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:

Second to Last Hill!
over 2 years ago – Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 11:23:18 AM

Hey all, it's been a few weeks since the last update on Shinobigami, and wanted to keep you in the loop on what's happening.

First off, thanks for sticking through my last update: It was a rough one, but luckily in the weeks since, the overall social anxiety level over here in Japan has settled down quite a bit. There was just a general state of unease and tension over here that carried over into work, home, media, pretty much everything. But over the past few weeks, it's like the entire country just took a big exasperated sigh, shrugged, said "Whatever", and went back about their business.

Long story short, that bump is over, anxiety in check, and progress has been made since.

The "Second to Last Hill" referenced in the title is the last bits of layout. We had to go back into a few sections and make some changes to make the book look better, the layout shift from Japanese to English for such a small form-factor book caused more issues than any previous translation project I've been a part of. The good news there is that despite those minor setbacks, we should be nearing completion as expected in the next few weeks. As with previous projects, I plan to release a sort of "pre-finalized" PDF for one last review to everyone (it's already been heavily edited, but there's always going to be those last minute glitches we want to fix before it gets locked down for print publishing.

(The Last Hill, incidentally, is the period of waiting between finalizing the PDF and getting proofs cleared and printing complete: More info when we're at the foot of that hill in a bit)

One thing that a few folks have asked for is a "finalized text" of the Shinobigami book (a "Beta" text to the previous Alpha text): We originally dropped the Alpha text (which was pretty complete for the time), and expected the gap between Alpha and laid-out to not be as long as it's been. It's been much longer than we expected; and while the layout is nearing completion, we still want to give folks something more solid to work with. We'll have the finalized/Beta text to everyone by the end of this month (two weeks from now).

Finally, one last thing I wanted to share for this update: While we're waiting for the book to be ready, I reached out to a unique Japanese artist who has illustrated a few Japanese indie RPGs and supplements, including some Shinobigami "koma" (character tokens/pawns). These are used in conjunction with the "Velocity System" battle sheet: Basically, every player picks out a token - which for some reason across the board tend to be extremely cute - to represent their character for the combat scenes. You can folks' fan offerings by doing a Google Image Search for "シノビガミ コマ" (or click Here).

These kinds of tokens have really become a unique and fun part of the fan creator culture for Shinobigami. Anyway, I've got an ongoing commission with her to develop freely usable tokens for fans outside of Japan. Long story short, while Shinobigami is a game seeped in Japanese traditions, there are Japanese players who make foreign ninja; there's even a supplement set in a fantastical alt-history London. But the existing fan token sets are pretty much light skinned (like most manga) from artist to artist. So while we're expanding the pool of tokens usable for all, we're aiming to add a lot of characteristically foreign Shinobigami tokens, and not just simple palette-swapping of existing ones: As much as one can do with cute chibi tokens the size of ones' thumb, we're aiming to have different cultures (dress/fashion, sensibilities) and skin colors represented.

As those are developed (they'll be coming my way in sets of four), I'll be sharing them with everyone and updating the website.

If others want to take a stab at making their own Shinobigami tokens, please feel free to go for it, and reach out to us when you're ready. We'd be happy to share them with the growing Shinobigami community.

Next update will be at the end of this month, with the full/complete "Beta text" (not *REALLY* Beta, we blew way past Beta to "Gold", but still).


Kick in the Stomach, but progress being made...
over 2 years ago – Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 09:14:41 AM

My apologies for the late update: I'm aiming for one solid update a month, even if it's a simple status update ("Still working away, here's the progress we made...").

Unfortunately, things have been a little troubling lately in Japan. In short, last week I woke up for the third time in my life to find that North Korea launched a missile over my head while I slept. The first time it happened was almost 18 years ago, a kind of diplomatic fluke. The last two instances were barely a month apart. 

Things have been really... on edge... here in Japan recently because of it. There's no measure of this Kickstarter project that does or does not directly rely on North Korea not stepping up their insanity. But there's a lot of discomfort, a lot of mental stress; the lack of ability to do anything about it; the hoping that a peaceful resolution is found quickly; the vague hope that I don't wake up to find my Tokyo office has turned into a lake of glass; hoping that my friends and scenario contributors in Seoul are not too affected by this latest round of international bluster.

Recently our neighborhood committee ("chounaikai") has been stepping up the general defense and disaster drills, which is both comforting (there's something to do in all this) and at the same time a bit disconcerting (" this just 'duck and cover' ? No one knows!"). It's definitely been eroding at my concentration recently, and progress the last few weeks has been a little slower than expected because of it. Even at our day jobs at my company, there's been a lot of side discussion on emergency measures, company sponsored phone apps that automatically alert you about "political incidents" ("Missile on its way, you have 6 minutes to... pray?"), team "role call" checks, and so on. When the news hasn't pulled away after 3+ days to cover Idol Group gossip, it's on another level.

Geez, though, for real? "Sorry I'm a bit late with Shinobigami updates. Reason: North Korea". It sounds ridiculous when said aloud, but that's what I came here to say.

It's not an excuse I'm going to use going forward: In the last few days I've already put together systems to block out the things I can't control and focus on the project work. Things are moving forward, and it will take about one more week to resume the pace I intended to keep for the rest of the project. This is hopefully the last you'll hear about this sort of thing (and I mean that: I *really* hope a peaceful conclusion is reached soon). It's... well, it's been a factor in my energy and stress levels, and I felt it would be... I don't know... "dishonest"?... to just put on a smile and gloss over the turmoil we're going through over here; it's been a factor in my home, work, and Shinobigami/hobby life.

Sorry to start on such a downer, and apologies if folks think this is over-sharing. In any case, here's one major development that I wanted to share:

Regular vs Limited Edition Books

As we're finishing out the last of the layout for the regular edition of Shinobigami, I wanted to share some thoughts about the limited edition book.

Originally, the plan was similar to what we did with Ryuutama: The book would be the exact same size, same contents, but feature a very pretty and thematic cover. However, the further we got into the layout of the game, the more I realized that this would not be in the spirit of a true limited edition book: The reason being that the Shinobigami core book is a rather small form-factor book: A hand-held softcover book that's about the same size as a manga paperback book you'd see on the shelf of your local bookstore: This is the form factor of the original game, and we're sticking to that.

 While it would be no problem to put the same contents into a hardcover book with a gorgeous cover, we're actually going to be sliightly more ambitious (without sacrificing too much time): The interior contents will be the same, but the form factor will be larger. We're currently exploring B5 hardcover, complete with laying out the text to match the size, and a slightly larger font. We're aiming for something that will feel special, and let us leave a unique mark on the game. 

(Note: Since we've received many inquiries on this; once the PDF is ready, we'll absolutely have options to allow folks to upgrade/downgrade their orders in order to get copies of the limited or regular editions)

And Finally, Status:

The PDF is currently in the final steps of layout. Thanks to the editing assistance of Mike Pureka, we were able to catch a lot of small mistakes that we missed the first round, as well as greatly tightening up the overall rules text: Despite the very clear and dry nature of the original Japanese rules, we found that the translation to English had some potholes. Mostly in areas where the Japanese language deals more in vague conveyance of implied subjects and objects, but the English language (or any Western language) requires more precision to understand the focus or point of the rule. 

We found several instances where the rule seemed perfect as written, but then we realized (after Mike pointed it out) that it needed to be written a little more definitively, an example added, or simply another sentence had to be added to state the intention, but in a slightly different way, to make sure a mistake in play would not be made. The book is MUCH tighter because of it. Still, when the PDF is finished, we'll still be passing it out to everyone to review, to make sure we catch any last lingering mistakes before it goes to print.

Mixed Emotions due to the events of the last month, the progress made in during-layout editing tempered by the slowness incurred due to the stress of the recent political showdown in asia. But at the end of the day, it's coming together, the stress is manageable, and this project is nearing a close on the first book. Stay tuned for more soon!

Quick Update: Names for the PDF, Order Upgrades; and Play Feedback
over 2 years ago – Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 01:12:04 AM

Hi all: A quick Shinobigami update for July:

Name Surveys: We're nearing the point in the PDF layout where we're gathering the list of backer names for the PDF version of the game. I'll be sending out a survey link in the next 48 hours (not the official Kickstarter survey to collect address information, this will be a Google Doc link): I'll ask for an email confirmation, and will collect the name you want featured in the book. The survey will be open for two weeks, and I'll send a final reminder out before the survey is closed. This will only affect how your name appears in the finalized PDF.

Order Upgrades: Some folks have been asking if they can upgrade from the PDF version of the book to the hardcopy; or from the regular edition to the limited edition. Indeed, those options will absolutely be available when we are readying for print. I'll make sure to contact you when it's time to decide. By that time we'll also have samples of the limited edition version of Shinobigami so that you can compare.

Finally: We're putting the final touches on the "Advice" section of the book. Our agreement with the original publisher is to keep the text as close to the original format as possible, with only VERY few sidebars and additional text for the rules section (we've added a few sentences here and there to make things clear, or one-sentence examples that explain some of the rules better). The reply at the beginning of the book is as much a rules teaching tool as the actual rules text, so it's almost required reading to understand how the game functions.

Having said that, we have received feedback in the last few months from people who have played the game at conventions or with friends, asking for some specific pieces of advice, or asking specific questions as to how the game flows. We have a lot of solid advice for everything from scenario creation, to introducing the game quickly to novice players, to ways in which we've had success with explaining the game and getting folks into it quickly. 

However, if you played the game and something didn't quite click, or you wish you had some guidance for a specific rule or concept, this is the time to ask. Feel free to leave feedback in comments to this update on Kickstarter, by private message, or post directly to the Shinobigami Google Plus group here:

We've got about one week before the vault seals on the advice section of the book. We do plan on later supplying materials and articles to everyone that will further expand on advice and make it even more easy to understand, explain and play; but we're aiming for the tight "must have" feedback and advice that will make it into the core book.

Thanks for your patience. We're still on track for a finalized PDF this summer! 

Name-in-Credits Surveys Sent out!
over 2 years ago – Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 01:12:02 AM

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

Today is the last chance to get your name credited in the PDF!
over 2 years ago – Sun, Aug 13, 2017 at 01:19:46 AM

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