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Cat People king (Tigra species) (Marvel Comics) typical female and male

Cat People

(Marvel Universe version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Cat People are one of the hidden species on Marvel Earth. The are an important part of Tigra’s origin.


History

The Cat People are house cats that a sorcerer, Ebrok, turned into sapient  humanoids some years or decades after the Year 1,000. The experience may have taken place in the Crimean area, though there is very little data to support that guess. Ebrok was once described as “an outworlder”, though what this means was unexplored.

The first cat Ebrok uplifted, Flavius, proved to be somewhat adept at sorcery and a brilliant alchemist. Since Flavius felt lonely, Ebrok uplifted a female cat, Helene, who proved to be an intellectual match for her mate.

Subsequent specimens were not as clever as this pair. But over time Ebrok observed that successive generations were smarter and would eventually reach the level shared by Helene and Flavius.

Inevitably, things go out of hand

Ebrok showed off his creations to three other sorcerers, who were quite impressed. He gave away the most recent Cat People batch to his colleagues to become their helpers.

The Cat People turned out to be a mixed blessing. They still reproduced in whole litters, and matured quickly. They tended to be proud and independent, and one sorcerer, Orann, discovered that they made for dangerously fierce and eager men-at-arms.

Helen and Flavius with Cat People creator Ebrok

The situation was unsustainable, but the three sorcerers were unwilling to kill their helpers. They convinced Ebrok to join them in banishing the Cat People from Earth. In some versions of the tale there was fighting, in some versions the Cat People were mystically compelled to come and be banished.

The Cat People were sent to the Land Within – within what remains unknown, as none but one could leave. This sole exception was the Cat Person occupying the position of the Balkatar, whom the sorcerers could summon and use as their retainer as needed. During the mid-1980s the Balkatar was a fellow named Grigar.

Plague

However our friends Helene and Flavius escaped the banishing. They did so by enchanting amulets that could turn them into humans when needed.

Part of their motivation to remain on Earth was not to leave Ebrok alone. They also wanted to help him develop alchemical solutions to control Cat People fertility. However Helene, Flavius and Ebrok’s activities were soon discovered by the other sorcerers.

The sorcerers invaded Ebrok’s abode and killed him. Furious, Flavius hurled a flask containing their current research at the attackers. That turned out to be a fateful gesture. The germs in the vial triggered the Black Plague, killing untold numbers of humans.

(Authorial intent is apparently that it was the main historical outbreak of the Black Plague. This does not quite work out – the main outbreaks historically occur nearly 300 years after Ebrok dies.)

(However, this is not a major problem. The plague might have ravaged the neighbouring burg then entered the rat population for a few centuries before exploding again. And even if it did not, having unwittingly killed hundreds with a bacteriological agent would still have a major impact on the two Cat People researchers.)

Helene and Flavius fled, hounded by the sorcerers. They continued their research in the hope of curing the plague, but were interrupted by their pursuers too often to progress.

They tried summoning the Balkatar as a bodyguard, but he was in thrall to their enemies. They tried to uplift  cats into Cat People to gain allies, but the sorcerers had made that spell impossible.

Tigra

The couple changed their approach. They developed means to turn a human into a Cat Person. Thus was created the first Tigra, a great warrior who destroyed Flavius and Helene’s enemies. Free from persecution, the now-aged researchers finally developed a cure to their plague.

They then summoned the now-masterless Balkatar so he could mate with their Tigra and create a new Cat People.

Flavius and Helene also documented their Tigra process. Centuries later a Cat Person, Dr. Joanne Tumolo, would revisit their work to turn a human named Greer Nelson first into the Cat, then into a new Tigra.

A general view of the Land Within as seen by Morbius

Thus, by the XIIth Century, there may have been as many as four breeds of Cat People:

  • Helene and Flavius, created by Ebrok. For some reason these were different from later uplifts by Ebrok. The couple had but few children.
  • Ebrok’s other uplifts turned out to be dimmer than the first pair, and to reproduce recklessly. These were apparently all banished to the Land Within. Their former masters expected that once there this Cat People would make a mess of things, war against each other, outstrip available resources and soon reach a forced level of population control.
  • The new breed of Cat People descended from the first Tigra, and thus living on Earth. These benefited from Helene and Flavius’s discoveries in birth control.
  • Hybrids of Cat People and humans. One known case was the French freebooter and freedom fighter Captain Tyger. How many hybrids were conceived is unknown.

The Belasco case, and the matter of Arcturus

There are many problematic claims made about the past of the Cat People. This section addresses two of the simpler ones :

  • The sorcerer Belasco claimed that he was among the sorcerers who exiled the Cat People to the Land Within. The veracity of this claim is dubious. It would have been a convenient lie for Belasco to deal with the Cat People, and it doesn’t fit well with the known flashbacks. There’s also the matter of the original Tigra having killed the sorcerers.
    However, Belasco rules a timeless dimension and has been known to surmount death several times. He also is immortal, and though his earliest recorded appearance was in the XIIIth century he could easily have been around earlier. Between time travel and immortality, it’s hard to rule out any claim of his.
  • The alien Caretakers from Arcturus claimed that they were behind the creation of the Cat People by Ebrok. They said that they had provided him with key resources and knowledge. This is but one of the numerous claims the Caretakers made about influencing Earth-616’s history – and most such claims seem improbable.
    Recent Marvel secondary sources treat their claims as being factual, though – so Ebrok may indeed have benefited from alien advice and resources that made the Cat People possible.

Meanwhile, in the Land Within

As predicted, the Cat people soon brought war and pestilence to the Land Within. Reportedly, nothing could grow from the soil and it was impossible to produce fire normally, making any population growth untenable. The Inhuman, Crystal, also noted that the Land’s “sun” wasn’t anything like a star.

Furthermore, it would seem that this dimension was at least partially demonic in nature – it was also called “one of Hades’ caverns”. Thus, the exiles slowly and subtly grew tainted.

The Cat People's Land Within

However, each generation was slightly smarter than its parents. Within a century a major peace treaty was signed – and held. The Cat People of the Land Within started working on matters ethical and scientific and had great success.

Their medical science cured the deadliest plagues that were affecting them, and they reached a level of civilisation where murder was unknown.

These lofty achievements eventually had downsides – they were still trapped into a resources-poor, smallish prison dimension, and by the XXth century (Earth time) their population had again become unsustainable. Even air was running out. In 1974, King Gerark of the Cat People came up with a desperate plan.

Population control

The Balkatar had once again been summoned to Earth. There he ended up fighting Morbius, the Living Vampire. King Gerark saw an opportunity, and forced the Balkatar to disobey his summoner and drag Morbius to the Land Within. Gerark wanted Morbius to eternally cull the Cat People population, since they were too civilised to kill each other.

The Cat People having a party with Tigra and the West Coast Avengers

The plan failed. Though Morbius was unable to restrain himself from killing one person, he then refused to fight back against an intervening crowd and was thrown into a river to drown before the King’s men could rescue him. The river took Morbius back to Dimension-616 , albeit on a planet orbiting Arcturus.

Whether the population control issues of the Land Within were solved in another fashion is unrevealed.

The Cat People clashed at least twice with Master Pandemonium over one of Mephisto’s soul fragments (see Pandemonium’s entry), and once with the second Tigra and her allies (see Tigra’s entries).

Belasco intrat

Circa 1987, the Cat People became ruled by Earth sorcerer Belasco. He claimed that he had been among the sorcerers who exiled the Cat People. Somehow, he gained the loyalty of the king and his people. Belasco was interested in the Land Within since it was rich in free-standing natural portals to similar dimensions.

Cat People warriors

During Belasco’s reign, a titanic clash between Doctor Strange and Shuma-Gorath threatened to destroy the Land Within. But Belasco magically stabilised the dimension.

Sometime between 1988 and 1990, the King was killed and replaced by Tabur. One assumes that Belasco had left, perhaps as a result of saving the Land Within. Tabur’s reign was brief as he was defeated by Tigra and Agatha Harkness. One assumes that the Cat People then crowned a new King and selected a new Balkatar.

The brood of Tigra, part 1

Meanwhile, back on Earth…

By the late XXth century, the Cat People population descended from the first Tigra was perhaps as low as a few hundred individuals. They were much like Flavius and Helene :

  • inclined toward research in mysticism and weird sciences
  • at least human-level in intelligence
  • with a very modest birth rate
  • knowing the value of disguising themselves as humans to escape attention

Cat People members in an underground base

Two Cat People hot spots were documented in the US in the 1970s. Though these Cat People were generally loners who liked to concentrate on their own pursuits, they used such meeting places to discuss their issues and survival. One was on the coastline of north-western Mexico, and one in New Orleans.

These were quite elaborate – a bit like nuclear war survival bunkers, fully equipped and with plenty of secret doors and escape tunnels.

The brood of Tigra, part 2

Like their modern brethren in the Land Within, Earth’s Cat People were highly civilised. No Cat Person would ever kill another. They still had feline reflexes and instincts, though the level of those was never clear.

At least some Cat Persons seemed able to switch between feline form and human form as needed to protect themselves. Some, such as Dr. Joanne Marie Tumolo, never did. It is possible that shifting required some resource – such as practice, willpower, an enchanted amulet or another undisclosed means.

Interestingly, when the Tigra-descended Cat People were hit by a devolution ray, every single one turned into a sabre-toothed tiger. That probably means something about their genetics – we just don’t know what.

The Cat People magically recreate Tigra

Tigra reported that the Cat People had ’left‘ circa 1979. What happened is unrevealed. But no Cat Person was seen on Earth after that point, save for occasional incursions by a summoned Balkatar.

One hypothesis is that they debated for years after unleashing their plague anew against Hydra soldiers (see the second Greer Nelson writeup) and eventually decided to leave. Another is that they considered that the adventures of Tigra meant too much exposure, though they seemed interested in monitoring her integration.

The brood of Tigra, part 3

The Cat People had previously stated that they were working on ways to compensate humanity for the plague unleashed centuries before. Whether they finished this work is unrevealed.

Doctor Tumolo and other Cat People members

The Cat People safe houses are still around, though deserted, and still secret. During Norman Osborn’s reign over the US security agencies, Tigra used these as safe houses undetected by HAMMER. It is likely that they were referenced in the Avengers databases, but this information was destroyed when Anthony Stark reformatted his brain.

Thus, Tigra might be the only one who knows about this network. The Cat People safe house that was seen during this time was an apartment with stockpiles of gear, including scientific and computing equipment that was reasonably current.

Doctor Tumolo I presume ? (part 1)

The information above is what was best established. There are other accounts about the Cat People, which are more confusing.

When Dr. Tumolo first told the tale of the Cat People to Greer Nelson, the Cat People were described as being to felines what humans are to primates – a product of evolution. Tumolo said that they had never lived in large numbers and were discriminated against by humans.

In this version the plague was a misguided attempt to strike back. The crushed Cat People then devoted themselves to research to make up for their mistake by covertly helping humans.

Why there are such different versions of the tale was never explained. But Dr. Tumolo seemed reliable – which would imply that both versions are somehow true.

A short history of the Cat People

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that there is a *fifth* kind of Cat People. These folks are exactly what Tumolo explained, and they took in Flavius and Helene after the original Tigra finished her work.

In this hypothesis these guys have an even smaller population than the descendants of the original Tigra. It would explain why Dr. Tumolo never seemed to be like the other Cat People – she belonged to a different species.

Doctor Tumolo I presume ? (part 2)

Another oddity is that Tumolo was once strongly implied by Agatha Harkness to have been the result of further experiments to turn humans into Cat People, as begun with the first Tigra. There is nothing to contradict this. After all, Dr. Tumolo’s masterwork was to grant Cat People-like qualities to humans.

What it means exactly and how it fits with the rest is unrevealed, though.

The court of the Cat People's king

The “everything that was said was true” hypothesis could be that Joanne Marie Tumolo was a human “adopted” by the hypothetical ’convergent evolution’ strain of Cat People. She would then have been enhanced in ways not unlike those she would later use to create the Cat, though with a more pronounced Cat People nature than the Cat (but less than Tigra’s).

Between :

  • Tumolo’s unclear nature
  • the Cat People’s adoption of Tabur (an uplifted house cat created by the High Evolutionary)
  • the multiple kinds of Cat People (up to five)
  • the existence of hybrids like Captain Tyger
  • etc.

…it is also possible that the Cat People is actually a collection of persons from different humanoid species with strong feline traits and minuscule populations, who forged an alliance to support each other despite their different origins.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cat People are barely ever seen in action. Thus, stats have to be very tentative. These are mostly intended to give a sense of scale and prevent the assumption that Cat Persons have high stats – they don’t.

Apparently, all male Cat People from the Land Within have fur of a solid colour ; patterns (such as Tigra’s stripes) seem to only be sported by some females.

Generic Cat Person

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Research
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 02 Occupation: Researcher
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 008 HP: 002

Powers:
None demonstrated. Possibly Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 02, Extended Hearing: 01, Super-hearing: 01 but that is unsupported.

Skills:
Gadgetry: 04, Occultist (Occult Knowledge): 03, Scientist: 04

Advantages:
Expertise (One area Cat People science, which lay be more advanced and/or different from mainstream science or occultism). Some Cat People reportedly have Insta-Change, limited to alternating between their human and Cat Person forms. Cat People may have the ability to project a ghost as they die – see the second Greer Nelson entry.

Connections:
Cat People (High – but they tend to be reclusive and not use it much, and it’s either for Earth or the Land Within)

Drawbacks:
Secret ID

The stats above are chiefly intended for a Cat Person on Earth, though those in the Land Within didn’t seem to be very different. Most seemed to be researchers of some kind.


Generic Land Within guard type

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Guard
Inf: 03 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 009 HP: 002

Powers:
None demonstrated. Possibly Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 02, Extended Hearing: 01, Super-hearing: 01 but that is unsupported.

Skills:
Weaponry (Melee)*: 03

Advantages:
Cat People may have the ability to project a ghost as they die – see Greer Nelson’s second entry.

Connections:
Cat People (High – Land Within only)

Drawbacks:
Minor Rage

These guys tend to be gung ho, pushy and snarling, making a show of their predatory nature and waving their swords, spears, etc. around. They’ll normally come to confront any intruder.

The Cat People's Balkatar summoned by Tigra


Balkatar

Dex: 04 Str: 09 Bod: 06 Motivation: Lolling around
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Balkatar
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 012 HP: 010

Powers:
Flame immunity*: 06, Skin armour*: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Skin Armour doesn’t apply against Martial Artist (EV) or Trick Shots against weak points

Skills:
None demonstrated

Advantages:
Lightning Reflexes. Cat People may have the ability to project a ghost as they die – see Greer Nelson’s second entry.

Connections:
Cat People (High – Land Within)

Drawbacks:
Misc.: The Balkatar must answer proper summons from Earth and obey his summoners as his duty

These very tentative stats are for Grigar, though it would seem he’s no longer the Balkatar – he may even have been eliminated by Tabur. Presumably, he was enhanced and/or enchanted for superhuman strength and durability by Cat People science. This likely was the case of other Balkatars before him.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Helper(s): Darci, Capita_Senyera, Frank Murdock, Mr. Steve Englehart, Chris Cottingham

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