5E Making a real Ninja in D&D


I would rather a "shadow assasin", a stealth class but with some maneuvers of the shadow hand school from "Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Sword". In my opinion samurai and ninja shouldn't be only subclasses but classes to be published in a future Oriental Adventures (is it now "Wuxia & Tokusatsu" because OA isn't enough politically correct?).


My son wanted to play a ninja in our last family campaign. He didn't want to multiclass, so I just put together a Assassin Rogue/Way of the Shadow Monk multiclass path for him. Re-flavor daggers and darts to kunai & shuriken as well as a bunch of other weapons - I even gave him a ribbon ability called 'makeshift weapons' that allowed him to pick up normal everyday (light) objects and wield them as proficient weapons (inspired by any number of kung-fu movies where the hero has to grab something at hand to defend him/herself).

There were a few other non-ninja things on the m/c path that I swapped out for homebrew abilities along the way too. The point is, it was easy to do, and he had his own 'ninja' class.
The problem with making a "real" ninja in any game setting is setting the definition. In the Legend of the Five Rings (AEG editions), ninja is a real class option that is limited to one clan. They fit the stereotypical ninja of Japanese lore, but their mystical powers are much more misdirection than actual magic. There are also the true ninja not aligned to any clan, which have magical powers granted by the Shadow, a mythical being that wants to unmake existence. Both are ninja, but they fit different definitions of the term.

Another problem is the fanboy issue. Look at how many people were upset that the katana was "only a longsword," rather than the uber weapon of destruction they feel it should be. Making a ninja in D&D would suffer the exact same thing, where they're supposed to be able to do everything, rather than being specialists (spy, assassin, saboteur, martial arts expert, etc.). Rogue can cover the first three specialists with different sub-classes, while shadow monk easily covers the last.


Well, if you look at the historical ninja instead of the 80s ninja, CHA would have to be a primary stat (deception and persuasion) and they'd do something like apply a damage die (similar to the monk damage die) to any improvised weapon and farming tools. They would have subclasses for spy, guerrilla warfare, and propaganda. So depending on the specialty, you'd have something like a monk/rogue hybrid, monk/ranger hybrid, or monk/enchanter (in fantasy terms) hybrid.

And anyone they fight named "Oda" would automatically score critical hits against a ninja ;)


A "real" ninja was just a Japanese person from an outcast-but-formerly-well-off family from a certain region (and a certain era) who trained in similar martial practices to other Japanese career soldiers of their day, but with (perhaps) a greater emphasis on infiltration/espionage and (some of the time) certain weapons that were otherwise not as common. As well as a lot of common weapons of the day.

So, sure... a rogue or a fighter. Monk's got too much magic to be real-world "historical". IMO.
As soon as you label anything as a "real ninja", be ready for a nerdstorm of epic proportions.
Not if you've followed Gajin Goomba and his series.

He means "real" as in historically accurate. What did they actually do, what equipment did they actually wear, what were the practices and philosophies they actually had in the clans.

For someone who isn't a professional scholar, he is very knowledgeable and polite about the subject (for the most part) and does a really good job breaking things down.

And to sign off

"Real Ninja wear Blue." :p

Sword of Spirit

Just in case anyone didn't know, the Way of Shadow monk explicitly, by name, says it is a ninja.

I understand that it might not be exactly what everyone wants in a ninja, but the impression that I get of some people completely not realizing the game already gives us a ninja just drives me bonkers. Those of you who already knew that, feel free to disregard my pet peeve.

Cap'n Kobold

Step one of creating a ninja: define the "ninja" you're creating. :)
Whether you're going for the historical operative skilled in gathering information and creating rumours, with the occasional act of sabotage, but little to no actual combat training.
Or the 80s martial artist wielding ninjato and shuriken.
Or the spellcasters from naruto.
Or whatever it means to you.

I don't think there is such a thing as a "real" ninja. Even right back at the start the myth was more important than the reality.
The person in the video did make the point that they were creating a character inspired by folklore as well as the pure history.


I don't think there is such a thing as a "real" ninja. Even right back at the start the myth was more important than the reality.
I guess it depends on what you want out of the word "real".

Ninjas certainly existed. BUT... just like spies exist, does not mean they're James Bond. I'm sure some of them were highly-skilled professionals while others were useless fools - because they were people. From a certain place and time, doing a certain job with a certain amount of training.

There aren't any Ninjas in the modern world, because modern equivalents have replaced them, just like Europe's Knights don't exist anymore (well, I mean, it's a title, and there's still career soldiers, but both are different).

Similarly, there are still teachers of "ninjitsu" - some of which are real, in that they teach well-researched traditional martial arts passed down from real people, but they're not "ninjas" either (they are teachers of martial arts for a living). There are also a lot of total phonies.