The Future of a Legend
Where Does the Path Lead from Here?
In the fall of 2015, Fantasy Flight Games first announced that it had acquired the rights to Legend of the Five Rings, a long-standing card game that has invited thousands of players to play as samurai in the Emerald Empire of Rokugan. Two years later, the next iteration of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game was announced, reimagining the classic collectible card game as a Living Card Game.
Over the subsequent years, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game grew and unfolded, telling a gripping story and stimulating players’ imaginations with complex and interwoven gameplay. With five cycles of Dynasty Packs, seven Clan Packs, and three premium expansions (including the upcoming Under Fu Leng’s Shadow), we had the chance to build and explore this universe with all of you. However, as much as we have loved creating and developing this card game, the time has come to announce the completion of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game with other games and stories to look forward to in the future.
With the release of Under Fu Leng’s Shadow, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game will be complete. Introducing new cards for every Great Clan and the chance to battle the Shadowlands in cooperative or challenge deck variants, this final premium expansion marks a fitting capstone to this Living Card Game. What's more, while Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game is drawing to a close, the vibrant and immersive world of Legend of the Five Rings will continue to be explored with other exciting games currently in development. Players will discover even more opportunities to interact with the story of Legend of the Five Rings through these other games. In the meantime, while it is too early to go into details on those games now, you can keep up with the world of Rokugan through Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying from EDGE and novels from Aconyte Books!
As Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game draws to a close, Organized Play for the game is also coming to an end. You can find further information on the end of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game Organized Play here.
For more details and thoughts on the end of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game and the climax of the story, read on to hear from Lead Developer Tyler Parrott and Head of Story Katrina Ostrander.
Lead Developer Tyler Parrott
Of all the games I’ve played, I have to admit that few have a community of fans as passionate and tightly knit as Legend of the Five Rings players. When I was first getting into the game just before the Kiku Matsuri event at Gen Con 2017, I vaguely knew that the long-running card game had a passionate player base, but I didn’t have a frame of reference for what that would look like. Over the next couple years, I got to witness clan-loyal rivalries, worldwide team tournaments, regular cosplay competitions, a cooking contest, and countless hours of media that the players created for each other (including audiobook readings of our entire web fiction library!).
The legacy of Legend of the Five Rings has always been one of player investment. Whether through story choices, role selection (RIP), or community-organized events, the players of this game have always been a core element of the game’s magic. I cannot think of a community that would be better suited for taking stewardship of the game we have made together.
Ultimately, the game’s greatest strength—its intricate complexity of decisions—proved to be a barrier to its success in the gaming marketplace of the late 2010s. However, I struggle to think of many other games with such satisfying strategic depth or with such beautiful thematic resonance. The Legend of the Five Rings card game lets you tell an entire story of two clans clashing for dominance, with a rotating cast of characters coming and going as time passes inexorably onward. No action is without consequence, resulting in a network of interdependent resources that is both a challenge and a joy to manage.
I truly enjoyed getting to work on this game, both as its spokesperson and its designer. The game’s deep mechanics and rich theme allow for some very fun card designs. While I’m sad I no longer have the opportunity to design new content for the game, (and perhaps I’ll one day get to share some of the mechanics and themes I didn’t get to create,) I’m excited to see what the community comes up with. After all, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game may not be in development by Fantasy Flight Games anymore, but the game still exists, is still fun to play, and has a passionate community of players who can certainly keep shaping it into exactly what they want it to be.
I know this is not the end of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game. It has had a fantastic run, and I believe it still has a bright future.
Head of Story Katrina Ostrander
At first, it was daunting to approach a full continuity reboot for a setting with as long as a history as Legend of the Five Rings. Although I had been playing the RPG since the launch of the fourth edition, I hadn’t been there for the early stories of Imperial Edition or epic tournaments like the Second Day of Thunder. The characters whose journeys we would be retreading were new to me but not to the fans, yet we knew we couldn’t rely on nostalgia if we wanted to appeal to a new audience. In revisiting characters such as Bayushi Shoju, Akodo Toturi, and Doji Hoturi (now Doji Hotaru), we tried to reimagine them in ways both fresh and familiar.
The bulk of that character work fell to the individual authors, and the story would not have been so successful were it not for their amazing talents. Often, Tyler and I would have only the smallest seed of a story to begin with, which the writer would nurture and grow into something that both surprised and delighted us. They would often help us interpret the ramifications of the story choices decided by you, the fans, at tournaments through Organized Play and as part of convention modules for the roleplaying game.
I think about how differently the story might have played out if, at the inaugural Kiku Matsuri tournament, the practice of name magic (meishōdō) had been banned by the Emperor. To regulate and stamp out an entire magical practice likely would have required the resurrection of the office of the Jade Champion, and Iuchi Shahai would not have been brought to the capital to instruct the Seppun family in its methods. Had Matsu Tsuko not freed Doji Kuwanan to search for evidence of his father’s murder, he would not have come to suspect his sister’s forbidden love, and perhaps Prince Sotorii would have met with a different fate. Bayushi Kachiko and Doji Hotaru might not have been reunited for this last arc of story were it not for the Scorpion’s claim on Toshi Ranbo (Toshi Ranbo Kotei Season) and the Crane’s hold on Kyotei Castle (Wedding at Kyotei Castle, Gen Con 2018), and the circumstances surrounding the opening of the Black Scroll would have been much different were it not for the Yogo family’s possession of Kunshu (Kunshu Kotei Season) and the escape of Lady Atsuko (The Highwayman, Gen Con 2019).
There are times where I wish we could have done more to involve the player base, especially after losing a year of events to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact that you guided the story to this point. As the flap of a butterfly’s wing can become a hurricane, what might have seemed like small choices had a powerful impact on the way this legend unfolded. It was delightful hearing speculation about where the story would go next, who would live or die, and who would rise to become Rokugan’s heroes or fall to villainy, before seeing how your choices fulfilled or thwarted those characters’ fates.
When I began working on the Legend of the Five Rings story after Fantasy Flight acquired it in 2015, the previous continuity editor told me that, similarly to the swords passed down through the families of the Great Clans, we are only temporary stewards of the story. I am grateful for the opportunity to have helped tell stories in this world for as long as I was able to, and I am confident that great stories will continue to be told in this world, from Aconyte Books, through the continuing roleplaying game, and in other games in the future.
But it’s not over yet. Beginning on March 1, Fantasy Flight Games will celebrate the culmination of the Scorpion Clan Coup arc with the Battle of Cherry Blossom Snow, a series of story choices and fiction that will be open to the entire community. Your decisions will guide the samurai of the Great Clans in confronting the evil that the chaos of the coup allowed to rise. Stay tuned to our website for updates and to find out how to participate and determine the fate of the Emerald Empire.