Hey there, welcome back!
Today we’ll be taking a look at the Character Creation rules for Ninja Crusade. Character Creation officially begins in Chapter 3, but it helps to go over Chapter 2 first as it gives you a profile for each of the playable clans in the game.
Each profile is broken down into the following:
- Other Names
- Fighting Styles
- Favoured Jutsu
- Ki Balance
A history of the clan follows afterwards, along with a look at their average lifestyle and agendas of the clan.
Clan Gifts and Triggers are also discussed, before wrapping up with the Contacts options and Bonds.
While I appreciate having all this information in one place, I suppose I’m being nitpicky because I have no idea what all of these concepts mean. At first glance, Jutsu, Ki Balance, Gift and Triggers, and Contacts and Bonds are all confusing, as they’re actually all for lookup as part of character creation that takes place in the next chapter.
I’m not sure what a good solution for this is, but it’s good to consider when picking up this game that there are concepts that are used ahead of when they’re actually defined.
Okay, so now that I’ve read through the Clan Writeups, I find myself liking the Will of Iron Clan, so let’s see what I can put together.
Character Creation Proper begins in Chapter Three, with something called the Long Road, where each Step is defined as a phase in the character’s life up to now, and is defined by what choices they’ve made. It’s an intriguing concept, and one that feels a bit similar to the Lifepath system of Fusion games, but perhaps more modern.
Each choice contains: a Name (or descriptor of the choice), Skills, Ki Balance, Gift and Trigger
It’s at this point that we learn that Ki Balance is a +1 Yang, +1 Tin or +1 to the player’s choice. Also Gifts are dice bonuses provided when a character performs tasks connected to their choice, and Triggers are terrible twists that affect the Scene in a dramatic way and usually offers Karma in exchange.
What Karma is, isn’t explained yet.
Step One – Ocean: Element, Ki Balance, Skills
At this point, I decide to stick to an Element resonant to the Will of Iron Clan and choose Metal as my element. This gives me:
Skills: Deception +1, Discipline +1, Might +1, Speed +1
Ki Balance: Yin +1
I also pick Honorable, which bestows the following:
Gift: +1 Fortitude to stave off hunger, thirst or sleep derivation for the greater good.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma whenever honour hurts the character or their squad
Step Two – Village: Occupation, Skills
This is the step where I choose a Profession and a Focus for my character.
For Profession, I go for Noble, which gives me:
Skills: Deception +1, Intimidation +1, Perform +1, Travel+1
For Focus, I pick Magistrate:
Gift: +1 Intuition to assess a situation
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when refusing to bend or break the law to help the group
Step Three – River: Tragedy, Ki Balance, Skills
River has you choosing a Tragedy, and an Affliction
I’m going for a Tragedy of Civil Discord:
Skills: Discipline+1, Perform +1, Speed +1, Travel +1
I’ve also decided on Star Crossed as an Affliction
Ki Balance +1 Yang
Gift: +1 Knowledge if the ninja tries to impress someone with a piece of trivia
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma whenever the ninja misses an important detail due to a distraction that endangers the group.
Step Four – Forge: Wartime Role, Skills
For this step, I have to select on Wartime Role and a Title that best suits the character’s expertise.
My character’s Wartime Role is a Footsoldier
Skills: Athletics +1, Discipline +1, Fighting +1 Might +1
I chose their role to be a Champion
Gift: Gain +1 Fortitude against poisons
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when the ninja shares their truth and it causes conflict.
Step Five – Mountain: Clan, Ki Balance, Contacts, Bonds, Skills
At this point, we refer back to the Clan Writeups. I’ve already decided on Will of Iron so I record their stats here:
Ki Balance: +1 Yin
Skills: Empathy +1, Fighting +1, Intimidation +1, Perception +1
Favoured Jutsu: Way of Heaven’s Judgement
Fighting Styles: Mantis, Tiger
Gift: Get a +1 bonus to any check when utilising a metal tool or weapon. If it is an item they forged themselves, they receive a +2 bonus instead
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when they stand firm to preserve the law and refuse to break an oath, rule or their conscience to their detriment.
Contact: Koga Harue (Fighting)
Rival: Hagane Fuyuko (Intuition)
Step Six – Temple: Martial Training, Skills, Specialties
The Temple is where the player can customize their character further with 10 Skill points to spend, and define 2 specialties.
- With the spent 10 skill points and skill picks from the Long Road, the character looks like this:
- Athletics +1
- Crafts +2
- Deception +2
- Discipline +3
- Empathy +3
- Fighting +3
- Intimidation +2
- Intuition +3
- Might +2
- Perception +3
- Perform +2
- Speed +2
Players also get to define their Martial Training within three different types: Fighting Styles, Weapon Styles and the 99 Styles.
For my 2 picks, I go for Mantis Style’s “Mantis Feasts Well” tree at Level One, gaining +1 damage with unarmed attacks. for my second pick, I’m going for Trap Master Level One, allowing my ninja to build and place traps. I specialise in Capture and Immobilise traps, getting a +1 to create those by 1.
Step Seven – Sky: Select Jutsu
For the final step, I get to select my character’s Jutsu. At character creation I begin with 6 points to spend. Basic Jutsu cost 1 point, Median Jutsu cost 2 points and Advanced costs 3 points per purchase.
Way of Heaven’s Judgement
Training: On a Boost, the ninja gains +1 damage on an active criminal.
Backfire: Suffer a cumulative Confused 1 Condition and they can’t determine guilt while confused.
I’m sticking to Jutsu from the Clan for now, and pick the following:
- Hunt the Guilty (Basic)
- Righteous Objection (Basic)
- Eye for an Eye (Median)
- Part the Mystery (Median)
Health and Psyche
The next part involves calculating Health and Psyche Scores. These represent the amount of physical and mental damage a character can take before being broken.
Health is 5 + Fortitude, while Psyche is 5 + Discipline. As my ninja has no Fortitude, his final scores are:
Ki is determined by the picks of the various steps in character creation. Based on their choices, the ninja starts with 2 Yin and 1 Yang ki.
Starting ninja begin at Rank 1
Initiative is determined by Intuition + Speed + 3, or in this case 8
Strength is a function of Athletics + Might, in this case my Ninja begins with 3
Movement is determined by Athletics + Speed + 5 or 8 in this case.
Overall the character creation process isn’t too complicated, with each one just being a series of small decisions, and the resulting character comes off as pretty well rounded. Having a decent spread of skills is particularly important given the way the system works (which we’ll get to next time) and honestly, Ninja are all about self-sufficiency, so being able to do more is definitely a benefit.
In general while I was a little annoyed at being presented mechanics before they were adequately explained, I can certainly see more well rounded characters as opposed to min-maxed ones.
Next time, we’ll check out the mechanics that power Ninja Crusade!