Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

Home Novels L5R Other RPGs Miscellaneous Writing About Contact

Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

A Brief History

Legend of the Five Rings was a samurai-fantasy collectible card-game and role-playing game, published by Alderac Entertainment Group from 1995 to 2015. I discovered the game soon after the publication of the RPG in 1997, and it quickly became my all-time favorite, eclipsing my former favorite Call of Cthulhu. At the time, I was heavily involved in organized-play convention-based gaming via the RPGA (Role-Playing Gamer's Association), writing numerous adventure modules for them and traveling throughout the midwest (and all the way to GenCon) to play and run games. The RPGA was by then best-known for creating and running various "Living" campaigns -- ongoing RPG campaigns that ran at conventions, with players taking their characters from one convention to the next, accumulating experience points and leveling-up just like in a home game. However, my preferences were always more toward role-play oriented one-off events (sometimes called "classics") -- I wrote numerous Call of Cthulhu scenarios of this sort from the RPGA, including their GenCon premier events every year from 1998 to 2003.
When the RPGA announced a competition for "Best new Living campaign" in 1999, I jokingly told my friend Keith that I should propose "Living Cthulhu", knowing full well that the game would actually be a terrible fit for that format. Keith replied, "No, you should propose Living L5R." The moment he said it, I knew he was right.
Living Rokugan won the competition, and we launched it in fall of 2000. I ran the campaign for the next ten years, through two five-year story arcs, along the way taking it from an RPGA campaign ("Living Rokugan") to an AEG-sponsored independent campaign ("Heroes of Rokugan"), and growing it from a few dozen hardcore fans to a campaign with thousands of players all over the world.
Along the way, I also got involved with AEG in a more official capacity. In the winter of 2006-2007 I ran the first of AEG's four "Winter Court" online role-play events, and this led to AEG hiring me as an editor and writer in summer 2007. By early 2008 I had joined the RPG Design Team, doing major work on the books Masters of Court and Legend of the Burning Sands. That summer, Lead Designer Shawn Carmen chose me to be one of his two assistants on the design of the upcoming L5R 4th Edition, and also officially designated me as Line Editor for the game (a position which would grow in importance after we transitioned from the initial design to publishing expansion books). Eventually, as Shawn became more busy with other projects, I took over as Lead Design/Line Developer for the RPG (in 2013-2015). During that same period I also joined the CCG Story Team as an adjunct (which mostly amounted to writing flavor-text for cards, though I did write a couple of fictions as well). Alas, all good things come to an end. While the RPG did quite well during the 4th Edition era, the bigger and more important CCG ran into trouble in those years, with gradually and then seriously declining sales. Work was underway in 2014-2015 to course-correct and revive the game, but those efforts ran into a series of obstacles. In the interest of others' privacy I won't say what those obstacles were... suffice to say, the L5R CCG ultimately died due to specific personnel-driven problems, not due to a loss of underlying popularity. The upshot is that in fall of 2015 AEG sold the entire L5R property to Fantasy Flight Games, and my time working on L5R came to an end. (I did do some minor freelancing on FFG's new version of L5R, but ultimately decided it was not the game or the world that I had known and loved, and that it was time to move on.)
On the plus side, that finally gave me the time to write my novels!

Heroes of Rokugan I

The first L5R "living" campaign, which ran from 2000 to 2005, starting as "Living Rokugan" and then changing to "Heroes of Rokugan" in 2003, and subtitled throughout as "Champions of the Emerald Empire."

Heroes of Rokugan II

The second campaign, which ran from 2005 to 2010. Subtitled "Champions of the Sapphire Throne," this was the peak of HoR's popularity and ran simultaneously with my joining AEG as an editor and designer.

L5R Homebrews

In 2014-2015, when I was still employed by AEG as Lead Design and Line Developer for the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, I worked extensively on ideas for a potential future “5th Edition” L5R RPG design. I built much of this work on my own homebrew RPG design that I had developed in 2012-2013. Ultimately, however, all this work became moot when the FFG buyout of L5R took place in late 2015 and the new owners of L5R decided to pursue their own in-house design for a new L5R RPG. This left me with a lot of incomplete L5R design ideas that I’ve been mulling over ever since. I’ve decided to post both my original ideas and my more recent thoughts here as L5R Homebrew. Readers are free to use them, ignore them, take and improve them, or whatever else they might wish to do – like all Homebrews, they are ultimately part of the parent IP and I can’t claim any personal ownership.