Meet the Party: Blood: Path of the Shinobi

A guerrilla fighter who avoids an open fight, striking from the shadows and going where he wills. A predator in the corporate boardroom who is no less dangerous when she’s faced with open combat. A scavenger and traveler with an honest face, a sly tongue, and a generous drink. A digital thief who prefers to talk with ghosts outside of the machine, with assistants of paper instead of drones. Each Meet the Party article gives you an entire group of ready-to-play adventurers (maybe even some heroes) for your gaming needs for a variety of systems and settings. It’s time to join the Shadow Folk in the dark places of Riku, below the corporate towers and among the spirits, as we Meet the Party for Blood: Path of the Shinobi from Lettuce Inn Games!

Blood: Path of the Shinobi has crossed the Society’s radar before, when I covered it in an article for The Independents. The world of Blood, Riku, is a fascinating one wherein the Shadow Folk fight the oppression of the megacorporation-infested city of Zaibatsu and the demon-influenced caste system of the city of Loha Prasat. It’s a world where powered armor and plasma rifles can go up against spirits and swords, and either one stands an even chance of victory. It’s a world I’d like to revisit, and what better way that with Meet the Party?

Operating on a unique D20 system, character creation is relatively easy. Once you’ve figured out who you want your character to be and what you want them to do, you choose your Lineage, which is the clan/family/tribe your Shinobi belongs to. This determines which of the five Primary Stats (Physical, Social, Mental, Shadow, Spirit) starts off at 4 instead of 1, determines what sort of Major Art the character has access to, and grants you a Lineage Perk. You then get three more points to spread among your other four Primary Stats however you want. That done, you gets nine points for the Secondary Stats (which cannot exceed the Primary they’re based on), and three points worth of General Perks and/or Minor Arts. Spend Gear points however you wish (12 is the standard, and you get your first sword and outfit for free), and then you’re ready to take your fight into the shadows!

Ebisu

Lineage: Neko

Physical: 3

  • Combat: 2
  • Vitality: 0

Social: 1

  • Influence: 0
  • Presence: 0

Mental: 2

  • Focus: 1
  • Intuition: 1

Shadow: 4

  • Acrobatics: 2
  • Stealth: 2

Spirit: 1

  • Sensitivity: 1
  • Flow: 0

Lineage/General Perks: Perfect Balance, Raw Nerve, Athleticism, Manifestation

Major Art: Kami

Minor Art: None

Gear: Katana, Outfit, Burglar’s Kit, Climbing Gear, Stealth Suit, Level 2 Body Armor

Ebisu is outright the stealthiest member of the team, devoting himself fully to mastering the skills unique to a member of the Shadow Folk. As a result, when this is combined with his solid Physical/Combat skill, he is probably the team member most likely to successfully execute a Shadow Kill. Perfect Balance and Athleticism keep Ebisu moving at a steady pace, while Raw Nerve and Manifestation mean that his Shadow checks persist through duress and improve when focused on a goal. His Major Art allows him to strike deals with Kami, although be careful to note that those deals don’t come free.

Aisha

Lineage: Same

Physical: 4

  • Combat: 2
  • Vitality: 2

Social: 3

  • Influence: 0
  • Presence: 2

Mental: 1

  • Focus: 0
  • Intuition: 1

Shadow: 2

  • Acrobatics: 0
  • Stealth: 1

Spirit: 1

  • Sensitivity: 1
  • Flow: 0

Lineage/General Perks: Shark Skin, Martial Artist, Politico

Major Art: Mantle of Beasts

Minor Art: Kuji-kiri (Pyo)

Gear: Katana, Outfit, Energy Pistol, Comlink, Personal Vehicle, Liquid Assets x1

Aisha is the best straight up combatant in the group, as well as the best-armed. Shark Skin grants her Armor and makes grappling with her a dangerous prospect, while Martial Artist gets her another Opportunity (an additional action per round of combat). However, as a member of the Shark Clan her status as a predator doesn’t just stop there. Her Social/Presence gives her a strong, well, presence in social situations that she can leverage to her benefit, and Politico makes her well-known, with a solid reputation and some like-minded allies. Her Major Art lets her communicate with creatures, while her Minor Art currently gives her a bonus to Combat and Flow; both Arts may gain much more utility going forward.

Yuna

Lineage: Hachi

Physical: 2

  • Combat: 2
  • Vitality: 0

Social: 4

  • Influence: 3
  • Presence: 3

Mental: 2

  • Focus: 0
  • Intuition: 0

Shadow: 2

  • Acrobatics: 0
  • Stealth: 1

Spirit: 1

  • Sensitivity: 0
  • Flow: 0

Lineage/General Perks: Lord of the Scrounge, Manipulation, Sincerity, Wits

Major Art: Mantle of Deception

Minor Art: None

Gear: Ninja-to, Outfit, Archery Kit, Art Supplies, Survival Kit, First Aid Kit, Navigation Kit, Musical Instrument, Gambler’s Kit, Intoxicants x1, Pistol

Yuna is the traveler of the group; while not the handiest member, she’s extremely well-equipped for a life wandering the Verdant Expanse, and what she can’t take care of on her own she can convince others to do for her. Lord of the Scrounge means she might always have just what’s needed to get through a given situation. She’s not a bad fighter by any means, but she excels when words are the weapon of choice. Sincerity means that her natural honesty shines through, her heartfelt words bypassing the careful guard of the skeptic. At the same time, Manipulation means her less-than-truthful words will go sailing right over the heads of the gullible. Wits keeps her mental guard up, giving her a +5 to Intuition and Initiative checks. Her Mantle of Deception lets her take on the appearance of others, with more shadowy powers in its future.

Akahito

Lineage: Tanuki

Physical: 1

  • Combat: 0
  • Vitality: 0

Social: 1

  • Influence: 0
  • Presence: 0

Mental: 4

  • Focus: 2
  • Intuition: 2

Shadow: 2

  • Acrobatics: 0
  • Stealth: 1

Spirit: 3

  • Sensitivity: 2
  • Flow: 2

Lineage/General Perks: Bandit’s Mask, Channeling, Calculative

Major Art: Ghost

Minor Art: Origami (Familiars)

Gear: Ninja-to, Outfit, Hacker’s Kit, Comlink, Handheld Computer, Seance Kit, Origami Supplies, Level 1 Body Armor, Polonia Kit

Akahito is the smart guy of the team, but he’s also the one with the deepest connection to the spiritual world, particularly the Dim (the setting’s version of ghosts). He’s decently stealthy, and his Bandit’s Mask lets him conceal his identity from onlookers, both of which help him as he goes about his true work. With his high Mental and accompanying secondary stats, he can use his Hacker’s Kit to crack into the digitally secure parts of the world with frightening ease, further aided by Calculative’s +5 bonus to mental calculations. His Spirit rank, highest in the team, makes him very capable at his lineage’s Major Art, letting him communicate with the dead. Channeling means he has a particular affinity for working with these spirits, with the difficulty of doing so being reduced by 5. Finally, his Minor Art allows him to tap into the mystic qualities of paper, folding it into animals to assist him.

Who They Are

Ebisu is like many other members of the Cat Clan: somewhat aloof, convinced of his own superiority and the infallibility of his own judgement, and just skilled enough to possibly justify that belief. Ebisu serves the goals of the Shadow Folk by weeding out the citizens of the twin cities who he judges to be harmful to the populace at large, stealing their lives from the shadows. His preferred hunting grounds are the ‘Temples’ of Loha Prasat’s Upper City, although with his Zaibatsu-made stealth suit he’s made a few trips to the metropolis as well. He despises the false gods of the 8 Folds Path with a burning, personal passion, though; nothing is uglier than a demon with a false face, and the Neko despise ugliness.

Aisha finds her best work opportunities to be those with an opponent across the boardroom table. She loves bending the wills of corporate ‘overlords’ to her needs with the force of her personality alone, and when that fails the table usually isn’t wide enough for her opponent to be beyond the reach of her blade. She cares for and cultivates her ruthless reputation, along with a network of contacts and hangers-on, but in truth that is only in service to the larger goal of safeguarding the Shadow Folk. While she has enjoyed what tastes of power she’s had so far, she’s careful to make sure that other Shinobi aren’t accidentally caught up in the corporate upheavals she has a habit of causing.

Yuna revels in a life of traveling the Verdant Expanse between the twin cities, whether sailing on the ferry boats of her Clan or hiking along trails between fiefs. Truthfully, she somewhat embraces the stereotype of the Hachi as being wandering criminals with a bad hoarding habit, taking it as basic fact that you can’t overthrow the oppressors by following rules, nor without having the right tools for the job at hand. Whether she’s being open and honest, deceitful and overly generous with the drinks while playing dice, or quickly drawing a weapon on a mark who’ll never see it coming, Yuna stands out: on a path covered in blood, she’s an always-friendly face.

Akahito got his start among the fiefs of the Verdant Expanse before making his way to the big city of Zaibatsu to make his fortune. Whatever a given Tanuki’s equipment, after all, their preferred weapon is money. Rather than work legitimately, Akahito took to the metropolis’s Hard Street and Fudan Yun levels, hacking into the organizations and corporations that oppose the Shinobi and siphoning away their funds. Despite making his biggest impact with technology, Akahito has never let his abilities with the Dim that he practiced in the Expanse fade. If anything, they’ve become more helpful; there is no shortage of vengeful ghosts willing to point him towards a corrupt corporate official who deserves to ‘donate’ to the Shadow Folk cause.

How They Interact

Ebisu quite likes Aisha: the Same is well-dressed, respectable, and a benevolent (from a Shinobi’s point of view) influence on the city of Zaibatsu. Granted, he doesn’t think metaphorically crushing corporate opponents with a business deal quite finishes the job, but that’s what he’s around for. Yuna is almost unbearable, not because of anything she says or does, but because of the endless clutter which seems to follow her everywhere. It’s just very upsetting for the graceful Neko, but the Hachi is a good ally to have despite that. Ebisu’s first instinct with Akahito was to dismiss him as a worse scavenger than Yuna, but that hasn’t really played out. The Tanuki’s skills with computers is practically art, his interactions with the Dim always proper, and his Origami familiars are art. Talent like that should be nurtured.

Aisha sees Ebisu’s activities as potentially troublesome, since they might just set off a corporate war if the Neko kills the wrong person. While sometimes necessary, such events are often a dangerous time for the innocent citizens of Zaibatsu. That being said, of all Aisha’s contacts he is the one she trusts the most to get results after negotiations have truly broken down. While Ebisu is the resident expert on Loha Prasat, Yuna is Aisha’s favorite contact for dealing with the Verdant Expanse, and a welcome friend with plenty of stories when they get to spend time together. Akahito helps Aisha like many Tanuki help their Same brethren, by funneling resources into her pockets. Akahito helps keep her funded, and in return Aisha allows him to participate in planning her moves.

Yuna is more or less the glue that holds the entire group together. Traveling between the two cities allowed her to introduce Ebisu and Aisha to one another, and she was the one to smuggle Akahito into Zaibatsu in the first place, adding him to the team. Whenever they gather, Yuna is either the one waiting at the rendezvous or guiding others to the opposite city. She likes all three of the others, considering them her friends and companions, although she does have thoughts about how they could improve themselves: Ebisu is too prissy, Aisha too thuggish, and Akahito too frail. She’s too nice to mention these things, however, so she settles for keeping an eye on everyone for their own good (and keeping the peace when personalities clash).

Akahito was rubbed the wrong way by his first few interactions with Ebisu, and that bad first impression has stuck a bit. Despite the lingering personal dislike, however, Akahito favors the Neko as a partner thanks to his skills at staying in the shadows; he makes a good scout for Akahito’s hacking missions. Aisha makes great use of the funds that Akahito ‘acquires’ and she always watches out for him, but the Same is also more than a little intimidating, so Akahito wouldn’t exactly call her a friend. Yuna, on the other hand, was a friend long before she was a sister-in-arms, traveling through the fief where Akahito lived in for several years before he asked her to get him into Zaibatsu. The pair share a love for the Expanse that the two city-centered Shinobi lack, and Akahito would love to return to it for a ‘vacation’ some day.

The Future

The war between the Shinobi and the oppression of Zaibatsu and Loha Prasat has already raged for generations, and it remains an uphill battle. Corporations and oni seek to wipe the Shadow Folk from the face of Riku, and the Shinsengumi combine the forces of both cities to hunt the Shinobi down. Will Ebisu, Aisha, Yuna, and Akahito master the shadows and walk a bloody path to freedom, or will they vanish into the Momyama Prison, never to be seen again? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

Originally posted 11/19/15 on the Mad Adventurers Society!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s