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Sunday 10 December 2023

[Free RPG Day 2023] Animal Adventures: Apocalypse Miaow

Now in its sixteenth year, Free RPG Day for 2023 took place on Saturday, June 24th. As per usual, Free RPG Day consisted of an array of new and interesting little releases, which are traditionally tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. Thanks to the generosity of David Salisbury of Fan Boy 3, Fil Baldowski at All Rolled Up, and others, Reviews from R’lyeh was able to get hold of many of the titles released for Free RPG Day, both in the USA and elsewhere.


Animal Adventures: Apocalypse Miaow
is the release from Steamforged Games Ltd for Free RPG Day 2023. It is a scenario and preview of Animal Adventures: The Faraway Sea, the new expansion to the publisher’s Animal Adventures: Secrets of Gullet Cove, the cats and dogs anthropomorphic campaign and setting for Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition. Where Animal Adventures: Secrets of Gullet Cove takes place in and around an English style port, Animal Adventures: The Faraway Sea moves the action and story to sea where the Player Characters, based in the floating city of Flotsam, set sail to explore the nearby islands that shift in and out of a magical vortex which lies a few miles travel from the Flotsam. Designed for group of three to six awakened animal Player Characters of Second and Third Levels, it is a short, intriguing affair combining action and mystery that can be played in a single session or so...

Animal Adventures: Apocalypse Miaow lets the Player Characters ‘Journey to the Heart of Barkness’* on the trail of Sadie the Corgi, an explorer of legendary repute, who led an expedition to explore the recently appeared Spine Fish Island. Unfortunately, only a few of her companions have returned, battered and bruised, with strange tales of ‘Clawptain Katz’ and the ‘spine fish’. Brave adventurers—in this case the Player Characters—are wanted to sail out to the island to discover what has happened to Sadie, and hopefully rescue her.

* Publisher’s pun, not mine.

The Player Characters do have the opportunity to prepare for the voyage, both by taking some expert advice about Spine Fish Island and asking the survivors of the expedition led by Sadie the Corgi. Armed with this, the voyage itself is easy and the seas are calm. The Player Characters’ trouble begin when they reach the island, which turns out to be mostly desert, but there is a river running through it, which is only accessible by trekking overland. The initial problem is the welcoming committee, a bunch of poorly armed cats who shout at the Player Characters to leave the island, but are otherwise not aggressive. Which seems odd given that both they and Clawptain Katz want the Player Characters to leave the island. Whether the Player Characters decide to attack or negotiate, the defending cats quickly reveal their true character and turn tail, almost apologetically, as if they have no fight in them. This encounter is staged on the map included in the centre of Animal Adventures: Apocalypse Miaow.

With the knowledge gained from the cats and likely a clearer explanation of what is going on, the Player Characters can make their way to the encampment of Clawptain Katz and there confront him. This requires them to cross a short stretch of the desert and then travel along the river, on which they will have to protect their boat from the predating Spine Fish. At Clawptain Katz’s encampment, it is quickly clear that he is holding Sadie the Corgi prisoner—but not so that she is unable to shout a few hints—and that Clawptain Katz seems to have the rest of the cats held under his rather selfish and autocratic sway. Has he turned dictator whilst he has been on the island, or is there another explanation?

Animal Adventures: Apocalypse Miaow is a likeable affair. It is more about the investigation and the interaction than the fight necessarily as the confrontation when the Player Characters land on the island might not result in a fight. Overall, it showcases some of basic details to Animal Adventures: The Faraway Sea and provides a good solid, session’s worth of play.

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