Legend of the 5 Rings

July 21, 2008

Naamen has a great post on “Problematic Things I Enjoy”, which I could probably paint most of my hobby with, but I’ll instead focus on an aspect as it comes to me. So today? Legend of the 5 Rings.

Ben Lehman once asked why I liked L5R, despite the horrible level of asian fetishization/exotification/white man’s fantasy. And, the answer was that it’s one of the few games where it features an all POC setting, not as an add-on or extra to a white setting, and that, characters not only fell into villains and victims, but heroes and more complex characters as well. And you know, I could play an asian guy and no one would make me have to come up with some extra excuse of why I’ve got this character in the setting.

Just the same, it is full of problematic stuff, ranging from the faux Japanese names- “Bayushi”, creepy wank material descriptions of women and their long hair, silk, etc., mixing in Mongols, Arabs, and Irish/Scottish as a clan, and the random bits of specifically Chinese stuff thrown in for good measure.

Of course, at this point, I probably would a) use another system and utilize bits of the setting, and b) only play with friends who I know won’t do the “white man playing an asian speech pattern”, which is, to pause, after, every few, words, and invite, Chris to, throw a, brick at, your, head.

From just a game-side analysis, the good writers pretty much fled after 1st Edition, and since then it’s been riding on a dwindling fanbase. And, the system generally has been the “Task Resolution” + “Powers”, and you have to figure out how to actually run a system, or, you know, make a rag tag group of heroes cooperate who have no real reason to.

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