Review: Alderac Entertainment Group – The Book of Air (Legend of the Five Rings)

The Book of Air
The Book of Air is a supplement for the Asian epic fantasy Legend of the Five Rings written by Shawn Carman, Robert Hobart, Brian Yoon, Kevin Blake, Dave Laderoute, Max Lemaire, Seth Mason, and Ryan Reese and published by Alderac Entertainment Group.
By Lawrence “darth_kwan_doh” Grabowski

Learn more about The Book of Air here
Purchase The Book of Air here
Find other Legend of the Five Rings products here

The Book of Air is the first tome in a new Legend of the Five Rings pentad, one for each element. Each book contains a slew of information specific to the titular element, ranging from new spells and schools, to element specific fluff, to a fleshed out location that can be easily dropped into an existing campaign.


As stated, the The Book of Air focuses exclusively on mechanics and flavor related to the element of Air. There is a great deal of space devoted to the traits of Reflexes and Awareness, creative ways to use them or their associated skills, etc. The social role of Iaijutsu is also expanded upon; specifically things like the general social norms surrounding it and as clan-specific dojos devoted to the practice. There is a detailed discussion of archery practice and yari fighting as well. The book goes on to discuss courts with a heavy air influence and describe several air themed organizations and their accompanying schools. The final crunchy section of the book details air-focused magic and monk schools. There’s a minor bestiary and, way more awesome, Kyuden Kurogane-Hana, a fleshed out castle loaded with interesting NPCs and plot threads.


When I first started reading The Book of Air, I was disappointed. It felt like a huge book of fluff that I could have made up on my own with some mechanics that were too niche for me. Then I realized, I’ve been involved with Legend of the Five Rings since Imperial Edition, so naturally I don’t need someone to make up the fluff for me, but for someone new to the setting, all the fluff is very valuable. Once I began reading the book with this new mindset, it became much more interesting. Different sections will have varying degrees of usefulness to players with different levels of experience, be they PC or GM. I found the chapter on Kyuden Kurogane-Hana exceptionally interesting.


Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Book of Air continues 4th edition’s new design aesthetic and commitment. Unlike one or two previous books, which backtracked a little on the quality of the editing, The Book of Air appeared to be typo free. There really isn’t a lot to say otherwise, other than only time will tell if the spine will hold up to use.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
There is an array of interesting and solid new mechanics in a variety of categories, ranging from new kiho, to new schools, to new spells. All the new mechanics deal with Air, either thematically or by using Reflexes, Awareness, or the ring itself. They tend to deal with communication, positioning, and mind-altering effects. There are a variety of mechanics that deal with called shots and other combat maneuvers that I found particularly interesting.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
This book provides a cornucopia of information that can be used by GMs or PCs of all levels of familiarity with the setting. The section of Kyuden Kurogane-Hana is particularly useful, and chock full of great Challenge, Focus, Strike adventure ideas.

Overall: 10 out of 10
One of the most important parts of assessing a new RPG product for me is examining how creatively the content can be used. The contents of The Book of Air can be used in a wide range of L5R games; the usefulness of the mechanics and ideas are extremely adroit. As with all the L5R 4th edition books, except for maybe Enemies of the Empire, this one resides firmly in the “Useful For Everyone” category.

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