Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Game Idea: The Game of Shi

As part of this year's Creative Pay It Forward, I promised my friend Bryan an rpg inspired by Naruto.
This is his request.

Welcome to the Battle Dojo, young warrior.  Among you all, only one shall emerge triumphant.   Which House do you hail from, young warrior?  Are you from House Sand, where anything you touch can become a deadly weapon?  Are you from House Song, whose influence is far wider than most realize?  Or are you from House Shadow, keepers of hidden lore?  If not, then perhaps you are of House Savori, trained in the secret Cooking arts?  Now take your places and be ready to fight!  Prove your skill!  Regain honor.

And claim victory.

Welcome to The Game of Shi.

The Game of Shi is a home-brewed rules lite game inspired by Naruto and Rouroni Kenshin.  The game features opposing Houses vying for a coveted seat engaged in intense duels where a single mistake can cost you your life.

Welcome then, Young Warriors
Each player in the game should have a deck of cards.  Players must all come from a different House.  If there are more than four players, then some will inevitably come from the same House.   It would be best if the number of players is in multiples of four.  But if not, I can probably come up with revised rules to accommodate that if there is interest in such.

Each player draws a card from his deck to determine what House he was accepted into.  Whoever has the highest value gets to choose a House first.  Aces, in this game, count as eleven.  Jacks are twelve.  Queens are thirteen.  Kings are Fifteen.  Jokers are Wild and can count as any number the player wants, so long as they are used in relation to the House Mastery.

♠ Spades represent House Shadow
House Shadow, the House of Secrets
Mastery:  Hidden Knowledge
There are precious little that members of the House Shadow are unaware of.

♥ Hearts represent House Song
House Song, the House of Strings
Mastery: Discreet Connections
Knowing the right person can make a huge difference.

♦ Diamonds represent House Sand
House Sand, the House of Edges
Mastery: You Live By My Choice
The world is their weapon.

♣ Clubs represent House Savori
House Savori, the House of Delicacies
Mastery: Alchemy
A Good Dish Can Halt a War.

Character Sheets Do Not Exist
Ninja do not use Character Sheets.  Instead, their ability to maximize whatever is in their hands is vital to their survival.  In this game, therefore, the same frame of thinking applies.   All players are assumed to be generally of equal ability.  What differs is when they capitalize on whatever they get their hands on to work in their favor.  This is represented by the cards.  Whenever a player opts to do an action which may be opposed by another, or if they attempt an action whose failure may have dire consequences, they draw three cards from the deck.

♠ Spades represent Information and Knowledge.
Spades are used when the character attempts to draw upon their intellect and wisdom in an action, or attempt to recall or understand things.

♥ Hearts represent Social Ties and Charisma.
Hearts are used when the character attempts to gain trust, boost confidence, or encourage friendship.

♦ Diamonds represent Prowess, Speed and Finesse.
Diamonds are used when the character attempts to kill, to maim, to harm or to use mobility to one's advantage.

♣ Clubs represent Physical strength, endurance and grit.
Clubs are used to accomplish physical feats, recover from injuries or stand against fear.

Resolving Actions
When the player wants to do such an action, the player plays any of the three cards to represent the action.  If there are no cards of the right suit, the player can use cards of another suit, but they count only as 50% of their usual value.  The opposed player or the narrator then also draws three cards to act against the player.  Whoever has the higher card gets to narrate what happens.  But if the other player accomplished at least half of the winner's value, he gets to add an additional detail as well. The detail cannot contradict any previous.

Example:  Adam wants to sneak into the Dojo, but Bill is keeping his eyes open for any cheaters.  Adam draws there cards and plays an eight of Diamonds.  Bill, however, gets lucky in his draw and plays a Queen of Diamonds.  Bill gets to declare the resolution, "I notice Adam sneaking into the Dojo." But Adam's eight is at more than half of Bill's Queen which is thirteen, so he gets to add a detail.  "But I get to slip in before you can stop me!"

However, if the acting character is undertaking an action applicable to their House, they can play a second card of the same suit when given the chance.  This allows two cards to be added for a greater result.

Players can opt to hold on to the remaining two cards to use them in later scenes, or discard a card to instantly add +2 to their played card.  This can represent them planning ahead for later confrontations, or last second twists to make things work.

Example:  Adam slides into the Dojo and searches for the Quiz answer sheet.  Bill moves in to follow.  "I want to find it before Bill arrives," Adam declares and draws three cards and plays a five of Spades.  Since he is of House Shadow, he can play a second card if it is of the same suit, which happens to be a four of Spades.  This gives him a total of nine.  Bill draws and only has a six of Spades, so Adam has the edge.  However, he opts to discard his two other cards for a +4 to his result, getting a ten.  "Not so fast," Adam smiles and discards his last card, boosting his nine to 11.  "I find the answer sheet and slip out before you get to me," Adam smiles.  Bill's 10 allows him a detail however, so he adds, "But you fail to realize you dropped your armband with the House sigil on the floor."  Adam realizes this might complicate his smooth escape.

Getting Hurt
When combat finally ensures, players are invited to be as creative about their ninja skills as they want.  Clearly, they have their House to draw from as inspiration.  A House Song Ninja might launch sonic strikes at the opponent, while a House Savori Ninja might quietly sip some tea and smile as her opponent falls unconscious from the tea's aroma.  As before, players compare card values to see who has the edge.  Scoring higher allows you to do one of two things:  Injure your opponent or Frustrate your opponent.  Injured opponents can only draw two cards instead of three until they recover from their injuries.  Recovery can simply be a trip to the clinic, or a good night of bed rest.  Injuries are cumulative so if you hurt someone thrice, chances are they have no choice BUT to rest or ask for help.

Frustrating an opponent deals no damage, but allows you to throw a new detail on how you are gaining an edge in the fight.  This manifests as you being allowed to draw an extra card in the next draw.  (You draw four instead of three).  Unlike hurting, however, frustrating is not cumulative.

Killing Actions does not happen in this game.   But if the narrative requires a dramatic death, then it happens.

The Challenges
As the gathering opens the competitions, each player draws a card to declare the details of the challenge.


Hearts
Spades
Clubs
Diamonds

Ace, Joker
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
2
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
3
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
4
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
5
Roll twice

Roll twice

Roll twice

Roll twice

6
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
7
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
8
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
9
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
10
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Jack, Queen
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
King
Roll twice
Roll twice
Roll twice
Roll twice

Once matches are set, players can describe the details of the matches.  They can share outlandish ideas on how the Athletics Mission, for example, might entail balancing on bamboo poles while carrying stacks of porcelain bowls from one end of the lake to another.  Or how the Zen Mission might be about using chopsticks to catch a single golden painted fly while blindfolded.   Each player describes the challenge they had drawn, but with this caveat:  A player of the House that matches the Challenge the most, gets to add a detail.

♠ Spades are House Shadow's favor and reflect missions that have to do with misdirection.
♥ Hearts are House Song's favor and tend to add a musical or auditory component to the challenge.
♦ Diamonds are House Sand's favor and tend to have a touch of danger or weapons.
♣ Clubs are House Savori's favor and usually add a taste or aroma quality to the challenge.

Yes, a Ninja of House Shadow who drew Queen of Spades, gets to declare what the challenge is, and add an extra detail.

Epic Jutsu
Finally, Ninja can pull off three kinds of Epic Jutsu if they are graced by luck and skill to unleash them.  Epic Jutsu beat all normal cards because they are incredible moves that require tremendous skill to accomplish.  Bear in mind that Epic Jutsu need NOT be attacks.  They can reflect how a single sung note stuns an audience into silence, or a perfectly seasoned shrimp dumpling that causes an opponent to weep out of loneliness for home.

The A-Rank Jutsu is the lowest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an A-Rank Jutsu  is accomplished by playing three cards of sequential rank of at least two different suits.  A-Rank Jutsu beat all normal moves.

The S-Rank Justu is the next highest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an S-Rank Jutsu is accomplished by playing three cards of the same suit.  An S-Rank Jutsu beats all normal and A-Rank moves.

The Ultimate Justu is the highest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an Ultimate Jutsu is accomplished by playing three cards of sequential rank in a single suit.  An Ultimate Jutsu beats all normal, A-Rank and S-Rank moves.

When two Ninja happen to use the same Epic Jutsu against each other, the Highest Card in the hand is used to compare and determine the winner.

There are rumors of a secret jutsu even higher than Ultimate, but that perhaps is a secret to be unlocked in time.

Enjoy the game!

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