The Winter Court
Previewing Games of Discourse in Courts of Stone
In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, you enter the world of Rokugan, where celestial turmoil and natural disasters have sent the land into chaos. As the imbalance of the world threatens to tip the scales of fate, the future of the Emerald Empire can be shaped by a handful of scheming courtiers. Now is the time when you can bring the designs of your Clan into being, but only if you have the skill, cunning, and will to achieve your goals by any means necessary.
In the Courts of Stone sourcebook, you gain unprecedented access to the castles, keeps, and courts of Rokugan, where battles of secrets and words take the place of combat, and a single mistake can lead to dishonor or death. Here, even a single word can hold great weight, and the consequences may prove deadly.
Today, we invite you to step inside the courts and see how games of discourse play out in Courts of Stone—now available for pre-order at your local retailer or online through our website with free shipping within the continental United States!
Strong Roots Grow Deep
As game masters spin their tales of courtly intrigue, they will find advice for running games centered around themes of politics and espionage, as well as new ways to spend experience in games of discourse. With the wealth of information provided in this section, GMs will find diverse ways to engage their players in courts filled with memorable nobles and shinobi in campaigns driven by political conflict and deadly plots. Combined with new rules for governing and resolving bonds, players and characters can create deeper relationships in the Legend of the Five Rings games than ever before.
As you enter the Winter Court, you may engage in daring battles, mysterious exploration, and high-stakes investigation where the fate of their entire clan hangs in the balance. A political game casts your group as influential individuals whose actions can change the balance of power among any number of factions struggling for control, all under the watchful gaze of the Emperor where proper decorum must be observed. Secrets, lies, favors, and social pressure are your weapons on the political battlefield, forcing you to work more proactively and openly share information with your fellow players. While at a glance this may seem counterintuitive, you may soon see that intrigue play which relies heavily on secrets and misinformation requires the players at the table to be more honest with one another, lest a rival should sow discord and weaken the bonds of your group for their own gain.
The connections between you and your fellow players or NPCs become more immersive than ever in Courts of Stone with the introduction of bonds. Bonds are a new way to spend experience points, reflecting a deepening connection between two people as they invest energy and emotion in one another. These bonds can take many forms, whether they be friends or family, lovers, or comrades. With each deep connection comes the chance to use bond abilities that can strengthen your character in a scene by possibly improving composure, removing strife, or offering rerolls. But not all bonds are necessarily positive. You may encounter a rival or nemesis in the course of your games, and even positive relationships can drive your characters to extreme actions. Such intense emotions are not easily broken—even by death—and whether your bonds inspire joy, vengeance, or obsession is up to you. You are the master of your fate.
Regardless of the reasons behind them, all actions have consequences at the Winter Court. If you wish to gain influence among the nobles of Rokugan, you must adhere to the laws of Courtesy, the set of behavioral norms that guides Rokugani social interactions. In the Emerald Empire, samurai put stock in Courtesy as it signifies their adherence to the other tenets of Bushidō, expressing a commitment to others’ safety, comfort, and happiness. As samurai hold incomparable martial, economic, and social privilege over the other Rokugani castes, a courteous samurai’s behavior says, “I have the power to injure you, but I choose not to. I have status enough to ignore you, but I choose to acknowledge you.” While Courtesy may be one of the most important tenets of Bushidō, it may at times be at odds with Sincerity. The bounds of etiquette must not restrict a samurai from speaking an uncomfortable truth, but the proper time and place for such expression must be accounted for. As in all things, the key to success is balance.
In your games of discourse, Courtesy can be used as a tool to tie disparate people together or as a weapon to weaken rivals. When separated from the tenets of Compassion and Sincerity, Courtesy and the rules of etiquette it defines can be used to create barriers between the privileged and the deprived or further the divide between disparate social groups. While you may be able to risk a small breach of etiquette or make a small sacrifice of honor to further your own agenda with a well-placed rumor, you must take care that your indiscretions go at least mostly unnoticed. You are not the only one who seeks to shape the Emerald Empire to their design, and a small secret against you can prove deadly in the wrong hands.
Duty and Decorum
The Winter Court will soon be in session. Do you have the cunning and composure to shape future of the Emerald Empire, or will a misstep lead you down the wrong path where your clan must pay the price? Learn the laws of courtesy, forge your bonds, and prepare for adventure and intrigue in the Courts of Stone!
Pre-order your copy of Courts of Stone (L5R08) at your local retailer today or online through our website—with free shipping in the continental US—here! Otherwise, be sure to look for this sourcebook when it arrives at retailers in Q2 of 2019!