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Tabletop Game / Ninja Burger

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Ninja Burger is a non-collectible card game produced under license by Steve Jackson Games. It is based on the Ninja Burger website. The players are delivery ninjas for the Ninja Burger fast food chain, trying to be promoted to Branch Manager. There are three different ways this can happen, but they all add up to "have a higher Honor than anyone else". How does a ninja gain Honor? By successfully delivering tasty Ninja Burger meals to their honorable customers, some of which live in the strangest locations around (in 30 minutes or less).

There are three separate decks in the set:

  • Ninja: The smallest deck, these cards have a short description of each ninja and their skills. Some ninja have special abilities as well; for instance, Neko Otome will never fail a Climbing skill roll. To start the game, each player is dealt three ninja cards, and picks one to play.
  • Mission: Where will you be taking a tasty Ninja Burger meal this round? The Ninja Burger corporation prides itself on being able to deliver anywhere, from a remote desert island to the International Space Station to a nuclear submarine on maneuvers. Each delivery will have two or three associated skill rolls that must be made for the delivery to be a success. Success earns you Honor points, and failure makes you lose them. (If your Honor ever drops to zero, you must apologize to your ancestors — in person. You have to draw a new Ninja card and start over.)
    • For example, if you're delivering to that nuclear submarine, you will need to make three rolls. First, your choice of an Animals roll or a Swimming roll (do you hitch a ride on a dolphin, or swim out to the sub yourself?). Second, a Computers roll to hack the airlock door. Third, a Stealth roll (at a -1 penalty due to the tight quarters) to remain unseen while making the delivery.
    • Some of the Mission cards describe Errands that your ninja has been assigned. Don't ask why your franchise has a pet leopard, get the leash and take Kitty for her walk. These normally bring less Honor (if any), but you can sometimes palm them off on another ninja with a lower Honor than yours.
  • Fortune: The final deck is a mix of cards. Some can be played on yourself to give you bonuses to your skill rolls. "Ninja Stuff" cards will also give you bonuses, but you need to pay for them out of your salary before you can play them. Finally, "Interesting Times" cards are played on your opponent to make their deliveries harder.

The expansion set, Ninja Burger 2: Sumo-Size Me!, adds three new types of Fortune cards. "New Menu Items" require an additional roll before the delivery is a success, but increases the reward. "Enhancers" provide an extra boost to your Ninja Stuff. If you have, say, the Combat Spatula (+1 to your Combat skill), you can make it Wasabi-Coated and boost the bonus to +2. "Goal" cards let ninjas earn additional Honor.

The tabletop RPG was created before the game, and was built on the same engine as Kobolds Ate My Baby (otherwise known as the "Beer and Pretzels Engine", called as such because of the extremely casual nature it was geared towards).

The game has the character take on the role of a Delivery Ninja for the eponymous restaurant. Death is Cheap in the Ninja Burger world, and the game is designed under the assumption that your ninja is going to die several times for campaign, only to be replaced by a new ninja on the same mission (though the player must create a haiku about their previous ninja before being allowed to roll up a new one).

There is no real level system, as your ninja isn't likely to last long enough to gain any levels anyway. All ninjas carry all possible equipment (though items can only be grabbed via a random item roll), and every ninja is theoretically able to perform all magics (though the task is easier for any ninja with a high Ki score).

The focus of the game is stealth, where being seen at all is a harsh penalty... in addition to losing an honor point (represented by ten fingers), the player must also roll on a random punishment chart, several of which kill the character automatically (and some that kill everything in a ten foot radius to boot).

Aside from ways to die horribly, the game also allows bonuses. For example, rolling two 1's on a die roll turns your character into Snake Eyes (yes, from G.I. Joe) with bonuses on all dice rows... with the caveat that the player isn't allowed to speak at all, or he loses the bonuses. Also, shouting a Battle Cry when attacking also grants a bonus, though the game recognizes this is antithetical to the whole endeavor.

This game features examples of:

  • Acrofatic: One character abuses his employee discount and is grossly overweight, "only capable of climbing as well as Olympic athletes", and has the lowest climb skill in the game.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Beneficial Fortune cards can be used at practically any time, even during a mission. Say, if you miss your roll by two, but a Ninja Stuff card in your hand can boost your skill by two, you can buy it right then and there, turning the miss into a hit.
  • Chandler's Law: The RPG version of the game features a chart to randomly provide sudden violence to spice up a mission.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Lampshaded, the Employee's Handbook warns against the trope.
  • Critical Hit: You roll low to hit, and if you hit 3 or 4 on a 3d6, you get an Honor bonus.
  • Deadly Euphemism: A ninja who loses all their honor "apologizes to their ancestors - in person". If the total honor in the game drops too low, the Branch Manager has to do this, creating an endgame condition.
  • Frying Pan of Doom:
    • The spatula is as deadly as the Ninja Burger Official Wakazashi.
    • The "Wok the Casbah" card features a ninja dual wielding woks.
  • Gang of Hats: The Ninja Burger universe not only features the titular ninja burger joint but other combative fast food companies such as Pirate Pizza, Samurai Burger, and Banditos Burritos.
  • GMPC: In the RPG, the dispatcher watches the PCs on closed circuit cameras and provides them with hints and assistance as required.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The arch-rivals of Ninja Burger are the white ninjas, legendary masters of stealth...who wear bright white suits.
  • Insistent Terminology: Expect to see the terms "tasty Ninja Burger meal" and "honorable customer" a whole bunch of times in the card game.
  • Killer Game Master: Similar to Paranoia, the RPG is designed to be very death-prone. Simply being seen by an NPC can result in being forced to commit seppuku.
  • Loophole Abuse: There's a card that allows you to use your highest skill on any skill check, provided you can think up a plausible (for certain values of "plausible") way to apply that skill in this situation. For sufficiently creative players, it's a total Game-Breaker... assuming the others at the table let them get away with it.
  • Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes: In theory, all these ninjas do with their awesome ninja powers is deliver fast food. However, they need all of their skills to perform seemingly impossible deliveries such as to a submarine at the bottom of the ocean while avoiding being seen by anyone except the customer.
  • McNinja: A ninja-run fast food chain.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Fast food delivery boy ninjas.
  • Non-Action Guy: The dispatcher.
  • Not So Harmless Punishment: Apologizing to your ancestors is a lot harder than it sounds.
  • Panthera Awesome: The restaurant has a pet leopard who must be walked. Why they own a leopard is not explained.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The lampshade and the "Not a Ninja" t-shirt are beautifully pathetic disguises.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The "Not a Ninja" t-shirt with functions as a disguise.
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: "Delivery in 30 minutes or we commit seppuku. For anybody and anywhere, such as to lost hikers, monks in Tibetan monasteries, or the President aboard Air Force One. It's also based on Greenwich Mean Time for locations in geosynchronous orbit.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Played with. People should be surprised at the sight of a leopard being walked around town, but you make a disguise roll so that they don't see a ninja walking a leopard around town.
  • With Catlike Tread: You gain a bonus to attacks if you shout an impressive Battle Cry during combat, despite being a ninja who is honor-bound to die if detected during a delivery.