After a certain point it became impossible to not have ninjas and other Asian-style warriors in your role-playing game. It didn’t matter if the game was set in the distant past, the modern present, or the predicted future (or all three at once, like World of Synnibarr), you needed to make sure someone at the table could specify that no, his warrior has a Tanto, not a mere dagger.
Table 70 on page 104 gives a good example of what a ninja offers the game. It’s a list of hand-held weapons, and among the choices are “Sword, long” and “Sword, long samurai”. What’s the difference?
Well, the samurai version costs four times as much for starters ($200 vs $50). For that extra cash outlay you get a weapon which has fewer life points (can be damaged easier) and weighs one pound less. That’s it. Oh, well there is a footnote that says that Amazons and Ninjas do 100-1000 life points of damage with this weapon instead of the 100-800 points everyone else does with it (and which the standard long sword does.)
Comparing the “sword, short” and “sword, short samurai” yields similar results. While the samurai version only costs twice as much as the roundeye version ($50 vs $25), it similarly has much fewer life points, weighs only a pound less, and does only moderately more damage (100-800 vs. 100-600. 200 points may seem like a lot, but this is Synnibarr, so divide everything by 100 to get an idea what you’re really working with.) Ninjas and Amazons don’t get any additional benefit.
In addition, to even use these “special” weapons requires the Martial Art Weapons skill, so on top of the monetary cost there’s the fact that you have to spend a skill slot.
We all know, though, that the costs are worth it to that certain gamer who wants to play a ninja. This is a rare moment where Synnibarr seems to be toying with its fans instead of pandering to them.
This post is not intended to foster any belief in the occult.