I need help solving a technicality about the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, 1st edition (roll & keep system).

The Book of the Crane introduces (at page 113) the Mizu-do, a Crane-specific martial art which is all about throws, clinches, defence and counterattacks.

Regarding counterattacks, a side note says:

Mizu-do techniques require a "reactionary roll": this implies that the character must declare a Full Defense at the top of each round, and then may choose to react with the defensive maneuver once their opponent has begun their attack. If the Mizu-do practitioner wants the option to perform a Mizu-do technique this round, they may receive no benefit from declaring a Full Defense.

Let's say that samurai A is a Mizu-do practitioner, and is involved in a fight against samurai B and C. The three of them roll initiative, B is fastest, A comes second, C comes last.

Which of the following applies?

  1. The Mizu-do practitioner assumes the Full Defense stance in his own turn, therefore he will be able to use techniques against samurai C but not against samurai B, who is faster than him.
  2. The Mizu-do practitioner assumes the stance before anything else happens, and is therefore able to use his techniques against any incoming attack, regardless of initiative.

Please note that Full Defense itself works like case 2, it is a maneuver that a character can perform in his own turn and lasts until his next turn.


1 Answer 1


The side note seems pretty clear.

It says "declare a Full Defense at the top of each round and thereafter..."

The Full Defense (without standard benefit) is declared at the top of the round, before any actions have been taken. The reactions can be taken any time thereafter during the round (in response to an opponent beginning an attack).

Case 2.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What bugs me is that case 2 completely defeats the whole concept of Initiative, it is completely alien to the L5R 1-ed system, which in fact does not have "reactive" maneuvers. My suspect is that the ruling is just written poorly, and by "reactionary" they just mean you roll outside of your turn... \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 18:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tom It's entirely possible that the side note is poorly written, or that the system is poorly designed. That happens sometimes. If you wish to house rule it, that's totally up to you. The rules as written are pretty clear, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right. As far as a rules-as-written thread goes, this answer is quite final. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 19:21

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