Legend of the Five Rings (L5R)
Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) is a set of games set in Rokugan, a land of heroic samurai, mystical shugenja, and fearsome creatures from the Shadowlands. It started in 1995 as a collectible card game (CCG) with a new twist: each new set of cards changed the world, as the cards told the story of the Clan War that ravaged Rokugan. Although the shape of the two-year story arc was roughed out during the original all-night design meeting in February 1995, it left scope for variation so that the game's players could have an effect on that story.
The game stayed remarkably true to its initial vision: a high-fantasy samurai epic, exploring the theme of honor against the backdrop of sweeping battles and lightning fast iaijutsu duels. The players exceeded our wildest expectations: we put control of major story threads in their hands, and they treated them with as much reverence as we could have given them ourselves. L5R fans are legendary for their honor, sportsmanship, fair play, and eagerness to help out new players.
In the spring of 1997, a few months before the legendary Day of Thunder tournament that concluded the CCG's Clan War storyline, AEG released the first edition of the Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game (RPG). With two years of card game story development behind us, we already knew Rokugan's clans intimately: we'd seen them ally, clash, maneuver for the favor fo the Emperor, and strike bargains with dark powers. We decided to set the RPG a few years earlier in the storyline than the CCG, in a time when the Scorpion had not yet made their play to save the Empire by destroying the Emperor, when the wisdom of the Akodo family still guided the Lion Clan, and when the Crab Clan still faithfully guarded the Kaiu Wall against the constant assaults of the Shadowlands.
The CCG continued with a new story arc, The Hidden Emperor which concluded with Hitomi, the Dragon Clan Champion, defeating the evil moon-god Onnotangu and taking his place in the heavens, while Hida Yakamo, Daimyo of the Crab Clan ascended to become the new Sun.
This was followed by Gold Edition which was set approximately twenty years after the end of The Hidden Emperor story arc. Emperor Toturi has been slain and the heirs, the Four Winds, vie for the throne. The Empire is in turmoil and the Shadowlands have seized this opportunity to extend their reach into the Emerald Empire! Once again Rokugan is threatened and players must take control of their Clans (or even the evil Shadowlands!) in epic battles to decide the future of the Empire.
The latest basic set for the L5R CCG is entitled Diamond Edition. For five years the Empire of Rokugan has been at peace. The struggle between the Four Winds is at an end and a new ruler sits upon the Steel Throne. But the future is troubled - a conspiracy of powerful daimyo have formed to control the new Emperor, and deep in Crab lands an ancient enemy of the Empire has been unleashed.
What will be the fate of Rokugan? You decide.