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FROA1 Ninja Wars (2e)
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FROA1 Ninja Wars (2e)

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Behold The Shining Temple of Bishamon!

Located above the city of Aru on the island nation of Wa, this shrine is the focus of a great pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of people travel here to celebrate the Ceremony of the Three Thousand Steps. For townsfolk and travelers alike, it is a time of great celebrations and revelry.

For Benju Matsutomo, Daimyo of Aru, it is a time of worry and concern. Something is wrong this year. A political rival has hired a clan of ninja to disrupt the pilgrimage and disgrace Matsutomo. But the daimyo has his own ninja, and just to be safe, he decides to hire a party of adventurers to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Of course, it doesn't?

Product History

FROA1: "Ninja Wars" (1990), by Nigel Findley, is the one-and-only "FROA" Forgotten Realms Oriental Adventures scenario. It was published in December 1990.

Origins (I): Ending the Last OA Trilogy. After going missing for a year and a half, the Oriental Adventures "OA" scenarios returned in 1990 with OA6: "Ronin Challenge" (1990) and OA7: "Test of the Samurai" (1990). FROA1: "Ninja Wars" (1990) sure looks like the finale to that trilogy. It's again named after one of the martial classes of Kara-Tur and it appeared just four months after "Test of the Samurai".

Surprisingly, "Ninja Wars" doesn't continue the (very loose) storyline of the the previous two adventures … and more notably it's marked with a new module code, "FROA". This suggests TSR's desire to support Kara-Tur by connecting it even more tightly to the Forgotten Realms … but it'd actually be the last gasp for the "Oriental Adventures" line.

Origins (II): Ending the Oriental Adventures. "Ninja Wars" effectively marked the end of the line that began with Oriental Adventures (1985) and ran through seven "OA" adventures (1986-1990), Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988), TM5: "Kara-Tur Trail Map" (1989), and MC6: "Monstrous Compendium Kara-Tur Appendix" (1990). Altogether, the setting line totaled an even dozen books — not including the closely related Horde subsetting.

The Horde got one last hoorah in FR12: "Horde Campaign" (1991), but Kara-Tur itself was already fading from importance in the Realms. The only major return has been in Faces of Deception (1998), by Troy Denning, the second novel in the "Lost Empires" series.

In later years, Kara-Tur has been frequently referenced in Realms material. It was even verified as part of the 5e Realms in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015), but since the publication of "Ninja Wars" it hasn't been the focus of a major gaming supplement. In fact, the "Campaign Classics" in Dragon #315 (January 2004) offered one of the few returns of any size, in an article: "Ancestor Feats and Martial Arts Styles".

Adventure Tropes. "Ninja Wars" is an event-driven sandbox. Like most of the adventures of the '90s, it's heavy on story. It enforces this through a twenty-four act storyline that unfolds over time. However, players don't actually have to be present for the events, making them more a listing of happenings than an actual railroad. There's also considerable room for agency: because the GM is provided with a broad overview of the area and even some mini-adventures to change things up, he can give the players the opportunity to act and react to these events as they see fit.

Exploring Kara-Tur. "Ninja Wars" is set in Wa, the unified Japan that was previously the setting of OA4: "Blood of the Yakuza" (1987). Where the previous adventure was set in the large port-city of Nakamaru, on the north end of Wa, "Ninja Wars" is set in a small, remote town called Aru, which gets very extensive detailing (and even a map) in this supplement. Aru is some ways from Nakamaru, about a third of the way down the island's west coast.

Despite the new use of the "FROA" module code, this is still a pure Kara-Tur adventure with no particular ties to the west.

About the Creators. "Ninja Wars" was one of five different TSR books that freelancer Findley wrote in 1990 (while simultaneously working for FASA and Mayfair).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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File Last Updated:
March 19, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on March 21, 2017.