Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Campaign Retrospect. Numenera | What I learned or failed to learn

As of episode 15 we said goodbye to the world of Numenera. At least for now. (Dun dun DUN!) Truthfully I have zero plans to go back this year but everyone had enough fun to warrant at least a one-shot, who knows.

So... goodbye tentacles, goodbye strange and never ending loot tables full of living pills and single use boss killing fur covered bombs. As with all goodbyes, the moment of reflection is upon us.

Why did we choose Numenera?

Monte Cooke's system was chosen for the podcast to showcase first because, honestly, we didn't know how the pieces were going to fall or how the mics were going to record. When you know you're going to screw up and stumble, at least do it with a weird system barely anyone knows about so you limit the exposure right? I also have a love of the setting, a deep love, and one that I feel really must be explored further. Possibly outside the radius of the general public and whist donning cosplay armor and a bag of skittles.

I found that the beauty of the system is in its simplicity, it stumbles well with you and at times aiding off the cuff storytelling with explanations like "ANCIENT SCIENCE WAS MAGICAL AND UNFATHOMABLY COMPLEX! NOW HOP IN THAT TELEPORTER AND STOP ASKING WHY YOUR GENDER CHANGED!" Once the players have thoroughly set fire to and destroyed this railroad sandbox, the one you call your story, this systems allows us to quickly recover by floating adrift off the top of our imaginations. I would say if it's one regret I had it's not letting the weird completely out. As Numenera stories goes we didn't really explore the deeply strange or overly alien majestic landscapes, believing that "we'd get there eventually."

A sentiment I think we all go through.

We learned a lot, I certainly did as a DM.

I'm not a new story teller\dungeon master\coordinator of murder hobos, but we learn from every campaign and session. Editing your work, as I've done with the podcast, also has a way of really displaying where you could've described more or which emotions you should've played on. It's been huge for me. Out in the wilds of my normal gaming group I'd learned to work a the table, shush the rules mongers, and let the role players play. Your aim is always achieving a feeling that could be identified as positive when the players leave your table.

You need them coming back, like addicts, because you thirst for that narrative.

With this podcast, Numenera in general,  I really wanted to work on my preparation, you know, actually know the names and motivations of the villains my characters have vowed to their deities to chase through time and space to murder for the good existence? Both the Nightmare Switch and Vortex modules, provided by the Numenera folks for a small cost, were literally the first modules I'd read through and ran for anyone. The content and stack blocks they provided were good enough though I was still found myself unprepared for the amount of work needed by a DM even with printed modules.

The major take away from his compagin Numenera?

* More combat, it's okay to fight
* Combat has to walk the thin line between deadly and heroic.
* Negative roles should have equally fun consequences as positive roles
* Story is more important than mechanics. Re-enforcing this is tricky but necessary.
* Cheat Sheets and roll tables are an absolute must. MUST.

It's brave new world, these modules, at least for me and the luster hasn't worn off as we're currently diving into the sea of D&D content. What do you think? Think it with your fingers in comment boxes.


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