At any given point in time, I have as few as three, and generally more than five, different campaign ideas running through my head. To try and stop this from interfering with my normal games that I run, I've started this series on the blog. In it, I put down the basic ideas for a campaign and release it into the wild. From there, if you see something you like, just grab it and use it. Otherwise, I may reference the post for the next game I run.
The Ninja Village
The Ninja Village is an element that is usually a side aspect to a story or game that involves Ninja more than a key focus of the story. Now, when I say Ninja Village I do not mean a big city like you see in Naruto, but I do mean the settings that inspired those cities to exist. I am talking about the fictional feudal/midevil Japan villages where clans of ninja raise their children, practice and train their craft, and rest in between missions for their lord and country. It seems as good a place as any to get into the kind of trouble PCs often do.
For this sort of game the Players would have to be a bit more limited in creation than I normally like. Why? Well, because everyone would be playing a ninja. Now, I suppose - depending on the system - I could still open this up. After all, Ninja is kind of a catch all term nowadays for any one of a number of things. It is very easy to see the village having all the standard classes represented in some way in a ninja village. Having more social oriented ninja that did infiltration and impersonation paired up alongside rogue/traditional ninja, fighter ninja, and even ninja magic users.
Whatever the case, at the start of the game the players would be young ninja. They will have received some training, but not much. Letting me focus the beginning of the game on establishing the village, people in the village, and their place in that village.
Now, obviously this game is about Ninja. the what would come in a variety of things here. Some of the core themes could be things like: what it takes to be a ninja, dealing with living in shadows, person vs tool, and standard coming of age (young pcs, afterall.)
Eventually, and potentially fairly quickly depending on the players, training would wrap up and missions would start to happen. Small missions at first, but enough to get the PCs into the world to see how things are different. Here you have a wonderful variety of missions from killing corrupt officials, sabotaging enemy supplies, kidnapping hostages, investigating organizations, and then everyone's favorite: counter ninja.
As the game progressed, the players would rise in prominence and get better/more important missions. They would also begin to get involved with more of their country's important affairs including potential relationships with important non-ninja who could grow to rely on them.
The when for this one isn't as important as I once thought. While I like it in a more feudal setting, I could see it working in almost any setting. After all, the important part of this is being a shadow warrior, not necessarily a shadow warrior in feudal Japan.
The feel I would like is a combination if action/excitement and dark/duty/obligation. The life of ninja is not easy, and they have the unfortunate distinction that their actions, important as they may be, will never be publicly honored. I like the mix you can get with the drama from the world of shadows and the danger and intrigue the missions could cause. This is essentially a super spies game, after all.
System wise I'm not 100% sure. L5R could definitely work here, as could a number of other systems. I have a home brew beer & pretzels RPG (Ninja!) that needs to be put into final production (art/layout/final editing) that could also work. The same holds true for a lot of systems, including some easy hacks for Fate, Marvel HRPG, and other games.
Basically, this is more a story concept game than not. I think I like it that way.
More Thoughts on the Cypher System
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