Legend of the Five Rings: Silk & Steel
Welcome to the land of Rokugan, the seat of the Emerald Empire, the domain of great samurai clans that seek to prove their honour before all… For honour is stronger than steel.
All of our player characters are powerful, noble courtiers of their respective family dynasties, chosen to represent their Great Clans at Imperial or high-level court gatherings. Your word is everything and consequences are dire should your devotion to the code of Bushido found to be lacking.
It is the year 1123 of the Hantei imperial dynasty. Old rivalries will smoulder, new chances to prove themselves will be presented, the balance of power will shift and – most importantly – nothing will be as it seems.
This is a low-fantasy campaign, leaning a bit towards historical in flavour. It is player-versus-player for rewards, not group-cooperation to advance the plot along a notch at a time.
Our tag line for this game would be something like 'Game of Thrones With Katanas'… Dynasties are clashing against each other for control of the realm. There is a great magic system in this game, but we're mostly leaving that to the NPC priest attendants, so we can focus on the mundane world samurai tragedy.
The land of Rokugan is based on feudal Japan and its 'Warring States', with elements of Chinese, South-East Asian and Indonesian culture and history mixed in too. Its goal is to get people playing in a varied, particularly Eastern setting – with all the nuances that brings versus the Western fantasy storytelling we're all used to - without limiting too much. Tropes are welcome (bad-ass swordsmen, shaolin monks, imperial grand decadence, et al) because it's supposed to be fun, not too scholarly. If there's something else you'd like to bring in: do so. It's your game.
Feel free to edit, change, add, delete, re-do or amend anything. This is our page. Make it your own.
Contributions = ‘Bennies’ for your character!
• If you'd like to read more about the Legend of the Five Rings (or "L5R") setting, you can head to the startlingly comprehensive L5R Wikia and get your fill. Be warned though, we're running a custom version of Rokugan with quite a lot trimmed out or moved around… And generally a bit more grim-faced and dressed in a fine kimono that might have a bit of of mud on it.
• There's also a repository of all of the stories and fiction published over the years at the 'Kaze No Shiro' site, if you'd like some flavour.
• The 'Mistral Celeste' site has an excellent selection of resources and player aids for the Fourth edition of the role-playing game. (That's our version.)
The 'L5R' game's title is a nod to a real-world treatise on Japanese Samurai life, written by historical swordsman and author Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) - 'The Book of Five Rings' – a book on swordsmanship and related subjects. The Five Rings are the elements; Fire, Water, Earth, Air and 'Void' – or 'Nothingness' – which is all of them at once… Or none. The game system uses these elements as the basis of your character and the composition of the world surrounding them.
The history of the 'L5R' game itself began in 1995 with a Collectable Card Game from AEG. (Particularly noted for how its players determined the story of the world.) A RPG version came out in 1997 and we're using the Fourth Edition rules, first published in 2010.
In 2015, Fantasy Flight Games bought the whole L5R IP, brought out a Living Card Game in 2017 and brought out new RPG version in 2018. Browsing L5R content online might be bit confusing because there are different versions. The FFG version sets the world timeline back by about 75 years (the setting has 1200 years of recorded history) and reboots it a little.
However, all of this gerrymandering of fictional fantasy samurai effects us not a jot, it just bears mentioning.
L5R Fans: There's no Shadowlands or Taint in this campaign, and humans are the only race around. No naga, nezumi, zokujin and so on, they're just in the story books and folklore. As are most of the oni and bakemono. (If you're lucky you might meet someone who says they knew someone else who saw a Kenku once.) The threat the empire is facing is civil war and treachery from within. That and the ambitions of its neighbouring nations; The Ivory Kingdoms, The Burning Sands, the Yobanjin tribes, gaijin sea-faring pirates and so on.
This wiki might even prove handy as reference for other L5R GMs who like their Rokugan adventures with a bit more of a ground-level chanbara / jidaigeki feel, even though we do have quite a bit of courtly extravagance here too.