By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover/ToC, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 18 pages of content, so let’s check out what the geniuses have in store for the ninja, shall we?
The pdf kicks off by providing 38 new ninja tricks to choose from and the tricks themselves are quite interesting – from the ability to use your ki to subtly damage foes by disharmonizing their ki to sacrificing sneak damage for more deadly poison, running while the foe blinks etc., we get several rather interesting and valid choices for ninja. The pdf does not stop there, though, and offers us several options to improve the disguise options of ninja (being able to fool spells etc.) for rather complex infiltration strategies, especially when combined with the feign death master trick. One of my favorite tricks enables the ninja to ride along on large foes like dragons, giants etc. and thus makes for quite cool, iconic battle-strategies.
The pdf also provides 12 new master tricks, which include fast healing, aforementioned feigning death and even using bombs. Said trick, though, suffers from a formatting glitch that makes it impossible to get what the power is supposed to do: "The ninja cannot combine a dispelling bomb, plague bomb, stink bomb, tanglefoot bomb with a choking bomb or blinding bomb, but
can combine them with a blinding bomb."[Sic!] Sooo…can he combine them with blinding bombs or not?
We also get 8 new feats centered on two ninjutsu-styles and 4 new alternate ninja archetypes: A spellcasting ninja, a bomb-focused demolition-style ninja, a ninja-like warrior appropriate for non-eastern settings (the outlaw Wolf’s Head) and the spider-affine Web Walkers.
Editing and formatting could have used another pass – from aforementioned glitch to alert/alter-typos to missing verbs, I encountered a lot of glitches herein. Layout adheres to the 3-column full color standard and the pdf finally has bookmarks, something that has been absent from most SGG-products. Even better, the ToC on the cover-page makes navigation easier when printed out. I liked most of the ninja-tricks and none caught my eye as particularly unbalanced or glitchy. The style-feats rock and use some interesting mechanics and the new archetypes are ok. However, I can’t keep myself from feeling that the tricks, while cool, are not all of the same quality. Making sign language a ninja trick AND opening its availability via linguistics makes taking the trick not a valid or prudent option. The overall utility of the tricks seem to fluctuate more than in e.g. the Gunslinger book. The feats are great and I would have loved to see more styles, but the archetypes felt rather bland to me and did not really excite me that much. They are not bad, don’t get me wrong, but I did not yell out with excitement when reading them. Add to that the uncharacteristically large amount of editing glitches and we have my final verdict: 3 stars for the Powers of the Ninja.
Villains III is available from: