Ninja Burger 2nd Edition Q&A Session
A while ago, I asked Ninja Burger's fans to ask me some questions about Ninja Burger and the new 2nd Edition of the Ninja Burger Role-Playing Game. Following are some of those questions, and my answers to them. Gamegrene seemed a good place to post this exclusive Q&A session, so please, enjoy, and feel free to reply with your own followup questions and comments.
Q. Is Ninja Burger real?
Yes. It's a real, legal, legitimate business that sells real items to real customers around the world.
If it's on the Internet it must be true.
Q. No, I mean, do you like have real ninjas who deliver fast food?
If it's on the Internet it must be true.
Q. Where did the idea for Ninja Burger come from?
In the 1950s, unemployed ninja decided to found a company that would make impossible deliveries; fast food was a logical market to penetrate, since it was an up-and-coming industry at the time. Ninja Burger operated in obscurity for a half-century until the World Wide Web blossomed in the late 1990s, and they began to explore having a website designed.
Sometime in late 1999/early 2000, a group of tech industry friends chatting online late at night came up with an "original" idea when one of them complained that he was: a) hungry, b) busy, and c) inside a locked building. Who better to deliver in circumstances like that than a company called Ninja Burger? They had no idea that such a company actually existed.
When the two groups discovered each other, several months of stabbings, bludgeonings and negotiations ensued. When it was all over, the Ninja Burger website was put online, and thanks to some help from a then-fledgling website called Fark.com, Ninja Burger achieved worldwide renown.
Q. Did you ever think that Ninja Burger would gather such a motley crew of fans?
Absolutely not. The entire thing started as a goof; everyone was registering domain names and starting websites back then. Everyone involved thought it would be an in-joke amongst a few dozen tech geeks and that would be that.
Over the years, though, Ninja Burger's increased in popularity amongst a wide array of people. We get email from troops stationed in Iraq, real-life ninja, fans of anime and just random people who stumble across the site and decide on a whim to send in a jog application.
In particular, the Ninja Burger Forum has quite the assortment of die-hard fans. Self-proclaimed as "the worst place to ask questions about Ninja Burger", it's mostly a mish-mosh of people chatting about anything and everything except, it seems, Ninja Burger itself. Which is fine -- the mere fact that people chat there is indicative of the fact that it's Ninja Burger which pulls them together, whether they like the website, the card game, the RPG, or just the concept itself.
Q. When was it that the Ninja Burger RPG changed from random musing to full-fledged product? Was it an idea you had always planned on seeing through this far, or did it just end up where it is today through chance occurrences?
We initially had no intention of developing the website into an RPG. The entire thing came about because 9th Level Games approached us and asked if we were interested in licensing the concept to them. The deal was this: they would do all the work, and then they would send us money.
This sounded pretty good to us.
Ninja Burger has decided to strike out on its own...
Q. So why are you moving away from 9th Level Games' BEER/SAKE system?
After four years with 9th Level Games, Ninja Burger has decided to strike out on its own, allowing both parties to focus on their core products. 9th Level Games is currently producing a hardcover edition of their flagship product, Kobolds Ate My Baby, and we wish them the best of luck with it. WIth their focus on that product, it only made sense for Ninja Burger to do what it does best -- sell itself. Thus, we brought it "in-house" and rewrote the whole thing from scratch.
Q. Did you choose the new PDQ game system for its emphasis on combat, role-playing, skill-based objectives and/or some other key elements?
One of the most-loved parts of the original Ninja Burger RPG was the fact that it was a "beer and pretzels" sort of game, with a tight, fast, easy-to-learn game engine that you could pick up and play inside of an hour. In our search for a new game engine, finding something that was equally simple was a prime consideration; we didn't want to just do d20 Ninja Burger, for example. We are quite fond of old school D&D (1st Edition, to the younger crowd) where the rules were streamlined, and it didn't take a 256-page book plus seventeen supplements to determine the results of a single combat roll. Simple = good.
We also wanted to find a game engine that people were already familiar with, something that encouraged but did not force role-playing upon the players, and something that allowed the players to focus on the funny bits, rather than getting tangled up learning something completely new and foreign all over again. We found that in Atomic Sock Monkey Press' PDQ system.
Q. Who is Atomic Sock Monkey Press?
To quote their website: "Atomic Sock Monkey Press is dedicated to high-quality, off-kilter, imaginative fun. Currently, that means tabletop games of both the "beer & pretzels" and role-playing game (RPG) varieties."
ASMP is known in the industry for "quirky, thought-provoking, professional, and affordable" games such as: Dead Inside; Truth & Justice; and Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot. It was the latter game that convinced us that this was the system to use.
PDQ has been designed for simplicity, speed, and flexibility in play...
Q. What's this PDQ thing all about?
Again, to quote the ASMP website: "PDQ has been designed for simplicity, speed, and flexibility in play: three levels of resolution, suitable for any type of situation." PDQ stands for Prose Descriptive Qualities, your character is built from those qualities, which define your character in a way that is both broad enough to encompass many different challenges, yet specific enough to give shape to your character. There are no attributes, skills, feats or spells: only qualities.
To give an example, all Ninja Burger characters get the "Ninja" Quality by default, which allows them to basically do anything a ninja can do. What does that include? Well, use your imagination. Ninja can climb things, use swords, throw shuriken, hide in shadows, sneak around, and kill things, for starters. Rather than have six different skills to keep track of, the PDQ engine lets you roll it all into one. It makes for much faster character generation, streamlined combat scenarios, and simple gameplay that takes the emphasis off the dice and puts it back where it belongs -- in the minds of the players.
However, as hinted at earlier, the PDQ system doesn't railroad players into epic-length campaigns where they must negotiate with vampiric elders in gothy night clubs. Far from it. Ninja Burger is a silly game, and the PDQ engine allows that silliness to be used in a way that fits your gaming style. Whether you're looking for a game to play for an hour or two in-between sessions of another campaign, or you want a whole new game world to explore, the new Ninja Burger game has something to offer.
Q. So what's in the new Ninja Burger RPG?
Q. Besides ninja.
Well let's see. There are new ninja professions: cook, driver, deliverator, etc. There's a whole new section on Ninja Magic. There are five suggested Ninja Burger settings, each with their own quirks, oddities and effects on gameplay. There are lots of enemies, old and new: Pirate Pizza, Samurai Burger, and Monkeydonalds, for starters. There are robots and monkeys, and all new art. There's an entire campaign, complete with color maps, set in San Francisco, home to Ninja Burger Headquarters. There's an introductory adventure -- Fill Bill -- as well as four one-shot adventures to get you started.
(T)he Dispatcher is an active participant in the campaign...
The most exciting aspect of the new system is the role of the Dispatcher. More than just a Game Master or an NPC, the Dispatcher is an active participant in the campaign, a member of the team who can succeed or fail just like everyone else. It provides for a fluid, dynamic and exciting style of gameplay that involves everyone at the table.
Q. Is the new RPG compatible with the old 9th Level Games RPG, or the Ninja Burger Card Game from Steve Jackson Games?
The new Ninja Burger is not directly compatible with either game system; all three use different game mechanics. However, there is enough flexibility within the system to allow concepts from the other games to be easily brought into the new game system. One of the most popular examples are the "House Rules" from the original Ninja Burger RPG, such as the rule that penalizes players if they ever say "ninjas" instead of the more-correct "ninja" when referring to more than one ninja. Such a rule works equally well in the new system, if you find torturing your players amusing, like we do.
Q. Where will we be able to get the new Ninja Burger RPG?
The new Ninja Burger RPG will initially be made available online as a PDF download, through websites such as e23 and RPGNow. In the near future, we plan to also make it available as a Print-on-Demand item. We also have plans to do a press run, distributing the book through both online venues (Amazon) and traditional brick-and-mortar gaming stores.
The speed at which we do this will be based on a number of factors, not the least of which will be the success of the Ninja Burger Honorable Employee Handbook, which will be available in bookstores this summer.
Q. Where can we learn more?
For information about the Ninja Burger RPG, visit http://www.ninjaburger.com/rpg
For information about the PDQ system, visit http://www.atomicsockmonkey.com/