View Full Version : Questions about an RPG map

02-12-2014, 04:47 PM
So, first post here, hopefully I've got this in the right place. I'm not a map-maker (no artistic talent whatsoever), nor am I an expert on geography or climate. But I do love a good map, so I appreciate that this forum exists.

I've heard many, many times that the map for the RPG game Legend of the Five Rings doesn't make any sense. I'm curious what the problems are and how to go about resolving them. I'm interested in why specific geographic features should or should not exist, as well as what weather patterns would be expected for this kind of terrain and of course any suggestions on how to tweak it.

I've attached the 3rd edition map. According to the fluff, the far southeast islands are supposed to be tropical, the far north deciduous, and off the map to the west/northwest is supposed to be desert.

Edit: Map removed.

02-12-2014, 05:17 PM
First of all, you're not supposed to post a published map without the permission of the publisher, in this case AE. So I'd delete the map image from your first post if I were you.

Secondly, geologically speaking Rokugan isn't necessarily an unrealistic map. I think the argument against Rokugan, is that its supposed to represent fantasy Japan - and Japan is an island nation. Rokugan, geographically resembles China and not Japan at all.

I happen to publish (as an imprint under Rite Publishing), the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?cPath=4448_6626) - I also happen to be somewhat of an ancient Japan expert, especially regarding folklore. Kaidan, like Japan is an island nation. And really lots of detail content of the setting was intended to correct mistakes made by both Oriental Adventures (D&D Asia) and Rokugan regarding culture, technology, history, folklore and more. The point is what make Japan different from any other Asian nation is entirely dependant on the fact that it was an island nation, unfettered by invasions and most other outside influence since it doesn't sit adjacent to some other country. Being an island both protected it culturally and kept it isolated from the rest of the world to develop the uniqueness of that which is Japanese. (I am half Japanese by the way.)

02-12-2014, 06:12 PM
As a big L5R fan Ican tell you that the problems with Rokugan are many. There are many inconsistence between the canon material and the actual maps, which themselves are inconsistent across editions. By the way I wouldn't say it is supposed to be Japan exactly - more oriental fantasy with a heavy Japanese inspired focus. That's how I have always treated the setting anyway.

But there are issues:

Rokugan is supposed to have roughly the same climate as central japan
To keep it isolated it is basically ringed by mountains except that the bit usually missing on the central western border was never explained properly and has received inconsistent plot treatment over the years
The Mantis Isles are described as very tropical - jungles, big snakes, tigers, etc
It turns all into heavy jungle to the south-west (with the shadowlands in between), eventually meeting the Ivory Kingdoms which is basically not-india
Running along the coast directly north it is all steppe and mountain
And everything else northish/north west/westish is huge swathes of desert dominated by the not-persian city of Medinaat-al-Salaam

A lot of it gets a pass though because (divine) MAGIC. The whole desert area (the burning sands) was caused by actual wrath of a god stuff. But the mantis islands have always been a bit odd what with the whole tropical theme they have.

As far as fixing things goes though - it's probably not worth trying to. A lot of the issues come from the writing not matching the maps. I mean even the clan borders are horribly unreliable - especially the 3e depiction of them as there is supposed to be vast tracts of unexplored wilderness or "unaligned" lands in between clan territories.

02-13-2014, 02:12 AM
Aside from the whole copyright issue (thanks for removing the map, BTW ), Welcome to the Guild.
I am not familiar with any of the maps or settings so I can't answer any questions, but I constantly find published maps that don't match the written material. It is such a common problem that I just assume it is up to the GM to do the best they can with what they have to work with.

05-25-2015, 09:19 AM
This is very true for L5R and Rokugan: the most precise maps are in the Second Edition of the rules (D20 ruleset and D10). They cover the regions of each Clan ("Secrets of" series). But even these are particularly inconsistent with 3rd and 4th edition. I understand there is an Atlas of Rokugan being published which might (or not) put an end to this regrettable "fuzziness".