Review – Blood of the Lioness (Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying)

As with each FFG release for Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying, the most recent hardback (Fields of Victory) was released along with an adventure supplement – Blood of the Lioness. Fields of Victory covered war, history, and the Lion Clan and, conveniently enough, Blood of the Lioness is about war, history, and the Lion Clan.

Blood of the Lioness centers around the history of the Battle of Snow Plain (one of the battles covered in Fields of Victory). When the bulk of the Ki-Rin Clan left Rokugan, the Lion eventually took over their lands. When the Ki-Rin returned as the Unicorn, the Emperor affirmed their entitlement to those lands, which forced the Lion to move out. The Battle of Snow Plain was one of the subsequent efforts by the Lion Clan to dislodge the Unicorn from those lands. A dispute has recently arisen about the events at the Battle of Snow Plain, and the player characters (preferably a group of Emerald Magistrates) have been sent to the Castle of the Swift Sword to research historical records (the Castle of the Swift Sword houses the Ikoma histories, the Akodo War College, and is the home of the Kitsu, and you can expect all of those locations to come up).

Of course, this wouldn’t be an adventure if things were as easy as reading a scroll from the Ikoma histories (which are totally 100% complete and accurate in all ways and not at all biased, we swear) and calling it a day. So, in addition to taking a tour of the Castle of the Swift Sword, the player characters should expect to have to research, investigate, engage in political maneuvering, and actually use the mass battle rules.

Blood of the Lioness (like all of the adventure supplements) comes with a poster map and a sheet of tokens. I’m pretty sure my opinions on past token sheets have been somewhere between lukewarm (when the tokens depicted a variety of characters) to dismissive (when the tokens depicted a bunch of generic courtiers). I love stuff like Pathfinder Pawns, but there just isn’t the same need for it in an RPG that doesn’t have tactical combat maps. But Blood of the Lioness finally gives a way to make good use of its tokens, because one of the poster maps is a battlefield, which means the tokens can be used with the map to depict troop/leader movements during the battle. That battlefield is one half of one side of the poster, sharing with a layout image of the Castle of the Swift Sword. The other side is, of course, a map of Lion lands.

Like Fields of Victory, the copyediting in Blood of the Lioness is a bit rough – like “accidentally copy and paste an entire paragraph somewhere else in the adventure” rough.

Notwithstanding that, the adventure should be pretty straightforward to run, with reasonably detailed timelines and characters whose motivations make sense. This does fall apart a bit at the climax, where the GM isn’t really given enough information on how the character’s actions might impact the outcome of the dispute that started this whole thing. But at least there’s a whole there for the GM to fill, not something that will require contradicting a fully-written endgame.

Overall, Blood of the Lioness is solid, and will especially appeal to players who want to use the mass battle rules, Lion Clan pride, and Rokugan’s willingness to turn a blind eye in the name of harmony.

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