As the number of ninja working in a group increases, their individual effectiveness decreases. Put more simply: the more ninja there are, the easier they are to defeat. -- The Inverse Ninja Law
It is a rule everyone knows but not everyone knows they know it. When they watch Star Wars, when they watch The Princess Bride, when they watch Bruce Lee and Jackie Chanů we all know the drill.
If the villain sends a horde of bad guys after our hero, Piece of cake.
It's when the criminal mastermind sends one guy-just one guy-then we know the hero is in deep trouble.
The Inverse Ninja Law. The rule everybody knows.
This game is about that Law. And it's about ninjas.
Rules, kinda. Generate the game. Get the players to contribute four 'mission types' (we got 'steal/kidnap' 'kill/destroy' 'Find' and... I can't remember the last one) Then four 'things' (more sensibele here, we had 'woman' 'king' 'manuscript' and 'sword') four 'places' (here, silliness increased as 'sky' was proposed and quickly expanded to include space and the moon... Other locations were 'mountain' 'estate' and 'army') Finally generate four things ninja are good at. ('stealth' 'flipping out and killing things' 'ninpo' and 'wire-fu' were chosen. Others could include impersonation.)
Then give out a lot of caltrops (counters work too) - thirty per player. They split five between the skills any way they want and keep the rest.
Draw arrows on a piece of paper to indicate 'these guys are your enemies' and 'these guys are your allies'. Yes, this means your ally one turn is your enemy the next.
On your turn, a mission gets rolled and you expand upon it a little. You then pick a skill and some number of ninja, and throw those caltrops. Your allies can contribute ninja, your enemies roll their appropriate skill. Each success (even numbers are good things, odd numbers bad, I'm not sure of the rationale for this) is a sentence you can say. Normal 'no contradicting a previous fact' rule. Every failure rolled on a ninja is a dead ninja. If at least one ninja dies, add a point to the skill of your choice. If you and your allies get more successes than (and here we kinda kept changing the rules. Your enemies maybe?) then you MAY narrate a success. Importantly, you MAY kill one additional ninja with a sentence. The speaking order is: Player, enemies, allies.
Note on your sheet (preferably with a big calligraphic brush) the reason for your ninjas death. This record of comedy (and it rapidly gets very very silly) is, uh. Well it's fun. That's sorta the point of a game.
Ending? Well, when you run out of ninja, the game is gonna be over - but we need to have something good happen here. Dunno what. We just kinda petered out by acclaim.
Lastly, an emergent property is that to maximise your skills you ideally want to send your ninja out in ones and twos. Just like badguys always do...
Ok, so. The journal went private before I saved a copy, so the rules kinda went random during play. The basic rules (big pile of D4 to represent your ninja horde, small but growing number of dice on your skills, randomly generated missions) were as in the journal - but I messed up the whole 'what do you need to win' thing. Oh, and we kept having it that having higher skills rapidly meant you killed more ninja than you sent.
It didn't matter though. Things rapidly went insane.
Does anyone know where I can get a cheap tape recorder suitable for recording five or so players around a table for three and a half hours?