So, I started reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s Roverandom last night. I’ve long maintained that all good children’s stories must have an element of fear, darkness, et cetera, in them. Tolkien obviously agreed. Rover, after being turned into a toy, complains that he wants to run and bark and play. Other toys chide Rover, telling him to be quiet because the more a toy gets played with, the quicker it wears out, breaks, gets discarded and so forth.
In other words, the very thing that a toy is made for is the thing which a toy dreads.
Of course, I could not help but think of the fantasy game implications of Tolkien’s tale. In short:
1. Toys are sentient, capable of communication, and are motile. We don’t know they’re sentient because we can’t hear them talk or see them move. Toys can’t move when they’re watched, and even when not watched most move very slowly, especially if they aren’t appropriately articulated. A block of wood carved into the shape of a horse can perhaps wobble a little bit and fall over, but that’s about it.
2. Toys don’t like being played with. They want to be left alone, kept in mint condition on display on a shelf out of reach of children’s fingers.
3. Toys fear death at the hands of children. They also fear being discarded or lost, which likely leaves them at the mercy of the elements, nibbling rodents, and so forth.
Thus, the life of a toy tends to be limited and full of dread. Toys are created by thoughtless craftsmen to endure torture and eventual destruction, all to amuse children who are oblivious to the terror they inflict.
Quite understandably, many toys become quite bitter, even hateful, especially of children. Rarely, one of these toys entreats whatever powers might listen for aid, and Cro† infrequently decides to intervene. In his mercy and his cruelty, he grants the toy magical powers, almost always including the ability cast Animate Object, but in such a way that it can affect dozens of toys at the same time. Individually, few of these animated toys pose much of a threat, but acting in concert against a terrified child alone in his playroom….
†Cro, the God of Truth, Chaos, and Opposites. Cro always speaks the truth. Cro always lies. Cro stands firm against what is evil. Cro revels in evil, his hands stained with innocent blood. Cro is all things, and all things are Cro.