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 Post subject: Numenera RPG
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:35 pm 
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Picked up the PDF a few weeks ago and immediately bought the hardback. This Game is awesome! Introduced it to the Tuesday Games Club and it was an instant hit - has become our fave Game.

There are many in-depth reviews out there, so I'll just give a precis. The Game is set on Earth, 1 billion years (yes, that's right) in the future. The adventures take place in the Ninth World (there may have been eight other civilisations before this, no-one knows). The Earth is unrecognisable, at some time it has be engineered into a giant supercontinent. The sun has also been tinkered with as it is still yellow, not a red supergiant (although Mercury seems to have vanished).

I gave this as a handout to the players before they created their characters:-

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

In this game you are on Earth in a very distant future, in the Ninth World. You are living in this age, using the technologies of the previous ages. Most of the people look at these technologies as if they are magical.

The world itself is strange and wonderful; the Game is about discovering these wonders. Look to the horizon – is that a mountain or part of an impossible monument to the forgotten emperor of a lost people? Feel that subtle vibration beneath your feet and know that ancient engines – vast machines the size of kingdoms – still operate in the bowels of the earth.

The people of the Ninth World mostly humans, although not all that call themselves human truly are. There are likewise abhumans: mutants, crossbreeds, genetically engineered, and their offspring. And then there are the visitants, who are not native to the earth but who now call the Ninth World home, and who have no more understanding of the past (even their own) than anyone else.

Forests of crystal shards, cities supported on beams of power, brave Glaives, the various types of Numenera, knowledgeable Aeon Priests, strange flora and fauna, dangerous Nanos, mysterious ruins pulsating with hidden energies, cunning Jacks, and a thousand other things make the Ninth World an exciting and dangerous place.

Other rules: -
Only the players ever roll the dice - the GM does not. This takes a bit of getting used to.

GM Intrusions – the GM can make something bad happen to you, but you get XP for it.

They then created their characters (using the format (Name) is a (descriptor) (Type) who (Focus)) These are used to create the characters abilities.

We ended up with: -
Judson Deathdancer Is a Rugged Glaive who Howls at The Moon (Ben)
A Glaive is a warrior, Judson changes into an uncontrolled beast for a period of time (usually when it's most inconvenient)

Galadiir the Crystal is a Mystical Nano who Wears a Sheen of Ice (Matt)
A nano is a "wizard/sorcerer", Galadiir's powers are ice-based

Sir Harrylock Is a Strong Glaive who Fuses Flesh With Steel (Harry)
A biomechanical construct with several built-in weapons and an obscene store of Might to absorb damage

Sonny Silver Is a Clever Jack who Rides the Lightning (Joe)
A Jack is a "Jack of All Trades" type character. Sonny can generate electric shocks from his hands or electrify a weapon he is holding

Do remember - these are starting characters straight out of the RAW. How many Games let you start as a lycanthrope?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:41 pm 
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This adventure is based on the adventure of the same name run on BGG in 2014 by Karl Larsson and used with his permission (thanks Karl!)

Judson, Galadiir and Sonny were sitting on Harrylock (who they had mistaken for a park bench) in the Tralia Gardens in Mulen, capital of the kingdom of Iscobal, when they were approached by a scribe wearing the livery of Orrando the merchant. Orrando needed to hire some people to do a job for him

Orrando mainly deals in icewater candles; made of solid ice of various colours, they burn with a steady flame of the same colour as the candle. Galadiir inspected several of the stock but did not buy any.

Orrando quickly got down to business; his son Rando was travelling with a caravan of four glidors and ten men from Rachar. They were carrying a valuable cargo of phased candles intended for Queen Thera’s Midnight Party. The caravan is overdue and he wants then to go south along the coast road and look for it. He offers 10 Shins each.

It was Wane (late afternoon) the following day when they came upon the smashed remains of the caravan. Two glidors; their mysterious levitation mechanism destroyed, lay on the ground. Around then were the slashed and torn bodies of the caravan crew, lying amidst the destroyed cargo of candles.

“Looks like the motive wasn’t robbery”, said Galadiir.

Harrylock scouted around for tracks and found many deep cross-crossing grooves cut into the ground. He looked at one of the bodies; it wore the signet ring of Orrando. “Looks like Rando didn’t make it”.

Judson and Sonny looked over the cliff edge; smashed on the rocks they saw two other glidors and the Aneen that had pulled them.

“Something spooked the aneen and they ran right off the cliff! But what?”

At that point, rising and falling off to the northeast, they heard thin piercing howls, steadily coming closer. Judson quickly climbed a tree and looked, but saw nothing. The howling was almost upon them when he saw a flicker of movement; at first a thin vertical line but as it twisted he saw the full horror; a snarling, howling fanged head with a sinuous snake-like body behind. Again it moved; seen head on it looked like a thin line. Being experienced in the outdoors, he knew what the creatures were.

“Vapes!” he yelled, “three of them I think. Watch their bodies; they are sharper than a scalpel.” With this, he loosed an arrow through the nearest one

Galadiir gestured with his hand and a flurry of ice shards engulfed the nearest vape. Sonny drew his verred and struck at the one nearest to him; the creature twisted as he struck and the molecule-thick spine sheared straight through the verred’s twin blades. Harrylock made to punch the one attacking him*, changed his mind and activated his wrist blade; doing a serious injury to the vape. The vape struck at Harrylock, his “I’m ok, I’ve got armour” turned to horror when the vape’s body, several magnitudes sharper than a scalpel; sheared straight through and inflicted a deep wound. Galadiir also took a slashing wound; Sonny dived out of the way at the last minute.

Judson saw that Sonny was weaponless and put an arrow into the vape; a full-on shot that killed it. Harrylock got in another massive blow; doing extra damage that killed the second vape and moved to help Galadiir. Galadiir cast a massive Ice Shards , severely wounding the last vape; Harrylock finished it off.

They spent some time resting and healing; Judson did a backflip out of the tree and joined them. He looked at the vapes; the bodies were slowly sinking into the ground.

Night was falling; in the distance to the south, they saw the dim lights and smoke of a village. They headed to the village; intending to return to Mulen the following day. Just then, on the cliff path walking towards them, they saw a woman dressed in a white shift. She was walking slowly, then turned and headed for the cliff edge. Judson used his Running skill to try and get to her but he was too late; without pausing she stepped off the cliff. He looked over; the cliff was a forty – foot sheer drop to the crashing surf. There was no sign of a body.

“I bet she’s a mermaid”, said Sonny. The others just looked at him.

“What’s a mermaid?”

“I think something drew her here and made her jump”, said Galadiir. He used all his abilities to sense for anything unusual; but found nothing. Harrylock marked the spot with a boulder her pulled out of the ground.

The village was a typical; if somewhat old-fashioned, fishing village. Several longhouses surrounded a central longhouse; there was the flickering light of torches and smoke rising from several chimneys. A wooded palisade surrounded the village on the land side; two guard towers looked out to sea. The guard on the gate did not take much persuasion to let them in to speak to the village Elder. When asked, he did not remember a woman in white passing out of the gate.

In the community longhouse they were met by a big, imposing man with dark hair and a beard. He was very charismatic and they got the impression that he was the village leader because the villagers wanted him to be.

“I am Hols, Elder of the village of Galadir”**

The party were welcome to stay the night in the community longhouse. It was then that they mentioned the woman in white. The leader went pale and sat down. When he spoke, his voice was heavy.

"So it has begun then, the Haunting Tides, it has been two year since the last time; it makes sense. We do not know why, but every couple of years the ocean decides it is time to take something back from us. Thus begins a week of phantasms and horrors. We are invaded by nightmares from the sea, and some of us are even drawn into the sea. It always begins with someone throwing themselves off the cliff”.

He stood and crossed to the door, looked out for a moment, then closed it again.

“At the end, most villagers return alive. But there is always one or two who never come back."

“Why do you still live here? Why don’t you go somewhere else?”

“We are a fishing community and this is our home. Where would you have us go? Will you help us?”

From outside, a heavy bell began to toll. Hols jumped to his feet.

“That is the alarm. Something is coming”
=============================
GM’s Notes
Our first Game and it was an absolute blast! Numenera is so easy to run it is beyond belief. As an example, this is Hol’s stat block from my notes.
HOLS. Heavy build, black hair, full beard
Village Elder / Level 2 / Level 3 vs. lies and trickery // Strong personality, born leader

This means that to attack him the target number is 6+, to defend against him the target number is 6+, if he hits you he does 2 damage, but to successfully lie to him the target number is 9+. He has 6 hit points

All dice are rolled by the players. The GM rolls nothing. This feels a little weird at first.

* The others persuaded him that punching a living razor blade would not be a good idea.
** Galadiir looked puzzled at this – why was he named after a village?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:44 pm 
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From outside, a heavy bell began to toll. Hols jumped to his feet.

“That is the alarm. Something is coming”

They crowded to the door of the longhouse and looked out. The village was in chaos, screams and shouts interspersed with guttural sounds filled the air. Groups of villagers were being dragged off into the ocean by fat-bellied sea creatures; the guards were being dragged out of the towers. A group of the creatures headed towards the PC’s, they had clawed, greasy fingers, smacking lips, chattering, pointed teeth and tiny, beady eyes. Harrylock readied and shot his left-arm mounted crossbow; killing the lead creature instantly; Sonny pulled and fired his buzzer at another. The creatures charged forwards and belched out a cloud of noxious gas whilst scything with their claws. Judson took a raking wound across the chest and the creature belched out another cloud of gas into his face; again he managed to hold his breath. Sonny wasn’t quite so lucky; using the verred that Judson had lent him, he plunged it deep into a creatures guts; the creature burst like a balloon and Sonny got the full effect of the foul gas; he doubled over, vomiting and gasping for breath. Two creatures attacked Galadiir; he was clawed but again managed to avoid breathing in the foul breath. He cast an Ice Onslaught and took down another creature and then formed his Sheen of Ice armour over himself and Judson. Another creature fell to Harrylock’s forearm blade and the last went down to a combined attack from Judson and Galadiir.* Finally it was all over; the creatures were all dead and the characters took some time to catch their breath.

Hols said “You see what we have to face, each night of the Haunting Tides. This is why we need your help”

Judson experimented with cooking one of the creatures; it smelt disgusting and tasted of burnt squid. He didn’t eat very much as his stomach churned and he was violently sick.

“So, they are still poisonous even when dead”, commented Sonny**

At this point there was a commotion near to the gate and in walked the woman in white.

"I had the strangest dream," she said in a sleepy voice. "I dreamt I fell for an eternity, and then I hit a lake of fire where I was torn apart by some powerful force. Then I was put back together again, and the next thing I know I am pulling myself up on the rocks outside the village, awake and wet.” Harrylock contrived to brush by her and decided that she was not a ghost. Hols was confident that the rest of the villagers and guards would be back by morning.

The following morning, as predicted, the missing villagers and guards were lying sprawled on the docks; half-asleep and soaking wet. None of them could remember anything. Judson was chosen to carry the signet ring found on Rando’s body back to Orrando in Mulen, whilst the others investigated the reef/island*** Hols introduced them to Soren, who owned the boat they were going to use.

“What is the name of your boat?” “It is called Soren’s Boat. I am Soren and it is my boat.”

“We are going to rename it “Queen Anne’s Revenge”.

“Why? Then no-one will know that it is my boat”

Soren rowed them out to the island; it was early morning; the sea was calm and a mist lay heavy upon the water. The island looked like an upturned hand made of rock, the fingers pointing upwards. The fingers were blurred; as they drew closer Galadiir realised that they were blurred because they were slightly out of phase. In the centre of the island, in the ‘palm’, was a small domed stone hut. Growing over it was a blue-green moss that Galadiir recognised as growing around dimensional rifts. They persuaded Soren to go into the hut first; then followed him in. There was a table, a chair, a fireplace and a bed. At the table was a skeleton, wearing the robes of a Aeon Priest; in front of him was a book made of some kind of synth. Galadiir pushed the skeleton to one side to get at the book; it collapsed to the floor and something fell out of the robes with a ‘clink’. Sonny picked it up; it was a cypher called a Reality Spike. He was already carrying two cyphers and the air around him began buzzing like a million wasps. He dropped the Spike and moved away. Galadiir gave Soren a Stim cypher; then picked up the Reality Spike. He then turned back to the diary. The priest was called Fankre and it was his diary. > It is the dead Aeon-Priests diary. The first date is over a hundred years ago, and it lasts for 15 years.

It begins when he arrives at the island. He is very eager, since the study of things out of phase with reality is his main interest. The island was renowned for its effects on reality.

At first the priest was fascinated by the various animals and plants on the island, most of which partly existed in adjacent phases to our own. There were some monsters too, but he had learned to stay away from them. His hope was to discover why so many such creatures were attracted to the place.

After a few years he states that the island had become plagued by monsters. He later discovers that there is a machine under the island which sometimes activates. The machine creatures monster in a different reality, and then activates an event in which all the out-off-phase things become hard reality, before phasing them out again (this part was quite badly written).

He discovers that when this event happens, it is possible to access the machine through a cave in the cliffs, and he even manages to shut the machine off.

A few years later his research is done, but he is afraid to leave, in case the machine starts again. As far as you can tell, he dies of old age, since he is noting his deteriorating health, and then the diary just stops.

There was nothing else in the hut, so they headed towards the ‘spires’, realising that they probably ‘phased in’ at nightfall. Soren stayed to look after his boat.

Meanwhile, Judson was jogging northwards towards Mulen. He had made good time when suddenly his head filled with buzzing, seething white noise. He stopped, clutching his head as the pain increased. From the shadows three cloaked and hooded figures; humanoid yet not human, with huge black eyes perched above a sharp, dirty yellow beak – Murden! The leader pointed a hooked finger at the signet ring; the intent was clear. Desperately fighting the pain in his head; Judson ran off to the north; using his running skill he was able to outdistance the Murden; from behind came a shriek of anger.

On the island; night had fallen and the spires slowly shifted into phase as the rest of the island phased out. A rectangular doorway became apparent in the base of the middle spire; as they watched a horde of the sea creatures poured out towards them …
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
GM Notes
* I love this Game! This combat was the first real use of GM Intrusions; basically each time the PC’s attacked a creature and missed I had the creature belch a cloud of gas, which meant the PC had to do a Might save or be nauseated (and take Speed damage). They started to build up a stock of XP; then went through a phase of bad die rolls and spent most of them on re-rolls (true comrades; they did spend XP on others re-rolls as well as their own.)
** Why wouldn’t they be?
*** Yet again, they have split the party up


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:48 pm 
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A rectangular doorway became apparent in the base of the middle spire; as they watched a horde of the sea creatures poured out towards them …

Harrylock readied his crossbow arm and the others drew weapons; however the creatures ignored them and poured straight past and into the ocean. When it became apparent that no more were coming out, they moved towards the doorway. It was an irregular pentagon, straight-sided and wider at the base than at the top. From inside came a soft blue glow and a faint “brrark” noise.

Inside was a pentagonal chamber of grey stone with another archway in the opposite wall. Ledges lined the walls from floor to ceiling; on these roosted hundreds of blue/green birds with tentacles instead of feet. The air was filled with the rasping, croaking “brrark” sound. They watched the “tentacled chickens” for a time; then Galadiir stepped over to the nearest one; drew his sword and killed it. He picked it up; it bled purple blood all over him.

“I wonder what they taste like.”

At this point, something burst against the wall behind him. He turned, to see the gooey remains of an egg sliding down the wall. Several more burst around him, on the walls and on the floor. He ran for the inner archway; dodging flying eggs being hurled by the angry chickens. Alas, his luck ran out and he was pelted just as he reached the archway; not only were they sticky but they stank as well.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed the chicken”, commented Sonny and he and Harrylock picked their way through the mess to join him.

Beyond the archway, a sloping ramp led to another pentagonal chamber, bisected by a shimmering plane of light. The floor, walls and ceiling were covered in rectangular and trapezoid blocks, seemingly exuded from the grey stone. The blocks glowed in a variety of hues of blue, purple and green; slowly fading then brightening again. Harrylock shot a bolt through the plane to see if it disintegrated (or something), Sonny stepped forward and vanished from view. On hearing his voice the others followed into the second part of the chamber. A pentagonal archway was flanked by two glowing crystal Dendron trees; their branches and fronds moving in a slow, complex pavane. Galadiir approached the archway; the movement of the fronds became more agitated; then with blinding speed a crystalline spear lanced out from one of the trees and pierced his chest. He retreated quickly and the Dendrons resumed their leisurely waving dance.
Harrylock tried shooting it, but the waving fronds were difficult to target. He attacked it full on; a mass of razor-sharp dendrites lanced into him; one snapped off and remained embedded in his leg. Galadiir threw several Ice Onslaughts; the main trunk cracked in several places but to his amazement they healed within a few minutes. A mass rush; using the carcass of the chicken as a diversion (animated by Galadiir’s Hedge Magic), saw Harrylock and Galadiir get hurt and Sonny only escaping by the skin of his teeth. They retreated to the other side of the plane to rest and recover.

“We can’t fight it, we can’t dodge it. How do we get past it?”

Galadiir rummaged in his pack and pulled out a Detonation Cypher (Singularity). “This might do it”.

“You’re going to set off a black hole with us at Ground Zero? Great plan, not.”

Sonny suddenly looked up. “We can’t fight it and we can’t dodge it. Maybe we have to THINK our way past it.” He went back into the next room and sat down, studying the Dendrons. At last he saw it; there was a pattern to the movements of the fronds. With careful thought, it should be possible to move through the ‘holes’ in the pattern. He got to his feet and ran forward; diving and twisting. He nearly made it; he rolled through the archway; but had a huge dendrite rammed through his forearm. As he watched; the flesh around the shard began to turn crystalline. Galadiir followed him and set about removing the dendrite; he managed to do so and it fell apart into glittering sand in his hands. Harrylock made it through safely and Galadiir removed the pieces of crystal in his leg. Harrylock needed some repair work doing and Sonny was able to step in and provide this.

Meanwhile, far to the north, Judson had reached Mulen. He stopped off at a tavern for a pint and a platter; then headed for Orrando’s house. Orrando welcomed him it and offered refreshment; then asked for news. When told of his son’s death and the manner in which he died; Orrando wept. He took the ring and paid over the agreed 40 shins. As a bonus; because they had killed the Vapes; he handed over a square of synth with a map on it.

“This was to be Rando’s inheritance. Now it is yours. Make good use of it”

Having rested for a short while; Harrylock, Galadiir and Sonny headed off down the ramp, which spiralled downwards, ending in an impossibly tall pentagonal chamber (at least 50m high). Black stone slabs covered every surface; deep within them could be seen miniature lightning bolts; like brain synapses firing. In the centre of the chamber were five pentangle – shaped stones, set in a pentagon. One had a curious five-part headset attached. There were no other exits.

Sonny’s danger sense was tingling “There’s something not right here”.

Galadiir pulled up the headset (it moved freely, but was somehow moulded to the stone), and put it on. It was a five-armed device and clearly not intended to fit a human skull. There was a soundless burst of light inside his head and he now knew how to turn the machine on and off at will as long as he was connected to it. He also knew that the machine could create any creature he was familiar with. He concentrated and in the centre of the pentagon began to form a tentacled chicken. The effort was a tremendous strain on Galadiir’s mind and he couldn’t hold the concentration; with a scream he jerked backwards and the chicken faded from view. He put on the headset again and turned the machine off.

“Wait”, called Sonny. “Everything is phasing out again and we’re going with it. Turn it back on.”

After some discussion involving rolling the detonation cypher down the spiral ramp (“it’ll probably turn round and roll back up”), they decided to turn the machine off; then use the Reality Spike to jam the headset down so that it couldn’t be used. Sonny elected to do this, as he had the best running ability; the others retreated back up the ramp. They dived past the Dendrons and through the chicken chamber; Sonny was hot on their heels. He lost his footing on the slippery egg mess and fell; Harrylock went back and dragged him out just as the spires phased out and the doorway vanished.

There was no sign of Soren or his boat; looking across to the shore, they saw that the village had gone as well.

“Everything was a creation of that machine. But what was it for and who turned it on again? Guess we’ll never know”.

Epilogue:
Sometime later they met up with Judson in Mulen. Judson paid over their share of the money and they studied the map.

“Orrando said it was Rando’s inheritance and that a great treasure was there”.

“Well, it appears to be an island off the coast, I’d estimate about fifty miles. We can get a boat.”

“It’ll need to be able to fly then. According to this; the island is three thousand feet up in the air.”

Next Adventure: The Hidden Price

=======================================
GM Notes
I need to work out the XP awards; they did gain some during the adventure but also spent a lot on re-rolls (in combat, so using extra Effort wasn’t an option).

Overall, everyone really enjoyed the Game. I found it really easy to run as GM, there are very few stats to keep track off and creatures / NPC’s are simple 1 or 2 line entries in my notes. This entire adventure fitted on both sides of a single sheet of A4!

I also made some reference cards with the creature artwork on out of the books so the players could have a visual reference. This went down well and I’ve got about 50 pieces of assorted artwork on index card that I can use. I am fully aware that the images are copyrighted and no challenge to that copyright is intended. If anyone has serious issues over this then please PM me.

The players loved the free-form descriptive nature and that they did all the die rolls. I started by telling them the level they had to beat; by the end they were working it out themselves. This has become our preferred Game and they can’t wait until the next session.

The Hidden Price is going to be (more or less) straight out of the rulebook. My next Adventure I’m working on is called In The Key of Time.
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