Tag Archives: Catgirl: The Storytelling Game

Catgirl: The Storytelling Game – Progress

So, I got all inspired to work on Catgirl: The Storytelling Game again. I’m not really sure why, though reading D.Gray-Man probably has something to do with it.

For the setting, I played around some more with the different types of Awakened (supernaturals). In addition to the kemonomimi (catgirls and others like them), shinigami (Death Gods), and mascot girls, there are the Empowered (humans with special powers, such as sorcery, miracles, or psionics) and the Blooded (quasi-vampires, not unlike in Tsukihime). To the major types of enemies I added Dominators (humans with the power to enslave Awakened), the Syndicate (the real Men In Black, who want to create a mundane and static reality), and the Lost (corrupted and damned souls, not unlike the Hollows from Bleach).

For the rules I started off with a Storyteller system inspired variant of Fudge, but I’ve come up with some things that I think are kind of neat:

  • Partially reversed death spiral. When a character is hurt, she gets -1 to intellectual/rational type actions, but +1 to instinctive, bestial actions.
  • Rather than giving you a flat bonus for flashy narration, a stunt lets you use one skill or attribute in a creative way to possibly get a bonus on another.
  • You can spend multiple Charm selections on the same Charm to upgrade it. You can do two upgrades, and these usually make a it more expensive to use.
  • Characters have to start with a “Crisis,” some incident that puts them on the spot. (Basically a Kicker but with a more Japanese name).

The further along I go, the more I like what I’m coming up with. Although strictly speaking I could still use Opening the Dark, this is turning more and more into a game I really want to play. This really is turning into more and more of a runaway project.

Assorted Things

So, apparently Malcolm Sheppard has decided to pull the plug on Opening The Dark, for some reason or other. Although strictly speaking I could still use it since it’s OGL, I think I’m going to stick with my original plan to use a ST-ish Fudge variant for Catgirl: The Storytelling Game.

A Certain Japanese Game I’ve been translating will hopefully be moving forward very, very soon. I will have news on it as soon as I am able to reveal such to the public. It’s gonna be neat. :3

For Adventures of the Space Patrol, I basically have the entire outline of the game figured out (it helps that most of it is made from stock parts, after all), though there will no doubt be new challenges popping up as I go along. I had to go in and give some more thought to the selection of archetypes, and finally settled on seven:

  • Atomic Ranger
  • DroidBot
  • Plucky Kid
  • Galactic Spy
  • Space Trooper
  • Astro-Jockey
  • Altarian Engineer

The trick was to focus on what core roles to cover, and then to give them appropriately spacy-sounding names. I’m probably going to write up an appendix, PDF, or whatever of bonus archetypes (Cat Princess, Martian Barbarian, Pleiadeian Mentalist, etc.). More on all that as it comes along. In the meantime, here are some examples of the awesome artwork that so inspires me:

Catgirls The Dark Raspberry

Malcolm Sheppard has put together an OGL system called “Opening The Dark,” which is very much like Storyteller with the serial numbers filed off and some changes to the chassis. I need to make time to digest it at some point, but the SRD is available here. I may end up using it for Catgirl: The Storytelling Game.

I’ve also made major progress with the new version of Raspberry Heaven. I’m much more confident about it now, and depending on how much I get done I may run a playtest in a week or two. The new game is even more of a not-quite-an-RPG scene building story game, and it should be pretty easy to tweak for other things. It uses a deck of regular playing cards, and players put down cards trying to get the highest value for each phase of a scene (Introduction, Development, Turning Point, Climax) to get narration rights, but suits, special cards, and certain combinations all affect the mood and such.

Catgirl: The Storytelling Game (Types of Reality)

I’m still not sure what to call the overall setting that Catgirl takes place in. Stuff like “World of Insufficient Light” both has been done and doesn’t fit where the game wound up going. The best I’ve come up with so far is “Age of False Innocence,” which is actually the title of a Blind Guardian song. So anyway, time for some more on the cosmology.

There are two distinct modes of existence: material and immaterial. Beings that are purely immaterial are called Figments, while beings that are purely material are called Others. Humans are among those who have some of both the material and immaterial within them, though it’s at best an oversimplification to call the immaterial side a “soul.” Not a few of a human being’s cognitive functions–including things like language and to some extent emotions–are at least partly a function of a physical, biological brain. On the other hand there are things like the Linker Core, an immaterial component that facilitates connections to other people, and allows one to dream. Those who are properly aware of the material and immaterial sides of themselves are called Awakened, so naturally those who are not–the great majority of mankind–are called Sleepers.

Figments are relentlessly created, disintegrated, and reformed. Every casual thought creates minor Figments, but the thoughts and dreams of many people, or even of one very determined person, can crystallize into an immaterial form that can endure for eons. For the Figments there is no such thing as “not real.” The concept of unreality is simply a fiction as far as they’re concerned, an impossible paradox. While Figments begin their existence as creations of others, especially Sleepers, they can acquire a life of their own and can change over time. The immaterial world contains entire worlds formed from the dreams of humanity.

The Others are more common and more powerful than you might think. While human science has unlocked many of the material world’s mysteries, complete understanding is still a long ways off. Thus there are Others who possess secrets and abilities that rival or exceed the greatest of the Awakened. Among the most dangerous of the Others are the Obliviators. These beings are painfully aware that beyond death only oblivion can await them, and have taken to doing anything and everything in their power to extend their lives. To that end they seek to steal the very essence of existence. They take on human form, and infiltrate the world of humans. Sleepers provide them with some sustenance, but the Awakened provide far more and far sweeter, so it is the Awakened that all but the weakest Obliviators choose to hunt.

Catgirl: The Storytelling Game (The Shadow)

Over the past few days I finally started reading Night Watch, the first part of Sergei Lukyanenko’s gritty supernatural tetralogy set in Russia. Without getting too much into it, the concept of Twilight helped me come up with an important element to the cosmology of Catgirl: The Storytelling Game.

The Shadow, also known as the Twilight, the Between, the Divide, and so on, is the immaterial world’s intrusion into and reflection of the material world, and vice versa. It is where the Awakened are at their strongest, because both sides of them are fully expressed. The Shadow looks like an approximation of the material world, but many mental and spiritual factors are plainly manifest. The symbiotic relationship between the two sides of reality allows influences to flow both ways. People can be affected by and exert influence on things in the Shadow, often without realizing it. They can unconsciously shape the Shadow landscape around them, but changes to it can likewise affect them back.

Most Awakened have the power to enter the Shadow, though some individuals are better at it than others, and some don’t even know that they can. Catgirls don’t have any powers that let them exert special influence over the Shadow, but anyone who can enter it can do things that have an effect. If Timmy’s recurring nightmares have formed a monster in the Shadow, defeating it will most likely let the boy sleep soundly at night. For this reason, deftly entering and navigating through the Shadow can be a very powerful skill to have. Some of the most desperate and dangerous battles fought by the Awakened have been fought to control part of the Shadow, and through it exert influence on the other worlds.

For better or for worse, it is unhealthy to stay in the Shadow for extended periods of time. Existing in the physical or spiritual realms naturally saps some of one’s vitality, but existing in a place that comprises both is draining both physically and spiritually at the same time. This is why most awakened only partially immerse themselves into the Shadow. By staying rooted into the material or immaterial worlds while entering the Shadow, it is both less draining and easier to leave if need be. Of course, it does mean truly existing in two realms at once, opening up the possibility that other people will think you’re crazy for reacting to stuff they can’t see. It is possible to enter more fully into the Shadow, but going into the deep Shadow for a length of time will cause those foolhardy enough to do so to waste away and go mad.

It is tempting to think of reality as a Shadow sandwich with material and immaterial bread, but things are not that simple. There are countless peaks, valleys, whorls, and tangles that render the sandwich metaphor untenable. Those who know how to navigate the Shadow can find shortcuts through reality, cutting through one realm to gain ground in another. The variations in this structure and be very broad, or impossibly fine. Sometimes pieces of an immaterial realm can even have a needle-thin breach leading to a specific person.

I also got my copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse (first edition) in the mail today. I haven’t had a chance to do more than flip through it, but wow. White Wolf has really changed in the 15 years since then. The old logo says “A Renaissance In Gaming(tm)” below it.

Also, does anyone know of anything similar to Night Watch that might be a good source of inspiration?

Catgirl: The Storytelling Game (Setting Stuff)

As usual, I found something to distract me. I’ve been working more on Catgirl: The Storytelling Game, though mainly in terms of setting stuff. I even went so far as to order a $2 copy of the first edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse from Amazon Marketplace, to get a blast of the wackier yet more pretentious original White Wolf feel.

The overall setting/cosmology is sort of a mix of weird ideas I’ve been trying to do something with and some Neil Gaiman influence, plus of course otaku culture. So far it’s turning out much more serious than I’d intended, but also cooler. The material world we live in is not a lie or an illusion, but rather an equal partner to the immaterial. There are Figments (purely immaterial) and Others (purely physical), and there are those who have some of each, though few truly realize it. There was no Golden Age that was shattered by hubris; on the contrary, the invention of stories let people look beyond the darkness and fear of the Dawn Time and start to dream. Some see the world as a tapestry, others as a song, a story, a painting, etc. Seeing the world as such is the easy part; the hard part is making the world see itself as you do.

Beings who consciously straddle the line between the material and immaterial worlds are collectively called “Awakened.” Catgirls (and other kemonomimi) are one type of Awakened, but there are also Shinigami, Magical Girls, Mascot Girls, Dreamers, and others besides. Catgirls are in a unique predicament in that all of the catboys are gone, and even the story of how they disappeared is lost. In a desperate bid for survival, 108 catgirls gathered and performed a ritual that made it so catgirls would be born at random among humans and even cats. There are three “Breeds” of catgirls: Homid (born to human parents, or to a catgirl mother who mated with a human man), Feline (born as a cat), and Transformed (a human turned into a catgirl by magic, not necessarily willingly). Although they don’t know why, catgirls are divided into five castes: Claws (warriors), Ears (diplomats/socialites), Glasses (scholars), Paws (athletes/spies), and Tails (priestesses/magicians). And yes, castes affect skills and charms. There are no Anima Banners, though I’m thinking of adding some kind of special ability per caste. Catgirls have two “Kitty Quirks,” mannerisms that mark them as being part cat. I put in a heading for “Meow Points” in the file, but I can’t remember what it was supposed to be… There are going to be some catgirl factions, including nekomimi maids, and a group that goes around finding humans to punish by transforming them into catgirls.

The Shinigami are the other Awakened that I’ve gotten the furthest in developing, and I’m very happy with how they’re turning out. There are 5 main Shinigami factions, most of which come from different anime. There are the Black Angels (ruthless death gods with black feathered wings), Chosen of the Middle Way (katana-wielding guys in black Buddhist robes), Corpses of the Unrelenting Night (amoral, decaying creatures who use a Shinigami Notebook to extend their own lives), The Girls in Black (gothic lolita girls who can work magic through their cell phones and the attached charms), and Reapers of the Gentle Dawn (kind Shinigami who see themselves as having a sacred duty to departing souls). I’m not really planning to actually make splats/spinoff games for the other Awakened, but if I did, the Shinigami book would be the first one.

Tokyo Kung Fu Catgirls

(This is what the subject headings usually look like on my LiveJournal).

The first rough draft of Thrash 2.0 is finished! Seriously! After I get some feedback from my local friends I’ll be posting it up.

In the meantime I wound up poking at some of the other things on my hard drive. I’d forgotten how neat Catgirl: The Storytelling Game (a semi-tongue-in-cheek parody of White Wolf-ness, but with lots of otaku memes thrown in) was looking. It’s going to be a ST-ish Fudge variant, and the point of it would mostly be just to do the setting for the fun of it.

I also wound up poking at Tokyo Heroes a little, finally. Again, with tremendously helpful feedback from Filip. Here’s what I’m working on so far:

  • Sessions are divided into four distinct phases: Prologue, Investigation, Battle, and Epilogue
  • The Investigation phase essentially involves clearing “gates” set out by the GM for the heroes to find and/or figure out how to beat the monster of the week. Gates can be cleared by using Keys, or just by being in the right place, or by succeeding at challenges. Gates can become improvised, they can be linked, they can branch, and they can provide special advantages against the bad guy.
  • The switch to Keys being the basis of investigation stuff has made many of the attributes in the game irrelevant. Tentatively there’ll be three: Courage (melee attack/defense), Prowess (ranged attack/defense), and Kiai/Spirit (for finishers, and encouraging teammates). This neatly does away with having an overpowered Attack attribute.
  • I’m pretty much getting rid of Stamina and Resistance. I still need to work out more of the specifics, but basically the heroes have a Blast Gauge that indicates how far the battle has escalated. For sentai heroes it starts at Basic Attacks, and moves up until it reaches Finishing Attacks. The Blast Gauge varies a little bit depending on the type of battle (the version for robots and magical girls doesn’t include a Basic Attack stage). Bad guys cause heroes to accumulate Pain, which can eventually cause them to be de-transformed or incapacitated if they get enough.
  • Part of setting up the game is setting up a Budget progression, which determines how powerful the bad guys are and creates a long-term pacing mechanic for the heroes getting handed new robots/powers/etc. Gates are part of the GM’s budget for each episode/monster.