Magical Kitties Save the Day!
Authors: Matthew Hanson, Justin Alexander, and Michelle Nephew
Publisher: Atlas Games
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $14.95
Print [Boxed] – $34.95
Your human has been missing for three days. Now, imagine for a moment that you have just learned they were just spotted down by the river on the wrong side of the tracks. The information comes from the most reliable of sources, local squirrels. Their spy network blankets the town, and news travels fast. Armed with this information, you slip out of the house, gather your friends and set off on an adventure to save your human. But take care to ensure that no human witnesses you using your magical abilities! A game with superpowered cats doing amazing things is a welcome addition to a hobby already saturated with endless options for consumers.
Magical Kitties Save the Day is a roleplaying game for all ages in which players assume the role of cats with extraordinary magical powers. Through tenacity and derring-do, these cats help their humans have a better, less stressful, and happier life. Their actions may also affect more than just their human; their hometown needs saving too. While it sounds pastoral and cozy, the game can take any number of tones depending on the makeup and age of the players.
Available in three formats—standard, deluxe, and digital—I am reviewing the standard edition. The deluxe version includes all standard game contents with upgraded components, reference cards, and two additional hometown setting books.
The standard game includes the following:
Magical Kitties Save the Day Rulebook
The Big Adventure (solo comic book adventure)
River City (hometown)
River City poster map
6 blue dice
48 kitty treats
Pad of 50 full-color pre-printed character sheet
Velvety flocked interior tray
The deluxe version adds the following:
Alien Invasion hometown (including poster map)
Wild Ones hometown (including poster map)
6 large custom kitty-paw dice
48 wooden kitty treats
108 full-color cards for Magical Powers, Talents, and Flaws
Magical Kitties Save the Day uses a simple D6-based mechanic with minimal math required, making it accessible to children and adults alike. For the younger crowd, the essential skill is their ability to count to six and compare numbers to determine which is larger.
The game’s core mechanic is the “Check,” utilizing a D6 dice pool. When a kitty attempts to do something tricky or dangerous, a Check may be required to determine if they are successful. At the heart of the dice pool is a core skill—Cute, Cunning, or Fierce—its value is the base number of dice in the pool. Depending on several factors, the dice pool may be influenced positively or negatively. The dice are rolled, and the results are compared to the difficulty of the task, ranging from 3 (easy) to 6 (extreme). Successes are any result that meets or exceeds the difficulty rating. The number of successes determines the outcome. For example, one success while accomplishing the objective imparts a complication. Two successes impart no complication, and more than two successes allow the kitty to have a bonus effect that positively impacts someone or something.
As a result of a scuffle or from Check complications, kitties may get hurt, referred to as “owies.” If they exceed their owie limit, the next owie becomes an injury, and injuries negatively affect the dice pool. Healing occurs incrementally at the end of each scene.
Kitty Treats are an in-game commodity in the form of tokens; they are earned by invoking a flaw. Treats can be used to reroll any single die for one Check, to avoid taking an injury, use a bonus feature you don’t have for one of your magical powers, or to add something new to the narrative beyond the kitty’s control.
The foes the kitties will encounter have “Foe Reactions.” These are aspects written into the foe’s character stats. They will often be used when kitties suffer a complication from not getting enough success in an opposed roll versus the foe. Foes can take owies as well. Once they suffer a number of owies equal to their limit, they are defeated.
Kitty & Hometown Creation
Now, with an understanding of the core mechanics, let’s look at character creation as there are several parts.
Character creation is a swift process. It starts with adding basic demographic information like a name, where they live, descriptions, etc. Players select or randomly roll for the remainder of their kitty’s information on D66 tables. There are six different attribute arrays for Cute, Cunning, and Fierce. Attributes have a single name, but they cover many possibilities. Talents are things that could happen in the real world, like hunting, balance, sense of hearing, and more. Every kitty has a flaw, an aspect that is negative or problematic such as sleepy, distractable, and grumpy. However, invoking these makes the story more interesting and generates kitty treats. Magical powers are fairly specific, allowing kitties to do things that aren’t possible in the real world.
With the kitty itself created, there is one last thing to do, choose and describe your human—the person you live with and for whom you try to keep happy. Every human comes with their own set of unique problems. Be it money, love, or something else, whatever their problems are, kitties seek to help their humans solve their problems. Each problem begins with a rank of 1 to 4, depending on the number of problems they have. Ranks determine how hard it is to solve the problem.
Gamemasters must create their hometowns if they do not use a published hometown. There is specific guidance provided in the rulebook to do this. There are various things to consider and devise; it is not recommended for first-time players. There are also additional Gamemaster tools covering other aspects of adventure creation.
The Big Adventure
The game comes with “The Big Adventure,” a solo adventure written and illustrated as a choose-your-own-adventure comic book. “The Big Adventure” is a wonderful teaching experience. Not only does it teach the game’s fundamentals, but it also does it in a way that is fun and engaging for players of any age.
Hometown: River City
Setting books known as “Hometowns” provide Gamemasters with unique places to set their game. Each booklet also includes a full-color map. River City, the first hometown in the supplement series, is included in both versions.
River City represents a typical small city in any country, though it has a decidedly American feel to it. The booklet describes points of interest throughout the city and much more. No hometown is without its problems, and River City provides nine for the kitties and their owners to become entangled in. The mix of problems is an interesting assortment, including Baba Yaga living in the local park, a chemical spill at the Union Chemical plant, hyper-intelligent raccoons trying to build a mecha-raccoon, and more. Several other resources are also given; these include a small bestiary and a handful of city-specific disasters that kitties might face. Lastly, there is a complete scenario that uses other content from the book.
There is no shortage of inspirational and gameable material in the River City booklet, but there is more! Included is a complete beginning adventure to get players to the table quicker.
The standard edition components vary in quality. The treat tokens (punch outs) are on thick chipboard similar to those in boardgames. The booklets and solo adventure are saddle-stitched with full-color interiors. The rulebook and Hometown: River City are on matte paper that is a little thin. The covers are thick with a glossy coating, with the rule book having its index on the back cover. The solo adventure is a semi-gloss comic book quality paper stock that is unfortunately prone to wrinkling and creasing. The box is solid, with an insert designed to accommodate the upgraded components included in the deluxe edition or purchased separately. The insert is “flocked,” and for the life of me, I have no idea why but it is a nice touch.
The arrangement of the books’ contents follows a logical flow. The layout is clean and easy to read, and the abundant use of sidebars to convey examples and provide additional tips is a nice touch.
Other anthropomorphic games featuring cats abound; however, Magical Kitties Save the Day is different enough to not feel like a re-skinned fantasy game. It puts players into the thick of it, playing kitties who solve problems using their special abilities. There is a lot of bang for your buck with either edition of the game. The standard edition gives you everything your need, while the deluxe edition gives you more; none of it is necessary to play the game.
The River City book gives your all the fuel you need to bring the game alive and is not designed to constrain your game. The book is the fuel, but it still requires the Gamemaster’s spark to build story arcs and to fire up players’ imaginations. The tone and overall objectives of the story can be easily tailored to be age appropriate.
I am really excited to get Magical Kitties Save the Day to the table with my granddaughter and friends. I think everyone is in for a good time.
Written for all ages—it is a winner in my book!
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