But it’s more than that, because setting matters – mice are not humans, and they do not believe themselves to be apex predators. When you live in a world where things that are orders of magnitude larger want to kill and eat you, “adventure” means something else.
So when we got together to play through the included Stumpsville adventure, we only knew a little bit about what to expect. I don’t mean mechanically, although we did have to adjust to a few minor things (rests work slightly differently, for example). Instead, the assumptions about what it means to play these sorts of games had to change.
D&D has monsters that are bigger than humans. Some of them are even in the name of the game! But we imagine ourselves, or people like us, in the game, and then we indulge a sort of power fantasy in which somebody with a sword and a shield can go up to a monster as big as a house that breathes fire and can fly – and we kill it to take its stuff.
There are other RPGs, of course. Call of Cthulhu doesn’t have this assumption, for example. But it goes to the opposite extreme, where humans are literally insignificant next to the cosmic powers that we don’t even realize exist. And if we do, it’s so terrifying that our poor little minds break.
Some games, though, go somewhere in the middle. Most things are bigger, but if we work together and find the bravery & cleverness inside of us then we might be able to protect ourselves and the people we care about.
Mausritter is one of these kinds of games.
So then we made up mouse swears (“Mother Feta!!”) and swung from chandeliers to steal magic swords and outwitted giant spiders and cut down elevators so snakes & rats would end up in the same place and one would take care of the other.
I will definitely play this again. These other kinds of stories, in a world on a more comprehensible scale, where problems can’t be solved by killing more goblins until you’re almost unkillable but instead by standing next to your friends with brains and heart… these stories need telling too.