That Poor Cat
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Basic Information

That poor cat is a comedic trope that is applied when a mis-step by a character or an object discarded by flinging it off stage is accompanied by a scream of pain or fear from a cat, implying that the character has stepped on or hit a cat (or narrowly avoided doing so). This can overlap with a cat scare when weapons fire directed at an unseen or fleeting target serves only to drive a terrified cat from cover.

Depending on the context, almost anything can replace a cat as the innocent target - up to and including people as rough sleeping tramps are also a staple for being accidentally trodden on in dark alleys at night (or scared from a hiding place by the onset of violence), but this tends to turn up the consequences for trigger happy characters.

Another, unconnected use for the phrase is to heckle a poor quality musical performance - typically on a violin or other stringed instrument - implying that the attempt as music sounds more like an animal in pain.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Useful for stealth failures: a PC making a particularly sorry botch of a stealth roll steps on something that objects noisily - and may even go on to attack them.
  • As with a cat scare, PCs with the appropriate disadvantages and/or deliberately on overwatch may jitter-fire in response. NPCs even more so.
  • Possibly, instead of a botch, some kind of inadvertent success could occur when a warning shot accidentally "demonstrates a character's prowess" by hitting a small target without any apparent signs of aiming - taking a small bird on the wing or a rat from a nearby wall. Unintentionally the character has given the impression that they are a brilliant instinctive marksman and impressed their opponents thereby.
    • Possibly even (as per the scene in The Walking Dead where Daryl shoots a possum during a tense standoff outside a suspicious community) "hey, we brought lunch".
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