Legend of the Five Rings
A Near-Perfect Asian Fantasy Setting [ edit ]
Rokugan, the world of Legend of the Five Rings, is by far the most popular Asian-themed RPG setting. Based heavily on medieval Japan (but also other Asian mythos), this setting features clans of samurai vying for control of an empire ... but it also has ninjas, magicians ("shugenja"), and a nearby Shadow Lands (which provides a constant threat of demons and monsters).
Players take the role of samurai or shugenja belonging to one of the great clans, and their adventures can range from "dungeon crawls" in ancient tombs, to tactical military missions, to imperial court intrigues.
Rules Summary [ edit ]
Characters in have five "rings" (the four elements and Void) as their basic stats, and then (except for Void) each of those have two sub-stats: for instance, Fire has Agility and Intelligence, while Water has Strength and Perception. They also have skills, such as Kenjutsu (sword-fighting). or Courtier.
To accomplish an action the GM starts by assigning a Target Number based on its difficulty, and then the player rolls a number of d10s equal to their stat + skill, and keeping the best __ (where __ is their stat but not their skill). Any 10s rolled "explode", which is to say they are re-rolled and the result is the new roll plus 10.
If the total of all rolls kept is greater than the TN, the action succeeds. While L5R also has some unique statistics (eg. an Honor score and a Glory score), this basic "roll skills + stats and beat a TN" system should be easy to learn for most gamers.
4th/5th Edition Schism [ edit ]
The first four editions of Legend of the Five Rings were published by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) then purchased the game from them, and used their own (different) rule system for the game's Fifth Edition.
That edition used a completely different set of rules (the same as FFG's Genesys and Star Wars games), and so while it gained some new fans, it largely disappointed old ones. This is likely why the 4th edition ranks so much lower (more than 150 ranks!) on RPG Geek.
The Best Way (So Far) To Experience Rokugan [ edit ]
Ultimately, a game doesn't make it into RPG Geek's top ten, beating out thousands of other games, unless it is truly compelling. The fourth version of Legend of the Five Rings most certainly is, so much so that we strongly recommend it tor anyone wishing to visit Rokugan for the first time ... unless you're a fan of old D&D or Genesys ... or just want to have the newest products possible.