Shinobigami Kai + JGC 2011

A few weeks ago, The Adventure Planning Service released the sixth book in the popular Shinobigami series of role playing games.  This time around, the book is set neither in the original universe, nor the sengoku /warring states period that the last book, Shinobigami Ran, was set in.  In fact, the book represents a reboot of the series and, in a sense, the rules themselves.There are a few, mostly minor, changes to the rules, and the additional and optional rules that have been introduced in previous expansions are intact.  The big change, however, is the loss of the Insight Check–now, anyone witnessing an Ougi instantly claims it as Information.  This makes a couple of Ninpo obsolete or watered down, and so the book offers a couple of new Ninpo in their place.  There is a Ninpo included, however, that still forces other ninja to roll what basically amounts to an Insight Check in order to learn another ninja’s Ougi.

The big big change is the setting.  I haven’t had a chance to look too much into the setting itself, but like the original setting, it is set in modern day.  This setting, however, is called Jigokumon, or Hell’s Gate.  Youma, demons and other beasties seem to be a regular fixture even in the everyday life of normal people.  Ninja must do battle against the tide of darkness, while dealing with clans that seek their destruction.  A few of the clans have new clan aims; the Kurama Shin Ryu clan spends their time protecting the human populace from ninja and youma interference alike, and now the Otogi Private Academy is hell bent on saving people that are being pestered by youma.  Oni and other ninja cursed/blessed with oni blood have the ability to transform into a youma form temporarily, though it can come at a great cost.  In my last game, an opponent transformed into a youma when she tried to kill me, but in the end she couldn’t hand the taint, and had to be put town.  It was a pretty emotional scene.

I haven’t had a chance yet to go through the replay of Shinobigami Shi yet, but I’m really looking forward to reading this replay to see how the setting differs.

Japan Gaming Convention 2011

I’ll be heading to the Japan Gaming Convention in Yokohama on Friday, August 19-21.  It looks like they’ve got a number of games coming out that I’m really looking forward to, like Monotone Museum (finally!) and Nechronika.  I’ll be bringing Fiasco, Lady Blackbird and Apocalypse World to see how many takers I can get.  I’ll be taking as many pictures as I can, so expect a full write up when I return.


~ by mattgsanchez on August 17, 2011.

7 Responses to “Shinobigami Kai + JGC 2011”

  1. Do you have Japanese character sheets/summaries if someone wants to play an English written game?

  2. No, I meant for the American games you ran/were going to run at the con. I didn’t know if you would just explain everything, use stickies/call outs, or have redone Japanese language sheets.

    • Oh, oops, for some reason I misunderstood the question completely.

      Yes, actually I recently made the acquaintance of a Japanese gamer, Fel (whose blog can be found here: He runs a blog detailing the latest news of English RPGs, including indy games. He supplied me with some really nice translations to use and the games went swimmingly.

  3. I’m very interested in learning what games were played, unexpected cultural misunderstandings, and such. Just curious how well they “translate”.

    • Lady Blackbird went really well. But you can’t describe it as “Steampunk,” you’ve got to describe it as “American Steampunk.” As in the movie “Steamboy.” When Japanese gamers hear the word steampunk, apparently, they imagine the world of Gear Antique. Once we got that cleared up, and the sky ships and sky pirates and endless sea of sky was all understood, they took to it really fast. They immediately got a good hold of the opening situation and characters, especially when we made the similarities to Star Wars apparent. Japanese gamers are very good at following obvious leads and hooks, so the game was really easy to run. After the game, they had a lot of praise for the system and how cinematic it was, allowing them to have a game that felt “like a Hollywood movie.”

      I played in a Apocalypse World game run by Fel, and it went pretty well. We picked up a couple of other Japanese players and the rules were mostly easy for us to use. The setting is super easy to pick up, too, because it’s basically Fist of the North Star with crazy psychics instead of crazy martial arts. To prep the game for a con, Fel prepared a scenario. It didn’t turn out the way he expected, of course, and I think he felt a little let down. But that’s a case of AW being very much a campaign-minded game, and not so great for convention play. It was still fun, and the players really liked the way the moves work.

      Fiasco, on the other hand, had some pretty mixed results. I tried an impromptu game while waiting in line to register on opening day, and, as usual, I floundered when I tried to explain what the game is. Many Japanese gamers don’t know or have never heard of the Cohen Bros.. We tried it out, and one of the players just couldn’t get his head around the concept of purposefully putting your character into conflict. Fel facilitated a game that I participated in at the Free Play room, and we ended up getting a full group of 5 people. We used the Penthouse playset that Fel had translated. Fel managed to explain what the game is about, and the group caught on after a scene or two. The game went pretty well, although the group was really hesitant to have anyone die. I played Fiasco one more time with some writers (that were familiar with the Cohen Bros.) away from the con, and the game went really well.

  4. Matt, thank you, that’s exactly what I wanted. Very interesting results. I mean, I’ve heard of Gear Antique but that’s not what I would have expected in the gaming group consciousness. Your results with Fiasco weren’t surprising. The same lack of familiarity has caused issues in the US, too.

    I recently got done playing AW in a con setting, but it only worked as well as it did because of pregame prep via email.

    Thanks for all of your hard work on Shinobigami. Andy and some of our friends played just yesterday.

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