I’ve fancied doing some GMing (games mastering) for quite a while. (In roleplaying, the GM is the one who sets the overall storyline and runs the game). I needed something that would suit my style and my abilities, as well as hopefully working when done via a Skype video link.
This is what I’ve pitched to the guys, and the cool thing is that they’re pretty keen.
The sky above the starport was the colour of television, tuned to a cable radio station. It was three hours to midnight, and the last of the salary dogs were heading home with shiny briefcases clutched in clawed paws, fur glistening from the driving rain, snouts already twitching at the thought of an evening meal of meat and biscuits. Behind them, the rats were emerging from their day-time hideaways, some with hairless tails casually wrapped around their wares, others with neon signs above advertising their services. Expensively coiffeured cats stepped out of sleek aircars, seeking thrills and kicks, the crueller the better. A dog could lose himself here, end up just one more dead hound when the sun returned the morning after the night before.
Furtown was not a place for the pure of paw.
The Elevator Pitch
Furtown is an anthropomorphic cartoon series, with a vaguely noire / cyberpunky theme. (Think Bladerunner with fur). It has a witty, ironic, satirical tone, aimed as much at unemployed slackers as the children it supposedly targets.
The three PCs are the joint proprietors of a private detective agency who find themselves hired to investigate a mystery deeper and more dangerous than they could possibly have imagined. This single story line will be told over the course of an entire series.
(This will not be an open-ended campaign. It will be one big story, like a novel, with a beginning, middle and end. Although we could then go on and do a second “series”, with a new story, if we wanted.)
The system I would use is Toon, from Steve Jackson Games
I want a system that is very fast and abstract. This is partly because that’s the sort of system I want, but also because if I’m doing this via Skype, it really needs to be very simple and straightforward. I also want to focus on story, with combats being resolved quickly. (There will actually be a proper mystery plot to be solved, but it’s what comes after combat that I’m interested in – either you knock them out and then question them, or they knock you out, and either run away and capture you).
By doing it as an ironic cartoon that plays with the tropes and clichés of noire mysteries, I can (metaphorically) sketch quickly with a broad brush, and avoid getting bogged down in details. And I can also put in some humour without detracting from the tone.
Furtown is a star port city that may be either on Earth, or on another world. (This is never defined). It is entirely inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. There no humans. There’s no reason, hidden or otherwise, for this. It’s just the way Furtown is.
Furtown’s system of government is never specifically defined, but is strongly implied to be a harsh and corrupt republic of some kind. (It would be a cynical Californian liberal Democrat’s view of what the USA would be like, some years down the line).
Races of Furtown
Dogs are the largest group in Furtown, forming the bulk of the middle-classes as well as the “old-money”, paternalistic rich and the respectable working classes.
They always walk upright.
Upper class dogs are always pedigrees, whilst mongrel’s tend to be more lower class. (There’s no reason for this, it’s just the way it is – if you want an explanation, it’s that the animators drew upper class dogs as good-looking pedigrees, and lower-class dogs as tufted, mongrel scruffs).
Dogs are generally decent and hard-working.
Cats are mainly in the upper-classes, although in more of the nouveau riche. They always walk upright. They are slightly smaller and slighter than dogs. But they have very sharp claws.
Cats are generally cruel, selfish and hedonistic, but intelligent and stylish.
Sheep form the lower parts of the working class / underclass. They are stupid, superficial, and of often questionable morals. Most are on benefits, spending their time watching mindless TV quiz shows. When they do work, female sheep aspire to be hairdressers, males to be footballers.
They always walk upright, except for when they’re pissed (drunk), which is often.
Rats provide Furtown’s criminal underclass. They often live in the sewers andunderground tunnels. They make their money from petty larceny, businesses of dubious legality, and charging utility companies protection money. (“Nice fibreoptic cable you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”)
They stand upright, but often scuttle about on all fours. They are about half the size of dogs.
Rats are devious and amoral, but will often abide by some form of moral code. (It’s often said of Ron Rat and his twin brother Reg that they’re nice to their mother, and they keep the sewers in some kind of order).
Horses are a minority group. Traditionally, they worked in the transportation sector, initially in front of carriages, and then in the driver’s seat when the carriages were motorised. They have now started to enter other employment sectors, especially Shires, who typically work as bouncers or hired muscle.
They always stand on all fours, except when they are driving a truck or riding a motorcycle.
Horses are very heavily unionised, with many of those unions having links to the rat underclasses. They are generally trustworthy and decent, if a little slow.
The typical dress of a Furtown inhabitant is a jacket and shoes and perhaps a hat, sometimes with trousers, sometimes without. (It’s a cartoon, that’s how they do it). Clothing and other items are a mixture of slightly futuristic and retrothirties.
Mayor Butch Slobber
The mayor is a decent Labrador, liked by all, but generally regarded as a wellmeaning but essentially useless puppet. They Mayor is rarely seen in public without his assistant Felix Creep.
Felix is a lithe tom cat, always nattily, if conservatively, dressed. He is widely regarded as the power behind the throne.
Frankie is a rat crooner rumoured to have links to Ron Rat and his brother Reg.
Ron Rat is the leader of a large chunk of Furtown’s criminal underworld. He is aided by his twin brother Reg, and their other brothers Rik, Rich, Richie, Ralph, Rob, Randy, Ramsay, Ray, Reed, Reuben, Regis, Rhys, Reece, Rene, Rio, Robin, Roger, Rock, Rocky, Rod, Roddie, Rocco, Roland, Ronan, Rolf, Rory, Ruben, Rudolf, Ross, Rudy, Roy, Rufus and Ryan. (They were part of a very, very large litter).
Dim even for a sheep Baabaara shot to fame on the reality show Furtown Shore, followed by a stint on Celebrity Get Your Brother Out Of Here – in which she memorably declared to Border Collie chat show host Rex Clever her belief that sheep dogs were called sheep dogs because they were “wannabe” sheep (dogs who wanted to act like sheep).
She is a regular in the pages of Baaa! magazine.
The guys have already come up with some very cool character concepts, but an actual start for the campaign will have to wait for me to come up with the full plot. (At present I have some ideas, but they need fleshing out).
I’ve also sent out some emails to them giving further thoughts about the campaign, which I might format up into a later post.