Bunnies & Burrows

Published by FGU/Steve Jackson Games
These remarks by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated June 20, 1998

Bunnies & Burrows was one of the earliest RPGs, the first edition being published in 1976. In this game, players take on the roles of rabbits, as in Richard Adams' excellent novel, Watership Down. The setting is enhanced, however, with more potent seers (beyond Fiver's powers in the book) and the addition of herbalists, who have powers similar to, but faster than, fantasy alchemists. There are also empathic healers.

The setting is ideal for roleplaying as opposed to hack-n-slash. You're playing a rabbit, after all - how much combat do you want to do?!? If a GM in a fantasy game sends a wolf against a party of PCs, the players laugh at him. If a GM sends a wolf against a party of rabbit PCs, however, the players get very nervous! This means the players concentrate on out-tricking their opponents instead of fighting them - which makes for a very satisfying game.

In addition, B&B has a wonderful advantage over most games in the richness of character races available. Imagine a fantasy world with over fifty different NPC character races, each with its own detailed background - and each of them already known to all the players in the game! Such is B&B: each species of animal is a different race, and can communicate and interact with the PC bunnies. There is only one monster race in B&B, though: humans. Their thought processes are so different from a rabbit's as to be utterly alien and monstrous. At least for most humans - a few empaths and saintly folk can be understood by bunnies, and understand them in turn. Of course, the GM is free to introduce space aliens or fantasy creatures as other monsters...

The original game was very innovative for its time (less than two years after the first published RPG). Not only could you play non-humanoids for the first time, but it was the first role-playing game to have detailed martial arts rules, the first attempt at a skill system, and the first RPG to appeal as widely to women as to men. The game has also been published as a GURPS supplement, but I usually play it in Fudge these days - the simpler rules seem to work better for this genre in particular. I've also run it in Sherpa, which is oddly evocative of the original rules ...

Personal note from Steffan: The original B&B is my first exposure to the world of RPGs. I ran B&B for over a year as a novice GM with novice players before ever even seeing a game with human PCs being played. At that point, I added T&T, then TFT and Gamma World to my repetoire. But through it all, I never abandoned B&B - my first RPG love. I've only played AD&D once, by the way - and I never understood what was going on at all.

I was the GM for all the B&B games I had played for many years. I was finally a player for the first time in 1994 - thanks, Paul! It was a great game!

If you've never tried B&B, I highly recommend it!

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