USR Wednesdays: Animal-Folk Part I

Animals, standing on two legs with human-like arms and speech, are a classic character type in many games — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course, but also creatures like the minotaur and cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse.

Anthropomorphics
We’re on the right side of this scale, but with guns instead of old-fashioned cell phones and fanny packs. (image: picturebookden.blogspot.com)

Here’s a general list of animal types to choose from. Given USR’s very broad character types, one animal can cover a lot. An elephant can also be a rhinoceros or a hippopotamus, or even an Apatosaurus; a hawk can be everything from a condor to a sparrow. A wolf can be a large dog, or a werewolf, if the important thing in your game is the “wolfishness” of the character, not the horror element of changing from human to monster. The hawk and wolf will be in the next blog entries.

The primary stat for an animal can represent several different things.

  • Action: brute strength or lean, quick agility
  • Wits: raw cunning or near-human-level intelligence
  • Ego: an intimidating presence or “take me home with you” cuteness

There is a great anthropomorphic USR game already, which suggests Specialisms based on the character’s background. In this version, the stereotypes associated with each animal in popular culture and nature are the suggested Specialisms.

Ape
Primary Stat: Wits
Suggested Specialisms (3): Tool Use, Swing Through The Trees, Brute Strength

Bull
Primary Stat: Action
Suggested Specialisms (3): Furious Anger, Sharp Horns, Intimidating Stare

Cat
Primary Stat: Action
Suggested Specialisms (3): Self-Absorbed, Physically Flexible, Plans Within Plans

Dog
Primary Stat: Ego
Suggested Specialisms (3): Fiercely Loyal, Brave, Maybe Too Friendly

Duck
Primary Stat: Action
Suggested Specialisms (3): Flight, Quick Temper, Good Friend

Elephant
Primary Stat: Action
Suggested Specialisms (3): Thick Hide, Stampede, Good Memory