The Secrets of Cats is a pay-what-you-want setting book for FATE Core. I backed the FATE Core Kickstarter, and even got a nice, perfect bound hardback copy. One thing about the design of the FATE stuff is that it’s designed to be read page-by-page on an electronic device. To that end, it’s single-column, the pages look good a 7” (this is the size of my hardback book as well). This was the first time I’d run the system, or FATE at all since I rand Dresden Files online some time ago (and that didn’t get very far.)
Secrets of Cats delves into a world that feels like T.S. Eliot meets So You Want To Be A Wizard. Cats are powerful sentient wizards, protecting their human burdens from the evils of the mystical world. Cats have four magical powers that explain the odd things that cats do. True Names are an important part of that, and some cats can control or protect those whose true names they know, and others can discover the true names of others. Cats can also use their own true name to alter themselves or do odd feats (like leaping in the air, or shaping their bodies in odd ways).
If you love cats and magic this is a fun expansion to try out.
Our group isn’t entirely comfortable with more narrative games, so I was excited when Secrets of Cats came out as it limited both the skills and types of characters you can make. It still took us a while to find good aspects and to get started. Our daughter actually enjoyed it a lot (and I had to find a way to get other people some spotlight time, and to keep her from taking total control of the narrative — or to be okay if she did). I did incorporate some of her ideas to the narrative, and generally ad-libbed a very basic story.
We had lost one of our cats the same weekend that we played this, so there was some emotional stuff. One of my wives played our lost cat, the other played a character based on Tommy from Breaking Cat News, which gave both of them really nice round concepts. Overall, I had a fun but exhausting time, although I think our next game will need to be a more traditional murder-hobo type game. There’s some tension in our group between the OSR, D&D 3.x, and narrative games. Our most successful narrative game was Dungeon World, for what that’s worth.
The daughter is ready to play this again, although because of the above reasons about narrative games, I doubt we will soon. I feel like I still need practice running FATE, and getting the hang of compels and spending FATE points. It also hurts that it takes so long for us to make characters that it cuts into our time and energy for playing. That, I’m sure gets easier with practice, but I’m not sure when we’ll get the practice.