The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

The Martial Arts Munchkin

Over at Huge Ruined Pile Scott has an interesting post about more gamers taking martial arts training (particularly Asian martial arts training) than the general populace. I suspect this is because of the large overlap between gamers and martial arts movie fans.

Anyways, this got me thinking about a fight I kept having back in high school, where a new player would join my group, and immediately want to play a Ninja or a Samurai. I would say yes, then direct him to some rules pertaining to the class/kit he would want. Like clockwork, an incident would soon come up where the player wanted to do some super move that would instantly kill all the bad guys the group was fighting.

My response would always be “Where does it say you can do that on your character sheet?” Which without fail brought on the response of “Um, hello, I’m playing a ninja; that means I know ninjutsu. Of course, I can do a whirlwind attack of death.”

Even warning players during character creation that they were making a level one character, and if the class (or kit) wasn’t balanced in that regard I wouldn’t have let them pick it did nothing to help. Something about playing a character based on Asian history/mythology instead any other part of the world, made certain players feel they were entitled to super powers. It got so bad that eventually I just outright banned all things Asian from my games; classes, weapons, you name it – they all brought the same stigma.

Amusingly, after about 15 years this ban had become so second nature to me that I actual forgot the reason why it was in place. And so I finally decided to relax it a little in the past year or so. (I’m not welcoming new players into my group all the time any more, and I don’t think any of my current players would try this.)

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.


December 15, 2010 - Posted by | 2nd Edition, Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs | , , , , ,


  1. Honestly, I really think this is more of a problem with the type of players that typically like Ninjas and Samurai than Ninjas and Samurai themselves. It kind of burns me when I see posts like this: 1) I was born in Japan 2) I speak Japanese 3) My wife is a professional Kendo fighter and my wife’s family has Samurai in it that go back like 300 years. So, when I see gamers that have that initial reaction of GOD NO NINJAS! I usually get a bit iritated. Virtually every instance where a Ninja has been faulted has been a problem of the person wanting to play that character, not the character itself. Some people are strange. Some people are wierd. Don’t blame a bunch of character classes for some socially-stunted Naruto fans.

    So, I guess in closing. Good for you. Glad to hear that you have reversed your policy finally.

    Comment by Shinobicow | December 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. Meh, it’s more typical of movies and pop culture than anything. If there is no eastern style setting in your world, it makes perfect sense.

    Otherwise ninjas are basically the equivilant of special forces or other black ops (Not really a starting class) and Samurai are fighters, levels varying depending on training. Nothing super special about them other than being Japanese… and the Japanese hardly had a monopoly on badassedness within that timeframe, sorry to say.

    Comment by Grey | December 15, 2010 | Reply

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