[DitV] Ninja Princess Usagi-chan E3: Gozaru! You can't stop bamboo from growing.

Started by Filip Luszczyk, January 05, 2008, 01:10:43 AM

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Filip Luszczyk

We played the third town of our Ninja Princess Usagi-chan game just before Christmas. The players were Kamil and Magda this time. It took us two short sessions over the weekend, about six hours in total. This includes an hour or so Kamil needed to create and initiate his new bunny ninja princess.

A pretty fun town.

I've been looking for signs of burning out, as that's already eight sessions with the bunnies, including character creation and initiation meetings. Normally I'm starting to get weary of a game after five sessions or so. In this case, no signs of it yet. The longish break for PTA we took in between might have had something to do with it, however.

A Kawaii Buddhist Bunny Ninja Princess?

Kamil's new character is Yoshiko, a kawaii buddhist bunny ninja princess. Kamil concluded he might just as well do his character sheet in English, to facilitate writing a prospective actual play report. It's posted here. Kawaii!

So far we agreed the bunny world's Buddha is traditionally depicted as a fat male pig with a blissful smile on his face. Kamil introduced an interesting religious schism with his Holy Panda's teachings Trait, heh. Though now that I think about it, going with the Tao of Panda could have been more fitting. I like it how the setting gradually grows in detail, anyway.

Yoshiko's initiation conflict was about learning responsibility. On a day free from ninja school, young Yoshiko finally got invited to a trip to the city by older princesses. As they sat and munched carrot cookies in a restaurant, there was a theft on the street. Yoshiko tried to convince her schoolmates to react, but they wanted to leave it to city guards, indifferent and aloof. They argued for a while, but in the end, the commotion resulted in alpha bunny's dress being stained with carrot juice, and the little princess led her seniors in pursuit of the thief. It was all... uh... kawaii like hell.

The Town #3

This time I kept it simple. Five NPCs, all linked to a single core issue.

Nakajima, lord of the province, became obsessive about his daughter Tomoe after loosing his wife. He closed her in a golden cage and focused all his efforts on making her happy, deluding himself about his land's prosperity for many years.

At one point he caught Tomoe on a little tryst with Katsura, one of his samurai. Angry, he banished the rabbit. In his grief, Katsura traveled to a faraway forbidden temple and offered his soul to Dark Buddha. Then, he came back as a black ronin and unsuccessfully tried to kidnap Tomoe, slaughtering many Nakajima's samurai in his lone attack at the castle.

At this point Nakajima left the matters of defense to Tanaka, an ambitious leader of his boar samurai, and closed himself deeper in his delusions. Frustrated by his lord's weakness, Tanaka has been violently venting on the commoners for years. Now, however, he declared a full scale martial law in the province, and squeezed the people in his iron grip.

Meanwhile, Katsura came into contact with Sonoda, a peasant rat who instigated an uprising ever since he suffered from Tanaka's hands (like, they beat him and took away his radish). Together, they planned a revolution to bring down Nakajima.

If the bunnies didn't come, an angry mob led by Sonoda would eventually attack Nakajima's castle. Tanaka would give his soul to the darkness to stop the revolution, but his sacrifice would be futile. In the resulting turmoil, Tomoe would kill her own father, only to be brutally shred to pieces by bloodthirsty commoners. Katsura would slay Sonoda in vengeance, but the revolutionists would banish him in return.

My notes end with ”Sodom and Gomorrah”, the meaning of which I'll leave to the imagination of the reader.

The Game

Going with the conclusions from the previous town, I listed the NPCs and used the list as a sort of menu for the purposes of scene framing. I shortened the intro to two pieces of backstory that gave some general sense of what was going on, and afterwards I've been revealing an additional piece related to an NPCs at the  beginning of each scene. Worked out rather well, though in some scenes I forgot to tell the backstory. It turned out somewhat hard to be rigid about the “this is a scene about this NPC” assumption, too, once multiple NPCs started entering the stage.

The bunnies came to the city to investigate the rumors of social unrest. They arrived in the evening, just in time to observe people locking themselves in their houses due to a curfew and military patrols marching on the streets. They met Tanaka, who reluctantly brought them to the castle.

They tried to talk with Nakajima, but it clearly became obvious that the rabbit was totally detached from reality. He quickly got tired of their questions and went to his room, leaving them with his courtiers. The bunnies discussed the situation with Tanaka and learned about the recent attack at the castle, but the boar claimed he has everything under control and left to continue his duties.

The princesses decided to scout the streets, and stumbled upon Tanaka brutally interrogating some commoner. They initiated a conflict with his control over city's defense at stake. Eventually, frustrated by the injustice of bunny supremacy in the Empire, Tanaka tossed away his war fan, leaving the command over his boar samurai to the princesses.

The group learned the location of the rebels' hideout from the interrogated commoner and barged in, right in the middle of Sonoda's fiery speech. We're talking promises of drowning the upper classes in blood and red flag waving here.

Yoshiko ordered boar samurai to take away Yuan (Magda's character) and leave. Then, she got into a political argument with the rat. We played out a conflict with converting the other party to one's views at stake. It was quite an intense conflict, with one powerful accusation after another. But behind Sonoda's words, there was a power of darkness, and he had the crowd at his side – once the animals grabbed the bunny and started pushing her around, Kamil gave. And so, convinced by the revolutionists, Yoshiko became a socialist kawaii buddhist bunny ninja princess and turned against the oppressive aristocracy.

Sonoda shared his plans of attack at the castle, and Katsura appeared. Yoshiko offered to convince Nakajima to abdicate of his own will instead, and was given time till morning.

Yuan followed Katsura as he was leaving the city. She approached him in his hideout, a burned house where he meditated over a picture of Tomoe, and tried to reason with him. When the ronin declared there's only one thing he wants from Nakajima, Magda started a conflict to convince him that instead of trying to claim Tomoe by force he should give the girl a choice. We had a pretty tense situation, dice-wise, but Magda gave quickly once pure darkness spoke through the rabbit, answering with a decisive “Yes!” when she asked whether he really wants to keep Tomoe in a cage just like her father.

We wrapped things up after this scene, to continue the next day. I don't really like splitting towns, but it was already getting late and I expected things might take an hour or so longer than we had. Oddly, we wound up talking stuff for some hours after the game – long enough to be able to close the town if we continued to play instead. Oh, well.

Next day, we started from a scene with Nakajima. The bunnies sneaked into his room in the castle, and without much delay, a conflict with his rule in the province at stake started. Poor old rabbit, he got choked with a pillow, clumsily fell through the window in panic and, barely saved by Yoshiko's hurricane technique and Yuan's summoned ghosts, fell on the katana of one of the bunnies. And finally, I gave, and the harassed aristocrat just asked that they don't take Tomoe from him before he passed out.

As the bunnies dragged unconscious Nakajima back to the castle, they saw Sonoda and his angry mob rushing at the fortress, lusting blood, and samurai preparing the defense. The rat wasn't happy with the news of Yoshiko's success and Nakajima's abdication, but before he had a chance to do anything, Tanaka appeared on a nearby rock and swore to stop the revolt on his own. And he gladly offered his soul to the darkness.

We concluded that we should have a tactical map of the situation, just for the sake of it. Kamil quickly doodled one.

We played out a conflict with stopping a domestic war at stake. It was pretty dramatic. At one point, Yoshiko sat in the way of charging samurai, declaiming the wise teachings of Holy Panda, and started meditating. Some of the rebels followed her example, but got mercilessly slaughtered by the heavily armored boars. I suggested a self-immolation as the next Raise, but unfortunately before she had a chance to try that, Yoshiko got buried under a heap of rocks as Tanaka used his newly gained dark powers and escalated to earthquake. Kamil gave, narrating how Yoshiko's paw helplessly sticks out from under the boulders, and it was all very deep and thoughtful and all. Then, Yuan utilized Tanaka's war fan to stop the samurai, and saved the day.

As soon as Yoshiko got dug out from under the rocks, the bunnies spotted how Katsura uses the chaos to get into the castle. They followed inside, taking Nakajima with them, and met the ronin in a corridor, with scared Tomoe latched to his kimono. They decided to let them pass, but as the lovers moved by, Nakajima desperately grabbed his daughter and a dagger shined in Tomoe's hand. The princesses decided not to stop her, and she stabbed her father, murdering him.

Then, Yoshiko approached them and legitimized them as a married couple. “You can't stop bamboo from growing,” she quoted the Holy Panda's teachings as they left.

Kamil used his Reflection Fallout to take the quote as a Trait, while Magda added Tanaka's war-fan as a Belonging.

Then we went like “Wow!”, and Kamil doodled Nakajima's body on the gametable. Poor rabbit, he suffered so much only to get killed and have his daughter taken in the end.


Magda's behavior was interesting, I think.

She seemed to avoid conflict and conserve her resources, and she didn't take Fallout even once throughout all the conflicts. I have this impression she played pretty much in a “defeat the NPCs and solve the quest” mode.

Likewise, in a Producer-less PTA game we played during the previous weeks, she seemed fixed on getting rid of her character's enemies, even though she was given the tools to direct any NPCs however she liked. While we've been constantly using this freedom to position the protagonists in interesting situations or build ground for a future conflict, she seemed to withdraw whenever she had a direct control over anyone else than her character.

The scene when the bunnies first met Sonoda was notable. When Kamil declared that Yoshiko orders the boars to grab Yuan, Magda seemed largely indifferent. I felt like I was getting a signal in the lines of: “Yeah, yeah, right, but he can't be completely serious about it, can he? We're a team after all.”

In the final scene, once Kamil declared Yoshiko does nothing to stop Tomoe, Magda immediately chose the same. This was a red light for us, and we took a while to discuss the whole deal with passing the judgement, explaining the implications of her action or inaction in that context. Then, she commented we gave her a dilemma and after a while confirmed that Yuan would let Tomoe kill her father.

There's nothing that seriously hinders play so far, but at the same time, it doesn't help.

But other than that, I liked this town. Again, we hit just the right mixture of cute humor and grim drama, I'd say.


I agree, the town was fun and I had a nice time playing it. I agree too that I kind of fuss over my characters, it's definitely because of my mainstream experiences. But let's be honest, I'm better with every game :)

About this killing Nakajima thing. It wasn't about "I do the same as Kamil". I just didn't see the point in stopping his daughter and I didn't know what could happen because of it. You told me about the possibilities and only then I thought "hey, they're right". All in all I didn't stop Tomoe.

Another thing. When Kamil ordered the guards to take me I wasn't thinking "hey, we're a team!". I just was very surprised that he wanted to do it because I didn't see sense it, I didn't see a point in taking me. I still don't see it :D But hell, it was his choice, just like my choice wile giving my fanmail to the GM in our PTA ;) My point is, I know that "the team" in indie means something completely different than "the team" in mainstream, don't worry about that. You always try to find some hidden reasons behind my behaviour :P

The conflicts are different thing. Remember that in our previous games I usually took a lot of fallout? This time I think i was just trying something else. Having same spare dice was really helpful. What is more, when I found a good time for me to take some fallout it occurred that it would be d8 or d10. Thank you, I'll stand.

That's the whole story, nothing more nothing less.


Well, I was surprised that you started to agree with socialist rat and it seemed that you joined their cause. I should've start the conflict about it between our bunnies instead of using npcs to show what I meant.
Tylko skurwysyny nie kochają króliczków!

Filip Luszczyk

Well, I wouldn't go as far as to generalize about the meaning of "the team" or "the party" in indie games ;)

Anyway, I think the core of the problem is that we have a hard time determining what things in the fiction you care about during the session. Also, what specifically you treat seriously and what you're indifferent about.

For example, I can see that you're protective about your character. I.e. in your conflict with Katsura, if you didn't give up just after Yuan touched him, I'd Raise by cutting her hand off - and my gues is this would evoke a strong reaction on your side. However, I can't directly threaten your character's well-being all the time, and it's diffucult for me to determine how much of the situation in town is effectively shooting blanks.