Who is your favourite Felicia Day character?
I’ve a new contender for the crown in the small and green form of Raze in Rule of Cool.
Raze is an NPC (non-participating citizen) in a starter town where new adventurers begin their quests. Like the other dregs, Raze isn’t treated very well, but she isn’t particularly pleasant either.
It’s worth remembering that Raze is a baddie.
And in Rule of Cool, the goodies become the Baddies.
Raze is a Gearblin. That’s a mixture of a goblin with a gremlin. Would a gremlin and goblin ever get it on? Well, Raze makes a dirty joke about the dangers of getting a gremlin wet… and that sets the tone for the tone and swearing to come.
In fact, later on, when Raze readjusts her stats and takes the profanity filter off, the swearing gets worse.
Rule of Cool is a LitRPG, and so characters are aware of their stats and their roles. Some of them are, anyway. The odds on those rolls are stacked in favour of the Forces of Good in this starter town.
It’s Felicia Day that makes Rule of Cool work. Imagine one Narrator who has to voice a horny gearblin, and a Paladin zealot and an ogre. It’s a tough gig.
We read through character sheets, dice rolls and equipment load-outs throughout the audiobook. There’s one scene in which Raze has smashed up dozens of vials of potions, and each one gets a roll of the dice. Day has to read through them all.
Later on, much later on, Raze unlocks the necessary knacks to conceal some maths, which helps immensely. Finding the balance between story and mechanics, the very thing that makes LitRPG a LitRPG work, must be tough. Having a professional actor read for you helps hugely.
I’m avoiding spoilers in this review but suffice to say that Raze does not spend the entire plot chained to the quest item reclaim desk. There’s a certain code (Up up, down down, left right, left right. B. A. Start) that might change everything.
It was fun and unusual hearing Felicia Day narrate the story as Raze and friends, but there’s more to like in Rule of Cool than that.
The story, for me, touches on the old debate about how good is good? Typically, good heroes are fighting to preserve civilisation and maintain order. Is that civilisation perfect, though? Or is there a lower class who are suffering, being mistreated and who would welcome change? Probably. Why fight to maintain that unequal status quo then. What’s so right about that?
I only had two moments of concern. At one critical point, when Raze and her team get hold of [redacted] gear, the stats describe the inexperienced group as having a skill level of “Woke”. That’s a dangerous word to use, and, of course, I don’t know whether the author Matthew Siege means the term as a pejorative or not. I hope not. It really would take the shine off the whole book and would be an odd blemish on Day’s CV.
The other nonsensical bit is when an ally uses meters to measure the incoming enemy, and Raze asks them to use “freedom units” instead. So, we get yards and feet instead. What? There’s hell pit deep irony in describing the Imperial system freedom anything. The clue is in the name.
Both are times when it’s worth remembering that Raze is a bonafide baddie. She’s opposing the Forces of Good. Theoretically good, anyway.
Siege has other LitRPG credits to his name, and you can see that experience. Aside from making sure the villains are suitably challenging and not going ultimately over the top with exposing mechanics (which seems to be a hybrid d20 and percentile system), he uses a neat trick in keeping some mystery in the plot. He uses a Patch.
Patch, or this one, is another Gearblin. At times it may feel as if Patch is the main character, and perhaps he is, but as the agent of change, it’s Patch who does things that Raze doesn’t know about and, therefore, our Narrator can’t tell us about. It takes just a short while to get used to, but I think it works.
Day has other gaming credits to her name, loads of them, but I think this is her first audiobook. I hope it’s not her last.
Overall? Rule of Cool is pretty cool. I enjoyed it, it’s absolutely boosted by Day’s talents, and I’m only left worrying about hints of gatekeeperism in there.
- Amazon: Rule of Cool.
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