Numenera: Introduction

Through Humble Bundles I managed to procure a a bunch of Numenera products as PDFs at a very low cost. Sophie got me a new, larger format Kindle for Christmas, and had put a lot of RPGs on it – including Numenera 1st. Soon afterwards another bundle, this time of Numenera 2nd, went up. Lacking something to read I decided to look through the trove of Numenera stuff.

I had initially been daunted by the high price of Numenera products. While production values seemed good, I wasn’t particularly interested in investing in what appeared to be a pretty trad d20 game with a zillion splat books. But in PDF format through Humble Bundle I got so much that it rekindled my interest in the game.

For those who don’t know, Numenera is a science fantasy game by Monte Cook, influenced by such works as Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun/Book of the Long Sun series, and other works set in the very far future where civilization has risen and fallen on earth numerous times. Set a billion years in the future, humanity lives in the remains of 8 great civilizations which developed, flourished and died. Technological marvels barely recognized as distinct from magic, are a common part of the world, and both interstellar and inter dimensional creatures left over from previous eras are common. Players take on the role of fantasy heroes with future tech trappings and go out to do what heroes do in RPGs – Kill stuff and gain XP.

While the idea is a good one and the genre niche is solid,I found the included setting (“the Steadfast”) rather bland and with few exceptional ideas I could hang plots from. Nothing in the setting made me think that’s COOL! I want to run that!

However, the system itself caught my eye. It had some interesting ideas such as the players rolling all the dice, and modifiers affecting the target number, and not the die roll. Character creation also looked interesting, with players choosing packages of skills and powers.

So I decided to get together with a few friends and try it, then post my thoughts. I know, I know – it isn’t the hip new system anymore. So to add extra interest (for myself at least) I decided to make this my first “all electronic format” game – no books, no GM screen, no dice. Everything run from the Kindle and my phone. So I can talk about that in addition to the game itself.

Please feel free to comment about your experiences as well.

Thanks for reading.

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