Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Why You Should Want It! Part 3

Hey folks, this post is all about Geoff chiming in on why he thinks you should pick up Critical!: Go Westerly!

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.

3. Depth

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

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).

The World

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.

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