Anachronistic Ninja Chronos
In honor of today’s debut of the new Mortal Kombat movie, I’m starting a new game involving ninja.  It’ll run parallel to anything I happen to be playing at the moment, and will incorporate some of the things I’ve posted elsewhere on the forum, like cut-up story prompts and such.  Refer to those if you want more detail.

NOTE: I know this is the internet, and things tend to float around.  That’s fine, and my material is posted freely, but if you’re inclined to share it elsewhere, please provide a link back to the original, or at least mention my username.  Thanks.


As is traditional with me by now, I’m going to start this thing knowing almost nothing about the game beyond the core premise.  In this case, it’s a story about a ninja.  I don’t even have a title for this thing, and the thread will remain as Ninja Game until such time as I figure out what to call it.

I’m using the following resources to build the game.  First, a copy of the Swords & Wizardry White Box (1e).  Second, the optional Ninja class from The Dragon #16.  And, third, the nontraditional gaming oracle, Cut-Up Solo: Hour of the Dragon.  I should note that though this uses two different fantasy resources, at this point the game is not necessarily fantastic in setting or tone.  We’ll see.

Let’s start with a character.  I’m going to generate it the old-fashioned way, with stats rolled in the order they’re listed on the “character sheet,” with the only thing we’re sure about being the class: Ninja.

Let’s roll!

10 = 5[d6]+1[d6]+4[d6]

10 = 4[d6]+5[d6]+1[d6]

9 = 6[d6]+1[d6]+2[d6]

12 = 2[d6]+5[d6]+5[d6]

15 = 5[d6]+6[d6]+4[d6]

13 = 3[d6]+4[d6]+6[d6]

This translates to:

Strength (STR) — 10
Intelligence (INT) — 10
Wisdom (WIS) — 9
Constitution (CON) — 12
Dexterity (DEX) — 15
Charisma (CHA) — 13

Not a bad set of stats.  About half average numbers and half above-average.  Nothing terrible, which is nice.  The only thing that would have been subject to a minimum was INT, because the write-up in Dragon specifies NPC ninja to have an Intelligence of 6.  Which, come to think of it, makes the average ninja enemy not particularly bright.  Guess that explains why they’re so easy to kill in the comics.

Anyway, we need the rest of our protagonist’s information.

The character’s level is ZERO.  We’re going to start from the very bottom, so current XP is also zero.  Characters are able to add their WIS and CHA bonuses together to get a bonus to earned XP, but in this case neither is high enough.

This ninja’s beginning base Saving Throw is 15.

Ninja have a 1d4 Hit Points (HP) at the start, so let’s roll.

3 = 3[d4]

Better than it might have been, but not as good as I would have liked.  That one HP can make all the difference at early levels.

In S&W, characters have an amount of starting gold and buy their weapons from there.  I personally dislike tracking wealth because it turns shopping into a mini-game when you could doing more interesting stuff like crushing your enemies and seeing them driven before you.  If a character could reasonably afford something, they can have it.  Likewise, if there’s something a character might actually have and be able to carry along with everything else, they can have that, too.  The key here is the word reasonable.

As it happens, Dragon specifies some starting equipment:

* ninjatō
* sageo
* saya
* tetsubishi
* osaku
* one (1) choice of disguise
* one (1) choice of equipment

I’m not going to worry about the equipment right now because I don’t even know anything about the game I’m going to play.  Also, if you don’t know what any of those items listed above are, they’ll become obvious as the game goes on, I’m sure.

According to the Dragon article, ninja don’t wear armor.  This is in keeping with the movie/comic depiction of ninja, so I’m cool with that.  However, to make them a bit sturdier than a naked person, a Ninja gets a save against any damage he or she might receive.  So, yes, this ninja has a starting Armor Class (AC) of 8 — base of nine, minus one for a higher-than-average DEX — but that same ninja rolls a Saving Throw (ST) against damage.

I should note this isn’t as great as it sounds, because the ST against damage for a 0-level character is 15, and that ST doesn’t get any better until Level 5.  My games tend to end with the violent death of the main character long before that character becomes a badass, so…

For all other things, a Ninja saves as a Fighter, so that base ST is 16.  Whee.

And that’s it.  We have a character, or at least the mechanical aspects of one.  Let’s take a break here.  Next time we’ll find out who this guy/gal is and what’s going on.
In our last session, we did all the rules-oriented stuff necessary to make a Swords & Wizardry character.  This time we’re going to find out who this person is and what kind of game we’re going to play.  I have no idea, so we’re both going into this blind.

Setting impacts character, so let’s start with that.  I have an oracle of sorts called Cut-Up Solo: Hour of the Dragon, which you can learn more about here.  I don’t want to repeat all the explanation and bore people who read the other thread.

Let’s find out what we’re doing here.

136 = 136[d1000]

• lazily. ‘What is an
• reformed his ranks. Tarascus quarter?’ demanded the
• on the throne and being
• the Hyborian tribes of the

162 = 162[d1000]

• I can follow him he’ll
• stole the keys from the
• man turned just as the
• Death’ The staff
• word or gesture Conan could

529 = 529[d1000]

• of city streets,’
• That I am wondering
• and if you find her
• taller demanded. ‘Of a
• the sea. It was

Hoo, boy.  This is not going to be easy.

First off, Hour of the Dragon is a novel about Conan of Cimmeria, the famous character created by Robert E. Howard.  I can tell you right now that even though Conan pops up a couple of times in these snippets, this is NOT going to be a Conan-related game.  I might go for fantasy of a sort, but we’re not in the Hyborian Age.

We can, however, pull some things from these lists and make something.

Some key things here: a staff, a throne, the sea, an army of some kind (ranks), and a literal key.  A city factors into our setting.

So are we going to do a fantasy thing?  Kind of a mythical Japan that never was?  I had a kind of vague notion that modern ninja would be cool, but I like it.

Okay, here’s what we’ll do.  The year is 1467.  A staff of power.  A mystical key?  The man who would be shōgun and his army.  The seas of Japan, where a mighty navy holds sway before the arrival of European outsiders.

And while we’re wondering, are dealing with a male or female ninja?  A roll of 1-5 on a d10 will give us male, while 6-10 gives us female.

8 = 8[d10]

Female.  From a mechanical standpoint, this makes precisely zero difference, because I rolled up the character without making any decisions about the character.

I also have no idea what to call this character.  So let’s pop over to Behind the Name, plug in “Japanese” and see what it gives us.

• Kiku Mizuno
• Takara Ishida
• Yūka Ikeda
• Cho Yamazaki
• Hikaru Izumi

Hm.  A couple of these are definitely not going to fly.  For example, I’m not giving a female ninja the same first name as Mr. Sulu.  Kiku sounds way too cute.  Takara sounds like a man’s name and, in fact, it can be.  But Yūka?  I don’t know.

As much as I like randomization, I think this time I’m going to make an executive decision.  In keeping with the less-than-realistic nature of the game’s setting, I’m going to give this character a name that isn’t Japanese at all: Rain.

Why that?  Because it’s cool, because it reminds me of the John Rain books, and because it’s also the name of one of the lazy, palette-swapped ninja in Mortal Kombat which is what set me off on this tangent in the first place.

I will take one of the surnames, though: Ishida.  Not for any particular reason other than it sounds good combined with Rain.  Rain of the Ishida Ryu.  It works.

I think that’s probably plenty for now.  We have a character, we have a setting and we’re ready for an opening scene.  That’ll come next time.
Right on! I like it.

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And we’re back.  Time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  Our game has a setting and a protagonist who’s mostly blank space, but still ostensibly a hero.  We need an opening scene to kick this off.

For fun, if you want to read up on the Sengoku period of Japan, and know why I picked 1467 as the date, check out the Wikipedia entry on the Ōnin War.  Lots of fighting and good stuff in there.  I could have chosen any year between 1467 and 1615, but why not start a game at the beginning of a ten-year war?

Once again, we’re going back to Cut-Up Solo: Hour of the Dragon for our inspiration.  Let’s do this.

956 = 956[d1000]

• his bearings in a general
• he was, yet any
• of where he was.
• the willows. By Mitra
• of Python.’ ‘Then

656 = 656[d1000]

• fewer as he progressed.
• emerged still stood open.
• right and left at all
• of the battle. Then
• is the king!

62 = 62[d1000]

• configuration of the country to
• path. There was
• As the cliffs fell at
• with his huge limbs and
• shufflings and slidings that were

We’re starting with a battle.  Sweet.  And it sounds pretty epic, with cliffs and the involvement of someone huge, with python-like limbs.  The Ōnin War is the start of a dispute between various warlords seeking power.  Men who would be “king” of Japan, since the Emperor is largely a figurehead during this period.  Not without power, but unable to stop the warrior leader called shōgun.

Striking left and right, bloody among the willows, confused about where she is or what’s happening, as the giant of the opposing army works his brutal way toward this woman, this chigo who is barely worthy of the name ninja.

The ninja of those days weren’t just silent assassins, but mercenary soldiers, and it wasn’t unheard of for them to be in battles like these.  And junior ninja like Rain would be the perfect sort of cannon fodder.

So let’s fight!

Rain stands covered in the blood of her opponents, face-to-face with another of the enemy’s foot soldiers, the ashigaru.  Roll for initiative!

Ashigaru — 2 = 2[d6]

Rain — 5 = 5[d6]

The ashigaru is armed with the Japanese equivalent of a halberd, an ō-naginata.  Black-clad and quick, Rain ducks inside the swing radius of the weapon and strikes with her ninjatō, or straight-bladed short sword.

Armor Class: 7
Hit Points: 3
Attacks: naginata (1d6)
Special: none
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 1/15

15 = 15[d20]

6 = 6[d8]

The ninjatō rips through the ashigaru’s armor, laying open fat and muscle all the way down to bone and organs.  He spills his guts on the ground and dies.  Rain is on the move before he even hits the earth.

Is Rain’s side winning?

(4[d10]) No

That’s not good.  How about her fellow ninja?  Are they faring well, at least?

(5[d10]) No

The giant mentioned earlier sweeps aside two ninja with a single swipe of his daikatana (a really big katana).  His attention is fixed on the ninja to the exclusion of all the other fighters on the field, almost as if he were brought to this battle with the express purpose of wiping them out.

It’s working.

The Giant
Armor Class: 4
Hit Points: 26
Attacks: daikatana (2d6)
Special: hurl bodies
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 9/1,100

He’d be a great prize for an ninja, but he is FAR beyond Rain’s ability to fight.  He’s beyond all the ninja on the field.  Maybe if they gathered together and fought as one, perhaps only half of them would die, but no one’s going to volunteer for that.

The Giant picks up a broken ninja and hurls him into another, shattering the second ninja’s ribcage with the force of the blow.  Another body on the pile.

Can Rain make a safe retreat?

(3[d10]) No

Is there someone in her way?

(8[d10]) Yes

Is there more than one?

(1[d10]) No, and...

… she has a good chance of taking them out, as this foot soldier is almost a green as she is.  I’m going to keep the original initiative rolls, because this is technically the same combat.

8 = 8[d20]

She tries for the same move she successfully used before, but it’s either luck or youthful quickness which keeps the ashigaru alive.

13 = 13[d20]

1 = 1[d6]

His counterattack is good, striking hard with the haft of the naginata.  But remember Rain gets a save against damage!

8 = 8[d20]

No luck, but it’s only 1 HP.  She’s still in this fight, though The Giant is closing.

19 = 19[d20]

8 = 8[d8]

Rain is fast, faster than the average fighter, though this is her first real battle.  She uses the blow as the impetus of a backward tumble and, as the young ashigaru advances, brings the ninjatō up in time to ram it into his chest.  His heart is penetrated and he dies without a struggle.

The way is clear?  Is The Giant close?

(9[d10]) Yes

She has only seconds!  She flees for a denser cluster of willow trees — remember, they’re all over the place on this battlefield — looking to lose herself among them.  It is not dishonorable for a ninja to run when defeat is imminent.

Does she make it?  She is quicker than a giant, after all.

(9[d10]) Yes

Success!  She plunges into the foliage, looking to lose herself in the branches and brambles.  The Ninja class has the ability to hide in shadow, which I’ll interpret as the ability to hide anywhere if necessary.  Within reason, of course.

She has a Hide in Shadows ability at 30%.  Let’s cross our fingers, otherwise The Giant could be on her at any moment!

24 = 24[d100]

Another success!  She melts into the greenery, where black can become the shadows between the leaves.  And as The Giant crashes into the denser woods where she’s hidden, he finds he cannot locate her anywhere.

With a bellow of rage, The Giant withdraws.  The battle continues, though things aren’t going well for Rain’s employers.  And there are other ninja he can kill.

Once she sees she’s no longer The Giant’s prey, Rain begins the long, slow walk back to the secret clearing where the clan has established a temporary home in order to fight for their employer, the Lord Okamoto.

What awaits her when she reports to her chunin?
In our last entry, Rain of the Ishida Ryu made a wise decision and retreated from a battle for which she had been paid to fight.  The leader of that battle was the right hand of Lord Okamoto, a powerful warlord.

The Ishida ninja had been paid to fight, yes, but they weren’t paid to die.  Rain made the decision not to sacrifice her life to a losing proposition.  Now we’ll see if she’s able to convince her chunin, the leader of this force of ninja, that she’s wise and not a coward.

Indeed, she’s not the wisest ninja who ever lived (WIS 9), but neither is she foolish.  And that’s the case she makes as the other survivors of the battle begin to filter in.  This is as hard to discover a place as can be found in this stretch of forest.

Rain presents herself to Shion and tells him what transpired on the battlefield.  She has a CHA of 13, so this is helpful.  She explains it the way you and I understand it.  Totally reasonable, right?

19 = 19[d20]

Right!  Shion makes no argument against Rain, because there’s no argument to make in the face of such ironclad logic.  He comes close to commending her on her prudent action, all things considered.  The news coming in with the survivors isn’t good.  Lord Okamoto’s chances of becoming shōgun are slim, especially since his immediate rival, Lord Shimizu, just trashed Okamoto’s army in one of the earliest battles of what will become the Ōnin War.

Get some rest.  Have someone tend to your wounds, Shion says.  He’ll send word to the jonin, Masaru, and discuss what happens next once the leader of the Ishida Ryu has had a chance to make his mind known.

Rain does as she’s told.  The battle is over… for now.

120 = 120[d1000]

843 = 843[d1000]

974 = 974[d1000]

* of great import came southward
* dynasty, but only a
* you up out of the
* the king, in Nemedia
* more rugged, steep grassy

* If he is discovered here
* The Road to Acheron
* halted and unsaddled his mount
* out. ‘Lie there and
* The Khitan shook his

* him wolfish figures panted in
* know of Zorathus and his
* true.’ Again a
* struggling with surprising strength
* for that hellish bird that

And so word comes south from the mountains which hide Ishida Ryu.  That rough land found where the earth reaches to touch the sky and the clouds fall to the grassy slops and fields.  The jonin of the clan, Masaru, has rendered his decision.

The messenger comes by horse.  Rain sees him(?) as he leaves the saddle and is welcomed by Shion.  The whole camp holds his breath.

Will they continue their service to Lord Okamoto?

(7[d10]) Yes, but...

… there is no time to learn what it is, because the alarm is raised!  By sheer ill luck, the encampment has been discovered by a force of Lord Shimizu’s men.  These are not the foot soldiers which populated the field during Rain’s battle, but hardened samurai.  Wolfish men, grizzled by combat.  They are hunters, and they have found what they were looking for.

Together the samurai thunder into the encampment with their steeds.  One releases a blood-red falcon, which soars into the sky, its wings catching the sun and shining like crimson tears.  A scout or a messenger?  Or both?

I’m not sure how many ninja are left, nor do I know how many samurai are in the hunting party.  We’re going to have to consult the oracle.

First, do the ninja outnumber the samurai?  It seems likely but, as I said, I don’t know.

(8[d10]) Yes

Are the odds 2:1 against the samurai?

(1[d10]) No, and... +Twist: Physical event / Hinders the hero

So the numbers are in the ninja’s favor, but something is working against them.  How about the fact that they only recently took a savage beating at the hands of Lord Shimizu’s forces, and aren’t at full capability?  The samurai are experienced fighters on the hunt for enemies in hiding.  No matter what the exact numbers here, it’s not just a matter of who has more men.

Let’s say there are a dozen samurai and eighteen ninja in fighting condition.  For simplicity’s sake, we’ll consider the samurai as a single unit when fighting against the ninja, who are also a single unit.  But on an individual level, we have the samurai’s stats, too.

Armor Class -- 5
Hit Points — 9
Attacks — katana (1d6)
Special — none
Move — 12
HDE/XP — 3/60

Armor Class — 9
Hit Points — 9
Attacks — ninjatō (1d6)
Special — none
Move — 12

Ninja have the ability to make truly nasty poisons, but we’re going to leave those out of this fight.  They’ve had no chance to prepare or apply said poisons, so this is a clash of weapons alone.

Roll for initiative!

3 = 3[d6]

4 = 4[d6]

The ninja get the edge.  Another advantage they won’t waste.

And so the battle is joined.  Samurai fly from their saddles as ninja swarm into combat.  There’s no question of retreat, because too many injured brothers and sisters are among the shelters and flight means abandoning them to their fates.

11 = 11[d20]

Steel clashes against steel, lowly ninjatō versus katana.  Not all these samurai come from wealthy families, but some have honorable lines stretching back centuries, and the weapons to match.  Keen swords which can cut a hair in half lengthwise.  A head or an arm could come away with even greater ease.

Despite their superior numbers, the ninja don’t manage to break through the samurai’s defenses, which stand as stalwart as they. 

14 = 14[d20]

1 = 1[d6]

The samurai, having stood against the first onslaught, expand outward into the camp, attacking without regard for the danger.  They draw blood and press their offensive.

Rain decides to take a different tack from the bulk of the Ishida force.  While the others must rally to defeat a direct assault by the samurai, she lacks the skill or the strength to go head-to-head with the armored killing machines of Japan’s warlords.  She must use tactics and surprise, the key  elements of the ninja.

I mentioned previously that I interpret the Ninja class’s “hide in shadow” ability to mean the ninja’s skill at hiding anywhere within reason.  So it stands to reason in this case that amid the chaos and the temporary shelters and the flurry of moving and fighting men and women, Rain could conceal herself and wait to strike.

The Ninja class also has the skill Assassination.  This skill allows a ninja to kill a character instantly when striking from surprise.  As written, the class is a touch vague about when exactly assassination comes into play, but this is how I’m calling it.  If you’ve played games like Tenchu, you know this is a critical ability.

And so Rain takes to the field.  She finds a tarp, fallen and trampled in the action.  Crawling beneath it, she tries to melt into the earth, to make the fabric seem as though it’s only discarded and rumpled, not concealing someone.  She has a 30% chance to make this work.

21 = 21[d100]

She lies in wait, ninjatō bared and cradled against her like an infant.  When the moment comes to strike, she will strike.  The samurai continue their advance into the camp.  It’s only a matter of time.

19 = 19[d20]

5 = 5[d6]

6 = 6[d20]

The vicious combat turns even more savage.  Limbs are severed, guts spilled.  Throats explode in showers of gore.  Men and women fall.  The samurai find themselves quickly overmatched by the ninja.  This isn’t what they expected at all!

As mentioned, I’m treating the groups of ninja and samurai like they’re one person.  In the first round, the ninja lost 1 HP.  In the second round, the samurai lost six.  When you only have 9 HP to begin with, that’s bad news.

Does the fighting stray near Rain?

(9[d10]) Yes

It does, and when the moment arrives, Rain is ready.  A samurai rushes past her, oblivious to her presence.  In that instant she springs from concealment.  Her ninjatō flashes!  She has a 40% chance of a successful assassination.

31 = 31[d100]

A single stroke of the ninjatō severs the samurai’s spine and he falls in a heap, dead from the waist down.  A follow-up thrust to the back of the skull finishes the job.  He is dead.

Which reminds me: I never gave Rain her XP after the initial battle.  With the 60 XP she just got, plus the 15 XP from the previous kill, that puts her at 75 XP.  Technically she went to Lvl. 1 after that first scene.  Oops.  I’ve been treating her like a Lvl. 0 Ninja during this whole exchange.

It doesn’t matter!  The fight goes on!  She won’t have a second chance to strike from concealment, but it appears the battle will be won before long, regardless.  We shall see.

4 = 4[d20]

11 = 11[d20]

1 = 1[d6]

The samurai fight back, but in their weakened state they have little chance to turn the tide.  However, they will not quit.  They are samurai, after all, and to quit the field would be the ultimate indignity.  Especially against rabble like these ninja.

Perhaps it’s this feeling of invulnerability which causes Rain to step into the center of the fray.  She’s not the wisest ninja, as we’ve established, but that’s the consequence of youth and inexperience.

A quick note: at Lvl. 1 she gets an additional 1d6 HP.  We’re going to roll that now.

4 = 4[d6]

That brings her HP total to 7.  Again, it’s not as good as it could be, but it’s better than it might have been.  She’s at least guaranteed to survive a successful swipe of a samurai’s katana!

6 = 6[d20]

She goes for the legs of a samurai whose armor is stained with blood.  Whether his own, or someone else’s, it’s impossible to know.  But though he is ragged and outnumbered, he’s still a samurai and he deflects the the blade of this novice ninja, this bushi, with ease.

11 = 11[d20]

2 = 2[d20]

8 = 8[d20]

Ducking, rolling and the clash of blades.  No one can take definitive advantage in these pivotal moments in the fight.  The ninja try to press their advantage and finish off the samurai for good, but this hardened core of fighters refuse to submit, though they are too weak and too few in number to turn the ninja back.

Even Rain, locked in combat with her own opponent, can’t find a way through his flashing katana defense.  When she thinks she has a way forward, he halts her.  But to her credit, she rebuffs his attacks with more skill than even her masters might have imagined she possesses.

1 = 1[d20]

19 = 19[d20]

5 = 5[d6]

14 = 14[d20]

5 = 5[d6]

And then it happens: the iron determination of the samurai shifts the balance of the battle.  When the ninja fail to cement their advantage and wipe the samurai out, this gives their opponents the opportunity they need to rally.

Where there had been samurai blood in the churned earth, there is now ninja blood and ninja flesh.  Katana bite deep and more than one ninja falls with the severed stump of their neck spraying red, their head rolling on the ground.

The ninja HP — 2 left of 9
The samurai HP — 3 left of 9

In the same moments, Rain realizes the potential folly of going to face-to-face with this bloody samurai, when he outclasses her in every way.  It’s almost as though he were waiting for her to show her inexperience before deploying his skills and all but cutting her down.

Two quick slashes and she’s bleeding badly (HP reduced to 2).  But when the samurai steps forward to land the final blow, she thrusts her blade into his side, scraping bone and drawing blood of her own (samurai HP reduced to 4).

The battle hangs in the balance!

11 = 11[d20]

5 = 5[d20]

13 = 13[d20]

Again, no one can strike the definitive blow.  Even Rain and her samurai clash once more, with neither finding the opening they need to kill the other.

9 = 9[d20]

2 = 2[d20]

6 = 6[d20]

Exhausted and bloody warriors on both sides struggle through the growing mud of the secret clearing.  The falcon wheels in the sky, perhaps oberserving everything, relaying the battle’s progress to someone in Lord Shimizu’s ranks.  Animal magic.  In the employ of Shimizu himself?  Maybe.

Sweat streaks Rain’s face and stings her eyes.  She pauses for a moment to wipe them with the back of her sleeve and the samurai nearly kills her for her lapsed defense.  But he’s not fast enough in his tiredness, though she’s little better.

4 = 4[d20]

7 = 7[d20]

13 = 13[d20]

How long can this continue?  How much can these combatants take before the toll of intense combat breaks down their muscles, fogs their minds, slows their reflexes?

For her part, Rain still bleeds.  It’s little satisfaction to see the wound she managed to inflict on her opponent, because neither are in any condition to take advantage of the other’s injuries.

20 = 20[d20]

4 = 4[d6]

And, then, just as the battle seemed fated to continue into eternity, a samurai falls.  The others follow like grass under the scythe.  Even the samurai before Rain is swept away as elder ninja leap to her defense and cut him down where he stands.  In one moment there are many samurai.  In the next moment there are none.

The clearing is littered with bodies.  Rain looks up toward the falcon, which turns once more, swoops over the expanse of the battlefield, then streaks away.
With the assault over, it's time to assess the damage.  And there's also the question of the jonin's message.

As we know from the rolls during the battle, the ninja took a real beating.  They're better off than the samurai who attacked, but only just.  One can also be assured this hunting party will not be the last.  Lord Shimizu is doubtless looking to clean up the remnants of Lord Okamoto's expeditionary force, as well as the ninja in his employ.  That means Shimizu's samurai will be everywhere, not to mention any ronin he's paid for temporary service.

The wisest move is to leave the area as soon as possible, but orders and orders and we don't yet know what those are.  Let's consult the oracle to get a better idea.

266 = 266[d1000]

* unnamable ruptures.
* He was and curses himself night and
* that burned on the breast ago.
• ‘No! The
• entering an age of iron

462 = 462[d1000]

• or if he’s shrewd
• with a small band of
• Did any of you recognize
• likely to find the priest
• said Conan,

118 = 118[d1000]

• He brushed aside
• against the stars, and
• to the golden seas of
• as his hand fell on
• prickling of his scalp,

Not wholly clear, but I can pull some things from it to construct the ninja's next move.

The situation with Lord Okamoto isn't good, but there's a contract to fulfill and they simply can't walk out on him.  However, participating in full scale battles, even as special troops, is untenable.  Therefore the Ishida ninja will fall back on the thing which made them infamous: assassination.

They are "entering an age of iron," in that their war will continue.  And although "he curses [...] himself night and [day]" for making this poor bargain, the jonin must make the best of it.  "If he's shrewd," at least.  To this end, "with a small band of" ninja, they will strike at Lord Shimizu where he's most vulnerable: in his fortress.  "To the golden seas" they'll take, infiltrating via water.  It's a daring plan, but these are ninja and they do what they must.

With so few able-bodied ninja left to perform the task, Rain is certain to be selected, and she is.  With her will go another ninja.  Though we know nothing about them.  Male?

(2[d10]) No

Another female ninja, or kunoichi, as they are called.  Let's get a name from Behind the Name:

• Yua
* Shiori
• Ayaka
• Yoko
* Yūri

Of this, I think Shiori is nice, but we already have a Shion.  And there's no way in heckfire I'm naming any character Yoko.  So Yūri it is, though the word yuri has implications you can look up for yourself if you want.  This is a family game.  We only do beheadings and disembowelments here.

Anyway, Rain and Yūri are assigned to the daunting task of killing Lord Shimizu himself.  Not an easy ask even for experienced ninja, but also not wholly beyond their capabilities.  With their talent for poisons alone, they could take him out without having to shed a drop of blood.  It all depends on what they find once they arrive.

Moreover, this undertaking will be performed in secret.  Not even Lord Okamoto will know what they're doing.  And, honestly, he might not approve, because his honor as a samurai might be impugned by engaging in such subterfuge.  Open combat is the way of the samurai.

But these are not samurai.

We're going to need stats for Yūri, so what I'm going to is, when this entry is done, I'm going to generate her numbers separately and post them in their own reply to the thread.  No need to clutter up this one with further rolls.

So the plan is relatively simple: by fisherman's boat they will approach the Shimizu fortress via the water, scale a sheer cliff and the walls they encounter at the top, then locate their target.  Once they have him, they are to execute him by any means available.  And while most ninja do not throw their lives away, there's the strong possibility one or both of these women will not make it out alive.

Rain needs a few days to recover from injuries sustained in the battle, but she won't do it in the company of the rest of the ninja.  Rather, she and Yūri find an isolated spot along a ridge to heal and discuss the mission ahead.  By the time they're read to move forward, the other ninja have melted away as though they were never there.

But though their hidden camp is, well, HIDDEN, there's always the possibility something might happen.  So... does anything happen?

(3[d10]) No

That's good, at least.  They recover after about a week, then head to their destination: a fishing village in the prefecture under Lord Shimizu's control.

Do they encounter any dangers on their journey to the fishing village?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it's possible they were taken by surprise.  I don't want to make any summary judgments when it's possible the kunoichi might be able to react in time.

Surprisingly enough, no pun intended, the ruleset I've chosen doesn't have rules for this.  The only reference it makes to surprise is in the description of the bugbear, which surprises opponents on 1-3 when rolled on 1d6.  So you know what?  Let's leave it up to the oracle.  50/50 chance they're surprised.

(2[d10]) No

Whew!  And it's a lucky thing, too, because it's more samurai, and neither of these low-level ninja are in a position to fight it out with such.  Still they must hide lest they're discovered and there's a fight regardless.

They have a 40% chance of hiding.  I'll consider both Rain and Yūri a unit for the purposes of the roll.

12 = 12[d100]

Success!  At the sound of horses, Rain dives for the underbrush with Yūri close behind.  They blend into their surroundings, though they are dressed in simple peasant clothing.  No risk is worth taking where these men are concerned.  They watch as the horses trot by, and don't emerge until the samurai are long gone.

Luck continues with them on the rest of their journey, until the reach the fishing village in the evening some days later.  Rain and Yūri wait until dark, then steal into the village.  Their Move Silently is also 40%.

41 = 41[d100]

No!  As they creep toward the boats where they're beached waiting for the dawn, a fisherman happens to leave his house on some nighttime errand.  He spots the two strangers and cries out, then runs for the warning bell which is not far from where they stand.

Regular people are no match for ninja, however.  As the man runs, Rain snatches a shrunken from a hidden pouch and hurls it at the man's fleeing back.  Assassination by a 1st-level ninja versus a 0-level NPC is an automatic kill.  The shrunken strikes the man at the base of the skull, killing him instantly.  But the damage may have been done?  Did someone hear his shout?

(8[d10]) Yes

A commotion arises in several of the nearby homes.  People begin to emerge with candles and lamps, looking for the source of the yell.  With the man's dead body in the open, there's no chance they'll miss it.

Rain and Yūri have to run!  They dash for the boats, reaching them in short order.  The whole village has been roused by the now, and as they push off, some of them have even armed themselves.  Can they get far enough out quickly enough to escape?

(8[d10]) Yes

And so they do.  Paddling madly, as they're too close to shore to use the simple sail, Rain and Yūri put distance between themselves and the village.  But their only hope now is that word of this peculiar theft, and the attendant murder, doesn't reach the ears of Lord Shimizu's men.
So we have  a record of this, here are Yūri's numbers.  And I should probably pull all of Rain's numbers together in a separate post, as well, just so they're not spread out over the chargen entries.



STR — 5
INT — 9
WIS — 12
CON — 15
DEX — 12
CHA — 13

Class — Ninja
Level/Current XP — 1/75

XP Bonus — n/a
Saving Throw — 16
Hit Points — 9

Weapon: ninjatō (1d6)
Armor Class — 9
Before we continue, I figure it's worthwhile to pull Rain's stats together into a character sheet of sorts, so we're all on the same page.  No pun intended.



Strength (STR) — 10
Intelligence (INT) — 10
Wisdom (WIS) — 9
Constitution (CON) — 12
Dexterity (DEX) — 15
Charisma (CHA) — 13

Class — Ninja
Level/Current XP — 1/75

XP Bonus — n/a
Saving Throw — 16
Hit Points — 7

Weapon: ninjatō (1d6)
Armor Class — 9

  • ninjatō
  • sageo
  • saya
  • tetsubishi
  • osaku
  • one (1) choice of disguise
  • one (1) choice of equipment
When we last saw Rain and Yūri, they were on their way to the fortress of Lord Shimizu by stolen boat.  The theft was not the greatest heist we've ever seen, but it got them on the waves and hopefully away from any immediate danger.

But does something untoward happen along the way?

No, but...

... the journey has its setbacks.  For one, we learn that Rain becomes violently ill when aboard a boat.  Not a great trait for a ninja, who must be comfortable in any conveyance under any circumstance.  Whether this becomes a weakness for another time, we'll have to discover when that time arrives.  Still, we've learned something.

Before two days pass, they've reached the cliffside fortress of Lord Shimizu.  It's a grand castle with its roots embedded in the living rock.  Getting in will be every bit as difficult as we imagined.  A climb up a sheer cliff in the dark, then infiltrating a heavily guarded castle?  Only a ninja would attempt something so dangerous.  And we have two who aren't so seasoned, but the best their clan can produce in short order.

They wait on the water until the day fails.  Rain is green from her time in the boat, such that swimming to the base of the cliff is a relief, not the start of an arduous task.  The two wear gray and black to better conform to the shadows and light which play across the cliff's stone face.  And then they climb, dripping with seawater and carrying the bare essentials of their ninja gear.

I'm not going to require a skill roll here because any ninja worth the name isn't going to have a problem climbing a surface full of handholds regardless of how high or how steep.  Dice are for when there's a dramatic reason or failure is real possibility.  Climbing this same cliff in a driving storm?  Maybe.  On a calm night?  No.

Speaking of a calm night, though, there are always guards about and circumstances can intervene.  So does anything troublesome happen on their ascent?

No, and...

... they're able to make it to the top of the cliff and onto the walls of the castle itself with greater facility than anyone might have expected.  To the point where they reach an unguarded window and steal inside, unheard and unseen.

They don't know the layout of the castle, nor do they know its defenses.  This is as dangerous as such an assassination attempt can get.  But they've been lucky thus far.  Perhaps that luck will hold.

First we have to know: are we in an area with a lot of guards?

No, and...

... they're able to move with impunity through the halls, searching for evidence of the prey.  They seem to have entered into the storage vaults of the castle.  Not much happens here, and so there's no need to waste manpower.  But as they venture higher in the castle, this is certain to change.

Do they encounter guards as they move up to the next floor?


It is strangely quiet inside the castle.  Something itches at the base of Rain's skull.  This isn't right.  No guards in the vaults where rice and wine are stored?  That's fine.  But in the higher levels where there are receiving areas, kitchens and places for servants to work and sleep?  This isn't right.

Do they find any servants?


Are they alive?  I'm starting to get a bad feeling here.

No, but... +Twist: PC / Alters the location

... that's not the only problem.  Rain and Yūri find a room where a group of servants have been slaughtered, and their various parts left haphazardly in place.  Paper screens stained with blood.  Teak floors sticky with gore and fluids.  This isn't just killing, but a MASSACRE.  But at the same time, this is not the doing of a samurai or ronin, nor any hired sword.  Well, no ordinary hired sword.  Ninja.

They have to get to Lord Shimizu right now.  I'm interpreting "alters the location" to mean skipping right to the upper reaches of the castle where Lord Shimizu and his family would be safest.  Rain dashes through the halls, ascending rapidly with Yūri behind her.  There's more evidence of murder.  Not just servants anymore, but armed men cut down with their weapons still sheathed.  The ninja who did this passed through this castle like a whirlwind.  But which ninja?  And why?

Do they find Lord Shimizu?

Yes, but...

... he's already dead, along with his family.  Their remains are strewn in the same nightmarishly gory way.  Simple killing is not enough here.  This is literal butchery, with legs, arms and heads severed.  Bodies aren't whole anymore.  They're in pieces.  Everywhere.

Are they alone?


The ninja is (are?) still here.  We need to find out how many?

As I may have explained in this thread or another, I tend to work into groups as follows: a couple (two), a few (three or four), a handful (five), or many (more than five).  So let's find out how many ninja we're dealing with.

Is the ninja alone?


Are there a couple?


A few?

No +Twist: PC / Alters the location

Let's put a pin in that twist for just a second.  I want to know how many ninja there are before I make any other decisions.

A handful?

No, and...

... it's worse than that.  The blood-soaked chambers of Lord Shimizu are populated by a group of ninja who have made an abattoir out of the castle, and there are MORE coming up through the castle behind them.  It's not a trap, per se, but they are trapped and the situation is bad.

A ninja doesn't fight when the odds are hopeless.  But here's where the twist comes in.  These ninja aren't the ordinary sort.  Their black shinobi shozuku aren't made of cloth, but of some strange and unidentifiable material that shifts and shimmers like smoke.  Their eyes gleam with an otherworldly light.  And as Rain and Yūri encounter them, the center of the room begins to flicker and spark with a dark energy.  Obsidian sparks and tendrils of anti-light.  The ninja could attack, but they don't.  Instead, they surround our kunoichi heroines, hemming them in with the sphere of energy.  This sphere goes in size and intensity until it swallows all the light in the room.

Is there a possibility of escape?


I didn't think so, because we have that twist, "alters the location."  And in that moment, the darkness destroys every light and every shape, consuming the ninja and Rain and Yūri.  They are cast into a formless void where otherworldly energies howl like tortured winds.  Perception is turned inside out.  Reality spasms.  They are violently expelled from it and then... they are somewhere else.

Are they still in Japan?

Yes, but...

... what they see here is not the Japan they know.  They have no real experience with chrome, building steel and glass.  And yet here they are all present, because Rain and Yūri are in a high floor of a modern skyscraper.  In a laboratory setting of some sort.

And they are not alone.
Whaaaa---? Awesome!

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