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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2012 07:17:35
Imperial Histories is another must-buy for the L5R gaming group. The plot hooks are awesome, and all the eras presented are intriguing and present ample opportunity to elevate player characters into heroes.

Those who are looking for new mechanics will find them here, and fans who have been so patiently waiting for details on the Thousand Years of Darkness storyline will finally have the detail they were craving for.

I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of the game. Along with Emerald Empire and Enemies of the Empire, Imperial Histories is a solid addition to the line and manages to enrich the L5R line without coming off as just another attempt to make a quick buck.

---

This is an excerpt of the full review on my blog. If you'd like to read the entire review, kindly visit:
http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/review-legend--
of-the-five-rings-imperial-histories/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories
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Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
by Austin C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2012 23:52:03
the process seemed good, however, I am having difficulty in the download process. I says that there is a URL error so I'm trying to figure that out. You may recieve a mail from me soon if I can not get it to work.

Other than that I liked the layout of the site and the purchasing screens where very easy to understand good job on that!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
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Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2012 16:36:09
The Enemies of the Empire are surprisingly numerous and the reference to them is nearly indispensable for any Legends of the Five Rings campaign that is not focused purely on courtly machinations (and there are even useful resources for that as well). It provides a wealth of information and along useful new game mechanics and character options.

Enemies of the Empire, a sourcebook for the Legends of the Five Rings RPG (3rd edition) is a 290-page PDF (288 pages if you remove the covers), written by Shawn Carman, Robert Hobart,
Brian Yoon; Kevin Blake, Mikael Brodu, Patrick Duke, Dave Laderoute, Maxime Lemaire,
Jacob Ross, Ray Rupp, Rich Wulf, and Ryan Reese and published by AEG.

The layout is a straightforward design taken directly from the print version of the book, with a 2-column layout (and occasional one column commentary). As is expected from AEG, Enemies of the Empire is lavishly illustrated with full color art throughout. The table of contents is complete and there is an index as well, so finding what you are looking for should be easy the PDF book-marking is useful as well if not always intuitive.

After an opening piece of fiction, it moves onto a page of advice on gauging the threat, which is always a challenge especially in a system as deadly as Legends of the Five Rings can be. The actual enemies list begins with animals, expanding the choices considerably for natural creatures. Some of the animals can be useful for the characters and not just obstacles.

There are human enemies: the vile Bloodspeakers, detailing their history, organization and provides additional tricks and magic for them as well as some of the most notable (and powerful) bloodspeakers. The sinister Kolat conspiracy, its machinations, plans, example agents of all tiers and new advantages, disadvantages and schools. The Lost, humans who have fallen to the taint of the Shadowlands and often gained great power but at a terrible price, they have new schools, new Shadowlands powers and examples of some of the more well known of the Lost. And the Ronin, who are given a plethora of new paths and the bands who teach them as well as three ronin shugenja schools (something lacking in the core rules). All of which provide new options for player characters as well as providing a wealth of villains for the GM. The new ronin bands, paths, and shugenja schools are especially welcome and make the option of playing a ronin much more feasible within the system.

Rokugan is also home to a variety of non-human cultures: The Naga, snake-people who are joined in a shared spiritual link. The Nezumi, ratfolk who know the secret magic of names. Both of which could, in the right campaign, be used as player characters. Spirits and shapechangers from the other realms and the other ancient races of Rokugan: the Kenku, Kitsu, Ningyo, Trolls, Zokujin and the Tsuno -corrupted Kitsu- are further detailed as well (though not available for players).

True evil is not neglected: The ninja and other servants of the Nothing, which seeks to unravel reality are detailed. The mighty Oni, direct manifestations of evil -complete with tools for making your own oni- and other creatures of the Shadowlands (along with advice on using the Shaodwlands in adventures). Completing the options for evil there are the Undead which is combined with advice for running horror in the Rokugan setting.

The work concludes with an appendix featuring a set of random encounter tables.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, I am friends with several of the authors, but I hope that has not shaded my opinion of the product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
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The Gauntlet
by Jazmin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2012 14:22:26
My players enjoyed this module, which was played the session immediately following the Honor Among Thieves Module. The party was made up of four level 6 players and one level 5 player; a mercenary group with good & neutral tendencies. They were trying to infiltrate the thieves guild and one of the fighters had dreams about it. They were also highly sympathetic to Sebastian, since they just helped him out.

Cons: It says that it is a sequel of Honor Among Thieves, or can be played as a standalone. However, it does not reference any NPCs from Honor Among Thieves (I worked Swift, the Minutemen, and Sebastian back in, however I did not use Desburg for the city in the 1st module and didn't use Desburg in this one). Again, the Module is laid out like a "pamphlet," which is a nuisance to assemble. I also switched the cleric's and the noble's house, it seemed like the cleric would have a more modest house than the noble.

Pros: I liked the fact that the DM can choose the last task (worked really well in my case), but perhaps 12 hours is too long for the PCs to get all the tasks done; using the Diplomat and some bluff/diplomacy skills (and one magic pipe performance, which made people dazed at the statue), they were able to get all or most of the tasks done within 4 1/2 hours.

I really enjoyed the how the players got around some of the tasks, for instance, since they were supposed to leave a bloody dagger in the noble's house (ie Sebastian), they weren't told how to do it or where to get the bloody dagger, so they drew one and left an apology note.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gauntlet
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Honor Among Thieves
by Jazmin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2011 13:06:48
I ran this over 2 sessions for my current Black Company game. The only differences I made that it was set in Beryl, the group got arms and armor instead of the Desburg magic item and I switched the shapeshifter's type from Terror fiend to Forvalka (wereleopard). In the tunnel section I switched out the water based monsters to alligators, although my party managed to avoid all of the alligators.

spoiler (some):

My group went the fastest route to Sebastian's house, and made a stop at the TTESSFFTT__ trap; it stumped them for a good 10 minutes or so, but I gave them several hints (ie "There are 10 spaces, 9 are filled and the last space is blank"). My suggestion to other DMs is to let the group roleplay it out, instead of using a Decipher Script roll. One of my players loved this trap so much, she is going to use the trap and part of the module in her home game.

I did up the HP of the terror fiend/forvalka some. My group was 5th level while playing this module, and are heavy hitters, so they would destroy a 50 hp creature within 2 player's turns. (However, I used the Terror Fiend's AC instead of the Forvalka's AC, and it took them a while to be able to hit it, before they dazed it and brought the AC down).


My top complaint is the layout of the module, where you had to assemble into a packet before you were able to read it completely through. The map was also very hard to read in the shades of grey (to see where the ledges where in relation to the rest of the tunnel was hard for the party), so I'd suggest at least making the map in color. If the DM's map is not possible to make in color (I copied the map included in the module and gave it as a hand out to the party), maybe make a Player's Map that is in color, as the party kept saying "oh, we're going towards room 10 or avoiding room 8" etc comments.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Honor Among Thieves
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L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2011 20:48:43
Firstly, the GM Screen is marvellous. The exterior artwork is just beautiful and really aids the GM in setting the mood and flavour of the game. There is plenty of inspiration just from these images. The data on the screen is highly relevant and usable, especially having the Honour table at a glance. Overall, it is a well-designed product that any GM would find useful.

On to the adventure, then. 'Descent into Darkness' weighs in at 20 pages, with 13 of those devoted to the module and the others for NPCs and the map. It supports its claims to be a 'plug-and-play', region non-specific module very well and the designers have done a good job of leaving enough blank areas for the GM to fill and customise it for their own campaign. IT is even open-ended enough that it could be used as the introduction to a much longer campaign arc.

After reading through the whole module, all I can say is 'wow'. This is an especially dark piece of work (for L5R) which is justifiable given the nature of the conundrum placed at the feet of the PCs. There is a huge emphasis on thinking before acting, socialising and investigation to uncover the true activity behind the module. When the PCs do figure it out, they are left with a horrifying choice. This should lead to a lot of really good roleplaying scenes and characters doing some soul-searching before they can reach a sense of closure.

The module is well laid-out, and there are scaling tips in some encounters to give some advice on not only making the encounters more challenging, but also dealing with evoking the adventure (the one entitled 'Not dark enough?' has some great tips).

I think that this could well be more than a night's play to complete, depending on how much characterisation and investigation the players want to undertake. In preparation, I would warn any GM to have a contingency plan (and this is dealt with in the module too) as there are some open scenes which can potentially change the entire gameplay. Whilst this is distinct possibility, it only detracts in a small way from the product.

I'm really looking forward to putting my group of players through this. As they are interested in L5R, but have a strong background in White Wolf games, this will be a perfect hook to get them into a campaign.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Rob B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2011 11:50:25
This may be the best edition of the L5R rules ever written. They are clear, well-laid out, and, as always, written in a way that both entertains and educates. I have been playing L5R since 1st edition, now some 15 years ago, I suppose. This is the definitive edition thus far. If you have ever played, or ever wanted to play in this rich, engaging Wuxia-style setting, then I strongly recommend that you buy this version and get started. If you've been away from the L5R scene for a while, get this and get back into the game. It is top quality, and I cannot recommend it enough. Happy Gaming!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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7th Sea: Players' Guide
by Mark E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2011 00:06:07
The main book of my favorite RPG. Certainly the organization is a bit wonky but the world is full of adventure and just reading this book will get you curious about how it all turns out. It's as though they took the best tidbits of history and mashed them all together at once. The French Revolution and the Three Musketeers (it's coming), King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table (oh they're there all right), Machiavelli and the Merchant Princes of Italy (oh heck yea), Vikings, the 30 Years War? It's all in there with pirates and a system that is not only forgiving if you try the impossible, but that also encourages it.

I only wish AEG had the foresight to continue this product or at least licence it out to folks who would do more with it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Players' Guide
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Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2011 08:55:38
The Great Clans is a book without an ounce of fat. Every bit of fluff serves to further insight to the clan, and the accompanying mechanics gives ways for players to further customize their characters without resorting to having to pick up stuff from other Clans just to be unique. The writing is clear, informative and displays the love and dedication of the authors to a setting that they are eager to share to the reader. As with all of L5R's 4th Edition books, The Great Clans is also a work of art, featuring beautiful artwork, clear layouts and font choices that aren't a pain to read. GMs and Players alike will find a ton of things that can enrich their campaigns, and Alderac continues their winning streak with the 4th Edition of Legend of the Five Rings as the best edition in the history of the L5R RPG.

----

This is an excerpt of my full review from my blog. If you'd like to read the entire review, kindly visit: http://wp.me/p5H0U-Rr

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
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Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/20/2011 08:03:31
I don't think I'm exaggerating at all when I say that Emerald Empire should be considered seminal reading for anyone who is looking to play in this setting. The writing is excellent, with each chapter focusing on one aspect of life in Rokugan, providing the kind of minutiae that lends depth and color to a game. It's the attention to small details that really shows off just how much the writing team loves the setting, and wants to communicate that enthusiasm and enjoyment to the reader.

---

This is an excerpt of my review on my blog. To read the entire review, kindly visit: http://wp.me/p5H0U-Rd

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
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Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
by Lyle H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2011 17:03:43
This is a very useful supplement for anyone running a Shadowlands or other combat-heavy scenario or campaign, as it provides numerous additional villains, opponents, and monsters (especially monsters). It will be less useful for more political (court based) campaigns, although there are a number of opponents that are designed to be used as infiltrators.
Like all of the AEG 4th Ed. L5R products published to date, this text has good production values and (color) illustrations, and is well-laid out and attractive to read.
Due to L5R using a non-standard system, the statistics and game mechanics given in this book will be difficult to translate for use in other settings, limiting its value for other game systems except as inspiration.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
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Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
by Lyle H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2011 16:54:37
This product is extremely useful for anyone playing Legend of the Five Rings in the canon setting or a near-canon setting, in that it is full of information and details relating to the Rokugan setting. It is also a document of high production values, with attractive layout and well done illustrations. Due to the somewhat idiosyncratic game engine upon which the Legend of the Five Rings has been constructed, the game-mechanics portions of this text would be difficult to translate to other game systems, but the narrative portions would still be useful for ideas and tone for any historic asian setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Emerald Empire: Fourth Edition
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Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2011 13:38:24
The Great Clans is an amazingly useful sourcebook for Legends of the Five Rings, while not quite a necessity to own to run or play the game it comes close. It expands on both the Great Clans and the world they have made, providing a wealth of information and even some useful new mechanics.

The Great Clans, a sourcebook for the Legends of the Five Rings RPG (3rd edition) is a 306-page PDF (304 pages if you remove the cover), written by Shawn Carman, Rob Hobart, Brian Yoon, Kevin Blake, Nancy Sauer, Ryan Reese, Jacob Ross, Max Lemaire, Dave Laderoute, Rusty Priske, Mike Brodu, and Daniel Briscoe and published by AEG.

The layout is a straightforward design taken directly from the print version of the book, with a 2-column layout (and occasional one column commentary). The Great Class is lavishly illustrated with full color art throughout. The table of contents is complete and there is an index as well, so finding what you are looking for should be easy but you have to use that as the PDF book-marking only takes you to the start of each chapter.

As it says, this book is full of information on the nine Great Clans of the Empire of Rokugan. Primary, it is all general information, history of the clan, background of the families, useful cultural notes and roleplaying hooks. However, each family gets some new schools, new paths, new kata and additional ancestors for those who like mechanics to spice up things.

The background information on the clans is amazingly useful for both players and game masters, expanding on the very brief sections in the core book. In each clan’s section there is cultural information, such as courtly affairs in the Crane section and additional information on the tradition of ancestor worship in the Lion section.

Appendices handle the new(ish) Spider Clan, the various Vassal families of the great clans and the return of the heritage tables. Heritage tables are a way to give a character an additional roleplaying hook that may be positive, negative or a mixture of the two expressed as the character’s linage (such as an ancestor was a famous poet or a well-known coward). Each Clan gets its own table, there are some slight imbalances between the clans until you come to the Spider, who get two tables of bonuses and one of mixed good and bad things, but even then the good side far outweighs the bad. The Spider tables should not be used as written, as they are just a guaranteed mechanic bonus for the character, unlike all of the other heritage tables.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, I am friends with several of the authors, but I hope that has not shaded my opinion of the product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
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Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/17/2011 22:32:54
The recent AEG L5R products have shown a dedication to consistent excellence that would make a Crane proud. They are clearly working on conceptualising the game from a players perspective and offering titles that really flesh out the world of Rokugan and add to the immersion in their game.

'The Great Clans' is truly staggering in scope and also in the amount of flavour information they offer. The book is predominantly narrative, and general information, with each Clan given a single chapter.

The information presented in each chapter really goes a long way to making each Clan a very distinct entity and showcasing the diversity possible within the scope of each Clan. It generally avoids stereotypes, but does so in a manner that makes NPCs and ancestors more human whilst adhering to the distinct flavour of the Clan. Every Clan is treated to a historical overview of its roots, major achievements and conflicts throughout the history of Rokugan to give players an appreciation for how the Clan grew into its 'present day' format. There is strong attention to detail here with a solid internal consistency, but presented in a manner which is easy to read. Most of the history is presented as stories, with sidebars and additional boxed text providing clarifications or interesting facts. On this note, whoever was responsible for the layout needs to be congratulated. The text is easily broken up by high-quality art, and the text boxes provide something else to draw the eye to snippets of information.

In addition to this, you can expect to find some Alternate Paths for each Clan (I quite liked the Kitsune Ranger), new Schools (like the Daidoji Scout which is currently vying to be my favourite), Ancestors and NPCs (with full stat blocks which could be used for nay range of purposes), new Techniques and even new rules (such as Rural Traps, in the Crane section, which will be really useful).

In summary, excellent content, high quality production values and a book that should be on every L5R table.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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7th Sea: Game Master's Guide
by Salith T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2011 10:46:54
A much under-rated game that is full of swashbuckling action.
The mechanics and styling take a lot of lessons from Legend of the Five Rings, but with it's own twist using a "Drama" mechanic.
The setting is a little bit of a let-down though, being mainly a copy of Europe but with random alterations to the maps and such to make it look different for difference sake.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Game Master's Guide
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