Some quick impressions of Numenera from Monday’s game:
- I like the mad-lib character generation. I might even steal it.
- The names Glaive, Jack, and Nano for the character types aren’t particularly evocative for me. Nanotech is the new phlebotinum and it already feels worn out.
- Cyphers is a bad name for the one-use devices. The one thing they’re not is mysterious, since to make them worthwhile you know exactly what they do (I guess they come clearly labelled).
- The hard limit of two Cyphers (or three if you’re a Nano with Expert Cypher use), while clearly a good idea to prevent characters from accumulating a huge pile of them and spending too much time staring at their character sheets looking for the right device to solve a problem, seems pretty contrived. I’d prefer some kind of sliding scale of increased chance of mishap and wilder catastrophic failure.
- Multiplying by 3 all the time is kind of a nuisance. Not sure why it’s better to have everything ranked in difficulty 1-10 with bonuses and penalties applied to that number, but have to multiply by 3 to derive the d20 target.
- Having the player roll both attack and defense vs. target numbers is fun, though our GM made a minor goof and had us rolling low for defense as if we were rolling the opponent’s to-hit against us.
- The GM Intrusion mechanic is immersion breaking. Personally I’d get rid of the choice to accept or spend an XP to reject _and_ the compelled give XP to another player; both those decisions can’t be made from an In Character POV, and the latter can’t even usually be attached to the fiction.
- The game is an odd mix of broad strokes and fiddly details. I’d prefer to stick to the broad strokes.
- I think it would be nice to encourage more colorful character descriptions and abilities; the characters depicted in the game art seem much more exotic than what the character generation process turns out, though that might just be a failure of imagination on my part.
- I’m not sure what I think of spending your stats (which are also your hp) for extra effort or to power your abilities; I am sure I don’t like spending XP for temporary bonuses.
I’m planning on playing in Jonathan Henry’s Numenera campaign once he gets that up and running, but what playing this did for me was make me want to work on a far-future science fantasy setting for Zap! more than run a game of Numenera myself.