Numenera Core Book

Numenera Core Book by Monte Cook Games, by Monte Cook with Shanna Germain, &al., was given gratis as part of my support for the The Ninth World: A Skillbuilding Game for Numenera crowdfunding effort (which is almost a whole year late to deliver!).

Multiple times I forgot I had this, rediscovered the PDF and intended to read it, then didn’t; and, rinse and repeat.

Numenera is a billion years in the future post-cataclysmic science fantasy setting, essentially God Emperor of Jean “Moebius” Giraud. The nuts and bolts are the, separately available but not entirely needed to play, Cypher System which is a framework on which other games can be built, such as The Strange, or used for other settings, such as Predation, but notably not Invisible Sun, which is the forthcoming new Monte Cook newness.

Characters in Numenera, and Cypher System, have three stats (might, speed and intellect) and can be described in a simple sentence, “I am an adjective noun who verbs.” In Numenera, examples of this character statement are:

“I am a Rugged glaive who Controls Beasts” or “I am a Charming nano who Focuses Mind over Matter.”

I am amused to no end that there is an adjective noun in Numenera for “Shadow jack” and if you wanted to play something like Roger Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows, this would be right on.

Anyhow, if the rules system stopped near there, it could be great, but then things get a bit overwritten and complex.

The Cypher System foundation is touted for its “elegance, flexibility, ease of use, and focus on narrative” but the rules quickly become strangely crunchy with stats and pools and edges and effort and skills and abilities and tiers and so on and on. Without having read the Cypher System Core Book, I gather from Numenera that there’s a lot of room for expansion on the three possible character types, and short list of descriptors. As “elegant” and “flexible” as Cypher System is supposed to be, the types and descriptors are very specific. These aren’t the broad narrative-driving Aspects of Fate or Clichés of Risus, but end up being very explicitly detailed crunchy blocks of text in the rule book, and, moreover, then, by being so crunchy, leave vast swaths of undetailed unknown others by omission. The more crunchy the rules, the more obvious the omissions.

An example of the kind of issue in Numenera which gave me pause was how the three character types, each which have some core element, clearly didn’t explore the full range of possibility. The core stat for a Glaive is Might. The core stat for a Nano is Intellect. But, the Jack starts with flat stat spread. So, what about a character type with Speed for their main stat? What about a type that is built around Effort? What about a type that is built around boosting Pools. And so on. For all the eventual crunchiness heaped onto the simplicity of the character statement, there’s just a wild amount that isn’t covered or explored. It’s a very strange dichotomy. Without having read the core books for Cypher, itself, or The Strange, I wonder if these other directions are explored there for character types, but, the point is, they aren’t in Numenera.

One of the more interesting things for me in Numenera was the focus on the numenera, the bits of recovered future tech, as a core mechanic and motivator. This reminds me of Index Card RPG Core‘s focus on loot as the method of advancement and ability development for characters. Like a game in a setting of Heavy Metal, the scratching out of some ancient nano-magical future tech artifact from the dust and rubble can change everything, then fails or is replaced, and gets tossed away. This provides a kind of Nomic or Fluxx-like game of self-amendment, constantly changing the rules of the game itself by introducing more or less awesome MacGuffin after MacGuffin.

The world building is Silmarillion-level and seems like the writer’s bible to a series of novels, in that it is excessive and clearly thought out even farther than detailed, a full encyclopedia of future history and hints at a forthcoming piecemeal conveyor belt principia.

The core book also contains the short story The Amber Monolith by Shanna Germain, which is available separately. I ended up reading it separately before getting around to the core rule book, and it makes more sense to read it in context.

The art and world are lush, but it all seems like something one collects and reads, not so much plays and develops stories within. I have no doubt that this ticks the bits of brain that drive collectable card game fanatics and the like, but the simplicity and elegance seems to me to get lost for what should be a framework open and welcoming to players at the table.

There are parts that seem fantastic to me, but also there’s some things missing in all the complexity. In the end, I find myself wishing to play in the world of Numenera, but with different rules, such as Index Card RPG or Risus, or, hell, even Toon or Amber, to free up the narrative gameplay from the gaming system.

Originally posted on my personal blog at Numenera Core Book

Summary for the month of Aug 2017

Here’s a summary of activity for August, 2017.

I was able to start streaming again, over on Twitch, Mixer and YouTube, though I’m struggling to find the right settings. But, I’ve gotten a few streams up this month. Realistically, I probably need a stream PC to improve the quality, but that’s just not going to be something I can afford right now. So, I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got, as one does!

I’ve also started a weekly series of solitaire roleplaying adventures using the Index Card RPG Core game and accessory sets. I’ve got some fun ideas I’m working on for future videos with original trials and cards, but I’m still working on those ideas.

I’ve also started to try to do a couple book reviews a week over on my personal blog, which I’m syndicating over here for titles that make sense for this blog. I’ll keep doing that, and am hoping to keep up the pace of at least two reviews a week.

You can also see that I’ve been posting pictures from my Instagram, and have been keeping up a steady flow of geeky stuff there. There’s also an occasional video I post over there too, which don’t make it to the blog. Check it out!

Want to join me on this blog and write for Odd Order? Pitch your Idea!

Also, drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron to get gratis music downloads, help me keep geeking out!

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last month

Axebane’s Moldy Codex

Axebane’s Moldy Codex is a homebrew fanzine for use with Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG Core. This is its inaugural issue, written and illustrated by Daniel F Walthall, and includes a good variety of fun and useful stuff for your table.

The first issue of the Moldy Codex is here! This homebrew fanzine is packed with art and content for the INDEX CARD RPG system. The included adventure has been playtested and is designed to only require 30 minutes of prep by the GameMaster! The new loot table includes 100 loot items, with new types of items such as wands and rods. Issue #1 is fantasy-themed and includes the following:

• Adventure: Lost Tomb of the Skeleton King
• Location: Village of Hadorne
• 2 new monsters
• 4 monster reference cards (Skeleton, Slime Cube, Living Statue, and Skeleton King)
• New loot table
• 8 art cards
• Hand-drawn character sheet

Necronomicon Pop Up Book

Necronomicon Pop Up Book from Poposition Press looks fun.

The Necronomicon Pop Up book contains five pop up spreads each of which illustrates key moments in seminal H.P. Lovecraft stories.

The five stories featured in the book are: The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out of Time, The Call of The Cthulhu, At The Mountains of Madness and The Colour Out of Space.

Each spread is 11″ x 17″ when opened and includes two pull tabs with text from the original stories, front and rear endleaves and a magentic clasp.

The Necronomicon Pop Up book is illustrated by Skinner and designed/produced by Poposition Press.

Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies in development by Failbetter Games has entered early access on Steam and GOG. I backed this when it was crowdfunding, so got my key sent to me already. It’s currently on launch discount, so pick it up!

Sunless Skies is a top-down literary RPG set amongst the stars. Explore a universe steeped in celestial horror and ravaged by Victorian ambition in this game of exploration, corruption and jeopardy for PC, Mac and Linux.

Early Access will begin in one of the four regions of the High Wilderness: the Reach. As development continues more regions, locomotives, ports, sky-beasts, loot, equipment, discoveries, wrecks, characters, and stories will be added to the game.

Skull of the Cyclops Trial

This is a play session of Skull of the Cyclops, a solitaire Trial from Index Card RPG Core. I play Take, a Small Folk Shadow, in this short scenario of three challenges.

Index Card RPG Core Set from Runehammer Games

Index Card RPG Vol. 1

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

If you’d like to pitch in, add a buck to the tip jar.

Or become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

Demons by Daylight

Most of the narrative in the stories collected in Demons by Daylight by Ramsey Campbell occurs at night. Daylight, my ass. That’s about the level of quality here, with a few brief but truly good creepy spots that shine, in this rather mediocre repetitive-feeling collection not really worth the light needed to read the pages. I ended up finishing this out of spite, not because I cared at all for it. Publishers Weekly, with glowing blurb on the cover, was smoking crack in a gutter, if they saw any stars at all. Keep this in the dark where unpurchased things lurk, and don’t bother.

I made 11 highlights.

Originally posted on my personal blog at Demons by Daylight

TUNIC

TUNIC is a spiffy looking new game in development by Finji.

TUNIC is an upcoming action-adventure game from solo developer Andrew Shouldice about a little fox in a big world where you do not belong. Coming to Windows, Mac, Linux, and consoles in 2018.