Join the BoLS Crew as we take you through Monte Cook Games’eses booth at Gen Con. Dinosaurs. Robots. Robot Dinosaurs. They have it all.
Monte Cook had some exciting reveals this go ’round at GenCon. We had a chance to stop in and talk with them and have a look at their upcoming Jade Colosses book, as well as Predation and the upcoming Invisible Sun. But, more exciting than either of those is the massive Numenera update that’s coming to Kickstarter in just a few short weeks–more on that in just a moment. First though, come take a walk around their booth with us.
via Monte Cook Games
Let’s start with the Jade Colossus: Ruins of Prior Worlds which I’m very excited to see. Jade Colossus is a setting/adventure book for Numenera, and it will lead characters into the mysterious and imposing bulk of the Jade Colossus as they adventure in it for fun and profit in the Ninth World. But it’s ALSO secretly all about how to design ruins and other forgotten civilizations in Numenera, which is the most appealing sentence I’ve written all day. Numenera’s greatest strength is its setting, which is built on the back of great civilizations whose technology was incomprehensible and almost magical–as interpreted by the denizens who scavenge a meager existence (by comparison), and wonder at their predecessors who worked such wonders on the world.
It is a game of discovery and forgotten secrets, and getting a supplement that allows you to play to the strengths of the game is incredibly appealing to any prospective GM. Jade Colossus introduces GMs and players alike to the Ruin Mapping Engine, which is set to help you develop your own weird and wondrous sites. That way you can build settings that feel right, both for the world, and for your own particular campaign. Plus you’ll get new character options and the like–which leads me nicely into the big Numenera announcements:
Coming to Kickstarter in September (and with a tentative 2018 release date) Numenera Discovery and Numenera Destiny, two new corebooks for Numenera that are being compiled into what Monte Cook Games is referring to as Numenera 2. The original core rulebook for Numenera will be going out of print soon, but Numenera Discovery will step up to take its place. It’s a revised version of the core rules, with updated options for Jacks, Glaives, and Bravos and revised rules to help make the game run clearer and cleaner. While it’s not a new edition entirely, and extant characters shouldn’t have to be retired (nor are extant monsters etc. going to be made obsolete), it will become the new baseline.
Numenera Destiny, on the other hand is the book I’ve been waiting for since Numenera dropped. Where Discovery captures the feel of Numenera, people eking out a living in the ruins of the great people tat came before them–Destiny is about lifting oneself up and out of the darkness of the past. Featuring rules for building communities, or creating centers of learning and trade, this game is about forging something new out of the remnants of the past. And to me, this is the sort of campaign that the game has been screaming for since its inception.
The theme of “up out of the darkness of the past we make something for ourselves, even if we don’t understand it” is the perfect fit for the discovery and the puzzlement of Numenera. It’s the core story at the heart of so many of the inspirations for the setting itself. Take a look at Nausicaa, or any of Moebius’ works–it’s that slow uplift that fascinates. The sense of progress is something I think the game needs–and here is not just a book that says things have changed, it puts the tools of change into the hands of the players. I am very interested in exploring that sort of theme.
Here’s Monte Cook’s own announcement:
Discovery is going to be a book that covers familiar territory for many of you. In fact, it can basically be considered a revision of the original Numenera corebook. Next summer, we will allow the original corebook to go out of print, and Numenera Discovery will take its place. In Numenera Discovery you’ll get some revisions to make things clearer and more fun, and to increase the options available to players. Nanos, Jacks, and Glaives will get an overhaul. Many foci and some of the descriptors might see some reworking. You’ll have more options, clearer rules, and perhaps a bit of expansion to the regions of the Steadfast and the Beyond that are covered in the existing corebook.
But this isn’t a new edition. We will make virtually no changes to the way the game plays mechanically—and none of those changes affect the way NPCs, creatures, or items like cyphers or artifacts work. We also won’t be making changes to the setting. This means your bestiaries, adventures, card decks, character portfolios, and books like Into the Night, Technology Compendium, and Jade Colossus will not be affected by these changes. We will not issue any “second editions” of the existing supporting titles—and if you choose not to get Numenera Discovery, future Numenera supplements will work fine with your existing Numenera corebook. Your existing campaign will flow smoothly through the change in corebooks, with no need to plan changes or to in any way reset your campaign.
As excited as we are about Numenera Discovery, we may be even more excited about Numenera Destiny. This title will enable characters to truly become a part of the setting—to help shape the future of the Ninth World. The people of the Ninth World are locked in a medieval-like state, a world of struggle and danger and often suffering in the shadow of the prior worlds’ wonders. Numenera Destiny allows you to build adventures and campaigns in which players don’t just explore the wonders of the past—they utilize them to help lift the Ninth World out of darkness. You can make the world a better place. Help a community defend itself from abhumans or the Iron Wind. Create centers of learning or trade. Innovate, build, and protect. Manage an entire community and help it prosper and grow—or simply create a cool base or vehicle for your adventuring group. Numenera Destiny will allow you to take what you discover and make your mark on history as someone who took the Ninth World and elevated it into the future.
Adventuring—exploring the weird and wondrous remnants of the prior worlds—remains, of course, at the core of Numenera play. Numenera Destiny will give you new things to do with your discoveries, and entirely new and epic ways to structure your campaigns. You’ll discover materials, power sources, and treasures that you can utilize in a entirely new, robust crafting and building system. And perhaps best of all, Numenera Destiny will offer three new character types and a number of new descriptors and foci geared toward this innovative style of play.
Next let’s talk about Predation. In Predation characters are members of a sci-fi time travel organization who have been sent back to prehistoric earth with all their fancy technology–only their time travel device has been disrupted, stranding them more than sixty-five million years in the past without a way to return to home. And perhaps more pressing than that, they have a quite literal deadline looming over them. The era they’ve ended up in, known scientifically as Dinotimes, is about to come to a cataclysmic end, thanks to a massive meteor which everyone knows wiped out the dinosaurs.
But wait, there’s more. Because it’s not enough to just be in Dinotimes with doom looming, Majora’s Mask style in the sky. The past has also been altered. All of those friendly dinos have been modified, some have been cybernetically enhanced, others have been bioengineered–the time boys (or SATI as they’re actually called in the game) have been trying to build a society in the jungles of the ancient past. But now they’ve got to deal with all manner of threats if they’re going to try and survive or find a way home.
Seriously. Just look at the art for this game. While writing this up, I believe I have thrown money at my monitor five times. Dinosaurs. Lasers. Robots. This game is perfect.
I got to see this game demoed firsthand. It plays much like any other Cypher system game. There are tiers of difficulty, character sheets are as much descriptors as they are collections of skills and numbers. You will play a (BLANK) (BLANK) who (BLANKS). But, at least in the demo I saw, each player also had a dinosaur companion that was stomping around with them. And they were controlled by one of the other players at the table, which made for a really cool dynamic. The personality of the dinosaurs was as strong and delightful a contribution to the game as those of the players. And it meant that even if the party split up, everyone at the table was still engaged. With a little tweaking, you could probably use this mechanism to do a “solo” scene and yet keep everyone present and in the moment.
And finally, we have the Black Cube–a boxed set for the upcoming Invisible Sun. They had a prototype on display–prompting attendees to try their hand at summoning the black cube. It’s a collection of cards, tokens, adventures, and other paraphernalia for Invisible Sun, a game of supernatural mystery and investigation. Players take on the role of someone who has stepped out of the Shadow (which is the mundane world, basically) and into the Actuality where fate and magic and all that jazz intertwine to create a world of adventure. Prominently displayed on this eerie black cube–a deck of cards called the Sooth deck. We were told this would help determine the tides of magic in the game, providing benefits and hindrances alike, depending on how the cards are placed on the included board.
The Black Cube is estimated to arrive in early 2018.
And all that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Be sure and stay tuned for more news and reviews of games from Monte Cook Games.