Mists of Akuma: Imperial Matchmaker Review

Welcome back to the Mists of Akuma, an Asian mythology inspired world created by Mike Myler for 5E D&D. Mike has written a sandbox mega-adventure that will take players from 3rd level to 12th level. We take a look into the world of intrigue that is Imperial Matchmaker.

Imp_Match_Cover.png

Disclosure - EN World was provided with an advanced copy of the Imperial Matchmaker PDF. According to the author, audiences should see it early next year or later this year.

In this review I will talk about the aesthetics and design, the plot (of which there is a lot), and, of course, the overall product. Before we get too far, there are three points I want to cover. First, you get a lot of information in this product. It is very dense and a GM looking to build a campaign in the world of MoA could do so with ease. Second, this is a sandbox adventure and it is important to keep that in mind when planning out how to deploy it for your group. And third, there is another product, Imperial Matchmaker: Iconics Tome, that has pre-generated characters inside for use with this adventure. For those new to MoA and the setting Soburin, these could be useful. All of this information is equally useful should you decide to insert the adventure into your own campaign world.

Aesthetics

Imperial Matchmaker
fits into the existing MoA aesthetic. Everything is full color and this does not detract from the look. In fact, the heavy saturation of color is a design feature alongside the art that is evocative and, on occasion, a bit gonzo. One has to remember that MoA has a great deal more crammed into it than just its obvious Japanese influences. Weird West and Steampunk just to name two such influences. Mists of Akuma has always felt old school Anime’ to me; something like Ninja Scroll or Dagger of Kamui. The diversity of characters is outstanding.

My only quibbles on aesthetics are the density and the headers. There is so much in this book that it feels cramped even at 350+ pages. The header font is fine, but paired with the reds and sometimes red-outline over white is a bit hard to read. Some of the more artistic fonts clash some with the rest of the feel.
Imp_Match_weirdgun.png
Plot

I won’t be spoiling anything by saying that Imperial Matchmaker is about a wedding. Ten weddings in fact, which provide the central plot of the adventure. But Imperial Matchmaker is a sandbox adventure and this means a wide array of side-street adventures to lure the characters off the main path. In short, the Emperor wishes to celebrate his tenth year anniversary of his iconic victory over occupiers by forcing some warring clans to marry. The adventurers are free to interact (or not) with each of these marriages to ensure they go off without a hitch or don’t go off at all.

There is also a section about character creation that allows customization of the iconics (and other provided ideas) so that all can connect to some of the side quests Everything takes place in the Imperial Capital of Sanbaoshi, a sprawling metropolis full of politics and intrigue. Each wedding is a multipart adventure unto itself; these are not mere scenes or encounters but fully fleshed out adventures with complex plots of their own. Adventurers can become very involved or only slightly so as they wish. The prologue itself could take a couple of sessions. If your players enjoy intrigue and hard fighting, Imperial Matchmaker won’t disappoint.

Imp_Math_throne.png

Overall Impressions

Those new to Mists of Akuma (and old hands) should never forget the eponymous Mists themselves. They could play a big part in the various plots and subplots, adding an additional level of complication to the twisting narratives. Overall, this is a great mega-adventure. I can recommend it to anyone even a little bit interested in the Fantasy Noir Steampunk aesthetic that pervades the design of Imperial Matchmaker. It is not a casual sandbox to be sure, but a rich one that can provide months of adventure.
 
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Sean Hillman

Comments

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
play L5R 5e.
You could definitely do that! Most folks aren't keen on taking in an entirely new ruleset to switch genres though and I am definitely going to keep on trucking with Mists of Akuma (not sure what the exact future of L5R's RPG is right this second).

Thanks for being casually dismissive about a 365 page adventure book I spent 2 years developing! ^__^
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
Hmm, somehow I've missed Mists of Akuma entirely until now despite my interest in Asian fantasy RPG settings. I've tried and dropped multiple editions of L5R due to their clunky mechanics, especially the ridiculously convoluted storytelling they try to force on you in 5th edition. It just seems like they try to legislate tons of stuff with dice that could simply be role played. I also tried the second edition of Third Eye Games' The Ninja Crusade. But again, I find character creation a chore and the mechanics too clunky. Plus, despite my interest in Asian culture & history, I've never really been an anime guy. So that doesn't quite work either. Joseph Bloch's "Golden Scroll of Justice" for Adventures Dark & Deep is also generally uninspired and clunky. He took all the bad stuff from late 1e AD&D and turned it up to 11. The new classes and races are either pretty vanilla or just plain lame. Dog men? Really? Not appealing.

This supplement does sound mildly intriguing. But the problem here is that I utterly loathe 5e in pretty much every way. Not sure I want to buy this just to have to convert everything back to OSE, which is my current system. They have announced an Asian-themed supplement for the future, so I guess I can wait for that. I have a couple pretty good game stores near me so maybe I'll see if they stock this and I can see for myself.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
Oh a new Mist of Akuma book.

So basically, 5E: The Wedding Singer Epic Edition. College of Gun Priest Bard is the only one who can save (and officially marry) the brides and grooms of the ten weddings.


Legends say that when all Ten Weddings take place, peace and everlasting reign will be restored to Soburin, healing the scars of the last war. Join our heroes as they travel on a perilous journey for holy matrimony.


LOVED Mists of Akuma to the point where I replaced Kara-Tur in The Forgotten Realms with Soburin in my games.
 
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Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
Hmm, somehow I've missed Mists of Akuma entirely until now despite my interest in Asian fantasy RPG settings. I've tried and dropped multiple editions of L5R due to their clunky mechanics, especially the ridiculously convoluted storytelling they try to force on you in 5th edition. It just seems like they try to legislate tons of stuff with dice that could simply be role played. I also tried the second edition of Third Eye Games' The Ninja Crusade. But again, I find character creation a chore and the mechanics too clunky. Plus, despite my interest in Asian culture & history, I've never really been an anime guy. So that doesn't quite work either. Joseph Bloch's "Golden Scroll of Justice" for Adventures Dark & Deep is also generally uninspired and clunky. He took all the bad stuff from late 1e AD&D and turned it up to 11. The new classes and races are either pretty vanilla or just plain lame. Dog men? Really? Not appealing.

This supplement does sound mildly intriguing. But the problem here is that I utterly loathe 5e in pretty much every way. Not sure I want to buy this just to have to convert everything back to OSE, which is my current system. They have announced an Asian-themed supplement for the future, so I guess I can wait for that. I have a couple pretty good game stores near me so maybe I'll see if they stock this and I can see for myself.
Tell your FLGS about it and they are more likely to do so! There's also a plethora of free PDFs for Mists of Akuma to peruse if you are so inclined.

Also: if you're keen to Shadow of the Demon Lord in like 2 months I'll have something for ya--I'm in the midst of converting Imperial Matchmaker over to that (and the Trade War adventure path has already made the jump).

Oh a new Mist of Akuma book.

So basically, 5E: The Wedding Singer Epic Edition. College of Gun Priest Bard is the only one who can save (and officially marry) the brides and grooms of the ten weddings.


Legends say that when all Ten Weddings take place, peace and everlasting reign will be restored to Soburin, healing the scars of the last war. Join our heroes as they travel on a perilous journey for holy matrimony.


LOVED Mists of Akuma to the point where I replaced Kara-Tur in The Forgotten Realms with Soburin in my games.
Lol Imperial Matchmaker has about as much to do with the weddings themselves as the ceremonies in that movie have to do with the plot (they are there, kind of important, and meant to be engaged with but really it's an excuse to draw in and keep the PCs in Sanbaoshi) so that's actually not that bad of an analogy!

Also ♥ that sounds awesome. We went to great lengths in the design process to make Soburin easy to plug-and-play with other settings. :)
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
Not that interested in Shadow of the Demon Lord either. I may see if the local game store has this and work on converting elements for my OSE game. My home brew campaign has an Asian-derived region so there's a possibility I could pull stuff out or just use the basic adventure ideas for inspiration. I like anything outside the box in terms of ideas and concepts even if I'm a grognard system-wise. And I certainly appreciate the notion of bringing more cool Asian fantasy concepts to the table.
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
Also: if you're keen to Shadow of the Demon Lord in like 2 months I'll have something for ya--I'm in the midst of converting Imperial Matchmaker over to that (and the Trade War adventure path has already made the jump).
Oh, sweet! Imperial Matchmaker sounds like a great adventure to run for my players. I'd love to see this for SotDL. Looking into the Trade War adventure path right now.
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
So with the Anniversary Edition Hardcover, what's the difference between the premium and standard versions? And why is the anniversary edition cheaper than the other one?
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
So with the Anniversary Edition Hardcover, what's the difference between the premium and standard versions? And why is the anniversary edition cheaper than the other one?
I think my publisher made some mistakes when the title went public. The Anniversary Edition shouldn't even have a premium option (I printed one standard and one premium, and I was not impressed with the difference in quality) and I am almost certain the $23 price is at-cost. Anyone reading this message has probably 10 minutes before they read their email and fix it to go snag a cheap copy.

Generally we want incentive for picking up the Anniversary edition (I put extra stuff in there!) but I don't know what the final (corrected) price for it is going to be. My bet is Storm Bunny meant for the standard version to be $49.99.
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
Damn! Cost myself a deal there, though as an author I don't begrudge the creator getting their fair share. Still on the fence, as I play neither 5e nor SotDL, though the setting is intriguing enough that I might just buy it to read for pleasure. I'm a professor of Asian history & culture and I teach a class called "Supernatural History of Asia," so maybe I can write it off as a research expense. Actually a student of mine wrote a paper on Asian-influenced rpg's for one of my classes a couple years ago. Sadly, the paper was lousy (and he missed this game), but I could certainly reference it in the pop culture section of future classes.
 

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