The Animorphs book series was a dark look at the ‘children must save the world trope’—and one of the first of the more modern takes on the genre. I have designed this tabletop campaign to have the same feeling—sometimes overwhelming, sometimes exciting, sometimes ridiculous and sometimes high stakes. Hopefully that all boils down to fun.
This campaign is set in todays timeline. The date of our first session in real life is the date the characters are at In Game as well. This does mean your characters will be creating an alternate timeline. Some events may occur in both timelines but others may not. This does mean (for creation and knowledge purposes) that any events in modern or ancient history that have already transpired are fair game. However any new discoveries either from old or new sources, are not set in stone in the universe of the campaign.
Those with knowledge of the book series/TV show/video game will have to put aside certain expectations as this campaign is not meant to be a mirror to those stories. Some events and characters may be identical to known fans but not everything will be the same—some characters will not exist at all, some events will be altered, some things will completely contradict known canon, and some things will be entirely new. Keeping an open mind and a mentality that this is ‘heavily inspired by’ will help. These alterations will also put all the players on a level field as those with knowledge of the Animorphs will not really be sure what is and is not true in this campaign.
All players are starting with human characters in my campaign. As the campaign progresses other races will be available to play. Each player may swap out one character without penalty, subsequent characters will be at lower levels depending upon how they are able to enter the story. Characters being replaced must have their fates roughly decided upon—IE no-one can really just take a back seat or step aside once things get going. The player and the GM should discuss what fits best and what the player sees as the truest outcome.
Players will receive Hero Points throughout the game. Points can be awarded for just about anything but are usually reserved for clever actions, character growth or exceptional role play. These points can then be used any time after they are given to alter the course of things. There is no set way to use points and thus no real rules. Generally they are used to grant a bonus, get a re-roll or apply directly to the story itself. The GM will have final say on what these points can and cannot be used for and not every point usage will be the same.
As this campaign setting reflects the real world players are encouraged to keep lines of communication open in regard to their comfort level with certain topics. If at any point a player feels uncomfortable they are encouraged to speak up. No one will judge and as the game relies on the players having fun this is very important. If you aren’t having fun than something needs to change. You can step away, topics can be altered, language can be softened or story points can be dropped entirely.
Even though this is a tabletop dice-rolling game, there are going to be instances where players will not be able to roll to attempt an action. These instances will likely be rare but due to the setting are likely to pop up from time to time. Try to be understanding that while you are indeed playing the heroes and the goal is for you to ‘win’ (so to speak) sometimes you simply cannot do certain things. Things like understanding an alien language that has never been heard by humans before or having an ant lift a jet engine are simply impossible without divine intervention.
The morphing ability has many rules but most characters will not be given a rulebook. In-game, in-character trial and error may occur and will help both players and the GM iron out details about the mechanics of the ability. You and your characters will learn together how to master their new ability.
In the books the Animorphs were often faced with insane and seemingly impossible feats. To meet these challenges they came up with elaborate plans. Over the course of this campaign your characters will also face seemingly insurmountable odds. Keep in mind that the GM does want you to succeed even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. At the end of the day this campaign is supposed to be fun and you’re playing the heroes. If a specific scenario has you stumped, sometimes the best option is the one that makes the best story.
As the world and situations can change drastically sometimes a little wiggling has to be done with numbers. When Animorphs take incredibly small morphs things can be tricky. The nature of the morphing ability means an Animorph’s ant morph will be much stronger than any regular ant, however it will never be strong enough to, say, lift a car. Scores, stats, bonuses etc are meant to apply to the world of the morph’s size category and may need to be adjusted. There is no set rule for how this is to be done, use your best judgement.