Bunnies and Burrows
Frog God Games has partnered with Dr. B. Dennis Sustare and Dr. Scott R. Robinson to return a venerable and influential piece of tabletop role-playing games to print. This tactical role-playing game contains over 200 pages of full-color adventure in the style of Redwall and Watership Down. In addition to full-color illustrations by Darlene, Moa Wallin, Maggie Vandewalle, Faith Burgar, Terry Pavlet, and others, it also contains:
A map of the known world (okay, the world is pretty small when you are a rabbit). Printable tactical maps and animal tokens for various encounter types and scenarios contained with the printable PDF of Bunnies & Burrows.
The Oldest Animal RPG (More Than Four Decades Old!) [ edit ]
Every listing of animal RPGs has to include Bunnies and Burrows, because it was the first animal RPG ever released (way back in 1976). Released just two years after Dungeons and Dragons was first published, B&B was revolutionary for allowing players to take on the role of not warriors or wizards, but ... bunny rabbits.
Loosely based on the classic book Watership Down, B&B is not anthropomorphic in the physical sense (ie. players play actual rabbits, not rabbit humanoids). However, the rabbits do have human-level intelligence, which will help them to survive a variety of challenges, ranging from traps, to other (predatory) animals, to the greatest predator of all: human beings.
Since its original release, nearly half a century ago, Bunnies and Burrows has published three different editions (as well as a GURPS spin-off product), but even it's most recent edition is still based on somewhat dated or "old school" RPG design elements.
Character Creation [ edit ]
As an an "old school" game (in the OSR sense of the word), Bunnies and Burrows character creation is very similar to early Dungeons and Dragons character creation.
To start creating a character, a player rolls 3d6 for each characteristic, assigning them in the order rolled. Unlike D&D, B&B has two extra characteristics: speed and smell. Once characteristics are determined the player picks a profession (class).
There are eight such professions, each corresponding to a different characteristic (eg. "Runner" for Speed, or "Seer" for Wisdom). Players can also choose to take two professions, but if they only pick one they have a 5% greater chance of improving their main class attribute.
Core Mechanics [ edit ]
Most rolls in B&B use percentile dice (ie. 2d10, with one representing the "tens" digit and one representing the "ones") ... but some rolls are d6-based instead. Percentage chances are based on the corresponding characteristic (eg. Strength determines the chance to hit). In another old school throwback, characters also have saving throws, which vary depending on how far their profession is from the attack's profession on the "circle of professions".
Characters progress by increasing their characteristics, which is accomplished simply by using them. The player marks a checkmark next to each characteristic on their sheet after every successful use, and then at the end of the day they have a percentage chance to increase the stat.
Interestingly, the higher the characteristic, the more likely it is to increase (eg. an 18 offers a 35% chance, while a 3 only offers a 6% chance). This can lead to characters becoming experts in their best characteristic ... or it can lead to a downward spiral where characters with unlucky characteristics are unable to improve.
The Original Animal RPG, Updated in 2019 [ edit ]
Bunnies and Burrows is undoubtedly an older-style RPG, even in its 3rd edition, and so it won't appeal to gamers looking for something more modern. But at the same time, the OSR movement has shown that plenty of gamers still enjoy such mechanics, so there's still plenty of reason to play B&B today.
If you're a fan of Watership Down, or just looking to depart from your traditional RPG to play a group of bunny rabbits, then this piece of gaming history is definitely worth checking out.
A GURPS Alternative [ edit ]
Fans looking for a more modern way of experiencing B&B might instead want to check out the GURPS supplement with the same name. This version of the game instead uses GURPS 3rd edition rules as its basis, so instead of rolling dice to create their characters, players spend points to buy various rabbit improvements.
Although this supplement was designed for GURPS 3E, fans of the (latest) GURPS 4th edition may still be able to use the supplement, with a little conversion effort. See this discussion on the Steve Jackson Games site (SJ Games is GURPS publisher).