The Secrets of Cats: Feline Magic Backer Feedback Post

Hi! I recently launched the Kickstarter for the third and final book in the “Secrets of Cats setting”, Feline MagicMy backers were looking for somewhere to give me their feedback on the early draft of the game, so I’ve set this post up for people to comment on in one place that won’t get lost!

9 thoughts on “The Secrets of Cats: Feline Magic Backer Feedback Post

  1. Samuel Munilla

    The book is a great read so far! I especially love the alchemy, but I do have one bit of feedback:

    Brewing potions has a time frame expressed in days. Considering that the other schools of magic provide instant effects of comparable potency and that “a few days” or even an entire single day is probably beyond the scope of a play session, Alchemy seems hamstrung. I would consider severely reducing the time frame for brewing potions.

    Thanks again and I can’t wait to incorporate this into my future games!

    Reply
    1. Richard Bellingham Post author

      Hi Sam, thanks for the feedback.

      I don’t plan to change this at the moment, but I’ll discuss it with Josh during the editing phase.

      Why don’t I plan to change it? You’ve missed a couple of rules factors that make a difference to Alchemy’s utility and timescale.

      First, Alchemy is a wee bit more powerful than the base skills (ignoring stunts) of the other schools of magic. It’s capable of generating a potion with a stunt-like effect, even a non-exclusive magic stunt from one of the other schools.

      Secondly, you can reduce the timeframe by collecting additional ingredients. Collect four ingredients and the base time drops to a day.

      Thirdly, as with any other effect that has a base timeframe, you can use shifts on your successful alchemy roll to reduce the time required. If the base time is A Few Days, the first shift you use drops it to A Day, the second to Half A Day, the third to Several Hours, the fourth to A Few Hours, and so forth. That means if you’re ever in a super rush for a potion you can probably just throw fate points at it to get the timeframe down to a matter of minutes or seconds.

      Reply
      1. Richard Bellingham Post author

        Also, another factor… potions last indefinitely as long as you keep them moist unless someone cleans them up. I might add a sidebar to the effect that the GM might consider letting an Alchemist have a potion in their stock that does a particular thing if they spend a fate point to declare a relevant story detail.

        Reply
      2. Samuel Munilla

        Thanks for the reply! I saw the bit about reducing it by collecting ingredients down to one day. Rereading it, I don’t see any mention of Shifts reducing it below that. That’s a great solution though! It just needs to be made more clear that it is actually possible.

        Another idea that I was bouncing around my head was exchanging Shifts for “charges” on the potion. So the brewing time is still a day, but it can be used multiple times before a new potion needs to be brewed. This would probably end up a bit like old-school D&D Wizards who had to memorize new spells every day.

        Reply
        1. Richard Bellingham Post author

          The ‘reducing a task that has a timeframe by spending shifts’ rule is a standard one from Fate Core, Sam.

          HOW MUCH TIME IS A SHIFT WORTH?

          Just like with any other roll, the number of shifts you get (or the amount you fail by) should serve as a barometer for just how severe the time jump is. So, how do you decide just how much to award or penalize?

          It really depends on how much time you decide the initial action is going to take. Time is usually expressed in two parts: a specific or abstract measure of quantity, then a unit of time, such as “a few days,” “twenty seconds,” “three weeks,” and so on.

          It is recommended that you measure in the abstract and express all the game actions as half, one, a few, or several of a given unit of time. So if you imagine something taking six hours, think of it as “several hours.” If you imagine something taking twenty minutes, you can either call that “several minutes” or round up to “half an hour”, whichever feels closest.

          This gives you a starting point for moving up and down. Each shift is worth one jump from wherever your starting point is. So if your starting point is “several hours,” and it benefits the PCs to speed things up, then it works like this: one shift jumps the time down to “a few hours,” two shifts down to “one hour,” and three shifts down to “a half hour.”

          Going past either end of the spectrum moves you down to several increments of the next unit of time or up to half the next unit of time, depending on which direction you’re going. So four shifts on the aforementioned roll might jump you from “several hours” to “several minutes.” Failing by one, conversely, might jump you from “several hours” to “half a day.”

          This allows you to quickly deal with time jumps no matter where you’re starting from, whether the actions you have in mind are going to take moments or generations

          Reply
          1. Samuel Munilla

            Somehow, I’d missed that rule all this time! I withdraw my objections to the brewing times in that case.

            … and I need to stew on some of the events in previous campaigns based on my newfound knowledge.

          2. Richard Bellingham Post author

            It’s easy to miss stuff like this! It’s a super useful rule, though. For what it’s worth, I did link to time increments in The Secrets of Cats page 22, where I refer to Fate Core page 197.

  2. Alan

    Loved this on my read through and again, especially find of Alchemy.

    I was wondering if there’s room for an “Alchemist’s Fangs” stunt in there, so an Alchemist cat can bite a subject and use her teeth to inject the potion? I feel like that would be a more feline way to introduce truth serum (but not the ONLY way) if it was available.

    Not so keen on “Eyes in the Back of the Head” Knack. I feel it’s not particularly specific to cats as a saying and the compel of walking backwards strikes me as a little odd (just my opinion).
    My suggestion for a Notice Knack would be more along the lines of

    ________
    “Twitching Whiskers”
    Sometimes with the slightest change in the air, or a supernatural 6th sense you can sense a danger a split second before it strikes. You will always act first when a newly emerging danger threatens you physically. Note that caterwauling a warning rather than saving your own skin can count as your action, so beware using this altruistically.

    Catch: However, such fine tuned senses can result in false positives. Compels can be used to make you suddenly jump at seemingly nothing and skitter to safety from an imagined threat. Your Burdens often seem to find this amusing, but such prudence has kept your nine lives firmly attached.
    _____________

    For Savant of Symbols I’d perhaps change the Catch slightly, rather than saying that the magic is inexact, it seems to me that the references, idioms, and cultural significance of squigglespeak symbols may be lost on Cats, making interpretation tricky?

    Hope those thoughts are helpful, and brew quietly in your digestive tract. Feel free to disgorge them from either end depending on how you feel about them 😉

    Reply
    1. Richard Bellingham Post author

      The Alchemist’s Fangs trick is already supported, if you read between the lines. You can hold the potion in your stomach until you’re ready to use it, and you can coat your fangs or claws in it to inject it… so it only makes sense that you can take an action to throw it up on your fangs and then bite someone a turn later. You could make it a stunt to let them do it without having to take an action to coat their fangs first, if you wanted.

      I like Twitching Whiskers, but I’m not sure I want to replace Eyes in the Back of Your Head. The thing about jumping at shadows etc. is already allowed for by the fact that cats can see spirits. I appreciate the feedback, though, and if I get any other comments to the effect that they aren’t fond of this Knack I might reconsider.

      For Savant of Symbols, I can see where you’re coming from and I’ll think about changing the wording of that once the latest edit comes back from Josh!

      Reply

Let me know what you think!