RPG Review: Torment, Tides of Numenera – Explorers Guide

Monte Cook games were kind enough to send me an advanced PDF of their forthcoming Numenera supplement, you can see my review of it by clicking on the link below:

DBJ’s Ultra Rules Lite System

Davae Breon Jaxon posted his ultra rules lite RPG system to the RPG Tabletop 1-shot Group the other day, it reminded me of a mix of Dungeon World, Numenera and Aspect Only Fate (which is no bad thing), I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with other people.

Please note: I had no input into creating this, full credit goes to DBJ, I’m simply boosting the signal 🙂



[RPG] Numenera Session Notes

I’ve just finished running a very enjoyable Numenera where the whole of reality and even people’s memories was questioned by the player characters before they discovered the horrible truth that the world they thought that they knew had been ended hundreds of years before at the hands/tentacles if an alien menace called the Widow Makers and that their world was a copy saved from destruction through the mind of a genius Nano and the power an ancient machine called the Latos.
The final session of the game was broadcast live (despite some technial difficulties) and can be watched by clicking on the video thumbnail below.
Despite the dark premise the game ostensibly had a happy ending with one of the player character taking the place of the previous occupant at the heart of the machine and repairing the damage done to their world.
Given that the campaign has now finished I thought that i’d share some of the notes that I made in advance of the final session; a lot of this had existed up until this point only in my head but I wanted to get it all down in black and white before the last game.
The picture below shows the bizarre ecology that existed within the bowels of the great machine:
The picture below shows the rough layout of the area where the final session took place:
More details about the stalactite tower hanging from the cavern roof and the inhabitants:

A closer look at the great machine:

A few quick sketches and stat-notes for the potential encounters during the final game:

I really had a great time playing Numenera, the system is fairly easy to use (although not the most intuitive i’ve ever used) and get to grips with and the strange background is great, encouraging you to think of truly weird concepts and use them in ways that you might not have considered before.

[RPG] Using Scrivener for RPG Prep

I’ve recently been using a piece of software called Scrivener whilst writing my NaNoWriMo novel over the course of this month (you can find the website for Scrivener here for both PC an Mac) and have been very much enjoying using the software, at it’s most basic Scrivener allows you to break your novel, manuscript or whatever into a series of discrete chunks, these can then be annotated and assembled in any way you see fit and output in a variety of formats. Whilst writing my novel i’ve been very much enjoying the program’s corkboard facility where you can click on a chapter and see all of the sections that make it up, from here you can make notes on them and drag and drop to re-arrange the order that they appear in; as so often when I use a new program on my computer one of my first thoughts was ‘how can I use this for RPGs?’
The answer in this case, i’m happy to report, is ‘very easily’, since Scrivener is a content manager it could easily be used to divide up the notes for a RP session into sections and re-order them as necessary, Scrivener also allows you convert websites to pdfs and tuck them away in a research folder for reference as you write as well as adding other files, this might be handy for people who make use of pdf rulebooks or character sheets during a game. They could easily be put in an appropriate folder and referenced when needed since another great thing about the program is that when you save the file, your position in files also seems to be saved so that you can pick up where you left off later on, this is an absolute godsend when working through large or complex documents and you have to sign off or end your session halfway through.
Another aspect of the program that would be of potential use for the budding RPG planner/GM is that there are a number of template documents set up within the software, of course most of these are based around the needs of authors but many could also be applicable to RPG session planners; two that spring to mind are the location and character documents which give you a prepared blank document with headings to fill in. For example the place template has the following headings:
  • Role in story
  • Description
  • Plots involved in
  • Thematic Relevance
And the character template has the following headings:
  • Role in story
  • Physical description
  • Personality
  • Plots involved in
  • Relationship with other characters
These could easily be used to detail important locations and NPCs in a session and, since the templates themselves are saved as accessible documents within the project file they could easily be duplicated or changed to suit the particular needs of your campaign.
A project created in Scrivener can be set to automatically make a backup at regular intervals (I currently have my novel backed up to my Dropbox account so that if the worst happened and my computer blew up i’d still be able to get at it once i’d re-gained access to the internet) with the backups being essentially Zip files with all of your documents and materials stored in them. You can also compile a document into a variety of formats; i’ve only really experimented with the formats suitable for novels at the moment, but if you wanted to distribute your setting either during or after you’ve finished your game then you could easily compile it into a single PDF file from within the Scrivener software.
Over the next few days i’m going to be moving the notes for the Numenera game that i’m running online via Google+ Hangouts (you can find a link to the actual play videos here) onto a Scrivener file to see how useful it is during play and whether it will eclipse Tiddlywikis as my RPG information management tool of choice.
Scrivener costs $40 USD and is available for a 30 day free trial; as one of the sponsors of NaNoWriMo they are offering a special trial edition for participants (available here); all participants can get a 20% discount if they choose to buy the final product and, if they complete the November target of a 50000 word novel, can get a 50% discount off the final product.

Finished handout for my forthcoming Numenera game

This is a player handout that I have designed for my forthcoming Numenera game set in the fictional town of New Hope, the basic framework of the document was designed by myself but a lot of the details were contributed by the players, since I like to ensure that everyone has input and investment in a campaign setting, and what better way than to help create it?

Character Generation for Mythos Themed Numenera game (video/live hangout)

I plan to be running Mythos Numenera game soon for a small group of friends, character generation is scheduled to take place on 07/09/14 at 7PM (GMT).

Below is a link to the live event where the character gen will be taking place.

Numenera style Fate Accelerated character generation

Just before this Christmas I spotted a copy of Monte Cook’s Numenera RPG in my FLGS (Spirit Games) and, having read some interesting reviews on the book (and being quite a fan of Monte Cook’s variant D20 supplements) thought i’d treat myself to a copy as an early Christmas present. The setting is an intriguing blend of science-fiction and fantasy sent in a future version of our own world, but many million years in advance of present day; the inhabitants of this world call it the ninth-world since eight great civilisations have risen and fallen back into the dust before the beginning of the game, each leaving their mark upon the game world. A large part of the game involves the inhabitants of the ninth-world digging in the ruins of the past, discovering oddments and technology that can help them survive in their own world.
So how does this relate to character generation in Fate?

I hope to do a full video review on Numenera for my Red Dice Diaries Youtube channel, I wasn’t massively sold on the rules system, but the background and the blending of sci-fi and fantasy (along with the theme of exploration and discovery) is a great one and extremely compelling.

One of the mechanics that I did like was that a short sentence is used as a character descriptor that takes this form: “I am adjective noun who verbs.”

For example, a suitable description might be “I am a tough warrior who carries a sword forged from dragons scales” or “I am wise shaman who speaks with the spirits of the dead.
In the Numenera rules the adjective helps to determine your character stats, the noun determines character class and the verb determines your characters focus (the various cool abilities that you can call on during the game).
It will come as no surprise to those who know me that, as soon as I starting reading this, my mind turned to how this could possibly be used in a Fate game; although I plan to give this more thought after the Christmas period, my current idea is that it could be used to aid character generation in a streamlined version of Fate.

So how would that work?

Well the player would start with the sentence and would pick one of the Fate Accelerated approaches as the adjective, the noun would be the high concept of the character and the verb would be a stunt.

For example: “I am a quick pirate who is captain of the ship, the Crimson Dagger.

The player would get a default skill roll of +0 for all approaches and a +2 for the approach chosen in their adjective, the noun would represent the high concept and could be invoked/compelled in a normal way; the verb would be a stunt using the normal Fate Accelerated rules for stunts (either a +2 bonus in specific circumstances or a 1/game rules exception).
For example: If I created a character with the sentence “I am a sneaky thief who is deadly when striking from the shadows.

This character would get +0 on all approaches besides sneaky (one which he would receive a +2), could invoke/have compelled the concept of thief as per the normal rules and would have a stunt that allowed them to gain a +2 when striking from the shadows.

This isn’t a 100% foolproof or completely defined method at present, but I certainly think that it has potential.