Legend of the Five Rings Beta Rulebook

L5R00 Legend of the Five Rings Beta Rulebook


Lead Developers

Lead Developers

Max Brooke and Katrina Ostrander

Writing & Additional Development

Marie Brennan, Robert Denton III, Sean Holland, D.G. Laderoute, Maxime Lemaire, Jason Marker, Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, Mari Murdock, Neall Raemonn Price, and Ree Soesbee

In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game Open Beta, players take on the role of individual samurai whose honor and loyalty will be put to the test. These samurai serve their lords as warriors, courtiers, priests, or monks and embark on adventures filled with drama, suspense, humor, romance, and horror. All the while, they must grapple with their human emotions and choose between following their heart’s desire or doing what society—and the Code of Bushidō—demands of them. These personal stories of triumph and tragedy will reverberate across the Emerald Empire and shape the very future of Rokugan.

A New Journey

The Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game will contain rules for creating characters sworn to the service of the Great Clans and running game sessions filled with intrigue and conflict. A wide variety of skills, techniques, advantages, disadvantages, and more allow players to customize their character mechanically and narratively. Custom dice mechanics enable players to contribute to the unfolding story and decide whether their character succeeds, by how much, and how much it will cost them. And the fantastical feudal setting of Rokugan provides a rich tapestry of majesty and wonder where these stories can unfold.

The Struggle of the Samurai

Many Rokugani plays have been written chronicling the impossible choices facing a samurai as their human feelings, or ninjō, conflict with their obligations to society, or giri. Those things that would run counter to the way of Bushidō are real and meaningful forces in a samurai’s life, and it is only the rare soul that can resist their call completely. The stories and the drama of the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game revolve around the tension between these two conflicting forces. One of the fundamental choices a player must make during character creation is to select opposing ninjō and giri to represent a samurai’s inner desire and the external demands placed upon them by their lord and by fate. Whether a samurai chooses happiness or duty in a given moment will have narrative and mechanical consequences not only for themselves, but for all of the Emerald Empire. And when they serve their lord with distinction, tales of a samurai’s glories may spread to the corners of the Empire or be recorded for ages.

The Elements

At the dawn of civilization, when humanity looked to understand the surrounding creation, the greatest philosophers determined that the world was composed of the five elements: air, earth, fire, water, and the void that holds the other elements together. These elements, also called rings, were represented in the sacred spirits of the land and the natural world, but also in society and the human psyche. Air is the weather and the wind, the invisible and the innuendo, and the swiftness of a bird of prey. Earth is stone, wood, and metal, as well as a donkey’s stubbornness and a tortoise’s patience. Fire is the gentle warmth of the sun or the rage of a wildfire, but also the spark of innovation, the passion of devotion, and the ferocity of a wildcat. Water is a octopus’s adaptability and flexibility; it takes the shape of its container, be it a puddle, a river, or an endless sea. Void is the emptiness of the night sky or nirvana, at once present and transcendent.

Sensei across Rokugan teach samurai-in-training to observe and express these different elements in all that they do. In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, characters are defined by their strength in different elements. In every task they undertake, they must choose an elemental approach, and the suitability of one approach over another can give them the edge they need or diminish their chances of succeeding.

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