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Underkoffler's Overview: Ninja Burger Honorable Employee Handbook - I Have Powers
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Underkoffler's Overview: Ninja Burger Honorable Employee Handbook
I've finally had a chance to read this book; here are my brief impressions. This is not a review, per se -- you probably won't get much out of Underkoffler's Overview if you haven't read the book. What you will get is my opinions on the Negative, the Positive, and the Verdict.

[ Underkoffler's Overviews Archive ]

Ninja Burger Honorable Employee Handbook
Written by Michael (Aeon) Fiegel, et al./aeforge

Website: [ http://ninjaburger.com/heh/ ]
Reviews: None yet.

The Negative

  • Not What You Might Think It Is. From the product's webpage: "While this makes the perfect supplement to your Ninja Burger RPG or Card Game, this is not an RPG product. It's a real guide to the real inner workings of Ninja Burger." I just wanted to state that for the record, because some customers might not see that, yes, really, They Mean It.
  • Or Is It? Look at p. 24: they mention "levels." While probably a joke, these bits seemed awful "game-y" (not "gamy" -- we reserve that for the burgers themselves).
  • Or Should It Be? This product actually screams out to be -- and, I believe it was -- intended to be used as an in-character prop. . . and would benefit from even just one page discussing how to use it in an NB game. It's a fantastic game aid/accessory for PCs to quote chapter and verse from to screw their teammates or rivals (thinking of Red Dwarf's Arnold Rimmer here, and his penchant for quoting Space Directives, with a touch of Paranoia for flavor); I just wish they'd done a little meta-discussion to enable in-game use.
  • No Monkeys. While the NBHEH deals with ninja, pirates, robots, and others, one important group is ignored: Monkeys. The word doesn't even appear in the book. This is an unforgivable sin, in Some People's Eyes. (snif) Edit: aeforge notes an error of fact: there is a monkey (possibly a pirate monkey) pictured on page 6. Let me amend this to "no mention of monkeys in the text."
  • A Little More of The Funny. While there's at least one worthwhile joke on every page, sometimes, the one joke kind of floats in the middle of recycled and reworked real employee handbook text. These light pages -- while relatively few over the course of the work -- did really need to bring a bit more of The Funny. The tone of the work also fluctuates a bit, between flat-out, self-aware wackiness and Taking the Joke Too Seriously; it's mildly uneven, which can be distracting -- but this unevenness may only be a feature of someone really paying close attention.

The Positive

  • Generally Funny. Despite the last Negative above, the NBHEH is generally pretty damn amusing overall. I enjoyed reading through it, only slowing on the rare "only one joke, too straightforward" pages.
  • Great Handout. Copies of this passed out to new NB players would be a real win. . . especially in demo or con-game situations. It's a brilliant idea. Sets the tone pretty well, looks nice, and cute to take home and show the home group.
  • Amusing Art. I really liked the style(s) of the illustrations within. Each piece has a slightly different take, but the overwhelming majority are Big Funny. And, interestingly, while the art styles vary, they all keep the tone of self-aware ninja humor pretty solid... I'd even say better than the text does.
  • Funny Footnotes. Every footnote in the work -- and there are a lot -- is genuinely funny. This is a hard thing to pull off that looks like it'd be easy. But footnote jokes can often fall flat. The NBHEH sets and keeps a high standard for these jokes in the margin.
  • Looks Nice. This is a fine looking, decently laid-out PDF. I didn't feel cheated by the production values. Some spiffy cut-outs, too.

The Verdict

  • This supplement is worth purchasing if you play a Ninja Burger game, or if you're the sort of person who has bought or would buy Real Ultimate Power: the Official Ninja Book. While the NBHEH doesn't hit the high-energy insanity of Hamburger's opus, it's still a fun -- and quick -- read. The comparison between these two works is somewhat apt: comparing the two may give one pause: NBHEH is $10.00 in PDF and 92 pages; RUP:TNB is $10 paperback and 193 pages. Again, if the good folks at NB could generate a page or two freebie on their site for how to use this in the NB RPG and card game (and then bind it into the back of the PDF while keeping it at the same price), this issue would be somewhat obviated, at least for me.

Check it out.

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