Magical Kitties Save Quarantine
Because of its elegantly simple rules, you don't actually need a table to play Magical Kitties Save the Day. In fact, I've GMed it while driving on long trips, the only modifications being that we don't use a map and we pass a dice cup around for rolls. Magical Kitties is a winner for gaming via video call, too, for the same reasons. Here are some ways to make your virtual Magical Kitties game run purr-fectly:
- Usually the GM is the one with the boxed set, which includes the all-important character sheets pad. So send the PDF version of the character sheet to the players ahead of time, and have them print it to fill out. Yes, they could do it on-screen (it's actually form-fillable), but drawing your kitty is such a big part of the game both for storytelling and to occupy distractable players that printing is really the better option.
- It helps for the GM to write down the characters' basic stats for themself, too, to use for story ideas on the fly. You can use actual character sheets, or just
write it all out a single sheet of paper for faster reference. You'll need at least the player's name, kitty's name, breed, Cute/Cunning/Fierce, Talent/Flaw/Power, and human's name/problem/job. A good time for this is at the beginning of the series. Have the players each introduce their kitty, and you can write it down while they're talking.
- As teachers during Covid online learning have discovered, it's important for you to host the video call so you can control the mute feature on all the players if things get too loud.
- When GMing, it's also important keep everyone involved. So set up your video call to help you do this. Select the option to see everyone at once in a smaller line or grid of windows, so you can see when someone is getting antsy from boredom. Also, ask the players to "rename" themselves on the video call with their own name AND their kitty's name, to you're not searching for names during the action. For example, mine is "Michelle - SilverShade"
- If you're playing with kids, realize that they'll still wander away from their own screen, even if you're doing your best to involve everyone. Be ready to use their Flaw in this case to delay/skip their turn and go on. A Lazy kitty just fell asleep, for example!
- The GM never rolls any dice in Magical Kitties. This makes gaming via video call much simpler, because you don't need to compare rolls. Just tell the player what their difficulty is, and have them roll their own dice. Remember, too, that the dice roll itself doesn't matter. it's the number of SUCCESSES vs the difficulty that you need to know. So the trick for video calling is to have players hold up fingers on-screen equal to their successes. That way you can look across the line of small windows and see the overall results easily.
- Use your video call application's Share Screen feature to show everyone the map, which is available as a PDF for download on each hometown's webpage. Open it in a program that lets you draw on it, like Photoshop. Or, some video call applications like Zoom let you do "annotations" over Screen Share, which lets everyone share in the fun of drawing on the map!
- At the end of a Magical Kitties in-person session, I usually have players whisper their Valuable Lesson to me so everyone doesn't end up "learning" the same thing. In a video call, the chat feature can substitute for this. Just have the players send their text lesson-learned as a direct message to you (NOT to everyone!). The GM can use this feature for transmitting secret info during the game, too!
- Lastly, the "Did everyone have fun?" question at the end is something you should use to your advantage in virtual games. If someone really did get cut out of the conversation because the others didn't take turns talking, then don't give them the experience point. They'll remember to do better sharing the screen next time!
Atlas Games Co-owner