Not 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” 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!