As project manager of Evil hat I play surprisingly few Fate games. One part because I’m usually playing games at conventions and I take what’s offered, one part because I like to play the new-hot-sexy game de jour and one part because Fate is a bit like work for me. Despite loving it, I see it A LOT and so an idea really has to get me excited for me to run it. The Secrets of Cats got me excited.
I’ve run several games of Cat for my girls in the past and I know that the idea of playing magical cats is pretty, well, magical. I mean who doesn’t want to believe that your cat staring at the wall like there is something there is actually protecting you from an evil spirit trying to get in?
EndGame Square One game days have usually been on weekends I have my daughters so if I run a game, it’s a kid’s game they can play in. On November 30th, all of those would align, so I signed up to run The Secrets of Cats!
Note: I worked with Richard Bellingham (the author), Rob Donoghue (who reviewed the outline), Lenny Balsera (who worked with Richard as a system developer), Josh Yearsly (the Editor), Fred Hicks (layout and art direction) and Crystal Frasier (cover and interior art) on this project, so it was pretty damn cool to see the fruits of their labor turn into a game at a table I was GMing!
TSoC uses Fate Core with minor tweaks in the skill tree and some additional stunts. Any time I run Fate Core, I make sure the characters are at least ready to play. In this case it meant giving each cat a Name, description, three aspects (High Concept, Trouble, Burden), Skills selected (as there are some new ones like Territory and the four types of magic), Magic Stunts and normal stunts.
What this left open was a True Name aspect, a fifth aspect, and technically two stunts (one magic and one mundane) though I only encourage players to add in another stunt if it looks like they are trying to do something that doesn’t quite fit, or if they are using a skill they are bad at in a way that it sounds like their character should be particularly skilled.
I though this might be a bit too restrictive but it worked out great. The players quickly made their cats their own but describing their activities like Tuffy (the big bad tough cat) requiring a fealty from Oregan in the form a single dirty sock from each of her burdens (the family she watched over). They also talked about their burdens and fleshed them out much more than I had. Overall they warmed to the cats very quickly.
The adventure is a Secret…
Okay, it’s not actually a secret at all, but since I ran the adventure in the module Silver Ford, I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Suffice to say the cats went on a merry adventure, got in some fights they didn’t mean to, but saved the day in the end. The surprise finish was that our visiting cat, who really didn’t have a home found one, NOT WHERE I WOULD HAVE EVER EXPECTED. Turns out there’s a lot to say for how much having a pet can change a old cantankerous man’s disposition.
Thoughts on the game
I wish I took pictures. We had a cool map with aspect cards all over it and several drawings of cats. This was the best I could piece together afterwards.
The group I had clearly really understood cats. Whenever June’s cat Patches was outside of her own territory she immediately showed her belly to whoever owned the territory she entered. But in her home…it was HER RULES.
Bruno was hilarious because he was such a “people” cat. All of the fire crew loved him so when he saw something making off with one of their fire helmets if of course gave chase, and was almost run over because of it. Car are scary!
Many good times, and easily something I could imagine campaigning. Tuffy gained some new territory but could he hold onto it. What would Spark’s family (read: burden) do without her? Could Bruno stop the spirit that was starting fires in his town and causing his Burden’s so much grief? I’d love to play and find out.