Reference rulebook

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Version 1.0: March 13, 2014
Unlike the printed rulebooks supplied with starter decks, this document is meant as a reference for players who already understand the basics of Legend of the Five Rings CCG (L5R), especially tournament judges. It is organized as a reference aid, not a learning aid, and formatted for easy printing and device reading. This document includes some but not all of the Comprehensive Rules, which will have their own document.
The Cards
The game uses two separate decks, the Dynasty deck of black–backed cards and the Fate deck of green–backed cards. These plus a player’s Stronghold and Sensei, if any, make up the play deck.
Deck Construction
To build a legal play deck in Ivory Edition 40/40 Extended format:
• The Dynasty and Fate decks must each have at least 40 cards. The Stronghold and Sensei do not count toward this minimum. Note that some cards may alter deck minimum sizes.
• All cards in the play deck (including the Stronghold and Sensei) must be Ivory Edition legal, having the Ivory 1, Ivory 2 or Eternity symbol in the lower left hand corner of their most recent printing (MRP). Older printings of the cards may be used (see also “Soul of …”, p. 23), but in all L5R formats, cards are considered to have the stats and text of their MRP. A player using older cards is responsible for knowing these differences and communicating them to the opponent.
The Dynasty and Fate deck may only contain one copy of each Unique card by title, or up to three copies of any non-Unique card. Exception: See Experienced, p. 18.
Card Title: At the top of every card is its title bar. All L5R cards have a title in this bar, except for created cards.
Subtitles in smaller font inside the title bar, and the comma that separates them from the card title, are not part of the card title (For example, Hiruma Nikaru, The Flesh Eater is titled “Hiruma Nikaru” for play purposes.)
The text at the top of proxy created cards printed by AEG is for reference purposes only, and does not constitute a title.
Text Box: All cards also have a text box. This can contain up to four elements: keywords (p. 4), which are printed in all caps above a separating line; traits (p. 8), or normal text in the text box; abilities (p. 5), or normal text preceded by boldface words in the text box; and flavor text, italic text at the bottom of the text box. Traits and abilities may also include reminder text (italic, in parentheses) and color text (italic).
Flavor text and color text have no impact on the game.
Reminder text is there to help players remember wording and implication of the rules. It carries no rules implications itself, and sometimes intentionally describes effects in a shortened or non-standard way (for example, using the word “dies,” which does not exist in the game rules, for “is destroyed”.)
Card Types: Starting
This two-sided card does not go into the Dynasty or Fate deck and is neither a Dynasty nor Fate card. A player starts with it in play; the choice of Stronghold is part of deck construction.
The player starts with the “going first” side face up (one clan mon, black border) if he or she is going first this game (p. 11); otherwise, the other side is used (two clan mons, white border).
Clan Mon: Next to a Stronghold’s title is an insignia, or mon, that shows you what Clan Alignment (p. 16) the player is. If there is no mon, the Stronghold is Unaligned (p. 24).
Province Strength: The topmost of three icons at the right of your Stronghold shows the starting strength of each of the player’s Provinces. Strength may go up and down separately for each Province during the game.
Gold Production: The middle of a Stronghold’s three icons, the coin, shows its Gold Production (abbreviated GP); the amount of Gold the Stronghold produces when bowed.
Starting Family Honor: The bottom icon on a Stronghold shows its Starting Family Honor. It gives a starting value for the player’s Family Honor score.

A Sensei is a card a player may start with in play, which modifies the Stronghold’s stats and may have keywords, traits and abilities of its own. A player may only have one Sensei in play, and starts with one in play. The choice of Sensei is part of deck construction; for example, it may not be changed between rounds in a tournament.
A Sensei may have clan restrictions, expressed either with the full Clan name or with a short form (“Dragon” for “Dragon Clan”). A player may only start with a Sensei that is “All Clans” or has his or her Stronghold’s Clan in the restriction list. These restrictions appear in the normal keyword area but are not keywords; a “Dragon” Sensei is not a “Dragon,” for example.
The Sensei does not go into the Dynasty or Fate deck and is neither a Dynasty nor Fate card. It has modifiers for Province Strength, Gold Production and Starting Family Honor which are continually applied to the Stronghold’s stats. (Unlike previous rules sets, modifiers from a Sensei are treated like any other modifier; they do not modify the printed values on the Stronghold.)
A Sensei may also have traits and abilities. (Unlike previous rules sets, these traits and abilities are not considered to be on the Stronghold; Sensei cards bow and have abilities separately from the Stronghold.)
Dynasty Card Types
Holdings, like many cards, have a Gold Cost—the number in the round coin icon—which determines how much you pay to bring them into play. Effects that alter a Holding’s “Gold Production” add to or subtract from the amount produced, each separate time the Holding’s text produces Gold.
Holdings use the Recruit procedure to enter play (see p. 14), and enter play in the bowed state (see Bowing, p. 5) Fortification is a keyword on Holdings that makes them follow special rules (p. 19).
Like a Stronghold, the title bar of a Personality will have a mon indicating his Clan Alignment, or no mon if Unaligned. Earlier Ivory Edition legal cards indicate Personality Clan Alignment with both the mon and a keyword; later cards indicate Clan Alignment only with the mon, but are also considered to have the keyword.
Personalities enter play using the Recruit action or procedure (see p. 14).
Force: A Personality’s Force, abbreviated as “F,” is found in the lighter colored icon at the top left.
Chi: Chi, abbreviated “C”, is found in the dark colored icon at top right., and is abbreviated as “C.”
Honor Requirement: Personalities may have an Honor Requirement, abbreviated “HR,” shown in the leftmost of the three icons in the middle (the square banner). A dash (–) in this icon means that the Personality has an infinitely low Honor Requirement, with no numeric value except that it is always lower than any numeric HR.
Gold Cost: Personalities have a Gold Cost, the number in a round yellow coin shape, which must be paid to Recruit them.
Personal Honor: Personal Honor is found in the fan, the rightmost of the three icons. Its abbreviation is “PH.”
Units: A Personality, together with any cards attached to him, makes up a unit. If a unit or Personality changes location in play, all attached cards go with him. If a Personality leaves play (for example, by being destroyed), all cards in the unit leave play in the same way.
Things that affect a unit affect all cards in the unit. Things that target a unit target its Personality.
A unit has a keyword (Cavalry, Ninja) when the Personality and all Followers each have that keyword.
The total Force of a unit includes bowed and unbowed cards.
Events represent important happenings in Rokugan. While they are face-up in your Provinces, their abilities can be used; while in play, their traits are active but their abilities cannot be used unless otherwise stated. Events are discarded once an ability on them is used, unless the ability puts the Event itself into play.
Fate Cards: General
All Fate cards have a Focus Value stat, in the black circle at the bottom of the card.
Fate Card Types
Strategy cards are cards played from your hand to use an ability on them. Once the action has finished resolving, discard the Strategy, unless the Strategy put itself into play. A Strategy usually has one or more abilities. Traits on a Strategy always modify its own abilities, and may affect play more generally if the Strategy enters play.
You may put a Ring into play immediately after you have fulfilled its condition for entering play. Its text may also let you discard it from your hand for a one–shot effect.
Followers, Items and Spells are all attachment cards. They cannot enter play or be in play by themselves, but attach to Personalities in play using the Equip procedure (p. 12), placing the card under the Personality with the title showing.
Gold Cost: Attachments have a Gold Cost stat which equals the amount you must pay when Equipping them.
Followers have Force, in the icon at the top left, which helps their unit in battle. A Follower’s Force is independent and does not contribute in battle resolution if the Follower is bowed (regardless of the Personality being bowed or not).
Unlike the separate Force of Followers, Items have a Force modifier in the upper left hand icon that directly raises or lowers their Personality’s Force. Items likewise have a Chi modifier. These modifiers are not bonuses, but affect their stat in the same way as bonuses do, including being subject to maximum and minimum values (see Stats, below.)

Spells have no Force or Chi stats or modifiers. They will only attach to a Shugenja Personality, and their abilities can only be used (“cast,” see p. 15) if attached to a Shugenja.
Force, Chi, Province Strength and Gold Cost are examples of stats, or number values. Stats may gain bonuses or penalties from effects in the game, and effects may also give stats a minimum or maximum value. Minimums and maximums are applied on top of any existing bonuses, penalties, or modifiers.
Most stats have a minimum value of zero. Only Honor Requirement, Family Honor, and modifiers with a + or - sign can have negative values.
If an effect checks a stat’s value that is absent on the card type (for example, a Spell’s Force) the value is zero. Absent values cannot receive bonuses, penalties or modifiers.
If you need to know a stat’s value at any time, apply all current modifiers, bonuses and penalties first, then apply any minimum or maximum value.
Example: If a card with 2 Force gets a -3F penalty, apply the penalty, then the basic minimum of zero. This means that the card’s Force is zero for all purposes, not -1. If it then gets a +2F bonus, apply the bonus, the penalty, and the minimum, so that it now has 1 Force.
Special rules for stats
Unit and Army Force: The total Force of a unit or army outside of battle resolution counts all cards in that unit or army, bowed and unbowed. In battle resolution, bowed Personalities and Followers do not contribute to an army’s total Force; bowed Items give their Force modifier directly to the Personality, who then contributes or not depending on whether he is bowed.
Chi Death Rule: If a Personality’s Chi is ever zero, destroy him immediately. Effects that prevent a single instance of destruction will not prevent this; only continuous effects work against Chi death (for example, “This Personality will not be destroyed.”)
Honor Requirements: You cannot bring a Personality into play with Honor Requirement lower than your current Family Honor.
If anything but your own cards causes you to lose Honor (that is, other players’ cards and rulebook Honor losses, such as dying dishonorably), then for the rest of the game, you ignore Honor Requirements when bringing Personalities with your Clan Alignment into play.
Gold Cost: Effects that change how much you pay for a card (for example “enters play for 2 less Gold” or “paying 2 more Gold”) do not change the Gold Cost stat of the card itself after the payment is done.
Card Text
All cards should be read under the first Cardinal Rule of L5R:
If the text of any card or ability contradicts a more general rule in the rulebook, follow the card or ability’s text, not the rulebook.

Some keywords are boldface, showing that they have rules associated with them. Other keywords may work with effects on other cards but don’t have meaning in the rules.
Keywords are separated from each other by solid dots (•). If keywords appear on more than one line in a text box, the ones on different lines are separate as well.
A keyword may be made up of multiple words, like Geisha House, but it is treated as a single phrase; a “Geisha House” card is not a “Geisha” card.
Keywords on abilities also apply to their cards—so, for example, a Strategy with a Political ability is a Political Strategy. Keywords on cards do not apply to their abilities—an ability on a Ninja card is not a Ninja ability unless it says so, for example, “Ninja Battle:”
For rules about a unit’s keywords—for example, “A Cavalry unit”—see p. 3.
After a card’s keywords come its traits: phrases in normal print that describe the card’s effects or restrictions. Traits may sometimes have costs which must be paid to generate their effects, usually when producing Gold (see below, Abilities).
Below any traits, there may be one or more abilities: blocks of text that describe actions you can take at certain points in the game. An ability starts with one or more of the boldface terms Battle:, Dynasty:, Limited:, Open:, Interrupt: or Engage:. This term, the designator, tells you when in the game the action can be taken.
An ability with two designators, such as “Battle/Open:”, can be used at either time, and is treated as both types except while the action is being taken.
Sometimes, after the designator, there is an icon of a bowing samurai, or of a gold coin with a number in it.
Open: [bow icon]: Gain 1 Honor.

Battle: [Gold icon with 3]: Give your target Personality +4F.
These are costs, which may be found on traits as well as actions. The Gold icon means that a Gold cost must be paid (see Paying Gold costs, p. 5) in order to take the action (or activate the trait’s effects). If there is a star (*) in the icon, it means that the player can choose to pay any amount of Gold, and the effect scales to the amount paid.
The bowing icon means the player needs to bow the card the ability is on in order to take the action (or activate the trait’s effects); if the card is already bowed, he or she cannot take the action.
The text after the designator and cost describes the effects the action has when it resolves. Sometimes, an action’s effects (after the colon) will allow Gold to be paid, or bow Personalities. These are not costs.
In traits and abilities, a card may refer directly to its own title; for example, a card named ‘Bayushi Rentatsu’ may read “Bow Rentatsu:” This refers to the card itself, and not to any other copy of the card with the same name.

Bowing and Straightening
A bowed card is turned 90 degrees to the right to show that it has spent its efforts. Costs and effects throughout the game may bow an unbowed card, or straighten a bowed card, returning it to the unbowed state.
Paying Gold Costs
Your Stronghold and most Holdings can be bowed to produce Gold. The amount of Gold produced can be read from a Stronghold’s Gold Production stat, or from a Holding’s traits and abilities.
If a player produces more Gold than is needed to pay a cost, the extra Gold is available to help pay other costs later in that phase of the game (see Turn Sequence, p. 11). At the end of each phase, any unspent Gold disappears into the hands of Imperial tax collectors.
Example: Your unbowed Crane Clan Stronghold has a Gold Production of 4. You also have a ‘Marketplace’ Holding and a ‘Border Keep’ Holding in play and unbowed. The ‘Marketplace’ bows to produce 3 for you and the ‘Border Keep’ bows to produce 2.
If you now wish to buy a card that costs you 8 Gold, you need to bow all three of these cards to produce 9. This is because the most you can produce from any two of them is 7. The extra 1 Gold is available to pay costs later in that phase, and may be used on its own or combined with further Gold production from Holdings.
EXCEPTION: Some Gold production says it may only pay for a certain cost or type of cost. That Gold is tracked separately and cannot pay for anything else.

Decks and Discard Piles
The two decks of Fate and Dynasty cards are placed on the table, spaced apart. The Fate deck goes on the right, the Dynasty on the left. A card that returns to a deck always returns to the appropriate deck of its owner (see Own, p. 21).
A player’s discarded Dynasty cards go to a face–up discard pile to the left of the Dynasty deck. Fate cards discarded go to their own face–up discard pile to the right of the Fate deck. A card always goes to the appropriate discard pile of the player who owns it, no matter who controls it (see Own, p. 21)
If a Personality leaves play by being destroyed, he becomes dead and not just discarded; either turn him 90 degrees sideways while in the discard pile, or make a separate part of the discard pile for dead Personalities.
Between the Dynasty and Fate decks, a player begins with four Provinces, or game areas representing their lands, in a row. The Provinces normally hold Dynasty cards, one card to a province.
If a Province is ever without a card, its player refills it immediately with a face–down card from the top of your Dynasty deck. Players may not normally look at any face–down cards, even ones in their own Provinces. Provinces that cannot be refilled still exist; use some other way to mark them.
Each province has a separate Province Strength stat, whose starting value is the Stronghold’s Province Strength modified by any Sensei. The Force of an attacking army needs to overcome the Province Strength plus the Force of the defending army to destroy the Province (see Battles, p. 13).
The Hand
The hand is a set of Fate cards held so the player can see them and others cannot. These cards are considered face–down.
Other players’ cards in the hand: If an effect lets a player take another player’s cards into your hand, the cards should be kept separately from the rest of the hand. If a hand’s cards have more than one owner, and a random card needs to be selected from it, use a die or other random method instead of mixing the face-down cards.
Other Game Equipment
• Both players need to keep track of their current Family Honor. Paper and pencil or a set of dice will do.
• The Imperial Favor (p. 12) represents the good graces of the Empress. An object is required to show who has the Imperial Favor.
Action Rounds
All actions are taken during an Action Round, with the type of Action Round determining which types of action may be taken, and who gets the first opportunity to act. The player with the opportunity to act may take an action or pass, and the opportunity then passes to the next player in turn order. After all player pass consecutively, the Action Round ends.

The types of Action Round are:

  • Action Phase: The active player may take Open and Limited actions; other players may take Open actions. The active player has the first opportunity to act.

  • Engage Segment: All players may take Engage Actions. The Defender has the first opportunity to act.

  • Combat Segment: All players may take Battle Actions. The Defender has the first opportunity to act.

  • Dynasty Phase: The active player may take Dynasty Actions, and has the first opportunity to act.

  • Interrupt Step: All players may take Interrupt Actions. The active player has the first opportunity to act.

Taking Actions
Players can normally take actions from abilities on Strategies and Rings in their hand, from abilities on their non-Event cards in play, from Events face-up in their Provinces (but not in play), or from abilities given to the player by the rules or card effects.
Limited actions are taken in the Action Phase only by the active player (the player whose turn it is). Open actions are taken in the Action Phase by any player.
Engage actions can only be taken during a battle’s Engage Segment. Battle actions can only be taken during a battle’s Combat Segment.
Interrupt actions are announced during a non-Interrupt action – either yours or another player’s – at the point after costs are paid and before the action’s effects start to resolve. The other action is suspended while you pay the Interrupt’s costs and carry out its effects; then it resumes. You may not play an Interrupt to another Interrupt action.
An Interrupt may modify the effects of the action it interrupts – including preventing some or all of these effects – and it may also have effects of its own. An Interrupt’s effects do not change actions other than the one it interrupted, unless explicitly stated.
Phrases in an Interrupt’s effects such as “After a Personality is destroyed” refer to the effects of the interrupted action, and are delayed until those effects occur; they do not refer to when the Interrupt is played. This will usually mean that the interrupted action’s player can target or make other choices in the action after the Interrupt is played, knowing it will take effect.
If more than one Interrupt can be triggered at the same time, decide the order in which they happen using a separate action round. The active player has the first opportunity to play an Interrupt to that action or pass, followed by the other player, and then the active player has another opportunity. The action round continues until both players pass consecutively.
Dynasty actions are taken during the Dynasty phase by the active player.
There are three limitations on using abilities:
• Abilities on bowed cards may not normally be used.
• To use its abilities, a card must: be in play, be an Event played from your Province, or be a Strategy or Ring played from your hand.

EXCEPTION: Interrupt abilities on a card out of play may be taken if they Interrupt the action that brings the card into play. In this case, if the action has a “bow this card” cost, it is satisfied by bowing the card after it enters play, as a delayed effect.
• Each separate card ability and player ability may normally only be used once per turn. Abilities on two different cards with the same title are separate, though, and both can be used in the same turn.
Good Faith Rule: To legally announce an action, you must be able to:

  • pay its costs (see p. 7),

  • meet any targeting of the action that is not optional, delayed, or done by another player, including targeting in Ranged and Melee Attacks and Fear effects;

  • meet the conditions of any phrase beginning with “If” that starts the action’s effects (such as “If you are the Attacker, …”).

  • Favor actions require that you control the Imperial Favor, or have an alternate effect, substitute, or waiver (“need not”) for discarding the Favor.

Otherwise, you may announce and take an action even if it will have no effects.
The Good Faith rule takes into account future changes in the game state that are known to you; for example, if you plan to play an Interrupt that gives the action a target it wouldn’t have when you announced it, this allows you to play the action, but also requires you to play that Interrupt having announced it.
The steps in taking an action are as follows.

  1. Announce the action, saying which card or player ability you are using to take the action, and showing the card if the ability is on a Strategy or Ring in your hand.

  1. Pay any costs of the action (see p. 7). Only the bowing and Gold icon in an ability are costs.

  1. Carry out the action’s effects in the order mentioned by the ability. If an effect requires a target and you cannot find a legal target, the effects stop immediately, and no further effects or targeting happen.

Cards must be in play to be legal targets, unless the ability says or implies otherwise.

  1. Finally, if you took the action from a Strategy card in your hand, discard it unless it is now in play.

Each of an action’s effects happens separately regardless of whether other effects can be applied.
There are two exceptions:

  • failing to meet targeting will stop later effects from happening (see step C of the action sequence, above)

  • effects linked by the word “to” mean that the second effect depends on the first effect actually happening; likewise, effects linked by the word “as” or “after” mean the first effect depends on the second.

For example, “Bow your Samurai to draw two cards” means you only draw the cards if he actually goes from the unbowed to bowed state. You don’t draw the cards if he was already bowed at the time, or if something prevented him from bowing. Likewise, “Bow him as he moves” means the bowing doesn’t happen if the moving is prevented.
Some effects may involve targeting a card first; for example, in “Bow your target Personality,” the target has to be chosen before it can be bowed.
Traits can also have effects. Some traits are triggered by other things happening, for example, “After this card enters play, lose 3 Honor.” A trait is not like an action, though:

  • A trait is not optional; you must apply the effects whenever the trigger is met.

  • A trait will still be triggered when its card is bowed.

  • A trait’s triggering is not restricted to once per turn.

  • If multiple traits are triggered by the same thing happening, the active player decides their order.

A trait without a trigger on a card, such as “Your Samurai each have +1F,” has a continuous effect that is “always on” while the card is in play and while all conditions of the trait are met.
While their card is out of play, traits have no effect.
How Long Do Things Last?
Some effects, as well as bowing to pay costs, are instantaneous, and marked by physical changes to the game components, such as bowing cards, adding tokens, and changes to Family Honor. These changes do not wear off by themselves.
Other effects involve changes that are ongoing. That is, they last until a certain point in the game, and are not physically marked by the game components.
These include changes to stats such as “Give a target attacking Personality +2F,” as well as changes to abilities, traits, keywords and conditions of things in the game, such as giving a card the trait, “This Personality will not bow.”
All ongoing effects last until the end of the current turn, unless they give a different duration.
Finally, non-triggered traits like “Your Samurai have +1F” have continuous effects that apply while the card is in play and all conditions on the trait, if any, are met (see Traits, previous section). If a continuous effect ceases to apply, then is reapplied, it is a new effect; for example, a Force bonus that was negated by an ongoing effect will reassert itself.
Card Memory Rule: If a card is both out of play and face-down (including returning to the hand), it “forgets” ongoing effects on it, and other changes such as whether its abilities have been used.
Order of Effects

Effects occur in the order they are written.

EXCEPTION 1: Phrases modifying effects that come after the effect’s text are applied at the same time as the effect. Such phrases will directly refer to the effect, increasing or reducing its restrictions or scope. Modifying phrases that refer to multiple effects refer to all relevant effects in that trait or ability.

Example: In an effect that creates several duels, the duel consequence “Destroy each duel's loser” is applied immediately after each duel, following the duel sequence.

EXCEPTION 2: Phrases in an ability’s effects that refer to an ability itself, such as “This ability may be used once per battle,” or “This ability will not be copied,” apply to the ability at all times, even when the ability is not being used.

EXCEPTION 3: Battles created by effects, and additional phases, segments, and actions granted by effects, are delayed until the action or triggered trait that granted them has ended, and the chance to take Reactions to the end of the action or trait has passed.

Example: Ambush reads, "Fight a battle there. After the battle ends, lose 5 Honor." The battle is delayed until the "Lose 5 Honor" effect has been activated, and the action has resolved. The Honor loss itself is a delayed effect timed to the end of the battle, and is only actually applied after the battle ends.
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