Monday, October 8, 2018

Five or So Questions on Rodent Rangers

Hi all! Today I've got a great interview with Jacob Kellogg and Joseph Kellogg, creators of Rodent Rangers, a nifty roleplaying game currrently on Kickstarter! The project could really use some attention and it seems like a fun game, so please check it out, and see what they have to say about it in the responses below!


A mouse in a glasses, a sweater vest, and a button down with dark pants and a red messenger bag, holding an armful of papers and running off to chase after some that have blown away

Tell me a little about Rodent Rangers. What excites you about it?

Jacob: Rodent Rangers puts players in the role of anthropomorphic mice who go on missions under the feet of modern humans to help those in need. In addition to the nostalgia of old animated films like The Rescuers or The Great Mouse Detective, what's exciting about this game is the light-hearted, joyful purity of it. Especially with the real world being as dark as it is right now, the idea of sending your tiny persona into a big world and nonetheless making a difference—all without the constant violence or mechanical complexity that comes with other games—just feels really appealing. Be a cute mouse and go help somebody. Let everything be okay for a while.

Joseph: What excites me most is the ability to tell stories that let kids get creative and solve problems. Instead of trying to sanitize other systems that rely on violence, Rodent Rangers focuses on using wit and a pure heart to deal with villains, while allowing for daring feats and narrow escapes.

What do the players do to play the game mechanically - how do they take action and tell stories?

Jacob: Mechanically, Rodent Rangers starts with a familiar premise: shared narration, with dice to resolve uncertain or risky actions. It's a very lightweight system, with no hard rules for action types or explicitly-defined special abilities like you have in games like D&D. Instead, activities are descriptive, with the dice determining success or failure. The dice system is pretty sleek as well, with no bonuses or penalties being added to die rolls. Instead, your attributes tell you how many dice to roll and your skills tell you which size those dice should be, then you roll a batch of them and see how many "hits" (dice that show a 4 or higher) you got. If you meet a minimum threshold of hits (depending on the difficulty of the task) you succeed.

Joseph: Rodent Rangers is a skill-based RPG, with a dice system specially designed to be as math-light as possible. When players want to try something, like befriending a stranger or finding a clue, they pick a type of die based on their skill level, and get a number of them based on basic attributes (like Strong or Clever). When they roll, they just have to count the dice that came up as 4 or more.
A mouse with piercings and a choker in casual clothes and a backpack with their foot resting on a compass
What do the characters do in the narrative? Are they rescuers? What kind of adventures do they have?

Jacob: Narratively, the Rodent Rangers are an in-world organization that spans the globe, and sends teams of field agents out on missions to help their fellow critters (or even humans sometimes). You might recover a museum's stolen relic, help to evacuate mice from a flooding sewer city, or even help guide a lost human child back to their parents. There's an emphasis on being part of a team and working together, as well as being noble and wanting to help people (after all, that's why you became an agent of the Rodent Rangers).

Joseph: Characters in Rodent Rangers are agents of the titular organization, a worldwide network or do-gooders and adventurers. They get sent on missions to help other animals or people in danger, and hopefully make friends along the way. In the sample adventure, players will be asked to track down a researcher who was kidnapped by sinister treasure hunters. To rescue him, they'll need to look for clues, get past a devious snake, make new friends, and maybe even get into a high-speed car chase!
Potentially even encounter villains such as this!
What kind of character becomes a Rodent Ranger, and how do they fit into the larger world? Do these characters stand out?

Jacob: There are really only three key aspects of a person who becomes a ranger: they're part of animal society rather than human society, they have some kind of skill or ability to contribute, and they want to help. Beyond that, a character could be anyone, which I think is something I really like about this game. You don't have to be born into the right circumstance, be the chosen one, be part of the dominant forces of society, or whatever else. If you want to do good in the world in your own unique way, then there's a spot for you on the team that no one else can fill. 

Joseph: A Rodent Ranger is someone who loves adventure and helping people. Many mice are content to live peaceful lives, and shun danger. Rodent Rangers are often the best at what they do, and driven to put their talents to good use in the wider world.

How is Rodent Rangers special to you in it's design and concept?

Jacob: Aside from some of the conceptual elements that I've already talked about liking, I'm really into how straightforward and "essentials only" the mechanics are. Games can sometimes get a bit overwrought, trying too hard to make sure every element of the experience has its own mechanic instead of just giving you the tools you need and leaving room for imagination. For example, as much as I like D&D, I would probably like it even better if you dropped the entire "spells" chapter in favor of a more "here's the general idea, do what makes sense" approach. That's what Rodent Rangers does: it gives you enough to show you what the game's about and enable you to play, then gets out of the way.

Joseph: Rodent Rangers is special because it reflects many of the cartoons of my childhood, in which a pure heart and brave soul were all that were needed to save the day. 
A mouse in a green shirt and brown pants holding a notepad and pencil.

Thanks so much Jacob and Joseph for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed reading and that you'll check out Rodent Rangers on Kickstarter today!

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