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From the shadow.

















Ninja are highly trained specialists, experts in the art of infiltration, invisibility, and combat. Though the average ninja is a capable killer, not all ninja are assassins. There are a number of different roles that a ninja can fulfill. The following section describes several of these roles in detail:

Assassin: To many, the term “ninja” is synonymous with assassin. Though the talents of the ninja are supremely suited for stealthy and efficient killing, ninja assassins are relatively rare compared to the number of ninja spies. The idea of quietly murdering one’s enemy is so anathema to the code of Bushido that only the most dishonorable or most desperate daimyo employ them.

Ninja assassins have nevertheless become the subject of many a legend. The reason for this is simple: A ninja spy might live his entire career in obscurity; his enemies may never realize that their enemy’s ability to predict their every action was the result of well-placed ninja. An assassin always leaves a victim behind. Even those assassins clever or talented enough to make their handiwork appear to stem from natural causes may rouse panic and suspicion with the death of an important enemy.

An added danger for the ninja assassin is from his own daimyo. An assassin who kills for his lord, no matter how honorable his intent, is still a murderer and his daimyo is an accomplice to that murder. To prevent having to pay the cost for the ninja’s crimes, a ninja’s daimyo may seek to silence the assassin as well. A daimyo who would stoop to utilizing assassins may think very little of disposing of them when the task is done, so a clever ninja should be cautious when dabbling in this line of work.
None of the great samurai families admit to using assassins. The Shosuro have a number of skilled ninja trained in the art of killing, but this is a carefully defended secret of the Scorpion.

Bounty Hunter: The bounty hunter capitalizes on the vendettas of others, tracking down fugitives for their enemies, their masters, or simply for justice. The best bounty hunters are the ones who can stay emotionally detached from either their employers or their quarry-although bounty hunters who hate their prey often make more spectacular kills.

Not all bounty hunters kill. Some employers reserve that pleasure for themselves, or plan to give the quarry a more or less fair trial. Some bounty hunters have reservations about taking lives unnecessarily. Regardless of his methods, a bounty hunter still has to produce the quarry in order to receive payment. Overkill is generally not a good idea.

Whether working alone or in groups, bounty hunters revel in the thrill of the hunt. Given the nature of their work, it goes without saying that few bounty hunters die of boredom.

Guardian: Most daimyo have many samurai yojimbo charged with protecting their lord from assassins. However, sometimes it is more useful to have unseen defenders. The best defense against the unique talents of a ninja is, of course, another ninja. Those trained to watch and kill from the shadows are also suited to defending against enemy assassins.

Guardian ninja shadow their lord invisibly, sometimes allowing it to appear as if their charge is entirely unprotected so that the enemy will show his hand. The most talented ninja guardians are never seen or heard, disposing of threats without even disturbing their charges.

Though only the Crane and Scorpion clans consistently train such guardians, they are hardly the only samurai protected by them. A samurai wise enough to ally himself with the Daidoji or Bayushi family may find himself protected by such guardians, whether or not he knows that they are there…

Saboteur: As with the thief, few ninja devote their entire careers to sabotage. Usually, a saboteur is a spy or thief presented with the proper opportunity. Some ninja orders (including one aong the Bayushi family) train their students extensively in the arts of sabotage. These ninja are experts in engineering and pyrotechnics as well as stealth. A team of such ninja can rapidly disable an enemy's fortifications and escape before the damage is discovered.

Spy: The original ninja were created by a single command from the Hantei: "Watch." This established the fist and most important role of the ninja — the spy. An agent wit hthe skill to slip behind enemy lines, learn the enemy's secrets, and escape unnoticed is an extremely valuable retainer. There are many mmore ninja spies than any other sort of ninja. Espionage is a fine way to utilize a ninja's unique skills, and is both less risky and less dishonorable than assassination.

The legendary ronin general Sun Tao praised the use of spies in warfare; when use discreetly, they can end a way befoe the death toll on either side becomes too high. However, the general also urged caution when employing such agents, as spies are inherently untrustworthy. (In some translations of the Book of Sun Tao, he seems to condine killing the spy one his work is done. Most Lion scholars believe that this is an inaccurate translation, and the great general would never condone such a horrible act.)

To some degree, all clans use spies. Of course, some clans would not publicly admit such a thing, and almost none of them would ever call their spies "ninja." Spies are found most frequently among the Ikoma, Daidoji, and Bayushi families.

Thief: With their talent in infiltrating hostile areas, ninja make extremely talented thieves. Few ninja focus entirely on theft; most ninja thieves are simply spies in the right place at the right time. Ninja thieves are o common burglars — their objectives are generally more important than mere wealth. A ninja thief may be commissioned to steal an enemy's battle plans, shame an enemy family by stealing a valued heirloom, or even to recover a stolen item.

Ninja thieves are common among the Goju family. They freqently dispatch their operatives to steal holy relics and other valuables from the Great Clans, often for no reason other than it amuses the Goju to do so.