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.
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Last night we played an Alpha version of the new translation of the Japanese RPG Shinobigami.The dynamic online was hard work - a lot of interruptions and mic noise., and a general unfamiliarity with the rules led to distraction for the first half.
As we grew to understand the rules better, we eventually became more comfortable and the game flowed in what seemed the prescribed structure.
It was fun! A light-hearted anime-themed PvP. The group seemed to agree at the end that the game was mechanically heavy and therefore
had the tendency to lapse in to a more boardgamey style. I would say 'mechanically-heavy' rather than 'rules-heavy' as it's not the number of rules but the way the mechanics are so overt and constant.
The story felt quite railroaded, in that there were a number of exposition scenes leading to the final battle, in which all the PCs fight each other. This is perfectly normal for this genre, however it was a little unsatisfying knowing that everything I did had so little consequence leading into the final battle.

Some of the mechanics were quite fun, even if they did not lead us to a style of play I am used to. I think if we played this game again
we'd be able to use the mechanics at the anime-battle-pace they feel like they could go, which would help the feel.

One thing I noticed is that the amount of mechanical movements meant that there was simply not enough time to narrate or explain how each mechanical part coloured the fiction or affected the characters, above the mechanical effect. This is probably the greatest divergence from the games I'm currently used to; one roll changes the fiction, by design, but we take time to move the fiction around it, rather than rolling and then moving on. I think the rules try to get the GM to push the players to describe things in this way but that would slow the game down so much if we were to stick to it.
 


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