What you see in the picture at the beginning of this post are all the goodies you’ll be missing out on if you don’t get in on the No Thank You, Evil! a Game of Make Believe for Families Kickstarter. Ending at 5:00 PM on June 17th the project is already over 200% funded with stretch goals dropping like flies.
Check out the Kickstarter Page, as well as the No Thank You, Evil! website for more information on the game. With multiple successful Kickstarters under their belt, Monte Cook Games is sure to deliver another outstanding product.
A couple of weeks ago I secured beta-test materials and gave it a go. The rules were a breeze to get through and are clearly focused on storytelling and letting the players be creative and have fun. I worked with my ten-year-old and twelve-year-old, as well as my niece, three, and nephew, six, to create some characters. This coming week we will have a chance to head to the dangerous Dragonsnot Falls with Captain Jack Sparrow a Fantastic Pirate who Bashes Evil, Tummy the Super Smart Orangutang who Plays Video Games, Cora Violet the Super Strong Elf Princess who Loves OoeyGooey things, and Si the Super Smart Druid who also Plays Video Games.
The kids and I are all excited to try out No Thank You, Evil!
In this final Kickstarter stretch GeekDad was able to ask Shanna Germain, the lead designer of No Thank You, Evil!, some questions.
GeekDad: You’ve been involved the creation of in Numenera and The Strange, two role playing games with much more mature themes. What made you want to do a role playing game for kids?
Shanna Germain: Over the past year or so, we started hearing all of these fantastic stories from players who were running Numenera for their families. They found the game’s focus on storytelling and its lighter rules system worked really well for kids, but of course they were tweaking the setting to be more kid-friendly. So we were reading these great write-ups of families adding princesses and pirates to the Numenera landscape. They were super imaginative and you could just tell that these experiences were going to stay with the kids forever.
It made us realize that our generation is in a really cool place–we grew up gaming and now we want to share that passion with our families. So we thought, “Let’s help make that happen!”
We even had a name, long before we knew we wanted to make a kids’ game. Charles and Tammie Ryan, who are both part of the MCG team, have a daughter named Olivia and when she was about a year old, she was in daycare where they were trying to teach the kids good manners. So rather than screaming, “No!” at each other, the kids were encouraged to say, “No thank you.” Which, of course, resulting in the kids screaming “NO THANK YOU!” at the top of their lungs every time a disagreement arose.
While Charles and Olivia were out shopping one day, they saw a bunch of TVs showing a trailer for the X-Men movie. Olivia asked what the man on TV was doing, and Charles was trying to figure out how to explain superheros, secret identities, and mutant powers to a one-year-old. Finally he just said, “They’re fighting evil.” At which point, Olivia raised a pointed finger, shook it sternly at the nearest TV, and with all her gravity told it, “NO THANK YOU, EVIL!”
When I first heard that story, I thought, “That would make a great name for a kids’ game.” So as soon as we decided to make this game, we knew right away what we were going to call it.
GD: In changing your mindset for creating a game that would be accessible and enticing to kids, what was the biggest challenge?
SG: We really wanted to create a game that was easy for parents to prep for and run, while also making something that inspired and supported kids’ creativity. Our biggest challenge to that was breaking down the hurdles that might keep both kids and parents from playing. On the kids’ side, we tackled issues like reading, math, and verbal and social skills, and worked hard to find lots of ways “in” for the players. For example, if you struggle with writing, you can draw, talk, or act out your character’s actions instead. We tried to make it so that the game rewards players for using their creative strengths, whatever they are.
On the parent’s side, we wanted a game that never made you think, “Oh, no, that game again.” So we made it really simple for them to set up and run the game, and we included some easter eggs just for the adults, little references to things that might make them laugh. For example, Numenera players will find a reference or two to the Ninth World in the setting for No Thank You, Evil!
GD: What are you most proud of in the design of No Thank You, Evil!?
SG: Probably the Awesome Pool. This is a stat Pool in the game that can only be used to help other players. So if someone’s fighting a really hard creature or is trying to solve a difficult puzzle, you can spend a point from their Awesome Pool to help them. It’s the stat that gets used the most in playtests, and that makes me really happy, to see the players helping each other through the hard spots.
GD: As a father who has played many hours of role playing games with his kids, I know that playing open ended games with children can often lead to ingenious and/or hilarious responses to game situations. Do you have any playtest stories you can share to demonstrate the “out of the box” thinking that children bring to the table?
SG: Anytime you give a child the option to create their own story, they’re just going to blow you away with their imagination and creativity. Kids have created characters that are just off the wall, in the very best way, and they absolutely work in the game. So we had one character that was a Piggy-Clown who Loved Ice Cream and whose weapon was a flower that squirted water every time she oinked. And another that was a Sneaky Spy who Did Magic and had a Lich Monkey companion.
We’ve run the same adventure at least 20 times, and not a single time has it been even remotely the same. Each group of kids has come up with an entirely different solution for the problem–in this case, a time machine that’s gone wonky and spit out a bunch of creatures from different times. We had one group that even DNA-tested the dinosaurs that came out of the time machine to make sure they weren’t dinosaur clones before they sent them back to their own time.
GD: I was eight when I cracked open Basic D&D and a Monster Manual. I didn’t understand much other than how cool the monsters were so my thirteen year old brother led us into the wonderful world of role playing games. How old were you when you played your first RPG? What game was it?
SG: My first RPG was Bunnies & Burrows, and I was probably about six. I loved Watership Down and we had rabbits as pets, so I was mostly excited that I got to play a bunny. Plus, I got to bang my feet on the floor as part of my Bun Fu! Which was great fun for me, but my babysitter was probably less than thrilled.
GD: From your playtesting experience, what is your best advice to a geek parent hoping to get his or her child into RPGs?
SG: Follow your children’s lead–they will tell you what they are excited about–and share you’re own excitement with them. They’re going to love gaming because you love it, and because it’s something that they get to share with you.
GD: What would you say to a parent that is interested in No Thank You, Evil!, but has never played a role playing game and is feeling intimidated by the idea?
SG: I would say that even though the rules for No Thank You, Evil! are really simple to grasp, don’t worry about them too much at first. The first time you play the game, it could just be making characters. And have the kids help you create the world and the other characters. I often ask, “What does this place or this character look like?” and let them describe it. It takes the pressure off of you to create a place or a character and they get to help design the world.
And don’t worry about whether you’re doing it “right” or not. As long as you’re all having fun, you’re doing it perfectly.
GD: You have the lead designer spot for No thank You, Evil! What was the first game you were involved in designing? What other games have you been involved in the creation of?
SG: I was writing articles about games for a while before I started designing them. My first major game project was Numenera, which I worked on with Monte Cook. I also worked on The Strange, The Cypher System Rulebook, and I’ve written setting elements for some other games.
GD: Do you have any advice for aspiring game makers? Having run multiple hugely successful Kickstarters, do you have any advice for someone hoping to take the plunge into crowdfunding?
SG: Create games that you’re passionate about, because that passion is everything. And find great mentors, those people who inspire you and guide you. Eventually, as you move forward in your career, I recommend mentoring or teaching; I have never learned more than when I’ve been helping other people learn.
Crowdfunding is a full-time job–be ready to give up your free time, working, eating, and sleeping to make it happen! In all seriousness, it’s a lot of work, and you have to be able to be able to adjust your plan on the fly. Don’t try to do a convention with limited Internet access or go on vacation while you’re crowdfunding. It’s such a fantastic way to test out your product idea, though–you know right away whether it’s an idea that’s worth pursuing.
GD: Where did you get the inspiration for Storia the campaign world of No Thank You, Evil!? When you wake up in the morning do prefer going Into the Closet, Under the Bed, Behind the Bookshelf, or Out the Window?
SG: The idea came from a conversation Monte and I were having about the world. I had this giant whiteboard full of ideas, and it was messy, and I was feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about it. And he just said, “I think the players should start in their bedrooms,” and everything clicked into place. It gives the players a chance to feel grounded in a place that they know before they jump into this new world.
I like options, so I want to go to all the places! Right now, I’m feeling most like Out the Window, though, because it has pirate ships and UFOs and racetrack mazes and the Boom! Laboratory. I love sciency, futuristic ideas and elements, so it’s been really fun building those concepts into places.
GD: What from your childhood is now a part of No Thank You, Evil!?
SG: Ha! That’s a great question. I’ve always loved puns and wordplay and making up words, and there’s a lot of that whimsy in No Thank You, Evil! We have places like Lochtopus, the Boo Lagoon, and Hex Kitchen. Players will also notice bits and pieces of my favorite childhood stories and poems in there–a little Jabberwocky, maybe a rabbit or two…
GD: I will be camping in the near future and will have a chance to use the playtest material to play No Thank You, Evil! with my kids, niece, and nephew. Do you have any advice for these children ranging from three to twelve years old as they head to Dragon Snot Falls?
SG: Don’t forgot to bring your I Gotchyer Back pack – it carries all of your stuff for you, hands you important items, and warns you when something is trying to sneak up behind you. And give your companion lots of treats!
GD: My three year old niece is an Super Strong Eleven Princess that likes OoeyGooey Things. She will strike you down with her wand while her prince golem looks on. What are you?
SG: I’m a Smart Astronaut who Eats Ice Cream and travels everywhere with her Dust Bunny named Pillow. My weapon is a blow-up hammer than squeaks when I bonk my enemies on the head!
GD: Thank you so much for your time and good luck on the last few days of the No Thank You, Evil! Kickstarter. It’s already a huge success, but I expect to see a few more of those stretch goals topple!
SG: Thank you so much! I hope we hit them all!
If you haven’t already, pop on over to the No Thank You, Evil! Kickstarter page and see what it’s all about!