Shinobigami - Modern Ninja Battle Tabletop RPG from Japan

Created by Andy Kitkowski

Shinobigami is an original Japanese story-focused tabletop RPG of drama, action, tactics and frenemies, set in a modern ninja cold war.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Printing/Shipping Status, Sudden Ninja Book Upgrade, and PDF Changes!
17 days ago – Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 11:25:21 PM

Hi Team Shinobigami!

I wanted to drop some quick updates before the end of January, as a lot is in motion.

Shinobigami Printing Happening Now: Shipping in March!

Unfortunately, we hit a snag in December: After getting all the paperwork together for the print run, we got caught in the printing factory's end-of-the-year 3-week (!) shutdown. Everyone from the factory floor to the admin/billing were out, though the CEO of the print shop helped us with a few questions at that time.

As soon as they opened back up in January, we ramped up with them. Long story short: The print files are with the printers, and they're being readied for the final print run right now. We should be receiving the final proofs in just a few days. Once we confirm that the cover/art/etc all looks right, they press the "NO TURNING BACK NOW" button, sending thousands of copies to print sometime next week.

Good news is that our most recent estimate for shipping is still on target despite the December shutdown: If everything goes as expected, the print run will be done around the second week of March; the books will be at our distributor about a week or so later, and they should begin shipping shortly thereafter. While it might be into April before many folks receive their copies (we're expecting global delivery to be around end of March to mid-April), the first should be arriving to folks' homes in March.

Suddenly: A Book Upgrade Appears!

So the printer we are using now is the trusted printer that produced Ryuutama for us (and are doing the second print run of Ryuutama now, at the same time as Shinobigami). Our previous projects with them have all been hardcover. The Shinobigami rulebook was meant to be softcover. 

Meant to be.

In December, we had some communications issues over the cover design: The templates we received were not quite lining up with our expectations of the cover. We found out it was a simple mistake on the printer's end: They wrote up the project as a hardcover game project (like our previous ones with them were, despite us telling them earlier it was softcover), and that's why the cover design template didn't match our expectations for a softcover book. 

Thing is, after that shock, and looking at the overall cost for hardcover, it wasn't all that bad. The price was a bit higher for us than softcover of course, but not outside of the limits of what we expected the cost to be per book (with budget, basically). After a bit of discussion, we made a move to upgrade the print run to hardcover. In short, everyone who backed Shinobigami, or anyone who buys a book from the first print run, will be receiving a hardcover upgrade to the Shinobigami book at no extra cost

This means that the first print run of the supplement book will also be hardcover.

Once this first print run sells out (not soon, but eventually, likely in a year or two), we will likely be reverting to softcover for all future printings of the book to keep costs reasonable. In short, this upgrade is something special we're doing for the folks who supported us all these years. We hope you'll find it worthwhile.

PDF Changes

Now that the print run is underway, and everyone has received their copy of the final Shinobigami rule book PDF through www.drivethrurpg.com, we are turning our attention to the supplement as well as fixing up the website and tightening up the final PDF we sent out.

In short, there were a few graphics in the PDF that should have been compressed a little better. Between that, a better TOC, and adding some PDF bookmarks, the PDF size should go down from about 60MB currently to 15MB or so. We're also providing the cover art (front and back) as a separate file for folks who want to print/bind their own copies. These changes should be finished within two weeks from now. When it is updated, you'll receive a notice through drivethrurpg.com announcing the PDF update status. Keep an eye out for that.

Scenarios and Hubris!

Finally, something embarrassing: In the last update, we planned to put together a few new scenarios and release them at the end of the year to celebrate the PDF release.

I came up with two really solid ones, fully written up and ready. One was really clever in my opinion, basically an introductory scenario where there was very very very light PVP, but more of a cooperative focus. Then, I playtested it here in Yokohama at the end of the year, with 3 players: 2 who had played Shinobigami before, 1 who was trying tabletop RPGs for the first time ever (she did awesome, and is now locked into the hobby!). Unfortunately, it failed in a spectacularly interesting and uniquely "Shinobigami-esque" way.

In short, since there was a new player (not only to Shinobigami... but to RPGs!) I wanted to make sure it wasn't a total PVP bloodbath from the start. The other players were friends I trusted, but still I made the Secrets all VERY light: All of them mostly "be friends with each other" kinds of Secrets instead of "Stab this person" secrets. At the same time, there was a - in my opinion at the time - pretty powerful, perhaps over-powerful, NPC antagonist. Kind of a cross between a 50 year old Japanese ikebana-artist obasan, Gemma from Ninja Scroll, and The Terminator. I gave her a LOT of health boxes.

Result: Since the PCs Secrets kept them relatively friendly despite trying to grab the Prize from each other, when the Climax Phase/Final Battle began, everyone pretty much teamed up 100% to curb stomp my Ikebana Terminator antagonist. She was down in two rounds, even after I "debug mode" cheated and added even MORE health boxes to her sheet (GM cheat, which I normally hate to do, but chock it up to playtest). In short, I realized that I needed to make a few more PVP-ish Secrets, as well as give the Antagonist some opportunities (through GM Scenes each Round/Cycle), to target and harass the PCs, like through Mob Combat scenes and the like. Hindsight 20/20 and all that. We had fun, Roles were Played, and there were memorable moments... but I felt dumb for Snoke'ing the antagonist, alas.

Ultimately I redesigned both of the scenarios I had, making sure to test them again to ensure they wouldn't crack at the table. Just writing the last bits up now, they should be ready by Valentine's Day.

Free New Scenario!

But not all is lost! Around the same time we were designing/redesigning the scenario above, Richard Allred, a Shinobigami fan on our Discord put together his own scenario, and it's really good! I'll be posting it on the official website shortly. It's called "A Lamb to the Slaughter", a standard versus scenario for 5 players, and for now you can download it directly from this Google Drive link.

Next update: We'll be providing the rest of the scenarios we've been working on, giving a status update on printing process/ship dates (if anything changes), and will start to put together samples of the supplement rules and limited edition design.

Shinobigami final PDF delivery, 2019 backer presents, itch.io, and Printing Status!
2 months ago – Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 09:21:32 PM

Hi team Shinobigami: As always, we appreciate your patience as we clear the hurdles to the final (first) goal: The delivery of the core Shinobigami rulebook. It's been a while since there's been a solid update, but things have settled a little and we wanted to provide a quick status and next steps.

Shinobigami Final PDF has delivered

Again, that is: You all received it in a private update a little while ago, but I went ahead and just sent everyone a download code to your email registered with the Shinobigami Backerkit fulfillment handling, to a download link of Shinobigami at DriveThruRPG. It *just* went out a few minutes ago, so if you didn't receive the email within one hour of this note, please:

1) Confirm the email you have registered with Kickstarter/Backerkit

2) Check your spam folder/filter (DriveThruRPG download codes often get flagged as Spam)

3) If you still don't see it, please reach out to me through Kickstarter messenger with your email address, and I'll verify and resend.

ITCH.IO Webstore Live 

We are currently taking down our old BigCartel webstore, and moving all of our products to itch.io for direct digital fulfillment (as well as linking to DriveThruRPG and IndiePressRevolution). To that end, if you are an avid itch.io user and you want a download code sent through itch, please reach out through Kickstarter messenger with your email address and I'll send you a copy there.

You can follow us on itch.io here: https://kotodama.itch.io/

Buying the Shinobigami PDF

In case you have friends that are interested, they can purchase it directly through our Kotodama Heavy Industries store on itch.io: https://kotodama.itch.io/shinobigami

Or at DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/297976/Shinobigami--Modern-Ninja-Battle-RPG

Or at IndiePressRevolution (coming soon; we will eventually have a PDF-and-physical-book set available there once the printed book is ready).

Printing Blues...

Good news is Shinobigami is at the printers. The bad news is that I underestimated the time on both sides of the globe that the holiday shutdowns (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, etc) would take. I don't have a current completion estimate, but I'm going to get one this week and report back in another update once I have one. I'm expecting a few weeks from now, plus an extra week or so for the books to ship from the printer and arrive at our partner warehouse; from there they should all be going out to everyone around the globe at the same time, within about a few-day window (our partner warehouse at IndiePressRevolution was able to get out something like 1500+ copies of Ryuutama to all the backers in just about a single weekend, which is mind-blowing). 

With that in mind, it looks like, depending on the Christmas shutdown/startup process, the books will be finished and shipping in January. Again, though, I'm going to:

1) See if I can get a cleaner estimate that isn't my guess (even if it takes longer than I assumed above, I at least want to try to get some accuracy here) and report it back this week...

2) ...and once I have confirmation that the printing is wrapping up, I'll be able to give more solid updates on things like book transit times to warehouse, shipping run fulfillment, and so on. 

Rest assured, though: The book will not be going for sale in stores or conventions before you get your hands on your own long-awaited copies.

More Backer/Preorder Holiday Presents 

So, we're currently processing the order with the printer, which means we're taking that idle time to dig into our fulfillments/extras for Shinobigami (and Ryuutama and Tenra Bansho as well). To that end, we're hoping that we can take a bit of the sting off of missing O-Shogatsu/Christmas by providing some extras for the holiday season (likely after Christmas but before the new years):

* Three new, complete Shinobigami scenarios for you to try with your friends and family.

* A sample of the contents of the Shinobigami expansion book (a bit of a teaser of the rules and contents that it contains)

These above goods will be going to all Kickstarter backers and pre-orderers for free, regardless of backer/purchase level. It's just a "Thank You" for sticking with us through the pain, as we close in on the first of the big three goals (Core book printing; expansion book printing; and limited edition book printing).

* Finally: A Shinobigami "Director's Cut/Background Guide". We added advice to the English version of Shinobigami, but there's more we want to do to make the game easy to understand and play: Mostly things like essays and stories about how the various mechanics and structures of Shinobigami work together; and how to manipulate them to produce different gameplay effects (as a GM/facilitator mostly, but as a player as well). The contents of this guide will be included in the Limited Edition version of the Shinobigami book (it will serve as an "intermission" between the first book and the second book contents of the limited edition single-book). However, we also wanted to make it available for others as well. It's not complete yet, because we are in a cycle of looking for Shinobigami play questions/concerns/problems, answering them, and then turning those answers into essays and breakdowns (we've already written a handful of essay-length answers on the KotoHI forums, Reddit, Discord, etc; we're just going to gather them in one place) to make the game even that much more accessible. 

Everyone who backed at any of the "PDF Expansion Material" levels or Limited Edition levels will have access to this "Director's Cut" book once it's ready; and others will be able to purchase it if they want. The interesting thing about this is that it will be available first only on itchi.io: Long story short, itch.io allows and plans for "Early Access/In Process" games and game material. So we can start with a handful of text essays in a simple white-page/no-layout document, and build it out from there over a few months until it is complete; while still giving people access to it to see/buy. We're going to see how this experiment works, but it will be complete/finalized (and then added to our DriveThruRPG library once complete) before the Expansion Book is complete.

Next Update

I'll have another update this week after we have a chance to consult our printer and shipper, with a better estimate of what to expect; and then an update before the end of the year with the above holiday extras.

Thanks again, everyone. It's been a much bloodier, brutal road than we imagined when we started few years ago, but we're nearing the end, and the printer ink is in the air: In 2020 we will see the Tokyo Olympics, another superhero movie or two, and the fulfillment of ALL of the rest of the Shinobigami core game material!

Shinobigami PDF Delivery!
7 months ago – Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 12:24:47 AM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

Final PDF Materials: Need one more day to put together
7 months ago – Sun, Jul 21, 2019 at 02:58:26 PM

Hey everyone, a very quick update on the finalized PDF:

I noticed a few errors in the credits area of the book upon final layout delivery, just need an hour or two to complete. That means the finalized PDF will be delivering one day later than anticipated last week (Monday US time, instead of Sunday as mentioned earlier).

The other materials (additional scenario, scenario guidelines and koma/figure sheet) are complete as well, and will be packaged together for the backers tomorrow!

A preview of the Shinobigami koma/character pawn sheet!
A preview of the Shinobigami koma/character pawn sheet!

Thanks for your time, and see you tomorrow!

Last Chance to Confirm Backerkit Order: Final PDF Release this Week
7 months ago – Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 01:53:06 AM

Hi team Shinobigami-

FINAL PDF THIS WEEK: Apologies for the delay on this update: We're a few days before releasing the finalized/finished electronic version of the game. I postponed this very update over a week in hopes to have it finished sooner, but it'll take another day or two to finalize it. In any case, it will go out to all backers within the next week! We'll also have a set of Shinobigami koma (character drawings used for the battle mat), a scenario design template, and another ready-to-play scenario that will be given to all backers at the same time the PDF becomes available, before/on 7/21.

As the PDF has been edited and all, we'll be going to print a week after: Everything is finalized with the printer for the first book.

FINALIZE YOUR BACKERKIT ORDER: We had a little delay recently, due to following up with a lot of backers over on the Backerkit system. With a few hundred backers not finalizing the details, we couldn't confirm a final book count. Luckily, the last two weeks we reached a "safe threshold" where we will be covered in the book and limited edition book count, so we're safe at this point. We haven't collected money from it/charged cards yet (we don't think it's fair to collect the money before we're actually pushing to print), but we will within the next 1-2 weeks. Still, please note:

* If you haven't received a notice from Backerkit to finalize your Shinobigami order and address, please reach out to us through the Kickstarter messaging system.

* If you have received the notice, please do go and fill it out. If you have any questions, contact us.

NEXT STEPS: On a positive note, Matt was able to join me in Japan for a week this last month. We had a chance to meet up with Shinobigami's designer from Adventure Planning Service/Bouken, Kawashima-sensei, over a long lunch in Ikebukuro; we spent that time catching up and talking game theory and design; and also talking/hashing out our strategy for the supplement book and deliverables, so that they won't see further delay. 

Hashing out details over some curry and snacks at a 24/7 diner in Ikebukuro
Hashing out details over some curry and snacks at a 24/7 diner in Ikebukuro
Just for fun, we compared "Serious Discussion Hand Gestures" between the US and Japan ("finger gun" vs "I'm holding a box")
Just for fun, we compared "Serious Discussion Hand Gestures" between the US and Japan ("finger gun" vs "I'm holding a box")

I'll leave us with that; the next update this week will have the final Shinobigami PDF and above materials; then or shortly after a guideline to the rest of the deliverables. 

And again, if you have any questions about the Backerkit, or have not received your email yet, please reach out to us ASAP!

Blades out!