I’m not going to go through every detail of the rules, because that would be even more boring to read than it would be for me to describe.
Basically, in every combat you can choose to punch, kick or throw your opponent. To succeed, you need to roll higher than their ‘defence’ on two dice. Kicking does more damage, but it is generally harder to succeed. After each attempt, your opponent tries to perform surgery upon your ninja self. You get 20 ‘Endurance’ points, which reduce as you get stabbed, punched, bruised etc etc. You can try to ‘block’ these attacks with the iron bars (!!) sewn into your sleeves (!) if you choose.
Throws don’t cause damage in and of themselves, but render your opponent vulnerable to a follow-up strike.
The kicks, punches and throws have absolutely awesome names like Cobra Strike, Leaping Tiger and Dragon’s Tail. There’s a great series of diagrams showing all the moves, and warning that attempts to imitate by untrained persons can result in injury or death.
You have no idea how fascinating this all was to a twelve-year-old.
Over the adventure, you can gain various training or magical advantages that add to your dice rolls (or injuries that subtract from them). These are known as ‘modifiers’.
You also make ‘Fate’ dice rolls from time to time to see how lucky you are.
Initially you have to choose which three particular ‘ninja skills’ you have learned during your training. Some of the possible choices are (relatively) pedestrian such as Climbing, Feigning Death, Arrow Cutting and so forth. The single most amazing skill was ‘Poison Needles’. This was, I kid you not, the ability to put a poisoned needle into your mouth (!!!) and spit it at your opponent. It was ridiculous but fantastic at the same time.
You have the usual ninja arsenal, including black costume, food, flint and tinder, flash-band powder etc etc and one dose of super-strong poison called the ‘Blood of Nil’ (seriously, this series had the best names).
Finally, you have the bad-ass ninja power of ‘Inner Force’. If you decide to use it (supplies are limited to 5 ‘points’) you double the damage of that kick, punch or whatever.
On to your character’s story!