Sunday, January 3, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - The CAT'S MEOW

Listen up ya' mugs. Put on yer cheaters and take a gander at this so's ya know your onions. There's a dame on the loose and she's darb! She's berries I tell you and I ain't telling it to sweeny. A real hotsy-totsy, a live wire, and an Oliver Twist to boot, but don't let that fool ya. This Jane is full of moxie! She's as hard-boiled as any baby brand and she knows her way around a bean-shooter. 

Get this, she's got ginger hair, green eyes, these cat ears - no, not real cat ears ya rummy - and she purrs when she talks. No, I'm not spiffed. It's on the up and up. Seriously, she's...

I've fallen behind a day and I apologize but it couldn't be avoided. A mad, mad weekend and a big of stress, thankfully relieved by gaming and good conversation.

I originally wanted to put a different character in the third slot as the player of the PC in the next entry considers the number 4 unlucky. I am not working to see if I can make that character number 5. Silly? Perhaps to you but the character and their player are pretty special so I am willing to honor this particular superstition. 

Another thing that slowed the posting of this character here is that I've written the entry half a dozen times already and I can't seem to capture this PC quite the way I want to. I remember enough to make her stand out in my mind but not enough to fill a post the way I can with others.

Still and all, I hope you enjoy it...

Character: The Cat's Meow

AKA: Catherine Callister, Kitty Kalloway, and other aliases. 

Player: Sadly, I do not remember. t's been over 35 years.

System: Gangbusters, 1st Edition  - Heavily Modified, House-ruled Variant.
Campaign: The Big City

Gamemasters: One of my camp counselors. 

Circa: 1983

Backstory: 'The Cat's Meow', aka Catherine Callister, aka Kitty Kalloway, was a clever and cunning flapper femme fatale whose origins are unknown and that's the way she likes it. 

There were tales of a murder, an inheritance, a misunderstanding of how that story played out, and a string of alternate identities giving new meaning to a cat having nine lives. Is she popular gin joint dancer Catherine Callister, night club jazz singer Kitty Kalloway, gangster moll Karla 'Kicks' Kassidy, or someone else entirely? She's all that and more.

She's The Cat's Meow. 

Overview: While investigating liquor smuggling and organized crime in 1920s New York City, Private Eye Donovan Penn and Investigative Reporter Paul 'Paperboy' Potts (the famous crime solving duo known as 'Penn and Paper') often ran afoot and afoul of the mysterious ginger-haired woman known only as 'The Cat's Meow'. Some called her a criminal, though she only stole from and cheated other crooks. Some said she was a hero, although it was clear this gal was no saint. The truth was likely somewhere in-between. 

The Highlights: 

I really loved this character because she is one of the earliest I can recall that both embraced and elevated the genre and setting she was introduced in. How do you play an action packed, attractive, pro-active femme character in Prohibition Era America? You take charge of the narrative whenever you appear and while you don't make the game 'about you', you make it so the campaign wouldn't be the same without you. 

The Cat's Meow also pulled in elements of the 1920s and 30s the rest of us wouldn't have explored. The flapper lifestyle and look, the role of women and the major changes brought about by Suffragette's like Susan B. Anthony, Allison Park, and Molly Dewson (just to name a few), and - strangely enough - Pulp Era heroes like the Shadow, The Green Hornet, and The Spider (all products of the mid-to-late 1930s). While the guys in the group tried to stay true to film noir and gangster pictures, The Cat's Meow's' player was willing to push into this more pulp-y genre in order to create something that felt both appropriate and fresh. Just awesome.

Legacy: I haven't actually thought about this character in ages. I had all but forgotten her when I decided to do this challenge and needed a post while waiting for some friends to weigh in on their characters before doing those entries. 

I am very happy to have recalled her and would very much like to bright her back somehow. 

Game Info: I haven't looked at, let alone played Gangbusters in over 35 years. I have no clue what her stats were or what they would be. That said...

I imagine her stats were Muscle: 60, Agility: 85, and Observation: 70. I'd give her an 8 Presence. Gangbusters had a very odd system for rolling up stats. A percentile roll gave you a modifier on a chart that was then added to the die roll. For example: Cat rolled a 45 for Muscle, which has a Modifier of +15. Her final Muscle score is 60. Rolling a 60 on the percentile naturally gives you a +10, resulting in a score of 70. Ah, the old days. So much unnecessary math. 

As will most classic TSR games, we had to modify Gangbusters to make it play able. I think our GM modified the skill system a bit but it's been so long I don't remember all the details. The Cat's Meow would have skills related to Acrobatics, Climbing/Scaling Walls, Dancing and Singing, Disguise, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Thievery, Slight of Head/Stage Magic, and Stealth. She was knowledgeable in the fields of Fashion, Fine Food and Beverages, the geography of New York City, Jazz Music, and Organized Crime.

Next up, we're East Bound and Down as only the 1970s can be. We've got eighteen wheels, a full tank of gas, and possibly an orangutan. That's right, we're paying a visit to CB RAMBLE and The Ramble Rig!

Barking Alien


  1. Gangbusters! I still have my old boxed set but I haven't looked at it in probably 35 years or thereabouts either. Hmmm, I may have to change that.

  2. She would be interesting in the new Gangbusters too!