Ninja Academy Online – My Saviour of 2020

Over time it’s become more like a role playing family, but still…

So, ripping the band aid off, 2020 was rough. One of the hardest things I and I suspect a lot of other tabletop gamers found was the sudden loss of our beloved hobbies. But as many of you might know, a tabletop isn’t the only place you can get that dice rolling fix. Way back in the before-time, in 2014, an old gaming friend invited me to a website. The game we had originally played together was loosely based of Masashi Kishimoto’s hit manga and its subsequent anime Naruto. That show was absolutely my passion all through high school, hell I mod chipped my PS2 so I could buy the games from Japan before they came out in English. I was -that- level of dedicated.

This website looked fairly simple at first. A fan run community who typed up stories about pretending to be ninja in a universe they enjoyed. Nothing too special I’d seen more than a few similar sites in my days. My friend insisted I looked deeper, she knew I was a passionate writer (I was coming out of writing War of Ninja at the time) and enjoyed tabletop games, but forum roleplays had always missed one vital ingredient. Dice rolls. So she sent me a link.

Angelic music played when I first saw the magical words, Die Roller.

And sure, a computer programme that rolls dice ain’t anything special these days. We’ve got our discords and our tabletop simulators to handle this. But Ninja Academy has been something different. It’s a community, it’s a family. I get Christmas cards every year from one of the members of this site. Sure, they come mid January because the bulk of the site’s membership is in the states, but still! So when the plague came to our fair shores and opportunities to play these games dried up, many of us found comfort in this community. Yeah, I’ve been there for six years, other have been there over ten, but last year? It meant something more.

To a few people over the years at least.

The community pulled together, it was hard on a lot of us. The states have been an interesting place to live, the world has been an interesting place to live. But the community knit together, banded up and we got through it. It feels kind of strange saying my favourite game of 2020 was an online forum based on an anime I’ve been playing on for 6 years. Also feels kind of weird telling ATGN that my favourite game was a website. But it’s with good cause.

See, for a lot of people, the fun of a roleplaying campaign is the stories you build. Campaigns stretching months, even a year or two, are the stuff of pride and legend. But people move away, schedules change. A lot of us know a group that goes back that far, but we haven’t all had it. Hell I’ve had character sheets lost to water damage, and can’t quite remember every obscure magic item that made them who they were, thus they were lost. Ninja Academy hasn’t really had that problem for me. When we lost our friends, our games, NA was there. I run about with five characters spread across different villages, and have built a range of abilities and weapons of my own, this site is a homebrewer’s dream come true.

I for one most certainly wouldn’t dream of taking advantage of the literally boundless creative freedom.

And I think that there is the key to why I love this game so much. It’s got the feel of a serious sit down and play tabletop game, but the content comes from us, the players. If I want a new fireball, I don’t wait for the publisher to think of one for me I damn well go and make the thing myself. And it’s another avenue to sit down and crack out a few thousand words and just have a bit of fun. Building collaborative stories, celebrating our communal passion for interests that unite us. It’s been a rock through a hard year. I certainly don’t plan leaving any time soon, and I hope some of you might find the time to come join us one day.

Ninja Academy Online is an online roleplaying game based around Naruto, but long since taken into new directions by its players that’s been active for over a decade. New players are always welcome to come and join the incredible community that surrounds this game.

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