Saturday, November 26, 2011
The opening and ending music is taken from Tom Fay - Watchers under a CC BY-SA license.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Well, there are a couple of reasons listed here and here. There are more, but I figured it's best if you're up to speed.
Here's another reason.
4. The Art
The art of Critical!: Go Westerly is pretty amazing. It's done by a single artist, Avery Liell-Kok, and you should totally check out her other work on her page that we just linked to. She's done lots of work for Joe from Monkey Den Production (the official page is here but Joe's non company stuff blog is over here) on his Superhuman game as well as some stuff for advanced dimensional green ninja educational preparatory super elementary fortress 555 (which I can never remember, for obvious reasons, when I'm face to face with Akira)which can be found on her website.
Actually Joe is how I met Avery, and I'm really glad that he managed to introduce us I think like ... five times or something like that. Anyway, here are some of the earlier sketched pieces that Avery did for Critical!: Go Westerly. There's a lot of character stuff, becaue that's what she did first, but it's all pretty freakin' awesome.
Here is Mary, our adventerous Tavern Wench.
Here is Marten Iij, our earstwhile Priest.
Finally, Urist the Too Tall Dwarf. I will admit that every single time I look at this image I laugh.
These aren't the final images, but they're close enough -- and awesome enough -- that I think you should see them.
Just one more reason why you need to pick up Critical!: Go Westerly.
Friday, November 18, 2011
There has been this thing happening, because games are always looking to swell the ranks (a laudable goal), where people are talking about how we need to teach kids how to game.
Despite what the title says I think this is a great idea. There are many cool boardgames and card games out there that are fun, educational and a family event. I believe that teaching these types of games help build things like literacy, math, problem solving, co-operation with people you are competing with, and how to be a gracious winner or loser.
Wait ... you meant teaching Roleplaying too.
Oh, right. This is where the title comes into play.
Kids already know how to roleplay. They do it all the time. What they don't do is roleplay like "grown ups." They don't take their rule books, and their supplements, and their dice and sit around a table waiting for someone to entertain them. Nope, they are active and engaged with their game. They want to tell stories with each other, and they aren't afraid to act them out too, in case LARPers were worried that they wouldn't be represented. They want to do cool things, and crash hard only to get up again and defeat the odds. There is also that one kid who does nothing but want to play the bad guy, but I digress.
I know there is a knee jerk reaction, frequently found in many RPG books including my own, that talk about how RPGs are just like those halcyon days of playing pretend except with rules to prevent any arguments. Though I just laughed at that inside, but more on that later. You know, it is like playing Cops and Robbers except that there was no arguing about being got by someone's gun.
I am here to say that it is a load of hooey, or any similar word my Autocorrect feels like inserting. Those arguments do happen, but they are not the game under that we all make it out to be. I have seen games grind to a stop because some obstinate grown up believes that the proper interpretation of the rule on page 162 of the third player's manual burner than I have seen kids fight over who got caught by the cops.
The reason for that is that kids are more interested in playing and adapting to situations than grown ups are. They are willing to go, 'oh. Okay" and move on rather than have to rely on a rulebook and a randomizer. Not that doing so amid a bad thing. Sometimes just the rolling of dice and seeing what comes up is great for rattling my imagination as an adult. However, I think that the conceit that we *have to teach roleplaying to kids* should be re-examined and possibly taken down a peg or two.
My hope for this week is that you played some great games with kids and that they taught you some things you have forgotten, or don't even think about.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
As the co-creator of Critical!: Go Westerly, I thought it would be a good idea for me to weigh in on why I think the game is pretty darn spiffy. After noodling around, I've decided to talk about a feature of our little game that I think is pretty important for game enjoyment and playability.
For a rules-light, light-hearted fantasy game, Critical!: Go Westerly has quite a bit of depth to it. This is evident in two key places: The Rules and the World.
The rules of the game are simple and straightforward. We've tried to explain them as clearly and concisely as possible, and we've tried to keep the clutter to a minimum so that people who have never played the game before--which, at this early stage, is pretty much everyone--can grasp the rules and start playing in, at most, 20 minutes.
Despite all that, we've managed to pack quite a lot into those rules that allow for character growth and development. You can easily make a character that fits one of the Traditional Fantasy Archetypes(TM), using them.
If you'd like to do something a bit different, though, that's totally fine. We once had a character who was a former pig farmer turned adventurer (complete with pig animal companion). Not only was this an easy character to make using our rules-set, but such a character was no less viable or valuable than any fighter or wizard you could name.
The rules also allow for character growth and change. The game can obviously be played as a one-shot, but we also wanted there to be rules to allow for campaign play. The Bartender has an easy way to make tougher monsters, along with a formula that scales Gold rewards to match. The players have the ability to improve their characters' stats and skills in a simple and unique way (hint: It involves them describing a training montage).
One of the things that Jonathan and I tried very hard to do was to make a game world that was funny and light without being goofy. That's a very hard line to walk, and we did it by making sure that, as much of a parody and a send-up as this game can be, it's also a real, functioning world with its own internally consistent logic.
On some level, the workings of the world are pretty complicated and realistic. You've got your succession wars and political strife, nefarious trade guilds, and monster-filled mountains. That's all good stuff, the fodder of hundreds of fantasy campaigns throughout the years.
In the Kingdom of Westerly, the succession war is about two kids named Gwendolyn and the ownership of a cooking school, the political strife comes from several factions who all want to secede, but can't decide how best to do it, the nefarious trade guild is also the one that deals in peat moss, and the monsters in the mountains are arranged, by Divine Decree, by height order, so that new adventurers have a fighting chance. Silly from an outsider's perspective, but serious for the people of Westerly, and with enough depth to provide the fodder for many, many adventures.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
So why should you want Critical:! Go Westerly?
2. It's Easy to Use
Critical!: Go Westerly is a very simple and streamlined system. It's designed to be fun to create characters and easy to run if you're the Bartender. How does that work? A variety of factors come into play to make the game this easy.
Character Creation is fun, and not in a hugely time consuming way. It's fun because you have the power to use your skills, habits and items to help define your character. You want to play the Brawny fighter that loves to collect flowers? Use your skills to talk about your character's All too showy combat skills, their Impressive musculature, and their Ability to win the fight no matter the cost ... to their opponents. Give them the Habits of Compulsive collector and Stops to smell the flowers. Finish it with a couple of items like Impressive Big Large Sword and Shield with Flower standard, and you have a pretty good image of this character with a minimal amount of effort. It is fun and fast!
The mechanics are easy because it doesn't vary in how anything is dealt with. Once you know the mechanic, that's how pretty much everything works. Whenever you want to do anything that the Bartender thinks might be the slightest bit complicated they will make you roll. You get to use your Stats and one skill of your choice, as long as you can convince the bartender of its use, and roll two six sided dice based on the target's difficulty. Higher then the difficulty means you succeed, lower than the difficulty means you fail and if you get the target number exactly you get a Critical! which is one really good thing and one really bad thing. No matter what you're doing, that's how you end up doing it.
Monsters are easy since they are defined by their ability to hit things and to be hit by the players. When you kill them you get divinely handed out gold which you can use to upgrade your skills, buy new items, or bribe your Bartender when you really want two good things to happen.
Critical!: Go Westerly is a game that you can learn to play quickly, so that you spend your time enjoying your game rather than looking up the rules. I think that's a good reason to go and get it.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Okay. Just had a weird idea. Let's make a game together. Not in the regular let us develop something way, but kind of how we would do one of those creative writing games you do in a class or a writing group.
The rules are that you get to write one line of rules text and it has to relate to the previous line of rules. You don't have to make it fit anything that has gone before.
Just so you are aware, I think we should make this all a creative commons BY-SA license. That way anyone can use what is put up here. Not that I think we are going to get a helluva lot of traffic on this, but I still think it is amusing.
You pick up a D12 and roll it.