Tuesday 5 February 2019

a Borrowers game

a game to play with kids


Borrowers are tiny people who live secretly alongside humans. They call themselves Borrowers because they take Stuff – anything they can think of a use for that the humans can live without.

You Will Need

pencils & paper
a clipboard or something similar to write on
some six-sided dice

You will also need a House. Most kinds of house will work, but the best are old and cluttered. Family homes are ideal as they often have a large variety and/or amount of Stuff.

If possible, use a house that is either very familiar to the players, or completely new to them and good for exploring.

How to Play

Each player plays as a Borrower. They decide who their character is and what they do. The players all try to complete a Borrowing mission together.

1. The group finds a home for their Borrowers. Borrowers live out of sight, such as beneath floorboards or behind unmoved furniture.

2. The group selects a piece of Stuff from somewhere else in the house.

3. The group embarks on a Borrowing. They find a way for their Borrowers to reach the Stuff and bring it back, completing any Challenges they need to overcome along the way.

Pencils and paper can be used to take notes and draw pictures.


A Challenge is something that a Borrower can’t easily do, but needs to do to complete a Borrowing. Challenges normally involve reaching certain places or removing obstacles on a particular route.

While Borrowers are strong for their size and resourceful, but the world is very big to them, and things humans wouldn’t even consider can cause obstacles while on a Borrowing. Borrowers don’t have any special powers – they're just like you or me, only tiny.

To complete a Challenge, a player needs to think like a Borrower. They can use items the Borrower is carrying, or think of ways to use their surroundings.

If a player can’t think of a way to surmount a Challenge, they can roll two dice and add the results together. If they get a 10 or more, their Borrower succeeds at the Challenge. If not, they fail the Challenge and cannot attempt it again – the Borrowers must find a new route.

The Assistant

One person may choose to act as the Assistant. The assistant does not control a character, but instead might set up a room before a game, place Stuff, help interpret dice rolls and offer guidance when asked.

If playing with kids, an adult should be the Assistant, as kids are better at thinking like Borrowers.

On Borrowers

Borrowers are:
Small. Players choose exactly how little their Borrowers are – using a ruler or small item for reference can be useful. Climbing more than twice a Borrower’s height is a Challenge, as is lifting anything heavier than themselves.
Shy. Borrowers will avoid being seen by humans at all costs. They will attempt to leave as little trace of their presence as possible, and will leave a home if they think any human might have figured out that they exist.
Smart. Borrowers are creative, love solving problems, and will always work together to think of a solution to any challenges. They use everyday Stuff in ways most humans wouldn’t think of.

Remember and consider these traits when playing as a Borrower. The Assistant will remind you if you forget.


Ben Milton said...

I've thought about playing D&D sessions using minis and my actual house as a Giant's fortress, but re-framing it as a borrowers mission is a fantastic idea. Now I want to write borrower equipment lists.

D. G. Chapman said...

An equipment list would be awesome - "button", "needle", "string", and it's up to the players what they get used for.

The items were my favourite thing about this concept - it's like how items in OSR games can be used for a bunch of weird cool ideas, except here there's no "default" use, it's all creative repurposing

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