||I love the concept of this ninja rpg and I was enchanted enough to purchase it. I also really like to support small game companies where possible so there is a nice synergy.
However, there are a few glaring problems that keep this product from being a truly great product:
1. There are glaring grammatical errors, that sometimes make it difficult to understand what the writer was even intending to say (sometimes seems as though not written by an English speaker). The designers seriously need spell check and a decent editor on this product. I, for one, find them so glaring it would be worth putting out a revised edition.
2. The dice mechanics are essentially a variation on the OGL that are made overly complex - instead of Reflex, Fortitude, Will we are given specific Fear, Insanity, Flexibility, Balance, etc... checks resulting in a complex series of bonuses. While not specifically a problem, it seems like the needless level of complexity that the OGL was designed to eliminate. Also there is a surplus of bonuses when compared to target numbers that seems to make the dice rolling irrelevant.
3. The rules for Chi (a key mana source in the game) are not sufficiently explained. For example - if your Chi becomes "depleted" it can cause personality changes, yet some Elemental Souls (aka alignment) begin with 0 Yin or Yang Chi. As the rules read, there is no way for these characters to not be depleted. It is also not clear as to exactly how overall Chi level is calculated for purposes of buying Wu Shu (spells). For such an essential (use several times per session/fight) mechanic the writers definitely should have given Chi more elaboration.
4. As with the White Wolf system it is copied from, the Wu Shu system has grievous disparity of power. For example "Way of Heaven's Judgement" provides 4 different overlapping Wu Shu for determining truth, but only 2 Wu Shu that might help in combat, and those might never help the character unless chasing a guilty individual. By contrast "Way of Great Serpents" is filled with 7 different Wu Shu that help a character in combat.
5. There is very little in the way of a money/purchase/resouce system, the system relies on GM decision in "giving appropriate gear" based on Class. Considering how important shuriken, weapons, clothing, costumes, and gadgets are to the ninja this is a poor choice.
6. The world description is nice, but as with most of the "Game master" section there is insufficient adversaries. The only actually intelligent "villain" is the Empire, and they are described vaguely at best - for example there is no description of how the government functions (Does it use Daimyo's, Judges, Samurai, Lords?) and most notably there is no "arch villain" such as a powerful evil ninja or clever Oni. Also it seems that the Empire is surrounded by nations that are either weak or are allied, so there is little to indicate that could/would employ ninja against the empire.
7. Highly complex character creation will involve needing multiple books to create characters as there are 3 different shopping elements in character creation (Skills, Wu Shu, Bonus Points) that will likely involve intense reading. Esimated time for character creation with an experienced group 2-4 hours.
All that being said, I have been having fun contstructing my own variation of the campaign setting and there is alot of originality in this game.
[3 of 5 Stars!]