Converting Rokugan (or Théah!) to 4E

A land of breathtaking beauty, where eight clans of powerful samurai warriors struggle against one another in constant war for supremacy. Discuss the Legend of the Five Rings campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.
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JoeNotCharles
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Converting Rokugan (or Théah!) to 4E

Post by JoeNotCharles »

Well, I feel a little bit responsible for the creation of this forum, and I'm damned if I'll let it languish, even though I barely actually know anything about Rokugan. I am a big fan of AEG's other world, 7th Sea, so I guess this is the closest forum for this.

A brief overview:

- AEG makes a game called Legend of the Five Rings, set in the Oriental mishmash world of Rokugan, and using a "roll and keep" system - dice rolls are given as XkY, meaning roll Xd10 and keep the highest Y of them. I've never played it, but it's very well received.
- AEG follows up with a pirate game called 7th Sea, set in the European mishmash world of Théah. It uses the same "roll and keep" system, with some modifications to make it flow better for a cinematic swashbuckling game. It's mostly a great system - it works a lot like the old d6 Star Wars, but it flows even better because you don't have to count up every die you roll, just the top 3 or 4.
- 3rd Ed gets released and everyone scrambles to make d20 editions of their products.
- Rokugan gets picked up as the setting for the 3rd Ed version of Oriental Adventures, meaning that the sourcebook is a mix of classic OA classes and a conversion of Legend of the Five Rings mechanics. Since I've never played the original, I have no idea how different the D&D version of Rokugan is from the Legend of the Five Rings one.
- AEG follows up by renaming 7th Sea to the unfortunately bland Swashbuckling Adventures, making 3 sourcebooks which just convert the crunch from the earlier 7th Sea line, and following up with a bunch of sourcebooks that contain stats for both systems.

Both Oriental Adventures and Swashbuckling Adventures contain conversions from the classless, stat-based roll and keep system to d20, which has rigid classes and character levels (leading to a much wider range of character power levels). Oriental Adventures felt like a pretty good D&D setting to me, with one exception: the Iujitsu quick-draw sword skill really seemed bolted on. The 7th Sea conversion didn't feel very convincing to me at all, though. A lot of different concepts from 7th Sea had to be squeezed into either Prestige Classes or Feats. The problem is that in the 7th Sea system, advancement involved individual powers which had widely varying costs and effects; in d20, advancement involved entire levels, which had slots for powers which should be about equal in effect. So the run-of-the-mill 7th Sea powers became feats, even though some weren't powerful enough and some were slightly too powerful, which the most extensive power packages (such as Man of Will or the complex Swordsman schools) became Prestige Classes. This left mid-range powers really lacking: too small to be a full Prestige Class, too big to be a Feat.

4e's various levels of powers would fit this system much better - Man of Will could become a Paragon Path, while "Swordsman School Membership" would be a feat similar to the Multiclass feats, giving access to a collection of powers that can replace your regular class powers. I'd assume the original Legend of the Five Rings material could would convert well too.

So: for a 4E conversion of Rokugan, would it be better to start with the 3E Oriental Adventures, or go right back to Legend of the Five Rings? I'd say to convert Théah it would be much better to start from the 7th Sea mechanics and try to find equivalent powers: the Swashbuckling Adventures conversion wasn't good enough to bother with. Has anyone played Legends of the Five Rings and Oriental Adventures? Was the d20 conversion any better than the Swashbuckling Adventures conversion? Any thoughts on converting either OA or Legend of the Five Rings to 4E?

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Big Mac
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Re: Converting Rokugan (or Théah!) to 4E

Post by Big Mac »

JoeNotCharles wrote:
Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:43 am
Well, I feel a little bit responsible for the creation of this forum, and I'm damned if I'll let it languish, even though I barely actually know anything about Rokugan. I am a big fan of AEG's other world, 7th Sea, so I guess this is the closest forum for this.
Funnily enough, I feel a lot responsible for the creation of the Rokugan forum and moving your topic out of the Oriental Adventures forum. :P

There was a time, several years back, when some stuff that other people said made me wonder if Rokugan and 7th Sea were set on the same planet.

I know that is not correct now, but there is a subsetting of Legend of the Five Rings, called Legend of the Burning Sands.
JoeNotCharles wrote:
Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:43 am
A brief overview:

- AEG makes a game called Legend of the Five Rings, set in the Oriental mishmash world of Rokugan, and using a "roll and keep" system - dice rolls are given as XkY, meaning roll Xd10 and keep the highest Y of them. I've never played it, but it's very well received.
- AEG follows up with a pirate game called 7th Sea, set in the European mishmash world of Théah. It uses the same "roll and keep" system, with some modifications to make it flow better for a cinematic swashbuckling game. It's mostly a great system - it works a lot like the old d6 Star Wars, but it flows even better because you don't have to count up every die you roll, just the top 3 or 4.
- 3rd Ed gets released and everyone scrambles to make d20 editions of their products.
- Rokugan gets picked up as the setting for the 3rd Ed version of Oriental Adventures, meaning that the sourcebook is a mix of classic OA classes and a conversion of Legend of the Five Rings mechanics. Since I've never played the original, I have no idea how different the D&D version of Rokugan is from the Legend of the Five Rings one.
- AEG follows up by renaming 7th Sea to the unfortunately bland Swashbuckling Adventures, making 3 sourcebooks which just convert the crunch from the earlier 7th Sea line, and following up with a bunch of sourcebooks that contain stats for both systems.
My understanding of the lead up to the 3rd Edition Era is that AEG staff knew that there was a bit for a TSR takeover, assisted in some way, but arranged for the company that Legend of the Five Rings had been sold to (that was leasing the rights back to them) to be bought out by Wizards of the Coast too. (Meaning that Wizards of the Coast rescued both Dungeons & Dragons and Legend of the Five Rings, at the same time.)
JoeNotCharles wrote:
Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:43 am
Both Oriental Adventures and Swashbuckling Adventures contain conversions from the classless, stat-based roll and keep system to d20, which has rigid classes and character levels (leading to a much wider range of character power levels). Oriental Adventures felt like a pretty good D&D setting to me, with one exception: the Iujitsu quick-draw sword skill really seemed bolted on. The 7th Sea conversion didn't feel very convincing to me at all, though. A lot of different concepts from 7th Sea had to be squeezed into either Prestige Classes or Feats. The problem is that in the 7th Sea system, advancement involved individual powers which had widely varying costs and effects; in d20, advancement involved entire levels, which had slots for powers which should be about equal in effect. So the run-of-the-mill 7th Sea powers became feats, even though some weren't powerful enough and some were slightly too powerful, which the most extensive power packages (such as Man of Will or the complex Swordsman schools) became Prestige Classes. This left mid-range powers really lacking: too small to be a full Prestige Class, too big to be a Feat.
Don't forget that the 3e Oriental Adventures is not a second hand adaptation of Rokugan - it is a third hand adaptation. The original version of Legend of the Five Rings was the CCG. So if you are trying to look for the design intentions, you might want to refer to some websites that talk about how the CCG cards work, and compare that with roll and keep and d20 mechanics, to see if you can find some overall themes that cross the different systems.
JoeNotCharles wrote:
Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:43 am
4e's various levels of powers would fit this system much better - Man of Will could become a Paragon Path, while "Swordsman School Membership" would be a feat similar to the Multiclass feats, giving access to a collection of powers that can replace your regular class powers. I'd assume the original Legend of the Five Rings material could would convert well too.
I wonder how well 2nd Edition Kits would suit things in 4th Edition Paragon Paths.
JoeNotCharles wrote:
Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:43 am
So: for a 4E conversion of Rokugan, would it be better to start with the 3E Oriental Adventures, or go right back to Legend of the Five Rings? I'd say to convert Théah it would be much better to start from the 7th Sea mechanics and try to find equivalent powers: the Swashbuckling Adventures conversion wasn't good enough to bother with. Has anyone played Legends of the Five Rings and Oriental Adventures? Was the d20 conversion any better than the Swashbuckling Adventures conversion? Any thoughts on converting either OA or Legend of the Five Rings to 4E?
I've never read any of the 7th Sea or Swashbuckling Adventures stuff, but I believe it has been sold back to the original designer (probably since you wrote this post) and that they did a 7th Sea Kickstarter to bring it back with new D&D rules or Pathfinder rules. It did really well, from what I remember, but oddly, I don't see many people talking about it.
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The Dark
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Re: Converting Rokugan (or Théah!) to 4E

Post by The Dark »

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:30 am
I've never read any of the 7th Sea or Swashbuckling Adventures stuff, but I believe it has been sold back to the original designer (probably since you wrote this post) and that they did a 7th Sea Kickstarter to bring it back with new D&D rules or Pathfinder rules. It did really well, from what I remember, but oddly, I don't see many people talking about it.
It reverted to John Wick in 2015 and was acquired by Chaosium earlier this year. I looked at the demo version when the (very successful) Kickstarter was live, and wasn't thrilled enough to feel the need to update.

I had started with the D20 version and worked my way back into the Roll-and-Keep system (although I'm still missing Ussura, Rilasciare, Sophia's Daughters, and the Blue Books from my collection). The Swashbuckling Adventures conversion didn't really work well, but some of the dual-statted books were pretty good (Cathay and Midnight Archipelago in particular).

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Re: Converting Rokugan (or Théah!) to 4E

Post by talsine »

The Dark wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:30 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:30 am
I've never read any of the 7th Sea or Swashbuckling Adventures stuff, but I believe it has been sold back to the original designer (probably since you wrote this post) and that they did a 7th Sea Kickstarter to bring it back with new D&D rules or Pathfinder rules. It did really well, from what I remember, but oddly, I don't see many people talking about it.
It reverted to John Wick in 2015 and was acquired by Chaosium earlier this year. I looked at the demo version when the (very successful) Kickstarter was live, and wasn't thrilled enough to feel the need to update.

I had started with the D20 version and worked my way back into the Roll-and-Keep system (although I'm still missing Ussura, Rilasciare, Sophia's Daughters, and the Blue Books from my collection). The Swashbuckling Adventures conversion didn't really work well, but some of the dual-statted books were pretty good (Cathay and Midnight Archipelago in particular).
I know several of the people who worked on 7th Sea 2E and there were a lot of really good ideas that simply never got to print (including a much more in depth ship combat system). I backed the kickstarter at the "get all of the PDFs' level, and I'm still waiting for several of them. Wick is not a very good business man and not very good at budgeting. That all being said, the system itself isn't bad, its just not what i wanted from 7th Sea. Combined with the complete setting reset means i'm not a big fan of it myself.

As far as the actual question at hand (sorry, I'm easily distracted), i wouldn't try to convert the material directly, instead just use it as inspiration for the reflavoring of the existing options. Rokugan being much easier to convert, since its magic is much more in line with the magic 4E models. Theah's magic would be pretty hard to convert and would require a lot of work to use, and wouldn't capture the feel very well. And I say this as a huge 4E fan.

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