[Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

A land of breathtaking beauty, where eight clans of powerful samurai warriors struggle against one another in constant war for supremacy. Discuss the Legend of the Five Rings campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.
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Big Mac
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[Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by Big Mac »

I know that the Rokugan Campaign Setting is better known as the Legend of the Five Rings, but what exactly is the legend, that the CCG and RPG took their name from?

The Rings section in Chapter Eight: Magic Item has this text:
Oriental Adventures wrote:Rings follow the rules detailed in the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide. A few of the rings listed in the Dungeon Master's Guild are not available in the world of Oriental Adventures, but no new rings are available.
Does the L5R RPG include any special rings, that tie in with the legend? Are there any special rings in the CCG that tie in with the major themes of the campaign setting?

Or are the five rings of Rokugan supposed to be another type of ring?
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Re: [Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by Ashtagon »

The title is actually a reference to the Book of Five Rings, one of the most notable works on Japanese sword fighting and battle tactics ever written. In this context "ring" could be better translated as "circle of knowledge", similar to how GAZ3 described Glantri's secret schools of magic as having "circles" of initiation.

To my knowledge, there are no special magic rings unique to L5R.
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Re: [Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by Big Mac »

Ashtagon wrote:The title is actually a reference to the Book of Five Rings, one of the most notable works on Japanese sword fighting and battle tactics ever written. In this context "ring" could be better translated as "circle of knowledge", similar to how GAZ3 described Glantri's secret schools of magic as having "circles" of initiation.
Thanks. I just found a subsection, called 'Why "The Five Rings"?' in the Introduction to Rokugan that mentions Miyamoto Musashi's book.

Do you know if there is an NPC based on Miyamoto Musashi in Rokugan? Or if there is an in-character book, based on his real-life book? The Index of Rokugan mentions an in-character book called the Book of Sun Tao by a ronin called Sun Tao and the section of that book also mentions a second in-character book, called Leadership by Kami Akodo. Those are both about warfare.

I had a skim through Chapter Six: History of Rokugan, but can't find a "Five Rings" book.
Ashtagon wrote:To my knowledge, there are no special magic rings unique to L5R.
I can't find any mention of magic rings in Rokugan.

I guess the "rings" in the legend must relate to whatever the term "ring" means in Miyamoto Musashi's book.
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Re: [Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by timemrick »

The five circles in the L5R logo contain symbols for the five elements, which match the five divisions in Musashi's book: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind [air], Void. I don't know the significance of the logo or title beyond that.
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Re: [Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by willpell »

L5R started out as a collectible card game, which I played. I don't know if there was ever an actual Legend specific to the Five Rings (there certainly were legends, but they tended to have more to do with the clan ancestors and/or the Black Scrolls), but there definitely were Rings, like the Ring of Fire and the Ring of the Void. They were not physical rings, and probably not physical objects at all, but they were definitely nouns...most likely, they were metaphysical concepts, which you could be said to "have" the same way you have self-confidence or belief in a higher power. Each deck was allowed no more than one copy of each Ring card; any one Ring (always the same for each element, though the art might vary) would have a condition required before you could play it, and an ability that you gained once it was played. The only one I can recall fully is the Ring of Air, which could only be played if you cast three Spells in one turn (which, the way this game worked, required you to have recruited at least three Personalities with the Shugenja trait, purchased spell scrolls to attach to all of them, and have the spells all be applicable in a given turn - you couldn't cast a Battle spell if there wasn't a battle that turn, for instance); once played, the Air ring allowed you to redirect one Spell each turn back at its caster, effectively making you impossible to attack with magic. Not all decks even used magic, of course, so the Ring of Air might not do anything for you, although it was also probably the easiest one to get (IIRC, the Ring of Earth or maybe of Water required you to win a battle against an enemy with more Force than you, which is normally not how battles work, and the Ring of Fire was even more difficult, likewise requiring you to defeat a superior foe in a Duel, with Duels having a lot fewer tricks to manipulate the outcome than battles; the Ring of the Void had something to do with getting your hand empty, which was easier said than done but probably not insanely difficult, and I don't recall the last Ring at all). The reason you might bother to try is that, not only did each Ring give you a special ability related to the same condition that you had to fulfill in order to play it (the Void ring, for instance, would let you draw five cards per turn instead of one, but only if you always ended the turn empty-handed), but if you got all five different Rings in play, you were "enlightened" and won the game instantly, having demonstrated sufficient mastery of these five cosmic principles that you were unanimously declared Emperor. (The other ways of winning the game were to gain an extraordinary amount of Honor, a combination life total and victory point system which certain cards could affect but which often didn't come up at all, and the most common method of simply attacking your opponent with superior military forces until all his Provinces were destroyed.)

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Re: [Rokugan] What is the Legend of the Five Rings?

Post by The Dark »

Within the RPG, the Rings were grouping of stats for characters, one physical and one mental per Ring other than Void: Stamina and Willpower made up Earth, Strength and Perception were Water, Agility and Intelligence constituted Fire, and Reflexes and Awareness were Air. Void was a stat and Ring by itself. Each Ring was rated at the lower of the two stats that made it up, so a character with Stamina 6 and Willpower 3 would have Earth 3. Void functioned as a sort of "inner strength," allowing for more dice to be rolled and kept for an action. Characters gained "levels" (Insight ranks, which functioned similarly) by increasing their Ring scores, which favored balanced characters over extreme specialists.

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