Friday, June 6, 2014

Neo Shinobi Vendetta: Sketching Ninja Powers

A couple of weeks ago I posted a sketch-outline for our upcoming campaign portal Neo Shinobi Vendetta. A deliberately over-the-top setting, I'm aiming for a weird fusion of stereotypes, cool aesthetic, and misunderstood cultural elements. We're using the latest (and best) iteration of our homebrew rpg system Action Cards. Yesterday I started work on a rough "ninja powers" system for for that. I borrowed a mechanic from Tianxia: Blood, Silk, and Jade. In that game, martial arts styles are built from a combination of two parts. Each of the 36 possible combinations then has a secret element which can be mastered. Its a smart approach to MA, and lighter than my own White Mountain, Black River (download here). Anyway, here's the draft version of the mechanics...very draft...which might serve as inspiration for other GMs/homebrewers. 

Over generations the Clans of the Neo-Shinobi have developed a large number of special techniques and technologies to supplement their efforts. All clan members have the following basic abilities. First, they can leap acrobatically 2-3 times further (benchmark 4m standing, 15m running). Second, by spending a Fate point they can vanish into most crowds. Third, they can see darkness perfectly in all but absolute & isolated pitch dark.

Each ninja selects one of the following six sources: Nanoswarm, Psychic, Memetic Overlay, Genocolony, Cybernetics, or Chi Field. This determines how they get their talents. It gives them access to three unique talents they may buy. It also gives them a specific drawback. A ninja may only have one source. Any ninja may also buy from the many power sets listed below. The represent generally available talents.

While characters may pick from several different power sets, there’s an advantage to focusing on one. If a ninja has bought all three talents from their source and all three from a power set, they have access to a secret, unique ability based on that combination. So there’s a Psychic Dragon and a Psychic Ghost special talent. No, I’m not going to tell you what those are- we’ll come up with those.

At character creation players begin with three talents: one source, one power set pick, and one more from either. In play, these talents cost the same as Stunts, but becoming more expensive the more you purchase. The first one you buy costs 10 points, the second 12 points, the third 14 and so on.

The ninja has been bonded with a swarm of intelligent nano-machines. Their blood is supersaturated with them, allowing them to affect materials, change their body, create objects, and a host of other tricks.

Drawback: Nanoswarms are subject to Corruption, so players should add that card to their deck. Corruption effects can include collateral damage, brief independence, misread commands, or even visible scarring and marks. Ninja using nannite powers can be identified by black or silver markings on their body.
  • REBUILDER: The ninja can reshape existing material into new forms, duplicate objects, or even create a new item. States and types of matter can be changed by the application of nanoswarms. Weapons had be created from thin air, guns can be hindered, etc.
  • DISINTEGRATION: The ninja can use his nano-swarms to break down material. Functionally this allows him to slowly deal damage to hardened surfaces: walls, structural supports, vehicles, etc. this can be used as a special combat attack (with standard damage), but is more useful outside of combat to clear obstacles or set up effects.
  • MACHINIST: The ninja can disable simple machines or take control of more complicated machinery (like vehicles). Additionally he can communicate and interact with computers at a distance. This works best with smaller or more closed systems.

Over generations the clans have studiously bred those with metaphysical talents. Though their nature still remains mysterious, they know the practical powers of psychokinetics and precognitives. Often they’re honored as advisors and seers. Still most regard them with some worry- a strange group even among the strangeness of the clans.

Drawback: Using talents takes a toll on the mind of the Psychic. Each use costs one composure to activate. Ongoing talents only require this spend when first turning them on.
  • ID INSINUATION: The Shinobi can cloud the mind of living targets in an area- making them believe simple suggestions, causing them to see inoffensive persons, accepting documents at face value, causing them to avoid looking in a particular direction. This effect is line of sight and only requires an activation check, unless the target has special defenses or psychic abilities. By spending a Fate point and making a check, the ninja may slightly edit recent short-term memories of a target.
  • PRECOGNITION: Once per scene before drawing, the ninja may take the top three cards of their deck and rearrange them in any order, even putting them on the bottom of the deck.
  • PSIONIC BLAST: The Psychic may make a mental attack which does Composure 1+5d damage (5+ to wound). This attack is line of sight and only requires an activation check, unless the target has special defenses or psychic abilities.

Knowledge and training of past generations is carefully kept and stored for future use. Most training within the clans is at least marginally supplemented by memory implants and virtual training. Some prove particularly receptive to these techniques- with potent reflexive muscle memory. These receive full personality overlays, ghosts in their head who can advise (and at times control) the ninja.

Drawback: Ninjas who use Memetic Overlays are subject to Corruption, so players should add that card to their deck. Corruption effects can include atavistic reactions, possession, reversion of other states, or disorientation. Memetic users are hard to detect unless they suffer a breakdown or fugue state. Then they may be identified by multiple voices or crazed reactions.
  • IMPOSSIBLE DEFENSE: Generations of practice mean the ninja can defend against attacks that are usually nigh impossible to avoid. Ninja may take specialty in Dodge Area or Parry Ranged or Resist (Social/Mental Attack) and gets a Fate Point reserved specifically for either a boost or an unprecedented third pull for those situations only.
  • COMPENSATE: The ninja choose three specialties where they may always substitute a test type. They have to choose which of the four areas (Social, Mental, Physical, Combat) they will sub in when they buy this power. For example, they might represent combat trickery by subbing in Social for Combat with their Weapon Parries.
  • EXPERIENCED: When the ninja takes an action to Create an Advantage and succeeds, the ninja creates an additional aspect on a different facet of the environment—if advantage was created on one opponent, this may be on the environs, a different foe, even a fellow teammate.  If ninja is leading others, they may create an addition fragile advantage on yet another different facet of the environment if the first aspect is used by a teammate and other teammates have yet to act before the leader.

The ninja has become bonded with a pulsing and intelligent organic machine. It quickly shifts to adapt and change the host body in response to changing circumstances. Blood can be pumped more rapidly, wounds can be healed, bone spurs produced. These changes can appear on the simple physical or deeper genetic level. The colony itself must be fed and sustained however.

Drawback: Genocolonies are subject to Corruption, so players should add that card to their deck. Corruption effects can include DNA absorption, rampant consumption, bizarre growths, and uncontrolled tentacles and the like. Ninja’s using Genocolonies are difficult to detect until they actually activate their powers. Corruption can cause permanent or semi-permanent markings on the shinobi’s body. .
  • BIO WEAPONS: The shinobi can form a variety of wicked poisons, acids, and barbs to supplement his attacks. He may add +1d to all forms of physical damage he deals.
  • REWEAVER: The ninja heals all Wound damage during a post-combat rest. They also gain an additional minor physical consequence (or if they already have one, it upgrades to a moderate). 
  • BODY SHAPING: The ninja can reshape their body with concentration. They can extend limbs, grow bigger, shed mass to shrink to half size, perform extreme contortions, and secrete themselves into narrow spaces.

The most classic and hard to conceal. These range in sophistication from cybernetic replacement limbs to modular computer implants to under-skin mesh networks. Potentially the most potent and easy to take care of, they still run the risk of cutting the bearer of from humanity as they undergo more transformations.

Drawback: Cybernetics are the most obvious source of powers. They can only be concealed with difficulty. Each Cybernetic implant reduces the ninja’s maximum composure by 1, rendering them more vulnerable to effects based on their humanity. On the other hand, players gain an additional moderate physical wound consequence. They can tick this box off representing damage to their systems. It absorbs four points of damage, but the player loses access to all but one of their cybernetic powers.
  • SUB-DERMAL PLATING: The ninja raises the number to wound them from 6+ to 8+.
  • SENSOR ARRAY: While all Ninja can see in the dark, the enhanced Ninja can do more. They can see in absolute darkness, aware 360 degrees, perceive microscopically and telescopically, and are protected from effects which would blind or deafen others.
  • CYBER LIMB: The ninja can choose from one of the following limb/organ replacements. Cyber Arms: +1d melee damage and absurd lifting power. Legs: +1 free zone crossing for movement and +2 Wounds. Gyroscope: Perfect balance and resistance to being knocked down.

Every being has a lifeforce- an aura which surrounds them. Through the use of minor implants and viral therapy, the ninja can be more fully put into contact with these forces within themselves and others. These can be tapped for wondrous effect from the subtle to the awe-inspiring. However use these powers taxes the ninja’s own body, killing them over time.

Drawback: Using talents takes a toll on the body of the Shinobi. Each use costs one wound to activate. Ongoing talents only require this spend when first turning them on. While this damage cannot be healed via other effect in combat, it does heal naturally with rest.
  • SOUL-SENSE: The ninja can sense lifeforms in a short radius around them, allowing them to spot through walls, obscurement, and illusions. They can tag a number of persons equal to their refresh. Tagged targets can be followed passively from great distances. The ninja gains +1d damage against a tagged target. It takes a full action and a check to place a tag.
  • MASTERY: The ninja may choose one type of action: Defense (Dodge/Parry) or Attack (Ranged/Melee). By spending a Fate point, they will succeed just edge out their opponent and succeed. This result cannot be further modified by the ninja. It must be invoked before the pull for the action.
  • FOCUS: By spending a Fate point, the ninja may concentrated their energies for the scene. This gives them a +1 bump to one area. The area must be chosen when this power is purchased. Bump for area for X turns.

  • LIGHTNING: The ninja can perform a ranged attack (shuriken, darts, energy blast) with +2d damage.
  • DEATHCLOUD: The ninja may person an Area Effect ranged attack. This can affect multiple targets within a zone. When taking this power, the player chooses if this is selective or free-ranging. If the latter, add +2d damage.
  • HAWKSIGHT: When firing into combat, the ninja can only hit or miss their declared target. Additionally, they suffer no penalties for targeting objects based on size. Narratively, they can slice the wing off a fly from across the room.

  • BLAZE: The ninja can cross three zone lines with a move action. This does not require a test (unless exiting melee). Additionally when they attack after moving they may add +1d physical damage for each zone line crossed after the first.
  • HURDLE: Shinobi can ordinarily make high jumps and leaps, at least twice normal distance. With this power, they may make insane leaps and jumps.
  • RENDING: The ninja does +2d damage with unarmed attacks.

  • IRON TIGER: While conscious and free to act, the ninja may land from nearly any height without taking damage to themselves.
  • ARMOR OF GOD: The ninja gains +1 DR to Wounds. The round after a ninja takes Wounds they may do extra damage. With a successful hit, they may roll +1d for each wound they suffered on the previous round. If they miss, the effect is lost.
  • WARHULK: The ninja may temporarily extend and enhance their protections. This immediately raises their number to be damaged to 9+ and grants 3DR. This does not stack with any other effects. While in this state, the ninja may not attack or dodge and may only move one zone per action. However they can envelop and protect another willing target, preventing them from taking actions but covering them and moving them along.

  • SHIELD: The ninja may assist his allies by creating temporary buffs for them as a tested action. This can add +1 DR or raise their # to be wounded by 1 (max. 9) for three turns. Alternately they may add a number of temporary wounds based on their success for a scene. By spending a Fate point, the ninja may affect two targets.
  • SAVIOR: The ninja may heal an ally for 1+5d Wounds as an action. This does not require a test unless the target is in a different zone. By spending a Fate point, the ninja may affect two targets.
  • PIERCER: The ninja does +2d damage with armed melee combat.

  • MIRRORS: With a gesture, the ninja can spontaneously generate a host of duplicates. These can be used as a distraction, to help evade attacks, to draw off a defenders parries, or a variety of other effects. These duplicates act in a semi-pre-programmed manner and wear out quickly if directly interacting with targets.
  • SPOT WEAKNESS: As an action, the ninja can make an attack which does no damage but reduces a target’s DR and # to be wounded by 1 (min. 5+). This lasts until the ninja’s following action, unless they spend a Fate point, in which case it remains for the scene. This effect can be stacked. Alternately they may make a standard attack which does damage but the target suffers the DR and to wound penalty for that attack only.
  • SPIDER: The ninja can cling to walls and other surfaces with perfect control as if they were walking normally on the ground. This includes ceilings, sides of moving cars, and even sword blades. This does not give the ninja perfect balance and they can be knocked down or off.

  • HIJACK: The ninja can take control and see through the vision of others: either mechanical or organic. The player must decide which when they purchase this power. How far away the camera, sensor, pet or person is determines the difficulty of the test.
  • SHIFTER: By spending an action and a Fate point, the ninja can assume a complete and perfect disguise: they look like their target, walk like their target, and sound like their target. This requires some observation to be successful. While this will not fool certain bio-scanners, it is a potent technique and more speedy than normal methods. Behaving like their target is another matter- perhaps requiring an acting check.
  • SOULFORCE: When the ninja take Wounds, they may opt to instead take Composure. This is all or nothing and must be declared before the damage is rolled.

  • FLIGHT: The ninja is capable of flight and may pick two of the following qualities: Agile, Fast, Carry Others, Hi-Attitude, Long-Distance, or Super-Silent.
  • PERFECTION: The ninja may select one standard result card to remove from their deck before each session.
  • SUBDUAL: The ninja is a specialist with non-lethal attacks. They can declare any attack subdual without penalty. Additionally as an action they can put to sleep any non-combatants or bystanders in a zone.

  • LULL: The ninja can create a small area in their immediate vicinity that, when scanned, causes most devices to “sense” a series of the most common, most statistically expected set of signals that are etched into the circuitry.  This will work against all but the most potent sensors
  • ROAR: Once per scene, the ninja may make a single blast attack that does twice the usual damage +1d for each Chimera ability they possess.
  • TRAPS: By spending a Fate point, the ninja may declare a trap in any area the ninja might have passed through on the way to the scene—this trap will place either 2 aspects or 1 aspect and 1 attack or two attacks upon any single target or closely packed group.  Attacks can be chosen by trap type but will only be as powerful as a standard weapon or blast.

  • INSTINCT: When the ninja is struck in melee combat, they automatically deal one wound back to their opponent.
  • MENACE: Silent and cold-eyed, the ninja can cow or paralyze a small number of civilians or a lone mook for a scene without effort (or even a pull). Those treated this way experience fear of death and will regard ninja with fear and loathing thereafter. Numbers, training and purpose all add to the difficulty or reduce the duration of the effect in other situations—but the ninja has a +1 bonus to mitigate these penalties. The ninja may always spend a Fate Point, lock eyes and maintain the cowed/paralyzed aspect on anyone other than another ninja.
  • SINUOUS: The ninja does +2d with grappling/clinch type attacks. When they’ve successfully grappled an opponent, they can use the victim as a form of armor. The first two points of any attack done against them is taken by their grappled victim. 

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