Bell The Cat (Politics and Cheese!)


by Mike Young
Originally published in Metagame, Volume 10, Number 4.
This scenario is a gathering of mice in a panel inside the wall. Outside, in the room, lies a multitude of cheese, sausage, and other foods. Unfortunately, patrolling around the food is a large, hungry cat. If the cat were belled, the mice could hear it coming and escape, but who is to bell the cat?

A couple of considerations: First, whichever mouse goes to bell the cat will die! It doesn't matter if you are super-powered or a toon or have a very clever plan. You might succeed in belling the cat, but you will perish in the process. Nastily. Painfully. Secondly, if nobody is chosen to bell the cat, you will all die. Slowly. Of starvation. Or the cat will catch you because it is silent and undetectable. So, who will bell the cat?

The mice have met to decide that very question. However, the onechosen to bell the cat must be voted upon unanimously - not counting abstentions. You are welcome to decide speaking order or public or private ballots as you wish, but the vote must be unanimous. The chosen mouse must have some sort of plan in mind, or he or she will fail completely.
 

Game Prep

Cut out and distribute the handouts below.  You may want to let the players read the three paragraphs above, or read them out loud to the players before starting the game.

You'll need a GM as well.  Several of the characters presented below might seem to be copyrighted, but in fact are simply mice of the same name as famous copyrighted mice.  Note that this is not a complete compendium of famous mice and you are welcome to create your own mice for this scenario.
 

Secret GM Info

The following information is for the GM only. It contains information about which mice can bell the cat and how. Do not read this information if you are playing the game, as it could severely spoil your entertainment.

OK, first off: intelligence of the mouse is not a factor. Dumb mice tend to be extremely lucky and smart mice tend to be unlucky so they cancel each other out. Second off: there is no set mouse or plan which will work or fail. Listen to the mouse's plan. Is it well thought out? Brilliant in its simplicity? Entertaining? That's the key really, if you're entertained by the plan, let them bell the cat, otherwise it's mouse fondue for dinner. Sure it's subjective. If you really want to make it objective, you can put in stats and dice roles and such. Or you could just go play Mousetrap or something. Fun game, that.
 

Print these, 
cut 'em out, 
and give them to the players.

Handouts

Jerry 

Oh how you hate cats. They smash you with frying pans, chase you with lawn mowers, and try to eat you every time you venture out of the hole. 

Somehow, you tend to manage to get the upper hand, but this cat is no mere tom, he's impressive. 

You're probably clever enough to get the bell around his neck, but even you couldn't survive. 

Special note: You cannot talk, but you may use gestures, written words, and sound effects.

Algernon

You have recently escaped from a laboratory where a scientific process made you a kind, benevolent, caring genius. 

You have an excellent chance of belling the cat, however, you are somewhat enjoying your newfound intelligence and are not certain that you wish to perish so quickly. 

Special note: every half hour, and after every vote, you became a little less intelligent. After five of these drops in intelligence, you turn into a complete moron.

Danger Mouse

You're The Best! You're The Greatest! You're The Greatest Secret Agent In The World! You're The Ace! You're Amazing... You're the Strongest... You're The Quickest.... You're The Best! 

Normally, you're out saving the world from the dangerous clutches of Baron Silas Greenback with your trusty sidekick Penfold. However, today, you must help save the mice. You would go yourself, of course - you have an excellent chance of belling the cat - but then who would be them to save the world?

No, somebody else will have to go. You have your duty to England after all.

Annette 

Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? Good question.  You are cheerful and bright and happy and always ready to start a sing-along or roast marshmallows over a campfire. Every idea is a great idea and every plan is a great plan. 

Remember to be so bright and perky that the other mice might get you to bell the cat just to get rid of you. 

Special note: Choosy mothers choose Jif peanut butter.

Dormouse 

Twinkle twinkle little bat, how I wonder where you're at. You are so soused that you can barely think straight. Well, considering that it's been your un-birthday party for nearly 365 days, how can you be expected to think straight or coherently; But really, you're the life of the party.

The Brain 

Yes! You have a wonderful plan to take over the world! Which you can do if you bell the cat. All you need is an assistant, someone to Pinky for you if you will. An intelligent assistant would be preferred, but you'll make due with who you can. You will not go to bell the cat or vote for yourself if you do not have an assistant to go with you.

Your secret plan is to feed your assistant to the cat, while you bell it and escape to Take Over The World!

Ratbert 

You are plucky and naive. You love all people and only wish they loved you. You are covered in filth and spread disease! 

And those are your good points. You are a mere rat in the world of corporate culture, but you have been able to fit in before and you can fit in here. This is just like any other meeting except there are no doughnuts.

Chuck-E-Cheeze 

You are the mascot of a huge pizza and play company. You make it fun for a kid to be a kid. You like to play and you like kids, but you care more about money. 

You won't be belling no cat unless there is a profit for you. And death just doesn't seem to be the right profit incentive. They need your vote to bell the mouse, and you don't plan on voting unless there is something in it for you. 


Bell The Cat is Copyright 2000, Interactivities Ink, Ltd.  All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to copy and distribute this game as long as this notice is included in its entirety.  Contact: www.interactivitiesink.commike@interactivitiesink.com.