Rabbits & Rangers is a collection of character options and alternative rules that support cartoonish fantasy. It is explicitly compatible with Labyrinth Lord and, by extension, other B/X D&D and AD&D simulacrums. The silliness factor is pretty high, and if an adventuring party comprised of a Crow Magic-User, a Rooster Fighting-Man, an Owl Cleric, and a Skunk Thief riding snailodons and domesticated lizard mounts doesn’t get your engine revving, this supplement might not be for you.
The infamous lethality of old-school games is offset by a clever trick: your character may die a glorious death, just barely make it out alive and retire, or get knocked out for a while and receive a setback in levels. The harsher the option, the more boons the next character gets (rolled on a random table, of course).
There are also 25 Natures that describe a character’s dominant emotion or demeanor (going nicely with cartoonish stereotypes). Nature also grants a small mechanical bonus. For instance, Fast characters have doubled movement speed but receive a penalty to ranged attacks because of their hyperactivity, while Simple creatures gain a massive bonus to saves vs. fear and mind control, but they must have below average Wisdom and Intelligence scores).
Altogether 50 different animal species are presented, each with their own set of abilities. For example, Baboons gain a bonus to intimidation (a codified mechanic based on the old reaction roll) and climbing rocks and cliffs. Cats are hard to surprise or knock prone, they can cheat death up to 9 times, but they must make a save or they are compelled to catch things that move or fly fast in their presence.
The mechanics for non-standard movement (flying, swimming, burrowing), natural attacks, size, and a bunch of other things are taken into consideration, and some of the races gain an XP bonus to compensate for the lack of firepower. Regardless, there is no semblance of balance. Some abilities are just bonuses, some mimic class abilities, others are shiny new toys unlike anything in the core rules. This imbalance is accentuated especially by the animal types that have their Hit Die type set to a minimum or maximum (e.g. Mice cannot have higher than d4 HD, while Rhinos have a minimum d8).
There is also a handful of new magic items, spells, and monsters, and in the appendix some consideration is given to armor and weapon size, new chimeras, and lycanthropy (yes, your peaceful mouse burglar might turn into a ravenous tiger under the full moon, or a berserking panda, ready to fight her way to the nearest bamboo forest).
All in all, Rabbits & Rangers does a decent job at providing the tools to make cartoonish characters and equip them with fitting mundane and magical gear. Unfortunately, there is no section dedicated to adventure and campaign design. I would’ve liked a handful of adventure ideas or brief setting pitches to guide prospective GMs, and advice on how to gain the most out of the combination of silly cartoon aesthetics and adventure fantasy.
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