Ninja Burger + InSpectres Mashup

Okay, this is a few guidelines on playing a game of Ninja Burger with the InSpectres rules. In order to play, you’ll need a copy of Ninja Burger and InSpectres. I recommend the “Honorable Employee Handbook” as a good sourcebook for Ninja Burger, but the RPG or card game will give you the idea as well, along with some more specific ideas on gear, missions, enemies and the like. Also, if you’re looking for some quick fun, the card game is really excellent. As a general guideline, use the basic rules of InSpectres and the setting and flavor of Ninja Burger. Both games are about wacky franchises completing dangerous but humorous missions, so the fit is pretty good. Below are a few suggestions on how to make sure the mesh is a good one.

First off, all of your characters are Ninja. I mean, the name of the place is Ninja Burger, after all. Feel free to come up with some more varied backgrounds (special operations, raised by wolves, whatever) but these days all of your characters are trained Ninja. Use the job descriptions from the Ninja Burger rules for some ideas of what particular roles your character might fulfill in the franchise, with two caveats. First, the dispatcher can be a PC or an NPC as your group sees fit, and second I’d recommend against having any ‘Ninja Chef’ characters. This is a fun concept, but it limits your ability to go on deliveries, and one of the qualities the InSpectres rules bring to the table is being highly mission based. That being said, if your group can figure out a way to have such ‘stay at home’ characters involved in the deliveries and somebody wants to play them, go nuts. Really, totally bonkers, this game is pretty insane to begin with.

There are also the job titles in InSpectres to consider. These are based around job positions in a start-up company, rather than those of a fast food franchise. In general, this mashup assumes a slightly less “centrally controlled” model than the Ninja Burger rules. Oh, sure, if you bring dishonor to Ninja Burger, assassins will still come for you in the night (or the day, gotta keep you guessing), but this version of the rules kind of assumes that the Ninja Burger upper level management has more of a “sink or swim” approach to franchise management. They allow entrepreneurial ninja to manage their own franchises and either bring honor to the business or, well, to be dispatched messily (either by themselves or by assassins). So, you might consider replacing the roles of “Chief Executive Officer”, “Chief Technical Officer”, and “Chief Financial Officer” with “Franchise Manager”, “Lead Chef”, and “Shift Manager” respectively. You might also consider separating these roles from the drivers and deliverators and other mission based jobs, and letting the same players control multiple characters.

Speaking of multiple characters per player, Ninja Burger delivery is a dangerous business. Not only do you have to face inhuman obstacles and deadly rival ninja and pirates and samurai, if you don’t make your delivery within 30 minutes, honor demands you commit suppuku and ritualistically disembowel yourself. This might make for a high character turnover rate. There’s a few options to address this:

1) Make the missions generally easier than the assumed level of InSpectres, which figures on a fair number of failed missions. Maybe throw the occasional tougher mission in to spice things up.
2) Instead of earning franchise dice for individual missions, make the franchise dice goals be sales goals. One “mission” of franchise dice might actually be a week or month’s worth of deliveries, and failing to meet those goals means not that your ninja characters necessarily failed in their deliveries, but that the franchise as a whole failed to take and complete enough deliveries to meet their goals and may attract various attention from higher level management.
3) Totally embrace it! Character creation is fast and easy, right? So wax your characters on a regular basis. Maybe allow unused cool points to carry over to the new character so that you don’t feel like your efforts were wasted. This would add to the madcap and slapstick atmosphere of Ninja Burger where casual death and dismemberment is the norm. As the preceding sentence implies, if you follow this option, definitely consider the “death and dismemberment clause” to be the default assumption.

So, with all that being said, here are the tweaks to run wacky Ninja Fast Food delivery with the rules for wacky paranormal investigation:

Character Creation
Creating characters remains super simple, and is followed exactly as in the usual InSpectres rules, except that the 4 skills are ‘ninja-ified’ and your talents will probably be more ninja/delivery oriented:

Academics – Ninja Lore
Athletics – Ninja Skills
Technology – Technology
Contact – Stealth
Cool – Cool

Ninja Lore works just like academics, but is ninja flavored (kind of tastes like wasabi). Likewise, use Ninja Skills for just about everything you’d use athletics for (fighting, flipping off of buildings, climbing, running, et cetera). Basically anything ‘ninja-like’ that isn’t sneaking around. Technology is for any use of computers, experimental guns, or other devices, including driving and flying and riding motorcycles and such like. The big difference is that instead of “contact”, ninja have “stealth”. This includes both sneaking around in the shadows as well as ‘hiding in plain sight’ and so it can be used for persuasion/charisma type situations, but it’s main purpose is to hide the fact that you are a ninja doing things in a place he shouldn’t be. Cool works exactly the same and keeps the same name, because even though ‘honor’ was a tempting choice, some of the ninja’s supernatural allies aren’t the most honorable creatures around.

Speaking of which, weird characters work the same as in the usual rules, just give them a good Ninja flavor. A dedicated Ninja magician is a good choice, but so are demons and ogres and other Japanese monstery guys.

Franchise Creation
Franchise creation is pretty much unchanged from the normal InSpectres rules except for the notes above about being less a start-up company and more a branch of an established company, and with the suggested changes to the job title descriptions.

Franchise Cards:
The franchise cards work the same, but have some more ninja-appropriate names. Ninja library assists Ninja Lore rolls, the Dojo assists Ninja Skills rolls, and the credit card helps with technology rolls. The bank works exactly the same.

Library Card – Ninja Library
Gym Card –  Dojo
Credit Card – Credit Card

Job Descriptions:
Chief Executive Officer – Franchise Manager
Chief Technical Officer – Chief Ninja Chef
Chief Financial Officer – Shift Manager

Some Tips on Running the Game

A Note About Stress
What you give out stress for is one of the ways to distinguish what sort of feel your game has. You can stress the fact that ninja deal with totally nutty stuff by making ‘normally’ highly stressful things like seeing your buddy cut in half not such a big deal, and saving the big stress dice for *really* awful stuff. On the other hand, you can play on the humor of ninja doing something essentially mundane (delivering burgers) and being basically normal guys except for all the flipping out and flying and stuff by awarding stress normally. This is something you should work out with your group by preference, as both can lead to hilarious and fun play.

Play Structure
I’d keep the employee interviews exactly the same, but remember that it’s ninja interviewing potential ninja. Sources like “Ask a Ninja” and “Real Ultimate Power” are great for some wackier takes on the whole ninja thing. For the investor meeting, rather than being with a venture capitalist, it’s probably with the regional management for the company, and should be a pitch as to why your ninja deserve a franchise in their area. The media interview is probably the least suitable to the whole secret ninja thing, so you may go for a commercial, and maybe keep the Q&A format but as if it’s an advertisement (e.g. “But how can I order burgers from a totally secret location?” “It’s easy! Call this number now, or face the consequences!”)

The confessional is *key* to the whole InSpectres thing, and should definitely be kept for this Ninja Burger hack. Again, having your highly secret ninja interviewed for a reality TV is one hilarious option, but you could also have these framed as ‘after action reports’ with various management types for a similar effect.

The basic job structure from InSpectres will work, but a little bit of tweaking helps. Consider the following altered steps:

  • Getting the Call
  • Preparation/Planning
  • Suiting Up/Travel
  • Fieldwork (this is the meat of the Ninja Burger Mission, most likely)
  • Escape/Customer Satisfaction
  • Vacation

When it comes to getting the call, Ninja burger includes a nicely parallel random call generator to the InSpectres random call chart as well.

Also, the focus of a Ninja Burger mission is likely to be different than an InSpectres mission. In InSpectres, the characters face conflict from the thing they’re called to take care of. In a burger delivery situation, most of the conflict and hazards will be things getting in the way of delivery, rather than the conflict coming from actually putting the burger in the customer’s hands. So, be sure to make use not only of wacky/inaccessible locations but security guards, rival fast food chains, other Ninja, supernatural forces and so on. Car chases and helicopter fights are also totally appropriate!

Finally, in keeping with the spirit (heh, get it, spirit?) of InSpectres, make sure the players take the lead in what direction the story is going. If they come up with a zany plan about how to get into a place that features locations and difficulties you hadn’t anticipated, awesome! Roll with it! This is a pretty silly game for an even sillier premise, so it’s easy to encourage all kinds of out-there descriptions and shenanigans.

As Mr. Sorensen says in the rules, dammit, have a good time!

One Response to “nINjaSpectres”

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