In today’s preview of Running With The Pack(the first one was the post with the excerpt), I’d like to compare and contrast canine and feline cultures. One of the things that exemplifies the differences between the cultures in this series is their games.

Dogs, foxes, and wolves play a variety of games. Common among canine games is the element of chance. Their most strategic game is called Shatruff(name subject to change), and resembles the version of the ancient Indian chess-like game Chaturanga that was played with dice. I haven’t nailed down all the rules yet, but chance and guts are the mutual keys to Shatruff success.

The canines also play several dice games, and two or three card games are popular in barrooms. The details of the rules have not yet been determined. However, I can say that the primary card game has 24 cards in four suits, with the primary objective being to create a predetermined pattern and cause it to repeat twice.

The cats have an entirely different view of gaming. To them, games should be intensely competitive, strategic and tactical, with skill and intelligence as the deciding factor. Cats generally frown on games of chance, which is why most of their games are variations on a single, rather complex form of chess. I have not yet decided on a name, but I am considering Shochi, Shoqi, or possibly Xiansho.

The main game is played on a 12×12 board, with many different piece types. Again, details are currently sketchy, but I think there will be many different types of squares, including forest, desert, and river, with royal pieces confined to fortresses in opposite corners.

Of course, there is more to a culture than its games. I tend to think of cat culture as Eastern, especially the tigers. I have thus borrowed elements of Eastern philosophy, religion, and martial arts, and attributed them to the cat cultures.

The tigers are the most distinctly Asian of the cats, with most other species having Middle Eastern connotations, though I have few compunctions about culture-mixing. I think that the tigers are mostly Chinese, lions remind me of Arabs, and as for the other cat species, we’ll have to wait and see.

Dog culture is more straightforward and familiar, at least to me. I think dog culture is strongly influenced by my own American culture. If you are looking for a character who fits the “cowboy” archetype, look among the dogs.

Western Europe has also influenced the dogs, primarily in their religion. Cats have many, many minor gods and goddesses, and seem to have a religion that resembles rather primitive human mythologies. Their major gods are few and not well-understood. There is no real interaction between cats and their major gods; everything is handled through many mediators.

Dogs, on the other hand, have religious beliefs that recall ancient Greece. Their gods are few and powerful, and there is little separating an ordinary dog from a high deity. Temples are elaborate and well-maintained, and dogs make regular sacrifices. They believe that, in exchange for honor, praise, sacrifice, and well-maintained temples, their gods will hear their prayers and aid them in their lives.

This concludes our second Running With The Pack preview.

Feedback greatly appreciated!

Sincerely, Sam Starrett

P.S. Until it has appeared in an official, published story, all information is subject to change. Most of this information is fairly accurate, but it is not written in stone. I hope you enjoy the insight into my creative process anyway.