Secret Jackalope 2022: What’s Up With These Cats?

The Secret Jackalope Extravaganza of the OSR Discord continues. This time, the prompt is

What’s up with the cats in this village/forest/dungeon?


Truly a question we would all like answers to. Now, I will say that Vance has a more grounded style of game, judging from their blog, and it’s tricky to come up with all grounded answers to the prompt. So, here, have three d8 tables, starting with something more grounded and just increasing in absurdity with each table.

What’s up with the cats in this village?

1Many of these cats are ship’s cats. The slight swagger to their walk isn’t a handicap or some measure of haughtiness, but rather their habitual adjustment to moving on a rocking ship. Some of them, who are cats aboard officer ships typically, have even been awarded medals!
2Since the local cat goddess is the deity of perfume, love, seduction, cats, and vengeance, you will see that many courtesans here, both high and low, are accompanied by pet cats. It’s a local rumor that the cats accompany the courtesans on dates and even into the bedroom, where uncouth customers can expect to get raked with their claws!
3The village doesn’t have enough rodents to support such a large cat population, something which astute adventurers should immediately be told. Many of these cats actually know of a hidden entrance into a nearby dungeon, which is crawling with enough vermin for them to consume.
4The stone cats? They are carvings left behind by a famous sculptor, who made them after a group of local heroes. The heroes did not wish to be commemorated as statues, so humble were they, so the sculptor asked if they would consent to being remembered as a feisty group of cats. The heroes, seeing as the sculptor was so insistent, relented, resulting in these delightfully adorable sculptures.
5A lot of the cats in the village will suddenly bristle and look up, because unlike the people, they can see invisible things. A good way to foreshadow some invisible monster or faction.
6Many cats look mangy and unhealthy, despite the otherwise clean nature of the city. Some children have been engaging in a bit of animal abuse, inspired to cruelty by a weak but wicked imp.
7The cats in town like to squeeze into small spaces with a sort of horror-movie persistence. They can be found dead in ovens, squeezed unpleasantly into sword sheathes, peeking out of boots, and the like. Half-terrifying, half-adorable, and definitely the result of a curse.
8Many of the cats are obviously from other villages from all over the continent – tiny cat-sized teleportation circles called Cat Flaps allow these cats to travel from cat-friendly village to cat-friendly village, freely.

What’s up with the cats in this forest?

1The cats harbor gossamer wings that shoot beautiful rainbow reflections all over the place. They were blessed with the wings just a week before from a fey princess passing by, and the locals are still getting used to this new reality.
2The various cats all look mildly singed, yet also remarkably content. They belong to a local dragon, but keep wandering out of their hoard due to how much heat the dragon exudes while sleeping. The dragon collects the cats every few months before going back into a deep sleep, slaying any who have harmed them in the interim.
3They will lead you to a crumbling shrine in the center of the forest, where the Druid of the All Felines has a reason to meet you. The Druid of All Felines has the ability to see through the eyes of any cats on the continent, and has been keeping tabs on you for some time.
4Many tigers in the forest carry spears in their mouths, even though they cannot use them. This is for the benefit of the Tiger-Riding Clans who lay claim to them.
5They are covered with a nasty, undulating layer of glowing mold, and appear to be dead or undead.
6They vanish at will, leaving behind only hazy imprints of their grinning mouths in the air. When they do speak (for they are able to), they speak in riddles and sonnets.
7Most of the cats are spotless jaguars that seem mightily distressed. Speak with animals or other such magic reveals that their spots have been stolen from them for some contrivance or other.
8Nearly every cat in the forest has a symbiotic relationship with some manner of bird. Owls perch on the backs of lynxes, canaries sing in the mouths of panthers, woodpeckers stare haughtily from atop the backs of cloud leopards.

What’s up with the cats in this dungeon?

1These are a strange breed of mimic. All of the “cats” are actually dogs, except one, which is a giant crayfish.
2They were so meticulously crafted by dwarves that they have come alive, Pygmalion and Galatea style.
3The cats have tamed an ogre into caring for them. The ogre does so poorly, and the cats consider this a work in progress.
4The cats all used to be famed arms dealers in the criminal underworld, but were polymorphed into cats as punishment for spreading violence and chaos across the land. As cats in a dungeon, they have formed their own unique dungeon faction that still engages in the spreading of violence and chaos, but obviously on a far more localized scale – the dungeon floor they inhabit
5Hundreds of cats have been connected with crude stitches and powerful necromancy into some sort of unholy undead cat-centipede thing.
6There is not a single cat in this dungeon. Stepping into the dungeon, you are struck by the fact that every other dungeon you’ve been in has had cats prowling about, you just hadn’t thought much on it before.
7The cats have human faces that howl in misery and horror. Some of the faces belong to the party members, and some belong to their family members. Many of the cats know secrets about the characters’ lives, and will share them from the most nihilistic and despairing perspective possible.
8They are skewered by spikes jutting from dungeon walls and spattered like buckets of paint against the ceiling and floors. Dashed cat brains and fetid cat entrails adorn the floor in the splendor of careless carnage. Nothing is decomposing, and the fresh smell of blood stains the air. Taking even a single step forward, suddenly you are struck by the feeling that all cats should die, and that this dungeon is a beautiful testament to that truth. A few more steps bring you into the fold.

A single wicked dog demon sits at the end of the dungeon, surrounded by the Taken – loyal followers who will go to the ends of the earth to rid it of all cats.

2 thoughts on “Secret Jackalope 2022: What’s Up With These Cats?

    1. It’s the fact that you describe locations as “waterfront real estate” or take note that an abbey has “double doors” and that a cavern is formed via “erosion from country rock”. That just isn’t where my mind goes for details, and my initial attempt at cat-randomization was to add horns and scales and false identities and whatnot to every cat. I’m the sort of GM that introduces flying islands on session two, just to set the tone for a more high-magic, “everything goes” sort of setting. So while the final table entries came naturally to me, the initial town entries were an exercise in restraint, in making sure that the cat aspects would still feel fitting if they were introduced in Game of Thrones or Black Company, rather than being more Discworld or Adventure Time.


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