Saturday, May 23, 2015

Inspirational Reading

A brief list of some fictional material that inspired me to create an animal fantasy roleplaying game.  Some of these sources were, it goes without saying, bigger influences than others.  A few don't actually fall within the definition of animal fantasy that I'm using to frame the rules and settings for Great & Small, but all of them feature nonhuman animals either as the protagonists or as major supporting characters.

I'm always on the look out for more entries in the genre, so if something you like isn't here,  please let me know.

You'll note that I haven't included an entry for movies & TV shows.  That list is even bigger than this one, and will get its own post in the future.

I also plan to post reviews of many of these works, along with tips for how to use them as adventure or campaign inspiration.

Adams, Richard. Watership Down.
        The Plague Dogs
Applegate, Katherine.  The One And Only Ivan.
Bakker, Robert T. Raptor Red.
Beagle, Peter S.  The Last Unicorn.
Bell, Clare. The Books Of The Named:
        Ratha's Creature.
        Clan Ground.
        Ratha and Thistle-Chaser.
        Ratha's Challenge.
        Ratha's Courage.
Brin, David.  The Uplift Saga.
        Startide Rising.
        The Uplift War.
        Brightness Reef.
        Infinity's Shore.
        Heaven's Reach.
Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey.
Clement-Davies, David.  Fire Bringer.
        The Sight.
DiCamillo, Kate.  The Tale Of Despereaux.
Grahame, Kenneth.  The Wind In The Willows.
Hearst, Dorothy.  The Wolf Chronicles.
        Promise Of The Wolves.
        Secrets Of The Wolves.
        Spirit Of The Wolves.
Holt, Christopher. The Last Dogs series.
        The Vanishing
        Dark Waters
        The Long Road
        Journey's End
Horwood, William. Duncton Wood.
Howe, James & Deborah.  Bunnicula series.
Hunter, Erin.  Warriors series.
         Seekers series.
Jacques, Brian.  Redwall series.
Kilworth, Garry Douglas.  Hunter's Moon.
King, Gabriel.  Tag, The Cat series.
        The Wild Road.
        The Golden Cat.
Kipling, Rudyard.  The Jungle Books.
Lackey, Mercedes. Valdemar novels and stories.
Lasky, Kathryn. The Guardians Of Ga'Hoole series.
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Lloyd, A.R. The Kine Saga
        Dragon Pond  
London, Jack.  White Fang.
Morpurgo, Michael.  War Horse.
McAllister, Margaret.  The Mistmantle Chronicles.
        Urchin Of The Riding Stars.
        Urchin And The Heartstone.
        The  Heir Of Mistmantle.
        Urchin And The  Raven  War.
        Urchin And The Rage Tide.
McCaffrey, Anne.  Dragonriders Of Pern series.
O'Brien, Robert C.  Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH.
Oppel, Kenneth. Silverwing series
Orwell, George. Animal Farm.
Pierce, Meredith Ann.  Birth Of The Firebringer.
Salten, Felix.  Bambi.
Selden, George.  The Cricket In Times Square.
Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty.
Smith, Dodie.  The Hundred And One Dalmatians.
Smith, Wayne. Thor.
Stewart, Sharon. Raven Quest.
Tod, Michael. God's Elephants; Dolphin Song
          The Dorset Squirrels (aka The Woodstock Saga)
          -- The  Silver Tide
          -- The Second Wave
          -- The Golden Flight   
Wagner, Hillary. The Nightshade Chronicles.
        Nightshade City
        The White Assassin.
        Lords Of Trillium.
Wangerin, Walter Jr. The Book Of The Dun Cow.
Werber, Bernard.  Empire Of The Ants.
White, E.B. Charlotte's Web.
Williams, Tad. Tailchaser's Song.

Comics & Graphic Novels
Busiek, Kurt. The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw.
Delgado, Ricardo.  Age Of Reptiles.
Dorkin, Evan (author) & Jill Thompson (artist).  Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites.
Eliopoulos,Chris;  Ig Guara and Colleen Coover.  Lockjaw And The Pet Avengers.
Ennis, Garth.    Rover Red Charley.
Morrison, Grant.
        Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens (with Barry Sonnenfeld).
Petersen, David.  Mouse Guard.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus.
Vaughn, Brian K. (author) and Niko Henrichon (artist). Pride Of Baghdad.

Bunnies & Burrows. Fantasy Games Unlimited. 1976.  The original animal fantasy game.

Cat. By John Wick.  Housecats protect their humans from invisible monsters.

Council Of Wyrms.  TSR/Wizards Of The Coast.  A boxed set campaign setting designed for dragon player characters in the 2nd edition of the classic fantasy game.  One of the first major focuses on non-humanoid characters.

Mice & Mystics. Plaid Hat Games.  Storytelling boardgame about a group of humans magically turned into mice, trying to rescue their kingdom from an evil sorceress.  Loads of fun.

Squirrel Attack! Hinterwelt Enterprises.  Squirrels from a magical dimension raid Mr. Jones' stash of nuts.

Tales From The Wood. By Simon Washbourne & Mike George.  RPG featuring animals of the British woodlands.

The Noble Wild: An Animal Player's Handbook.  Skirmisher Publishing.  Available in OGC and Pathfinder versions; rules for playing animal PCs in the 3.5 edition of the world's first fantasy RPG. A kindred spirit, and a recent discovery!

Tooth And Claw. A short (8-page) RPG about ferrets.


  1. Rover Rex Charlie is actually Garth Ennis. Phenomenal stuff, that. Have you read Neil Gaiman's Sandman? Highly relevant is issue #18 'Dream of a Thousand Cats'. I would also suggest Walt Kelly's Pogo strips and a newer title, Autumnlands:Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek- absolutely essential. Keep up the good work here!

    1. Oops, thanks for that catch, Jarrett.

    2. And no, I haven't read Busiek's work yet. I usually wait until multiple issues are collected into trade paperbacks. I've got my eye on it, and it looks very exciting.

      I've also added it to the reading list.

      Thanks for your support!

  2. You must try to find the Kine Saga (a trilogy about a weasel by A.R. Lloyd) and the Woodstock Sage (a trilogy about squirrels by Michael Tod). They really are both good reads.

    1. Simon, those book look wonderful! Turns out Michael Tod has written novels about dolphins and elephants, too.

      Adding them to this list, and to my "must find list."

  3. Also turns out A R Lloyd has written a novel called The Last Otter - I've just ordered a used copy from Amazon

  4. You should take a look at It's A Dog's Life too - there's a free pdf download on Beyond Belief Games website

  5. I always think of Margary Sharp's The Rescuers series when I think of stories in this genre--Miss Bianca and Bernard.