The Way of the Wolf
The Way of the Wolf Playtest Review by Mark Galeotti on 29/07/01
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 3 (Average)
Ronin for L5R. More of the same. Not bad, but more of the same, all the same…
Product: The Way of the Wolf
Author: Rich Wulf & Shawn Carman
Page count: 128
Year published: 2001
SKU: AEG 3025
Comp copy?: yes
Playtest Review by Mark Galeotti on 29/07/01
Genre tags: Fantasy Asian/Far East
AEG are certainly productive, kicking out new versions of the L5R rules, armies of clan books, etc. I can’t help but wonder if it is beginning to show. This, the tenth clan book, looks at the Ronin, the masterless ‘wavemen’ mercenaries of Rokugan, and while it has its moments, to me it is a little flat and predictable, as if the template for an L5R book is becoming rather stale.
There are the usual characterful but rather identikit bits of prose, that once added depth and texture, but now just fill up space. Oodles of background, that once made Rokugan a living world, but now risk making it less of a theatre for the imagination and more of a running history exam. Some new advantages and disadvantages here, some character templates there, a sprinkling of NPCs familiar from the CCG on top, and there you are.
In part my disappointment is precisely because AEG set themselves a very high standard from the first and also because when L5R first cam out, it really was something new, vibrant and vigorous. This certainly isn’t by any means a *bad* book. In what seems to be becoming a trend for L5R books, much of the best stuff is in the appendices, including notes on life as a ronin and how they can be incorporated into games. There is ample material for new or old campaigns, some of which could really bring a different dimension to play. What happens, for example, when samurai realise that the ronin they have encountered isn’t even that, but a common soldier masquerading as samurai?
So, if you are a L5R completist…well, you’ll probably already have bought it. Otherwise, it’s a decent piece of work, but without that sense of wonder and inspiration of many of the earlier L5R products.