Ninja Crusade: Second Edition by Mors Rattus
Naruto Got Nothing On MeOriginal SA post
Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Naruto Got Nothing On Me
Ninja Crusade 2e is a game I picked up at Origins that is much, much better than Epyllion, though I find its organization somewhat, uh, lacking in places. It is about a world that is basically Not Japan mixed with Not China mixed with ninja bullshit at all corners. The word 'ninja' is honestly fairly meaningless in it - it's not just sneaky stealthy guys in pajamas. Ninjas can do fucking anything. They use expert martial arts, and also use their ki to perform magical jutsus that do weird shit. They've been around for-fucking-ever, their ninja clans battling for control of the world from the shadows. However, the latest emperor of the mighty Izou Empire got really mad at the ninjas, and he declared the Ninja Crusade: every ninja must die. As a result, the ninjas have lost a lot of power and been forced onto the defensive. They have put aside their centuries of rivalry to form the Lotus Coalition, a ninja army to defeat the imperial forces. The war's gotten fucking weird in the time since it started, though, and the Empire's no slouch when it comes to bullshit, either.
The broad overview of the ninja clans, at least the ones in the core book that form the vast majority of the Lotus Coalition, is this:
- Bamboo Herbalists: A clan of doctors and thrillseekers who are masters of drugs and medicinal jutsu.
- Blazing Dancers: A clan of carnies and acrobats who are masters of performance and fire.
- Grasping Shadows: The guys who are actually ninjas. Spies, assassins, shadow jutsu.
- Hidden Strands of Fate: Ninja manipulator politicians who have magic string jutsu.
- Living Chronicle: Nerd ninja historians who tattoo knowledge onto their own bodies to keep it safe.
- Pack of the Black Moon: Ranch and farm ninjas who are experts at fighting alongside their trained ninja dogs.
- Recoiling Serpents: Former foes of basically everyone, masters of poison and wilderness survival.
- Virtuous Body Gardeners: Eccentric artists and warriors who use magical tattoo manipulation jutsu and weird body modifications.
- Wardens of Equilibrium: Merchant ninjas that seek to balance the world by varying between extremes, and also get rich.
- Will of Iron: Wandering police ninjas who serve the higher ideal of justice by beating people with iron clubs.
- Ronin: The guys who don't want to be part of any of those guys.
Our basic system is a d10 dicepool, aiming to get a number of successes. A 7-9 is one success, while a 10 is two successes. You get the number of successes you need, you do the thing. Fewer, you don't. If you have no successes and also roll a 1, you get a critical failure. That's basically it. Most dicepools are going to be two of your skills added together; you have no attributes, only skills and ki.
The book gives that basic explanation and then jumps right into the history. First, it defines ninja, as I did above: ninja is a meaningless word. Often they are stealthy scouts or spies, or mighty warriors, but basically ninjas could be anyone. They come from all walks of life. What matters is how they train themselves and use their ki. Ninjas mostly die in battle - there's very few old ninjas, though they do exist. This is because ninjas fight all the time.
See, way back in history, before the ninja clans were formed, ki manipulation already existed. Most ki-users were mystics trained in secret arts by their families. The families followed strict rules of discipline and honor in combat, but argued a lot and were super arrogant, leading to a lot of generational blood feuds that lasted until some even more hated guy showed up and forced two enemies to team up to kill him. The greatest enemy in terms of the formation of ninja history, however, was the Orime Dynasty. They ruled over the land centuries ago, and under their rule, the rich and poor were heavily divided, with the poor starving as the rich grew fat. With the corruption came unrest, and several rebellions were crushed by the powerful Orime armies. That is, until the dormant Ensen Volcano erupted.
For days after the first eruption, stone and gas and fire rained down on the valleys around the volcano, and refugees flooded the safe areas. They begged the Orime shogun for aid, but he turned them away. The mystics, who had largely been unaffected by the taxation and corruption, found that this insulted their strict honor, and they met in secret. What was said is now lost and forgotten, but when the meeting was over, the world had changed. The families led a massive rebellion, facing the Orime without the binding rules of honor that they had held themselves to before. Not all of the families joined the rebels or abandoned their honor. Some withdrew to neutral lands, to ride the rebellion out. A few even sided with the Orime, having benefited from the tax. The transitions were not easy. Some families gave up their ritual armor and robes for camouflage and ambush. Others experimented in new martial arts using farm implements. Their secret, mystical arts evolved, gradually reworking themselves into the jutsu that ninjas know today. The earliest ninjas mastered many ways to find new uses for the old magic, and not all of them worked.
The newborn ninjas assassinated Orime officers constantly, disrupting discipline in the troops. Without the army's protection, the nobles became vulnerable. The Orime Dynasty slowly unraveled, and the rebellion succeeded. With each kill, rebels joined the ninja forces. Entire villages switched to their side, hiding fugitives and healing hte wounded. Some non-mystics even studied the methods of the ninja to assist them in battle by training to their physical limits. The ninja destabilized the Orime government, but only when the last noble died did they turn to breach the royal palace. This final battle, perhaps ironically, was not an assassination - it was a one on one battle that used the rules of honor that the ninja had abandoned. A single ninja fought the shogun for three days and three nights in a display of utter mastery of jutsu against a physically dominating powerhouse. At the end, the shogun's head was severed, and the land was free.
In the decades of unrest after, petty warlords rose and fell. The citizens looked to the ninja to aid them, but the ninja had lost many. Some families were entirely wiped out, their arts lost. People rebuilt, but it was slow, and repopulating the land took time. The effort was both aided and slowed by the ninja clans, who fell back into rivalry and feuding. The last remnants of the ancient families vanished, as the new clans split and merged with each other. Mostly by luck, each clan's territory broadly ended up landing in the hundred or so regions that rose from the fractured remnants of the Orime, and the borders of these territories became clan borders, guarded vigorously. The new governments were quick to take advantage of the ninja infighting, hiring clans as secret police, mercenaries and more. Which, of course, forced other nations to hire ninjas to do the same. Soon, everyone wanted ninjas. The clans grabbed at the chance to regain their fortunes, and so the Mercenary Wars, sometimes called the Second Ninja War, began.
The Mercenary Wars were a collection of small wars in which clients hired various ninja to do many things, especially fight each other. This was very lucrative, and the clans grew from humble martial artists to open members of courts. It became prestigious to hire ninja, and it was not long before every noble did so. Personal armies were abandoned in favor of battles between ninja champions. Those without patrons struggled to survive, and many lesser clans had to become bandits to feed themselves, while others went extinct due to their refusal to become mercenaries, leaving those who did more room to grow stronger. The arms race of ninja battle and spying might have lasted indefinitely, were it not for the Slithering Gods clan.
They began what is known as the Third Ninja War - the War of Withered Fangs. The ninja of the southern jungles were survivalists, masters of poison and Snake martial arts, not mercenaries like their northern cousins. The Slithering Gods had hidden in the jungles for decades, solidifying their control over the land there. Once it was conquered, they began to expand north, to conquer the entire Five Kingdoms. The northern ronins on the borders, weak and poor, were easy prey. They were given an ultimatum: surrender or die to the last child. Some fought, but many surrendered for the chance to gain power in service. Those that fought were slaughtered, and those that surrendered became foot soldiers of the Slithering Gods. The larger clans, complacent in their ritual patronage and single battles, were not prepared for the invasion.
It began as a shadow war, with the Slithering Gods striking from stealth and fading away, never revealing their real power and preferring to use ronin and decoys. Eventually, however, they would lure the northerners south, into their own lands - and then revealed themselves in force. A third of all the northern ninja died in the first hour, thanks to the diseases and poisons the Slithering Gods invoked with their jutsus. Another third died in the retreat north, harried by the Slithering Gods. Again, the clan heads met in neutral ground, putting aside their grudges to find a way to survive. Some wanted to surrender or buy off the foe. The Hidden Strands of Fate and Grasping Shadows, however, proposed using their influence to get the nobles to raise armies, thus negating the Slithering Gods' advantage of numbers. Of course, the other clans worried this would lose them their patronage. Thus, the Hidden Stands and Grasping Shadows decided to work on their own to do it, without knowledge of the others, until they were forced to follow the two clans with actual ideas. Thanks to new innovations in archery, raising an effective conscripted army was actually quite effective, and in the next battle, a dozen nations' armies stood against the Slithering Gods.
The southern ninja were forced back to their jungles, their power broken. They were given the same ultimatum they had offered: surrender or die. The Slithering Gods surrendered, even under the harsh and restrictive requirements, and so they survived. They abandoned their conquered lands, changing their name to the Recoiling Serpents to remind themselves of the consequences of their failure. The War of Withered Fangs was won, but the world was devastated. Pockets of loyalist Slithering God holdouts were still there, and the nations of the Five Kingdoms, reminded of their own martial strength and now shown the weaknesses of the ninja, relied less on their hired ninjas for protection. Individual ninja might make a living as mercenaries, but no more were there government-sponsored clans.
Next time: The rise of the Izou Empire
In Which Ninjas Make Bad DecisionsOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: In Which Ninjas Make Bad Decisions
After the war against the Slithering Gods, the ninja clans turned towards survival again, no longer funded by the coffers of nations. They withdrew from their alliance with each other and rebuilt themselves. Within a year, the alliance was dead. Each state had its own religion, government and even language, after all. Without an external menace to unite them, they fell back to their old rivalries. Two centuries of war followed, the Warring States period, but the ninjas remained largely aloof from the battles. They had found their own lands, populating them with hidden villages. The Warring States period came to an end some time after the birth of Izou Zurui, a simple fisherman and wrestler. When his nation and another went to war, the battles came to his village and destroyed his entire family. Zurui gathered the survivors, vowing to bring an end to the Warring States. Either he would die, or he would end the wars by force. He remembered the legends told of ninja, and so he sought out the Grasping Shadows, making alliance with them. They saw a chance they had not had for two centuries, and they agreed to train Zurui and his men into mighty warriors.
Zurui was an amazing warlord, with a nearly supernatural talent for tactics. With each village he took, his armies grew. He swiftly conquered his own state, conscripting men from among the farmers and fishermen, and then invaded the next. Within twenty years, he occupied every one of the many nations, and the Warring States were united in empire. The birth of the Izou Empire was a violent time, and one of growth for the ninjas. The strongest of the remaining Izou clans were the Grasping Shadows, the Hidden Strands and the Recoiling Serpents, but the chaos led to the birth of new clans as well, such as the Pack of the Black Moon and the Wardens of Equilibrium, while the Living Chronicle clan of the Land of Crashing Waves sent a delegation of their membership to found a branch in Izou and record to Empire's birth. After the founding came forty years of peace, until the rize of Emperor Izou Junshinichi, the nephew of Zurui, who turned his eyes toward further conquest.
Junshinichi was not content with only the land Zurui had conquered and began the Expansion Wars, also known as the Fourth Ninja War. He wanted the mountains of the Land of Five Blades, the many crops and medicines of the Land of Seed and Blossom, the magic of the Land of Exalted Flames and the pearl and coral of the Land of Crashing Waves. Meanwhile, the ninja outside the Izou lands had not done so well after the War of Withered Fangs. Perhaps the best idea Junshinichi had was to offer full citizenship and imperial assistance to any ninja clan that would betray their home nation and join him. The first clan to do so were the Will of Iron, who paved a path for the Emperor into the Land of Five Blades, the land of their birth. The many mines that were taken enriched the empire, but Junshinichi could not take more than a fraction of the land, perhaps due to double agents among the Will of Iron, and perhaps because he invaded Seed and Blossom too quickly, stretching his forces too thin. While the Izou Empire was able to conquer the Land of Seed and Blossom, destroying their temples to enforce the Izou state religion, they lost almost all of their holdings in the Land of Five Blades.
It was not a total loss, however. With the temples destroyed and with no other way to survive, the Bamboo Herbalist joined the Izou, bringing with them their advanced medical jutsu. Further, the news of the devastation the Izou caused spread to the Land of Exalted Flame, who knew they would be next. The local ninja used their mostpotent secret arts to make natural barriers between themselves and Izou - specifically, the scorching Great Desert and the dangerous Arashi Sea. Despite this, however, they knew that the Emperor's desire for power would also be a chance to get rid of their rival ninja, the Blazing Dancers, and drove that clan from the Land of Exalted Flames and into the Great desert. The Dancers chose to cross the desert rather than die, performing in the Izou court and serving under the emperor. This was the end of Junshinichi's campaign. The Land of Mountains and Valleys was too difficult to assault, with its cliffs and mountains, and the Land of Crashing Waves was too hard to conquer, as each time an island fell, another would rebel with the aid of a giant naval force. Many emeprors tried to finish the conquests, but they never managed it.
The century of relative peace that followed was the most prosperous for the clans since the Mercenary Wars. The Imperials didn't fully fund the clans, but contracts were plentiful and paid well. The final Izou clan, the Virtuous Body Gardeners, split off from the Living Chronicle to take their own territory. Most of the modern grudges between ninja clans date back to this period rather than to more ancient feuds. However, this was also the beginning of the ninja decline. By the time Izou Mamoru took the throne, they had been drive back into hiding and shadow rather than open existence. The Emperors grew increasingly paranoid of the danger the ninjas represented. The terror that would come, however, was entirely the making of the ninja clans. The heir to Mamoru, a boy named Yesui, had been caught in the crossfire of a war between two clans, and his death was seen by his brother, Kano. The Emperor declared it a high crime to perform any ninja technique or ki manipulation, with the sole exception of the Golden Lion clan, who were given Imperial license to serve the Emperor directly with their jutsu.
Ninja who worked illegally among the nobles for hunted out first, tried for their ki use and sentenced to work in labor camps for years. Ninja that swore to never practice their jutsu again were merely evicted from their homes but allowed to live free. Some of the clans fought back, but agains the Empire's might, they were not enough and were nearly wiped out. This resistance exacerbated the ninja battles when some unknown ninja assassinated the beloved consort of the Emperor, Izou Hana, and left her severed head on a pike. The only survivor of the attack was the Emperor's daughter, Megumi, and she was left sickened and wasting, doomed to a slow and painful death. No clan has ever claimed open credit for this, and indeed, no one even knew if it was the work of a clan or just some mad individuals or ronin clans. The Emperor, enraged by the loss of his children and consort, became determined to end the ninja clans for all time. He declared the Fifth Ninja War, the Ninja Crusade, and put a blood price on the head of every ninja of any clan at all.
In the aftermath of the massacre, all ninja in labor camps were executed without further trial. Even the few Bamboo Herbalists that came to offer their aid in treating the Princess' disease were murdered, their headless bodies sent back to their home villages via catapult before those villages were burned to the ground. The Emperor made a new force in his army, the Executioners, whose sole job was to find and kill ki-users. Ninja became a liability for the towns thato nce harbored them, and neighbor turned on neighbor to report hidden ninja to the Izou. The clans sought safety, losing forces and land with each passing year, until they had to keep solely to their secret, hidden villages where they trained and watched for foes. In the interest of mutual survival, they were forced to put aside their quarrels and come together, forming the Lotus Coalition to help defend themselves and resist the Empire. This worked amazingly well, allowing the ninja to dramatically improve their ability to resist.
Within two years, the ninja found a weakness in Mamoru's defenses. A strike force of the best ninja they had were sent to attack the palace, facing thousands of soldiers. Many died, each killing at least a dozen before they fell. Only one ninja survived to reach the Emperor, and with his final breath, he slew Mamoru, ending the Ninja Crusade...for now. After the Emperor's death, the clans solidified the Lotus Coalition in their newest and largest village: Danketsu, named for the ninja that brought down the Izou ruler. It was to be neutral ground where any ninja could live and work. It was slow at first, until two clan leaders put aside their public, lifelong feuding to swear to work together for the good of all. The year that followed was a brief respite...until ten thousand soldiers swept across the Empire, destroying any hidden village they found. Riding at the head of this army, rumor had it, was the Emperor Mamoru himself. The rumor was soon confirmed, and the clans knew: the Crusade had not truly ended.
The war, now renewed, devastated the land. The Emperor made law after law meant to find and destory the ninja, and any village even suspected of harboring a ninja would be taken in chains to the labor camps - down to the last child. Hidden villages were burned, the earth they stood on salted. In search of the ultimate weapon, the Empire called upon summoners to unleash giant celestial beasts to battle the ninja, who were forced to make their own summoning pacts for protection. These, the Summoner Skirmishes, were followed by howling storms and flash floods for months, possibly due to the rage of the celestial beasts. The elemental fury reached across the entire Empire, destroying towns, crops and people in its wake. After the storms ended camp starvation, disease and mass population displacement that killed many more.
It has been a full generation since the Ninja Crusade began, and the young ninja of today have known nothing but war. The Empire is exhausted. Rebuilding is slow, and goods and food shortages are everywhere. Banditry is rife, as the displaced are forced to turn to robbery and even murder to feed their families. Disease continues to plague the land, and taxation is harsh against those few that retain their homes. Voluntary armed service for the Empire as at an all-time low, and mandatory conscription is at an all-time high. The ninja raise their children knowing that on any given day, those children may have to give their own lives to protect their villages. Most pray for the war to end, but it rages on. However, a new, third side is beginning to form - the average citizens of the Empire, trapped between Imperial armies and ninja clans for too long, have begun to ponder open rebellion against both sides.
So what is life like for a ninja in the Izou Empire? It's hard. The Empire's forces get closer to clan villages every season, and the Year of Floods destroyed so many resources the clans once had. Even some of their civilian allies have grown tired of helping them. But all hope is not lost. New ninja are graduating, new apprentices are being raised. Every hidden village lost is replaced by a newly founded one in a different place. The clans take from their old families and from peasant stock alike, replenishing their numbers with new blood. Refugees come to Danketsu, knowing it to be the last safe haven left, defended with all the might of the Lotus Coalition.
Ninja track their lives by what they know as the Life Path, a series of seven steps that all ninja pass through on their road to maturity. No matter what clan, every ninja goes through these seven stages. First is the Ocean, or the Time Before. The ninja know all life was born in the limitless potential of the primordial ocean, and thus they call the earliest stage of life the Ocean. Most ninja are found early, with their talent for ki manipulation showing by their third or fourth year. They typically come from known bloodlines, hidden villages or ki-rich families, but some are not found until later childhood or even their teenage years due to not being born in a place the ninja knew of. Some even go undiscovered well into adulthood, perhaps developing a few crude natural abilities of ki usage before they are found. Some clans claim that the younger a ninja shows their power, the more potent they'll be, but there's no real evidence for this. One of the mightiest ninja of the last century, Tsutara Shishiro of the Hidden strands, did not find his own abilities until he was almost 30.
Second is the Village, or the apprenticeship period. Some ninja villages have made schools to teach their history, knowledge, combat skills and even more esoteric knowledge such as economics to their students, but the more common method is to be taken under the wing of a ninja master. The master-apprentice tradition stretches back thousands of years, all the way back to the ancient families that predated the ninja clans. The bond between teacher and student lasts a lifetime, and is so personal and deep that most never have more than two or three students at a time. Some prefer children from their village as students, or even only their own relatives. Whatever the case, a student is expected obey their master in all things, no matter what, period. Most apprenticeships end well and with mutually beneficial relationships, but not all. Some apprenticeships are harsh indeed, some masters less than noble, some and sometimes the relationship is strained at best. While fully severing ties with your master is seen as shemeful and dishonorable, sometimes it's what you need to do.
Third and fourth are the River and Forge, the stages of independence and honor. The Village is a period of learning nad making mistakes, but it ends when the River comes, sweeping a ninja away from safety and into tragedy and greatness. They are sent again and again into the Forge. Here, a ninja is a full member of their clan. They are full adults, regardless of actual physical age, and are seen as fully capable of choosing their own missions, jobs and training. They are responsible for themselves and their own deeds, and each lesson they learn forges them into what they will be one day. For ninja of this stage, personal honor is a huge deal. Sure, they are assassins at times, even thieves or spies, but most ninja follow a code of conduct that they will rarely break. They respect their clan liege, obey their elders and defend their villages. Only ronin are free of these expectations, and even they tend to have their own personal codes.
Fifth and sixth are the Mountain and Temple, the period of experience and middle age. Here, the wanderlust of youth is gone, and seasoned ninja often return to their villages and begin families. They work to help manage their villages, the economics and politics that keep these hidden strongholds alive. Their biggest job is to preserve the knowledge and skills they have learned, for in the past, many secret arts were lost, and the clans have resolved never to do this again. All ninja, no matter their clan or preference, are expected to take on at least one apprentice, if not more, before their death, to ensure that unique jutsu and techniques remain available.
Finally comes Sky, the period of mastery. The old and wise are deeply revered by the ninja, and to survive this long means to take on a leadership role. Even if they do not lead their clan, they are expected to bring honor to it and servei t. Sooner or later, however, everyone dies - passes on to the sky overhead, in which the spirits of the dead travel in the wind. Ninja know this, and generally they accept growing old and passing on. Some are content to die in bed, surrounded by students, friends and family, while others find a renewed need for the adventure of youth and perhaps undertake one final mission from which they do not plan to return. In death, their honor is locked in place, and even the bitterest and least spiritual rival will fear to desecrate the memory of a fallen ninja. Few will risk the grave dishonor that comes from publically holding a grudge against the dead.
Next time: What it means to be in a clan.
Clan Clan Goes The TrolleyOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Clan Clan Goes The Trolley
Every clan is different, with their own hierarchies and responsibilities, and rank within a clan is often a complex mix of power, experience and popularity. Clan structure dictates what kind of missions a ninja can take, if they can lead a squad or take an apprentice, and what punishments they can expect for mistakes or breaking clan laws. It gets even more complicated when several clans are in one place, such as in Danketsu. Still, most clans have a pretty basic framework. The clan's Master is at the top, the highest rank any ninja can achieve. Many achieve the skills needed to attain the rank, but few reach the rank itself - only the most powerful, wise and accomplished, in most clans, though in some it is also hereditary, requiring the correct bloodline. The Master's duty is to see to the safety and wellbeing of all under them, and even civilian allies and families in clan territories must obey the policies and commands of a clan's Master. They are the final authority on all advancement and visiting rights.
Below the Master are the various titled ninjas - those who have become so notable that they are given a special name to honor them, like the Devil of Seven Murders or Shinji the Blind. These ninja are usually older members of the clan and have proven histories of leadership, tactical skill and willingness to sacrifice their own health to succeed in missions. Titled ninja serve as advisors to the Master and ambassadors to other clans, and can range from only one or two ninja to a variety from many different walks of life. Beneath the titled ninja come all other full ninja, who may have various minor ranks but are much closer to each other than the Master or the titled. They are given respect and responsibility based on age, ki mastery and past accomplishments, with more respected ninja leading squads or overseeing assignments for lower ninja. The lowest obey those above, do their work as best they can and remember that they carry the entire clan's honor in their dealings with outsiders.
Most clans lack any formal justice system, but they do follow codes of behavior and punish those that violate the rulings of elders or clan traditions. These punishments can vary wildly in complexity and severity, based on the offense, the offender's rank, any history of disciplinary problems and any existing explanations or mitigating circumstances. A mild punishment may just be a verbal rebuke by the elders telling you not to do the thing again, but the higher rank you get, the less leeway you tend to get given - you're expected to know better. Apprentices are often exempt from many traditional punishments, as they are still learning the ropes, though their master is expected to punish them if they fuck up hard enough. If they still don't learn, they may find themselves before the elders, however. Beyond the simple rebuke, a ninja can also be censured, with their behavior recorded in official clan records and used against them in future punishments. Ninjas can also be demoted, either temporarily or permanently, possibly even freezing any chance of promotion. (This does not receive the mechanical benefits of rank, but does remove social bonues.)
A ninja that does something even worse than that may be punished by ostracism. The entire village will ignore them as if they didn't exist. They are not made to leave, but may not take missions, purchase goods or participate in social activity. This is a very severe but generally temporary punishment, and often is enough to get those who suffer it back on the straight and narrow. For those who do not, there is exile - usually temporary, again, for perhaps a week to a season or even a year. It is rare but possible that exile can be permanent. Only the most extreme crimes against the clan merit death. Ninjas sentenced to death are generally given three options: they may commit ritual suicide, they may take a suicide mission for the clan, or they can fight an honor duel to the death with a village champion.
The clans often do not get along, but they have now banded togethr thanks to the Ninja Crusade. It is believed that leaders of the Hidden Strands of Fate were responsible for revealing the locations of several ninja villages in the early Crusade, to wipe out their enemies. This led to the total destruction of the Still Ponds and Suicide Kings clans, wiped out utterly by the Imperial Army. After this, the Imperials attempted to destroy the Recoiling Serpents and Grasping Shadows as well as the Hidden Strands, who were double-crossed by the Emperor in favor of the Golden Lions. Wanted posters were everywhere, and even those who didn't identify as ninja but had developed their own jutsus were hunted down. Those who refused to turn in known ninja were often imprisoned without trial. It was clear to everyone that they'd be picked off, one by one, if they did nothing.
It was at this time that the Warden of Equilibrium elder named Sakamoto Hanzo sent urgent letters to every major Izou clan master, reminding them of the roots of the ninja in the Orime Rebellion and War of Withered Fangs. He told them their fate was always to come together when needed, and that without cooperation, they would all die. It took months to convince everyone to listen. The first were the young clans, the Blazing Dancers, Bamboo Herbalists and Virtuous Body Gardeners. It was not until the Jade Kama were wiped out that the rest listened. After all, centuries of battle and feuding are not easily forgotten. The Lotus Coalition was unstable at first, but the Wardens took charge in making groups that worked well together. The Coalition was ultimately opened to any ninja, even a ronin, to join if they would fight the Empire.
It's gone relatively well. In exchange for safety in various villages, monasteries and compounds, ninja fought in various roles against the Empire. The mixing of clans gave them many tools to use in the war, allowing them to call on the secret traditions of each clan in battle to work with each other. It had never been done before, and it was amazingly potent. However, while the ninja worked well in battle, peaceful periods proved trying. Ninja are traditional sorts of people, on the whole, and rudeness and insolence from some of the younger clans was galling. Strict rules were enacted to avoid bloodshed, but it didn't keep people from seeing how some of their enemies truly thought of them.
The ninja, together, planned the assault on the capital Daiwa, to murder the Emperor. That murder was done by the ronin Danketsu, and it was in his honor that united village of Danketsu was founded. The idea was that in this village, all ninja were equal. It would be neutral ground, where violence was forbidden. It would be hidden in the far reaches of Oak Leaf Province, away from Imperial eyes. This allowed it to prosper even during the worst times, and the water-based jutsu of the Grasping Shadows and Living Chronicle helped them weather the Year of Floods. Allies from across the Empire were brought in, from peasant hunters and fishermen to teachers to even Imperial defectors. Most of the villagers, in fact, are not ninja and depend on the ninja to protect them. These are allowed to leave whenever they wish, as most have family in other lands. However, there are strict measures in place to keep Danketsu's location secret, and any citizen that betrays the location will die - and quickly.
The land of the village was provided by the Bamboo Herbalists, who control the area. They are few, but longlived, and they have often worked with other clans in the past. They now view Danketsu as their true home, and have built several schools of medicine and alchemy to teach anyone who wishes to learn how to heal others. The Blazing Dancers are in charge of celebrations and entertainment in the village, and a number of their troupes have been moved from their home base, the Wu Ji Theater, to Danketsu. They also serve as the dirge-singers at funerals for the fallen. The Grasping Shadows are highly traditional assassins, and many have come to Danketsu to serve as teachers, showing others how to fight, sneak and kill. Their veterans also take on assassination missions for the Coalition frequently. The Hidden Strands are politicians born, liars and traitors, but they are also excellent advisors and ambassadors to outsiders. They even work to infiltrate the Izou courts and manipulate them from within. Few trust them, but they are necessary.
The Living Chronicle are the historians of Danketsu and its premier teachers. They do not only teach their knowledge to ninja, but to any child that wishes to learn, in the hopes of improving future generations. Danketsu, as a result, has the highest literacy rate anywhere, even more than in Daiwa. The Pack of the Black Moon are used to living off the land with their dogs, and so they were put in charge of keeping the village self-sustaining. They manage all agricultural and animal husbandry-related projects for the village, and also allow other ninja to come play with their ninja puppies in a special kennel. The Recoiling Serpents have the fewest ninja in Danketsu, as their pride makes them stand alone. They do not have a special task, but serve where they are needed and are able to take on any role. However, almost no one trusts them, remembering their role in the War of Withered Fangs and the very, very nasty deeds they are renowned for.
The Virtuous Body Gardeners don't tend to like staying in one place, and while many have come to Danketsu, they rarely stay long. The ones who don't wander off, however, are the peacekeepers and wardens of the village (despite the efforts of the Will of Iron to take that job), and they make sure everyone else doesn't start trouble. This is probably good, as they understand nuance better. The Wardens of Equilibrium are the merchant ninja, and they have embraced Danketsu. Many run shops in the village, but their real task is keeping the place funded, negotiating with nearby villages for goods and managing the budgets. The Will of Iron stepped forward to be the wardens, but it was instead ruled that their skills were more needed in building. The Will of Iron, after all, are also notable craftsmen, and they were put to work in making the walls and towers that protect the village as well as forging the weapons that keep the war going. They'll also team up with the Gardeners when a crime is too big for one clan to handle. Ronin are also welcome, of course, but have no specific job. They are tolerated, if still somewhat marginalized, and are responsible for themselves, but are expected to contribute.
Danketsu is run by the Tribunal. Each of the Coalition's major clans elects three members to represent them on the Tribunals, and the Ronin and non-ninja also send 3 representatives each, for a total of 36 members. Each has one vote, and majority rules. When the Tribunal is tied, whifch has only ever happened twice, Sakamoto Hanzo is the tiebreaker vote. He remains deeply respected even to this day and was elected to his position nearly unanimously. The Tribunal meets once a month to listen to concerns fro mthe village and vote on them. They also meet in emergencies to pick squads for missions, and many have a hope that this democracy will spread when the war is over.
Danketsu has existed for seven years, and the war's been going on for 20. Anyone 20 or younger has known only war - and for most of that time, they have known that ninja work together, regardless of clan. This means the young tend to be more optimistic, while clan elders try to teach them the old rivalries and to hate and fear the old enemies of their clans. For the young, that is difficult - they only see the present, where their friends are of many clans, and they all work together to get the job done and teach each other. Many elders have found it impossible to push their youngsters against the friends and neighbors they have now, even if it may become necessary, when the Crusade is over, to fight and even kill those former friends. The elders hope that they can prepare the young for what they see as inevitable. The young ninja, however, see the world as better in Danketsu. Many have made secret pledges to defy their elders and leaders if asked to betray their friends, no matter what clan they come from. If this happens, Danketsu will likely erupt into an age-based civil war that may destroy it.
Next time: Clans! CLAAAAAANS!
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Now we're getting into specific clans. Each clan has two fighting styles they teach, a set of skill and ki bonuses they give to members, a favored jutsu only they can learn, a special bonus (or Gift) and a special trigger that gives the party a resource called Karma when you do something that causes problems in a specific way. They also have a list of names and their specialties, to choose as either an Ally or Rival, and a set of three Bonds for other party members. (We'll get into what all that means during the chargen chapter. The organization here is not the best.)
The Bamboo Herbalists are also known as the Ika Clan, the Brewers or the Caretakers. They train in the Bear and Dragon styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Caring Hands. They give +1 Athletics, +1 Empathy, +1 Holistics and +1 Travel, and they get +1 Yang Ki. They were born in the Land of Seed and Blossom, and even then, in that ancient time, they were masters of medicinal jutsu on a level that no one else in the world ever was. When the Izou Empire came to conquer their land, the Ika were split down the middle on how to handle it. Half wanted to join the Izou and become great, while half wished to remain behind, in their ancestral land. Those that joined the Izou Empire became the Bamboo Herbalists, and ever since, they have been both the most welcome nad most hated of clans. See, their expertise in medicine and healing jutsu made them beloved by the Imperial army, able to heal soldiers even in the middle of battle. Even today, their aid is needed in any plan of the Coalition simply because they are the best medics in the entire world.
However, other clans also hate them at times for their near-constant refusal to respect territorial boundaries. Ninja clans usually take pride in their borders, but for the Ika, it's all about valuable resources - wild herbs, berries and so on - that only grow in territories they don't control. They also have something of a thrillseeker streak and a tendency to invade other lands to steal ingredients they don't actually need, so it's easy to see why others don't really trust them as much as they might. Still, they were the first to join the Lotus Coalition, seeking to end their isolation from others and gain a new purpose. Besides, it showed everyone that without them, survival would be impossible. The past decade of healing other ninja and protecting Danketsu and other villages is nothing for them - they've been doing this forever. It's even gotten them ways to get ingredients they need without having to perform raids or sneaking missions, though they still enjoy the thrill of personally seizing ingredients.
Bamboo Herbalist lands tend to be full of forests and jungles with many rare plants. They spend much of their time wandering the wilderness to get and test new ingrdients, both to learn how to use them and also to develop their own physical skills of survival. They may be safe in their own lands, but when others come, they often find the forests foggy, confusing and full of poisons. The Ika tend to be naturally vibrant, passinate and energetic...well, natural may not be the right word, because it's due to their secret initiation drugs. These drugs extend their youth, enabling them to live for very long periods while remaining young and vital. They are rarely in a hurry, and they tend to keep their numbers low because the ingredients are limited. Unlike other clans, they have fully embraced Danketsu as their own hidden village rather than one of several they maintain, and essentially the entire clan now lives there. They are its most stalwart defenders, though they do still retain a number of secret labs outside Danketsu that they can use to conduct their often somewhat controversial drug experiments and brewing work.
For the Bamboo Hebralists, the Ninja Crusade has been an advantage. Danketsu brings trade and wealth to their lands, and with hundreds of ninja from many clans there, it'll safe for years. Their work has improved relations with other clans, and frankly, the entire thing is a victory for the Ika except for the actual, you know, war. Their main goal now is ensuring that Danketsu survives even after the Crusade ends and other ninja choose to leave or destroy it. Any student of history knows that ninja gather in times of war and then go back to killing each other after, but the Ika hope to prevent that second part.
The Gift of the Ika is that they are very long-lived, due to the physical transformation they go through as a result of training and drugs. They get +2 Fortitude against poison and sickness, and they can go for up to (Fortitude) days without food, water or sleep. Further, for every two years of time that pass, they age only one year. Their Trigger is that their mentality as a result of their lifespan makes them impulsive and prone to leaping at danger. They are frequently found heading into very dangerous locations and taking on challenges far beyond their abilities. The party gains 1 Karma when they accept a dare, even an implied dare, to do something dangerous.
Their list of potential contacts is: Nomuro Jotaro (Empathy), an expert counselor that can help fix or ruin a life. Akanishi Jin (Holistics), a doctor who knows everything there is to know about herbs and how to use them but who never, ever works for free. Domoto Toshinobu (Discipline), a farmer and master of meditation who often trains the worthy. Ibuka Sakura (Fighting), a brawler and a drunk who loves a good fight. Unto Aya (Perception), a snoop and gossip who also makes an excellent spy. Ika Tsuyoshi (Intimidation), a local daimyo who rules with an iron fist. Further, for Bonds, they have the following:
- Choose one ninja you know has your back if your thrillseeking gets the better of you.
- Choose one ninja who you have an unrequited crush on, making it harder to say no to them.
- Choose one ninja who distrusts the use of herbs to solve problems, very much at odds with a Bamboo Herbalist.
The Blazing Dancers are also known as the Odoriko Clan, the Dancers and the Flame-Spitters. They use the Eagle and Monkey styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of the Immaculate Show. They give +1 Fortitude, +1 Marksman, +1 Perform and +1 Speed, along with +1 Yang ki. They began as a single family, the Odoriko, who danced in secret. See, they come from the Land of Exalted Flame, where dancing, smiling and celebration were strictly forbidden, in accordance with the philosophy of The Way, which forbade outward display of happiness and emotion in general. The family soon grew into a number of hidden collectives that gathered by night to celebrate but were eventually hunted down. The survivors had only one escape: crossing hte Great Desert into the Izou Empire. It had never been done before, and everyone knew it was impossible. However, their special jutsu allowed them to survive with only a few losses. They set out to conquer the Empire with their performances, using ornate caravans to travel and put on shows until they drew the Emperor's eye.
The Emperor adored their signature performance, the Destroyer's Dance, and offered them his approval along with lots of money. This allowed them to build the Wu Ji school and theater at the base of the Ensen Volcano, where they began training performers - some ninja, some not, but all stars. They soon came to control the territory around the theater, defending it from other ninja, who always underestimate the carnies. The Ninja Crusade has changed fundamentally little about the Odoriko. All assumed that they had ninja, so the Emperor removed his official support of their troops and spread evil rumors to damage their reputation. It worked in larger cities, but border towns, crippled by the war, often ignore the rumors and accept the Dancers for a chance to smile for a while. They get enough money to keep their theaters going, and also to provide a convenient front for inconspicuous travel by the Lotus Coalition.
At the heart of Dancer territory is the Wu Ji Theater, home to amazing performances and parties. Few cities they control ever need more entertainment than they provide, and they work to keep the people's spirits high and their spirit unbroken. The Emperor has tried to seize the Wu Ji Theater several times but always failed. The Blazing Dancers are one of the chief clans of Danketsu, and they are teachers by nature, going to great lengths to get others to understand togetherness and strength in numbers. They try to make friends with other clans when they can, but the Grasping Shadows despise them, generally, for their foreign origins. Their training tends to be quiet and unassuming, and they'll take in any volunteer. Some work as stagehands or designers, but the best rise through the ranks and become ninja. This means that not all memebrs of the clan are actually ninja, and thousands of them are mere performers - only about a third of the clan is actually ninja.
The Ninja Crusade divided the clan early on. Many saw it is merely another attack on their people and wanted to return to the Land of Exalted Flames. Some left, but the vast majority of today's Blazing Dancers were born in Izou and wanted to stay - it's their home. Other clans focus on the war to an extrem, but for the Blazing Dancers, Danketsu represents a new future for them. If they can keep it alive, they can live their indefinitely and just allow the Ninja Crusade to die out for lack of targets. Their attempts to push peace and hiding, however, are consistently shouted down by more aggressive clans. They have decided to keep fighting alongside the others and defending Danketsu until they can find a way to change minds.
The Gift of the Odoriko is that each masters a specific type of performance - song, acrobatics, musical instruments, whatever. They get +1 to any check where they can use this specialty explicitly, and +2 if it's a Perform check. Their Trigger is that they are not respected. While some welcome them, many listen to the evil words of the Emperorr and believe them little more than jesters or fools at best - and leeches at worst. The party gains 1 Karma when this bad reputation makes things hard for them.
Their list of potential contacts is: Ryoko Naoko (Perform), a songstress without parallel in either skill or ego. Odoriko Mao (Crafts), a costumer known for his excellent disguise and tailoring skills. Takahashi Tani (Fortitude), a little woman that is renowned across the Empire as a champion eater. Masumi Ichiro (Speed), a quick messenger. Suzuki Hidetoshi (Intuition), an extremely old member of the clan who is capable of much wisdom and much doubt. Nakata Sachiko (Marskman), a villager who grew up alongside the ninja and is now an Imperial engineer, possibly a friend and possibly a foe. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who always knows how to make you laugh.
- Choose one fellow ninja who isn't a fan of your art. You are determined to prove them wrong.
- Choose one ninja who thinks they are protecting you, but it's really more like you are protecting them.
Next time: The Grasping Shadows and Hidden Strands
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The Grasping Shadows are also known as the Kumori Clan, the Shades or the Shadows. They practice Eagle and Wildcat styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Ebony Clutches. They give +1 Discipline, +1 Intimidation, +1 Marksman and +1 Stealth, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Grasping Shadows claim to have been one of the first ninja clans, and they've killed plenty of ninja to back up that claim. For generations, they were controlled by the Hebi Clan, waiting for the chance to break free and take power on their own. That chance came with the rise of the Izou Empire. The Kumori were selcted by the Emperor as his Imperial Assassins, eliminating any foes and rivals he needed gone - including a few leaders of other clans or kingdoms. Their mastery of stealth allowed them to operate with little supervision, and they were very good at killing, growing rapidly and soon becoming a dangerous threat to their rivals in the Hebi.
However, when the Izou began to turn against the ninja, the Shadows began to target the Empire. They murdered advisors and allies of the emperor, even regional daimyos, sometimes making it seem accidental and sometimes not. They rejected service to the Empire and made a point of antagonizing the Empire's Silver Blades, who enforced Imperial justice. They tried to unite the clans against the Empire, but all the really got were some ronin and minor clans, not the fear-inspiring alliance they'd hoped for. They attempted to train these ninja in their more traditional techniques, but found they were often rejected in favor of strange and new jutsus and fighting styles. This caused the Kumori to dislike almost all the other clans, whom they still view as, essentially, not true ninja. They cut off almost all communications and hid in their own lands, defending and terrorizing their citizens as they saw fit. The Crusade, however, forced them out of their self-made exile and into the Lotus Coalition. They don't like it, seeing these other clans as lessers who do not understand the meaning of 'ninja', but they know survival at any cost means teaming up.
The Kumori define things rigidly. Peace requires truth. Truth requires obedience. Obedience requires tradition. Those who are not part of the Kumori Clan cannot be fully trusted, even if they are allies or friends. Refusal to accept tradition is refusal to be a true ninja. Life in Shadow lands is very peaceful...until you step out of line or speak against the Grasping Shadows. At that point, punishment is quick and often deadly. Most citizens accept this, however, as they remember the Shadows as protectors and enemies of Imperial oppression. The Kumori training focuses on stealth and assassination, often using traps and poisons. They know that obedience and hard work are all that can be counted on, and masters do not tolerate failure or laziness. Those that cause trouble or want to use their powers greedily are treated harshly. If they can learn to obey, they can continue to train - but if not, they are often killed so they won't become a future problem. Becoming a full Shadow ninja means total obedience and perfect discipline. Trainees are typically given a target, usually a ranking or corrupt Izou official, and are told to kill them using a plan of their own design. This is seen as the perfect illustration of how to seek true peace.
While the Grasping Shadows belong to the Lotus Coalition as a major member, they are only involved for one reason: the utter destruction of the Izou Empire. Some among them have begun to understand the use of other clans, especially those who also honor ancient tradition, such as the Living Chronicle and the Hidden Strands. Perhaps these clans, they say, can continue to be used later. The elders, however, see the alliance entirely as a means to an end, and once the goal is complete, if the other clans do not embrace Kumori ideals, they will also need to be destroyed. For peace, and presumably to stop arguments over the definition of the word 'ninja'.
The Gift of the Grasping Shadows is in moving unseen. They get +1 Stealth when using shadows, and if they succeed on a Stealth roll with this bonus, they also get a bonus to Intimidaqtion equal to how much they succeeded by. However, their Trigger is their pride. They see other clans as mere ki manipulators, not true ninja in any sense - just children getting in the way. Because of this, they often cause problems with their squads, and the party gains 1 Karma any time their pride gets in the way of progress.
Their list of potential contacts is: Akiyama Shigematsu (Discipline), a monk with a vow of silence who nevertheless seems to know everyone. Sando Kata (Intimidation), a delicate beauty who is one of the best kidnappers and ransomers in the world. Nakashima Kagehisa (Fighting), a pit fighter who always seems to know what the word on the street is. Ruko Tani (Empathy), an old woman willing to listen to anyone's problems and give advice, even to killers. Kumori Takashi (Marskman), a thief who has been wanted by the Izou for years and who runs many safehouses. Soga Kiyomi (Knowledge), a nun in a Living Chronicle monastery who is always willing to share stories. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who has made you rethink the position of their "lesser" clan.
- Choose one ninja who has caught you performing a heinous act against a perceived innocent.
- Choose one ninja who has saved your life and you may owe a favor.
The Hidden Strands of Fate are also known as the Asaito Clan, the Strands or the Thread-Bearers. They practice Crane and Horse styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Spun Threads. They give +1 Deception, +1 Intuition, +1 Perception and +1 Persuade, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Asaito have long had massive influence over the Empire. They claim to have been one of the first clans, a political family who used the Orime Rebellion to steal the secrets of jutsu from peasants. They hid among the peasantry and helped destroy the regime, claiming their place among the ninja by subtly replacing other clan leaders with their own people, via assassination or honor killing. Not that they're honorable by any means - the Hidden Strands of Fate are born traitors. Clan leadership tends to change hands every five years or so due to secret plots and coups - faster, if the current leaders fuck up badly. All Strands sleep with one eye open, fearing their brethren will want to take their positions. Many are nobles or warriors by bloodline, used to backstabbing - literal or otherwise.
Predictably, they don't trust peasants or other clans, either. After all, they so often control these people. Training masters, in particular, are known for trying to control every detail in the lives of their students to push them to embracing clan philosophy. The rest of the Coalition hardly trusts them, and for good reason. It was revealed some years ago that key leaders in the Hidden Strands of Fate deliberately caused several of the events leading to the Ninja Crusade. A coup within the clan killed these leaders, of course, and since then the group has been more fully aligned with the Lotus Coalition. While the internal plots continue, they are more accepted now than once they were - now an actual, if mistrusted, ally rather than a bitter foe required for survival. They always seem to have an agenda, though.
Hidden Strands of Fate territory is just west of Daiwa, the capital of the Izou, where there are miles of jungle. Their villages are hidden here, and rarely visited, for the area is heavily trapped, with thousands of threads crossing the jungle, ready to trigger nasty, nasty effects. This is to protect the vast silk industry of the Strands, from which they derive most of their wealth. Their final goal is usually peace. They'll kill many to achieve it, but they do not want chaos. Thus, they have put aside infighting and feuds to combat the common enemy of the Empire. Their students tend to be of higher social class by birth, so they at least can influence Izou politics and laws, and this is the main way they help the Lotus Coalition - changing and manipulating the enemy from within. Their training is brutal, teaching both self-reliance and manipulation. Most infamous are their training tournaments, in which initiates must compete against both nature and each other. It is rare for more than one student to survive to the end of these tournaments, the rest dying to traps or their fellow competitors' betrayals. The more ruthless the victor is, the more favor they gain with the clan. It is harsh, yes, but the Asaito often become hardened warriors and survivors far younger than other, more pleasant ninja.
The Hidden Strand leaders have been rebuilding for years. The murder of their former leadership that caused the Crusade allowed them to establish a new directive in aiding the Coalition. This has done little to prevent the problem that most of the leaders openly despise other clans they work with, however. They are already planning ways to gain control of Danketsu and its Tribunal. For now, however, they are happy to be advisors until the time to strike is nigh. Likely, that time will be just after the Izou Empire is defeated.
The Gift of the Asaito is that their lives are tightly controlled. Every event is part of they or their masters' plots, each designed to strengthen the clan's members through suffering. This is painful, but it drives them to power and prestige beyond imagining. They get +1 Initiative, and may choose at the start of every scene whether they get +2 from their Hardship Gift (a chargen step) or if their Hardship Trigger gives 2 Karma when it occurs. Their Trigger is...well, they're corrupt and treacherous. Any time they are working, they have some side job they're doing for the clan - gathering names, retrieving secrets, stealing objects of value. These missions begin small, but as an Asaito rises in rank, their side jobs get bigger. The party gains 1 Karma when their secondary and secret objective causes tension or appears to make them go against their allies.
Their list of potential contacts is: Natsume Mitsuyo (Persuade), an Izou politician renowned for her silver tongue. Kawakami Haruki (Deception), an underhanded politician whose schemes reach everywhere. Kakuta Soseki (Fighting), a mercenary who will kill anyone for the right price. Asaito Yukio (Travel), a wagon-drover who can get her clients anywhere - or make it hard for them to get into anything. Asaito Natsuo (Holistics), a poisoner and apothecary whose mastery of herbs is unquestionable. Murakami Hiromi (Stealth), a thief who can get anything she is asked for. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who who made you feel welcome into the squad when the others weren't too happy with your assignment.
- Choose one ninja who has caught you in a betrayal and who may never fully trust you again.
- Choose one ninja whose life you saved at some point. The time may come to cash that deed in for a favor.
Next time: The Living Chronicle and the Black Moon.
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The Living Chronicle, aka the Rekishi Clan, the Codices and the Historians, are masters of the Crane and Mantis styles. Their unique jutsu is the Way of Kept Lore. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Knowledge, +1 Perception and +1 Travel, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Rekishi began centuries ago in a small monastery. An aging but powerful lord sought out the monks and asked them to document his life and deeds, for future generations to learn from. The monks did, and the manuscripts they made were so beautiful and so detailed that the lord immediately invented several monks to his court, to record all that they saw. Their skill became so famous that many other nobles recruited the monks to their courts, to record their history. The monks took this all deadly seriously, documenting everything they saw without error. This eventually led them to uncover the existence of ninja and ki manipulation. In compiling this knowledge in their first Great Library in the Land of Crashing Waves, they unlocked the ability to manipulate ki themselves. This allowed them to control the elements and master the seas and mountains around their temples. However, their experiments became increasingly dangerous, and one day, the monks unleashed forces they could not control, destroying the Great Library and devastating the monastic order.
The Rekishi monks knew that if their goal of recording all knowledge were to continue, they had to take drastic steps. They renamed themselves the Living Chronicle and used all of their resources to begin a program of tattooing their own bodies with historical events, documenting history as it happened on their own flesh. The elder monks immediately branded major events onto their own bodies, with plans that, in death, their skin should be ritually removed and preserved. This ritual has been held in secret by the clan, and it is their greatest honor, ensuring that the living text is never compromised, even in death. They joined the Lotus Coalition early, to record the battles, decisions and events of the campaign. They have also become the best strategists among the ninja given how much history they know in the Empire.
Every member of the Rekishi is from the central monastery, the rebuilt Great Library, now called the Fortress of Scrolls. Here, the ninja and monks of the clan study together and trade stories. Outsiders can never tell which monks are also ninja, and the truth is that there aren't actually that many. Every monk learns the basic fundamentals of jutsu, but very few ever go beyond that. Every member is also expected to learn and become literate in multiple languages in order to assist in the cataloging, preservation and documentation of texts. Every member serves at least two years in the archives as part of their training, and at least one year traveling the world with an inker, documenting their experiences and anything they witness on their bodies. Returning with fewer tattoos than expected is seen as failure to properly place oneself in the middle of history. After, many go on to become monks in service to lords or officials, or stay at the monastery to work more in the archives. The order has many small monasteries and enclaves and are generally welcome, as most do not suspect the monks to have any ties to the ninja clan of the Living Chronicle. However, the largest enclave outside the Fortress of Scrolls is now Danketsu, which collects knowledge on ninja and is a strong signal of Rekishi support.
The first and foremost goal of the Living Chronicle is the preservation of knowledge and understanding. For centuries, they were fine with being neutral in all conflicts, regardless of what kind. The Empire changed that, forcing their hand by attacking Rekishi enclaves and burning them - along with their texts - to the ground, murdering many of the monks within and ruining their tattoos. The Chronicle are now utterly dedicated to the Coalition cause thanks to those actions, seeing the wanton ruin of knowledge as something they must eradicate at all costs. They want respect for knowledge to be returned to the land, and they have deep insight into human motivations thanks to their vast libraries. The Emperor has placed a bounty on the head of any Living Chronicle monk suspected of jutsu usage, and the Rekishi desperately want to restore their order to its proper place before he realizes that while few of the Historians are ninja, all of them use jutsu to a certain extent.
The Gift of the Rekishi is knowledge. Every one of them has studied and memorized many lords and their histories, remembering ancient kingdoms that no one else does. They get a free Specialty for the Knowledge skill as a result. They also understand emotion and fear better than any, pulling on their knowledge to keep themselves calm in any circumstance. They get a number of automatic successes on any check to remain calm or overcome fear equal to their Knowledge, capped by their Rank. However, their desire for knowledge is also their Trigger. So many histories have been lost to time, and they will not see it happen again. The party gains 1 Karma every time the ninja risks their life or those of the group to recover a document or historical text.
Their list of potential contacts is: Kondo Kei (Crafts), a master calligrapher that will happily teach anyone that shares their stories. Oishi Toshie (Knowledge), one of the chief historians at the Fortress of Scrolls. Aoki Hyobe (Perception), a major advisor to a young daimyo, and a lover of drink with a tongue loosened by it. Muraoka Mikazuki (Travel), a merchant who deals across the Empire and is always happy to tell her stories to the Rekishi. Rekishi Marise (Fortitude), a monk that has been embalming the Living Chronicle for decades. Kurokawa Iwa (Marksman), a hunter who grew up alongside the ninja and occasionally resents their gifts. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja whose stories you'll always listen to, no matter how bad they are.
- Choose one fellow ninja to whom you are determined to teach the value of history.
- Choose one ninja whose life story you need to chronicle, as a key figure of major events.
The Pack of the Black Moon are also called the Tsuki Clan, the Hounds and the Mutts. They practice the Dragon and Horse styles, and their favored jutsu is the Way of Twin Beasts. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Fortitude, +1 Might and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yang ki. The Tsuki claim a long, long tradition of being in tune with nature. They see cities and urban life as chains which taint the land and betray the true nature of humans that live there. They do not often get along with other clans, who consider their lack of discipline and sophistication somewhat disturbing, but none can doubt their brutal effectiveness. The most unique feature of the Tsuki, however, is their reliance on their specially bred ninja dogs, which they've been raising for centuries. Every Tsuki bonds with a dog from a very early age and is raised alongside it. These dogs are a fundamental part of the clan's jutsu and martial techniques, and each is valued by the Pack as much as a man is. They'd never have survived without the dogs, after all, given how much the Grasping Shadows despise them.
The Pack have survived to the modern day thanks to their total knowledge of forests and caves in the Empire - a skill that cannot be overvalued in the current crisis. While their animalistic ways still draw some scorn, the Pack know they're survivors and face any outsider attacks with a terrible fury. They prefer, however, to tend to their packs and herds - but if pressed, they defend their families at any cost. The alliance with the Coalition has given them a new perspective on the world, and while they still prefer to keep to themselves, they know they must adapt to continue surviving. Danketsu welcomes their scouting skills, and many have grown to respect the dangerous powers they hold.
Pack ninja prefer to live by themselves, usually, or with only immediate family and close friends nearby. They do appreciate the finer things, but for them, simplicity is itself intensely enjoyable. They see any outsider first as a potential foe, and they are often seen as barbaric due to their rough manners. However, this is a safety measure from long years of being targeted by other clans. The only one closer to a Tsuki than their dog is their spouse, if they have one. They are raised alongside the dogs and are taught to play with them as equals. The dog, in a Tsuki home, has a seat at the table and eats as much as any human. It is a member of the family. When the dog dies, the entire family mourns and will be given gifts by the community until a new dog is adopted. The humans of the Black Moon are very much like their dogs in many ways - they sleep outside as often as not, they run barefoot, they stalk prey together. They can tap into ki with their dog as a living extension of the world's life force. Many foes of the Tsuki have been shocked and defeated by this, as the ninja are able to channel their jutsu through the dog nearly as easily as through their own bodies.
For the Tsuki, there is only one goal: Survive. Protect yourself, your family, your dog. Destroy all intruders. These simple goals work well with the Lotus Coalition, and Danketsu has shown the Pack that their ways aren't so different from those of other ninja. As long as they are respected, they really have very few problems, and once a Tsuki decides you're their friend, they never betray you. They believe their role is to teach the others how to live simply, and to guard the paths that lead to the hidden village. In many ways, they are the most loyal of all members of the Coalition, though they stand to gain the least from the defeat of the Empire. Their lives won't actually change that much. All they want out of the Ninja Crusade is that the world is a bit simpler when it ends.
The Gift of the Tsuki is their dogs. They fight together, work together, play together. They get +1 to any check in which the dog can somehow be an active participant. Further, in battle, the ninja dog is treated as a friendly Smaller Animal, but with +1 Health and Psyche above the normal stats for one, which go up another +1 each time the ninja gains a Rank. By spending 1 ki of either type, any jutsu they activate also extends its effects to the ninja dog. Their Trigger, however, is that they're...simple. They don't enjoy the subtle complications of urban life, nor the traditions and ceremonies of other clans. The party gains 1 Karma whenever the ninja disregards etiquette and tradition to the detriment of the group.
Their list of potential contacts is: Iwao Akiyama (Stealth), a jeweler and artisan by trade who acquires valuable materials despite looking like a poor farmer. Sanada Mako (Deception), a trickster that takes advantage of local folktales and legends to scare away Imperial soldiers with her illusions and inventions. Matamura Keiko (Knowledge), a seer who keeps old folktales alive and is said to haord the most ancient and secret stories in order to buy food for his family with them. Ichiyusai Moeka (Travel), the best sea pirate between Izou and the Land of Crashing Waves, who can get anything anywhere. Ikoma Sakawa (Intimidation), a businesswoman who loves nature and seeks to profit without destroying it, but whose need for control leads her to ruin her competition. Tsuki Mei (Survival), a woman known to be able to tame any animal and who often travels in search of rare and exotic animals to sell. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who you view with suspicion, even though your dog loves them.
- Choose one ninja who you find arrogant and condescending.
- Choose one ninja to be your trusted advisor on all things regarding civilization or "normal" society.
Next time: The Recoiling Serpents and the Virtuous Body Gardeners.
Officially Designated Evil NinjaOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Officially Designated Evil Ninja
The Recoiling Serpents are also known as the Hebi Clan, the Coils and the Serpents. They practice Snake and Wildcat styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Great Serpents. They get +1 Holistics, +1 Speed, +1 Stealth and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Hebi are a long, long line of warriors from the Triumph Province. They are a nightmare, a story to tell children to frighten them, believed to be a myth for centuries. They ruled their land utterly, and were looked on as sacred judges, whom the people would turn to as protectors to preserve their honor. Criminals feared them, and even the just knew that the Serpents could strike at any time. The ancestors of today's Recoiling Serpents began the War of Withered Fangs - but the Recoiling Serpents have become their own clan, and terrible in their own unique way. Their territory is full of swamps, and they are infamous for regularly luring in Izou soldiers and rival ninja to die in the swamps, for they hated all other clans. Whenever the chance to assassinate someone important or powerful came, the Serpents always took it. Often, they were also blamed for deaths they had nothing to do with, and were happy to take credit anyway.
The Hebi arguedh eavily over whether to join the Lotus Coalition, but ultimately doing so is what kept the Izou off their back for years. They were lumped in with all the other ninja, who were now hated as much as they were. They finally had a use for their murder skills besides their own notoriety and hatred. Many criticize them for their deeply dishonorable methods, but they don't care what anyone else thinks. In Danketsu, they sell poisons and weapons to anyone that will buy, and there are many buyers. They are a deeply proud clan, and they see the current state as ironic - they once stood against Imperial aggression, and now others seek to fight against the very destruction of their beliefs that the Hebi faced when they became the Recoiling Serpents. They are more than willing to teach the others how to be guerrillas, but only because they know that doing so will, one day, free them to become great once more.
The Hebi are used to isolation, and while they've learned to trust a little in the Coalition, they know that the clan always comes first. They are ferocious and proud ninja, and many long for the days when they were free and independent of all ties. They have deep, deep grudges against all other clans, but for now, they put them aside. They focus on how to deliver poison to their victims as easily as possible. They are forced in training to master every aspect of a specific poison, from its smell to its taste. The young are often thrown into pits of venomous serpents - only the survivors earn the right to become ninja. The Hebi remain one of the largest ninja clans, and so their presence is often felt. The other Lotus Coalition clans watch them warily, for the elders can remember the damage the Serpents have done to the other clans. However, the Hebi are happy to use their reputation to try and force issues or mission choices. They make veiled threats, imply that accidents will happen - they're more than willing to intimidate their allies, and against their enemies, they are even nastier.
The Recoiling Serpents make their home in Triumph Province, the largest Imperial province. This is because they have always defended their territory - even when in alliance. It would dishonor them to turn over even an inch of their land. The Ninja Crusade has, by and large, worked to their benefit, allowing them to absorb and take over neighboring areas. They want to spread their influence and power so that they will be in a good position when the Crusade ends and the ninja are once more fighting each other. For now, the Serpents play nice - well, as nice as they get - but they know it won't have to last too much longer.
The Gift of the Hebi is snakes. Their training alters their own physiology, softening their skin and making their body exceptionally flexible. This allows them to mimic the movement of serpents. They get +1 Health and also +2 Athletics for checks involving flexibility or escaping confinement. However, their Trigger is their vengeance. The Serpents are not good at holding back from vengeance. A wrong left unavenged burns in their very core. The party gains 1 Karma when they engage in revenge against the party's goals and to their detriment.
Their list of potential contacts is: Akiko (Holistics), a mysterious poison-maker who will sell her wares only for trinkets that hold personal value to the buyer. Daigo Orino (Stealth), a tracker and smuggler who prefers ot be discreet and professional with her clients, ending all contact when the job is over. Taneda Hide (Crafts), a one-armed ninja who once poisoned himself due to a faulty needle and now specializes in making secret poisoning tools. Hebi Misaki (Fortitude), a restaurant owner who loves cooking and knows many ways to kill secretly. Orihara Mika (Perception), a boat captain who is proud of both her speed in travel, the style of her craft and her skill in dice. Ezaki Kohei (Athletics), a former runner and celebrity in the Empire whose wife was mudered and who has now turned to drinking alone as much as he can. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who seemed genuinely fascinated by your clan's nature, always looking to learn more.
- Choose one ninja who irritates you with almost every word they say.
- Choose one ninja who you feel has an ability you admire, but you'll never admit this to them.
The Virtuous Body Gardeners are also known as the Sumi Clan, the Gardeners and the Inks. They practice Monkey and Tiger styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Inked Skin. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Fighting, +1 Intuition and +1 Perform, as well as +1 Yang ki. The Sumi are the youngest major clan in the Lotus Coalition, a breakaway group from the Living Chronicle 80 years ago. They were the tattooists of the Chronicle, responsible for making the markings on the skin, and were very skilled, but treated with little respect. As their expertise grew and their tattoo-manipulating jutsus became more important, they eventually surpassed their mentors. They found the methodical, practiced tattoos of the Chronicle stifling and inelegant, and so they broke away and became free to create true masterpieces. They were opposed, of course, by more traditionalist clans like the Will of Iron or the Grasping Shadows, who saw them as children throwing tantrums. The Chronicle, however, saw them as wayward souls that might one day return, and are now resigned to the fact that the Sumi have found a new identity and will not come back.
The initial acceptance of the Sumi into the Lotus Coalition was reluctant due to their youth as a clan, unproven in battle, but a number of other ninja vouched for their dedication and skill. Even those who opposed them could not overlook the words of the Blazing Dancers and the Living Chronicle. The Sumi have since proven themselves dedicated and able, often volunteering for dangerous missions. Now, many of them are taking leadership roles in the Coalition, seeing themselves as a force for chance in the world, a catalyst to push the Coalition forward.
The Gardeners hold a relatively small territory southeast of Daiwa, bordering on the lands of the Black Moon, the Shadows, the Serpents and the Wardens of Equilirbium. The idea was that constant struggle with these clans would strengthen the Gardeners, but in recent years the focus has been firmly on the Empire. War with the Empire has enhanced their jutsu and fighting skills. They have also wholeheartedly bought into Danketsu, seeing it as a way for them to hone their skills and gain the support of other clans. Their influence is slowly growing in the village, though they were unable to get it built on their land, due to its proximity to the capital. All Sumi begin their training with weapons and combat, but their true training will not begin until they master that. After this, they are secluded for weeks, with contact allowed only for three-day periods of ritual scarification, preparing their bodies for their specialist jutsu and enhancing their pain tolerance. Some even begin to enjoy pain, taking ever more extreme methods of self-mortificaiton. Scars, piercings and burns are badges of honor among the Gardeners. Once training is complete, each ninja is branded at the base of the neck with the clan's symbol, showing their membership to all. After this, they are often dedicated to their clan on a very deep level - but even if they weren't, it wouldn't matter. One only leaves the Sumi as a corpse.
Since their creation, the Virtuous Body Gardeners have wanted only one thing: legitimacy. Their early actions of territorial expansion and deliberately pissing off other clans was a way to prove themselves. Over the past decade, they've eased off on the constant aggression, and while they remain very outspoken, their anger is typically directed at the Empire instead of other ninja. This has given them some of the legitimacy they wanted, along with increased numbers. A few clans still dislike their rebellious tendencies, however, and there are hints that once the Izou are done, the Sumi will have another war on their hands.
The Gift of the Sumi is painting. They are skilled at all forms of painting and tattooing, getting +2 to all Crafts checks related to painting or tattooing, and their work gets double the normal pay. Further, due to their intense physical training, they reduce all penalties from pain by 2. However, their Trigger is their constant need to prove themselves. They know they're young and disrespected, and so they will often volunteer for stupid or dangerous missions just to show they can do it. The party gains 1 Karma whenever they accept a mission or job to do something dangerous or foolish that at least one other person has refused.
Their list of potential contacts is: Okumura Yuko (Might), one of the strongest men in the world and all too aware of it. Sumi Chimaki (Speed), a beautiful woman who is deadly with a blade and loves to be the center of attention. Saito Juzo (Perform), a street performer noted for his extreme contortionism. Yasutake Hizuru (Intuition), a midwife who claims she's brought more children into the world than there have been deaths in the Crusade. Asai Oniji (Deception), leader of a gang of orphans and thieves who hates traitors. Tachibana Kozue (Persuade), an alchemist who sells sleeping and healing potions that aren't very reliable. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who you are determined to tattoo, whether they want it or not.
- Choose one ninja who you are constantly trying to impress.
- Choose one ninja whho is itching to challenge you to a battle of blades.
Next time: The Wardens of Equilibrium and the Will of Iron. Also maybe the ronin.
Cash Money vs JusticeOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Cash Money vs Justice
The Wardens of Equilibrium are also known as the Chuushin Clan, the Monks and the Merchants. They practice Bear and Snake styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Balancing Scales. They get +1 Deception, +1 Discipline, +1 Knowledge and +1 Persuade, and their choice of +1 Yin or Yang ki. The Wardens were born of the cycle of catastrophe that so often has been repeated. They rose after the War of Withered Fangs, the conflict in which the economy of the Empire was ruined and thousands died. Several merchant groups came together to try and make a force that would prevent this from ever happening again. The founding leader of this group, Chuushin Nobu, taught them to balance their emotions and draw strength from that balance. They allied with monasteries, training with the monks to master the art of ki balancing in order to remain strong. Rather than being centered, however, they usually found it best to swing between the extremes of Yin and Yang, and they would often side with different groups in conflict, earning them a reputation for betrayal.
The Wardens have planned for a long time ahead, and they always weigh the many outcomes of their potential actions. This pragmatism has served them well in business, and for some time they were the richest clan in the entire Empire. Their numbers grew, mostly as nobles and merchants from each province joined them and added to their collective wealth. They also absorbed criminals as easily as honest businessmen, and while they hate cmmon thugs and bandits, organized crime makes sense to them. Taking both honorable and wicked alike fits their idea of balance. Without them, however, the Empire's order would have been lost years ago. When the Crusade began, the Wardens were prepared, organizing the early resistance and helping to found the Lotus Coalition. Few believed that uniting bitter ninja rivals was possible, but the Wardens are used to the impossible. Their diplomacy was what allowed the birth of Danketsu, and they've been leaders in the Coalition since it began. By pooling everyone's resources, they have helped everyone survive - and they're sure never to let them forget that fact.
The Wardens live in away that is dedicated to focusing themselves on one path. The path may change, but their lives, they feel, are meaningless unless they act with perfection. This is a massive strength for them, allowing them to purge competing emotions inside of them by focusing on Yin or Yang. Instead of spreading themselves widely, they empower themselves by choosing one feeling to be their focus. It is not easy, and some Wardens can spend their entire lives unable to tame either Yin or Yang, while others cannot choose but a single path. They may find they need to purge themselves and embrace the opposite of their current mindset. To do this, they perform the sacred ritual known as the Rite of Walking Another Path, which profoundly alters the personality and thoughts of the user. The Wardens have many businesses and monasteries across the Empire, and they enjoy the wealth and influence this brings. However, they are careful not to become caught up in wealth - they work to see the clan prosper, but they know that wealth is fleeting and that obsessing over it can destroy balance. Wealth makes life easier - but the easy path isn't the road to enlightenment, they say.
Actually, since the Crusade began, the Wardens have lost a lot of money. They're still strong, both politically and economically, but they aren't nearly as rich as they were. Their more passive, economic approach tends to be unpopular with the more action-oriented clans, such as the Will of Iron or Blazing Dancers, but the Wardens see Danketsu as the place to prove their philosophy correct. They attempt to subtly maneuver Coalition politics towards their views. Still, they are amazing strategists and have plenty of safehouses across the Empire, which they allow the other clans to use relatively freely. However, the Wardens know that the alliance will collapse once the Ninja Crusade ends.
The Gift of the Chuushin is their ability to maintain strange ki balance within themselves. If their Yang is greater than their Yin, they get +2 Health. If their Yin is greater than their Yang, they get +2 Psyche. If both are exactly equal, they get +1 Health and +1 Psyche, and +1 to all jutsu activation checks. Their Trigger, however, is also drawn from their ideal of balance. They have helped and harmed everyone in the course of their history, and their philosophy of balancing all sides makes them hard to trust. The party gains 1 Karma when they are forced to break a promise or alliance with someone which causes tension or conflict.
Their list of potential contacts is: Sawai Yuuki (Persuade), a toymaker and candle-seller who uses children to gather all kinds of rumors. Kida Shiro (Intuition), a weapons dealer whose clients have allowed him to learn the locations and movements of all kinds of armies in the Empire. Manabe Rin (Knowledge), a librarian and poet with many high society connections. Katsuya Tsuyoshi (Deception), an Imperial bureaucrat and trade manager who can easily control who is and is not allowed to buy and sell in the capitol. Narumi Nao (Survival), an animal trainer and circus manager rumored to be from a destroyed noble house. Chuushin Taro (Crafts), a counterfeiter infamous for his peerless falsifaction of artwork. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who you respect for their intelligence, and can rely on their counsel.
- Choose one ninja who you cannot bring yourself to trust due to their chaotic nature.
- Choose one ninja who you find a worthy ally on the battlefield.
The Will of Iron are also known as the Hagane Clan, the Sheriffs and the Judges. They practice Mantis and Tiger styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Heaven's Judgment. They get +1 Empathy, +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation and +1 Perception, along with +1 Yin ki. Their clan is one of extremes, born of a time of chaos and death. They are dedicated to the ideals of truth and justice, ensuring that all crimes are uncovered and all guilty parties punished. Many believe their view of the law is extremist, but they see it as just the simplicity of the law. The founder, Hagane Yoshiro, was one of the first justice-seekers, who sought guidance from the gods after his brother was accused of a crime and set to be executed, despite his innocence. Yoshiro was dedicated to seeing justice done, so he made sure to get the commission to forge the blade that would kill his brother and made it from a mysterious metal he found in a temple. When the blade refused to slice his brother's neck, Yoshiro took it as a divine sign of the immutable nature of justice and its power.
Because of their strict adherence to the law, the Will of Iron have often been foes of other clans, quietly policing the Empire for centuries before the Crusade began. Many of their lessons were learned in their time in the Land of Five Blades, and they continue to face the wrongs of society, but must now be more selective. By joining the Coalition, they have survived, and they see themselves as the moral compass of the alliance. They have become very useful arbiters of disputes in Danketsu, to be sure. They believe in law and justice very deply, seeking to punish the wicked and protect the innocent, bring order to a chaotic and often lawless time. Their methods are harsh and sometimes work against their own interests, but overall, the Hagane are resolute foes of crime. They are strong as the swords and clubs they wield, and they have a belief that others often criticize: Only the guilty have something to hide. This doesn't always go over well with other ninja.
For the Will of Iron, life is a constant act of maintaining perfection and order in a world of chaos. Those who bend the rules and take shortcuts are everywhere, but for someone dedicated to all of the law, in its entirety, this is unacceptable. Their training focuses on mental and physical fortitude, to make them as unyielding as iron. Thus, only the toughest and most resolute of their members ever master their clan jutsu, for they don't waste their time on those without the will to learn. They have a deep fire in their souls, and the Hagane are famous for their internal arguments. Many in Danketsu like to watch as two Will of Iron spar with each other, debating points of law while fighting. The real victor must win both battle and debate. They aren't always active, though. To relax, the Hagane enjoy both blacksmithing and study, and can often be found in temples or teahouses, giving impromptu lectures on legal matters. They try to be ready for anything at all times, and they greatly enjoy debating law and legal affairs, usually quite loudly. They also work in their forges to seek to create perfection in the form of the metal weapons they use to enforce law.
The Will of Iron are the enforcers of the Coalition, doing their best to ensure honor and stability in a group of such different clans with such different views. Their skills are very welcome - they are some of the best fighters in the world - but other clans find their strict adherence to the law tiring. Their plan at the moment is to increase their numbers and try to preserve order in whatever form of government follows the Empire's death. They hate being forced to work with those who have no honor, but are willing to bide their time and gather resources for now.
The Gift of the Hagane is metal. They attune themselves to metal and metal tools in their years in the forges, believing that no warrior should ever use a weapon they can't make. They get +1 to any check when using a metal tool or weapon, or +2 if they made the tool or weapon themselves. However, their Trigger is their very strict moral code. They do not deviate from thje letter of the law, and even bending the rules tends to rankle them and make them want to find a criminal to punish. The party gains 1 Karma when they stand firm to preserve the law, keep a promise, refuse to break an oath or rule or betray their own conscience, to their detriment.
Their list of potential contacts is: Koga Harue (Fighting), a mercenary that works to protect villages and towns, strictly enforcing the law against anyone, no matter what. Kusamura Yume (Perform), a traveling monk that does performances and tells stories in exchange for room and board. Hagane Fuyuko (Intuition), an investigator who is a zealot against crime, often at odds with the fact that they can never truly rest. Uefugi Miwa (Empathy), a guard captain in an Izou village who often is willing to share what she knows. Kaijo Ryuu (Might), a retired trainer who has spent years perfecting his pho gah soup recipe and who hates bullies. Imoto Samuru (Stealth), a trainer of messenger rats and pigeons whose brother was lost to a violent crime and who does his best to aid justice. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who has impressed you with an honorable act, making you trust them more.
- Choose one ninja who bends or even breaks the law often and has lost your respect.
- Choose one ninja whho you seek to redeem of some flaw they possess.
The Ronin are also known as the Clanless, the Orphans and the Scavengers. Unlike clan ninja, they do not get two unarmed fighting styles to choose from. Instead, they can only select one - but it can be any of them. They have no favored jutsu...but more on that in a moment. They get +1 to any four skills of their choice, and +1 to their choice of Yin or Yang ki. See, a Ronin is one who has left their clan or has developed ki manipulation independently and refused to join a clan. Their lifestyle is looked down by clan ninja, who believe either the Ronin must be a shame to their previous clan or too prideful to listen to anyone. Most Ronin are still quite formidable, however. Before the Crusade, they were out casts and mercenaries, sometimes hermits. There are stories of some Ronin that earned their way back into a clan, but also others of Ronin who reveled in banishment and terrorized the land. For example, there is the tale of the former Blazing Dancer Kanaka the Knife, who burned his own temple to the ground when the girl he loved rejcted him. This is the view most have of Ronin.
In truth, they're usually just warriors without a patron family. They have the same skills and abilities as clan ninja, and some were once memebrs of clans that got wiped out in the Crusade. Others left their families due to some crime or failure that stripped them of honor, preferring to work in the shadows after that. Whatever the case, the Ronin have done will in the Lotus Coalition. They face their foes as bravely as anyone, proving to the clans that they're more than honorless dogs. Many ranking agents in the Coalition have begun to prefer hiring Ronin over clan ninja, seeing them as easier to work with and less likely to cause strife in groups. While they are still looked down, they rarely have the ancient feuds the clans can have.
Ronin once lived in the edges of the ninja world, but are now in high demand. The Coalition calls on them to help defeat the Imperial army and its black powder weapons, and many Ronin see it as a chance to expand their own fame or even form new clans. It's a test to become legend. That doesn't mean the clans all accept them, however. The Recoiling Serpents and Hidden Strands especially find them distasteful. Many Ronin became Ronin due to committing crimes or were taught by those who did. On the other hand, many begin to see them as worthy friends. Not all Ronin are criminals, and many have fought for good causes. In Danketsu, the Ronin are a common sight, and some have even been recognized by clan elders as useful and good, if with some distaste.
The Ronin lack unity, and so they have no agenda. Most follow their own ideals and philosophies and are often at odds with each other. They have many potent ninja in their ranks, but are beholden to none, which makes them excellent Coalition recruiters, as they have no past feuds to worry about. Ronin with plans to create their own clans often want to destroy a major clan in order to take their place, however.
The Gift of the Ronin is adaptability. They can spend a Dynamic Action to substitute one skill for another for any single check, allowing them to use their skills in ways that no one else can. Further, they may select any jutsu, even normally clan-locked jutsu...but in exchange, they have fewer jutsu during character creation, in total. The Trigger of the Roning, however, is their lack of friends. They have to survive in a world where few like them at all, and they are often angry about this. The party gains 1 Karma when they act out their independent nature in a way that puts them or the group i ndanger.
Their list of potential contacts is: Hagane Michiko (Fighting), a banished warrior who now serves as a bounty hunter for any clan that'll hire him. Aozara Satoru (Marskman), a smuggler whose left half of his face is paralyzed due to a botched poisoning, and who can get anything anywhere...as long as you put up with his paranoia. Mitsuyoshi Tamiko (SpeeD), a street musician whose skill lets her pass messages even under the noses of the best Imperial guards. Katayama Suki (Survival), a forest guide who knows how to get in or out of any city and who spends her time helping the innocent or entrapping the guilty. Motobashi Yuji (Discipline), a former legend in wrestling who now finds life boring and seeks out ever greater thrills to keep himself motivated. Kuwashiro Chino (Athletics), a mountain climber and trailblazer known for her ability to take even the softest noble into the high mountains. Their Bonds are:
- Choose one ninja who was an old friend who knew you before you were Ronin.
- Choose one ninja whose ideals you do not respect, and seek to prove that your way is superior.
- Choose one ninja who came to your defense once when no one else would.
Next time: Character creation - a rundown. Give me example ninja you want to see!
Ninja Creation MythsOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Ninja Creation Myths
So, since we just got the one ninja, the blind dog ninja with seeing eye ninja dog, we'll make a second ninja entirely randomly. There is a random roll generation in this game, and it's exceptionally well-balanced, though it may not produce the most obvious or sensical story at first - the parts need to be massaged a bit. Chargen has seven steps. Each step provides a number of skill bonuses, a Gift and a Trigger, and occasionally a bonus point of Ki.
Step 1: Ocean.This is where we determine the character's element and basic personality. For our blind ninja, I go with Quiet. Tsuki Yoshiro, we will call him, and he doesn't like to draw attention to himself. Quiet is a Metal personality. Metal gives us:
Skills: Deception 1, Discipline 1, Might 1, Speed 1
Ki: Yin 1
Quiet itself also gives us a Gift and a Trigger.
Gift: +1 Stealth when trying to go unnoticed in a crowd.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja passes on saying something that could change the course of terrible events.
Meanwhile, our other ninja will be Shiba Sakura. We roll a d10 to determine her element. I roll a 6, which is also Metal. Her personality, however, is a 3: Authoritative.
Skills: Deception 1, Discipline 1, Might 1, Speed 1
Ki: Yin 1
Gift: +1 Intimidation when issuing commands.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when others follow the ninja's order, but it was obviously the wrong call.
This brings us to Step 2: Village. Here, we determine what kind of profession our ninja learned growing up. Tsuki Yoshiro is a rural man, a Farmer of some variety. We'll say he was a Herder, using his ninja dog to help him keep the sheep safe. This gives us more Skills, and a new Gift and Trigger.
Skills: Athletics 1, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Marksman 1, Might 2, Speed 1, Survival 1
Gift: +1 Stealth when hiding in forests and fields.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja sticks out like a sore thumb in an urban environment.
Shiba Sakura rolls a 3: Entertainer. Another roll gives us a 1, an Actor.
Skills: Deception 1, Discipline 1, Empathy 1, Fortitude 1, Perform 1, Might 1, Speed 1, Stealth 1
Gift: +1 Deception when faking a personality, emotion or identity.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja's insincerity about their thoughts or feelings causes contention.
Step 3: River. This tells us what the character's Tragedy is - what terrible life experience they had which taught them a great lesson and helps determine their Ki. For Yoshiro, this is easy. He has Ravaged Body: Impaired Sense.
Skills: Athletics 2, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Fighting 1, Intimidation 1, Marksman 1, Might 3, Speed 1, Survival 1
Ki: Yin 1, Yang 1
Gift: +1 Perception when using any sense but sight. (We could choose any sense to be imapired, but this guy is blind.)
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma if the diminished sense causes the ninja to mishear an order, mistake a target or attacker, or otherwise cause problems.
Shiba Sakura rolls a 7: Unending Stigma. From there, she rolls 2: Enemy. Someone hates her.
Skills: Deception 2, Discipline 1, Empathy 1, Fortitude 1, Holistics 1, Intuition 1, Perform 1, Persuade 1, Might 1, Speed 1, Stealth 1
Ki: Yin 2
Gift: +1 Persuade when seeking time-sensitive information from Contacts.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the efforts of the enemy impede the ninja or the party.
Step 4: Forge. The war has touched everyone, and this determines how. Tsuki Yoshiro took to ambushing and attacking Imperial forces from the darkness, using his dog to isolate foes so he could defeat them more easily. He was a Striker - specifically, a Gladiator.
Skills: Athletics 2, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Fighting 1, Intimidation 1, Marksman 2, Might 4, Speed 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2
Ki: Yin 1, Yang 1
Gift: +1 Fighting when in a one-on-one battle.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja's skeptical disposition causes conflict.
Sakura, on the other hand, was...8: also a Striker. She was...2, an Assassin.
Skills: Deception 2, Discipline 1, Empathy 1, Fortitude 1, Holistics 1, Intuition 1, Marskman 1, Might 1, Perform 1, Persuade 1, Might 1, Speed 1, Stealth 2, Survival 1
Ki: Yin 2
Gift: +1 Speed when making a surprise attack.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when a survivor of one the ninja's assassination attempts becomes an obstacle for the group.
Step 5: Mountain. This is where we pick clan. Tsuki Yoshiro is easy - he's Pack of the Black Moon. We also select two Contacts off the clan list. One is an Ally. Allies give +2 to their associated skill when they help you out, and can also give you information or leads. They'll want you to do them a favor in the future, however. The other is a Rival. Rivals give -2 to their associated skill when you use it against them or in their presence, and make it harder to get information in their area...but can help you out if you do them a favor first. If you ask an Ally for help before you pay off a favor you owe, they become a Rival. If you make a Rival help you without paying them off, they'll do it...but then they'll never be your Contact again. However, if you do a favor for a Rival when you don't owe them anything, they become an Ally. You can also spend XP to do that, if you don't feel like going through the effort. Anyway! Clan.
Skills: Athletics 3, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Fighting 1, Fortitude 1, Intimidation 1, Marksman 2, Might 5, Speed 1, Stealth 1, Survival 3
Ki: Yin 1, Yang 2
Gift: +1 on any check where the dog can be an active participant. Also, the dog is a Smaller Animal with +1 Health and +1 Psyche, and you can spend 1 ki to extend any jutsu to your dog automatically.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja disregards etiquette and tradition to the detriment of the group.
Ally: Iwao Akiyama (Stealth)
Rival: Ichiyusai Moeko (Travel)
As for Sakura...she rolls a 5: Living Chronicle. We'll decide her free Knowledge specialty is History.
Skills: Crafts 1, Deception 2, Discipline 1, Empathy 1, Fortitude 1, Holistics 1, Intuition 1, Knowledge 1 (History), Marskman 1, Might 1, Perception 1, Perform 1, Persuade 1, Might 1, Speed 1, Stealth 2, Survival 1, Travel 1
Ki: Yin 3
Gift: +(Knowledge) to all checks to remain calm or overcome fear, capped by Rank. (So 1, right now.)
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja risks their lives or the group to obtain a document or historical tome.
Ally: Oishi Toshie (Knowledge)
Rival: Kurokawa Iwa (Marksman)
We would also use this stage to select our Bonds. You can use the three from your clan, or you can rewrite them as you wish - but one should be positive, one relatively neutral and one somewhat negative. At this point, we hit step six: Temple. We get 10 skill points to spend on our character, and two Specialties (which give +1 to the roll when they apply). The 5th point of any skill costs 2, and 5 is the skill cap. Yoshiro got pretty lucky - the succession of lifepath steps he got made him Might 5 for free. He is the strongest blind man.
A brief skills overview: We have Athletics (running, jumping, showing physical prowess), Crafts (making literally anything), Deception (lying, disguises and detecting lies), Discipline (patience, meditation and willpower), Empathy (understanding the emotions of others, detecting lies and consoling those who have suffered mental harm), Fighting (hitting people in melee), Fortitude (physical endurance, resistance to disease and poison), Holistics (medicine and poisons), Intimidation (creating and using fear), Intuition (instinct, investigation and luck), Knowledge (history, learning and general knowledge), Marksman (ranged combat), Might (physical strength and grappling), Perception (noticing details, nuances and hidden things), Perform (putting on a show), Persuade (convincing others to listen to you), Speed (quickness, reflexes, chases), Stealth (hiding yourself or objects), Survival (living in the wilderness, finding food), Travel (planning and taking long journeys).
When we're done, Yoshiro's skills look like this:
Skills: Athletics 3, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Fighting 3, Fortitude 1 (Staying Awake), Intimidation 3, Intuition 1, Marksman 2, Might 5, Perception 2, Speed 1, Stealth 3 (Shadowing), Survival 4
And Sakura's looks like this:
Skills: Crafts 1 (Sabotage), Deception 3, Discipline 2, Empathy 1, Fighting 2, Fortitude 1, Holistics 2, Intuition 1, Knowledge 3 (History), Marskman 3 (Archery), Might 1, Perception 1, Perform 1, Persuade 1, Might 1, Speed 2, Stealth 2, Survival 1, Travel 1
Now, each gets two points in Fighting Styles. There are a number of different styles, each with three subdivisions within them. First, there's the 10 animal Styles, which apply at all times, even unarmed. Each clan has access to two of these at chargen. There are also the Weapon Styles. Any character can take any weapon style, but each only gives its bonuses when using a weapon with the appropriate quality. All weapons have a number of qualities. At least two will be positive, but after that, every additional positive quality also requires a negative one. Finally, there are the 99 Styles, which are martial forms that do not specifically line up to actual martial arts - stuff like combat alchemy, summoning celestial beasts or having a pack of assassins.
Yoshiro's two animal Styles available are Dragon and Horse, while Sakura's are Crane and Mantis. Dragon is big on dodging around and being tricky, while Horse is about powerful kicks and high speed. Crane is a defensive pressure point style, while Mantis is big on grabs and avoiding knockdown. Yoshiro will be taking one Dragon technique and one Horse technique.
Fighting Styles: Dragon (Dragon Whips Tail 1), Horse (Horse Kick 1). Every technique has a level from 1 to 3, getting better as you focus on it more. Dragon Whips Tail allows Yoshiro to make an area attack against everyone nearby by sweeping his legs around. Anyone who fails to dodge is knocked down. Horse Kick, on the other hand, lets him do a double kick at one enemy for +1 damage, and if it hits, it also sends them stumbling backwards. This lets him set people up for his dog pretty easily.
Sakura goes with...Sharp, Technique #3, and Ranged, Technique #1, both weapon styles. She must like arrows.
Fighting Styles: Sharp (Splitting Arrows 1), Ranged (Blackout the Sun 1) The former allows her to parry arrows and thrown weapons as if parrying a melee weapon. The latter lets her, once per round, make a second Ranged attack when she gets a Boost (beats a success target by 3 or more). She can also fire at up to (Speed) additional targets at once with the second attack.
Them, each of these two would select six points worth of jutsu. But we'll hold off on that and just look at what they look like before jutsu.
Tsuki Yoshiro of the Black Moon:
Skills: Athletics 3, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Fighting 3, Fortitude 1 (Staying Awake), Intimidation 3, Intuition 1, Marksman 2, Might 5, Perception 2, Speed 1, Stealth 3 (Shadowing), Survival 4
Fighting Styles: Dragon (Dragon Whips Tail 1), Horse (Horse Kick 1)
Ki: Yin 1, Yang 2
Gift: +1 Stealth when trying to go unnoticed in a crowd.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja passes on saying something that could change the course of terrible events.
Gift: +1 Stealth when hiding in forests and fields.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja sticks out like a sore thumb in an urban environment.
Gift: +1 Perception when using any sense but sight.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma if the diminished sense causes the ninja to mishear an order, mistake a target or attacker, or otherwise cause problems.
Gift: +1 Fighting when in a one-on-one battle.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja's skeptical disposition causes conflict.
Gift: +1 on any check where the dog can be an active participant. Also, the dog is a Smaller Animal with +1 Health and +1 Psyche, and you can spend 1 ki to extend any jutsu to your dog automatically.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja disregards etiquette and tradition to the detriment of the group.
Ally: Iwao Akiyama (Stealth)
Rival: Ichiyusai Moeko (Travel)
Tsuki Yoshiro is a family man. He's been blind since birth, but all of his senses have grown to accomodate him. He and his ninja dog happily raised sheep in the hills, and he married young to a lovely woman named Kokona. When the war came to his secluded ranch, he and his dog, Susano-o, went out to fight. They would pick off the enemy one by one, distracting them in the hills and woods and fighting them in single combat. This earned them the recognition of the leaders of the Pack of the Black Moon, and Yoshiro was made a full ninja after a few years, sent off to Danketsu with his wife and their infant daughter. He's quick to question braggarts, but otherwise doesn't talk a lot or handle city life very well. Still, he's learning. He is good friends with the craftsman Iwao Akiyama, who grew up in the same village. He met the pirate warrior Ichiyusai Moeko during the war, and the two seem to be unable to avoid getting into heated competitions whenever they meet, no matter how stupid they are.
Shiba Sakura of the Living Chronicle:
Skills: Crafts 1 (Sabotage), Deception 3, Discipline 2, Empathy 1, Fighting 2, Fortitude 1, Holistics 2, Intuition 1, Knowledge 3 (History), Marskman 3 (Archery), Might 1, Perception 1, Perform 1, Persuade 1, Might 1, Speed 2, Stealth 2, Survival 1, Travel 1
Fighting Styles: Sharp (Splitting Arrows 1), Ranged (Blackout the Sun 1)
Ki: Yin 3
Gift: +1 Intimidation when issuing commands.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when others follow the ninja's order, but it was obviously the wrong call.
Gift: +1 Deception when faking a personality, emotion or identity.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja's insincerity about their thoughts or feelings causes contention.
Gift: +1 Persuade when seeking time-sensitive information from Contacts.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the efforts of the enemy impede the ninja or the party.
Gift: +1 Speed when making a surprise attack.
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when a survivor of one the ninja's assassination attempts becomes an obstacle for the group.
Gift: +(Knowledge) to all checks to remain calm or overcome fear, capped by Rank. (So 1, right now.)
Trigger: The party gains 1 Karma when the ninja risks their lives or the group to obtain a document or historical tome.
Ally: Oishi Toshie (Knowledge)
Rival: Kurokawa Iwa (Marksman)
Shiba Sakura grew up as a traveling actor. Her parents led the acting troupe, and she knew she was destined to follow them...at least, until the troupe was destroyed by bandits. Sakura, twelve at the time, enabled her father to escape by taking a burning torch and using it to put out the eye of the bandit leader, a woman named Jun the Tiger. When Jun swore eternal vengeance, Sakura's father packed her off to a monastery run by the Living Chronicle for protection. She soon displayed an aptitude for ki manipulation, though, and rather than safe, she became a ninja trainee. She proved adept at taking the fight to the enemy and slipping away again, challenging fate over and over in her efforts to be at the center of the history she was recording. She has often found herself at odds with her childhood friend, Kurokawa Iwa, whose archery skills are superior but who often becomes jealous of Sakura's jutsus. Still, she is the favored student of Oishi Toshie, and with her recent graduation to full ninja and her deployment to Danketsu, many eyes are on her to see if she'll live up to his reputation.
Next time: Skills and Fighting Styles.
My Kung Fu Is SuperiorOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: My Kung Fu Is Superior
Fighting Styles! Fighting Styles, again, come in three types. There's the 10 Animal Styles. You can always use these no matter what, and often they can boost your unarmed abilities, but each clan only has access to two at chargen. Ronin get access to one, but it can be any of them. Then you have the 5 Weapon Styles which can only be used if you're wielding a weapon with the associated weapon tag. And then you have the 99 Styles, which do weird things. Animal and Weapon styles each have three techniques, which each have three stacking levels. We don't know what these combat terms mean yet, though. Organization!
Bear: Endurance fighting, relying on strong attacks and powerful defense, especially crushing grapples and chokes.
Angry Mother Protects the Young
1. +1 Armor against physical damage per level, but only when acting as a human shield for someone else.
2. +2 Intimidation during battle.
3. When you get hit, you deal +1 damage to the attacker next time you attack them.
1. +1 per level to Initiative Grab actions.
2. +1 damage to Inflict Harm during a Grab.
3. If you keep a foe held for three rounds in a row, they get the Knockout 2 condition and fall unconscious, or die at GM discretion if they're weak.
+1 Armor per level, which at GM discretion can apply against mental attacks, too.
Crane: Elegant, defensive combat and combat medicine.
Healing of the Mother
+1 Holistics per level to heal Conditions.
Patience As Reward
1. You may choose not to attack in a round to get +1 per level to Defense checks that round.
2. The bonus becomes +2 per level.
3. You get +3 dice from Dynamic Actions spent to Enhance Defense, rather than 2.
Pushing On Crane Wings
1. You may make a Block at -1. If you succeed, the attacker is knocked beck (level*10) feet. This can be used only once per round.
2. The attacker is also knocked down now, and you can use this twice per round.
3. Knockback distance is doubled and you can use this three times per round.
Dragon: Highly developed mental and physical fortitude, constant motion and indirect attacks.
Dragon Whips Tail
1. You can make a melee attack at +1 against everyone in Near range. Everyone gets a chance to Dodge; anyone that fails is knocked down (but takes no damage).
2. The attack is now at +2, and victims in Close range take 1 damage.
3. Damage increases to 2, and victims that take a Quick Action to stand get -2 instead of the normal -1 penalty for doing so.
Any attempt to trap or grab you gets -1 per level, and you get +1 per level to escape bindings or chains.
Master of Surroundings
During and after the second Round of every fight, you get 1 die per level that you may spend to add to any Defense check. Also, at level 3, Improvised Weapons you use do not have the Fragile Quality.
Eagle: Hit pressure points, hit fast, keep moving, don't get hit or wear armor.
Beating My Wings
1. You may throw two projectiles or fire two arrows at a single target, attacking at -2. The target makes only one Defense check, and the damage of both attacks are added together.
2. The penalty is now -1, and you may throw or fire three seperate attacks at up to two different targets.
3. There is no penalty, and you can throw or fire four seperate attacks at up to four different targets.
Flying Into Battle
1. After you successfully Dodge, you can make a full Movement for free, which does not trigger Retreating Attacks.
2. You can spend 2 Dynamic Actions to leap up to your Movement, attack, then move up to your Movement.
3. Level 2 now costs only 1 Dynamic Action.
Raptor Needs to Feed
You may spend an additional Dynamic Action per level on Deeper Cuts for a single attack.
Horse: Run, jump, kick, run, jump, kick.
Cannot Be Tamed
1. Once per Battle, you can make a barrage of kicks at everyone in Close Range, attacking all of them. After, you get -2 to all checks until your next Turn.
2. The penalty is now -1, and your attack deals +1 damage.
3. You no longer suffer a penalty and can use the barrage twice per Battle.
You can kick a single opponent with both feet at once, dealing +1 damage per level and knocking them back (Level*5) feet. At level 3, you also cause knockdown.
To Run Free
1. +4 Movement per level.
2. Your jumping Movement increases by (Might*3) feet horizontally, and half that vertically.
3. You get 2 bonus Dynamic Dice per Battle that you may add to any Round.
Mantis: Brutal two-finger strikes, harsh grips and quick defenses.
1. You may choose to trap an attack when you Block. This has no penalty against unarmed attacks but only -1 against weapons if you have a cloth or rope in hand. If you succeed, you and the attacker are now in a Grab.
2. When you trap a limb, it goes numb for (Might) Rounds, causing a noncumulative -2 penalty to use it. If you get a Boost, you instead make an Injured 2 condition.
3. Instead of numbing the limb, you may harm it, either dealing 2 damage or shattering the enemy's weapon. On a Boost, you can even destroy magical or master-crafted weapons.
Mantis Feasts Well
1. Your unarmed attacks do +1 damage.
2. You can ignore 1 level of Armor.
3. You can ignore 3 levels of Armor.
Mantis Stands Steadfast
1. When you resist being knocked down, thrown or tripped in Battle, you may double your highest rolled skill for the check.
2. If you fail a check to remain standing, you get one reroll.
3. If you succeed a check to resist being knocked down, thrown or tripped, you can instead force someone in Close range to fall or be thrown without a check.
Monkey: Tumble around, dodge a lot, counter punch, piss people off.
Baby Monkey Has A Fit
1. +1 Fighting per level when facing a considerably larger foe.
2. You may stand as a free action and take no penalties for falling prone.
3. Your Interruptions cost 1 Dynamic Action instead of 2.
1. You can either tumble (Movement/2) and then attack, or attack and tumble (Movement/2). If you do, the attack is at -1, but the opponent cannot use a Retreat Attack.
2. You take no penalty and the attack does +1 damage.
3. Now you can tumble in, attack and tumble out, all in the same action.
Anyone chasing you gets -1 per level to detect you if there are trees, undergrowth, refuse or other low obstacles to hide among. At level 3, you also get +2 to attack from stealth.
Snake: Subtle movements and pressure point targeting, plus poisons.
Coil and Strike
You may concentrate for 1 full round and take no actions but defending to focus on a target. On your Turn in the next Round, you may attack with bonus dice equal to twice the number of Actions you did not use, Standard and Dynamic, capping at (Level*3) dice. The attack also deals +1 damage. (It might be Level*2; the example is level 2 getting 4 dice.)
1. On a Boost, you may give your opponent a Poison condition equal to (Level).
2. You get +2 to Holistics when making or handling poisons.
3. You may use Speed as the second skill on any combat check in Battle, no matter what you're doing.
Immunity to Poison
You get +1 per level to Fortitude to resist poison. Even if you fail, the effects are cut by 25% at level 1, 50% at level 2 and 75% at level 3.
Tiger: Savage attacks for heavy damage after gathering strength.
Never Forget a Taste
1. Once you have fought and drawn blood from someone, you may target them to get +1 to Survival to hunt them and +1 Initiative and +1 to Fighting against them. You can have only one target at a time.
2. All bonuses rise to +2.
3. You can have to (Intuition) targets at once.
Tasting Your Own Blood
When you roll a Boost in Battle, you may reduce any Pain condition by 1. For each point you ignore this way, you get +1 Initiative and +1 to Fighting checks for the rest of the Battle, stacking up to (Level) times.
1. Your unarmed attacks, on top of their normal damage, cause a Pain 1 condition (though you can't stack that on any existing conditions and it's not cumulative).
2. Your unarmed attacks ignore 2 levels of Armor.
3. Your unarmed attacks cannot be Blocked without taking at least 1 point of damage, regardless of how good the Block roll is.
Wildcat: Overwhelm the foe with jumping attacks and flurries.
Flurry of Blows
On any attack where you get a Boost, you may give up the normal bonus you'd get to instead make another attack. You may do this no more than (Level) times per Round.
Lands on Feet
1. Whenever you would fall for any reason, you can make a free difficulty 2 Athletics+Speed check to land safely on your feet.
2. The difficulty drops to 1 and if you succeed you get +1 to your next combat check.
3. You don't even have to make a check. Anyone trying to trip you triggers your level 2 bonus and gives you a bonus Dynamic Action for the Round automatically.
1. If you act first in the Round, you get +2 to Fighting and +1 damage on your first attack of the Round.
2. You get +5 Movement.
3. When spending Dynamic Actions to affect Initiative, each gives a +3 or -3 shift, rather than 2.
Next time: Weapon Styles.
My Kung Fu Is SuperiorOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: My Kung Fu Is Superior
Weapon Styles, again, each require a different Quality, but if your weapon has two Qualities you can use both styles if you have them. If you aren't wielding an appropriate weapon, you can't use any of that style's techniques.
1. +1 damage with Blunt weapons. On a Boost, you also create a Pain 2 condition rather than the normal Pain 1.
2. On a Boost, on top of the Pain 2 condition, you also cause either Broken 1 or Injury 1, whichever fits the situation best.
3. On a Boost, the Broken or Injury condition is 2 instead of 1.
Force of Nature
1. On a Boost when attacking, any opponent within Close range must make a difficulty 2 Athletics+Speed check or fall over.
2. The difficulty of the check is now 3, and the fall also deals +1 damage.
3. You may use your weapon to vault (Movement*2) as a Quick Action once per round. On a Boost, you may act again immediately without penalty.
1. If someone uses a wooden weapon against your attack, you may shatter it on a Boost.
2. Now metal weapons are also effected.
3. On a Boost when striking a wooden or metal object, you partially or entirely shatter it depending on its size.
1. +1 Fighting per level with Chain weapons.
2. Any attempt to catch or trap your weapon is at -2.
3. You may use an Action to clear the area around you. Anyone in Close range chooses - either move to Near range or take 2 damage.
1. You get +1 Initiative per level.
2. On a Boost, you may reflect light off your chain to blind your target. They must make a difficulty 2 Fortitude check or get a Sensory Loss 1 condition.
3. On a successful Disarm, you may grab the target's weapon with your chain and make an attack with it at -2, using the Qualities of both your weapon and the grabbed one.
1. You can throw Chain weapons at Near range with no penalty.
2. On a Boost, reduce your opponent's Initiative by 2. If you get another Boost in them in the same Battle, they get the Slow 1 condition.
3. You can throw Chain weapons at Far range without penalty, and if one of your thrown attacks misses, your weapon returns to your hand.
1. Choose a Quality. You get 1 Armor per level against weapons with that Quality.
2. You pick a second Quality.
3. You pick a third Quality, and you may also now Block ranged attacks without penalty.
1. You may attack twice in one Action, but both attacks are at -2 and are defended against separately.
2. Penalties for both attacks are now -1.
3. You get no penalty any more. Also, +2 Initiative.
Yin and Yang
1. Once per round, you may sacrifice up to (Level) dice from an Attack to add to your next Defense or vice versa.
2. You may spend a Dynamic Action when struck by an attack to cause the attacker to get a non-cumulative Pain 2 condition.
3. Any weapon you wield gets the Paired quality, but if you're only using one weapon you get -2 to checks with it.
Blackout the Sun
1. On a Boost on a ranged attack, you may make a second Ranged attack. This can only be used once per round, but you may use the attack to fire at up to (Speed) additional targets.
2. You may use the technique twice per Round.
3. You never run out of ammunition to fire or throw, and you may use the technique three times per Round.
1. You use your ki to see, ignoring all penalties to ranged attacks at night.
2. You also ignore all penalties to firing into smoky, foggy or pitch black areas.
3. You ignore all penalties when firing ranged attacks, even if blinded.
1. Reduce all range penalties by 1.
2. You can ignore +1 level of Armor.
3. Any weapon you wield is Ranged until you let go of it.
Armor of Blades
1. Attackers in Close or Near range get -1 to attack you. If you get a Boost on Defense, you get +1 Fighting on your next attack.
2. Anyone trying to Grab you takes 2 damage if they hit. The penalty to attack you is now -2.
3. Ranged weapons also get a -2 penalty to hit you.
1. When in a dusty, snowy or leafy area, you may use your blade to whip stuff into enemy eyes. When you attack in these areas, up to (Intuition) foes in Close range must make a difficulty 2 Fortitude+Speed check or suffer a Sensory Loss (Blind) 1 condition for each level. Opponents can only be affected once by this at any given time.
2. You now can also use this on Defense checks, and the difficulty to resist is now 3.
3. On a Boost when attacking, you may throw your weapon at a second foe within Far range at no penalty.
1. You may now knock down arrows or thrown weapons as if Parrying a melee weapon.
2. On a Boost, you automatically Parry the next (Speed) projectiles, but get -1 per deflected projectile to all normal attacks for the Round.
3. You may now deflect firearm attacks at a -2 penalty.
Now, the 99 Styles. This is where things get weird. These are martial techniques that do not rely on direct kung fu. They can be very useful, but they're rather oblique.
Alchemy: The technique of creating or restoring imbalances in the body to change one's place in the universe. Alchemy has only one technique tree, but many areas of study. Some concoctions also require a certain level of mastery to be created. Making potions is, at base, a difficulty 1 Crafts+Holistics check, and up to (Knowledge) additional effects after the first can be put in a potion, but each adds +1 to the difficulty. You can also modify the delivery method from 'needs to be drunk' to 'inhaled as a gas' or 'can be used intravenously' at extra difficulty, and can make a potion addictive for extra difficulty. Potions are resisted with a Fortitude check, and how the potion is delivered determines the difficulty, primarily. Anyone with Holistics skill can attempt to create an antidote, but the difficulty is much easier if they also have Alchemy.
1. You get one Area of Study.
2. You get two more Areas of Study.
3. You get two more Areas of Study.
Awake: A potion that causes Dosed (Awake) 2. While dosed, the target gets +2 Perception but -1 Discipline. This also counteracts Sloth and reduces As The Dead's condition by 1.
As the Dead (Level 2+): One minute after exposure, the target convulses and becomes paralyzed and corpselike but remains totally aware, getting a Dosed (As the Dead) 2 condition.
Sloth: A potion that causes Dosed (Sloth) 1 for 2 scenes, making the victim lethargic and slow. They suffer -2 Perception, -2 Fighting and -2 Speed, and Movement is halved. This counteracts Awake.
Special Wine: A strong but sweet alcohol that causes Dosed (Special Wine) 1 for -1 Perception, -1 Discipline and -1 Fighting.
Dreamless Sleep: A potion that causes Dosed (Dreamless Sleep) 1, which can be raised by increasing the crafting difficulty. This sends the target into a dreamless sleep from which they can't wake until it wears off.
Lucidity: The target gets Dosed (Lucidity) 2. During this, they may interact with and vividly recall their dreams. This counteracts Nightmares.
Nightmares (Level 2+): The target gets Dosed (Nightmares) 2. During this, they suffer terrifying and realistic nightmares from which they cannot wake, but suffer no outward physical signs of such. This counteracts Lucidity.
Truth-Telling: The target gets Dosed (Truth-Telling) 1 for -3 Deception. A failed check also means the targe blurts out the truth if asked a question. This counteracts Influential, but is not often used medicinally.
Elixir (Level 3): The target is completely healed and loses all conditions. This effect cannot be added to any other potion.
Miasma: The target gets Dosed (Miasma) 1: -1 to all skills and Movement is halved. This potion is inhalable by default at no extra cost if this is the only effect, and making it a liquid by adding it to another potion that is liquid is at +1 Difficulty.
Poison: This deals 2 damage per application, and can be applied up to 5 times at +1 Difficulty each, for 10 damage. Anyone that takes damage also gets the Poison 1 condition. This is instantaneous, but can be made slower-acting at extra difficulty.
Restore: This heals 2 damage per application, and can be applied up to 5 times at +1 difficulty each. Each application either heals an additional 2 damage or reduces a condition by 1. This can affect only one condition per potion.
Amnesia (Level 2+): The victim gets Dosed (Amnesia) 2. For the duration, they cannot remember details of their identity at all. At extra difficulty, specific aspects of information can be made permanently lost.
Enthrall (Level 3): The victim gets Dosed (Entrhall) 1. For the duration, anyone using Persuade, Deception ot Intimidation against them gets +2. If under someone's Influential effect, the target is completely under the Influential user's control. This counts as 2 effects for difficulty.
Forgetfulness: The target gets Dosed (Forgetfulness) 1 for 2 scenes, becoming unabl to remember basic details, such as the names of friends or hometowns, or messages meant to be delivered.
Recollection (Level 2+): This causes Dosed (Recollection) 1, giving +2 to two skills but -2 to two others, chosen at the time of creation. The target can also remember very minute details related to the enhanced skills. If combined with another effect that gives bonuses, all penalties are doubled. This also counteracts both Forgetfulness and Amnesia.
Blind (Level 2+): The target gets Dosed (Blind) 2, causing total blindness. This becomes Sensory Loss 1 once it fades.
Dark Sight: The target gets Dosed (Dark Sight) 1, causing a -1 penalty to all checks in bright light but clear vision even in total darkness, with no penalties. This counteracts Blind.
Irritation: This causes Dosed (Irritation) 1, causing -2 to all checks. This is an inhaled potion at no extra cost if this is the only effect, identical to Miasma.
Soul Sight (Level 3): This causes Dosed (Soul Sight) 1, causing +2 Perception and Survival. Also, the target can see ki patterns through walls, doors and objects, even allowing recognition of specific people or things by their ki patterns.
Crowing Bird: This causes Dosed (Crowing Bird) 1 for 2 scenes, during which the target cannot speak any quieter than a high-pitched yell. This counteracts Mute.
Influential (Level 2+): The target suffers Dosed (Influential) 1, causing +2 Persuade and Intimidation. Anyone listening that is under Enthrall is completely controlled by the user.
Mockingbird (Level 2+): The target suffers Dosed (Mockingbird) 1, causing +2 Deception and Perform.
Mute: The target suffers Dosed (Mute) 2, causing hoarseness and -1 Stealth but +1 Intimidation. This counteracts Crowing Bird.
Master of Spies: Controlling various spy networks. Each network is also an Ally, and treated as such - whenever you ask them to do things, you owe them a favor and must fulfill it before you call on them again.
1. When you ask them to kill a single, specific person, they roll Persuasion+Speed. After (10-successes) days, the kill is complete. Only normal, regular people without public notoriety may be targeted this way. If you use a Gatherers network to get info on the target first, it only takes (5-successes) days.
2. You may assign them to guard you for a scene. If you are attacked, five assassins instantly jump in to interrupt the attack, and remain as a squad for the rest of the Battle.
3. You may now have them assassinate any target, public figure or not. However, the GM will decide if they take the job, as they do not like suicide missions - for example, the Emperor will never get assassinated this way. Killing someone this way takes (15-successes) days, or (10-successes) with Gatherer help.
1. You can ask them to get information on one target per level at any given time via a Persuasion+Knowledge check. Valuable information takes (10-successes) days, minimum 1 per target. This is usually info on known associates, financials and family. You get +1 on all social checks against the target for the foreseeable future. You may make an investigated target into an Ally for 5 XP rather than 10.
2. Information now only takes (7-successes) days. Further, the bonus on social checks is now +2, and you deal +1 mental damage against investigated targets.
3. You get +1 to all social situations where blackmail might be handy, and gathering specific information takes only (5-successes) days. The bonus to social checks is now +3 and the mental damage is now +2.
1. You can ask the thieves to steal or kidnap just about anything. They always roll 4 dice to plan, then execute, then get away. Each stage takes at least a day, and the difficulty of the check is chosen by the GM based on how hard the crime is. All three checks are at the same difficulty, and any failure means there's trouble. You may make a Persuasion+Stealth roll when making the request. Each success gives the thieves a bonus die to add to any of the three checks.
2. The thieves' dicepool is now 5.
3. The thieves' dicepool is now 6, and you may pick one stage of the heist that is always successful automatically.
Portents: You can foretell the future or sense supernatural things. There is only one technique tree for this.
1. You get the Sense Ki ability and either Dream Reading or Divination. Also, you get +1 per level to Knowledge checks about omens or superstitions.
2. Yu get the Read Ki ability and the ability you didn't pick at level 1.
3. You get either the Ancestral Guidance ability or the Dream Walker ability.
Ancestral Guidance: The GM will occasionally give you flashes of the future from the spiritual realm. You know the most likely result of your choice, but do not know any events between what you saw and now. Any actions that are taken to directly make the vision happen get +2.
Divination: You may act a direct question about the future and make an Empathy+Intuition check to get the answer, with difficulty based on the specificity and detail of the answer. You get +1 to any checks related to the answer, including other Portents abilities.
Dream Reading: You can interpret dreams, though it's not easy for people to remember their dreams. Interpreting them is an Empathy+Intuition check, with imagery usually representing people, clans, places and actions. The GM will use this as part of the narrative, but the advice you give based on the interpretation gives the subect +1 to related checks for (Level) days.
Dream Walker: You can enter the dreams of others while sleeping. They are not aware of you unless you talk to them, but you can talk to them as if standing next to them. You get +1 to future social checks against the target for (Level) days, and reduce the difficulty of any dream interpretation checks for them by 2. You may also attack them in the dream, fighting them normally but getting +1 Fighting and Marksman in the dream and +1 Health and +2 Psyche. All damage to the dreamer is mental damage.
Read Ki: You can sense and recognize ki out to (Rank) miles away. You know how much and what type of ki people or objects have, and you can track specific people with a Discipline+Empathy check.
Sense Ki: You can sense ki disturbances, such as traps, lost objects, supernatural events or hidden things. You are immune to ambush and get +1 to detect and avoid traps. If you actively look for a disruption you can make an Empathy+Knowledge check to determine if something is a coincidence or a sign of something bigger.
Summoning: You can make pacts with and call on the magical Celestial Animals. This requires mutual respect and reverence, joining you to the animal family of your choice and allowing the chosen Animal to travel to the human world. The Animals do not need to obey you, but usually will do what you want if you're respectful. There is only one technique tree, and it's Rank-locked. Level 1 can be taken at Rank 1, and gets more effects at Rank 2. Level 2 needs Rank 3 and gets more effects at Rank 4. Level 3 needs Rank 5. You can always summon your Minor Animals without any check, though they can refuse to show up. You can spend 1 ki to force them to show up but they dislike this a lot. You must take 1 physical and 1 mental damage, then make a Difficulty 2 Empathy+Persuade check to summon a Major Animal, which will remain for one scene or until one task is completed, though you get +1 to the check if the animal family shares your Element. Greater Animals require 2 of either type of damage, then a difficulty 3 check. If they refuse, you can try again by taking a Dazed 1 condition and a difficulty 5 check. Either way, they stay for (Rank) minutes, and you can take 1 physical and 1 mental damage to extend that to a Battle or Scene. If an Animal's Health drops to 0, you get -2 to future summoning checks for that family until you make amends. More on Celestial Animal families will come later.
1. At Rank 1, you bond to a single animal family and may summon a Minor Animal of that family. It can fight with you and gives +1 to the animal family's associated skill while in its presence, but you also suffer their unique Trigger while in its presence. At Rank 2, ou may summon a specific Major Animal from the chosen family, naming it as an Ally. However, it can ask you for favors, like any Ally.
2. At Rank 3, you may form a bond with a second animal family, which treats you as if you had -1 Rank. At Rank 4, you may summon a Greater Animal, naming it as a Rival. You may only ever have a single Greater Animal as a Contact, period.
3. At Rank 5, you may spend 2 Yin and 2 Yang to instantly teleport to the Celestial Realm of your primary animal family. (It is unclear if you can bring anyone with you.) You also bond with a third animal family, which treats you as if you had -1 Rank.
Trap Master: You can make traps. This is a CRafts+Knowledge check to build, harder if you lack materials and/or time, and a Stealth+Knowledge check to hide. Once triggered, it's an Athletics+Speed check to avoid the trap's effect. There is only one technique tree.
1. You can build traps, hide them and disarm them. Pick two trap types. The difficulty to make those is at -1 for you.
2. Pick two more trap types. The difficulty for those is at -1, and this can stack with the level 1 effect. You get one automatic success when hiding traps.
3. All trap types get -1 difficulty, on top of the last two levels. You get 2 automatic successes to hide traps now, not 1, and you can make Ki traps.
Attack Traps: These deal between 1 and 5 damage depending on the complexity and the type of weapons you install.
Capture Traps: Victims are caught in a cage, pit or other trap, and also suffer a Confused 1 condition.
Explosion traps: You blow shit up. The victim takes 5 damage, is knocked down and gets Burned 1.
Immobilize traps: You release sleep gas or bindings. The victim sufffers Slowed 1 and must either make a check against the alchemical concoction you used or a Might+Survivalcheck to break free of bindings.
Ki Traps (Level 3): You may place a jutsu into a trap. You spend an amount of ki to make the trap, which is dormant for days equal to ki spent or until a specific condition is met. If added to another trap type, the creation difficulty goes up by 1. The GM has discretion to disallow anything other than an attack-type jutsu as unsuitable.
Knockdown Traps: You swing logs or snares or whatever to knock people down. They are knocked down, knocked back (Crafts+Intuition)*5 feet, take 3 damage and get either Broken 1, Bruised 1 or Dazed 1.
Next time: Skill combos.
Combo BreakerOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Combo Breaker
So, skills. There's a wide array of skills you can use, and it's important to note that they will always be combined together in a pool of Skill 1 + Skill 2. The game gives common combos, but the book instricts the GM to let players pick a pair of skills that fit their description best. If one method works better than other, just alter the difficulty of the roll up or donw. Consequences for failure are drawn from the skill that is most sensical or unique to the situation, and can be negotiated with the GM. You only need levels in one of the two skills in your combo to roll without penalties, and a skill can combo with itself if there is no second skill that makes any sense. If you have no levels in either skill, you roll one d10 but you can only succeed on a 10, though that does count as 2 successes as normal. Also of note - if you use the same skill combo more than twice in a row outside of an Extended Check, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to the next use of that particular combo this scene. This is because your ninja gets bored and/or the enemy starts to see through your tactics. Switch things up!
Athletics is commonly used for running, jumping and climbing. You might roll Athletics+Might for lifting stuff, Athletics+Perform to put on a show of acrobatic tumbling, or Athletics+Speed to dodge attacks. When you fail on Athletics rolls, maybe you didn't do what you wanted...or maybe you got exhausted, taking -1 Athletics until you can eat and rest, or maybe you take 1 damage (of either type), or maybe you get Pain 1 as a condition. On a critical failure, you definitely don't do what you intended, though, and also you need to pick one: You're injured and cannot combine any skill with Athletics until you get a medic to heal you, or you can't try that particular feat again until conditions change somehow. Common Boosts for Athletics might be that you get a free Sprint or Find Cover action, your opponent is so shocked by how stylish you are that they get -2 Initiative, or you gain momentum for attacks, dodges or movement.
Crafts is making things. Art, smithing, repair, anything. You might roll Crafts+Deception to make physical disguises, Crafts+Fighting to make weapons or Crafts+Perform to do calligraphy impressively. Failing will cost you time or materials - whichever you have less of. If you have plenty of both or none of both, what you get is a complete item but with a hidden flaw, selecting from a list of 'one of its important properties is reduced by 1', 'one Quality just doesn't work' or 'failing while using this item is always a Critical Failure'. When you get a critical failure on Crafts, you use up all the available time and materials, and the result is either completely useless or it has a fatal flaw and will be destroyed when someone fails a check while using it. Common Boosts on Crafts might be making two items instead of one, giving the item you make the Master-Crafted quality, or making a really pretty object worth five times more than normal.
Deception is for lies. You might roll Deception+Discipline to play dead or unconscious, Deception+Empathy to detect lies, or Deception+Perform to convincingly pretend to be another person. Failure usually doesn't mean your lie is obvious, but instead tha tthe target is suspicious of your true intentions. Alternatively, you might suffer other consequences, such as the target interpreting your lie in the most inconvenient way, you leaving a clue behind that will incriminate you after some time, or you having told different lies to two different people who, if they compare notes, will catch you out. On a critical failure, the target clearly suspects your true motive, and you must choose - either you're directly caught lying in front of others, or you reveal too much of the truth as part of your lie. Common Boosts on Deception include a coincidence happening that backs up your lie with apparent evidence, suspicion being transferred to one of your opponents, or your target trusting you in the future.
Discipline is patience and willpower. You might roll Discipline+Empathy to resist fear, Discipline+Fortitude to resist pain in silence, or Discipline+Stealth to remain utterly motionless in a difficult hiding place. Failure usually means you give up on what you were trying to do for the check and must try something else. Alternatively, you can keep trying, but at a cost - you might procrastinate for a day in favor of fun, unable to retry unless caught or a day passes, whichever comes first. You might get cumulative -1 penalties to social or Stealth checks for the scene due to constant whining. You might take mental damage from becoming overemotional. On a critical failure, you must give up on your method immediately, and choose either to fall asleep or lose 1 ki. Common Boosts on Discipline include eliminating Pain conditions, letting you apply a streak bonus to any check, not just another Discipline combo, or your display of total control impressing foes and friends alike.
Empathy is understanding others. You might roll Empathy+Holistics to treat mental damage, Empathy+Perception to read someone's emotional state, or Empathy+Persuade to negotiate with someone from a place of understanding. Failure usually means you don't understand the target's emotions, but could mean you do but at consequences - a negative reaction due to your carelessness, an awkward reveal of your own feelings, or the target's feelings changing without you noticing, say. On a critical failure, you sense nothing and must choose either to get into a loud, emotional argument with the target or become too sympathetic and take a penalty to any contest with them until their emotional state changes. Common Boosts on Empathy include being able to read a room or organization to see who's really in charge, learning who or what the target most cares about or predicting the target's next action (and thus getting a bonus on any check to counter it).
Fighting is the skill of close combat, armed or unarmed. You might roll Fighting+Deception to make a Feint, Fighting+Knowledge to analyze a fighting style, or Fighting+Stealth to make a sneak attack while hidden. Failure usually means you miss, but could also mean you deal damage but suffer a consequence, such as being disarmed, suffering a free counterattack or revealing a weakness (and so giving all enemies a bonus against you). On a critical failure, you miss and must choose either to become open to attacks (and take -1 to all defenses for the Round) or become too defensive (reducing all damage you take by 1 for the Round but becoming unable to attack at all). Common Boosts on Fighting include dealing bonus damage, identifying the target's clan or master by their fighting style, or getting a streak bonus against the target.
Fortitude is the skill of endurance. You might roll Fortitude+Athletics to avoid exhaustion after extended activity, Fortitude+Holistics to heal yourself, or Fortitude+Survival to resist hostile environments. Failure usually means you can't finish the job in time or at all, but alternatively it can mean you can but choose to take damage, lose consciousness temporarily, or become sore for the next day and get -1 to all Fortitude checks. On a critical failure, you take damage and must choose either to fall unconscious or get sick and take a penalty until you get rest and medical attention. Common Boosts on Fortitude include getting a seond wind, impressing foes and friends with your physique, or getting the job down in half time or absorbing a failure consequence from someone else helping out.
Holistics is the skill of medicine and poison. You might roll Holistics+Crafts to make useful elixirs, Holistics+Fighting to apply poisons in battle or Holistics+Knowledge to identify wounds and disease. Failure usually means you don't improve the target's state and can't try again for a day. Alternatively, you can succeed but you might expend materials that must now be replaced, knock the target out by accident or cause an infection that increases healing check difficulties on the target. On a critical failure, you can't try to affect the target again for another day and must choose - you used up rare materials uselessly, or your treatment did the opposite of what you wanted. Common Boosts on Holistics include healing multiple targets, making poison that deals extra damage or healing both physical and mental damage at once.
Intimidation is the skill of making and using fear. You might roll Intimidation+Might to physically bully someone, Intimidation+Persuade to interrogate someone or Intimidation+Survival to stare down wild beasts. Failure usually means the target isn't impressed and you can't try again until circumstances change, but maybe you succeed at a cost - you might go too far and lose approval from your clan or squadmates, you might lose control and take mental damage, or you might scare everyone and get -1 on all non-Intimidation social checks for the scene. On a critical failure, the target's not impressed, and either you are psyched out and get a penalty against that target until they critically fail, or you get the Embarrassed 1 condition. Common Boosts on Intimidation include scaring additional targets, the target giving up all the information they know to appease you or causing the target to be psyched out or embarrassed.
Intuition is the skill of instinct and investigation. You might roll Intuition+Crafts to make something work by hitting it, Intuition+Empathy to win games of chance or Intuition+Marksman to wildly attack an invisible foe. Failure usually means you act on a wrong instinct. Alternatively, you don't fuck up but pay a cost - what you were doing has unfortuante side effects, you're filled with doub and get a penalty to Intuition checks until you manage to do something stylish enough to counter that, or fate strikes back against you and a later check gets increased difficulty. On a critical failure, you get -2 to initiative, and the GM can increase any one check's difficulty due to fate planting a doom on you. Common Boosts on Intuition include learning what the target will do and why, making you seem very lucky indeed to others, or finding the most efficient method of doing what you wanted.
Knowledge is, well, knowledge. You might roll Knowledge+Crafts to identify rare and unique items, Knowledge+Discipline to recall subtle details of the past or things you've read, or Knowledge+Travel to plan a long trip and know what dangers will lie ahead. Failure usually means you don't know anything useful...but you might at a cost, such as what you know being partially false, you needing some specific stimulus such as alcohol or a particular sound or visual to remember, or you need a library and time to get what you wanted to know. On a critical failure, you know nothing useful and you also either become obsessed, getting -1 on checks until you get a Boost that brings the info to mind, or you can't combo Knowledge with anything again until you spend a scene resting. Common Boosts on Knowledge include extra damage against a foe by analyzing their style, pulling out very, very useful info indeed, or getting a streak bonus due to extensive study.
Marksman is ranged combat. You might roll Marksman+Athletics to throw things, Marksman+Crafts to make ranged weapons or Marksman+Perception to pick out a vulnerable spot. Failure usually means you miss, or you might hit but suffer a consequence - a nearby foe could attack you for free, or you might not be able to make any more ranged attacks until you change position, or your weapon might be damaged and gain the Fragile quality. On a critical failure, you miss and most choose - either you hit an ally or you're out of ammo now and need to recover it. Boosts on Marksman commonly let you hit someone behind your target for half damage, cause Injured conditions or make your attack impossible to catch or deflect.
Might is physical strength. You might roll Might+Fighting to grapple or throw people, Might+Fortitude to do manual labor or Might+Travel to carry loads for long distances. Failure usually means you can't move what you wanted to, or you can but at a cost - you knock yourself out afterwards, or you damage the object or render it unusable, or you are trapped and can't move or defend yourself until the pressure lets up. Common Boosts on Might include extra damage in grapples, lifting more than you normally can, or a straek bonus from leverage.
Perception is noticing details and nuances. You might roll Perception+Discipline to make a thorough search, Perception+Intuition to hunt for clues or detect danger, or Perception+Survival to notice environmental hazards. Failure usually means you miss something important or pay a cost - lost time, finding danger the hard way or making yourself too obvious to foes. On a critical failure, you get random irrelevant information and either the Confused 1 condition or -2 to Initiative in the next battle or you trigger the most dangerous hazard in the area. Common Boosts on Perception include finding the easiest way to do something, getting +2 Intiative or spotting a weakness for a streak bonus.
Perform is putting on a show for an audience. You might roll Perform+Crafts to play an instrument, Perform+Intimidation to scare a crowd or Perform+Persuade to give a public speech. Failure is whatever's least convenient - the audience gets mad or leaves, you ruin the show at a crucial moment or you get the wrong kind of attention. On a critical failure, you get Embarrassed 1 and take one damage of either kind. Common Boosts on Perform include the audience loving you, stunning someone with your beauty and causing -2 Initiative, or doing the show in half the time or negating a partner's failure.
Persuade is convincing people subtly. You might roll PErsuade+Deception to seduce someone, Persuade+Intimidation to lead impressionable mobs, or Persuade+Knowledge to debate with compelling arguments. Failure usually means you don't influence the target, or do so at a cost - a powerful foe notices you, or the target becomes obsessed with you, or you must offer an equal concession. On a critical failure, you can't use Persuade on the target again until you get a Style Boost, and you must choose - either the target notices what you want and does the opposite, or you offer a concession but gain nothing in return. Common Boosts on Persuade include swaying neutral listeners, utterly convincing the target to the extent that they'll try to convince others, or making such a powerful appeal that counterarguments have increased difficulty.
Speed is all quickness and reflexes. You might roll Speed+Fighting for quick jab or a parry, Speed+Stealth to move between hiding spots unnoticed, or Speed+Travel to get somewhere fast. Failure usually means you're too slow to do what you wanted, or you push yourself at a cost - you can't use any defense but Brace for a round, or you get -1 to physical checks for the rest of the scene, or you leave an opening that gives a different foe a free attack. On a critical failure, you hesitate and get -2 Initiative, and must choose either to take damage or become immobile for a Round. Common Boosts on Speed include a free Retreat action, a streak bonus or getting whatever you were doing done in record time.
Stealth is sneaking. You might roll Stealth+Athletics to creep across rooftops undetected, or Stealth+Deception to distract a guard, or Stealth+Intuition to find a quick hiding spot. Failure could mean you're spotted, or you might just get consequences - people know someone's sneaking so difficulties increase, you are sen but escape, or you're not seen but your approach is blocked. On a critical failure, you're spotted, and either you must escape without getting the job done or you do the job but get captured. Common Boosts on Stealth include hiding someone else or countering their failure, discovering a new approach with less security, overhearing important secrets or leaving evidence implicating someone else.
Survival is...wilderness survival and dealing with nature. You might roll Survival+Holistics to milk poisons or antitoxins from animals and plants, Survival+Marksman to hunt animals for meat, or Survival+Perception to find and follow tracks. Failure usually causes the Deprived 1 condition or damage from hunger and exposure, or might let you avoid harm at a cost, such as losing a valuable object, getting a penalty to checks until you find shelter due to heat or frostbite, or drawing unwanted animal or enemy attention. On a critical failure, you take damage and either more damage or you get lost and gain the Confused 1 condition as well as losing time. Common Boosts on Survival include learning about threats or useful flora and fauna in the area, finding or making excellent shelter, or befriending a local critter.
Travel is the skill of planning and going on journeys. You might roll Travel+Intuition to find your way without a map, Travel+Stealth to avoid attention on a journey, or Travel+Survival to cross the wilderness safely. Failure costs time, generally, but if you have plenty of time it might draw unwanted attention, have someone help you out but then demand a favor in return, or you might become exhausted and need to stop the journey earlier than planned. On a critical failure, you arrive in the wrong place and must choose - either the place is very dangerous or you're going to need to get something before you can get on your way again, such as papers, a map or travel fares. Common Boosts on Travel include learning about new destinations or news happening where you're going, getting comfortable accomodations that give a bonus to the journey, or getting where you're going in half the time or compensating for someone else's failure.
As I noted, damage can be physical or mental - you have two health tracks. The first is Health, for physical damage. You have (Fortitude+5) Health, max 10. The second is Psyche, for mental damage. You have (Discipline+5) Psyche, max 10. When you pass between major scenes or a day passes in-game, you heal up to (Fortitude+Discipline+1)/2 damage, divided between the tracks as you choose. You can also get this healing if you spend a Scene pursuing your elemental Temperament (you remember, the first chargen step) to blow off steam.
Ki is contained by all things, in two types. Yin (the negativen ature of the universe) and Yang (the positive). Both are required. You start with 3 ki, divided up by your choices in the Element, Tragedy and Clan sections. You gain more ki only by rising in Rank. You can have betwen 0 and 5 of each type of ki. Basic jutsu cost 1 ki of the right type, Median jutsu cost 2 of the right type, and Advanced jutsu cost 4 of the right type. After a rest or between scenes, you return to your 'resting' ki - that is, your default loadout. Any other ki must be drawn from the environment before you can use it.
Molding local ki outside of combat is easy - you do the breathing and focusing motions and there's a very obvious display of energy swirling around you. Once molded, this ki remains useable for about 30 minutes before returning to its natural state and dropping you back to your resting ki. In battle, however, it's harder and more costly. Most environments also contain a limited amount of ki, with a chart determining how often the local ki can be tapped into before it becomes depleted. A local ki line will increase that, but an area with no nearby ki lines at all decreases it. If your personal elemental aligns iwth that of the environment, however, you can tap into it twice per scene even if there are no taps left. Very handy.
So what do you spend ki on? Well, if you fail a jutsu activation check, you can spend a ki of the correct type to succeed anyway. You can spend 1 ki (type doesn't matter) once per round in place of a Dynamic Action. You can spend a ki to ignore the target's Armor for one check or halve damage from one incoming attack. You can give ki to other ninja by touching them. You can also spend ki to gain Dynamic Actions, one for one.
Characters begin at rank 1. They rise in rank every 50 XP. Higher ranks give +1 Intimidation per step above lower ranks. Rank 1 is Emerald Star - a full ninja at chargen, capable of one free Dynamic Action per round and with 3 dice to roll each round to see if they get more. Rank 2 is Ruby Star. You get +1 ki of your choice, 2 free Dynamic Actions per round and 3 dice to roll for more. Rank 3 is Emerald Moon. +1 ki, 2 Dynamic Actions and 4 dice. Rank 4 is Ruby Moon. +1 ki, 3 Dynamic Actions, 4 dice. The final rank is Shadow Eye. +1 ki, 4 Dynamic Actions, 4 dice.
Oh yeah, and there's a few derived statistics. Your Initiative is a static number - (Intuition+Speed+3). You can raise or lower it in battle with Dynamic Actions or other abilities, though. Your Strength is your raw power for lifting or pushing or breaking, and it's (Athletics+Might), but you can make a roll to do things beyond that base number. Your Movement is how many feet you can go in a single Round, and that's (Athletics+Speed+5).
Average XP gain per session is 3, but can be up to 5. You get 1 XP for just showing up, 1 XP if any of your Triggers were used in the session (for good or bad), 1 XP if you took charge of something in the session (often selected by group vote), 1 XP if you did something [i[really[/i] cool or clever, and 1 XP if your character learned something - even if it's as simple as 'don't underestimate guards' or 'don't backstab that guy again because he's scary.' At the end of a major arc, you get between 1 and 5 additional XP, depending on how dangerous it was, how effective your plans were and how well it turned out.
XP costs are pretty high for stuff, though. It costs 6 to raise a skill a level, or 10 to hit level 5. Specialtis at least only cost 3. For 5 XP you can raise a Gift's bonus by 1 (to a max of +2) or how much Karma a Trigger produces (but only once per Trigger). A new Technique costs 10 XP, and raising one you already have costs 7. You can gain a new ally for 5 XP, gain a new Rival for 3 XP, or enhance an Ally with a +1 bonus with 3 XP (up to twice per Ally). You can also spend 3 XP to make a Rival into an Ally, but the GM can veto that. New jutsu cost between 7 and 20 XP depending on how advanced they are, and more if you don't have any jutsu of that Way already.
Next time: So what exactly are jutsu, anyway?
Stupid Ninja PowersOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Stupid Ninja Powers
Every jutsu is attuned to either Yin or Yang. Yang jutsu usually involve growth, buffs or healing, while Yin are usually debuffs, mental in nature or harmful. They are both equally powerful, just different, and activating a jutsu is a roll of either Yin or Yang and a skill. You must have a minimum level of the appropriate type of ki to use a jutsu - so if your resting ki won't do that, you're going to have to Mold Ki to get more, probably. Basic jutsu take only 1 ki as minimum, while Median take 2 and Advanced take 4. Difficulties also work differently for jutsu. If your jutsu is non-opposed, you never need more than one success for something to happen. However, if you do not achieve a minimum number of successes (2 for Basic, 3 for Median, 4 for Advanced), you also suffer a Backfire effect based on the type of jutsu used. Opposed jutsu also work this way, but can also fail to do anything useful if the opposition beats your check. You don't get a Backfire if you hit the minimum successes but still fail to affect the target. Likewise, all jutsu have a Training which determines what the benefits are when you get a Boost during jutsu activation. Note that the value of your Yin and Yang for all purposes are calculated at the instant you use the power, rather than relying on your resting ki values. As a note, by default jutsu and backfire effects last until the scene ends.
All jutsu also have an Element. If your Element (from step 1 in chargen) matches the Element of the jutsu, you get +1 to activating it. A small but nice bonus. Likewise, elements full a cycle of destruction. Wood parts Earth, Earth dams Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood. When two jutsu are used against each other - one to attack, say, and the other to defend - the one that destroys the other gets +2 to the activation check, and the one that is destroyed halves its effectiveness. (Obviously if the elements don't interact in the cycle, no bonuses or penalties happen on either side.)
Jutsu that affect the user or the environment cannot be resisted - they just happen. However, a jutsu targeting a person can be resisted. Most people have no particular resistance. The average villager or citizen has no mastery of ki and so they do not get to roll any resistance at all. However, other ninja or NPCs with special ki training are able to resist. A resistance check is always the same check as the attacker's, but using the opposite jutsu - so a Yin+Stealth jutsu would be resisted by Yang+Stealth. Also, if the jutsu is Advanced, resisting it costs 1 ki of either type.
The most fundamental jutsu that every ninja has access to are the Elemental Jutsu.
The Way of Earth is an Earth-elemental jutsu, teaching how to bolster strength and endurance. When you get a Boost while activating Way of Earth jutsu, you get +1 Armor against your choice of mental or physical damage for the rest of the scene, stacking normally. The Backfire, however, is a cumulative -1 penalty to all rolls to defend or resist attacks.
Muddied Steps (Yang+Deception): You make a decently wide area of earth into mud, forcing an Athletics+Speed check to remain standing in it when transformed or when anyone tries to move in it. Those that fail get Slowed 1.
Open the Earth (Yin+Might): You create a hole or opening in stone, which can be fairly wide and very deep.
Stone Fists (Yin+Fortitude): You wrap stone around your fists. You get +1 Fighting and can Block with your fists without any penalties for several Rounds.
Stone Like Clay (Yin+Crafts): You treat stone, rock and non-metallic earth as if it were soft clay for the rest of the scene, regardless of how hard it is. Everyone else continues to treat it like it normally does.
Stone Lung (Yang+Survival): You shove dirt into the target's lungs. For a number of Turns, they get -1 to all physical actions due to breathing problems - and with a Boost, also the Deprived 1 condition.
Earthen Slumber (Yang+Holistics): You lie on the earth and gain its power, healing damage of either type based on your Yang instantly.
Pillars of Stone (Yang+Crafts): You make a number of tall stone pillars which you can use to cause knockdown or knockback in combat with a +1 bonus, or which you can use to rise quickly on for a +1 bonus to Dodge.
Spitting Earth (Yang+Marksman): You must have Muddied Steps. You can fire off blasts of earth and stone, attacking at +1 and dealing 2 damage. With a Boost, you can instead choose to deal half damage to a larger number of targets at once.
Stone Skin (Yin+Fortitude): You surround your body with sand and rock, giving +2 Armor against physical damage and +1 Health for the duration of the Battle.
Stoney Face (Yin+Intimidation): You make your face ike stone, gaining +1 to social attacks and defenses for the Scene, or +2 with a Boost.
Earth Flow (Yin+Travel): You can walk through stone and earth at normal speed, though you cannot run. You must be moving to pass through earth - if you stop for any reason, you are immediately shunted out.
Quake (Yang+Might): You must have Pillars of Stone. You can make a localized earthquake for several rounds, forcing a Dodge check at -2 to avoid knockdown and damage.
Quicksand (Yin+Deception): You must have Muddied Steps. You make a fairly large area into quicksand for the scene. Anyone in the area when it goes off can try to Dodge out of the way. Anyone caught in it sinks 1 foot per Round and can't make Move actions. If they can't leave the quicksand before they are totally covered, they will eventually die of suffocation.
Stone Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Stone Skin. You turn into a person made of rocks. For the rest of the Battle, you get +3 Armor against physical damage, +2 Health and +1 damage to your unarmed attacks.
Terracotta Soldier (Yang+Crafts): You summon a squad of four stone soldiers, which use half your dicepool for Attacks and Defnese, get 1 Action, Armor 2 and 20 Health, but have no Psyche or Dynamic Actions. With a Boost, you instead get six soldiers, for +1 to attack and +5 Health to the squad. They crumble when the Battle ends.
The Way of Fire is a Fire-elemental jutsu, teaching control over the raw, dangerous power of flame, both to harm and defend. On a Boost while activating its jutsu, you may choose to ignite the point of contact in flames that deal +1 physical damage on impact and every Round afterwards until they are put out. On a Backfire, however, something you don't want on fire is on fire or you take the damage as well as the enemy. On a critical failure, you get Burned 1.
Bright Star (Yang+Persuade): You glow really, really bright, penalizing attacks against you for the round (except for Grapples) and illuminating everything in Near range. On a Boost, this lasts for an entire scene or Battle.
Extinguishing Seal (Yin+Intuition): You immediately extinguish any ongoing fires nearby. If you use this to Deflect fire damage, success completely nullifies the attack.
Fire Punch (Yang+Might): Your hands are on fire for a number of strikes, dealing +1 damage wiht them.
Flame Arrow (Yang+Marksman): You shoot a fire blast that deals 2 damage on a hit. On a Boost, the target also is now Burned 1.
Flame Wall (Yang+Intimidation): You create a wall of fire for several Rounds. It has no substance, but is quite wide and anyone passing through it takes damage and then has to make a Fortitude check to avoid taking even more damage and Burned 1.
Cauterize (Yin+Holistics): With a touch, you can heal 1 Health and remove any Bleeding conditions from the target. On a Boost, you can affect several targets based on your Yang.
Dulled Spirit (Yin+Empathy): You reduce someone's passions, giving them a penalty based on your Yin to resisting the next mental attack they suffer.
Face in the Fire (Yin+Empathy): You may make your face appear in any fire within several miles, allowing you to see and communicate with those near it.
Fire-Proof (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Extinguishing Seal. You reduce any Burned conditions you have taken this scene by 1 and reduce damage you would take from fire attacks or flames nearby based on your Yang for the rest of the Scene or Battle.
Red Mantle (Yang+Crafts): You must have Bright Star. You surround yourself with fire, getting +1 Fighting and +2 Intimidation for the rest of the Battle.
Burst Defense (Yin+Fortitude): Your skin sends out waves of heat when struck for the next several hits. If someone successfully deals damage to you within Close range, they also take 2 damage.
Fire-Breather (Yang+Discipline): You spit a blast of fire at a number of targets based on your Yang that are all in the same direction. They may Dodge normally, and if they fail, they take 2 damage and get Burned 1.
Fire Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Red Mantle. You turn into a person made of fire for several Rounds, getting +2 Fighting, +2 Persuade and +2 Initiative, as well as +1 damage in close combat. Any Boost on an attack also creates a Burned 1 condition on top of the normal Boost effect.
Ride the Flame (Yang+Travel): You must have Face in the Fire. You can jump into a fire and pop out of any other fire within several miles, leaving the smell of burnt flesh behind. On a Boost, you can take someone with you.
Rise From the AShes (Yang+Holistics): You revert any object destroyed by fire to its original form within a number of minutes based on your Yang. This cannot affect living things, but will work on anything inanimate, even an entire house.
The Way of Metal is a Metal-elemental jutsu, focusing on weapons, armor and precise use of metals. On a Boost while activating its jutsu, you get +1 to all use of metal weapons and tools. On a Backfire, however, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to using metal weapons and -1 to Block or Brace against metal weapons for the rest of the Scene or Battle.
Blade Dance (Yang+Athletics): You get +2 Perform outside combat. If used in combat, anyone trying to hit you gets -1 to do so for several Rounds.
Hover Disk (Yang+Crafts): You mold available metals into a floating disc that moves at twice your normal speed and can lift up to 500 pounds. This lasts for one scene or Journey.
The Metal Within (Yin+Fortitude): You can integrate metal objects into your body - knives in your arms, spikes in your knuckles, coins in your gut. You use this once to put them in and once to take them out.
Mold Metal (Yin+Crafts): You can mold metal as if it was clay for the rest of the scene. It remains metallic for everyone else.
Sharpen Blade (Yang+Fighting): You improve a blade. While using it, you get +1 Fighting and +1 damage for several strikes. No one else can get this bonus.
Cage (Yang+Crafts): You summon a metal cage around a target, who can Dodge at -1. The cage has Durability 5. On a Boost, you can encage multiple targets.
Iron Mind (Yin+Discipline): You steel your mind, gaining +2 to Resistance checks in social combat.
Melting Touch (Yin+Knowledge): You must have Mold Metal. You instantly smolder an amount of metal based on your Yin with a touch. In combat, you may use this as a special Block at -2 to melt an enemy's weapon.
Mend Bones (Yin+Holistics): You use metal to reinforce or fix bones, reducing all of the target's physical Conditions by 1. This can only be used once per scene.
Tough as Nails (Yang+Fortitude): You must have The Metal Within. You harden your skin and give your eyes and hair a metallic sheen. For the rest of the scene or Battle, you have +1 Armor and can Block weapons while unarmed without penalty.
Total War (Yang+Knowledge): You summon an animated blade that obeys you for one Battle. It deals 3 damage and is Sharp. It uses your base dicepool for melee attacks and acts at your Initiative minus 1.
Magnetic Pull (Yang+Fortitude): Any metal in an area based on your Yang is attracted to you, allowing you to pick up weapons at a distance or draw items in. You can also pull on large, stationary metal to move towards it, even if you can't move. A living target such as someone in a suit of armor can make a Fortitude+Discipline check to resist your pull but are otherwise affected normally. This check can also be made to avoid being disarmed.
Magnetic Repulsion (Yin+Discipline): You deal +1 damage with metal weapons due to pushing them faster and get +2 on checks to do Knockback to armored foes. Attackers wielding metal weapons get -2 to hit you.
Metal Form (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Tough as Nails. You turn into a metal person, getting +3 Armor against physical damage and +2 unarmed damage for the rest of the Battle.
Wall of Blades (Yang+Crafts): You summon a large wall of blades. Anyone touching it takes 2 damage. On a Boost, the blades also gain the Sharp quality (and so can cause Bleeding).
The Way of Water is a Water-elemental jutsu, focusing on total mastery over water. On a Boost while activating its jutsu, you get +2 to your next Defense, either physical or mental. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to Movement and Defense checks.
Liquid Breath (Yang+Fortitude): You don't need to breathe while underwater for the rest of the scene.
Roar of the Shore (Yin+Perception): You confuse the target with ocean sounds. They are defeaned and take -1 to Discipline and Perception checks. On a Boost, they also take 1 mental damage.
Summon Water (Yin+Crafts): You conjure several gallons of water, either as a puddle or into a vessel.
Water Walking (Yin+Athletics): You can stand on or walk on water without falling in and without penalty, regardless of how choppy it is, for the rest of the scene.
Wind at the Back (Yang+Travel): You get +2 to a check during the River or Mountain stages of a Journey over water, as you call on currents and winds.
The Ink Blurs (Yin+Perception): You must have Roar of the Shore. You alter the target's perceptions and make their vision blur. They are effectively blinded and get -2 to all checks, including combat checks, for the rest of the scene or Battle.
The Jagged Edge (Yang+Crafts): You freeze nearby water into a spear or kunai of ice. This can be used as a normal weapon, but it has -1 to Blocks and shatters on its fifth successful hit or Block. Also, Boosts while using it cause Slowed 1.
Like Water (Yin+Intuition): You move like water and have a cushion of water to buffer damage. You get +2 to Block, Brace, Dodge or Find Cover for the rest of the Battle.
Pull of the Deep (Yin+Perception): You increase humidity in a wide area, making mists that cling to everyone but you. Anyone in the area moves as if through water and gets -1 to any Action that requires a Move action for the rest of the scene or Battle.
Soothing Waters (Yin+Holistics): With a touch, you can heal either type of damage, based on your Yin. With a Boost, you can affect multiple people.
Call to Water (Yang+Might): You must have Summon Water. You redirect a body of water and draw it towards you. You can redirect rivers, make corridors in lakes or oceans, or even tear water out of living beings. If used on a living target you can see, this deals 2 physical damage as the water is stripped from them.
The Hidden Mist (Yang+Discipline): You must have Wind at the Back. You make a thick fog all around, obscuring everyone but your vision. Within it, everyone else can only see a little bit in front of them and get -3 to ranged attacks, but +1 to Find Cover.
Read the Flow (Yin+Perception): You can read the flow of moods, sensing the temperament and mood of everyone in the room and getting +2 to all social checks, including social combat, for the scene.
Tidal Wave (Yang+Might): You must have Summon Water. You summon a huge wall of water that knocks down everythin in its path. Anyone hit by it takes 3 damage, knockdown and is knocked back quite a ways.
Water Form (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Like Water. You turn into a puddle, moving at half Movement on land and triple Movement in water. You are immune to all physical damage, but mental damage or illusions.
The Way of Wood is a Wood-elemental jutsu, focusing on connection to life and frowth. On a Boost while activating its jutsu, you get +2 to checks to use wooden objects. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to Might and Athletics checks.
Harvest (Yang+Crafts): You make a fruit-bearing tree instantly produce a meal's worth of food. On a Boost, you can feed multiple people.
Hidden Door (Yin+Travel): You bend and move a wooden structure, creating an opening in the wood large enough for a person.
Instant Growth (Yang+Crafts): You grow a plant instantly in any shape you like - ladder rungs, branches to catch you, furniture, whatever.
Tree Hopping (Yang+Athletics): You move at triple Movement when jumping across wooden structures - living or not.
Unfolding Gift (Yang+Knowledge): When you first meet someone, you can use this to create an elaborate origami figure to give as a gift. This gives you a bonus to Persuade against them for the rest of the scene, and with a Boost, also gives them Convinced 1.
Hiding Place (Yang+Holistics): You meld into a tree large enough to fit your body. While there, you heal 1 mental and 1 physical damage every 10 minutes.
Immaculate Bridge (Yang+Crafts): You create a wooden bridge that can extend quite far and can hold up to 1000 pounds of weight.
Wall of Wood (Yang+Might): You summon a wall of thick wood that is decently tall and wide. It is difficulty 3 to break through, or 4 on a Boost.
Weapon Craft (Yang+Craft): You reach into a tree and pull out any completely wooden weapon you like. You get +1 to attack and damage with it.
Wooden Visage (Yin+Deception): You harden your face to project a single emotion of your choice rather than what you are actually feeling. Any attempt to sway you socially is at -2.
Bend like the Willow (Yin+Athletics): You get +3 to Defense checks in both physical and social combat for several Rounds.
Forest Walk (Yang+Travel): You must have Tree Hopping. You can step into a tree and emerge from any other tree in several hundred feet - or any tree in the same forest or jungle, without care for distance.
Maze of Trees (Yin+Deception): You infuse your ki into a jungle or large forested area, making an illusion of impassability. Anyone entering the area gets -3 to checks to navigate or travel through it, and anyone starting combat in the area gets -2 to all combat checks.
Regrowth (Yang+Knowledge): With only a few seeds or cuttings, you can grow vegetation in a wide area. The plants last for several days, but will then wither and die unless enough water and light is around to maintain them. If someone is in the area when the plants start to grow, they get -2 to actions or -4 Movement for several Rounds, until the growth stops.
Wood Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Hiding lace. You become a wooden person, with tentacular vines and thick bark. You get +2 Armor and +1 Health for the rest of the scene or Battle, and get +2 to Initiate Grab, Disarm and Catch actions.
After that are the General Jutsu, which everyone can learn but which are not direct elemental manipulation. The Way of Beasts is an Earth-elemental jutsu, all about controlling and dealing with animals. On a Boost while activing its jutsu, you get a cumulative +1 to Initiative and Fighting by tapping into your animal side. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to all social checks due to your animal nature.
Bloodhound (Yang+Perception): You get +1 Percpetion for smell and taste-related checks and can pick up scents in a wide area. With a Boost, this are extends out to half a mile.
Calming Presence (Yin+Empathy): You calm an angry animal and get +1 Persuade in further interactions with it.
Eagle Eye (Yang+Perception): You can see perfect details out to several hundred feet and get +1 to Perception checks. (Based on the others, I suspect it's vision-specific.) On a boost, the range is instead half a mile.
Favor (Yin+Persuade): You can give an animal an order with a number of steps. The animal will obey until the task is done, but will not do anything that would kill it or go against its nature.
Sonic Hearing (Yin+Perception):L You enhance your hearing, able to pick up sounds perfectly for a wide area. You get +1 Perception to hearing checks. On a Boost, the range extends to half a mile.
Animal Stance (Yang+Might): You meditate on a specific animal style and get either +1 Health or +1 Psyche, and +2 to a related skill to the chosen animal. These last for several rounds.
Beast Form (Yang+Fortitude): You choose an animal when you learn this. You transform into that animal, gaining its natural abilities and weaknesses. You can take this multiple times for different animals.
Control Beast (Yin+Intimidation): You must have Favor. You seize control of an animal's body for the scene and may direct its actions with a Quick Action. This does not work on ninja dogs of the Pack of the Black Moon.
Night Eyes (Yin+Perception): You reduce all darkness-based penalties by 2 and your eyes glow, giving +1 Intimidation for the scene.
Tunneler (Yang+Crafts): You get mole-like digging claws, allowing you to tunnel through earth and stone at a rate based on your Yang. If you use these in combat, your unarmed attacks deal +1 damage and can block weapons without penalty.
Animal Warrior (Yang+Persuade): You make an animal grow into a bigger, enraged, deadlier animal with a touch, giving them +3 Health, +2 Fighting and +1 damage on their attacks. They will not attack you, but will attack anyone else nearby. This lasts for several Rounds.
Stampede (Yang+Discipline): You must have Control Beast. All animals nearby go nuts, attacking and destroying anything in their way. Anyone within Far range of you must make Defense checks to avoid damage.
Steed (Yang+Persuade): You summon a mount out of nowhere. When using it on a Journey, you get bonus dice to split among Journey stages as you like.
Swarm Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Beast Form. Instead of turning into one animal, you now turn into a swarm of the chosen type, allowing you to spread yourself over a wide area. You can't be killed unless the entire swarm is. You also get +2 Intimidation.
Wild Ward (Yin+Intimidation): Animals cannot approach within Far range of you. Ninja dogs get to resist with Discipline+Fortitude, but no other animals do.
The Way of Movement is a Fire-elemental jutsu, all about moving quickly and getting past obstacles. On a Boost during activation, you get cumulative +2 Movement and +1 Initiative. On a Backfire, you cumulative -2 Movement and -1 Initiative.
Air's Embrace (Yin+Travel): You negate all falling damage, regardless of height.
Lightfoot (Yin+Speed): You become weightless, able to jump twice as far as normal and leaving no tracks. You can even stand on swordtips or (if you don't move) on water, and you get +1 Stealth.
Surface Running (Yang+Speed): You can run on walls or ceilings for the rest of the scene. On a Boost, you can even move on water, though if it's choppy you may have to make Speed+Travel checks not to fall over.
Tiger's Leap (Yang+Might): For a single jump, you jump much farther based on your Yang.
Unmoving Stance (Yin+Discipline): You automatically succeed against Knockback and Knockdown effects for several Rounds.
Float (Yang+Travel): You must have Air's Embrace. You can now hover for the scene. You are immune to falling damage and can float about ten to fifty feet off the ground at half Movement. If you get a Boost, it's normal Movement.
Lightning Fists (Yang+Fighting): You can make 3 Attacks against one foe in melee with a single check. Each is defended separately, and you can't use this with large or Unwieldy weapons.
Rotation Defense (Yin+Speed): You spin really fast for several rounds. Ranged attacks on you get a penalty based on your Yin. If you stop to attack, the jutsu ends.
Speed's Gift (Yin+Intuition): You must have Umoving Stance. As long as you do not move, you can give your total Movement to someone else as a bonus.
Swift Soul (Yang+Travel): You may add Speed to any Defense check. If Speed is already part of the check, you may double it instead. This lasts for several checks.
10,000 Fists (Yang+Speed): You must have Lighting Fists. You blur around the field, making a number of additional attacks this Round. All targets must be in Near range, and all attacks occur on your Initiative.
Intangibility (Yin+Fortitude): You hold your breath. While your breath is held, you can pass through solid objects. The jutsu ends when you stop holding your breath.
Lightning Speed (Yang+Speed): You may add your Yang to Movement and Initiative for the rest of the Battle. Using Interruptions only takes 1 Dynamic ACtion for you and you get no penalty when using Quick Actions. Also, you get a number of bonus dice to spend as you like on Actions and/or Defenses.
Teleportation (Yang+Travel): You can inscribe kanji on things, people or places. If one of these symbols is within several miles, you may use this jutsu to teleport to the symbol. On a Boost, you can teleport one more time per scene without a check. (The game notes that putting the mark on your kunai, throwing them and teleporting around the battlefield explicitly works.)
Upward (Yang+Travel): You must have Float. You can now fly at any height, and you move very fast while doing so, based on your Yang.
The Way of Survival is a Wood-elemental jutsu based on handling the wilderness and living in it. On a Boost during activation, you heal 1 mental damage. If you Boost three times in the same scene, you may instead hcoose to reduce any Condition by 1. On a Backfire, the next threat to the group will only target you, and you get -2 to Resistance or Defense against it.
Danger Sense (Yang+Intuition): You are immune to surprise attacks for the scene and get +2 Initiative in the first Round of Battle.
Escape Technique (Yin+Speed): You are released from all bindings and/or cages. This is only usable on yourself.
Foraging Technique (Yang+Survival): You get +3 Survival for finding food and clean water.
Trackless Movement (Yin+Stealth): You leave no footprints and cause no disturbances as you move. You also get +2 Speed vs traps.
Weather Tracking (Yin+Intuition): You sense weather patterns for the next few days and get +1 Survival for living in the wilderness for that period. This cannot predict weather-changing magic of any kind.
Camouflage (Yin+Deception): You get a decent Stealth bonus while you remain in a single area. The jutsu ends if you leave.
Instant Break (Yin+Marksman): You can break any object within Near range that you can see. Handheld items shatter, while larger items take 3 damage that ignores Armor.
The Perfect Tool (Yang+Crafts): You summon the perfect tool for a job. While using it, you get +2 to the corresponding skill.
Realm of Warning (Yin+Empathy): You make an invisible field in a wide area around you that alerts you when anyone or anything leaves or enters it, giving you a mental image of what that thing or person was. This lasts for the scene.
Summon Shelter (Yang+Crafts): You summon a small, unfurnished wooden shack that can accomodate several people comfortably.
The Ground Speaks (Yang+Perception): You kneel and speak to the earth, getting a sense of the land for several miles around. This gives +3 to any checks to make strategies and allows you to ignore any traps in that area.
Guardians (Yin+Persuade): You must have Realm of Warning. Once Realm of Warning is active, you can use this to summon a number of perimeter guardians, each with 3 Health and 1 Armor, and 4 dice to attack and defend. With a Boost, they have 6 dice instead.
Resist the Elements (Yin+Survival): For the scene, you are immune to all natural disasters, including wildfires, tornados and earthquakes, along with all environmental penalties. You also get +2 to Defense or Resistance against Elemental jutsu for the scene.
Safe Travels (Yin+Travel): You give bonus dice to another person's Journey, split among checks however they wish. You cannot go along on the journey if you use this.
Second Wind (Yang+Discipline): You heal a good amount of damage of either type, up to half the amount you've taken, total.
The Way of the Unseen is a Water-elemental jutsu based around avoiding detection and using illusions. On a Boost while activating its jutsu, you make a distraction that gives foes -2 Perception to notice you. On a Backfire, you get -2 to all Stealth or Perception-based actions for the scene.
Blank Face (Yin+Perform): You remove all emotion from your face, causing all social attacks on you to be made at -2.
Unarmed Position (Yin+Deception): You render any small, handheld object invisible while it is concealed on your person. On a Boost, the object can be up to a sword in size. If you pull the object out, the jutsu ends.
The Unheard (Yin+Stealth): You cancel all sound in a small area around you. With a Boost, you can instead make a number of individuals quiet rather than an area.
The Unnoticed (Yin+Stealth): As long as you are not moving, you cannot be seen by any means. You get +2 Stealth while moving, but the jutsu ends if you go above walking speed. With a Boost, you can run or sprint without ending the jutsu.
The Unscented (Yin+Stealth): You remove all traces of your presence, including scent. All attempts to track you by scent automatically fail.
Artful Exit (Yin+Empathy): You must have Blank Face. As long as you aren't in physical combat, you may exit any social situation without backlash, and others will rationalize your departure as socially acceptable.
Easily Forgotten Method (Yin+Deception): You must have The Unnoticed. You cause anyone who recently had a brief encounter with you to forget you. After a conversation that did not involve or end in combat, they forget who you were and what you were talking about. On a Boost, this affects multiple targets.
Illusory Object (Yang+Deception): You touch an object and make it invisible, replacing it with an illusion of itself. This illusion cannot move in any way, even if the object had moving parts. You (or anyone aware of it) can take or move the invisible object, but the lllusion remains in place for the rest of the scene.
Invisible Blade (Yang+Crafts): You pull an invisible weapon out of thin air. It functions exactly as a normal weapon, but it gives +1 to attack and anyone trying to Block it does so at -1, because it's invisible.
Reflection Defense (Yang+Deception): You make a mirror image of yourself that is so close to you that you look blurred. You get +2 to Dodge or Find Cover. If you use this with Deflect Attack, you Defend at +3 instead of the normal bonus.
10,000 Masks (Yin+Empathy): You must have Easily Forgotten Method. You make yourself appear as someone who belongs in whatever setting you're in when you use this. With a Boost, you can choose to become a specific person.
Element's Embrace (Yin+Survival): You can meld into an element (chosen when you learn this) and can breathe normally in it. You move at a quarter of your normal speed within the element, but can't move through other elements or attack from within the element.
Invisibility (Yin+Stealth): You must have both The Unnoticed and The Unscented. You are totally undetectable by sight, sound or smell for the scene. You can move at any speed you like, but the jutsu ends when you interact with another person in any way.
No Exit (Yin+Deception): You cause a structure to become impossible to perceive. You can use this on a specific door or gate to make them appear as walls, or an entire building to make it impossible to notice from the outside. Only the strcture, though, not anyone inside it. The jutsu does not end if someone leaves, though.
Ultimate Deception (Yang+Deception): You must have Reflection Defense. You become invisible (per Invisibility) for one Round, leaving a perfect illusion of yourself behind, which you may direct with a thought. It is ephemeral and can neither take nor deal damage. You can move and act normally regardless of what it does, and while you become visible after one Round, the copy sticks around for the rest of the scene.
The Way of the Warrior is a Metal-element jutsu built around making your entire body and ki into weapons. On a Boost during activation, you get +2 damage when spending a Dynamic Action to boost damage on your next attack rather than +1. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative Broken (Perception) 1 condition for the Scene. A Boost during the scene may reduce this.
Fighter's Focus (Yin+Perception): You choose a target. For the rest of the Battle, you get +1 to attack and defenses against that target. On a Boost, you also get +1 damage against them.
Precise Eye (Yin+Marksman): You immediately make a Marksman attack at +2.
Sturdy Fist (Yang+Fighting): You immediately make a Fighting attack at +2.
Summon Weapon (Yang+Discipline): You bond with a weapon. As long as it has a path to your hand, you can draw it to your hand from anywhere in sight as a free action. If someone else holds it, they can resist with Fortitude+Might. On a Boost, you can call it from several miles away.
War Face (Yin+Discipline): For the rest of the scenem you get +2 Armor against mental damage, or +3 with a Boost.
Cannon Punch (Yang+Fighting): Your punches explode for a number of blows, dealing +1 damage and deal Knockback, and giving a bonus to your Strength.
Deflect Missiles (Yin+Perception): You can swat arrows and thrown weapons out of the air several times. For each one, you roll a normal Block, but stop the attack with only one net success. On a Boost, you can even do this against firearms.
Strength Boost (Yang+Might): For the rest of the Scene, your Strength is doubled and your melee attacks do +1 damage. On a Boost, Strength is tripled.
Thrown Barrage (Yang+Marksman): You quickly draw and hurl handfuls of small blades. You can hit a number of Distant targets for 1 damage each, or throw them all at a single target for full damage. On a Boost, you can do full damage to a number of nearby targets.
Weapon Morph (Yang+Crafts): You must have Summon Weapon. You may add or remove a number of weapon Qualities from any object until the Battle ends. On a Boost, the weapon also does +1 damage.
Battle Fury (Yang+Fortitude): You must have War Face. For the rest of the Battle, you get +1 Armor and don't stop fighting at 0 Health. You can take a decent amount of additional damage, but will collapse when the Battle ends. If you take more than that, you may choose either to collapse immediately or to keep going but die when the Battle ends.
Energy from the Blade (Yang+Fighting): You must have Cannon Punch. You shoot a ki blast at a Distant target with all the Qualities of your melee weapon. On a Boost, you can also hit a second target on the line of attack for full damage.
Fighter's Trance (Yin+Discipline): You get +4 Initiative and ignore all environmental penalties, including poor visibility, for the rest of the Battle. You also get a Boost on only 2 additional successes when making combat checks.
Flying Weapon (Yang+Discipline): You make a flying weapon that harasses your target for several rounds, attacking at +2 on your Turn. If the target attacks you, the weapon also gives you +2 to Block on top of any other defenses you use. On a Boost, you animate a number of weapons at once.
Pain Conversion (Yin+Fortitude): Any Pain conditions you have immediately end and become Yang ki. If you have no pain currently, you can instead take 1 physical damage to get 3 Yang.
Next time: Clan-Specific Jutsu
Esoteric Total BullshitOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Esoteric Total Bullshit
The Way of Balancing Scales is an Earth-elemental jutsu used by the Wardens of Eqiulibrium, designed to emphasize contrast and harmony over flashy performance. On a Boost, you can convert 1 ki from Yin to Yang of vice versa. On a Backfire, if you have more of one type of ki, you lose ki until you have equal amounts of both. If thery were equal, you take 1 damage, either mental or physical.
Balanced Mind (Yin+Discipline): You eliminate a number of levels of mental Conditions, capped by Intuition. You can try this only once per session.
Harmonic Flow (Yin+Survival): For the rest of the Scene, the local environment is treated as if a ki line was present - not just for you, but everyone. On a Boost, you also reset the number of taps allowed in the area.
Ki Conversion (Yin or Yang+Discipline): You pick one type of chi and roll that one. You can convert a number of points of that type into an equal amount of the other.
Many Tongues (Yin+Knowledge): For the rest of the scene, you hear what others intend to say, regardless of language, and they hear the same from you. You can still lie or be lied to, but not misunderstand or be misunderstood.
Penetrating Senses (Yin+Perception: You can see through several feet of solid material for as long as you concentrate. This lets you see what's inside pockets or boxes, or hear through walls. The only material this cannot penetrate is gold.
Drain Ki (Yin+Discipline): You must have Ki Conversion. Your unarmed attacks steal the target's ki for several attacks. The target loses one ki (type of your choice) and you gain it.
Mind's Eye (Yin+Intuition): For the rest of the scene, you see with ki rather than eyes, ignoring all penalties for poor visibility or blindness, and you can also see through any Basic jutsu that obscures or makes someone invisible. On a Boost, you can also see through Median jutsu.
Perceive Ki (Yang+Perception): You must have Penetrating Senses. You choose a target you can see and learn their birth Element, their curren ki levels and any active jutsu they have. You get +2 to any attempt to detect or track the target, but you cannot recover Yang while this jutsu is active.
See Price (Yin+Intuition): You must have Perceive Ki. You ask someone to do something and activate this, learning what the minimum bribe is to get them to agree. You get +2 Persuasion against them if you offer the bribe, and the bribe is usually a favor or something the target desires rather than money. The price may not be something you are able to offer.
Tainted Ki (Yang+Holistics): You must have Ki Conversion. With a touch, you may disrupt the target's energy flow. If you hit, this lasts for several Rounds. While it is active, the target must use the opposite type of ki to activate jutsu from normal, and any jutsu they use causes a Backfire automatically.
Deactivate Jutsu (Yin+Discipline): You touch the wielder or target of a jutsu, automatically and immediately ending it if you beat the original jutsu's roll.
Destroy Ki (Yang+Might): You must have Drain Ki. Your unarmed attacks now disrupt the target for a number of attacks, making them lose 1 ki of each type and causing Pain 1 if you hit. If the target has no more ki to lose, your attacks do +2 damage instead.
Harmonic Resonance (Yin+Empathy): You must have Harmonic Flow. For the rest of the scene, when you use an Action to resonate, until your next Turn all allies (including you) get an extra Boost on any successful check, and spending one die from the Karma pool adds two dice instead of one.
Poison Ki (Yin+Holistics): You must have Tainted Ki. Your ki becomes disruptive and harmful for several attacks. When you hit, you poison the target's ki. For the rest of the Battle, they take damage when they activate jutsu - 1 for Basic, 2 for Median and 3 for Advanced.
Reflect Jutsu (Yang+Discipline): You may use a Dynamic Action to send the opponent's jutsu back at them by activating this, avoiding the effect entirely. The attacker is hit instead, even needing to defend against their original roll. If you fail, you still suffer half the effect. (I think? The bit about failure causing half the effect is unclear.)
The Way of Caring Hands is a Wood-element jutsu used by the Bamboo Herbalists, designed to improve health and understanding of the body. On a Boost, you may lower a Condition rating by 1 for yourself or a target in Near range. On a Backfire, a Condition of the GM's choice increases by 1 for you or the target of your healing.
Diagnostics (Yin+Holistics): You understand any diseases, injuries or mental ailments affecting the target and get +1 Holistics to treat them.
Healing Trance (Yin+Discipline): You regain 1 Health per hour spent in a trance. On a Boost, all of your bodily functions stop during the trance, including breathing, bleeding and digestion.
Pure Touch (Yin+Holistics): With a touch, you end any mundane Poison conditions and can Support checks against magical poisons. On a Boost, you automatically purge magical poisons as well.
Quick Needle Technique (Yang+Fortitude): You pluck and harden a number of strands of your own hair, turning them into ki-charged needles. Each may be thrown as a Quick, Ranged weapon, or may be used during acupuncture as tool worth +1 Holistics. On a Boost, the needles are also Piercing.
Soothing Touch (Yang+Empathy): You heal a target of any Pain or Broken conditions and give a +1 bonus to their next check. On a Boost, they also heal 1 mental damage.
Confusion Touch (Yin+Fighting): You must have Pure Touch. You may strike a chakra point to disrupt ki flow and muscle control, making attempts to use muscles activate the wrong muscles. For a number of Rounds, the target only gains dice from the lowest skill in a skill combo. On a Boost, the target's failures are automatically critical failures.
Death Trance (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Healing Trance. You set the trance's duration, up to several days. You are aware of your surroundings while in a trance, but cannot end it early unless you are hurt while in the trance. During hte trance, you need no food, air or water and appear to be a corpse. On a Boost, you can send a willing ally into the trance instead.
Heal Wound (Yang+Holistics): You must have Diagnostics. You project ki into your hands, healing a target quite well and allowing you to Support their Fortitude checks with Holistics. On a Boost, you can heal yourself with this.
Paralysis Needles (Yin+Marksman): You must have Quick Needle Technique. You strike pressre points on the target, either at range or in melee, and render them immobile. The target may use Defenses against this attack, but they lose their next few Turns if they get hit due to paralysis. On a lost Turn, they can make a Discipline+Fortitude check to break free of the paralysis. On a Boost, the paralysis lasts the entire scene.
Weakening Touch (Yin+Holistics): You must have Pure Touch. You cool the target's Yang, draining their strength. For the rest of the Battle, their Strength is halved, their attacks do -1 damage and they get -2 Might. On a Boost, the damage penalty is -2 instead.
Corpse Puppet (Yin+Perform): Via acupuncture and ki, you animate a fresh corpse for one scene. It uses your actions and skills, and you can see through its eyes. You can speak through the corpse, but it requires a Deception+Persuade check to sound natural.
Lasting Life Technique (Yang+Holistics): You must have Pure Touch and Heal Wound. You channel ki into a recently dead body that is physically intact, restoring it to life. The target must have died within the last few Rounds, and awakens with 1 Health and 1 Psyche. On a Boost, you can affect a corpse that has been dead for a few hours.
Morph Ingredients (Yang+Holistics): You may alter an ingredient into any other ingredient of lesser value. When used with Alchemy, you may raise or lower the Difficulty to resist a potion by 2. If you do not have Alchemy, you instead get +3 Holistics for one check.
Regeneration Technique (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Healing Trance. For the rest of the Battle, you heal 1 damage (of either type) at the start of each Round. On a Boost, you heal 2 damage (of either type or one of both) instead.
Transfer Ailments (Yin+Discipline): You must have Heal Wound. With a touch, you may transfer any damage, Conditions or jutsu effects between yourself and the target - either from them onto you or vice versa. The victim may resist with Yang+Fortitude.
The Way of Ebony Clutches is a Water-element jutsu used by the Grasping Shadows, focusing on control over shadow. A Boost on activation gives you +2 to your next Stealth check. A Backfire causes a -1 cumulative penalty to Stealth for the scene.
Dark Eyes (Yin+Perception): You may see in any kind of darkness, even magically imposed darkness. If you are blinded, the penalties are reduced to partial blindness as you can sense the shadows around you.
Master of Night (Yin+Survival): You create a shadow that eclipses the sky and sends a wide area into darkness, as if it were night, for the rest of the scene. Anyone in the area besides you gets -2 to Perception checks. Also, the darkness gives +1 to activating other Ebony Clutches jutsu. On a Boost, you may also cause Sensory Loss 1 in a number of people in the area.
Puppetry (Yang+Perform): You use shadows to put on a show that entrances onlookers, giving +2 to impress an audience, or distracts them, giving -1 to Initiative checks.
Shadow Cloak (Yin+Stealth): You coat yourself in shadow, getting +2 Stealth and making it impossible to identify you by sight. With a Boost, you can also extend this to several other people.
Shadow Pocket (Yin+Knowledge): You create a pocket in the realm of shadows where you can put a single object no more than half your size. You can store only one object at time. With a Boost, you can store an object as large as you are.
Blinding Darkness (Yin+Perception): You must have Shadow Cloak. You create a deep darkness over a small area. Anyone in the darkness is considered blind and has -3 to all checks until they leave it.
Shadow Fist Attack (Yang+Might): You must have Puppetry. You create a barrage of shadow fists against a foe. They have +2 to attacks (ranged or unarmed) and deal 2 damage. They act independently of you and make several attacks before fading away.
Shadow Overwhelming (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Puppetry. You make the shadows around you move menacingly for several Rounds. Anyone that sees you and the shadows must make a Discipline+Empathy check to resist gaining the Afraid condition.
Shadow's Tentacle (Yang+Crafts): You must have Puppetry. You create a number of whip-like shadow tentacles, which act independently of you and obey orders that you can give as a Quick Action. Each can attack a target with half your unarmed dicepool, dealing 1 damage. They can lift up to 200 pounds and carry objects for you. The tentacles last for one scene or Battle.
Solid Shadow (Yang+Discipline): You solidify the target's shadow into an extension of their body. Attacks that hit the shadow damage the target, so they have -2 to all Defense checks for several Rounds.
Enter the Shadow Realm (Yang+Travel): You create a portal to the world of shadows for several Rounds. Anyone can enter it in that itme. If you use this to exit the shadow realm, you may appear anywhere in the world you have been before that is currently in darkness. This allows you to bypass the River, Forge and Mountain aspects of a Journey.
Grasping Shadows (Yin+Might): You drag the target into the realm of shadows. They resist with Might+Speed, but if they lose, they are kept in the shadow realm for one day. After that, they are popped out at a random place up to a mile away. With a Boost, you can follow them into the shadow realm.
Shadow Double (Yin+Persuade): You must have Solid Shadow. Your shadow separates from you and acts on its own for a scene. It can't attack and is immune to damage, and you perfectly share its vision and hearing. For the duration, you are also immune to any Ebony Clutches jutsu that would affect your shadow, because you don't have one.
Shadow's Jump (Yang+Travel): While this is active, you may teleport through shadows, using a Move action to teleport to any shadow you can see.
Unmoving Shadow (Yin+Persuade): You make the target's shadow unmovable, semi-paralyizing them for several Rounds. They cannot move from their position and get -2 to all actions and defenses for the duration.
The Way of Great Serpents is a Wood-elemental jutsu used by the Recoiling Serpents, focusing on snakes and poisons. On a Boost, you may instantly reduce someone's Poison condition by 1. On a Backfire, you suffer a cumulative level of Slowed, which can be reduced with a Boost during the scene.
Acid Spit (Yang+Holistics): Your spit momentarily becomes poisonous and can dissolve metal. You may spit at a Near for for damage, or lick a weapon to give it +1 damage for several attacks. On a critical failure with a licked weapon, however, the toxin destroys it.
Hypnotic Eyes (Yin+Persuade): Your eyes become reptilian and fascinating. For the rest of the scene, you may use Yin+Persuade against any attack you are able to see coming. On a Boost, you may immobilize the attacker, reducing their Movement to 0 for the round.
Long Tongue (Yang+Fortitude): Your tongue becomes thick and serpentine, extending several yards. For the rest of the Scene you may use it to attack, block or grab Near things as if it were a hand.
Sip of Venom (Yin+Holistics): You can identify the ingredients and potential uses of any substance by taste, and get +2 Holistics to try and recreate any tasted poison for the scene. On a Boost, you also detect anyone nearby who has recently been in contact with the substance or its ingredients.
Swallow (Yin+Fortitude): Your jaw unhinges, and you may swallow and later throw up any item no more than half your size. You choose whether to digest it or not but cannot recover Yin while it's inside you. On a Boost, you can swallow something up to your own size.
Adaptation Technique (Yin+Survival): You slide to the ground and take on the terrain's coloration, gaining +1 Stealth and ignoring terrain hazards and obstacles for the scene.
Serpent's Scales (Yin+Fortitude): Your skin becomes slick scales, giving +1 Armor and +2 to resist Grapples for the rest of the Battle. On a Boost, you get +2 Armor instead.
Shed Skin (Yang+Fortitude): Your outer skin layer disintegrates, taking tattoos, cuts and bruises with it. You heal 3 physical damage, and on a Boost, also 2 mental damage.
Snake Surprise (Yang+Discipline): You may activate this while grabbing or being grabbed. Poisonous snakes slither out of your pockets and clothes, causing Afraid in the grappled foe and damaging them each Round until the Grab is broken.
Venom Strike (Yang+Holistics): You must have Sip of Venom. Your fingertips sprout poisonous fangs. Your unarmed strikes deal +1 damage and cause +1 Poison for the rest of the Battle, and you get +1 Athletics for climbing checks.
Nagah Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Shed Skin. Your legs fuse and elongate into a serpentine form for the scene. You get +2 Movement, or +4 on water or unbroken ground such as grass, sand or snow. If you coil around a foe as a Grab, you may still use weapons of any size and Defenses against other attacks. On a Boost, you may constrict a coiled for for 2 damage.
Poison Body Technique (Yin+Holistics): You must have ACid Spit and Venom Strike. You undergo a painful ritual that makes you toxic for several days. You get Deprived 2 and take 3 physical damage, neither of which can be healed by any means while the jutsu is active. Any contact with your skin or bodily fluids removes the ability to heal physical damage for several days and makes the victim have to make a Fortitude+Holistics check each day or take 1 physical damage and Pain 1 that won't go away until the poison's run its course.
Shed Body (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Shed Skin and Swallow. You grow a new body in your stomach, which bursts out of your mouth and sloughs off your old body over the course of 1 Round. All physical and mental damage is healed and any lost limbs are restored. Your old skin can be used to give a +1 to making masks and disguises.
Up the Sleeves (Yang+Fighting): You must have Snake Surprise. Snakes pop out of your sleeves to attack a Near foe, who gets -1 to Defense against the attack. If the snakes hit, they deal damage and Grab the foe for several Rounds, dealing 1 damage per Round. You may use grappling moves via the snakes as a Quick Action from up to Far range.
Venomous Spew (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Swallow. You vomit a spray of poison and acid on a Near target, dealing damage and causing a Poison condition. This ignores armor, and the only possible defense is Find Cover. On a Boost, your spray can also hit another Near target at full effect.
The Way of Heaven's Judgement is a Metal-elemental jutsu used by the Will of Iron, focusing on understanding justice and law. On a Boost, you get +1 damage against an active criminal. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative Confused 1 condition and can't determine guilt while Confused.
Deception Proof (Yang+Perception): For the rest of the scene, you automatically know if the target's statements are true or false. This will not reveal the actual truth or detect lies of omission.
Detect Disturbance (Yin+Empathy): You sense and are drawn to injustice - usually the nearest crime or tragedy, but more significant events can overwhelm nearer but more mild ones. On a Boost, you get a feeling of the kind of disturbance and you can select which to track if there's more than one.
Hunt the Guilty (Yin+Intuition): You attune to a criminal case, getting +1 to any check to find clues, track perpetrators or convince others to help resolve the case. This lasts until the case is solved, you choose a new crime or you stop believing the event was a crime in the first place.
Righteous Objection (Yang+Intimidation): You shout at a crime or unjust act in process, treating your roll as an Opposed check against the action. On a Boost, you instantly stop the action instead. The target must be able to hear you.
Sense the Guilty (Yin+Empathy): You look at someone and get feelings and images of the crime they feel most guilty about - though they must feel guilty about it. On a Boost, the images are clear enough for you to know details about the circumstances.
Blind Justice (Yin+Intuition): You must have Sense the Guilty. You perceive foes through ki rather than sight. For the rest of the Battle, you ignore penalties from darkness or blindness. On a Boost, you also get +1 Perception with a non-visual sense.
Eye for an Eye (Yang+Empathy): You glow with an aura of vengeance. For the rest of the Battle, when you take physical damage or conditions, the attacker takes the same if they are within Near range. On a Boost, the aura can hit Distant foes.
Instant Justice (Yin+Empathy): You must have Hunt the Guilty. You must witness a crime or unrighteous act in progress to activate this. Once you do, a number of perpetrators will fall victim to the same crime within days. On a Boost, within hours.
Mark of Guilt (Yin+Intimidation): You must have Sense the Guilty. You touch someone, tattooing their face with the crime they feel most guilty about. This fades after several days or when they perform an act of reparation. While the mark is visible, they get -1 to social checks for minor crimes such as lying or theft, or -2 for more serious crimes.
Part the Mystery (Yin+Intuition): You must have Sense the Guilty. You get a prophetic vision about clues to a mystery, learning your choice of who did the crime, how the crime was done or why it was done. On a Boost, you know two of the three. As a note, visions are not acceptable evidence in most Imperial courts.
Avenging Spirits (Yin+Persuade): You must have Instant Justice. You name a specific crime to avenge, calling on angry ghosts. Only you and the perpetrators can see them, and they cause Dazed 1 in perpetrators, as well as Afraid 1 on those who roll a critical failure. If you die while this jutsu is active, you become a ghost that can harm only the perpetrators. Untl you end this jutsu, you cannot recover ki or Mold Ki.
Dark Mark (Yin+Intimidation): You must have Instant Justice. You brand a guilty target with a magic sign. Until they atone for their guilt somehow, all of their failures are critical failures and any jutsu use causes a Backfire unless they use a Boost to counteract that.
Divulgence (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Deception Proof. You may ask a number of yes-or-no questions, and the target must answer them completely. On a Boost you may instead ask a single complex question.
Judgement Blade (Yin+Empathy): You must have Eye for an Eye and Instant Justice. You attune a weapon to a wronged victim. The weapon can no longer harm anyone uninvolved with the crime, but deals normal damage to complicit people and +1 damage to those directly responsible. Damage caused by the weapon ignores Armor, and any conditions it causes are 1 step higher than normal. YHou may not recover ki until you end this jutsu and return the weapon to normal.
Mark of Atonement (Yin+Empathy): You must have Mark of Guilt. You create a magical symbol on the target, telling everyone what the target must do to atone for the crime they feel most guilty about. If that is done, the mark and the guilt both disappear. However, if they do the same crime again, they take 3 phyiscal damage. Each time the Mark triggers after that, it does 3 more damage than the last time.
The Way of the Immaculate Show is a Fire-elemental jutsu used bythe Blazing Dancers, focusing on performance and acrobatics. n a Boost during a performance or while telling a story, you can create an illusion for everyone to see and be impressed by. On a Backfire, you get -2 Initiative and half of any audience leaves, unhappy.
Conjuring HandS (Yin+Stealth): You can make small objects in reach vanish or reappear. Anything unattended that you could reach and grasp in a closed fist disappears without you touching it. As a Quick Action, you may summon the item into your hand. Until the item reappears, you may not recover Yin.
Hypnotic Voice (Yin+Perform): Your voice transfixes and audience until violence or loud noise saps them out of it. This cannot be used during Battle. Anyone who wants to do anything but listen to you talk must make a difficulty 2 Discipline+Speed check to do so. On a Boost, difficulty 3.
The Perfect Show (Yang+Perform): For the rest of the scene, you get +2 Perform before an audience and everyone knows you are captivating and alluring.
The Poet's Ear (Yin+Knowledge): You may reproduce or mimic any song, poem, music or dance perfectly - and overheard conversations count as a song or poem.
Trick Shots (Yang+Marksman): Your thrown attacks bounce strangely, getting +1 to hit, ignoring cover penalties and moving along indirect paths. They also return to your hand. This lasts for several attacks.
The Beautiful Dance (Yang+Speed): You move super quickly, getting +1 Dynamic Action per Round for several Rounds.
Flashing Exit (Yang+Stealth): You vanish in a puff of smoke, noise and lights. You are nowhere at all until the start of your next turn, when you reappear somewhere within (Movement*2) yards, hidden if you want to be.
Juggling Hands (Yang+Marksman): You sprout illusionary arms, each juggling dozens of objects. You may equip a number of one-handed weapons and twice that many random small objects. Each time you use one, melee or thrown, you get +2 and then lose it from your list of juggled items. Once all weapons or items have been used, the jutsu ends.
Phantom Switch (Yin+Perform): You must have Conjuring Hands. As long as no one can see you, you teleport to anywhere nearby that no one else can see. You may use pretty much anything to slip out of sight - dive under a bsket, slip around a corner, whatever.
Star of the Show (Yang+Perform): You must have The Perfect Show. You begin to glow brightly, drawing in attention. Normal audience members are dumbstruck. For the rest of the scene, you illuminate a fairly wide area and may Block any attack against you or anyone else with Yang+Perform. If you take damage, the jutsu ends.
Dazzling Display (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Star of the Show. You emit explosive bursts of light when struck. When you first activate this, all Close foes are Confused 1 unless they make a Fortitude+Perception check. For the rest of the Battle, so is anyone who deals physical damage to you unless they take -2 on the attack by shielding their eyes.
Destroyer's Dance (Yang+Perform): You must have The Beautiful Dance. Primal energy flwows through you, sending you into a trance and coating you in fire, which gives +2 Armor against all damage and which deals +2 damage to anyone touching or touched by you. You also get +2 to physical attacks and Defense checks. This all lasts for several Rounds.
Shattering Song (Yin+Perform): You must have Hypnotic Voice. Your voice resonates with destrictive ki. Against a single target, this is an attack that deals double damage to nonliving targets. If projected at an area, it can be heard for several miles and panics animals whose trainers do not make a difficulty 3 check to control them. On a Boost, you straight up destroy inanimate objects instead of dealing damage to them.
Thundering Drums (Yang+Fortitude): Nonexistent drums pound in time with your movements. When you or an ally describes how their actions are done to the beat, they get +1 and, if the action was an attack, deal +1 mental damage. While the drums play, any die used from the Karma pool generates an additional die. The drums last until the scene ends, the Karma pool is empty or someone else uses a jutsu that makes sound or silence to counter this.
Understudy (Yang+Perception): You must have The Poet's Ear. For the rest of the scene, you can perfectly mimic the target's voice and mannerisms and may use the target's skill in place of your own if you've seen them use it. You may also attempt to use any jutsu you've seen them use, but always use your Perception in place of the normal skill. You get +2 to any attempt to disguise yourself as the target.
The Way of Inked Skin is a Fire-elemental jutsu used by the Virtuous Body Gardeners to manipulate tattoos. Also, just knowing it lets you assimilate small inanimate objects onto your skin as tattoos via a five minute ritual. On a Boost during activation, you may withdraw any of these items to your hand as a free action, as per Withdraw Weapon. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 Speed.
Artful Defense (Yin+Speed): You convert a weapon striking you into a tatoo. This negates any damage from the attack and...well, turns the weapon into a tattoo. However, this doesn't work on unarmed attacks or magic weapons.
Ink Touch (Yang+Crafts): You create a temporary tattoo of your design on the target. On a Boost, it is permanent if you want it to be.
Pain Killer (Yin+Fortitude): You activate spiral tattoos on your chakras, reducing any Pain condition by 1 per Round for several Rounds. If you have no Pain conditions, you instead get +1 Health for the scene.
Tiger's Claw (Yang+Fortitude): You get tiger stripe tattoos on your hands that can be transformed into claws. Your unarmed attacks deal +1 damage and cause Pain 1 for several attacks.
Withdraw Weapon (Yang+Fighting): You instantly draw a weapon or tool from your tattoos, returning it to tattoo form when you're done using it, unless you threw it. You may have up to (Fortitude) wieldable weapon tats at once, and as many shuriken tats as you want. You may use this Reflexively, and you suffer no penalty to drawing and attacking on the same Action.
Animal Friend (Yang+Persuade): You cause a tattoo to turn into a small animal that can do a task with several steps. It is not combat-ready, but can give +1 Armor for a single hit if it jumps in the way to shield you.
Emotion Brand (Yin+Empathy): You must have Ink Touch. The tattoo made by Ink Touch can be made to reach to the target's scalp and alter their emotions, giving - 2 to resist your choice of Persuade, Intimidation or Deception for several rounds.
Follow the Ink (Yin+Intuition): If faced with multiple options, you can activate this to ask the GM several yes-or-no questions. You can use this only once per situation.
Needles of Agony (Yin+Discipline): You must have Ink Touch. You move the tattoo from Ink Touch to the target's pain centers and turn the ink into needles. The victim resists with Fortitude, and if they fail they get Pain 3. They may only suffer one Pain from this at any time, but it stacks with Pain from other sources.
Shuriken Explosion (Yang+Marksman): You must have Withdraw Weapon. The kanji for shuriken is tattooed all over you. When you activate this, they turn into actual shuriken and spray an area around you, forcing anyone in the area to Defend or take 2 damage.
Complete Control (Yang+Discipline): You must have Ink Touch. You spread the ink from Ink Touch over the target's limbs, giving you control of their body for several Rounds. Y ou can make them do anything you want, including attack their allies. Each command uses an Action, and the target can resist with Strength. On a Boost, they get -2 to resisting.
Extra Arm Technique (Yang+Fortitude): You take 1 damage to make your tattoos sprout as an extra pair of arms. You get +2 to Crafts and halve the time needed for Crafts checks. In combat, you get +2 to Block and +1 Dynamic Action per Round. On a Boost, all effects are doubled.
Loyal Servant (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Animal Friend. You summon a creature from your tattoos, an animal or mythical beast. It has 5 Health and 2 Armor, acts independently at your Initiative minus 2, and any checks it makes use your skills at -2.
Mask of Fear (Yin+Crafts): Your facial tattoos swirl and alter your appearance, giving you +3 Intimidation for the scene. You may choose to scare a number of enemies in Near range without a check.
Trapped in Skin (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Artful Defense. With a touch, you can turn someone into a tattoo for several days, but you cannot regain Yin while they're one of your tats. The victim gets Deprived 1 after 3 days and again after the 5th day.
The Way of Kept Lore is a Water-elemental jutsu used by the Living Chronicle to store and record information. On a Boost during activation, you get a cumulative automatic success on your next Knowledge check. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to Intuition checks.
Instant Reading (Yang+Speed): You may touch a book or scroll to instantly absorb its contents. You lose the information after several days unless you use Preserve the Words.
The Long View (Yin+Knowledge): You add the better of Yin or Knowledge to your Initiative, dropping by 1 each Round. On a Boost, you get +2 to the Initiative bonus.
Preserve the Words (Yin+Knowledge): You take a piece of information you have overheard, read or otherwise observed and turn it into a tatoo on your skin. You get +3 Knowledge regarding that information, reducing by 1 per hour.
Reading the Eyes (Yang+Perception): You get +2 Empathy to detect lies from the target for the scene.
Setting the Words Loose (Yang+Crafts): You take a tattoo from your body and place the information contained in it into a book or scroll. This is the only way you may remove your tattoos. Any Confused or Dazed condition you have is reduced by 1.
Information Consumption (Yin+Knowledge): You must have Refusal of Bedlam. The target must sit in a ritual circle for half an hour, at which point you may reach into their mind and pluck out a number of memories or pieces of information. They resist with Discipline+Fortitude, but forget anything you remove if they fail. They also get Dazed 2 no matter what.
Refusal of Bedlam (Yin+Discipline): You automatically succeed at any Discipline checks about concentration for several Rounds. You also get 1 Armor against mental damage for the Battle.
Rewriting History (Yin+Intuition): You may make a check and reroll any failed dice once. You may spend a Yin to use this Reflexively.
Work Smarter (Yang+Discipline): You may replace any physical skill in a skill combo with Knowledge a number of times. On a Boost, you instead add Knowledge as a bonus to the combo.
Worthy Borrower (Yang+Knowledge): You may transfer any amount of ki to anyone you can see.
Granting Power (Yang+Knowledge): You must have Worthy Borrower. You may transfer knowledge of any jutsu you know to anyone you can see for several Rounds. On a Boost, the target also gets +1 to activate the transferred jutsu.
Information Overload (Yang+Discipline): You must have Setting the Words Loose. You force information into the target's brain, causing mental damage. They must be in Close or Grapple range.
Perceive Weakness (Yin+Perception): You get +(Intuition) to physical attacks, dropping by 1 per Round.
Perfect Stillness (Yin+Stealth): As long as you don't move, neither can your target. Neither of you can move, take ACtions or even Defend. After the victim is relased, they get Slowed 1.
Mind Removing Technique (Yin+Knowledge): You must have Information Consumption. After using that, you may activate this so that the victim is left without memory of the past few days. On a Boost, this is instead weeks.
The Way of Spun Threads is a Metal-elemental jutsu used by the Hidden Strands of Fate to control thread. If you don't have a spool, you may spend 1 ki of any type to imbue a set of clothing or ball of thread. On a Boost on attack or defense, you can attach a string to whatever you touched. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 penalty to all Spun Threads jutsu until you spend an Action to untangle the threads.
Attached (Yang+Deception): Any item you have touched during the scene gets a string attached to it. You may manipulate, yank or otherwise affect it with Strength via the string.
Invisible Threads (Yin+Stealth): Your strings are totally invisible. If you use them to attack, targets get -1 to Defend.
Skilled Strands (Yang+Intuition): You can manipulate your strings to perform skills at Near or Far range at -2. On a Boost, you get +1 to rolls. You cannot use this for combat.
Spider's Scry (Yin+Perception): You can listen to conversations within Near range of your strings as long as the string is within several miles of you.
Thread Web (Yang+Crafts): You summon a web of string, which must have trees, walls or other surfaces to hang from, and which has a decent amount of Health.
Battle Strands (Yang+Discipline): You must have Skilled Strands. You may wield melee weapons with your strings, allowing you to use Fighting at Far range for the Battle.
Blast of Webbing (Yin+Marksman): You shoot balls of sticky string at the target. If they hit, the victim loses Movement. If it's reduced to 0, they lose their Standard Action for the Round. They get +2 Movement back each Round. On a Boost, they are also Slowed 1.
Strumming the Chords (Yang+Speed): You may alter your voice or mimic someone else's. You can make it more menacing to get +1 Intimdiation. This lasts for the scene.
Pulling Strings (Yang+Persuade): The target gets the Convinced condition at a decent level.
Thread Whip (Yang+Crafts): You make a whip out of several strands, which can be wielded like a normal whip but also causes cumulative Pain 1 when it hits to a cap of Pain 3.
Becoming the Mask (Yang+Crafts): You cure a cloth mask in blood and milk, then apply it to your face to make it appear as if it were another person's. This also alters your body to conform to how they appear, giving +2 to related checks. This is more than an illusion - it's physical and requires no concentration to maintain.
Master of Puppets (Yang+Might): You must have Battle Strands. You attach your strings to the target and control them with an Opposed Strength check that you get +2 to. If you win, you control the target's Standard Action. On a Boost, you also control 1 Dynamic Action. This lasts for several Rounds.
Razor String (Yang+Crafts): Your threads do +2 physical damage for the rest of Battle. If you fall below Yang 4, this drops to +1 damage.
Spider's Charm (Yin+Fortitude): You turn drops of your blood into strings. These blood threads are indestructible and give +2 to all activation checks for the scene.
Wardrobe Change (Yang+Crafts): You reconstruct your clothing instantly into a new outffit. You can turn it into Armor against physical damage for several Rounds, and the visual transformation lasts for the Battle or scene.
The Way of Twin Beasts is an Earth-elemental jutsu used by the Pack of the Black Moon, allowing them to tap deeply into their ninja dogs. On a Boost during activation, your jutsu affects your dog for free, with no extra ki cost. On a Backfire, you and your dog get a cumulative -1 to Initiative and Twin Beasts jutsu checks.
The Hunt Begins (Yang+Perception): You borrow your dog's senses, getting +3 Survival (Tracking) for the scene.
In the High Grass (Yin+Perceptuon): You get +2 Stealth for the scene. On a Boost, you also do +1 damage on your first attack in an ambush.
Licked Wounds (Yang+Empathy): Your dog loves you, and you get a Holistics bonus to your next roll to treat a patient.
Prodigious Howl (Yang+Intimidation): You howl, audible for several miles, in a code known to the clan. On a Boost, anyone in Close range must make a Discipline+Empathy check or take 1 mental damage.
Yellow Mark (Yin+Marksman): Your dog pees on the target. Any of the target's attempts to avoid your tracking automatically fail, and you always know where they are if you're within a few miles of them. On a Boost, tey are also Embarrassed 1. Removing the mark requires a long, very soapy bath.
Animal Within (Yang+Might): You must have Prodigious Howl. You grow pointy ears, fangs and claws. For the Battle, you deal +1 damage in close comnat and get +2 Speed for several Rounds. A Boost on your attacks also causes Bleeding 1.
Canine Form (Yang+Fortitude): You turn into a copy of your ninja dog, losing thumbs and the ability to speak. You use your dog's stats in place of your own, but get +2 Athletics while in dog form.
Linked Souls (Yin+Empathy): You must have The Hunt Begins. You and your dog share senses and thoughts for the rest of the scene as long as you're within several miles of each other.
Meet In the Middle (Yang+Fighting): You and your dog coordinate three attacks in a single Action. You roll one activation check for the first two, which are Defended against normally. If both hit, you roll a second check with +3 Fighting, which deals +2 damage if it hits. If either of the first two attacks miss, the third is not rolled.
Puppy Eyes (Yin+Empathy): You get +2 Persuade for several checks.
Backed into a Corner (Yin+Survival): You must have Animal Within. If you have been dealt damage, you may choose not to attack for the rest of the Round. At the start of the next Round, you automatically act first, regardless of Initiative, and heal half the total dmaage dealt to you in previous Rounds. This healed damage is also added as a bonus to the damage dealt by your first attack in the new Round.
Beast Barrage (Yang+Athletics): You must have Meet in the Middle. You and your dog attack a single target, vanishing and reappearing from all angles. You may make a number of melee attacks against the target, who gets -2 to all Defense checks. On a Boost, you can spend Dynamic Actions to add +2 attacks per Dynamic Action spent.
Human Form (Yang+Crafts): Your ninja dog turns into a copy of you for the scene, though it still can't speak. It is otherwise identical to you, using your skills. You get an Action at -2 Initiative, taken by your dog. On a Boost, you also get +1 Dynamic Die for the Battle that can be used by either you or the dog.
Repress the Beast (Yin+Discipline): You hit everyone nearby with anti-aggressive energy. Targets must resist with Discipline+speed or get -3 Initiative and -1 Fighting for the scene.
Stare Down (Yin+Empathy): You force the target to attack only you for several Rounds. You get +2 Armor for that time against their attacks. Your dog may attack without penalty for the duration. (I don't know why it notes that.)
Next time: So what are the actual rules of this game?
How Do I NinjaOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: How Do I Ninja
We've covered a lot of the basics of Gifts and Triggers, but one note - you can do the Trigger yourself to get a Karma point for the party's pool, or the GM can offer you Karma if you'll do it. Either is fine. We'll get to how Karma works in a moment. As noted, you add two skill values together to get a pool of d10s to roll, and 7-9 are 1 success, while 10 is 2 successes. No successes and any die with a 1 means critical failure. Difficulty is how many successes you need. For every full 3 successes you get over that, you get a Boost. The average Dfficulty is 1 for stuff that's pretty easy, 2 for stuff that needs focus or 3 for advanced tasks. 4 means it's very complex, and 5 is nearly impossible and success looks amazing. The GM is free to adjust the Difficulty if you use a skill combo less suitable than the one they offer you for a task. If you have no levels in either skill in a skill combo, you can still do it...but you roll only one die, and it only succeeds on a 10, though you still get 2 successes from that. Everything else is standard - bonuses add dice, penalties subtract dice, Opposed checks mean you're rolling against someone else's roll. Extended checks are those where you have lots of smaller steps that are still dramatically important, so you roll several times, each time against a Difficulty assigned by the GM, to try and build up successes. Critical failure always immediately ends an Extended check. So again, still pretty standard.
So, Boosts. To get a Boost on Difficulty 1, say, you need 4 successes. If you want 2 Boosts, you need 7. Different skills have various Boost effects suggested, as you recall, as do jutsu trees or some weapons. Commonly, Boosts are used to affect extra targets, do extra damage, gather extra information, do something to better effect, gain Karma, get a bonus or a reduction of Difficulty to another check, do something really stylishly, do something faster than normal or, in some cases, make a condition on the target.
Critical failures are pretty much always bad - you get really bad things happening, and in Opposed checks, your opponent gets a Boost on top of that. However, every time you suffer consequences from a critical failure, the party gains 1 Karma. So that's nice. And, again, if you use the same skill combo more than twice in a row (except for Extended checks), you get a cumulative -1 penalty to that particular combo. So vary it up.
So, what is Karma? The party shares a pool of Karma. At the start of each session, it begins with 1 point in it per player, and there can never be more than 10 points in the pool at any given time. Typically, points are added by Triggers or critical failures, but oyu can also give up a Boost's normal benefits to gain a Karma. So what do you do with it? Well, any member of the party can spend points of Karma from the pool to get the same amount of bonus dice on a check, but should describe how they inspire the party's sense of purpose and unity. Alternatively, you may spend 2 Karma to edit the scene n a small way, such as declaring that you set up a trap in advance or you knew an NPC already. For larger rewrites, the GM may raise the cost to 4 Karma.
Movement is, by default, as far as you can go in a turn without a check while walking or jogging. Multiply by 10 for your top speed, though this may require a check to keep that speed on an incline, while avoiding obstacles or over jagged or slippery terrain. Without a check, you can jump Movement+(Might*2) feet horizontally, or half that vertically. You can double that with a check, and may need to make a check to land safely. Climbing is half your Movement and usually takes a check. Swimming is possible if you have at least 1 point of Athletics, and in calm waters you need no check but move at half Movement. In rough water, you need a check to make progress.
Strength (Athletics+Might) is your raw power. You can carry 50+(25*Strength) pounds before encumbrance penalties start, and can deadlift twice that. If you are encumbered, you get -1 to all physical checks, and the same if you try to deadlift more than your max. Also, for deadlifting, you can't take any other Actions until you drop your load. Also, your Strength determines what sorts of things you can do as a feat of strength, ranging from 'break a wooden chair' at Strength 3 to uprooting a tree at Strength 12. (12 is your theoretical cap, with both at 5 and a relevant specialty in each skill.)
Journeys are a major subsystem. Every Journey has five steps, beginning with the Village, then moving to any stage you like except the Temple, which is always the last. A PC can only make one check for a journey, at least until everyone's gone once. The Village stage represents planning and prep for the journey, and by default it's a Knowledge+Persuade check. Success allows you to reroll any single other stage once, chosen by the PC that did the Village step. Failure means that the Difficulty of any one other stage goes up by 1. The River is the pace of travel and distance traveled. The default is Fortitude+Travel for foot travel, with a success restoring 1 Psyche and a failure causing Deprived 1. The Forge represents enemies or confrontations on the journey. It defaults to Perception+Stealth, with success meaning you detect and either avoid or ambush the foes, and a failure meaning you just go to a Battle. The Mountain represents obstacles and environmental hazards. This defaults to Survival+Travel, with a sucess meaning finding a useful refuge or item and failure meaning loss of equipment or getting Injury 1. The final stage, the Temple, represents your arrival and reception. This defaults to Empathy+Intuition, with success meaning you find a helpful local as a temporary Contact and failure meaning any enemies in the area know you've arrived.
So, Battles. Battles get a bit complicated. One Round lasts betwen 10 and 30 seconds, and everyone gets a Turn each Round. You go in Initiative order, highest to lowest - that being (Intuition+Speed+3), though it can be modified by various abilities or jutsu you might have. If two or more characters have the same Initiative, then you roll one die each to determine the order. Also, you can hold your action to go later if you want to.
On your turn, you get your Standard Action. You get just the one, by default. You can also take a Quick Action on your turn, but if you do, you get -1 to your Standard Action (if you take one). The example Quick Actions: You can feint to distract a target, giving +2 to the next attack against them. You can Move, moving up to (Movement*3) feet (on top of your base Movement, which is free each Round). You can draw an object out, including a weapon. You can touch someone harmlessly as a Quick Action, as well, though doing so may require a check.
The example Standard Actions are: Inflict Harm (you attack someone, either physically or mentally/socially), Plan Attack (you either aim to get +2 to your nexct physical attack on the target as long as you don't have to Move or Defend before then, or you size up the target to get +2 to your next mental attack on them), Affect Composure (you try to provoke a specific emotion and also deal a tiny bit of mental damage), Disarm (you knock away a weapon or undercut an argument, removing bonuses), Initiate Grab (you go for a physical hold to penalize movements and ability to hurt anyone but you or go into a staredown to penalize Discipline), Break Grab (you try to disengage from the previous), Knock Back (you hit someone in an effort to send them flying back), Knock Down (you trip someone or otherwise knock them over), Mold Ki (you tap into the environment to gain a point of Ki once per Round), Retreat (you try to get away from someone physically or withdraw from an argument, though it's always risky), Sprint/Rush (you move up to Movement*10 feet, and become hard to hit, but your next Action must be Inflict Harm, Knock Back, Knock Down or some other physical action) or Use Jutsu (you try to activate a jutsu, which may then require you to take another action to properly use it).
However, you may have noted that Dynamic Actions exist. These are your ability to react on the fly rather than waiting for your Turn. You get an amount each Round, plus a number of dice you can roll. Each success on those dice adds a Dynamic Action to your pool. You can also spend ki 1 for 1 to get Dynamic Actions. So what can you do with Dynamic Actions? A hell of a lot! You can spend a Dynamic Action to cancel a Backfire you've caused or to negate cumulative penalties from past Backfires. You can spend a Dynamic Action after a successful Defense to make a Standard Action as a counter attack - it can be any kind of offensive action, but must be against the initial attacker. You can spend a Dynamic Action to get +1 damage on a successful attack, once per attack per target (and you can do that after you know if you hit). You can spend a Dynamic Action as you attack to get +2 to the roll, even after the roll is done. You can spend a Dynamic Action to make an attack against someone who retreats from you in close combat. But that's just the offensive uses! You can also use these defnesively.
You can spend 2 Dynamic Actions to instantly make a jutsu activation check to deflect an attack, reducing the attack's successes. You can do with just about any jutsu that you and the GM agree is subitable, but can only do it once per attack. You can spend a Dynamic Aciton to get +2 to your Defense check, even after the roll's been made. You can spend as many Dynamic Actions as you want to reduce damage you take by an equal amount. But hey! That's not all!
You can spend a Dynamic Action to mess around with the environment in some way - set things on fire, knock down snow from branches, shove a boulder, whatever. You can spend a Dynamic Action to get an extra Standard Action on your Turn, to a max of your Speed in total actions without penalty. Any actions past that happen at your Initiative minus 2, cumulatively - so if you have Speed 3, you can spend 5 Dynamic Actions to act 5 times, three times at, say, Initiative 7, once at Initiative 5, and once at Initiative 3. You cannot act below Initiative 0, but that's the only limit. You can spend a Dynamic Action to ignore the effects of all of your active conditions for one Action. You can spend a Dynamic Action to raise your Initiative by 2 or lower osmeone else's Initiative by 2 - this is a good way to use up any Dynamic Actions you have at the end of the Round, explicitly noted. You can spend 2 Dynamic Actions to immediately interrupt someone else's Action with an Action of your own, but you can only do this once per Round. And yes, you can Interrupt someone else's Interruption. And last, you can spend up to 2 Dynamic Actions when making a Mold Ki action to get an equal amount of extra ki from the tap.
So what is Defense like? Well, first, you can make up to (Athletics) Defense checks each Round without penalty. AFter that, you get a cumulative -1 penalty at each additional Defense due to being overwhelmed. There's several different options to Defend with. You can Block or Parry. Physically this is obvious (though it gets -2 if you're trying to parry a weapon while unarmed), and socially/mentally this is basically shrugging off someone's comment or countering with something just as bad about the attacker. You can Brace, which forgoes any attempt to prevent the hit, but gives you (Fortitude/2) Armor against the attack (physically) or (Discipline/2) Armor (mentally), allowing you to reduce the attack's damage, to a minimum of 1. You can Catch a thrown (or dropped) item, and then you have it in hand, but you get -2 if the item is spiky or sharp, and if you fail, you don't reduce the attack's successes at all (I think). You can Dodge or Evade, though physically this is only possible in melee, and socially it's evasion or denial of the question. You can Find Cover, allowing you to get anywhere within range of a Move action. The GM rules if the cover can take the hit or if you take half damage, for a close attack, or causes -1 to the attack roll, for a distant one. Socially, this is done by deflecting an attack onto someone else. Lastly, you can Protect. Physically, this means interposing yourself on an attack against someone within (Movement/2) (or twice that with a Dynamic Action), taking full damage for them. Socially, you do the same but are basically stepping out and going 'no you're talking about me'.
For all of these, the skill combo involved is variable, and the book offers several examples of how to do any of them. For example, Fighting+Speed for a melee blow, Intimidation+Discipline for a nasty insult or Marksman+Perception to fire an arrow are all Inflict Harm. Fighting+Athletics to leap over a leg sweep and Athletics+Speed to dive under a blow are both Dodge. It's all down to what makes most sense for how you want to do it.
Incoming damage is also reduced by your Armor rating, though most ninja do not actually wear physical armor. If you are wearing armor, you get -2 to physical ACtions per point of the armor. This applies only to PCs - enemy soldiers can wear Armor without penalty, because they're NPCs, but most of those guys don't have jutsu and you do. Armor gained from jutsu does not slow you down.
Weapons! Weapons rely a bit on range. There are five Ranges: Grappling (you're close enough to grab someone), Close (you're within 5 feet of someone and can hit them), Near (you're within 6 to 15 feet of someone and can hit them with a Reach weapon, or can throw a non-Ranged weapon at them at -2), Far (you can see the target clearly and can hit them with Ranged weapons) and Distant (you can see them but not clearly, and can hit them with a Ranged weapon at -2). For the most part, drawing a weapon scales a fight up. A fistfight can be shrugged off, but weapons make it more lethal. All weapons cause +1 damage to your attack, plus whatever their Qualities do. Weapons are either Small (handheld, easily concealed), Standard (swords, kama, etc.) or Large (two-handed).
Blunt: You may cause Pain 1 on a Boost.
Brutal: This weapon does +2 damage instead of +1.
Chain: If your attack ties the enemy's Defense, you still do 1 damage.
Concealable: +2 Stealth to conceal this weapon.
Crushing: You may cause Bruised 1 on a Boost.
Disarming: You may disarm the target on a Boost.
Fragile: This weapon does +0 damage instead of +1.
Heavy: The target gets -1 to Block/Parry this weapon.
Master-Crafted: This weapon cannot be broken, disarmed or affected by jutsu, and you get +1 to all checks with it.
Quick: You get +1 Initiative while wielding this.
Ranged: You may attack at Far or Distant Range with this.
Reach: You may attack at Near Range with this.
Paired: You get +1 to Block with this weapon, but if you're only using one, you get -2 to all checks.
Piercing: This weapon ignores 1 level of Armor.
Poisonous: You may cause Poisoned 1 on a Boost.
Skilled: You get +1 to a specific skill while wielding this.
Slow: You get -2 Initiative while wielding this.
Unpredictable: The target gets -1 to Dodge this weapon.
Unwieldy: You get -1 to attacks using this weapon.
A weapon can have 2 positive Qualities, or 3 positive Qualities and 1 negative Quality. The exception is Master-Crafted, which costs 5 XP because it basically means you have a magic weapon. Improvised weapons work exactly the same way as normal weapons, but replace one positive Quality with Fragile.
Next time: Enemies.
Ninjas Kill People All The TimeOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Ninjas Kill People All The Time
I forgot to talk about Conditions last time! Conditions are a good way to avoid death. If you hit 0 Health, see, you begin dying if you don't get medical attention within a few minutes. If you hit 0 Psyche, you aren't dying, but will have a breakdown and go into a coma for a while. If you take damage while one bar is at 0, the damage is dealt to your other bar. If both of your bars are at 0, you die immediately. So hitting 0 is very, very bad and you never want to do that. To avoid that, you have Conditions.
You can never have more than 4 conditions at once, and their total rating cannot eceed 10. Further, any single condition can't exceed 5. Sometimes the GM will tell you what condition to take, sometimes you'll talk to them and decide what's best. When you damage, you may choose to reduce the damage and instead take a condition at level equal to the amount of damage you chose not to take. Some weapons and jutsu will cause conditions without dealing damage. If your condition slots are full, the condition is dealt as damage instead. Conditions all have a number of different effects. For example, Bleeding forces you to make a Fortitude check when doing anything strenuous to avoid taking damage. Bruised makes you take extra damage when hit. Afraid forces you to have to make a Discipline+Empathy check each round to avoid running away if faced with the thing you're afraid of. Convinced gives you a penalty to detecting lies from the person you're convinced by. Pain gives you a penalty to checks based on how much damage you've taken. Poisoned deals damage to you each Round in Battle and gives a penalty to checks outside of it.
Level 1 conditions go away when the scene ends, or if the GM thinks it appropriate, when the next scene ends - but never more than that. Level 2-3 conditions last for (rating) days before dropping a level. Level 4-5 conditions last an entire session before dropping a level. How else can you heal damage? Well, once per Scene, someone with Holistics 1 or more can make a Holistics check to try and heal someone (but healing yourself is done at -2). Success heals 1 damage, or 2 on a Boost. Any other damage has to heal naturally between scenes or overnight. Likewise, once per session, a character with Holistics 3+ can try to treat someone else's conditions with a Holistics check (but never their own), with a penalty based on how bad the condition is. Success means you reduce it by 1, or 2 with a Boost. No one can ever get more than one healing treatment in a single scene.
Tehre are five types of NPC you can fight. (A single average person is basically not a threat; they only count as enemies if they team up.) Squads are small groups of enemies, usually with a total Health and Psyche triple that of a normal PC, of which any given squad member has only a fraction. A Squad with 20 Health and 5 members, say, loses one member every 4 damage. Each time they lose a member, they get -1 to Attach and Defense. Squads usually only have the one Action per round, but when they attack, every squad member gets to make an attack.
Legions are a large gathering of foes - a battalion of soldiers or a rogue ninja clan. Legions don't actually have Health or Psyche - they just have a combined bar that, if it is damaged enough, makes them disperse. You can't really kill a Legion - they'll reform when you leave. It's possible to defeat them entirely, but it requires special conditions set by the GM, such as the death of their commander, the destruction of a key bridge, a breach in a specific load-bearing wall, that kind of thing. Legions tend to have 1 or 2 Actions per round, depending on their size, and can attack everyone in the area they occupy simultaneously.
Warriors are single fighters about on par with a PC. Naturally, they tend to work with a Squad or Legion supporting them, because a team of ninja will easily defeat a lone Warrior. Alternatively, you could have a team of Warriors.
Masters are stronger foes who can handle multiple ninja. They tend to have three times a normal PC's Health and Psyche all by themselves. They will typically have a few lackeys around to help, however, because even they can't usually solo an entire PC party.
Grand Masters can...but also tend to have minions around, at least for the look of it. These are supremely powerful foes, and it's rare to see them without helpers, too.
Every enemy has only a few stats. They have a dicepool for all Attacks, a dicepool for all Defense, the number of Dynamic Actions they get per round and their Initiative. They do not roll for extra Dynamic Actions. Sometimes, they will also have multiple attacks per round, on top of their Dynamic Actions. They will occasionally have a list of suggested skills and a dicepool for those, for if the GM needs to know what they might have. If an enemy becomes a recurring threat, the GM is told to look into enhancing or changing the example skill lists. Oh, and they have a damage bonus that applies regardless of what weapon they use. The GM can adjust that up or down by 1 if they like. Lastly, every enemy has Techniques - a list of skills they're good at handling and a list of skills they're bad at handling. The former are marked with a (+), so an enemy with Athletics (+) gets an extra die if you use Athletics against them, because they're good at handling that. A really powerful foe might have (++) instead, giving +2 dice. (-) is the opposite - a foe with Athletics (-) gets a -1 penalty when you use Athletics against them. The GM can, of course, shift these modifiers around as needed for the game. It's always best to do some recon and learn what kind of things your foe can and can't handle.
Most NPCs don't have jutsu or use the PC jutsu system. They do, however, have Martial Arts powers. These operate similarly, but tend to have a weakness or loophole, called a Twist, often tied to one of several skills for the GM to choose from. These weaknesses allow clever PCs to defeat these powerful techniques, if they can learn how. Once again, recon is a great idea. Conditions are also a good way to fight some foes. Against Squads and Legions, Conditions are just extra damage, basically.
So, you're wondering how good a Ninja Dog actually is? Well, a Smaller Animal is a Warrior with Health 7, Psyche 3, a 6-die attack pool, a 6-die defense pool, 2 actions per round, 0 Armor, Initiative 5 and Damage +1. They get 1 Dynamic Action per round, and usually have around 3 levels in Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, Speed or Stealth. They are Athletics (+), Deception (+), Intimidation (-) and Deception (-), because it's hard to outrun or dodge an animal, but it's usually easy to scare or trick them. And, of course, ninja dogs get more Health and Psyche. So they're pretty decent as combat pets but not that much of a threat to an actual ninja.
An Imperial Battalion, on the other hand, is a Legion with a Damage Threshold of 30. They have Attack and Defense dicepools of 7, 2 actions per round, Armor 0, Initiative 4, Damage +2 and 1 Dynamic ACtion. They tend to have 5 ranks in Discipline, Fighting, Holistics, Intimidation, Knowledge, Marskman, Perception or Speed. They get Fortitude (+) and Speed (-) - they've got a ton of brute force, so tanking them's a bad idea, but they're not particularly fast. They also have some Martial Arts techniques
First, The Tide of Battle: every 2 Rounds, they get +1 to their Attack pool. However, the Twist is that you can usually find an easy way to escape or avoid fighting them. Second, Constant Crossfire. They have special recurve bows they're really good with, and can fire even at foes that are engaged in melee with their allies. Every 2 Rounds that you're visible to them, you take 1 damage, regardless of Armor, from arrows whizzing by. The Twist? You can spend a Dynamic Action each round to block or deflect the arrows and take no damage.
And then, you've got Celestial Animals. These guys are usually seen as enemies only when the Empire has caught and enslaved them - something the Empire's doing more often, these days. See, once upon a time, the Earth belonged to demons, but the Celestial Animals defeated the demons to make room for humanity. Humans were allies to giant bears and talking dogs, and this friendship remained until humans became more sadistic and nasty towards animals. At that point, the Celestial Animals fled to their celestial realms, away from the Earth. Each realm belongs to a specific type of Celestial Animal, a family. Turtles in one dimension, rats in another, and so on. Many believe that human souls rest in these realms between reincarnations. Each animal family has its own society and outlook, and they tend to avoid humans. Some of these realms hate and fight each other, such as the Rats and the Snakes, and most animal families don't get along regardless of what their earthly counterparts are like. CElestial Animals are mortal beings, despite being mystic spirit animals, and they want to live good lives, too. They have warred with each other and are often rather xenophobic. Sometimes, too, they become curious about Earth. However, there are strict rules about when each type can enter or leave their realm. Snakes, for example, can come only during hot summers, and only out of the darkest bogs. Bears, on the other hand, can only return home during winter.
The exception? Ninja. When a ninja makes a blood pact with an animal family, they can call on and send home these beasts whenever, bypassing the normal rules. That's why animal families do it - summoner pacts give them the chance to come and go as they like rather than relying on the strictures laid down by the universe. Most Celestial Animals are very similar in appearance to their earth counterparts, but significantly smarter - they're as smart as a human being, always, and sometimes much smarter than that. These animals, still, are the youngest or weakest ones, the Minor Animals. They blend in with normal animals, however, allowing them to more easily deal with people...though it can still be odd for them to show up in some places, like if you summon a bear in the marketplace. These animals use the normal stats you'd apply for their species, but get +1 to skills because they're smarter, and if their species would be too small to be statted, like a rat or a turtle, they use Smaller Animal stats anyway.
Above these are the Major Animals, bigger and stronger. They often do not actually resemble mundane animals - they're usually bigger, more impressive, or even humanoid. Minor Animals might be constant companions, but most Major Animals are as good if not better fighters than a ninja. They often have their own quests they're on and goals they're pursuing, so they usually make deals with ninja only out of convenience and desire to be on Earth.
Greater Animals, the strongest of the Celestial Animals are...well, kaiju. They're the size of entire cities, sometimes. Not all are that big, just the most powerful, sure, but they're all huge. They are rarely summoned unless things get really dire, as they are busy being leaders in their own realms. Instead, they'll often send their children as messengers. Summoning a Greater Animal changes the landscape of a scene entirely when it happens, and a single attack from them is usually enough to wipe out a village.
All Celestial Animals can speak the human tongue, as a gift from the Celestial Immortals. They can also speak the Old Tongue, a language forgotten by human, when they don't want humans to understand them. Celestial Animals are made of pure ki and are naturally able to perform feats that mimic jutsu abilities. Some of them are even able to teach these to ninja that prove worthy. Celestial Animals also heal all damage between scenes. However, if they are ever reduced to 0 in either health bar, they immediately vanish, returning to their celestial realm. They cannot die on Earth, but will die if killed in their home world.
Every celestial animal family has an animal type, an Element (which, if you share it, gives you +1 to summoning them), an associated skill (which you get +1 to if you have a Minor Animal around helping you work) and a general rundown of personality. Oh, and a Trigger, which you get access to if one of them is around with you.
Bears are Earth-elemental, and their skill is Holistics. Most of them are just cubs, but that doesn't make them weak or stupid. They can all be fierce, but they are actually masters of healing and alchemy, and prefer to help heal the sick and wounded. They stand out a lot, though. Their Trigger is that they're slow to attack. Most bears - not all, but most - just don't like to use the viciousness they contain within them. The party gets 1 Karma when the bear's hesitation causes harm.
The example Major Animal is the Master known as Tetsuo the Aggressor - an 18-foot-tall humanoid bear with a broadsword and an eyepatch. He loves war and fighting, and he really enjoys the Ninja Crusade, having made pacts with several summoners so he can fight more. His last defeat was against Hebi Ide, and the two of them took each others' eye. Today, he hates the Recoiling Serpents with a terrible fury. Unlike most bears, he's not much of a healer, but he loves hanging with healers, because he needs them to soothe his wounds. He especially likes the Bamboo Herbalists, but will pact with just about any ninja that can promise he'll get to fight other Celestial Animals. Tetsup has 30 Health, 20 Psyche, a 10-die attack pool, an 8-die defense pool, Armor 2, 2 Actions per round, Damage +2 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus an average of 4 levels in the skills he has, which are mostly fighting, toughness and survival skills. He has Fighting (++), Might (+), Crafts (-) and Stealth (-). In a face-to-face battle, he's practically invincible, but ambushes and traps work really well on him. He knows any four jutsu from the Way of the Warrior and Way of Earth, chosen by the GM and/or the PC pacted to him, plus Surface Running and Lightfoot. He also has most of the techniques from the Sharp and Bear styles. O, and he has Cross-Slice. He can spend 1 Dynamic action to attack twice at once. If both hit, the target gets Bleeding 3 automatically. Tetsuo can teach this as an Advanced jutsu of the Way of the Warrior, activated with Yang+Fighting. However, there is the Twist: if the target prepares their Defense for this technique ahead of time, they can Defend against the first attack at -2. If they succeed, the second attack is negated automatically.
The most famous Greater Bear was Gen, the Greater Panda, who was summoned several years ago to heal a city sickened by the Year of Gloods. However, the Empire knew she was coming somehow, and killed her with their enslaves Celestial Scorpions by poisoning her such that she slowly died when she went home. The other Greater Bears are not so kind as Gen was and are preparing for an indsicriminate rampage, to be led by Haru the Mountain, a bear larger than the Ensen Volcano.
Canines are Wood-elemental, and their skill is Perception. They come in many sizes and breeds, but mentally they tend to be closer to wolves than dogs. They are almost all expert hunters and trackers, as well as good scouts and companions. Their Trigger, however, is that they often believe they know better. Sure, their nose will bring you somewhere - but it might not be what they say it is, given their overconfidence. The party gets 1 Karma when their destination is more dangerous than intended.
The example Major Animal is actually a Squad of 5, Jin's Crew. Jin is a century-old but young-looking dog, a master tracker that really is only slightly bigger than average for a dog. He has a crew of other celestial dogs that serve him, and they work together to help their summoners. Jin likes to watch people and study how they act, and he prefers to work with other patient, voyeuristic people. He especially likes the Pack of the Black Moon, but will work with anyone he finds interesting. He and his crew have 15 Health, 14 Psyche, 6-die attack and defense pools, 1 action per round, Armor 0, Initiative 8, +1 Damage and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 levels in a wide variety of skills. They have Survival (+), Fighting (+), Marksman (-) and Intuition (-) - they're really good at using their surroundings, but can be outplanned and outranged. They know any three jutsu from the Ways of Movement, Survival or Twin Beasts. If given a scent, they can track down anything, though it might take time if the distance is great. Also, when they work together, they can perform the Double Howl. 2 of them howl to distract the foe, then the other 3 attack with +2 damage each. You can learn this as a Basic jutsu of Twin Beasts using Yin+Intimidation, in which you and your dog howl and given anyone attacking your target +1 damage until the end of the Round. Oh, but when Jin and his boys use it, though, there's the Twist: the two dogs distracting the target get -2 to their next Defense this Round.
Few like to talk about the Greater Canines, but there are many stories of 30-foot wolves feasting on the dead and slaughtering with just a glare of their glowing red eyes. Summoning such a creature would show you were powerful...but the wolf would probably then eat you to prove you weren't.
Next time: Cats, Hedgehogs, Monkeys, Rams, Rats, Roosters, Snakes and Turtles.
Beasts of WarOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Beasts of War
Felines are Fire-elemental, and their skill is Athletics. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they definitely believe they're the best of all animals - fast, skilled, able to get into anywhere and blend into any environment. The problem is, they're cats. Their Trigger is that they're basically lazy, and will do what they can to avoid work. It's a point of pride, after all. The party gains 1 Karma when the feline slows progress with their pride.
The example Major Animal is a Master, Queen Kazuhiko. She is very cunning, but basically lazy. She killed her own father to rule her pride, but has sense spent her time lounging around while her bother, Michio, plots to kill her. She doesn't mind that, because she's busy sleeping. She is 15 feet long, bright red and has a very deep, imposing voice. Unlike other animals that make pacts from necessity, Queen Kazuhiko actively looks for ninja so she can turn them into defenders of her throne, and also do things like bring her a thousand fish to eat or get her a candelabra she saw once and liked. She is a very high maintenance pact animal, and particularly likes the Blazing Dancers. She will never, ever make a pact with a Black Moon summoner, because dogs. She has 25 Health, 22 Psyche, 9-die attack and defense pools, Initiative 6, 2 Actions, Armor 2, Damage +1 and 4 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice in a wide array of skills. She has Fighting (+), Athletics (+), Intuition (-), because she is a calculating and agile warrior, but has trouble changing tactics mid-battle. She knows five Jutsu from the Ways of Fire, Beasts, the Warrior, Survival or Movement. In her presence, you (her summoner) get some of the nine lives of cats. Any time you would hit Health or Psyche 0, she can spend a Dynamic Action to negate it or take the damage herself for free...but she's not gonna bother with the second one unless you're Rank 3+ and she likes you. Also, she can spend a Dynamic Action to automatically act first, regardless of Initiative. She cna teach this to you as a Median jutsu using Yang+Speed, which lets you spend a Dynamic Action at the start of the Round to automatically go first this Round and get an Initiative bonus next Round. The Twist? Kazuhiko can't use this power if she's been distracted by something (one of Perform or Deception) last Round, because her attention's not on the fight.
The leader of the Felines is a Greater Feline named the Wild Sabretooth, which is five stories tall and has only once been summoned, during the Summoner Skirmishes, where he fought and killed an Imperial-enslaved giant poisonous frog. Rumor says that he currently lives in the wild lands of the Land of Seed and Blossom.
Hedgehogs are Earth-elementa, and their skill is Survival. They also excel at finding lost things. They're small and can easily be carried in a bag or pocket, but their quills make them difficult to handle. In a bad mood, they get even worse. You need mutual respect to deal with them - otherwise, you're stuck with a small but very spiky animal that is prone to extreme moods. Their Trigger is that they are easily oveerwhelmed by anxiety in a big world. Life underground is much easier. The party gains 1 Karma if you could really use the hedgehog's help, but it has anxiety issues preventing it.
The example Major Animal is a Warrior, Hibiki. She's only about twice the size of a normal hedgehog, with bright red eyes and a love of collecting rings of all kinds of design. She spends most of her time in the Hedgehog Realm, sorting through lost items that she's found, and she will happily recover lost items for her summoners. She's honestly one of the nicest Celestial Animals in existence, and always looks to help others without selfishness. She is known for her direct approach with summoners, though she only goes for those who are honorable, particularly the Will of Iron. She has Health 6, Psyche 7, 3 dice to attack, 7 dice to defend, Initiative 7, 1 Action per round, Armor 2, Damage +0 and 1 Dynamic Action, plus 5 dice on a number of survival and social skills. She's got Fortitude (+), Might (-) - she's a very tough little critter, but not very strong. She knows two jutsu from the Way of Earth, plus Teleportation and Rise From the Ashes. She can be asked to find a lost item, which takes her up to a week as she sifts through her collection of lost items...but if the item can be found at all, she can bring it back, even if it's destroyed. She also has defensive spikes. If someone attacks her, a successful Defense on her part either removes a weapon Quality or, against unarmed foes, deals 1 damage. She can teach this as a basic Jutsu using Yin+Fortitude, which causes quills to sprout on the ninja's back that do the same. However, one Twist: Ranged weapons are immune to this.
Even the biggest Greater Hedgehog is no more than one story tall, but that doesn't make them safe. They are often bad-tempered and lash out at rude people, and they have extremely powerful abilities to devastate landscapes. The last time one was summoned, it was the hedgehog Yoichi, who made enough fissures and earthquakes to sink an entire Five Blades city into the earth, killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Monkeys are Wood-elemental, and their skill is Speed. Some say they are the bridge between normal monkes and humans, as they stand on their hind legs and are critical thinkers. And, of course, inveterate pranksters. Izou people sometimes have pet monkeys, which can help them blend in. Their Trigger is that they love pranks, the more damaging the better. The party gains 1 Karma when one of their pranks puts the party into a precarious situation.
The example Major Animal is a Warrior, Sita, who is one of the children of the Monkey King. She heads to Earth primarily to make her own legend, apart from her father, and she looks for summoners to be heroes that help her on that path. The Ninja Crusade's a good time for heroes, so she's paying attention. She's a cheerful monkey of 8 feet who, like all monkeys, loves pranks, but is actually bright enough not to prank authority figures. She loves young and optimistic summoners with a sense of balance, and particularly enjoys working with the Wardens of Equilibrium. She has 9 Health, 9 Psyche, a 7-die attack pool, a 5-die defense pool, Initiative 11, 2 Actions per round, Armor 1, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in a wide range of skills. She is Fighting (+), Speed (+), Perform (+), Crafts (-), Discipline (-). She's fast, deadly and beautiful (for a monkey), but she's easily lured into traps and gets bored quickly. She knows six jutsu from the Ways of Movement or Wood, plus Tree Hopping. She also has most techniques from the Blunt and Monkey styles. Also, on a successful DEfnese, she can spend a Dynamic Action to teleport anywhere she can see - and if she goes behind the attacker, she can instantly Counterattack at +1. She can teach this as a Median jutsu of Movement using Yang+Speed, which lasts for several Defense checks and doesn't cost a Dynamic Action, but limits distance teleported to (Movement*2). The Twist? Opponents that use Perception in their next check get +1 against Sita by keeping track of her movements.
The most legendary Greater Monkey is Hanuman the Monkey King, who rules both the Monkey Realm anda few lesser celestial realms. He is the ultimate trickster, but has a child-like wisdom and, of course, the strongest martial arts in the universe. He is also more than capable of outsmarting his foes. Every few centuries, however, he's stripped of all his powers and sent to Earth so he can get that greatness again from scratch - a tool hge uses to prove, over and over, that he deserves all the status he's got.
Rams are Metal-elemental, and their skill is Fortitude. They're a testy, bad-tempered and boisterous group, known for beating up their summoners both to teach them resistance techniques and to relieve their own stress. They are often seen as pets, but rams are rare in big cities and not seen as normal there. The rams respect a ninja with a strong sense of pride. Their Trigger is their tempers, which they take out on anyone nearby. The party gains 1 Karma when this kind of thing puts strain on the group and makes their work harder.
The example Major Animal is a MAster, Kuniyuki, who finds humans very fascinating. Rare among Celestial Animals, he has earned the power to take human form. It's not a pretty form and most people will assume he's an Untouchable, but it is human, and he uses it to observe humanity. However, Kuniyuki is a cynic and sees the Izou class system as hopelessly corrupt. He respects those with strong convictions...but not those who treat class as important. Any ninja he pacts with had better be able to hold their liqour, though - and the easiest way to earn his pact is a drinking contest. He hates cheeriness, and as a result has a surprising number of pacts with the Grasping Shadows. He has Health 14, Psyche 12, 6 dice to attack, 5 to defense, Initiative 8, 2 Actions per round, ARmor 2, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic actions, plus 3 dice in a wide array of skills, mostly physical in nature. He has Might (+), Stealth (+), Travel (-) - Kuniyuki is very strong and surprisingly sneaky, but he's no good at dealing with mounted foes. Her has 5 jutsu from the Ways of Survival or Metal, plus Cannon Punch (except his uses his horns). He can take on human form in any shape he desires (as long as it is, as noted, not very pretty), and can drop it instantly if he needs to fight. All of his attacks cause Knockback, and he can teach his summoner Cannon Punch as a Basic jutsu rather than a Median one. The Twist? If the target defends with Brace, they are immune to the knockback effect, though they still take damage.
The most potent of the Greater Rams is Ensen, who is said to have made the Ensen Volcano as a show of his strength to the ancient peoples, proving he was able to knock the top off even a mountain. Even today, some humans still pray to Ensen as a god, which he rather appreciates. He will sometimes even send them good luck in return.
Rats are Metal-elemental, and their skill is Deception. They're sneaky, clever and natural liars, experts at negotiation. They often have rare artifacts and lost texts, and will happily hide in your coat and whisper advice to you. They tell the truth...most oif the time. They're excellent at spotting lies, but their Trigger is they're not good at truth. They will lie to their summoners on occasion. The party gains 1 Karma when it turns out the rat lied for their own purposes.
The example Major Animal is a squad of many, many rats: Hachiro's Family Business. Hachiro is the eighth of 32 rat siblings, but was the first of them to make pacts. His siblings were encouraged by this, and they work as a team to help their summoners. Hachiro intends to start his own legitimate business on Earth, having grown tired of celestial politics. He is loyal first to his family, and if they're in danger of death, he will even betray his summoner. He's also very selfish and will only pact with those that can help him raise his status, especially those with silver tongues. He particularly likes the Hidden Strands. He and his family have 12 Health, 15 Psyche, 4 dice to attack, 6 to defend, Initiative 7, 1 Action, Armor 0, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in several social and knowledge skills. They are Discipline (++) and Perform (-) - they keep cool under pressure, but are easily mesmerized by artistic shows. They know four jutsu from the Way of the Unseen, plus Mold Metal and Melting Touch. When summoned, Hachiro usually shows up with a fully stocked shop run by himself and his family. He almost certainly has what you need or something close for sale, and if not, he can find it. However, everything has a price, and Hachiro mostly doesn't take money. Further, at any time he wants, Hachiro can call any of his relatives to show up and help. This gives +1 Attack to the squad each time. He can teach this as a Median jutsu using Yang+Persuasion, letting the ninja summon a blood relative or squadmate within several miles, though they can attempt to resist this with Yin+Fortitude. The Twist? If the target is unwillingly summoned, whoever summoned them gets -2 to all checks for several rounds.
The most infamous Greater Rat was Daiki, who lived in the ruins of the Orime Dynasty and ate the misery of several communities that lost everything. His existence encourages this - he is drawn to despair, and his presence causes sickness and death, which fuels the despair he feeds on. He is a vile beast and many believe he was responsible for the Year of Floods.
Roosters are Fire-elemental and their skill is Intimidation. They are energetic, boisterous beasts that are very, very loud. They are good planners and teach their summoners how to out-think foes, especially using fear. All of them are male, but you can summon a Celestial Hen if you want a female version that is otherwise identical. Their Trigger is that these celestial cockerels see everything as a challenge to their authority and hate to be disagreed with. The party gains 1 Karma when the Rooster blows up at their summoner or the group and puts them all in danger.
The example Major Animal is the Warrior Akihiko-Chan, a hyperactive rooster that loves to travel and experience new things. He's young, naive and 12 feet tall, as well as vey skilled. He's quick to jump into anything new and interesting-looking. He prefers cheerufl summoners, particularly the Virtuous Body Gardeners, and hates grumpy ninja. To get his loyalty usually means a race against him, which he will probably win - but the real challenge is taking the loss with a smile and being a good sport. If you actually beat him, he'll love you forever. He's got Health 8, Psyche 4, 5 dice to attack, 6 to defend, Initiative 14, 2 Actions, Armor 1, Damage +1 and 3 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in several physical and social skills. He is Athletics (+), Speed (++), Might (-), PErsuade (-). Akihiko-Chan is very fast and actobatic, but he's not very strong and is very gullible. He knows three jutsu from the Ways of Fire or Movement, plus Trackless Movements. You can spend a ki to have him help you travel if he's with you, skipping any single Journey stage except Ocean and Temple, and arriving in a quarter of the time. Also? He can spend 1 Dynamic Action per attack to attack multiple times on the same Initiative. He can teach you Swift Soul as a Basic jutsu instead of Median, too. However, the Twist is that he hates hitting the wrong target and will end his assault if someone uses the Protect Defense against his attack.
The last Greater Hen to be seen was Mitsuko of the Light, a three-story chicken. She was summeoned in the Orime Rebellions, was terrified by what she saw, and immediately turned herself into pure fire, screeching so loudly that she killed half of the warriors around her, including her summoner. Fortunately, it allowed the rebels to take the city, but at massive cost.
Snakes are Water-elemental and their skill is Persuade. They understand humanity very well, and love negotiation...and coercion. Snakes enjoy debates on just about any topic, and if you can't keep up with them, they will make your arguments for you. They look similar to normal snakes, but with unique and distinctive color patterns, and typically stay near their summoners physically - up a sleeve, often. However, while they are good advisors, their Trigger is that their advice is not magical. They can't see the future. The party gains 1 Karma when following the advice of the snake actually sets the summoner or party on the wrong path.
The example Major Animal is the Master called Khis. He's forty feet long and is one of the most potent Major Animals summeoned in the old Mercenary Wars, and later by the clan that would become the Recoiling Serpents during the War of Withered Fangs. Unfortunately, the Imperials know Khis and his form, and there is now a price on his head, forcing him to cut most of his ties to earth and losing him his status in the Snake Realms, where his former role as king has been usurped. Khis now wants a summoner with power and willingness to use it to help him regain his throne. First, he will test the summoner's social skills, then orchestrate scenarios they must survive before they can even meet with him. He has made pacts with several REcoiling Serpents, whom he views as the perfect tools. He also hates having his time wasted and is absolutely happy to kill summoners that disappoint him badly. He has 26 Health, 22 Psyche, 7 dice on Attack and Defense, 13 Initiative, 2 Actions, Armor 2, Damage +2 and 3 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice on a large number of social skills.He has Fortitude (+), Intimidation (+), Persuasion (+), Marksman (-). It's hard to hurt him and he's extremely charismatic, but he's so large that he's an easy target. Khis knows six jutsu from the Ways of Survival, Water or Great Serpents. His saliva is one of the most venomous things in the world, able to be spat at a target for 4 damage and dissolving whatever items, weapons or clothes the target had - or double that, if Khis can swallow the target. The Twist? If the target's used any Stealth checks this Round, they get +1 to Dodge the venom. Also, if the summoner has Alchemy skills, Khis can give them his saliva to make their Poison potions do 3 damage instead of 2, at +1 Difficulty to resist. The hard part is convincing him to do this.
The most potent Greater Snake is Natsuki, but she is currently enslaved by the Izou. She was summoned to swallow several other Celestial Animals summoned by the Lotus Coalition, and while she did get some sick enjoyment of killing these enemies of hers, she now wants nothing more than to escape and personally kill the Emperor for his insolence.
Turtles are Water-elemental and their skill is Knowledge. They are the keepers of knowledge for all of the celestial realms. They are very old and remember very, very many things, and are more than happy to remind everyone else of their mistakes. They can recall many, many pieces of trivia in startling clarity. They don't like fighting much, and they're not very big so they usually aren't good at it, but some ninja carry them around in bags. Their Trigger is, they're slow. They tend to not treat time as a factor, even when it is. The party gains 1 Karma when their casual, slow relaying of information becomes a problem in tense situations.
The example Major Animal is the Warrior Wakana. She's been around on Earth since the founding of the Izou, and she has no intention of ever going back home. She lives under the ocean and has spent her many centuries accumulating knowledge. She is ten feet tall, slow, and very patient. She favors the Living Chronicle over all other clans, because she deeply cares for their goal of finding and sharing information, but she'll work with any ninja that is wise by her standards. She especially enjoys riddles and will often require her summoners to answer them before she'll actually show up. She's got 7 Health, 11 Psyche, a 4-die Attack, 7-die Defense, Initiative 5, 1 Action, 3 Armor, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice in several resistance-based or knowledge skills. She has Fortitude (+), Speed (-), because she is a giant goddamn turtle. She knows three jutsu from the Ways of Water, Beasts or Kept Lore. She can see backwards and forwards in time - but she cannot share her knowledge freely. You must spend 2 ki to ask her a question about the location you're in, from any point in the time spectrum she has seen...with the note that knowing the future can change it. When she withdraws into her shell, she doubles her Armor, and can spend 1 Dynamic Action to pop out just long enough to attack before going back in. She can teach this as a Median jutsu of Water. The Twist? Every time she tucks herself in, she gets -1 Initiative.
The most famous Greater Turtle was the Floating Island, which is said to have held a piece of land containing cities and villages on its back. However, any such civilizaiton is either long lost or very, very well hidden, and many explorers dream of one day rediscovering the Island.
Next time: DEMONS
HELL MONSTERSOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: HELL MONSTERS
So, basically, hells exist. Many hells. They are largely underground, and if you do evil in life, you get sent to the hell appropriate for your actions. There's a murder hell, a theft hell, a dishonoring-your-family hell, and so on. The souls in the hells can see Earth, but feel only despair and rage. Spirits, which dwell in the heavenly afterlife between reincarnations, can return to fuck with people, send omens, be worshipped as ancestors, and so on. Thse spirits and ghosts are the topic of many legends, but are mostly positive - they guide their descendants with omens, try to make the world a better place, that kind of thing. They tend not to be visible.
Well, bad people can come back, too. They are warped and twisted by their time in hell, and they are called demons. Legend holds that once, demons walk the Earth until the Celestial Animals and their human allies forced them below the ground, into the hells. Celestial courts were appointed as keepers of the hells, to stop demons getting out. Some, however, are allowed to come out to redeem themselves and their families by honorable acts, and these demons try to improve the world as a form of atonement. When their job is done, they go back to their hell until they are given passage to a celestial realm and/or reincarnation. Others just cause problems when let out, however.
Unlike most spirits, demons take a physical form when they come to Earth - typically, a revolting one. This is part of the test. To be redeemed, they must find someone on a path of immorality or dishonor and attempt to turn them back to goodness. This can take a very, very long time - but it's time not spent in a hell. Sometimes, a demon will even get too comfortable and try to stay forever, either staying after their task is done or never trying to complete it. In these case,s the keepers of hell and any summoners that have befriended them must set out to retrieve the demons.
The worst souls are those that have been in hell so long that they've gone mad from the torment. They have no chance of redemption and have never been allowed out of hell. Those that do come to Earth somehow are known as Oni, and they are different from most demons, full of rage and destruction. Oni are cunning, able to slip past the keepers and escape without notice.
So yeah, some demons are monstrous creatures that try to redeem themselves but are fuckin' terrifying so have trouble getting anyone to listen to them. Some of them are honestly trying, others are trying but also using loopholes that let them extend the time they're out by sabotaging their own work, and some just fuck around until a magic dog comes to beat them up or whatever. And then you've got the Oni.
Oni are giant, vaguely humanoid monsters made of a substance that indicates the crime they committed in life. A murder Oni might be coated in blood, while a dishonor-your-family Oni might be surrounded by dark clouds. They are all deformed or hideous in some way - giant, bulging eyes, elongated limbs, massive fangs - and each is unique. They are also all violently insane, and while they may want things like finding their descendants or loved ones, or punishing some type of person they hate, but no matter what, they can't help but cause destruction and death wherever they go.
The game also has charts to tell you what, on average, is appropriate for weak, medium or powerful foes, with the various stats. This lets you design your own NPC threats, both for individuals and for squads or masters.
Anyway, from here we get the last real section: life in the Izou Empire. It was, as we've discussed, founded by the former fisherman Izou Zurui, and it has stood for 765 years. There have been many powerful Emperors since Zurui, and it is said that every Emperor is destined to be at the center of at least one major event that will define their reign. No Emperor, however, has ever been so notorious as the current one, Izou Mamoru. He was burn in 691 of the Izou Era to Empress Mamoko, who fought against one of the worst insurrections in centuries. She led an underpaid and demoralized garrison against the rebels while nine months pregnant, having caught her general conspiring against her. Despite the fact that her son was about to be born, she personally led the cavalry charge that broke the rebel ranks, using a modified chariot. After that, it is said that the sun parted the sky and light fell upon her, and she began to give birth behind a protect wall of her soldiers. Legend holds that one of the last of the Celestial Lions appeared on the field, roaring and then heading back into the woods. Thus was Mamoru born into the world, in the dying arms of his mother, the Empress. He was raised by his father, a weak but kind man who vowed to make him the leader of men his mother would have wanted him to be.
Assassins threatened Mamoru from an early age, but he was taught to fight and use jutsu by the Silver Blades, the elite fighters of the Emperor who descend from mighty duelist Morimoto Ichikyo, and the Hidden Strands of Fate. Together, they made Mamoru a great warrior. Before his death, Mamoru's father also decreed the creation of a special order of Imperial ninja, the Golden Lions, to protect his son. Mamoru traveled the Empire for years, learning many secrets. He wanted to be a fair, just ruler and felt he had to see the world outside the Palace to do that. It is said that he did many great deeds, which became the subject of songs and plays. Most infamous of these was the final encounter in his wandering time - the Silver Serpent.
In 715 IE, Mamoru went to a fishing village where a statue had been raised to his father. He was treated well, but the locals were nervous, and told him that a great beast lived in the caves nearby. The fifteen-year-old Emperor declared that none would live in fear in his land and set off to fight with the aid of only three Golden Lions. The lair was a simple cave, and Mamoru had to leave his bodyguards behind with his armor in order to fit through the entrance. Within, he found a great hall full of scrolls and books of all kind, but no foe - just a single Celestial Serpent on a pedestal. When he asked where the enemy was, it told him that even a small threat could bring down his kingdom. Mamoru tried to attack, but the Serpent became a massive creature with a single, blazing pearl on its head. They fought for hours, and when the Lions cam to search, they found Mamoru in the cave, with the Serpent in pieces all around and the books and scrolls destroyed. He told them that he understood the lesson now.
However, for all the great things he did, Mamoru will be remembered most for the loss of his family and the Ninja Crusade. When his heir, Yasou, was training the in the woods in 737 IE, he became involved in a battle between two clans and was killed in the crossfire. Mamoru was deeply hurt by the loss and mdae laws to crack down on open ki manipulation, designed to hurt ninja cultural heritage and hopefully save others from his son's fate. He and his wife, Hana, were still deeply in love and still had two children. When Hana and their daughter Megumi were killed by rebel ninja in 751, Mamoru's sorrow became hatred, and the Ninja Crusade began. He made his son, Crown Prince Kano, his greatest general, and only the Golden Lions were authorized to be ninja. He gathered them and chose several to become a new caste of soldier, the Executioners, who learned forbidden arts to destroy jutsu. He also seized several of the most deadly and vile jutsu texts hidden in the Great Library. Mamoru and Kano struck quickly, destroying all the ninja villages they knew of overnight. All whom they caught in these attacks were killed mercilessly, and their corpses lined the roads as a warning. The Emperor encouraged the people to rise up against the ninja, and he gave his army steamtech and gunpowder, invented by his engineers, to face ninja techniques.
The Ninja Crusade has been more than battles. It began in 752 IE to purge the Empire of corrupt, manipulative clans, and The Empire has been merciless against the ninja. He sees the Crusade as more than just a battle against the ninja, but one against superstition and tyranny. To this end, he's had plays and stories made to portray ninja as vile kidnappers and murdeers, and the reclusive nature of the clans has played to his favor, with many villages rejecting the ninja and reproting them to Imperial authorities. For three years, the ninja were put on the run. The Empire had numbers and the clans barely survived. They soon unified into the Lotus Coalition, however, and the desperate alliance solidified their positions. The Emperor overreached, and while the army had an early advantage, the clans lay siege to Daiwa in what they thought was the end of the Crusade. They sent a strike force of a hundred ninja to assassinate the Emperor in 757 IE. The palace seemed defenseless, but the Golden Lions, Executioners and Silver Blades were ready and waiting. Battle raged, and at last, only one ninja remained - the ronin Danketsu/
Danketsu made it to the Emperor, and they fought, though none know what was said. Whatever happened, Danketsu escaped, his sword broken and bloody, and his wounds too bad for even the best healer to fix. As he died, he told the clans he'd killed the Emperor. In his honor, the hidden village Danketsu was founded and named. They celebrated for days, and Kano declared a state of emergency, but the death of the Emperor was never spread. Instead, it was reported that he was becoming healthier and stronger - an obvious play. The ninja gathered to raid Kano's camp in early 759...but the Emperor came out to face them, strong and healthy, cutting down ninja like wheat. The Coalition was forced to flee back to Danketsu, and many rumors spread about the Emperor's new abilities and if he had in fact died.
The Crusade hit stalemate in the Bridge to Battle Province, where the clans and Imperial Legion were unable to drive each other out. The ninja began to take out officers and generals, demoralizing the Izo army...so the Emperor decided to use more radical means. He had a Golden Lion summoner call on a Greater Animal that had once served the Izou and asked it to fight in his name. It is said that it was far too easy for it to happen - and so, in 762, Vakhesh the Fire Ape, whose fists were molten metal and whose head bore iron horns, came to fight. Vakhesh was not just a terrifying fighter, but a brilliant general. He used himself as a distraction, allowing the Legion to strike at the ninja strongholds while he fought their champions. He was brutal, destructive and left much in ruin. The ninja called on Tetsuo the Aggressor, a mighty Bear, to help them. Even with his aid, the defeat of Vakhesh was not easy. Some say the two only grew in power as they faced each other. It was only with the sacrifice of Tsuki Misako that Vakhesh was banished, as she used her ki to destroy his body on Earth. Tetsuo vanished to roam the countryside afterwards. By the end of three months, five towns were destroyed and almost all the crops in the province and its neighbors had burned. The last time an Emperor had summoned a Celestial Animal had been the War of Withered Fangs. Now, it became commplace, as the Summoner Skirmishes began. Animal fought Animal, and it was seen that the Emperor's beasts were bound by black chain, leading many to believe they had been enslaved.
The Crusade only got worse in 764, when the weather turned against the people. The rivers in the Silk Belt and Middle Provinces flooded with rain, destroying nearby villages and croplands. The looding only got worse, spreading across the entire Empire, to be followed by plague, mosquitos and flies. Even Danketsu was besieged by illness. The ninja were hardpressed even to survive, let alone help the peasantry, and many saw the rains as a sign of Heaven's anger at the use of Celestial Animals so cruelly. This ended the Summoner Skirmishes - now, the Animals are used more sparingly, thanks to the rains and the drain on Imperial and ninja resources to battle the floods. As famine struck, the ninja began to find signs of a cult taking advantage of the war's suffering to power a ritual. They had summoned and empowered an Oni.
In one of the few cases of cooperation between the Lotus Coalition and the Empire, a team of ninja and Golden Lions worked together to defeat the demon. It is rumored that the leader of the Lions betrayed her men to join her lover in the Lotus Coalition, but no one can see if this is in fact true. The floods lasted a full year, until 765. It is unclear if the demon caused the weather or not, but it is known that the Empire took time to rebuild after the devastation, and the ninja seemed to have done their best to help the people recover - though the Empire's focus was on rebuilding the army rather than the land. That brings us to now.
As for what happened to the Emperor in the time he was gone...well, it's hard to say. Most of the Empire believes he never died at all. He walks, he talks, he shows no sign of weakness except for age, and he is often seen joking with merchants, praying with priests and blessing the sick at the palace once a month. There are many possible answers, and the ninja debate them all. It is possible that some ancient entity was pactbound to the Emperor and brought him back, at the cost of the Empire now serving its will. It is possible that Danketsu lied and fled rather than die in the field. It is possible that Danketsu killed a servant, rather than the Emperor himself. And...well, it's possible that the Emperor has learned a jutsu that has made him immortal. That would be pretty bad.
Now, life in the Empire. The Izou believe that family is everything. Honoring your parents is vital, and your parents must instruct in good living. War has made people desperate, but family is more important than ever. You can trust family in a way you can't trust strangers. Your family will never turn you away, because you are family. Outsiders cannot be trusted, however. Paranoia can exist within families, too, since ninja are so persecuted. Knowing that one of your relatives is a ninja means that you have to weigh whether to turn them in or not. It would save the rest of the family...but the shame of betraying your kin is enough to haunt any Izou citizen. It is not easy to turn your back on family.
Beyond that, the Izou have always had a very rigid class system. However, the devastation of the long war has led to some fraying of the system, and in some provinces, rich nobles have lost everything and become peasants, while some commoners rise to become warrior-class by joining the army or one of the many criminal societies of the Empire. Still, for most, class remains absolute, due to the dominant religions of the Empire. Still, some see a chance to improve their lot, and others have learned that class is no guarantee.
The most common class is the Commoner class - farmers, fishermen, barmaids, apprentices, everyday people. They are the vast majority of the Empire, and they have suffered most from the war. Above them are the Artisan class, who have been hit almost as hard. They were toolmakers, artists and so on, and with the economy ruined, few can afford their works and fewer still are investing in art. Only the best can still find work. Most Artisans have fallen and become Commoners by now, while others have become hermits, practicing their art in isolation. The only Artisan trade left relatively untouched are the Geisha - skilled entertainers who excel at music, games and poetry, and who exist to keep the nobles and warriors distracted from the war effort at this point, as well as being hired spies and messengers for noble families. The crude may call them concubines or prostitutes, but they are neither. They are unique in the Empire for being in regular contact with Silver Blades and Golden Lions, who both often take advantage of the geisha as a way to rest from their difficult and taxing duties. Thus, a geisha can be extremely powerful via subtly manipulating them in conversation.
Above the Artisans are the Merchant class - those who buy and sell goods. That's everything from a simple shopkeep to a merchant prince, of course. The class has become very divided between rich and poor, as some stay in business by dealing directly with the Imperial forces, while others battle over customers in the big cities, where most merchants have gathered. Those that cannot make it there have often lost everything because they could not adapt fast enough. Above the Merchants are the Warrior class, who stand just below the Noble class. Warriors serve the nobles as lieutenants or as members of specialized bands. A Warrior is not just a guard or soldier - those can be of any class, really. Warriors are born to the role, raised from a young age to fight. These families have been devastated by the Crusade, but many have been elevated to Warrior status by the Emperor in order to secure more loyal troops.
The Noble class is highest, ranging from the head of a city to the daimyo of a province. Imperial poltiics are cutthroat, and so nobles must be clever, cunning and truthless. Those that lack guile just don't survive long. The war has, of course, thrown things into chaos, but the court is no less deadly for it. Many families were executed by Imperial command or banished to undesirable places for suspicion of working with ninja. Of course, all nobles have some ties to the ninja - no family could truly defend from their rivals without a few ninja on retainer. Still, all nobles at least pretend to obey the throne. A small number truly support the Emperor as savior of the realm, while others are mere sycophants, afraid of the Emperor's wrath. Others secretly hate him and his rule, and are waiting for the right chance to rebel against him.
The war has also created a new class - the Criminal class. Criminals have risen to prominence because the land is without security. Farmers want protection, and must often look to someone besides the ninja or the army to get it - and the price is often far too high. Many lowborn families have had to even trade their own children to a crime family to get protection, leading to the birth of more criminals, raised by other criminals to serve them. Criminals now organize into groups known as guilds, a mimicry of the noble families. Guild leaders are chosen by seniority and are often called Great Mother or Great Father. They are not always blood-related, but for these 'families' that doesn't matter - a member is blood when they got adopted, and that never goes away. The guilds have grown obscenely powerful in recent years thanks to the fact that the army and the ninja are both busy with each other. It's cost regular people far too much for them to not need the help of someone offering, even at such a price. Several villages are essentially owned by crime guilds that keep both the Imperials and the Coalition out, often with the aid of former soldiers or renegade ronin.
The lowest class are the Untouchables, who do all that is considered to dirty for anyone else. Butchers, who must touch the filth that is animal blood. Blacksmiths, who work in heat and soot. Gravediggers and corpse collectors. People whose occupation makes them undesirable or unclean. Thanks to the Crusade, there's more of them than ever. Merchants and farmers that have lost everything turn to street sweeping and dung collection to survive. Unrest is rife among the Untouchables, who now fight each other for work. Plus, those that have always been Untouchable resent the newly joined members of the class, looking down on them in a way they've never been able to do before.
Now, religion. There are many, many religious faiths and systems in the Izou. Broadly, most citizens tend to believe in reincarnation linked to dharma - that is, one's life and position are a direct result of one's actions in the last life. One's deeds now determine one's next life. That is why the concept of class is so baked into the culture, and why few actively try to better their class...or, at least, few did until recently. The curren chaos has led some to reject faith in the karmic system and instead worship Oni, demons or spirits. Worship of ancestral spirits is actually almost universal, but isn't really seen as a religion. It's just a thing you do. Other sub-faiths have turned to more fearsome supernatural beings, desperate for aid. This means that right now, the Izou are at their most superstitious and fearful - more than they have ever been.
Next time: Ninja geography.
There Must Be More Than This Provincial LifeOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life
The Empire is divided into ten provinces. The Middle Province is not just central geographically, but is also the most important and central politically. It has more villages and cities than any other province, and the Imperial Guard watches over it carefully. It is the greatest stronghold of the Emperor's strength. The place is preserved pretty well, as the fighting here was mostly done by ninja, and few places were destroyed as a result, though many courtiers and nobles were killed. It is home to the capital, Daiwa, which is a quiet city at this point. Many loyalist families were killed here, and now there are empty fortresses dotting the city, their inhabitants long since dead or gone. The place is quieter than it was once, though its markets remain quite busy. It was once home to the Children's Palace, a giant playground for noble kids, which is now forsaken after a massive battle between Celestial Animals. Oni are said to haunt it, and few ever go there now.
There is also the city of Heigenchou, which feeds the rest of the the province as an agricultural hub. It was used as a testing ground at one point for explosives and alchemy, but that was a long, long time ago. Still, secret caches and labs house hidden gunpowder experiments, and ninja sometimes come hunting for secret weapons. There is also Nanchou, the South City, which was a fortress built once for war, then turned into a giant prison. The prison-city has doubled in population since the Crusade began, and at this point, the Imperials barely have any control over it at all. It is run by factions of criminals, exiles and assassins, and many of the crime families in theory locked within the prison can still influence the world outside due to rampant corruption among the prison guards. Some ninja are also imprisoned in the city.
The Silk Belt Province is one of the few parts of the Empire untouched, relatively speaking, by the Crusade. It is wide grassland and forest, and its main export is silk. However, behind the calm, peaceful silk farms are the largest secret villages of the Hidden Strands of Fate, formed centuries ago. They use specialized silkworms to grow the strongest and most versatile threads, and despite the best efforts of the Izou, the location of these villages has never been revealed. It is home to the city of Jikankei, also called the City of Art, long a refuge for artisans and historians. It surrendered immediately when the Empire came, being a city of scholars rather than warriors, and as a result its museums and storehouses of knowledge remain largely untouched. Ninja occasionally visit to seek out hidden knowledge.
Tennokiba, also known as Heaven's Teeth, is a city of politics. It is now neutral ground for all kinds of people - ninja, diplomats, criminals, nobles. They all use it. It was once a headquarters for the Hidden Strands, but they moved after the criminal families subverted much of the city's power structure. They still are quite powerful there, however. Unmeishi, the second-largest port of the Empire, is also here. It mostly trades with the Land of Mountains and Valleys, and it's busier than ever despite the war. Weapons are brought in here, both for the Imperial Army and various noble families that maintain private forces. There's also a constant influx of refugees.
We get a sidebar on Fouchou, the Floating City, which began as a group of merchant boats that bound themselves together in the hopes of evading Imperial oppression. They roped off the boats and sold their wares off the coast, hoping it'd protect them from normal law. The number of boats slowly grew, used both as stores and homes, until the place became a city all its own. Today, it travels up and down the western coast, selling its wares to anyone that visits the massive market. Theoretically, you can get anything there, for a price. They'll deal with ninja or Imperials, with no one having the majority of influence, and they often have mystical items and ingredients for sale. However, the place is not the most upright and moral one, and some boats sell slaves or addictive drugs as well.
The Bridge to the World Province is one of the richest, due to being a major port hub. Most imports and exports go through here, and the war has done well by them. The Emperor brings in food, supplies and weapons constantly, while refugees flood out to other lands. This is where you go to raise your station - with the right skills and a little luck, a mere merchant can become rich as a king overnight. The Living Chronicle also hides its most sacred temple here, Shajisei'n, the Temple of Scribes, where preserved bodies are kept for all time, their skin preserved. It is said that in times of need, the dead themselves will rise to defend the temple. The largest city is Kiwan, or Turtle Bay, which is the biggest port in the Empire, built into a large canyon that ships can sail into and dock along. The canyon walls are connected by rope bridges and are heavily decorated with carvings to display the power and status of those who live in the buildings within.
The other major city of the province is Yuukou, called the City of Vice or Oil's Light. It is famous for the thousands of lanterns that are lit at all times, day or night. Just about any pleasure can be bought here, and the city's population has swelled with refugees seeking an escape from the dark years. It is also the center of the Empire's underground slave trade. Here, desperate families sometimes sell people to support themselves - sometimes willing family members trying to support the rest, and sometimes not.
The Cradle of Life Province is the breadbasket of the Empire, full of farms, ranches and nurseries. Most of it, these days, is in ruins. The ninja tried to cut off the Emperor's food supply by destroying or sabotaging fields, and the Year of Floods destroyed even more. The remaining land is guarded heavily by the Army, as without this province, the Middle Province and the armies would starve. The Pack of the Black Moon maintains a small, secret temple in the ruins of Souchou, once the City of Grass on Lake Higan, where new crops were created. Today, the ghosts of the ninja that died in the floods guard the ruins. The only major city remaining is Higandou, once a strategic center in the War of Withered Fangs. Today, it is a renewed military city, full of soldiers and mercenaries readying for battle with the ninja.
Flame River Province was the birthplace of the ninja, where the first temples were founded and the first jutsu discovered. It is a land of mountains and home to the Ensen Volcano. When the Emperor first came to power, it was one of the first lands he attacked, and while the mountains should've made it hard, the province surrendered without a fight. They knew, even then, that an occupying force does not conquer ninja, who remain hidden. The Ninja Crusade has been furious here, trying to hunt out the ninja in the hidden caves and peaks. It's died down for now, but te bones remain as a reminder. It is home to Kakou, the Fire Port, a wild border town known for its outlaws, mercenaries and refugees. Imperial forces rarely visit - they see no point in expending the effort they'd need to take the city. Refugees from the Land of Exalted Flame and the Land of Mountains and Valleys have gathered there, so there is a vast squatter-city around the city proper.
Kokyuryu City, the City of the Breathing Dragon, is said to be the last of the Ancient Dragons. It is a home to old temples and monasteries, and it was believed a sanctuary of ninja, so the Emperor ordered it sacked. However, local lore holds that on the night of the raid, a dragon appeared in the sky and burned the Imperial troops to ash. Today, ash statues stand in the streets in positions of agony, said to be the remains of the invading army. The city is haunted now, with the statues coming to life at night and reliving their battle with the dragon. Those that get caught up in it risk becoming more statues in the streets.
The province is also home to the Wu Ji Theater, the best in all the land. Those that journey here must pass beneath massive red arches, said to have been made by giants. The original stages were destroyed in the Year of Floods, but that didn't stop the locals from building new stages very quickly, to keep the performances going. Plays and music here are all overwhelmingly supportive of the Empire, at least at first glance, to avoid drawing negative attention. However, several are satires that subtly mock the Emperor.
Black Veil Province was devastated by the Great Desert, long ago, and the Crusade has been little better, as the place became a battlefield for summoned beasts. Then the floods came, poisoning the ground and water. Now, the land is a nightmare of strange trees and birds. It is home to the Grasping Shadows, though their control has weakened recently. Still, they remain powerful allies of the local leaders. Arashi Port, once a proud city, was already dying before the Crusade due to poor sailing conditions. Today, it's a ghost town, abandoned due to the poor nature of the Arashi Sea. Some say that in certain moon phases, the place become a town of spirits, wicked and kind, who now take up the ancient tasks of fishing and maintaining the port city.
Kafukyuu, the Widow's Tear, has long been seen as cursed, ever since a long-dead Emperor was assassinate there. It was once known as a city of vice and crime, but war and flooding have nearly destroyed it. Now, it's just crime - a cesspool of murder, refugees, banditry and criminals. The only reason to go there is to escape the law - but that's a good reason for many. The city of Kukudou, the Black Road, has been burned down many times for many reasons, and it has always returned. The main thing it imports is soil, as there is no viable soil for miles around. It keeps getting rebuilt for its steel. Kokudou steel is the best in the Empire, and only made here. The houses are built low and squat, to protect against sandstorms, and the people of the city tend to be built as tough.
Bridge to Battle Province was named because of its status as a launching point for the Empire during the War of Withered Fangs. It would be beautiful, were it not so often caught up in wars, and it has long been a center of conflict. The Virtuous Body Gardeners make their home here, hidden in a bamboo forest said to be infinitely deep. They are surrounded on all sides by war, with the Imperial Army always present. Its only major city is Heiminmu, the Commoner's Dream, so named because one Emperor declared that 'it should be every commoner's dream for the direct enjoyment of his betters.' It is a mining city, working constantly to bring up ore and metal, to smelt and smith it. It is also a place of death, as black lung and mining injuries are common, as are Imperial soldiers waiting to head south to the front.
Iron Province was conquered in the War of Withered Fangs, when the city of Sensoumon, the Gate to War, was founded. It was used to surround the Triumph Province and end the war. Today, however, the Iron Province is on edge. The population is just waiting for the Land of Five Blades to attack when the Empire gets overextended by the Ninja Crusade, and already, the locals are starting to rebel against the Imperials. The western Aikuchi Mountain border causes a sea of mist to form nearby, and the miners of the mountains practice many rituals to pay homage to the local spirits. The Will of Iron maintains their home in these mountains, hidden by a magical spell that allows their temple to teleport between the peaks. However, their influence has greatly waned, and they can no longer prevent open war in the area.
Hotaru no Kouji, the Firely's Path. is a city named for the many fireflies that gather there by summer. It has also been burned down many times, between the Land of Five Blades, the Recoiling Serpents and the Imperial ARmy. It is always built on the ash of the last time from bright red stone that symbplizes a hope for peace. It is home ot the Palace of the Lions, where peace talks are held between the Land of Seed and Blossom, the Land of Five Blades and the Izou Empire. Right now, it's basically the only point of peace in the province. Quite the opposite of Kitetsuchou, the Shining Metal City, which once produced iron for the Empire. It's full of old mines, and it's said that once, a thousand smokestacks filled the sky. However, an attack by the Land of Five Blades destroyed the city, leaving it mostly abandoned. Ninja now operate secret mines there to gather metal for the Lotus Coalition.
Triumph Province was the site of the final battle with the Slithering Gods in the War of Withered Fangs, and that's why it's called that. Today, it's in the midst of total war. It is covered in jungle, bamboo and swamps, punctuated by rice paddies. The Recoiling Serpents remain a powerful force there, constantly reasserting dominance by attacking any Imperial forces in the region, then hiding out in the many swamps in the center of the province. Five Blades mercenaries are also common in the area, and they, the ninja and the Army fight constantly. Particularly around Dainiryoku, the former Southern Capital of the Izou. It is a fortress city constantly under siege. Every month or so, the siege is broken, but inevitably begins again. The fortress is surrounded by pits and trenches, and the Izou have started using it as a training fround ofr the Golden Lions and the Silver Blades, due to its proximity to Danketsu and the constant fighting. It is a major target of the Lotus Coalition.
Koshinchou, the Sickle City, was named for the many sickles once made there. It was a trade town run by warrior-farmers that used the sickle both in work and battle. However, the War of Withered Fangs salted the fields and burned the town down, and today it's purely a military outpost for the Empire, where wounded soldiers go for triage or rest. The other city of the region is Yanuma, or Night's Bog, built on the ashes of a port. The Izou burned the entire city in one day, building the new one on its ashes as a statement of power. At which point the Recoiling Serpents flooded the town and reclaimed it, rebuilding it on ramshackle huts built on stilts. It isn't much to look at, but it is a vital strategic location for the southern battles.
Oak Leaf Province was given to the Izou by the Land of Seed and Blossom as part of the peace accords with them. It is full of massive forests, and as the Empire has been faltering, the Land of Seed and Blossom has been trying to reclaim the territory. Danketsu is settled in the region, along with most of the Bamboo Herbalists, and te city is enchanted to keep intruders from finding it in the forests. There is also the city of Kiheki, the Wooden Wall. It is a community o fart, built entirely of intricately carved oak logs, specialized so that they will not burn. It has been entirely reclaimed by the people of Seed and Blossom, repurposed to fit their strange culture. The central palace is now a home to over a dozen families, the shops have been converted to hold livestock and the best doctors in the world congregate in the area - several of whom are Bamboo Herbalists, who remain at the center of Kiheki's medical studies. The other city is Oriki, the City of Broken Trees, one of the first in the area to fall to the Izou. Now, it is the last Izou hold in the province. The buildings are barely standing, made of rubble and ruin, and a series of stake walls have been put up around the patchwork mess of an urban center, to protect it from attack.
So let's talk a little aobut the Five Kingdoms and other places in the world that are not the Izou Empire. There's Horde Island, near the Land of Crashing Waves - a known pirate haven that is the best place in the world to find criminals, slavers and mercenaries...though it's definitely a bad place to go if you have any semblance of a conscience. The Land of Crashing Waves itself is in the Western Ocean, a massive archipelago of diverse islands, overseen by the Island Council on Risutoa, the unofficial capital. The islands elect representatives to this council, to vote on the laws of the land. It was not always so - for centuries, the islands warred constantly for control, until the explosion at Lake Kansou that led to the founding of the Living Chronicle and the Council alike. Still, old habits die hard, and the political tensions of the islands are constant, with each island and its representativies having their own agenda. Manipulation is a fact of life. The Izou have tried many times to take the islands, but the superior navy of the Crashing Waves and the many pirates that come in to help always stop them. Eventually, they just formed a somewhat tenuous alliance. The Land of Crashing Waves sitll sometimes provides soldiers and ships to the Empire, but their resources are waning and they're becoming impatient. As the war goes on, the Island Council is less willing to commit their own people and ships to it.
Pirates are now raiding the coast in greater numbers, and far less likely to be working as Imperial privateers. This has also exacerbated the Crashing Wave internal conflicts, as with their alliance they were left without an outside foe to battle against. Now, the dissent is moving from bribes and lobbying ot violence. It can only be a matter of time before the alliance with the Empire is dissolved so that the Council can try to focus on home affairs. Risutoa is also home to the Grand Library, the greatest collection of written works and preserved corpses in the world. It contains books on every subject there is, and it's not the first such library on the site. The first was destroyed in a flood, many years ago. The Council allowed the Living Chronicle to form in order to preserve and rebuild the knowledge, using their own bodies to hold the text. The few scrolls that survived were copied by ninja and curated as very precious artifacts. Recently, tales of the Crusade have entered the library - heroism and cowardice alike are rrecorded and preserved, particularly the story of the Emperor's return. The Living Chronicle are eager to hear that story end.
The Land of Exalted Flame lies to the east. It is known that the elders indoctrinate the youth there in The Way, the teachings of the philosopher and peacemaker Kasai, who lived millenia ago. These teach reverance for elders and ancestors, forbiddance to harm another and so on. The people are highly religious, very pacifist and exceptionally strong believers in community over individual desires and needs, often forgoing their own desires for the sake of the land. Arrange marriage is normal, and acts of creativity or joy, such as dance, are frowned on if not totally forbidden. The leaders of the Land of Exalted Flame are those who are believed to have obtained perfect being, and they make all decisions from their capital, Seishin. At one point, the Izou believed it would be easy to conquer pacifists. At first, they were right - hundreds of thousands of Exalted warrior-monks were killed...and so the most powerful ninja of the land worked together to set fire to hundreds of miles of land between them and the Izou, killing many war parties and even their own settlements to create the Great Desert, also known as the Desert of Black Sand, too barren to live in and too hot to even cross for most. When the Empire tried to attack by sea, they made a massive hurricane that has yet to end, forming the Arashi Sea. This solidified the hate between Exalted Flame and the Izou, and there has been no alliance between them at all. Honestly, no one's heard much from them in years - messages go unanswered, and Exalted Flame diplomats and ninja do not come to the Empire. The Blazing Dancers fled the land, and since, it has only gotten more insular. Now, their famous displays of ki and spirit manipulation are just stories.
What is known is that when an Exalted Flame child comes of age, they must go on a pilgrimage to Kaen Island, a holy land. There, they must hurl their most prized possessions into the Kaen Volcano, cementing their ties to the kingdom and The Way. They must do this without any aid from other people and with only minimal food and water. Their foreheads are marked with black ash from the Great Desert, where the quest begins. The most devout travel the entire distance on their knees, bowing every ten steps.
The Land of Five Blades is a warrior culture, renowned for its strength. It lies to the southwest, and is not unified - it is ruled by seven nation-state,s the largest of which is in the center, run from the city Monotagari. The land is renowned for its architecture - primarily metal - and its many factories. The Blades were the first to develop steam power and use it, which is why the Empire attacked them - they knew they couldn't win in a fair fight, so they userd assassins and covert squads to take key locations. It worked, sort of. The Blades were stronger than the Empire ever thought, and though land was lost, it was not a total victory. Neither side could realy win, and it dragged into stalemate for a few years before the two sides decided to ally. In the early years of the Crusad,e the Blades sent metal to the Empire to make guns and machines, as well as many warriors to fight. In exchange for this, their people were allowed to take part in the Izou political system, which they hoped to use to benefit their country.
It hasn't really worked. Over the years, several have been asssassinated, pushed out or demoted, especially if they were vocal about the Blades' needs outweighing the Empire's. The most powerful in the Land of Five Blades have a plan to put a stop to it, but have not told anyone what it is. It probably involves a lot of fighting. fter all, the Blades are known for their strict code of honor and their common ceremonial and even celebratory combats. They fight for marriage rights, to settle disputes, even to become adults. These duels are rarely to the death, and Blades are expected to take defeat gracefully, but take revenge when they must. This appeals to many Celestial Animals, who often spend time living among the Blades. Recently, the Emperor hunted for an ultimate weapon and this resulted in several Summoner Skirmishes, which the Blades took as a personal affront. They look down on those summoners that work for the Empire and have begun to make their own pacts. Further, five of the world's best swordmasters are from the Land of Five Blades, and many that wish to learn the art head there to fight, though many of those die. The Will of Iron originally hail from the area, and they and other ninja from the Blades are renowned for lethal an aggressive jutsu.
Legend has it that the 300-foot Sword Tower, centuries old, is the remnant of the last great battle between some rival ninja clans that uses the Celestial Animals against each other. The Blades have carved it out, building a structure out of a gigantic sword impaled in the ground. They use the metal, which is imbued with magic, to create some of the most potent weapons that have ever existed.
The Land of Mountains and Valleys is in the north, and has an even bigger wealth gap and class gap than the Empire. It has been in civil war for three decades. The Empire sent assistance for a time, allying with the western half of the nation, which now provides them with saltpeter and war supplies. The East, meanwhile, has been engaging in guerrilla battle for most of that time, with the West beginning to retaliate only recently. Some say it reminds them of the first Ninja War agains the Orime. The civil war began when the Kishin family took over all the local business and political interests, mining out ancient ruins that were supposed to be preserved and spending their money wastefully. This lasted until the village of Shori came together in rebellion. At the peak of the fighting, master ninja of the Way of the Earth formed an artificial mountain between East and West. Both sides blame each other for the troubles of the nation, and neither have bothered to name the mountain. The fighting continues, but the Ninja Crusade has put a strain on the economy there, and the wealth gap is thinning as the economy begins to fail and those in power begin to lose their wealth - a state that they fear far more than the war. The West has maintained their alliance with the Izou and kept some advantage, as they Empire trades them resources. They hope they can win a decisive victory soon.
Beyond their settled lands in the north are the Frozen Wastelands, full of ice and snow. There, animals not seen anywhere else live on the high tundra, drawing in those that wish to hunt the most exotic beasts. Healers also come hunting for rare harbs that grow only in this harsh climate. It is a worthy trek, if you can handle the harsh conditions.
The Land of Seed and BLossom was attacked simultaneously with Five Blades. However, unlike the Blades, they couldn't hold off the Izou Empire, and they surrendered to avoid extinction. Until then, the land had been very peaceful and free, with many exploring the eastern Untamed Wilds, where rare beasts and plants grow in natural splendor and no civilization has built. They're smaller now than they were, but they still exist...albeit with the potential loss of many species never discovered. The Seed and Blossom lacked the artillery to hold off the Empire, and so they were conquered, with the Empire seizing their medical expertise. The entire region is an immense jungle, and the people of it see themselves as offshoots of a single giant tribe. There are several self-ruled villages, but they all answer to the Elders, the eldest men and women, who rule from the capital of Yuuki, where everything is done to grant their desires. In return, they rule the land with their wisdom. The male Elder died when the Ninja Crusade began, and his replacement has been significantly more aggressive and warlike.
In the decade since, the Lands of Seed and Blossom have been focusing on exploring the Untamed Wilds in search of anything that might let them gain an advantage over the Empire and force them to leave. The Elders have also been using various methods to protect their medicines and keep them away from the Empire, believing the resources are far too precious to give to their conquerors. The Izou still control much of the land between Seed and Blossom and the Blades, but the two nations continue to battle on the Hantai Sea in an effort to explore the mystical Lost Island, which is protected by magic barriers. This competition between Blades and Blossoms has lasted over a century and shows no signs of stopping. The Bamboo Herbalists hail from this land, years ago, and the local ninja are experts at body manipulation, disease and transformation.
When a child is born in Seed and Blossom, the local priests implant a birthstone in their forehead, which brings both luck and understanding of one's place in the world. Families used to bring their children to the Temple of Seiseki to do this ritual, but the Empire burned the temple when it came. There's been plans to rebuild, but in the end, the Elders decided to leave the ruins as a memorial. Now, pilgrimages to the site mourn its loss rather than celebrate.
That's it! The last bit gives us a list of inspirations - a much more cromulent list than Epyllion had, too. Anime: Avatar: the Last Airbender, Basilisk: the Koga Ninja Scrolls and Brave 10. Movies: Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Journey to the West (2013), Sorcerer and White Snake (2011), Kung Fu Hustle. Oh, and special section on Naruto, as the anime most influential to the entirety of Ninja Crusade 2e. BEyond that, the ame just offers some ideas for what campaigns you might run - clan wars, politics, training stories, etc. - and how to properly use Triggers and be immersive in descriptions. We also get sample characters - basically, all the art from the early section, plus a few more that I assume were KS backer creations.
The current supplements for Ninja Crusade are: Empire's Reign (sourcebook on the Imperial forces, who contain both the best people and worst people in the entire setting), Land of Seed and Blossom (sourcebook on the ninja of Seed and Blossom, who are all into really creepy powers), The Firebrands (sourcebook on the Burning Dancers and Virtuous Body Gardeners, plus some associated minor clans), Truth and Lies (sourcebook on the Will of Iron and Hidden Strands of Fate, plus some associated minor clans) and Clan Pack #1 (a small PDF on three minor clans).