Clan and School: Campaign Design

As continuation from the previous article (“Starting Anew”), the new campaign further develops. The next steps for me are to create the unique minor Clan, provide a location and backstory, and create the Clan Bushi School and Technique. I settle on a small family, the Kagami, who have recently (in historical terms) gained their status as a Clan. An offshoot of the Crane Clan, the Kagami have a small province in an area of Rokugan where many minor Clans vie for control in the shadow of the Greater Clans. Without further discussion, let’s take a closer look at what I’ve drafted up… Read the rest of this entry »

Starting Anew: Campaign Design

After a long break from running L5R, the author finds he is ready to begin a new campaign. Good friends are ready to get back to Rokugan, and enjoy some deep, immersive, action-packed roleplay. Since many of the e-mails I receive seek advice on how to get groups together, it seems reasonable to make the construction of the campaign an open book (doubly applicable since the campaign in play will also be likewise documented). Read the rest of this entry »

Handout Madness

Ranking high among the feedback from visitors are questions rtegarding the making of the Lantern, and specifically the fonts used herein (and the Master receives much feedback indeed – a thank you to all those who have taken the time to send their kind words and regards!).

Rather than provide an article on nothing but fonts, today we talk about handouts. The Master simply loves handouts of all types: maps, listings of characters, terminology and slang, stories, geneology charts, etc. Players usually enjoy and appreciate such (see the “warning” below, however).

Like background music – among other techniques – handouts are an opportunity to reinforce the “reality” of the game world, and assist in communicating a common picture of the Rokugan you and your players visit. And making good, evocative handouts is not as difficult – or expensive – as one might think. Read the rest of this entry »

2nd Time Around

You may have heard; you may have noticed.

Legend of the Five Rings is being republished in its new Second Edition. The core rulebook – which has been sold out for some time – is being reissued in two volumes: a Player’s Guide and a Game Master’s Guide. The basic cover for the Player’s Guide is shown at the right (the only image on this site, we might add, which has been…ahem…liberated from AEG).

And, yes, the Player’s Guide has arrived. The Master – lucky monk that he is – picked himself up a copy only two days ago. The Game Master’s Guide is soon to follow (January, perhaps).

As befits a 2nd edition, there have been some changes … Read the rest of this entry »

Shout and Cry

Players spend a great deal of time detailing their characters; indeed, one could say that players know them intimately. In the Master’s humble opinion, it is the goal of most, if not all, players to create living, breathing characters with depth and detail. Some succeed; some do not…

NPCs (non-player characters) represent all the characters within your Rokugan other than those of the players’. Given the countless hordes of such NPCs in the average L5R campaign, how exactly does an ST ensure that they are all flavorful and distinct. And indeed, should they be? Couldn’t we just get tea from a plain old server at the tea house and be on with it anyway?

In short: no. Read the rest of this entry »

Unwriting the World

Ah, happy now are the days when there is more published support for L5R than when the game first came out, yes?

Yes, certainly. More of the world vision is communicated, more ideas. Generally, the material is quite good. While there is not an overwhelming amount of it, much is documented: the Great Clans, Winter Courts, Naga and so on. The Master generally finds this good stuff: the bookshelf is most packed with it.

However, there is a certain weight to it as well. In size, yes. Beyond that, there is can be an anchor effect. With so much of the world written, where is there room for your vision? Read the rest of this entry »

Getting There

Rokugan is a big place, regardless of how you read the map. For every place that’s named, there’s at least a hundred unnamed villages, shires, woods, and more disturbing areas. Adventurers and heroes tend to be “on the road” passing through such places frequently.

They do pass through such places, no? Of course they do.

In the Master’s games, no one gets anywhere quickly. Oh, from time to time the heroes get where they need to be. More often than not, however, something occurs as a quick sidetrack. Read the rest of this entry »


Some thoughts on developing deeper, non-traditionl associations with characters. Chaosium’s Nephilim occult rpg contains an interesting tool for the development of PCs (or NPCs as well): a “Chinese Portrait”. I have come across this technique in other areas and reading as well; I believe the tool offers players a unique tool in fleshing out their thoughts on their PCs. Read the rest of this entry »

Water Music

Bringing a setting well to life is a difficult task, especially in the Emerald Empire, with its exoticism and rich background. Additionally, the Master finds that verbal descriptions alone can do well, but one can go further to bring the game setting to life and stage rich, enjoyable atmospheres for role playing. There are many tool available, but for now, let us talk of music. Read the rest of this entry »