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Age range: all ages (counting to 20 required)
Because Shrewmanji doesn’t specify the exact encounters, you can make them as kid-friendly as you want and tailor them to your family’s interests. For playing with my kid, he was familiar with some cartoony combat from previous games we’ve played, so I introduced some encounters with fighting enchanted coconuts, and he was totally OK with it.
For understanding the mechanics, players do either need help with counting or need to be able to count to 20 and use dice since this does use a d20 dice system. For my 3yo, we helped him with recognizing some of the larger numbers, but otherwise, he loved rolling lots of different dice and seeing if he won. We also placed the appropriate dice on the pictures on his character sheet (i.e. put the d6 on the d6 picture, the d8 on the d8 picture, etc), so it was super easy for him to know what dice to roll for each ability.
You have freedom to set Shrewmanji however you want! However… knowing the game’s nod, I couldn’t resist setting it in a jungly kind of area with a giant volcano (my kid is really into volcanoes right now, so this was perfect). That said, you could easily use this system for any kind of setting – underground, underwater, in a cloud castle – it all should work fine with the mechanics.
Character creation was super easy. There’s a very clear character sheet and only three abilities to track. Each ability has a strength and weakness that determines how many dice you get to roll for it. And that’s it! There wasn’t a lot to track, which was both great for my kid and also great for me picking the game up quickly. Plus, since there weren’t a lot of abilities, I was able to reasonably draw pictures to help my kid understand the abilities on his sheet without having to read them.
You get to choose what your strongest and weakest abilities are out of BODY, MIND, and HEART. The strongest one you choose gets to use a larger die (so chances of higher rolls!). This gives some uniqueness between characters and helps with them working together to balance out each other’s abilities.
Each ability that you assign also gets a strength and weakness. Strengths get to use a higher die to roll and weaknesses use a smaller one (it is really clear on the character sheet what the die is, so there’s no guesswork later).
So, for the game we played, my kid’s primary ability was HEART and his strength was “giving the most amazing hugs”. When he wanted to hug the guide to convince them to take the group up the volcano without paying. He got to roll a d20 since it was his strength for his best skill… and rolled a 20. Queue hugging the guide into giving us a free volcano tour!
What did my kid think?
My son did really well with this! With some of the modifications that we made (see the age range section), he had no problem understanding the game even though he can’t read yet. Also, since I had freedom with the setting, I was able to tailor it toward his interests for that particular day (volcanoes, airplanes, etc).
Shrewmanji was a fun game that I was able to also get my husband to really enjoy (sometimes he has a hard time getting into the kid-focused games that we play, but this was more truly for all ages, so he was into it). It was also a very satisfying nod to the Jumanji series, but with a cute twist and its own unique creation. Shrewmanji also really has me thinking about running this with my adult group as a mini campaign. I would definitely recommend this as a fun family night game or as a game to play with your regular TTRPG group. It was easy to learn, easy to DM, and everyone had fun.
Where to find and purchase a copy:
A copy of Shrewmanji can be found on DriveThruRPG
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, tried the game because of this post, or have played this game before!