Monday, June 14, 2010

More Tales From The Wood

A couple of times in the last few years I have mentioned a little pet game of mine called Tales From The Wood. By pet game I mean a game that has a special place in my heart and that I find myself drawn to over and over, despite the unlikelihood of me getting to play it much.

TFTW is one of those games that seems to hide a secret potential that it will likely never access due to the fact that most people I tell about it seem to misunderstand or misjudge the game. At it's heart, the game is one of role-playing non-anthropomorphic woodland creatures through the adventures of their lives and this is often read as some form of kiddified gaming. Truth be told this is not the case.

This is a game that has as much depth and potential for adventure as any other RPG but it offers the unique perspective of playing from a non-humanoid point of view. Like any other RPG, TFTW offers the players puzzles to overcome and characters to flesh out. Though the creatures are not anthropomorphic they are allowed to have names and personalities as well as a level of understanding that does surpass that of natural creatures to the extent that the players do and must know more about the world they live in than a common critter.

As a DM, I have found writing adventures for TFTW to be exciting and often challenging in a good way. Writing adventures that do not take advantage of technologies or even the basic building blocks of civilization and still keeping them intriguing and entertaining is a real adventure writer's iron man race. I find that I must constantly filter my ideas through the eyes and other senses of animals, trying to make sure that I am not allowing them to become too human. That being said, TFTW is written to allow the plots to venture outside the realm of natural animals to some degree, most notably by the inclusion of gnome characters.

Rather than continue on with my attempt to explain and define TFTW's appeal to me,  I would like to share with you you a few of the adventure ideas that I have come up with for the game in hopes that they do a fair job of demonstrating what this game is about. The following little blurbs name characters and adventures from my actual games.

Twitchet the squirrel leads the players to a strange log that he has found along the river bank. The log (actually a beached toy sailboat) is intriguing but the PCs must outwit a group of skulking rats who have shown up to lay claim to to boat. In my game Spike, the hedgehog decided to bluff the rats with a bluster that placed him on the boat where he managed to dislodge it from the river bank by accident and set himself on a trip down the river.

In this halloweenish adventure the creatures of the forest are being terrified by a glowing, cyclopean phantom that has been seen scrabbling through the trees. Twitchet the squirrel recounts his horrifying close encounter with it. When a creature of the wood turns up dead, the terror grows and the PCs are sent out to try to find out what this might be and how to stop it.

The truth of this adventure is that the rustling phantom is a plastic shopping bag that is being blown about the wood by the autumn breeze. It's glowing appearance and haunting red eye are a result of the translucent bag and its red logo being back-lit by the moon. The creature that turned up dead was an unfortunate victim of the plastic bag, having suffocated.

In our game the PCs had to hunt for clues, finding some discarded takeout in styrofoam containers and venturing to the lair of an ancient owl who had been around long enough to remember the last time the wood was visited by such a creature. The PCs even had to battle a monstrous guardian to the owl's lair in the form of a large centipede that had grown big living in the rotted tree.

In this adventure the PCs had to find a missing baby mouse while the rest of the wood readied itself for a special night where they would all view a celestial event. This adventure culminated in my daughter's character, a mole, working with Longfoot the rabbit to rescue the mouseling from the clutches of the weasels who lived in the briars.

This is an adventure I have yet to run as well. It is a bit of a character piece that will create an ally among humanity for the animals. The story takes the form of the PCs trying to learn about a new human who has moved into a cottage inside the edge of the wood. He is a veterinarian but his collections of animal specimens and models will lead to many misunderstandings.

This is one I have yet to run but it will be my first multiple adventure story arc. It involves the adventurous Longfoot and his quest to find the giant white rabbit he viewed one night. He is convinced that the rabbit he saw was some sort of spirit and he sets out across the local countryside to find it. In reality the white rabbit was simply a logo on the side of a delivery truck from a local pub.

As you can see there are plenty of ideas that can be worked into the game without having to resort to simple confrontations between man and beast or beast and beast. I habe even discussed the inclusion of classic trolls in the game as a sort of "evil" counter to the gnome and an additional supernatural element.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my work with Tales From The Wood.




  1. I had seen this before and was intrigued. I should check it out. Great post!

  2. Sounds like Watership Down.

    You need to work in a badger, though. Everyone needs a badger on their side. Preferably one with a Scots accent.

  3. I just haven't had a need for a badger in my stories yet.

    The rules have a nice reading list in the back that includes Watership Down, The animals of Farthing Wood, The Cold Moons, and others.

  4. Sounds charming, and of course immediately calls to mind Bunnies and Burrows.

  5. Ah peter rabbit eat your carrot out! This seems interesting and something that my daughter might get into. I'll have to check itout!


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