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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!]
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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7th Sea: Players' Guide
by Salith T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2011 10:46:50
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: Players' Guide
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Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
by Nicolas P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2011 03:27:30
Extremely expensive for a badly scanned document.
Très cher pour un maivais scan.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
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L5R Encyclopedia:The comprehensive L5R CCG compendium
by David R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2011 15:14:11
The bad rating is not a judgement on the book itself but rather on the PDF.

It is a scan of the book, which unfortunately means there is a significant downgrade of the quality of the text and pictures.

It is serviceable, but I wouldn't recommend to anyone other than die-hard L5R fans.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
L5R Encyclopedia:The comprehensive L5R CCG compendium
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Legacy of Disaster
by Diogo S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2011 14:26:27
Nice introductory adventure to bring new players to the complex setting of L5R.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of Disaster
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Secrets of the Crane
by Diogo S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2011 14:22:23
I didn't like this book so much as the older "Way of" books of first edition, the fact that this was during the time AEG decided to turn the game into a D20 didn't help either.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of the Crane
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7th Sea: Players' Guide
by Arkham D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2011 01:49:26
BIG Book - lot's of detail - the ship building section is awesome... Different than D&D - takes a little getting used to... Not "historical" - the game world parallels 17th century colonialism and piracy, but the world itself is it's own "thing"... Overall, I like it quite a bit...

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Players' Guide
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/22/2011 08:41:31
Legend of the Five Rings is one of the most complex and elegant pseudo-Japanese fantasy settings in the market today. It boasts of a reputation of being one of those games that plays up the importance of social and cultural aspects of life in the setting of Rokugan. This comes from the focus on Honor and Duty, which weigh very heavily in the lives of the player characters.

The Roll and Keep system has been improved and streamlined from the 3rd Edition of the game, resulting in a faster, easier to learn incarnation in 4th Edition. The book goes to great lengths to provide a wealth of character options that allow for a massive array of character types.

The setting itself is very vivid, and while some might complain about the overload of information and detail, the 4th edition actually tries it's best to be as friendly to newcomers as possible The book covers all the Major Clans of the setting in a fashion that plays up their unique cultures, beliefs and strengths in a manner that anyone can understand without having to be a long time fan or a player of their CCG.

The book itself looks absolutely gorgeous, with a stunning layout and excellent artwork. The presentation is top notch and leaves very little to be desired. Definitely a must have in any RPG collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Brave New World
by Michael T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2011 09:02:03
Quick, what superhero setting features JFK, nascent superheroes just discovering their powers, and the mutant struggle for equality juxtaposed over American civil rights? No, not X-Men: First Class…Brave New World! No, not the novel by Aldous Huxley…the role-playing game by Matt Forbeck!

Brave New World features a superhero-infested America gone mad. When an evil mutant organization fails to assassinate John F. Kennedy, he transforms the United States into a fascist dictatorship under military rule where every mutant must be registered. If this sounds familiar, it's because the X-Men comics featured mutant oppression in 1984 when Senator Kelly passed the Mutant Registration Act. Brave New World takes this conflict between the superpowered and the government to its logical conclusion – the act grows in scope until it comes to define world policy: mutants change the outcome of wars, destroy entire cities, and usher in a new age with Kennedy extending his term as president indefinitely. It takes over 20 pages to outline this background, which is summarized just as effectively on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World_%28role-playing-
_game%29#Alternate_history

Brave New World is the last gasp of old school design, complete with "how to role-play," random full color plates, and long dramatic fiction introducing the setting. Throughout, what would normally be color glossy pictures are converted here in black-and-white for economic printing purposes. Sans color, much of the artwork is considerably less impressive.

In Brave New World superheroes are "Deltas" either for or against this new world order, a tool of the Man or a desperate fugitive using their powers for justice. Complicating matters is the disappearance of the ultra-powerful superheroes known as Alphas. In this world, nobody is multi-classed or high-level.

And that's the problem. Brave New World is obsessed with creating a superhero genre that's sharply defined by its world, which by its very nature means the heroes can't be so powerful that they can trounce government agents. Players can choose only from 10 archetypes: bargainer, blaster, bouncer, flyer, gadgeteer, goliath, gunner, healer, scrapper, and speedster. They can be slightly customized, but their powers, skills, and attributes are predefined. This is a role-playing game where "role" is something of a straitjacket.

The narrow focus applies to the game master too. Forbeck is uninterested in providing much of a toolkit for game mastering the campaign. Throughout the book, any information that would further the campaign (Where are the alphas? How does one become an alpha? What's up with JFK?) are deferred to other supplements. In essence, if you want to know more you have to pay up for future supplements…and since Brave New World came out in 1999 we now know that some of the books were never published. In short, even if you were to buy into what amounts to over a hundred dollars in books, you still wouldn't have the complete setting.

Brave New World does one thing very well: low-level class-based underdog superheroes battling against the government and each other. In that regard it has much in common with the Basic Dungeons & Dragons set. The superhero role-playing game in particular has been changed forever by Champions; players expect to be able to create whatever character they want. That's more a comment on the evolution of game design than Brave New World. It might surprise modern players expecting a more flexible system, but for gamers who want to recapture the feel of X-Men: First Class, Brave New World might be just what they're looking for.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Brave New World
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Legacy of Disaster
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2011 01:05:29
This is actually quite a good introduction to L5R for a group that has very little (or no) experience with the game. It does present a heavily cut-down version of the rules (and a small grimoire-worth of spells for the shugenja) that makes getting to play a swift experience. There are enough rules to play out the entire module, and they capture the flavour of the system very well. Groups wanting to continue will need to purchase the rulebook.
The story in the module is, on the surface, very simple, but in true L5R style, there are many layers to peel back. It is possible to cruise through the module in a linear fashion, but there are a wealth of opportunities to engage with the social structure, etiquette and customs that make Rokugan such a rich setting. There are political and face-saving schemes afoot in the background, with plenty of clues and opportunities for characters to chase down leads (in a respectful manner, of course). There are a number of ways that the plot can be resolved, all with their own ramifications and enough meaty choices for philosophical souls to mull over.

The only detraction in this was the way in which the pregenerated characters are set out. they simply run on from page to page, and cutting them out to hand to players is a nightmare. I would strongly suggest that AEG take a look at how Catalyst handle their quick-play characters. Catalyst presents double-sided half-page characters with a small illustration; with the sheets easily cut, or torn out and distributed. Not so with this AEG product.

that said, this issue isn't insurmountable (more an annoyance), and the quality of the module more than makes up for it. I'd highly recommend this to absolutely anyone who has ever looked at L5R and thought 'it looks interesting...' It is indeed, and this module showcases why.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of Disaster
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Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/03/2011 20:24:31
This is the type of book that you want to read through in its’ entirety and then let the ideas clatter about inside your head. The sheer diversity of the adversaries covered makes this a remarkably appealing addition to any L5R GM’s bookshelf (virtual or otherwise). The designers have excelled in concentrating on a wide breadth of thematically different races and organisations so there is very little repetition throughout the book.

Included is a widespread conspiracy that most think of as a folktale (the Kolat), the monsters of the Shadowlands and the Undead, the Bloodspeaker Cults, Ronin, Nezumi, Naga and my personal favourite – the Nothing (an unknowable, implacable elemental force beyond human comprehension). The choice of ‘evil’ for your campaign is a huge strength to the book, but it goes far beyond simply providing a horde of stats and new powers. Whilst these are present, the real gold lies within the descriptions. Comprised of legends, half-truth, rumour, advice and ‘behind the curtain’ designers sidebars, each chapter fulsomely covers the enemy, gives advice for scaling character interaction with it, and even foreshadowing its arrival. There is plenty of fodder to flesh out a campaign centred on only a single chapter, providing rich story information, as well as the much-needed stat blocks.

The writing style shifts from conversational to storyteller to informative as required and makes the text easier to read, and the artwork is brilliant. I especially liked the quasi-Japanese watercolours set behind the pages (although the artistic values for the chapter on The Nothing are superbly executed).

I had no complaints about this book save the fact that I don’t have the free time to launch into an L5R campaign immediately after purchasing this book. That’s probably for the best though – it will give the seeds of adventure a little more time to take root. For those of you with the time (and I am deeply envious of you), this represents a solid addition to a long line of good L5R books.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies of the Empire (4th Ed)
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World's Largest City
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/28/2011 23:59:08
The World's Largest City does deliver on the promise of its title. The problem here is the quality of the PDF scan.

What you see in the Full-Size Preview section of the listing? That's the quality of the scan throughout. Useable, but not crisp or as clear as it ought to be.

The scan was not made from the original book layout; in fact this PDF looks like a hand-scan. Some of the pages are slightly askew, the contrast and crispness of the scan could be so much better than it is, and the book's cover image isn't even included as part of the scan.

Again, it's all usable (see the preview) but it's disappointing -- even slightly insulting -- that a $40 PDF couldn't be created with better quality, or more care for the customer.

Still, publisher AEG appears to have essentially abandoned D&D gaming as of this writing, and the book is generally out-of-print as far as I can tell. Unless one wants to pay $80 to buy a physical copy of The World's Largest City from AEG's website store, this is your best bet for owning a copy.

Short version: the book delivers on its promise, but the scan quality as of this writing is mediocre. Functional, but far from professional.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World's Largest City
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Dennis S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2011 23:48:55
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition continues to provide the same interesting, flavorful japanese roleplaying game in its latest edition. The rules are still the same roll and keep you knew, and if you knew it, you'll be able to pick everything up quick. There are changes though, and I believe they're for the better. Schools have been organized better, they're more balanced, and they're very interesting. If you don't know the rules, they're easier than ever to pick up, although there's a lot of stuff to be read. Still, there really isn't any RPG like L5R out there. It's not for everyone, but the people who understand it will buy this edition of the game. It's well worth the reinvestment.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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