Legend of the Five Rings

From Academic Kids

Legend of the Five Rings (often abbreviated "L5R") is a fictional setting created by the Five Rings Publishing Group in 1995, and now under the control of Alderac Entertainment Group. The setting covers in detail the fictional land of Rokugan, and briefly many other lands and nations in the same world. Rokugan is based on feudal Japan with influences from other east Asian cultures. The setting is the basis for the Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game as well as the Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game. Legend of the Five Rings was also the "featured campaign setting" of the Oriental Adventures expansion to the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but this book is now out of print.

The deep, evolving story of Legend of the Five Rings is one of the things that set it apart from most game settings. Players of the collectible card game, and to a lesser extent the role-playing game, can influence this story as it progresses by participating in sanctioned tournaments. The winners of major tournaments make pivotal decisions that can influence the storyline for years to come, with winners of minor tournaments influencing the storyline in lesser ways.


The Games

The Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game

The Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game is a collectible card game for two or more players (in tournaments, generally two), each with two decks of at least 40 cards each (formerly at least 30 cards each). The game continues until a player has reached one of several different victory conditions, at which point that player is declared the winner, and the Emperor of Rokugan.

The Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game

The Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game is a role-playing game that requires one person to be game master and any number of other people to play different characters. As with all role-playing games, there is no "winner" or "loser", and the players do not generally compete against each other. Instead, the players work together to find a solution to some problem which the game master has presented their characters.

To distinguish this game system from the d20 System mechanics (see below), it is often referred to as the "classic" system or the "Roll & Keep" (or simply "R&K") system.

Oriental Adventures

Oriental Adventures was published originally in 1985 by TSR, Inc. as an expansion for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and was set in a land called Kara-Tur. In 2001, Wizards of the Coast re-released Oriental Adventures as an expansion for the prior year's re-release of Dungeons & Dragons after a decade-long lack of any official support for the Oriental Adventures product line. It was decided to make this new version of Oriental Adventures a showcase for their recently acquired Legend of the Five Rings.

For the entirety of its Second Edition, with the exception of the Player's Guide and Game Master's Guide, books published for the Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game had two different sets of game mechanics: the mechanics from the Legend of the Five Rings Second Edition Player's Guide and corresponding mechanics for d20 System, such as those presented in Oriental Adventures. It has recently been announced that with the upcoming Third Edition of the Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game, and because of the lack of availability of the now out of print Oriental Adventures, the d20 System rules will be dropped from future Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game books.


Legend of the Five Rings is set primarily in the fictional land of Rokugan, based on feudal Japan with influences from other east Asian cultures, where samurai, shugenja, and trained courtiers vie for control of the noble courts. Rokugan itself is home to mostly humans, divided into a society based on clans, with eight Great Clans and various minor ones, all under the rule of Emperor Toturi III. They are regularly threatened by evil plots from within and gaijin threats from without, but the main threat still lies to the southwest of Rokugan: The deadly wastes of the Shadowlands, where demonic hordes roam.

See the article on Rokugan for more information on Rokugan, the Great Clans, and other story aspects of Legend of the Five Rings.


The following is from D. J. Trindle's post to the L5R e-mail newsgroups regarding the future -- and the past -- of the role-playing game. It was entitled "Whither the L5R RPG?" and is archived in full at http://l5r.alderac.com/rpg/whither_l5rrpg.html

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG), in partnership with Isomedia, first designed and published the L5R collectible card game in 1995. Eventually, it became obvious that L5R would greatly benefit from the sort of promotion, marketing, and production that costs a lot of money. Some of the original AEG and Isomedia folks found interested investors and formed the Five Rings Publishing Group (FRPG), which purchased the intellectual property (IP) that is L5R.

FRPG took over production and marketing, while AEG continued to design the game. In 1997, AEG licensed the role-playing publication rights for L5R from FRPG, and published the first edition of the L5R RPG. The fans liked it enough to vote it the Best RPG of 1997 at the Origins Awards, and the core book went through four printings while spawning two dozen sourcebooks and add-on products.

In 1997, FRPG was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. The existing licenses remained in place, so the same creative team continued work on Legend of the Five Rings, AEG continued publishing the RPG, and Wizards began publishing the card game (although AEG was still designing it). In 1999, Legend of the Five Rings changed hands once more when Wizards was purchased by toy making giant Hasbro. once again, the previous licenses were still in effect, so changes to the games and the development teams as a result were unnoticable.

In late 2000, however, speculation about the future of Legend of the Five Rings -- especially the RPG -- began to run rampant after Hasbro, during a string of decisions that greatly upset the leadership at Wizards, decided to sell Legend of the Five Rings, two years before AEG's long-standing license was due to expire. Any fears turned out to be unfounded when, less than half a year later, AEG won the bidding war for Legend of the Five Rings.

Today, AEG owns the intellectual property of Legend of the Five Rings and still designs and publishes the card game and the role-playing game.

International Olympic Committee

One legal issue for Legend of the Five Rings involved the use of a symbol that consisted of five interlocking rings, arranged in essentially a star pattern. This symbol was used for several years in the role-playing game and featured prominently on the backings of the cards in the collectible card game. Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee sued Wizards of the Coast, who at that time owned Legend of the Five Rings, over the logo, because they hold rights to any symbol consisting of five interlocking rings.

The only way to completely resolve the issue was to quit using the symbol. For the role-playing game this meant very little, but for the collectible card game it meant that the backing of the cards had to be redesigned, which left players with a mix of cards that essentially resulted in marked decks. In an attempt to appease the players, Wizards released the first set with the different backs Spirit Wars bundled with opaque sleeves that would obscure the designs on the backs of the cards, allowing players to use any mix of cards in their decks.

Related topics

See also Legend of the Five Rings (disambiguation) for other articles which share this name.

External links

  • Alderac Entertainment Group (http://www.alderac.com) - The publishers of Legend of the Five Rings.
  • L5R Wiki (http://l5r.wikicities.com) - The unofficial Legend of the Five Rings wiki.
  • Legend of the Five Rings (http://www.l5r.com) - The official Legend of the Five Rings home page.
  • Rokugan 2000 (http://www.cowell.org/~r2k/) - An highly popular, but unofficial, futuristic setting based on Legend of the Five Rings created by the current "Story Kami", Rich Wulf.
  • Tsuruchi's Arrow (http://www.tsuruchi.com) - A website focused on the Mantis Clan and home to The Kobune Port, the most widely used Legend of the Five Rings discussion forum.de:Legende der fnf Ringe

pl:Legenda_Pięciu_Kręgów sv:Legend of the Five Rings


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