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File:Legend of the Five Rings.jpg

Welcome to Rokugan, where honor is a force more powerful than steel.

Legend of the Five Rings started out as a Collectible Card Game created by AEG and later branched out into a tabletop role-playing game and a series of tie-in novels. It gained renown as being a game where the players shaped the Metaplot (through which clans won victories in the card game). The game's setting is that of a pseudo-Japan, Rokugan, which is a mishmash of Japanese and Chinese mythology. The nation is ruled over by an Emperor and is made up of clans of samurai, each of which vies for the Emperor's favor (or, depending on the era, the throne itself). Players generally choose one clan to identify with and collect.

Gameplay for the card game is pretty good, and is well-received. First off, you have to have two decks: your "Dynasty" deck comes with a black design on the back, and the "Fate" deck has green backing. Fate cards go to your hand, whereas Dynasty cards go to one of your four "Provinces" (IE a little patch of territory on your table), where you flip them right side up and then deploy them if you want to (or can). The main kinds of cards you'll find in your Dynasty deck are "Personalities" (characters, essentially) and "Holdings", whose Gold totals are used to deploy things. But there's also "Region" and "Event" cards; one modifies the province it popped up at, and the other modifying the game until the end of turn. Meanwhile, your Fate deck provides you with "Items", "Followers", "Spells" and "Ancestors", all of which which essentially Status Buffs that you deploy on a Personality. There are also "Action" cards that you play out of your ownself.

There are Variable Player Goals available. For "Military" victory, destroy all Provinces belonging to anyone who isn't you. An "Enlightenment" victory requires you to play the eponymous Legendary Five Rings. An "Honor" victory takes advantage of what is essentially your Life totals, Honor points: if you can get them above 40, you win. Finally, you can also drop a "Dishonor" victory on your opponents by getting their point score below -19.

The tabletop RPG is known for being deadly and focusing on social interaction as much as combat; the setting was also adapted to Dungeons and Dragons rules in that game's 3rd Edition Oriental Adventures handbook. In 3.5E, it was expanded into its own campaign setting, called Rokugan. Recently, RPG players have also been able to shape the plot through special LARP events held at major conventions, or through a specially-designated forum for online roleplaying known as "Winter Court".

The original story arc featured a war between the six Great Clans of the Empire for control of the throne. This war was spurred on by the vengeful yet manipulative consort of the young Emperor, as her clan had been destroyed by the other six years before. As the conflict grew, it was revealed that the Dark God Fu Leng had broken free of his prison to possess the sickly young Emperor, and a band of heroes (reincarnations of the original samurai who defeated him centuries prior) put aside their differences to face him.

Several more story arcs followed, including the continued story of the new Toturi dynasty (which withstood the wrath of the reality-dissolving Nothing, a new Dark Lord of the Shadowlands, the return of a heartless sorcerer and his minions, and a few conspiracies from within) only to fall to more political infighting between clans, leaving way for another war of succession. A new dynasty has begun with the coronation of a Divine Empress blessed by the Heavens, but the newest story arc seems to be building towards an invasion from a threat outside of the Empire's borders.

For those who are interested, the Kaze no Shiro fan site holds a mirror archive of all the official published L5R story fiction from the very beginning. They tend to be a little behind in updating, but the current L5R story fictions are available at AEG's website. For tropes pertaining to the different Clans, go to the character sheet.


The setting gives examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Played straight with Katanas Are Just Better in action to an extent, but inverted with obsidian weapons, which while being this in reality, are typically treated as inferior to jade in every way, and often implied to be inherently evil.
  • Action Girl: Pick a samurai-ko, any samurai-ko. Some of the Crane and Phoenix ones even cross into Lady of War territory
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Kolat, though they try to pass themselves off as La Résistance, they just want to make money and grab power. The Celestial Edition era starts out with most of the Kolat Masters having been exterminated.
    • The Gozoku are another conspiracy, an alliance of Scorpion, Crane, and Phoenix, who controlled the Emperor for over four decades. They're largely crippled as of current events, perhaps even extinct.
  • Anyone Can Die: You have a favorite character? Don't get too attached. The noble class of samurai carry swords as a symbol of their station, and if you carry one you're expected to use it. Matters of honor are usually settled by either a duel to the death or a ritual suicide. And there are few problems in this world that can't be solved by either an all-out war or a strategic murder. There's also old age, but that is incredibly rare.
    • So far the death toll includes multiple Emperors, Clan Champions, and gods. Some of them more than once.
      • Since the game started, nearly 14 years worth of real time and nearly 50 years of in-game time have passed. This, combined with a need to shuffle older characters out of the spotlight to justify new characters being added in each new card set, means that there isn't a single character from the original set who is still alive and/or visible in the game. There is usually a massive character purge every 3 years or so.
        • Except for Mitsu, of course.
  • Ascended Demon: When the Jade Champion, Kitsu Okura fell to corruption and gave his name to a demon, creating Okura no Oni, the demon eventually gained an appreciation for honour and Bushido through her possession of his soul, and turned against the other oni in the Battle of Oblivion's Gate. She was later cleansed of her taint by the Void Dragon and now guards the gates of the Celestial Heavens.
  • Ascended Extra: Toku, a throwaway character in the first set ends up being a General in the Imperial Guard and leading his own minor clan.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Each of the clans has several of these, usually used by its Champion.
  • Arranged Marriage: All samurai characters are assumed to be in one by default, unless stated otherwise.
  • Artifact of Doom: Lots of these too - most notably the Bloodswords, the Anvil of Despair, the Egg of Pan Ku, and the 12 Black Scrolls.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The leaders of each clan are also usually the most powerful members.
  • Badass Normal: Toku, founder of the Monkey Clan - a peasant who picked up a dead samurai's swords to protect his village and ended up being a large part of kicking the Shadowland's forces heads in.
  • Bald Women: Hitomi
  • Battle Couple: Usually averted: when two bushi marry, usually one (not necessarily the wife) becomes the "housewife" and stays at home to manage the estate and raise the kids, while the other goes to fight. However, when both bushi are exemplary and/or of sufficiently high rank, they usually both remain active in fighting, with the woman taking breaks to give birth to their children (if any). Hida O-ushi (Crab Clan Champion) and her husband Yasamura are the best example of this trope, and Tamori Shaitung and Isawa Nakamuro were a shugenja Battle Couple.
  • Black Magician Girl: If a female shugenja has significant fire-power, then she's almost certainly this.
  • Blade on a Stick: Several families specialize in various forms of polearms rather than the katana.
  • Breast Plate: Depending on the Artist, either averted or embraced. For example, Hida O-Ushi started in modest, utilitarian armor, but slowly showed more flesh as she 'experienced' up.
  • Canon Dis Continuity:
    • In the most recent edition of the RPG, the timeline goes up to the extinction of the Toturi clan... but the rules all act as though Toturi III is still on the throne.
    • All the Wizards of the Coast-commissioned novels are considered to be non-canon by the Story Team and by RPG players, with the exception of Naseru's viewpoint novel, Wind of Justice. Kaneka's novel, Wind of War, is infamous for being a terrible rip-off of A Fistful of Dollars/Yojimbo and has been expressly contradicted in the canon storyline. All other novels fall under "if the canon stories don't directly contradict it, then they're ok".
  • CCG Importance Dissonance: Usually averted nowadays - impressive characters in the story tend to have equally bad-ass and/or useful cards in the CCG. How ever, there have been disappointments in the past before... as well as happy subversions when a no-name character with a weak or useless card ends up doing something awesome in the story, usually as a result of a tournament prize.
    • Toku being one of the big ones in the subversions category.
  • Combat by Champion: It is not unexpected for Crane or Dragon armies in war to deploy duelists specifically to call out and challenge officers of the opposing army to a duel, usually killing them. It is also acceptable for opposing generals to duel to end a war with little bloodshed, or in some cases the parties that were the cause of the war in the first place.
  • Cooking Duel: The challenged party in a formal duel gets to name what form the duel will take. While swordsmanship is usually the default for bushi, and magic for shugenja, any "cultured" art can be a perfectly acceptable substitute. Serious Business origami and poetry duels have been seen in the fictions. Bear in mind, however, that it may cost you some face if you suggest something other than the norm.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Several families are only good at one thing.
  • Cult: The Emperor is also the head of the official religion.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Imperial Court of Otosan Uchi (later Toshi Ranbo), or for that matter, any High Ranking Daimyo. Though Kyuden Bayushi takes this up to eleven.
  • Death Seeker: Most famously, the Lion Clan produces quite a few of these. Corrupted Crab Clan members also sometimes choose this path.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Shadowlands enemies are weak to jade, so naturally jade weapons are not unheard of. Crystal hurts Lying Darkness spawn. Tainted characters can wield obsidian weapons, though, which hurt non-Shadowlands targets more.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Let's see, Fu Leng (twice) the Dark Oracle of Fire, Lord Moon (not a title, but the actual MOON GOD), the Living Darkness. It's gotten to the point that the current stories are actually trying to distance themselves from this trope.
    • One foreigner who comes to Rokugan lampshades this trope.

  She looked up out into the valley spread out before them. ?And in this land, they breed killers of gods.?

  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: See the example with Naseru above. Also, Shinsei made a career out of being wiser than the Kami, and along with Togashi they masterminded a thousand-year plan to put an end to Fu Leng.
  • Double Standard: Originally part of the traditional conservative culture of Rokugan in the early stories as well as the First Edition RPG, thus making the Lady Land families necessary. Later averted entirely, and stories set in earlier days were retconned to be more egalitarian. The massive losses that nearly everyone suffered during the Clan War and surrounding events forced samurai cast aside any prejudices they may have had against women in less traditional roles (ie,serving as Bushi hold positions of power, ruling as Daimyo) simply because there were no longer enough men to fill them might explain this.
    • The Lady Land families have, however, stayed just as matriarchal as they always have been.
  • Driven to Suicide: Occurs often in both the CCG and RPG, often as a result of political maneuverings of the Scorpion or Crane. A lot of characters in the story have also done this, either to cleanse their dishonor, or to prevent themselves from succumbing to the Shadowlands Taint.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Everyone in a position of power at the end of Toturi Naseru's reign. Naseru went on a nebulous quest in the Shadowlands that ended in his Heroic Sacrifice, as well as that of his Emerald Champion. With the power vacuum, the Unicorn Clan marched to take the throne. In the ensuing battle, Naseru's wife, his two brothers, and his chancellor are all killed in various ways. The last remaining man with any sort of Imperial authority decides he needs to step down and protect the line of Shinsei. This was mainly so that all of those Imperial positions could be prizes in the next mega tournament.
  • Duel to the Death: While conceding to a superior opponent is perfectly honorable, and non-lethal duels are common for minor matters, if you insult someone's honor, one of these will follow.
  • Easter Egg: in the 1st Edition Rulebook, one of the locations marked on the map is "Reihaido Uikku" - "a shrine in honor of the Phoenix shugenja who recorded the Tao of Shinsei". "Uikku" is a Gratuitous Japanese transliteration of the game author's surname, John Wick.
  • Elemental Powers: There are five elements, which are represented both in the CCG and the RPG by rings - the titular Five Rings. Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Void (both the absence of the other four, and its presence.) Each Ring represents a physical and a mental stat in the RPG, with the exception of Void. Shugenja usually use their Elemental Ring to cast a spell of the corresponding element, but all classes have a single Ring that they rely on heavily. Also, all non-Phoenix shugenja classes focus on one Element and have a weakness in another.
  • Evil Weapon: The Bloodswords (Ambition, Judgment, Passion, and Revenge): Four cursed swords, each forged with the soul of an unwilling victim and named after a sin, each given to a Clan Champion, 3 of whom directly caused the death of a powerful Clan Champion (among others). The fourth one? Convinced the Scorpion Clan Champion to assasinate the Emperor, resulting in the Champion's death, the disbandment of his Clan, and eventually triggering the Clan War and the return of Fu Leng. Oh, and then it was used to attack the next emperor, Toturi. AND IT'S STILL ACTIVE.
  • Expy:
    • Here's Hida O-Ushi. And here's Hida Eijiko. Crab clan personality? Check. Action Girl? Check. Big-ass sleeve tattoo? Check. Wearing armor with nothing underneath? Check. Fighting with a blunt weapon? Check.
    • In the 4th edition RPG demo the example Lion character is...basically Tsudao.
    • This is a game mechanic in the CCG: A card may have the trait "Soul Of" and list a name. This means that the power, chi, costs, and abilities on both cards are identical. This is in place so that if playing an Unrestricted game (meaning expansion and edition don't matter) these older cards count toward the same no-more-than-three rule.
  • Evil Versus Evil: See the section under the Shadowlands!
  • The Face: Courtiers are explicitly designed to play this role, as even though most PCs should have basic social skills to survive Rokugan's complicated system of etiquette and conversation, it helps to have someone who can recruit allies and deal with gossip and slander. In a pinch, Air Shugenjas and more politically oriented Magistrates and Bushi (particularly from the Scorpion or Crane Clans) can fill this role.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Rokugan's society has a caste system mirroring that of feudal Japan's, with samurai at the top, farmers and craftsmen below them, merchants underneath both, and the eta, or "untouchables", who do all the "dirty" work such as handling the dead and cleaning latrines and can be killed by samurai with no social repercussions.
    • Geisha are notable in that they are free to interact with samurai socially, but are considered non-persons like the eta and the peasants.
    • Monks are another puzzle in the pecking order - anybody, even a peasant or samurai, can become a monk, and technically they cannot gain social status. Yet due to their reputation of devoutness and their religious duties they are free to interact with samurai and peasants without etiquette getting in the way. Even arrogant samurai who wouldn't think twice about testing their sword's sharpness on a nearby peasant would give a monk some token respect, if only because one can never be sure if a monk has awesome kung fu skills... or fire breathing.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The whole setting is a sort of feudal Japan counterpart, with splashes of China, Mongolia, and Southeast Asia. While the original setting was strictly based on feudal Japan and feudal China, the Unicorn were given a more Mongolian flavor and the Mantis more traits of Southeast Asia to make them standout from the other Clans.
    • Additionally, the surrounding nations all copy a bit of other ancient civilizations: Burning Sands (Arabs), Merenae and Thrane (firearms suggest Renaissance Europe), Senpet (Egyptians), Ra'Shari (Roma), the Ivory Kingdoms (India) and Yodotai (the Byzantine Empire).
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Guns and Gunpowder are illegal in the Empire under penalty of Death. As a matter of fact, their use is considered to be nearly as bad as using Maho. Just so there are no misunderstandings about how stict this is, no one, not the Crab who have been made the ultimate Combat Pragmatists by centuries of warfare with the Legions of Hell, not the Mantis and the Unicorn, for whom under the table trafficking of Gaijin is a major source of wealth, not the Scorpion, who use every dirty and dishonorable trick in the book without even blinking will show you ANY PITY WHATSOEVER if you get caught using a firearm.
    • The Dragon Clan once waged war on the Crane solely because some of their scouts had been using gunpowder, once the Crane realized this they disbanded the scout group.
    • A note, gunpowder and guns weren't always illegal, and gaijin weren't outright banned from Rokugan until the Battle of the White Stag, the first time Rokugani saw gaijin weapons in action. Seeing the outsiders, not at all within the celestial order upon which all position and status is based on, slaughtering samurai by the hundreds with an ease that even magic users don't have access to, sealed the deal.
  • Feuding Families: Several: the old Lion Clan-Crane clan rivalry (at least until Doji Kurohito and Matsu Nimuro had their Not So Different epiphany); the Daidoji/Yasuki trade war; the Dragon and the Phoenix also had something going for a while (and the Agasha and the Tamori still need to make an effort to be civil), and the Unicorn and Lion seemed to have become the new Lion and Crane.
  • Fragile Speedster: both the Kakita and Bayushi Bushi schools emphasize the "Hit hard, don't get hit in return" tactic. The Hiruma family also specializes in being faster than the Shadowlands monsters trying to smash them.
  • Gambit Roulette: One could say that the whole Clan War arc was the culmination of a thousand year-long plan by Togashi to finish Fu Leng once and for all. Heck, between him, Iuchiban, the Kolat and the Living Shadow, to say nothing of the normal politics and intrigue for the Great Clans the entire history of Rokugan is a really bad Gambit Pileup.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Each certainly influences the other, but there are plenty of features that don't translate directly.
    • Frequently, the result of a clan being under-represented at tournaments or underpowered in game mechanics leads to major story losses at tournaments. The results of these storylines often play out simultaneously with major retooling of the clan's mechanics. The Scorpion were recently subject to two massive invasions and a plague, and the Spider were forced to abandon their major holdings. Both clans are still reeling from their losses in story, even as they're mechanically two of the stronger factions right now, with several recent victories.
  • Glass Cannon: Shugenja in combat are capable of nuking entire armies into oblivion. This is why everybody aims for them first.
  • Glove Slap: Insulting someone's honor in Rokugan is something not to be done lightly - this may end up in a duel, or even a generations-long blood feud.
  • God of Evil: Fu Leng, the Big Bad of several arcs. Eventually supplanted by Daigotsu, who manages to take over Jigoku.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Semi-Averted, Guns actually have some advatanges, the most notable being that they ignore Armor, Defense, and other Technique based T Nt BH modifiers. This is balanced by both the fact they take long time to reload between shots (the only guns available in the world are Flintlock Muskets) and Fantasy Gun Control.
  • Happy Ending Override: The main reason for this is that much like in Warhammer 40000, if widespread peace breaks out the game ends! However as a CCG with periodic story-themed expansion sets every time some major, world ending threat appears and is defeated, a new one comes along very shortly. It basically means that the Emerald Empire has seen more tumult and chaos in the last 100 years than in the 500 preceding it. Case in point there have been three Dynasties on the throne in the last 100 years. For the past 1100 years there have been only *one*.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Quite a lot over the years. See the above note for Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • The High Queen: Empress Iweko I is being built up to be this type. Empress Toturi Tsudao also was shaping up to be one of these before she went out with a bang.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: And if you actually think that, the Scorpion will be very eager to do business with you. Sure, there's a category of shinobi who do this. They're called "still in training" and "distractions so you don't notice your courtier has procured a knife".
  • Hindu Mythology: The Destroyers are ripped right out of this! They even named the Big Bad Kali-Ma!
  • Honor Before Reason: This is a game involving samurai often working within a very strict interpretation of Bushido.
    • The new Empire at War card "In the Heart of Battle" has the following flavor text: "Dying in service of your lord is one of the greatest honors a samurai can achieve. Many warriors ignore tactics and logic to deal one fatal blow to their enemy."
  • Humans Are Special: Humans in this setting are technically semi-divine (even before the Kami brought their bloodlines in). They weren't originally native to Ningen-do; rather having been created by Amaterasu's tears, they're strictly speaking creatures of Tengoku--the Celestial Heavens. Humans Are Special indeed.
  • Ice Cream Koan: Usually a source of hilarity when invoked by Togashi monks, or by characters quoting Shinsei (the messiah monk who saved the Empire).
  • Idiot Ball: Due to the storyline being affected by what happens in tournament play, sometimes the Idiot Ball has to be handed off to get the results.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Many of the abilities of a high-level samurai in the RPG are implausible at best.
  • Instant Win Condition: There are four possible victory conditions in the CCG (Military, Honor, Dishonor and Enlightment, though the last one has a reputation for being a Game Breaker), and most clans are designed with at least two of these conditions in mind. And a well-built deck can win in multiple ways.
  • Kung Fu Wizard: All monks in Rokugan fit this to some extent.
  • Last of His Kind: While they're not technically dead Chi'kel is the sole living Nezumi on Nigen-do, all the rest are trapped in the realm of dreams. Oh, and the Nezumi had a lifespan of about 30 years max.
  • Lady of War: Quite a lot of Crane samurai-ko take this line, as do some Phoenix. Also, Toturi Tsudao, the Sword, Toturi I's eldest legitimate child.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Most of whom appear in at least two of following: the CCG, the RPG, and the official fictions.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: Despite the rules, a lot of people like the game because of it's complexity.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Shadow Dragon...who also Can Not Tell a Lie and still manages to be very good at this. Did we mention that the Scorpion Clan does not have a monopoly on Magnificent Bastards?
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: The start of Toku's rise to fame came during a case of this, though all seven died. More recently, the ronin monk Koan pulled together seven Champions of Bushido to defend a small village.
    • Not to mention both sets of Seven Thunders.
  • Master Poisoner: One of the skills that fits under the Scorpion Clan's hat. The Shosuro family in particular kept large gardens full of various plants that could all be turned into some kind of poison.
  • Medieval Stasis: The Empire has lasted a thousand years with no real advances in technology. (Which isn't that unrealistic, given Japanese and Chinese history... and gunpowder and the like has been spreading in recent decades.)
  • Metaplot: A Merchandise-Driven metaplot, no less. Many of the RPG players have gotten rather sick of it.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The vast number of characters in the setting is due to the need to print a lot of cards for the CCG.
    • Also, one of the things that most annoys RPG players about the Metaplot is the fact the Story Team has an annoying tendency to cast aside established rules of the setting and even simple common sense just to give the CCG players a new story prize for which to play.
  • Minmaxers Delight: Despite the game's nature as having deadly, deadly disadvantages, Legend Of The Five Rings is unique in that many of the disadvantages can simply never come up. A Caster can take Elemental Imbalance at maximum ranks for up to 8 free points, and all they have to do is simply never cast from that element which would otherwise be available to them. A Fire Shugenja giving up the ability to cast Earth spells doesn't lose much. Doubt gives several points, at the expense of being slightly worse at a skill you never use.
    • Ascetic is similarly a good choice for characters who don't rely on equipment, such as monks or most shugenja builds.
    • Disbeliever and Dark Secret also make a great combination, since you can take both to refer to the same flaw (i.e. in a country ruled by religious fanatics with a “purge the heretic” mentality, the fact that you don’t swallow the doctrine is a Dark Secret) but they have minimal actual impact if you’re careful not to blab the secret to anyone.
    • Don't forget Cursed by the Realm: Gaki-do, which causes nearby gaki and undead to give priority to attacking you over everyone else. Bad news if you're a courtier or shugenja... awesome news if you're a crab bushi in heavy armor. There's a reason why taunt abilities are usually the most important part of a tank's toolkit in any game.
  • Nerf: Tends to happen when GameBreakers make it into the game. Formerly, L5R had ads bragging that they had "Zero Banned, Zero Restricted" games... after which cards started getting erratas if not outright banned.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire Clan War arc was kicked off by Scorpion Clan trying to exterminate the Hantei family in order to prevent the prophecies of Ukkiku from coming to pass, in which the last Hantei emperor would cause the return of the Dark God. They managed to kill the Emperor, but not his son. Guess what happened.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Fu Leng has been twice defeated as a result of him killing or betraying someone who held the key to exposing his weakness - Togashi the first time (Togashi was hiding the scroll that turned Fu Leng mortal in his heart) and Daigotsu in the second one.
  • Onmyodo: The magic practiced by Shugenja
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: What is considered an ideal match in Rokugani society - one spouse does the asskicking, the other spouse takes care of the kids and manages the finances. The most recent example is Dragon Clan Champion Mirumoto Kei and her husband (and Mirumoto Daimyo) Mareshi.
  • Planet of Hats: Each of the Great Clans has a duty, and the major families in each clan has its own specialty.
  • Plot Armor: An advantage is quite literally that you are deemed too important to die by the heavens.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Seppun family bushi, known as the Miharu, serve the Emperor in this fashion.
  • Primordial Chaos: One of the villains, responsible for "real" ninjas, is the leftover bits of the primal darkness, which hate being forced into shape and so would like to undo all creation. The ninja powers of its servants comes form them being "unnamed": they don't have true names and as such aren't set in reality, so their shape is a matter of whim.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Almost everybody currently in charge of designing the game or writing its material started out as a player of the CCG or RPG (or both).
    • In story, Toku went from being a peasant, to being a friend in the retinue of a disgraced ronin leader, to being a favored ally after said ronin leader became Emperor, to leading a minor clan. After his death, he was promoted even further to become the Fortune of Virtue. His daughter married into the Scorpion Clan, where she is now leader. Some players consider that if the Scorpion had selected her as a candidate for Emperor, they may have won the Race for the Throne by consciously invoking this trope.
  • Power Creep: A common occurrence in the CCG, particularly towards the end of an arc, when game-ending combos starting showing up and ruthlessly efficient decks start ruling the day. The current Design team is now painfully aware of this, and each subsequent arc sees a lower overall power level in each expansion.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The ultimate agenda of the Kolat, though in reality it gets little more than lip service. They are more or less happy being glorified Yakuza.
  • Rage Judo: The Jester can taunt in a fashion that directs an attack at someone else, making this trope a game mechanic.
  • Red Shirt: Ashigaru are considered little more than human shields for the enemy arrows.
    • The Crab's attitude towards any other clan samurai who come to the wall. They are referred to as "ponies", after the tithe of lame and crippled ponies the crab clan are paid. (Usually used for targeting practice.)
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Surprisingly averted with the Naga, who despite being very snake-like and reptilian are actually very virtuous and (generally) get along well with humans, whenever they're awake and active. (Granted, it probably helps that their women can transform into something much more human-looking, while their ripped, badass snake-"legged" men do the asskicking.)
  • Retired Badass: Since samurai are expected to retire from active duty once they reach old age (usually 50, but varies between the Clans) and go to a monastery, giving up their status as a samurai, there are a lot of old monks in temples who can give you a schooling in strategic warfare, courtly intrigue, or the finer points of smuggling goods, not to mention kick your ass twelve ways to Sunday.
  • The Savage South: The Crab Clan who occupy Rokugan's Southernmost Provinces are considered by most Samurai to be crude and Vulgar. This is justified however by the fact that, for nearly their entire history they have been at war with the Shadowlands just soutb of them. Which are an even better example since the are literally hell on Earth
  • Screwed By The International Olympic Committee: During the game's tenure at Wizards, the IOC sent legal notice to Wizards that the logo for the game (five interlocking gold rings in a pentagon shape) was a violation of the IOC's treaty-protected copyright of their logo (five interlocking rings of different colors in a "W" shape) on the grounds that the treaty claims any design with five interlocking rings, regardless of orientation or color. Wizards changed the card backs (which prominently featured the logo) to a new design that instead incorporated five independent gold discs. This had the unintended effect of essentially banning any cards produced before the change (for the simple fact that they'd be easy to spot in a hand) unless the player invested in opaque-backed card sleeves.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them: The Emperor of Rokugan is considered infallible and can pretty much do whatever he wants. The only real limitation being that he cannot directly contradict an edict made by a previous Emperor.
  • Screw the Rules I Have Plot: The Story Team will put aside established rules of the setting for the sake of the Story, (or to give the CCG players a story prize). For example, if the Empire followed the Thousand years of custom,tradition, law and precedent that existed at the time, Otomo Banu would have become Hantei XL after the Second Day of Thunder, but the Lion won the Tournament so we have the Toturi dynasty.
    • The first character was actually just a minor one introduced long after Toturi's coronation.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Iaijutsu dueling is the default honorable means of resolving matters of Honor. The Kakita family of the Crane Clan are the masters of this, with the Mirumoto of the Dragon coming in a close second (or the other way around, depending on the point of view).
  • Sourcebook: Lots of these in the RPG.
  • Spin-Off: Legend of the Burning Sands - Legend of the Five Rings IN THE DESERT!
    • Also there are rumors that Seventh Sea was originally planned to exist in the same universe but that Wick was forced to abandon the plan due to copyright issues with Wizards of the Coast.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: In a society that frowns upon emotional displays, and where all samurai are expected to enter arranged marriages to benefit their family, lord, and/or clan, love is a very dangerous and often fatal thing. Notably, Bayushi Kachiko and Doji Hoturi's romance nearly caused the destruction of the Crane Clan as a result of Kachiko's revenge. Tamori Shaitung and Isawa Nakamuro's romance also nearly fell under this, if it wasn't for the intervention of the literal Goddess of Love.
  • Stealth Insult: Matthew Wilson, the artist who painted the famous art for the first three versions of Bayushi Kachiko card painted kanji in the wall of the background of Kachiko's third version that reads "Uikku no baka" or "(John) Wick is an idiot" in Japanese. This is probably why he was never hired to do art for L5R until long after John Wick had left the company.
  • Succession Crisis: Quite a few, including the Four Winds arc, often providing the driving force for a year's tournaments.
  • Sure Why Not: Whenever fans point out a Continuity Snarl, the Story Team will, most of the time, go with the first plausible explanation that the fans provide.
  • Sword Fight: A majority of its subtropes apply to L5R's setting. It is certainly dishonorable for other people to intervene when two samurai are dueling. But if it's an outright battle, though, Neutral Female never happens unless the woman in question is incapacitated.
  • The Theme Park Version: Of feudal Japanese culture and samurai traditions. Rokugan takes its bushido far, FAR more seriously and inflexibly than the real-life Japanese ever did, which admittedly IS saying a lot.
  • Throwaway Country: The Ivory Kingdoms (whose ruins the Rokugani later colonized), and more recently the island-state of Anisrana both get wiped off the map without apparently putting up much of a fight.
  • Tournament Play: L5R CCG tournaments eat newbies for lunch.
  • Unfortunate Names: As mentioned earlier, the Otaku family has been renamed Utaku. The Doji and Daidoji families still have their original names (although it may be a matter of transliteration and both were intended to have "long o", pronounced "ou" like Daidouji Tomoyo). There was once a ronin named Kuso, a courtier named Baka (although he ended up living to his name) and the Crab clan poster girl Hida O-Ushi (which means "Great Cow"). And some people refer to the pacifist healers of the Asahina family as the SOS Brigade. [1]
  • Unreliable Narrator: The First and Second Edition RPG sourcebooks were all written from the subjective, in-universe point of view of the Clan that was the primary focus of the book. This was done for flavor, and to give the GM the freedom to determine what was true and what wasn't. This approched was abandoned halfway through Second Edition when Wizards of the Coast (which had joint rights to the game at the time) thought this was too confusing for their d20 players.
    • There’s still a certain amount of this even in the fourth edition books, especially when they discuss religious and/or supernatural aspects of the setting. The chapters on pre-human history in Enemies of the Empire, for example, even include a sidebar explaining that the scenario described there is only one possible interpretation of events.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: main tactic of Ninjas corrupted and controlled by the Nothing. More benign spirits can do this as well, to a lesser extent, as can spirit-blooded PCs if they buy an expensive Advantage.
  • Volleying Insults: the careful wielding of insults is an artform in Rokugan's courts. Dishonoring your opponent with a well-placed verbal low-blow is dandy, but you also have to be careful not to expose yourself to a challenge to a duel. The Crane Clan and Scorpion Clan's samurai tend to be adept at this.
  • Wizard Duel: There are two formal dueling styles for shugenja: direct spellslinging, and elemental avatar summoning.
  • Wizarding School: The Shugenja dojo are one part this, one part seminary.
  • Yandere: The Bad Fortune: Secret Love disadvantage gives your character a secret yandere stalker in exchange for a few extra Experience Points.
  • You Fail Economics Forever: The economy outlined in the RPG is a very simplified version of the medieval Japanese economy, perhaps a little too simplified, to the point where any GM that wants to deal with economic matters in depth is better off homebrewing.
    • And the Merchant's Guide to Rokugan was actually a sourcebook for the Kolat.
    • The lead developers themselves went back and forth over whether the koku (standard currency unit) represented enough rice to feed one man for one year, or the expected annual income of a peasant family. Do the math and you'll see the problem here...
      • Rice is the primary food crop in Rokugan, but not the only one. There's also fishing and hunting.

Notes

  1. Though to be fair to the last one, the L 5 R pacifist Asahinas predate a certain Miss Asahina by nearly a decade and AEG really can't be held "responsible" for that kind of serendipity.
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