier schools, which provide cool political-type powers. That’s more than most games have. In addition, it has a lethal combat system, so talking becomes a better option than attacking. And, finally, it has a robust court “culture,” so people see that as a legitimate choice.

I think with the orientalism flavor of the game, it divorces itself from typical fantasy games, even if does involve spellcasting and magic weapons. At least enough for my purposes. The 4th edition came out last year and I think it does a lot of things right that previous editions didn’t. I only have the main book for it (because I am a poor college student and can’t go around buying $60 sourcebooks. In fact, I got the main book in trade.), but it provided enough variation in schools for the various Clans. If anything, it feels like a return to 1st edition feel, but with the benefit of 15 years of rule development. And since 1st edition was the best edition, 4th works for me.

So, yeah, I’m running a pseudo-Japanese political game inspired by Game of Thrones. In fact, my first thought, when I thought of combining the two was the phrase: “A Scorpion always pays his debts.” So you can sorta see where that’s going. I’m not being so blatant as to rip off plots from the books, but there are few characters that were ‘inspired’ by their AGoT counterparts. In addition, A Lion in Winter played into it quite a bit, as well as Dangerous Liasons and the first season of The Tudors. So, a pseudo-Asian fantasy game based on European costume dramas (which wouldn’t be new for L5R, seeing as the Anvil of Despair plotline was based on Lord of the Rings, and the early character of Goku was based on Percival). Who’s excited?!

So, expect more posts about what exactly I’m doing, the various props that had to be invented, and how katanas can cut through tanks.



  1. Of course katanas can cut through tanks; they’re made of meteors that crash land on earth. They MUST be really sharp and strong!

  2. Hopefully nobody thinks of making the tanks from the same ‘skyrocks’.

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