Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures!™
Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures!™ Capsule Review by Pookie on 04/11/01
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 1 (I Wasted My Money)
Of all the d20 System books I have read, this has to be the most squandered opportunity to do something fun and different yet. Save your hard earned dollars. Please.
Product: Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures!™
Author: Stuart & Brian Burke with Michael Nunn
Company/Publisher: Rising Force Productions through Nightshift Games
Line: d20 System
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Pookie on 04/11/01
Genre tags: Fantasy Comedy
Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures is a comic strip about anthropomorphic animals in a swords and sorcery world, written and drawn by the Brothers Grinn -- also known as Stuart and Brian Burke. The setting then, sounds perfect for adapting as an RPG world and this is exactly what Rising Force Productions have tried to do. Unfortunately in trying to create “A sourcebook for fantasy games” (but specifically the d20 system), based on this setting, both the author and publishers have come up short.
To begin with Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures is a nice looking book. If you like your comic book art full of cute furry animals, then the art of the Brothers Grinn should be to your liking. The problems come in the text and layout, and unfortunately these problems consist of some very basic errors. Michael Nunn’s layout suffers from lines dividing text actually cutting into the text and the artwork illustrating characters is often too dark for the descriptive text it is placed underneath. Further the d20 logo accompanying the boxed open gaming licence content appears to have been left floating randomly in each character description.
These layout errors are something that can be overlooked, but the typographical errors cannot. Sentences are often not marked by full stops, others fail to scan, “there” is used instead of “their” and not once in the book is the apostrophe included in the contracted form of “She had”. Constantly wondering what a shed has to do with the setting of Doomed Kitty just compounds the frequent confusion that arises as the reader tries to make sense of some of the writing. The frequency and consistency of all of these basic mistakes leads me to ask one question: if I spotted these in reading through the book - a task that took less than thirty minutes - what exactly did the editor D B Lincoln do to deserve his title?
So what of the contents? To begin with, they carry an age warning on the cover that states that it contains elements and artwork that are inappropriate for younger readers, and recommends that players are aged thirteen and over. It is not an unwarranted warning as there is both nudity and bad language to be found inside. Considering that the “F-word” is used, perhaps the recommended age should have been higher.
The world of Crushed is described as a standard fantasy one, but with the addition of cute girls, bad jokes and plenty of sarcasm. Cute and girls, of course, refers to Crushed Dume, a female cat rogue; Red Stephie - the overweight female dog rogue/wizard, Knaw, the female rat assassin and Purity Meadows, a female bear cleric. Apart from the fact that the world is populated with anthropomorphic cute furry creatures, the only concrete difference to any other fantasy setting is that all those of heroic status are brought back to life whenever they die. They awake naked, bereft of clothing and equipment, and depending on how cowardly their demise was, sometimes bereft of their accumulated experience since their last level increase. Death is of course painful, but at last a hero knows that they can awake again to find themselves in the Temple of Infinite Lives.
Barring the existence of this temple -- there are actually another two, but one is not working -- and the odd snippet here and there, Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures is extremely light on facts about this world. We get pictures of the gods of the land and their names, but no descriptive text. We get a map of the world, but no further mention of any place, bar that of two of the locations of the Temples of Infinite Lives. Nor are we given any sense of what the characters do in the game, except go adventuring. But against whom or what? The setting has neither history nor background, nor even details of possible adversaries.
So what is in this book? Details of character generation? Nope. Well actually yes, if you want to play a ninja frog. If you want to play a cat, dog, rat or bear, then you need to check the website. Where they may be covered. Whose great idea was that?
What we do have are a number of interesting, though silly creatures, items and spells. The spells Theme Music (inter-mixes the appropriate theme music with any speech or presentation) and Dramatic Storm (punctuates exclamation point or dire warning with a movie-like storm and crash of thunder) echo shticks from Avalon Hill’s humour RPG, Tales from the Floating Vagabond, whilst both Barrel Full of Monkeys and Rain of Fish provide exactly what the titles suggest, but David Caruso’s Career Move defies description… The items are as equally silly, with The Boots of Love and The Ring of the Squirrelly actually being useful.
The three monsters in this book are also silly, but better far better illustrated. Both Spitters and Graplings are small swarming critters, potentially irritants more than anything. Potentially useful in other games are Dregs -- golems constructed haphazardly from several materials, which gives them different abilities. The wood, gunpowder and flechette Dregs explode, silk and fine fabric Dregs smother and confuse, but the softwood and peanut butter dregs are just beaver lunch.
Finally, the book is rounded out with ‘The Inferno Rock’, the workshop dungeon of famed sorcerer, Ajara. It’s playable in a Tunnels & Trolls kind of way, but is not intended to be played using characters that have yet to die and be reborn again. Useful, that…
Let me be straight about one or two facts. Firstly Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures is not a sourcebook. Instead it is a book that attempts to highlight a few facts about the setting and does so in the least useful fashion possible. Secondly, as presented the contents doe not lend themselves close to the concept of, let alone the spelling of the word, playable. This is further hampered by grammatical, syntax, punctuation and layout errors that are so basic they should never have got out of the editing stage.
But, the setting might have potential as the comic itself is not badly drawn and the idea of cute furry anthropomorphic animals modelled using the d20 System is shown to work in the character write-ups of Crushed and her friends. Instead the potential offered by the source material -- the Brother's Grimm web comic, has been squandered in favour of this book which essentially renders Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures a fine example of how not to write “A Sourcebook For Fantasy Games.” This book would have been infinitely improved had the character creation details for cats, rats, bears and dogs been provided (allowing players to roll up characters similar to Crushed Dume and her friends) for the d20 System and their omission make this book all but useless.
d20 System fans looking for an anthropomorphic setting should save their $8.95 and go check out Gold Rush’s Usagi Yojimbo RPG instead. Its supplement Usagi Yojimbo: Monsters! contains conversion notes for the d20 System and for $3 more, offers infinitely more value than Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures will ever do.
PERSONAL NOTE: I am not often forced to write as something as vitriolic as this when reviewing a book and nor do I want the reader to feel that I am being unduely harsh or unfair in writing what I have. I will gave any product the time of day and will always set out to read and write a review with only positive thoughts in mind. It would be unfair of me to write otherwise and I always look for the positive aspects of a product. Unfortunately there were so few to be found in Crushed The Doomed Kitty Adventures and this was the most fair review that I could give it in all honesty.
If you disagree with me or feel that I was being unfair, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.