Shinobigami: God of the Ninja
Shinobigami is an original Japanese tabletop role-playing game published originally by Adventure Planning Service Inc, written by Touichirou Kawashima, and lavishly illustrated by Shie Nanahara (cover, interior illustrations) and Nagomi Ochiai (interior Nittoushin/”Chibi” art pieces). It was originally published in 2009, then revised and updated for a 2014 re-release.
The game is about goals, relationship and power, in the backdrop of a modern day Japan in the midst of a secret ninja clan cold war. 3-5 competent shinobi characters aim to take control of an object of power, meanwhile they pursue unique hidden goals that may lead them to cooperate or compete with each other. Often there is an antagonist non-player character with monstrous goals that must be stopped (though even as they do so, the cooperation and competition between the shinobi continues). Forming relationships puts you at risk but also opens you up to learn more secrets and information. Everyone’s secret goal is unique and often puts the characters into conflict with some of the others, or perhaps drives them to protect or love others.
Character drama is key; and since each story/”campaign” only lasts a few hours, incredible drama and twists can spring forth through play.
The other half of the game is a light but strategic “board game” style of play, involving a grid of skills, a battle/combat system of high flying action and tactics, and secret boost items and Ultimate Ninja Techniques will help the characters push the others out of their way as they reach for their goals.
The books have a light and small form factor (about paperback fiction or international manga book size) and are easy to read and understand. They serve as one-time instruction manual for how to play the game, as well as a tight and concise rules reference at the table. Since the form factor will translate well to both full-sized and hand-held electronic tablets (iPad/iPad Mini etc), it will be a perfect match for the contemporary international market.
The core book contains everything you need to play. The first supplement book contains additional rules for “normal people” (who are, of course, anything but “normal”), additional clans and abilities, expanded setting material, illustrations, a few full scenarios and of course a second complete replay that uses this new material.