Actual Play – Birthday Cat! (9/21/2012)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: My daughters and friends
System: Cat

My little one wanted a game of cat for her birthday. I have awesome kids!

We all made pizzas together and while they were being cooked (the oven could only fit two at a time, so it was going to take a while) we made characters. The girls were very good about paying attention the whole way through. I thought it would be a challenge, but they really wanted to fill out their cat sheets and to do it right.

First we had a bit of discussion about what cat magic does. Last time we played it did everything, which got a bit old. So this time I wanted them to agree amongst themselves what magic could do. Several ideas were pitched but they ended up agreeing on telekinetics, which seemed pretty cool to me as well.

I read them a few blurbs from the game text about cats, humans, and boggins, and they were ready to go. One thing I didn’t expect is how many names they would want. Some were content with three, but a few of them just kept adding different names that different people called them, usually in the form of insults people yelled at them.

For simplicity sake I told them they all lived together in one house. This didn’t fit perfectly with their initial ideas but with only a hour or two to play, I really didn’t want to do any kind of “getting to know each other” scenes. In retrospect I could have had a small community of families that where in an complex and they all could have been from neighboring houses, or one could be a stray that got food from the others, but all in all, starting in one house was great.

Grandma is coming

The premise of my single situation games was simple. On an otherwise lazy day, a moving truck arrived and with it, their owner’s mother.  The cats overhead that Grandma is getting old and having a hard time taking care of herself, so she’s moving in with the family. What the cat’s learned the moment the movers opened the door to the van, however, was the reason Grandma was so sick was that all of her furniture (and probably her house as well) was infested with boggins. And all that furniture was about to be carried into their house!

We had a lot of fun with the cats trying to stop the movers, escaping from being put in their cages, and attacking the few bogins that did make it inside before they could spread. Eventually, when several movers had their pants shredded they gave up on doing the install and drove off with the bulk of Grandma’s furniture… and with the boggins. Success!

Thoughts on the game

Man, do little girls like to get violent. And are they big on shredding pants.

I ended up drawing a couple lines to keep the game decent. One at shredding underpants (I opted for the mover to have long underwear that could shredded but still keep him decent). The other at telekineticly moving bird droppings into eyes, mouths, etc. For that I asked them to think of a different way to use magic and the suggestion to unravel a garden hose the mover would trip on came up and we worked with that.  It was one of those cases where “say yes” was going to devolve into penis and poop jokes.

There girls had a blast and when it was time for presents and cake, I asked my youngest what her cat did next and she said “she eats grasshopper pike cake!” (which was the the kinds the girls were having). That made a perfect endcap for the game. We wrapped and ate cake. Good times.

Actual Play – The Kitty-Cat-Club (2/21/2011)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: My kids
System: Cat

The continued saga of Leaf and Rosie…

I started the game saying, now that you cats have moved to Santa Rosa, maybe one of your humans will take you to the park. This seemed amenable to the cats so we opened up with breakfast at the home of Leaf, Rosie, Dottie and Pickle.

Rosie was busy napping and with a successful coat roll prevented Dottie from realizing she was awake even after the human did some pretty vigorous petting to get her to move.

Leaf was up early, in the pantry looking for boggins. And she found one, or at least could smell one, something foul and noxious. She slipped past picked who was making hash-browns and went searching for it. Unfortunately, she knocked over a jar of peanut butter and drew some attention. Rosie woke up (for realizes this time) and Pickles came in to see what happened. When he came in, the Boggin breathed his noxious gas on him, which got him confused and disoriented, almost causing him to drop a jar of flour on his foot. Luckily Rosie and Leaf were there to protect him. Rosie guarded his foot and Leaf jumped on him to push the jar onto a shelf rather than let it drop.

After Pickle left, the hunt was on, but they still couldn’t find the Boggin, till they realized that the jar of molasses betwixt the sugar and salt was actually an evil Frog Boggin, better known as a Froggin. Rosie’s magic knowledge told her that its breath was poisonous and that they couldn’t breathe while they fought it. She also, revealed that in cat-space she has a cat sword that goes over her claw, earning her the Reputation Sword Kitten.

Rosie chopped off its tongue (which it was using to wrap up Leaf) and the Leaf bit into it and knocked it off the ledge. When they came crashing down the Boggin was dead, but Leaf was found by Dottie, over the broken remains of a jar of molasses. What a mess!

This particular point perhaps touched too close to home as my own kids have gotten in trouble for things that they didn’t think were wrong to do. Sometimes that was a case of me getting upset before I knew the details and sometimes it was just poor judgment on their part. This game however, isn’t a tool I am trying to use to teach them about taking responsibility, it’s a game, so I just reminded them that they were protecting their humans, but that the humans didn’t know about boggins, so they often misunderstood why the cats did what they did.

After that, they went to the Rainbow City House Part and spied a kid tree house with a cat tree-house above it. And in that tree house was Top Hat (and all black cat that wore a small hat), Thomas (a good natured tabby) and Margaritte (a white cat with black spots who could walk on only her back legs). The cats invited them into the Kitty Cat Club and asked if they wanted to compete in the balancing contest, to which of course all the cats but Top Hat (who would be the judge) earnestly wanted to.

The balancing contest was a simple task of walking the playground balancing beam while showing off your style and grace. Easily done except for the problem that a few dogs were playing next to it.

Rosie had the idea of getting the dogs to chase her down the slide then running through a gate and having Leaf slam the gate behind her trapping the dogs outside. It worked well and the dogs swore vengeance on them.

After that each cat showed off. Thomas walked the beam backwards, Margaritte did it on two paws, Leaf did it on two paws sideways and Rosie somersaulted across it circus style. Top hat was so impressed that he called them all the winners (they all got 2 successes on their legs roll), and shared his smoke salmon with all of them.

And that is how Rosie and Leaf joined the Klub.

What rocked

We did a lot in only an hour and a half

Even though I could tell some of the issues hit close to home, the kids were very good sports and kept wanting to play even after failing rolls or getting in trouble.

Ooh, I forgot to mention that after the pantry fight Dottie tried to give them a bath, watching them use magic to disappear (which also earned Leaf the Disappearing reputation) and run around the house was very fun.

My littlest is learning things like counting evens and successes, which is still a challenge for her sometimes, so a little development is happening there.

What could have improved

I really should read the rest of the rules. I’ve been winging it with the kids because they really don’t care, but I’d like to know how magic is supposed to work, and what scars do, and how you spend lives, etc.

Actual Play – A New House in Santa Rosa (1/30/2011)

GM: Sean Nittner
Player: My kids
System: Cat

The kiddos have been asking me to pick back up Mouseguard for a while, but Jessie wasn’t home and I didn’t want to jump back in without her mouse. We almost grabbed Happy Birthday Robot! but since my littles have been so obsessed with Warrior Cats of late I figured it was time to pull out Cat and give it a spin.

One fun fact I found out moving and unpacking all my books: although I’ve never played it before I own two copies of Cat. Umm… you’re welcome John.

So, I cracked open the book and started reading the introductory story to the kids, who all thought it was very awesome, AND both of them got the joke at the end.

After that we made two cats, Leaf and Rosie, also known as the  Pouncer and Tree Climber.

We started the game with a few questions to find out where Leaf and Rosie came from and what they were just about to do.

As it turns out a couple Dottie and Pickle just purchased Leaf at the store and brought her back to their home in the woods when Leaf just magically appeared (she is “best” in tail after all) and now they were a family. A bear attacked their house though, so Dottie and Pickle decided to move to Santa Rosa. They packed up the Toyota and a trailer hitched to the back and headed out to their new home…

And play begins…

Rosie likes car rides but Leaf doesn’t so she kept interrupting. Luckily Pickle is a total push over so when Leaf started scratching the window he pulled over to let her stretch her legs and hopefully pee. Dottie was on the phone with her mom and Pickle was checking the trailer so none of them saw Leaf and Rosie exploring the rest stop. There they met ruffles Yorkshire Terrier that was curious about the cats.

Another swipe of her tail and Leaf was magically back in the car but Rosie stuck around to meet Ruffles. She puffed up her chest and told him not to come sniffing her and thanks to her impressive coat he backed off but was very curious about where she was from and where she was going. As cats do she got bored and decided it was more fun to sneak back in the car.

The downside of all this sneaking and magic was that Pickle was quite confused and was waiting outside for the cats. They tried meowing to get his attention but weren’t loud enough, so Rosie leapt up on Dottie’s lap and pushed down the automatic window, allowing Leaf to summon Pickle over and get back on the road.

The two legs stopped again for gas, where the cats smelled a skunk in the distance but decided they didn’t want to talk to it.

When they arrived at the new home in Santa Rosa it was late and Pickle and Dottie were both exhausted from the drive. As Pickle unlocked the front door though, Rosie smelled something very wrong inside. She knew what it was… Boggins! With some quick team work, Leaf jumped on Pickle to get his attention and Rosie went into scout out the new place. There hanging from the light switch was a strange bat with teeth at every joint in its wings. The thing hissed and told Rosie he was Mr. Light Switch. She tried to leap up and knock it off the light switch but it fluttered away.

Leaf however, isn’t known as the pouncer for nothing! From in Pickle’s arms she leaps out (which he doesn’t understand at all) and catches the thing mid-air bringing it down to the ground. For a while they try to bite it but the bat thing keeps shocking them and even gives Rosie a few scars from its wicked teeth. Finally, while Leaf had it locked in a grapple Rosie got a shoe, an old heavy shoe with a hard soul that Pickle was going to carry in and flung it from her maw (discus style) at Mr. Light Switch, killing him dead and leaving a black stain on the carpet just under the light switch where he faded away.

The boggins in the rest of the house retreated a little further into their corners.  The new cats had arrived!

What rocked

Picking up the game was easy. We pretty much read the rules for character creation and how to roll dice and started.
My kids do some awesome cat stuff.

It was fun to start with no prep and just see how the kids would handle the simple premise of “moving to a new house”
Backstory questions worked really well to give us a picture of who the cats were and what kind of cats they were. Rosie was in a kitty store and knew about store things… Leaf was from the forest and knew about nature, etc.

My kids were able to both create their characters and fill out their catsheets. For eight, and especially five, that is very cool.

What could have improved

There was a strong tendency to use magic to disappear from any encounter before it even started. Which is fine cat behavior but leads me to believe we need some more compelling motivations.

Creating reputations took a little too long, so we just wrote down one for now and will do more later.

I could not find an online copy of the catsheet (character sheet) anywhere. I googled for about 20 minutes and eventually stumbled upon the whole damn game. Apparently it has been torrented all over the place (sorry John). A copy of the catsheet really needs to get online.