ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Legend of the 5 Rings

Updated on March 14, 2012

Legend of the Five Rings Logo

Image Source Location:      Or on l5r's website:
Image Source Location: Or on l5r's website:

Abbreviated "L5R" - it's a Trading Card Game

Legend of the Five Rings is an intricate, involved Trading Card Game which started officially in 1995 by the Alderac Entertainment Group. It's more than a trading card game and Alderac Entertainment Group describes Legend of the Five Rings as a "fictional setting" - it's about the story and environment created by players, not just about holding a bunch of cards in competitive hands.

What is very unique about L5R players and the way that Alderac Entertainment Group has structured gameplay, rules and such is that PLAYERS really DO affect the game and have the ability - by playing - to change the course of storylines in the game!!! For ALL future players and's not like a "Game-master" or similar role in role-playing-game scenarios - it's that players CAN truly affect the overall INTERNATIONAL GAME...


Participants who win during tournament game play are actually HONOURED and represented in future L5R gameplay and on cards. To simplify - tournament winners often receive cards dedicated to notable actions in gameplay or as a character card...the game makers (Alderac EG) produce a card that becomes part of everyone's decks during the next round of card creation and printing!

ie: if Joe Joseph from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada wins a special round in tournament play in, say, a tournament hosted in Lyon, France (World Tournament for 2010 is being held in Lyon France in November 2010), his winning action may become a card and/or his persona might be incorporated into the game decks...

Perhaps Joe uses a particular strategy to win a tournament game and eliminate a player. Joe's action might end up being represented in the storyline as a new card: Joe Joseph, of a particular clan (Joe's choosen clan/deck, say Mantis clan) and Joe might be represented as a samurai with a certain strength value, gold/buy value, etc. In future games, playing the Joe card might cost, say 7 gold values to bring into play and Joe's card may have an action attached on it, such as "send a selected opponent's shugenga personality home from battle." Perhaps this will be a benchmark move (sending an opponent card/personality home from battle) that allowed Joe to actually win the tournament in question - so this will be represented on a card later on - for all international players to benefit from in any future game.

In tournament play, perhaps Joe eliminated a certain card/character in battle...this will be written into the storyline for considerations regarding how the future storyline will continue for the next several months. If Joe took out a particularly nasty foe/card in winning a tournament, the game creators may, in fact, choose to alter an additional personality/card that has been in play for add something new to the storyline.

ie: Joe took out a Crane personality - a monk, so in the new storyline, the newest version of that Crane personality, represented in a "Dynasty" card may have a lower honour or gold cost than ever before in the history of the game - due to the damage Joe did to the Crane persona in tournament battle...all cards will reflet this in future printed decks and in an updated storyline that the game makers publish/distribute periodically from once to 3 times per year.

Interesting? But complicated, too...

L5R is more than a game, role-play past-time game, or trading card game - it's a never-ending, malleable storyline that does, in fact, count on or rely upon player contributions. The game creators made the game this way from the start and have vowed to continue this way of allowing players to be truly interactive and truly influence game play AND storyline.

Game Cards: Dynasty and Fate

The game cards are split into two main types - Dynasty cards and Fate cards. Together, the total of your cards are called "A Deck" (not rocket science) - but also, most players refer to the Dynasty and Fate cards as two different decks - for no other reason than to identify the difference between Dynasty cards and Fate cards...players (or instructions/actions on cards) might say, "dispose of the top card on your Fate deck/pile without looking at it" or "all players may shuffle their Dynasty deck and then draw a fate card."

Dynasty cards are the ones you'll find "characters" or "personalities" on. ie: Your Clan Champion (leader of your clan) will be a Dynasty card, for sure. Dynasty decks also contain the cards with gold needed in the game. Some "courtiers" and other characters that must be purchased with gold are in the Dynasty cards, along with a few other entities and objects, but mainly, Dynasty cards are important because they are your gold and personality cards used for gameplay. Dynasty Cards have a black background with the L5R Rings Logo.

Fate cards represent items (these are often weapons), followers (additional personalities that attach to primary Dynasty characters), and spells (which also attach mainly to primary characters) used for gameplay. Fate decks also contain actions - mainly political or military - and are the important action-generating cards for Legend of the 5 Rings game play. Fate Cards have a green background with the L5R Rings Logo.

The World of L5R: Rogukan

The fictional setting for Legend of the 5 Rings is called Rogukan. In the storyline and game, Rogukan is heavily influenced by Oriental references and ancient oriental myths and culture. For instance, there are a great many samarai warriors in the game and for weapons, a lot of ancient Japanese swords, staffs (wooden weapons) and similar items. Great detail is directed toward attention on a "feudal" type of Japanese world. In all of the oriental influences, L5R becomes a game with class distinctions..there are nobles, courtiers, etc., which some people may find offensive if sensitive to political correctness, of course - but in a fictional setting, the class distinctions add a number of interesting features, challenges and complications to the game so that it remains a very involved, interesting game to play.

Rogukan is also known as The Emerald Empire and Rogukan is augmented by the following adjacent nations:

The Burning Sands

The Ivory Kingdoms

The Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms regions are likely an opportunity for expansion of the game, as they are not in heavy play, are mentioned mainly in storyline but haven't been fully incorporated into gameplay to the extent that Rogukan is utilized, revered, referenced, and navigated. Players are mainly navigating, as of summer 2010, in the Rogukan/Emerald Empire world. It could be that (according to storyline) the original clans of the fictional Rogukan region are extremely xenophobic (afraid of strangers) we'll just have to see what develops in gameplay and storyline concerning the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms regions - and characters/items originating outside of Rogukan and in the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms areas.

* Note on the accuracy of the above paragraph:

I've had to interpret the "game/storyline" of L5R to the best of my ability. Admittedly, I am NO expert in the game and still ask many questions during gameplay with others, as I've only been around this game for about a year. I may be corrected on the above matter at some time, but it appears to me that "Legends of the 5 Rings" itself is a game which incorporates 1 major region and 2 minor regions.

  • 1 main-The Emerald Empire
  • 1 as yet minor region-The Burning Sands
  • 1 as yet minor region-The Ivory Kingdom

My interpretation is thus as even on the L5R official website, the term XENOPHOBIA is used a number of times and it exists in the storyline in significant numerous ways - with a message like: the xenophobia of the 8 clans has kept them all from allowing incorporation of clans or co-operative alliances from other (Burning Sands/Ivory Kingdom) regions to any significant degree...

In short: Most of the active gamecards and actions on gamecards reference Rogukan almost exclusively. There are a few active cards which reference The Burning Sands and The Ivory Kingdom and objects, happenings or characters from these "minor" regions - but nothing I've seen in my own gameplay yet or in the L5R storylines has made significant use of regions, actions, characters or items in the minor worlds/regions.

In part, this open-ended referencing may well be planned by original creators of the trading card game/L5R world scenario...

Certainly, at this point of storyline and gameplay/tournament play, the Rogukan vs minor regions scenarios generates much enthusiastic and creative attention to storyline and speculation for players of L5R and is well worth the bits of confusion for anyone who is a fan or is becoming a fan of L5R...

The "feel" of Rogukan: to players, Rogukan is envisioned as a feudal Japanese world with characters concerned with class distinction, honour, military and political interests.


Each player has a "Stronghold" card (in the earliest versions, back in 1995 and a little longer, the card box represented the stronghold and there was no card), which is basically the particular piece of Rogukan that he/she (each individual playher) is "in charge of."

Stronghold - what signs, symbols mean (see Stronghold card below):

At the leftmost corner of the Stronghold card is a "Clan" symbol. For this example below, it's a MANTIS Clan symbol.

On the face of the card at the right-hand side are three numbers in a column.

  • The topmost number is the strength/force of the card (7 in this case)
  • The middle number represents "Gold" value (4 in this case)
  • The bottom-most number is "Honour" value (2 in this case)

Force: Basically, if someone attacks through all the personalities on a battlefield and gets to make an attack on your stronghold, a player's attack value/strength must be over 7 in order to take out your stronghold card. For most clans, 3-points above what your stronghold strength is will be needed to overtake a stronghold. (This 3-point rule is a standard but can be affected by cards which might say "Strengthen your stronghold value by 5" - turns your stronghold from 7 to 12 force).

Gold: It costs 4 gold to utilize this card - or, the card is "Bowed" (turned sideways to indicate it has been used or is in a stage of play where it is unusable or has just been used - the value of the gold is used or unavailable)

Honour: The card in question has an honour level of "2" - so in the "honour points" accumulation, the player starts out with 2 honour points.

Other Details about the card below:

In the text area of this card, the text indicates that a player can give one of their other personality cards an added force value, add one point to force value of the choosen card - BUT - only "after the resolution of one of your Thunder actions."

For situations pertaining to battle, this card adds 4 force points, calling this bonus a "ranged attack" value. Basically 4-point ranged attack means 4 bonus force points at any "follower" or enemy personality card.

* Note - the Stronghold will not "go into" the Dynasty or Fate decks during gameplay and will not go out onto the "battlefield" play area where other cards are - it stays on the table and is upright or bowed, according to whether or not its values have been utilized at each turn. If it is upright, the gold value on the card is available as a money resource to the player. If it is bowed, another card action bowed it, making it unusable - or it was bowed beneficially by the player who owns the card - indicating that the gold value was just used to buy something or put another card in to play.

Example of a Stronghold Card

Decks Ready For Play

Decks that are ready for gameplay consist of

  • 1 Stronghold
  • 1 (optional) Bamboo Harvester card (it's a gold piece card, intended to even up the odds for the person who doesn't get to START the first turn of the game).
  • A minimum of 40 Dynasty and Fate cards

In any game played by two people, one-on-one, there should only be 1 Bamboo Harvester card - used by the person who starts gameplay on the second turn.

The player with the highest honour value on his/her Stronghold card starts the gameplay with the very first turn. The player who starts will have a Bamboo Harvester card but will just put it away and let the 2nd player have the advantage of Bamboo Harvester during the 2nd play of the game.

The number of spellcards, personality cards, gold-related cards, action cards, etc., is up to the individual player but for tournament play, all decks must have at least 40 cards. Most of the people I've played with use 40-46 cards. My decks (Crane, Dragon and Lion clan) have 40-48 in them.

I have what I consider a "weak deck" with personalities of low force value, so I put in extra "follower" cards, extra weapons and gold so I can buy those followers and weapons to strengthen my weak personalities.

"Deck-Building" can be a whole strategy in and of itself - and probably requires a hub on its own for well, "Game Play" can be incredibly intricate, so will not be covered at this particular hub. The hub is intended to introduce newcomers to the idea of a trading card game that incorporates storyline as well as player influenced storylines and gameplay. Most other popular trading card games do NOT have the feature of this player influence which can become incorporated into actual, flowing, historical timelines of action and events in a game.

Lyon, France International L5R Tournament

The major International Legend of the 5 Rings tournament is being held in Lyon, France in the year 2010. It's set for November 5-7 in France.

Technically, this will be the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS L5R Tournament and will be comprised of (at least)

  • The Main Storyline Event
  • The Main Event itself
  • Second Change Storyline games (for those who didn't quite qualify for the Main Storyline event)
  • and assorted "draft tournaments"
  • ...each with assorted prizes and benefits

...and NOPE, I will NOT be going to World Championships in the fall, but I know someone from my city who has played internationally - who did so well last year that he got an automatic invite and will be playing L5R in France this year. This person allowed me, once, to play some rounds with his Unicorn deck - against another very experienced player...and I vowed to stay away from the Unicorn deck because it is sooooo complicated (but effective and versatile during gameplay). I will just keep learning to play better before messing with other decks and before entering ANY large tournaments. (I Won with the Unicorn clan deck but I am sure the experienced player was TAKING IT EASY on me while offering some tips and teaching me about some very interesting ways to combine card actions and events).

Also - the storyline is fascinating to me, so I have spent a bit of time READING the pages and webpages full of interesting NOVELS related to L5R.

Clans: 6 Original Clans

The creation and beginning storyline calls the first game-play the FIRST ARC and the first original arc is The Clan War Arc.

In subsequent "Wars," the game names change to reflect what's going on in the storyline. I joined game-play and began in the storyline/game "Celestial Edition" quite recently last year.

Six Original Clans of the First Clan Arc include:

  • Crab Clan
  • Crane Clan
  • Dragon Clan
  • Lion Clan
  • Phoenix Clan
  • Unicorn Clan

The Decks I currently use in 2010, as from "my beginning" into the game in 2009 are all original clans, Crane, Dragon and Lion but I play often against a Spider clan player who also owns a very NASTY, nasty, heinous SHADOWLANDS deck with mostly spider and shadowlands characters...

Diagotsu Chaozhu's Deadly Friend: Shadow Dragon (Corrupted Air Dragon)

Image Source Location:
Image Source Location:

Crane Clan symbol

Image Source Location:
Image Source Location:

Dragon Clan symbol

Lion Clan symbol

Battling Diagotsu

My most feared personality from my opponent's deck is DIAGOSTU - who, with great regularity, comes back after I eliminate him - and wreaks havoc on any and all of my decks and clans...

DIAGOTSU doesn't care if he is eliminated, so long as a certain follower or other personality/card is still on the table, on the battlefield - or even in my opponent's deck, awaiting gameplay...because another card (most often, The Shadow Dragon above) resurrects Diagotsu so he can continue to do damage...I almost always have to locate the cards which protect or bring Diagotsu back into play and eliminate every one of those other cards first before I attempt to make Diagotsu bow, "go home" or before I defeat Diagotsu in battle.

Crane, Dragon and Lion clans are all considered average to HIGH Honour decks, but shadowlands do not play for honour...they play nasty usually, and for political gain or, quite frankly, military annihilation lol (they never seem to have to follow all the rules that Cranes, Dragons and Lions will follow - hence, they're tough for an honour deck to beat)...

Mirumoto Kei, my current Dragon Clan Champion

Image Source Location:
Image Source Location:

*Crane Bow To Most Dreaded Enemy*

Diagotsu card:

Top of Card: displays the Spider Clan symbol and 4 mana, 4 force

Middle of Card: In the first red-bordered sqauare is a "dash," indicating no clan alignment or clan honour points. Diagotsu costs 10 gold units to bring into play - or - if not bringing into play for honour points, Diagotsu can be brought into play for -2 of the gold units displayed on the card... 8 gold. Diagotsu has 0 (zero) honour attached to him for bringing him into play (the stat in the shell-like symbol).

The card displayed here is "Unique" which means that a player who owns more than one of these cards cannot use them together in battle or a game. Only 1 UNIQUE personality is allowed in a playing deck... (see *Note below)

...and with Diagotsu's tendency toward viciousness, his lack of ethics, why would one need more than a single diabolical personality in a deck?

* Note - if a player owns more than one UNIQUE form of "Diagotsu experienced" (like an upgraded Diagotsu), the player can only use one version of Diagotsu experienced in the current playing deck. The remaining unique cards can go into other decks but if the opponent also has Diagotsu experienced and player 1 puts Diagotsu experienced into play on the table, then player 2 is not permitted to use Diagotsu experienced while player 1 has the personality in play.

Only 1 card with of the same personality - with the keyword "unique" can be on the table in any L5R game/round. This goes for other personalities other than Diagotsu, so do check your cards for the "unique" keyword.

Quick L5R Tutorial

Which Do You Think Is The Best Clan?

I say the best clan is:

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Mark Bronze profile image

      Mark Bronze 

      8 years ago

      This is all new to me but a very interesting article. Thank you.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great article - great information.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey Theo4Real... we'll have to get together soon for L5R gameplay...I'll be adding to this hub - with appropriate links to storyline updates and things at the official site. Just found a site away from the official site that seems to have really easy step by step instructions for "newbies," so I'm doing some extra reading over there b4 I decide on which links to post, for which purpose. BTW I got Imperial Gift III downloaded, did you?

    • Theology4Reality profile image


      8 years ago from Calgary

      Great Article Mythbuster! I collect these cards myself and play as a hobby. It should be noted that EAG tries to update the storyline on the website ( weekly. Any of your readers here, I would encourage to visit and see just how much the story is influenced by events in major tournaments!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)