The CATS Method: A Story Game Opening Ritual


Before playing a game, or even introducing the rules, there needs to be a conversation at the table to set expectations. A game runs smoothly when all players understand what the group is striving for. But how do you do it? You use the CATS method! Everyone loves CATS.

This codified presentation will allow the facilitator to hit four essential topics quickly and easily. Just start from the top.


Pitch this game. At a high-level, what’s it about?


Explain what the players are trying to accomplish. Can someone win? Can everyone lose? Are we trying to tell a specific type of story?


Have a quick conversation about the tone of the game. What is the default? Are there different options for gameplay? (Serious vs. Gonzo, Action vs. Drama, etc.). Come to a consensus on what the group wants.

Subject Matter

Explain what ideas might be explored during gameplay. Do they make anyone uncomfortable? Discuss what boundaries need to be set, if any.

Afterwards, everyone should have the same expectations for the upcoming game. This discussion shouldn’t be long, but it is essential. To significantly improve your gaming experience, spend five minutes with CATS before you play!

35 thoughts on “The CATS Method: A Story Game Opening Ritual”

  1. I have a work in progress game that includes collaborative setting generation. It may someday be distributed for free or less likely, commercially. May I include the CATS method in my procedures? If so how would you like to be attributed?

  2. Hello John. Feel free to use CATS in any documentation for your game. You can credit it to P. R. O’Leary and if possible link to this post. Send me a link to share when you are done. Thanks and good luck!

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