In the opening line of Secrets of the Squirrel, author Peter M. Ball writes a sentence that I don't particularly agree with. He says:
?There probably doesn't need to be a product full of rules for people who want to make interesting characters or NPCs with squirrel traits, but why should simple things like common sense get in the way of a good time [?]?
You see, I've been secretly hoping for such a product for a long time. Back in the dark(er) era of Second Edition Dungeons & Dragons, one of the annual softcover monster books that TSR put out contained a race of squirrel-folk known as the Kercpa. For whatever reason, the Kercpa became a minor but beloved addition to my home-brewed campaign world. My rarely played centaur PC even gained one as a follower, and the two went on to great adventures together.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because if you haven't dismissed me as some kind of looney by this point, then Secrets of the Squirrel may be just the book for you. Picture squirrels in war paint, firing down upon evil goblins with tiny squirrel-crafted bows, defending their forest realm with a bravery and gusto far larger than their apparent size. Still with me? Have I lost all credit as an RPGNow staff reviewer?
If not, then read on, gentle...er...reader, and add some squirrels to your game. You know you want to.
Secrets of the Squirrel contains a number of squirrly rules. There is a new Kercpa-like race of squirrel-people. There are squirrel themed spells! Heck, there are even squirrel-themed feats!
While this book is obviously written with the author's tongue firmly in his cheek, it's not really as silly as it might sound. Any humor is secondary, a kind of side effect, and the various rules are well designed and generally quite clever.
First off, we have the return of the squirrel people. This time, they're called Toski. The name Toski, as all squirrel enthusiasts no doubt recognize, is a reference to Ratatosk, an actual character from norse mythology. The vikings, you see, were also fans of squirrels.
The author has taken the core of this myth and used it to create a pretty clever PC race. The entire psychology of the Toski is tied in with the legend of Ratatosk. They are a clever, furry little bunch with a misunderstood (and probably completely fictitious) divine legacy. In other words, they sound like a lot of fun to play.
Next, the author presents a handful of squirrel-themed feats. This is the section of the book I found to be the most outright silly. There are feats here called Scamper, Squirreling Paws, and Stowe (among others). It should be noted that the feats themselves are well designed, its just the images that they bring to mind that might seem a bit...goofy. Squirreling Paws, for example, gives a character a bonus to Sleight of Hand checks. The explanation is that he is adept at hiding small things about his person. The silliness, then, is in the details.
The spells section is probably a little more useful to those not wishing to play (or introduce) Toski characters. The most flavorful spell is, in my opinion, Cesil's Squirrel Swarm. This spell was created by a druid to aid him in gathering his evening meal of acorns. It can, of course, be put to more offensive uses should the caster choose to do so. Other spells, such as Acorn Avalanche or Fafnar's Secret Chitter are less serious but no less useful.
Secrets of the Squirrel contains pretty much every other kind of squirrel rule imaginable: Squirrel equipment, dire squirrels, squirrel swarms, etc. The only thing that I found missing was rules for lycanthropic squirrels. Where are the weresquirrels?<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Alright, so I admit that this review, like the product it covers, is a bit tongue in cheek. In all seriousness, Secrets of the Squirrel is very well written and very well designed. Its subject may be a bit out there, but it does a great job presenting it all the same.
The Toski are a neat race that would fit in just fine with all the other strange intelligent beings in a typical D&D world, and some of the spells would make a fine addition to the spell roster of even the most serious-minded druid. Its also nice to have a d20 stat block for squirrels, which were curiously overlooked in the Monster Manual.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: This is a niche product and, by the author's own admission, probably didn't need to be written. If you aren't interested in adding a new race to the sylvan realms of your world, and you don't think that the gnome barbarian in your campaign would be interested in gaining a Squirrel Totem, you probably won't get much use out of this book.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>