"Emerald Empire" is the first expansion manual localized by Need Games for the game "The Legend of the Five Rings”And provides masters and players with an insight into Rokugan society, its main cities, agriculture and crafts up to the imperial courts and families. As with many titles localized by Need Games, in particular on “The Legend of the Five Rings”, the manual can be appreciated both as a reading for lovers of settings and for those who intend to bring the concepts back into their campaigns. If you want to learn more about these topics, we recommend the podcast "Izakaya of the Little Master".

Structure of the Manual

The “Emerald Empire” supplement consists of 257 pages, divided into seven chapters combined with an introduction that traces the history of Rokugan. The chapters are thematically divided and easy to consult, as well as full of ideas for adventures and explanations that leave the reader fully satisfied and eager to play.

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Strongholds of Power

This section of the "Emerald Empire" deals, as the name suggests, with the castles and strongholds in Rokugan. In addition to analyzing their construction, strategic importance and the main differences between constructions of the practical Crab clan and the elegant Crane clan, the chapter focuses on castle life. Readers will find a quick explanation of the court day, the inhabitants and workers of the castle, and the routine activities of the samurai. All this information can help players to step into the shoes of the samurai, with a strict schedule to respect (or not) and the duties that this entails when you are in a building.

The last pages are devoted to war and diplomacy, the two main aspects of the same conflict for power that keeps the Rokugan clans in constant turmoil.

Commerce Centers

The second chapter deals with the main cities of Rokugan, their relationship with trade and economy, their ports and maritime navigation. Finally in this chapter we can enter the capital of Otosan Uchi, the city founded following the fall of the Kami after the fight between Hantei and his father. We are talking about a city based on different districts (or levels), all very heterogeneous from each other and with unique features of walls for each clan. The fact that each district is then managed by its own governor makes it possible to organize campaigns that may not even go out of Otosan Uchi.

The final part of the chapter deals with the delicate relationship between crime and justice, the legal system of Rokugan and the famous Magistrates of the Emerald, the "national police" which the Emerald Champion uses to solve major crimes in Rokugan. This section will be particularly useful for the storyteller, as creating Emerald Magistrates is a good way to keep characters together throughout the adventure with very little effort. To this is added the description of the legal system of the Rokugan, of the way investigations are conducted and of the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity.

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The heart of the Empire

One might think that a chapter focusing on the “Heart” of the Smerarlo Empire begins with culture, or speaking of samurai, instead the Rokugan is based on agriculture and crafts. The first part of this section of the manual focuses on the relationship between the Hantei empire and agriculture, on the importance of having plenty of rice, fresh water and basic necessities, and then tells us about life in the fields. This cross-section of society is often ignored, as the manual points out, even by the samurai themselves, since they believe that the most important or interesting events take place in cities.

In addition to giving us many ideas for adventures, this chapter also deals with the relationship between the samurai and all the lower social classes. Of particular interest may be the relationship between samurai and geisha, of both sexes, and with gaijin (foreigners).

Sacred places

The fourth chapter of "Emerald Empire" introduces us again to the Cosmography of Rokugan, this time in more depth. It is specified how everything is on the same "plane" or "dimension" but that it includes different shades. Quoting the manual "A map of these realms would look like a sheet of paper, fragile and torn, folded and crumpled." We could therefore say that what can be perceived of the Rokugan, its material component, is the crossroads for the spiritual one.

After the Cosmography, the chapter introduces us to the religious practices of the Empire, both those considered pious and those impious and forbidden. Also in this case, reading helps to understand different aspects of Rokugan culture, as at first glance everything is defined as Kami and the difference between the spirit of a tree and the great Kami Hantei is not clear. This chapter answers many questions.

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The Paths to Enlightenment

The fifth chapter of "Emerald Empire" leads us to analyze and understand the figure of the Little Master, Shinsei, a legendary figure about whom many stories circulate and whose wisdom has also been recognized by the gods themselves, as well as by human beings. Starting from his figure and his teachings, the chapter moves on the monasteries, on the way to become a monk and on what are the lifestyles and practices within these places far from the world and its disturbances.

Wilds of Rokugan

Although the Rokugans see the Emerald Empire as the peak of civilization in the world, in its perfection and immutability, there are several areas that deviate well from logic, purity and civilization and could be defined as "wild". There are places where nature still dominates, where mystery is the main currency for explorers or those forced to deal with it. There are creatures that shouldn't be disturbed, ruins that carry with them tales of ancient wars. Very often it happens that men claim as their own forests, mountains, plains dominated by spirits. A great example of this is the Fox clan, who had to learn to live with the kitsune.

New Options for Players

Perhaps one of the more "practical" sections of "Emerald Empire" is the one that talks about new options for players. Three imperial families (not Hantei) have been added in character creation and thanks to their history we can better understand some facets of modern Rokugan and what happened when the Kami came down from heaven. These imperial families bring with them several new schools, which explore the main functions of the family in question. In total this chapter adds three new families and seven new schools, adding different material for courtiers and monks as well. All this is obviously followed by advantages, passions, distinctions, disadvantages and defects.

The manual closes with a list of new titles obtainable by the characters and their meaning. This can also be a quick guide for storytellers who need quick access to information.

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Do we recommend the purchase?

The "Emerald Empire" manual integrates perfectly with the basic manual and can only be recommended not only for the countless ideas for adventure, which could make a narrator survive without ever adding a comma, but also for all the information contained on the Rokugan. This manual helps to experience the Rokugan in a less stereotyped and cinematic way, allowing readers to immerse themselves in its culture and its thousand shades.