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

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

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!

The Grey Hill Fire Trial

This is a play session of The Grey Hill Fire, 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

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!

Ars Magica

Ars Magica by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen from Lion Rampant, circa 1989 “A distant eye is fixed upon you. Somewhere in the black night outside your tower another wizard is using arcane lore to spy on you, and you have sensed the intrusion. Beware …”

Adventurers Wanted!

Chad Lewis of Lewtoons posted asking for applications from players who want to start up a new D&D weekly live streaming show, planned to begin in August.

How damned cool would that be, right? Of course, I totally already replied that I’d love to join the campaign!

Galaxy of Pen & Paper

Galaxy of Pen & Paper from Behold Studios was just released, on Google Play, Steam and so forth. Though, apparently the Linux release was delayed.

THE ULTIMATE ROLE-PLAYING SIMULATION GOES TO SPACE!

Galaxy of Pen & Paper is a turn-based, space meta RPG about a group of players rolling dice in the year 1999! Create your own game master and dream RPG party, explore distant planets, fight weird aliens and save the galaxy in the era of dial-up internet and floppy disks!

TURN-BASED COMBAT SYSTEM
Assemble the party of your choice, picking your players, races and classes! Unlock new content with the blood, sweat, and luck of your party’s ingenuity and dice rolls!

CUSTOMIZATION
Will your party include a Slayer Simian Savage or a Thinker Green Medtech? Customize everything from your battle encounters to your Game Master’s table!

EXPLORE THE GALAXY OF QUESTS AND LOOT
Gather your adventurers and travel trough a galaxy of pen and paper, and discover the newest threat as they leave Earth. All the fun of a pen and paper RPG with none of the lost dice!

COMPLETELY NEW GAME
Prepare to be amazed with so much new things! Spaceship battles, stories with multiple decisions, sci-fi classes and races, side-way battles, planet navigation and exploration, and of course, traveling through space and time!

TO BE RELEASED IN 2017 FOR PC, MAC and LINUX.

John Carter tabletop gaming

Modiphius, who recently have launched Star Trek Adventures, sent out an email with details about their upcoming crowdfunding effort for a John Carter tabletop gaming line. This will include an RPG, miniatures, and a board game. They’ve been working with the Edgar Rice Burroughs Estate and they seem to be serious about trying to do it right.

In the email, which you should go read now, they shared some pictures of suggested page layouts and miniatures, and there’s some gorgeous stuff happening, so I’d say sign up and stay in the loop for when the crowdfunding campaign starts up, they say in just a month or two!

The roleplaying game will be a gorgeous deluxe edition landscape book with stunning long artworks taking you across Barsoom whilst the miniatures will bring your favourite characters, villains and brave crews of their ships to life. Beyond that a board game will let you explore the adventures of John Carter and friends in new ways!

We’re making a final push now before aiming to get the project live at the end of August but our goal is to be able to ship the book and miniatures soon after the project so this date will shift to ensure we’re fully ready. Please bear with us, it’s going to be worth your wait.

I wonder if there’s going to be the equivalent of the Borg Cube Collector’s Edition for STA, which is awesomely out of my price range? Maybe a Martian airship? Also, this will use the same 2d20 system, so I’ll hope to hear about some riotous crossovers.