[Let’s Study: L5R 4e] Sample Combat

Posted: July 27, 2010 by pointyman2000 in Legend of the Five Rings, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games

Since I’m at work when I usually write up my blog entries, I find myself without my L5R 4e hardcopy to reference at the moment.  But that’s not really going to stop me from fiddling around with the L5R system thanks to the awesomely laid out Free RPG Day adventure for Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition called “Legacy of Disaster” available HERE.

Before I continue, let me slap on the missing rules that were left out of the adventure module by some mischievous printing goblins, but were corrected in the L5R Forums:

Casting a spell is a (Ring + Shugenja School Rank) Keep (Ring) roll, where the ring is the same as the spell’s element.
The TN is equal to 5 times the Mastery Level of the spell, +5
Affinity with an Element grants the caster +1k0 on the spellcasting roll
Deficiency with an Element inflict a -1k0 penalty on the spellcasting roll
(Affinity and Deficiency both do more than that, but that’s what you need to play the pregens)

The missing Aff/Defi. are the following:
Crab: Earth/Air
Lion: Water/Fire
Mantis: Air/Earth
Phoenix: Choose an element for Affinity/no Deficiency

  • Shugenja get a number of spell slots of each elements equal to their ring in that element.
  • Void spell slots can be used as wildcards (they can be spent to cast a spell of any other element).
  • Casting time is still equal to the Mastery Level in number of Complex Actions. It can be reduced with Raises made on the spellcasting roll (1 Raise = 1 CA less), to a minimum of 1 Complex Action.

Finally, all shugenja know the 3 universal spells Summon, Sense and Commune

Armor Mechanics:

  • A character’s Armor TN is normally 5+(Reflexes x5) . Thus, a character with 4 Reflexes would have an Armor TN of 25 and any attack rolls would have to meet or exceed this TN to successfully hit the character.
  • A Reduction rating is the amount of damage reduced from each damage roll that results from a successful attack that hits a character. Thus, Reduction 5 would subtract 5 from a damage roll.
  • Ashigaru Armor adds +1 Reduction/+3 Armor TN;
  • Light Armor adds +3 Reduction/+5 Armor TN, but adds +5 TN to Athletics and Stealth Rolls;
  • Heavy Armor adds +5 Reduction/+10 Armor TN, but adds +5 TN to all skills rolls involving Agility and Reflexes.

Two Weapon Fighting:

For two weapon fighting, the primary benefit is adding the character’s Insight Rank to his/her Armor TN (or +1 for Rank 1 characters). There are associated penalties with carrying a weapon in the off-hand, but it’s probably easier for this module to limit two-weapon fighting to the Yoritomo Bushi and Mirumoto Bushi.

So given that, and a bunch of pre-generated characters in the Sample Adventure, I went about trying to put together a sample combat to see how things work.

For something short and sweet, I decided to put the pre-generated Crab Clan Bushi against the Lion Clan Bushi.  I was also using the normal Wound Calculations, so the fight didn’t last more than three rounds due to the default lethality of the setting.

Round 1:
Lion assumes Defense Stance
Crab assumes Defense Stance

Initiative Rolls:
Lion: 4k3 = 24
Crab: 3k2 = 10

Lion Draws his katana (Simple Action), moves within striking distance
Crab Draws his ono (Simple Action), forfeits his remaining Simple Action

-End of Round 1-

Round 2:
Lion assumes an Attack Stance

Lion Attacks with katana:
5k3 Base attack Roll
+1k0 Attack Bonus from Akodo Bushi 1: Way of the Lion Technique


15 Base Armor TN of Crab
+10 from Heavy Armor
+3 from Defense Stance
-5 from Akodo Bushi 1: Way of the Lion Technique

38 vs. 23 Armor TN, a Hit!

Lion Rolls for Damage:
6k3 = 40 Wounds
– 5 Reduction from Heavy Armor
Crab suffers 35 Wounds
Crab spends 1 Void Point to negate 10 Wounds, and is now merely Grazed (All TN’s +5 while Grazed)

Crab Wounds:
Healthy (15) 0
Nicked (6) 0
Grazed (6) 4
Hurt (6)
Injured (6)
Crippled (6)
Down (6)
Out (6)

Crab assumes Full Attack Stance

Crab Attacks with Ono:
5k2 Base Attack with Ono
+2k1 from Full Attack Stance


20 Base TN of Lion
+5 from Light Armor
+2 from Grazed Wound Penalties (Penalty reduced by Strength of the Earth Advantage)

34 vs 27 Armor TN, a Hit!

Crab Rolls for Damage:
5k4 Base Damage Rating
+1k0 from Hida Bushi School 1: Way of the Crab
+1k0 from Large Advantage

21 Wounds (Terrible rolling right here.  A 7k4 roll would usually yield a lot more wounds.)
– 3
Lion suffers 19 Wounds
Lion spends 1 void point to negate 10 Wounds, and does not suffer any wound penalty

Lion Wounds:
Healthy (10) 1
Nicked (4) 0
Grazed (4)
Hurt (4)
Injured (4)
Crippled (4)
Down (4)
Out (4)

-End of Round 2-

Round 3

Lion assumes Full Attack Stance

Lion Attacks with Katana:
5k3 Base attack with Katana
+2k1 Attack Bonus from Full Attack Stance.


10 Base Armor TN of Crab
-5 from Akodo Bushi 1: Way of the Lion Technique
+10 Lion declares 2 additional Raises for Extra Damage
+3 TN from being Nicked

31 vs. 20, a Hit!

Lion Rolls for Damage
6k3 Base Damage Rating
+2k0 from Extra Damage Raises

46 wounds
– 5 Reduction from Heavy Armor
Crab suffers 41 wounds.
Crab spends Void Point to negate 10 wounds
Crab suffers 31 wounds, and is Out

Crab Wounds:
Healthy (15) 0
Nicked (6) 0
Grazed (6) 0
Hurt (6) 0
Injured (6) 0
Crippled (6) 0
Down (6)0
Out (6) 3

-End of Round 3-


Combat remains to be one of the more lethal types found in RPGs.  The stances are a good mechanic, and present another layer of good tactical consideration without being too much to remember.  The Techniques are familiar, and the new Armor rules are a mix of added difficulty to hit -and- damage reduction, which makes things interesting.

Luck is still a major factor as evidenced by some really low rolls from the Crab, and some high ones from the Lion.  Given the scarcity of void points, I can imagine their use being much more rare in skirmishes involving more than just two combatants going up against each other.

I’m pretty certain that movement will be more interesting later on, and perhaps when I have more time, I’ll try a fight on a more chaotic location complete with interactive scenery and such.

  1. A.L. says:

    Interesting fight, was going to say you rolled ridiculously well for the Lion a few times there. Then again, Lion do that, because they’re awesome 😉

    • Hah!

      I blame the dice roller honestly. If the Crab had rolled just a little bit better, and the Lion rolled more on average, I’m pretty sure that the Lion might end up quite injured or even dead for that one. I’m considering doing another one with the other clans, maybe using the pregen for Dragon and Crane, for example.

      • dirty yasuki says:

        Do one for Dragon and Crane… only this time have them demonstrate the new dueling rules.

        Just a suggestion.

  2. Your Lion should have a better chance to hit, the Way of the Lion allows the bushi to ignore all of the Armor TN provided by armor. Yes, the Lion school is still cool.

    • Hey Seaofstarsrpg!

      Thanks for pointing that out… for some reason I was thinking that the Akodo Bushi Technique only negated 5 points of armor. In this case, the Akodo really can hit well and hit hard.

  3. Roberto says:

    hi again XD, sorry for all the questions but im creating a crab character for my incoming game and i was wondering, how does your crab character has a 5K4 rating with the ono?.

    i mean ono is a 0K4weapon. how do you do 5k4 Before applying the
    +1 from way fo the crab and the +1 for large advantage ?

    i mean does your crab has 5 str?

    thx for your time

    • Hey there Roberto,

      That’s alright, I don’t mind helping out. I actually got the character build for this one from the “Legacy of Disaster” PDF but let’s look at the Crab’s build:

      Weapon damage is determined by adding Strength to the weapon’s rolled dice, so base damage from the Ono + Strength should be 3k4 (given that the Crab has strength 3.) Add +1k0 from Way of the Crab when using Crab hands, and a further +1k0 from Large and you end up with 5k4

  4. Roberto says:

    thx for the fast reply.

    Since your are currently a GM in this setting ( i think) by your experience wich clan do you think is the best for the damage dealer / battle role. or any tips about the topic.

    • Hi Roberto,

      Well, I’m currently running a Phoenix Clan game set in their provinces, so there’s not a lot of opportunities for me to check on the other clan schools.

      That said, the Matsu Bushi and Hida Bushi schools do stand out for their bonuses to damage, so either would be excellent choices for damage, with the Hida getting a slight edge in terms of survival, and the Matsu with a static damage bonus as opposed to a rolled die. The Lion’s Akodo School also does well by increasing accuracy as opposed to sheer damage.

      For nonstandard samurai, there’s also the Moto School of the Unicorn Clan.

  5. Bennosuke says:

    I’m confused. If the katana is 3k2, how can the lion bushi have a k3? Also, even if it was K3, how can he roll an attack for 40 dmg???

    • HI Bennosuke!

      I was operating off the stats found in the free PDF I linked to. The Lion Bushi entry had a damage roll of 6k3. I suspect that he’s actually using a No-dachi, which has a 3k3 damage code as opposed to the katana’s 3k2.

      As for the 40 damage, that’s a function of the exploding dice rule. As I mentioned in the writeup, I had some freakish rolling going on. Every time you roll a ten, you reroll and add the result to your total. I believe I rolled several tens in succession in this match.

      I hope this clears things up!

  6. Pierre says:

    Hello, nice job. I better understand the fight rules now.

    I wonder why wounded character keep the same TN. For the first wounds why not.. but when cripple..
    In an Iaijustu duel, when you have a khramic strike.. if both player suffer a +20 TN, how can the fight could going on ?

    PS : sorry for my english

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