Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Friday, 3 February 2023

The Other OSR—Chimneyhaus

is a scenario for Mausritter – Sword-and-Whiskers roleplaying, the rules-light fantasy adventure microclone in which the very big and very dangerous world is explored from a mouse eye’s point of view. This is our world, but one in which the mice are anthropomorphic and can talk, as can other species. Beyond the walls of their home, the world is one of opportunity and adventure, fraught with hazards natural and unnatural, those untouched by mankind and those imposed by mankind. Using the base mechanics from Into the Odd, mice in Mausritter need to be brave, resourceful and clever, as well as lucky if they are to survive. Scenarios for Mausritter tend to be location based. Either the mice having to explore a single location, which could actually be a tree stump, a human-sized suit of armour, a grandfather clock, or an abandoned human-made shack, as in Mausritter: Honey in the Rafters or a sandbox setting containing numerous locations, such as Mausritter: The Estate Adventure Collection or Mayfield. Chimneyhaus itself is a sandbox setting.

Chimneyhaus is published by Fey Light Studio. It details a single location and the surrounding area. The single location is the McRheetz Farm, a fairly isolated dairy farm which stands in the middle of County Langlade. Here the mice have made their home in a disused chimney stack on the farmhouse and inhabit a series of cliffside-like homes up the inside of the chimney, with a smoker at the top where the mice smoke cheese and a cheese cave and brewery at the bottom. Home to a family of some sixty mice, they have an odd relationship with the farmer and his family. They think the mice are fairies and so leave a pint of milk out daily, lest the ‘fairies’ turn the rest of his milk sour. Of course, the mice turn the milk into cheese! However, Frey, the McRheetz family cat, is always hungry and has both the run of the farm and the trust of the farmer! The farm itself is nicely detailed, and include the Haystack Market where traders met, the Sugar Maple Orchard where the mice regularly tap the trees the syrup for mead, and the Chicken Coop where the chickens are plotting a revolution, but their short-term memory means that they forget and must start again in the morning!

Beyond the boundaries of the farm, Chimneyhaus presents County Langlade, a complete mega-hex full of locations. The McRheetz Farm stands at the centre with places like a cave, home to a bear, but which has strange markings on its walls; a lake home to a frog prince; and a cemetery where ghosts wander in search of the living to leech heat from. There is a hamlet nearby too, the site of an abandoned well that was once home to mice and here the pigeons strut the streets. These are supported by details of the factions, such as a centipede army, the Queen B’s Hive, and Willy the Weasel, plus more detailed adventure sites. These expand upon their descriptions in the County Langlade write-up and come with complete with plot hooks, and encounters and things that the Player Characters might find. There are four of these, plus a short bestiary with new creatures for Mausritter, some new conditions, and a handful of new spells.

Physically, Chimneyhaus is short and succinctly presented. The conciseness of the writing means that not only is everything is easy to grasp, but there is space too for the Game Master to add her own content. The artwork and look of the book does vary in quality though. One illustration is at least too big, whilst the actual chimney where the mice live is charmingly illustrated in rich colours, the map of farm itself is terribly bland and uninviting.

Chimneyhaus is a charmingly rural sandbox for Mausritter which can be run on its own, or combined with other titles for Mausritter. There is certainly space in County Langlade for Mausritter: The Estate Adventure Collection or Mayfield. Equally, the Game Master has plenty of room to add her own content, or even developing something already mentioned in the supplement, such as the abandoned well in the nearby hamlet. In whatever way it is used, Chimneyhaus will be a classic player-driven sandbox which the players can explore at their leisure, their mice discovering in the process a world of magic, mystery, and menace, whether as a campaign on its own or expanded by the Game Master.

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