Monte Cook Returns to Kickstarter with “The Strange”
Hot on the heels of the release of his crowd funded masterpiece Numenera, Monte Cook is back on Kickstarter with a new project for a new game. And this one is even bigger, more out there, and stranger than the last…
To grok The Strange we must first define it…
The Strange is a phenomenon spanning the cosmo. It’s an ancient mechanism supporting a network of endless interconnected worlds (“recurisions”), each with its own cosmological truths governing physics, magic–the whole nine. The focus of the game is exploring these worlds and protecting them from threats, existential and otherwise. In Cook’s words: If you enjoyed the inspiring scope of games like Planescape, Gamma World, or Numenera, or mind-bending scenarios like Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series, the TV show Fringe, or movies like the Matrix, you’re going to love The Strange.
Yeah, I’m pretty much sold.
At the core of The Strange is the same “Cypher System” that drives Numenera. Rather than classes and levels, characters are built by connecting an descriptive element with a core expertise and a flavorful focus. So rather than playing a “Fighter,” a Cypher System character might be a Devious Vector that Bears a Halo of Fire (which sounds like much more fun to me). Like Numenera, a simple d20 roll is all that’s needed to resolve challenges in The Strange, and the high degree of compatibility between the two games means that material from one can be repurposed very easily for the other.
Veteran game developer and author Bruce Cordell joins Monte Cook Games adding another dimension to the formula that made Numenera so successful. Cordell was contemporaries with Cook at Wizards of the Coast during the heyday of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, and later published supplements under Monte Cook’s Malhavoc Press imprint. Like Cook, Cordell is no slouch, and I have to wonder what his addition will mean for the fulfillment of project.
Speaking of fulfillment, one of the major factors driving me to back The Strange is just how well Cook managed the fulfillment of Numenera. By far the largest roleplaying game project to fulfill to date, Cook was able to deliver the product as close to ‘on time’ as any project that I’ve ever seen–a product of exceptionally high quality, to boot. That gives me the feeling that The Strange is going to be a safe investment.
I’m not alone in my thinking. Live for less than 48 hour at the time of this writing, The Strange has racked up over $118,000 dollars on the pledge counter. If you’re not yet sold, you’ve got plenty of time to feel things out–there are 35 days left on the clock. Check it out and leave your thoughts in the comments!
Have you often slipped in grok to articles without my notice? Did any of your discussions of the negative sides of Kickstarter use TANSTAAFL?
As for being on topic, this sounds good. If only I was a tabletop person!
I think I might actually grok too much! As for TANSTAAFL-ing, that’s more my collaborator/interlocutor David’s thing!
Thanks for reading. 🙂
I am intrigued. I like the overall concept, and the character design sounds like it would lend itself to both quick, ad hoc games as well as lengthy campaigns. I also like the idea of the characters changing depending on what world they’re in. Hmm…my gaming friends don’t do any regular RPGing at the moment, but I may have to check this out to see if might persuade them.
So, yeah, thanks for bringing this up. I think I glossed over it in my regular KS trawl of new projects, and might not have backed it had I noticed. Now…I think it may be a question of how much I back, not of whether I back.
Based on my experience with Numenera, I’d say character creation is on the order of ten minutes for a typical group. Maybe 15 if you have to explain some basic roleplaying concepts to a novice. It is seriously picking an adjective, a noun, and a verby statement (“I am a ______ ______ who ______s” ), picking a handful of skills (either from a list or from the player’s imagination,), and you’re good to go. Its ultra fast, ultra light weight. A great game to either bring vets back into the fold or introduce new players, as it isn’t at all rules heavy.
I think the project looks good, but feel like it is being launched too quickly. There hasn’t been enough time to critically analyze his previous game (I’ve barely cracked the cover due to other priorities) and already it has a a sequel and a video game. In three months I expect a numenera sequal on KS to expand the world building.
That said I am more impressed with the novel mechanics than the flawed world building, so this new project may well be an improvement.
Mr Murphy: I read your blog fairly often, though you have been pumping out the articles in the last few weeks, and I admit to reading only a few, again sure to time constraints. Could you elaborate on your oposition to free lunches?
What a great piece — thanks so much for writing and sharing this. I’m so excited that you are looking forward to the game — we’re really looking forward to creating it!
All my best,
Hey, thank you for your part in all the great stuff MCG has been turning out, Shanna. Not only are the games great, but the community that has sprung up around them is tremendous.