D&D 5E Adventures in Rokugan Arrives August 5th

Adventures in Rokugan is Edge Studios' official 5E version of Legend of the Five Rings, announced last year. Legend of the Five Rings is an East Asian inspired setting which goes all the way back to the 1990s, and was purchased by Fantasy Flight Games in 2018, before being moved over to FFG's sister company, Edge Studios in 2020 (which has taken over all the TTRPG operations from FFG, including Star Wars).

The 5E version includes new classes -- Shinobi, Pilgrim, Courtier, Ritualist, Bushi, Duelist, Acolyte -- and various new shapeshifting animal species.

It's coming out on August 5th and will cost $49.99.

Adventures in Rokugan brings the famous setting of Legend of the Five Rings to the ever-popular ruleset of the 5th Edition SRD. Players can explore this rich setting in a whole new light, and the familiar rules promise to engage an entirely new audience of roleplaying fans. Alongside a new focus on roleplaying activities such as dungeon delving and monster hunting, Adventures in Rokugan promises to provide something for all fans of Rokugan.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

On top of that, I can never forgive "The Coastal Islands." I just can't do it. The Coastal Islands????? OooooOOOOOOOOOOH

EDIT: On the topic of Samurai code, the book literally lists the samurai code as an inspiration. Strange how much they tried to erase it and modify it if they want us to read it and use it as an inspiration for the game. Maybe I'm buggin', idk.
 

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Medic

Lawful Neutral
If people want to keep suicide in their fantasy Asia, then they have to keep colonialism in their fantasy Europe or slavery in their fantasy version of any part of Earth.
Nobody "has" to put anything in a fantasy world. The inclusion of those elements is typically done to add verisimilitude a setting in the form of politics, economics, and anachronistic philosophies. It's perfectly reasonable for a fictional setting that draws from historical events, samurai literature, and Japanese mythology to include societal precepts that were prevalent during the era in that region - doubly so if a part of the very premise involves confronting the hardships and responsibilities of being a samurai, if an embellished depiction of one.

This is also, ironically, a very Eurocentric way of looking at the world; believing that the values of other cultures are wrong if they do not align with our own "enlightened" occidental views.

Every real world culture/ethnicity has bad stuff in the past that has no place in the modern world or in our fantasy games or literature.
This is a facile way of approaching the subject. Literature can serve as a vehicle by which one can engage with difficult topics without actually experiencing them firsthand, tell stories of triumph and tragedy in a world that is unjust and otherwise indifferent to our needs, and if it's good, challenge us to reflect on ourselves. Come and See is an excellent example of fiction that brings suffering to light with powerful effect.

But if you disagree, maybe Nu-TSR has products you would be more comfortable playing.
Poisoning the well by alluding to the idea that people who disagree with you are bigots is not a good look.
 

I mean, that's kinda why I'm okay with books not foregrounding that stuff. Some people want to use the setting for heroism without interacting with traumatic elements. Others are okay with stories that touch upon the f'ed up parts of reality.

In the ZEITGEIST setting I worked on, we mention several instances of genocide, slavery, human trafficking, and tyranny. But the setting as a whole isn't focused on that, and I'd have no problem if someone wanted to play a version of the setting where none of that comes into the narrative.
I'm good with not foregrounding them either. Not good with removing them.
 

Another note. The book explicitly says do not put ritual suicide in your games. It has a whole breakout box that quite literally says it has no place in Rokugan, and not to include it. I'm not sure if I agree, but I will need to do some actual research and talk to some people I know to see what they think on me including ritual suicide in Rokugan. I find it strange that this specific thing out of everything is what is banned as-is in the game book.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Anyway, I like the idea of an action-oriented L5R. I have the book right now, and have begun my deep dive. So far, I don't understand why they had to dial back so hard on the social mechanics. I feel having the action adventure with light social mechanics be the opposite of the core game's heavy social mechanics with light action (depending on campaign) would have been a more sensible decision.
Honestly, I'd like to have seem a more even split. Neither too light nor too heavy on combat or social mechanics. The more crunch the slower the game plays.
The removal of Japanese stereotypes and tropes is very inconsistent in this book, and some things historically wrong, like the City of the Khans, are still wrong, which is a headscratcher. It ultimately feels like the cultural consultant did an inconsistent and slightly sloppy job of modifying the setting in terms of names, paradigms, rules for using foreign languages, and so on.
Yeah, I think that's what bugs me the most. They're going to do what they're going to do, my choices are to buy or not. But if they're going to strip out the Japanese cultural references...why do it haphazardly and leave in or add so many non-Japanese cultural references. Yin Yang jumps out. There's suddenly an entire class based around Daoism and sorcery and alchemy.
That classes are super super super cool.
They are a dream for people who still want heavier mechanics and some 4E style combat in 5E. I think I've rounded the bend completely on this one and just shake my head. Why make every class that complex? There's lots of neat stuff in there, evocative and fun sounding, absolutely. It just gives me a stress headache thinking about having to go back to tracking dozens of conditions, dozens of resource types, on and on and on.
EDIT: On the topic of Samurai code, the book literally lists the samurai code as an inspiration. Strange how much they tried to erase it and modify it if they want us to read it and use it as an inspiration for the game. Maybe I'm buggin', idk.
It's not you. It's an incredibly bizarre choice.
 

Honestly, I'd like to have seem a more even split. Neither too light nor too heavy on combat or social mechanics. The more crunch the slower the game plays.

Yeah, I think that's what bugs me the most. They're going to do what they're going to do, my choices are to buy or not. But if they're going to strip out the Japanese cultural references...why do it haphazardly and leave in or add so many non-Japanese cultural references. Yin Yang jumps out. There's suddenly an entire class based around Daoism and sorcery and alchemy.

They are a dream for people who still want heavier mechanics and some 4E style combat in 5E. I think I've rounded the bend completely on this one and just shake my head. Why make every class that complex? There's lots of neat stuff in there, evocative and fun sounding, absolutely. It just gives me a stress headache thinking about having to go back to tracking dozens of conditions, dozens of resource types, on and on and on.

It's not you. It's an incredibly bizarre choice.
The game def could be streamlined. Frankly, I think if it used the Dark Souls position model, it would be perfect. That's low hit points (cuz you only start with 1 HD outside of combat), and in combat you get a lot of temp HP to use for abilities etc. Would have been a solid game using the class mechanics, where the resource is traded for position. Alas, such combinations are only possible only both books are published...
 

An ironic reading of the book is: the Hantei are still the emperors. Which means that the <<Explicitly Japanese Named>> culture is forever the emperor of the land, above every other culture that is now in the Rokugan canon. If they had wanted to remove this kind of haphazard splapdish of ideas, they should have just renamed the Hantei family and changed some of those Japanese elements about it. You can say this is an overly picky reading, but that's the kind of pickiness a cultural consultant ought to be looking for. I've both worked as one and have worked with them before; I'd love to see the style guide the consultant made for this...
 


I think an interesting idea that was missed was skills and elements. I think it would have been cool if you had no skills, you were only proficient in elements. And the ability score you use with the element keys to basically a different kind of skill. You would be prof in one element from class, and one from background. It is a roundabout way of doing skills, but I think it captures the ideas and importance of the five rings and would have opened up characters in interesting ways if you made element-required feats.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:
By the way, folks, public mocking laughter at a moderation post counts as commentary on moderation.
 

MGibster

Legend
Can I ask how did Seppuka made the game better? Did characters actually do it? And enjoy it if they needed to? Expectations have changed in the last 10 years.
Seppuku isn't something I used with any great degree of frequency in my L5R games, but it did come up from time-to-time. I ran a game in the City of Lies and the Unicorn player and the Scorpion player were at odds with each being given diametrically opposed orders regarding how to handle the opium trade. The Scorpion player outmaneuvered the Unicorn and her character was going to lose her post and would be a great embarrassment to her family. I gave her character the option of saving face by committing seppuku, or abandoning all honor, heading for the hills, and engaging in banditry. She chose banditry. So I never actually had a character in my games commit ritual suicide.

I kicked off a scenario with a mid ranking NPC committing suicide to protest the decision of his daimyo. It's been more than twenty years so I don't remember the exact details, but it's what I used to get things started. The scenario that came with the 1st edition had the PCs competing in the Topaz Championship, Lion PCs and NPCs who failed were expected to commit suicide.

Ritual suicide is part of the genre as it's found in the stories that influenced L5R. I think it belongs in the game, but it shouldn't rear its head every adventure. It's not like every samurai movie features seppuku.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Seppuku isn't something I used with any great degree of frequency in my L5R games, but it did come up from time-to-time. I ran a game in the City of Lies and the Unicorn player and the Scorpion player were at odds with each being given diametrically opposed orders regarding how to handle the opium trade. The Scorpion player outmaneuvered the Unicorn and her character was going to lose her post and would be a great embarrassment to her family. I gave her character the option of saving face by committing seppuku, or abandoning all honor, heading for the hills, and engaging in banditry. She chose banditry. So I never actually had a character in my games commit ritual suicide.

I kicked off a scenario with a mid ranking NPC committing suicide to protest the decision of his daimyo. It's been more than twenty years so I don't remember the exact details, but it's what I used to get things started. The scenario that came with the 1st edition had the PCs competing in the Topaz Championship, Lion PCs and NPCs who failed were expected to commit suicide.

Ritual suicide is part of the genre as it's found in the stories that influenced L5R. I think it belongs in the game, but it shouldn't rear its head every adventure. It's not like every samurai movie features seppuku.
Exactly. It’s a session zero topic for sure. Lines and veils. PC okay or no. NPC okay or no. Etc. It shouldn’t be automatically in or out without discussion.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Anyone reading the book? The duel rules look weird. It reads like there’s never any reason to pick anything but 6 all the time. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma but one where you’re trying to kill each other.
 

TheSword

Legend
It is a pretty unique story in the history of Japanese culture. Are you really trashing a valued story from a culture's history because it doesn't conform to modern moral standards?
Nope. Just saying that mass suicide as a cultural trait doesn’t need to be part of the Rokugan campaign setting. It’s absence doesn’t lessen the game or make it less fun.

To be clear, I have no problem with someone sacrificing themselves to save others, or even deciding they can’t live with someone else.

The problem with Seppuka as a concept to be included in a game is that it makes out that Japanese folks have a cultural predisposition to something which now we would consider pretty crazy.

Again. It isn’t offending me particularly but the designers decided they weren’t interested In explicitly including Seppuka in the book. Nobody forced them that we are aware of.
 
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vecna00

Speculation Specialist Wizard
Anyone reading the book? The duel rules look weird. It reads like there’s never any reason to pick anything but 6 all the time. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma but one where you’re trying to kill each other.
I was able to read through it, and I feel like I'll need to read it again later because it comes off as super weird to me.

I really like the Bushi and the Duelist though!
 


GreyLord

Legend
They are not expanding the setting, they are changing it to accommodate new ideas. They're not advancing the timeline to expand options and improve diversity, they're retroactively rewriting it. I don't object to cultural sensitivity (thanks for the shot, by the way), I object to changing history. If they feel the original setting is no longer appropriate in 2022, retire it and make a new "Oriental Adventures" setting. Don't pretend things have always been better. Make a better world.

Of course that is hogwash if you are talking about it being historically accurate to Feudal or even 16th - 19th century Japan. If I understand the setting right, they allow Gay Marriage. That is NOT something that was allowed then, and is a modern invention of our times. In fact, that they allow many various things along that manner in a way that is absolutely NOT historically accurate should say all one needs to know about the historical accuracy of the setting.

It isn't.

Is the game have you able to play all various types of different character races like naga, or ratfolk? WELL, it may be based on a mythological take of Japan, but then you have all sorts of ideas (with PC's being the heros) of characters that would have NEVER been heroic in Japanese mythology, and in fact could be seen to make a mockery of Japanese Mythology? Is it a historical accurate representation of Japanese Mythology. That it takes things that would never happen in Japanese mythology probably says what you need about how accurate it is to Japanese Mythology.

It isn't.

It takes SOME tropes from Japanese mythology (the idea that all samurai were based upon a samurai code...yeah...that didn't happen historically. They played dirty politics just like many other cultures, and the ones who played it dirtiest sometimes came out on top. That idea that they all lived the code to it's highest ideals is a completely mythological idea, sort of like the idea that all european medieval knights lived chivalry and were chivalric and gallant to the highest ideals. Obviously they weren't.), but it isn't in any way of fashion accurate to historical Japan or mythological Japan.

It's a fantasy setting with similarities to Japan.

In that instance, they can do whatever they want with the setting. It isn't the real world.

I haven't read the book yet, don't even have it, so I don't know how bad these changes may or may not be.

However, from what I've read about it, this book seems to be going for a broader appeal to gamers than the L5R game, and as such has made broader changes that appeal more to the casual or even dedicated 5e D&D gaming base.

It sounds like it is more akin to what 3e OA was rather than what L5R has become. As a D&D player, that's probably more of what I WOULD want. I haven't been all that interested in the L5R mechanics. I've never really gotten invested in them. The most has been with the 3e OA and Rokugan books.

I AM interested in this book though, and with it's integration into 5e. I'm probably the target audience for this book.

Of course, the BIG question I would like answered is how many actual Japanese, Chinese, and other individuals from those nations actually had input in the book. I'm not talking AMERICAN Japanese or Chinese (as some of them have EXTREMLY OFFENSIVE IDEAS related to those who actually live there these days, and as they are really AMERICANS with the Japanese, Korean, or Chinese or other Asian heritage, and NOT really from those nations, though they can speak and have their input, and it's more valuable than none at all, I'm interested in how much input those from the actual nations they are taking cultural ideas from have in the book itself). I know the original OA at least had some from the Japanese culture that had input, and other books have had it, but I have no idea how much input they currently get form individuals who are born and live in the actual cultures of the lands they are taking these ideas from (Japan, China, Korea, East Asia...etc) (and L5R for that matter).

That said, I AM highly interested in the book, and it looks like something I would enjoy reading.
 

Finished the book.

Setting aside, this is some of the best combat design any 5E game has ever had. Some of it is a bit too baroque, but like, the invocation system, the techniques, the monster design (oh my god the CRIME BOSS), and most of the classes, as well as the huge amounts of feats creates a very dynamic and enjoyable anime combat game.
 

MGibster

Legend
Nope. Just saying that mass suicide as a cultural trait doesn’t need to be part of the Rokugan campaign setting. It’s absence doesn’t lessen the game or make it less fun.
It makes the setting a little more generic and a little less fun. One of the things I liked about L5R is that it really encouraged players to role play characters who had a very different perspective than modern Americans. A game that was very different from D&D.

The problem with Seppuka as a concept to be included in a game is that it makes out that Japanese folks have a cultural predisposition to something which now we would consider pretty crazy.
Nah, I don't think it does. Well, sure, I guess there's a non-zero chance someone could read L5R and walk away with that impression. But then there's a non-zero chance someone might read A Catcher in the Rye and decide a former Beatle needed to die. I don't really think this is a considerable problem.
 

Also let me say, the Bushi class can literally be put into any 5E game. It is the best fighter, mechanically, I have read to date. I will never play a vanilla fighter again probably, because the Bushi and its martial techniques and focus point spends just looks stupid fun. The Duelist too, but that requires a game using the dueling rules, which are truuuuuly great.
 

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