Tuesday, January 4, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - BO

Dogs are amazing.

The name of this blog should give you a hint but yeah, I really love dogs. I have ever since I was a little boy. My parents had a beagle before I was born and I grew up with him until I was about 5 or 6. When my parents divorced, my father always had dogs. I got my first dog, purely mine, in 2007-2008 or there abouts. My current dog Sketch has been with me almost four years now. 

I run a dog walking service, walking and caring for dogs for a living. 

Therefore, it probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that one of my favorite PCs ever was a Bluetick Coonhound Mix in a very unusual game of Bunnies and Burrows.

Character: Bo

AKA: Beauregard Swanson. 

Player: Adam Dickstein

System: Bunnies and Burrows, 1st or 2nd Edition - Heavily Modified Homerules 

I am unsure of which edition formed the basis of the rules. 
 Out On The Farm, Down By The River

Gamemaster (s): Matt W. 

Circa: 1979 to 1982 (See below).

Origins: A local television station aired the 1978 film Watership Down, based on the novel by Richard Adams, at some point between '79 and 81'. As the urban legend goes, the TV station aired the film not having fully reviewed it; believing that animated film equaled 'for children'.

Around the same time, our English class was covering George Orwell's Animal Farm

One day, with these stories and their ideas spinning through our young minds, my friend Matthew pulled a book out of his backpack and showed it to me. It was the RPG rulebook for Bunnies and Burrows. He said, "I've had this for weeks but didn't know what to do with it. Now I do."

A week later, Matt announced to our gaming group that he wanted to run a campaign for us; Matt assembled everyone together for Character Creation and gave an expanded explanation of the game he had in mind. 

What he described was life on a farm, with each PC playing the role of an animal on that farm or the land surrounding it. Something was going to threaten the peace of The Farm and we'd have to deal with it, as a group but also in our own way. 

"Can I play a dog?", I asked. Probably didn't even think about the question before asking it.

"Yes", Matt said.

All I needed to hear. Sold. 

Backstory: Beauregard 'Bo' Swanson was one of five pups born to Buck and Bella Swanson in The Barn on The Farm. He was a good dog. A very good dog. All The People said so. 

He got to go in The House. He slept inside The House sometimes and sometimes in his own house. A Dog House. He had his own blanket. He watched The Children. He guarded The Swanson Family, The House, and The Chickens. 

One day The Land and The Sky switched places. The winds which The Owl rode twisted around each other and hit The House and The Farm. The Farm was gone and The Animals looked to Bo for help but Bo needed to find and help The People. 

Bo was a good boy. 

Overview: I hope I am not alone in feeling that there are some campaigns that are so extraordinary, so beyond the regular fare, that they feel impossible to continue, duplicate, or top. A game were everything - every session, every character, every moment - hit the right notes so perfectly that you know you will never play that same song that well ever again. 

Lightning in a bottle.

I've had games like that myself. My 'The Legend of Boot Hill' campaign was like that. I want to go back to it someday but I think, 'If the next one isn't  just as good as the original or better, why even bother?'

Our one and only Bunnies and Burrows campaign was one of those games.

I will do my best to give you an Overview but I don't know if I can do it justice. Basically, it started with a farm - The Farm, with Rabbits stealing vegetables, a wise Owl giving advice but requiring you pay with some of your own in return, a dog patrolling the grounds like a castle guard, and clueless pigs enjoying their lives of perceived luxury. 

Then at the end of the first session it was all dashed to bits. The Farm was struck by a tornado and the entire thing turned inside out and upside down. The PCs looked to me for leadership because I had acted like I was in charge but I was just a dog doing a job. With the Humans apparently gone, I had no idea what to do. 

Idyllic day-in-the-life fun turned desperate game of tragedy and survival. Just incredible. 

The Highlights:

The Rabbits coming to me for help was one of the scenes that will stay in my memory forever. 

Debris had filled their warrens with metal, wood, and other materials they couldn't move. Sharp objects were everywhere. Many were hurt, some badly. They asked for my help because they'd seen how well respected Bo was, how smart he seemed, and how I appear to understand Human things better than most animals. 

Bo barked and growled at them. He had nothing but contempt for The Rabbits. He had no interest in helping them. They weren't animals of The Farm. They were thieves. The Family, the farmers, hated The Rabbits and therefore so did Bo. Bo needed to help The Animals on The Farm. Bo needed to find The Family. Bo needed help from the other Dogs. Why on Earth would Bo help The Rabbits?

Another PC, a Rabbit calmly pleaded with me saying something along the lines of, "Because we need help, you're a good boy Bo, and good boys help." Damn. Got me right in the loyal dog feels. 

Another great moment was finding The Children - The Boy and The Girl - alive in the wreckage of The House, only to have to face off with a Mountain Lion. Thanks to fantastic team work and creative tactics from the Owl and The Pigs, we managed to drive it off. Yeah, we didn't even defeat it really but we did win; the Mountain Lion left, realizing any potential meal to be gained was not worth the pain and the trouble. 

Game Info:

It's been an incredibly long time since I played this campaign and it was the one and only Bunnies and Burrows campaign I was ever in (though I might have run one or more one shots). I don't remember anything about the rules and even if I did or if I had the old Character Sheet it probably wouldn't help you.

The game was heavily overhauled, with Matt spending a week creating alterations to the rules. I recall PCs being defined by their Animal (gives Attribute adjustments and basic abilities), their Calling (Class/Profession), and their Nature (kind of like Alignment meets the character's Goals - used to determine Experience Points and other aspects of the game).

Bo was Dog - Guardian - Loyalty if memory serves. 

Next, a 21 Blaster Salute in a Galaxy Far, Far Away to the fallen hero of the Tales of the Rim Campaign - say Bright Suns and Farewell to CARLACC ACEN!

Barking Alien

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