The Ivory Kingdoms
Previewing Gaijin Characters in Path of Waves
Sayaka eyed the gaijin––Khulan?––with mild curiosity. She had been traveling down this road for several days, and when she met the gaijin astride his horse early that morning she had expected to be surpassed quickly. Upon seeing her, though, he had unmounted and began walking alongside her. Over the next several hours he spoke to her of his homeland, his horse, and how excited he was to be seeing Rokugan, finally.
For all his strangeness, Sayaka could see that he was a kind person. He offered her some of his rations and did not seem to mind her quietness, and by the time they took their afternoon rest she found herself glad to have the company, at least for a time.
In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, players step into the tumultuous world of Rokugan, where political upheaval and Celestial turmoil have led to unrest and conflict. Forces both on the battlefield and in the court threaten the throne, and players must step carefully to navigate this ever-changing empire on the edge of a new age. But while the Emerald Empire is vast, there are lands beyond its borders that are just as rich in history and culture, which you will have a chance to explore with Path of Waves, the 256-page sourcebook which explores the lives of those who exist outside of the Celestial Order, such as rōnin and gaijin.
Today, we are pleased to offer you a closer look at the lands that lay beyond the Emerald Empire as they appear in the Path of Waves sourcebook for the Legend of the Fives Roleplaying Game—now available for pre-order at your local retailer or online through our website with free shipping within the continental United States!
The World Before You
Located south and west of Rokugan, the Ivory Kingdoms are a sprawling, shifting mosaic of monarchies, religious territories, and city-states united under the rule of the maharaja. This ever-changing patchwork of politics, cultures, religions, and languages has a long history of strife as complex as the Emerald Empire, ranging from subtle courtly intrigue to open warfare. Various groups here fight and rise to great power, then succumb to both internal and external threats and fall back into obscurity in a seemingly endless cycle. Currently, the Ivory Kingdoms are enjoying a period of relative stability and peace contrary to Rokugan’s own, but whether this can last remains to be seen.
There are currently five Ivory Kingdoms factions that have risen in prominence: the ruling Sheelavaan, the Mukka religious sect, the Saamrajya monarchy, the Tajir traders, and the Naga serpent folk. Each faction has their own seat of power, ranging from the City of Splendor, Bhavyatapura, to the delta of the Heeratand. But with the wonders of these lands also come the terrors. The Ghostlands, a Shadowlands-Tainted region, borders the northeast area of the Ivory Kingdoms. In the same way that Rokugan must continually defend against the threat of the Shadowlands on its southern border, so too must the Ivory Kingdoms deal with the ever-present dangers of the Ghostlands. While Rokugan relies on the Crab Clan as their main line of defense, in the Ivory Kingdoms the Yodha, a supremely militant faction, protect their regions from the Ghostlands.
With these new areas of the world to explore comes new schools and skills for your characters to learn and adopt. You may become a Yodha of the Ghostlands yourself, careful, deliberate, precise, and deadly. Or you may choose to embrace a traditional role in a new way. If you are a bushi who wishes to learn how to face several enemies at once, you may wish to learn the Ivory Kingdoms' Dancing Blades Tradition. Meanwhile, an academically-minded sage may wish to attend the Qamarist Caliphate, which boasts some of the most gifted scientists and mathematicians in the world, and ultimately achieve the honored title of Alchemist. Otherwise, if you wish to truly embrace the spirit of breaking free from the Celestial Order, you can create your own school using a full step-by-step guide of archetypal paths that can easily be altered to fit your game’s narrative. With this sourcebook, the full world of Legend of the Five Rings is opened before you, and you are only limited by your own imagination.
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Legend of the Five Rings universe is vast. Past the borders of Rokugan are numerous nations and kingdoms, each with unique cultures and customs, far beyond the regions described in Path of Waves. To help you explore these diverse regions and leave your own stamp on the world, this sourcebook provides you with all the rules you need to build your own gaijin culture from which to build a unique character to either have your players interact with if you are the GM, or to embody yourself if you a player.
When making a gaijin culture, there is more to consider than just the mechanical aspects. Before you begin, be sure to sit down with your GM, determine whether a gaijin character fits into the narrative you’re trying to create together, and then establish a framework for your planned character. You may wish to consider questions like what sort of region or culture from which the character hails, how that will affect their knowledge and skills, and how they will fit within your game’s narrative. What compels a person to leave their birthplace and explore the world beyond? While many of the gaijin who come to Rokugan tend to be sailors and merchants, the stories that may drive someone to embrace this transient life are as varied as the characters themselves, and the backstory you create for a gaijin character will have a fundamental effect on how the character is played and how they interact with others.
Within Rokugan, each of the Great Clans have differing attitudes toward these foreigners, ranging from curiosity to ignorance or even anger. Some clans, like the Unicorn and the Mantis, that have frequent dealings with gaijin are more open-minded. More traditional factions such as the Lion and Crane, meanwhile, are more likely to take a dim view. But the thoughts of any individual samurai may change based on their personal experience, regardless of the accepted views of their Clan. Therefore, gaijin characters are sure to experience a wide range of reactions as they journey across the Emerald Empire, offering an equally wide array of roleplaying opportunities that can be integrated into your games. With Path of Waves, you have the power to build characters and stories of your own design more than ever before. What wonders will you find? What will you create? The only way to find out is to open the pages and begin.
Chasing the Stars
The lives of those who do not fit within the Celestial Order can be difficult, but their tales can be the richest and most compelling in all of Rokugan. What will you find when you open yourself to a life of travel and adventure? Step beyond the confines of the Emerald Empire and discover what awaits you in the wide world beyond!
Pre-order your copy of Path of Waves (L5R10) at your local retailer today or online through our website with free shipping in the continental United States here!