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Legend of the Five Rings: Enemies of the Empire
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!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Enemies of the Empire
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Anima: Beyond Fantasy Game Master's Toolkit
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2011 02:32:57

The description pretty much states what you get, so I'll fill in more details with a review of the adventure and the format of the PDF.

The adventure is a three-act multi-session adventure for 3-5 first level characters. Each act is unique. The first takes place on a zepplin, involving the characters daringly saving the passengers and crew from a hijacking. The next find the characters lost on a settled island, slowly sinking into fear and despair. The last brings the characters to a climactic conclusion, in which they must release a Lady of Nightmares to defeat not one, but two, Between Worlds Beings. Quite a bit for first level, eh? The adventure has a healthy dose of combat, investigating, and interactions with colorful NPCs unique to the Anima universe. While the plots of the acts aren't too far from your typical FRPG adventure, the NPCs are definitely of the romance and villainy of Final Fantasy and similar computer RPGs.

The PDF is in beautiful color, and is best for iPad and color laser printer output. I do wish that a printer-friendly version of the book was included. Some of the rich color art becomes too dark in greyscale. And, of course, much of the eye-candy that impresses in a publisher-printed book becomes a source of ink and toner consumption when printed by the purchaser. The PDF comes with a four-panel reference screen that I had trouble printing on four separate sheets. That being said, a major advantage of printing out the PDF as individual sheets is that the game master can let the players access the first half of the book (new rules and new options) while keeping the rest of the book (the twenty pregenerated first-level characters and the adventure) to himself.

So if you're an iPad owner who's considering this supplement, you're definitely better off buying the PDF than the book. Others will have to judge how much the aesthetics of a beautifully published book from the publisher matters against the half price of the PDF.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Anima: Beyond Fantasy Game Master's Toolkit
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Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
by Michael W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2011 16:59:06

Anima Beyond Fantasy is a very good-looking roleplaying game that is heavily influenced by Japanese Anime and JRPGs. If you are into games like the Final Fantasy series, you will definitely like Anima's setting. The rules of the game remind me a lot of Rolemaster. It almost looks like a direct clone in certain aspects. While I am normally into more rules-light games, I found Anima's system strangely compelling. The campaign setting included in the book is a mixture between fantasy and historic elements. As noted before the artwork is top-notch and I could see people picking this title up for the artwork alone. The only drawback is the steep price. While the hardcover edition is well worth its price because of the high printing quality and size of the book, I find $30 are a bit too much for a PDF. But aside from that, I wholeheartedly recommend Anima Beyond Fantasy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
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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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Legend of the Five Rings: Legacy of Disaster
by Kevin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2011 15:52:58

This pdf was made available for free, which is definitely a shame, as I would have been extremely happy with my purchase had I spent money on it. This module is ready to go, no NPC creation necessary. It deftly handles multiple paths a group of samurai handling this adventure might take, written out like a mini "choose your own adventure" for STs. I have never read a module and immediately felt comfortable with the thought of running it without making some kind of change, but this did not need any. I truly hope AEG makes more of these, and I will purchase any that they make.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Legacy of Disaster
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Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun
by Kevin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/02/2011 09:50:29

This book is nothing but general setting info, often repeated from other L5R sources, most of which in no way pertains to a court setting. I purchased this in hopes of better understanding how a traditional Winter Court would flow, a topic strangely absent from this book. The book did give me noteworthy NPCs (for the time period) and a map of Kyuden Seppun, but I am no closer to understanding the schedule of events or traditions of an actual court in Rokugan. This is the first L5R book I have purchased and later felt cheated.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun
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Legends & Lairs: Draconic Lore
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/25/2010 10:06:23

Passing by a couple of pages tabulating and categorising the dragons herein, we come to a Welcome! which explains both that this is the first softcover book in the Legends and Lore series (although preceded by several hardbacks) and something about the contents. The dragon, of course, is THE iconic fantasy monster, and one which characters, however powerful, ought to fear. Some of the dragons presented here are designed to be just that, the fearsome end-of-campaign climactic challenge. Others, whilst still posing sufficient challenge to make any character think twice about taking them on, have purposes such as populating specific environments or meeting particular needs.

Each dragon is presented in a standard manner, with a stat block and considerable amounts of descriptive material. Tables cover the necessary detail pertaining to draconic abilities based on age/size. Most are going to provide opposition to your characters, although a few have sufficient intelligence and inclination to become allies or companion beasts. The aquatic varieties are of particular interest, as is the cavern dragon which is only to be found in the darkest depths underground. This dragon is blind, but has excellent hearing and sense of smell - it is said that one you have attracted the attention of a cavern dragon the only escape is to get above ground, as they do not venture out onto the surface. Their lack of sight provides for some unusual treasure hoards as they eschew the 'shiny' items in favour of those which feel or smell attractive.

Diamondback dragons like mountainous regions near deserts and feature a rattle on the end of the tail, the source of their magical abilities which include hypnosis and suggestion, although they are powerful fighters and have a breath weapon as well. They are crafty and, as they are restless wanderers, ensure that their lairs are protected by ample traps to guard them whilst they are out.

As for the aquatic dragons, a fun one is the dragonshark, which combines the most savage aspects of a dragon and a shark - not something you want circling around when at sea. They number amongst the several 'mindless killing machine' dragon varieties in this book, although some aquatic communities claim to have managed to tame dragonsharks if captured young. There are aquatic 'real' dragons as well, the oceanic dragon poses a threat to ships while the reef dragon is smaller and weaker, using skills, magic and allies to make up for their less-than-imposing stature.

A reclusive and uncivilised group of sentient humanoids, the dragoth, are available as NPCs or indeed characters. Bearing draconic characteristics such as coloured scales (in the hues of the main chromatic dragons) and accessing, at higher levels, breath weapons they could prove an interesting culture to interact with, despite being regarded as mere legend by many.

Drakes are smaller cousins to the true dragons and can prove valued companions if they choose to befriend you. Variants can serve as mounts, guards, scouts or couriers, all exhibiting great loyalty as well as mental communication with their companion being... and, it seems, the drake is convinced that it's an equal partnership, whatever the companion may think!

Tome lizards are strange, although not smart enough to be able to read they love books and are drawn to libraries. They can be trained as guards, provided you can keep them from eating the volumes in their care! Their breath weapon is a black ink, prized amongst wizards for writing in spellbooks, and they can make good familiars. They have more dubious uses: wizards have been known to release one in a rival's library and they can be used to destroy other records that a crafty individual would prefer remained unknown or unavailable.

Amongst the other varieties presented, another intriguing one is the woolly dragon, which lives in extreme cold and is an intelligent and cruel hunter. Although scaled, they also grow fur or wool, hence the name. They do not fly but climb well, and harbour a mutual racial hatred for white dragons.

From the ecological stand-point, this is a fun assemblage of variants on the theme of 'dragon' - you can imagine numerous learned tomes tracing the relationships between the creatures here and the classic dragons we already know. There's plenty of scope for adventure and encounters involving these creatures, in all a neat collection.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legends & Lairs: Draconic Lore
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Legend of the Five Rings: Game Master's Screen and Adventure
by Don L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/21/2010 20:57:49

I have a problem with the way it was scanned. I would like to print this off but as it is scanned now, it is difficult to do. I have tried using GIMP but I have not figured out how to divide it into easily printed sizes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
by Richard T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/19/2010 09:28:44

First impressions here... A solid product. Good mechanics, love the richness of the game world. Character creation is not simple or quick, but I feel like this helps add to the customizability and depth of the characters. Magic users and ki users characters are even more involved. Overall, Anima is a welcome departure from the standard 'MMO on paper' that seems to have taken over mainstream gaming. Pick it up today!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/19/2010 05:20:09

Third and Fourth Edition of L5R herald a return to the 'Roll & Keep' system that is long overdue after the debacle that was D20 L5R. The system is excellent in conveying the flavour of the setting - one of heroism and epic deeds and is well-married to a rich, deep setting. The setting - a quasi-historical fantasy Japan - that offers a myriad of role-playing styles and opportunities. You want a game focused on ninja assassinations? Fine. How about a high-intrigue court game with an intense social setting? Done. How about a tragic game of honour, loss and epic battle? Check.

This is not 'AD&D with katanas'. It is a game where the social setting, etiquette, customs and culture come to the fore and the 'kewl powers' take a definite backseat. It is a setting where your characters see definite advancement and it is not always measured in dice and stats.

I'd recommend two other items to go with this purchase - the free module 'Legacy of Disaster' to get you started, and the novels. Whilst the latter are not brilliantly written (very standard gaming novel fare), but they do evoke the setting and advance the timeline very well.

On this note, the backstory is quite well-developed and tied to the events in the card game's continuity, but don't let this discourage you - it makes for entertaining reading and you can ignore almost all of it in any campaign.

In short, if you are after a fantasy game with a little more substance and a very different feel, this will fit the bill.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Legend of the Five Rings: Legacy of Disaster
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2010 19:40:53

The question I have to ask about this product is:

Why hasn't everyone with an internet connection downloaded this?

Take everything I like about L5R, put it in an easy-to-play package, and you've got Legacy of Disaster. Granted, there's a lot you can do with more, but if you wanna give the system a quick spin, this is perfect for you.

This is like a slice of cake: There's still more out there, but it's really, really good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Legacy of Disaster
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Legend of the Five Rings: Game Master's Screen and Adventure
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2010 19:09:15

There's one thing you know for certain when you look at anything related to L5R. High quality.

That's all I can say about the GM screen and Descent into Darkness.

Top notch art, top notch writing.

While the $9 may be a lot for a GM Screen, if you play L5R, this is a must-have, and the included adventure provides a great stepping point for a campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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Masters of Court
by Nicolas D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2010 14:27:24

Article mal scanné. Dommage. 20€ pour un pdf illisible... J'ai contacté le support RapideJDR, ils m'ont dit qu'ils n'avaient pas le problème et de le re-télécharger... C'est vrai que la qualité d'affichage d'Acrobat dépend beaucoup du téléchargement. LOL !!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Court
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2010 22:18:27

I have only one gripe with this: It's so long.

However, once you get past that, Legend of the Five Rings is worth the read. Basically a mix of cultural analysis and game, the nice thing about Legend of the Five Rings is that you can play it in any style: politics and fighting are available, so if you want a game of social intrigue, or wanton bloodshed, you can run it.

The rules are unique and interesting, and I must say that it avoids most of my gripes with the majority of systems out there. There are no huge modifiers leading to foregone conclusions, and you don't wind up throwing hundreds of dice.

The setting has loads and loads of content to go with it, almost all of the 400 pages are crammed with information, making it one of the best books around.

The art and typesetting is perfect. I really cannot find a complaint. Legend of the Five Rings has exciting, gripping typesetting and art that make it an easy read because you feel engaged and immersed.

Granted, at $36, it's an investment, but you really do get what you pay for, and since it has the content of many lesser systems, Legend of the Five Rings is a one-stop-shop for any feudal Asian setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Shotgun G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/07/2010 18:46:16

Having discovered L5R through the CCG, I was immediately hooked on the whole history of Rokugan. For 15 years, AEG have been adding to this amazing story of a land torn by warring Clans, threats from the Shadowlands and more recently pestilence and disease.

3rd edition to me was very clunky, with a lot of things that made it slow and labourious. 4th edition is has been redesigned, almost from the ground up. Changes to combat, the Clan schools and tweaks here and there; have made the whole system smoother.

Whether your new to L5R or a player of the older versions, this edition should appeal. From the rich artwork to the streamlined character creations, the book is very well presented and full to the brim with information.

At 405 pages, it is a hefty read. But it is also an easy read, with each section broken into smaller Books. The Book of Air details the history of Rokugan, the culture that makes up society; as well as sections on all of the Clans. The Book of Earth is the general mechanics of the game; while The Book of Fire is the Character Creation. Book of Water has all the information on Advanced Mechanics, with the Book of Void covering all the GM aspects of the game.

Overall a great update on the system, with some tweaks that make the whole thing a lot sharper to play; both as a player and GM. If you like Japanese History or just enjoy an RPG with an oriental flavour; then Legend of the Five Rings is perfect for this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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