Writing for this blog (and through it and our efforts with Puerto Rico Role Players) has allowed me to interact with the greater RPG community in ways I did not think possible. There have been many rewards, one of those is getting to talk with game creators I greatly admire, some of which I’ve been in awe since I began to play RPGs. Some time ago I interviewed one of my favorite writers Bruce Heard, and this time around it one of my favorite artist/writers Jeff Dee!
I’m rarely a player these days, and I’m not complaining. My gaming time is limited, and what I enjoy the most is being a GM, so I usually only get to be a player at the Puerto Rico Role Player Geeknics. But this week, for our weekly Tuesday game night we were going to be two players short so I decided to take a break and ask one of my players to run a Call of Catthulhu session for the group!
Mariana is one of the newest members of our group (mind you she began playing with us over two years ago, but she had a prolonged hiatus due to her studies), she along with her S.O. are the new blood to our gaming retinue. She had already run a Call of Catthulhu session I had missed due to work, but I had heard such great things about it from my friends that I could not pass up the opportunity to play.
I’m a cat lover, so a game where you get to play a cat, protecting the unsuspecting humans from the dangers of the chaos of other animal cults (and I’m paraphrasing form the description at their website) already has me sold on the idea. The game itself is very simple, narrative focused, creating your cat is a breeze and the archetypes and task resolution are elegant and very in keeping with the topic. Our Cat herder, Mariana, had some cute cat dice the added to the ambiance, and she had a rule that is we made her “awwww…” with our cat cuteness we’d get a treat that we could use for a reroll. We got actual goldfish crackers as treats, miau!
The session was a continuation from a previous session, so Sir Catington (Luis), Hamlet (Fernan) and Shadow (Edgardo) had to deal with the new cats in town Fetish (Hector) and me, Morphy. I was actually playing a version of my cat in the game. I believe I got the spirit of my cat down.
As a GM, sorry, Cat Herder, Mariana really created a very vivid and fun location with meaningful NPCs that really brought the setting to life, and boy, did she need to herd her cats! I think we all embraced our feline alter egos and really went all over the place, as cats ought to do, and she handled it with aplomb. When the session was over she told us that she had envisioned the session very differently, but if she hadn’t told us, she would have fooled me. She rolled with the punched, improvised and ran a one of most fun games I’ve been lucky enough to be a player in a long time. Kudos to the Cat Herder!
If you like rule light games, and the idea of playing a cat intrigues you, make sure to give this game a try. And before you dismiss it as a gimmick game, as much fun as I had and as much as I laughed, Mariana managed to make the game feel creepy and the stakes real, this felt like an adventure game through and through. I’m sure it’s a combination of a good game with a terrific GM.
Before I go, let me share with you a one page write up about Morphy I provided the Cat Herder with so she knew his personality when planning how to integrate him to the game. Creating his for the game was a cinch based on this. Hope you enjoy it!
On Friday Mongoose Publishing released the beta playtest documents for their upcoming Traveller Core Rulebook. What sets this playtest apart from others we’ve seen in the past is the fact that you have to pay $20 for the playtest documents. At the end of the playtest you get a $20 coupon for the final PDF. I can understand the reasoning behind Mongoose’s decision, but I also understand why a lot of gamers are not too excited to have to pay for a beta. Since I am pretty sure I’ll get the final PDF as soon as it’s out, paying $20 in advance is no biggie for me.
Overall I applaud Mongoose for trying something new with the ageing Traveller system. Mongoose’s Traveller variant has been a streamlined version of the original rules from the “Little Black Books”. The new core rules not only streamlined the rules, but also tried to bring the look of the books to the 21st century. And while Traveller 5th Edition from Far Future Enterprises is probably the most complex edition of Traveller, the new Mongoose Traveller will be the easiest.
While the basic task resolution system pretty much stays the same, they borrowed an idea from D&D 5th Edition which totally removes the need for dice modifiers. There are now boon and bane dice which work like D&D’s advantage and disadvantage. While some of the old-school fans of the game might be dismayed by such a change, I wholeheartedly applaud it. You know my stance on rules-light games.
I believe that Mongoose is really trying to make the needed changes in order to get more people interested in this franchise. For the majority of current gamers, Traveller is just not cool enough. The universe is based on Scifi from the 60s and 70s and the rules were designed in the late 70s. About 40 years later some changes are definitely needed to reach an audience beyond the old Traveller grognards.
From what I’ve seen so far, they might actually succeed with their attempt. The layout of the playtest document is awesome, the new isometric deckplans are very sweet, and the rules changes I’ve seen so far are pretty well thought out. Luckily my Traveller GM shares this viewpoint, so we might give the new rules a try in the coming weeks. I have to admit I am very excited! These are great times for any Traveller fan.
And if you don’t like what Mongoose is doing, you can still rely on older edition, which are available from the Far Future Enterprises website.