Sunday, 5 April 2009

No I am not a 'Furry', but I do like mice with swords

I just wanted to make my non-'Furry'ness absolutely clear. I do, however, have an odd liking for animal fantasy. I was just the right age - about 11 - to enjoy the Redwall series in its early heyday (I stopped after about the fifth or sixth book; there are now nineteen, apparently) and ever since then I've had a fondness for that weirdest of fantasy genres. I recently tried to reread the first Redwall book and couldn't get into it - it was written pre-Harry Potter, i.e. in the days when books for adolescents really were books for adolescents. But I think Duncton Wood has stood the test of time for grown-ups - being very dark and bloody, and very strange, as befits a book about sentient moles. (Give it a try before sniggering.)

Anyway, it seems that the Burning [X] crowd's newish game Mouse Guard has been set up to scratch that particular itch. It's apparently based on a comic (which as you might know I absolutely don't read - unless you're talking about Garfield, Dilbert, Asterix or Tintin). I'm not a big fan of the whole Burning Wheel thing, though I have flirted with the game and own its original iteration. I do however like the look of Mouse Guard, and might actually make a purchase - especially since this is specifically sold as a simplified version of BW.

Really though I'm not sure that there isn't anything about animal fantasy that couldn't be based on a free game like Risus or, heck, Swords & Wizardry. (I think I wrote recently about an idea for insectoid-animal-fantasy using S&W? I can't be bothered to find the post.) Really all you need is the suspension of disbelief and a willingness not to snigger, and to replace 'elf' and 'dwarf' and 'human' with things like 'mouse', 'rat' or 'otter'. A project worth thinking about, perhaps. We already have Ruins & Ronin and Fantasy Wild West. Why not Mice & Mazes? Lagomorphs & Labryinths? Hyraxes & Hydras? No takers?


  1. The most vanilla solution would be to use Palladium's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Other Strangeness, which is all about designing anthropomorphized animals--then, once the characters were created, use the Palladium fantasy game rules for weapons and setting and stuff. Bing, done.

    If you hate Palladium fantasy (and I've never played it so maybe it sucks) then I'm sure there are at least a dozen places on the web where someone's done the math necessary to convert Palladium stats to ODnD, D20, and maybe Warhammer.

    armose--stolid and somber, but usually used to describe inanimate objects and sucstances, like "The braised prawn sautee was follwed by a rather indifferent and armose dry sherry."

  2. Just buy the MG comics and apply rule set of choice. Trying to explain the "its not a win but kind of a draw" combat to a young fan...fails.

  3. There is something like this in the works from Troll Lord Games, a game called Harvesters. Deogolf is writing it, and Jim Holloway has produced art for it which you can see here:

    Will it be any good? Only time will tell.

  4. Zak: Interesting idea. Like you though I've no idea whether Palladium Fantasy sucks or what. It always struck me as something I shouldn't be playing. You know how people were either into Nirvana or Pearl Jam? I think TSR and Palladium were a bit like that too.

    labsenpai: Well I'm not young or a fan, so it could work for me! ;) I'm interested to see exactly how 'simplified' the thing is though. Even simple BW is rather complicated.

    Matthew: Interesting stuff. Looking around the TLG site, however, it seems that Harvesters is "for Castles & Crusades"; since I'm not really a C&C sort of person that's a bit of a turn off. Obviously I'll wait and see, though.

  5. You bring up Redwall, however when I think of animal fantasy I can't help but think of the Spellsinger series by Alan Dean Foster. I loved those books as an early teenager. I was surprised that my parents had let me read them considering some of the adult subject matter. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on another set of the series. My old set came up missing years ago.

  6. Hmmn, it does seem to be a SIEGE based game, but to be honest the SIEGE system is fairly easily clipped away. It looks to be a boxed set with basic C&C rules and a short campaign premise.

    I guess the proof will be in the pudding, as you say.

  7. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Furry.

    Way back in high school, I started creating a fantasy game world based loosely on The Shamutanti Hills, what I knew of the Basic D&D game I was playing in during school lunchtimes, and various fantasy novels I was reading at the time. One of the first things I did was create a rat-like race, based on the character Reepicheep in Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.

    This rat-like race were on the books in a number of campaigns I ran over the years. However, it was not until I tailored a world to suit the preferences of furry gamers in the local gaming community, some fifteen years after first conceiving of the race, that someone actually took up the option of playing one.

    In Swords & Wizardry, rat-kin would be my choice of halfling-type race.

    WV: Shesside - a dangerous situation to be in, such as the flank of an attacking beast, often used by rat-kin as an exclamation and believed to be a corruption of the term 'cheshire cat'.

  8. Palladium Fantasy seems to be very well-regarded, which given the reputation of 99% of the rest of the line, comes as a surprise. I've never even seen a copy though, let alone played it.

    Redbox Hack is a fun and fast-moving rpg vaguely inspired by Red Box D&D, and it has anthropomorphic foxes, bears and snakes as classes. It's a good system, but I've seen it criticised as being "furry", by people who don't seem to mind the usual elf-dwarf lineup.

  9. @Zak S: I'm not sure how you get "most vanilla" from rolling up characters in TMNT(AOS), then converting them to another system. Surely it would be simpler to hack another system, or play something like Mouse Guard, Ironclaw, or Jadeclaw, all of which have anthropomorphic animals as their base shtick. (I know nothing of IC or JC beyond their anthro focus and apparently crunchy ruleset).

    @Matthew: Those Holloway illos look exactly like how I would have imagined a Redwall game to look. Jim Holloway is one of my heroes (primarily because of Paranoia, I must admit).

  10. Yay, animal fantasy! There's a dsitinction between being into anthros and being an out-and-out furry. I've looked through Mouse guard, but it was a while ago. I remember liking it.

    It does sort of depress me though, that there are so few animal fantasy games that tend to be focused on things other than rodents (Aside stuff meant to have a specifically furry bent such as Jadeclaw).

    V-word: Lepro
    Definition: A spotted, omnivorous, harelike creature.

  11. Allandaros::

    Vanilla 'cause allegedly all Palladium games are 100% compatible plus TMNT already has rules in it for most medival weapons. (Palladium, Rifts, TMNT, Robotech etc. etc.)

  12. Hey Boss, check this out...

    Also, lets lay off the furries. I gamed for a long time with one of the creators behind Ironclaw and Jadeclaw. They're good people and damn good gamers.

  13. Tala: I've never read the Spellsinger books, and don't think I've ever even seen one. I expect it's a British/American thing.

    Mothman's: Ratkin are far more interesting than halflings, aren't they?

    Kelvin: I've never seen a copy either. The only Palladium stuff I've ever seen was Rifts. I've heard about Redbox Hack before but not played it.

    Rach: I think it's sad too. There needs to be insectoid animal fantasy, for sure.

    Blotz: Thanks. Downloaded. I don't want to give the impression that I have something against furries, by the way. Just one of those things that I can't get my head around - like people who eat aniseed.

  14. What about Bunnies and Burrows, then?

    The guy who did Barbarians of Lemuria also did this thing, Tales from the Wood, which is free. I like the fact that hedgehogs are the combat monsters, but could do without the gnomes.

  15. That sort of game works well when it works at all; folks all willing to get into the spirit of things.

  16. James: Well that's where Yoon-Suin comes in, innit?

    I forgot to mention Bunnies and Burrows as far as good Animal Fantasy systems. IT's geared for a more realistic Watership Down-esque experience, but I don't mind, because Watership Down was and is my favorite book ever written.

    V-word: Extsmat
    Definition: Place where one goes to get one's aliens washed.

  17. Another shout-out for the Spellsinger books.

    You might want to pick up the Mouse Guard comic. It's kinda-sorta Redwall for adults.

    I've mostly used anthropomorphic animals as PCs in my limited post-holocaust gaming, but they tend to show up a lot as monsters and NPCs in my regular D&D games: ratlings, minotaurs, snappers (turtle-people), and now yak folk. Yeah, not the same thing. Still, I can't imagine it would be too hard to gin up some anthropomorphic classes for Labyrinth Lord.

  18. I'd echo Zak S and go for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Look past the name, it's actually a really solid RPG, and the mutant animal character creation is ridiculously fun. It's all compatible with the Palladium Fantasy RPG, so you can do either modern or fantasy settings easily. Check out my blog post about the TMNT RPG.

  19. I am also a lover of anthro races in D&D. I also like anthro art in general. I have never and I mean never understood the near universal hatred of the Furry community. It just baffles me.

    But the 'animal' races in RPGs always make me smile.