02 August 2015
Happy anniversary, L5R!
You may know me as Doctor Zen, but there was a time when I was known online as the Crab Clan Scholar.
This weekend was tinged with a little sadness for me, because it celebrates the twentieth anniversary of something pretty important in my life: the card game Legend of the Five Rings – or L5R, as fans know it. There was a big twentieth birthday party at GenCon over the weekend, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t go.
I was not there when the game debuted in demo form in summer of 1995, but I started playing in December of that year. And I got in deep. That there was an entire faction of the game called the Crab Clan helped a lot. I was a die hard Crab player, and took to tagging my sig as “Crab Clan Scholar” in my posts on Usenet. (Yeah, I’m old.)
I was intensely involved in L5R for well over a decade, first as a player, then eventually as a part of the Rules Team and freelance writer. I can’t even begin to summarize how much stuff I did with L5R. I can’t begin to tell you how important it has been to my life. This game is, as co-creator Ryan Dancy put it, welded to my DNA.
I haven’t played in a while, and I miss that badly.
But in the spirit of celebration, I wanted to draw attention to a couple of projects that chronicle the game’s early days.
I make a cameo appearance in the book 40 Years of GenCon. This book has a few pages about key events in L5R history when L5R was but a wee game of two and three years old (GenCon 1997 and 1998, to be precise).
The Legend of the Five Rings Gold Edition Encyclopedia is mostly a list of cards from that particular arc of the game. but I had the supreme pleasure of writing an introduction. The book opens with an 8 page section called, “L5R: Its founding and history,” which is one of my favourite things I’ve ever written. I got to interview a lot of people who were involved in the creation of the game, and tell the story of the creative process of making something as big and complex as a trading card game.
I had so much fun writing it, I turned in something that was substantially longer than what I had been asked to write. Now, I always try to be a professional, and write to requested length. I made sure that the extra stuff could be cleanly severed if they wanted to keep the length to what was originally planned, since I’d done it purely “on spec.” But I guess they liked it, because they kept it in.
For anyone who wants to see how L5R started twenty years ago, the intro to that book is the thing to read.
It is a wonderful thing to see something you love be a success. I couldn’t be happier than Legend of the Five Rings has been in pretty much continuous production for two decades.
Come hell or high water, I’ll make it to the twenty-fifth anniversary party, damn it.
Legend of the Five Rings Gold Edition Encyclopedia
40 Years of GenCon
Picture by AEG head honcho John Zinser on his Facebook page.