Alex Prinz is running a wonderful Intercontinental Numenera game for us. It’s my first experience with Numenera and I quite like it.
I was a bit demotivated after hearing The Walking Eye’s (one of my favorite rpg podcasts) Actual Play sessions of Numenera. They seemed to bog down into a rather crunchy experience. They were testing out the system, of course, but that didn’t make play sound very appealing. The world itself, though, and it’s many cyphers and artifacts still sounded very intriguing.
Thankfully, we had a lot of time to set up the game, and spent the brunt of that time on making character links. With all the ties that were being made, Alex decided that we were all from the same small village (called Homestar) originally, and we all needed to go back to be counted a big worldwide census. Alex also asked us what our favorite landmark of the village was, and who we were (not) looking forward to seeing again.
This gave us plenty of grounding. Rather than run from one discovery to another like xp-machines, we spent rather a lot of time arguing with family, visiting old friends, and keeping or confessing to secrets. And when we were unraveling mysteries, we had the joy of puzzling out the landmarks we ourselves had devised. So you could say we met Numenera and gave it a rather big narrative handshake.
I played a wordy self-inflated nano..Rich played my too clever by half younger brother jack perfectly (and thus very annoyingly), Bodil a fire nano, still dealing with the consequences of the trials and errors of fire handling (like heavily burning Jonna’s sister). Jonna played a miraculous healer with a thieving dark side. Jan played a ranger who was half man, half machine who had a ships in the night encounter with my nano. Plenty of drama to go around!
As it turned out, the village itself had changed just as much. Most notably, our traditional squid farming village had sworn off their favorite squid soup and started eating black cubes instead. People were acting weird. Everything was wrong! (See also: Jonna’s Report of Session I)
Eventually we found out that the giant pin with the floating sphere outside of the village was mindcontrolling the villagers to reassemble itself and find it’s pilot. It’s pilot was ALL the squid in the village, who needed to ‘reach critical mass’ in order to achieve their hive mind status. Finding a way to transport 100 000 squid over three miles of land was quite a challenge. Our epic end battle centered around protecting the now ambulant 6×6 meter cube of squid (don’t ask) from giant crabs. Leaving us with the problem of finding a new livelyhood for our now squidless village. We will have to wrap up that problem in the final session of our three parter.
The Numenera setting is very nice – fantastical, inspiring, and the perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction. As a conscientious objector to traditional fantasy, this is perfect for me. The many cyphers and artifacts and the encouragement to blow through them is even more fun. I’m the type of person that will hoard all my mana potions until the end of the game, so the implicit permission to ‘spend the goods’ is pretty neat! The system itself with the tiers and the skills doesn’t add much for me, but it works fine.
I think we got a good taste of the setting from our Numenera adventure. Numenera seems all about the fantastically strange, and Alex is just the right person to bring it. As always, It was really fun to play with others as well! We’re really hitting our stride as a group. I’m a bit weary of strides becoming ruts after our experiences with meat space groups, but it’s very tempting to keep a good thing going!