I don’t talk a lot about my gaming nights here, but I feel this setting deserved a highlight –
Last night I kicked off the first session of my new game – Numenera . It will take place every other Saturday until the group collectively decides it wants to go in a different direction. Numenera is a game I’ve been looking forward to ever since the Kickstarter campaign, and with our 5th edition Shadowrun game at a stopping point, we set out on our new adventure.
I opted for buying the pdf’s for the game, which I waited to buy when Monte Cook Games opened their new store and placed them on a dramatic one day sale. This will be the preamble for me purchasing the hardcover, as I love having a physical book at the table. Even without the hardcovers in hand, I can tell the amount of hard work placed into the product. Not just art – which is stunning – but typeface, editorial, and placement. Its one of the best role-playing products I have ever read, hands down.
When the group made it down to the gaming den, I started with a presentation of what I believed Numenera was. I wanted to paint, with broad brush strokes, the idea of what the setting is. Highlighting the population of the Ninth World was my first task. It was important for me that the players understand the mindset of the people they would be playing. We have a deep sense of recorded history, where people in the Ninth World really don’t know where it all came from, except that they understand they were not the first civilization present. From the Monoliths to The Iron Wind, the people always living with something fantastically terrifying around the next bend. This is great for the players because it means they have the agency to create what they choose – beyond character creation methods – and form their own unique story, but that isn’t the best part either.
The best part for me as the GM is – the amount of whitespace on the canvas. Numenera is like a massive pool of water, with small ripples left over from the creators fingertips. This leaves the storyteller in the most advantageous position possible for creative license. I can write anything, create anything, and so long as I can fit it in the pool of water, it probably fits the setting.
The players I have are all veteran gamers, so as we talked about character creation, they had understandable questions about equipment, money, and ciphers. We first focused on what character types we were going to have. Instead of having the usual discussion about who was going to play what class or style, I reminded them they could play anything they wanted to – no matter the type. I wanted them to be free of any cliche party requirements, which I hope will free them up to experience more of the story I have planned.
Character creation went faster than I first thought, highlighted by some imaginative potential stories (mixing characters with “Who Murders” and “Who Barks at the Moon”) until the group settled into picking out what they wanted. My job quieted down for a few moments, giving me an opportunity to observe the process, and barring a couple of questions about equipment it went without a hitch.
It picked back up when we came to completing the characters, by rolling up ciphers. Even with the Cipher Collection I picked up during last week’s sale at Drivethru – I chose to stay with the core table, rolling each characters stating loot. Other than games where characters started higher than first level, and gain a substantial amount of the starting wealth, I’ve never made a habit of giving out items like these at the start of games. Looking back on it, I think I had as much if not more fun that the players did, with each Cipher adding to the potential future story hook or GM Intrusion.
Speaking of – if you are interested in Numenera – the GM Intrusions podcast by lex Starwalker gave me something to listen to while I worked. It is worth your time (and monetary donation to his Patreon )
The Ninth World is another amazing resource for players and GM’s alike, stop by there and join in a great community of players, GM, and fans in general.
Without question this is a unique system and setting. This isn’t science fiction or fantasy, its both and possibly neither. No matter what it ends up being (Science-fantasy?) its going to be a great addition to our gaming nights.