The first novel* Well, not exactlythe first. But the first one to find a publisher none the less from Caustic CriticBen "Yahtzee" Croshaw, famous for his online Video Game critique series Zero Punctuation, introduces us to the world within a popular fantasy-themed online MMORPG (basically World of Warcraft in all but name). There, the NPCs go about their daily lives, unaware that some of the people among them - thought to suffer from a strange syndrome - are player characters controlled by beings from another universe: us.It's the story of Jim, a minor character in the game, who dies when an army attacks his magic school only to be resurrected sixty years later by a "rogue necromancer" named Lord Dreadgrave, and now, all he wants is to find a way to die again, preferably for good this time, which is not an easy thing to do, since death seems only to be a temporary state in Mogworld. In his quest, he's accompanied by a pair of other undead (an airheaded girl named Meryl and a self-righteous priest named Thaddeus) and the inept thief Slippery John - whether he likes it or not.Not only has the flood of preorders meant that the success of the book is even more inevitable than it already has been, but it also kicked off the branch of Dark Horse Comics known as Dark Horse books, who are also publishing books based off Penny Arcade, Mass Effect, and The Guild. As Yahtzee has said in response to a question on Twitter, Mogworld is the first book published by Dark Horse Books.Now has an audiobook narrated by Yahtzee himself.
Mogworld provides examples of:
Aerith and Bob: We get names like Jim, Meryl, and Barry, mixed with names such as Dryla, Bowg, and Mr. Wonderful.
Lord Dreadgrave also falls under this trope. He ressurects the dead as sentient zombies to serve as his minions in his evil doom fortress. However, he pays them fairly, listens to their feedback, and strives to make their working conditions more comfortable. In short, he is a model employer. Even the residents of the nearby villages welcome his weekly plundering raids because it keeps their construction industries in business, and seem to get along well with Dreadgrave's minions.
A God Am I: Simon's ego leads him to try to make himself into "Lord Si-Mon", the god of Mogworld.
And I Must Scream: Jim is afraid having his body destroyed will lead to this, as he would be a sentient pile of ash unable to move or communicate with the world.
And indeed it does.
Anti-Climax: Not actually the real Climax, but when Baron Civious and Barry are face to face, each summoning up their Auras of Light and Dark respectively and the general feeling is brought up, that the entire world could just as well be ending right now, Barry just pulverizes Civious with a single gesture.
Benevolent Boss: Lord Dreadgrave inadvertently raises a zombie horde with free will. He's able to retain their service by offering them a surprisingly thorough array of perks, including room and board and a monthly musical performance. Jim repeatedly mentions what an attentive and generally gracious employer Dreadgrave is until he's offed early in the novel.
Body Horror: This is a world where no one can die; and many of its jaded inhabitants get real...Creative with it,
Book Ends: The book starts with Jim being killed in front on his magic school. It ends with the re-incarnated Jim finding himself in the same situation, only this time he decides Screw This, I'm Outta Here and leaves.
Break the Cutie: Meryl, two times, in fact. The first time is the realization that Jim was right about their homeland's citizen's lack of wanting independence and the second is Jim's Et Tu, Brute? moment.
Completely Missing the Point: For comical effect, a lot of reviews of the book treat the book with the expectations of a game, completely misunderstanding how it isn't interactive. In an In-Universe example, a review of the Mogworld game closes off the book, in which the game gets 9 for innovation, 4 for gameplay and 3 for lastability, concluding with a score of 72.85%.
Chekhov's Gun: Jim describes climbing the stairs as a newly-risen zombie as being akin to climbing Mount Murdercruel. Guess where Jim has to go in the final act of the story?
Crapsack World: Already has shades of this following The Infusion, due to stagnation. Simon trying to manipulate it just makes it way, way worse. Averted at the end when the programmers make the game accommodate the NPCs and not the players.
Crazy-Prepared: Slippery John just so happens to carry magical crampons for scaling Mount Murdercruel. Leads into his Crouching Moron moment (see below).
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Slippery John, specifically revealed at Mount Murdercruel where Jim figures out he only plays a fool to avoid getting the Syndrome.
Also the pompous, sermonizing, holier-than-thou and rather dim-seeming priest Thaddeus eventually reveals himself to be the legendary high priest of his religion- and an EXTREMELY powerful magic user.
Dark Is Not Evil: Odd case. Baron Civious seemed to be evil in the past and possibly still is now (I think the legion of tortured souls of the damned in his battle aura gives it away), but at the time of the story is definitely working on the side of good by trying to get rid of the Adventurer's Guild and stop the Infusion.
Earlier in the book, Lord Dreadgrave is well-regarded by both his undead minions and the townsfolk he constantly raids.
Deadpan Snarker: Jim, who at one point claims in narration that actually being dead makes you even better at it. Also Don, the programmer overseeing the Mogworld project and Mr. Bowg, who is also The Stoic.
Death Is Cheap: And how cheap it is! Anyone who dies, for any reason, finds themselves instantly brought back to life at the nearest church, where they are provided with a bathrobe and must run back to their corpse to get back whatever items they were wearing. Incidentally, this has the side effect of various churches vying with each other for the best (read: most deadly) locations.
His fellow zombies join him eventually. Thaddeus decides he deserves to die for being a zombie and an abomination, Meryl actually wanted deletion for three quarters of the book but tried to hide it.
Deconstruction: A surprisingky dark one of the conventions of MMORPGs, and video games in general. What were originaly NP Cs became living, sentient beings, driven mad by the painful, cycle of murder and plunder. Real thinking entities unable to escape a wretched existence, without the escape of death as an option. Entire lives ruined, all for a game.
Dedication: To Blizzard Entertainment, for the 3 months of my life I will never get back.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Jim, in a way. His whole motivation is to acquire a death that isn't an And I Must Scream scenario, and along the way he winds up developing some heroic tendencies. This lands him not only deletion but something better- a fresh start.
Gainax Ending: Dub says AIs have no afterlife. Jim, Meryl, Thaddeus, and Mr. Wonderful all seem to at least remember themselves in the new build, if not the details of their time together. Dub seems to be trying really hard to get a heaven made special for Jim. Only, how do they remember themselves if their original final builds were all deleted? The programmers put forth a theory that a part of Jim will remain in his new reality, as part of the theory of Quantum Suicide, but in the end it's still not very clear how a computer program would have a soul in the first place. On the other hand, they are Artificial Intelligences, so glitches in the system are to be expected.
Game Breaker: An In-Universe example: Barry is turned into one by Simon in order to work as his agent in Mogworld. Civious and especially Thaddeus were likely ones as well, but didn't quite compare. Barry's magic stats had been raised to the highest point possible.
Game-Breaking Bug: Jim (and presumably Thaddeus and Meryl also, but the story does not really explore them in this regard) is this, because he's a result of the AI procedures doing something that the developers did not expect. When he interacts with control connections to the real world, only accessible in what is to him the spirit realm, he corrupts them. This ends up screwing up a player's access to his character, and later it allows Jim to reset the world after Si-Mon took it over..
Go Mad from the Revelation: "The Truth" that their entire existance happens to be a video game has different effects depending on who hears it, some becoming oddly placid, others going into a murderous rage. Some like Meryl become depressed and seek death.
Heel-Face Turn: Mr. Wonderful, at the top of Mount Murdercruel when he sees the Nexus and Jim tells them he can end the Infusion. Although how much of a Heel-Face Turn this was will vary when you consider he only wants the Infusion to end so he can enjoy murdering people again.
Hell Is War: Mogworld seems to be increasingly heading this way near the start of the book, with perpetual (if, in some cases, weekly) battles being the norm. Slightly subverted in that some enjoy it as sport.
Hero Killer: Jim's career as an undead minion mostly involved the use of the Rat Pit, where captured adventurers would be tortured to death by being devoured. All indications are that he was rather good at it and enjoyed his work.
Hidden Depths: Toward the end of the book Slippery John turns out to be a cunning and manipulative thief who acted like a bumbling doofus so he wouldn't be targetted by the angels, Thaddeus is revealed to have previously been an absurdly badass priest when he was alive, and Meryl turns out to be just as suicidal as Jim upon realizing her homeland had been taken over.
Jim lampshades this himself after seeing Thaddeus dispose of two pursuers with a powerful spell. He realizes that since he never bothered talking to Thaddeus or learning about him, he had no idea what kind of priest he was in life, or how strong his magic was.
Holier Than Thou: The religious figures who appear in the story all have varying degrees of nastiness. Thaddeus the zombified priest is a delusional prat who constantly insults his fellow zombies, an early Youth Group from a different religion destroys a rival church to steal its business and Barry the Vicar is an unlikeable Smug Snake who starts abusing his Game Breaker powers the second he gets them, and gleefully tries to take over the world for Simon.
Thaddeus does redeem himself toward the end when he realizes he's just as much of an abomination as the others and stops talking down to Jim, instead offering decent spiritual advice. He also turns out to secretly be a badass around the same time, to the point that he's the only character able to briefly go toe-to-toe with Barry.
I Love the Dead: Slippery John's "wife" Drylda. Although technically she's still alive, most of the other characters view her as nothing more than a corpse.
It straddles a thin line between Dude, She's Like, in a Coma! and I Love the Dead, if you want to get technical. Most of the other characters don't seem to care which side Drylda falls on - they see it as creepy and very disturbing.
Averted with the zombies themselves. It's pointed out early in the book that they could never have sex with anyone- even prostitutes would have to be totally blind and have some degree of mental illness to try it.
King Incognito: The King of Lolede attempts this. Absolutely no one is fooled.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Lampshaded. Turns out local villagers are not very fond of adventurers, and among their long list of complaints against them is their tendency to just outright take things that don't belong to them.
"Knocking on your door at all hours of the day and night, wanting to rummage through your drawers for potions and loose change."
Pirate: The crew of the Black Pudding, every one of which has an eyepatch.
Pointy-Haired Boss: From what little we see of Brian Garret, CEO of Loincloth Entertainment, he appears both to be very pompous and quite ignorant of his workers' problems.
Completely averted with Lord Dreadgrave. Despite being a necromancer with a doom fortress and an army of undead minions he is shown to be an excellent boss. He follows through on his promises, is attentive to the needs and wishes of his undead minions and most importantly, he remembers your name.
Procedural Generation: How the world and all in it was created, apart from direct developer manipulation. Apparently the NPC procedures were so complex that they developed sentience.
Also, Thaddeus' ultimate attack spell, the Level 47 Cunning Argument ("for the rapid conversion of heathens") is apparently a reference to a once-mentioned Omnian character from the Discworld, 'Smite-the-unbeliever-with-cunning-arguments'.
Near the beginning of the book, Jim expresses regret about the magic school he attends not being a castle, which was almost certainly a jab at Hogwarts.
In one scene, Dub begins to wax philosophical about if the NPCs might really be alive or not. Don berates him for watching too much Star Trek, as it makes him talk like Picard.
Straw Hypocrite: Averted with Thaddeus. At first he absolutely hates and dismisses the other zombies for being monsters and abominations. When it finally hits him that he's a zombie just like the others, he decides that he needs to die just as much as the others and joins Jim's quest for permanent death.
Small Name, Big Ego: Simon apparently thinks he's a shit-hot genius programmer who's the only one with a clue. He's an egoistic, narcissist jerkass who screws up the entire game beyond belief.
The Nothing After Death: Played with. The first time Jim dies, he gets visions of a beautiful, perfect afterlife where he's perfectly content with everything, which is abruptly ended when he's resurrected as a zombie. Part of what's discussed with deletion, as opposed to the proper permanent death is that it probably wouldn't include an afterlife. When he discovers he's an artificial intelligence however, he wonders if he had an afterlife at all. Dub outright tells him that was (probably) an illusion since the developers never programmed an afterlife, to which he responds, "Thank God for that." But even after that, Don and Dub discuss if maybe he did see a glimpse of the afterlife simply by way of being a sentient being.
Trailers Always Spoil: The first major twist, that Jim is a NPC character in a MMORPG, is known to pretty much everyone who followed the news about the book before the launch.
The blurb on the back of the book explicitly mentions programmers working out bugs in their AI, so even if one hadn't heard that much about the book before, it's still thoroughly spoiled. It's a real shame, too, as it could have been interesting trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
To be fair, it surely wasn't meant to be that huge a twist. Even without reading the news or the back of the book, the truth (broadly speaking) of what's going on is obvious long before any character in the story has a clue.
The Undead: Jim, Meryl, and Thaddeus, or <Lord Dreadgrave's Undead Minions> to be more precise.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Jim and game developer William Williams discusses this near the end, just before William complies with Jim's wish and deletes him. As a result, William feels very depressed afterwards.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Not Jim, as it's made pretty clear from the start he's not too pleased being wrenched back from the dead. The rest of the world is like this to a greater or lesser extent, as for the past fifteen years since "The Infusion", no-one can die, or even age. They just respawn at the nearest church.
Taken to an extreme as Jim starts to get towards the end of his quest. They spot flyers for ways to commit suicide, and people who offer ways of mutilating yourself. After all, you'll only respawn if you die - so why not? Jim considers it a little unsettling when he thinks about it.
Wizarding School: Where Jim is studying as a second year student at the beginning of the story. Notably, it was only founded recently, and is primarily a purely vocational school rather than a research focused one.
Yes-Man: The term "lickspittle" is used to describe Barry by Thaddeus.
Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: Mr. Wonderful often calls the group "my little [x]" with x being a word or phrase vaguely appropriate for the situation. Lampshaded within the story, so he switches it up with "my tiny [x]," "my diminutive [x]" and so forth. To the point where in one scene he has an open thesaurus on his desk during an interrogation