So as I mentioned earlier I’m testing Monte Cook’s Numenéra. I’m actually quite infatuated with it, which is a first. Considering it’s not Star Wars and not HARP (my last big fantasy love), this is perhaps the most excited I’ve been about a game since I discovered roleplaying games 20 years ago (although in my childish naivete I did probably show a lot more enthusiasm for both MERP and Rolemaster [Standard System].)
It started, as many things do, with Numenéra being mentioned (and mispronounced) on the Order 66 podcast. I missed the initial kickstarter, but that was ok, I was busy playing Edge of the Empire and didn’t have time for some wibly wobly willy nilly fantasy game in a futuristic setting with funkiness going on and I still had nightmares about rolling a d20, so it was a no go.
Then the limited edition boxed set was announced… I’m a sucker for limited edition of anything. Yeah, proper consumer. I waste money like the western world waste resources, food, water and air.
So I kickstarted that. And boy…. but before we come to that, the story needs more set pieces.
About a year ago I had just started a new job, I was cleaning up in some digital archives, updating surveys and documentation for online distribution and publication. Yes, you got it: I work at a social science data archive. It sounds a lot more exciting than it is, or if you find that it sounds boring, it’s actually a lot more fun than you can imagine.
This archive is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Not that that means much in the bigger scheme of things, but it means we’re potentially pretty important within the limited field of social science research infrastructure.
Anyway, at lunch one day I meet a migrant – I guess that’s what you call it, she came here after being offered a job. She was very charming. To say the least.
Cut to a different part of town. My mum has moved into a care home, she’s ill. She’s got a rare type of lung cancer. In other words. Life is pretty messed up.
At this time I’m not really playing any games. I’m working and dealing with the fairly recent death of my father and the looming death of my mother. Simultaneously I meet this charming lady. I have no time for games, but I want to play of course. There’s just no time, nor any available players.
So then one day (earlier this year, almost as early as possible this year) me and this woman become a thing, as the saying goes, and less than two days later my mother passes.
Cut to about six months later, we (the lady friend and I) have just come back from a 2 and a half week road trip to the north of Norway, and there’s a big box waiting for me at the post office. Numenéra has arrived. At this time I haven’t played any roleplaying games for over a year (barring a quick trip to Texas for a small cosy con and a skype game some time after that), not in town at least.
I quickly start to read and look through this treasure trove of a box. I like what I find. It offers a freedom that few other games and established franchises can. The lady I’ve been seeing all this time has showed some interest in roleplaying as it’s such an important part of my life. We considered The One Ring for a while, as this is familiar territory her (she’s familiar with LotR), but actual playing never happened.
Three weeks ago (or so) I started a new Star Wars group – Force and Destiny this time – and we have played weekly (playing tonight). This lady friend of mine starts asking when she will be able to play with me and another friend of mine. I speak with him – he’s updated on Numenéra as he’s the poor sod who willingly spends time with me in the evenings talking about games. He decides he wants to play Numenéra. I ask the lady, she agrees. So next week we’re playing, on my birthday.
Now, why all of this text about stuff, why mix in death, illness, work and lady friend? Well, all of these things have been the centre of my life for two years or so. Death made me reconsider life, hobbies, work, career and the future. The lady did the same. Lots have changed, but some things remain more or less, at least seemingly constant: I love to play roleplaying games.
Furthermore, getting into Numenéra. Looking at the various beasts, creatures, ideas of supernatural and fantastical worlds, concepts, technology and more, I started to look around. To me the strength of Numenéra is that fact that it’s not an old franchise, it’s not settled, there’s no canon, there’s nothing that says this is the way it is. The game and setting answers few questions, but encourages the GM and players to make these up themselves. When I looked around on the interwebz I discovered two good communities I’ve been lurking on, reddit and G+ where people post their own stuff, share stories and enthusiasm. Refreshingly there’s obviously no or very little “canon”-discussions and quarrels. The focus is the game and how to have fun playing the game.
Over the last six months I also discovered Patreon, got a bit more familiar with it when the Order 66 podcast started their own Patreon campaign/subscription thing. To those not familiar with it, it’s like Kickstarter except you pay a sort of subscription fee rather than a one off payment. Looking around on Pateron I discovered this guy. Now for Star Wars I wasn’t convinced of his usability, at least not in my games… but for Numenéra … he seemed like the perfect fit! He creates new, fantastical creatures, illustrated professionally and with descriptions and indications on how to make use of it in roleplaying games, but he provides no game specific stats (I believe.)
I recommend this Patreon simply because it looks gorgeous and I firmly believe it’s very usable in any rpg where creatures and monsters of unearthly like design roams and live.