Thread: Game Night
Friday, 29th August, 2008, 01:24 AM #1
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By Jonny Nexus
Magnum Opus Press
202 pages, $9.99
Game Night is the first novel by "Jonny Nexus," a self-proclaimed pseudonym for an irreverent game humorist known for his comedic writings in his own "Critical Miss" Internet webzine and in the pages of Mongoose Publishing's "Signs & Portents" (now e-) magazine. (I know him from the latter source.) It chronicles the adventures of six gods going through an extended roleplaying session, where the AllFather acts as the DM and four gods and one goddess roleplay, with varying levels of success, their "characters" - each being a mortal in the "real world." The narrative constantly switches back and forth (often several different times on a given page) between the "adventure" transpiring on the mortal plane and the roleplaying session going on in the OverRealm.
If you've never read a Jonny Nexus work, then you're in for a pleasant surprise, because he is very good at what he does: pointing out the various humorous aspects of roleplaying, especially with an eye on various roleplayer stereotypes. In Game Night, he's got the majority of them covered, from the wishy-washy DM to the lazy player who constantly has to be reminded what's going on in the adventure, to the hardcore powergamer who only wants to engage in nonstop combat (and the bloodier the better), to the whiner who complains if he doesn't get to do what he wants to do all the time. (Actually, these last two stereotypes are rolled into one character here, a God of Battle roleplaying a dark paladin named Draag.)
If you're already familiar with Jonny's writing (as I am), your enjoyment of Game Night will probably be lowered a couple of notches, because he doesn't really point out much that he hasn't already done so before in other forums. While he does a great job pointing out the stereotypes and gamer foibles, if you've already heard the joke before it's less likely to be as funny the second time around. The novel also suffers from a weak ending (in my opinion), where it seems more like Jonny just wasn't sure how to bring the novel to a conclusion than that was the way he had originally intended it to end in the first place.
I realize this is a novel and not a roleplaying supplement, but despite the lack of stat blocks I still found plenty of errors to complain about in this book. Scattered throughout the book's 202 pages of text are no less than 15 errors, from misspelled words ("linage" instead of "lineage," and unless I'm mistaken, not even the Brits use "'cous" as a shortened version of "because"), incorrect word usage ("unluckily" instead of "unlucky," "create" instead of "crate," "send" instead of "spend"), to punctuation issues (quotation marks showing up out of the blue at the end of a sentence for no reason or missing where they're needed, an ellipsis consisting of only two periods, an apostrophe used for simple pluralization and then later missing in a case of possession, inconsistent hyphenization of the same multiword phrase, and questions ending with a period instead of a question mark), and an instance of a doubled word ("full full") in a sentence. Proofreading and editing are not the strong suits of Magnum Opus Press, apparently.
The trappings of the game session itself are somewhat confusing, for despite some very obvious D&Disms (perhaps the most obvious of which is the halfling rogue character, Hilby Bigfella, and his riding dog), the game mechanics are very obviously not the d20 system, as the players are constantly rolling for a given number of successes on a handful of dice to accomplish what they hope to do in a given round). It's as if Jonny wanted (or needed) to avoid making this a d20 product and changed just enough to make it different.
Still and all, it's an entertaining read, and those of you who haven't read anything by Jonny Nexus are in for a treat. I certainly don't regret the time I spent reading through Game Night. On the standard 5-point scale, I give it a low-to-medium "4 (Good)."
[By the way, I wrote this review last year, and the EN World reviews pages are just now getting fixed. As a result, I'm reviewing it using the "one rating for the whole shebang" method, not broken up into separate categories. Therefore, since I went with a "4 out of 5" as my rating, I just threw "8.0" (the equivalent on a 10-point scale) into each of the three review subcategories. Perhaps in future reviews I'll break down my final score into these subcategories, but for now, I'm just sticking with the end result.]
Last edited by Morrus; Friday, 29th August, 2008 at 10:11 AM.
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Thanks for the review. I would just like to add one thing. I think you were reading the first edition of the book, and yes, it did turn out to have a lot of errors. I'd honestly thought that I'd found them all, but when (after reading mentions of errors) I went back to it, several months later and fresh, I found and fixed quite a few.
The book now on sale, which came out in March/April and is the one that the ENNie judges had, is the second edition, and while I can't claim that it is 100% error free, it should certainly have only a fraction of the errors of the first edition.
I'm the author of the 2008 ENnie award nominated novel Game Night. "The best novel ever written about gaming. One of the funniest novels ever written about anything." - SteveD, RPGNet (5/5). "This is the best work of gaming fiction I have ever read." - Crothian, ENWorld.
EnWorld 5 stars | Amazon.co.uk 5 stars | Amazon.co.uk 5 stars | Amazon.com 5 stars
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
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Jonny -- I'll confirm that I was reading the first edition of the book. Glad to hear that the second edition cleaned up a lot of the errors!
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