Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Introduction

I read up on what a couple people were saying to Brennan about the introduction to Bulldogs. How it should snag the reader, and give a good sense of what was going to happen inside the book. With that in mind, I'm going to be asking the people who read this blog (and there are more of you now, much to my surprise) what you think of the new and upgrade version of the Introduction.

Note, this is still a draft so any suggestions on how it's written in Jonathan Speak is appreciated.

What is Critical: Go Westerly!?

Tired of boring battles and pointless treasure gathering? Annoyed by the boring, monotonous fantasy worlds that seem to spring up everywhere? If you aren’t, then maybe you should just put down. No, I mean it. Put it down and go back to your magical fantasy worlds where everything is drab and colourless. Surely you can’t handle what goes on inside this book, it just might be too much for you.

If you haven’t put the book down, then you’re either really bad at comprehension or you’ve decided to boldly go forward towards the center of this book. There you will find ribald adventures and slightly off kilter places where you will have meaningful reasons to go after monsters, and kill them for their treasure. Inside is a place where cooking and combat are nestled side by side in education facilities. Take great, unimaginable risks in order to defeat strongly smelling evil monsters. Drink yourself silly in taverns and still manage to adventure successfully. Kill, steal, bribe, and find as much gold as you possibly can to attain power and glory!

Critical: Go Westerly! is ultimately a story about a kingdom that needs a slightly questionable hero. It’s a kingdom filled with highs and lows, good times and bad, ups and downs, friends and foes and many other dualisms with which other Kingdoms are filled. There is the threat of war, Pirates attacking the shore, Monsters to the north and various political factions each looking to win the Stout Throne for itself. It’s up to you, to decide who might pay you the most money to do their dirty work.

Your party of adventurers will go forth, with their Bartender behind them, to create epic tales of monster death, gold collection, and general dungeon delving with the hope that you won’t find yourself waking up in the Hay Loft of the local White Gryphon Tavern establishment wondering where all your stuff is, and how will you ever get it back from the clutches of your backstabbing teammates.


Comet said...

I'm a bit put off by the beginning of the introduction, and here's my problem with it...

It seems to deride other fantasy games/worlds while then going on to describe things that are part and parcel of every fantasy world I've ever seen - and it describes them as if they are new and unique to Critical. Now I *know* Critical is a different kind of game, and that it's a satire/parody, what have you... but I don't get that sense here.

I've heard you talk about this game, and I feel like... the way you describe it verbally has more of a flavor and weight to it. When you talk about the battles of the bands, little examples of funny and unique things that are truly Critical's domain, those things make it vibrant and intriguing.

Have you thought of, maybe... describing the world in the words of one of your pre-gen characters? The character I played would probably push you toward this kind of introduction while throwing in more voice and presence. If the world is described in such a way, people can't help but want to see more.

All my opinion, hill of beans or gold or anything in between - hope it was helpful in some way >D

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the feedback. That's the kind of stuff I was hoping to avoid. Maybe doing a character introduction would be a lot better.

Mikael Andersson said...

I agree, Jonathan - in much the same way as Bulldogs! was critiqued for starting off with what the game was not, I find that this intro is defining the game as an antithesis of other fantasy games rather than for what it is, and probably managing to insult your target audience in the process.

I don't know as much about the game as others, I'm sure, but I urge you to consider that most people enjoying Munchkin & Red Dragon Inn actually enjoy D&D for what it is, and the satire is giving them an outlet for the parts which are - usually - the less fun bits. The games complement each other, they do not replace. So saying "put this game down and go back to that other game" is ultimately going to hurt both you and the potential player. You're not in competition - chances are good that nobody, ever, will run a 20-year long campaign of Go Westerly, during which they will acquire thousands of dollars of new supplements and editions.

I also agree that speaking in the voice of a character, at least for the intro and maybe throughout any setting material, is far preferable to Jonathan Speak.

What I gathered from the Bulldogs! critique was: don't beat around the bush. Tell the reader what they need to know right in the first sentence or two, then expand and elaborate once you know they're interested. If you can do that in a swank way that leaves an impression (like "Bulldogs! is sci-fi that kicks ass!") that's awesome. But even "Critical!: Go Westerly is a satirical fantasy role-playing game" is better than "Tired of boring battles and pointless treasure gathering?" - the latter doesn't give me any inclination to read on, especially since every fantasy RPG in the world claims to have fun battles and cool treasure.

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