The episodic TTRPG Dimension 20 Also debuted in 2018, and while Mulligan had the idea for a murder mystery animal campaign early on, it took until 2021 to produce the series: the 10 episodes of the thriller have now been broadcast. This is the second Lilliputian campaign on D20, the other being that of last winter Small robbery, a touch of D&D genres that combined Eleven from the ocean with Borrowers.
Other Lilliputian games have fallen into the side genre. The TTRPG Humblewood mainly deals with anthropomorphized birds, drawing on illustrator Leesha Hannigan’s Art of High Fancy Chickens and Owls. Mouse knight adapted designer Isaac Williams’ mice and rats that he used for his household games into a dense and detailed rulebook. Wanderhome was written by Dragon as a game to deal with post-pandemic trauma with a non-combat system, with a kind and bittersweet design. It helps that these games have deep roots in stories that we probably grew up with.
The nostalgia factor
In the children’s literature analysis book Feel like a child, author Jerry Griswold describes five recurring themes in children’s stories: comfort, smallness, liveliness, fear and lightness. These first three are of particular importance for Lilliputian games, as Griswold’s examples show: The wind in the willows, the smallness of Stuart Little and his little car, the liveliness of talking and thinking animals in Doctor Dolittle. Griswold writes that children are drawn to these themes because of the proportion of their favorite activities that feature these elements (building pillow forts, being usually tiny, seeing the entire universe as “alive and full of companions”), while adult literature has fewer and fewer moments of sheer cozy joy. But adults still like to imagine themselves living in badger burrows or having multiple pets (see: Animal Crossing, Despereaux’s Tale, Paddington 2.). Analog games only make up for this desire.
Besides the sheer fun of cozy little activities, centuries of Lilliputian children’s literature have created a reservoir of nostalgia for designers and gamers from: Mouse and murder taken from The wind in the willows and Beatrix potter; Root taken from Ship down, Mouse guard, and Disney Robin Hood; Mouse knight taken from Bramble hedge, Rescuers, and Ghibli Arrietty. Redwall finds a way to squeeze in most games, as Brian Jacques ‘book series was immensely popular, especially for kids in the’ 90s.
“Nostalgia for Redwall is quite high at the moment ”, Root Player Evelyn Ramiel told WIRED on Discord. “And the Root the frame takes what people loved as kids (including me) from Redwall and eliminates many of the more uncomfortable social implications that Redwall a (morally coding all animal species). All of the design teams interviewed for this story took special care not to code factions and animal species for real-life cultures, a move that Root: The RPG According to designer Mark Truman, he has helped preserve fantastic allegories in the game worlds without introducing concepts of racial attributes, dark elves, or orcs. “I think one of the main reasons animal games are doing well right now is the desire to move away from the often difficult reimagining of the breed that is required to play in traditional fantasy environments,” Truman said.
“A lot of times the human body is a very political, sort of inevitable site,” says Dragon. The Lilliputian game “allows distance but also proximity where you can say something about what it means to be human”.
Explore new genres through mice
The Lilliputian genre can be an escape, but more often than not they can use their withdrawal from humanity and reality to help players figure out what they really want to do in a fantasy world. “Wanderhome is the only game in which my character took a quiet afternoon nap, ”says player Logan Timmins. “And as a player, I really enjoyed that choice and would do it again.” Your tabletop game can be spent keeping bees, tidying up a fox den, collecting acorns for a squirrel feast – it doesn’t have to be more complicated or violent than that. It’s no coincidence that Lilliputian games saw their popularity rise even further during their forties, made worse by the cottagecore aesthetic and its often odd appreciation for select families and cozy spaces.
“I think part of the reason queer players in the RPG scene are interested in exploring the pastoral fantasy genre is that it places a strong emphasis on community and the physical spaces in which those communities exist. ” Root and Wanderhome Player Nick Eggers explains on Discord.
The designers of Root used the Lilliputian aesthetic for the opposite purpose: they had a cruel and asymmetrical board game in the wargaming genre, a space usually populated by Panzer tanks and dragons. “The main problem with having two people play Axis and allies is that you have to choose at the start of the game which of you is a Nazi ”, says Rootby illustrator Kyle Ferrin. It is a serious obstacle to the game. RootThe world of dynasties of birds, otter swimming instructors and the cutest possum with a sword I have ever seen has attracted thousands of gamers in war games. Built-in comfort gives players more leeway to take violent action and find out if it’s enjoyable, for both parties – it’s easier to have your armies assassinated if it’s by a cute opossum, and this formula works for almost all games.