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Ninja Obstacle Tournament Role PLaying Game
NINJA OBSTACLE TOURNAMENT ROLE PLAYING GAME

BY RIK HUNIK

3300 words

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Hunik



Special thanks to my wife Jo for her invaluable insights and hours of game testing.



Chapter 1: Introduction

Notice/proclamation/disclaimer



The Ninjas

These ninjas are not mercenary assassins. They are athletes who compete in obstacle courses with extreme obstacles that resemble challenges traditional ninjas would face in the execution of their duties. The courses travel from city to city and the shows are broadcast on TV.



The Show

Each game consists of three rounds, one round per episode.



Sixteen ninjas participate in the first round. They go one at a time through a course of five obstacles. Any ninja who fails at an obstacle falls and splashes into the pool of water below it. The eight ninjas with the fastest times (the fewest turns) to complete the course advance to the semi-final round. If fewer than eight ninjas complete the course, only the ninjas who finish can advance to the semi-final round.



First round obstacles: 16 ninjas go through 5 obstacles.

Rolling log run: ninjas must traverse a set of free-wheeling logs.

Rope swing: ninjas must jump, grab a rope and swing to a second rope, then another, and another...

Rock climb; no real rocks here. It's all artificial holds, as in indoor rock climbing competitions. There are no foot holds for the ninjas and some of the hand holds are so far apart that air time is required.

Ring hook: a series of rings hanging from chains. Ninjas must jump, grab the first ring, and swing far enough to hook it on a projection, which enables them to grab the second hook and repeat the process to the end.

Net climb; ninjas swing as far as they can on the last ring and jump to a hanging cargo net, which they must climb to the top to complete the first round.



The second round is the semi-final round. The ninjas face a course of five different obstacles. The four ninjas with the fastest times advance to the third round. If fewer than four ninjas complete the course, only those who finish can advance to the final round.



Second round obstacles: 8 ninjas go through 5 different obstacles.

Pull weight; ninjas must drag a heavy weight while walking on a narrow beam.

Spider walls; two parallel, acrylic walls. Ninjas must jump and brace themselves with hands and feet on opposite sides while they make their way to the end.

Peg Board; a long board with a series of holes in it, and two pegs that fit in those holes. With a peg in each hand the ninjas insert a peg in a hole, hang from it, reach as far as they can, insert a peg in a hole, hang from it and repeat to the end.

Stepping stones; a series of small, widely-spaced, not-entirely-stable platforms. Ninjas must jump from one to the next to get across.

Inverted Beam: an I-beam with narrow ledges on the bottom to provide hand- and footholds for the ninjas to hang from as they make their way across. To make it more interesting, it has elevation changes and horizontal gaps.



The third round is the finals. Four ninjas participate, going one at a time through all ten obstacles. The ninja who finishes with the fastest time wins the big prize. If none of the ninjas finish there is no winner. (That never happened at all during play testing.)

Chapter 2: Quick-Start Playing Guide

Quick-Start Playing Guide

If there is anything you don't understand in this quick-start guide, check ahead in the appropriate chapter.

Step 1: Players choose 16 characters. Create new ones if you need to or want to. (See “Creating New Characters” in Chapter 4.)

Step 2: Enter the names and skill levels of all the characters onto the score sheet in the order you want to play. (See exemplar in Chapter 9.)

Step 3: Roll the dice for the first ninja. (See “Keeping Score” in Chapter 6.) Keep rolling the dice for the first ninja until he is finished, falls, or runs out of time. Record one event in the appropriate column on the character sheet (for Round 1 only). (See “Used Character Sheet Exemplar” in Chapter 9.)

Step 4: After a ninja finishes the course, award 1 experience point. If 5 points are available, roll for another additive. (See “Experience points” and “Additives” in Chapter 4.)

Step 5: One at a time, roll the dice for the rest of the ninjas. (See “Finishing” in Chapter 7.)

Step 6: Repeat step 4 for each ninja.

Step 7: As each ninja finishes, determine whether he was too slow or moves on to round 2, and if he displaces a slower ninja who went before him.

Step 8: Enter the names and scores of the eight fastest ninjas from Round 1 on the score sheet for Round 2.

Step 9: Repeat Steps 3,4, 5, and 6, as needed.

Step 10: Enter the names and scores of the 4 fastest ninjas from Round 2 on the score sheet for Round 3.

Step 11: Repeat Step 9.

Step 12: The winner celebrates.

Chapter 3: The Game Master

The Game Master (GM) is, precisely as the title states, the master of the game. The GM interprets the rules and settles all disputes. The GM helps draw up new characters if necessary, draws the score sheet, enters the participating characters' names and skills, and keeps score, providing play-by-play and some color commentary. The GM can pass the score sheet to somebody else to keep score. If you want to get technical about it you could call that person the temporary assistant GM. Or you could just keep score.

Chapter 4: Characters

Characters

Every game starts with 16 characters. A player can control from 1 to 16 characters, depending on how many people are playing. The Game Master can also play characters, as many as required or desired, including playing all the characters, making it a solo game.



Creating new characters

For your first game you will need to create 16 new characters. After that you can use the same old characters, create new characters, or use a mixture of old and new characters. Characters have attributes and additives that affect their skill levels. The player has some control over the attributes but the additives are chosen at random by rolling dice.



Attributes

Each character has three basic attributes, which are used as a starting point to calculate skill levels. The attributes, intelligence (IQ), dexterity (DX), and strength (ST), are pretty much self-explanatory. The player gets to allocate 40 points between the three attributes. Anybody with any attribute less than 12 is not ninja material. Setting an attribute at 12 can be a handicap.



Additives

Additives increase skill levels. Each character starts with two additives. Roll 2d6 and select the additives from the chart, one for each die.



1) superior balance (adds to stepping stones, rock climb, spider walls, rolling log run)

2) ambidexterity (adds to stepping stones, ring hook, net climb, peg board)

3) fortitude (adds to net climb, pull weight, peg board, inverted beam)

4) toughness (adds to rope swing, rock climb, ring hook, pull weight)

5) luck (may reroll one missed roll each round.)

6) strong will (adds to rope swing, spider walls, rolling log run)



Five experience points can be used to buy another additive. Roll 2d6 and select one of the additives indicated. If the character already has one of the additives, the other one must be taken. If the character already has both of the additives, the player can choose either one to double up on.



Experience points

Every ninja who completes the course in the first round gets one experience point, whether they advance to the next round or not. Every ninja who completes the course in the semi-finals gets one experience point, whether they advance or not. In the final round, only the winner gets a point. The winner also receives a large cash prize. If nobody completes the course nobody wins, nobody gets a point, nobody gets the prize.



Characters can be brought back for up to 16 events, or until they have acquired 16 points. Characters can be retired at any time, but after 16 events or 16 points they must be retired. (Retired characters can be used in my upcoming “Ninja Team Game”.) Characters with only 1 point after 5 events fail to qualify and cannot return. Characters with only 2 points after 10 events fail to qualify and cannot return. Characters with only 3 points after 15 events are allowed a last attempt to gain more points before they retire to obscurity.



Each time a ninja gets an experience point, mark it with a line in the appropriate column on the character sheet. The first four are vertical lines, the fifth is a diagonal slash tying them all together in a neat bundle of five. (See “Used Character Sheet Exemplar” in Chapter 9.) When a character gets 5 points they can be spent to get another additive. When experience points are used, circle the group of five to show that they have been spent.

Chapter 5: Skills

Skills & Obstacles

Each obstacle requires a special skill, determined by a simple formula using the attributes and additives. For convenience, the formulas for all the skills are listed right on the character sheet, in the order they are used. The formula for each skill always starts with one of the three attributes.



Over the course of several games ninjas can accumulate several additives, which can occasionally result in skill levels of 17. With a skill of 17, successful rolls are subtracted from 17, but a roll of 17 is still a bogus roll and bogus roll rules apply.



Rolling log run = IQ + superior balance + strong will

Rope swing = DX + fortitude + strong will

Rock climb = ST + superior balance + toughness

Ring hook = ST + ambidexterity + toughness

Net climb = DX + ambidexterity + fortitude

Pull weight = ST + fortitude + toughness

Spider walls = DX + superior balance + strong will

Peg board = ST + ambidexterity + toughness

Stepping stones = IQ + superior balance + ambidexterity

Inverted beam = IQ + fortitude + strong will

Chapter 6: Keeping Score

Keeping Score

Three six-sided dice (3d6) are required and all three are rolled every turn. The skill level, minus the total of the three dice rolled, equals the number of action points scored on that turn. For every action point the character advances one unit on the obstacle. The scorekeeper adds the action points earned each turn to the previous total. Rolling 3d6 totalling higher than the skill level is a miss. Mark an x in the square. Rolling 3d6 totalling the same as the skill level is a successful roll and still earns one action point, even though the formula gives a result of zero. In effect, 0=1 for such rolls.



A total of 3 or 4 is a bonus roll. A bonus roll earns +2 action points. A total of 17 or 18 is a bogus roll. Mark an x and an * in the square. 18 means you fell off, splash, your run is over. (If you have luck this is a very good time to use it.) Draw a solid vertical line at the end of the last square and write "SPLASH". With a roll of 17 the character gets a chance at a save roll. If the next roll is successful the character doesn't fall but doesn't move. Put a check mark in the next square. On the following turn, carry on scoring as usual.



Each obstacle takes 20 action points to complete. Score keeping runs from 0 to 20 for each obstacle. When a ninja completes an obstacle, draw a vertical line at the end of that square. Any points over 20 can be used on the next obstacle, after adjusting for any skill difference. If the following skill is equal to or higher than the previous skill, no adjustment is necessary. If the following skill is lower than the previous skill, the difference must be deducted from the leftover action points. Leftover action points are added to the next scoring roll.



The “luck” attribute requires special attention to keep track of it. Luck allows a ninja to reroll one miss once every round, then choose which result to use. (It's best to save it for a bogus roll.) When creating a character, or adding an attribute later, I like to highlight “luck” and the character's name with a yellow highlighter. When I enter a character with luck onto the score sheet I highlight the name. When that character uses their luck, I highlight the square where it was used. As GM I usually give timely reminders and suggestions about using luck.



Score keeping example: Ninja is at 19 points on his ring hook. His ring hook skill is 14. He rolls 3d6. He gets a 6, 2, and 1, adds them up, and announces the total of 9 to the GM. The GM takes the skill of 14, subtracts the roll of 9, and comes up with the answer of 5 action points. The GM adds those 5 points to the 19 Ninja already had, and comes up with 24. The GM writes 24 in the box and says "24," out loud, to let the player, and the rest of the audience, know how far the character has moved. Whenever a character gets more than twenty points the GM announces which obstacle has just been completed, draws a vertical line at the end of the box that finished an obstacle, announces which obstacle is being started, and writes in the next box, in small letters, the initials of that obstacle. (See exemplar in Chapter 9.) This is so the progress of the ninjas can be easily compared to all those who went ahead.



Ninja has finished the ring hook obstacle and has 4 action points left over. His net climbing skill is 13. He rolls a 6, 6, and 3, totalling 15. That's a miss, and an x is marked in the box for that turn. He rolls a 5, 3, and 2, totalling 10. 13-10 = 3 net climbing action points. There are 4 action points left over, but the net climbing skill of 13 is 1 less than the ring hook skill of 14. Therefor 1 action point must be subtracted, leaving 3 action points left over. Add those 3 to the 3 scored this turn and he has 6 points on his net climb. The GM says, "6 on net climb," and writes a 6 in the box.

Chapter 7: Finishing

Finishing

Any ninjas who fail to complete the course in thirty-two turns are out of time (O.O.T.); they do not get a point, and they cannot move on to the next round.

The faster a ninja goes, the fewer turns it takes to finish the course. Time is measured in turns taken. When a ninja completes the last obstacle, draw a vertical black line at the end of that square, and in the next square, write the number of turns taken, then circle the number. If the ninja isn't fast enough to move on to the next round, cross out that circled number. For convenience the score sheet is marked in five turn increments. If two ninjas finish in the same number of turns, the ninja with the most left over action points is faster. If they are still tied they are treated the same.

In round 1 only eight ninjas can qualify to move on to round 2. Any ninja who splashes out or runs out of time cannot move on. If a ninth ninja completes the course, the slowest one is eliminated. In round 2 only four ninjas can qualify to move on to the final round. If they splash out or run out of time they cannot move on. If a fifth ninja completes the course, the slowest one is eliminated. In the final round, after all four ninjas have completed the course, the fastest ninja is declared the winner. If no ninja completes the course there is no winner.

Chapter 8: Character Sheet

I have included two character sheets here. The first is part of the text and can be printed from a PDF or RTF file. The second is jpeg image inserted into the text. I suggest that you print a copy of whichever works better for you, then take that printout and make as many copies as you need, with the printer set at the lightest setting. The character sheets are still legible and you save a considerable amount of ink.

























































































Ninja Obstacle Tournament Character Sheet

Name:

Occupation/description:

Attributes: Events: Points: Wins: Additives:

___ IQ

___ DX

___ ST







Skills:

___ rolling log run = IQ + superior balance + strong will

___ rope swing = DX + fortitude + strong will

___ rock climb = ST + superior balance + toughness

___ ring hook = ST + ambidexterity + toughness

___ net climb = DX + ambidexterity + fortitude



___ pull weight = ST + fortitude + toughness

___ spider walls = DX + superior balance + strong will

___ peg board = ST + ambidexterity + toughness

___ stepping stones = IQ + superior balance + ambidexterity

___ inverted beam = IQ + fortitude + strong will











Ninja Obstacle Tournament Character Sheet

Name:

Occupation/description:

Attributes: Events: Points: Wins: Additives:

___ IQ

___ DX

___ ST







Skills:

___ rolling log run = IQ + superior balance + strong will

___ rope swing = DX + fortitude + strong will

___ rock climb = ST + superior balance + toughness

___ ring hook = ST + ambidexterity + toughness

___ net climb = DX + ambidexterity + fortitude



___ pull weight = ST + fortitude + toughness

___ spider walls = DX + superior balance + strong will

___ peg board = ST + ambidexterity + toughness
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