The Legend of the Five Rings: Terre dell’Ombra, the review

The Legend of the Five Rings: Terre dell’Ombra, the review
Terre dell’Ombra, published by Fantasy Flight Games and published in Italy by Need Games! , is a supplement to the "pen and paper" role-playing game of The Legend of the Five Rings, all dedicated to the dark and corrupt Shadowlands of Fu Leng, the Kami who fell into Jigoku (hell) at the dawn of the times.

Shadowlands is a guide to the dreaded kingdoms of Fu Leng, where corruption and evil thrive in the place of honor and courage. In this manual, players will be able to find information about this region and the lands of the Crab Clan, as well as a mountain of other very useful sources to increase their knowledge of the Emerald Empire of Rokugan. As an expansion, it is obviously necessary to have the basic manual of The Legend of the Five Rings in order to use this product.

Terre dell'Ombra, the underlying theme

Where the basic manual is focused on the general themes and mechanics to carry out a game campaign in Rokugan and the Emerald Empire expansion went to thoroughly delve into the main setting of this oriental fantasy RPG, Shadowlands plunges deeply into the part southernmost of the Rokugan region.

This part of the Emerald Empire is controlled by the bold and brave Crab Clan, who defend the lands of Rokugan from the horrors that haunt the region beyond the Kaiu Great Wall, erected centuries ago to protect the Empire. In this volume, everything revolves around the epic struggle between good and evil, which makes the political intrigues and human wars that take place in the rest of the Emerald Empire seem distant and mean.

The basic setting of The Legend of the Five Rings, its most substantial part, deals with the internal struggles within the Empire between the various samurai clans and the players' characters are always torn between their own interests personal and carrying out the will of their masters. In Terre dell'Ombra, on the other hand, these themes fade into the background and the heroic efforts of those brave enough to throw themselves into the jaws of evil emerge, without knowing if they will come back alive from their exploits, or worse still if they will return mutated and corrupt. from experience.

Terre dell'Ombra, the setting

The first part of Terre dell'Ombra is dedicated to the deepening of the setting of the southern region of Rokugan, indulging above all on Shadowlands itself and the Crab Clan, whose fundamental efforts keep them at bay. The Shadowlands are an evil and corrupt wilderness full of vile monsters and evil apparitions and in this manual we introduce some peculiar places that players can visit, such as the Spot of Deceptive Lanterns, an illusory sanctuary that masks a morbid cemetery, or the Lost Library, a profane archive of the most forbidden knowledge in the world.

The part dedicated to the clan that dominates the area, the Crab Clan, which has dedicated itself to the task of defending the wall erected by her ancestors, the Oni and the other demonic creatures that constantly assault her to invade the Emerald Empire, and to advance among the Shadowlands to counterattack against the all-corrupting darkness.

Both the Shadowlands and the Crab Clan region are very detailed and include helpful tips for incorporating these areas into your campaigns, including ozens of adventure ideas to use for the Masters. Equally useful are the NPCs described in some of the places presented, excellent possible encounters for player characters. Finally, with the great happiness of the writer, the Nezumi are finally treated, anthropomorphic rats (a bit like the Master Splinter of the Ninja Turtles or the Skaven of Warhammer Fantasy, so to speak) immune to the corruption of the Shadowlands, seen as impure and monstrous creatures throughout the Emerald Empire, but precious allies for the Crab Clan.

Shadowlands, new content

The second part of the Shadowlands manual focuses on introducing a whole host of new content for players to use. The most significant addition is the one dedicated to the introduction into the game of a new minor clan, the Clan of the Hawk, with everything needed to create a character belonging to this group, including information on the history and philosophy of the clan, as well as about the families and schools to which it will be possible to belong, if you want to play a member of the Hawk.

In addition to this, this section of the manual also presents new options of advantages and disadvantages, specific to the Shadowlands , which have some quite disturbing implications. In addition, new legacies, equipment, artifacts and techniques are also introduced, designed to be in line with the theme of the Shadowlands. Finally, the Mahō, the dark and forbidden blood magic, is presented in all its horror.

Tips for the Master

The third and final chapter of this manual is aimed at Masters and offers tips, advice and tools for running a campaign in the Shadowlands. An important component here is the large section outlining how to modify a campaign to incorporate elements of horror, with some specific examples of how to make gamers 'samurai tremble in fear, which doesn't suit their role, including a' interesting digression on Courage and its role in Bushidō. The tools found in this section are very useful, including some additional statistics and descriptions about monsters to use in the Shadowlands, as well as new sets of rules, such as those on Corruption.

Dal editorial point of view

Our review of Terre dell'Ombra is based on reading the digital edition of the product and therefore we cannot currently express an opinion on the quality of the materials used in the creation of this manual, so we will dwell only on what can be deduced from a .pdf file.

The visual aspect, given by layout and illustrations, is in line with that of the basic manual, thus settling on more than good levels. The illustrations, in fact, are all decidedly evocative and of high artistic value, as are the maps, which are a feast for the eyes. Compared to the basic manual, the editorial care lavished on this title has definitely improved, in fact we have not found any significant typos.


From what emerged during the review phase, it seems quite evident how Terre dell'Ombra is a good level product that cannot be missing in the collection of every fan of the RPG of The Legend of the Five Rings.

One of the criticisms we had advanced towards the basic manual was that the setting, compared to previous editions, had been too neglected; this manual, together with the previous Emerald Empire expansion, corrects that gap, providing a great deal of information on one of the most captivating areas of Rokugan.

The only sore point we can highlight, to be picky, is the lack of an adventure ready at the end of the manual, a bit like it also happened in the manual and base, which we had highlighted in the review. To enjoy an adventure set in the Lands of the Shadow, in fact, you will have to turn to the module The Mask of the Oni, which will be the subject of an upcoming review.

A product aimed at…

Terre dell'Ombra, for the quantity and quality of information it provides to Masters and players, is an expansion manual for the role-playing game of The Legend of the Five Rings of absolute value and a product that no admirer of this RPG can refrain from buying. The information provided on the Crab and Scythe Clans, on the Kaiu Wall, on the Shadowlands and its inhabitants and all the other conspicuous amount of content, in fact, are very precious material that can only raise the level of each campaign of this samurai game.

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