About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pre-play Thoughts on Numenera

But first, let me take a selfie: My last Stellar RPG playtest was interesting. There's some good in there, but there's also a little bit of awkwardness in a couple of areas like covering fire that I must find new ways of addressing.

After a bit of writer's block on that, I decided I needed to play some stock games again to get exposure to new ideas and see if that sparked some extra creativity.

I've obtained a couple of new tabletop RPGs to try out, and the first is one I'm sure most people (that would read this blog) have heard of by now: Numenera. I've always been a fan of Monte Cook's work, at least since 2e D&D's A Paladin in Hell and speaking of hell who can forget the slaughterfest that was Labyrinth of Madness?? It was the Tomb of Horrors for 2nd edition (not counting the actual 2e Return to Tomb of Horrors which ironically wasn't really the Tomb of Horrors of 2e).

Numenera: Less tombs, more horrors.

First, a reinforcing note: I haven't played it yet. That will come this Saturday. However, I have worked with most of the party (4 out of 5) to create characters, and spent some time preparing and reading.

Here's what caught my attention so far.

Character Creation

AKA "I'm a bumbling fool who gamemasters."  I'm an <adjective/descriptor> <noun/type> who <verbs/focus>. This is one of the more prominent unique features of the game, and it does what it means to, and very well. Thanks to the magic of combinatorics, there are a huge number of characters that can be made with the stock material: 12 descriptors x 3 types x 29 foci = 1044 characters. And there's an "options" book that adds a few more descriptors and foci in case players go through all the stock stuff because the GM threw a squad of dread destroyers at them over and over. (They shoot missiles with a 1-mile range, so good luck with those battleaxes, n00bs)

My campaign will start with:

  • A learned glaive who controls gravity
  • A clever nano who rides the lightning (GM Note: I had no doubt at least one player would want to "Ride the Lightning")
  • A stealthy jack who explores dark places
  • A strong glaive who works miracles
  • An anonymous slacker who waits till the last minute

This is the shining star of Numenera from a pre-play perspective: I find the setting stimulating and full of potential. The idea of 8 major epochs rising and falling before this one is fascinating. I described it to my players thusly:

It is the dawn of a new civilization, at the dusk of Earth itself.

Some other games have played lip service to the idea that a fantasy game might occur in the distant future, but this one takes it to a whole new level. There is a lot of mystery and history to uncover, which is pretty important, since that represents a major portion of XP the players will gain.

Yep, no XP for killing monsters. It's mostly earned through discovering things. Game designers and dog owners everywhere like to remind us on the value of positive reinforcement - the act of rewarding desired behavior. In Numenera, the desired behavior is to explore, and everything centers around that.

Time to Play

I haven't dwelled on the core mechanics here - bracket d20 resolution, Cyphers, and Intrusions - because I want to see those in play before I comment on them.

Between the setting, theme, and some pretty fun art, I'm jazzed to give it a try. Can't wait until Saturday!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like your anonymous slacker is really a strong willed Jack who talks to machines and is trained in leather working and prancing in the forest. His/her connection to the world is having an annoying rival who always seems to get in the way or foil his/her plans.


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