Monday, February 11, 2013

Avatar World: Thoughts on The Ninja
DubFX is pretty freakin' rad. I kinda prefer his live performance here, and understanding how he does his music (which he explains in the beginning minute) makes his music significantly more impressive. If you just want to here it without the intro though, he has a studio version here: I also recommend checking out Flow by him, it's also extremely impressive.

Just posted this on Story Games, but since I don't have a ton of stuff to share right now I figured I'll give an update on this as well.

Okay, hey folks. Took a break from this for a little bit so I could do The Doppleganger for Monsterhearts cuz we're starting a game of that soon and I wanted to able to play it.
But, I have a whole draft of that now in PDF form (I'm really proud of it, despite a nagging issue I can't go into), so I'm ready to turn my attention back to this for now.

The Ninja. That's where my mind was last focused, so I'm gonna write up a bit of an outline here for what I'm thinking.
Unlike the Benders and The Scholar, The Ninja doesn't have a pre-selected move. The driving thing for me about the Ninja is that I need to cover a lot of ground. When I killed off the idea of a Martial Artist playbook, most of the characters who would have fallen into that instead fell into The Ninja. The Samurai is a pretty narrow concept of playbook - he's an armored, honorable warrior (though I've decided I'm gonna make it no longer solely sword-specific, despite a little hesitation on my part). The Ninja, on the other hand, is broad. The Ninja is a fast or stealthy warrior who doesn't rely on armor. That's a LOT broader. I want to be able to cover characters like Mai, Ty Lee, and the Dai Li, who are, in general, Ninjas who took Earthbending cross-Playbook, though I may write an unofficial sub-playbook for them as well. Same thing with the Kyoshi Warriors, though I've already written them a sub-playbook, the Ninja needs to be able to do a decent job at emulating them even without it - they're Ninjas who took cross-playbook Samurai moves. I also want to hit historical Ninja ideas, and other anime ninjas. Mugen from Samurai Champloo is DEFINITELY a ninja, and one of my favorite anime characters, so I want to be able to model him. I actually have ZERO experience with Naruto, so if any of you know if I'm covering any of that, I'd love to know. There's just way too much of that show for me to jump in and get a picture that would satisfy me. I know there's a pretty heavy supernatural element to the show's ninjas, but that's mostly covered indirectly by taking cross-Playbook bending moves - the Ninja himself isn't highly supernatural by default, though his actions aren't entirely grounded in reality.
The big thing the Ninja needed to include when it absorbed The Martial Artist is that the D&D Monk is now a Ninja.
Let's check out some move ideas.

Speed: As I mentioned, this immediately makes me want to hijack the Airbender's Momentum, but that's actually easier said than done. However, I want to make it work. It'll make Airbender-Ninjas pretty damn tough, but I kinda like how the two synergize.

Acrobatics/Athletics: This is a things Ninjas do. I'm tempted to call the move "Wire-Fu" and have it trigger "When you attempt a physically-implausible athletic or acrobatic act, roll+Fluid...". This lets you do all the crazy jump-kicking and ridiculous things ninjas do that make no sense. It also lets you fill in some of those fun urban legends about what historical ninjas could do - I'm thinking pretty specifically of water-running.

Stealth: I have two moves in mind for stealth. One is a more general-purpose "Hiding in plain sight" type move, and the other is a Disguises type move. I haven't gotten into really thinking about the mechanism for the former, but I'll likely have some stuff from my Doppleganger work helping with the Disguises one.

Weapons: Again, two ideas. One is a previously mentioned "unconventional weapons" type move, which actually helps cover a lot of things (all the traditional weird ninja weapons like kama and kunai, even stranger ones like Mugen's steel geta, and the vast assortment of things a D&D monk uses, plus even cross-playbook it operates as a move to establish improvised weapons as a sound strategy). The other idea is basically about never being unarmed or some such, but I'm not entirely sure if that's even a move or just something like AW's Many Knives (infinite) thing. It would apply to shuriken/kunai more than anything I guess, so probably the latter.

Fighting: I want to have some kind of move about using a sort of street-level awareness type of move. My mindset of the ninja, despite historical tradition that did place them as military assets, focuses on an idea of a ninja that lives more or less at street level and doesn't fight according to strict combat rules. Essentially, I guess I'm looking for a "Dirty Fighting" kind of move. Again, Mugen is large in my mind with regard to this, but the idea of fighting dirty is definitely the sort of thing historical ninjas did too. Dirty Fighting is probably what I'll end up calling it even.

Supernatural: The ninja has a lot of supernatural force at his disposal in legend. A LOT. From the water-running tricks above to illusory duplicates to invisibility to elemental magic, the ninja is full of unrealism in legend, and despite the fact that a lot of it is obviously historically ridiculous, it's an important thing. There's a few things to touch on.
* Chi-blocking, as Brien brought up. I simply cannot have the playbook without it, since without it we really don't have any way of having Ty Lee. I may alter the idea to be about pressure points as a whole and applying tags, some of which have more narrative strength than others. Perhaps your strike puts them Off-Balance, or makes them Paralyzed, or gives them Stunted Bending or some such. How exactly I make it operate though is a still up in the air.
@bhartung: It likely wouldn't be too powerful, though I won't know til I write it. A fire blast is about 3-harm as is a full earth blow, most water or air strikes come in around 2-harm, a lightning strike is 4-harm. It's degree of overpoweredness is less related to the power of bending itself and more about how much your MC relies on benders to threaten you, which isn't too tough to adjust anyway.
* Invisibility, Illusions: I'm almost tempted to try to integrate invisibility directly into the stealth move, and illusions are sorta more of a detail than a specific thing to really use. I could make something, but I don't actually think it's necessary. I could be wrong though.
* Elemental Power: You can probably guess what I'm gonna say: this is just taking a bending move cross-Playbook. It could be argued that it's different, but for now, this is good enough.
* I'm really tempted to have some Shadowdancer-y stuff, jumping through one shadow into another and stuff. This is just a magical effect I happen to really like and I think it makes for pretty dynamic scenes, and it makes logical sense for a ninja playbook, so okay.
Other than chi-blocking, I may decide to split off some of the magical stuff into a Ninjitsu Magic sub-playbook or some such just to open up my moves options. The entry bar would probably be abnormally low, I'm just trying to save some space on the playbook for the REALLY necessary stuff.

So let's see, that's 1 Speed, 1 Acrobatics, 2 Weapons, 1 Fighting, 1+n Supernatural (where n = whatever the hell I feel like), that's 6+n Moves and that works for me.

So, how's that sound? I've got some homework to go do now so I'll be hopefully back sometime soon with some actual move text. Later folks!

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