Ninja Revenge AAR

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

I Bathed in Blood.

Yes, that is right. Bax, Al, Ed and I all bathed in Samurai blood and I can’t say I regret it one bit. This was the first test of a system I’ve been cooking up for a while now. I mainly intend it for modern asymmetric warfare and in this case it was simply an ancient version of SpecWarfare (Special Operations Warfare). The scenario was simple – Samurai came into the village and drove off the peasants, killing not just a few in the process. These peasants were loyal to the local Ninja Ryu which took upon itself to avenge them. 4 highly trained Ninja came with just one mission – kill the leader and hurt the minions as much as possible. Let’s take a look at the board.

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

Here we see the village. The Samurai have built a camp here that consists of some outward facing simple revetment made of earth and small logs. Mainly it is useful to slow down formed units and to give cover from archery. To a single Ninja, however, it poses no difficulty. Dotted all over the place are Litko Skull Tokens. Their use was to indicate possible locations for enemy troops. The idea is to eventually have a system that doesn’t rely upon a GM. A carefully laid out table with smartly laid out encounter tokens will produce enough interesting engagements, in theory, to have a fulfilling game. Enough conditions and events will produce a good story.

Here is how it worked. The players each had a single Ninja. They moved onto the table from any point on the edge. When they got within both line of sight of a token AND within 18″ (it is night after all) they made a stealth check and then a perception check. If the perception check failed than another perception check was made in reverse using standard modifiers for range, darkness and the results of the stealth roll. If the player’s perception check was successful a card was drawn to see if there was anything there. This card draw not only told us if something was there but also it’s attitude (backs to us, facing us or neutral stance). There was a modifier to the target’s perception check based on that stance. If the player failed their perception check and the token succeeded in it’s then the card was drawn to see what the unit was – that unit was then placed facing the player’s Ninja and already aware. The player was then considered flatfooted. If either made their perception check the token was removed. If both failed then it remained in place. One token survived 6 repeated checks this way!

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

“You’re goin’ down!”

Here we see the Ninja Master giving the severely beaten and bleeding Samurai “a fresh one.” This was our first encounter. It took several turns to defeat these guys. It was a smallish group of Katana wielding Samurai that we did not take by surprise. The Sumo Wrestler (day job) Ninja was hiding behind some barrels and peeked over the top. He saw them and they saw him! They charged, katanas akimbo, and he got up on the barrel for the flying tackle maneuver. The Ninja Master has such amazing stealth that he managed to run into the battle totally unseen or heard and landed a surprise flying kick into one of the Samurai. One of the best moments was when he surprised another, turned him around, poked him in both eyes Three Stooges style and turned him back around temporarily blinded. Well it would have been temporary but pretty soon the Speed Ninja showed up with his razor claws and pretty much finished off everyone.

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

Ok here are some Samurai who were spotted heading into the compound. They have Naganata which are great against slow, heavily armored opponents. However when out of the darkness of the night comes a screaming foot they are less useful. Here we see our leader again kicking ass, literally, and making a mockery out of the Samurai.

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

“Knock Knock… Whose There?” Gurgle.

Meanwhile Sumo (Day Job) Ninja decides to take a peak inside the compound which is lit by a couple of campfires (+2 PERception, 12″ radius).

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

Ok… these guys have arrows and will fill his fat a$$ with them if he decides to bust a move. Now is the time for the Supreme Ninja Aura to come out and for him to think very small thoughts as he crosses the plaza to the tea house for a closer look! Meanwhile Baxter is also trying to think small thoughts as he has been making his way around the compound looking for patrols!

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

Through a lot of luck we converge on the archer squad. Considering we are in the radius of illumination the two fires give this is a blessing from the Dice Gods. While we have shuriken throwing stars (well Bax and Ed do) those are pretty pitiful compared to the long bows of the Samurai. Cautious advance is the only way to take these guys out. In fact most of our attacks are magnified while they are unaware. If the surprise is blown then so is a good 50% of our advantage.

From 2009-06-13 Ninja Revenge

Severed body parts? Check

Ringing ears from Ninja flashbang ‘nades? Check

No one left standing? Uh wait. Baxter!

So Baxter left one standing. The dude made his armor save. Which all things considered went poorly for him as that meant he now had the attention of 4 Ninja.

We called it at that point. The major successes here were the use of the encounter system with conditions that made it less and less likely that the Samurai would be surprised (luck really was with us this last round) as was much of the non-combat aspects of Hero I used. The Hero System combat mechanics while great were a bit much for people new to it to grasp so I went from player to player and without looking at their sheet asked what did they really want to do – not what game mechanic was best. Then I discussed mechanical options. That really was fun. I think if you had 4-8 Herophiles it would have been a bit faster and I would not have had to nerf the Samurai as much. I’ll rework the system so that just the essential elements that we used will be shown to non-role players. Overall the combat was fun though and while it is helpful when players know what they are doing it isn’t necessary if the GM knows what he is doing!

This project started about 3 weeks ago at Nashcon. I picked up 10 ninja figures (or 9 plus the sumo wrestler who was too cool to not use as a brick ninja!) I painted them in two weeks (yes, I am slow/don’t paint every night) and then worked on the rules. For this game I opted to do a mix of my encounter system (which this was the first public playtest) and the Hero System RPG. For source material I used the following:

Gold Rush Games
“Senjoku” RPG and Source Book
“Shinobi, Shadows of Nihon” Source Book

History Books
“Ninja, The True Story of Japans Secret Warrior Cult” by Stephen Turnbull

Hero Games
“Hero System”, 5th Edition Revised, RPG
“Ninja Hero” Source book
“The Ultimate Martial Artist” Source book
“The Hero System Combat Handbook” (all the combat rules and options in one place!)
“The Ultimate Mentalist”
“The Ultimate Speedster”
“The Ultimate Skill”
“The Ultimate Brick”

All of these books were very useful and I plan on doing another similar game in the future. With Hero 6th Edition coming out this summer it will be interesting to see how things cleanup or change.

I do plan on creating a new variant of this for Historicon this year. I am really excited that this first game went as well as it did. It needs simplification such that players don’t need to know a lot of nuances. However it was a lot of fun. It really did feel like a Ninja SpecOp with suspense and drama. I’d like to thank Bax, Al and Ed for playing and playing well and to Wargames, LLC for giving us the place to play!

By the way, Wargames is moving. Not far away either, just down the street into a MUCH NICER PLACE! Thank you Miss Nancy for your hard work finding the new space! It really is great looking. We got a tour of the facility and I’ll be posting pictures of it on a later date. If you are looking for a great place to game then you’ll have to check out Wargames.

From Ninja Revenge


  1. that is ammazing!!!!

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