Everyone knows about cats. They’re small, sometimes obnoxious predators that people often keep as pets or exterminators. Cats are not a sentient species. Like humanoids, they have a dream life, but unlike most people, cats are aware of this dream life. Furthermore, while in their dreams, cats are as intelligent as people, sometimes more so. of course, they are still cats, with cat personalities and traits.
Even more remarkable, cats are able to freely pass physically from the waking world to the Dreamlands and back again. This means that a cat can either transfer between the dream and waking state in the normal humanoid way, by falling asleep and waking up, or it can physically move to the Dreamlands and back.
Cats traveling the Dreamlands run the full gamut from feral to domestic. However wild they might be, almost all player character cats have lived or currently live in and among humanoid communities because such cats are likeliest to get along with other species and be willing to adventure with them.
Unlike other companion animals, cats almost certainly took the first step toward domestication, so it is arguable that cats actually mastered humanoids, rather than the other way around. It has certainly been a successful partnership. In return for protection, shelter, and food, cats keep down the population of rodents and other pest animals in humanoid areas, which helps ward off both disease and famine. In addition, cats provide affection, companionship, elegance, and beauty to their humanoid families—at least on their own terms. and during their languorous periods of rest, they can walk the Dreamlands with enhanced mental acuity and reason.
Occasionally, a cat decides that it wants to spend its waking hours as a fully sentient being, as well as when it sleeps. When this happens, it becomes what is known as a Dreamlands cat, and is, in effect, a player character. Any cat may decide it wishes to be a Dreamlands cat and then take on that role for a period of time: sometimes just a few days, sometimes the rest of its life. Likewise, a Dreamlands cat may decide to return to its normal status of being just a cat. For those who know cats well, it will come as no surprise that such decisions seem to be made capriciously.
Humanoids cannot tell whether a particular cat is a Dreamlands cat based purely upon outward appearances. Typically, either the cat has to inform them somehow, or the humanoid has to figure it out by watching the cat take on tasks that would be impossible for a normal cat of animal intellect and awareness.
Playing a Cat
Cats are pretty much a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” type of creature. While some people can’t stand them, others can’t live without them, but few are neutral on the subject. Some people are even ailurophobes, making them neurotically afraid of cats. Even those who dislike or fear felines are willing to admit that cats are graceful, nimble, and often adorable.
If you’re a Dreamlands cat, you likely:
- …are busy, active, and aloof.
- …are energetic when interesting things are going on, but sleep soundly for hours when no action is afoot.
- …occasionally force other party members to carry you. They may or may not mind, and you may but probably don’t care.
- …are quiet, curious, and interested in new things.
- …hate cats’ natural enemies (dogs, mice, birds, whirring machines, etc).
- …are easily distracted.
- …are highly athletic and can move fast when you want to.
- …are not always sure if you are sentient or not. (“Is it a normal cat? Can I talk to it?”)
- …think you are cute, but possibly useless.
- …try to pet or otherwise annoy you when you are busy.
- …do not understand you or your thought processes, such as they are.
Unlike many other predators, cats are exclusively carnivorous. Their teeth are designed only for cutting and devouring flesh, so while they can clumsily chew up bread or vegetables, these are poor sources of nutrition. Their digestive tracts are not adapted to process such food either, and a cat deprived of meat will quickly suffer significant health issues.
Cats have extraordinarily keen senses. Their one defect in this regard is an inability to taste sweetness.
When a cat eats cantaloupe or other sweet items it does not taste the sugar, and instead is reacting to whatever savory elements are present. Cats can’t see in complete darkness, but they can rely on their sense of touch, which is amplified by their whiskers, to feel their way around an area.
They do not have rigid collarbones, so they can squeeze through any space through which their heads will fit. Because they are as long as the cat’s shoulders are wide, their whiskers also serve an additional purpose in indicating whether the cat can fit through a particular opening.
Cats are highly vocal when needed. Normal cats have more than 100 different vocalizations for various purposes. of course, Dreamlands cats have the same vocal apparatus, but with their greater intellect, they can string different sounds together to create other meanings.
It is said that cats have nine lives, which is due to having a Dreamlands self. When a cat is killed, its dream self is still alive and can return to the waking world, restoring that cat to life. For a cat to die or be destroyed in a single event, both its dream and waking world self must die at the same moment.
When a Dreamlands cat is killed, its normal, nonsentient self returns from the dream world, where it has been relaxing. This typically takes 4d6 hours, and the result is a normal cat. of course, that cat may then decide (once more) to become a Dreamlands cat, resulting in the effective resurrection of the character.
Cats can only do this self-resurrection eight times (hence “nine lives”). Players should keep track of this on their character sheets.
Note that when a cat is resurrected by a spell or an item, this does not use up one of its lives. Only purposeful self-resurrection increases the count.
The Gates of Slumber!
All cats in the Dreamlands are Dreamlands cats: intelligent and fully sentient beings with feline instincts, behavior, and skills.
Dreamlands cats spend so much time asleep because that is when they enter the Dreamlands and become intelligent. Their waking lives are somewhat of an afterthought, intended to seek affection, to mate, to fuel their body, and for rest and relaxation. Most of their activities take place during sleep.
A cat can always choose whether to enter the Dreamlands or the waking world, either physically or mentally. Most of the time, a cat enters the Dreamlands mentally and leaves its body behind, asleep.
When a cat enters the Dreamlands physically, it travels through the Gates of Slumber, a dimensional portal imperceptible to most beings. When doing so, the cat is no longer present in the waking world. Cats can only do this when they are completely unobserved.
The Gates of Slumber are an actual physical location.
However, they are typically open at many places at once, and move around, so they are not always at the same spot. Sometimes, they may be behind a backyard fence, or perhaps they might be found in an abandoned badger burrow, or else up a spooky old tree. Only cats know for sure. Humanoids can only tell the cat has left physically when, for instance, the cat runs into the attic and doesn’t return for a day or so.
It is important to note that because a cat wishing to enter the Dreamlands must physically find the Gates of Slumber and can only pass through when entirely unobserved, a cat cannot simply escape to the Dreamlands when it is, for example, caught in a trap or imprisoned. Cats can only perform this form of travel when they have free and unrestricted movement.
Back to the Waking World!
A cat in the Dreamlands can always choose whether it wishes to return to the waking world mentally or physically, regardless of how it got to the Dreamlands.
When a cat returns from the Dreamlands, it always returns to its physical body in the waking world.
If a cat returns physically to the waking world, regardless of how it entered the Dreamlands, it returns through the Gates of Slumber, which always lead to a location within 1 mile of where the cat left.
If a cat went to the Dreamlands mentally and returns mentally, it wakes up in the waking world wherever it left. If the cat entered the Dreamlands physically but returns mentally, its body reappears where it entered the Dreamlands or at an unobserved location within 1 mile.
A cat cannot otherwise use Dreamlands travel to move its physical body.
Between the Dimensions
When a cat is in the dream state, it can travel much farther and faster than it could while waking. For example, it can leap to the moon and back from the earth’s surface in the Dreamlands. It can even travel to the stars beyond, but this is dangerous.
When in the dream state, cats may meet unusual entities and objects in the Dreamlands, particularly if they travel far from the places they know well. A cat may well visit the Dreamlands, fill up on eating pixies (or whatever), and then return sparkling with pixie dust. A Dreamlands cat may encounter an entity none was meant to see and might never return—or be profoundly changed by the experience.
While cats often regard a particular other cat as a friend or recognize it as a relative, they do not have a true family life. Tomcats wrangle over desirable mates, then depart to live alone. A mother cat has a powerful love of her kittens and will die to protect them. But even for her, once a kitten grows up and moves on, that consuming love fades and is replaced by a lower level of affection.
The mother trains and teaches her kittens how to hunt, where to hide, and all about her habitat, so the kittens reach adulthood with a near perfect understanding of the area around their home and the creatures and wildlife that populate it.
The age of sexual maturity varies from cat to cat, and can range from 4–10 months. Most cats are considered to have reached adolescence by the age of 5–6 months.
A cat’s pregnancy lasts 64–67 days, at which time she gives birth to a litter of kittens. The young cats are born blind, deaf, and helpless. At about two weeks, their eyes and ears open, and the kittens begin to react to their siblings and others. Usually, the kittens are weaned around the age of six weeks, though they still stay with their mother. At 12 weeks, though they are not fully grown, they are fully socialized and able to leave their mother.
A Dreamlands cat often mates with normal cats, and any kittens it produces are normal kittens, though the kittens, as with all cats, may later become Dreamlands cats themselves.
As normally solitary and often capricious hunters, cats don’t really have a society in the humanoid sense of the word. Cats are able to live in large groups, but do not cooperatively hunt or organize. With their greater intelligence, Dreamlands cats can work together to go to war, gather for raids, and hold celebrations.
Dreamlands cats have been known to form a militia of sorts, including having military ranks, to proactively defend themselves as a race. An example of this is when the Dreamlands cats’ militia preempted an attack by the zoogs. Dreamlands cats can very effectively fight in a coordinated fashion as demonstrated against moonbeasts.
The cat vocal apparatus is not built very well to speak humanoid languages. However, cats are perfectly capable of understanding these languages, and they can learn any of the languages spoken in their home area. Other people must learn the cat language to communicate with their fickle feline companions.
Fortunately, the cat language is fairly easy to learn. In fact, most people who own a cat are probably halfway there already. A one-week association with a specific cat allows a character to understand that specific cat without needing to learn the Cat language. This does not allow them to understand other cats unless they spend a week with those cats as well. The character can spend one week with multiple cats and understand them all after that week.
When a cat speaks, it meows or caterwauls, but when humanoids speak to cats, they speak in their normal tongues. It is quite a different situation from most communication, in which both parties must speak the same tongue to get anything done.
Communicating with cats is a combination of learning what some of their meows and whines mean and also understanding patterns of behavior. A cat understands what party members are saying, and soon enough those party members usually learn how to talk with the cat.
Cats do not have any sort of written language, but a Dreamlands cat is able to learn how to read or even write, though its lack of thumbs does handicap it somewhat in this regard.
Many other worlds have cat-like organisms of their own. This is so common that many researchers theorize that somewhere there exists a sort of ur-cat, the basic cat upon which all other cats are based. Cats from different worlds are often unfriendly with one another.
In fact, it is quite common for them to live in a state of low-level warfare.
Cats have a spiritual nature, and often seem to commune with the beyond. They have gods, of course, but instead of worshiping them, they try to live in harmony with them. Usually, these gods are known to and sometimes worshiped by the local humanoids, particularly if they value cats for religious reasons. For example, Bastet is a well-known goddess of cats, but other worlds (and other cultures) have these as well.
Cats sometimes feel a pull toward spiritual life, and are known to serve alongside priests of compatible gods for their purposes. Many worship sites have a cat that keeps out vermin and accompanies the priests on their rounds. These cats, when they choose to be Dreamlands cats, often become clerics.
Cats don’t have a true culture in the sense that humanoids do. Instead, cats live for the now and participate in the culture of their owners. Even the intelligent Dreamlands cats use their greater brain power to simply adapt to their environment to better enjoy their lives as cats.
Cats are unable to create material objects since they lack prehensile hands or any real means of manipulating objects. They can only carry small objects for short distances in their mouths.
Cats who do not live with people may have a den, but even this is not constructed by the cat itself: it is merely a hole or hollow tree in which the cat finds shelter from the elements.
Material Culture and Artifacts Dreamlands cats are perfectly capable of understanding the uses and purposes behind magical items, and sometimes find these to be practical adjuncts to their adventuring. In the Dreamlands, there are smiths and magicians who specialize in transforming magic items into forms usable by cats.
Here is how it is done: the cat takes the item desired, which must be small enough to be carried in its mouth, to the Dreamlands on one of its forays. The cat then visits one of these enchanters, who works the magic.
For full rules, see the Feline Item Focus feat.
Fundamentally, cats are friendly to humanoids—or at least those who keep cats as companion animals. of course, even within these societies, there are those who dislike cats, and cats are usually keenly aware of who likes them and who does not.
Cats like body heat and cuddling and are easy to take care of when on an adventure. They cost nothing when staying at an inn and can often feed themselves, catching small rodents, bats, insects, or birds. They are clean and neat and take up little space. When traveling in areas where cats find it hard to go (such as up sheer cliffs), the cat can be easily carried in a pouch or on a shoulder. They are incredibly convenient as companions, and of course, a cat that can cast spells or scout and communicate has obvious value.
Size: Dreamslands cats are Tiny creatures, and gain a +2 size bonus to Dexterity and a –2 penalty to Strength (these bonuses are included in their ability score adjustments above). They gain a +2 size bonus to their AC, a +2 size bonus on attack rolls, a -2 penalty on combat maneuver checks and to their CMD, and a +8 size bonus on Stealth checks. Dreamlands cats take up a space of 2-1/2 feet by 2-1/2 feet, so up to four can fit into a single square. They have a reach of 0 feet, and must enter an opponent’s square to attack it in melee. This provokes an attack of opportunity from the opponent. Since Dreamlands cats have no natural reach, they do not threaten the squares around them. Other creatures can move through those squares without provoking attacks of opportunity. Dreamlands cats cannot flank an enemy.
Speed: Dreamlands cats are fast for their size, and have a base speed of 30 feet.
Natural Attacks: Dreamlands cats have three primary natural attacks: a bite that inflicts 1d3 points of damage and two claws that inflict 1d2 points of damage each.
Weapon Finesse: Dreamlands cats gain Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat.
Land on Your Feet: Dreamlands cats treat any fall as if it were 20 feet less than the actual distance of the fall. For example, a cat that falls 30 feet takes only 1d6 points of damage (treating it as a 10-foot fall). A fall of 20 feet or less does not harm a Dreamlands cat. A Dreamlands cat that takes no damage from a fall always lands on his feet. A Dreamlands cat that takes damage from a fall lands on its feet if it makes a successful Reflex save (DC = the damage taken by the fall).
Dreamlands Travel (Su)
A Dreamlands cat can physically travel to the Dreamlands via one of the many hidden Gates of Slumber. These gates shift and change their locations over time, and may only exist in one space for a few seconds. A Dreamlands cat can attempt to sense a nearby Gate of Slumber at will; whether or not a Gate of Slumber is present is subject to the GM’s discretion (typically, there’s a 20% chance of a Gate of Slumber being somewhere within a 1-mile radius). If a Gate of Slumber exists, the Dreamlands cat knows instinctively where it is. Only a Dreamlands cat can traverse a Gate of Slumber. Gates of Slumber always manifest in hidden, obscure areas, and are almost never in a convenient place when a cat needs to travel to the Dreamlands, such as when trapped or in sudden danger. Except in unusual cases, the dream-traveling cat cannot generally return to the physical world farther than 1 mile from where it left. Whenever the cat returns to its body from the Dreamlands, it can choose to return with Intelligence 2 (perhaps to protect its mind from disturbing discoveries or to thwart detect thoughts) or with its full Dreamlands intellect intact.
Moon Jump (Su)
When in the Dreamlands, a Dreamlands cat can leap into the night sky and travel to a moon (or, if on a moon, leap and travel to the Dreamlands) as a full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity. This trip takes the cat 2d6 minutes to complete, and while jumping, the cat is considered in an alternate dimension. A group of four Dreamlands cats can bring a single Small creature with them when they moon jump, while a group of eight Dreamlands cats can bring a single Medium creature with them. A Dreamlands cat may moon jump twice per night, and always returns within 1 mile of its original departure point.
Nine Lives (Su)
When killed, a Dreamlands cat’s mind and consciousness shifts reflexively back into a dream form, creating a new dream body if necessary.
The Dreamlands cat must rest for 1d3 days in the Dreamlands, after which point the Dreamlands cat may return to the waking world. A Dreamlands cat may “resurrect” itself in this manner up to eight times, giving it nine lives in all. Resurrections from other methods (such as via raise dead or other powerful magic) do not count against this limit.
Languages: Dreamlands cats speak Cat, but cannot speak other languages. Dreamlands cats always know the native language of the humanoid culture they live in (this is most frequently Common). Dreamlands cats with high Intelligence scores can choose any non-secret language as a bonus language if raised in a humanoid society. If raised in a non-human society (such as elf, halfling, etc.) then they can choose from the bonus languages available to that race. The cats understand these languages and can also read them but cannot speak them. Cats can be understood by anyone who speaks Cat, or, as previously noted, anyone who has spent a week with a specific cat can understand that cat.
Equipment Slots: Dreamlands cats are very limited in the type of magic items and equipment they can use. As they have no hands, Dreamlands cats cannot use items that require hands (such as wielding a manufactured weapon or a shield). A cat can wear armor if the armor is tailored to fit its feline body. Cats can wear and benefit from magic rings (up to two, worn on the tail as bracelets) and neck slot magic items.
Specially tailored belt, body, shoulder, and wrist slot items can be used if they are created specifically for a Dreamlands cat’s physiology. (Note that the Feline Item Focus item creation feat allows for a Dreamlands item crafter to transform a magic item into something that merges with a cat’s body)
Of the races presented in this book, cats have perhaps the most physical challenges integrating into the party of typical humanoid adventurers but adjust very well to the temperament and mental nature of such a group, unlike ghouls, gnorri, or zoogs, whose mere presence can frighten or disturb the unprepared.
Dreamlands cats do not possess racial hit dice; unlike normal cats, they are defined by their class levels. Note that the cat’s size and lack of hands make certain class choices challenging to play or even downright impossible, but other choices can result in characters of much greater power than a human of the same class. Dreamlands cats are magical beasts; they have low-light vision, and must breathe, eat, and sleep.
Lastly, Dreamlands cats are known for wearing magical earrings. A single earring or a set typically takes up one magical ring slot. However, at the GM’s discretion, a set of earrings could hold the magical power of items that would take the eyes, feet, or hand slots. Under no circumstances can a Dreamlands cat wear more than two sets of magical earrings, regardless of where they are worn. of course, a cat may wear as many tail rings as it feels are fashionable.
Spellcasting: A Dreamlands cat can make verbal spell components by yowling and meowing. It can make somatic components by flicking its whiskers and tail and moving its paws. If a spell requires a material component or a focus, the component or focus must be adjacent to the cat (note that the Faithful Feline feat allows a cat to “carry” a divine focus on its body as a pattern in its fur). A cat must concentrate as a move action to cast spells with a somatic component. If the cat does not, the spell is lost unless the cat succeeds at a concentration check against DC 15 + twice the spell’s level.
Other Types of Cats
Two extraterrestrial species of cats are well documented and another has recently been recorded (Martian cats).
Their forms and abilities differ somewhat from the terrestrial cats described in this chapter.
Martian cats are hairless and of bright, unusual colors, such as purple, violet, or fluorescent orange. They have long legs and an extremely long tail, but their body mass is about the same as that of an Earth cat. Unlike the cats of Saturn and Uranus, they are not hostile to Earth cats at all, and indeed have made a treaty that Earth cats can visit the two moons of Mars in exchange for letting Martian cats visit Earth’s moon.
The large and unusual cats from Saturn love to frolic on Earth’s Dreamlands moon, just as do Earthly cats.
The bodies of Saturnian cats are bright and sparkling, almost jewel-like, with delicate swirls and arabesques.
Their heads are identifiable by their huge glowing eyes. They can produce legs seemingly at will from their complex bodies, somewhat like a gnorri’s arms, and may use one, two, or more legs (there does seem to be an upper limit of about 7 limbs). A retractable and prehensile tail is at the opposite end from the head.
These cats are about the size of a puma.
Cats from Uranus are even larger than the cats from Saturn and have star-shaped heads with multiple senses. Their body is covered with armored scutes, and their claws are long and thick. They are not as fast as Earth cats, who can easily avoid them, but are powerful beings. They are rarely glimpsed and do not seem attracted to Earth’s moon.
Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos, © 2017, Petersen Games; Authors: Sandy Petersen, Arthur Petersen, Ian Starcher.