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[DitV] Ninja Princess Usagi-chan Go! Gambate, bunny ninja princesses!

Started by Filip Luszczyk, August 24, 2007, 01:20:17 PM

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Filip Luszczyk

Wednesday, we created the characters and played out initiations for my anthropomorphic ninja magical girls DitV mod, Ninja Princess Usagi-chan. The players were Kamil “What part of bunnyninjaprincess you don't understand?” Wegrzynowicz, who came up with the idea of playing bunnyninjaprincesses in the first place, and Jacek “Never seen a single Sailor Moon episode” Golebiowski, who has been playing various indie stuff with us for quite some time now, including a couple of DitV sessions. As usually, we've been playing via Skype, using Gametable for handling the dice and drawing random doodles.

Kamil seemed a bit surprised that I was really-absolutely-positively-serious about running the thing. In fact, it was the first time I've run anthropomorphs (hmm, I've been running cats in the past, but that's not quite it), and I've been a bit worried that we wind up with some utter silliness. But no, the level of humor was only a bit higher than in our average game, maybe thanks to me constantly emphasizing that I'm aiming at Full Metal Narrativism with it and not a comedy. The whole bunnyninjaprincess setup generated some gags, jokes and other stupidity, naturally, but I think it was kept in check and didn't spill into the actual in-game fiction when inappropriate.

It reminds me about sessions with my old college group, as we've been often playing stuff in a similar mode. However, it's possibly the first time I got so close to it with this Skype group. I tend to think about it in terms of Super Deformed scenes in anime – they inject a dose of silliness into the fiction, but it doesn't normally seem to affect the main, serious part of the story, like it was happening outside the normal continuity.

All in all, I enjoyed the session, and so did Kamil, it seems. We're positive about continuing the game. But Jacek had some issues with it, I'm afraid, and concluded that he's willing to play at most one town.

Jacek either didn't fully get into the genre or he's simply not cool with the bunny part, the magical girl part, or both. He hasn't read Usagi Yojimbo apparently, and although he's an anime fan, he hasn't seen a single episode of Sailor Moon as he admits (shame on you, Jacek, shame on you...), so he must have had a hard time relating to some key concepts of our genre mashup.

We've been vetoing quite a lot of his choices, as he came up with stuff like fleas 1d4, rhymed incantations that were a bit too much on the silly side, and a mecha-fortress (now, I could roll with the fortress, but Kamil firmly said no to it). For the record, Jacek didn't veto anything himself.

So, we had to work out some stuff with Jacek before the character was appropriate enough and in the end, I'm not sure if he had a very good time. I wonder if there's a point to even ask him to play the next session. I hope there will be someone willing to play in his stead, as I'd really like to run at least one town.

Actually, I find it somewhat surprising that bunny ninja princesses are too far on the edge for the player who otherwise has no qualms against playing a cybernetic samurai or a fucked up cold hearted killer. Oh, well.

Regarding the veto thing, I don't think we've been ever making such an extensive use of it in our games so far. It's not only about the character creation. During the conflicts I've been careful not to allow weak stuff (“No, you can't roll the dice for your I like carrot cookies Trait only for munching them casually – make the use meaningful, dammit!”). We usually play in the “Sure, everything goes, roll the dice!” mode, but this time I felt it's better to put a higher bar. Probably, it's because of my resolution not to let things slide past a certain level of silliness.

I often houserule DitV, but I came to a conclusion that it's better to play this mod more or less by the book. I did use escalation rules from Afraid, however. After some sessions with them it's clear to me that they don't go very well with non-specific opposition conflicts. This time, the initiations felt a bit short due to the free block option, but I suppose it's rather due to the diminished need to take the blows, and consequently lessened impact on the character. But I like this option, so next time I'll probably modify non-specific opposition rules a bit (i.e. assume that it has its own set of Stats, each at 4d6, and can escalate as anyone – this potentially gives the GM 16d6 + some d10s to play with, and should solve the issue).

Jacek mentioned that he preferred to play with my full set of houserules, as they tighten many rules and make things more tactical. Kamil seemed indifferent, as he can kick ass one way or the other, anyway.

As for the characters and conflicts:

Jacek created Nano, an aloof bunny ninja princess. He chose Complicated Community, and pumped up his Will to 7d6. Her traits include I'm better than you, animal! and Hit me and there will be nothing left of you! and she has Relationships with the Emperor, her father (at 3d4), Wise Raven of Doom, her sensei, and a randomly appearing macho ninja prince (wearing tuxedo, I suppose). Some interesting Belongings include a diamond whip, platform shoes and headache medicine (rated 1d4, heh). Her battle garment is a bikini of white feathers.

Her initiation was about proving to her raven sensei that she's worthy inheriting the secrets of the dojo. A nice fight near a waterfall, with accusations of being daddy's daughter flying, and sprinkled drops of water used as a weapon. It ended a bit too fast, unfortunately. She proved she's a worthy successor of her sensei, anyway.

Kamil created Maromi-chan, a pink nerdy bunny ninja princess. Well-rounded background with high Acuity and Heart. She's shy, likes carrot cookies, can barely see without glasses and knows the Secret Technique of Budda's Paw. She has Relationships with her mentor, an old toad, and with unrequited lovers. Kamil took a spiked nunchuck, some scrolls, and glasses as Belongings, and his battle garment is a pink ninja gear with a ribbon on left ear.

This character's initiation was about convincing a nun that she should confess her feelings to the one she loves. It came out pretty tense, as after my fat 19 point Raise with unbreakable vows and crying Kamil escalated. I've been sure he's going to literally beat some sense to her head, but he went for physical – Maromi-chan transformed into her battle princess form and lectured the nun from top of a blossoming cherry tree. Cool stuff. He took Everyone should follow his own way as a Trait.

Well, I can roll with all that, and as I probably said already, I'd like to continue the game. Basically, it hinges on selling Jacek or another player on the whole bunny-fu.


I think this game hit the right balance between fluffiness and serious stuff. I really want to play the full session.
Vetoing - worked well to sort out things that bothered me before and in ninjabunnyprincesses game would kill
the session. I haven't thought that such simple genre mash-up would cause trouble for anybody but there it was.
Maybe it's age or culture thing but the idea for me is pretty obvious - anthropomorphic ninja princesses kicking ass in
the name of love and justice with just right amount of angst and drama.
Initiation was a tad short and this conflict would be more dramatic with one raise or two, but maybe first exchange
was used to establish the scene and mood and all the fittin into the new genre we haven't played before.
Tylko skurwysyny nie kochają króliczków!

Filip Luszczyk

Looks like it's too fringe an idea after all. Too bad - since I'm still strongly hyped about the game, it obviously wasn't only a fleeting captvation. I think I'm seriously invested in this whole coolness, so I wouldn't want it to go to waste due to lack of others' enthusiasm, like our first PTA attempt did. Technically I could run it one on one, but I don't think it would work very well with only one player.

Duh, it's so frustrating.

It's funny how I constantly see a potential for some serious drama in it. We really hit just the right balance.

I was always only "ok" about western, and "yeah, whatever" about the Mormon stuff, as it was somewhat abstract to me. And here, surprisingly, I can fully relate to the characters and their problems. They are not some distant Clint Eastwood wannabes dealing with some alien religious issues. They are extremely vivid. And they fight emo within the community, heh.


Hey, if it makes you happy, it's not too fringey. As I read your set-up, my mouth was agape at the creativity, and I'm looking forward to reading the AP.

Filip Luszczyk

Heh, thanks, Meguey :)

Well, there's still hope for us - we've found a potentially interested player, and we're creating the character in an hour or so.

Callan S.

I didn't know how to put it about the veto-ing. It makes me suspect a thin vein of force permeates the game. But no questions in the OP begged that sort of answer. Keeping this post short as I'm still perfectly sure its been asked of.
Philosopher Gamer

Filip Luszczyk

So, since Jacek couldn't get in touch with his inner cuteness and dropped out after all, we had to find another player for our game. Most people around were disinterested in playing bunny ninja princesses, sadly. But fortunately, we got in contact with Jacek's friend Magdalena, who wanted to try out that evil indie stuff everyone's bitching about and apparently didn't mind playing a bunny.

It seems Magdalena is used to playing mostly freeform games with strong GM's control, and she expressed that she's not perfectly comfortable with RPG mechanics. Her only experience with non-traditional stuff was some not even finished InSpectres session. However, my initial impression is that she managed to get the basic feel of both the game and the genre, and once we show her Usagi Yojimbo she should grasp the tone well, I think.

Magdalena created Yuan, an adopted bunny ninja princess with an attitude. Complicated History background, with high Acuity and Body and very low Heart. Her family was killed by cats when she was little, so she has Relationships with cats (2d8) and ancestor spirits that she can summon (2d6). So, she's a commoner taken in by the imperial family, but she's a princess nevertheless (2d6). Her foster father trained her in person (another Relationship at 2d6). Her ears are very long (2d10), and she's proud of them even though they're too long for a princess (1d4). Also, she knows Kungbudo's Arcane Thunder technique (3d4) and has badassery in her eyes (2d6). Her battle garment is a red latex outfit, and she calls  the power of her ancestors during the transformation sequence. Other than that she carries a memento of her family (2d6), and non-remarkable shurikens and katana.

Hmm, I find it interesting how Magdalena went for badassitude, while Kamil's character is quite girlish, at this point at least.

Yuan's initiation conflict was about proving that a common bunny can achieve greatness, too. The stage was a shuriken throwing exam. A pretty strong conflict, I'd say.

Young Yuan was obviously standing out in the class, and other bunnies were picking on her for commoner's roots and too long ears. She exchanged some insults with the most popular bunny in the class, who scolded her for not behaving like a princess should. She went back to the line reluctantly, with lowered head and ears almost dragged on the ground as Magdalena took the blow.

Then, once her turn for throwing came I blocked her Raise by escalating to unarmed combat, as someone pulled Yuan's ears, knocking her down. The teacher didn't see anything, obviously, and she had to beg him for the second chance, with the whole class giggling in the background. But then, she made her perfect throw, whirling her body to smack the popular princess with her ears and knock her down in turn. The class was in awe, and her rival cried her eyes out, humiliated.

Magdalena took Even a little bunny can be great as achievement Trait, and Words cut deeper than swords as Long-term Fallout Trait. Cool, looks like she's grokking the whole emo traits thing ^_^

Note that I used the rules variant for initiation conflicts I've been thinking about after the last session, with the non-specific opposition having Stats, at 4d6 each, and escalation options for the GM. It worked nice, as it prolonged the conflict a bit and consequently gave Magdalena more space to learn the rules.

Now, I don't really like introducing new players to Dogs, as there are so many things to explain and demonstrate, but it seems we managed to teach Magdalena the basics, and she's positive about continuing the game. It was nice to see that despite our guidance, she came up with most of the stuff about the character on her own, and didn't even had any trouble deciding on the accomplishment. With new players I often get the feeling that my examples and suggestions come out as dictating things, but not this time. We didn't veto anything this time, too, besides some Raise that came out a bit too cartoon-ish.

However, Magdalena was very careful with her narration during the conflict. At some point she remarked that she didn't want to go overboard with anything as she was afraid about disrupting the game (which I read as “leaving the rails”). We explained her that there is no such risk as we'd simply tell her if something wasn't right, and we encouraged her to try strong actions. It seemed like she picked it up, but I'm still worried that there might be some problems with her traditional gaming habits.

Well, she had no complaints about the dice mechanic breaking immersion or whatever, so I think it might work ^_^

Filip Luszczyk


You might be right about that. I suppose the whole veto-ing could have discouraged Jacek from playing in this game, aside from the genre thing. However, I believe it wouldn't work at all if not for that. Without enforcing some genre and humor standards, we'd wind up playing Looney Toons probably, and it wouldn't be the game I wanted to run (nor the game Kamil wanted to play, I guess).

I think Jacek was conscious that he had the same veto power, and if he decided that, say, he's not fine with carrot cookies or glasses or whatever, Kamil would have to edit his character. Still, he wasn't the most demanding person at the table in this case.

Now, this wasn't supposed to be a loose "everything goes" game, and I've been more or less on the same page about it with Kamil. Jacek has a tendency to create comic relief characters, but neither of us wanted the game to have cheap humor in it. Fleas as a Belonging seemed generally inapropriate, so we outright vetoed it. Rhymed incantation sounded rather infantile than anime-ish or cute to me, so it had to be reworked as I didn't want to hear the crap shouted in every second conflict. Kamil wasn't fine with the mecha-fortress (while I felt it was a tad too over the top, but ready to roll with it), so it had to go. No mecha in this game, then.

In our PTA game three months ago, we discussed the characters after the pilot and there were changes. Back then, Jacek's character received more editing as well. However, in PTA did it after a session that shown us that this was too weak and that came out too silly. If not for the editing, the game wouldn't be very succesful, I believe. This time we had to work things out during the prep, and I suppose it could feel like we were messing too much with the character, indeed.

However, I don't really think vetoes were the root of the problem here. I was hyped about the concept from the start, Kamil was as well, but Jacek was obviously ambivalent at best. Now that I think about it, it was visible in the way he created his character that he didn't bought in at all. He always takes a whole lot of rather elaborate Traits in Dogs, but this time he wrote down only as many as he needed to distribute his starting dice. It was like he didn't care about his character in the first place, and he really wasn't invested.

In such a case, it's simple. The game must be fun for all of us. If even one of us isn't fine with it, there's no point to play this particular game together, no big deal. Forcing Jacek to play something he wouldn't enjoy wouldn't serve anyone. However, since two of us really wanted to play this game, and one more player was needed, we had to look for someone else.


Hmm, ok, maybe at the beginning I will introduce myself. Magdalena is me :D

As Filip said, I had almost no experience with non-traditional games. One In Spectres session with Jacek was all. But I also helped Jacek with translating The Pool and In Spectres Startup Edition. So I was a bit familiar with those kind of games in theory, but not in practice.

I was also afraid that my gaming habits will be a problem, but I think that after all I managed to play quite good. Unfortunately, when Filip and Kamil were explaining me the mechanics... well, I didn't understand it at first xD I was doing everything depending on my intuition. That's why my bunny is so weird, I didn't know what I was doing when I was giving dices. I think now I would do my bunny in a completely different way, but my Yuan is also very nice and, after we finally managed to play, I really liked her and she got some experience.

Now I see that DitV are not very complicated to play, you just need to play once or twice and then the rules are obvious. Now I'm waiting for our next town and for Filip's description of our last game.

Filip Luszczyk

Well, I suck at explaining the mechanics when I have no common ground to relate them to. DitV is best explained through play anyway, I suppose.

The habits are less of a problem once they are identified. Yours didn't impede play, as sometimes happens with new players who bring too much baggage to the table, and later cling to it.

So, why do you think your character is weird and what would you change about her now?

And the AP from the full session is posted :)


QuoteSo, why do you think your character is weird and what would you change about her now?

I would definitely change the dices in my stats. I think it would be better to have Heart for at least 3d6 (like now, when I got it as my fallout) because there is not much fighting in conflicts, and heart is something that is important then. And I didn't understand it at first :P

Also, I think that for my Kugbudo Thunder 3d4 is not enough. So for my traits I would put dices diferently too.

So the weird thing about my bunny is just the way I put my dices. Yuan is not weird herself :D