2/28/10

BUNNIES & BURROWS

While shuffling through my good ole' shelves, I stumbled into my tattered Bunnies & Burrows copy. Let me tell you, reading and playing the same game when you're 12 and when you're over 35 is quite a different story. This game, in which you play rabbits in a Wind in the Willows, Watership Downs or even Mouse Guard style, traces back to 1976. It's the only game I can think about that shares such groundbreaking insights at such an early stage. Okay, you play furry rabbits, right. But there's much, much more to it. Take a look:
1. You have a character "class" and a few stats but they aren't used much in game. What's used a lot is the previous experience of your character. He's faced this kind of trap before? Seen this herb? He knows how to cope with then. In order to do so, you keep track of all the minute details you usually skip. It's almost like writing a trait down in an indie RPG "I know how to prepare and use Wildroot" "I know that Wolverines don't enter warrens", etc.
2. You know what Ben Robbins' West Marches are don't you? Well, here they are: hexcrawl, wandering creatures tables, hex search rules, sandbox style, and so on.
3. It's gritty as hell. It renders such a feeling of overwhelming danger that playing Call of Cthulhu is like playing Marvel Superheroes compared to this. Most blows will kill you, as will most natural hazards. If you don't use your wits, you're a dead duck... err rabbit.
4. You're not playing an ordinary rabbit, you're playing an intelligent, talking, fantasy rabbit with psychic powers and herbal magic. Does it ring a bell? Yeah, it's Mouse Guard but aimed at character simulation instead of motives and beliefs.
5. You don't "level up", you just play. When you face hardships, you know better the next time and your capacities improve on the basis of what you've done and how you've done it.
Looking at this small 36-pages game provides a feel akin to Matthiew Finch's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. It's like a gold mine for us retro-gamers, and it deserves a lot. It deserves writing, for instance. Once again, stay tuned.

Bunnies & Burrows is copyright Fantasy Games Unlimited.

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