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The Black Gem
by christopher s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/07/2019 14:39:43

I reviewed this in order to run at Halloween, as the concept has a great wandering mechanic i think would be great. While reviewing it for play, I found that there were some wording choices and order of presentation that could be tightened up but overall, this would be a great, creepy module for play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Gem
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In the Shadow of Mount Rotten
by Cold C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2018 17:55:13

Even if you don't plan on playing a Goblin campaign, if you are running a fantasy setting, you should get this. It gives insight into societal behavior of monstrous humanoids. That alone makes this a good read.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
In the Shadow of Mount Rotten
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The Black Gem
by Luke V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 12:56:15

At the time of writing, the Black Gem is the best adventure I've read in 2017.

+Opening scene is amazing, one of the best I've seen +Can be dropped into most fantasy campaigns with little effort +Serves admirably as a one-shot adventure or first adventure in a campaign. +Only nine pages and easy to digest but provides entertainment for an evening or two of gaming. +Decent writing with little of the "filler" that's common to many RPG products +Challenging for new players and grognards alike, it rewards thinking outside the box and improvization. +The Black Gem is completely free.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Gem
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The Black Gem
by Chad K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2016 12:25:52

For 3-5 charcters of Levels 1-3. This is a fun adventure for a nights gaming. Could take about 2-3 hours to complete, depending on actions taken of course. This adventure could be very difficult & deadly, as players will not have access to their normal equipment, weapons, armor. I suggest letting the players find or scavenge a bit before they take on some of the more dangerous encounters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
by Simon W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2015 23:49:46

Start off by telling people you are running call of cthulhu, don't say anything more.

Once they arrive, start making characters, converting those feline character trait names to something more human-esque, then when they all have their character made tell them the reason they made characters so weirdly is because they will not be playing call of cthulhu, but instead they will be playing call of cthulhu (make em confused). Wait 3 seconds, then reveal the cover image and watch them hate you! :D (make them rename their character traits to be more feline if they don't suit)

Trolling aside, I played this as a get together with a group that I played keeper in a call of cthulhu whom I haven't played with for over a year. To make the feeling ever more nostalgic, I created a small scenario based off the first scenario in the call of cthulhu 6th ed. rulebook. Had the first contact be the landlords pet cat be all worried about his humans worry about the humans that go into the house, made up animal contacts at all the key locations from that first scenario in the book and got the players to go inside the dreaded house they had managed to accidentally burn down the first time (Yeah. It was an interesting group of characters). I managed to bring them around the house, pointing out key things that they had investigated before and even made guest appearances of their old characters. It was awesome. Them being cats made it even more awesome!

For those of you looking to play a more lighthearted version of call of cthulhu, maybe break up a tough and depressing campaign or maybe a player is missing one day, pull this out and everything becomes so much better.

All in all my party really enjoyed the nostalgia session, and I'm sure their cat characters will see more action in future call of catthulhu (and potentially guest starrings in call of cthulhu!).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
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Worlds Of Catthulhu
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2015 06:30:44

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/08/25/tabletop-review-call-of-catthulhu-deluxe-book-iii-worlds-of-catthulhu/

One of the most popular games in my household is Call of Catthulhu. Even my wife and her friends, who do not roleplay, love the game and find it creepy and adorable at the same time. I reviewed the basic version of the game nearly two years ago and the first two books of the deluxe version (The Nekonomicon and Unaussprechlichen Katzen) in Q2 2014.

Worlds of Catthulhu is very different from previous Call of Catthulhu releases. This book is not needed to play the game by any means. Instead, it is a collection of nine different worlds or settings to play in. Think of it in the same way Dungeons & Dragons has Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Planescape, Spelljammer, Dragonlance, Dark Sun, Mystara, Birthright, Maztetica and other very different settings in which you can use the core rules. Eight of the settings in Worlds of Catthulhu are very brief, only containing six to ten pages of background and fluff each, meaning you as the Cat Herder (DM) will have to do a lot of prep work to fill in in the blanks. The ninth of these worlds (actually the first in the book) is a very different story, clocking in at seventy-two pages (more than half the book!) so you might get a bit of information overload compared to the brevity of the other options. Of course, the most detailed setting is by Joel Sparks, creator of Call of Catthulhu, while the other eight were Kickstarter stretch goals, so this explains the difference in length. Let’s take a look at all nine campaign settings now and show you how they differ from each other.

First up is “The Cats of Fuiry.” This setting is essentially the classic Fae courts of British folklore, but with cats instead of hobgoblins, faeries, and the like. As is common with Call of Catthulhu, there are a lot of cat name derived puns, such as the Seelie Queen Titania being Catania here and Queen Mab becoming Queen Moab. This setting has far less to do with combat or detective works than any of the others featured in this book (or the core releases). Instead, the setting focuses more on Court intrigue, social/status climbing and political machinations. As such, if you’re more of a dungeon crawl fan, “The Cats of Fuiry” will probably be too “talking heads” for your liking. If, however, you like games such as Vampire: The Masquerade or Birthright, then this will be right up your alley. Now, that’s not to say “The Cats of Fuiry” can’t have physical combat or mysteries to solve – just that the FOCUS is on improving your position at court. A good Cat Herder will be able to tailor this setting to their players’ preferences, all while staying true to the core idea for the setting.

“The Cats of Fuiry” also contains five roles that define your cat’s role at Court. These do not replace the “character classes” from the core rules, but are merely a new facet specifically for this setting. You have Aerialist, Changeling, Knight, Sorcerer and Courtier. All are pretty self-explanatory and get two or three pages devoted to them, except for Sorcerer, who gets about ten due to rules for different kinds of spells. “The Cats of Fuiry” also contains mechanics for social climbing, ideas for potential stories, lists of influential NPCs the PCs can befriend or antagonize and a full glossary to help you remember jargon and vernacular.

There are also two Catventures for “The Cats of Fuiry.” The first is “The Dragonfly Ball.” This is a fancy dress ball where every cat must dress up in a dragonfly costume. A good portion of the adventure is trying to wrangle up a costume for your PC so that they can attend. Then, once at the ball, the characters may discover an Unseelie plot to assassinate a high ranking (Grand) cat of the Seelie Court. The second adventure is “A Night Under Arms,” and it is here where combat fans will get to have some fun. It’s a short look at how combat is done for this setting, and it is geared primarily for Knight characters. It’s cute but limiting. Still, it’s a good way to showcase how different combat is here than in other settings.

The second setting in Worlds of Catthulhu is ” Iron Edda: Claws of Metal & Bone.” It’s essentially a cat version of Iron Edda. This setting uses Norse Mythology in terms of time frame, geography and gods as the cats deal with the oncoming of Catnarok. There are is an interesting story/adventure seed generator in this section, but other than that, what is here lacks any real substance or detail. It feels like more of an attempt on the author’s part to sell his own game rather than contribute anything of merit to Call of Catthulhu, which I personally find distasteful. This is easily the worst/weakest offering of the bunch.

Setting #3 is “Swords of Catthulhu.” This is a cute high fantasy setting revolving around Castle Felsmark. Although the section is only six pages long, it’s pretty in-depth, featuring many locations for PC’s to visit and for Cat Herders to set catventures around. Speaking of catventures, the section ends with a one page adventure where the PCs have been brought in as castle mousers but may eventually uncover a plot by Hatspurr of Catcosa to influence the kingdom in malevolent ways. It’s a nice piece rounding out an excellent section.

Next up is “Gatos De Los Muertos.” This takes place in 1892 in Arizona, which didn’t achieve statehood until 1912, but was owned by the US since the late 1840s, so that makes the setting one of a border town. I’m not sure why the book constantly refers to this section as “1880s Mexico,” though. That would be like calling a 1920s adventure in Alaska “Early 20th Century Russia.” Anyway, this section is actually more of an adventure than a setting, because only one page is devoted to the actual background. Locations, humans, other cats and the like each get a sentence at most devoted to them, while the other four pages are pure catventure. Here, undead cats (and dogs) are returning from the grave with vile intentions. The PCs must seek out the reason why and put the dead to rest once more. Again, it’s a cute little piece, good for a one shot, but little more due to the lack of setting depth.

“Galaxy Warriors Vs, the Robot Cats” is setting numero five. This is blatantly a Star Wars meets old school Battlestar Galactica homage, but it’s a cute one. Again, this is far more adventure than an actual fleshed out setting for people to use, but who doesn’t know Star Wars (or Sci-Fi tropes in general), right? This is a pretty easy piece to flesh out. The adventure starts off on Cattooine, featuring an attempt to warn the Hero’s aunt of killer robots, meeting up with a wise man and his lightstick, and so on. My favorite part was the Empurror (Purrpatine?). There’s a lot of great puns and family friendly fun abounds in this one.

“Big Cats” is next, and this allows you to play as jungle/savannah cats. Tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, panthers, cheetahs, cougars and more can all be found here. There are no stat changes or extra health levels. You’re just big cats; no scaling. There are a few adventures seeds and one full Catventure when the PCs are a pride of lions trying to save their cubs from mysterious kidnappers while also dealing with the local chimp population. Another fun piece.

“The Great Catsby” is next and with only four pages devoted to it, this is the shortest setting in the book. It’s Prohibition-Era America and the cats are living it up in the Roaring Twenties, just like their human counterparts. Parties, booze and drugs run rampant, but where did all this corruption come from? Could it be that something sinister is behind the scenes making humans dance to their tune? The cats know something strange is going on and it is up to them to save the day! It’s an interesting, albeit bare bones entry, but since it’s close to the usual time period one plays Call of Cthulhu, it’s probably the easiest of the settings to fully flesh out.

Our penultimate setting is Catthulhu: Gaslamp & Gearbox. Think of it like Call of Cthulhu‘s Cthulhu By Gaslight setting for Victorian-Era gaming. This is not the happy Victorian time period you see glamorized in books and movies; no, this is the Industrial Revolution, where grime, soot, homelessness and greed are dominant. You have different “character classes” from the core game for this setting (eight in all) and most will be homeless or ferals rather than purebreds or the like. There are a couple sample locations (although there is a noticeable editing error in that the locations are numbered 1, 2, 4, 3.) and a cute adventure where cats have to stop the machinations of some rats.

We now come to the final setting in Worlds of Catthulhu, “The Catthulhu Code.” It’s not really a setting as much as it is a long list of Catbals – secret societies of cats dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. The primary mystery is trying to find a way back to The Garden, or Eden as we would call it, while also preventing the followers of Catthlhu and/or the Serpent from succeeding in a myriad of evil schemes.

Overall, Worlds of Catthulhu is a cute book. It’s not one you actually NEED to play Call of Catthulhu. You can just get by with the core two books or even the basic game. Worlds of Catthulhu is fun to read though, and one of the nine settings it contains may be just what you are looking to use in your own game. If you primarily homebrew your games, you shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase Worlds of Catthulhu. If, however, you prefer published adventures and campaign settings, this is pretty much up your alley. Either way, Worlds of Catthulhu is a fine addition to the Catthulhu line, and I know I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for the game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Worlds Of Catthulhu
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Free Gems
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2015 00:44:11

There are some resources that as a DM you turn to again & again, Free Jewels is a nice little compact bit of old school material that is a nice little addition to a DM's toolbox. Free Jewels has a nice progressive treasure climb that makes it a snap to use during actual play, not simply another retroclone reference piece but an actual piece of adventure creation kit. Free Jewels is a great little piece of design and editing slight of hand that is oh so useful for so many little inserts into an old school adventures. Faster Monkey games is a great little company with some damn useful products. Clocking in at only two pages this product basically is designed to add a bit more zing to the plunder of your adventurer's take. As with all things, this product presents the DM with a number of options that can be used to add a special something to your lettered treasure table.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Free Gems
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Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
by Seokwan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2015 22:30:35
1

Simple, lovely, and starter-friendly rule and setting. One can be encouraged to enjoy a short, cute adventure with his/her cat-loving friends, without entangled with complex modifiers or maths, also without massive battlemaps and miniatures.

2

THE NEKONOMIKON stands fairly well alone. With some bold sense, one may have decent session with rule summary on the character sheet page! BUT HAVING UNAUSSPRECHLICHEN KATZEN is, recommendable, although not crucial, to herders.

3

Cthulhu-based settings may feel like, for non-Cthulhu fans like me, jokes in hero movies. It makes this rule more fun and adventurous, but simultaneously, IS NOT CRUCIAL, and may have some detrimental effects - as jokes go well with Tony Stark but not with V.

If publisher applied some different marketing schemes, appealed this rule for general cat-loving TRPGers, instead of cat-loving lovecraftians, with titles like "CATADVENTURE NYAN-RPG"(Sorry for being not creative), I think more people are enjoying this good rule, and maybe, more new RPG players as publisher initially intended when they made the rule.

4

CATS RARELY FAIL. The herder must keep this in mind when making his/her own adventure. Or you will have a visual novel, instead of an adventure game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
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Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
by Benjamin N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2014 11:14:04

Seriously, there's nothing not to love about a game in which you play as ordinary house cats warring against eldritch horror. You might think "Oh so cute". And you're right, it is cute. But it's also pretty twisted in it's own way. The rules are also incredibly easy to grasp and would be a perfect game for anyone's first RP attempt. 10/10 would buy again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the kind words, Ben!
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book II: The Cat Herder's Guide
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/17/2014 06:37:38

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/17/tabletop-review-call-of-catthulhu-deluxe-book-ii-unaussprechlichen-katzen-the-cat-herders-guide/

Call of Catthulhu is one of those games that has really taken on a life of its own. I’ll admit that, when I picked up the basic version of Call of Catthulhu in September of 2013, I originally picked it up because it was under five bucks and I thought my wife would find it really cute. Call of Catthulhu ended up being a very solid rules-light game and I found myself really impressed by it. Then there was the Call of Catthulhu Kickstarter, for which 783 backers enabled not only a deluxe version of the game, but multiple upcoming supplements as well as a deluxe boxed version. I even got all three of my pets (two cats and a rabbit) in miniatures form for the game! In April of 2014, the first book of Call of Catthulhu Deluxe, The Nekonomicon, was released, and it too was excellent. So of course, it was a long wait for Unaussprechlichen Katzen to be released. Okay, it was like six weeks, but it felt like a long time. Did the second release for Call of Catthulhu Deluxe continue the trend of awesomeness that is a game about cats dealing with the machinations of animal versions of The Great Old Ones and Elder Gods? Let’s find out.

Unaussprechlichen Katzen, the Cat Herder’s Guide is meant to be the game’s equivalent to a DM or GM’s guide – or at least that is what you would think from the name. That is a correct assessment of the piece. Since all the rules to play Call of Catthulhu were published in the Nekonomicon, you don’t have to worry about finding things like new mechanics, prestige classes or the like here. This makes Unaussprechlichen Katzen more of an optional purchase for those who really love the game rather than a book you NEED to play Call of Catthulhu with. As such, you could just pick up the basic game or The Nekonomicon and be able to play Call of Catthulhu just fine (and for under ten bucks), but for those that want a little more out of their game, Unaussprechlichen Katzen will definitely give you what you need and then some.

Part I is entitled, “Things About the World.” Here is where you will find a lot of background information about the Call of Catthulhu setting. If you go into this game expecting to see house cats fighting Nyarlathotep or Shoggoths, well, this is not that game. This a more light hearted parody of the Cthulhu Mythos. You have Catthulhu, Hastpurr, Doggone, Phatphroggua and more. So this is not a 1:1 transfer of something like Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark, Trail of Cthulhu or the like. Call of Catthulhu is its own beast, with its own setting, background and mythos. Cthulhu fans will definitely get all the in-jokes, but Call of Catthulu is definitely its own game and will play very differently, as well as distinctly, from other Lovecraft inspired games.

In “Things About the World,” you’ll learn of core concepts with the Call of Catthulhu base setting. You’ll understand how important dreaming is to the game, as well as the concept of Gods and their place in the Call of Catthulhu world. I should point out it is very different from most Lovecraftian games, as the gods here are more or less archetypes that primarily dwell in the unconscious collective as opposed to out and about. This alone changes the nature of the Mythos creatures and helps to really make Call of Catthulhu its own game. You’ll also get a lot of information on cults and how they operate in the Call of Catthulhu world. The chapter continues on, giving you an in-depth look at a dozen or so animal gods and two human gods. Here you will find information about how these gods think, what their goals are and the specific makeup of their cults. The chapter then concludes with enemies of cats, like the Shaggoth, Mew-Go and guns. It’s very cute and by the time you are done Part I, you really won’t have a problem looking at Call of Catthulhu as a fully-fleshed out, well defined game rather than a light parody.

Part II is, “Running the Game,” and it is chock full of advice for the budding Cat Herder. It spends a decent amount of space explaining how to introduce new players to RPGs in general, gamers to Call of Catthulhu and also running a game about house cats facing off against cosmic terrors for children. All three of these pieces are excellent and worth reading no matter how experienced a gamer you are. I do feel Call of Catthulhu, with its easy rules and cute motif of playing as cats, makes it very inviting to younger, casual and inexperienced gamers alike. It’s stacked in favor of the players, unlike games like Dungeon Crawl Classics, earlier editions of D&D and Call of Cthulhu, which is neither good nor bad as a whole, but it definitely makes learning a game helpful when you don’t have to worry about dying fifteen minutes into the experience. I have at least one friend and my wife who have never played a tabletop RPG before, but both of whom are excited for the boxed set to arrive because they really want to play Call of Catthulhu with all the physical bells and whistles. Neither have ever played an RPG before, but they loved the display Call of Catthulhu had set up at Awesome Con DC this year, both are women, both are in their 30s, and both will be taking their first RPG plunge later this summer when the boxed set arrives. That tells you something about the universal appeal of this strange little game.

“Running the Game” also talks a little more in-depth about rules mentioned previously. It also gives some advice on playing a cat. After all, a cat doesn’t think like a human or know what human oriented things like doorbells, wrenches or fire extinguishers are. Likewise, they see some dice and will play with them, but not in the same way a human would. These are very different creatures and this has to be kept in mind. After all, a feral cat who has never been inside a house will have no idea what a bathtub or a bookshelf are. Likewise, the cat herder is given advice on how to play all the various NPCs that a cat might encounter, along with a strong admonishment for Cat Herders who let the NPCs take center stage instead of the characters. It’s never good when a GM for ANY game has a pet Mary Sue style NPC that they whip out, and Call of Catthulhu tries to nip that thinking in the bud immediately. Another great chapter.

Part III is entitled, “Cattventure Time.” This chapter gives you advice on how to create adventures of your own, along with three already made adventures to run for players. There is some great advice on adventure writing in here that applies to any game, not just Call of Catthulhu. You also get a printable challenge sheet for a quick reminder of what the PCs will encounter and also an icon guide to help you read the published adventures.

As for the adventures themselves, I have to admit, I only liked one of the three. The first adventure, “The Buzz Downstairs” is a lot of fun. It captures the feel of a Call of Cthulhu like adventure from a cat’s perspective, while still being a lot lighter in tone and scope. It really showcases the mechanics of the game and makes an excellent introduction on how to play Call of Catthulhu. It’s really well done and one of the highlights of the book. The second adventure, “Bay City Krazy Kosmonaut Krash Down,” just didn’t do it for me. This adventure is set in the 60s and has cats dealing with a Russian Astronaut who brought something inhuman back with him during his failed descent (which also explains why he is in San Fran instead of, say, Moscow). It’s weird to be sure, but it never feels quite right. The flow always seems off and it’s hard to divorce player (human) knowledge from character (cat) knowledge with this one. It’s an interesting idea, but I feel like it needed to be fleshed out and/or playtested a bit more.

The third adventure, “Greener Pastures,” is – to be blunt – pretty terrible. It’s poorly thought out in idea, scope and execution and quite frankly, I’m surprised it was allowed entry into the book since it was by a third party author and the editorial team could have easily refused it or sent it back for more work. Essentially, the adventure is about a shelter going from No-Kill to Kill and the cats having to escape into the wild (so to speak) in order to live. This is just a bad idea on all fronts. This actually happens occasionally in real life due to the overabundance of animals that aren’t fixed. It’s one thing to have a fantastical adventure about cats doing crazy stuff. It’s another to have something this dark and realistic. I feel it completely misses the point of Call of Catthulhu as well as the tone it is meant to represent. It’s not an adventure to even think of playing with children or people who love cats, and the end result is kind of a mean spirited look at shelters and the people who try to give abandoned pets some kind of life. The conclusion, where all the cats are either killed or set free into the world where they will no doubt be eaten, hit by a car or starve to death because they have no foraging skills, is equally terrible. This thing really, REALLY needed to be thought out better in terms of scope, writing and mood. Really, REALLY disappointed here, as a lot of the target audience for this game will want to have nothing to do with this piece. I can’t say I will blame them.

Finally, the chapter ends with a section on “Other Settings,” which is essentially a collection of story/campaign seeds for an enterprising Cat Herder. These are all interesting, although a Cat Herder might be better off coming up with their own homebrew piece from scratch, just to flex those creative muscles.

The last section of Unaussprechlichen Katzen is actually a set of appendices. Appendix A is kind of a quick recap of Chapter I. Appendix H is “The Book of Two-Foots,” which gives more a look at the weirdness that is the human race. You get a look at how cats view people, their own vernacular for different ones, and even a look at how they appear in dreams. This is a very cute and very funny section.

Appendix K is, “The Book of Dogs.” I have to admit, when it was first announced as a stretch goal, I thought it was a silly idea at first. I mean, we don’t have playable rabbits, squirrels, sloths or komodo dragons, so why add the option to play as a race that is already adversarial to the core concept of the game? It seemed a slippery slope. The more I thought about it though, the more I liked the idea. After all, some people prefer dogs to cats, and this will allow the game to sell more copies as well as open itself up to a larger audience. Plus, it’s kind of (but not quite) like allowing a game of Sabbat vampires instead of Camarilla ones in Vampire: The Masquerade. Doable and a lot of fun, albeit it with a very different tone. That’s not to say that dogs are inherently evil in Call of Catthulhu – just that they have very different goals and thought processes from cats. “The Book of Dogs” really highlights their worldview and converts the game from one about Cat PCs to Dog PCs in an impressively short amount of space, complete with full character creation rules. You even get some story seeds. Practically everything you need for a canine version of Call of Catthulhu is in this Appendix, which is pretty awesome.

Finally we have Appendix N, which appropriately (if you know you RPG history) is a list of books, movies, and other RPGs which have a similar tone that fans of Call of Catthulhu might find fun or even inspire them in some way. Thankfully nothing by Richard Adams (Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, etc) makes the list. I really enjoyed seeing the list of RPGs, especially Toon and CAT. A great way to end a great book.

All in all, Unaussprechlichen Katzen was a great addition to the Call of Catthulhu line. While I found a pretty big dent in the armor of this one, it was done by a third party rather than the person who writes and designs the vast bulk of Call of Catthulhu, so I won’t hold it against the piece as a whole. The PDF version is a bit pricey at $14.95 compared to the basic game cost of $4.95 for the PDF or The Nekonomicon‘s price of $7.95, so gamers with less of a disposable income might want to wait for a price drop. Of course, you don’t NEED Unaussprechlichen Katzen to play Call of Catthulhu, so this purchase might be left in the hands of people who absolutely love the game. At the same time, for only five bucks more than the cost of the PDF version of Unaussprechlichen Katzen, you can get the Call of Catthulhu bundle. This gives you the basic game, both deluxe books and the character sheet for $19.95. It’s definitely the best way to go, and if you haven’t invested in Call of Catthulhu yet, this is certainly the route to go. The bottom line is Unaussprechlichen Katzen is a great addition to the Call of Catthulhu line. It’s not a must own and it is a bit pricey for the PDF, but you won’t be disappointed with it if you pick it up.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book II: The Cat Herder's Guide
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Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2014 06:25:23

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/21/tabletop-review-call-of-catthulhu-deluxe-book-1-the-nekonomicon/

Back in September of 2013, I reviewed an awesome rules-lite game entitled Call of Catthulhu.It was an adorable game about house cats being the last stand against the Great Old Ones. You played as a cat and you dealt with fun parodies of Lovecraftian lore. In the back of the book was the promise of a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe version of the game. Well, the Kickstarter ran from October 30th, 2013 through December 2nd, 2013 and was highly successful, netting a little over $41K from 783 backers. The project ballooned to multiple books, a boxed set, miniatures and more. A few days ago, the first book for Call of Catthulhu Deluxe, The Nekonomicon, was released in PDF form (we’re still waiting for physical copies) with the promise of the next two books (Unaussprechlichen Katzen and Whirls of Catthulhu) to be released in May and June. So how does The Nekonomicon fare? Is it worth delving into the new version of Call of Catthulhu, or should you stick with the much cheaper basic edition of the game? Let’s take a look!

The Nekonomicon is essentially the Player’s Handbook for Call of Catthulhu Deluxe. Unlike the basic game, which has a little bit of everything to allow you to play, this first book focuses specifically on PC creation and the core rules. Playing Call of Catthulhu is quite easy. You just get a bunch of six sided dice and roll them when the rules and/or GM feels it is necessary. A 1 or 2 is a failure and a 3-6 is a success. An Easy challenge needs one success with two dice being rolled. A Normal challenge needs one success with a single die rolled. A Difficult challenge needs two successes on two dice. Pretty cut and dry, right? If you fail a roll, you can cash in a Treat (each player starts with one at the beginning of the game and can earn more through good roleplaying) to roll again. So don’t worry about volumes of rules and all sorts of mechanics. I just summed up the core rules for you in a few sentences. The game is really easy to learn and a lot of fun to play as long as you have a group that has a whimsical sense of humor.

Making a character is pretty easy too. You have five classes for your cat to choose from: Catcrobat, Pussyfoot, Scrapper, Tiger Dreamer and Twofootologist. Your choice of roles determines which tasks are easy ones for you. There are no stats or attributes. You pick your role and this is the only part of your character that really determines mechanics later on in the game. The rest of the character is all based on roleplaying. What type of cat are you? What color is your fur? Is your cat a feral, house cat or show cat? What breed is it? What colour are the cat’s eyes? What is its personality? This is all fairly standard stuff. As I’ve said, Call of Catthulhu is very rules light. It’s a game for role-playing and storytelling. The game also gives you thirty possible character backgrounds to help you flesh out your character if you choose. You look at your axis of roles and lifestyle and the cross reference gives you an option or two. This is completely optional, but a great way for newer or younger gamers to get the hang of a game where the dice see little use except in dramatic moments.

There’s a lot of adorableness in this game, from the custom cat dice you get for it down to the fact the GM is called the Cat Herder. However, this is a game with Lovecraftian tones, so injury and death of your kitty can occur. To prevent this, make sure you are a good die roller, have plenty of treats and always send out the right cat for the job (RCFTJ) to make successes more likely. After all, if you have a daring feat of dexterity that needs to be accomplished, you want to send the Catcrobat instead of the Scrapper or Tiger Dreamer. Dire Challenges preset the opportunity for injury or death, and there is always the Blaze of Glory option that means your cat will die (but also succeed) in an attempt.

It’s worth noting here that cats get three strikes and the cat is out. One sad cat face on a Dire Challenge is injury, two is disabled and three is dying. So be careful with your kitty. After all, no one wants to see his or her beloved puss hurt or worse. Now, the game does have a “Nine Lives” rule, where cats can pull off a chance to survive their would-be demise, but each brush with death requires a notably harder roll to survive. As you might imagine, the maximum times a cat can do this is eight, for a total of “nine lives” the cat has lived. This is a nice touch that lets people get some more rolling in while also holding true to cat folklore.

The Deluxe version of the game offers some new rules. There are two optional rules where Snake Eyes equals an embarrassing failure and double sixes gives the cat an extraordinary success. Of course, this means only easy or hard challenges can have something go really well or astoundingly bad. There are also new contested challenge rules (usually used for fights). There are also a few advanced combat rules for multiple cats in a fight, surprise attacks and grappling. Yes, cats do grapple. Our kitten wraps herself around our elderly cat as if she was Dean Malenko, so it was great to see holding actions as an option in the new rules. There are also Rules of Paw for better role-playing, such as characters only being able to use sounds (not words) when they are out of visual range from one another, or cats only being able to carry one thing at a time and leave scents on up to three objects before the oldest one disappears.

The Nekonomicon ends with a few DM notes, such as good times to ask for die rolls and a reminder of how stupid the hairless two footed ones are when it comes to understanding the eloquence of their kitty superiors. There’s also a note that cat PCs gain Experiences rather than Experience Points. Experiences are simply bits of knowledge and reminders of what a cat now knows about the true horrors that lie between the thin veneer we think of as reality.

Overall, Call of Catthulhu Deluxe is off to a great start with The Nekonomicon. As the other books start to come out you’ll get information on Mythos creatures, other animals (some of which can even be PCs) and other settings for Call of Catthulhu, like high fantasy and superhero gaming. If you don’t already have the basic version of Call of Catthulhu, you should definitely pick it up in tandem with The Nekonomicon, as it does have things that the first book are missing, like more background on the default setting and Kitty Lovecraftia. Of course, all of those things are coming in May’s Unaussprechlichen Katzen, so if you’d rather just get Call of Catthulhu Deluxe releases, you won’t have that long of a wait. Whatever way you choose to go, Call of Catthulhu is a fantastically fun (and funny) rules-lite RPG which gamers of all skill levels can enjoy. What little mechanics are in the game are solid and easy to understand, and the roleplaying opportunities in this one are limitless. I’m really looking forward to the subsequent releases and being able to use the miniatures of our pets I got in the Kickstarter (two cats and a rabbit) in a game once the boxed set has finally made its way to my home. Hopefully Malice, Shelly and Baby will fare better than many of the Investigators I have had in a Call of Cthulhu game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cats Of Catthulhu, Book I: THE NEKONOMIKON
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The Turntracker (Labyrinth Lord™)
by Joshua R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2014 02:43:21

I found this to be simple and effective tool at doing what it says -- helping to keep resource tracking in the game and playable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Turntracker (Labyrinth Lord™)
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The Turntracker (OSRIC™)
by Shannon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 22:56:32

This handsomely illustrated device will allow you (the DM) to carefully track resources such as torches and lanterns, spell durations, and wandering monster rolls with simplicity. This tracker works for AD&D as well. Elegant yet powerful. I strongly recommend that you purchase this...NOW! Also pick up the Labyrinth Lord (B/X D&D) version.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Turntracker (OSRIC™)
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The Turntracker (Labyrinth Lord™)
by Shannon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 22:53:51

This handsomely illustrated device will allow you (the DM) to carefully track resources such as torches and lanterns, spell durations, and wandering monster rolls with simplicity. This tracker works for B/X D&D as well. Elegant yet powerful. I strongly recommend that you purchase this...NOW! Also pick up the OSRIC version.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Turntracker (Labyrinth Lord™)
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Call Of Catthulhu - ORIGINAL EDITION
by Adam L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2013 16:29:18

http://tabletalkrpg.tumblr.com/post/64145352825/table-talk-dare-you-heed-the-call-of-catthulhu For the original link. Now to share the review itself.

“Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously perched atop a mountain of bones and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his yellow eyes.” – H. P. Lovecraft

Halloween is coming. Let’s review something spooky. Well, at least somewhat spooky.

As many of you know, Howard Phillip Lovecraft is a very well known horror writer from the early 20th century. He was also a fairly bigotted douche who pretty much hated anyone who wasn’t English or a cat. And no, the cat part wasn’t a joke. The man was actually quite fond of cats, even though he evidently saw nothing wrong with naming his favorite black cat after a Racial Slur Which I Shall Not Name. (Oh how I WISH I was making this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rats_in_the_Walls#Literary_significance_and_criticism See here for evidence.)

Anyways, Lovecraft’s stories of the Cthulhu Mythos has long been an inspiration for other writers such as Clive Barker and Stephen King, not for his social attitudes but for his ideas of a genuinely uncaring universe that may or may not be actively malignant, where gods only see humanity in the same light that humanity sees insects. His works also appear to have influenced mainstream media as well, including one episode of Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated where the Scooby Gang investigate a mystery dealing with what’s supposedly an eldritch abomination, or a time when the Justice League took on Icthulhu. For you older video gamers out there, the term “Splatterhouse” might ring a few bells; while not properly Lovecraftian, the games did adopt elements from Lovecraft’s work before it became trendy. Newer gamers might recognize semi-obscure titles like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. The thing here is, Lovecraft has been very influential to both horror and to mass entertainment.

For many tabletop gamers, our introduction has been with the very first Horror themed role playing game, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. One man, Joel Sparks of Faster Monkey Games, has created a variant game that mixes cats with the Cthulhu Mythos for parody purposes. This game is called Call of Catthulhu.

Well, variant would not be the right term. The sixth edition of Call of Cthulhu is 320 pages, with 80 of those pages dedicated to describing a simple yet comprehensive and detailed rules system itself and almost everything else being reference material. Call of Catthulhu, on the other hand, is a 28 page PDF (with an option to also buy a print edition) counting the covers, with a rules system that is hardly there at all.

Well, it’s time we stop pussyfooting around and dive into the game. Get on your paws and take an Elder sign in your mouth, because we’re venturing into a world of terror and possibly some comedy from a feline perspective in Call of Catthulhu! As the book says, “Mia! Mia! Catthulhu ffft-hackin!”

The Product

Call of Catthulhu is a 28 page PDF, but you can also purchase the book version (which I do not yet have, but in a couple of weeks, I will have a printed copy by mail, along with another physical book of another game that I may review soonish), counting the outside and inside covers. The PDF’s dimensions seem to suggest that it might be a digest-sized manual with dimensions befitting a normal book (save for its length in pages) as opposed to the 8 ½ by 11 inch pages of most RPG manuals. The physical book looks like it will have 24 pages, not counting the covers. The front cover depicts what looks to be a cat’s front half, and the back half is made up of tentacles, a classic sign of Lovecraftian monstrosity. (Fun trivia fact: Many of Lovecraft’s monsters share characteristics of aquatic life, and this is believed to be a consequence of his own quite severe seafood allergies.) I suspect this kitty is the Great Catthulhu or any other feline abomination you may conceive of. The author refers to it as an Octopussy in the acknowledgments.

To go by the back cover blurb, cats are secretly the defenders of humanity. We, the humans, are unaware of the supernatural, transdimensional threats that seek to enslave and deprave us adorable humans and interrupt our all important pattern of feeding, petting and changing the litter for cats.

One participant is called the Cat Herder (that’s the Game Master in most other RPGs. And given my experience in gaming, that’s a fairly good description of what I usually do with my players). All other participants play as cats. Meow. These are not anthropomorphic cats, either. They’re the normal cats we see in our daily lives.

No Introduction

The first think I noticed is that there’s no introduction. The game has some credits and a table of contents which is serviceable, but nothing to explain what a role playing game is and no further detail on the setting yet. Setting stuff is actually spread through the text, however, and it’s probably not anyone’s first RPG, so this is certainly forgivable.

Well, after the table of contents, you actually get a page of quotes. Five of them, in fact. The first and last of which have been used in this review.

Cat Characters

And now we get to the first important part. Kitties!

To create a cat, you need to know a few things. First off, what role does your kitty take? There are five roles, as follows:

Catcrobat: This is the athletic, agile cat.

Pussyfoot: Even as an adult, this cat is still as cute as any kitten. This has given the kitty a highly pampered, even spoiled life and expertise in manipulating others.

Scrapper: This rough and tumble kitty is all about brute strength, combat skill and intimidation.

Gratuitous Reminiscence: I actually had a cat like that who once hospitalized a highly aggressive German Shepherd (he believed the dog was threatening to cause harm to my brother and I) and was able to intimidate him since by simply perching on the roof of his doghouse.

Tiger Dreamer: This kitty may be napping a lot, but in his or her dreams, wisdom is found which may help the other cats against such foul things as Mutt-Thra, the Monster Dog or the dreaded Shaggoths.

Twofootologist: This intellectual and curious cat is an expert in how things work for humans, as well as an expert in how simple human devices work.

Next up, you get to choose a cat’s background. Is he a Feral cat with no home at all? Or does she live in a home and chase mice? Or maybe it is a sheltered show cat (but not necessarily a Pussyfoot if you don’t want to be one). Furthermore, how experienced is your cat at hunting?

After that, your cat needs a physical description. First off, you need a breed (Purebreds are more noticable but also more prone to health problems, while Mixed Breeds have a better chance of blending into the crowds and are overall healthier), your cat’s fur (short, long or none? What color?) and your kitty’s eye color. Other characteristics are optional, but help to set up a little extra flavor. After that, your character has been made.

The Powers That Be

As the book says, every story needs bad guys. As such, this chapter is pretty much a bestiary.

First, there is some talk about the Animal Gods.

Cats, the secret rulers of our world and protectors of humanity, have been manipulating us humans into building a society that cats can find comfort in. They worship the god Ptar-Axtlan (The Leopard That Stalks In The Night, The Tiger Father, and The Cat Who Walks By Himself).

Dogs, while friendly to humans, wish to replace cats as the most loved of pets and venerate Mutt’Thra, The Monster Dog, who sounds more in place with the Toho Mythos. ([i]Godzilla Versus Cthulhu[/i] might sound awesome if it weren’t a rip-off of the also awesome [i]Pacific Rim[/i].)

Fish and other sea life plan to change reality as well and worship the shark-like deity Doggone (who is not very popular with the followers of Mutt’Thra for evident reasons).

Frogs and toads want to flood the world until all mountains are reduced to mud, and are the depraved followers of Phatfroggua.

Many creatures of the wild venerate the spirit Snarlathotep of Many Shapes, who has his own villainous plans for the world of humans as well.

And in addition, the door is open to introduce other foul and horrifying gods.

Next up are some of the Cats that have gone bad, and are known as Bad Kitties.

And because this kind of joke is obligatory, given how many video gamers I seem to have attracted to this blog, “Ninjas have kidnapped your humans! Are you a Bad enough Kitty to rescue your humans?”

Anyways, we have the flying fungal Mew-Go from Yuckoth, who live on a horrible world of freezing cold, constant rain and no housing; and like to collect human and feline brains. It’s for various experiments.

Next up is Hastpurr of Catscosa, once a worshipper of Catthulhu, and now a damned spirit worshipped by the depraved and abused with plans to destroy all of humanity and create a civilization by and for cats. Beware his visions of Catscosa, for they are visions of a feline afterlife which subtly imply that you will be better off dead.

After that, we have Shed-Nappurath, the Mother Of A Thousand Kits. The mate of Great Catthulhu and a sickening perversion of the mother cat; with dozens of seeping nipples and massively bloated with litters upon litters of monsters to be born. She may also be the mother of the cat god Ptar-Axtlan. Thankfully, she and Great Catthulhu are known to be VERY heavy sleepers.

Shaggoths are the living hairballs coughed up by Shed-Nappurath, seemingly formless and constantly turning anything they touch into goo. As cats cannot confront them directly, Shaggoths can only be dealt with through clever means.

The Catnip Out Of Space is a toxic influence that seeps through grass and water and comes to Earth via meteorites. It causes cats to lose control of themselves and lose their sanity, eventually taking of with their minds (not the brains, the minds, though it might have a rivalry with the Mew-Go).

The Great Catthulhu is an ancient god whose whiskers can grip better than any human hand or feline jaw, and has no sympathy for any species. He does not want cats to be comfortable, for such comforts are all junk to be swept away, as is any species that opposes him. The good news though is that he’s a heavy sleeper.

The Big Cats, lions, tigers, panthers and the like, seem to not share the Cats goals of a hedonistic society where humans serve them. Some worship Great Catthulhu, while many just don’t care.

There are no stats given for these creatures. For scrapping purposes, it really is the Best Guess of the Cat Herder.

You might get this feeling that cats are somewhat bastard-like, as they basically want us humans to do everything for them. You just might be right. And guess what? The rest of the world is not exactly friendly either. Save for the dogs who still want our attention. Sucks to be us!

Challenges

So, you might have noticed that nothing about character creation involves actually putting numbers on your character sheet. That’s not an omission on my part. There are no numbers during character creation. How do the rules work with this?

Well, by using logical extrapolation and following a process of four questions to determine how you should resolve something. First, the Cat Herder must assess, based on a player’s justification, if the character is the right cat for the job. Secondly, if it’s dangerous or urgent, then it’s considered a challenge. An appropriate cat can always succeed at a standard challenge, but it takes a roll of 3 or more on a six sided die to succeed for an inappropriate cat, (about 67% chance to succeed). A difficult challenge means an appropriate cat must make the same roll, but an inappropriate cat must roll two dice and score 3+ on BOTH dice to succeed. (This is approximately a 44% chance to succeed.) For a Dire challenge, an appropriate cat must make that same kind of roll, but an inappropriate cat cannot even try without automatically failing.

Dire challenges, by the way, are not there to add excitement, so a Cat Herder should never plan an adventure around them. They actually say that in the rule book.

If one die does not meet that 3+ range, the cat simple fails. If two dice fail (only possible where you roll at two dice), you not only fail, but can get injured or lose one of your nine lives (at the player’s discretion.) Injury means a cat is always inappropriate for the rest of the adventure. Two injuries means the cat is disabled and cannot do anything strenuous for the rest of the adventure. Three is fatal and costs one of the cat’s nine lives.

For opposed actions, the opponent has to roll 1 die and try to cancel one of the cat’s successes.

Scrapping, combat, is a somewhat different matter. Opponents may roll multiple dice if they are sufficiently big or tough. Also, conditions can be inflicted on the loser, such as Cowed (shocked or scared), Dodged (past opponent’s reach), Gripped (grappling) or Injured. There are also rules for multiple opposnents (only once can you inflict a condition, but you can defend as often as you like).

Finally, you have one page describing typical challenges for each role.

You might notice that this system is highly subjective and may, for some gamers, seem utterly unplayable. After all, moreso than any other system I have seen, there’s a lot of guesswork that goes into seeing if you can even try an action. This seems to fit nicely for the Narrative Agenda, however. Not so much for the Competative one, though, as there is pretty much no balancing mechanism in place at all.

The World

This is where you can find information on how cats interact with the world at large. Here, you learn about interactions and about other dimensions. This information is actually pretty vague, and the bestiary does more to provide a look at the cat’s world, but it can give a creative Cat Herder a good place to start.

Following this, there are four pages describing locations and providing adventure seeds. One that’s particularly interesting is called “LOL of Catthulhu,” and it concerns the notion that cat pictures and cat videos on the internet may be putting little holes in our reality that welcome malevolent spirits, or which might quite possibly lead to the birth of a machine god who, as per the Lovecraftian mold of nearly all gods, is quite nasty and has designs that are not convenient for any mortals.

Acknowledgments

The author states that this game was in part inspired by a note from a similarly themes RPG, Cat, by John Wick (who I will always remember for creating Legend Of The Five Rings, a fantasy RPG inspired by Feudal Japanese history with a few other parts of Asia thrown in as well). Cat, however, was about pet cats protecting their owners from spirits based on human sins like avarice, gluttony or wrath. If you want to swat the bogeyman, play Cat, but if you want to save the world from animal cultists who seek to bring their cruel gods into the world, the you’ll like Call of Catthulhu. And, Joel (the author) even suggests mixing both if you want.

There’s also some acknowledgment of Call of Cthulhu, with an admission to having a different tone, but both games are still meant to be fun. Cthulhu is about expecting to lose, but Catthulhu is geared so that cats win more often.

Then, some thanks to various folks.

Finally, there’s a one page ad for a Kickstarter geared towards creating a Deluxe Edition of Call of Catthulhu, with more gods, more cats, more world information and more adventure.

Overall

Frankly, this appears to be the only game with a nearly-nonexistent rules system that seems to actually look like I can make it work, and that alone gives me a bit of a fondness for it. I would say this game is a must have for anyone who loves to play games where there’s little need to interact with the rules. The rules are hardly there, after all. However, if you are the sort of person who feels the need to interact with the rules frequently, you are going to need to look elsewhere. This simply is not a robust-enough game system for anyone who wants a balanced system. Too much guesswork is needed.

If you want to form an opinion for yourself and read it, here’s a link: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/117755/Call-Of-Catthulhu?term=Call+of+Cat

The PDF is currently only $4, which is a bit steep dor what you get in my opinion, but when I purchased it, I’m also getting a print version for a bundle price of $8, not counting the shipping and handling costs.

So, I hope you have a happy Halloween, everyone. And remember: Yay Kitties! Unless you’re allergic, in which case, sorry. Either way, go have some fun. Save the world from imaginary animal cultists and get back home for some nice ear scratchings from your imaginary human. Meow!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call Of Catthulhu - ORIGINAL EDITION
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