Jan 162013

EDIT: The game is live! Ge the PnP for free, or purchase the boxed edition! See the Ninja – Silent but Deadly page to find out more!


Yesterday was an odd day for me. I experienced something that I hadn’t ever experienced before. I had the time, energy and creative drive to create an entire game, from concept to prototyping in exactly 13 hours. It started off as a joke and ended up with a $11 item that I’m hoping other folks will find entertaining enough to try out.

The joke

Yesterday on Google Plus I made a quick joke about a game called Ninja! It’s a nicely designed box that you present to a gamer friend. When they open it up, they find … nothing! It’s completely empty. Then, an hour, day or week later, they’ll discover a card sitting on their pillow with a picture of a ninja and the words “You Lose!” on it. They’ve just lost at the game Ninja!


You just lost at Ninja – Silent but Deadly!

The idea made me chuckle. Hell, it still makes me chuckle and the more I thought about it, the more I thought of what could be done with it. So on the train ride home I started furiously and badly typing into Google Drive. Once I returned home, I found my wife occupied with things and my kids occupied with other things. So I had the rarest or rarities in my home – six additional hours of uninterrupted design time. I posted the joke around 10am. I finished uploading templates and placed my order for a prototype shortly before 10pm. So here it is – I give you the story of Ninja – Silent but Deadly! Here you will find the complete draft instructions for playing the game, and a good idea of what it’s all about.

Ninja – Silent but Deadly!

Ninjas! Their very name conjures images of black clad, highly trained assassins. Or pictures on the internet of a bunch of empty chairs with captions like “Ninja convention LOL”. Now, the mystique, the power, the meme can be yours to use as you see fit.

How to Ninja

Ninja – Silent but Deadly is more than just a game. It’s a prank delivery system. A tiny little piece of tabletop gaming art. A meta-game to be played in the background, silently, with ninja like skills.

There are several ways to use these cards and this game box that are listed here, and most likely a hundred more that have not been thought of yet. Here you’ll find four suggestions on how to use Ninja! Silent but Deadly.

The back of the card.

The back of the card.

Basic Ninja

You’ve gotten your gamer friend a gift! A brand new game called Ninja! The box looks promising but there’s not much in the way of description on it. When your friend opens the box, they’ll find… nothing! An empty box.

The next part is up to you. In an hour, a day, a week… even a month, one of the You Lose! cards originally included in the box will suddenly appear where your friend can easily find it. They’ve just lost at Ninja – Silent but Deadly!

Ninja Advance

Perfect for a game night, casual party or other social gatherings. In this meta-game all of the players are aware of Ninja – Silent but Deadly. Hand out one You Lost! card to every player. Each player has until the end of the game session to slip their card somewhere where another player will be forced to find it. Amongst other cards of a game currently in play, in their chips or what have you. Be creative! When a ninja card it’s found by another player, that player is out.

Advanced Ninja Advance

Use the same setup as Ninja Advance, but with this twist. Players can accumulate more than one You Lose! card during the course of the event. They can also distribute more than one, should they have them. Again, be creative! The player with the least amount of You Lose cards at the end of the event wins.

Hardcore Advanced Ninja Advance

The Ninja – Silent but Deadly game that may never end. Distribute one You Lose card to each player. Players may not give these cards to other players that day. Starting 24 hours after each player has received their cards, Hardcore Advanced Ninja Advance begins!

It is up to each player to get their You Lose! card to another player. It must be given to them in a way in which they won’t know it’s a You Lose! card until they are holding it in their hands. Wrap it up as a birthday present, include it in a seemingly still sealed CCG booster pack, be creative in how you get it into their hands!

Points are awarded by the person who’s received the You Lose! card based on the following scale.

  • They got the card to me, but it wasn’t all that creative. 1 point.
  • Oh you! I should have guessed! 2 points. 
  • How the… did you have to hire that person? 3 points.
  • I never, in a million years would have thought a card was in that! 4 points.
  • Mr President? What are you doing here… with a card in your hand? 5 points.
The box template.

The box template.

Now what?

Once I get the prototype into my greedy little hands, I have to decide what to do with this thing. Gauging by initial interest, it looks like people are interested and may even be willing to go out and purchase something like this. Here’s what I plan to do with it.

The game will be available in three flavors, as follows:

  • A free to own, free to play PDF that you can download and then print out. It’ll be CC licensed with the least restrictive licensing scheme.
  • A “Cards Only” version which should be available for under $5 including shipping and handling.
  • An Epic Ninja edition, including a custom designed box, into which you can place your 10 cards and use for the original prank. This will cost $10.99 plus shipping.

And that’s where I am now!

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  4 Responses to “Ninja – Silent but Deadly! A new ‘game’ that aims to be inexpensive and fun and can be used as a simple prank or a years long challenge”

  1. What a delicious metagame, Ben!

    • Thanks Alf! I’m hoping to get a few copies printed up and ready to go before Total Confusion XXVII this February so I can show it around.

      I’ll get a copy out your way too and you can Ninja your friends and family.

  2. Awesome idea, and too good not to share. Count on me to grab at least the free copy.

    • Awesome! I’m finalizing the Print and Play version over the next day or so. Most of the edits to the rule book have been finished and I just need to tweak the printable cards a slight bit.

      It’ll all be one PDF, 4 pages, two of which are the cards. Once I have the boxed edition complete, I’ll get the Print and Play version on to DTRPG for free.

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