Cat: A Little Game about Little Heroes and several Cthulhu-themed titles such as Sixtystone Press’ Cathulhu and Catthulhu’s Cats Of Catthulhu. The latest to join this klowder is Mew-Tants!. Published by Anima Press as part of ZineQuest #3, this is rules light roleplaying game in which the players not just take the role of cats, but as the title suggests, cats with sup-purr powers!
Mew-Tants! takes the seemingly supernatural abilities and attitudes of cats and turns them up a knotch or two in the scratching post to turn them into superpowers. So ‘Laser Eyes’—not so much blasters as pointers with which to distract other cats; ‘If I fits I sits’—the cat can expand or shrink to fit exactly into any container; ‘Spidercat’—being able to climb down(!) and up trees, and even upside down; and ‘Keyboard Cat’—being able to use computers and keyboards because everyone believes you can! There are just twelve superpowers, along with twelve breeds of cats, which are enough for a one-shot or a mini-campaign, whilst still leaving plenty of room for the Game Master or even the players to create their own.
A cat-racter in Mew-Tants! is defined by his Breed, from Moggy, Scottish Fold, and Bengal to Tortoiseshell, American Ringtail, and Norwegian Forest Cat, and his superpower. A cat has four stats, defined by his Breed. These are Claws, for fighting and all physical activities, Whiskers for mental abilities and awareness, and Fucks, for how many it gives and its ability to interact with other cats and animals (including dogs). It also has nine Lives, just as you would expect. To create a Mew-Tant, a player rolls or selects a Breed and Superpower, modifies one stat for something his cat is good at and one stat for something his cat is bad at, selects his cat’s fur colour, and decides on a relationship with another cat and the reason why he joined the team of super cats.
Superpower – Keyboard cat
Mechanically, Mew-Tants! is simple enough. It uses dice pools of six-sided dice, equal to one of a cat’s stats. If a player rolls a six, then his cat succeeds at a task. If opposed, the winner is the cat—or even a dog or a rat—who rolls more successes than the other. In combat, successes indicate damage inflicted on an opponent. Further dice can be added to a pool if a cat can find a box or a bed—for a nap, Kibbles so the cat can care more, or a Scratching Post to sharpen a cat’s claws. These add to a cat’s Whiskers, Fucks, and Claws respectively. Lastly, Lives represent a cat’s Hit Points, but can also be expended to reroll any dice. Catnip—or ‘nip’ if obtained from a dealer on the streets—grants bonus Lives dice.
Play in Mew-Tants! is supported with advice on scenario or mini-campaign, design, a detailed scenario, and a dozen ready-to-play super cats. The advice is to keep it fairly short and focused on small neighbourhood, perhaps even a neighbourhood known to the players. A table of antagonists and goals provide some ideas, and whilst the advice is limited, it is sufficient for a roleplaying with the scope of Mew-Tants! In comparison, the scenario, ‘The Catnapping’, is relatively lengthy and detailed. It is a missing moogie mystery litter box played out over nine locations, with plenty of NPCs that the Game Master can develop and roleplay. It should provide a good session or two’s worth of play.
Physically, Mew-Tants! is decently done and written. The artwork ranges from the realistic to the cartoonish, but works either way. Published as an A5-size booklet, it is short and easy to read, such that a Game Master could pick this up and read it through and have it ready to play in ten minutes.
Cats will be familiar to almost every player, so the combination of the subject matter and the simple mechanics make Mew-Tants! both easy and engaging to play. The combination also means that Mew-Tants! is suitable for younger players or play by a family—or it would be. Its use of adult language to describe a cat’s charisma and the fact that is reproduced on the character sheet on the back cover simply means that it is anything but—when it really should have been. Now the Game Master can change both, renaming the stat and redesigning the character sheet—perhaps Catrisma?—but should that have been really necessary? Maybe the publisher could provide a family-friendly character sheet?
Overall, Mew-Tants! is both easy and engaging, with scope aplenty for the input and invention of the players as they imagine the adventures of their cats and how they see the world around them.