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Old 09-16-2019, 10:06 AM   #21
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Animal PCs

Carnivora and caves or maybe canivora and cages
Pets and places

Though I must say that we had a cat that could turn doorknobs. He never did those when we were around, but he could open lever doors with trivial ease.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:11 AM   #22
ericthered
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Default Re: Animal PCs

I GM's one lycanthrope who spent the majority of her time in wolf form, pretending to be a dog. The animal couldn't speak, but could certainly understand everything that was being said and was played as a human in animal form, not as an animal. The player was very good about respecting the limitation of the form, and we had some fun moments. Occasionally she would transform back into human form and chew out the other players for not understanding what the wolf was trying to tell them.

Do dragons count as "talking animals"? If so I've run a number of NPC's as real characters who were talking animals.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:19 AM   #23
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I think it could be done. It would rely on the GM describing the world in terms animals would understand and letting the players describe their actions out of the earshot of other players. When the GM describes the world in terms an animal would understand, it couldn't be something the players could figure out easily, e.g., you couldn't describe a road as a hard strip of ground that metal boxes zoom along; players would figure that out right away.
To be honest, I think that'd be cute for about ten minutes, and then rapidly get very much like hard work for everybody involved.

But some groups might enjoy it, I guess.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:46 AM   #24
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Someone around here ran a game where the solo PC was an assistance dog... can't remember who though, except I think it was set in Australia.
That sounds like a fun basis for a Supers character with a competent but unaware dependent. Can Doggone, the Speedster Golden Retriever, stop the bank robbery without exposing its powers to its blind human?
Years later: "Oh Goldie, I knew you were Doggone all along. You bark just like him."
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:59 AM   #25
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If you're thinking of The Dog of Montdidier, I never actually got around to running it.
That was what I was thinking of - and it seems germane to the topic, even if it never did actually run... thought it might have been you (because of the whole Australia thing) but wasn't sure...
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:02 AM   #26
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The dog thread is wonderful! And hilarious.

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Roleplaying is pretty much by definition about playing sapient beings. A non-sapient animal, by definition, doesn’t work through the kind of conscious decision-making processes that make RPGs interesting.

You could study up on the psychology and behaviour of a given species, and set to work representing that in play — “What would a real cat do in these circumstances?” — but that’d be rather a dry, mechanical process, and frustrating when it leads to what a human can see are obviously bad decisions. Players like their characters to survive and succeed, so there’d be a perpetual temptation to apply their own, human-level capacity for planning and analytical thought to the animal’s behaviour. At which point, they aren’t playing a realistic animal any more, they’re playing a fantasy sapient creature.
See, I read a lot of the animal behaviour stuff and may have a more generous idea of what kinds of thought animals are capable of IRL than you have.

In some ways an animal's position in a human town is rather like a bad case of the Low TL disadvantage. You're surrounded by devices you don't understand and sometimes aren't even physically equipped for, and you don't even understand the language. (Well, except for "Walkies". You have that down all right. :-) )

I'd imagine a road would be a familiar idea to most animals anyway, even if they didn't understand all the details, so you could just call it a road. Something they HADN'T met before, or didn't have the least idea of the purpose of even if they had met it, would be another question. I think it might be better, rather than expect the players to be "realistic", to give descriptions that really are impossible to identify by themselves, and then make them roll against their character's IQ for you to tell them what it does. It would be making heavy demands on the rule of "Your character doesn't know stuff unless I say so", but it could be worthwhile. Have to try it to find out, I think.

Yes, I ee the problem. It is always awkward knowing how to play a character with noticeably lower IQ than yours. Awkward and annpoying, when you have to deliberately not do things that you thought of straight away. It's the familiar "My dungeon delvers keep trying to invent gunpowder" problem.

One of the things I'm thinking of is "The Plague Dogs". Don't know if any of you have read that. It's by the author of Watership Down, which oddly I haven't read. Two dogs escape from an animal research facility and go on the run. It's an odd mixture, partly a polemic against animal experiments, partly a magical realist novel with outbursts of poetry, but mainly it's a thriller with dogs. It works, eerily believably, in the book, but Adams is a skilled writer and has sole control of his characters. Whether players could keep it up is another matter.

It's also awkward that GURPS handles IQ so clumsily. D&D handles this much better, with mental capacity divided into two stats (three if you count Charisma) and most of the human specialities put under Intelligence and most of the things animals do as well as we do under Wisdom. But in GURPS things like Tactics, Mimicry (Bird Calls), and especially the Perception stat, which some animals might be as good at as an intelligent human if not better, would be affected just as much by a low IQ score. Still, after skimming through the list of skills, there aren't THAT many IQ skills that an animal could learn on equal terms with a human, so it would probably be OK just to take the low IQ and pay the extra points for skills and Perception out of that.

On the other hand, it might be simplest to just rule, for ease of playing, that the animals have normal human IQ except for the Low TL etc.
restrictions. That may or may not be realistic, but it would be straightforward for the players to follow, and would be enough of a handicap to make it fun. It's roughly the position in "The Plague Dogs", so it evidently works from a dramatic standpoint.

It's commonplace in children's books for animals of different kinds to be able to talk to each other, but not to humans. This makes no sense, but can lead to interesting shenanigans, where the dog can't get in but the rat can, etc. Of course, you then have to prevent the PCs eating each other.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:12 AM   #27
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The "Animalistic Intelligence Curve" in gurps is a little odd if you think about it too hard. At some point it stops being about penalties to IQ skills and becomes about the expected behavior of the character.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:21 AM   #28
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It's the same in role playing games in general, isn't it? If you're playing an unintelligent character you're expected not only to abide by whatever disadvantages that gives you according to the rules but also to role-play the bits that the rules don't specify. Same problem if you're supposed to be playing a character who's more intelligent than you are - in fact, that's the version I see talked about much more often than the reverse. Or are you thinking of something that applies particularly to GURPS?
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:10 PM   #29
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One of the things I'm thinking of is "The Plague Dogs". Don't know if any of you have read that. It's by the author of Watership Down, which oddly I haven't read.
Another literary model I'd suggest is Thy Servant, a Dog, by Rudyard Kipling. It is an interesting and perhaps not wholly successful attempt to portray animals with limited understanding and motives coping pretty well with their own issues in a matrix of human stuff they don't understand or care about.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:52 PM   #30
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I seem to have heard of that one, but I haven't read it. Will look out for it.
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