Friday, September 13, 2013

Tooth and Claw

Grade (out of five ferrets): <\,/\,~~ <\,/\,~~ <\,/\,~~ <\,/\,~~

So, no one didn’t really expect me to not buy a game like Tooth and Claw right? I mean, it’s cheap, it’s simple rules, it’s small and easy to bring, it’s delivered in digital format and is easy to print by yourself. It’s about ferrets. And half of the money goes to ferret care run by the game’s creator and hos partner. Our ordinary game master was sick and we decided to have a gaming meeting anyway so I got us to try this little game. We only used Tooth and Claw but I will include the status from The Good, The Bad, The Furry in this text because I think it doesn’t really add complexity but game value. This is a post mostly about the game rules and I will also make a post about our forst test run.

Preparations for gaming

One could say that there are three parts of preparations; character generation, business generation (business is the word for a group of ferrets with internal relationships) and environment generation.

Character generation

The ferret induviduals are described by their (Bones, Brains, Fur and Muscle), their role in the business (Castes: Decoy, Hunter, Nurturer, Scavenger, Strategist), their skills and their (everchanging) mood. The character generation felt quite like any simple system although there’s game mood in the coice of names of attributes, skills and so on.


The base for these are set by the player by dividing 12 points among the attributes, at least one and maximum five on each attribute. With some other modifications these are the most important values when the ferets try to acheive things.

  • Bones, instincts and awareness
  • Braines, knowledge and ability to reason
  • Fur, appearance and social standing
  • Muscle, raw physical potential
Castes (roles)

There are five castes for ferrets and depending on the size of the business and the individual ferrets each and everyone is more or less unique in the business. In larger businesses there might be duplicates but the ferets try to have different roles to make the group work better. The ferret’s role also decides two out of three skills for the ferret, the third is free to choose. Theese roles do something for me in giving me an experience of playing in a certain situation, the ferret business.

Castes; decoy, hunter, nurturer, scavenger, strategist.


The skills are 13 and gives a bonus to the attribute when the feret tries to achieve something. The main value is the attributes though. Several of the skills are game specific and carries a game mood in them. Some examples are; comfort (help another ferret recover), dook (ferret communication by sound), focus (maintain mood), musk (scent marking and expression of dominance), soothe (affect another ferret’s mood in certain directions), stash (find and hide hidings), taunt (affect another ferret’s mood in certain directions), war dance (confuse enemies and duck danger but also a happiness expression). There’s also some more regular skills for handling some other physical stuff.


An important thing is the mood a feret is in. If the mood cooresponds to the type of action it tries to do it can’t get spectacular failures (only failure, part success and success). On the other hand if the mood opposes the type of action there will be no extra dice and significantly higher risk of not full success. There are four moods; impulsive, empathetic, confrontational and considered. Each of the moods corresponds to an attribute. The rules works well to make the mood important.

Business creation

A business is a group of ferrets with relations between them. When creating the business rules-wise every player takes to relationship cards, one saying ‘'NN thinks MM har more X than MM gives itself credit for because Y’‘ and one saying ’‘NN thinks MM har less X than MM gives itself credit for because Y’‘ and fills in their ferret’s name for NN, leaves MM empty, chooses which attribute X is and motivates with for example an event from the ferrets’ past. These are then shuffled and dealt out to the player again (one ‘'more than’‘ and one ’‘less than’‘ to every player). Each player than fills in their ferret’s name for MM. Now a bunch of relationships have been created within the business. These also affects the actual attributes of the ferrets. These relationships also affects which ferets can cooperate and how well. This was quite fun to do and a little exciting since you don’t know what cards you will get.

Ferrets hide stuff. Therefore every player has a stash card where he or she fills in some things their ferret has stashed away somewhere. Each of these stashes is in the beginning hidden from the other ferrets but can be found in the game. The business also has a business stash wich all the ferrets in the business know where it is but that is in the beginning hidden from others outside the ferret business, ferrets or not.

If the ferrets agree upon a nap time they all find somewhere nice to rest for a while and then recover somewhat from mood changes and injuries. A ferret with the skill soothe can help another ferret recover some extra.

The business also has a status order wich decides which ferret takes the lead in cooperations. This isn’t as rigid as it can be among other animals and as soon as the status is relevant a renegoiation or fight for status can start which changes the status order.

Environment generation

When the ferrets and their business is created it’s time to create the house where they live and the Big ones living there. This is done together by answering on questions about the house, the big ones and so on and hopefully by adding some ideas that comes up when answering the questions. This was a very fun collaborative part of the game building.

Game start

If the game master has some idea on what problem(s) that arises and forces the ferrets to save the day (or rather the night) he or she just needs to decide on how ‘'big’‘ story it’s gonna be. This decides how many success the ferrets must ahve to solve the problem. Usually one scenario takes place during a night and usually the big ones are not aware of the problem.


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