Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Sword-wielding cats

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Some split the world into cat people and dog people, and if such oversimplification are worth anything, then I am a cat person – I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by cats, and find the little killing machines both fascinating and charming. Nothing against dogs, of course, but cats are better, in my opinion.

And cats have a long tradition with fantasy and science fiction writers – authors as different as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber and Robert A. Heinlein were cat-lovers, and cats have been featured in a number of stories.
Off the top of my head, I tend to remember Greebo, the cat in Terry Pratchett’s Lancre stories, but also Jones, the cat on board of the Nostromo, in the movie Alien. And of course we all know where the Gray Mouser comes from…

And now, thanks to a gift coupon I got via DriveThruRPG, I have added another roleplaying game to my collection – and this one features cats. The fact that the online gaming store is having a special sale for Wolfenoot – the recently established celebration of wolves – was instrumental.

The game is called Monarchies of Mau, is produced bt Onyx Path, and is set in a world in which humans have been replaced by uplifted animals – dogs (in the crossover-friendly Pugmire setting) and cats in the Monarchies of Mau.

The set-up is a generic sword & sorcery, say late-medieval to early-renaissance, with an eye on the politics of the setting and one on the idea of playing … well, cats. That tend to be instinctive, curious, aggressive and volatile. Lots of intrigue, strange adversaries, and ample opportunities for … ehm, catfights.

I was never overly fond of fluffy animal roleplaying – but I admit I was impressed in the past by the old Mouse Guard game, that was beautiful to behold, easy to play and very tough and gritty when push came to shove.
Monarchies of the Mau seems to follow the same pattern – this is a solid adventure game, running on a version of the latest D&D engine.

It is, indeed, the first 5th Edition product I’ve added to my collection – I’ll except Brancalonia, because, well, I was part of the development of the setting, and I had nothing to do with the rules. It will be interesting to see how this implementation of the rules works.

The likelihood of me playing this anytime soon are slight, but the game looks like fun, the artwork is excellent, and as mentioned above, I tend to be a cat person myself.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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