I have a philosophy about RPGs, and that philosophy is, for a game to feel “right,” it needs three things: a set of core rules, at least one book devoted to antagonists and at least one book devoted to “toys;” additional character options, tools, spells and so on.
Enemies of the Empire is the antagonist book for Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition, and the first sourcebook beyond the core rules for the game. The book itself is a hardbound 288 page full color work of art. Like the core rules for L5R 4th edition, the book is filled with beautiful artwork, wonderful backgrounds and perhaps just a tad too much whitespace in the margins for some peoples’ taste. Oh, and of course, it’s also filled with things to throw against your samurai.
Beasts, the Bloodspeakers, the anti-kami conspiracy known as the Kolat, the Taint-infused Lost, the mysterious Naga, the rat-like Nezumi, the Nothing, oni, the five Ancient Races, ronin, shadowlands beasts, spirits and the undead are all covered in this book, each with a separate chapter.
Game stats are presented for everything from flying squirrels to the great and terrible Iuchiban the Bloodspeaker and lots of stuff in between. However, this is not just a book chock full of stats, it goes into detail when appropriate for history and nature of the different types of creatures within its pages giving gamemasters more than enough information on each of the types of adversaries than will likely ever be needed. Why do the Kolat hate the Kami, and how far did their influence spread? How did the first of the Lost come about? What was the final fate of Iuchiban? These are things answered not with blocks of stats, but glorious walls of text that engage the mind and tickle the fancy. Unless you don’t have a ticklish fancy, I suppose.
But wait, there’s more! There are many, many new mechanics and options scattered throughout the book; new spells, alternate paths, new schools, advanced schools and even guidelines on using creatures such as the Nezumi or Naga as player characters. The balance between fluff and crunch in this book feels, to me, just about perfect. It even includes a few different types of magic, such as the Nezumi memory sticks and shamanism, or Soultiwister magic. There are options and things to love for everyone!
The Appendix has various random encounter tables and the entire book wraps up with a very good index. This book definitely fills the hole from the core L5R rulebook, which had nowhere nearly enough adversaries fully fleshed out for my tastes. If you plan to play L5R 4th edition, then this book is pretty essential. Even if you aren’t running L5R, you might be able to mine the book for ideas for other games due to the very nice amount of fluff.
[tags]l5r,games,roleplaying,Role Playing Games,rpgs,Legend of the Five Rings,monsters[/tags]