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:

Shinobigami Finished PDF Here!
12 months ago – Mon, Nov 26, 2018 at 12:24:44 AM

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

The Final Grind!
12 months ago – Sat, Nov 17, 2018 at 08:11:33 PM

Hey team Shinobigami! 

This is a very brief update with the current status of the PDF: We just need the rest of the weekend and Monday (maybe Tuesday) to ready it. The last elements we are putting together are the monster data tables at the end, and replacing the three "rules explanation manga" with the English text. If you haven't seen the original Japanese book, they look like this (and the chibi characters represent the characters from the replay, or the 6 clan signature characters):

 This one explains how the skill system works, where if you don't have the skill for the action you want to use, you take your closest skill on the grid, start at the number "5", and add a number for every space you jump to get to the skill required.

 This one shows how secrets work: When you have an Emotional Bond with another PC and they learn a Secret, you learn it too.

We have the translation for them, we're just need a few hours to replace the Japanese with the English.

The rest of the time needed is just lining up tables square with the page, making sure no pages had text running off the edge, and other "cleaning up before the shop opens" kinds of edits. Our gallant and tireless editor Michael P is also catching some last-minute mistakes so that we don't have to wait for a lot of groupsource user feedback before pushing to print.

Hoped we'd have it before the weekend, but do to these last minute adjustments, instead we'll have it after the weekend. Next update will be the finalized PDF, in just a few days.

Also! We updated the three critical downloads on the Shinobigami resources page to the final versions: The Blank Character Sheet, the Table Summary Sheet, and the Velocity System Battle Sheet are all the final versions, as of now. If you downloaded them before, please feel free to overwrite those with these latest versions:

Thanks again! As Onyx says, these are the last dayz...

PDF Progress and Go-Live Date
about 1 year ago – Fri, Nov 09, 2018 at 09:08:20 PM

Hey Team Shinobigami!

As I mentioned last week, I'll be doing weekly updates until the PDF edition of the game is finalized. I also mentioned that it will take about two more weeks to have it ready. We're still on course there for a final release next week! We now have access to all original digital art assets, and this last week is basically doing final art asset insertion and Ninpo/Enemy list finalization.

Also like last week, I have a small sample of the rules section of the book. This part shows the finalized English version of the six Ninja clan representative characters, and the skill list.

Again, for your eyes only (though there's not a huge amount of content here, so I'll make this post public):

I don't suspect that folks will be running many games of Shinobigami before the final is released next week, but if you do, these sample pages of the six clans are extremely helpful for getting new players into quickly understanding the game. Matt and I often print them out and drop them on the table so that the players can quickly get a sense of the representative clans.

Go-Live Date: While we're going to release the full PDF to the backers and pre-orderers next week, we're setting the official electronic copy sale date to November 24th

This will give us a week to fix all remaining last-minute glitches/grammatical errors/etc found in the document. But mostly, that weekend corresponds to the big analog tabletop gaming convention in Japan, Game Market 2018. It's kind of the "GenCon Dealer's Hall" or "Comiket" of tabletop RPGs and Board Games in Japan, an open marketplace focusing on Japanese original tabletop games. Bouken/Adventure Planning Service (the original publisher of Shinobigami) will have a booth there. I too will be attending, though at another booth (3D6).

If you're in Tokyo next week and coming to Game Market on Saturday, shout out! I'll buy you a drink and humbly apologize in person for the delay you had to endure.

Finally: After Game Market but before the end of the month, the Backerkit will go online. This will let those folks who wish, to be able to change their pledge levels.

Next Update: The finalized Shinobigami full PDF.

PDF - Days to Go, Sample Download Link
about 1 year ago – Thu, Nov 01, 2018 at 01:04:31 AM

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

A Look Into the Supplement Book
about 1 year ago – Sun, Sep 09, 2018 at 06:50:31 PM

Hey team Shinobigami - Andy here.

It was just two updates ago that I discussed the two big hurricanes that came through Japan, expecting that that was the last of the bad weather for the typhoon season: Then category five Jebi rolled through Japan last week and tore up Osaka pretty bad (followed by the earthquake in Hokkaido the next day)... Good news is that we're safe, my friends and family in Kansai are safe, and no delays to this project either.

Unfortunately, though, the side-effects at my day job (which I try to never have interfere with the translation work) were pretty severe: Lots of late nights dealing with the weather fallout in the IT world here; to that end I need a few more days to finish up the "Yokohama 2050" scenario set.

Anyway, while things are on track in the background, I wanted to make a brief post looking into the future: Specifically, the supplement book that we are currently finishing up in the background.

The Supplement Background

The "full set" for Shinobigami comes with two books: The core rulebook and the supplement book, each one with a long replay that demonstrates how the rules of the game work. The supplement book is interesting in that it gives you some extra data and play styles to play with, but not necessary to play. It truly is an expansion to the core game, with three sets of extra rules you can pick and choose from. Those specific rules sets are: Normals, Commonfolk, and Bloodlines

I want to take a peek into two of those rules sets, specifically Normals and Bloodlines.

NORMALS or "Ippanjin", allow the players to play the game as "normal humans": Humans (of appreciable overall dramatic power, mind you) that are caught up in the Shinobigami shadow war. They get skills from the same skill grid that ninja draw from, but they get no ninpo or ohgi. In combat, they are easily targeted and pretty frail in comparison to others (unless certain "secrets" are picked). But their dramatic punch comes in the form of "Truths". 

At character creation, someone who decides to pick a Normal takes a look at three lists of "Truths", broken up into (for lack of a better word) "Classes": Walking Disaster, Amplifier, and Outsider; each has special rules for how they interact with the other characters in the game. The player chooses the two "Truths" they want their character to have, and the category of their Truth determines their Class: So if you decide that you want your character to be able to bestow ninja abilities on others (the Amplifier's "Legendary Scroll" Truth; perhaps she is the non-ninja descendant of an ancient warrior family) and that you naturally attract trouble to those around you (the Walking Disaster's "Nightmare" Trush; perhaps she's just a weirdness magnet), then the character would be a "Walking Disaster/Amplifier". 

These "Truths" work like regular Shinobigami "Secrets"... to a degree: You basically start out with two secrets that others can roll to discover. However, unlike a normal Shinobigami game (where each PC has one secret), the Normal has two cards, and when someone discovers your secret they draw randomly from the two. For the above character, for example, if a Ninja uncovers her "Truth", and draws the "Nightmare" card, then the Normal's player afflicts that ninja with any Bad Status effect she wishes: There's potentially a big risk to "screwing around in the lives of Normals". On the other hand, if this Normal becomes close to one of the other Ninjas, she can reveal her "Legendary Scroll" Truth and grant that person two additional Ninpo arts!

Ultimately, Normals are hardly "truly normal": The Outsiders, for example, have Truths like "Actually Dead" (they are a ghost), "Casts Sorcery", "Lord" (the others must listen to their commands). While much weaker than ninja in normal combat, their playstyles are quite different: They basically dramatically change the nature of the story, creating a lot of chaos while the ninja characters race to the Prize (or fulfill their Secret Goals). 

Ultimately, one of the players choosing to be a Normal (with the GM's permission) can dramatically change how a story unfolds, even in a simple scenario like the "Dagger that Kills Gods". It's also recommended that Normals are limited to one player, maybe two in a 5-player game: Any more than that and the game kinda stops being about ninjas and the Shadow War: The Normals only really shine (and make others shine) when they are working with or against the other Ninjas in the scenario.


Next to Normals, the Bloodlines take up the most space in the supplemental rules. Bloodlines can be thought of as "Sub-Clans" or more accurately "Descendant Clans". Long story short, each of the six clans has three Bloodlines, smaller offshoot clans that loosely bear the clan name, but have their own goals, enemies, and each comes with three new Ninpo unique to that specific Bloodline. It also adds three new Ninpo for each parent clan as well.

Bloodlines are a great feature to add to a Shinobigami game when all the players have become used to the various abilities and tricks of the core clans. Introducing just one bloodline with the rest of the core clans can shake up the story and how the characters react to each other: Especially if there are two Bloodline characters representing the same parent clan in the game!

To demonstrate, I point to the picture above. We all know that the Otogi Private Academy is a wealthy, secretive private institution: A kind of "Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters", just one that happens to churn out a cult of loyal, sometimes brainwashed, ninja soldiers. Pretty scary stuff.

Scarier than that? Try the Otogi Private Academy's Student Council (pictured in the middle): The top of the top of Otogi, which work to promote the ideals of the school to the other students and the world. Their special Ninpo demonstrate their preparedness and force of will. 

Or perhaps the Tarao Private Academy for Young Women (pictured in the top left), a sequestered all-girls' school in the mountains which trains women to be Kunoichi ("female ninja"): Their Ninpo focus on brutal sneak attacks, as well as twisting the emotions of those around them to serve the Kunoichi as pawns.

Finally, there's the Otogi Special Mission Educational Staff Council (pictured in the top right), extremely renowned and well-regarded teachers and educational staff (and Otogi ninja leaders) who are graciously loaned out to schools across Japan in order to share their educational techniques with other schools... when in reality they're assigned to those schools due to rumors of ninja activity that need to be investigated firsthand. Forget the mysterious exchange student; in Shinobigami, you need to watch out when your homeroom teacher mysteriously becomes sick to be replaced "until further notice" by an elite instructor from Otogi PA. Their Ninpo abilities focus on their primary role: Watching over those under their charge, and manipulating them into new situations, sometimes for the target's own safety.

Like this, each of the six major clans has three bloodlines, each providing a new and interesting take on the parent clan: This can dramatically increase the roleplaying opportunities as well, offering specific and interesting backgrounds for the PCs to draw from. In future updates we'll look at the Bloodlines of other clans.


The next update: We'll be seeing some more ready-to-play scenarios released before the end of this month (both for Yokohama 2050 to those expansion material backers that will be delivered privately, and another regular Shinobigami scenario for the core game, available for all). I'll also discus the third optional rule from the supplement book, the Commonfolk, and how they differ from Normals.