Guest Blog from Anne Richmond, Professional Dungeon Master
Don’t need any convincing? Check out the Animal Adventures range here!
From the moment Steamforged Games launched their first Animal Adventures Kickstarter back in 2018, I was enchanted. Who could resist falling snout over paws for the Dungeons & Doggies’ domestic furry companions sculpted in stunning detailed resin?
And now, after several more Kickstarters, I’ve got the tools to bring a variety of weird and wonderful creatures to life in-game! And you can get your paws on them too.
First of all, I should probably give you a bit of background about myself! I’m Anne Richmond, a professional Dungeon Master (that’s right, you can seriously do this for a job!), game designer, and host of Hearthsinger Games on YouTube. So, you better believe I’ve played a lot of RPGs over the years, and can tell the best from the rest…
And let me tell you, Animal Adventures is one of the best.
So, are you ready to plunge yourself into a magical world of adventure? Do you need a helping hand in getting your campaigns up and running? Look no further!
Here’s 6 reasons why Animal Adventures is the perfect introduction to roleplaying games.
Reason #1: The Animal Adventures RPG Starter Set is Specifically Designed to Help Beginners
The Animal Adventures RPG Starter Set brings six quest-worthy critters to the table as fully formed pre-made characters, complete with illustrated character sheets and stats. However, the true selling point is that this TTRPG box will get new players rolling in less than ten pages of rules.
Let’s meet the Paw-some adventurers introduced by the Starter Set:Chantilly, Labrador Fighter
"I don't like my name. What kind of name is Chantilly for someone as skilled with a blade as me? Can you imagine people quivering in their boots at hearing that name? Neither can I. Guess I'll have to just be even better with a sword to make sure they do!"
Brianna, Boxer Paladin
"I'm a warrior for justice, bound by my oath to bring light into the darkness. But I'm also a big fan of a juicy steak. Even the bravest need a break sometimes!"
Kai, Shiba Inu Cleric
"I practice the ways of the Good Mother, striving to be the best dog I can be, to bring well-being and happiness to all of my animal brethren. But woe betide my enemies! I'm much less friendly to them!"
Elvis, Cavalier Bard
"Ha! I am a creator of laughter and a teller of tales! Everything I do, I do with a theatrical flourish! Buts there is more to me than just style (though there is a lot of style), I'm a loyal friend and a fierce enemy!"
Molly, Lykoi Rogue
"What? This gold? No.. no I've no idea where I got it. It must have just fallen into my pockets. Along with those candlesticks. And that clock. And the silver cutlery. No! I'd never steal. And you can't trust what those guards say. they're idiots!"
Solan, Persian Warlock
"I'm a cat of elegance, of grace. Of distinction, even. I certainly don't enjoy foraging around in dirty dungeons or sewers. Unfortunately, being so talented means my friends often call on me to help out. It's terribly dull but what else can one do?"
Whisper, Sphinx Sorcerer
"I am a powerful sorcerer, capable of weaving webs of magic whenever I choose. But that doesn't mean I like people arguing around me. I much prefer the quiet, where I can think and, most importantly, practice my magnificent magic!"
If you’re familiar with the D&D Starter Set or Essentials Kit, you’ll recognize the benefit of only providing the basic information required to actually start playing the game. Well, the folks at Steamforged have created an even more elegant launchpad for beginner players.
The RPG Starter Set explains the fundamentals of RPGs in easy-to-understand, accessible language. You know, stuff like the definition of attributes and how they’re used, examples of play, and explains rolling for advantage and disadvantage.
While experienced players will recognize a lack of skill scores on these premade characters, they’ll be able to use straight attribute rolls to accomplish their goals. Combat is covered in two pages with a streamlined action economy, allowing players to choose two actions from a list including moving, casting a spell, dashing, attacking, or interacting with the environment in another way.
(Oh, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about here, the Starter Set explains it all really clearly!)
While this doesn’t match up entirely to the more robust options listed in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, it provides focus and keeps the game moving forward.
Reason #2: Animal Adventures Lets You Get Straight into the Action
This elegant approach allows players to put their plans into action quickly and get to the good stuff ASAP, without getting bogged down in a soup of indecision. And no one wants to get stuck in soup, even if it’s something delicious like leek and potato…
Ultimately, what bonds people to the magic of tabletop RPGs are the choices they make around the table, rather than the ones they make before filling out their character sheet.
Dungeon Masters will not only find this book easy to share and teach, they’ll be delighted by a DM screen that reviews combat, each of the pre-made characters’ abilities, and the monsters appearing in the adventure.
Reason #3: Pre-made Adventures are a Great Starting Point for Newer Players
The Starter Set also provides evocative illustrated maps for the included starter adventure, ‘The Kurse of Doktor Krankensteen’, which makes a perfect one-shot to introduce players to roleplaying as daring dogs and clever cats.
(In case you didn’t know, a ‘one-shot’ is a short adventure designed to be completed in a single session. This contrasts with longer campaigns which have been known to go on for years!)
You also get miniatures for all six pre-made adventurers - 3 cats and 3 dogs - as well as cardboard tokens for all enemies and important quest features. These aren’t strictly necessary but definitely make the game easier and enjoyable. Miniatures can really help newer players to engage with the adventure, not to mention step into the boots of their chosen character.
Usually, you’d have to write your own adventures, which can be a tall order for newbie GMs!
Reason #4: The Expansions Make it Easy to Scale Up Your Adventures
When you’ve got to grips with the basics and are ready to level up, try the expansions!
A good one to start with is Animal Adventures: Secrets of Gullet Cove. This 170 page setting guide will bring your awakened animal characters into a wider world—compatible with the 5th Edition of the world’s favourite roleplaying game. This fascinating seaside town setting can be added to any RPG fantasy setting in order to explore a town full of adventurous animals and relevant plot hooks.
What I enjoy most about the Secrets of Gullet Cove sourcebook is that it provides a GREAT tool to help you or your players bring your favourite animal character concepts to life while still leaving room for humanoid characters in the same party. The Secrets of Gullet Cove sourcebook provides new character creation details for cats and dogs, including size categories with relevant stats, breed abilities (or feats) like “Assistance dog” which allows you to help allies make perception checks with advantage or “Nine Lives” which allows you to make death saves at advantage.
There are also new backgrounds for awakened cats and dogs that help place them within the world of Gullet Cove—or whatever fantasy setting you want to play in.
I promise that’ll all make sense once you’ve worked through the Starter Set. In essence, it contains absolutely everything you need to really bring your furry friends to life on the tabletop!
Reason #5: Animal Adventures is Great for New GMs, Too
For Game Masters (or, as everyone refers to them, GMs) looking for inspiration, the Gullet Cove sourcebook contains everything you need to run unforgettable adventures, including a smorgasbord of villains, allies, magic items and more—plus 5 thrilling adventures for characters between levels 1-6.
It’s not a bad idea to play through these 5 adventures to give you a flavour for building short, multiple-session adventures before branching out into your own campaigns.
Reason #6: Masses of Marvellous Miniatures!
Once you’ve got to grips with basic adventures, you’ll already have fallen in love with Animal Adventures’ wonderful selection of minis. And there’s a lot more than what you get in the starter set!
Steamforged has released loads of different sets to embroider your adventures, from additional dogs and cats of Gullet Cove to more monstrous minis—including a necromastiff with a horde of skelecats and the wicked criminal mastermind, The Rat King, surrounded by his wererat denizens and the gruesome Rataclysm!
So, that’s all 6 reasons why Animal Adventures is the perfect game for anyone looking to get into RPGs!
It’s been a long time since I felt I could so comfortably slide into a new setting. Animal Adventures left me inspired and equipped with the tools to bring new friends to the pack. I can’t wait to explore Gullet Cove, both behind the DM screen and around the table with some furry friends.
Don’t be shy – memorable adventures with friends on two legs and four await! You can check out the full range here.
Anne Richmond is a professional Dungeon Master, game designer, and the host of Hearthsinger Games on YouTube. She has performed on actual play adventures for The Glass Cannon, The Lost Mountain Saga, Child’s Play Charity, and Jasper’s Game Day.