Your Morning Head (PM Edition): Role Playing Animals with/without Weapons, pt 1

Anybody else disturbed by the fact that he chose to wear a shirt, but no pants?

The great thing about Fear the Boot is that I often disagree with them, which gives me stuff to write about here.   And when I say ‘often,’ I mean ‘all-the-time.’  So no shortage of content here at IoM.

In last week’s curiously well-timed episode that dropped Friday instead of its usual Wednesday and that I didn’t listen to until today (deep gulp of air), the guys talk about role playing animals.  Not animals that role play, but people playing animals as characters in a role playing game.  Just thought that needed clarification.

They take the subject from two angles.

They examine animals, not anthropomorphized animals such as Mickey Mouse, but animals absent thumbs.  And… well… pants (looks uncomfortably to the left).

Playing an animal

Dan asks the question, “What if somebody made a role playing game based on Watership Down?”  Disregard the fact that someone already has.  It’s called Bunnies and Burrows and it’s a hoot.

gurps_bunnies_and_burrows1I suppose it’s more accurate to say Bunnies and Burrows is inspired by Watership Down, an epic tale of faith and unlikely heroes.  Watership Down chronicles the journey of a group of rabbits (regular rabbits with no thumbs) venturing forth from the comfort of their home to forge a new life. Other than the fact that the rabbits are fully intelligent and that they have their own mythology, they are otherwise normal rabbits faced with the same terrors that other rabbits endure.

The ‘Booters limit the concerns of animals to “Food, F*ck, & Fight,” a limitation I largely disagree with.  Nevermind that most RPGs are just about Fight, observations of any number of animal species will reveal a strong play instinct as well as a need for companionship.

“There’s not a whole lot going on there,” Dan describes.  “If I was playing in a game where everyone is an animal… A game where we’re a wolf pack?  I really don’t see that lasting more than one or two sittings before it gets really boring.”

Hello, unimaginative much?

Off the top of my head, I can think of several game hooks for such a setting:

  • Young wolves coming up in age, learning the ropes, working under a cruel Alpha determined to one day lead the pack and do things different!
  • The Alpha is dead, now the battle for leadership begins… who will win?  And can the new Alpha hold onto the role?
  • Other wolves encroaching on territory/encroaching on the territory of other wolves.
  • Hunters! Developers!
  • Raising a human child as part of the pack
  • Moving the pack into or through a city-scape.

I’ve described at least four sessions right there complete with lots of conflict and problem solving. There’s a lot of opportunity here.  And while I’ve not spent a great deal of time entertaining such a notion, I could make this an effective campaign setting.

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Tomorrow?  Role playing anthros!

4 comments on “Your Morning Head (PM Edition): Role Playing Animals with/without Weapons, pt 1Add yours →

  1. I know the purpose of blogging is to write, but I’ve consolidated your article to its root parts:

    “Dan asks the question, “What if somebody made a role playing game based on Watership Down?” Disregard the fact that someone already has. Hello, unimaginative much?”

  2. The flaw in the argument comes when you assert that the animals are intelligent but are still confined to basic animal needs and instincts. If the animals have human-like intellect then they have human-like needs, desires, dreams, vices, the whole thing. It’s merely a shift in perspective. What are the dangers of your world? What do you strive to achieve? What is your potential? The answers to those questions and others like them can lead to something truly incredible.

    …say like Mouse Guard.

  3. I’ll have to listen to the episode before I can make a qualified statement. Luckily the internet allows me to make an unqualified one right now 😉

    Seems to me that they’ve confined themselves immediately with the three F’s in much the same way as they did with the concept of evil. Being an animal doesn’t mean that there is no concept of rivalry, jealousy, murder etc

    I remember watching a documentary about a pride of lions that specialised in living/hunting in the flooded swamps. A key mystery was the low survival rate of the pride’s cubs, which seemed to be killed at an abnormal rate by unknown predators.

    Turned out that the eldest female was the culprit and for years she’d been systematically murdering cubs when she found a chance to sneak off from a hunt. She was going to kill another lot when the other lions returned and the mother recognised the intent written in the elders body language.

    There’s a murder mystery right there!

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