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Enemies of the Empire – A Review

Posted in: Advice/Tools,Meta-gaming by Ariel on November 6, 2010

The fine folks at Alderac Entertainment Group sent me a review copy of their newest L5R rpg book – Enemies of the Empire. It is a combination monster manual, history book and GM resource. And, somehow more than all of those things, too. As with the first book of the new 4th edition, it is beautiful. These people really know their art design.

It is a pleasure to hold this book in your hands. The pages are thick and smooth and the art work, layout and design are superb. Oh, yeah and the content….. it surpasses the physical aspects of the book.

Let’s talk about what’s inside of Enemies of the Empire…..  Creatures, history, lore, adventure ideas, NPC builds, advice on rolling a non-human PC and more.

The book devotes just a few pages to the bestiary. A scant handful of pages lay out some of the beasts you and your players will encounter in Rokugan.

Then we get to the heart of the book — the real enemies. I mean sure a panther might be a threat to you or a village, but it is not actively trying to destroy your world. Bloodspeakers on the other hand….. or members of the Kolat…. they have an agenda.

When you begin to turn the pages and realize that the world is so vast and intricate, it is easy to get overwhelmed. New players especially could feel like just closing the book and going back to playing Halo instead.

It is more than worth your time to explore the world of Rokugan, however. The people and the history of this delicate world are as real and three-dimensional as our own. Everyone has motivations, alliances and entanglements — complications, if you will.

Of course this book is designed primarily for your GM, but players like myself benefit from its pages too. We are planning our new campaign now — finishing up our time in Serenity — and this supplemental book will give players a deep well to draw for back stories, if nothing else. And there is so much else!

Imagine that you want to play one of the non-human races. I am considering Nezumi, actually and wow, does the book go into depth about these guys. There are 30+ pages devoted to their history (prehistory, really), their customs, language, names and tribes. Do I want to be part of the Crooked Tail tribe or the Tattered Ear? Each has their advantages and as a player I have to weigh them carefully. The book has such depth about each of the enemies (or friends, depending on the race — probably not going to have any Oni player characters — big scary demon things. Some of them have lots of teeth. Nightmare-worthy, any one of them.)

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[Meta] Insert Photo Montage Here

Posted in: Meta-gaming by Ariel on October 16, 2010

It has been a crazy few weeks for me and I am so far behind on Divas posts that we are going to have to resort to a tried ‘n true movie method to get ourselves out of this hole. Yep, photo montage. There have been some great props and some amazing gameplay and dang it! It needs to be immortalized in blog form. Except that some of those pictures are on a hard drive that needs some extra TLC, because my old laptop died on me. I will recover those pictures, but for now…..

Sarah used tarot cards to lay out a random town for us to explore. That was very fun.

That way we (gulp!) split the party and all did our own thing. Roark went to a strip club. Brigid, Maggie and Prudence went to the rendezvous at the casino. (Prudence went for the Faro game) And Swei and Lu went in search of pawn shops. You never know what kind of parts you’ll stumble on…. Which might have been what Roark was thinking, too.

While Lu and I were on the tram in town, this oddly dressed man approached us. His name was David? — the question mark is there to denote the odd upward inflection in his voice when he said his name. He represented a group of travelers who wanted to get to the planet Angel. They had money and well, what the hell do Swei and Lu know about sizing up people? So we told David? to meet us at D-VA first thing in the morning. His group was pretty odd, what with the robes and the hats. But they were quiet and their credits were real.

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