Notes on Skills in the Musicians of Bremen Genre
This page last updated August 13, 2011
The Bremen Town Musicians (or Traveling Musicians
of Bremen, etc.) is an old, well-known and beloved folktale
about four farm animals who decide to brave the unknown dangers of the
world rather than face certain death at the hands of the farmers
they've faithfully served their whole lives. The characters are
an old donkey, an old dog, an old cat and a young rooster.
I've always loved this tale, and as I age I find I can empathize
with the older animals. It occurred to me last year that it would
make a good RPG setting for those of us who love playing animal
PCs. The setting isn't constrained to the original story: the
animals-as-PCs may never meet the robbers, or may have other
adventures before meeting them.
In 2010, RPG Geek
had a "24-Hour RPG Contest", in which contestants must design and
write an entire RPG in 24 hours. I did so, using the Musicians of
Bremen as my setting, and you can read my
entry if you wish. (Scroll down to "Files" to download the whole
game for free.) I wasn't allowed to use an existing system,
so that entry is not in Fudge, but it's not too bad
except that combat is a bit wonky. There's a session report under
"Forums" which discusses the issue, and has my suggested improvement,
if you're interested.
At any rate, I've now translated the characters into VG
Fudge, and they are posted to my website. The 24-RPG entry
has some background information and adventure suggestions if you
need them. If you don't need all that, here are the meanings of
the few skills I took from it (plus a couple of new ones):
- Bamboozle: the ability to lie to, mislead, confuse, fast-talk, or
otherwise deceive other animals without attempting to intimidate
them. Resisted by an NPC's Wits. Not useable with other PCs or on
- Bluff: This skill is used to make NPCs believe that you:
You can attempt to
Intimidate (see below) with Bluff-2.
- know more about something than you really know, or
can do something (other than combat) better than you really can,
- possess something that you don't.
- Grovel: This is the skill of making a human believe you'll do
whatever they want. Cats call this "Dupe", but it's the same skill.
- Intimidate: the ability to make another creature (animal
or human) back off. Similar to Bluff, but limited to convincing
an NPC that you're a lean, mean, fighting machine about to attack. Two
- Predators are harder to intimidate than herbivores.
- Humans who have spent a lot of time around animals are harder
to intimidate than those who don't know animals well.
- Make Friends: doesn't work with humans (use Grovel,
instead) and is at a penalty against predators: at least -2, probably
more. Likewise, it's harder for a carnivore (cat or dog) to befriend
what is normally their prey species: at least -1.
- Mimicry: you can imitate other animal sounds and possibly
some other sounds such as the various clicks and tocks of tools used
in everyday farm work.
- Wild Lore: the extent of your knowledge of animal life and
woodland ways off the farm you were raised on. This would have been
acquired chatting with wild animals, such as birds, squirrels,
rabbits, deer, etc. Your knowledge of the ways of wolves, for
example, is based on this skill, and may be inaccurate, filtered as
it is through a different species.
In addition, characters will know Skills basic to their species and
life on the farm. A donkey will know about hauling carts, for
example, though it won't be able to get into harness on its own.
Likewise, a dog will know about hunting and guarding, while a cat
knows the ways of mice very well. Roosters know all about pecking
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