The father of 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons and aide to the creation of its spiritual successor Pathfinder RPG, Monte Cook, lead an ambitious new project via the self-titled Monte Cook Games. About a year ago in August of 2012 he enlisted the support of fans with an incredibly successful, by tabletop RPG standards, Kickstarter.
On August 14th, 2013 the Numenera Core Rulebook by Monte Cook Games was made available to non-backers digitally via DriveThruRPG for 19.99$. In the preceding year, a number of short stories, one of which is free to read here began to establish the science fantasy setting of the game, the Ninth World. Another Kickstarter funded the making of a computer game, successor to the critically acclaimed Planescape: Torment, in this Ninth World.
The art is beguiling, even in the limited selection of sample art on the website. Also on the website are fascinating insights into the character generation process. There are three classes. Glaives, Nanos, and Jacks are approximately similar in scope and style to warriors, wizards, and thieves of D&D respectively. A core goal of the design was to make character creation significantly faster than in many other tabletop RPGs. So the process is refined down to creating a sentence, in a form like “I am a strong glaive who leads soldiers in battle.” Based on the words chosen, the character’s statistics, abilities, and equipment would follow. There is, however, the option of fine-tuning for players seeking a more granular creation experience akin to that of the D20 system.
Success or failure of a newly minted character is determined by a roll of the twenty sided die against a target number, and now there is a drastically increased opportunity for special effects to occur. Rolling a 17-20 is rewarded in varying degrees whilst a 1 is yet again a number to be reviled. One out of every four rolls will be causing additional mayhem, albeit, typically for the players’ benefit. Further, only the players make rolls. If a non-player character attacks, then the player character will roll to dodge the attack, and if the player character attacks, he or she rolls to hit, a drastic, yet exciting, departure from the D20 rules Monte Cook helped create and popularize and is similar to small press games such as Apocalypse World and its myriad spinoffs.
Fortunately for Cook, the digital release has been doing well thus far as Numenera is currently the number one selling product on DriveThruRPG.