Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bunnies & Burrows RPG

Bunnies and Burrows was published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1976, just two years after the publication of the original Dungeons and Dragons little brown books.

B&B is a 36-page role-playing game of intelligent rabbits. When I first learned of this game's existence, in the late 70's, I initially presumed that it, along with Tunnels and Trolls, were published as some sorts of satirical pokes in the eye of D&D.

B&B is anything but. While it takes its inspiration from D&D, it was designed to be played "straight", by emulating the real world, as seen through the eyes of rabbits. The game is frustratingly open-ended: it provides little in the way of suggestions as to what sorts of misadventures your Bunny alter-egos may become entangled in. A B&B gamemaster, and the players, will have to be imaginative to come up with compelling situations and challenges.

Not surprisingly, considering the publish date, the illustrations appearing in Bunnies and Burrows are not unlike those in the original D&D LBB's. Amateurish. Here we have a representation of one of the Bunny character classes: Seer. Ahoy there, mateys, have ye seen me spell components? This Bunny looks like a cross between pirate and magic-user.
Here we have another Bunny character class: Scout. Apparently these Bunnies have the advantage of riding other Bunnies, as they perform their scouting duties.

This next Bunny is a Herbalist, and is testing some herbs to determine their effects. B&B has a rather complex set of rules for adjudicating the effects and uses of various herbs. It predates by several years the AD&D medicinal herbs rules found in the DMG, yet the B&B rules are just as detailed.

Empaths are the Jedis and Clerics of the B&B universe, being able to both heal other bunnies and deal empathic damage. Capes are optional.
Storyteller Bunnies are the extroverts and leaders of the burrow. They have an improved chance of pursuading other Bunnies, and get bonuses for mating. Apparently Does like Bucks that can make them laugh.
I can't help but notice that this next Bunny is wearing a backpack. I'm not sure if the creature he has discovered is a rat. Now would be a good time to have a dagger or other weapon handy.
B&B includes eight different Bunny classes, or professions. When adjudicating combat between Bunnies, the following chart is used to determine the effectiveness of an ability.
The above illustrations are by Charles Loving. The two illustrations, below, are by Jeff Dee. The illustration below accompanies rules for adjudicating the effects of pests and diseases upon a burrow.

B&B also includes rules for avoiding and springing traps. Here we have another Jeff Dee illustration, of a Bunny narrowly avoiding the effects of a beartrap.

Bunnies and Burrows has its own character record sheet. The influence of D&D can be seen here, with the inclusion of the six standard attributes, along with two additions, Speed and Smell. Smell, of course, referring to the ability of the Bunny to detect scents, not the reverse.


biopunk said...

What the...???

Capes are only optional if you have backpacks!


Anonymous said...

So... how do you resolve combat etc.?

I remember seeing this on the shelves back in the day but steered clear. Now I'm intrigued...

Timeshadows said...

I had this.
--I remember the single game of it my friends allowed me to run.

"Clearly", James Ward of Gamma World fame had played in B&B for the Hoops to have been that well placed in 1st ed. GW.

Barking Alien said...

So is it back?! When can we play?

It probably comes as no surprise that I loved this game. We houseruled the heck out of it and ended up with a bizarre mix of Watership Down, Animal Farm and Charolette's Web with a side order of bad ass.

Ah the good old days when humor and serious were the same damn thing.

Timeshadows said...

@Barking Alien: Sounds great. :D
--In all of my games, all animals may freely speak with each other.

Aesop's Fables, Native Amerind and Uncle Rhemus' tales must have had a profound effect on me. :D

Bree Yark! said...

What is the appeal of this game? I've never desired to play a cute lil bunny...

Telecanter said...

@Bree Yark: I'm guessing Watership Down was a big influence. Published in the UK in 1972, it made it to the states in '74 and became quite popular.

Barking Alien said...

@Bree Yark - You obviously never saw Watership Down or read Animal Farm. These are not necessarily 'cute' furry animals. They are however, furry animals.

Not that I have any problem with cute myself. I got the grimdark out of my system after highschool and early college.

Jayson said...

Speaking of Watership Down, that first Jeff Dee illustration looks extremely reminiscent of a still from the animated film.

Anonymous said...

See also Rats of Nimh, and maybe Rescue Rangers and the Rescuers Down Under I believe it was called. There was also a WW2 book with badgers representing Germans or whatever, all the nationalities were animal types instead, I forget the title. Finally, Burning Wheel: Mouse Guard might hold some inspiration.

Bree Yark! said...

I've never heard of Watership Down, but I have read Animal Farm. I guess I can see it from a Rats of Nimh perspective.

What, no Miyamoto Usagi Yojimbo? =)