Here at EN World, I’m continuing to look at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids’ gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults’ table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Mouse Tails: Rodent Playing Game is an all-ages RPG by David Bezio’s Grey Area Games. In it you play a mouse, a straight up four paws with a tail and a low position in the food chain rodent. As a role-player, that’s a win. You want to role-play, play something that is not human in any way. To support the role, Mouse Tails contains character generation, PC, and GM rules as well as a mouse character sheet all for the price of Pay What You Want.
The writing. Kids movies tend to have a dusting of pop culture references to keep the adults from nodding off. Mouse Tails has a pinch of that style but replace the word “adults” with “gamers”. David Bezio laced enough winks to players that I’d be remiss in not pointing out a few.
- Mouse Tails is a RPG, a Rodent Playing Game
- The Game Master (GM) is called the Mouse Master (MM)
- The Player Characters (PCs) are dubbed Mouse Characters (MCs)
- The first letter of each stat – Muscle, Outwit, Unnoticed, Skitter, Energy – spells out MOUSE
The rules. MCs rank their five stats from six (worst) to two (best). The game uses a d6 to resolve any stat-based challenges. Ability rolls require achieving at least your ability score or higher to succeed. As well, there are five luck points that grant automatic successes on an ability check.
Getting hurt. This is the point where the “all-ages” label drops off. If your MM rules that your MC might get hurt, you roll against your Energy stat. If you fail that ability check then you roll to see if your mouse character becomes incapacitated or dies. Letting a child’s mouse character die might ruin game night for the kids. Forever.
Does Mouse Tails win the kids’ table? If you follow the rules as written, a few poor rolls could lead to a child’s mouse character dying. Do you foresee tears at the kids’ table? Tears are not a win. If you remove the option to kill the MCs, then this game has real potential at the kids’ table. The younger kids playing cute mice, the older kids playing homebrewed rats, it’ll make for a happy table and introduction to RPGs.
Would Mouse Tails work at the adults’ table? Yes. The rules as written make this a challenging game. I can see a 5e or Pathfinder adventure where the GM polymorphs the entire party into mice. Using these rules, the party has to figure out how to restore themselves. This all-ages game downloads ready to be played by experienced gamers and, with a few tweaks to the rules, has the potential to be a well-loved all-ages game.