51dm-e4Io1LNot long  ago I really enjoyed reading “Cat Out Of Hell” by Lynne Truss, published by Hammer – (Working in association with Hammer Films, Hammer publishes compelling and intelligent horror in the form of film tie-ins, backlist classics re-imagined to bring them to a whole new market with a modern and sophisticated twist, and new novellas by established authors).

“Cat Out Of Hell” is essentially a tale about the true nature of cats the publishers blurb describes it as “mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives, and a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful”.  I’d say that the story goes a long way to explaining why a dog looks at you as though it loves you and a cat looks at you as though you are a particularly pathetic example of your species.  Anyway as is always the case, when I read a new book that I like I can’t help but think that there is inevitably a roleplaying game in there somewhere.

“The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams.

Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat.

The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting.

The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.

‘Shall we begin?’ says the cat …”

Well clearly I’m not the only person who thinks that sentient, magic cats are a good candidate for a roleplaying game.  The good guys over at Evil Hat, the driving force behind FATE, have released  “The Secrets Of Cats” which is an excellent product made possible by their Patreon Campaign (read about that here).

The Secrets Of Cats“The Secrets Of Cats” is available as a PDF from DriveThruRPG, currently as a Pay What You Want title and it is based on the premise that Cats are magical creatures whose duty it is to protect their poor, vulnerable humans—whom they call Burdens—from the many threats that lurk in the night.

“Cats are magical; they understand sacrifice and the power of names. A decapitated mouse left on the doorstep or pillow is a powerful ward, and a spell wailed by the cat chorus confers even greater protection. When evil is on the rise and the safety of the neighbourhood is at stake the Parliament of Cats is there to stand firm against the darkness.”

The book itself runs to around fifty pages and is split into five distinct parts: an introduction and background, character creation, a setting (the mining town of Silver Ford), a ready to play story and finally details of Complications and Threats for your cats to deal with.

The production values are as good as any that we have come too expect from Evil Hat.  In particular the artwork throughout the book is really good and gives a sense of context to the type of game lurking within.  Its style is reminiscent of Don Bluth animations such as “The Secret Of Nimh”, or “The Land Before Time”, in particular it put me in mind of “All Good Dogs Go To Heaven”.

The Silver Ford setting included in the book, is a sleepy tourist town near a played-out old silver mine, (sounds like an episode of “Scooby Doo”), is sufficiently well fleshed out to be of use for more than just the one included story and is carefully constructed to show you how to think about the setting for your own feline adventures.  The adventure “Black Silver” starts when kids messing around in the mine accidentally rouse an ancient evil on Halloween, and of course it falls to the secret and magical cats of the neighbourhood to protect their human burdens from the things that go bump and squish in the night.

I haven’t had a chance to play “The Secrets Of Cats” yet, but I will, and I know a ton of cat lovers that will really enjoy the game.  It has appeal for gamers of all ages and the potential for some real good family fun.  So for the sake of a Pay What You Want donation we would gladly recommend you take a look at “The Secrets Of Cats”.

Sharpen your claws and prepare to defend your territory!

August 20th 1890 Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born and it is fair to say that in his 46 years he managed to change forever the horror genre.  In honor of his memory we wanted to present our five top tips for doing something Lovecraftian.

1. Play a game of Call Of Cthulhu

Since 1981 people have been playing Chaosium’s Call Of Cthulhu Role Playing Game – it has become the definitive horror RPG, and frankly I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than deep into a 1920′s setting, battling the horrors of Lovecrafts Mythos.  If you are looking for a particular scenario to run or play then you could do a lot worse than to pick up one (or all) of Goodman Games “Age Of Cthulhu” games.

Set throughout the globe and torn from the pages of the hidden history of the world, Age of Cthulhu adventures bring new secrets and mind-bending horrors to your 1920′s Call of Cthulhu game. Each adventure comes with copious player handouts, detailed maps, and pre-generated investigators ready to risk their lives and their sanity to confront the horrors of an uncaring universe“.

In honor of Lovecraft’s birthday Goodman Games are offering the entire range of Age Of Cthlhu  PDF’s at 25% off of their full retail price.  Check them out here, I think they are some of the best materials around for Call Of Cthulhu.

2. Check out the Cthulhu Mythos Sales

I hate sounding like nothing but an advert for the Onebookshelf marketplaces, but if you like RPG’s then you can’t ignore the fact that they have changed the way we buy our games and have probably done more to keep our industry alive than anyone else.  But that’s a debate for another day, all you need to know is that for the next few days you can indulge in Cthlhu Mythos sales at DriveThruRPG, DriveThruFiction and DriveThruComics.

3. Lots to see on Cthulhu’Tube

Well actually I mean YouTube, but there are no shortage of really cool Cthulhu Mythos clips to be found.  My favorites are and will probably always be the “Calls For Cthulhu” series.  Check out the available episodes here, or click below to watch my personal favorite – Episode 1.

 

 

4. Watch a movie

For sure there are some awful adaptations of Lovecraft stories into film, but there are also some fantastic ones and more importantly there are some movies that are inspired by and just would not exist if it wasn’t for the influence of Lovecraft’s tales.  My personal favorites are clearly the Reanimator films starring Jeffery Coombes, (see the trailer for the 1985 classic below), but for greater and wider inspiration check out “MIKE DAVIS’ LIST OF RECOMMENDED LOVECRAFTIAN MOVIES” over at The Lovecraft eZine.

 

5. Read a book!

I’m always staggered by my CoC players who actually haven’t read any of Lovecraft’s books.  So treat yourself and read some of his works.  If you have an e-reader (Kindle, Nook etc) then treat yourself for free and visit Cthulhu Chick’s blog and download her fantastic “The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft” which contains all of the original stories which Lovecraft wrote as an adult. It begins in 1917 with “The Tomb” and ends in 1935 with his last original work “The Haunter of the Dark”.

It is a great piece of work and to make it available in this way I think is a truly kind spirited thing as I am certain it was no small effort.  If you like it, then you could always consider hitting the button on the page to make a donation.

Dice & Slice, Season One

I want to draw your attention to a slightly different games related Kickstarter, with some very curious backer rewards. I have several reasons for doing so but possibly the best of which being that I really like the idea and just wish that I a) had thought of it myself and b) had the time and the talent to follow through on it.  So… Feast, (literally), your eyes on G*M*S Magazine’s “Dice & Slice” Season One.

The basic idea is that the good folks at G*M*S Magazine - there’s a link in the sidebar – want to do a new kind of  webshow about gamers, gaming and of course food. The basic premise is that each of the 15 episodes will look at a game (board game/RPG etc) but will also throw in a recipe or two for the players to munch on while they get to it.  Maybe its partly because I’m advancing in years, but this really appeals to me – I love cooking, I love eating with friends and I really love playing games…  Dammit, they are onto a winning formula.  Here before we say anything else – checkout a muffin recipe.

Now at the top of the page I said that the Kickstarter offered some curious backer rewards, and it does.  Ultimately the show will be about the gamers; the pledge levels and rewards reflect that and give backers a big say in how the show will be run. As backers you can help decide what games are played and possibly more importantly what recipes are cooked.


There are also opportunities to participate in playing the games with with the guys from G*M*S Magazine, or to join them to record an unboxing video.  If you are a game designer/publisher then you could even back at a level to get your game featured in one of the shows.  As far as Kickstarters go this is something different, its by someone who is clearly passionate about the games industry and G*M*S Magazine is a great site that will only be further enhanced by the addition of Dice & Slice.  I for one can’t wait to see the web shows when they launch.  The guys have already reached their minimum funding target (and first stretch goal), so this is something that is really going to happen.  Throw them a few gold coins and help them hit their stretch goals, and help shape the shows – take a look at the Kickstarter and if nothing else try the muffin recipe (I’d suggest for my gaming group the addition of some very thinly sliced red and green chilis, candied in sugar sprinkled on the top of each muffin – but then we are a pretty hardcore bunch).

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

Starblazer AdventuresBAD NEWS: A recent email from the nice folk at Cubicle 7 broke the news that they are discontinuing their classic “Starblazer Adventures” and “Legends of Anglerre” products. With their licensing agreement due to expire, and other projects in the pipeline they have had to make the tough decision not to renew it and to cease the publication of these landmark titles. After March 31st none of these products will be on sale.

GOOD NEWS: To celebrate these fantastic products, the nice folk of Cubicle 7 are running a special sale for the rest of March – all “Starblazer Adventures” and “Legends of Anglerre” PDF products will be $5. Which is an absolute BARGAIN! This means that for a measly $15 you could pick up the Starblazer Adventures, the Legends of Anglerre core book and the companion… Again I tell you BARGAIN!

Seriously though, “Starblazer Adventures” is a work of genius, if you are old enough to remember the Starblazer comic book of the 1970′s and 80′s you need to have this before it disappears from the virtual bookshelves. As well as lots of nostalgic artwork, (over 400 pieces spread through 630+ pages), the book details many recurring characters, organisations, empires and aliens such as the Fi-Sci (the Fighting Scientists of Galac Squad), The Star Patrol, The Suicide Squad, The Planet Tamer, Cinnibar the barbarian warrior of Babalon and galactic cop Frank Carter to name just a few. It has attracted much praise, none more impressive than:

“Enough galactic conspiracies, star creatures, space fleets, swashbuckling scientists and alien war worlds to keep you and your friends busy for years” – Ian Livingstone

As if that wasn’t enough, to quote the wonderful folk at Cubicle 7:

“Legends of Anglerre shoves a massive battle axe in the hands of the Ennie Award nominated Starblazer Adventures roleplaying game”.

Legends Of AnglerreJust like “Starblazer Adventures” itself, “Legends of Anglerre” is a stand-alone  interpretation of the FATE rules and features two detailed fantasy settings.  Most significantly “Anglerre”, the world featured in the original Starblazer fantasy comics, and secondly “Lords of the Hither Kingdoms”, an new and original setting.

As with “Starblazer Adventures” artwork from the classic Starblazer comics is used throughout, evoking the high fantasy nostalgia brings the worlds to life in a way that would have pleased even “Axel The Avenger”!

Finally the “Legends of Anglerre Companion” adds new rules for families and dynasties, city and island adventures, aspects-only play, and a complete random adventure generator, as well as two complete scenarios (“Dreams on Dragon Island” and “The Sirens of Simris”

Don’t miss out, it really is the last chance and its a lot of RPG for $15.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

 

The Clay That Woke

This is a last minute shout out in support of a Kickstarter by Paul Czege; “The Clay That Woke“.  It ends in less than 48 hours and is already fully funded, including reaching its two stretch goals to have the graphic design and layout done by Brennan Reece and to double the amount of interior art by Nate Marcel.

Now if those names don’t mean anything to you…  Shame on you!  Paul Czege is probably best known for his roleplaying game “My Life With Master“, which is far and away one of the best independent games I have ever read or played.  I’ve never written a review (lord knows why not), but you are just going to have to trust me that its brilliant.  He is the author of one of only 18 role-play games profiled in the Origins award winning Hobby Games: The 100 Best. 

The Kickstarter launches Paul Czege’s new game “The Clay That Woke“, which promises to be an immersive game set in a richly imagined world where the player characters take on the roles of Minotaurs.  If you watch the video and read the blurb you will see that the author is genuinely excited by the game and with Nate Marcel and Brennan Reece involved it promises to be visually stunning as well.  It features a unique token based game mechanic where tokens drawn from a bowl are matched to a menu of outcomes, sounds a bit weird (I can hear my friends asking “what about my dice”), but I think it looks really quite exciting.


I should have waved a flag about this much earlier, and I am sorry for not doing so, I think it is one of the most exciting Kickstarters around, if you back this in the next forty-seven hours I am certain you won’t regret it.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek