The game world described within is similar to our own world from the 1910s and 1940s with a few differences, aside from the species of the inhabitants, mostly in the names of the people and places.
Players might be hard-boiled private eyes, intrepid reporters, or even gangsters. It's all up to you.
The core book came out in September 2016. A supplement for horror and supernatural campaigns, "Occult Horror," was published in May 2018. In May 2021 another supplement, "Astounding Science," came out for campaigns based on sci-fi serials.
- All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: Zig-zagged in the description of the Biker career, which says that you're quick to tell people that only 1% of bikers are criminals ... but not whether you're part of that 1%.
- Character Class System: Like Sanguines flagship Ironclaw UJ has careers that act as special traits that apply to three specific skills and come with two gifts, as well as adding types for different noir archetypes that add three more skills and either two soaks or a soak and a gift. Multiclassing is as simple as buying the associated gifts or soaks and then taking the Extra Career or Type gift, or a character can exchange their career or type for another one they have the gifts/soaks for.
- Con Man: There's a "Con Artist" career.
- Femme Fatale: The "Sultry" type can be this, though the stats work equally well for a male lady-killer.
- Film Noir: The main aesthetic, though it could also take place in The Roaring '20s or The Great Depression.
- The Great Depression: For when you want a more depressing campaign, the 30s might be your time period of choice.
- Hard Boiled Detective: Type: Hard-Boiled, Career: Detective. Right there in the book.
- Intrepid Reporter: A career that's sure to get characters into a lot of trouble.
- Multiple Identity IDs: Con Artists have "three out-of-state Driver's Licenses" as gear.
- No Communities Were Harmed: All the cities described in the book are fictional, but specifically state which real city (or sometimes combination of cities) they're based on, and have very similar histories.
- Pocket Protector: The "Lucky" type comes standard with a pocket Bible, bullet already lodged in it.
- The Roaring '20s: Prohibition can be a popular time period to set this game in.
- The description of the Masked Vigilante says that "criminals are a supersitious and cowardly lot".
- Many (most?) of the example mottos, including "Speak softly and carry a big stick", "People work so hard at living they forget how to live", "Tomorrow is only a day away", and "It's called a hustle, sweetheart".
- One of the illustrations in the Species section shows a newspaper office with clocks labelled "Carnard", "Suzette" and "Duckburg".
- Skill Scores and Perks: Skill marks are retained as a variant rule, but the primary form of character advancement is through gifts and skill dice primarily come from the three unique traits.
- Splat: Like the earlier Cardinal games we have Species and Career as unique Traits, plus a third known as "Type" that represent different noir archetypes.
- Vigilante Man: The Masked Vigilante is one of the Careers, having just becoming a figure of pop culture at the time this game is set.
- World of Funny Animals: Everyone in the setting is some sort of anthropomorphized animal. Hence the subtitle.
Exclusive to Occult Horror
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Shining Empress is believed to have done this. Nobody else in the Shining Empire made it.
- Functional Magic: Both Personal Power (innate gift) and Petitioned Power (theurgy), the former comes with no strings attached but is capped at d6 and is difficult to obtain after character creation, while the latter has no power limit but is dependent on your supernatural patrons opinion of you. Once you have either source of power you can perform Ritual Magic or develop Psychic Powers by taking additional gifts.
- Lovecraft Lite: The default setting of the Shadow Empire. The various monsters, malevolent spirits, and Eldritch Abominations are the remnants of an ancient subterranean empire that attempted to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence 20,000 years ago, and failed horribly.
- Number of the Beast: Rolling three sixes when casting a spell with the Wicked descriptor, such as a hastily performed ritual, is a very bad idea.
- Orcus on His Throne: The aptly-named Ones Who Wait. They exert a vague malign influence on the Shadow Empire, but if they ever actually did anything, the world would already be doomed.
- Our Monsters Are Different: In the Shadow Empire setting most supernatural entities are related to the arthropod, amphibian, reptile, or fish-descended inhabitants of the ancient Shining Empire, and the failed ascension ritual that brought it down.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Silent Ones, former sorcerer-scientists of the imperial court whose souls were torn asunder by the ascension portal's collapse but found their warped and twisted bodies again. So called because their minds have become so alien that they can only communicate with surface worlders through divinatory rituals.
- Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: After the ascension ritual removed the souls from the bodies of the Empire's population most commoners' bodies became feral creatures called Broken Ones. An expy of the Jersey Devil is specifically mentioned.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: While dead surface dwellers can become ghosts, most malevolent spirits are Lost Ones, the disembodied souls of Shining Empire commoners who couldn't re-enter their bodies after the ritual failed.
- Our Goblins Are Different: A generic term for some of the smaller and more intelligent Broken Ones.
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier: The bigger Broken Ones.
- Our Vampires Are Different: They're not so much "undead" as surface dwellers who have made deals with certain Lost One spirits to share their bodies in exchange for dark powers. Those they drain of blood become something amounting to blood-drinking zombies.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Ranging from traditional voodoo zombies to skeletons to "vampire spawn."
Exclusive to Astounding Science
- Alien Invasion: A possible campaign type, one suggestion is one where Telluria lacks the radiotropes to land many troops on Earth so the Thermionic Brain sends a few infiltrators to recruit proxies, while the rebels use their Mindwave Amplifiers to send their own agents to Earth.
- Counter-Earth: Telluria, on the far side of the Sun from Earth and largely inhabited by species that look like Earthlings but oddly colored. Recently taken over by an AI-ruled archconservative regime that's set its sights on Earth.
- Laser Blade: The energy sword, a handle with a squeeze-grip that produces a meter-long "coruscating fulguration of crackling power". Popular with Tellurian rebels because it looks dramatic.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Any character with the "Gadgetry" gift can slap together some gadgets in seconds, if they roll well on their Mind+Craft+Gadgetry check.
- Mad Scientist: A staple of "mad science" campaigns, naturally, reluctant or otherwise. The "crackpot" career is a playable version.
- Mental Space Travel: The rebel kingdoms on Telluria use Mindwave Amplifiers to telepathically maintain contact without the Thermionic Brain's notice, and even swap bodies over great distances. In some campaigns they may use these to place agents on Earth.
- Nuclear Torch Rocket: The supplement is based on 1930s pulp sci-fi, so atomic rockets are standard. In the sample adventure a rare isotope called "tellurium-307" is needed for interplanerary travel and Counter-Earth has depleted their supply so they intend to invade Earth for more.
- Parrying Bullets: Characters with the Vatic Riposte gift can use an energy sword to intercept projectiles and send raygun blasts back to the sender.
- Planetary Romance: Mentioned by name (although the book prefers "Planetary Fantasy") as an option for exploring the solar system, and especially for swashbuckling adventures on Telluria.
- Alice Tiptree, the Ascended Fangirl raccoon science-fiction writer who uses a Moustache de Plume, is named after Alice Sheldon, aka James Tiptree Jr. and Raccoona Sheldon.
- The illustration of a Tellurian robot looks a lot like a feline version of Robot Maria from Metropolis.
- The Rebel Kingdoms of Telluria are all named after Ruritanias. The main one is actually called Ruhritania, the other two are Graustark and Axphain from the works of George Barr McCutcheon.
- Solar System Neighbors: Every planet in the solar system, and some of the asteroids, host some sort of intelligent life. Earths moon does not.
- Strolling on Jupiter: Jupiter and Uranus have solid ground beneath their clouds. Neptune has a global ocean. Saturn might be a gas giant but the rings are covered with an envelope of oxygen that supports life on the floating ice chunks.
- Tin-Can Robot: Robots built on Earth in the 1930s usually look like this, since they tend to be built by mad scientists or Tellurian agents out of junk.
- Unobtainium: Wonders (the greatest and most powerful products of science) require a "Wondrous Resource" of some sort. For instance Tellurium-307, used in interplanetary rockets.